Tag Archives: Sam Raimi

Trick ‘r’ Treat

Trick ‘r’ Treat is a movie where you can in fact “Pick Your Treat” when it comes to a movie that has four mini stories within a circular plot. (You’ll see by the end what I mean by circular.) Created by a Ohio director, Michael Dougherty, (born and raised), there’s a little something for everyone in this traditional horror genre flick. (I would in fact liken it to Halloween, exactly. I was waiting for Michael Meyers to start roaming around.

I know this film has a cult following and films like that are usually for me. You can put the whole film under the blanket of horror/suspense, but I didn’t really get too much of a

What a lovable little sack-demon.

comedy feel (as it is categorized as well) from this film, other than a movie that follows the old ways of horror so well that by this point it’s beaten to death and comic for that reason. There are parts I liked and parts that didn’t really tickle my horror bone fancy, which kept this as a middle of the road film for me. Let me kinda break it down for you.

The reets on the bus get all wiped out… All wiped out…

It has the creepy iconic pumpkin headed freak, Sam (Quinn Lord). His Halloween antics come across as brutal at the same time that his height and means of slashing are quite childish. Either way, there’s a figurine of him. There’s the threat of razor bladed candy, haunted stone quarries, and smashing pumpkins. People get away with murder at the same time that there’s the classic “I’m a girl, it’s Halloween, I’m gonna dress up as a slut” theme going on. In a small town (with the Haddonfield feel goin’ all through it) where Halloween is taken seriously, it’s an offense to break the traditions that protect people from evil, all the way back from the Pagan days. I thought that’s where the movie was going, but I was a bit wrong…

There were parts I liked and parts I didn’t. I kinda wanted to be scared when I watched a film about the scariest day of the year. It was more of a comedic tribute. Sam kinda made me laugh far more than cringe in terror (I guess that’s where the comedy comes from?). The second I saw Anna Paquin onscreen, I was thinking, “Oh no, where’s the Louisiana vampires?” (I wasn’t far off…) I was happy to see Dylan Baker (the orig Dr. Connors of Sam Raimi’s Spider-Man series) make an

I am Agamemnon, fear me!

Word!

appearance as a dastardly principal out to get children. And classic Brian Cox (I’ll always remember him as Agamemnon from Troy) as the crazy old coot. Nice appearances in an otherwise bizarre horror movie.

I have mixed feelings about this one. I normally love all horror movies. I don’t have any major problems, but I was just looking for more of a linear plot. I loved the original idea that this movie starts up with about breaking Halloween traditions. Then it wasn’t about that anymore. It went off in different directions, trying to cover all sorts of sub-genres of horror, which I didn’t mind, it just became a big jumble to me. For me, horror movies are about exploring one genre of horror and twisting and creating it into your own vision of what frightens and terrifies. Just a thought. 6.1 out of 10.

 

 

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My Name Is Bruce… Campbell.

I am not afraid to admit without guilt and shame that I am a Bruce Campbell fan. I watch the Evil Dead trilogy with religious zeal and enjoy Sam Raimi immensely as one of my favorite directors because of the work he and Campbell did together. (This extends into Sam Raimi’s Spider-Man trilogy, and the new Spider-Man can go and suck on that. Screw the new movie, without even seeing it.) The fact that Bruce Campbell has made a life for himself, shamelessly making B-rated movies in his cheesy and infallible way makes

Bruce Campbell. Here to save the day, in a cheesy way.

anyone who sees his movies realize the lovable goofball that is inside him.

And My Name is Bruce is no exception. In this ode to Bruce Campbell, the small town of Gold Lick has unleashed a demon back from its days when it had Chinese men building the railroads. The got locked down in a mineshaft and a demon known as Guan-Di looks over them. And bean curd. When two unsuspecting teens looking for a romp with two quite strange and unattractive goth girls, all Hell breaks loose.

The cheap Chinese demon emerges!

After the comical slaying of these two bimbos and the friend who accompanied him, Jeff (Taylor Sharpe) seeks out his personal hero, Bruce Campbell. Being a big fan of all his films and knowing that he’ll know what to do, Jeff kidnaps Bruce. Thinking it’s all part of the birthday surprise that his manager Toddner Mills (Ted Raimi) set up, Bruce goes along with it, expecting the cameras and stardom. He’ll do anything at this point, living in a trailer with his drunken dog and no one that loves him. He falls for Jeff’s mom, Kelly (Grace Thorsen) and saves the day. What could be better for Bruce Campbell?

