Tuesday, July 23, 2013

"American Mary" or: How I Learned To Stop Worrying and Love The Soskas (again).



            Jen & Sylvia Soska, the Twisted Twins, two ladies from the Great White North with: beauty, film making prowess and a punk-as-fuck attitude. My indoctrination began a few years ago with "Dead Hooker In A Trunk". I loved this brutal, funny, absurdly gory, little cinematic middle finger so much that I couldn't stop talking about it! It remains one of my "go to" films when I need something to put a smile on my face (yeah, I know, that's sorta fucked up...) and lose myself in the violent fairy tale. I wasn't alone either, the indie scene, and, especially, the small press bloggers and reviewers, had universal praise and enthusiasm for the film and the ladies themselves.

            I didn't get to review "Dead Hooker" for NerdRemix (Derek got that screener I believe), but I got a copy eventually, and quickly became a fan (so much so, that when I did my whole "shilling for the indie films" product placement for my short film "Zombitch!", I was awed when Ken over at Killingboxx contacted the ladies, who then sent a DHIAT tee shirt and sticker--yeah, if you've seen it, the zombitch is wearing it!). So, yeah, I was suitably impressed--speaking of impressed, you know how they have The Fonz' jacket from "Happy Days" in the Smithsonian?? I think Sylvia's jeans from "Dead Hooker" oughta be in there too--they're much more epic! Who's with me??

            Fast forward a little bit, the buzz for their next feature, "American Mary" was just starting, I was getting frequent progress press releases via email, poster art and the like, and was pimping the shit outta it on social media and NerdRemix. It looked like it was gonna be amazing, everyone was talking about it, Hell, I even wrote a big, ass-kissy, post about Jen & Sylvia heading to Cannes to sell it! This was big news!!! I couldn't wait to get my filthy, fanboy hands on this fucker to review it!!

            I sent a few messages (and I'm sure the ladies got a shitload) asking for a screener and...nothing. Seriously?? What the righteous fuck?? Did they turn their noses up at us "small press" assholes?? I was kinda pissed...I thought they were "cool".

            At long last, I ended up picking up the UK blu-ray online (it released there a few months before the US) and sat down to watch it, already knowing I was going to hate it and expose it for a suck-fest!! Then I shot my, always barely coherent, video review...

            I have a confession to make, I let my pissy-assed-ness at not getting a screener cloud my review. I did, I freely admit it. It was a total dick move. People, for some reason, like my stuff because I'm fair and will call a turd a turd, even if a friend or favorite person made it. But I dropped the ball, and acted like a petulant little he-cunt. Honestly, my review wasn't all that terrible, but I wasn't fair and I knew it.

            Fast forward a bit more, and I chatted up someone who I'll only identify as "Director X". Director X said he had hung out with the ladies, and they explained that they simply weren't allowed by the distributor (or the head honcho, or who the fuck ever) to distribute screeners or something to that extent. So, me being me, and also in denial that I was a dickface, and also feeling inspired by another repeat viewing of "Dead Hooker", took another look at "American Mary".

            Ladies, I apologize. "American Mary" is an exceptional film. Katherine Isabelle was outstanding as the chilly, sexy, detached Mary Mason. The film looked slick, polished, and sharp yet still maintained that "indie feel". It's quite an accomplishment and marks a really cool, really well defined progression in your craft and you should be (and I'm sure you are) extremely proud of it. You didn't need me to tell you that, but, since I was a dick, I felt compelled to let you know. I stand firm on my "didn't like the ending" position, and you probably should have tried to get that Kardashian chick that looks like a dude to do some body modification on, but it's definitely lived up to the hype.

            There! I got my integrity back (who knew I had THAT?).


Send your hate filled missives, back-handed compliments, anti-establishment manifestos, and short films about Amish serial killers to: tom@nerdremix.com

Monday, July 22, 2013

My Cthulhu, Sweet Cthulhu, I Only Have Eyes For You-Loo!! (and other literary musings)

So, as you may know, I've been continuing my Lovecraft obsession, I've read pretty much all the significant stuff (and some that isn't), so I'll retire him for now until the mood strikes me again.
"The Dunwich Horror"--the film doesn't do the story ANY justice-please someone make a new, faithful version!!
"The Call of Cthulhu"--the "mythos" surrounding this may just become my new religion! It's certainly as plausible as Christianity or any of the other major religions (more so than Scientology for sure!). Plus, tentacles!! How can you go wrong with tentacles???
Also, I'd be remiss if I didn't mention one of my favorite films from a few years ago, Ivan Zuccon's "Colour From the Dark" (loosely based on "Colour Out of Space") featuring....THE Debbie Rochon!! She was outstanding in this outstanding film, run, don't walk to buy it! By all accounts, HP was a racist, Xenophobic fuck, so he probably wouldn't like the Italian setting, but hey, he's dead! If Lovecraft were alive today, it stands to reason he'd be writing a horror blog from his Grandma's basement with his cats--check his back story, it could totally happen!!
Until I revisit his stuff, I'll say this--keep my cities cyclopean, my darkness stygian, my knowledge forbidden, and my horror eldritch, bitches!!

