The Monolith Monsters

1957 killer rock movie

Rating: 14/20

Plot: Rocks invade earth.

Of course, they're not just rocks. They're aliens. And they're not even aliens. They're black people, and when black people start popping up or moving into a predominantly white neighborhood, white people need to do something. Of course, all it takes to get rid of black people [SPOILER ALERT!] is some salt water. Everybody knows that black people can't swim!

You just have to love a movie where the threat--the titular monsters--is giant rocks that grow, topple, and freeze anybody who touches them. It's the least amount of personality that I've ever seen in a movie monster, but it's such a unique premise that it doesn't matter. Don't get me wrong. I liked the rocks. The growing effects were kind of cool, and I really liked how the rocks stand out with the black and white photography. Other great special effects involve people standing completely skill or showing a room or area, showing other things, and then showing the place again after somebody's thrown black rocks all over it. This is a really wordy science fiction movie. It's really closer to a science fiction/mystery hybrid than a science fiction/thriller or science fiction/horror movie like you might expect after looking at the poster there. Of course, there's this constant music that tries its best to make you think that the whole thing is thrilling. At times, the tense dramatic music is inappropriate, like when it picks up during a scene where a guy drinks some water or again when a little girl picks up one of the rocks while on a field trip to the desert where the children are instructed not to touch anything they don't recognize. Oh, speaking of her, she's Linda Scheley in her only film role, and although I probably shouldn't criticize six-year-old actresses in old movies like this, she's really awful. Luckily, her character goes into shock pretty early in the movie. Shrinking Man Grant Williams stars and has slightly more charisma than the rocks. This movie will be enjoyable to people who like to watch smart people try to figure out something that seems impossible even if the ultimate answer is a little disappointing.

This fun little 50's entry in the "big things threatening humanity" sci-fi sub-genre was recommended by Barry. He wrote about the thing on back in 2000. Some cat named Oscar beat him to the punch.

Barry and I would both like to apologize to any black people who read this. And there probably isn't a racist subtext in The Monolith Monsters.


2003 superhero sequel

Rating: 15/20 (Emma: 20/20; Abbey: 16/20)

Plot: The X-Men and X-Women have to find a mysterious mutant monkey man who attempted to assassinate the president, and the bald guys' mutant friends have to team up with the Lord of the Rings wizard and his mutant friends in order to stop the government from killing all the mutants. It's thrilling stuff!

X2? Really? That's the title you're going with?

A question: I don't like those outfits on that poster up there. Why isn't Wolverine wearing yellow and blue like in the comic books I've seen? What am I missing there? I do like Rebecca Romijn's costume though. How hot would it be to date lizard girl, by the way? That scene where she's attempting to seduce Hugh Jackman in a tent forced me to make some adjustments in both my pants and my list of superheroines who I would like to have sexual relations with. That's right--I bumped lizard girl ahead of Wonder Woman. More perversity: Can a guy be horny enough to score with Rogue?

I doubt this movie is really a 15/20, but it's at least 2 points better than the first one. The effects are improved. The vanishing monkey man effect in the White House was very cool, and the vocal music worked so well with that action choreography. I think monkey man is my favorite X-person although I wouldn't be interested in a sexual encounter with him. My least favorite X-person is Cyclops, but I think that's because his need to wear sunglasses indoors makes him look like a complete tool all the time. I think a flaw in the story-telling with these X-Men movies is that all their superpowers and the way they all come together in these scenes just seems a little too convenient. Jackman, Patrick Stewart, Ian McKellen, Alan Cumming, and Brian Cox all seem perfectly cast, but again, I'm not a guy who is familiar with the source material for these things. There are a few missteps in this movie--a fight between Wolverine and Girl Wolverine, the weird plastic prison-escape (never understood that whole thing, by the way) with metal balls that managed to simultaneously look cool and be really goofy--but this is better written and has a better look than its predecessor. I'd have high hopes for the third installment, but I've heard bad things.

Nightmare on Elm Street

1984 horror movie

Rating: 15/20 (Rating changed after I was told that my pretentiousness was making somebody sad.)

Plot: An undead janitor attacks teenagers in their dreams.

I suppose this has enough gross-out gore and jump scene thrills to lure your typical fan of the horror genre, but after a cool beginning showing the construction of Krueger's scissor hand and Tina's nightmare which for some reason features a goat or a sheep, things get and stay pretty goofy. And that--the unapologetic goofiness--is really what appeals to me. Consider the villain, for example. He scowls and has bad skin, and if he was just lurking or popping out of dark places, he would be pretty terrifying. Instead, there are all these goofy Freddy antics, mostly with 80's synthesizer accompaniment. His "Watch this!" followed by cutting his own fingers off for absolutely no reason? Tina's look during that scene is priceless, by the way. The goofy long-armed thing? Cutting himself open and exposing maggots? Some silly tongue wagging? An obscene phone call with more tongue wagging action? Nobody needs to make a Freddy Krueger parody movie because he's already sort of a parody. I also don't really understand his character and what he does or how he does it. Is that explained in sequels or something? I believe I've only seen a couple of these. But he's inside dreams and then he's outside dreams. What's going on? Is this whole thing thought out very well? Am I just not paying enough attention? Freddy also gets some pretty silly things to say--a blasphemous reference to his scissor hands [By the way--has Johnny Depp appeared in a third scissor hand movie? Is there a scissor hand trifecta that has been completed?], "I'm your boyfriend now," "I'm gonna split you in two." They really should have made him a silent killer, instead of a snarling trash talker. Of course, nothing Freddy says seems dopey compared to Jsu Garcia's Rod, a character who not only says "Up yours with a twirling lawnmower" but also throws out a line I used to woo Jennifer: "I woke up with a hard-on, and it had your name on it." Depp, in his first movie, also gets a lot of stupid things to say. Still, he still manages to be Johnny Depp in this. He's got an It, a charisma, even in a small, silly role. This isn't all silliness, however. Tina's death--a scene where she is dragged up to the ceiling--looks really cool, and Johnny Depp's demise is also creative and pulled off with just enough black comedy. And if you look fast, you'll see Bruce Campbell. And I really do like Freddy's look, at least when he's not moving. So there is quite a bit of coolness in this little horror movie. But then there's a character reading from a book called Booby Traps and Improvised Anti-Personnel Devices and the whole movie threatens to turn into Home Alone and the silliness is back. This is a movie that really needed to pick a tone. They certainly picked a tune, and those repeated nine notes really got tiresome quickly. It all ends with a waving skeleton, one of the goofiest things that I've ever seen, an image that makes me wonder if this entire movie is a joke.

