Movie Review: SLITHER

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slitherUniversal Pictures

“Where is the Mr. Pibb? I told your secretary to pack Mr. Pibb. It’s the only Coke I like.”

Back in 2006, one of the greatest sci-fi horror comedy movies was released. That movie, in case you missed the titled heading, was Slither, the directorial debut of James Gunn, the man who would go on to make an obscure Marvel comic into the best movie of Marvel’s cinematic existence.

So then, one evening outside a small South Carolina town, a meteorite crashes. Inside this meteorite is a sentient extraterrestrial parasite that immediately makes the local used car dealer its new home. Soon, the car dealer starts to mutate, growing tentacles and getting all weird and gross. Basically, second puberty. Then the local pets start disappearing, and a local woman is then infected with hundreds of the parasite offspring. Soon, the entire town is being threatened with these creepy crawly spawn of Cthulhu, and it’s up to the town’s long-suffering Sheriff and a handful of survivors to defeat this intergalactic horror.

Apparently, there was some controversy when Slither was released due to an alleged similarity to the 1986 movie Night Of The Creeps. I haven’t seen that movie yet (it is in my Watch Cue, though, rest assured), so I’m not able to point out any similarities. But, if it’s as much fun as Slither was, I may be moving Night Of The Creeps up the cue.

What makes Slither one of my favorite B-Movie sci-fi horror flicks of the past couple of decades is the snappy script, and the performances from the actors, especially Nathan Fillion and Michael Rooker. Gads, I would watch anything either one of those two are in. Also, legendary voice actor Frank Welker handled the alien slug sounds. The effects are great, and you can tell that Gunn spent some time in the Troma camp of movie making, with the whole tongue-in-cheek humor mixed in with the horror. Say what you will, but I consider Slither to be one of the best not-really-guilty pleasure B-Movies out there. Check this one out some time.


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what we do in the shadowsParamount Pictures

“Yeah, some of our clothes are from victims. You might bite someone and then, you think, ooooh, those are some nice pants.”

So, there I was, in the hospital due to my knees getting rather messed up. I had my laptop there, and was contemplating taking in a streaming movie to help assuage my growing boredom in just sitting there healing up. I was perusing the Horror section on my Amazon account, and notice one of the titles available was, in fact, What We Do In The Shadows. Remembering friends aggressively recommending I watch this movie for a rather long time, I decided to finally give it a go. I mean, it was made by one of the Flight Of The Concords guys. And I’ve been hearing pretty good things about this mocumentary style comedy horror thing.

Keep in mind, there’s a difference between a mocumentary and a found footage movie. What We Do In The Shadows falls in the former category, and belongs in the kind of quality mocumentary comedies as This Is Spinal Tap and Anvil: The Story Of Anvil.

What’s that? Anvil: The Story Of Anvil wasn’t a mocumentary, but an actual documentary on the band? That’s depressing. Okay, so how about Popstar: Never Stop Never Stopping? Okay, we’re good then. Moving along…

So, What We Do In The Shadows follows the unlives of four vampire roommates sharing an old Victorian house, and opening up about their daily goings abouts and various other things that none of the normals of society know about. They’re all getting ready for the upcoming annual masquerade ball, a kind of gathering of supernatural and undead persons and creatures. Over the days, they try and debunk various myths and exaggerations about the vampire lifestyle, something that’s thrown a bit askew when the oldest of the four–a Nosferatu style elderly vampire that dwells in the basement inside a stone crypt most of the time–turns a Millennial, who turns out to be a brat that would make Lestat want to smack him for being so brazen.They also make friends with a human, who helps teach them to understand and embrace the 21st Century and its technology for their benefit; and get into some altercations with the local werewolf pack. Wackiness doth ensue, my children of the night.

What We Do In The Shadows is a fantastic movie. It not just settles as a comedy, content on merely playing around with several vampire tropes and cliche’s, but due to some very good writing, turned out to be more than that. There’s a very tangible sense of pathos and loneliness that the main vampire characters exude, along with their annoyance at the youngest baby bats to infiltrate the group. Even if you’re not a fan of the Vampire genre, I highly recommend acquiring this movie and watching it.