He ain't Lovecraft, but Rob DiLauro wrote a fuckin' book!! No shit!!

DiLauro, best known for his genre radio hosting skillz, has tried his hand at writing, and I must say, he's pretty damned good at it. "Scorn" book one, is now available via Amazon.com in digital and hard copy versions. I'll keep this "spoiler free", but Rob shows a skilled hand at character development, suspense, story flow, and engaging prose. "Scorn" is quite an achievement, and seemingly, a precursor to more literary scares from this Michigan native. I dug it quite a bit and can't wait to see what's next in the series--it delivers the goods man! Definitely check it out!
Until next time jerkees!! Send your bile to: tom@NerdRemix.com

Sunday, July 21, 2013

"Evil Dead" 2013--Re-makes and the Lunatics That Debate Them

Ahhh re-makes, does anything stir up controversy, set fanboy's blood boiling, or fire up message boards across the genre quite like the news that a beloved "classic" is being re-made? Like it or not, they seem to be here to stay for the immediate future, some I enjoyed ("Last House on the Left" and "The Hills Have Eyes" are but two) and some I despised (fuck you "Friday the 13th" re-make! Fuck you right in the eyehole of your fucking cheap hockey mask!!), but lately, a lot of hate has been directed at the recent "Evil Dead" redux. Now, far be it from me to tell you what to like, but some of the reasons cited for hating on this (and a lot of other re-makes) are just plain absurd.


            So, please, for a moment, clear your mind of any pre conceived notions of supposed suction, and follow me!




1. "This abomination adds too much, assumes to much too of the original's story, or it's a 'Shot-for-Shot' copy"


Okay, so "The Omen" was a slavish copy of the original (and also sucked), but you guys get fired up when a director expands on a story to avoid this criticism too! Example-Rob Zombie's "Halloween". "He added too much!! There's no mystery to Myers anymore!! He pissed all over Carpenter's vision!! He made Michael too human!!"--do those sound familiar? Maybe you uttered those same phrases, or maybe posted them on a board on the 'net? C'mon someone did, these things just don't happen! And when Zombie threw the whole original outline out the window for "H2"--you all cried foul again! Anyways, whether you want to own up to it or not, you're damning the film makers no matter the route they choose. "Evil Dead" featured a storyline that actually was a lot more challenging than the original's, they kept the vital parts intact, and added some nuances that worked really well in my opinion. So, in reaching a sort of "middle ground" they may have pandered to the demographic a bit, but hey, fucked if they do-fucked if they don't, right?


2. "'Evil Dead 2013' was FULL of plot holes!!"


Seriously? You just made that fucking argument with a straight face?? Have you watched the original lately?? Go ahead, pop in the DVD, check it out-I'll be here when you get back...See? The original had major plot holes as well--I ain't even going into them here. So, if you're going to bag on the re-make for that, get a grip. And if you're pissed that they didn't "fix" the plot holes? See item #1.


3. "Characters--I didn't care about them, too one dimensional, also, where were the iconic names??"


Okay let me break this down for you--"A Nightmare on Elm St."--the re-make wasn't a terrible film, no, let that sink in for a second, it really wasn't. The reason it didn't fly with genre fans? No Robert Englund!! No offense to Jackie Earle Haley (or Kelly Leake), dude, I loved him in "Watchmen", but there's no Freddy without Robert! Now, imagine for a second, Ash without Bruce Campbell...scary isn't it? Exactly! And one dimensional, "throw away" characters?? Okay, a little challenge, you know all of those 80's slasher films that clogged up the video shelves back in the day that are now regarded as "classics" even though they're mostly artless tripe?? Name some characters, other than the iconic killers themselves (or the occasional final girl)...annnnnnd...GO! Most of the time when a genre film, like "Evil Dead", takes time with character development, everybody screams "BOOOOORINGGG!! get on with the carnage already!!". So, again, it's no win situation for a writer/director.


4. "The plot was sooooo predictable"


Again, seriously?? What? Did you want everyone to live happily ever after?? This is a horror film for shit's sake!! There's an axe in corner of this house? Of course it's going to eventually be used to chop a fucker up!!! Someone goes into the cellar alone?? Of course they're going to meet a bad goddamned end!! And, on top of all of this, it's a RE-MAKE!!!! If you want all kinds of plot variations, watch a "new" film (or see item #1).


5. "How dare they re-make this classic anyways?"


