Out of all the really famous fairy tales out there, Hansel and Gretel is perhaps the most morbid. Little Mermaid (at least in its original form) is probably the saddest (give or take a Little Match Girl). Sleeping Beauty has some of the creepiest undertones. Beauty and the Beast does, too. But all those stories (again, give or take a Match Girl) could be Disney-fied pretty easily. Take out some of the murder and self-mutilation and eye-gouging, and you have a perfectly nice, family friendly story about princesses being dainty.
Hansel and Gretel, on the other hand, has darkness woven into its very fibers. Try to sanitize it all you want, but the entire story is built around cannibalism, child abandonment, kidnapping, forced labor, and murder. Take out any of those elements and the story doesn't make any sense.
Not surprisingly, the good folks at Asylum have seen the potential for horror and made Hansel and Gretel, a modern-day horror film starring Dee Wallace from E.T. It's grisly and sick, just like the source material. Of course, this being an Asylum film, the movie is actually a rip-off of Hansel and Gretel: Witch Hunters, a minor hit that may (but most probably may not) get a sequel.
If you're a horror fan, check out my Slickster Magazine review of the film to see just how many body parts fly toward the camera. Spoiler alert: there's a lot.
And here it is, ladies and gentlemen... The end of my film festival experience. I'd like to say things ended on a high note, because I did have a lot of fun with these last two days of films. The most depressing stuff is behind me, and all that's left are heartwarming documentaries, Beyoncé, and some drugs.
Honestly, film festivals are always so much fun. I consider myself a big film buff, but sometimes I take cinema for granted. With YouTube and streaming services and all sorts of websites, so many movies are at my fingertips that I forget to pay attention sometimes. Being at a film festival (sometimes sitting right next to a director or producer) forced me to pay attention, even if the movie in question had a rough patch or two.
The 4th of July is about a month in the past, and Labor Day is about a month ahead. Yes, ladies and gentlemen, we are in the holiday dead zone of August (not counting my birthday and, more importantly, Shark Week). I think it's about time we get a nice boost of patriotism to keep us going through the long, celebration-less summer.
That's right, guys. Now is the perfect time to check out Abraham Lincoln vs. Zombies. This historical documentary tells us all about the real secrets behind Lincoln's historic presidency and tragic death. You may have though you already learned the truth when Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Slayer came to theaters, but you were wrong. This mockbuster is 100% truthier.
Of course, just in case the film isn't your cup of tea, head on over to Slickster Magazine to check out my rock-solid review. It's particularly spoilerific (Lincoln gets shot), but hopefully that won't stop you from watching this important historical document on your all-American laptops.
First of all, today is my birthday, so I'm in a particularly cheerful mood. Turning 30 does not, as some have said, make you start feeling like the Crypt Keeper. I think I have a good five years or so before that happens.
Yeah, I'm stoked about being a 30something. It's going to be my decade. I can feel it.
Anyway, here's part three of my ZIFF experience. Please note that at this point in the experience, my snark is really starting to come out. But I still had a blast.
And check back in sometime this week for the final wrap-up. In the meantime, I'm going to check my eyebrows for gray hairs.
ZIFF continued to offer a bunch of wildly depressing movies. One in particular stood out for having incest, infidelity, attempted suicide, and abandonment all in the same steaming hot pile of soap opera nonsense. It was amazing.
Anyway, here are my continuing adventures with the biggest cultural event in all of East Africa.
Earthquakes are the closest thing to a phobia that I have. The idea that your house--what should be your safe space--could crush you to death on some random Tuesday really freaks me out. I'm not the biggest fan of disaster movies in general (they tend to make mass casualties seem unimportant). I find them particularly numbing.
So... I don't like earthquakes and I don't like disaster movies. Then why, for the love of God, did I see San Andreas Quake?
It's part of my job. As a weekly columnist for Slickster Magazine, I have to write snarky little reviews about mockbusters, and guess what A-list Dwayne Johnson action film just got mockbusted? That's right: San Andreas. I did not see that movie, but I saw the cheaper equivalent.
(To the YouTuber who uploaded this scene: THANK YOU!)
Welcome, ladies and gentlemen, so my complete film festival experience. For those of you who don't know, I spent nine days watching literally dozens of films Clockwork Orange-style. My eyes are killing me, but I can't wait to share my experiences with all of you.