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boston market closedSo, late Saturday afternoon, I was given a bit of a shock to the system. I was coming from my normal Lunch + Writing session, which took me to about 4pm or so, as a couple of friends showed up and hung out for a bit. I decided to pick up some din-din at the Boston Market that was on 114th, just north of Dodge street in Omaha. It hadn’t been all that long since I indulged in a half rotisserie, with some mac n’ cheese and sweet corn on the side. Don’t forget the corn bread. The ambrosia that is their corn bread.

As you can imagine, I was really getting myself excited about this on the drive there. But, alas, when I arrived at the destination, the Boston Market was closed. Not just a CLOSED sign, but a big lettered sign that stated that, as of 1:00pm of whatever day they closed shop, they were no longer in business. Not moving to a different location. CLOSED. Forever. The big sign on the pole out front, the big Boston Market signs on the sides of the roof removed, leaving only the discoloring on the paneling as a reminder of what it once was. Even the drive-thru stand was removed.

The only Boston Market in Omaha is now gone. Like my innocence.

I’ve only just discovered the goodness that was the Boston Market about a year and a few months ago, around October of 2016. My main thing to get was the half rotisserie, with two sides, usually the mac n’ cheese and the sweet corn. Once I got the rice in place of the corn. But, that doesn’t matter now, does it?

I do not know what may have caused this location to close. It was maybe a month or so ago since I had my last meal from there. Always drive-thru, taken to my dwelling place to enjoy. Always on a Friday. Never every week, just sometimes, when the craving hits. Now, I don’t have the foggiest where I’m going to get my rotisserie┬áchicken fix. This was one-of-a-kind goodness that I may never get the chance to experience again.

Farewell, sweet purveyor of roasted chicken. Ye shall be missed, verily.


Movie Review: STARMAN

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starmanColumbia Pictures Corporation

“I watched you very carefully. Red light stop, green light go, yellow light go very fast.”

My first exposure to the films of John Carpenter was by way of the 1984 science fiction movie Starman. I watched it one Saturday afternoon while still a guest at the psychiatric ward during the summer of 1986. And would you believe it was on the CED format? How obscure is that? Also, I don’t recommend that video playback to watch movies on. If you want a good retro video disc system, stick with LaserDisc. But, I digress.

While mostly known for his horror and science fiction flicks that lean towards horror, Starman was a bit of a departure from his standard fare, in that the alien in question is not trying to destroy humans. In fact, you might say that Starman is a sci-fi romance. And this was my first taste of John Carpenter. Talk about easing into things.

So then, after intercepting the Voyager 2 space probe, aliens decide to take us up on our offer of visiting Earth, due to the invitation that was contained on that gold record we put inside the probe. But, instead of a warm, peaceful greeting, the scout ship sent is shot down by the U. S. Military, causing it to crash land in Wisconsin on a farm of a recently widowed woman. The alien entity–mainly a floating orb of light–decides it’s a great idea to clone himself a body to look like said widow’s dead husband. The widow disagrees, and while the alien just wants to get to the rendezvous point where his mothership is set to pick him up, she’s understandably upset and doesn’t want to give him a lift. Also, the rendezvous point is at the Marringer Crater in Arizona, so that’s kind of a factor there, too. She warms up a bit after he explains that, if he doesn’t make it to the location in three days, he will die (and also after resurrecting a dead deer, all the feels there). So, it’s road trip time! With the authorities in hot pursuit, will they be able to make it to the crater in time to get the alien doppelganger aboard and homeward bound in time? And will there be enough of an opening to allow at least a short-lived television series based on the movie?

Back when I first watched Starman, I found myself a bit bored at times, with my attention span wandering and not paying very close attention. I was also 12 years old at the time. Watching it now, Starman is a rather decent movie for what it is, which is a science fiction romance / road trip adventure that has some good performances from Jeff Bridges and Karen Allen as the leads.

Overall, I have to admit that Starman remains a bit of an odd entry in John Carpenter’s filmography. I don’t know if there was an attempt to tap into the more family friendly alien thing that ET popularized a couple of years prior. Regardless, Starman is a decent sci-fi flick; it does drag a bit at times, and the ending is a bit more heartwarming than I care for. But, for a weekend afternoon flick, it’s perfect for a rental.

Movie Review: MAYHEM

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mayhemRLJE Films

Mayhem is the latest movie directed by one Joe Lynch, the guy behind Knights Of Badassdom, one of my favorite genre comedies going, I’m also told his directorial debut Wrong Turn 2 was pretty good as well, but I have yet to watch that series.