This movie hits all the major points of Bruce Campbell’s B-rated career. He fights

A little bit of that lovable cartoon comedy.

sci-fi/fantasy killer bugs and demons, he swoons the ladies with his famous lines like, “Give me some sugar, baby” and “Hail to the king.” His cheesiness in this film is outweighed by the arrogant figure they create for him that he has to overcome throughout the movie. He has a big head that no actor like himself should have, and rightly so. But everyone can’t get enough of the Bruce at the end of the day.

I have to say it, but that Grace Thorsen has mighty big boobs in this movie. Give me some of that sugar, baby…

It was a reminiscing sort of a film that just takes you back through the heyday of Bruce. A cheesy little podunk town and goofy comic lines that no one but a 6 year old would laugh at. There’s slapstick and a bit of swearing that sets this above a PG-13 rating, but it’s all in fun. Even Sam Raimi’s brother Ted makes some character appearances

The unstoppable Bruce Campbell.

throughout the film. Overall, I was impressed with a film that takes a childhood hero and makes a joke about him. All in fun, this movie is good for any Bruce Campbell/ Evil Dead/ Bubba Ho-tep/Anything he does is gold fans out there. For what it was, it was a 7.1 out of 10.


Marvel’s The Avengers

In this culmination of the Iron Man, Thor, Captain America, and Hulk series of movies comes The Avenger’s movie, produced by Marvel and Disney Studios. Okay, let’s be realistic about how much I know or care about the Marvel series and any of its connected works. There’s very little. I never really read  comic books when I was younger, other than Ghost Rider and Spawn. I always had a thing for the darker characters and (other than Ghost Rider) not a lot of Marvel characters caught my interest that much. So I was apathetic as to the plight of the superheroes in this movie. Didn’t mean I wasn’t converted into a huge fan in less than 2 hours. This movie alone makes me wanna go back and watch all the others, just to know what went down.

Now it’s not that I’m completely ignorant of the superhero world. I love Batman (not so much these latest installments that showcase Christopher Nolan as the be all end all of Batman with his same cast from every movie that he loves so much)

Lookin’ good there, Evans.

and Spiderman (again, why are they making another one in less than 5 years of the last one? Yes, it may be “more true” to a comic, but Sam Raimi doesn’t need to be spit in the face. My favorite director doesn’t need to be shown up for no damn reason.) and Ghost Rider (we don’t need to get into the whole Nicholas Cage issue, just read my blog on the second movie). I followed the Blade films and even checked out a Hulk or two. I was a kid once, and cartoons are all about superheroes.

The Hulk. Become a fan.

Which, I find, comes at a fault. To realistically shape and morph comic superheroes into people and set them in a different medium is a bit weird to me. You got these groups of superheroes coming together and nobody finds it odd or strange in a modern society that all of this is coming up out of sci-fi fantasy make believe. To depict these dark characters for what is considered to be something that children collect and watch and slap a PG-13 rating on it so the younger kids who like this stuff can’t see it? It seems strange to me. If my little 5 year old cousin can’t see The Avengers and he loves Iron Man, what kind of a situation is that? Yes, there are those comics geared towards an older audience, but you’re still appealing to something meant for those who are younger. Just something to think about.

Enough of my rant about the paradox that is comics and comic book movies. The Avengers is a particular story that has been in the making for a while now. All of these movies were put out in anticipation of one film that would unite all these superheroes in a huge clash of good versus evil. I can tell you though, I have

Some egos clash right here.

no idea who the bad guys were or what their purpose was in coming to Earth other than to destroy it. Nothing gained, a planet destroyed I guess. But you bring together all these clashing egos and you have yourself a more dynamic and interesting squad than the Justice League or any other huge star superhero teams out there.

