Sunday, October 30, 2011

Danger! 50,000 Zombies!

Hello Youtubes!
Nick Frost and Dr. Russell Fell shows us how to survive a zombie infested world in this three part instructional video: Danger! 50,000 Zombies!


What did we learn?
  • Run Slow Talk Low
  • I'm in the open? No!
  • Don't be lunch you stupid #$%@!
  • They're not magic, they're not supernatural, they're just dead folk
  • Don't Panic
  • Stay Quiet
  • Get Inside (get a Playstation)
  • Destroy the Brain

Saturday, October 29, 2011

Paranormal Activity 3

Halloween Movie

As I said before, in my Last Exorcism review, crowd reactions are priceless. The crowd reaction at Paranormal Activity 3 was super entertaining. I think I enjoyed the gasping and the screaming from the audience more than the movie itself. There were a lot of cat scares in Paranormal Activity 3 and some of them were just old fashion jump out at the camera scares that had nothing to do with the paranormal. I still think this is a cheap trick but, I did enjoy one of them a lot. I love a good practical joke. I think after I die, I'd come back as a poltergeist. Don't get me wrong, the movie is still creepy at parts and it was entertaining. The screaming audience is the proof of that. I want to talk more about Paranormal Activity 3 but I can't do so without spoiling some of the fun. I'll leave the rest of this review after the "JUMP!" It's not a detailed assessment. It's just a general review but, I'm going talk a bit about the first two movie and, it might spoil the story for people whom haven't seen them before. The three movies are connected and the continuity is set up nicely. It's not necessary to watch the first two Paranormal Activity movies before this one but, it would help. For now, I highly recommend checking out Paranormal Activity 3 during this Halloween weekend. It's a very fun time. When the movie was over, a couple of people in the audience couldn't wait to get out of the dark claustrophobic theater.


(5/5 if watched in the right atmosphere and company)

Thursday, October 27, 2011

The Thing (2011)

Halloween Movie

"The Thing" is an alien organism that invades its hosts on a cellular level and imitates them. Creating a near perfect copy of its victims. Ironically, according to a film critic, the 2011 version of The Thing is just like the alien in the movie. It (the movie) imitates the John Carpenter's The Thing (1982). I'd have to agree. Right off the bat, at the beginning of the 2011 film, the old 1982 Universal Studios logo was shown. The tonal structure of the movie was a lot like the 1982 version. Even the score is very similar to Enrico Morricone's composition for John Carpenter's movie. The Thing (2011) is a facsimile of the 1982 version but, much like the alien's imitations, it looks the same on the outside but something is off...

That's as far as I'd agree with the critic because, I enjoyed the The Thing (2011). I think the similarities were done to be consistent with the 1982 version. At least that's what I got out of it. Sure the plot with the guessing game of who's a "thing" and who's not is just like the 1982 version but, we do get to see some pretty far out concepts. We get the story of what was in that slab of ice. Don't expect to see a full shot of the alien though. I was disappointed by that. We get blurry glimpses and parts of it but, the full infested alien was never on screen. I thought the entire movie was going to be like that. I'm glad it wasn't. All the infested human were shown in horrible mutilated alien logic. I don't even know how to describe them. A lot of tentacles and one of them was a huge mouth. I wonder if the "The Thing" is one huge organism that was broken apart on a cellular level and spread throughout the galaxy? In any case, this movie delivered on the "you gotta be $%#*'ing kidding" moments. Also, we finally get to see the inside of the alien ship and designs for the um... engine? controls? Whatever was in the ship, the designs were pretty interesting. I wish more of the ship was explored.

Not only does John McLane (Die Hard) kick ass, so does his daughter, Mary Elizabeth Winstead. With the parallels of this movie and the 1982 version, she takes on a similar role that Kurt Russell had in the older film. I was afraid that Mary Elizabeth Winstead had too much of a doe eyed demeanor and couldn't take on the action that the The Thing (2011) demanded but, she kicked ass. I shouldn't be surprised, she did alright in Live Free or Die Hard and Scott Pilgrim. Joel Edgerton (Owen Lars from Revenge of the Sith) and Adewale Akinnuoye-Abaje (Mr. Eko on Lost) played the American helicopter pilots who were in charge of taxiing the Norwegian scientists from the Antarctic research base back to civilization. They could have been played by anyone. Almost all of the characters in this movie can played by any actor and the roles are interchangeable. They were there as fodder for the alien organism. That's one of the drawbacks of this prequel. I didn't care much for the characters other than Mary Elizabeth Winstead's Kate Lloyd.