Mayhem is something like a mix of The Belko Experiment, 28 Days Later, and The Purge. This is the tale of a corporate suit who is having a rather bad day: He discovers he’s being framed for a bad deal, he’s been fired, his coffee mug has been stolen…oh, and the entire building has been put into lockdown due to everyone inside being infected by a virus that effectively blocks all inhibitions and makes the infected not able to control their emotional urges. It’s like the worst part of puberty, only amplified by a factor of 100. There’s also a loophole where those infected couldn’t be prosecuted for the violence they did due to not being able to control themselves. So, the corporate suit decides to use this opportunity to make his way upstairs to air his grievances to the Top Brass of the company–along with his client, a hammer and a nail gun. Bloody ultra-violence ensues.

Mayhem is basically your standard ultra-violent survival horror with a thick veneer of satire that works maybe 65-to-70% of the time. As a means of being a commentary on the soulless evil corporations, it’s pretty heavy handed. But, at least it’s somewhat entertaining, as the caricatures are rather over-the-top and exaggerated. Or, at least I can presume, as I’ve never really been ensconced in that kind of situation before. The two main characters are interesting enough; I especially glommed on Samara Weaving, as I recognized her as Bee from the way-better-than-it-has-any-right-to-be flick The Babysitter, and here she plays a take-no-crap-from-anyone homeowner trying to get help to keep her house, who also happens to be a Metalhead. It’s about time we got some positive female representation in movies. One of the best interchanges between her and the other main guy–played by Steven Yeun from The Walking Dead, apparently…I really don’t watch the show, so I didn’t realize until I looked things up on IMDB–have a brief discussion about music tastes. Anyway, the editing is of the fast-paced kinetic style, which is befitting a survival horror comedy such as this.

Overall, I enjoyed Mayhem for what it is. I’m not generally a fan of the over-the-top violent movies like this, and if something like that makes you squeamish, I would definitely steer clear of this. For fans of movies like this, though, it’s not a bad rental to kill some time.

Movie Review: TERMINATOR 3: Rise Of The Machines

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t3Warner Bros. Pictures

“I feel the weight of the world bearing down on me. A future I don’t want. So I keep running as fast as I can…anywhere. Nowhere.”

And now, here we are, over a decade since the last Terminator movie, and we’re treated to the second sequel in the Terminator franchise. Was Rise Of The Machines really necessary? I really don’t think so…but again, I’m getting ahead of myself, here.

So, then, the big machine apocalypse that was scheduled originally for 1997 wa a no-show thanks to the events of T2: Judgment Day. John Connor has become a vagrant, staying under the grid and generally running from an unseen future he doesn’t want to be a part of. Also, sometime between 1997 and now, he got some plastic surgery done, as he looks nothing like he did in T2. Anyway, due to a plot device deployed into the space/time continuum (the “Timey-Whimey” Effect), it seems that Skynet and Judgment Day weren’t wiped out of existence at all, but merely postponed to 2004. How is that scientifically possible, you ask? Silly human, trying to employ logic to the plot. You’ll just sprain something doing that, it’s best not to think too hard about it. So this time around, Skynet sends back a shiny new T-X model Terminator, one that takes the liquid morphine awesomeness of the T-1000, and joins it up with working mechanics so that it can form working weapons beyond just stabby-stabby things. Also, it can inject nanobots and reprogram other machines, like the Borg…only not the Borg. So, the T-X is sent back and, unable to locate the whereabouts of John Connor, begins to kill the future members of the Human Resistance. Meanwhile, John Connor is caught stealing drugs from a veterinary clinic by someone from his past, and then both are visited by a very familiar looking cyborg sent from the future to protect both Connor and the vet who, it turns out, is the future Mrs. Connor…and it was she who sent back the T-850 model with Ah-nuld’s face. Also, in a mind-blowing coincidence, it happens to be the father of the future Mrs. Connor that has built the current iteration of Skynet and is planning on activating the system. So then it’s a race to get to the facility to stop Skynet from going online and kicking off Judgment Day 2.0. Do they make it in time to stop the machine apocalypse from happening? Does the movie’s subtitle tell you anything?

