Saturday, March 24, 2012

Tales From Netflix: late 2011

Here's a Netflix roundup from late last year, that was never quite finished...
Rather than update it with the stuff inbetween now and then, I'll just run it as is now (before it languishes as a draft even longer!):

Well, a couple months have gone by, so it's time to check the Netflix rental activity for another genre movie recommendation roundup that I like to call... TALES FROM NETFLIX!!!

There's quite a few really good recommendations here. Not sure any of them are classics, but quite a few that are pretty close, and still damn enjoyably different! 

We've got British movies, Japanese movies, Norwegian movies, and local movies!
We've got animated movies, classic movies, anthology movies, and documentary movies!
Spanish clowns, and Finish Santas!
Heck, we've even got Kevin Smith!!!
It's quite an eclectic mix...

Quite the genre darling, this cheeky UK aliens vs teen gang flick even got a wide release stateside. So, I was quite anxious to finally check it out.

Now, perhaps because it was so heavily lauded, I expected a touch more, however it was still an amazingly well made spin on so many familiar themes.

The creatures were phenomenal, the production was tight, the cast was great, and the story was pretty solid. Attack the Block is a lot of fun!


Aline VS Ninja as pure Japanese B-movie schlock. If you enjoy that like I do, then you need to check this one out.

It plays fast and loose with the ninja setup, in what seems like an ancient setting with contemporary twists, a group of ninjas... well come on, I'm pretty sure you know where this is going from the title.

The aliens aren't bad ass visually, they're played, like most of the movie, for laughs. Like Kaiju or Power Ranger creatures (ie man-in-suit) silly. However, the action and battles can be epic and well choreographed. With copious ironic splatter and off-the-wall touches (like how the aliens infect other species... with cute miniature aliens that slime out their face, or secondary mutations).

Stick past the slow start (as with most Japanese flicks) and check out the escalating absurdness to come.

HIGHLY RECOMMENDED if you enjoy Japanese/b-movies!!

This DC animated feature is a pretty much dead-on translation of the popular Frank Miller, David Mazzucchelli comic series it adapts.

Imagine a gritty David Fincher style look at the street level crime-fighting origin story of Batman, told in tandem with the origin of Gotham City's police commissioner-to-be, Jim Gordon.

And while the animated visuals aren't as dark and gritty as the material, they're solid, in keeping with the source comics, and mature enough to pull off this great story.


Chillerama is a throw-back to the horror anthology movies like Creepshow, and the practical effects driven schlock of that era and those that inspired it. The difference being, it's all conceived and done from an anything goes 21st century viewpoint, where the creators dreamed up a couple concepts that sounded cool; like Wadzilla where a giant sperm threatens a city, or Diary of Anne Frankenstein, where the title pretty much says it all, and asked other director/friends to bring the shorts to life on the cheap.

What you get is three short features, all framed around another story of the last night of a drive-in, with distinct and different voices and themes, that all share in a propensity to push things far beyond the bounds of good taste.

If that's your kind of thing, and you enjoy directors like Joe Lynch (Wrong Turn 2), Adam Rifkin (Detroit Rock City), Adam Green (Hatchet), or Tim Sullivan (2001 Maniacs), or themes like "I Was a Teenage Wear-Bear", then Chillerama is waiting on Netflix instant view to further warp your mind!

HIGHLY RECOMMENDED if you dig on anything-goes tasteless low budget drivel.

When I found out there was a 1986 horror film that features a group of teens trapped in a mall with killer robots, I thought it was too good to be true!! But, believe it or not, that film does exist!! So, I snapped it straight to the top of the queue, and it delivers...

On the quintessential 80's; fashion, teens, and mall.
On the killer robots; imagine giant sized versions of the 80's robot toys, like Omnibot, armed with lasers and gone haywire!
On the sex and gore; yes there's random blasts of both throughout!

But just none of it is all that good.
Together though, it's a lukewarm blast of queso that tastes pretty good.

RECOMMENDED if you enjoy the 80's cheese.


Cold Weather is an indie from the "mumblecore" genre, one that's all about the low-fi drop in on conversation focused fair, shot in Portland/Oregon, that may or may not be about a real life mystery (as in dramatic, not based on true events).

We're introduced to a brother and sister who share an apartment, with the brother forgoing schooling for forensic science to take it easy and work at an ice factory (as in bagged cube/drink ice) and read Sherlock Holmes. He befriends a coworker, and his ex comes to town, and as people mingle, things possibly take a dark turn. Or quite possibly not. Now he may need to put his schooling, and love for Sir Arthur Conan Doyle novels to use.

