Tag Archives: cult following

Audition: Let’s Have a Call for All Killers

I was in a state of shock and awe after this film. I thought I had found my favorite horror films, but Audition really blew those out of the water. This perfect balance of horror and troubling thriller really sets the bar high for any films after 1999. Takashi Miike has made a masterpiece of a mindf@#$k with Audition. And the fact that Rob Zombie, John Landis, and Eli Roth said this film was difficult to watch, it has to be golden.

Shigeharu Aoyama (Ryo Ishibashi) is a recently widowed movie producer. He’s been quite distant and lonely lately, and his son, Shigehiko (Tetsu Sawaki) has noticed it. Encouraging his dad to at the very least start dating again, Shigeharu turns to his

The audition begins. This is one of those other shots they held really long so you couldn’t see her face. Chilling.

friend, Yasuhisa Yoshikawa (Jun Kunimura), a fellow movie maker for ideas. This is where he has a stroke of genius. In proposing a new movie idea, these two scoundrels will have an audition (hey, there’s the movie title!) for the leading lady. Shigeharu can choose his top 30 and narrow it down from there, giving the lead to the best actress, but he can claim his favorite choice for his wife.

Ballin’ disturbing images.

Feeling slightly uneasy about this, Shigeharu goes into it half-assed. He dawdles around until he finds a young woman who stops his heart still. Asami Yamazaki (Eihi Shiina) is a former ballerina with a very high guard and a delicate personality. He tragic past and broken dreams intoxicate Shigeharu and he must have her at all costs. After a few dates, Shigeharu starts to notice something different about her. And once she disappears, he digs up a past he never wanted to find.

I have to say it, this is a dope ass film. It’s such a twisted film with a plot that leaves you with no idea what’s going on. What people talk about is the torture scene at the end. Needles, dismemberment, blood, this scene houses the entire NR rating for the

A feeling of unsettling fear…

whole film. People have left disgusted and sickened, but that’s what would have kept me in the film. I’ll admit it, I love torture and horror. Anything that makes people, as an audience, feel unclean is wonderful. For someone to go into a movie like this and realize something about their sensibilities by the time they leave is an experience worth having. It taps into our minds and shows us just how terrible the world can be. But shouldn’t be.

I was impressed with a lot of things about this movie. Eihi Shiina’s performance in this film was chilling and horrific. She seems to be such a nice little girl, but her unemotional, uncaring side is what frightens people. It makes people feel uncomfortable with how relentless and completely honest she is as a character. She hypnotizes the bugs into her web and leaves them there to die by her fangs.

You’ll never wanna guess what happens…

A lot of the film has these extremely long held camera shots in it. The action will stay on one angle and deliver a whole piece of dialogue without moving. You’re anticipating some movement (like you would with most films) but it doesn’t come yet. It waits, and waits, and waits until you feel uncomfortable. The whole movie is made to feel unsettling. It’s a tortuous waiting game of when will the knife fall, until it does (and only in the last 15 minutes).

The surreal quality at the end of the film also really spoke to me. You fade in and out of the torture scene, you see past events as Shigeharu couldn’t have seen them. The past is rewritten. You lose all sense of control and awareness as the drugs settle into Shigeharu. You completely give your control over to Asami, something that is unsettling for people to do, even in real life. You lose yourself to this poisonous flower and have no feeling of waking up. There is a bit of a jarring from this final scene that didn’t need to happen. No happy ending was necessary, and yet Takashi Miike allowed it to happen. It would’ve had such a sweetly unsatisfying ending if it had the villain succeeds ending…

But, all in all, this movie delivers on a horror lovers level and a thriller/psychological level. You feel off either way after you’ve watched this. And that’s what horror movies like this set out to do from the start. No wonder this has a cult

WHAT’S IN THE BAG?!?!?

following. It should have. Asian filmmakers know how to do the horror genre right, and this is no exception. This is the movie that made the rule. 9.4 out of 10.

 

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Troll 2: The Worst Movie Ever Made

This is not a horror movie. This is misleading.

This is not an understatement. Troll 2 is considered one of the worst movies ever made. This is so true that because the movie is so bad, it has created a cult following of fans who watch the movie much the same way Rocky Horror Picture Show is done, minus the nudity and horrifying aspects. (Or whatever goes on there…) There’s no true way to talk about this movie, and I would recommend watching the documentary Best Worst Movie immediately after. It’ll open your eyes to just how unprepared people were for this movie to meet their eyes and ears.

