Friday, January 29, 2010

One A Week Reviews #5: Bad Biology

I had a conversation tonight where my neighbor told me he selected a movie to watch on Netflix because I'd given it a rating of four stars out of five. He kinda wanted to know why I'd liked it... I had to explain that Andy Warhol's Flesh was more a historical curio with nudity than a quality flick. I let him know that in the future if he wonders why I like something he should probably ask.

I don't think I'll recommend this one to him.

So, um, Frank Henenlotter made a movie about a woman with a monstrous, voracious vagina who meets a man with a rampaging, detachable penis. That's right, the maker of the Basket Case, Frankenhooker, and Brain Damage made a mashup of Teeth, Pervert, and One-Eyed Monster.

I think that really says it all. I'd missed Bad Biology when it was screened at the Horror Hound Weekend in November and regretted it. Tonight I finally got my hands on it. Near-guerrilla production values, an obviously low budget, wooden acting, and a general sense of good, sleazy fun permeates the proceedings. The "fun" is as lighthearted as you can make it when your lead character keeps killing her lovers when she gets carried away then goes and gives births to super-accelerated monster babies... but then again, her opening lines are where she discusses being born with at least seven clitorises.

Thankfully, good taste isn't the point of this exercise. Gross-out humor is, and it's here in abundance. The penis that "talks" back and has to be duct-taped down inside boxer shorts is a prize example. Batz consumes porn and drugs in a never-ending quest to keep his monster from running away and doing women to death. The ever-aroused Jennifer breaking into Batz's house to wallow around among his things is both subtle and over-the-top. The hooker who has the never-ending orgasm? So over-the-top it's under again.

Henenlotter's style is still made up of weirdly flat photography and practical special effects that are more about conveying their vulgar inspiration than pleasing the eye. It actually helps sell his films. All three Basket Case films have the same "charm." It's hard to sell a show that's a "vagina's eye view" otherwise. He's the King of Grindhouse cinema and still retains the crown. If the film stock was grainier and the costumes dated, almost all of this film could have been made in the early 80's. Well,, there wouldn't have been rappers posing with the Vagina-Masked models, but beyond that, this film is obviously from the father of Frankenhooker. This is pure party-cinema in the sleaze tradition with lots of naked girls and filthily gross-out humor.

So these two star-crossed lovers kill some people, meet B-Movie Scream Queen Tina Krause, and eventually come to a completely logical conclusion. If you like trash cinema, or have arguments with your own genitals, you're bound to enjoy the film in the spirit of "fun" it's intended. If you don't, you can happily pass.

Monday, January 25, 2010

Jay's Review: No Impact Man

A documentary you may find inspiring even if you find the man it's about insufferable. My latest review for



"Like Gilligan's Island, only completely implausible." That's how comedian Stephen Colbert summed up the family saga of Colin Beavan, aka No Impact Man. Beavan, a New York City writer and self-proclaimed liberal, has big plans for his new book. He decides on a grand experiment to live one year with as little impact on the environment as possible. The problem is, the project requires his wife Michelle - an espresso guzzling, Prada-worshipping business writer- and their young daughter to be fully on board.

As the family embarks on a year of no electricity, television, cars, toilet paper, elevators, or newspapers, Michelle must contend with caffeine withdrawl, compost worms, no retail, and defending her own dreams, all in the name of supporting her husband's book project.

What ensues is not only an entertaining and funny look at well-intentioned environmentalism, but a touching, poignant take on the nature of contemporary marriage and what it means to pursue your dreams, even if it means driving those around you a little insane.

What do you say about a "noble experiment?" The "no impact" project may perhaps be more noble if it wasn't essentially a job, there to give purpose to a book and documentary. Still, the idea of giving up all your modern conveniences and reducing consumption is attractive; something it'd probably behoove most of us to try. In this doc about a married couple (Colin Beavan and Michele Conlin) who decide they want to bring their environmental impact down to nil, they show us it's even less easy than you may first think.

Starting out with a commitment to purchasing only local, organic foods (including a side trip to a dairy) and cutting out packaging, they aren't afraid to show the stresses such deprivations can cause on the marriage. Giving up TV is easy, TP not so much. (Conlin even asks "Do we really wanna be this graphic," cognizant of the fact that they're now "The Family I Won't Shake Hands With."). Beavan, and Conlin by default, lives eco-consciousness to the point where you have two opinions. One is "I see your point," the other,"You're really an obnoxious git, you know that?"
Thankfully that gets acknowledged in the first third of the film. Owning it adds a dimension of awareness that this is an experiment, is a loaded situation, and the documentary is better for it. (Even when Beavan starts to sound like he's pontificating, Conlin is around the corner to ground us back to matter-of-fact reality.) Concerns, compromises, and slip-ups are aired for the cameras as no one's perfect. It's the fact that they keep trying that makes all the difference.

