Movie Review: The DUKES OF HAZZARD

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DUKES OF HAZZARD MOVIEWarner Bros. Pictures
2005
PG-13

Set in present day, the story follows the adventures of “good old boy” cousins, Bo and Luke Duke, who with the help of their eye-catching cousin Daisy and moonshine running Uncle Jesse, try and save the family farm from being destroyed by Hazzard County’s corrupt commissioner Boss Hogg. Their efforts constantly find the “Duke Boys” eluding authorities in “The General Lee,” their famed 1969 orange Dodge Charger that keeps them one step ahead of the dimwitted antics of the small southern town’s Sheriff Roscoe P. Coltrane.

Considering the whole socio-political climate of the past few months as of this writing, I figured now would be a good time to get a review of the Dukes Of Hazzard movie out of the way. Yeah, I’ve been avoiding having to write this, for reasons that will be explained in a bit. Now, though, considering that the television show that the movie is based on has been labeled as persona non grata due to backlash from an actual serious incident, I figured it’s high time I get this one out of my head and onto the virtual page.

Mind you, I’m not going to be using this review as a sounding board for my thoughts about the recent wackiness that I shall not speak of right now. You know what I’m talking about. And if not, count yourselves among the blessed. No, I’m just going to go off about this movie alone. In which case, let me get this out of the way:

I grew up watching the original broadcast episodes of The Dukes Of Hazzard. Every Friday, I would plop down with my family to watch the recent hijinks of the two good ol’ boys mentioned in the classic theme song, usually involving foiling some grandiose scheme of Boss Hogg’s, getting chased around in the General Lee by one Rosco P. Coltrane and his myriad of catch phrases, sometimes accompanied by the lovable Deputy Enos, with the rest of the Duke family and friends ending things up at the Boar’s Nest to down a few and listen to whatever 80s country superstar was caught in Sheriff Coltrane’s speed trap play live.

What I’m trying to say is, I have very, very fond memories of this show. It still remains a guilty pleasure of mine that I don’t mind admitting to love. I even bought the download of the theme song by Waylon Jennings not too long ago, just because. And I’m a freaking \,,/METALHEAD\,,/, for crying out loud. I am still a fan. Which is why watching this big-screen adaptation of the show not only kicked me hard and square in the childhood, but also pointed and laughed as I was doubled over in a fetal position.

The reason why I watched this movie was because I was watching my sister and brother-in-law’s place back in…I think it was 2007 or so, and in a fit of boredom I popped it in, thinking “how bad could it be?” Well…let me tell you something. Whoever wrote this had no grasp of the charm that was the source material. It’s almost like someone heard this used to be a thing on television, read over the Wikipedia page, and thought, “How can we make this for the hip Jackass-watching demographic?” And so they brought in the very guy from the Jackass series and that Stifler guy from the American Pie movies to play Luke and Bo Duke, respectively. Then they got Jessica Simpson, hot off of her fourteenth minute of her fifteen minutes of fame, to play Daisy Duke. And not to leave out the older crowd, they got Willie Nelson to play Uncle Jesse, and Burt Reynolds to play Boss Hogg. Only, Willie plays Uncle Jesse as a somewhat perverted old hippie stoner, rather than the sage father figure everyone remembers him as being, which is completely off-putting. And Burt Reynolds as Boss Jefferson Davis “J. D.” Hogg…well, actually he was about the only really good portrayal in the movie. Bit more serious, and not as portly as I would have liked, but how can you go wrong with Burt? Answer: You can’t.

There were some points that I did kind of like about the movie, like how the General Lee got its classic look…with one point of it being used as an attempt at a fish-out-of-water joke that falls flat later on. And the soundtrack is great. But overall, I have to say that I don’t hate The Dukes Of Hazzard movie…I’m just rather disappointed in it. Was my enjoyment of the movie tainted by nostalgia glasses? Maybe. I’m not gonna rule that out. But, really, even if this was just a stand-alone movie with no ties whatsoever with the show…or even being a remake of the movie Moonshiners (that’s the movie The Dukes Of Hazzard is loosely based on) I really don’t think it stands up very well.

FINAL VERDICT:

this movie is terrible

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Movie Review: EXETER

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EXETERVicarious Entertainment
2014
R

“Stop pissing off the demon!”