Go on and use those “superpowers” guys…

Meanwhile, at some underground base that S.H.I.E.L.D. runs…

Nick Fury (Samuel L. Jackson) has heard some terrible news about this source of power/reactor thing that is going to change the world, known as the Tesseract. Talk about throwbacks to Madeline L’Engle and A Wrinkle in Time. Loki (Tom Hiddelston) transports from this sinister looking purple planet and steals away Hawkeye (Jeremy Renner) and this scientist, Erik Selvig (Stellen Skarsgard). They plan to use the Tesseract for some nefarious deeds, and take down Thor and all the other superheroes who have done them wrong. Loki has a score to settle with his brother and he is seeking revenge through some freaky deaky alien people.

So Nick Fury decides its time to assemble the team. He gets Captain America (Chris Evans) who was frozen in some ice in the ocean from way back when. There’s Tony Stark, AKA Iron Man (Robert Downey Jr.) who has been working on some new energy sources and Hulk (Mark Ruffalo) who has been helping sick Indian children before he’s picked up by Black Widow (Scarlett Johansson). Rounding out the team is Thor (Chris Hemsworth), come to find his brother and stop him. With these ultimate superheroes (and those like Black Widow and Hawkeye who really aren’t anything special thrown in) comes ego clashing, fights on an epic scale, and one of the coolest final battles shot in Cleveland and made to look like NYC that you’ll ever see.

Looks like Cleveland to me…

I didn’t have a lot of problems with this film. Overall, it set out what it wanted to do, entertain and tell the story of the Avengers, and make as much money as possible off of the series. I mean, a BILLION DOLLARS?!?! That’s pretty redonkulous. The dialogue wasn’t too bad and cheesy like a stuffed Ritz or anything, although Samuel L. Jackson got the short end of the stick in this movie. He was really bad in comparison to everyone else. He came off as incompetent and not a hardass at all. For shame Samuel L., for shame. I really enjoyed Mark Ruffalo’s acting in this movie as The Hulk. He was witty and laid back enough to believe that he was truly holding back a beast. And when he finally let out all that anger, I instantly became a Hulk fan. On the spot when he punched that alien dirigible thing in the face.

Thanks for this one Joss Whedon. Not so much Nick Fury over there…

There were some stunning visual effects in the film and some free flowing action. Unlike other movies that have a lot of cheesy comedy for the fans, this movie was far different than those. This movie has some good humor for a bit of an older audience. And every character has their own comedic scene. This movie is a pretty good balance of comedy, violence, and full throttle action. At no point in the film was I bored, and that’s a good achievement for a 2+ hour film. And a setup for a sequel? I wouldn’t mind that at all. If it’s still in theaters (and at the time of posting, it is) go check this out. It’s got a good range for a film that a lot people will find fun and exciting. So suit up and join The Avengers, it’s a cinematic ride you don’t wanna miss. A solid 8.5 out of 10, perfectly good action/superhero movie.


Hellraiser: It’s Pinhead Time.

As I frequently do with my friends, it’s time to begin the watching and review of another classic horror film series. This time (and soon to follow, others) it’s the Hellraiser series, the brainchild of Clive Barker. In the vein of sadomasochistic pleasure and pain in the extreme, this movie explores the avenues of prosthetics and  stop-motion animation in a way to frighten and disturb. With a new chapter in gore created, Stephen King said it best. “I have seen the future of horror and his name is Clive Barker.” Ebert might not believe this statement, but what does he know, right?

At the start of this movie, we encounter Frank (Sean Chapman), a two-bit, no good, gangster of a hoodlum. He has found this box on the other side of the world and plans to use it to explore the extremes of pleasure and pain. Upon solving the box in his “zen temple of an attic”, the Cenobites (creatures from Heaven and Hell) come to him to show him the way of the flesh. As Pinhead (Doug Bradley) says, “We have such sights to show you.” Upon ripping his flesh and bones from his body and dragging him to a Hell brought on through a wall, Frank says bye-bye to the world.

Ahhhh, the Cenobites...

Years later, and for no perceivable reason, Frank’s brother Larry Cotton (Andrew Robinson) brings his strangely detached wife Julia (Claire Higgins) and rebellious daughter Kirsty (Ashley Laurence) to live in merry ole London town. Although only his wife is English. And there may or may not be an issue with accents in this movie for people perceived to be residents of the U.K. You make the call.

Have you learned anything, Frank?