They continue to commit to the experiment, gaining publicity while escalating deprivation. "Downcycling" is one thing, ticking the clock down to turning off the electricity is another. I honestly wonder if they would have gone through with it without the culpability of a blog, a book deal and camera crews from Good Morning America. They at least inspire me to try something new.

The first thing to note is the packaging if your'e going to buy No Impact Man. It's a cardboard folder in a cardboard sleeve, all made from mixed sources. If anything it's a little bit too much cardboard, but a nice touch. The DVD offers audio in stereo, Dolby 5.1, and (another nice feature) a "clean stereo" track "for school & educational use." There are English subtitles.

15 extra featurettes make this a pretty packed DVD. They include:
-No Impact dating: Colin and Michelle on No Impact nights on the town
-Urban Cycling: Bike activism in NYC
-Freeganism: The virtues of gleaning food from the trash
-Audience Q&A: Colin, Michelle and the filmmakers discuss the film at the Sundance Film Festival
-Fruit Vinegar: Colin's easy to follow recipe
-and a variety of extra/extended scenes

The trailer for this film and 11 other releases from Oscilloscope are also included.

This may be as much a documentary about committing to an ecologically responsible lifestyle as it is a testament to marrying someone easy-going. There's no sustainability to an experiment in sustainability unless they're willing to commit to it too. Their project may inspire or annoy, but No Impact Man introduces us to a couple who're genuinely likable (well, like most couples, one is likable enough to make up for the two of them) and are trying something "outside the box." They're pleasurable company for their journey and should be commended for it.


Thursday, January 21, 2010

One A Week Reviews #4 / Jay's Review: I Hope They Serve Beer In Hell

A review I did of a film I just want to warn you away from. In retrospect, it reads a little pissy to me, but my opinion still stands... though that poop joke in the money did get a little funnier the more I thought about it.

It's also this weeks "One A Week Review" because sometimes the best thing a boy can do is WARN others away from crap...



Based on the best-selling book by Tucker Max, this comedy follows the gleefully boozy antics of the author -- played by Matt Czuchry -- whose outrageous behavior at a friend's bachelor party jeopardizes the impending nuptials. Now, Tucker must find a way to make amends to his pal and get himself reinvited to the wedding. Traci Lords, Jesse Bradford and Keri Lynn Pratt co-star in this ribald tale from director Bob Gosse.


This movie opens with cops being called to a domestic disturbance that turns out to be Tucker Max having loud, though consensual, sex with a "deaf chick." He boasts about this in the next two scenes, leading into a discussion on dwarfs that is supposed to make him sound smart and cocky, though really only comes off... stupid and hostile.

A guy comedy is one thing, but here an AIDS joke is followed up with a reference to the "Compost Heap at Planned Parenthood. That's where I would have turned this off if I wasn't reviewing it. Even the sad and supposedly sardonic Jesse Bradford sidekick character who needs "Cheering up" keeps threatening to stab and murder women in bars when they try to talk to him. Spending the first half of the film watching him spew the ugliest of the ugly makes his burgeoning connection with the "Single Mother Stripper With A Heart Of Gold" just a tad hard to buy into... The slightest-of-slight attempts to redeem the Tucker Max character in the last third of the movie is far too little too late. I'll spoil it for you: he stays a sociopath.

The closest thing to a "highlight" is Traci Lords showing up for a brief turn as a near-conquest of Max's. She's a game comedienne and a delight to see that late in the movie, but this appearance is degrading and far beneath her talents. She's the set up for what is easily the most revolting bit of scatological "humor" in cinema history.

As a comedy, I Hope They Serve Beer In Hell is an insult-fest too self-satisfied to be funny. When a drudge of a character points out everything Tucker Max says is "sexist and misogynist" she's set up to be mocked. The problem is that she's right. Comedy can be cruel. Comedy can mock. This isn't comedy. It wants to be dirty and ribald and "Bad Boy" but instead is just mean. It's American Pie by way of American Psycho.

