"KEEP BUSTIN'."

Archive for the ‘Monster’ Category

Tiktik: The Aswang Chronicles

Wednesday, November 15th, 2023

TIKTIK: THE ASWANG CHRONICLES is a Filipino monster movie I came across on the medium of digital video disc. The box also calls it THE MONSTER CHRONICLES: TIKTIK. I had to watch it because I noticed it was written and directed by Erik Matti, whose 2018 action movie BUYBUST I loved (it’s the closest thing to a “Filipino THE RAID” that I know of) and then I watched his excellent crime drama ON THE JOB (2013).

TIKTIK came out the year before ON THE JOB, but it was well into Matti’s career – looks like it’s his twelfth film. Though it’s not nearly as broad, it reminds me a little of some of the Hong Kong horror comedies I’ve seen, because it’s about a relationship problem and a family and then a bunch of monster shit happens at the same time.

Makoy (Dingdong Dantes) is a cocky young man from Manila who comes to the boonies of Pulupandan wearing sunglasses, smoking cigarettes, talking abrasively, offending everybody. He came to try to make up with his pregnant girlfriend Sonia (Lovi Poe) after a fight. She went to stay with her parents, who he’s never met, and when he shows up Sonia’s mother Fely (Janice de Belen) hits him with a pan and chases him off. But he later runs into her father, Nestor (Joey Marquez, ON THE JOB), who is more welcoming and brings him along to buy a pig to roast for Sonia’s birthday party the next day. (read the rest of this shit…)

Meg 2: The Trench

Monday, November 13th, 2023

MEG 2: THE TRENCH is the silly followup to the silly first movie I casually enjoyed in 2018. Neither seems interested in reaching the status of “actual good movie,” which would be preferable, but both involve Jason Statham battling giant prehistoric sharks, among other dumb pleasures, so of course there is gonna be some amusement involved. And maybe it’s good to keep this kind of bullshit alive on a big screen budget. To me that’s way more fun than the SyFy Channel version.

In the first movie Statham’s character Jonas Taylor was an elite rescue diver, but this one opens with him infiltrating a boat to try to bust people for dumping radioactive waste (?). He fights some people and says some funny things to them and jumps off the boat (Statham trademark). I’m unclear what he was trying to accomplish, or if he succeeded, and I don’t believe this mission is connected to anything else in the movie. But I’m not complaining. I’m always up for a gratuitous action tangent. (read the rest of this shit…)

Cobweb (2023 American film)

Monday, October 23rd, 2023

COBWEB (2023 American film) is not to be confused with COBWEB (2023 South Korean film directed by Kim Jee-woon). Totally different thing. This is a new horror movie that wafted briefly through theaters during the OppBarbenheimerie era, came out on disc a few weeks ago, now is on Hulu. I knew nothing about it except that some people had said it was good, and that served me well. It’s a pretty simple story that benefits from a sense of unfolding mystery, so I’ll try to tread lightly for a bit and then warn you when it’s time to start stomping.

One reason to review it right away: it’s a Halloween movie. It’s set in the week leading up to the holiday, there’s a field of pumpkins outside the house that most of it takes place in, there’s a crucial pumpkin-smashing incident. So it’s good for the season. (read the rest of this shit…)

Love and Monsters

Wednesday, September 20th, 2023

LOVE AND MONSTERS is pretty much what the title says – the story of a lovestruck young man in a world of monsters. It takes place in a post-apocalyptic California, after 95% of the world’s population of humans has died off and the survivors live in small colonies hiding from giant bugs and reptiles. The filmmakers are wise enough to know that explaining that too thoroughly is for assholes, so it gets brushed over in a couple minutes of introductory narration from our protagonist, Joel (Dylan O’Brien, AMERICAN ASSASSIN). Something about an asteroid that we shot with missiles but then the missiles rained chemicals down that mutated cold blooded creatures. The after effects are depicted in news footage, Joel’s drawings, plus some clippings, such as the front page newspaper story “WHITE HOUSE IN CRISIS: PRESIDENT KILLED BY GIANT MOTH.”

