2/14/10

Hiatus

Okay, folks...I'm off! Thanks for all of the well wishes. I'll try to post an update once I've returned home. Random Reviews will be back in business in a couple of weeks. It will be better than ever!

It Came From Beneath the Sea

(mini-review)

I've officially seen all of the Harryhausen films that I care to see. It Came From Beneath the Sea was the last one on my list. I've been putting it off because I've never been particularly enthused by "giant octopus" movies. The main reason why I'm not razzle-dazzled by oversized cephalopods can be summed up in two words - The Beast. Yes, I'm talking about the made-for-TV Peter Benchley adaptation. It bored me senseless as a child, and ever since, I've associated octopi with humdrum tedium. But The Beast didn't utilize stop-motion effects courtesy of Ray Harryhausen, now did it?

This flick does, although we don't get to see the full-blown creature until the last ten minutes. The build-up is more gratifying than I was expecting. We spend most of the first act in a claustrophobic environment with the captain of a submarine as he tries to nose out the source of a disturbance on his sonar system. Before his crew can figure out what's happening, the sub is jostled by an unseen force. Of course, we later discover that the unseen force was a giant octopus, a colossal monster dog-paddling and breast-stroking its way through the Pacific. The "it" that comes from beneath the sea looks fantastic, and it interacts with all of the model sets with great celerity and pliability.

The second act drags a bit, but the pace is chiefly well-managed. I really liked Faith Domergue as the scientist hired to identify a hunk of octo-flesh. With the exception of one scene where her character screams her head off, she's written as a strong, independent heroine. You don't see that a lot in b-movies from the 50's. Overall, I would definitely recommend It Came From Beneath the Sea, but it doesn't compare to The Beast From 20,000 Fathoms or Jason and the Argonauts. Just saying.

2/12/10

Important Update

I've got one, maybe two more reviews to offer before I leave for my surgery. I was supposed to see The Wolfman tonight, but inclement weather is currently pissing on my parade. If I see it tomorrow, I may just scribble down a few thoughts on the film instead of writing a full-on review. After I recover from being torn open, I have cool things planned for RR. A new column perhaps? We'll see. Be sure to Enter the Get Well Soon Giveaway if you haven't already. I need some valentines, people!

2/10/10

2/9/10

The Spirit of the Beehive


(mini-review)

The Spirit of the Beehive is the kind of film that Guillermo del Toro would direct. Set during the Spanish Civil War, it follows a pair of sisters (Ana and Isabel) who are bewildered by James Whale's Frankenstein. After the classic horror film is screened in the local town hall, the girls search for Dr. Frankenstein's creation. This is a coming-of-age story that uses a beekeeper and his apiary as allegories for Ana's curiosity and the stress that the war puts on her family. I was prepared to fall for this subtle abstraction, but it was too artsy for my liking.

Let me get one thing straight; I appreciate visual metaphors. I don't need everything spelled out for me, but Beehive is just too self-indulgent. The dialogue is sparse, the pace is stilted, and most of the imagery feels vague and random. Writer/director Victor Erise tries to entice the viewer with cryptic clues and eerie shadows, but I wasn't in the mood for a brain-teaser. The script doesn't have a hook. It's a damn shame because the premise is so compelling. Conceptually, this is a precursor to The Orphanage and The Devil's Backbone without the supernatural elements.

The Spirit of the Beehive contains one scene that could be construed as "horror-ish," but it's out of place. Maybe I'm dense, but I wasn't able to connect the dots with this flick's hazy story arc. All I got out of it was, "Frankenstein is a great movie." Speaking of which, Frankenstein is a great movie. Watch that instead.

2/8/10

The Super Bowl Post-Game Report


Okay, my Colts didn't win, but the Saints deserved to be the Super Bowl champs. Here's my little rundown of the big shindig.

THE GAME

There are a few reasons why the Colts weren't able to pick up their second Super Bowl victory in four years. For one, they were outcoached. The onside kick to start off the second half was a brilliant move, and yes, I would have said that if the Saints didn't recover. Indy's play calls didn't make sense. After an impressive defensive stand at the goal line with two minutes to go until halftime, the Colts ran the ball three times. What the hell? They had plenty of time to at least get the ball in field goal range, but it's almost as if they were trying to give the ball back to New Orleans.

Drew Brees was quite efficient. Props to Dwight Freeney for giving his all and netting a sack, but it wasn't enough. He was a non-factor in the second half. Also, Manning came across as tired. In my opinion, he (and several other choice starters) should have played four quarters in all sixteen games of the regular season. But that's a conversation for a different day. Basically, what I'm trying to say is...congrats, Who Dat Nation!

THE COMMERCIALS

Overall, the ads were pretty funny. I never thought I'd see Betty White play football in the mud. Where were all of the cool movie trailers? I counted one. Did I miss something?

THE HALFTIME SHOW

I'm not a fan of The Who, but I was hoping that they would win me over with their chops and their energy. They didn't. They have got to be the most boring classic rock band on the planet. I don't get the appeal. I know that the NFL has steered clear of younger acts ever since a certain "wardrobe malfunction," but they need to do something to spice up the halftime show.

That's all, folks. 'Twas a decent game. Last year's match-up was more exhilarating.