I don't know who spent money making it, but I know I can't recommend spending money to watch it.

The film is presented in Widescreen format with English 5.1 Dolby Digital audio and English and Spanish subtitles. Trailers for Damage, 40 Year-Old Virgin Who Knocked Up Sarah Marshall And Felt Superbad About It auto-play, while the menu leads to trailers for Gentlemen Broncos and The Keeper.

As a comedy, I Hope They Serve Beer In Hell is too mean-spirited to be that funny. It represents a certain kind of guy, but I don't want to be the guy it relates to. I'd feel degraded to be that guy.

Seriously, this might be the first comedy to irritate me to the point of being physically angry.

Not one to watch with your girlfriends around either, boys.

MOVIE: F... no, F-

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Jay's Review: Blood Creek

a review I did of a film that was a very nice surprise of a monster movie...


In 1936, the Wollners, a German family living in Town Creek, West Virginia, are contacted by the Third Reich to host a visiting scholar. In need of money, the accept Professor Ricard Wirth into their home, unaware of the Third Reich's practices in the occult or Wirth's real mission, which will keep the family bound for decades to come. Now, more than 70 years later, Evan Marshall's older brother Victor mysteriously disappears near Town Creek for two years and suddenly returns very much alive, having escaped his captors. Evan asks no questions; at his brother's request, he loads their rifles, packs their boat and follows Victor back to Town Creek on a mission of revenge that will test them in every possible way...

Joel Schumacher has always been well-known for his visuals more than the stories in him films. Just see The Lost Boys, Flatliners, or even Batman & Robin if you're curious. You're not getting as distinct a stylist as you do with a film by Jerry Bruckheimer or either Tony or Ridley Scott but still you know his films are generally going to be easy on the eyes. Blood Creek has more the feel of his lower-budget ventures like Tigerland or Veronica Guerin, but still bears the stamp of his discerning eye for visuals. (There's a shot in the beginning segment, set in 1936, that looks right out of a Universal Studios Horror Film.) While unsure of the pedigree of this film, and primarily knowing the leads (Henry Cavill and Dominic Purcell) from their TV work, it certainly feels like it was meant for a full theatrical release.

The synopsis above gets the film rolling with a pair of brothers hitting the road and no questions asked. This irrational fraternal devotion leads to some very questionable behavior as they go in guns a-blazin' after a West Virginia farm family who has held Vic captive and provoke a whole slew of nasty questions: Why is this family ageless? What's in the black container? Who's bloodied and chained up in the trailer? And, the most classic of questions: What's in the basement?

With Blood Creek you get a certain sense of campy play at work. It's a gory supernatural thriller that feels very original and creative, with a plot like some Comic Book with Nazis, Occultism, family legacies, revenge, Runes, and what I guess I'd call... well, no, I won't spoil the various monsters. Blood Creek feels "fresher" than most horror titles coming out lately. It's got the de rigeur realistic gore, but has more "crazy" in the supernaturally-tinged storyline than I've seen in a long time.

Blood Creek is presented in Widescreen format with English and Spanish subtitles and English 5.1 Surround Sound. The DVD includes a Director's Commentary and trailers for Gamer, Saw VI, Cabin Fever II: Spring Fever, Train, and the websites and

90 stylish minutes that don't feel like they were meant to be (practically) straight to DVD. Visually accomplished, violent, loony as hell; Blood Creek is a nice change from "endangered teens," uncreative "torture porn," and "crazy backwoods families" of late. Okay there's a "crazy backwoods family" here but at least they're not inbred cannibals, and you gotta love that, right? A refreshingly different, easy on the eyes, popcorn-friendly monster movie worth a watch.

(One caveat: not for anyone with a blanket aversion to depictions of violence against animals.)


Sunday, January 17, 2010

One A Week reviews #3: Halloween II

I can understand why people were so resistant to both the Halloween Rob Zombie reboot and the sequel that touched on the original "H2" then went off on it's own way. I think the resistance was mostly to the "revisionism" more than anything else. However, as someone who read comic books as a kid and fiction all his life, I have no problem with the idea of revisionist history and divergent story-lines.

Halloween II - which has probably been blogged more than enough and I can keep this short and sweet - starts with a first-quarter faithful to the original hospital-and-bad-wig-bound Halloween II. After that, it quickly diverges off into the study of a very post-traumatic-stressed girl who instead of being a paragon of "final girl virtue" instead lives in squalor on anti-depressant medications. I think it's a great choice, personally. That story is a more realistic look at a damaged life spiraling out of control... this is the fate you figure the original Laurie would suffer if you thought about it too deeply. For this more realistic Laurie, it's inevitable. I'm not even sure I can be empathetic to her path since it is so right that she'd end up down the path to lunacy.

