Wednesday, October 16, 2019

Wednesday Horror: Eight-Legged Freaks

Film: Eight Legged Freaks
Format: DVD from Rockford Public Library on The New Portable.

I don’t like spiders. I mean, I understand that spiders are useful and eat a lot of annoying insects. I get that they’re far more helpful than harmful, but they genuinely freak me out. I try my best not to kill them, but move them outside when I find them. Still, I find them…unpleasant. It’s made some parts of some movies difficult. The Aragog portions of the Harry Potter films, Shelob in The Lord of the Rings. Arachnophobia was difficult despite it being a comedy. And now I can say the same thing about Eight Legged Freaks.

Before I launch into my typical look at the narrative, there are a couple of things I need to bring up regarding this film. The first is that I’m not a huge fan of David Arquette, who is going to be the closest thing we have to a heroic main character. I’m not sure what it is; there’s something about his face that makes me want to punch it. Second is that his romantic interest/the female lead is played by Kari Wuhrer, a name that I knew I recognized when I saw it. It turns out that Kari Wuhrer, among other things, played Tanya, the bad-ass secret agent in Command & Conquer: Red Alert 2. As it happens, I wrote the official hint book for that game, and it’s one of the best games I ever got the chance to work on. In that sense, her presence balances out Arquette’s.

Sunday, October 13, 2019

Off Script: The Taking of Deborah Logan/The Taking

Film: The Taking of Deborah Logan (The Taking)
Format: DVD from Rockford Public Library on laptop.

I don’t know why it was so difficult for me to find The Taking of Deborah Logan (also known as simply The Taking). I mean, it’s certainly a movie I’d heard of when it was released, and it’s only a few years old, but it’s not available in the entire network of my local library, not at the local university library, and not evidently owned by NetFlix. So, when I found it in a library that I’m able to go to only about once a month, I snatched it up.

The Taking of Deborah Logan is a film that is going to be thought of as found footage despite the fact that it kind of isn’t in the sense that the footage wasn’t lost and recovered as in films like The Blair Witch Project and Cloverfield. What it is more than “found” footage is “unedited” footage. This isn’t me being snarky, because the movie was certainly edited. It’s designed to look like the unedited footage of what was to be a documentary, though. This means a lot of non-professional-looking camera shots, some shakiness, and what comes across as unrehearsed dialogue.

Thursday, October 10, 2019

A List Update

It seems a little late this year, but the new version of the 1001 Movies list is out. As tends to be the case these days, I've seen most of the entries already. The 2019 version includes 12 new listings. I've seen eight of them and have posted reviews of seven, so I guess I'll be watching Avengers: Infinity War again.

Anyway, here's Wonderwall:
The Greatest Showman (2017)
Phantom Thread (2017)
Avengers: Infinity War (2018)
BlacKkKlansman (2018)
Capernaum (2018)
Crazy Rich Asians (2018)
Hereditary (2018)
The Favourite (2018)
Roma (2018)
Sorry to Bother You (2018)
A Star is Born (2018)
Vice (2018)

A few thoughts--

It's nice to see another superhero movie make the list that isn't a Batman film, but I'd have genuinely perferred to see Spider-Man: Into the Spiderverse on the list rather than Infinity War. This is not because I've posted a review of the former and I have to rewatch the later now. It's because it's genuinely a better movie, and arguably the best MCU-related film so far. But, The List has always been biased against animation, and that's not going to change this year, evidently.

I haven't seen the latest version of A Star is Born (it's sitting on the table next to me), but I'm a little disappointed that it's here. Maybe it's great, but do we need another version of this story? It'll be the third version I watch for this blog, and while I was going to watch it anyway, it seems that there's plenty of space for movies that tell a new story here instead of something we've all seen before. Honestly, I could say the same thing about Crazy Rich Asians. It's a fine movie, but aside from the all-Asian cast in an American-financed movie, this is nothing that hasn't been seen a hundred times. It feels a lot like the sort of "rich people romance" movies that were so prevalent during the Great Depression. It's a fine movie, but is it really required viewing in any real sense?

Off the top of my head, Can You Ever Forgive Me?, A Quiet Place, Annihilation, and Won't You Be My Neighbor? all seem like better choices. But hey, who am I to tell the Listmakers what to do (other than once a year at Christmas)?

It's also interesting to see that, as far as I know, the previous Best Picture winner did not make the list. Green Book is not here, and that feels off. Then again, I wouldn't choose to have it here, either, so maybe this is a good thing.

So, assuming I can find Capernaum by the end of the year, I should be able to knock these out before New Year's.

Wednesday, October 9, 2019

Wednesday Horror: The Mummy's Hand; The Mummy's Tomb

Film: The Mummy’s Hand; The Mummy’s Tomb
Format: DVDs from Cortland Public Library on rockin’ flatscreen.

My friend Dawn is a librarian at the public library in the town just east of where I live. The Cortland Public Library is tiny, just two rooms, but it’s got a fantastic movie collection in no small part because of Dawn’s work. For the last few months, Dawn and I have had a movie night on the first Saturday of the month. She brings snacks, I bring beer, and we invite the public. We ask for a $1 donation, the idea being that we’ll use that money to help improve the library’s movie collection. Well, we made our first purchase recently—the entire Universal monster collection. It hasn’t even been put into the catalog yet, but they let me walk out with the Mummy collection—three discs holding six original movies. It’s good to have connections, after all. I’ve seen the original, of course, so I took this opportunity to start watching the rest of the series, starting with The Mummy’s Hand.

This is pretty standard stuff, and like many of the early horror movies, it’s barely long enough to qualify as a feature-length film. It comes in at a mere 67 minutes, which is just to give us a plot, a few close-ups of the mummy in question (Tom Tyler) and the obligatory romance that isn’t really necessary but seems to be a part of every film of this era.