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Thursday, October 31, 2013

The Michael Myers Death Stare (A Halloween Essay)



[Note: In honor of Halloween, I am posting an essay I wrote about the film, Halloween.  I have provided an old review of that film in the past, which can be found HERE, as well as a commentary for the film, which can be found HERE, and I previously submitted this essay to Brandon Peter's blog, Naptown Nerd, which has been a tremendous source of info all month for articles related to the Halloween franchise.  Read more about that HERE.  Still, I wanted to post something for Halloween, so here it is.]

Dr. Loomis:  I watched him for fifteen years, sitting in a room, staring at a wall, not seeing the wall, looking past the wall - looking at this night, inhumanly patient, waiting for some secret, silent alarm to trigger him off.

John Carpenter’s 1978 landmark horror film Halloween is one of my favorite horror films and a film that I watch annually (let alone most times it appears on TV throughout the year).  It is a good thing, as Brandon has tasked me with writing an essay for his site, which has been providing an ungodly amount of Halloween-related content this month (though it is all really good stuff).  In an attempt to head in my own direction, I have decided to try and describe why I admire the horror that Michael Myers brings to the first film in the franchise, simply by standing in stationary positions.  While horrible acts are committed by this escaped mental patient, as the film continues on, I am always most freaked out by the Michael Myers death stare.

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Out Now with Aaron and Abe: Episode 126 – The Counselor


This week’s episode of Out Now with Aaron and Abe is back to regular as Abe and Aaron are back in their respective homes, but that does not mean the fun has stopped.  This week the guys are joined by Just Seen It’s Liz Manashil and Sean Wright to discuss the Ridley Scott film, The Counselor.  Liz also fills the guys in the progress of her movie, Bread and Butter (which also features Sean!).  Additionally, all of the regular segments are present as well, including “Know Everybody”, “Out Now Quickies”, “Movie Call Back”, “Out Now Feedback”, and Trailer Talk (Non-Stop and Need For Speed).  It may begin with an awkward catfish conversation, but it certainly shows that everything is connected, as things carry forward.

So now, if you’ve got an hour to kill…

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Aaron's Top 20 Horror Movies (And A Ton Of Honorable Mentions)

I have put together a list of my top 20 horror movies.  This was a difficult process, which no doubt led to the reason for also having 70 honorable mentions.  I can say right now that this is the kind of list that can easily shift over time, whether it be rankings or even which films are in the top 20 vs. being an honorable mention, but for now, this is what I have come up with.  The top 20 are listed below and they are films that I watch because they are horror movies and I derive a level of entertainment (or whatever you want to call it) out of them.  This does not mean that some of these films are "better" than others, but they are ones that I would name as favorites of the genre. [Note: this post was inspired by my appearance on an episode of the podcast Battleship Pretension, where I was a guest discussing the greatest horror films of all time as voted by listeners - http://battleshippretension.com/episode-345-top-50-horror-movies/] 

Monday, October 28, 2013

The Walking Dead: Season 4, Episode 3 – “Isolation”




Thanks to the encouragement of The Walking Dead TV Podcast, I will be writing weekly episode recaps for this season of The Walking Dead.  Anyone continuing on should expect spoilers.

Perhaps this has more to do with my excitement to see Daryl forming a dream team of people to head out to a different (less depressing) location, only to not be rewarded with much of that, but “Isolation” felt like a step down this week.  Between being an episode that amounted to the setup for next week’s dream team episode and giving us plenty of downtime with a selection of characters that have conversations about the greater good and also revealing their true natures, there was some exciting stuff to be found, but also spots where the show went a few steps too far.

Sunday, October 27, 2013

Out Now with Aaron and Abe: Bonus Episode – Audio Commentary For John Carpenter's Halloween


Just in time for Halloween, it is a trailer for the classic John Carpenter film…Halloween.  Aaron is joined by commentary regulars Brandon Peters and Jim Dietz to discuss this landmark horror film, its impact on horror film culture, the legacy it spawned, the franchise in general, John Carpenter’s general awesomeness, and personal stories related to this film’s impact.  There are also plenty of wild tangents, as per usual. Lots of fun to be had with the night HE came home!

