So once again we have survived.

Riot

tn_riotYou and I, obviously we rented RIOT because Dolph Lundgren is on the cover. But we will quickly learn that this is a Matthew Reese Films presentation starring Matthew Reese as Jack Stone.

As you could guess from his name, Jack Stone was an amazingly awesome and legendary cop before a bank robbery and killing of a fellow officer (seen in fragmented flashbacks) put him behind bars. The guards (who wear full body armor and goalie masks) taunt him and the inmates threaten him, except for one tall shy guy with a mop. That’s William, played by Dolph. He hunches over, winces, mumbles, acts scared. But he immediately looks out for Jack. If Jack gets jumped he’ll leap in and beat up a guy with a mop handle if necessary.

Actually there’s one other guy who likes Jack, in a part I didn’t understand. When Jack’s cellmate (ex-football player Seante Williams) first finds him in the cell he starts threatening him, but then recognizes him and smiles. “Jack, right?” He introduces himself as Silva and gives him his choice of top or bottom bunk! Toward the end of the movie a giant muscular blond, like a new model of Dolph, who has been set up as a major threat, comes to kill Jack, and Silva flies in with a Superman punch and takes care of the guy for him.

I don’t know, maybe Silva’s supposed to be some undercover guy planted there to help him? Might as well be, it seems like everybody else in here is. Jack purposely pleaded guilty to get into the prison where his wife’s killer is. William, we find out, is an FBI agent who has been inside for 6 months to look into corruption at the prison (talk about a shitty gig!) and he also has a partner in there who is also undercover. (read the rest of this shit…)

Jack Reacher: Never Go Back

tn_jackreacher2For some reason it’s hard to make a movie series based on a book series about some dude who has different adventures. Except for James Bond, and Jack Ryan at one point. And it tends to be only screenwriters turned directors who know this sort of thing would be cool: Brian Helgeland did a Parker book (PAYBACK), Scott Frank did a Matthew Scudder (A WALK AMONG THE TOMBSTONES), Christopher McQuarrie did a Jack Reacher (JACK REACHER). All of these are artful takes on pulpy material, slightly elevated genre fare that’s neither generic nor ashamed to take part in a one-liner or just-how-badass-is-he speech. The latter two are really more interesting for their characters and style than for the particular mysteries they get involved in, so naturally you’re left wanting them to have a whole series of movies.

So congratulations to Jack Reacher for eking out just enough box office to justify a sequel. It feels so natural, but I honestly didn’t think it would happen. (read the rest of this shit…)

xXx: The Return of Xander Cage trailer 2

Sometimes life is worth living, my friends.

The Day After Halloween

tn_dayafterhalloweenslashersearch16a.k.a. SNAPSHOT
a.k.a. ONE MORE MINUTE

I’m including this as one final Slasher Search ’16 because I came to it by looking up the Australian screenwriter Everett De Roche (LONG WEEKEND, ROAD GAMES, RAZORBACK, LINK, STORM WARNING) to see if he ever did anything slasher-ish. This one, which was listed as ONE MORE MINUTE on IMDb, seemed promising with its stalker storyline, and then I figured out I had heard of it before because it’s released on DVD under the title THE DAY AFTER HALLOWEEN. For some reason I got a thing for horror movies set on specific days, so that stuck in my head.

But actually that title is purely exploitation and doesn’t describe the movie at all. There is no Halloween content, it happens over more than one day, and in fact it’s mentioned that it’s winter. This is Australia, so that would make it June, July or August, and therefore not the day after Halloween. The title on the opening credits, SNAPSHOT, makes alot more sense.

This is also not a slasher movie, and barely a horror movie, but it does include stalking and building tension and is actually quite good. (read the rest of this shit…)

The Thing (1982)

tn_thething“I don’t know what the hell’s in there, but it’s weird and pissed off whatever it is.”

In snow, no one can hear you scream. ‘Cause it’s cold. They stayed inside.

John Carpenter’s THE THING (1982) – not to be confused with Christian Nyby’s THE THING FROM ANOTHER WORLD (1951) or Matthijs van Heijningen Jr.’s THE THING (2011) – is straight up one of the best horror films achieved by mankind so far. It’s relatable but extraordinary, simple but original, blunt but ambiguous. It has quite possibly the most brilliant creature effects ever devised, or at least the only monster arguably weird enough to top ALIEN in the “well, shit, I never even thought of seeing anything like that!” department.

The Thing crash landed on earth some 100,000 years ago, and has only recently been unfrozen to raise a ruckus. A pessimist would say (as Wilford Brimley’s Blair does in the movie) that this is the type of shenanigans that could end the human race in a couple of years. An optimist would say hey, let’s just be thankful the flying saucer didn’t land properly in the first place, we got an extra 100,000 years out of that. (read the rest of this shit…)

Stake Land II

tn_stakelandii“I remember everybody, kid. Most of ’em are dead.”

After finally watching STAKE LAND six years after the fact I looked it up on IMDb and was surprised to learn that they already made a sequel that just premiered on SyFy last week and was free on-demand through the 30th. Pretty good timing.

It’s directed by Dan Berk and Robert Olsen, who wrote the upcoming Dolph Lundgren picture DON’T KILL IT. Don’t worry. Part 1’s Jim Mickle did produce it along with Larry Fessenden’s Glass Eye Pix, and Nick Damici returns as screenwriter and starring as Mister, as does Connor Paolo as Martin. It’s not some bullshit TV exploitation of the title, it’s a legit sequel that they made and then must’ve gotten more money from SyFy than they would’ve going the normal VOD-then-video route. So more power to them.