Despite my initial thoughts on why this movie really was unnecessary, I still saw it the weekend it came out. Certainly, it wasn’t of the same caliber of the first two movies, but it had its moments, really. You could tell that James Cameron was not involved with this one, with the way it was executed. The levity that made T2 a great ride was attempted, but somehow came short; although I get the feeling there was some tongue-in-cheek referencing of the scenes from T2, like say how the T-850 got his clothes after showing up from the future. I have to say that I did laugh at the star-shaped sunglasses. The best moments, as always, were the knock-down, drag-out brawls between the two Terminators. That’s par for the course, now. Overall, thought, the story is underwhelming, a bit of a retread from the past story, and is really more of an amusing distraction rather than a mind-blowing sci-fi action flick.

Overall, Terminator 3 isn’t bad, it’s just kind of lackluster. Worth a rental, really.

Movie Review: TERMINATOR 2

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“I need your clothes, your boots, and your motorcycle.”

You may recall from my recent review of The Terminator that I didn’t get around to watching that movie until after having watched the sequel, Terminator 2: Judgment Day. No reason, other than when the original Terminator came out I was 11 and couldn’t see it due to age and proximity to the closest movie theater (among other reasons), whereas when T2 came out, I was on the cusp of my senior year in high school, had my own means of transportation and disposable income. And due to the T2 teaser at the beginning of another movie I watched previous that summer, I was intrigued to watch a sequel to a movie I’ve never heard of up to that time. I really have no problem watching franchises out of sequence like this. My mind can usually fill in the blanks fairly well. I really had no idea what I was in for, but I was going to enjoy this, I somehow knew.

And, I wasn’t wrong.

It’s 1995, and John Connor — the future leader of the human resistance against the robot apocalypse — is living with a foster family in Los Angeles. His mother, Sarah Connor, is currently a guest at a mental institution after a failed attempt at bombing a computer factor to prevent the rise of Skynet and the extinction of humankind that’s scheduled for 1997. 1995 John Connor is kind of a punk, which is to be expected when your formative years was spent learning survival skills and military training. One afternoon, while spending som ill-gotten gains at the local video arcade, he finds himself pursued by a cop…who turns out to be a shiny new model of Terminator from the FUTURE! (TM), the T-1000. Before he could be terminated, though, John is saved by familiar-looking T-800 model that was reprogrammed by future John and sent back to protect him in the past. Wacky. So, after evading the annoyingly persistent T-1000, they break Sarah Connor out of the mental institution, and head out to evade the new terminator and try to infiltrate Cyberdyne and nip Skynet in the bud to prevent Judgment Day from happening. Big freakin’ explosions, time travel paradox headaches and robot-boy emotional bonding ensue.

I remember sitting there, inside the Cinema 3 theater, unable to look away from the sci-fi action flick that was unfolding in front of me. Terminator 2 was such a fantastic movie going experience like I hadn’t experienced before, I went on to drag my sister to a showing later that week. Just the liquid metal Terminator effects were worth the price, but then this movie had everything my then-17 year old self didn’t know it craved: killbots, big ‘splosions, a lean and mean Linda Hamilton kicking butt, Guns N’ Roses in the soundtrack…yeah, I’m kind of bummed to not be able to just pop this in right now and watch it. Bit busy at the moment, here.

Anyway, Terminator 2: Judgment Day is a sci-fi action classic. Right up there with the first couple Alien movies, as well as the original Predator movie. Very much recommended watching, this.

From The Dream Files…

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alone on a stoopI found myself smitten by a special lady last night. It was while I was in the middle of fighting off an invasion of alien squid creatures. One of the horde had eaten her cat, and she wasn’t happy about it. We managed to beat them back, and as the last of the tentacle faced invaders left, we looked at each other, realizing we may have meet our significant other.

But alas, that very same night, as we sat on the porch, splitting a root beer and telling each other about ourselves, I opened up and told her about my struggles with clinical depression, laying out everything, my flaws and broken-ness, just being as straightforward about what she was getting into. There was silence when I finished. Without saying a word, she stood up, and walked away into the misty night.

Even in my dreams, I end up alone, it seems. Stupid subconscious.


Movie Review: The TERMINATOR

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“The machines rose from the ashes of the nuclear fire. Their war to exterminate mankind had raged for decades, but the final battle would not be fought in the future. It would be fought here, in our present. Tonight…”

And thus begins the first in what would become an icon in science fiction movie franchises. What started off as a literal fever dream and made by a studio that thought it would flop right out of the box office turned out to be another bone-fide blockbuster in a year that also featured the release of Ghostbusters, the first Nightmare On Elm Street, and Gremlins. Among others.