To try to convey how strange this movie is, let’s talk about the fact that the director, an Italian man named Claudio Fragasso, didn’t understand exactly what he was trying to do with this movie. He and his wife, Rosella Drudi, wrote the script for this movie, without understanding much English. This leads to the language barrier and the fact that most of the lines in the film aren’t natural things people would say. For example, “You don’t piss on hospitality!” Or the creepy singing of Row Row Row Your Boat in a car trip on the way to Nilbog. Figure that one out.

With an all Italian crew and actors picked off the street like vagrants, the shopkeep in particular is actually a crazed man. No one had any idea what they were doing, and, in true Mussolini fashion, the Fragasso ordered the actors to do the script as he had written it. This leaves plot holes and some of the strangest scenes I’ve ever witnessed to be shown onscreen. There’s a sex scene with popcorn, a creepy molesting grandpa with the ability to save the family, and one of the strangest 80’s workout dances I’ve ever seen. Also, if you’re dad is a hardass, he’ll cut your boyfriend’s little balls off, and eat them. Some of these lines will stick with me forever. And haunt me.

Ah, the Trolls!…

It’s not to say I don’t see the appeal of a film like this for a cult audience. There are a lot of elements, like The Room, that would contribute to a lot of memorable moments in this film. And there are. What’s funny, coupled with the documentary, is a few of these actors have gone on to try other things, but it hasn’t necessarily worked out for them as they thought it would. Just look at Michael Stephenson, the child star of the film playing Joshua. He’s a cute kid and all, but his career was killed at this point. He did make a great documentary though. I commend him for that and would love to show him my appreciation in a future review on the topic.

But this film goes way out there with a lot of elements. George Hardy plays the typical Nuclear Age father with a bit of a bite to him, and I thought he was one of the more refined actors in the film, with no prior acting experience. His segment of the documentary is great, and well worth the watch. His lines are strange and zany, and left me laughing quite a bit. If only this movie had been registered as a comedy… There’s Margo Prey as the wife and mother, Diana. She’s a wonderfully kind and quiet woman, but she seems to be in some sort of daze in this film. It’s as if she has no idea what’s going on… I felt quite sorry for her and her situation though. She keeps to herself and that should be respected.

Look at that delicious icing pie!

Other than that, there are quite a few memorable lines by the secondary cast of the movie, mainly the boys who follow Holly (Connie McFarland) the daughter of the family. These boys never leave Elliot (Jason Wright) and he never wants to leave them. It leads to their downfall.

And what is that downfall you may ask? It’s that the goblins of this little podunk, country bumpkin town are attempting a house swap, and use the newly found humans as their food. The encourage them to eat this Hook inspired gobbledygook in order to become plants that they can feed on. I was the tiniest bit impressed by some of the makeup effects in the film, and found it to be quite entertaining watching some of the characters turn into plants. (This movie also contains what is considered one of the worst delivered lines in the film of all time. You’ll see.)

There are no words.

This movie, if you have a sense of humor about bad films, will keep you laughing all the way through. There is some ridiculous and absurd crap that gets tossed around like a monkey on speed. You’ll enjoy it thoroughly and maybe it’ll become one of your favorite films to pop in for you and your friends when it comes down to testing that friendship. Who knows? All I know is this movie is worth checking out as the all time worst movie of all time forever and always. Rating it as the worst film, it gets a 10 out of 10. As a normal rating, I’d give it a 1.1 out of 10. Work them Trolls, I mean Goblins (who have nothing to do with this film or its unrelated prequel.)

 

And here’s that scene I was talking about…

 


Wet Hot American Summer: “I Said NO!”

My friends had talked about this movie in passing and said it was pretty damn funny. From the title, I thought it was going to be some sort of American Pie ripoff. Not being a big fan of that idea, I put off watching the movie. I put off watching it for far too long. I should’ve watched it the day it was mentioned. This commercial flop turned cult following (by me and my friends) really is a worthwhile film to watch, and then rewatch as many times as possible. This cast has a bunch of star studded comedians right before their prime, and they destroy this movie with how creatively comedic they really are. A big nod to David Wain and Michael Showalter (Of the Michael and Michael Have Issues show, a show cut too short by Comedy Central) for their great writing based on their childhood camp experiences.

This movies got a lot of moving parts going on all at once. Lots of people getting lots of face time all at once, and its mayhem and a perfect parody of a 1980’s feel good camp film. First off, every camp counselor at this movie is well into their mid 20’s, early 30’s. It’s so ridiculously misrepresented that it has to be laughed at. And the whole point of this movie, as the title implies, is about sex. It’s the last day of camp, and every camp counselor wants to get with another camp counselor. But a lot of stuff happens in this day.