Question: Who do you think would win in a battle between Freddy and Jason? 

Trailer Park Boys: The Movie

2006 comedy

Rating: 9/20

Plot: The titular small-time criminals, following their release from prison, concoct a plan to steal a bunch of change.

I am not familiar with the television series that gave birth to these dull, stupid characters. This is the type of movie that glorifies idiocy. Although there are some bits that some people might mistake as humorous, this is messy and seemingly endless. All the characters are unlikable, the jokes are cheap, and neither the main plot or the subplots are enough to make this worth the ninety minutes. 

I feel dumber after watching this movie.

Note: I think I watched this movie in six installments over a five day period. That probably didn't help.

Shane Watches the Greatest Movies Ever Made: The Searchers

1956 cowboy and Indian movie

Rating: 19/20

Plot: A confederate soldier returns home after the Civil War and shows everybody how to piss. When some damn Indians kill some of his family and kidnap his niece, he forms a posse--the titular searchers. His real motive, however, is to get back a doll that belonged to his niece but that he may have been having sexual relations with. The Duke! Meanwhile, there's a guy with a rocking chair fetish.

"What makes a man to wander? What makes a man to roam?" These dopey theme songs for Westerns always make me feel nostalgic. At first, I'm thinking, "This is really stupid," but by the middle of the song, I'm on board, ready to get myself a horse and a spittoon. There might be too much music in this movie. I mean, I really want it during all the ride-around montages. Monument Valley doesn't exactly need music, but it compliments the searching well. I definitely don't need music when the characters are having supper. I can figure out supper without music.

John Wayne's character is big and complex. He's hard not to like even when he's at his most despicable. He's really a villain here, but at the same time, he's a war hero and a loving family man. Well, and he's a racist, the kind of guy who'll shoot out a dead Injun's eyes just for spite. And he calls his friends things like "Blanket Head" or "Chunk Head" which doesn't seem very nice. The movie centers on his obsession when it's not focusing on Mose's obsession with rocking chairs, and although it's easy to say that his character is just racist or pissed off that his side lost the big war, it's really more complex than that. Wayne's performance, simple on the surface, and the ambiguity with his character gives this movie a complexity and along with Ford's visual brilliance and the beauty of Monument Valley, it helps elevate the Western to an art form.

Was Buddy Holly a fan of this movie? Wayne's recurring "That'll be the day" catchphrase is cool, but I really liked his "Put an amen to it!" better. Can't tell you how many times I've wanted to yell that in church. My favorite line might be when Ethan says, "A man rides a horse until it dies. Then he goes on afoot. A Comanche comes along, gets that horse up, and rides it twenty more miles. Then, he eats it." I think I read that in a history book when I was in sixth grade actually. Oh, and I like the exchange after the Futterman ambush:

"What if you'd missed?"
"Never occurred to me."

That is so cool. The dialogue's good and more than likely authentic. What I don't understand is the voice of Charlie played by Ken Curtis. I took a linguistics class in college, but it doesn't help me understand how people, in just a few generations, can lose a British accent and talk like Mose and Charlie do in this movie. They're around for comic relief, and the comic relief doesn't work perfectly all the time. John Wayne's lines are often funny, but a goofy fight between Marin and Charlie, Mose and his rocking chairs, and especially the inept Northerners who ruin some of the tension in the final moments, do a lot more harm than good.

My favorite character just might be Ward Bond's Reverend Captain Samuel Johnston Clayton. During a terrific scene where the posse is surrounded, I could have sworn he said, "I want you to move out here like Baby Jesus," but I could have just been confused.

Oh, wait a second! He's not my favorite character. I forgot that this movie's got a log lady!

Another quick question: As beautiful as this setting is--especially filmed by Ford with its yellow dusk, gnarled foliage at an inexplicable swamp, and the Dali-esque landscape--why would anybody want to live there?

This movie's got arguably one of the best closing shots of all time, but I'm not going to write about it.


2000 supermutant movie

Rating: 13/20 (Emma: 20/20; Abbey: 16/20)

Plot: The bald guy in the wheelchair and his mutant friends including a guy who wears sunglasses indoors and an albino woman and a fuzzy guy and Boobsy have to stop the guy with the funny-looking helmet and his mutant friends including his own fuzzy guy and a naked blue woman and a guy with a long tongue.