By opening up the timeline and creating a new story as opposed to part two of the same night makes this an entirely different H2. Having the Laurie character generally losing her marbles. Her finding out she's actually "Angel Meyers" in Loomis' super-insensitive true-crime exploitation book is an inspired touch.

However, when you add the White Horse, the Guy Maddin-inspired dream sequences, and Sheri Moon Zombie doing her best to be the new Millennium's version of Tim Burton's lovely ex-muse Lisa Marie... I've personally never found Moon to be anything less than a charming presence and thinks she gets short-shrift in most reviews. In the original Zombie Halloween she's great in the role of Michael's mother.

I'd also like to see the painting in Danielle Harris' attic - she's playing more than 10 years under her age and looks impeccably right doing it. You've seen decades of people in their late 20s playing teens, but for a girl born in 1977, she looks absolutely 19 in this movie. Harris is realistic and easy to relate to. Her character's demise (intercut with her discovery after) winds up grisly and more affecting than it should be. She's representative of what I think is one of the other main objections to Zombie's Halloweens - the stunt casting.

Since she played Jamie in Halloween 4 and 5, she's iconic shoehorned in here as Annie Brackett. But it's the bit players that get people. Margot Kidder, an unrecognizable Howard Hessman, Betsy Rue (so boldly naked and jiggly in My Bloody Valentine 3-D), Weird Al Yankovic. There aren't as many "hey, it's that guy" moments as the first Zombie Halloween, what with Danny Trejo, Richard Lynch, Leslie Easterbrook, Dee Wallace, Sybil Danning, Mickey Dolenz, and more. Brad Dourif's Sheriff Brackett again proves he's an actor with great skill and presence. He remains my favorite character in both movies.

I think stunt casting generally ruins a mood in movies, though the genre vets who appear in these two Halloweens make mostly comforting appearances. Makes up for some glaring omissions - the near total absence of the iconic Halloween score and gratingly stupid "Rockabilly & Topless Dancers" Halloween party scene. It just screams "something that only happens in movies." The Rocky Horror Halloween costumes and "shaggin' wagon" right outta Prom Night are two touches I happened to like a lot, though.

Malcolm McDowell is good, channelling a kind of evil pomposity as always, and Scout Taylor-Compton (who I inadvertently met and was completely charmed by at HorrorHound Weekend in November without immediately realizing who she was) does a good job in the Laurie role, though seems more misguided waif than the living-in-squalor trappings of her room, wardrobe, and friends suggest. The visions of Mother Meyers and little Michael had by both Laurie and Michael do grate. They're a touch you have to either embrace or reject and I don't think they add to the proceedings.

They do, however, make for an inspired way to explain Laurie's growing detachment from reality and way to incorporate Moon back into the storyline. The super-bright and white Moon clashes with the gritty visuals. Movie's too damn dark in most places. I don't need Mama Moon and baby Michael showing up constantly to haunt the final half-hour of the movie, either.

The gritty, "realistic" visuals clash with the dreamy Moon hallucinations and I think are off-putting in the end. The choice to switch drop the audio of the environment for silence (Michael surprising and attacking Annie) or music (Sheriff Brackett breaking down upon seeing Annie's body and the cut-in of some totally manipulative "Annie as a child" video footage) is a stronger stylistic choice that worked on me. (We've seen this before - the first time I can remember encountering it is the end of Godfather III. Still works.) I like Moon, but could have done with a lot less of her "Galadriel and the horse" and a whole lot more of Dourif and McDowell going head to head as they do FAR too briefly towards the end.

On the whole, I'm calling Halloween II flawed, but worth giving a chance to. It's a very different animal than what was expected. A ghost-haunted mashup into a franchise with baggage I'm not sure it all works. I'll give it to Rob Zombie that it's an individual vision and I'm inclined to favor it on the whole. My response is just about the same one I always have to the flawed-yet-individual movies of another writer-director... John Carpenter.

Monday, January 11, 2010

One A Week Reviews #2: The Ex

Another in my series on One-A-Week reviews, where I'll be trying to aim for quality viewing instead of quantity viewing. By the way, the "quality" there means I'll be trying to pay better attention. My taste in films is still crap.