Important Note:  This commentary features both juvenile uses of language and jokes that may be considered un-PC.  We of course are just trying to have a fun time…

So now, if you’ve got an hour to kill…

Saturday, October 26, 2013

‘All Is Lost’ With Old Redford And The Sea



All Is Lost:  4 ½ out of 5

Our Man:  I’m Sorry

All is Lost is a film that allows the viewer to watch physical acting taken to an extreme.  It does not involve fight scenes or skillful choreography, though it can be incredibly exciting to watch at times. What it really involves is a lone figure going through incredibly difficult trials in order to ensure his survival.  While this is occurring, we see a myriad of emotions and expressions take over a man’s face and body language.  We watch someone’s thought process as he is involved in many difficult situations.  There is a real skill involved in finding the right ways to depict this person.  It does not hurt that the action taking place in the film around him is quite compelling in the ways we see one scenario morph into so many different levels of danger.  Regardless of how minimal the film may be in sketching out a story for itself, it is the quiet but powerful lead performance, accompanied by skilled direction that makes All is Lost a film worth finding.

Friday, October 25, 2013

‘The Counselor,’ The Thief, His Wife & Her Lover


The Counselor:  2 ½ out of 5

Laura:  Have you been bad?

For film lovers, the idea of putting director Ridley Scott and author Cormac McCarthy together for a film seemed like a grand idea.  Between Scott’s abilities to provide thrilling atmosphere and a compelling depiction of process in his films and McCarthy’s skill for writing about the darkest sides of humanity, while sometimes adding a slight touch of pitch black humor, a project like The Counselor had all the potential to be a strong ensemble thriller, matching up to the Coen Brother’s take on McCarthy’s previous work, No Country For Old Men.  Unfortunately, despite all the atmospheric work done from a filmmaking standpoint, the shallow characterization and lingering story did not quite make this dark tale excel to its fullest.

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Out Now with Aaron and Abe: Episode 125 - Carrie

 
This week’s episode of Out Now with Aaron and Abe is another Out Now first!  Not only are Aaron and Abe in the same location, they are joined by two friends in the same room!  Matt Blane and Ken Noffsinger join the guys to discuss Carrie, all within the same room!  The energy is as high as ever (with a special cameo from Markus Robinson, discussing Escape Plan)!  Additionally, all of the regular segments are present as well, including “Know Everybody”, “Out Now Quickies”, “Movie Call Back”, “Out Now Feedback”, and Trailer Talk (I, Frankenstein and Paranormal Activity: The Marked Ones).  It is great that something like this finally happened, so now it’s time to let everything all come out with as much exuberance as possible. NOTE: Full spoilers for the original Carrie.

So now, if you’ve got an hour to kill…

Monday, October 21, 2013

The Walking Dead: Season 4, Episode 2 – “Infected”



Thanks to the encouragement of The Walking Dead TV Podcast, I will be writing weekly episode recaps for this season of The Walking Dead.  Anyone continuing on should expect spoilers.

“Infected” is a bit of a stronger outing for this fourth season of The Walking Dead than last week, but also heavy on the symbolism.  While The Walking Dead has proven, throughout its run, to be anything but subtle, sometimes a little more tact may be in order, when dealing with the walls literally crumbling around everyone.  That said, the problems I had with Rick last week have essentially been resolved this week, as Andrew Lincoln provides some of his best work on this series to date.  It does not hurt that the cold opening of this episode was a real killer as well.  So let’s get into this thing (just don’t tell Carl about it).

Saturday, October 19, 2013

‘Carrie’ Is Back, With A Vengeance


Carrie:  2 ½ out of 5

Carrie White:  The other kids, they think I'm weird.  But I don't wanna be, I wanna be normal.  I have to try and be a whole person before it’s too late.

The big question, when it comes to remaking classic horror films, is, “why?”  What is the purpose of taking a popular film and giving it another try?  Money is one of the easy answers, but what else?  Carrie seems like a film that does not exactly lend itself to being remade; as the story’s basic structure holds up today.  With that, sure, let’s take away the fact that the original, Academy Award-nominated film from 1976 still plays well enough today.  I guess one could argue that having a redo opens up the story to a new generation of viewers.  That is all well and good, but I am not so sure this new version of Carrie overall knows what makes the original film so effective.  Making it more frustrating is how there actually is a good hunk of movie within this new iteration of the old Stephen King story.  At least Prom was fun while it lasted.

Friday, October 18, 2013

Nothing Wrong With Having A Good ‘Escape Plan’



Escape Plan:  3 out of 5

Ray Breslin:  I break out of prisons for a living.
Emil Rottmayer:  You don’t look that smart.