The fun of Cold Weather is seeing where, if at all, things go. And when they do seemingly lead to somewhere, it's actually quite riveting.


I badly wanted to see this in theaters. I'm a huge Conan fan (at least, of the concept and genre, not comparatively to actual hardcore Conan fans), and it was shot, I believe, in 3D. But, between the horrid reviews, and the timing, didn't make it out for it.

As I expected, with such lowered expectations, I actually quite enjoyed it on Blu-Ray!

Sure, there's a lot wrong, mostly with how we never care much for the main characters and they only ever feel like just so much noise in service of the action, but overall, it was an entertaining big screen barbarian tale... on the surface.



Jay Baruchel and Scott Speedman square off in this downbeat thriller that tells a twisted tale of 3 neighbors and a few dark secrets. Reminded me a bit of Shallow Grave.


I'm going to give this one a mild recommendation, only because the setup - found footage from a ghost hunting reality show that stages it's supernatural encounters, gets more than they can handle when they film a real life haunted psych hospital - is fun, and takes the horror in a somewhat Silent Hill style direction.

But it completely fails to scare you, or have you care for the cast. It could've been a slam dunk.


First off, let me just say that The Last Circus is one powerful cinematic journey. Did I like it as much as I wanted to when it was all said and done? No. But it was a gripping, twisting, dark, and haunting Spanish tale, that's shot and realized in amazingly strong style.

Part horror, part period/drama/crime/love story, The Last Circus is produced well enough to pull off it's ambitious scope, however, it's hard to stay invested in it's hero's dark journey.

It is however a must see for anyone that enjoys alternative cinema!


Who knew there were so many Phillipino grind-house gems. Explore them all here in this fun informative doc.

As a bonus, Netflix finally made most of these, like For Your Height Only, and The Big Bird Cage, available just recently.

HIGHLY RECOMMENDED if you're a fan of grindhouse!

Almost as if G.I. Joe was adapted by Wes Anderson, as an alternate history Norwegian cold war tale! No, wait, it's exactly like that. 

Imagine a secret Norwegian isle where an elite force train in harmony with nature to achieve transcendence, and defend Norway when called. The action is as quirky as the premise, where things are more about slinking into the skin of these stealth oddballs, and all their kooky tools and toys, while re-writing Norwegian cold war history. 

If you can be satisfied with simply sublime entertainment, Norwegian Ninja will entrance you with it's subversively fun laid back action!


After digesting this one for a couple days, I've decided it may play great on the big screen - with it's expansive Northern setting (Finland), and it's wind swept isolated townsfolk, nestled in frozen mountain canyons, and it's giant demonic icy excavation - but at home, it's perfectly engaging, gorgeous, well constructed visual narrative, all comes on a bit slow and subtle.

It does have a unique tale spun around the original mythos of Santa Claus, that's charming (if the idea of Santa eating children can be charming) and original.


Quite a departure for Kevin Smith, and easily one of my favorites of his. Very much more in the Tarantino/Rodriguez/Roth vein, and completely tonaly different from anything else he's done. 

Smith crafts a brisk, twisting, ensemble things go to shit yarn here. Too bad he talks about only doing one more film...


If you've seen the cult classic REPO MAN, from writer director Alex Cox, this isn't really a sequel. It's an extremely low budget new offering from the creator along the same lines, but done entirely in green screen, with the cheapest of props and effects.

If you can get into the groove here, with it's low rent visuals and production, and it's decidedly indie/alternative/sci-fi/cheese/socio-political rhythm, then you may enjoy it as much as we did.


If it weren't for the somewhat original turns this one took with the premise - of a video blogging young woman's descent into webcasted horror - and some really explosive and disturbing kills (we watch a lot of this stuff, the wife and I, and we were both down right shocked at one of the scenes), I'd completely write this one off. If you watch a lot of this stuff, give this one a view for that.



I can't remember the last time I saw characters in a movie behave so frequently with actions, motivation,s and behavior that only could exist on paper, or setups that were so preposterous.

The fact that Steve Guttenberg was in it should've been warning enough.


I can't recommend this, but it's really not bad, either as a sequel, or an early 90's horror time warp.



If you saw Vacancy, or it's sequel, you've seen this exact same movie, only done much better... and if you've seen those movies, you know that speaks volumes. But it does have Jeff Fahey.


This is shot pretty good, and the cannibal bothers have some slasher charm (at times), but it's otherwise a by the numbers horror scenario with very little to offer.


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