During an all-night, drug-fueled party at an abandoned asylum known for the horrific treatment of its patients, a group of ordinary teens decide to experiment with the occult, mysteriously leading to a violent possession. In an effort to find help, the group rushes to escape, only to find themselves locked inside with no means of communication. Tempers flare, trusts are broken and in attempt to save one of their friends possessed by the demon, the amateurs try to perform an exorcism. Instead of solving the problem, and unbeknown to them, they unleash an even more powerful and vengeful spirit, one with a distinct motive and which wants them all dead. The teen’s only chance of survival is to uncover the asylum’s deep mysteries and find a way out before it’s too late. Their search for answers uncovers the asylum’s dark past…

I came across this film’s existence while trolling around Google one workday afternoon, trying to see which movies opened in theaters on the upcoming Friday, and Exeter was listed as one of the ones getting something of a theatrical release. The poster intrigued me (watching video at work was strictly verboden, so I didn’t watch the trailer), but as I suspected, “theatrical release” in this case once again meant “anywhere but Nebraska”. Such is the case of being a horror fan stuck in the left ventricle of the Midwest.

Anyway, while doing some looking into this film, the tid bits behind this one are that: It began life under the title Backmask, was released in the UK as The Asylum earlier in the year, and was released later here in the States as Exeter on August 7th…after it was shown on DirecTV the month prior. By this time, it was already released in the UK on DVD. I…my brain hurts.

Plot-wise, Exeter won’t be winning any originality points. And I doubt the makers of this flick weren’t really going for that. It’s your standard Young White Idiots Accidentally Summon Evil While Partying In Abandoned Whatever horror movie, the same kind found in genre classics like Evil Dead and Night Of The Demons. I’m alluding to the original versions, because I’m old, but the remakes would probably do in a pinch for you younger Millennial types, I guess. And while it’s a trope that’s been done too many times with far less talented hands, EXETER actually ranks up there with the afore-mentioned classics in the execution.

This was a pleasant surprise. I was expecting bland performances by a bunch of too-pretty-for-you cast giving us character types rather than actual characters, working with a half-baked cookie-cutter script and paint-by-numbers plot and “meh” scares and effects. Instead, I found not that, while you’ve got your standard character archetypes, they were surprisingly interesting, and given some depth, and the actors did a rather good job portraying them. The dialog was pretty snappy, kinda James Gunn level with the quality. The movie comes off as being very aware that it’s anything but derivative, and has fun with that awareness, going so far as lifting some things directly from The Exorcist without batting an eye, and doing so nice and effectively.

Overall, I highly recommend checking out Exeter. Or The Asylum, if you happen to dwell in the UK. It’ll make for a fun night, if paired with The Cabin In The Woods.

NECRO SHOCK RADIO – Session 3.7

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NSR LOGO 2Time once again for some delicious, mind-numbing Brutal Music Therapy! This Session features selections from:

Circus Dawn - Between The Lines Of Gray demon hunter extremist forchristsake apocalyptic visions of divine terror immortal souls iv the requiem for the art of death Martyrs Shrine opprobrium beyond the unknown serpent temptation

::END TRANSMISSION::

Book Review: The CORELLIAN TRILOGY

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Roger MacBride Allen
Bantam Spectra
1995

The Corellian Trilogy is a series of three books (duh) that takes place roughly around…well, 18 ABY, it says on the Wookieepedia page. All three of these paperbacks were part of the bunch that my heterosexual life parter Nex bequeathed me as he was making room in his apartment for his impending marriage/move. I’ve been picking through them slowly, yes; now that Disney has pretty much rendered most if not all of the so-called Expanded Star Wars Universe as glorified fan fic, I figured I’d better finish up the small bunch that I had, just to get ’em out of the way. And so, in one furious week of reading, I knocked out the Corellian Trilogy. How was it? Well, I figured that it’s good enough to review ’em all in one review, rather than spend my time writing out a full review for each one. Here we go:

1Part 1: Ambush at Corellia
Leia Organa Solo is sent to the Corellian system–a system of five habitable planets that has had a rather self-sustaining political structure, and thus wasn’t affected too much with the wackiness that ensued when the Emperor reared his ugly mug forty years prior. Leia and Han decide to take this opportunity to have a family vacation, so that the kids could check out dad’s old stomping grounds in his formative years. Only, with this being Star Wars, the New Republic Intelligence wishes to enlist Han to act as a decoy for a possible insurgence that might be happening on Corellia. It goes over about as well as you would suspect. When they get there, things on Corellia seem rather…off, and it’s not too long before they encounter, not only discontent from the citizenry, but also racial tensions between the two alien locals and the human locals, spurred on by the Human League. And not the good Human League that gave us the New Romantic classic “Don’t You Want Me”. The Solo kids are assigned a tutor during their stay there, because why should vacations be all fun, and during a family field trip, they come across an archeological dig where Anikan stumbles upon some very sophisticated looking ancient mechanism that may or may not play a big part in the rest of the book series. Okay, it totally does. Anyway, in Plot B, Luke goes off with Lando “Pimpin’ All Over the Galaxy” Calrissian to help Lando find a wife. Presumably with a six-pack of Colt 45 to sweeten the pot. But then, back in Plot A, things come to a boiling point with a massive riot that sees Han and Leia captured by the Human League, and the Solo kids escaping on the Millennium Falcon with Chewie (yeah, he came along too) and their tutor. Then, in a Shamalanian twist, it turns out that Han’s near-identical cousin Thrackan Sal-Solo was the one behind the Human League shenanigans after all. Que maniacal laughter, and fade out…

