Tuesday, December 7, 2010

This Isn't Your Grandma's Looking Glass

"The time has come, Walrus old friend,
To test our many stills.
The oohs, the ahhs, the healing drops,
The passions, the thrills,
And to see how joy and awe and lust
can all be turned to pills"

- Syfy's miniseries Alice (2009)

In Canada we don't have this Syfy channel, but we do have Showcase, which aired Tin Man back in 2008, and so I was just a tad interested to see this new re-imagining of the classic Lewis Carrol novel. Showcase did in fact air Alice in 2009, and it was definitely interesting. You see, as a child, I had always been partial towards Alice in Wonderland whether it was in movie or book form. I went and saw the midnight opening screening of the recent Tim Burton film earlier this year. But this, was altogether different. Teas brewed from emotions traded like stocks on the market. And just about every character was there, just not in the ways we remember them. The Hatter owned a tea shop (which would make sense) with his friend the timid doormouse working in sales. His old friend "Mad" March Hare - Get it? It's the Hare that's mad, not the Hatter - is the Queen of Hearts most beloved assassin, in charge of finding Alice and a magical ring she possesses.

The first thing you'll notice of course, is that things are a little less "anthropomorphic" - that is to say, that most every "creature" from the Wonderland we remember is actually a nicknamed Human. The few animals in the show do not actually talk, and gives the show a good sense of reality, without losing some of the fantasy. In fact the show is, in my opinion, more fantasy than ever.

Brief synopsis for people who seem to rely on them to make movie-watching decisions: Alice Carrol (Any guesses to the tribute there?) is a black belt martial arts instructor who is unlucky in love, until she meets Jack. When Jack gets kidnapped, she follows his kidnapper, wearing two rabbit-ear like ponytails, into an abandoned building and through a looking glass into a fantastical world, the same wonderland 150 years after the original children's tale, where she gets lost, kidnapped herself, and then only the Hatter and a valiant white knight named Charlie can save her, but not until she finds out what happened to Jack, and the clues she keeps finding about her father, who disappeared when she was ten.

As she follows the clues, she gets curiouser and curiouser, but then again, curiosity killed the Cheshire cat...

"Do I need a reason to help a pretty girl in a wet dress?"

- Hatter

While this two-part mini series failed to gain the attention that Tin Man had, and will likely never have a strong enough following to gain cult status, if you want something weird and unusual this just might be "your cup of tea."

Friday, December 3, 2010

Why We Love Tron

Okay, aside from Star Wars (1977) has any movie done as much to promote CGI as Tron (1982)? I mean, sure, Dykstra placed close to 300 CGI effects in Episode IV: A New Hope but Tron was almost nothing but special effects. I mean, sure, it looks like child's play compared to today's CGI, but really, how many commercial programmers even remember how to map 3D images on a Commadore 64 anymore? In reality, back in 1982 it was also a hell of lot more complex and more time consuming to create those special effects than it is now. So to the gentlemen at Walt Disney Studios and wherever they contracted their engineers from, I salute you.

Tron was an instant cult classic. It was virtually a blockbuster in it's day, but it hasn't stood the test of time in a the same way it's previously mentioned Wars rival has. Sure, everyone's heard of Tron, but everyone has seen at least one of the original three Star Wars flicks. Let's face it, people who were in their teens in the early 80's still fondly remember this movie. Their kids however either haven't watched it, or are just not as impressed as their parents were - which surprises me, because this is the same generation that's impressed by Justin Bieber. You would think that means it wouldn't take much.

But to the people of that generation that remembers Tron, of which I am not (I am actually between the Tron generation and the Bieber generation) there is an eagerness and a reluctance to see the new Tron: Legacy when it comes out. Movie afficiandos of my generation who are largely responsible for the cult status of Tron and keeping alive in the underground are also having mixed feelings. Would it be nice to see the world of Tron rendered under today's technology? Sure. Will there be an appreciation for the extra time and effort put into this? Maybe. Will it be completely groundbreaking? Unlikely. Let's face it, seeing humans interact with 3D Computer animation happens all the time nowadays. And "Real3D" movies have been around for a few years  now. I personally am not expecting anything I haven't seen before, and to that extent, that is the element that will likely be missing from the much anticipated sequal.