Yes, it's a prequel. Even at points, it feels like a remake. The Thing (2011) shows us what happened to the Norwegian base that Kurt Russell explored in the 1982 movie. All the details of the destruction was fleshed out... the axe on the wall, the holes in the base, the scorch marks, the fused body... creepy... Matthijs van Heijningen Jr. direction was able to give off the creepiness and other worldly concept of the organism. Heijningen also did a really good job of not just haphazardly blow a hole in the wall just because it was there in the 1982 film. All the predestined mayhem (like the axe on the wall) was done very well and felt organic. The Thing (2011) is not as bad as most critics made it out to be. There are some logic holes but nothing that's super dumb. Also since this film is set in 1982, there was nothing that I could spot which did not belong in that era. Technology for example. It's definitely worth checking out. Especially when you want to be creeped out in the season of Halloween. You don't need to watch the 1982 movie to understand this one. But if there is one Thing to watch, I'd go with John Carpenter's The Thing (1982). Every subsequent scene of the alien organism in the 1982 version makes me forget the previous $%#*'ed up moments. Rob Bottin's creature designs in the 1982 version is just #*$%'ing unreal.


A bit of trivia: The Thing (2011) is the prequel to John Carpenter's The Thing (1982). John Carpenter's movie is a remake of Howard Hawks-Christian's 1951 movie The Thing from Another World. The 1951 movie is an adaptation of John W. Campbell, Jr.'s novella Who Goes There?.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Cosplay Appreciation

Neither Race, Creed, Gender...

...Orientation, Health nor Species even... should be ridiculed for cosplaying. Anyone can cosplay and I think everyone should at least once in their lives. In a way we already did. We might have done so when we were younger. How many of us had put on a cape and flew? What about Halloween or themed parties? We'd donned a costume once. Was it fun? Hmm... I guess that depends on personal experience. For me, I had a blast! That is why the cosplays are my favorite part at all the conventions (cons) I'd attended. No matter how detailed or low budget the costumes are, they are all fantastic and it does take at least a bit of courage to wear a red bodysuit as Deadpool, it takes endurance to carry more than 100lbs of armor as Zora Link, it takes working out like there's no tomorrow as Clubber Lang... how many of us can execute that much commitment and with such enthusiasm for that matter?

Even being an observer, it's a great feeling to see little kids being ecstatic when they get to meet Finn, Powergirl and Batgirl. Now, don't judge the kids for not knowing better, somewhere after graduating high school and needing to make "grown up" life choices we forget just how smart we were as kids and trust me, the kids today are as smart (if not smarter). They know the cosplayers are not the real superheroes but, it's just amazing to see a live version of their (our) heroes walking around. Why do you think most of us tend to prefer live action comic book movies over animation. Even if a movie has a bit of CGi we'd complain. I guess I share that same joy with the kids. The cosplays adds a whole other dimension to the cons. Even if the costume is made out of cardboard, put together by duct tape and painted with a marker... it's still creative and no matter how it came out aesthetically, it still took work and creativity. The only ones I don't like are the "too cool for school" ironic "cosplays." To me those come off as apathetic and in a way it seems to be mocking all the cosplayers whom are genuinely conveying their elation.