All the wonderful faces of the film.

I don’t wanna delve into every funny scene or situation, so I’ll just lay down the groundwork for this film. Beth (Janeane Garofalo) is the camp director, who is a bit slow in the womanly department.  For being a feminist, this fits Garofalo’s humor quite well (I’ve loved her since Dogma). She falls in love with Henry (David Hyde Pierce), an astrophysicist who happens to be vacationing right next to the camp. His inadequacy with social situations creates some funny outbursts. Coop (Michael Showalter) is seen as the main protagonist in the film, trying to win away Katie (Marguerite Moreau) from her toolish and hilariously stereotypical boyfriend, Andy (Paul Rudd). There’s Victor (Ken Marino) and his friend Neil (Joe Lo Truglio) and the girl who comes between them and their campers when it comes to a river rafting ride. And, meanwhile, Gail (Molly Shannon), the arts and crafts counselor, is being consoled after her divorce by her campers.

A training montage for the ages, with Christopher Meloni.

There’s a lot more going on here, but you are hereby warned. There is some gay butt sex between two characters you wouldn’t expect. And, despite its tastefulness, its quite graphic in its suggestion. But throw in even more great comedic actors like Michael Ian Black, Elizabeth Banks (for sex appeal), Amy Poehler (eh, not so good…), Bradley Cooper, and Christopher Meloni as a twist in his acting style from Law and Order: SVU, and you got an all-star cast that actually has a majority of actors from Children’s Hospital on Adult Swim. Thank god for that.

This movie takes everything that John Cusack stood for in his earlier years and parodies it. For me, this was the comedic equivalent of Heavyweights. There’s the sexual/romantic undertone brought to the surface. The reversal of adults acting like children more than the campers themselves. A bit of slapstick/absurdist humor (I don’t think absurdist is a word, but it is by far the best and purest type of humor), and throw in an all day montage of drug addiction and you got yourself a cult following. Bravo for that.

Get some, Paul.

I love Paul Rudd in everything he does, and this film is no exception. Playing the “who gives a shit?” badboy with the best girlfriend who’s always mistreated is something he wouldn’t normally do. But after seeing his role in The 40 Year Old Virgin, my favorite role, this guy can do anything. And has done everything, even a bit of serious acting. Thank the Sweet Baby Ray’s BBQ sauce that I have a love for the Halloween series, so I could discover Paul Rudd sooner. Throw in Bradley Cooper in a role I found funnier than The Hangover, how great is that? And Molly Shannon, really letting her Superstar shine through in a more grown up role than she’s done in a while, how classy. I could rave on and on about the comedic actors in the film, but I’ll cut this short before my grandstanding this film gets out of hand.

All you really need to do is get on Netflix, or buy this movie off Amazon, and you won’t be disappointed. It has humor for everyone and a cast you can’t help but love. In David Wain’s fashion, he created a precursor to Role Models that I wish I had found when I was 12 when this movie came out. (A bit young for it, I know). But any sort of comedic inspiration such as this needs to be taken in and developed into a greater body of humor. Campy, B-rated, absurdist humor. I’ll take another helping of that, and I’ll take that prequel to this film you’ve been talking about, David Wain. Just bring on the humor some more. A well deserved, cult following 8.6 out of 10. (If you’re into my kind of humor, Meet the Spartans, Dumb & Dumber, 40 Year Old Virgin Style. Or some similar combo.)

Thanks David Wain!


Predator: Some of that Schwarzennshizz.

Here’s The Abyss back again for a quick review on an oldie but a goodie, Predator. In happening upon Predator in a friend’s movie collection, I didn’t want to pass up the opportunity not to watch this one again. Let me just say that, when it came to the Alien and Predator series, I watched those bad boys in order. And then watched AVP 1 & 2. I immersed myself in the horror/sci-fi genre and it felt real nostalgic to come back to it after so long. And it doesn’t hurt to love the Govenator.

So let’s travel back to a wonderful time when Arnold was still a huge action star and not involved in politics. A time when Carl Weathers was ripped as balls. A time when Predator was a badass. Oh wait, he still is. In having to choose between the two successful baddies of the AVP series, I will always lean towards the Predator species. Superior hunting skills? No need for vast numbers to eradicate from within the human species? Sign me up for that. Although I get a bit hesitant to say I like the way Predator looks with those mandibles in comparison to Alien, but I like the way Peter Cullen did the voice effects. I’ll take blades over acid

What a rag tag group of hardasses.

blood any day.

