Saturday, June 15, 2024

The Best Offense is to Be Offensive

Film: Terror Firmer
Format: Streaming video from Plex on Fire!

I’m not necessarily a highbrow guy. Oh, I like an art film now and then, and two of my favorite movies aren’t in English, but this blog has long held the opinion that everyone’s taste in movies is very much their own and not something to ridicule. I’m not a “so bad it’s good” person and I don’t have “guilty pleasures”; the movies I like I like because there’s something about them I enjoy. So when I tell you that Terror Firmer is dangerously offensive, I’m not doing so with my nose in the air.

Terror Firmer is a Troma film, the same film studio that gave us such hits as The Toxic Avenger and Sgt. Kabukiman N.Y.P.D.. It’s also the place where James Gunn got his start, so I’m not knocking them. Terror Firmer, though, goes places for its comedy to places that are potentially triggering for a number of people. I’ve never put a trigger warning on a discussion of film—I didn’t do it with Salo or Martyrs or L’Interieur, but I’m doing it here. This is not because of the subject matter specifically, but because the film goes to these places in the name of comedy.

Wednesday, June 12, 2024

All Cops are Bodies

Film: Dead Heat
Format: Streaming video from Tubi TV on Fire!

Horror movies are great for genre mash-ups. Science fiction is a common choice, and a lot of science fiction movies have horror elements in them. There are plenty of horror-comedies as well. That said, there aren’t a lot of horror comedies that work really well; they either play too hard into the comedy or lean too hard into the horror. The right blend is difficult to find. Dead Heat opts for more than just horror-comedy, though. This is, and I struggle with the fact that I’m actually typing these words, a horror-comedy/police procedural action movie. It’s also a movie that stars Saturday Night Live alum-turned bodybuilder-turned political nutjob Joe Piscopo, for whatever that’s worth.

Cops Roger Mortis (Treat Williams) and his partner Doug Bigelow (Piscopo) respond to the robbery of a jewelry store. The two perps seem to be shrugging off the bullets they are being hit with, and are eventually stopped by a combination of hand grenade and being rammed by a car. They discover that the perpetrators were bullet resistant for a good reason—they were already dead. In fact, the coroner (Clare Kirkconnell) performed autopsies on them in the past.

Monday, June 3, 2024

Die Historic

Film: Furiosa: A Mad Max Saga
Format: Sycamore Theater, Theater 2

There’s a huge problem with prequels, and nowhere is that more evident than in Furiosa: A Mad Max Saga (which I’m going to call Furiosa from this point forward). Actually, there are multiple sets of problems with prequels, and Furiosa exemplifies exactly one set of such problems nearly perfectly. One type of sequel has the problem of technology. We see Prometheus and the technology is amazing. Alien, the film it leads into, has technology from the late 1970s. It looks off, and no one seems to have figured out that if you’re going to make a prequel like this after huge real-world technology upgrades, it would be better to make the prequel a lot more retro to fit the universe.

No, Furiosa is the epitome of the other set of prequel problems—the audience knows the story. We know going in that this is going to be the backstory for Charlize Theron’s Furiosa character from Mad Max: Fury Road, and because of that, we know a lot going into the story. Because of this, and because this is something that needs to be talked about in detail, you can consider the rest of this mildly spoiler-y for both of the recent Mad Max-iverse films.

Sunday, June 2, 2024

What I've Caught Up With, May 2023 Part 2

I watched a lot of television in May, but didn't actually get through an entire show. I've seen virtually all of The Boys, just in time for Season 4 to drop. I've also made it into the 8th season of Red Dwarf. My new workout show is Farscape, which I watch on the treadmill--it's one episode/day, so that one is going to take a long time to get through. Finally, I've managed to complete the second Peter Capaldi season of Doctor Who.

Saturday, June 1, 2024

What I've Caught Up With, May 2024 Part 1

For the first time in awhile, I watched more movies than there were days in the month, although not by much. Essentially, in terms of watching 400 movies for the year, I basically broke even; didn't lose ground, didn't catch up. In terms of the gigantic list of to-watch movies, I got through enough that I can't fit them all in a single post, so that feels good. The biggest movie event for me in May was the update of the They Shoot Zombies list, something that took up a couple of days of my time to readjust all of the lists, and all for just a handful of new movies to watch.

Wednesday, May 29, 2024

Dracula Made Dull

Film: The Return of Dracula
Format: Streaming video from Tubi TV on Fire!

It doesn’t happen often, but there are times when I wish I had created this blog around shorter reviews. Were I writing 500 word reviews, I’d probably post a little more often. Even if that were the case, though, even if I was writing 300 word reviews, I’d be struggling with The Return of Dracula in terms of having things to say. This is a movie that leaves almost no impression. It plays exactly like a typical Dracula movie. Even now, typing this while the movie is literally still playing, I’m struggling to think of things that are worth talking about.

It starts out with at least a little bit of promise. A Czech artist named Bellac Gordal (an uncredited Norbert Schiller) is heading to America to spend time with some cousins. At the same time, a group of vampire hunters is looking to kill the corporeal body of Count Dracula (Francis Lederer). Dracula turns out to be missing; he’s on the train, and it just so happens that he’s in the same train car as our artist. So, no shock when our vampire takes over the artist’s identity after draining him of blood.

Sunday, May 26, 2024

Jonestown

Film: The Sacrament
Format: Streaming video from Hoopla on Fire!

I am not a believer in the supernatural and I am not merely irreligious but antireligious. While I don’t address every film I watch from the perspective of antitheism, there are times when it becomes relevant. The Sacrament is one of those times. This is a film that very clearly wants the audience to think of instances like Jonestown in Guyana and the Branch Davidian cult in Waco, Texas. The connection is obvious, but this doesn’t in any way detract from the story. It’s very clear where this is going to go, and once it starts, there’s no getting off that rollercoaster.

Fashion photographer Patrick (Kentucker Audley) gets a letter from his sister Caroline (Amy Seimetz), a recovering addict. Caroline is now living in Eden Parish, a religious community completely off the grid in an unknown location accessible only by helicopter. Patrick takes this information to his coworkers at Vice, reporter Sam (A.J. Bowen) and cameraman Jake (Joe Swanberg). The group agrees that there might be a story in this, and all three head down to the commune to see what is happening.