Don't make them pity you!
If the purpose of going to a con is to make fun of people in costumes then you're just wasting your time and energy. If you don't share my appreciation with cosplays, that's ok. Everyone's got a "thing." There's a ton of other things to see and do at the cons. If your interest is finding deals at the vendors, that alone can take up more than a day. There are also all the different panels to attend. Trust me even waiting in line, at one spot for the more popular panels takes energy. Just remember to stay respectful of others. Leave the bullying back at high school. I remember in high school how I was stereotyped. I found comfort in a group of friends during lunch who did not care how I looked, which classes I was in or, what my hobbies were. Well, for the most part we liked geeky stuff and it didn't matter which specific "stuff" I liked. Somehow we were able to find common ground. Because of this, naively I believed the troubles of the world can be worked out only if we can relate to one another. Even to this day, I hold onto that belief and for the most part this can be found at the cons. The cosplayers are the ones who are leading us in this multicultural (multispecies sometimes) rally. This sounds heavy and, in a way, it is a complicated balance of tolerance that will work only if we let go of social intolerance. It is important to do so or, we'll miss out on the one thing that matters most at the cons, to have Fun! I would like to take this opportunity to show my appreciation to all the cosplayers I'd came across. Thank you for embodying the joy and enthusiasm at the cons and thank you for not getting annoyed at me when I ask to take pictures. You are more than just people in costumes, you are the spirit of the conventions. Stay shiny!

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

New York Comic Con 2011


It was hot, smelly, claustrophobic, and exhausting. It was the New York Comic Con. Combined with the Anime Festival under one roof at the Javits Center, the Comc Con resulted in a record breaking attendance of 105,00 people. Literally a sea of people packed from wall to wall. Sounds intimidating? It was. It also had all the qualities I listed above but, what drew all those people to this place? The answer is one tiny word, FUN! The one thing that can supersede anything. When I was younger, I played basketball in 90 degree weather with 90 percent humidity for hours and not notice the heat because, it was FUN! There also was the time when I went skiing in subzero temperature, during hail conditions, when the snow was frozen and slippery. All that didn't matter because of the FUN! Such a small word for such an awesome vehicle for perseverance. The New York Comic Con was definitely an awesome experience. For the entire weekend of October 14th-16th I was overwhelmed by the convention. It was electrifying. I was thinking, if the Matrix needed energy, this would be the place to harness an unlimited supply. I had never experienced anything like it. Waves and waves of people flowing towards their fandom. There was something there for everyone. The vendors had a variety of interesting collectibles to offer. From food to toys to books to clothes, movies, posters, etc... The next neighborhood over from the Vendors Area was the Artist Alley where the artists were hard at work on fan commissioned sketches. It was nice to see a few familiar faces in there. Sarah Richard, Yuko Ota, J. Scott Campbell, and Adam Hughes were among the many talents in the Alley. In order to escape the hordes of people, I'd had to wait in line to get into the panels. Sometimes I was in queue for more than hr. They were worth the wait though.

This year's big draw was the Walking Dead and the upcoming Avengers movie. During The Avengers Panel, Chris Evans, Mark Ruffalo, Scarlett Johansson, Tom Hiddleston and Chris Hemsworth showed up to talk about the movie. Mark Hammill (Luke Skywalker) was also a guest for 2 separate panels. One dedicated to the Jedi Knight himself and the other was a promotion for the "New Gen" comic book (and soon to be movie). Mark Hamill was available for autographs as well. In order to get his autograph, I waited in line at the Autographing Area near the Hasbro Pavillion where the costume contest and some of the performances were held. Then there was the Anime Festival area. To get there, I banked a right at the giant balloon of Finn and Jake from Adventure Time to go up to the upper level of the Javits Center. A large number of Anime cosplayers were gathered there. I can't do the convention justice in this article. It's tough for me to put in words of being under one roof with thousands of creative cosplayers, hundreds of events, the many geek gods and goddesses promoting our favorite shows, movies, videogames and comics... and most importantly, to share a spot with a hundred thousand people whom are passionate about the same things I am. All those years of being made fun of for liking the things I like was washed away by this gigantic ocean of (my fellow) geeks. I belong! Even after a week I am still shocked and awed. I'm definitely going again next year and I recommend everyone to go, even at least for a day. It's a once in a life time experience to be in this ginormous assemblage of enthusiasm.

There's a lot more after the "JUMP!"