So, coming from an operation gone wrong standpoint, (a helpful suggestion from Arnold himself) Dutch (Schwarzenegger) and crew get dropped into hostile territory. Somewhere in the vast wilderness of Central America, the military has recruited a handful of elite operatives for a rescue mission. Some officials were downed in their chopper (“Get to the choppa!”) and they must be rescued from some bad news drug smugglers. So throw in some Carl Weathers in his prime as C.I.A. Dillon and a Native American spirit dweller (Sonny Landham) and you have yourself a gruesome, action packed, guys gettin’ vaporized horror thriller.

Pretty dope. A bit strange with that face though...

Now, when you think about Predator and the cast that was assembled, you have to wonder about the steroid requirement on set. And the fact that there wasn’t one. Arnold was bustin’ his dogs out hardcore for some guerilla warfare with Carl Weathers not far behind (it must’ve helped being Apollo Creed). You got Jesse Ventura as Blain. That absurdly crazy man was in Vietnam, the WWF, and a political activist, all in one life. Let’s talk accomplished. Add Bill Duke, the insanely gargantuan Bible thumper of the group with a bad attitude, always mumbling about noises and the Holy Spirit. Everybody else’s bodies kind of dropped off the radar after that, because you only need 4 or 5 big bodies to really take on a single Predator.

And let’s talk about the heartbreak that would’ve made this movie even better. Van Damme was supposed to play Predator. His kicks and karate know-how

That's a big gun, Bible Thumper. Gonna fell some trees?

would’ve left everyone on set in shambles. But he just had to complain about the awkwardness of the suit and its clammy feeling walking around. Where’s Seagal when you need him? Steven never complains. With that tragic loss, the movie turned to Kevin Peter Hall, creature enthusiast. Whether it be Predator or Harry and the Hendersons, this guy gave it his all until he died. Although you could tell that costume was mad awkward to maneuver.

Ventura and Duke. The big old crazies.

Overall, the story is simple and easy to follow. With a film like this, or Alien (which is a bit more complicated) you don’t need too much to go on. It’s more about the visual effects and aspect anyways. Despite a ridiculous initial battle scene with the guerrilla warriors that left not a single man in Dutch’s platoon scarred, the movie fell into what I would consider a Hollywood realm of possibility. The acting didn’t matter so much and the believability of an elite force just barreling through the woods with giant ass guns, firing from the hip and felling trees with their biceps, didn’t help much either. But this series has become quite iconic in its scope in pop culture today. Everyone gives it up for Arnold and his attempts at becoming a beloved American actor. Not acclaimed, but loved all the same. His lines will forever stand out in my mind.

He's wondering where Van Damme is...

And to create such a creature as they did who is loved and recognized by a considerable number of sci-fi fans. I applaud those who attempt his costume, if at all at conventions. So, if nothing else, appreciate this movie for its novelty. Overall, even for its time, it just falls through the cracks of what is considered a classically good movie. But a cult followed movie? This fits right in. So let’s take it that way and appreciate Carl Weather’s screams in vain as his arm is severed by Predator’s heat laser. Get some of that Schwarzennschizz. A solid 6.8 out of 10.


Bleach: Shounen on a Giant Scale

With the new circuit of conventions on the East Coast comes a new batch of cosplays to plan. And what caught my eye this summer, as my girlfriend suggested was Sosuke Aizen, main antagonist of the hit shounen series (still running) Bleach from Japan. (As all anime are usually from  there.) Not knowing a thing about the character I would attempt to portray, I thought, heck, let me take a stab at watching some Bleach. I had no idea what was in store for me for the next 5 weeks. With incredibly long battle scenes of at least 2-3 episodes in length, filler SEASONS and the occaisonal humorous episode, this show throws a lot at you in what I feel is a reasonably paced amount of time. And the more you watch, the more you feel for certain characters and the more you feel like talking about it all the time (I wish I had a Bleach buddy to discuss the finer things with…). With such a cult following (very similar to Naruto) Bleach has become a staple I feel any anime fan should at least tune into every once in a while.

Ichigo and Rukia. Strange love twisted relationship?

So I’m not going to delve to deeply into the story, so I’ll keep it restricted to the first couple of seasons. I already ruined one spoiler for you, so I hope it doesn’t deter you from watching at all. Ichigo Kurosaki is a typical 15 year old high schooler. Well, almost. He has the ability to see spirits that haven’t crossed over and he doesn’t really know why. But this hypersensitive awareness to the Other has caused him a bit of trouble. Which turns into a lot of trouble. That he may inevitably face for the rest of his life.