Friday, November 26, 2010


"The mediator between the hands and the head must be the heart..."

Yup. I finally saw this one. My town just recently hosted a screening with an extra half hour of missing footage, which I couldn't get tickets to, but I did watch a version that had placards to describe the parts we missed. However, there is still a bunch of dialogue I am convinced is missing.

This 1927 German film is absolutely legendary for it's class-concious message, dystopian style, visionary storytelling and amazing special effects for a movie of it's era. It's also inspired mny other films, including Blade Runner (1982) and the anime Metropolis (2001). The anime was based on a graphic novel by Osamu Tezuka from 1949, which was heavily influenced by the 1927 film. Square Enix's game Final Fantasy VII (1997) may have been inspired by the film or graphic novel.

All the themes are there: A class-concious "Utopian" society in which the ruling class above ground is not even aware of the existence of the working class below ground. Until one young man wanders below ground and sees the destruction, toil, and death. He falls in love with a prophetess who talks of a coming mediator - the heart (guess who that will be?) - until she is kidnapped and replaced by a

 robot that looks just like her.

Much like the Anime successor, there is also some religious themes, as the highest peak of civilization was to build a tower unto the heavens. Called the Ziggarat in the anime, but in the 1927 film they just go straight to calling it the New Tower of Babel. In the anime, they still make very obvious comparisons between the Ziggarat and the biblical tower of fame.

This is the movie that placed sci-fi on the map. It's very difficult to find an english version (the movie is originally German) and despite a post-WWI budget, the scenery is impressive, with many sets, and very extravagent models of both the city above ground, and the workers city below ground. Sometimes the vaudeville style of performance can be a distraction from the believability of the story, but for a black and white horror movie, it works. It takes a bit of effort to suspend disbelief, but it is possible and the payout is well worth it.

If the extended version hits your town, go check it out. But unless they announce that there will be an intermission, avoid drinks and bring adult diapers, because the version I watched was already two hours long. And think, even with the extra half-hour it is supposed that there is still anywhere from twenty to sixty minutes still unnacounted for. I hope that extra half-hour includes dialogue placards.

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Future ideas for SAW? Traps, plots, and...song?

If you haven`t seen the new SAW 3D (2010)yet, this post won`t make a lot of sense. That`s okay, because in Dimensions of Fear, very few things make any sense (Meet the Feebles anyone?). But this post will remain somewhat spoiler free, and try to only allude to things most people already know about the movie.


So Saw 7/EndGame/3D: The Traps Come Alive is supposed to be the final movie in the epic franchise, but we`ve heard similar things about other movies - remember Friday the 13th: The Final Chapter? (1984) - and the producers did say that they will keep making these movies as long as they keep making money. So here are my predictions for SAW VIII.

  • Opening Scene: Running short of ideas to keep this franchise going, James Wan and Leigh Whannel wake up in a very familiar bathroom, or at least familiar to Whannel who not only co-wrote SAW (2004) but played the role of Adam in the original film. A telivision set sitting on the toilet turns on and Billy the Puppet tells them they have "sold out" and rejected their roots, and they have three hours to complete a script bringing the franchise back to life.
  • Running short of ideas, Wan and Whannel resort to other projects they have worked on to come up with supplementary material, borrowing from Dead Silent (2007) and Repo! The Genetic Opera (2009). Testify!
  • A murdered ventriliquist posesses Billy and after singing a song about being trapped in a box, we see Billy perform the kidnapping of Wan and Whannel. Meanwhile, he goes on his unholy mission to use gory death traps to get the other staff at Twisted Pictures and Lionsgate to understand the error of their ways. This way, the persons have to kill themselves as revenge for killing SAW. 
  • After the script is completed to part VIII (Titled "SAW VIII: The Dead Silent Musical") all the Saw fans gather in the theatre "Testifying" about how Jigsaw/John Kramer saved them and made them appreciate the value of their lives.
  • James Wan and Leigh Whannel, having survived and putting together a script make their way over to the theatre to stop the ghost of the ventriliquist. The film reel is destroyed partway through and the ventriliquist must improvise using live performances, still keeping to the musical theme. While Wan hunts down and destroys Billy, thus taking away the ventriliquist's "channel." But something is wrong. The show must go on, and it turns out the entire time that Whannel was a puppet carved out of a human, and Wan is powerless to stop the show. instead of the usual "Game Over" we hear the ventriliquist say "Who's Playing Games Now?"
And that is how movie VIII would have gone. It's probably a good thing I'm not a producer. And by the way, if you're interested in Vincent Price check out my latest post on HubPages: The Many Faces of Vincent Price! Don't forget to visit my twitter as well, @videorewind.