What's all this stuff about evolution? I heard at church camp that it wasn't real. Evolution, an opening scene that takes place in a concentration camp, hints at McCarthyism. I'm not sure this is as smart as it wants to be. In fact, I'm pretty sure this movie indirectly calls Jewish people mutants which doesn't seem very nice. The stories, including Magneto's big plot to take over the world or whatever the hell he's doing, are strong, but the storytelling isn't. Comic book movies usually confuse me, and this one wasn't exactly easy for me although it helped that this was my second time. There's an interesting hodgepodge of mutant super powers which I imagine is part of the appeal, but they do kind of come together in really convenient and therefore kind of unbelievable ways at times. Also kind of unbelievable--the special effects. The multitudinous explosions were fine, probably because Hollywood's had more than enough practice with explosions. However, a scene where Lion Man throws Wolverine around, the senator's oozing through bars and his rubbery visit to a beach, a fast motorcycle, and a big white laser show were all laughable. I was also annoyed by how much these characters talk during action sequences. There's a lesson that action movie screenwriters need to learn: Characters don't need to talk to each other during action sequences. Halle Barry's Storm Lady character actually says, "Do you know what happens when a toad is struck by lightning?"--a line that caused me to miss a chunk of the climax because my eyes were rolling too much. The entire climax at a national landmark is actually pretty dopey. I do like the conflict, especially since the good guys and the bad guys, in a way, are kind of looking for the same thing, but this movie felt repetitious after a while. I also got tired of them finding excuses to get Hugh Jackman to take his shirt off. His character even has a line about that in the movie. Now, don't get me wrong--I'm a warm-blooded American male and can enjoy a shirtless beefcake as much as the next fella, but this got ridiculous after a while.

I hope that's not why Emma's suddenly into X-Men movies. For whatever reason, her biology teacher showed the students this movie in its entirety and part of the sequel. She likes them for some reason. Hopefully, Plastic Man is in the sequels. He's an X-Man, isn't he?

Stingray Sam

2009 serialized science fiction western musical

Rating: 14/20

Plot: The titular hero and his sidekick, The Quasar Kid, have to earn their freedom by saving the daughter of a carpenter from Fredward, the ruler of a wealthy planet.

It's just a tad over an hour, and that's with having to hear the theme song six times and get opening and closing credits for each installment. This is from the creative mind of Cory McAbee who made The American Astronaut, another musical space-western that I loved. Unfortunately, McAbee didn't have the money to make his Werewolf Hunters of the Midwest which I'm sure would be a blockbuster, so he made this instead. Like Astronaut this is inspired and playful with a cuddly lunacy. McAbee squeezes everything he can from every penny he's got to make these things which, if my math was correct, must have been around 25 pennies for this one. This doesn't have the set design of Astronaut, but there's enough quirkiness to last you a month or two and the songs are catchy and clever. The songs are once again played by the Billy Nayer Show which Wikipedia describes as being a "musical group of questionable genre." Each installment gets a song, and almost making up for the lack of nifty sets and the atmospherics that Astronaut had, there are these little animated sequences in each installment to give background for the story. Those, like the rest of this, are narrated by the recognizable voice of David Hyde Pierce. There's not a lot that is traditional about Cory McAbee--he doesn't look like a leading man, his stories are too weird to work for the mainstream, and he makes science ficion western musicals. But the guy is just bursting with ideas, and if I was a big-shot Hollywood producer, I'd give him all the pennies he needs to put his vision on the big screen.

Note: McAbee's daughter, Willa Vy McAbee, plays the daughter in this. She's also in McAbee's 2012 production, Crazy and Thief, with her brother. That movie doesn't seem to be available anywhere.

Yogi Bear

2010 family fun

Rating: 11/20 (Emma: 14/20; Abbey: 20/20; Buster: nr)

Plot: Yogi and Boo Boo have to help Ranger Smith save Jellystone Park on its 100th anniversary after the mayor decides to sell the land in order to help balance the budget.

Buster saw this dvd sitting around the day I watched 2001: A Space Odyssey. I asked her, "Hey, Buster, do you want to watch a Kubrick movie with me?" and she said, "Yes!" a little too enthusiastically. She patiently watched the monkeys and some of the space stuff before asking me, "Daddy, where's the bear?" Apparently, she thought Stanley Kubrick directed Yogi Bear. Three-year-olds are so dumb!

This is one of those television show adaptations that doesn't include any evidence that a single creative mind was involved in the production. The thing's completely harmless and mildly fun, but it has absolutely no zip and feels uninspired, bland. The animated bears look pretty good although the conversations between the human characters and them don't seem natural at all, almost like Tom Cavanaugh, T.J. Miller, and Anna Faris aren't even sure if there will be bears talking to them in the finished film. "Alright, I'll run through these lines, but if you don't stick a CGI bear in this, I'm going to be pissed!" I really like Tom Cavanaugh because he starred in one of my favorite television shows of all time, and I wish the poor guy's career was going a little better. Unfortunately, he's awkward. Dan Aykroyd provides the voice of the titular goofball, and it's probably among the least annoying work of his career. And Yogi Bear, along with his sidekick, is an annoying character who I really don't want to spend an hour and a half with. Boo Boo is voiced by Justin Timberlake which probably explains why I was aroused while watching this thing. The story's weak and predictable, the humor is spotty, and the characters probably aren't as likable as anybody remembers them. This was maybe better than I thought it would be, but nobody is going to list it among Stanley Kubrick's best works.