2/7/10

The Super Bowl Pre-Game Report

It's an hour from kickoff. The subs should be here any minute. I've got a fridge full of Yoo-Hoo and Dr. Pepper. This is going to be one hell of a PAR-TAY! Unfortunately, it's just me and the folks, which is kind of pathetic, BUT it will constitute as a "par-tay."

Tomorrow, I'll post my rundown of the night's events. I'll give my impressions of the commercials, the halftime show, and of course, the game itself. I'll also be posting another random review. Excited yet?

GO COLTS!

2/6/10

The Fly ('58)

If you don’t know what The Fly is about, grab a noose and just get it over with. If you’re not aware of the fact that The Fly is considered to be a sci-fi/horror classic, thrust your genitals into a lathe. The moral of the story here is that you should already know everything you need to know about The Fly. So why am I reviewing it? Because I want to! And also because I want uninitiated horror abecedarians to stay alive and to keep their genitals. While I prefer David Cronenberg’s centroidal remake, genre hounds the world over have no business ignoring its antecessor. The Fly was a smash upon its release, and I can only imagine what it was like viewing this milepost shocker on the silver screen in 1958.

Vincent Price is on board, but don’t get too cozy with his star appeal. He’s a supporting player. In fact, he’s entirely absent from the second act. Price plays Fran├žois Delambre, a modish upper-cruster whose brother, Andre, has locked himself in his laboratory for weeks on end. What could he be working on? You already know the answer to that question, but what you might not know is that The Fly’s chief plot details are relayed via a flashback. Andre’s fate is spoiled for us before we even get to the film’s midsection. I didn’t take kindly to this expository artifice. When you’re exposed to the climax before you reach the prefatory build-up, the build-up itself can be tedious. I didn’t want to know how the story ended. This is both a pro and a con. Thankfully, I was attached to the characters, and I actually wanted them to meet a favorable resolution. I rarely pine for rainbows and sunflowers, so for the cast to beslaver me was quite an accomplishment.

Patricia Owens is the very definition of charming as Helene, Andre’s fretful wife. She is the resinous epoxy that holds this picture together. Plus, I have a thing for redheads, so there you go. David Hedison gives a stiff performance as the titular musca domestica (that’s “housefly” for those of you playing at home). His delivery is awkward at times, but I still warmed up to him. Considering that Hedison only has 20-30 minutes of screen time as a full-blown human, that’s rather impressive. Naturally, Vincent Price is...well, he’s Vincent Price! His acting is...well, he’s Vincent Price! He was always “on.” Come to think of it, I don’t know of any spiritless performances of his. If he didn’t give 104.6%, it was more than likely an imposter.

Unlike its direct sequel, The Fly was shot in color. Director Kurt Neumann, who left us one month after the film’s premiere, utilizes the polychrome spectrum to its full potential. The imagery is vivid, especially during the “teleportation” sequences. Some may cluck at the creature design, but I found the monstrous make-up to be adequate. It’s kept under a cloth for the most part, so even if you impute your jaded sensibilities to the outdated special effects, it shouldn’t variegate the viewing experience. Of course, anything will look crude after witnessing Cronenberg’s twisted vision of The Fly. This flick doesn’t feature Jeff Goldblum vomiting onto a pastry, but it does flaunt sound acting, engaging characters, and a timeless parting shot. Oh, dear. I can’t think of a way to cap off this review. Help me...help me...help me!!!!!!!!!!

2/4/10

eBay

Hey, all. I'm selling a cool horror shirt on eBay, and I thought I'd plug it on here. It's a pretty rare TCM shirt that I've had for over ten years. The lovely item is pictured above. If you're interested, get in on the action. The starting bid is only $5! Click HERE to view the auction.

2/3/10

Night of the Creeps


Since every horror critic/blogger in the universe has reviewed Night of the Creeps, I'm just going to list the reasons why it PWNS YOUR FACE. Wow, sorry. I didn't mean to be so aggressive. It just came out of me. Something about this film conjures up the foaming fanboy inside of my weathered soul. I can normally assess a review subject with some degree of intellect, but there are no two ways about it. Night of the Creeps RULES! Here's why...
  • Tom fucking Atkins. If there was a Tom Atkins store, I would go buy my very own Tom Atkins. Of course, I wouldn't take him out of the packaging. But that's neither here nor there. Atkins plays a cool, nonchalant cop who contends with slugs from outer space. He's a blast to watch, and it's readily apparent that he had fun with the role. This is my favorite Atkins performance next to his brief turn as a verbally abusive father in Creepshow.
  • The likeable, well-developed protagonists.
  • The polished special effects. I love how the zombies look. The undead axe murderer deserves his own franchise.
  • The seamless integration of horror, comedy, and a tiny bit of drama.
  • The crisp photography.
  • The quick pace. Granted, the first 30 minutes are relatively prosaic, but the first act sets the foundation for the chaos to come. I can't care about the characters if I don't know anything about them.
  • The gore!
  • The alternate ending that has finally been added to the film.
  • The DVD itself. Every genre nut should own it.
Sold yet? Hopefully, you've already seen Night of the Creeps, but if not, pick it up instantly. It's the 80's horror film. NOTE: I'm giving it an extra half-Z'Dar for Jill Whitlow's boob shot.

2/2/10

Lambgoat

While you're waiting for my next random review, I thought I'd point you in the direction of a music review that I penned for a site called Lambgoat.com. Click HERE to give it a looksee.

2/1/10

Man...

...is the warmest place to hide.