While here, Larry Cotton absolutely destroys his hand on a rusty nail (check dat shizz for tetanus!) and accidentally brings back the remains of Frank’s body from the other side. It is then up to Julia and her past affair with Frank to reanimate his body, Imhotep/Mummy style. Bring on the parallels. Oh, and it’s up to Kirsty and her “boyfriend/interested bystander” (Robert Hines) to stop them. Get it goin’.

There were a few things that, after watching this once before at night, that I was in love with. I loved the reanimation scene of Frank’s body. It was absolutely grotesque and ballin’, all at the same time. Stop-motion animation, like in Sam Raimi’s The Evil Dead, just gets my horror juices flowing. I wish more movies went back to the days of the clay. Accompany this with a Mummy worthy stand in of Oliver Smith as Frank’s decayed, yet regenerating body and you have the creepy crawlies when you see his muscles moving over bone.

The images of Hellraiser.

There were a few things that doesn’t work either. The believability of Frank and Julia’s affair. I liked the tie in to the sadomasochism with their violently physical relationship, but there was no real sizzle at any point in the movie. Yes, you get a bit creeped out when she kisses Frank’s unfinished body, but what can you do? Another thing. The strangely over the top acting from Larry Cotton. I don’t know what this guy was shooting for, but it really was absurd. Thank God for the Cenobites coming in to bring some acting chops (pun intended with Chatterbox) to this film. Kirsty wasn’t too bad, I mean, they invited her back for the second…

So pair these lacking parts with a breakthrough into the genre of gore/horror, and you have my favorite genre. When you can overload someone’s senses with horrifying images and a few jump scenes, what’s better than that? And the simple fact that Clive Barker’s vision for this film sparked 7 other movies? Let me get a piece of that action. With these cult classics comes some of the best horror of its time, and one of my favorite horror series in the collection. Thanks Netflix! A solid 7.3 out of 10 for this groundbreaker.

Pinhead says word. Rollin' with the homies.


Brothers (2009)

So through this movie, it has come to my attention that Tobey Maguire is a good actor. Don’t get me wrong, the Spider-Man movies are fantastic. SM3 was a little off, but Sam Raimi is an amazing director, actually my favorite. Watch the Evil Dead movies and you’ll know why. But it is because of the movie Brothers that I have come to see Tobey Maguire as a respectable and capable actor.

So, this movie is about two brothers. Obviously, thus, the plural. One brother Sam Cahill (Tobey Maguire) is a respected captain in the United States Marines, and is about to deploy on his fourth tour over in Afghanistan. His brother Tommy (Jake Gyllenhall) was just released from prison a short time before Sam heads overseas. This leaves Sam’s wife, Grace (Natalie Portman) to tend to her children and keep her spirits up. Of course this can’t be the whole movie, something bad has to happen.

This comes in the form of Sam “dying.” From here Grace must deal with the pressures of life on top of the loss of her husband. And Tommy is there to pick up the pieces. But that’s not all. And I need not say anymore to ruin it.

The acting, I must say, made the movie. Good cinematography that displayed the emotions of the characters, but it really all came together in the characters in the Cahill family. Tobey Maguire was fantastic, definitely worthy of the Golden Globe he was nominated for. His performance towards the end really speaks to the brutality of war and torture and what death and violence can do to a person. Jake Gyllenhall’s performance brought the sensitive side to the movie, in complete opposition of his brother. Natalie Portman (my favorite actress, crush since Star Wars) is fantastic and really plays a mother in grief and distress well. But I’m gonna tell you who stole the movie.

Bailee Madison, Sam Cahill’s oldest daughter was a fantastic actress in this movie. (And she’s actually in a new horror movie I am interested in seeing, Don’t Be Afraid of the Dark) Her performance alone was the dramatic and plot lynchpin of the entire film. When she cried because she lost the father she knew and loved, I cried too. Her anger and defiance of her father, at such a young age, and to understand what happened, was breathtaking. Along with this, the role change at the end of the movie that’s shown is worth watching. Great acting, shoddy visual work that was barely noticed, and great family dynamic brought this movie together to make for a great film about family and what it means. Definitely an 8.8 out of 10.

Here’s a clip from the movie and interview with Tobey Maguire for a sense of just what his role is and how he portrays the character he does.