Saturday, October 8, 2011

The Last Exorcism

Halloween Movie

In the Drive review, I talked about how stingy I am about going to the theaters. There was a time in my life when all I did was go to the movies. It's one of my favorite past times. Watching the colorful explosions, hearing the sound mixes and score, seeing the giant pretty faces (sometimes bodies) on the big screen, inspired by epic wide shots of landscapes and also, experiencing a good audience reaction is priceless. I was there when Maximus took down the chariot in Gladiator. The audience clapped and cheered and at one point we started to chant "MAXIMUS!" For that one moment, everyone in the audience was united. Just thinking about it again gives me goose bumps. Then there was this one time watching The Others, we sat with the overflow crowd of the sold out American Pie 2. This audience was mostly girls and wow, what a fun time we had hearing the crowd scream in unison during the scary moments. Sometimes, even ignorant crowd reactions can be funny. Once, during the opening of a Chinese film starring Jet Li (李連杰) and directed by Zhang Yimou (張藝謀), Hero (英雄), someone yelled out, "I didn't know I had to read! Motherfucker, I can't read!" In any case, you might go to the movies for the majestic cinematography, or for the sake of a date, or for the popcorn, or just to escape the heat during the summer or the cold during the winter... Me... I love crowd reactions and when I got my first real taste of it during Gladiator, I kept on going back for more.

What does my recent frugal sensibility and my love for audience reaction has to do with The Last Exorcism? I regret that I missed this in the theaters. I decided not to watch The Last Exorcism at the theaters because Eli Roth's name was attached and it's another mockumentary type of horror. Didn't the Blair Witch Project run that well dry with, sadly, one attempt? Also, I understand Eli Roth's work but, at the same time, I just "don't get it." I do not mind torture horror movies, or super gory horror movies. I love the Saw series. So, maybe Eli Roth will grow on me in the future? Eli Roth did not direct The Last Exorcism he's the producer and was sitting on this project for a while until he found a director for it: Daniel Stamm. Stamm previously wrote and directed a film in a documentary format called A Necessary Death. The film impressed Eli Roth and he wanted Stamm's vision for The Last Exorcism. I can say what I will about Eli Roth but he knows his horror and, he knows his talents. Later on, Ashley Bell was brought on board as the possessed girl after an amazing screen test. Patrick Fabian also had a great screen test as the Reverend Cotton Marcus. There's an interesting story with one of the screen tests: Caleb Landry Jones had an alright screen test and was told to come back later after he's less high. He told the casting crew that he didn't smoke up, that's how he looks like normally and he gets that a lot. The casting crew decided to cast him anyway because they were impressed with his subtleties so, to our benefit and, according to Patrick Fabian, to the ensemble's benefit, Caleb got the job. How do I know all this? Blu Ray extras baby! At first, I got the movie from Netflix. I was so impressed by it that I went and bought the Blu Ray.

I really like The Last Exorcism and I can only imagine what the crowd reaction was like at the theaters. I wish I was there. There is a dark and creepy mood in this movie which is a result of the supernatural subject and the documentary format blending well together. The credit definitely goes to Daniel Stamm and his cinematographer Zoltan Honti. They did a fantastic job holding the audience's vision to their mercy. They have an understanding which most horror mockumentaries tend to be ignorant about, that the set up is as important as the scare. Another important factor are believable actors to draw us into this faux reality. Patrick Fabian as Reverend Cotton Marcus has a lot of on screen charisma. He sold me right off the bat in the beginning of the movie with his banana bread recipe sermon. I don't remember seeing Patrick Fabian in anything else. The production crew of the The Last Exorcism made it a point to cast "unknowns." The film crew following the Reverend around is made up of two people: the cameraman, Daniel Moskowitz (played by Adam Grimes) and Iris Reisen (played by Iris Bahr). Iris Bahr is the only person I can positively recognize in this film. She was in "The Ski Lift" episode of Curb Your Enthusiasm. Reverend Cotton Marcus is hoping that the documentary can expose exorcism as a fraud. Cotton Marcus grew up as a child preacher and comes from a long line of exorcists. He believes that exorcism is more of a psychological practice than supernatural. Especially after he read a news article of a child's death from asphyxiation during an exorcism. This also shook his faith in religion. For the sake of the documentary, Cotton Marcus answers a cry for help at an old Louisiana farm house. This is when we meet Nell Sweetzer, played by the astonishing Ashley Bell.

