Archive for December, 2008

THE LAST HOUSE IN THE WOODS, Gabriele Albanesi 2007

Posted in Horror with tags , on December 28, 2008 by Toi Brownstone

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Sometimes low budget movies straight released in DVD can give surprises. This wasn’t the case. Cliché after cliché The Last House in the Woods is not a piece of shit no matter what horror magazines say.

Aurora and Rino are more than friends but not yet a couple, but this doesn’t’ matter for a quick shag in the car in the middle of the woods. However this time they’re interrupted by three assholes who kick the shit out of Rino leaving him out of conscience and try to submit Aurora to assist to their physical and sexual relief, if you know what I mean, when suddenly a couple in their forties rescue the couple from a possible drama. Antonio and Clara bring the still shocked couple to their isolated house until they recover from shock and injuries. However the fact that Aurora witnesses their son Giulio, some kind of little freak, changes plans and the saviours become the captors whose main aim is to kill them not only for keeping Giulio’s secret but also to feed him. By chance, the previous punks hear female screams and attracted by the morbid thought of someone banging a young girl, decide to find out what’s going on. Once they arrived the house the bloody party starts.

I'm helping you, baby

I'm helping you, baby

The Last House in the Woods is an Italian production that seems been created by a group of friends fans of horror, with few money to invest in cast and special effects. Acting is bad, beside overdubbing into English doesn’t help much either. Still the movie was so crappy there were very funny moments.

I don’t recommend it at all, no matter how you like the genre. It seems that any horror release must be good and critics are not trustworthy at all.

 

INVASION U.S.A, Joseph Zito 1985

Posted in Action! with tags , , , on December 23, 2008 by Toi Brownstone

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Last weekend few friends joined for enjoying an action movies mini marathon. First one chosen was one of Chuck Norris’ classics, Invasion U.S.A and in my opinion the best that evening.

Hunter (Chuck Norris) lives in the middle of the everglades, a remote place disconnected from the real world. He lives a humble and quite life chasing crocodiles and avoiding too much companion.

All of a sudden he receives a visit from an FBI agent who asks him to come back to reality for accomplishing a mission of outmost importance. Hunter is not up to that at all until the name of Rostov is mentioned. He was the reason for he left his former job and way of life. He should had killed him when he had the opportunity. Still, he rejects the proposal and tries to carry on with his life until he’s forced to get involved in the matter due to an attack which caused one of his few friends’ death. He will reach Rostov and kill him, that will be his main objective during the film. 

Is he constipated?

Is he constipated?

 

On the other hand Rostov, the classic actor Richard Lynch, and his Russian army are meant to destroy capitalism and conquer USA by means of causing riots, confusion and people revolts. However he realizes in order to have free way to accomplish this target, he needs to get rid of Hunter, a major risk for the operation.

Once these aspects considered you can imagine the rest…action, action and more action with very remarkable scenes such as the final due of grenade launchers between the two main characters.

It’s difficult to imagine a new action movie in which the main character, the hero, kills enemies in cold blood displeased by the poor information provided by the poor guy previously injured.

Plot is weak full of mistakes and cuts, acting is almost ridiculous but really, we had a good laugh and enjoyed a really good time with all the excess in gunshots, fights, people killed and blood. 

A SCANNER DARKLY, Richard Linklater 2006

Posted in Animated, Sci-Fi with tags , , , , , , on December 15, 2008 by Toi Brownstone

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First time I listened about this movie two reasons made me feel like watching it: first is that is a screen version of another Philip K. Dick’s novel, and second, because this is one of Axl Rose’s favorite books.

 

I would like to point out that one of my favorite movies, Blade Runner, is also based on a novel by the same author, and usually I’m very positive when watching something linked to him because all stories have many features and themes in common. Some people might tell Minority Report is crap, but I find the story amazing and the movie is very cool, no matter Tom Cruise is there and millions of dollars were invested in special effects.

 

Action is settled in Anaheim, Orange County, in seven years form now. Substance D, for death, is the deadliest and most addictive drug in market, causing irreversible brain damage starting from perception.

Local Police Department together with New Path rehab organization are focused on cleaning the streets from substance D by means of undercover agents which use a scramble suit in order to be protected from being recognized by anyone. Bob Arctor is one of these undercover agents and he’s nicknamed Fred.

Arctor is under investigation due to some non reliable intel provided by his flat mate Barris suggesting he and his girlfriend Donna Hawthorne are dealing with huge amounts of Substance D. In order to confirm this is true holographic scans are to installed in his house so 24/7 surveillance will help to discover what’s going on. Fred is in charge of this investigation.

On the other hand Fred is required to perform some perception and blood tests in order to check whether he’s addicted to Substance D and therefore not suitable for working undercover.

As you can imagine everything will crash on Arctor, drugs, investigation, tests…and he’ll end up checking-in one of these New Path rehab centers completely fucked up in his brains.