Look at that promotional poster up there. That's my favorite thing ever. It might not automatically look like Yogi and his little pal doing it "bear style" to anybody who isn't a pervert, but the "Great things come in bears" tagline invites the image. Somebody had to have been fired over that one.

Shane Reviews the Greatest Movies Ever Made: 2001: A Space Odyssey

1968 nerd space mind pornography

Rating: 20/20 (Buster: dnf)

Plot: Monkeys discover a monolith and beat each other senseless with bones. Millenniums later, mankind finds itself a lunar monolith, and a crew of five--two awake and three in hypersleep--ventures to a distant planet to find the source of a mysterious humming. H.A.L. goes apeshit.

I remember watching this the first time--post Star Wars--and thinking, "What the fuck is with the monkeys?" I think the forty-five minutes of monkeys at the beginning of this kept me from believing this movie is as great as it is. Watching it for a third time as a more seasoned cinephile, I appreciate the monkeys (or ape men or whatever they are) a lot more. In fact, there's not a single shot in that takes place on earth that isn't suitable for framing. And you have to give credit to whoever trained those monkeys because they are great.

Flash forward to space, a bone transforming into a spacecraft of some kind. And it's all so beautiful. I can imagine more-scholarly hippies and nubile astronomers furiously masturbating from the very first shots in space until the mind-melting climax with the color assault and bewildering space fetus, just blasting off and Milky-Waying sticky theater floors like geeky Paul Reubenses. In space, no-one can hear you ejaculate. At least that's what I've heard. Just check out that moon. It looks more moon than the footage of the moon landing. It's so clear and so beautiful and textured that I had an overwhelming desire to move closer to my television set. These are effects that are so good that I don't even think about how they are made--I just assume that the actors and crew are actually in space.

At 25:30, you get the first spoken word, but none of the words in this thing really matter because this film's all about the images. And sound. Kubric uses classical music--Also sprach Zarathustra, Blue Danube, the creepy Gyorgy Ligeti stuff, et. al.--better than anybody. I love the space exploration as ballet, and that combination of the Strauss with that endlessly spinning space station transforms science and technology into something a little closer to art. It reminds me of how Star Wars was originally supposed to have a classical score. Speaking of Star Wars--A New Hope was less than 10 years away when this came out, but does anybody else think the effects for this are even better than the ones in that movie? I might. Anyway, back to that music. The way the movements of the human characters and space things match the music is so beautiful, but when the music is a little more modern and experimental and almost clashes with what's happening on the screen, that's just as beautiful--beautiful in a chilling way. Of course, Kubrick knows when not to use music as well, and the loneliness of some of the scenes without music, especially the ones where Dave's buddy is propelling through nothing on his way into nothing, is almost impossible for a person watching the movie not to feel. Kudos to Kubrick for creating a palpable alienation, loneliness, claustrophobia, and paranoia through his imagery and sound.

The audience also gets to appreciate the minutia of space travel with scenes of the two astronauts sitting around, running around, and sitting around more. The shots of the astronaut exercising is just so cool. Who thinks of including something like that in a science fiction movie? There's an immediate disorientation created, and it's those little details that do help the viewer empathize with the characters and make what could be a really cold experience be a little more profound and emotionally stirring. People tell me that this movie is boring. They're the same people who probably think baseball is boring because there's all this space (pun intended) available for pondering. You really appreciate and welcome the minutia. It might seem boring because of the lack of dialogue. As I mentioned, there's no dialogue until the 25:30 mark, and we learn soon in that conversation that Howard Johnsons exist in space. But almost none of the human dialogue actually matters, and as a fan of silent movies, I love that. H.A.L.'s voice, provided by Douglas Rain, is perfect, and it's that little red light that gets the most emotional dialogue, stuff that even tops the human characters' interaction with their daughter or parents.

I'm not going to pretend what it all means, especially the bewildering last twenty minutes or so--another silent twenty minutes or so to bookend the stuff with the ape men. The anachronistically designed room, the hovering fetus, the flashing lights that would have given me a seizure had I moved closer to the television to see the moon like I almost did. Monkeys, three monolith sightings, what may or may not be aliens, luminescent space fetuses, lots and lots of space funk. It's a staggering work, one that is as mysterious as every other science fiction movie probably should be. It's one of those museum movies, an artsy-fartsy heavy-handed and bulbous movie that is long and slow enough to be boring but manages to be completely watchable and absolutely stunning.

Stanley Kubrick--that guy was pretty good.

New prank idea that I got from this movie: Set up a monolith at the foot of friend's bed while he is sleeping. Wait for him to wake up. When he touches it, hit him over the head with a bone. Laugh hysterically.


2004 mockumentary

Rating: 13/20

Plot: A prospective Hollywood power couple decides to help the homeless by giving them lollipops with the husband's paintings and inspirational slogans on the wrappers.

I'm not sure there was enough of an idea here to comfortably stretch this into a twenty-minute short film. And that's a problem since it was stretched into a feature-length film. Director Jenna Fischer co-wrote and starred in this with her then-husband James Gunn, a guy who reminds me of David Arquette which caused me to spend the majority of the movie wondering why she married somebody who reminds me of David Arquette. Their rapport on the screen wasn't too bad, at least not as bad as it must have been in their real lives. There are a handful of funny moments, but so much of this was a little too obvious. They're shallow, and they're kind of stupid. The audience figures that out pretty quickly, and then the movie just keeps going on and on and reminding us of those two things. Judy "Kitty" Greer is in this, and there are enough humorous ideas--more than a few improvised, I reckon--to keep this entertaining enough for the duration.

