Wednesday, May 31, 2023

Family (and) History

Film: House of the Long Shadows
Format: Streaming video from Tubi TV on Fire!

So, I’m back. Last year for Christmas, my siblings and I decided to get our mom a trip that she’s always wanted. Three of us, including me, went with her to the coast of Maine, where it was very cold and a bit more expensive than I was prepared for. But, it was a nice trip and she enjoyed herself, which is really what was most important. That has meant that I haven’t been around—haven’t even looked at this blog—for almost two weeks, and also haven’t watched a movie in almost two weeks. That changed last night when I caught up with House of the Long Shadows.

This is one of those movies that attempts to pack in as many stars of the genre as it can. The classing House of Dracula did this with monsters; we got Dracula, Frankenstein’s Monster, the Wolfman, etc. House of the Long Shadows does this instead with classic actors of the Gothic horror genre and Hammer films. We’re going to get Vincent Price, Peter Cushing, John Carradine, and Christopher Lee stomping across the screen, and that in and of itself is enough to recommend the film. It’s a little sad, though, that they are doing this in service to Desi Arnaz Jr.

Friday, May 19, 2023

Like and Subscribe

Film: Deadstream
Format: Streaming video from Amazon Prime on Fire!

I don’t tend to like found footage and found footage-style films that much. I don’t love shaky cam in general, and a lot of found footage features the sort of shaky cam footage that I find people really hard to watch—people running and the camera bouncing around. There are exceptions, of course. I loved [•REC], by way of example. I went into Deadstream with a basic idea of the plot, but not really understanding that this was going to be not exactly found footage, but very much shot in the same style.

We are going to start by being introduced to Shawn Ruddy (co-author/co-director Joseph Winter). Shawn is sort of a YouTube version of the show Jackass (and in the context of the movie, YouTube is replaced by something called LivVid). The conceit of his channel is that he does stunts specifically based on overcoming his fears. We see a couple of examples and then discover that Shawn has been demonetized for some racially and otherwise insensitive stunts.

Thursday, May 18, 2023

Pliers and a Blowtorch

Film: Red White & Blue
Format: Streaming video from Tubi TV on Fire!

In the movie world, there are two types of revenge pictures. The most common variety is the sort of 1980s heart of Schwarzeneggar’s career. Films like Commando, Raw Deal and even The Running Man are the staple of action films, the sort of standard burger and fries of movies. Your hero is a big, muscley dude, former (or current) military, who gets wronged by someone and goes on a quest to kill off the bad guys one by one. You get pithy one-liners, and at the end, the bad guys are gone and all is right with the world. Rarer are films like Last House on the Left, where the revenge is taken but the resolution is just the emptiness of revenge being taken, but loss still being felt. And then you get Red White & Blue, a film that combines the retributive aspects of the first type with the bleak nihilism of the second.

It should also be said that Red White & Blue is a film that feels like two films in one. This is not because there are two parallel stories for the first hour or so. This is because when we get to the end of the second act and the beginning of the third, this movie is going to take a very hard left turn. There are clear and obvious parallels to Audition. Red White & Blue starts out much like a tragic romance and ends as an exploration of horror and terrible revenge.

Tuesday, May 16, 2023

SAN Check

Film: The Void
Format: Streaming video from Tubi TV on Fire!

For the first time in two years the They Shoot Zombies, Don’t They list has been updated. A full 112 movies have been added to the list, 52 of which are entirely new. It took me a couple of days to re-do the relevant page on this blog and rework at least some of the Excel files I use to keep track of things. When you’re pursuing a huge list for a long time, the influx of new things is exciting—suddenly, there’s more than the same-old, same-old unwatched movies. That, more than anything, is why I decided to watch The Void today: it’s a new addition.

This is a movie that dives into the deep end of body horror very early and it stays there for a very long time. We’re going to open with a couple of guys shooting someone and then lighting her on fire, something we’ll get back to eventually. But, by the time we’re 15 minutes into the film, we’ve got someone flaying her own face off and killing someone via scalpel-to-eye.

Sunday, May 14, 2023

Release the Kraken

Film: The Sea Beast
Format: Streaming video from NetFlix on basement television.

It took me a disturbingly long time to figure out what the intent behind The Sea Beast was. Kids movies always have a moral to them, and I thought I knew what the moral was going to be, and I was right. The Sea Beast, like many a kids’ movie, is about tolerance. The problem isn’t that. Kids’ movies are always going to be at least a little easier to read simply because of the audience. While kids can certainly pick up on nuance, you have to be careful with it. No, the problem here is that this is a movie that you have absolutely seen before.

So walk with me for a minute. Imagine, if you will, a society that is plagued by dangerous, giant creatures. These creatures are dangerous, large, and a huge problem for the society in question. In fact, the people in the society have teams of warriors who, in this case, head out on ships to fight these massive creatures. But it might be that a young child from that society will discover that the creatures are actually peaceful, that the war that is being fought is one caused more by misunderstanding than anything. Can she, and the adult who allies with her, get the society to realize their terrible mistake before more lives are lost? What does this sound like?

Saturday, May 6, 2023

What I've Caught Up With, April 2023

April was a down month for me on this front, and I'm hoping that May will pick up. However, since I'll be out for a good week at some point, that seems unlikely. Having the kitchen finally done helps, so things are winding down, not that this has made my work life any easier.

Thursday, May 4, 2023

Lights, Camera,...

Film: The Fabelmans
Format: DVD from Sycamore Public Library on basement television.

A number of years ago, a random passer-by on this blog was upset that I wasn’t completely blown away by the film The Color of Pomegranates. In that rant, in addition to spelling the name of the director wrong, that commenter also told me I should spend my time with easier, less challenging films, like the works of Steven Spielberg. I always thought that was a weird insult—say what you will about Spielberg, the man makes a good movie. Seriously, go with Michael Bay or Tony Scott if you’re shooting for lowbrow. Anyway, I was reminded of this when I sat down with The Fabelmans.

For lack of a better way to put it, this is Steven Spielberg making his own fictionalized biopic of his early life and birth as a filmmaker. If you like, it’s akin in some ways to 8 ½, or perhaps more closely Woody Allen’s Radio Days. We’re going to see the young Spielberg stand-in Sam Fabelman (Mateo Zoryan initially, then Gabriel LaBelle for the bulk of the film) introduced to the idea of movies by his parents, Mitzi (Michelle Williams) and Burt (Paul Dano) in the form of The Greatest Show on Earth. Sammy seems upset by the train crash sequence, but also fascinated by it to the point that he asks for a train set for Hannukah that year.

Wednesday, May 3, 2023

I Had to Edit this for Content...

Film: Glorious
Format: DVD from DeKalb Public Library on basement television.

It feels like ages since I’ve watched a movie, and to be honest, it really has been like a full week since I’ve sat down with a film. Our kitchen remodel is essentially finished and we’re just starting to put the house back together, which is going slowly for one reason or another. Work issues, life issues…you know how it goes. I’ve been meaning to sit down with a number of films, but Glorious is a couple of days overdue at the library, so knocking it out made the most sense today. Can’t let those fines get higher, after all.

Glorious is a film that has a pretty rough sell going in. This is, at least on the surface, a film about a demonic gl*ryhole in a rest stop bathroom in the middle of nowhere. That’s at least kind of the truth, and for a way into the basic plot of the movie, it’s going to be hard to do a lot better than that. And, to be fair, this is going to be a make or break for you. If that sounds interesting to you, you’re already in. If not, nothing I say is going to bring you into the fold.