Who the hell am I?

Who the hell am I?

A Scanner Darkly is something different, it’s a movie with proper actors, in fact, is shocking to find out established actors such as Keanu Reeves, Winona Rider or Robert Downey Jr.  participating in a non commercial and non typical movie, being a total risk for them, for main issue in the film has to do with drugs. It’s also an animated film, in DVD editions you have the possibility to watch a documentary about the making off and all the techniques and devises used for making the movie.

 

It’s not an easy movie, fist time I watched it I didn’t understand the real meaning for filling the main plot you also see dope fiend histrionic attitudes which don’t really contribute for a better understanding of the story, a bit nonsense sometimes and you can even get bored at some point.

 

Before giving it a second chance I preferred to read the novel and realized the movie is quite loyal to it, of course situations were better depicted but the weird situations were also portrayed. I really enjoyed the book so I decided to watch the film again and this time I enjoyed and understood everything much better.

 

Philip K. Dick’s main feature is the vision he had of the future, hopeless, with an oppressive society and total control over the individual. It’s amazing how certain writers in that time shared same ideas about the future, and how reality is  getting closer to their fictional concepts.

 

 

A Scanner Darkly is away from the typical sci-fi movie, there is no need for special effects apart from the chameleonic scramble suit in constant change, is a more psychological and social story full of criticism. When the movie ended lots of questions come to my mind, from time to time is good to watch something with some message underneath.

GUNS N’ ROSES LIVE @ THE RITZ, Scott Kalvert 1988

Posted in Music with tags , , , , , , , , , on December 10, 2008 by Toi Brownstone

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After watching this performance in ultra low quality resolution and sound one question comes to my mind: Why haven’t MTV masters yet issued this concert on DVD as they did with Unplugged series? I can’t find any powerful reason for not releasing one of the wildest and most spontaneous gig by Guns n’ Roses, one of the most influential rock bands ever.

Recorded in February, 2nd in 1988, in NYC, we can find Guns N’ Roses at a point they were prominent but yet not as successful as they became thanks to the very same musical channel MTV when broadcasting Sweet Child O’ Mine. 

Those gifted to see Guns N’ Roses at a venue may not be as impressed as I was when I saw the performance. I would pay lots of money to be able to witness any of those past wild shows. 

The set list is just perfect, starting with It’s So Easy and ending with Rocket Queen, not forgetting classics such as Mr. Brownstone, Nightrain previously confirmed by a drunk and/or stoned Slash as not related to drug addictions (hilarious!!), Aerosmith cover Mama Kin included in Guns N’ Roses Lies afterwards and the most outstanding Appetite For Destruction hits.

Stage was completely filled by the musicians moving and dancing all the time: Axl snakedancing non stop is the best, Steven Popcorn Adler high in cocaine and smiling everytime he was noticing a camera recording, Duff sweating in leather jacket and ruling with backing vocals, Izzy smoking cigarrette after cigarrete in his Keith Richards pose and Slash completely stoned and even making mistakes when playing. It didn’t matter, the gig was so wild audience were getting  crazy and some people even reached the stage to be caught by the security staff immediately…wow man! What an awesome show! 

Slash kickin' ass

Slash kickin’ ass

Personally, I got most shocked with Axl with  such a violent and aggressive attitude on stage, I had never seen him like this before, he’s been always on of my favorite frontmen, but at Ritz you can see he’s full of rage, and can already realize he was the one who controlled the band and acted as he felt like, leaving the stage in the middle of Rocket Queen for a break, while the rest of the band kept on playing not sure about what was happening or when he was coming back. 

Still, you can see the band is fresh and innocent, interacting with audience, something that later on caused lots of trouble when Axl started to feel harassed by the fans, we still have in our mind St. Louis riots…Ritz is so far away from that. 

One of the most stupid facts of Ritz editing is the damn obsession of censoring swearing words…you know they are Guns N’ Roses, you know Appetite for Destruction is full of Fuck’s, why the hell you annoy me with those f***in’ beeps all the time?!  

Anyway, thanks to MTV we have the opportunity to see original Guns N’ Roses at their finest and that’s priceless. 

TOTAL RECALL, Paul Verhoeven 1990

Posted in Action!, Sci-Fi with tags , , , , , , on December 8, 2008 by Toi Brownstone

Total recall

Another sci-fi screen version of Philip K. Dick’s short novel We Can Remember It For You Wholesale eventually directed by Paul Verhoeven in his good old days after David Cronenberg was rejected by producer Dino Di Laurentiis.

Douglas Quaid is bored of his current life routine and is kind of obsessed with Mars, he even dreams of being there with a dark attractive woman who seems very close to him. His beautiful wife, played by Sharon Stone, is trying to discourage him for the situation in that planet is unstable, many revolts and terrorist attacks are happening and does not think is a good idea to go there on vacation. However his wish is more powerful and becomes interested in Rekall, a company which offers a full pack of memories implanted in his brain thanks to microchip implants, as the most likely experience to get close to the red planet.