While assembling a dream team of 80s/90s action stars in The Expendables films may not have panned out to be something as epic as I would have wanted, Escape Plan more or less captures the sense of fun that I like out of these sorts of films.  It may have to do with limiting the cast to two iconic action heroes.  There may also be something to be said for the restraint seen on the amount of action they actually have to perform.  Really though, it must come down to the fact that I really haven’t seen these guys play in a film like this before.  Escape Plan is a very silly movie, full of cheesy dialogue, and plays into a lot of clichés, but at least the premise never stopped being interesting and the film remained fun throughout.

Thursday, October 17, 2013

‘12 Years A Slave,’ A Powerful Memoir Skillfully Brought To Life


12 Years A Slave:  4 ½ out of 5

Solomon Northrup:  My name is Solomon Northrup.  I am a free man and you have no right whatsoever to detain me.

It can be a challenge to express why certain dramas work on a viewer more than others.  A film like 12 Years A Slave, which is based on the true life chronicle of man kidnapped and forced into slavery, could function on a level that dwells purely on misery and offers little beyond sadness for the viewer to walk away with, but it is much more effective than that.  12 Years A Slave is a truly gripping story that most certainly serves as an unflinching look at a horrible period of a man’s life, within a time period where injustice against man may have been at its peak in America, but does so with a mood that seems to distinguish itself from other period dramas.  It may have to do with the filmmakers behind this feature, the emotional rawness of the performances, or other factors, but the film sets a high-water mark for torturous odysseys portrayed on film, such as this, set during an awful time like slavery.

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Out Now with Aaron and Abe: Episode 124 – Captain Phillips


This week’s episode of Out Now with Aaron and Abe is about pirates that don’t say “yo ho.”  Aaron and Abe are joined by Laremy Legal to discuss the Paul Greengrass thriller, Captain Phillips, starring Tom Hanks.  Additionally, all of the regular segments are present as well, including “Know Everybody”, “Out Now Quickies”, “Movie Call Back”, “Out Now Feedback”, and Trailer Talk (The Monuments Men and The Book Thief).  Setting out at sea has never been so dangerous, but at least this podcast has the strength to attempt to the voyage.

So now, if you’ve got an hour to kill…

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

‘The Fifth Estate’ Has Plenty of Leaks



The Fifth Estate:  2 out of 5

Julian Assange:  Man is least himself when he talks with his own person. But if you give him a mask, he will tell you the truth.

It is almost funny how long I put off actually writing a review for The Fifth Estate, the Bill Condon-directed film, which adapts two different books that focus on the news-leaking website WikiLeaks and its founder, Julian Assange.  The delay is not because I had a lot to consider, after seeing the film.  It is actually quite the opposite.  The Fifth Estate left me feeling with almost nothing, as the film is all over the place in presentation, one-sided in its overall viewpoint, and stands more as a shell containing a great performance from stars Benedict Cumberbatch and Daniel Bruhl, which would break apart quite easily without them.  It is unfortunate, as I believe there could have been a way to make this story more interesting, especially given the talent involved.

Monday, October 14, 2013

The Walking Dead: Season 4, Episode 1 – "30 Days Without An Accident"



Thanks to the encouragement of The Walking Dead TV Podcast, I will be writing weekly episode recaps for this season of The Walking Dead.  Anyone continuing on should expect spoilers.

So we are going to need a cleanup on…every aisle.  If there is one thing the return of The Walking Dead has shown us, it is how creative the big zombie action sequences will continue to be.  This aspect of the show has never really been in question; especially given that horror makeup guru Greg Nicotero (who directed tonight’s fourth season premiere) has been with the show from the start.  The biggest issue with the show has always been its struggle to make the characters interesting.  Given that this season has added a considerable number of characters to its cast, both in potential recurring characters and potential red shirts/walker fodder, one can only hope that this show somehow manages to find its balance.  With all of that said, this season premiere did a solid enough job of setting up the audience with what the state of the prison is, while still making a splash in aisles 2-9 of the local supermarket.

Sunday, October 13, 2013

Out Now "Nights" - Episode 7: To Gravity And Beyond (Spoilers)

Here's another new podcast episode that is a little different.  Often times after Aaron and Abe wrap up the main show, they tend to keep talking, sometimes with the guest(s) still around.  So, for this exclusive Podomatic episode, of Out Now "Nights", Abe and Aaron are joined again by Scott Mendelson and Jordan Grout to discuss Gravity from a more revealing perspective..  Keep in mind that there may be a bunch of spoilers for many movies, but mainly enjoy this kind of brief, but free form discussion.
 





