Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Tales from Netfilix


It's time once again to catch up on all the cool and genre DVD's that pass through my Netflix account...
Take note, there are always some gems that most folks haven't heard of or seen.


Let's see what we had over the last few months...




Cedar Rapids

Ed Helms (he of The Office, and The Hangover, and The Daily Show) finally gets a starring role, and even though you'd never suspect he could pull it off, Cedar Rapids is just the right mix of goofy earnestness to make him shine.
I love this story of insurance salesmen (and women) having adult fun in the not-so-big city. It's quite the journey for our stunted small town boy child.
Don't confuse any of this for something big or flashy, Rapids is just as small and dry in scope as it's premise. But it's pretty sublime if you get sucked into the ride.

HIGHLY RECOMMENDED


Creepshow 3

This 2006 horror anthology is called Creepshow 3, but it really has nothing in common with the original 1980's films, other than it's format and tone. It's decidely low budget, but, if you can tolerate it's crude production, does have some fun horror shorts to while away a couple hours.

MILDLY RECOMMENDED




Dirty Mary, Crazy Larry

It's easy to see why Tarantino got some of his inspiration for Death Proof from this 1974 car picture. What's surprising however, is how much this inspired Smokey and the Bandit!

DMCL is a terse car chase film starring Peter Fonda as the wheel-man in a robbery, trying to outwit a savvy local cop, that's too cool for his superiors, but also way smarter than them. But is he smarter, or better, than Fonda's driving wunderkind, and can Fonda's character outmaneuver his one night stand that's hitched along for the great escape??

It's a damn good time of a 70's movie, with a bad ass car.

HIGHLY RECOMMENDED

Dylan Dog: Dead of Night

This would make a pretty uneven TV pilot, that feels like the best you could say for this dud.

If you want a good Dylan Dog flick, try CEMETERY MAN!

NOT RECOMMENDED




Elektra Luxx

A strange duck of a movie. Like Tarantino meets Lifetime...

It doesn't really come to much, but is a fun attempt.

MILDLY RECOMMENDED





Future Kill

If a 1985 post apocalyptic rambler sounds good to you, you could do worse than Future Kill.

Okay, not really. It's painfully slow, and aside from the main cyber-baddie, Splatter, is missing any sci-fi production outside it's premise. You'd never know it by looking at this flick.

NOT RECOMMENDED


Hell of the Living Dead

A 1981 Italian zombie schlock-fest, set in Papua New Guinea and featuring some stock footage of disturbing bits of gore. There's a SWAT team too, zombie natives, and zombie kid kills.

Aside from the scientific facility stuff, not much engaged me here

NOT RECOMMENDED

Insidious

No.

Just no.

Too much.

NOT RECOMMENDED

Martyrs

Wow!
This film is French, twisted as hell, and delightfully surprising.

It will potentially scar you... yes, scar, not scare (though it will of course possibly do that too). Like Human Centipede  it's an inspired story of all too human horror.

It's nasty, and it's fucked up. But I loved it.

HIGHLY RECOMMENDED

Paul

Just like Your Highness, Paul is a movie I should love, and really wanted to like, but man, it's a complete failure. A by the numbers plot, that focuses on Simon Pegg in an awful hairpiece, and an alien that should never have been voiced by the usually infallible Seth Rogen. He completely takes any focus on  "Paul" and places it on his voice acting. So what should be a fun twist on the alien being genre, ends up a bad Set Rogen picture.

Everyone involved here should deliver something better.

NOT RECOMMENDED

The Perfect Host

This is a great setup, where what you see, is definitely not what you get, or expect.
Frasier's David Hyde Pierce is great in the showcase role here.

This only falls apart once it lays on the plot twists too cutely. Not sure how anyone is meant to roll with these conveniences on top of everything and not get taken out of the movie. That's too bad.

MILDLY RECOMMENDED

Priest

After starting off promisingly, Priest devolves into action and plotting that's increasingly  cookie cutter and paper thin.

NOT RECOMMENDED






Quarantine 2: Terminal

For a direct to video sequel (to the US remake of the Spanish gem), this was surprisingly entertaining.

Setting the story on and around a plane, with the mysterious zombie-like breakout, Terminal builds a good survival horror story for the money.

RECOMMENDED

Rammbock

Rammbock is a straight-forward German zombie movie, that's short in length (64 minutes), and completely watchable, but doesn't really stand out in any way.

Check out my full review on my Zombie Related blog!

MILDLY RECOMMENDED




[REC] 2

Speaking of REC, here's the aforementioned sequel...

While I enjoyed this, I didn't like it as much as the first, and found it lacking the dangerous vibe of good zombie survival horror.

The third one looks good though...

RECOMMENDED


The Reef

While pretty much the same movie as Open Water, a based on true events retelling of people being hunted by sharks, I enjoyed The Reef much more for it's production values (since it is told traditionally as opposed to first person video), and it's survival horror propulsion. Whereas in Open Water, the protagonists just float and hope for rescue, in The Reef, they have clear goals to strive for, and therefore, engage us viewers much more as we watch to see if they can make it.

RECOMMENDED

Scream 4

It's better than the first, and was hooked into and enjoyed the ride. The intro scene was the standout, and the reveal was not. Plus SPOILER ALERT...
I really would have rather seen the status quo of the cast shaken up by the end, not left intact.
...END SPOILER

But it's better then the 3rd, and maybe the 2nd.

RECOMMENDED

Source Code

Duncan Jones' follow up to his stand-out debut, Moon, is a trippy cool time-twisting sci-fi romp.