When the shit pops off in his home town of Fairfield, Joel is at the make out spot, just crawling into the back seat with his adorable girlfriend Aimee (Jessica Henwick, “Bugs” from THE MATRIX RESURRECTIONS). Tragic and also convenient for us to get a wide shot of the chaos. The two have to hurriedly say goodbye before Joel evacuates with his parents (Andrew Buchanan [DRIVE HARD] and Tandi Wright [PEARL]). The pain of teen romance cut short by a move (in this case due to monster attacks rather than starting college or a parent having a career change) is palpable. (read the rest of this shit…)

Ghidorah, the Three-Headed Monster

Tuesday, March 7th, 2023

“The earth doesn’t belong to humans alone. It’s ours too, and we should defend it.” —Mothra


GHIDORAH, THE THREE-HEADED MONSTER is Godzilla movie #5, released in 1964, 8 months after MOTHRA VS. GODZILLA. Like numbers 1,3, and 4 it’s directed by Ishiro Honda. And by now he’s getting cocky, so he uses cool freeze frame credits of Godzilla and his co-stars Rodan and Mothra #2 (one of the two larva of the previous Mothra. Godzilla killed the original Mothra and the other larva died of unknown causes between installments.)

The movie opens on the roof of a clock tower where a gathering of the UFO Society (who wear lab coats like legit scientists – they’re not kooks) try to receive a transmission from space. When they fail they blame the attendance of skeptical TV reporter Naoko Shindo (Yuriko Hoshi, KILL!). “They sensed your mistrust through your brain waves.”

They’re desperate for help from beyond, because shit is getting crazy. We hear about a heat wave in January, constant sirens, an encephalitis outbreak. “Everything has gone haywire,” we’re told, and “It’s getting strange out there. The Earth has gone mad.” Yeah, I know the feeling. I’ve lived through some times that feel like that. Also, “Strange things have been happening beyond our galaxy too,” whatever that means. There are meteor showers happening all around the world. (read the rest of this shit…)

The Munsters’ Scary Little Christmas

Thursday, December 22nd, 2022

I really enjoyed Rob Zombie’s love letter to THE MUNSTERS earlier this year, and it even got me to check out the o.g. Munsters movie MUNSTER GO HOME!. But Zombie’s movie did not go over well with or cause much of a splash among the general public, and now there’s this Netflix show Wednesday, based on Munsters rival The Addams Family, which is actually a huge streaming hit (and which I have to admit I like even more than THE MUNSTERS). So it kinda looks like a Photon Warrior to Lazer Tag situation for ol’ Herman and Lily. Or Gobots to Transformers. Or IRON EAGLE to TOP GUN.

Still, I am making this The Year of the Munsters by watching a Munsters Christmas special as part of my holiday festivities. THE MUNSTERS’ SCARY LITTLE CHRISTMAS (not to be confused with the weird New Zealand Christmas special THE MONSTER’S CHRISTMAS) is a 1996 Fox TV movie. The Munsters are entirely recast from the 1995 Fox movie HERE COME THE MUNSTERS, but they carried over an uptight neighbor character named Edna Dimwitty, played by Mary Woronov (DEATH RACE 2000), so I guess they’re connected. (read the rest of this shit…)

Double feature: Piranha (1995) / Deadly Spawn (1983)

Wednesday, October 26th, 2022

I haven’t seen Joe Dante’s PIRANHA in many, many years, but here I am reviewing the remake. No, not Alexandre Aja’s Dimension Films version PIRANHA 3D (which I did review when it came out in 2010), but the 1995 Corman production directed by Scott P. Levy (MIDNIGHT TEASE, THE ALIEN WITHIN).

This thing was made for Showtime, and I never got Showtime, but the reason I remembered it existed was because I knew Punky Brewster herself, Soleil Moon Frye (KID 90) was in it. That was enough to lure me in. (Get it?) I guess she was in a couple horror movies (INVITATION TO HELL, PUMPKINHEAD II) but I’m actually kinda surprised they didn’t resurrect her in the post-SCREAM era! Maybe they tried but she was happy just doing cartoon voices.