If Patrick Fabian's charisma was not enough to pull you into the story, Ashley Bell's charm definitely will. When we first see her as the possessed girl, Nell Sweetzer, she comes off as a heart warming sweet young lady. I didn't want to believe that anything awful had or will happen to her in the film. Why would anyone or anything would want to hurt such a lovely girl?! Nell's story is truly heart breaking. Until the ending of The Last Exorcism the audience was free to wonder if Nell was really possessed by a demon. Was she abused by her alcoholic father or, was she bullied by her bother Caleb? The father, Louis Sweetzer (played by Louis Herthum), is a devout Christian who lost his wife to cancer and afraid that he might lose his daughter's soul to the devil. I might have seen Louis Herthum in other movies before, he does look familiar. Caleb Landry Jones is Nell's brother Caleb, who holds his own whenever he's on screen. The casting crew was right about his subtle talents. After The Last Exorcism, Caleb Landry Jones appeared in X-Men: First Class and also did a memorable acting job as Banshee. Back to The Last Exoercism... So, was the family the reason for the possession problem? Keeping that question in mind, this is where Ashley Bell is astonishing. Her acting kept us wondering the true nature of her possession. With minimal special effects and make up along with great lighting, Ashley Bell as the nastier possessed Nell, the sweet girl is totally gone and it's easy to believe that another person or thing took over. Is this schizophrenia? Even some of the seemingly impossible body contortions are real. Ashley Bell is double jointed and studied dance, she can preform some cringe worthy uncomfortable "bends." For one of the exorcism scenes, Ashley had an idea during the night before the shoot to bend the way she did and the director Daniel Stamm decided to use it.

As I said, it's until the end of The Last Exorcism that we are left wondering. The ending drew a lot of arguments for and against the film. Whether you like or hate the film, the ending is key. I for one, love it. I believe it completes the journey of Reverend Cotton Marcus. There are talks of a sequel. I just hope the sequel doesn't diminish the Reverend's actions at the end of this film. I highly recommend The Last Exorcism for Halloween or anytime of the year for that matter. It just seems a bit more creepier during Halloween. I really like the film (did I say that already?) but, it's not without its flaws. For me, personally, I don't like the idea of music being edited in. Then again, The Last Exorcism is edited as a finished documentary and not as a "found footage" type of realism. On the subject of editing, Shilpa Sahi did an amazing job editing The Last Exorcism. She went through hundreds of footage and chose great moments for the final cut. Then there is the cameraman. Whenever we don't see the cameraman (Daniel Moskowitz) on screen, it is the film's cinematographer, Zoltan Hontim, navigating a huge and heavy camera through the cramped areas during one of the hottest summers in Louisiana. There are four possession movies I truly like and The Last Exorcism is #2. This is due to the great cast and crew. I almost wrote this movie off as nothing but a gimmicky draw. I'm glad I didn't.


HALLOWEEN LESSON: heavy boots helps with back bends

GEEK CREDS: Ashley Bell's parents are Victoria Carroll and Michael Bell. Both of her parents are voice actors. Her mother, Victoria Bell, did voice acting on Scooby Doo, Batman the Animated Series, The Smurfs and a whole lot more. Ashley's father, Michael Bell, did a whole bunch of voice acting as well but, what blows my mind is his voice work on Transformers (80's animation). He was the voice of:
  • Prowl
  • Sideswipe
  • Scrapper
  • Brainstorm

Monday, October 3, 2011

Monster Madness

Hello Youtubes!