2Part 2: Assault at Selonia
Things are looking pretty bleak. The capital city on Corellia lays in smoldering ruins following the Human League uprising (I still can’t type that without one of their songs playing in my head, which makes things a tad off-putting), both Han and Leia are imprisoned separately, with Han at the mercy of his evil cousin, Thrakan. But, as it turns out, Thrakan is one of those drunken incompetent type of evil leaders, as Han and a female Selonian named Dracmus manage to escape rather easily, and they make their way back to Dracmus’s underground home of her species to get a ship and vacate the premises for possible help. Meanwhile, a gravitational well has been set up around the entire Corellian sector, making any kind of jump into hyperspace impossible, and scrambling all communications, save for sub-space transmissions, which are agonizingly slow. Luke and Lando are trapped just outside of the well, with Lando’s new-found lady love trapped inside. There’s a weapon that has the capacity to destroy entire systems by collapsing the star, and the next one on the list has thousands of lives at stake unless the Republic bows to the demands of this faceless terrorist who handles the device. Luke then calls upon the fleet at Bakura to try and break through the barrier around the Corellian sector, which they do, and manage to make it to a mysterious and ancient space station located within the exact orbital center of two binary planets, known simply as Centerpoint. Meanwhile, the Solo kids (remember them?), their tutor, the tutor’s aunt and Chewie are on Drall and find a similar ancient mechanism like the one they stumbled upon at the archeological dig on Corillia. Then, another star blows up, killing thousands. Fade out…

3Part 3: Showdown at Centerpoint
Lando, Luke, and certain Bakurian officers take a guided tour of Centerpoint, which has been deserted save for one scientist that was left behind for…reasons. Turns out the artificial light and power source contained in the living center of the place decided to start pulsating wildly, flash-frying the settlement, and pointing to being the possible thing that’s causing stars to go super-nova. Now, to find out who or what is flipping the switch to cause all of that destruction. Meanwhile, Anakin Solo has figured out how to turn on and work the ancient device buried beneath the surface of Drall (as all youngsters are wont to do), which grabs some unwanted attention from the Human League. Thrakan (snicker) manages to capture the Solo kids and their guardians, but that doesn’t last long, as they manage to escape (presumably with “Yakkety Sax” playing in the background), the real hand behind using Centerpoint as a destructive weapon show up, only to have a massive showdown with not only the Bakurian fleet, but then Admiral Akbar shows up, and then Anakin Solo uses the device on Drall to stop Centerpoint from destroying the next star on the hit list. The whole thing ends with Lando in loooooooooove. The end.

Overall, the Corellian Trilogy wasn’t too bad. It was your standard Star Wars yarn, with all the intrigue and action that we all come to expect. Nothing really that shakes up the status quo, save for maybe Lando lookin’ for love in all the wrong places. I already knew he got married when I went through the New Jedi Order series, so that wasn’t too shocking, really. At least here I read the start of that bit. All relatively quick reads, not a bad way to kill off some time reading.

NECRO SHOCK RADIO – Series 3, Session 6

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NSR LOGO

It’s another week, and thus another Session of Brutal Music Therapy! This one features selections from:

azorrague - die with us Boarders - R-Existence Demon Hunter - The World Is A Thorn Necromanicider - Revelations Of The Third Millennium Scarlet Red - Don't Dance With Danger worldview - the chosen few Sculpture - Spiritual Matrix - 1998

::END TRANSMISSION::

Movie Review: MINIONS

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Minions_posterUniversal Pictures
2015
PG

“Once upon a time, there were three little pigs. The pigs encountered a big, bad wolf, who hired the three pigs to come work for her. One day, the pigs did something very stupid, so the wolf huffed, and puffed and she BLEW THEM OFF THE FACE OF THE EARTH! The end.”