This is an easy one--DON'T BUY A TICKET! Really, if you want the current trend of re-making every marginally successful horror film to end--don't support it!! Hollywood is built on money, it literally talks while bullshit walks. If nobody is buying it, they'll quit selling it--supply and demand folks! Bitching on social media probably won't do it, especially if you're bitching after you've paid 25 bucks for the blu-ray. And, while we're on the subject, the word "classic" is getting applied to a lot of turds lately. Case in point, the "Night of the Demons" re-make. Now, whatever your opinion of this "classic" (*cough-cough*, sorry, had something in my throat there...), the fanboy whining about it was priceless!! The original is not now, nor was it ever, an "art" film. Yet the passion that people complained about the re-make with was mind boggling!! I honestly think the only way the producers would have made anyone even a tiny bit happy would have been to trot out Linnea Quigley to drop her top or something!! Good thing they didn't go that far, but I don't think I'm alone in the opinion that they made a new film that was in many ways more entertaining than the original. Just goes to show, one man's "classic" is another man's cinematic stool sample!


            Bottom line--there's a lot to like about "Evil Dead 2013", it's violent, gory, cringe inducing in parts, and was made with a careful eye on the expectations of the fans. Embrace that shit! If they're going to keep churning out re-makes, at least we, as horror loving chuckle-heads, can support the ones that make a decent effort at re-telling a story we've all grown to love. If, after me trying desperately to make you see the light, you still want to whine, cry, and bitch about re-makes (even the quality ones), then just say "I didn't like it" or "I like the original better" rather than trying to prop up some half-assed reason or logic as to WHY it sucks!

Now, who's ready for the "Munster Go Home" re-make with Johnny Depp and Nic Cage?? Whooooooooooo-Hooooooooo!!!


 All complaints, death threats, bottles of free booze, and requests for sexually explicit "selfies" of other horror film reviewers (I'm looking at YOU James DePaolo!) can be sent to: tom@NerdRemix.com 

Saturday, July 6, 2013

The Audient Void--My Current Lovecraft Obsession


            Lately, I've been knee deep in library books, getting equally knee deep into tales of: Arkam, The great Old Ones, weird cults, sleepy/creepy coastal New England villages, Miskatonic University, the Necronomicon, and nightmarish visions of arcane knowledge...that's right, the literary musings of HP Lovecraft.
            While you may or may not be a fan (admittedly, some of his early stuff is hack work), you can't deny the influence, on all things horror, that the guy Stephen King cites as his primary inspiration has had. With this in mind, I decided to revisit (and visit for the first time) some of the Lovecraft adapted horror cinema out there---I'm sure everyone has their favorites, but these are the ones I have in my crazy, hoarder-type, DVD collection...so, let's begin.
"Re-Animator"(1985)--Yeah, really obvious, but Stuart Gordon and Brian Yuzna managed to create a funny/repulsive little franchise that incorporates elements from Lovecraft's tale in all 3 installments--plus, let's be honest--Barbara Crampton!! Classics all of 'em!
"Dagon"(2001)--A creepy, frankly scary, little yarn, that, while sporting a change in venue and some character shuffling, is a pretty awesome re-creation of the fabled Innsmouth. Gordon really cooks here, serving up slimy handfuls of frog/fish goodness! Definitely check this one out--very underrated.
"In The Mouth of Madness"(1994)--While it doesn't exactly have Lovecraft's name attached, c'mon man! A variation/hybrid of several stories, this film contains a few genuinely unnerving set pieces. Probably the most overlooked film in John Carpenter's catalog (equally the fault of the unsatisfying, ambiguous ending and Sam Neill's criminal over acting...), this is probably one you'd want to skip, unless you're a diehard JC fan or have 90 or so minutes to waste...
"The Call of Cthulhu"(2005)--A black and white, silent film that is just pure genius! Andrew Leman's faithful adaptation really shines because of it's look and ambition. Superb sets on a shoestring budget, and it really captures what a film made in HP's time would have looked like. In a word--Excellent!
"The Dunwich Horror"(1970)--Psychedelic dream orgies, Dean Stockwell acting hella fucked up while looking like Harry Reems, 75% of Sandra Dee's left tit, and a guy that appears to be the Caucasian version of Grady from "Sanford & Son"--Daniel Haller's AIP released effort, if nothing else, keeps you watching! Sets and characters that typify the gothic cinema of the era (Hammer/AIP), this is one that's not to be missed! Campy and fun.
"From Beyond"(1986)--Stuart Gordon again-and he brings along a cast that's like a genre nerd's wet dream! Fire up those pineal glands, and pop this entertaining gem into your DVD deck! Adding a liberal amount to the sparse source material, this film manages to expand into a sci-fi pulp comic brought to vivid life. Ken Foree, Jeff Combs, and the amazing Ms. Crampton (who also dons a leather/latex bondage get up...just picture that for a sec...take all the time you need...) romp through this freaky, nasty, bloody story of science run amok.
"The Unnamable"(1998)--Basically a "monster kills teens fucking in a haunted house" film, director Jean-Paul Ouellette, however, manages to work in almost all of the original story's finer points. Kind of a decent popcorn film, and it creates a cool back-story only hinted at in Lovecraft's work. Check it out.
            Well, let me grab my bookmark, read some more, and pop this DVD of the "Masters of Horror" episode from Stuart Gordon into the player....