Sunday, November 7, 2010

"Plan 9" vs "Meet the Feebles" - What's the Worst Movie Ever?

For the longest time I was absolutely convinced that Meet the Feebles (1990) was the worst movie ever. I mean, people have walked out of festival screenings saying "That's it I officially hate Lord of the Rings (2002)."  Why? Because Peter Jackson helmed both films. And no one wants to believe that there could possibly be a link between this one awful movie, and his great epic Trilogy. But that was before I saw Plan 9 from Outer Space (1958) by the "legendary" Edward D. Wood.  And by "legendary," I mean to say he's often considered to be the worst screenwriter and director of all time.

In Feebles, a motley crew of puppets is putting together the pilot for their own variety hour televised special. For your pleasure - or disgust - I have compiled a brief description of some of the key characters. I'm not giving all the names because, quite frankly, they are not necessary to illustrate my point:
  • Bletch, a walrus producer who's cheating on his wife Heidi the Hippo with a siamese cat (not a pretty thought). He also happens to be in the drug trade.
  • Heidi, a hippo singer - and leading lady - who is gaining weight rapidly as a compulsive over eater. Her food addiction is triggered by stress and an oncoming nervous breakdown.
  • A rat who happens to be an all-around jerk and a coke dealer.
  • A frog who performs a knife throwing act, and is also a Vietnam vet, and a coke junkie.
  • An oversexed rabbit who has caught a venereal disease known only as "The Big One."
  • An elephant that doubles as a deadbeat daddy. The mother of his child is a chicken. The phrase you here him say most throughout the movie is "I keep telling you, he's not mine!"
  • A siamese cat who is more or less a burlesque dancer and sleeping with Bletch the Walrus.
Do you see where I'm getting at? I don't think there really is a plot to this movie. There might be a small one, I'm not quite sure where it is. It's like trying to find Waldo (Wally to my readers in the U.K). Pause at the right time of the DVD and "Oh! There he is! In the far left, near the bottom corner! See him?"

However, Plan 9 is pretty bad too, but for completely different reasons. All due respect to the great Bela Lugosi and Vampira - they had virtually no lines of dialogue whatsoever - it appeared as though no one could act their way out of a paper bag. Ed Wood, really believed in this movie. He thought it would change his career. But the message I got out of this casts' acting was "I'm desperate for a role and will even take this movie, despite the fact it will kill my career before it even starts! I have no faith in this project whatsoever!"

The direction and production was just as awful. The direction may be Ed Wood's fault, but he was limited to the studio budget and the actor's confidence in him. As far as production goes, this movie was extremely low budget, and obviously so.

  • The actors' abilities screamed "I am underpaid."
  • You can clearly see the strings holding the spaceship up.
  • You can see where the space station was glued together.
  • The houses didn't seem quite right, as if they were just shells in a studio.
  • The interior of the spaceships looked like cardboard. I mean, more than in Star Trek and the classic BBC version of Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy. Even the dials looked like rings made of construction paper.