Here's a basically meanless teaser to tie you over:
I saw some good films and some bad films. I saw at least three films that desperately wanted me to cry. I saw a movie about Beyoncé that didn't include Beyoncé in it. I saw a cartoon about World War I and short films about clothes, salt, rock music, and brothers punching each other for the greater good. I saw lots of movies about race, and even more about women's right. I saw a movie with a magic doll in it, and another movie about lady soccer players.
Nine days, hundreds of hours, thirty films. It was an experience.
So The Atlantic Rim doesn't really exist. The Pacific Rim is a real thing. It's part of geography. But the Atlantic Rim... nope.
When Guillermo del Toro's Pacific Rim came out, the marketing madmen at Asylum decided to release their similar-in-every-way-except-quality mockbuster Atlantic Rim. The movie makes as much sense as its title, which is one way of saying YEEESH. Don't see this movie.
But you can always read my lovely review of it. I try not to hold anything back. Barring vomit. I held back a bit of vomit as I was writing the review. Acid reflux, you understand.
Sleeping Beauty is one of my favorite Disney films. I think it's hands-down the prettiest movie in their vault. I could get lot in the twisting, angular backgrounds. And the Tchaikovsky music... dang. It's an all-around masterpiece.
The Asylum version, released the same month as Disney's Maleficent, is... let's say... worse. It's fun and campy, but I couldn't see myself getting lost in the awkward CGI. Is it a train wreck? No. But it is a very strange passion project from a B-list action star whom I will not mention in this post. Check out the review. I promise you won't fall asleep.
Happy 4th of July, everybody! I am currently in a country that has a completely different independence day, so this isn't a particularly exciting time for me. That said, I have very exciting news for all my American readers. My horror anthology Halloween Night is now FREE, so download the ebook before the day is up! Offer ends at midnight, Cinderella-style.
Here we are. Another week, another mockbuster. This one is a real doozy. Check out my review. I think you can probably tell that this ongoing watch-crap-and-then-write-about-it weekly column is starting to get to me. I'm running out of things to say, honestly. I can barely finish my
The folks over at Taste of Cinema invited me back for another guest column. This one is all about horror films based on (non-horror) classic fiction. Think Rudyard Kipling or Jane Austen.
If you want to see the full, trashy list, go on over and check it out. Before you do, however, here are a few hints at what to expect:
1. We have one fairy tale on the list.
2. We have a horror movie set almost entirely in a museum.
3. We have a little bit of Shakespeare.
4. We have the very first detective story ever written.
5. We have the absolute closest thing to a Freddy Krueger movie without Freddy Krueger.
Perhaps you can make a few educated guesses before you click the link. If not, be warned: these movies are much spookier than their literary versions. Also, there's more body fluids.
My latest film review describes one of the worst cartoons I've ever seen: an ultra-low budget riff on Finding Nemo. If you ever wanted to see boy band member Joey Fatone "poop out [his] intestines" multiple times, then you should watch this film. (He plays a sea cucumber, FYI.)
Dead 7 is a strange beast. It's a zombie Western for the Syfy Channel (enough said, right?) that stars a bunch of former boy band members from the late 90s/early 00s, back when the world was a simpler time. Apparently, this is the passion project of writer/producer/star Nick Carter (Backstreet Boys), and he recruited all his past-their-prime peers to join in. Some are zombies. Some are cowboys. Most are... not quite actors. It's all a very strange viewing experience. Check out my review for more details.
endearingly blasphemous about a Christian movie whose main characters must
follow an ancient Mayan prophecy to prevent Armageddon. The ancient Mayans, of
course, had no concept of Jesus. In this film’s reality, however, an
archaeologist must return a golden crucifix to a Mayan temple so that he can
stop the End of Days. The plot is like a Mad Libs mash-up of The Passion of the Christ and Apocalypto. Thankfully, it’s way less
bloody and unpleasant than those Mel Gibson gore-fests.