Why would you possibly wanna watch The Ex?

Well, this is actually a re-watch. I'd seen this one years ago, renting the video for some late night when I knew I wasn't gonna get much sleep. I remembered liking it, but not much about it, so when I saw it on Netflix I knew I had to give it another spin. The Ex has a pretty decent pedigree. A novel by John Lutz, adapted by the brilliant Larry Cohen? Directed by Mark Lester, who gave us Class of 1984, Class of 1999, and Firestarter? A cast of Yancy Butler, chewing the scenery like taffy, along with the dour Nick Mancuso and bland Suzy Amis? What's not to love?

Okay, it hasn't aged well. With a "flat" visual style, heavy-handed score, and general Lifetime TV movie aesthetic, it smacks of it's late 90's roots.

Buter is the completely whack-a-doo Diedre, who's obviously completely obsessed with ex-husband David. In the first scene, she's stalking his new wife and child. In the second, she's showing up at his work site to act disingenuously ignorant of his current situation.

Yancy Butler is just fantastic here. Her raspy voice, direct gaze, and general demeanor of snarl is very effective for the character. Subtlety isn't necessary in a story like this. It's obvious from their first scene together that Diedre was an obsessed mess and still is, while David was very happy to be rid of her. In fact, she's got obsessed flying off of her like sparks. Since David coldly walks away, Diedre handles rejection like anyone would. She uses the name "Molly" (David's new wife) and picks up a married man in the bar, takes him to a hotel room, screws him and drowns him in the bathtub. After, while brushing her hair, she dead-pans into the mirror "You've been a very bad girl today, Molly."

Let me reiterate. Subtlety is not the issue here. When she gets back home, she puts in a video of herself engaging in masochistic sex with David while she calls to taunt and provoke her ex-shrink. Obviously a bad shrink, as she's pretty easy to taunt with a little lesbian teasing and Diedre making a point to share she's not medicating properly...

The next big scene has Diedre showing up at the gym to befriend the real Molly under the name of her shrink, Lillian. Even while playing "endearing" she seems balls-out crazy. Molly, of course, wants to bring her kid in to see Lillian professionally. Diedre also finds out she was so honkin' crazy that David didn't even tell Molly about his first marriage... if you met someone like Diedre in real life, and they had the reaction "Lillian" had, you'd never send your kid to them.

Later on, just running into Diedre, causes David to lose it and start chocking Molly during sex. It's completely obvious that David and Diedre were an excellent match, though he's better at bottling it up. Molly turns to "Lillian" to talk at the gym, and Diedre gets up in the middle of the conversation, breaks into Molly's locker to boldly steal her keys, and then returns all a-smile. You gotta love a character like that. You'll find yourself wishing Butler was playing a little MORE crazy. She's getting in with the wife, with the kid, laying groundwork. Less than a half-hour in you wonder why she's bothering. She should be stomping through their family like the Police Station scene in The Terminator. First time she hangs out with the son, she considers throwing him into a paddle-boat's wheel.

Larry Cohen is the king of the B-movie trash thriller. His experience and efficiency shows in every scene. The glee of the manipulative Diedre revealing she drowned her best friend for empathy and a husband, then tells the kid to go lie to his mom so they can play more is just juicy.
He's also willing to play fair with David's juggling "not playing along" with "how much can I get away with not telling the wife."

Any-whoooo, the total over-the-top whack-a-doo continues as Diedre provokes David and plays Molly and escalates the lunacy. Thankfully it divests of the con-job halfway through and turns into a battle of wills. Diedre is knocking off someone for their apartment (makes sense to me with some buildings) and Dr. Lillian, who really deserves it for being dumb enough to encounter Diedre without backup. Meanwhile, David and Molly start circling the wagons.

It's awful, unbelievable, and beyond exaggerated. I loved it. It's all empty calories and total brain-candy fluff. The story keeps escalating as stupid people do stupid things and Diedre engineers snare traps everyone should see coming from a mile away. Things escalate in this lower-rent but considerably juicier version of Fatal Attraction until Diedre is heading out full-tilt to destroy one incredibly uninteresting family. She even goes so far as to mock their kid with a "wah, wah, wah!" Why Diedre wastes so much time messing with everyone's minds is understandable considering what she wants is attention, but as she rolls through their lives like a maniacal, murderous tank, you'll mostly be wishing there was an all-Diedre sequel. All Butler going loony all the time. Worth a watch for anyone who likes a trashy "thriller."