And I never watched The Terminator until after watching the sequel. Even then it was on a VHS mix tape featuring three movies my Aunt taped off for me and my sister from HBO.

So, in The Terminator, a killbot from the FUTURE! (TM) is sent back in time to 1984 Los Angeles with one mission programmed into his literal chrome dome: Find and kill Sarah Connor. And, because apparently all directory information databases were lost after the robot apocalypse (and also .JPEG files), the Terminator goes about his mission by looking up all the Sarah Connors in the LA phone book. Meanwhile, the future mother of the leader of the human resistance is blissfully unaware of any danger, and goes about her life and stuff. To help protect Miss Connor from death at the hands of the T-800 is one Kyle Reese, also from the FUTURE! (TM). After a near-miss at a night club, they’re on the run while the Terminator is in close pursuit. Will Sarah Connor survive? Will the Terminator succeed in its mission? Does the fact that there are four sequels and a short-lived television series tell you anything?

So, yeah. The Terminator is a classic sci-fi action flick for good reason. The story is pretty straight-forward (save for the standard logic paradoxes the time travel aspect brings up), the action is great, and the effects still hold up pretty good after all these years. Yeah, there’s a scene in the motel room where it’s quite obvious that it’s a model of Arnold Schwartzenegger’s head, but let’s remember he’s playing a cyborg. That doesn’t take me out of the movie very much, that. Also, the actors were rather good in their roles, the big breakout of course, being Ah-nuld as the T-800 sent back to terminate Sarah Connor. Having watched T2 before watching this one, I have to admit that I was a bit unprepared for the polar opposite that Sarah Connor was in this movie, compared to the badass she would develop into in the sequel. But, narratively, that made sense.

So, do I recommend watching the original Terminator? Yep yep yep. As a matter of fact, this one and the first sequel are all you really need. But, getting ahead of myself again. Check this one out immediately if you haven’t already.


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american psycho 2Lionsgate

“I think I’ve identified this person as a textbook sociopath.”
“That seems to be the per-requisite for getting into college in the first place.”

There exists some sequels that, when watched, you get the sense that it started life as something else entirely. But then, it was tweaked somewhere during production to tie it into another, more successful movie. The reason as to why may vary, and sometimes the reworking is successful. Other times, it seems glowingly obvious. Like with American Psycho 2.

If you’ve ever seen the original American Psycho, there are two things evident: 1) This was a movie that wasn’t exactly begging for a sequel. I mean, it was pretty much one-and-done, there. And 2) American Psycho, despite the title, was not a slasher flick. Well, it was, but it wasn’t. Just watch that movie, you’ll get what I’m saying, there.

Which brings us to this sequel. American Psycho 2 is not only a straight slasher flick, but also stars absolutely no one from the first movie, and the only tie in with the original is a flashback from the main character as a little girl witnessing Jason Bateman’s death…which makes absolutely no sense, given the context of the first movie (again, go watch that one instead).

So, the story of American Psycho 2 has a criminology student — played by Mila Kunis — studying under a professor played by William Shatner. Take a minute or two to take that in: This is a sequel that stars the annoying girlfriend from That 70s Show, and William freakin’ Shatner. Anyway, seems the student was traumatized at a young age after she killed Jason Bateman, while he was assaulting her babysitter. Now, she has aspirations for the FBI, and with her professor a former FBI agent, she wants to become his teaching assistant, figuring that would help her chances. Only, the competition for that coveted position is pretty fierce. So, she decides to eliminate the competition the traditional way — by literally killing them. You don’t know how hard it was for me to keep from letting loose with multiple puns at this point. Anyway, wackiness ensues, yadda yadda yadda, then the movie ends. And you’re left lamenting such a waste of your time.

It is quite evident that American Psycho 2 is no sequel. Lionsgate just saw how successful the original movie was, and dusted off an unrelated script to awkwardly shoehorn the weakest tie-in for a quick cash grab. As a movie in and of itself, there’s nothing remarkable about American Psycho 2. It’s you’re standard slasher thriller that tries to be more of a dark comedy with a bit of social commentary, but everything is just “meh”. It’s a forgettable misfire that you can skip entirely. Instead, as I’m mentioned earlier, just watch the original American Psycho. You’ll be all the better for it.

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