characters are: a missionary, an archaeologist, a pregnant woman, a scientist,
and a paramedic. The world is coming to an end, and they are each drawn to a
Mayan temple, where they may or may not be able to save humanity. (Honestly,
after watching the whole movie, I’m still not sure if they succeeded. But I’m
getting ahead of myself.) The film starts 36
hours before doomsday, when a scientist explains why the world is ending: “The
Earth’s rotation is slowing because of a black hole at the center of the solar
system.” Like most Christian films, 2012
has the utmost respect for the scientific community, and its screenwriter
must’ve taken great pains to research this astronomical disaster. Right away, freak
weather events strike down in unlikely places, killing untold millions. Of
course, the audience is meant to infer this information. We see a few events,
but not enough to really show that the world is ending. At one point, a
character announces, “The president just evacuated the entire West Coast.” In a
bigger budget movie, that would be shown. Instead, we have a single line of
Because this is
one of The Asylum’s Christian films, we lose some of the action set pieces in
favor of long conversations about God. One of the film’s main messages—not surprisingly—is
the importance of believing in God. During the climactic birth scene (more on
that later), a character says, “No matter what happens, we have faith.” It’s
kind of a weird message for this movie to make, because the characters are
faced with all sorts of proof that God exists. If the world is ending in a wild
flurry of disasters, if people disappear
in front of your eyes (more on that later), then isn’t it easier to believe in God? I mean, it’s one thing to believe in God
without any proof whatsoever, but this movie (and a lot of Christian movies
with the exact same message) are full of proof. And that sort of contradicts
what they’re going for. Anyway, we do get
a Cliff Notes version of the Rapture in one inexplicable scene where exactly
two (2!) characters magically disappear. One is a random pilot with about two
minutes of screen time, and the other is an old lady. Are these the only two
people in the world worthy of teleporting up to Heaven? According to the movie,
it looks like it. It’s bizarre how the film treats the Rapture like an
afterthought. Perhaps the director was halfway through shooting his Christian
disaster movie and said, “You know what? People are expecting the Rapture.
Let’s give it to them. I’m sure there are a couple side characters we can get
rid of in the second act!” What the quickie
Rapture scene does, unfortunately, is drive home the film’s unintentional
thesis statement: Just give up. For a movie about people struggling to survive,
most of the characters are weirdly resigned to their fate. The missionary wants
to investigate a village full of sick people, but her friend tells her to give
up. A man gets shot, and he bleeds to death because he’s too busy praying to
get medical attention. A paramedic wants to help her mom evacuate her home
before a flood hits, and the mom basically shrugs it off. And finally, when the
Rapture comes, both of the magically disappearing people make speeches that
boil down to: “Eh. It is what it is.” Then they disappear. It’s profoundly
creepy. There’s a difference between accepting the will of God and sitting
around as the world crashes and burns around you.
That said, the
acting isn’t bad (preachy speeches go down a lot better when the actors can
trick you into making them sound like real conversations), and the special
effects are as good as you can hope for in a movie by The Asylum. I’d like to
give a special shout-out to Tiny Juggernaut, the movie’s effects house, for
making a scene of killer hail seem believable. That must’ve been a tough day at work.
Aside from the
lecturing parts, most of the movie plays like a gleeful mash-up of natural
disasters. People get crushed by rocks, they fall down cracks in the Earth,
they bleed to death in the snow, and (of course) they get jabbed in the heart
by that pesky falling hail. There’s always something happening, and it’s never
quite what you expect.
Much like the rest
of the film, the climax zigs when you expect it to zag. We get a very fast
(less than fifteen seconds) montage of global destruction. (We see the West
Coast flooding, Jerusalem in rubble, and London on fire. No people. Just quick
snapshots of big picture devastation.) And let me repeat, this lasts less than
fifteen seconds. This is a movie with the word “doomsday” in its title, and the
actual destruction of the Earth gets less screen time than a burp.