So I'm stuck in a dilemma. Which one is the worst movie ever? You tell me. Drop me a line at bekindplzrewind@gmail.com and let me know. Or if you think a differet movie was worst, let me know as well. I may write about it in the future!

Saturday, November 6, 2010

The Title Says it All

Ever walked through the video store or flipped through the channel guide to where the title says these two things simultaneously?
  1. This movie is going to suck. May contain scenes of bad acting, terrible scriptwriting, lousy camera work, and absolutely no plot.
  2. You are going to want to watch this movie.
Well here are several movies that do exactly that!
  • Bikini Girls on Ice, 2009. Slasher flick about a guy who thinks he's a wolf who kills people, chops up their bodies, and stores them in freezer full of ice to keep them fresh. More specific to the title, a group of bikini clad girls set up to do a bikini car wash fundraiser outside of the abandoned gas station where he lives.
  • Zombie Strippers, 2008. Stars Jenna Jameson and Robert Englund. Dude, when you have Freddy Krueger owning his own strip joint, you know things are either going to go very wrong, or very right.
  • Santa Clause Conquers the Martians, 1964.  The name says it all. Santa Clause is kidnapped by Martians to save the Martian children from depression. However, one Martian military commander has other plans for him. It is up to Santa, to save the martian children, and up to the children to save Santa. 
  • Killer Condoms, 1996. This German film is set in New York where gay-friendly hotels have been stocked with carnivorous creatures that look like condoms as part of a Catholic conspiracy to stop homosexuals.  It is up to an openly gay detective in the NYPD (as if that actually existed in 1996) to solve the case.
  • Terror at Blood Fart Lake, 2008. Face it, if you watch as much messed up movies as I do, and you'll know what titles catch the eye. A group of teens go to an abandoned camp ground near a lake called Blood Fart Lake. If that wasn't warning enough to stay away, these teens have obviously never seen a horror movie, because they get stalked by a dude dressed as a scarecrow. Isn't there always one at every abandoned campsite on a lake?
And remember to visit me at HubPages. Check out my latest entry entitled "Remember these Commercial Relics?"

Saturday, October 23, 2010

I Always Like a Good Scare...

I have a bad habit of staying up late to watch some kind of scary movie. I don't know why. Last night I was up late watching Triangle and the 1953 version of House of Wax. The former was more of a modern day psychological thriller while the latter was pretty tame by today's standards. I've stayed up late to watch the new remake to Friday the 13th which was also disappointing to me. House of Wax was worth watching just to see Vincent Price, even if the movie wasn't very scary. In another Vincent Price movie, The Tingler - a William Castle masterpiece - there is a creature, in a sort of symbiotic relationship (or parasitic) with humans that live on our spine and it feeds and grows stronger off of our fears. When it grows, we get that "tingling sensation." So here I'd like to list some of my "spine-tingling" moments in horror.

  • First, In relation to the spine, is the spinal tap scene in The Exorcist. You can almost feel it for yourself!
  • Last October I went to see Saw VI on opening night. But I went to a theatre where horror movies don't do so well, and the theatre was completely empty. This actually frightened me more than the movie itself, since despite the dwindling success of the Saw franchise, the theatres were usually packed when I saw a movie.
  • I was about nine years old when I first saw Pet Semetary. Needless to say, I was frightened.
Sometimes it's not the scary stuff that gives us the heeby-jeebies. Sometimes it's the abnormal. So here are some spine-tingling "WTF" moments from the Just Plain Weird category:
  • In Hannibal when Dr. Lector has Clarice over for dinner, and he lifts the scalp off her boss. That didn't scare me, but most definitely gave me a chill.
  • In May when her home-made doll reached to give her a hug, that was just unexpected. It wasn't even very sudden, but my brain processed it as being out of place.
So I'm still on a search for the ultimate in spine-tingling movies, my personal grail quest. So feel free to drop back in to my dimension and maybe get a good scare or two as well.

If you have any movie recommendations feel free to drop me a line at bekindplzrewind@gmail.com

Also if you like cult and independent movies visit me on HubPages! I assure you, my quality of writing is much better there.