Monday, September 12, 2011

FLICKS OF THE WEEK: August 28th - September 3rd, September 4th-10th


I'm a huge fan of John Carpenter, so I was really hoping that his newest creation would knock my socks off or at least take me on a memorable horror ride. I have to say that I was impressed with the film and found myself getting rather creeped out and also frequently jumpy whenever that spooky ass ghost reared its ugly head. The film is centered around a disturbed young woman named Kristen, played by Amber Heard, who finds herself the newest guest at a wacky ward after setting fire to an old farmhouse. Once inside the asylum, she meets a group of fellow female patients that all have their unique quirks and personalities, yet share one singular fear. Something is haunting the halls of the ward and picking them off one by one. Carpenter does a remarkable job in building up the characters and providing a sense of dread, while the cast supports his overall vision of this late 60's insane asylum. The period look comes off authentic and adds a nice bit of atmosphere to this ghost story with a twist. Give me more Johnny boy, we've missed you.

Keeping with the theme of insane girls, Paperhouse follows the exploits of a young girl named Anna who has the peculiar ability to make her drawings a reality. Well a reality at least in her dreams. After succumbing to a strange illness that sends her into frequent fainting spells, Anna begins to have odd dreams that mimic the drawings that she has recently been working on. At first, this seems like a wonderful alternate reality where she can be herself and find peace away from her troubled life and fractured family situation, but unfortunately Anna's dream world begins to transform into something of a nightmare. The dream sequences in which Anna stumbles into are quite surreal, mostly consisting of a single farm house in the middle of a wide open and deserted field. There's a morbid and brooding sense to this world, making the viewer feel as if danger is only a moment away. I loved the child like and nightmarish quality of the film, reflecting many helpless nights as a child as I fought invisible demons and faceless monsters, all from the comfort of my cozy bed. Paperhouse definitely captures that fantasy aspect of being a kid and letting your imagination run wild. It's a special little film.

This cheap and often laughable post apocalyptic story, is actually kind of fun if you just let go and go along with it. The film depicts a world where mankind and civilization as a whole has receded back into the caveman era, leaving behind all of their technological advancements and knowledge to instead partake in the old hunter, gatherer lifestyle. This all resulted from a terrible virus that swept the world over, killing in unprecedented numbers in its wake. Only a small percentage of the population was able to survive. Some found themselves unaffected in this new world, while others were savagely turned into ravenous beasts by the virus. The film has a tremendously cheesy side to it, but what I liked most about the movie was the depiction of a modern metropolis cast into ruin and reclaimed by nature. The effects and look of the film were actually pretty impressive for such a low budget and obviously meager production. Strangely enough, Sean Bean even makes an appearance, providing that extra respectable element that makes you believe that the film isn't as impoverished as we initially have been led to believe. All in all, the film is just downright stupid fun. Nothing spectacular, but nothing at all unwatchable.

Part 2 of the subterranean horror franchise, is just as much bloody fun as the original. With the initial introduction and mystery of the cave dwelling creatures left in the first outing, the fun gets off on a quicker foot, bathing the screen in blood and gore provided by a few new faces and a couple of old ones. The film starts off right at the end of main character Sarah's supposed dream sequence from the first movie. She's rescued and then interrogated by the police on what really happened down in those caves. Having lost memory of her entire time below ground, the police form a search party, with Sarah included, and descend back down into the caves to recover the rest of Sarah's missing party. Even with the absence of director Neil Marshall, The Descent Part 2 is as claustrophobic inducing and violent as its predecessor. There really is no holding back on the gore and carnal nature of the main characters' fight for survival. I would say that the film is a great companion piece and a natural next step in the horror franchise, providing an unsuspecting ending that leaves the series open for another entry.