Starting as single-celled yellow organisms, Minions evolve through the ages, perpetually serving the most despicable of masters. Continuously unsuccessful at keeping these masters – from T. Rex to Napoleon – the Minions find themselves without someone to serve and fall into a deep depression. But one Minion named Kevin has a plan, and he – alongside teen-age rebel Stuart and lovable little Bob – ventures out into the world to find a new evil boss for his brethren to follow. The trio embarks upon a thrilling journey that ultimately leads them to their next potential master, Scarlet Overkill, the world’s first supervillainess ever. They travel from frigid Antarctica to 1960s New York City, ending in modern London, where they must face their biggest challenge to date: saving all of Minionkind…from annihilation.

The Minions. Ever since they made their first appearance in the movie Despicable Me, they’ve been the darlings of what appears to be a franchise. Toys, nick-knacks, t-shirts, unavoidable memes where they slap on some pithy bumper-sticker saying next to a picture of one of these yellow freaks for whatever reason. And while I admit they work well as the support cast to Gru’s misadventures, I never really thought they could actually handle their own movie.

Well, somebody obviously disagreed, probably the studio execs who looked at these little characters and saw dollar signs dressed in denim coveralls. And thus, we have a prequel/spin-off movie starring these merchandise fodder. Is “fodder” the plural as well as the singular? I’m too lazy to look it up.

The story is pretty straight-forward: We follow the Minions as they evolve over time, from single-celled organisms to their present form, always with a single-minded goal of finding and serving the biggest, baddest baddie out there. Usually with hilariously disastrous results. This eventually results in a self-exile in Antarctica, where they enjoyed their solitude, until the usual melancholy that comes as a result of not fulfilling your potential sets in. So, three of the clan decide to venture forth unto the land of humans, in search of the ultimate villan to serve as their master. They land in New York City, where it’s the year 1968, and through a series of wacky coincidences, they wind up in Florida to attend Villain-Con, and manage to become the henchmen for female supervillain Scarlet Overkill. Their first official mission: steal St. Edward’s Crown from Queen Elizabeth II. Only, they accidentally do a good job in doing it, managing to de-throne the Queen and being placed as rulers of the United Kingdom, which makes Scarlet all sorts of jeally, throw a hissy-fit, and vow to destroy all of the minions. Wackiness ensues.

While the two Despicable Me films are good family films, Minions seems to be more of a kids’ film. The difference being that the entire family, both kids and adults, would find Despicable Me and Despicable Me 2 entertaining, Minions is aimed at entertaining the kids. Sure, there’s a few references that got a chuckle, but for the most part that thing that made the Despicable Me films work on that level wasn’t here. As a villain, Scarlet Overkill didn’t do much to inspire like Gru did. She was kind of boring, really. A one-note character. Her husband was more interesting, and he was more of a lackey than the Minions were.

Overall, Minions was a decent way to kill time on the Saturday morning I watched this. Discount ticket prices, and all. The writing was good, there were some rather amusing bits in there, and I didn’t feel like my intelligence was being insulted. But I still get the feeling that Minions was a direct-to-video release that somehow made it to the theaters. Good for a matinée showing, I would think, if you have kids. Otherwise, wait for the rental if you don’t. You’ll seem less creepy that way.

Movie Review: FROM WITHIN

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from withinLions Gate / After Dark Films
2008
R

From Within was one of the entries in the third After Dark Horrorfest back in 2009. As I continue on in my mission to try and watch every single movie that was released in that series, I had a bit of a stretch between the last one and this one, mainly because of the mediocre nature of a lot of the ones I’ve recently watched. Kind of a “meh” thing going on, in the prospect of watching another one. So, I just popped From Within on, to get it out of the way and to make it one less to have to get through. Fortunately, I did find From Within a bit more than mere “meh” status.

From Within is your standard Weird Things Happen In American Small Town, Local Religious Types Blame Outcast, Wackiness Ensues type of horror flick. In this case, the weird thing that’s happening is a series of bizarre suicides afflicting the townspeople of Grovetown. Seems whoever sees a doppelganger of themselves soon thereafter winds up taking their own life, usually in a rather gruesome manner. One of the local girls, Lindsay, befriends a misfit newbie that her douche-nozzle boyfriend blames for the recent deaths, because he’s the son of the pastor of the town’s First Church of Religious Tropes. The town’s religious fervor is stirred up as the deaths keep happening, the misfit and his cousin are hunted down because of this, there’s a certain book that needs to be destroyed to end the curse (because of course there is), and the whole thing ends in an irony so delicious you’ll be glad you managed to sit through it to get to it.

From Within was admittedly fun to sit through. It had a nifty Southern Gothic appeal to it, with some good atmosphere, and some decent creepy effects. The doppelgangers are rather unnerving. The characters were two-dimensional, which is usually the case in horror movies like this. The acting was passable, with its fair share of scene chewing here and there. Overall, I found From Within entertaining enough to not get bored, or want to check my watch. It would be worth checking out some time.

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