Released by Troma, a company that James Gunn worked for.

This is only the second time I've mentioned David Arquette on this blog.

Raise the Red Lantern

1991 Chinese movie

Rating: 17/20

Plot: A young woman becomes the fourth wife of a camera-shy foot fetishist. The women compete for the affection of the husband who has the titular lantern lit for the woman he wants to spend the night with. They don't get along very well.

I don't know about you, readers, but if I were this guy, I'd get myself one large bed and just sleep with all of the women every night. And I'd get three more wives. Not that I even really know what to do with one woman, but it'd be cool to be able to brag to all of my rich friends.

This was the second Zhang Yimou/Yimou Zhang film that Cory has recommended. I've seen enough of him to know that there'll be plenty of color, and this doesn't really disappoint although it's not as flashy as Ju Dou, the other Cory recommendation that I liked at least as well as this; any of those artsy neo-kung-fu movies; or the fun Coen-remake A Woman, a Gun, and a Noodle Shop. I really liked the architecture, all labyrinthine and jaggy, and the splashes of color almost look like wounds against the bleak walls of this castle or whatever it is. I'm positive that I saw this back in the mid-90s and forgot about it. Likely, I wasn't smart or mature enough to watch it back then anyway. I still might not be smart enough as I really don't completely understand Li Gong's character. Li Gong's great, by the way, nailing these perfect complex emotions with the subtlest of expressions. Her character and the motivations of that character are bewildering though. The opening scene, powerful enough, is a close-up of her face as she's being lectured by somebody off-screen. She cries, and there's a fragility there. Five movie minutes later, she's got this confidence and seems kind of bitchy. Later, she develops into something more paranoid and bitchy. And then she goes crazy. I'm sure there's a subtext here that I'm not grasping because I'm not up on my Chinese history. It's a weird character though, one with this depth that neither Li Gong or the writers had to work very hard--or more accurately, very obviously--to develop it. The other actresses who play wives 1-3 or the servants are also really good although the third one (aka the hottest one) is supposed to be a former opera star but has a singing voice that might be the worst thing I've every heard. And I do like how the master of the house is barely seen at all. I think we see the back of his head more than his face, and I know we never see the latter in a close-up. This lacks the flamboyance of Zhang Yimou's later work, but its story is engrossing and just the right kind of slow and builds to a chilling climax.

I also liked how they blew the lanterns out.

Killer Joe

2011 drama

Rating: 16/20 (Jen: 12/20)

Plot: A kid with financial troubles hires the titular creep to get rid of his mother in order to share some insurance money.

After seeing his work in this and Bernie, I think I'm ready to take Matthew McConaughey more seriously. In a way, I don't want to because I have to look up his name every time I have to spell it and then, after I've spelled it, look it up a second and a third time to make sure that I've spelled it correctly. And I can't type his name without thinking of oppressive pectorals. But I'm impressed with what he does here, taking this strange character and nailing it with just the perfect amount of quiet. This a natural fit for McConaughey and his nipples, and it's such a dark character that it makes you wonder how he ever fit in the skin of those characters in all those romantic comedies. Of course, he's not the only dark character here. They're all sinners in one way or another. They're such terrible human beings that I don't think I could have argued with anything that might happen to them by the time the credits began rolling. Sinners and unbelievably dumb, so dumb that I'm willing to bet it would be a turn off for a lot of viewers. More than likely, the plot could do that all by itself. The weirdness in this one really creeps up on you. Sure there's a constant thunderstorm in this Texas town, an obnoxious doggy, an early surreal sequence that suggests thoughts of incest, and all these trailer park details, but the massive creepiness really sneaks up on the viewer during an incredibly intense and tension-packed final twenty minutes or so. Jen and I watched this movie late on a week night, and we both had trouble going right to sleep after it was all over, and I think I have to credit writer Tracy Letts (I am, by the way, surprised that a woman wrote this thing), director William Friedkin, and the cast for crafting this little nightmare. In fact, I suspect that they all got together just to figure out a way to make us lose sleep, and if that was truly their ultimate goal, they were successful. However, it's not all doom and gloom with Killer Joe as there is tons of masterful black comedy. The scene that I imagine most people will always remember after seeing this is one of those that will make you not be able to think of an everyday object, in this case a chicken leg, the same way again. And the way McConaughey says one word here--"Leg"--is just perfect, such simple genius. That's right--I just used "McConaughey" and "genius" in the same sentence.

This trailer trash jolts, makes you more than a little uneasy. If that sounds like a good reason to watch a movie to you, you'll get something out of this.


1990 sophisticated comedy

Rating: 15/20

Plot: Snooty socialites party lightly.

I think I watched this movie in four installments, but it didn't matter so much because it's episodic and disjointed anyway. This doesn't have a traditional plot or really even traditional character development. There's a romantic thread that runs through the "story," but most of this feels more like a narrative-free glimpse at these people who most people, I reckon, wouldn't like very much. I know I wouldn't want to hang with any of these people. Nothing was uproariously funny here, but that might be only because I don't understand irony. No, you had to watch this one with your pinky finger out. Still, the little side stories were humorous enough, and I like the flow that Whit Stillman creates for these characters. There's a rhythm to the film that is comfortable, but if I'm not in the right mood, I'd definitely want this to feel a little warmer. This isn't something I immediately want to watch again, but it is the type of movie you'd want to return to eventually, probably just to see if the characters are still as shallow or if they've somehow grown up a little bit. And possibly, I could watch it again in a few years as a gauge to measure how intelligent I've become.