Saturday, January 9, 2010

One A Week Reviews #1: Deadline

In my ever expanding effort to get myself motivated to post more on here (So I took December pretty much "off," who didn't?) and recognizing that I seem to mostly put up movie notes at this point , I'm going to try and review one flick a week. I watch a lot of stuff, and am actually going to be watching less over the course of this year as I get other things in my life rollin' (more on this later). So now. when I do watch movies I normally wouldn't mention on here, I'm going to try and be a little more discerning and pay a little more attention and review 'em.

This "One A Week Review" theme is going to be runnning on top of posting the reviews that I write for and any other posts I write. I also plan to do "The Yucky Movies of October" again in 2010, though I'll plan a little further ahead for htat one.

This weekend we'll actually have two since last Saturday was number one of fifty-two in the year. This insures that it's also something I can have wrapped up before New Years. The best laid plans, and all, occasionally go awry, right?

...and remember, thar be spoilers here...

One A Week #1: Deadline

Would I even have watched Deadline if not for the untimely death of Brittany Murphy? Maybe. There's several of her films parked in my Netflix queue as I always liked her presence in films going all the way back to Tai in Clueless and her super-showy role in Don't Say A Word but they also tend to get pushed back further down the list. This one has generally been no exception, though it's recent publicity over it's cover art probably made it a little more attractive to watch.

(Seriously, check that image out, wouldn't you scramble to pull that while also getting the entire world to see it by announcing you're going to pull it?)

In this film she's Alice, a screenwriter (write what you know people) who, though struggling, has a damn nice New York apartment. She takes off to the isolated (aren't they always?) country house of a friend to "complete her work," by which she means take lots of baths, listen to the house creek, and avoid an abusive husband (or boyfriend, I'm not quite clear on it) who, of course, escapes from prison while she's there.

She videotapes obsessively and also finds a set of videotapes in the attic. Her tapes reveal her secret relationship with her friend Rebecca (Tammy Blanchard, who plays lesbian pining so heavy-handedly in the beginning you're glad to see her go), while the others feature the previous inhabitants of the house, Lucy and David Woods (played by Thora Birch and Marc Blucas). Strange events start happening - animated text on her laptop, overflowing bathtubs, all making her wonder if the house is haunted. She could also just be over-reacting, as medications are mentioned, and Murphy's performance is pretty much "depressed, anxious sonambulance." Stringy hair and bloated lips (which highlight that her facial features are asymmetrical to the point of making her look like a stroke victim in her first close-up) are hard to get past, and I really wish this was a role that required energy out of her. There's lots of actresses who can play "still" and "wan," but she really could do more.

My biggest problem with any film featuring a possible haunting is that any scene featuring a mirror or just a deep-focus view of a room has me expecting a jump-scare to come at any time. This sort of heightened anxiety/expectation in the viewer means one quickly detaches and says "Screw this." Deadline even has the "ghost appearing in the medicine cabinet mirror" shot, which is so de rigeur for this sorta film that I now hold it against horror films when I see it.

The Birch and Blucas story starts out with simple domesticity, then quickly implies she's off having affairs... though by 40 minutes in, at their third sequence, I started to wonder if "instead of watching their videotapes, is she hallucinating her screenplay? Or playing out the relationship with her boyfriend through these two in her mind?"

Alice keeps watching the videotapes, watching their relationship crumble as Blucas' character gets more and more obsessed with whether or not Birch's is cheating. I always like Birch (last seen around these Big Lug Lands in Train), and this film is no exception. There's a surprisingly graceful scene of Lucy and Alice talking to one another at the bedroom mirror that almost made up for the "Lucy as a jumpy ghost" scene before. Sadly, right after it is a call from her girlfriend pointing out that the storyline we've been putting together for David and Lucy seem to be the same events that happened between Alice and her boyfriend/husband. (Again I never got a clear idea of if she was married to him or not.)

So, there's haunty events, there's Alice's fragility, there's David putting together enough clues to figure out he has a reason to be paranoid and making Lucy a ghost. (My biggest jump-scare? When Birch has a quick-blink during a close up shot of her playing Lucy's open-eyed corpse. That startled me.) David then makes himself one, which has you wondering "well, then how is it they disappeared without a trace (mentioned during Rebecca's call in the last paragraph) yet his body was swinging from the rafters? Wouldn't a realtor notice it before Alice's friend bought the joint?"