Part Groundhog day, part Tom Clancy, part 2001, all good.

RECOMMENDED

Stake Land

Basically a mix of the classic post apocalypse/zombie survival story, and the road, this low key and gritty film makes vampires the center of the thrust.

Much better than I expected, and only really marred by some to cute vampire cult developments.

HIGHLY RECOMMENDED



Stripperland

A low budget parody of Zombieland, with zombies replaced by zombie strippers.

Despite it's bargain basement production, bad acting, and on-the-nose humor, it's still quite fun.

Check it out if you can handle that.

RECOMMENDED


Super

James Gunn (Slither) returns with an inspired take on the Kick Ass story - real life regular person fighting crime (see also Defendor or Special- starring Rainn Wilson as the fucked up loser who has a mental slash theological break and decides to don tights and a giant wrench of wrath.


 It's delightfully twisted and fucked up fun, with some amazing work from Ellen Paige as his demented sidekick.

HIGHLY RECOMMENDED

Supergirl

I'd been on Superman kick recently, rewatching the original series of films, which included the fourth film that I'd never seen before, and then this spin-off staring Clark's cousin. Unlike the awful waste of celluloid that is Superman 4, the 1984 Supergirl  motion picture was pretty damn fun.

It has some great moments, and plenty of bad one's too, sure, but it works really well in the spirit of the franchise as a more female spin on the mythos. It also has some great set pieces (and again, some really awful one's too, lol).

RECOMMENDED

Take Me Home Tonight

Many a critic espoused on this not really needing to be set in the 80's, but they're missing the point.

It's a fairly enjoyable coming of age tale, with a likable cast, and fairly good 80's nostalgia come to life.

It won't be a classic, and will most likely leave most cold, but I enjoyed it.

RECOMMENDED

Trollhunter

Oh how I wish I knew less about this going in.
That said, the title kind of says it all.

This Norwegian genre film told from the perspective of documentary filmmakers is inspired and an amazing thing to behold.

The production and story bring it absolutely to life.

HIGHLY RECOMMENDED

Vampire Killers

What starts out as a really fun premise, two single London dudes in the backwoods with sexy vampires on the prowl, that's chock full of great production and a likeable cast. Does nothing much with all that.

From there it kind of tries, but only ever reaches for story or comedy, and misses.

MILDLY RECOMMENDED


Vampire Party

Unlike the previous UK vampire-comedy offering, this French horror-comedy delivers in spades!

Vampire Party pops with creative directing and editing, clever plotting and character development, and slickly produced visuals.

The effects are great, and the whole things is a blast from start to finish. Imaginative and witty fun!

HIGHLY RECOMMENDED

The Ward

A new John Carpenter genre film.

While solidly shot, and engaging, is ultimately a lame Shutter Island rip-off.

NOT RECOMMENDED

The Warrior's Way

Let me just say that I was completely blown away by this one. Mainly because I expected it to be as bad as advertised. But man, instead I was totally caught up in the magical mix of stylized action and blending of genres.

Just like most Eastern films, the pacing can be challenging. And sure it's got other problems, but it more than makes up for them with creativity and production design that creates a unique cinematic experience. From the sets, to the wardrobe, to the characters, plotting and the action, everything has a level of craft that's both unique, and exciting. Some will find this to be a dud, but it's got plenty of charm to give it a shot!

HIGHLY RECOMMENDED

Wild Zero

This 1999 Japanese zombie movie is more a rock'n'roll story, with zombies. Low budget zombies.

But, it does have the uber cool Guitar Wolf, and Ace to follow.

Off beat is the key here.

MILDLY RECOMMENDED


YellowBrickRoad

A solid trip into madness, as a research group, put together to write a book on a decades old town disappearance, go on a journey of discovery down an untraveled forest path.

RECOMMENDED





Your Highness

Big dissapointment.
The tone of this is just a mess, and being a huge Danny McBride fan, I have to say, he's grossly misused here. Instead of playing to his strengths, he plays against type and it fails woefully. This could have been so bad ass if he was his typical self.

As it is, it's pretty bad, with moments of whimsical fun.

NOT RECOMMENDED

Zombi 3

The 1988 sequel in name only (at least mostly, there may be some story element, likely centered around the zombie origins, that I don't recall), to the 1979 Italian zombie classic, Zombie (aka Zombi 2, which was not really a sequel to the retitled Italian release of Dawn of the Dead, Zombi).
Fulci returns, but to little effect.
It does have a couple fun 80's themed elements, in conjunction with mild zombie action, to make it bearable, but nothing otherwise remarkable, or remarkably entertaining.

NOT RECOMMENDED (MILDLY so, if you're a zombie completest)


The standouts here have to be MARTYRS, SUPER, TROLL HUNTER, and VAMPIRE PARTY.


They're assaulting, demented, inspired, and smartly made (respectively) genre work that make seeking out new stuff so much fun!

2 comments:

Clayton Hollifield said...

Tarantino and "Smokey and the Bandit?" I'm definitely going to have to watch "Dirty Mary Crazy Larry." It's been in my instant queue for a little while, but I think it just jumped to the top.

Natalie Portman has to make "Your Highness" at least mildly recommended all by herself!

Jason Martin said...

Hey Clay!

Yeah, it was crazy to see how much they lifted for Smokey and the Bandit (or at least were similar)... conversely, Death Proof really only snagged a couple small things.

And yeah, I really couldn't bring myself to recommend Your Highness, as much as I wanted to :)
I did mildly enjoy it though ;)