That protagonist's hair was awfully red. I thought he was good, but I didn't recognize him and looked him up. Only one other film credit. In fact, it doesn't seem like any of the actors in this went on to do much of anything.

Shane Watches a Bad Movie on Facebook with Friends: Food of the Gods

1976 science fiction movie

Rating: 6/20 (Jason: 1/2 pi/20 [He's pressing his luck here.]; Fred: 3/20; Libby: 4/20; Carrie: 15/20; Jennifer: stopped watching; Josh: fell asleep)

Plot: Marjoe Gortner finds himself on an island where some mysterious jism is enlarging chickens, hornets, and rats.

This wasn't a great movie. We all seemed to agree that Marjoe Gortner--while not convincing as a football star, an action hero, a hunter, a narrator, or a guy that a woman would have an interest in sexually--brought some energy to the role. The special effects didn't look as bad as I would have predicted. No, the story itself was much worse. I suppose that would be surprising if it's close to the H.G. Wells source material, but I don't read books and wouldn't be the person to ask about that. But those effects--mostly close-ups of animals--weren't bad. The scenes where big animals attacked people were a little on the lame side--all shaky close-ups that managed to be both disappointing and nauseating. Most nauseating and disappointing for Fred was that we didn't get to see more of the  most interesting large animal--the killer chickens. I'd agree that there was potential there and that the rats started to feel redundant by the end of the movie. I would have liked to see more animal variety altogether actually. Surely there were more than three kinds of animals on this island! Actually, now that I reread the conversation we had during this movie, the biggest disappointment for everybody was that a newborn baby didn't eat the ooze and turn into a giant baby. A giant baby vs. giant rat climax would have been a lot better than the silliness that the makers of this came up with. Anyway, this isn't anywhere close to a good movie and it barely passes as a good bad movie. Well, unless you're a huge Marjoe Gortner fan.

My favorite part of this movie had nothing to do with the giant creatures. No, that was a moment when the character named Lorna turned to Marjoe, during a Night of the Living Dead-esque scene where they were fending off rats, and asked him to have sex with her.

Note: I have fears that a reference somebody made to "King Kong's jism" might have offended one of the BM Clubbers. I won't say who made that reference. Unfortunately, the future of the BM Club may be in jeopardy.


1979 movie

Rating: 15/20

Plot: An unlikable twerp rides a moped around.

Beasts of the Southern Wild

2012 best picture nominee

Rating: 17/20 (Jen: 17/20)

Plot: A girl named Hushpuppy lives with her dad in the Bathtub, one of those areas in the world that Al Gore is trying to destroy. When her father becomes ill, she sets out to look for her mother.

This movie doesn't make a lick of sense. If you put a hushpuppy in the bathtub for any period of time, it will become inedible. You'll eat it anyway, but you definitely won't enjoy it.

Despite forgetting that I watched this movie and not writing about it, I loved this beautiful little movie. It hit me emotionally, and I thought the little girl (Quvenzhane Wallis) and Dwight Henry were brilliant. There's a visual style to this that I really liked, and the unsual setting and colorful characters make this an interesting slice of swamp Americana. I didn't even mind the CGI giant pigs. This is one of those types of movies that quietly makes a statement in a way that seems very loud. Also, oxymoronically, this manages to be both bleak and uplifting, dirty poetry that gets to your bones. What a beautiful movie!

Note: I've seen two of the 2012 best picture nominees out of the twenty or so. What kind of movie blogger am I? Maybe that's why I only have 3 1/2 readers. Anyway, if I had to pick between the two nominated movies for "Best Picture" I would choose both of them. A tie!

Poolhall Junkies

2002 pool movie

Rating: 13/20

Plot: An ex-hustler returns to the game in order to help out his brother.

This is like Rounders for the pool hall. It's got the narration with some pool jargon, a troubled relationship, a character being dragged back into his former life, and an older mentor. The older mentor in this is Christopher Walken who apparently knows his way around a pool table. So does Mars Callahan who not only stars in this, but wrote and directed it. I'm guessing it was so he could show off his pool skills. Rod Steiger plays the type of character he always plays well (his last role actually), and Ricky Schroder is also in this except he's apparently Rick Schroder now. You know, because losing that "y" is likely to jump-start his career. I almost liked this movie, but it felt awfully derivative, and whenever there was humor, it seemed like humor that had already been in movies ten years before this was made. It's really the type of movie that you watch, know it's not very good, and still enjoy anyway. You might even be able to guess exactly where it's going and still enjoy it.

As one of my blog readers could tell you, I am an accomplished pool player myself. That might be why I enjoyed this a little more than some people would. I'm also very good at sex which might explain my love for pornography.

My new life goal: Have a picnic with Rick(y) Schroder, play badmitten, and convince him to drop the "k" in his name and try out Ric Schroder for a while.

Planet of Vampires

1965 spaghetti science fiction

Rating: 15/20

Plot: A strange planet influences a space crew.