I first stumbled upon James Rolfe on youtube when I was searching for old Nintendo game footage. I forgot which game I searched for but, he reviewed that certain game with a lot of frustrated rage as his Angry Nintendo Nerd persona. He later broadened his shitty games from the past horizons and, reviewed more than just Nintendo games. With this, he changed the persona's name to the Angry Video Game Nerd. The game reviews are a way for James Rolfe to do what he loves most: play video games and making movies. He seems to have unlimited knowledge on video games and movies... and especially horror movies. This year is the 5th year that he is doing horror movie reviews for each day in October. That's 31 individual reviews in the month of October. He calls this series of reviews: "Monster Madness". It is well worth checking out. James Rolfe has a lot of interesting facts and trivia to share. The past reviews included classics such as:

-the 1931 Dracula film starring Bela Lugosi
-Japan's famous kaiju Godzilla and...
-even crappy movies in the 80's like Texas Chainsaw Massacre 2

Watching these reviews is like sitting with a friend and listening to his funny comments. James Rolfe doesn't filter or hold back his enthusiasm in his "Monster Madness" reviews. He tells it like it is.

The youtube clip above is just a trailer. Head on over to Cinemassacre for the full reviews:

Saturday, October 1, 2011


Drive is the best film I had seen in theaters in 2011. With limited funds, I have to choose and pick the movies I'd like to watch at the cinema. The first thing on my criteria is genre, which doesn't really narrow things down that much. Then, I tend to follow certain film makers (producers, directors, etc...). After that, I'd look at who the writers are and finally the actors. I love certain actors but good actors tend to choose bad movies. So, in this economy, I have to be frugal. Not every choice is a winner (Green Lantern) but, I have to learn to move on or, rag on them on this blog. When I first watched the Drive "Getaway" clip, I thought it looked really good and possessed a lot of potential but wasn't convinced enough to watch the movie (it's $10 - $15 for a ticket!). The clip was very suspenseful with some pretty good direction. I had no idea who the director was or who's in the movie. I recognized Ryan Gosling as the "getaway" Driver and I'd only heard of him from the Notebook. So, I filed the movie under "rental." It wasn't until the release of the full trailer that I found out more about Drive. It stars Albert Brooks, Carey Mulligan, Bryan Cranston, Ron Perlman, Christina Hendricks, not to mention Ryan Gosling. I'd seen all of the other actors' previous works and like them a lot. Then at the end of the trailer, Nicolas Winding Refn's name fades in. Nicolas Winding Refn!

Alright, you might not have heard of him and wondering why I was so excited. He's not too well known yet. He wrote and directed a Danish crime trilogy called Pusher. The trilogy made a ton of money in Europe with a lot of acclaim. At times, it's compared to The Godfather movies. It's a dangerous thing being compared to a classic like that. That type of hype could make or break this talented director from Denmark. From the looks of it, Refn getting the offer to direct Drive, I'd like to think that the hype made him.

When plans were made for Drive in 2008, the movie was originally intended for Neil Marshall (Dog Soldiers, Descent) to be at the director's helm and Hugh Jackman to play the role of the Driver. In 2010, both of them were no longer attached to the project. Then, Ryan Gosling signed on to play the Driver and was given the chance to choose a director. He chose Nicolas Winding Refn because he (Gosling) is a fan of Refn's work. Still, knowing the director being Nicolas Winding Refn wasn't enough for me to get off my butt and go to the theaters. Despite liking Refn's previous works, the Pusher trilogy and Bronson, I was still iffy about going to watch Drive. I was feeling extra cheap. It wasn't until my brother highly recommended... almost demanded me to watch Drive on the big screen that I finally jumped off that fence. He was right. I am so glad that I invested $11 on this movie. The direction, cinematography, acting, action, score... was excellent. The screenplay was simple, nothing too intricate. A good story/movie doesn't necessarily need to be complicated. Before I go on further about Drive, I highly recommend watching this in the theater (this is not a late movie review, Drive is currently playing in the theaters). It'll still be a good movie to watch at home but, you won't get the same experience as certain movies in the past had shown us, that it's worth investing time and money to sit in front of a big screen with an audience. There is more to this review after the "JUMP!" link below. If you don't want to read the full (lengthy) review that's fine. So, I'm breaking format and embedding the trailer and my rating right here at the front end and, you can always do a CTRL+F after the jump for keywords. Before I meet you on the other side, I like to say: Drive is pretty damn good!


(Drive has some geek creds in the casting: Ron Perlman (Hellboy), Christina Hendricks (Firefly), Carey Mulligan (Doctor Who: Blink), and Bryan Cranston has a geek cred too, more on him after the "JUMP!")