Doug buys a pack to Mars as a secret agent and submits to the treatment although he knows there’s a margin of error. During the process something goes wrong and he suffers a violent attack, apparently he’s got memories already, so Rekall main responsible decides to refund him the money and send him back to where he lives omitting all the incident. All of a sudden several people attempt to kill him unsuccessfully, even his own wife Lori, who also confesses he was an actual secret agent and all his life was a set up, for he must not come back to Mars. Obviously his first decision is flying to the planet where he will have to run for his life and recover his memories and even his former girlfriend Melina, and accomplish the mission he was commanded to.

The warrior midget

The warrior midget

Future is depicted pessimistic as in many other movies, and the theme of memories is reflected in Total Recall as it was very relevant in Blade Runner, curiously the first and most famous version of Philip K. Dick’s work. Memories can be erased or implanted and a human being is nothing but memories, so manipulation through them is a very powerful weapon to keep people tied up and controlled.

Total Recall is one of the last hot action movies played by Schwarzenegger and although his capacity for acting is too limited, this did not mean he was not clever enough to get involved in box office hits, the plot is very interesting and catchy based on a high quality story.

HEAVY METAL, Gerard Potterton 1981

Posted in Animated, Fantasy, Horror with tags , on December 7, 2008 by Toi Brownstone

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The story about how I got acquainted with this animated movie is quite funny and starts with my childhood.
When I was 6 my father had just bought our first VHS video and used to rent lots of movies. All the kids stuff was kept for weekends at my parents siesta time for keeping me quiet when they were spending their bedroom afternoons…hahaha! One Saturday my dad had gone to the video rental store and picked up Heavy Metal just because it was animated, not paying much attention on what it was about, he didn’t even take notice of any viewer advisory. After watching movies as a sort of exercise I had to tell dad about the movie, its plot, what I liked most etc. After I explained my dad he was so shocked he ended up the issue with one of these “don’t tell your mom” thing. No comments. A movie including sex, swearing words and heavy metal is not the kind of thing my mom is very fond of.
Years after this movie came to my mind thanks to a rock magazine and put many efforts in recovering it. Eventually I found it in London and was able to watch it again. I fuckin’ loved it!

The movie compiles several stories whose link is a green glowing sphere, known as Log-Nar.
The meteorite comes to Earth in order evil conquers the human kind and its story is revealed to a young girl, who is obliged to discover the mighty power of Log-Nar, no matter nation, age or universe.
First story portraits a corrupted and dirty futurist NYC, not so different to actual society on which problems such as immigration, drugs and corruption are present. Harry Canyon is a cab driver whose next passenger happens to be a very sexy woman in trouble. She’s being pursued by some mobsters trying to catch this ancient sphere which destroys everybody trying to take control of it. Harry will help her and will get rewarded for his goodwill actions.

Harry and his reward

Harry and his reward

Den is a nerd who finds the meteorite in his garden and while experimenting with electricity the sphere causes him to travel to a far away planet and changes his appearance to a muscled macho. Also by chance, he’s involved in a fight for Log-Nar, the sacred and worshipped sphere., when saving a gorgeous woman from being executed as a sacrifice to the god.

The third situation starts during Captain Sternn’s trial. He’s to be found guilty, however he’s got an angle, which means a witness will confirm he’s an outstanding citizen. What nobody can imagine is that Hannover, the apparent harmless witness, will suffer an outburst caused by playing with a little green ball.
B-17 is a war plane attacked by the enemies killing all crew and soldiers but the two pilots. Suddenly the green sphere will get inside the plane turning dead into skeleton zombies.
During a meeting of high politic, scientist and army figures discussing about mutations and intelligence in the outer space, a sexy secretary is abducted by an UFO and gets very close to a robot.
The final and most serious story is about an apparent extinguished race of warriors the Taarakians, Log-Nar’s main enemies, who had been defending human kind against evil forces throughout centuries. Taarna, the last Taarakian is called to fight against a legion of barbarians commanded by Log-Nar.

Which is the secret for Heavy Metal success? I think there are several factors working here. First thing to be considered is the fact that it’s the first animated movie for adults, in which sex, drugs and swearing words could be included. Moreover the soundtrack is definite: UFO, Nazareth, Black Sabbath, Cheap Trick, Devo and Blue Oyster Cult among others. And the stories told, inspired by the ones appearing on Heavy Metal magazine, are quite original.
DVD edition I have includes a very interesting documentary explaining what Heavy Metal was conceived and the tough work performed to achieve it. You can feel the innocence and excitement for doing something different.
More than 25 years after I saw it for the first time I still find it cool and entertaining and no matter animation is not as sophisticated as today, at least it’s not so cold computer thing.