Instead, the real
climax takes places inside the ruins of a Mayan temple. The archaeologist uses
his golden crucifix to open an Indiana Jones-style secret chamber—a birthing
chamber, actually—where a pregnant Mexican woman will give birth to… Jesus,
perhaps? I was confused. The rest of the main characters show up to fulfill
their God-given assignments. The pregnant lady is there to give birth, the
missionary is there to say a prayer, the paramedic is there is help with the
delivery, and the scientist father is there for… well, it seems like he’s there
for moral support. But good for him. In the end, most
of the world is destroyed (well, the West Coast, London, and Jerusalem are
destroyed, but we’re going to assume that other places are affected, too), and
the Mexican girl gives birth to a glowing baby that the audience never fully
sees. In that way, the Jesus baby is like the briefcase from Pulp Fiction. In one last monologue from
the missionary girl, we learn that “It’s just the beginning.”
it was. 2012: Doomsday is the
beginning of a three-part franchise for The Asylum. In the following year, we
got 2012: Supernova and 2012: Ice Age. Neither of them have
anything to do with the Rapture, glowing babies, or Mayans at all. One is a
jokey riff on The Day After Tomorrow
and one is Armageddon for Dummies.
While both those movies have their charms, neither rises to the glorious ridiculousness of
this entry. Then again, if your disaster film has killer hail AND a glowing
baby, that’s a pretty tough act to follow.
NOTE: I wrote this article as part of my ongoing mockbusters series for Slickster. Turns out, the topic was a little too religious for their publication. I'm posting it here as a blog exclusive instead.
Welcome to another snippet from my weekly mockbuster articles over at Slickster Magazine. This week, I'm discussing Avengers Grimm, the fairy tale rip-off of Avengers: Age of Ultron. You can check out the full article at Slickster Magazine. In the meantime, here's a little taste, just in case:
Now, this (admittedly stupid) premise could absolutely deliver an entertaining, brainless bit of fluff. All the filmmakers had to do was pick a few recognizable characters, give them powers based on their personae, make them squabble in character-based ways, and have them reluctantly cooperate to take down a villain. You know what? Let’s brainstorm this movie together, shall we? Let’s say we have Snow White, whose special power is… I don’t know, throwing apples at people. She has to work with Cinderella, who can kick ass in those glass shoes. They’re constantly arguing, because… Snow White thinks Cinderella exploits the little mice and vermin that come and help her. They both team up with the Frog Prince, who can now change into a bunch of different animals. He’s the third link in our love triangle, but he’s sarcastic and super-rich, much like a certain man made of iron. We can go on from there, but you get the point. The stuff writes itself.
To see the rest of the article (and learn all about Lou Ferrigno's single greatest acting achievement), go to Slickster.
Many of you guys have been following my weekly MOCKBUSTER articles at Slickster Magazine. I'm five weeks in, and I'm already half-mad from bad CGI overload. It's been a blast.
Anyway, I just published a TOP TEN mockbusters list at Taste of Cinema. This one covers a few movies I already discussed, a few I've yet to tell you about, and some that are so bad I am physically unable to describe them for an entire article.
If you read this list, you'll find out everything you need to know about:
unsinkable ships that inevitably sink
and snakes on trains.
What more is there to look for in an internet article? Seriously?
For the last eighty years, Walt Disney Studios has been the dominant force in animated musicals. Since 1937’s Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs, Disney has churned out cartoons about singing flowers, singing rats, singing fish, singing frogs, and all sorts of other lovable vermin who can’t stop themselves from bursting into song. Sure, there have been other studios who’ve tried to break into Disney’s cartoon musical monopoly, but they typically came off as slightly off-brand variations on the Disney standard—1997’s Anastasia, for example, or 1998’s Quest for Camelot. Both exemplify the uncanny valley of movie musicals that are almost-but-not-quite Disney. These films typically fade from memory in a few years, like the last few notes of a Russian music box from an amnesiac princess. These copycat cartoons aren't particularly interesting, though. The interesting movies are the ones that actively reject the Disney model, the musicals that decide to get a little weirder, a little creepier. These are the movies about plant-magic trolls and mute swans and the distant relatives of Marco Polo. If you want to read my TOP TEN list of weird cartoons, go to Taste of Cinema. This is my first listicle with them, but there will be many more to come!
Did you watch Fifty Shades of Grey and wish it had more long, boring scenes about real estate? Yeah? Well, then you'll love BOUND, the S&M mockbuster that the world absolutely needed. Watch it! Or better yet, check out my article about the film.
R.I.P. Daft Punk
And if that's a little too high-brow for you, then there's always MARTIAN LAND, the mockbuster of Ridley Scott's The Martian. While it may not be as well-received as its Oscar-nominated sister film, it does have a Martian super-storm, so that's that.