One day, while walking home from school (insert whistling skip here), Ichigo encounters something he’s never seen before. (Which, based on how often it happens in his hometown of Karakura Town, I’m surprised he hasn’t seen it before…) Rukia Kuchiki, a black robed Shinigami Soul Reaper is battling what appears to be a skull-masked monster. After a few episodes, in her weakened state, she can no longer battle and lends almost all of her power to Ichigo. In a sudden flash and transformation, Ichigo is transformed into a Soul Reaper himself and embarks on countless adventures of struggle and strife.

Due to Ichigo’s acquirement of Rukia’s powers, Rukia is taken prisoner by her brother Byakuya Kuchiki and Renji Abari, and sentenced to death. Ichigo and his friends, Orihime Inoue, Yatsutora Sado, and Uryu Ishida, must all band together and reach the Soul Society, afterworld in which the 13 Court Guard Squads reign supreme over all souls and the dealings with the Hollows. (Hollows end up being a main form of opponent of Ichigo in the first and successive seasons, just in different forms.)

Ichigo fights to save Rukia!

After coming to and entering the Soul Society’s inner chamber, known as the Seireitei, Ichigo and Co. must battle hordes of Soul Reapers, both weak and powerful. Beginning his own path to strength, it is with and against the Soul Society and the Court Guard Squads that Ichigo finds his place in such a new world. With new enemies and challenges that seem to pop up out of nowhere as the seasons go, it may seem (as Ichigo’s voice actor said reluctantly, yet happily, that the show may never end, but at least he’ll continue to get paid for it.)

An immense amount of badasses.

All-in-all, with such an expansive cast with so many characters, this show is unbelievably immense in its scope and plot. And it’s mainly due to the writing and characters behind it. Although many fans may think the show should’ve ended long ago, I’ll have to see once I get farther (I’m on episode 212.). But there needs to be a lot of credit given to the vocal cast of this show. This show, although it would be just fine subbed, may credit it’s American fan base success to Johnny Yong Bosch, voice of Ichigo Kurosaki, our hero. With his deeply troubled teen facing a whole lot of changes in life way beyond that of anyone else due to its mythical quality, Bosch adds an at times playful yet at most times serious voice to a complex character.

Seeing as there are so many characters, I can’t really give credit to all those who lends their great voices to the show. So, for starters, Derek Stephen Prince is owed some credit for his snarky, unabashed portrayal of Uryu Ishida, the

I enjoy this fan pic. (Uryu Ishida)

last of the Quincies. And, although he may not speak much, Jamieson Price gives a greatly underappreciated voice as Yatsutora Sado, the deeply softspoken Hispanic wonder. Gin Ichimaru, voiced by Doug Erholtz, is another voice that stood out to me with its snake-like charm and venomous words as another worthy opponent. Karen Strassman gave a semi-heartbreaking performance as Momo Hinamori, the lieutenant of Sosuke Aizen (voiced by Kyle Herbert), a woman in love with duty and the will to follow. Byakuya Kuchiki is amazingly voiced by a badass, Dan Woren. His I-don’t-give-a-shit attitude really shines through with that heart of gold underneath with

Byakuya Kuchiki, how fantastic

Woren’s voice. David Lodge, a voice actor I’m not that familiar with, adds a new voice I haven’t heard before with the grave undertones of Kenpachi Zaraki. And last but certainly not least comes Liam O’Brien. His amazingly recognizable voice lends itself perfectly to the soft spoken Jushiro Ukitake. And that’s only to name a few. After a while, characters voices become synonymous with the character portrayed on screen in perfect sychronization.

Now, the animation is the good and bad thing about this show. As it progresses, through the past few years, it has gotten better. It’s never been completely terrible, but I admire and try to find anime that have a more fluid style to their action scenes. This show has improved, but I find there are more stationary shots dealing with dialogue and explosions than actual fluid swordfights. Although a part of this show deals with powers and sword attacks not in the short term, there is an element of strategy among the characters I can admire.

Something to look forward to in Bleach.

Apart from being in the top 10 longest running anime, it would be nice to see this show concluded in a way that won’t have been conceived out of a sense of pressure due to its length. I would rather have a harmonious ending with all the seasons fitting together in what becomes a well planned final battle between the characters that matter. Also, I wouldn’t mind if some of the main good guys perished every once in a while, it seems like (with most anime of this style) that no main characters ever die. It might add an element of drama not before captured in this show. Just a thought.

A solid 8.3 out of 10.