Saturday, October 12, 2013

‘Machete Kills’: The Border Strikes Back



Machete Kills:  2 ½ out of 5

Machete:  Machete don’t tweet.

I have a lot to say about Machete Kills, the latest Mexploitation film from director Robert Rodriguez.  A lot of it may be negative, as the film, overall, tries too hard, despite having plenty of ideas and a wonderful ensemble cast, consisting of anyone who apparently had a free weekend at some point to come film with Rodriguez and his crew down at his studio.  With that said, for whatever reason, I still know right now that I will easily see Machete Kills Again, when it eventually hits theaters.  It is a strange thought to know that I am in the bag for the next installment of a series that seems to be getting worse, but I guess that just must be the power that Danny Trejo has over me.

‘All The Boys Love Mandy Lane’…’Til Death!


All The Boys Love Mandy Lane:  3 ½ out of 5

Chloe:  You’re coming this weekend, right?

All The Boys Love Mandy Lane can now be finally seen by all.  The first thing to really say is ‘Mandy Lane’ is an effective horror feature that trades in true originality for solid horror craftsmanship.  There is a lot one can unpack in explaining the history behind how this film made back in 2006 is just now being released, but I see no need to really do so.  The best I can do in this regard is stating how great a double feature of All The Boys Love Mandy Lane and You’re Next would be, as far as ‘good horror movies with troubled distribution history’ go.  There may have been a delay, but the film certainly stands on its own as far as being a solid entry in the genre.

Friday, October 11, 2013

‘Captain Phillips’ On Somali Tides



Captain Phillips:  4 ½ out of 5

Muse:  Listen to me.  I am the captain now.

There are many great moments in Captain Phillips, the drama that recreates the true story of a hijacking of a container vessel by Somali pirates that took place in 2009, based on the memoir of Captain Richard Phillips.  One moment that comes to mind is a look that Tom Hanks gives during an early part of the film.  It is a simple acknowledgment of something pivotal that is happening to his ship, but he finds exactly the right way to do this with just an expression on his face.  This is an actor who has been working for over 30 years and still finds new ways to impress me.  It could come down to the familiarity with ‘Tom Hanks the actor’, but he is able to say so much with a glance that it truly makes it all worthwhile when a film as good as Captain Phillips is manages to be anchored by very fine performance.

Out Now with Aaron and Abe: Bonus Episode – Interview with Ben Peyser and Scott Rutherford: Directors of Ghost Team One



And now for something completely different.  Abe and Aaron are normally happy reviewing movies or providing commentaries, but here is a new kind of bonus episode:  a legitimate film interview with filmmakers.  Ben Peyser and Scott Rutherford are the directing duo behind the new film Ghost Team One, which will be released on October 11th theatrically and On Demand (find out how to see it HERE), and they were kind of enough to join Aaron and Abe for an exclusive interview about the making of the film from its inception up to its release.  It helps that Ben and Scott were game to have fun with Aaron and Abe, while also providing some actual insight into the filmmaking process.  Basically, everyone tried to have a good time, while providing some neat facts about a new movie.

Important Note:  This episode features both juvenile uses of language and jokes that may be considered un-PC.  We of course are just trying to have a fun time…

So now, if you’ve got an hour to kill…

Thursday, October 10, 2013

‘Ghost Team One’ Gets The Job Done



Ghost Team One:  4 out of 5

[Note: This review was originally published on WhySoBlu.com, when I saw the film at the Newport Beach Film Festival.  The film is now on the verge of opening in theaters and on VOD this week.  I should also point out that my screening of the film was packed and I had just gotten out of a screening of The Iceman, so I was definitely in the mood to laugh.]
 
Sergio:  I would like to report an emergency, there’s a demon in my house… … They hung up on me.

Here is the humorous plot synopsis for Ghost Team One:  In early 2012, filmmaker Billy Chen answered a Craigslist ad looking for someone to document possible paranormal behavior.  What he found were two sexually retarded friends (Carlos Santos and J.R. Villarreal) scheming to impress a beautiful woman (Fernanda Romero) who believed their house was haunted.  They were willing to face their darkest fears to get in her pants, but found themselves much closer to a demon whore than the woman of their dreams.  Warning:  This film is not for those with weak hearts or strong genitals.