(On the other hand, there seem to be virtually no reviews of it and not even poster art available online. Does anyone even know it came out?) (read the rest of this shit…)

Stake Land

tn_stakelandI’m real late to figuring out that STAKE LAND is good. I mean, I saw good reviews in Fangoria or somewhere but, not being familiar with director Jim Mickle (COLD IN JULY, MULBERRY STREET) or co-writer/star Nick Damici at the time, I pictured a different type of low budget zombie-apocalypse-except-with-vampires-instead-of-zombies movie. I must’ve thought it would be something more poser-y, more SyFy-y, more guy-trying-to-be-Bruce-Campbell-or-somebody. I saw Damici with his sunglasses on the cover and imagined a regular guy overreaching in the badass department, when in fact he’s a great character actor being given proper respect as a lead badass without having to leave behind any of his actorly chops.

This is cheap but not at all cheesy. It’s artfully moody, takes place in a fully-realized post-apocalyptic world, is thoroughly grim and serious but not without its fantastical flourishes. It’s not one of those genre deconstructions that deconstructs out all the ingredients you paid for – it has cool monsters and gore. What it lacks in humor it makes up for in the warmth of strangers bonding, working together in a disaster and hoping for a promised land. It’s a good balance of THE ROAD with John Carpenter’s VAMPIRES. (read the rest of this shit…)

Halloween 6: The Curse of Michael Myers

tn_halloween6I’ve enjoyed rewatching this Jamie Lloyd trilogy of HALLOWEEN sequels. I never liked them, hadn’t watched them enough to remember them very well, but they look better on Blu-Ray and this is the most I’ve ever enjoyed parts RETURN and REVENGE.

CURSE, though, is a tough one. This is just not a good movie. But worth discussing anyway.

It starts unlike any HALLOWEEN movie. A young woman is about to give birth. There’s a medical staff pushing her on a bed down long hallways, beneath pipes, into some kind of boiler room type area, and eventually what doesn’t even look like a hospital. Now they’re in some place lit by candles and wall torches like the arena in BLOODSPORT, and she does not seem to be having her health care choices respected. This is actually supposed to be Michael’s niece Jamie Lloyd, but she’s now played by decent lookalike J.C. Brandy (WHAT LIES BENEATH). (read the rest of this shit…)

Halloween 5: The Revenge of Michael Myers

tn_halloween5By HALLOWEEN 5: THE REVENGE OF MICHAEL MYERS, it is clear that we’ve fully transitioned into HALLOWEEN, an ongoing series from producer Moustapha Akkad, as opposed to the creation of John Carpenter. We still have Carpenter’s characters of Michael Myers and Dr. Loomis, but we’ve forgotten all about Laurie and moved on to the story of her daughter Jamie (who it’s hard to associate with Laurie, since we never saw them together). This one is much less of a rehash of the original than part 4, and it digs into the series tradition of really fuckin stretchin it in getting themselves out of the corner they painted themselves into last time. They actually went into production before part 4 came out so they could have it done the next year, yet it seems like separate people trying to figure out how the fuck to follow up a part 4 ending they had no control over. That gives it kind of an adventure serial cliffhanger type of feel, I guess. How will The Shape get out of this mess? Find out next time!

In part 4 they had to undo Loomis (Donald Pleasance) having blown himself and Michael sky high in part 2. They handled that by just having both of them alive but burnt. This time they have to undo part 4’s ending, where Michael was shot to death by cops and collapsed into an abandoned mine, but his evil spirit and/or curse was passed on to his little niece Jamie Lloyd, and she stabbed her step mom in the tradition of little Michael killing his sister in the opening of part 1. (read the rest of this shit…)

Halloween 4: The Return of Michael Myers

tn_halloween4These days we got that thing of the remaquel, where they try to get an old series going again with new characters but they’re kinda just tracing over the first movie, because they know we’d get scared and cry if we had to accept something new that we weren’t already comfortable with from having seen it a bunch of times before. That seems kinda natural in a pop culture landscape where people demand regurgitations of their favorite “properties” and  even the “new” things they like pay fetishistic tribute to old movies through retro style and nostalgic references. But it’s not a new trick.

Take, for example, 1988’s HALLOWEEN 4: THE RETURN OF MICHAEL MYERS. John Carpenter had not intended to turn his 1978 smash hit into a series of slasher sequels, nor had there been much of a precedent for that type of thing. After producing, scoring and reworking the direct continuation HALLOWEEN II (1981), he went to his preferred idea of producing HALLOWEEN III as an unrelated, Halloween-set horror story, turning it into an anthology series, causing confusion and disappointment at the time.

That was 1982. Next thing you know it’s 1988, ten years after the first one. Freddy is appearing in his fourth movie. Jason is appearing in his fifth (part 7 of a series that started after HALLOWEEN). John Carpenter is off making THEY LIVE and wants nothing to do with this slasher icon shit. But HALLOWEEN is financier Moustapha Akkad’s job now, so he’s gonna make another one no matter what and he’s gonna call it THE RETURN OF MICHAEL MYERS just so everybody is clear. (read the rest of this shit…)