I have to admit I didn’t remember the original enough to realize until reading the Wikipedia summary that this remake barely alters its script. Alex Simon (BLOODFIST VIII: TRAINED TO KILL) is credited as the writer, but it’s so close original writers Richard Robinson and John Sayles get both “based on the screenplay by” and “story by” credits. (read the rest of this shit…)

The Munsters (2022)

Monday, October 3rd, 2022

Well whaddya know, Rob Zombie made a PG-rated movie version of The Munsters. It’s a Universal direct-to-DVD-and-blu-ray movie, also released to Netflix on the same day, and to be honest the trailer looked pretty cheesy to me. Pre-release word I’d seen had been dire, and a pretty dull opening stretch had me worried, despite it immediately capturing a strong classic horror look.

But hot damn, by the end I really liked this one. In fact I might’ve loved it. It has that thing I always respect in a movie: it’s something that no other director would’ve thought to make, or would’ve wanted to make, or would’ve known how to make. This is an idiosyncratic horror auteur reviving his childhood favorite sitcom in defiance of the fact that it’s a style of show and humor that are completely out of fashion. He doesn’t feel the need to turn it into something hipper or grittier or more modern. It’s just shameless cornball humor. But also he doesn’t tone down anything about his cinematic style (other than excluding the foul-mouthed redneck stereotypes talking about skull fucking or whatever). It’s very much the same The Munsters we know but also it’s also the Rob Zombiest Rob Zombie movie possible – a beautiful two-headed beast of a thing. (read the rest of this shit…)

Nope

Wednesday, August 3rd, 2022

I think the first time I noticed Jordan Peele was in the 2012 movie WANDERLUST. I thought he was really funny in that and then his Comedy Central show Key & Peele started and there were those Liam Neesons sketches and all that. Somehow 10 years later we mainly think of him as one of the most exciting working horror directors – he was even name dropped in the most recent SCREAM movie. Strange world we’re living in.

For me Jordan Peele film #3, NOPE, was one of the most anticipated movies of the summer, and not just because it would put an end to its trailer playing on every god damn movie I went to for several months. It’s pretty impressive that I was able to go see it and be surprised to find out what the overall story was and that some of the shots I had seen seemingly hundreds of time were not what I thought they were. To preserve that for you if you haven’t seen it I’ll talk about my general feelings about the movie and then I’ll warn you when I’m gonna get into it in more detail.

I love the first two Jordan Peele movies. Here’s my theory on them. Both have really original concepts and worlds, great acting performances, characters that are entertaining to watch, well executed ratcheting of tension and release, and elements of allegory that are fun to think about while watching and even moreso afterwards. (read the rest of this shit…)

The Mummy (1999)

Thursday, June 16th, 2022

I have a well-earned reputation for being easy on movies. My friends will see some highly anticipated movie at a critic’s screening and be grumbling about how much they hated it, and then they’ll turn to me and say, “You’ll probly like it though.” My list of movies everybody says sucks that I enjoy is way longer than most people’s. My wife seems to think I’m some kind of bad movie Jesus being kind to the cinematic lepers. Especially with new releases people often accuse me of having low or no standards.

But there are a handful of popular blockbusters from the ‘90s that I hated at the time and have not turned around on. Most of them were big hits, then fell out of favor for years so I could breathe a sigh of relief, but then when the people who were kids when they came out grew nostalgic suddenly they were claimed as classics again. Of those, Stephen Sommers’ THE MUMMY is the one I get the most shit about any time I mention it. It comes up on Twitter every once in a while and I get a wave of people not believing their eyes. It doesn’t compute for them that someone doesn’t think that movie is one of the greats. More than once I’ve made the mistake of trying to go a little Rowdy Roddy Piper and lean into shit talking about it. People start to seem genuinely mad, so sometimes I back down and admit that I haven’t seen it since opening day and even though I think Sommers has continued to be a director of lunkheaded, formless movies with terrible visual design and seemingly unfinished digital effects despite enormous budgets, I did get a kick out of all that in VAN HELSING and G.I. JOE: RISE OF COBRA. So maybe I could soften to him.

Now I have a new problem, though. I finally did it. I went and watched the movie again, in the modern year of 2022. I tried to like it. I might be able to say there’s more of it I like than the other ‘90s blockbusters I hate. But I can’t say I turned around on it. So welcome, Mummy fans, to the latest annoying chapter of what I suppose I should start calling Vern Never Learns.

(read the rest of this shit…)