Alien seems to borrow a bit from this science fiction/light-horror movie made by Italian maestro Mario Bava. You have to look past a flaky story, bad dubbing, and bad acting from actors who just look too generic to be astronauts, and if you focus on the mumbo-jumbo pseudo-scientific stuff that they say in this thing, you'll be distracted. So don't pay attention to any of that. Or the fake blood. Instead, watch this for the cool visuals--great sets, superfluous dry ice usage, backwards fog drift, awesome spaceship interiors, giant skeletons, moody planet landscapes, grave emergence. Combined with some creepy synthesizer music, a menacing alien voice, and cool space suits complete with yellow motorcycle helmets, it adds up to something atmospheric and fun to watch. I wondered since hearing about this movie what existential angst and general moodiness Bava could bring to the sci-fi genre, and this wasn't disappointing even though so much of what happens with the characters makes very little sense. I did like that ending a lot though.

Chasing Amy

1997 comedy

Rating: 12/20

Plot: A comic book artist falls for the titular lesbian.

Star Wars gentrification analysis, Archie and Jughead as lovers theorizing, and a Degrassi Junior High mention ("a weird thing for girls who say aboot") show a wide range of references, but this still is so locked in the 90s, one of my three or four least favorite decades. The dialogue doesn't ring true; it's Kevin Smith movie dialogue. His scripts always seem kind of half-assed to me, probably because he's a slacker. I thought Ben Affleck was likable even when his character wasn't, and his friend--played by Jason Lee, a guy with a voice that makes it automatically seem like he's overdoing things--is almost not distracting. What is distracting--and something that I couldn't get past--is the voice of Joey Lauren Adams. It completely ruins what would otherwise be a somewhat-enjoyable romantic comedy.

Mars Needs Women

1967 sci-fi nonsense

Rating: 4/20

Plot: See title.

I took notes while watching this movie, but I can't read any of them:

"a short otter to cheetah"
"Martian flashlights--gnarly"
"mok lather then scientific centuries"
"hop nature/pot hypnotic states"
"That's a long chance!" "Time is short--we have to take long chances."

Ok, so I can read that last one. I'm just not sure why I wrote it down. I must have liked it. This is a film from my main man Larry Buchanan, maker of this and this and this and that. The latter is a Manos Award winner, and one of those is called Attack of the the Eye Creatures according to the title screen. This one's rated a 4/20 which makes it the best movie of his that I've ever seen. Nondescript Martians [By the way--Isn't 1967 a little late to have "Martian" movies? I'm not an expert on the history of astronomy or anything, but this is well after we knew that Mars didn't have anything living on it, right?] body snatch some women for their snatches, and nondescript heroes have to stop them. The acting conists of reading lines although Yvonne Craig is in there. So is troubled Disney actor Tommy Kirk who called this "undoubtedly one of the stupidest motion pictures ever made," apparently before he was involved with Buchanan's It's Alive. The most inspired performance is from "Bubbles" Cash who plays a stripper and one of the Martians' abductees. Blue-tinted stock footage stretches this into a feature length, as do a whole lot of scenes where people just kind of stand around and wait. My favorite bit is when the Martians have a conversation about neckties, a "male vanity" with "no practice purpose" that Martians gave up a long time ago. This movie isn't as obviously inept as Buchanan's other movies, but with silly Martian costumes, special effects that barely pass as special effects, and bad actors reading bad writing, it's worth the time for fans of crappy movies. And the extended screen time that "Bubbles" Cash gets definitely helps.

Beavis and Butt-Head Do America

1996 cartoon

Rating: 13/20 (Buster: no rating)

Plot: Two boys go in search of their stolen television set and get mixed up with a pair of smugglers and the FBI.

"This sucks more than anything that has ever sucked before."

Not quite. This movie might have made me feel old if I thought about it a little more. I was never a fan of the MTV show but still managed to see this in the late-90s. And now I've seen it in 2013. It's the perfect sort of thing for a middle-aged man to watch with his mind completely shut off when he's supposed to have his mind turned on and actually accomplish things. There are a few film allusions including the opening sequence which parodies Shaft, but for the most part, this is the very opposite of clever. However, I did laugh a few times, and I liked a psychedelic dream sequence and a David Letterman voice cameo. Speaking of voices, I wonder what this had to do with the break-up of Demi Moore and Bruce Willis.

I am sorry. I can't dedicate any more time to this movie.

Charlie's Angels

2000 television show remake

Rating: 10/20 (Jen: 10/20)

Plot: The titular crime fighters have to defeat a bad guy who has stolen something that has to do with computers.

My wife wanted to watch this because she's a big Crispin Glover fan. The special effects team behind this twist him all around, allow him to defy gravity, and give him a cane sword. It actually looked to me like Glover might have been having some fun as a mysterious and mute villain. It's the most action he's had on screen since that punch in Back to the Future. He's easily the best thing about this mess. Well, unless you're a fan of the numerous shots of the Angels' rear ends. With hair-sniffing quirks and severely-parted hair, this will likely be the closest Crispin gets to being a James Bond villain. This tongue-in-cheek action comedy is almost a little fun, but the stupidity overwhelms it. Gratuitously sexy, unashamedly corny, and cartoonishly action-packed, this definitely won't appeal to the thinking man part of you. The trio of Angels--Barrymore, Liu, Diaz--are fine, but that something about Drew Barrymore that really annoys me is on full display here, and Diaz's character is a little too stupid. But they all move well and are shapely enough. There are a few cameos (Jen--"Tom Green AND Joey?"), and then there's Bill Murray who always looks to me like he knows that he's wasting his time when I see him in things like this. Allegedly, a fight with Lucy Liu caused by Murray questioning her talent kept him out of the sequel. I was happy to hear a Flying Lizard's song in this, but that was early in the movie, way before I realized that the makers of this were actually going to use every single song that has ever existed on the soundtrack. Oh, and there's Sam Rockwell, not surprising at all since he's in every movie.