DEATHSTALKER! Well if it isn't Conan the Barbarian's poor cousin. This 80's fantasy film is just down and dirty fun. The movie follows the adventures of a muscle bound and sword swinging warrior named Deathstalker, as he fulfills a prophecy that depicts his victory against an evil sorcerer named Munkar. Boobs, blades, and blood proceed, as Deathstalker enters a tournament hosted by Munkar himself. The winner gets to inherent Munkar's thrown, the only catch is that this whole tournament has been nothing but one big elaborate trap, concocted to get all of the warriors of the land to kill each other, leaving Munkar to rule unchallenged. Of course Deathstalker screws up Munkar's evil scheme, proving that he really is that bad ass of a swordsmen, but what else would you expect from a film that is so overflowing with testosterone and BOOBS. I had a fun time with this film and I'm currently tackling the second entry in the series. Deathstalker is definitely a film that does things its own way and doesn't apologize to anyone. You go Deathstalker!

Simon Pegg and Nick Frost's antics in both film and television have been a favorite of mine for years. From Big Train, to Spaced, to Shaun of the Dead, and to Hot Fuzz, I've enjoyed everything the duo has put out. When I first heard about Paul, I was initially excited, but then heard that they wouldn't be paring with their friend and frequent collaborator Edgar Wright and my expectations lowered slightly. The comedic duo of Pegg and Frost is fantastic, but add in a little bit of Wright flavor and you're bound to create something magical. With the absence of Edgar Wright aside, I still felt the film was highly entertaining, but not as funny as I first suspected and hoped for. The film actually comes off as more of an adventure with dashes of comedic elements laid throughout the story's narrative, but don't get me wrong, it was a fun ride. Also, the alien of Paul was brilliantly rendered and didn't annoy me like I feared it would seeing that he was being voiced by Seth Rogen. I've got nothing against the guy. Just never understood his appeal. All in all, Paul is a great and wild sc-fi adventure with a splash of comedy.

Sweet mother loving Christ, did I love Ironclad. I had heard nothing but horrible and scathing reviews since its first festival appearance and I just couldn't understand how a film with such a stellar cast and ballsy approach could be viewed with such disdain. Fortunately, I ignored the critics because this film kicks all sorts of ass. The movie as a whole is a siege film, pitting a small band of fighters against a Danish army led by the ruthless King John. The initial set up of the film was exceptional and put me right into the thick of what was going on during this time period. After the current events and political panderings, we're whisked off onto a highly charged adventure that barrels head long into the fray. There is a great deal of pace to this film, never stopping for a breath, as we charge bravely into battle beside a rag tag group of warriors who are as diverse as they are interesting. My favorite of the bunch was Marshal the Templar Knight, played by overall badass James Purefoy. This guy has some of the most consistent and hardened characters of any actor, yet gets zero recognition for his efforts. His portrayal of the morally conflicted Solomon Kane was simply outstanding and what he does with the character of Marshal in Ironclad is as equally engaging and as enthusiastically performed. This film is bloody, ballsy, and fuck all brutal. Ironclad is an excellent, yet sadly ignored masterpiece of sword swinging goodness.


  1. DEATHSTALKER is a huge fave of mine. My dad rented it back in 1984 or 85 along with two other then new releases--NIGHT OF THE ZOMBIES and THE BEING. Little did i know it was a barbarian movie. The sequels get worse and worse. The first movie did play on TNT in the early '00s for Barbi Benton's birthday. Amazingly, their version had one extra gore shot and also had a lot of added footage including extended sword fights. A lot of this footage looked understandable as to why it was cut but I assume its placement was to make up for all the nudity that had to be cut out.

    DESCENT 2 I liked. Marshall was a producer on it so it was nice that it turned out so well.

    Never heard of IRONCLAD. I have CENTURION lying around, too, and still haven't watched that one yet.

  2. Yeah, Deathstalker was a blast! I might have caught bits and pieces of it throughout the years, but when I watched it last week it was the first time I really sat down and absorbed the entire flick. I had a great time with it and even watched the second entry a few days ago. Not as good as the original, but still not that horrible.

    I never really payed much attention to Descent 2 when it was first announced, so I didn't realize that Marshall was on board as producer. Glad he stayed on board in some capacity, because it turned out to be a good follow up.

    Ironclad, in my opinion, is excellent. It's got a lot of bad reviews, so maybe I'm just nuts, but I really liked it.