That's a question answered at the last 12 minutes of the movie when David shows up looking for Lucy...

(I spoil the ending below, proceed at your own risk)

The end gets a bit confusing and Rebecca shows up at the end as the character who clarifies things for the audience. Being that our A and B plot threads were pretty much the same storyline, they come together confusingly.

David returns and attacks Alice, calling her Lucy. Lucy's ghost shows up to scare him into falling to his death and rescuing Alice from drowning. Rebecca shows up at the house and finds her in a dry-tub in very bad shape. Alice's barely-audible muttering of her conclusion doesn't help matters as I really didn't catch what all she said, except it was something about David faking his disappearance and returing to the house.

We're left with Rebecca putting the pieces together and finding Alice's screenplay. In the beginning she has a line imploring Alice to "write her own life," and she essentially did just that. Her screen play IS the David and Lucy story. Rebecca goes downstairs (passing the spot where David's body clearly isn't) and picks up the camcorder that's been so omnipresent through the whole flick. One videotape David took of Lucy sleeping Alice actually shot of Rebecca. So our supernatural ghost story is really the psychodrama of an emotionally fragile battered wife who's a repressed bisexual? These people are unbelievable and kinda annoying.

I like Brittany Murphy. I like Thora Birch. I did not particularly like Deadline. It tries to be a ghost story solely so it can pull a slight-of-hand "oooh, we fooled you" moment. No thanks.

I say "meh."

Friday, January 1, 2010

Jay's Review: The Storm

"24" meets "Twister" in this "disaster (of a) movie" I reviewed for Enjoy!



With eye-popping special effects and amazing action, this apocalyptic thriller will leave you breathless! Techno-billionaire Robert Terrell (Treat Williams, "Everwood") has a sinister plan: rule the world by controlling the weather. But when a test goes wrong and stirs up a global cataclysm, it's up to a dedicated scientist and a renegade reporter to halt the Megastorm's deadly rampage. also starring James Van Der Beek ("Dawson's Creek"), Teri Polo (Meet the Parents), and Luke Perry ("Beverly Hills, 90210"), The Storm shows what happens when nature turns against mankind - with devastating results.


Sir Robert Halmi is the new Irwin Allen. As the current reigning kind of the disaster movie, he and his son grind out miniseries and TV movies of killer infections, natural disasters, and fantasy adventures madeup of equal parts formula and pure entertainment. There's always life-or-death stakes played out by characters trapped in comparatively middling domestic dramas. What worked so well as the formula of disaster classics like The Towering Inferno, The Poseidon Adventure, and Earthquake works just as well here in The Storm. This time, the Halmis at it again with a TV miniseries featuring Lex Luthor-worthy plot to conquer the world thru weather control.

What didn't work as the MacGuffin for the film version of The Avengers winds up getting a bit out of hand in The Storm (also known as "Megastorm"). Perhaps Emma Peel could've helped. The plot immediately kicks into motion as things start falling apart in the first ten minutes. Five more and we establish that the James Van Der Beek and Teri Polo characters used to date, because you can't have cataclysm without renewed romance in a disaster flick. If you don't think the EMT with the pregnant wife are going to have storylines that build as the storm clouds do, you've never paid much attention to this sort of flick before. (There's an unexpected plot-twist about 35 minutes in that breaks the formula of this sort of entertainment. It's violent, alienating, and surprisingly jarring. The Storm slathers on action and bloodshed to pad it's running time, setting it apart from disaster flicks of yore.)

There's several subplots and a slow build since you have to have cliff-hangers at the 80 minute mark that ends part one. Will an evil billionaire with the government in his back pocket be any match for a desk-jockey number-crunching scientist? Isn't Luke Perry's hair a bit long for someone in Military Intelligence? Will our subplots all be resolved by the end of the inclement weather? You know the answers, but taking the ride is where the fun is...

Trailers for Meteor, Knights of Bloodsteel (both featuring Christopher Lloyd), and The Last Templar. Presented in Widescreen and in English Dolby Digital 4.1, the disc has no other features.

Comforting like an old shoe, and nearly just as... aromatic, The Storm is another Soap Opera/SciFi hybrid where special effects run rampant and actors cash paychecks in a nearly 3 hour cheese fest. Okay for a rainy day if you're a disaster movie and action flick lover. Otherwise, the mean-spiritedness and off-handed thrown-in body count make this is something you can take a pass on...