I'm going to eventually see the sequel to this, but I won't feel good about it. I hope there are more explosions in part two!

Rubin and Ed

1991 comedy

Rating: 16/20

Plot: Titular Ed befriends the reclusive and bizarre Rubin in order to try to sell him something. Rubin's trying to get over the death of his cat, and Ed agrees to help him find a place to bury the pet. They wind up in the desert.

Ed Tuttle: "It's going to get weird now, isn't it?"

No, Ed. It starts weird. This comes off like a low-brow Waiting for Godot with absurdist arguments about whether there's hair on a head or if a cat is really dead. Or if Andy Warhol is really a great artist or if he "sucks a big one." Crispin Glover is deliriously odd in this movie that is quirky anyway. He's got a pair of striped pants, perhaps the same pair of pants that Richard Harris was singing about in "MacArthur Park," and these platform shoes that I'd imagine are hard to walk around the desert in. In fact, there were moments that I gasped audibly and feared for Crispin Glover's life a few times as he walked around in those things. It's the same garb he wore for his infamous Letterman appearance when he came on the show as his character but neglected to tell anybody associated with the show and just freaked everybody out. This is the perfect kind of role for Glover. He gets some outbursts, gets a chance to dance rhythmically with a squeaky mouse, and has a dream sequence that will be the best thing I see in a movie in my entire lifetime. That, my friends, is no hyperbole. It's got this in it:

I should have spoiler-alerted that, but you can still know about that one and be surprised by it, so it probably doesn't matter. That cat, by the way, can eat a whole watermelon. One of my old favorites, Howard Hesseman, does an admirable job of keeping up with Crispin. He gets a few angry outbursts himself. And they bounce lines off each other like this:

Rubin: "Why don't you keep your hands off other people's refrigerators?"
Ed: "Look, you don't eat those things, do you? A guy could get sick eating cats."
Rubin: "It's a pet!"

The whole thing cracked me up even though I could understand the argument that it runs out of gas about halfway through and has a few tangents--barking people, dancing bullies--that make it a little too goofy. Still, this is one of those undiscovered gems of a movie, and I'm throwing it in my list of favorite Crispin Glover films.

Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter

2012 history lesson

Rating: 8/20 (Jen: Did not finish)

Plot: Abraham Lincoln hunts vampires with an ax.

This movie was mostly really boring and the special effects were bad enough to make me wonder if any of this really happened. There's a climactic forty-five minute action sequence that takes place on a train that defies physics and every single other thing that can be defied, and the only reason it didn't seem like the silliest thing ever to me was because I had seen characters throwing horses at each other in an earlier scene. Timur Bekmambetov directed this. I know him from Night Watch, a movie with a look I hated so much that I had to fast-forward through most of it. This whole thing just looks greasy to me, and the guy who played the titular president--Benjamin Walker--didn't look Lincolny enough. I can't believe he won the Best Actor Academy Award for his work in this although I will admit one thing--dude can swing an ax.

Here's why this whole experience was worth it to me:

Me: Jen, do you want to watch a movie with me?
Jen: What movie?
Me: Lincoln.
Jen: Sure.

I was sneaky and made sure she didn't catch a glimpse of the menu screen, and there wasn't a title screen for this movie either. So it took my wife 11 minutes and 39 seconds to figure out that this wasn't the Academy Award nominated Lincoln and was "the one with vampires" instead. At one point, she said, "Abraham Lincoln didn't kill people!" I thought the whole thing was hilarious. She called it "mean" though.

Last laugh was on me because I watched the whole movie.

Shane Watches a Bad Movie on Facebook with Friends: TerrorVision

1986 sci-fi horror-comedy

Rating: 12/20 (Rat's Ass: 3.14(2)/20; Fred: 9/20; Carrie: 5/20; Bryan: 8/20; Libby: 13/20)

Plot: An alien thing finds its way to earth via a satellite dish and begins devouring a family and a couple swingers who pop over for some swinging.

Well, I was going to post the Facebook conversation, but it would be pointless. You should just Facebook friend request me and watch the bad movie of the week with us--9:30 on Sundays.

This is a fun slab of 80's sci-fi comedy with some gross and cheap effects, cheaper laughs, and a tan guy. There's a shift that threw most of us off about midway through when it changes from a monster-on-the-rampage-eating-unlikable-people movie to something like a dopey E.T. Then, it sort of changes back and doesn't wimp out at the end which I liked. My pals were entertained by some perverse artwork in the swingers' home. Bryan seemed slightly annoyed by the whole thing but even said, "That one face down ass up pic in the bedroom was pretty good." Fred didn't like the green blood. Libby liked the flick the most, contrasting it with Waterworld, a movie that her husband Fred said was "good," a comment that probably led to a huge argument and an eventual divorce. The guy's enjoyed an Elvira-esque television hostess who showed clips from The Giant Claw, Earth vs. the Flying Saucers, and Robot Monster. We were all excited to see Uncle Rico, and I like that the guy that did the "voice" for the monster has 686 acting credits on Frank Welker. He's a good grumbler. This isn't exactly high art, but there are lots of laughs, appropriate since it's supposed to be funny.