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Out Now with Aaron and Abe: Episode 123 - Gravity


This week’s episode of Out Now with Aaron and Abe covers the disaster-filled romp through space that is the film Gravity.  Aaron and Abe are joined by Scott Mendelson and Jordan Grout to discuss this intense film from director Alfonso Cuaron.  Additionally, all of the regular segments are present as well, including “Know Everybody”, “Out Now Quickies”, “Movie Call Back”, “Out Now Feedback”, and Trailer Talk (Lone Survivor and Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit).  Lots to discuss, even if we all slant in one direction, but there is still a lot of fun to be had!

So now, if you’ve got an hour to kill…


Monday, October 7, 2013

Out Now "Nights" - Episode 6: Don Jon

Here's another new podcast episode that is a little different.  Often times after Aaron and Abe wrap up the main show, they tend to keep talking, sometimes with the guest(s) still around.  So, for this exclusive Podomatic episode, of Out Now "Nights", are simply providing an additional movie review of Don Jon.  Keep in mind that there may be a bunch of spoilers for many movies, but mainly enjoy this kind of brief, but free form discussion.
 

Saturday, October 5, 2013

‘Runner Runner’ Chicken Blunder



Runner Runner:  2 out of 5

Ritchie:  Why ‘The House’?
Ivan:  Because The House always wins.

Runner Runner is the kind of trashy B-movie that doesn’t aspires to build a whole lot of expectation for the viewer.  It simply wants to be seen as watchable.  The film is harmless in what it presents, but it is a shame that no one really seems to care how effective this film turned out overall.  It has a mix of good actors and good-looking locations, but the screenplay is so bland and paint-by-numbers that the sense of urgency in a film that literally has people hounded by crocodiles feels completely missing.  There is an interesting idea to explore in the world of online gambling and how they are run by offshore companies, but Runner Runner fails to find it.

Friday, October 4, 2013

‘Gravity’, A 2013 Space Odyssey

Gravity: 5 out of 5


Dr. Ryan Stone:  What do I do!

Gravity is an answer to what film can be all about.  It charts a journey for a character, while presenting it in a most spectacular fashion.  The amount of work that must have went into carefully crafting every aspect of this film, from the story to the tiniest visual detail that rears its head, is practically implausible for me to think about.  This is a film that took years to develop, film, and release, but is such a triumph in almost every way that the wait was most definitely worth it.  Every now and then there will be a film that I greatly anticipate for reasons beyond just expectation of an entertaining experience.  Gravity more than met that level of expectation.

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

‘A.C.O.D.’ Finds Laughs And Some Truths About Divorce



A.C.O.D.: 3 ½ out of 5

Carter:  You have both turned a 9 year marriage into a hundred year war.

Just so I can get this out of the way, A.C.O.D. stands for ‘Adult Children of Divorce’.  That actually makes the title of the movie sound less important than it is, but it will be tough to predict how often I plan on calling back to the full title of this movie.  Regardless, as both a fan of the ensemble comedic cast in A.C.O.D. and an actual A.C.O.D. (though I’m working on the ‘Adult’ part), I had a lot of fun with this film.  There is a lot of humor found in the exaggerated situations that this film puts its characters in, but still has a core sense of truth in its comedy.  It is not the most laugh out loud comedy of the year, but I did enjoy where a lot of these laughs were coming from, as the film had some fun material to work with.

Out Now with Aaron and Abe: Episode 122 – Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs 2 and Rush



This week’s episode of Out Now with Aaron and Abe is a double review episode!  Aaron and Abe had plenty to talk about this week, as they delve into both Rush and Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs 2.  Joining them is Leah Ducey and Aaron Fink, who are more than willing to join in on some silliness.  Additionally, all of the regular segments are present as well, including “Know Everybody”, “Out Now Quickies”, “Movie Call Back”, “Out Now Feedback”, and Trailer Talk (Free Birds, Walking with the Dinosaurs 3D, and Frozen).  It is another high-spirited show this week, so be sure to start your engines and be ready for a food attack.

So now, if you’ve got an hour to kill…
 

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

The Walking Dead Webisodes: The Oath



As I have not written about The Walking Dead in a while, but will soon have to start, as Season 4 begins on October 13th, I figured I would provide some thoughts on the recently released webisode series, known as The Oath.  This 3-part series is the third set of webisodes to be released in the show’s history and may actually be the best set yet.  It is not the most action-heavy of the webisode series, but it certainly feels like the best written and acted yet.  Makeup effects guru Greg Nicotero once again served as the director of this set of mini episodes and does his best to provide a bit-sized representation of The Walking Dead universe.

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