So Bad, I HAD to Review It

I’m sitting in my office at work, pulling the graveyard shift for the credit card processing company I work for.  I’m loving my new job as a support technician – and loving the hours more!  There haven’t been any calls in about two hours, so I’ve been catching up on my reviews and watching shows on my husband’s Netflix account.  Even though I’m the only person in the office and it can get spooky, I still can’t stop watching horror movies!

Tonight, I wanted to look for something different.  I didn’t want to watch the same movies that I’ve already seen.  With a thunderstorm coming in, I would have preferred HBO’s classic show Tales From the Crypt (which aired during my childhood – and scared me witless!), but alas, I left my DVDs at home.  While looking through the queue, I came across Hypothermia, starring Michael Rooker.  Some of you most likely know Rooker from AMC’s The Walking Dead, where he plays Merle Dixon, brother of Daryl Dixon (played by Norman Reedus).  I love watching Rooker tear up the screen as Merle, and I wanted to see him in another role, so I clicked on Hypothermia.  By the end of the movie, the only motivation was Rooker’s performance.

Hypothermia-PosterI think the best way to describe Hypothermia is to say that it’s a mixture of JAWS and Tremors, but set on a frozen lake with far fewer characters, almost none of which are memorable.  The story centers around two families who come to the same lake to ice fish, but have different ways of ice fishing.  Rooker’s family prefers a quiet shelter set up with little holes in the ice.  They sit and share a nondescript hot drink from a Thermos and wait for fish.  The other family, led by (hang on while I go figure out the antagonist’s name)…Steve Cote and his son (I kid you not) Stevie Jr, prefer more high tech methods.  Reading the movie description, it would seem like the two families are supposed to be in opposition, but when I watched it, I wasn’t sure if I was seeing the same movie.  I came to realize that Rooker’s character wanted to have a good time, his family wanted to get out of the area because they were cold, the antagonist was a jerk, and his son was boring.

The scariest part of the movie is the poster.  When the underwater monster was swimming around, the audience knew because the camera shots were from under the ice, with an orange-toned fish-eye camera lens.  This begged the comparison to JAWS, at least the opening sequence anyway.  Sometime during the halfway point, one of the characters realizes that the monster is drawn by vibrations (Tremors rip-off), and so the characters endowed with common sense began to move around quietly, though they didn’t make an effort to get off the ice and back to the cabin.

About three quarters of the way through, the audience finally gets to see the monster.  Bad move, production company.  Very bad move.  The monster is a man in a ridiculous mask that doesn’t have a working mouth, and looks to be made of pleather.  Overall, it’s more of an updated Creature From the Black Lagoon.  When seen from above the ice, it resembles a large koi.  I was going to put a picture of the monster in this post, but I started to feel guilty.  While looking for a suitably funny picture, I stumbled on a few blogs that actually liked the movie and praised the monster.  If you’re interested in seeing it for yourself, just go to google.com and type in “hypothermia movie monster”.  I’m sure you’ll get an eyeful.

In summation, Netflix this movie if you are a fan of Michael Rooker, if you’re watching movies with whimpy people that don’t want to be truly scared, or if you’re out to find the next “so-bad-I-had-to-experience-it-for-myself” movie.

The Walking Dead – Season Opener

The Walking Dead - Comic-Con - July 22, 2011

Image by starbright31 via Flickr

It started out so promising, it really did.  The survivors made it out of the CDC alive (most of them), and then they find themselves horrifically besieged on a highway by a bunch of walking dead.  Awesome!  They hide under cars and almost make it out undetected, until little Sophia decides to prematurely come out from her hiding place.  She goes running off persued by walkers.  Still doing pretty well.

Then what the hell happened?!

They survive the horde of zombies.  Fine.  They loose the little girl Sophia, also fine.  Shane talks about (read: whines) losing Lori and how he’s going to leave the group.  Fine.  Then they find themselves looking for Sophia in a church, with a few faithful zombies inside.  The first thing I thought when I saw that was, “Oh boy – Danny Boyle anyone?”  That’s right people.  It felt like a rip-off of 28 Days Later – where Cillian Murphy walks into the church and is chased by a few enterprising zombies.  Of course, they group easily overcomes this obstacle, but then they hang around a little bit while a few characters go through a pseudo-epiphany.

The ending cliffhanger did it’s job and made up for some of the more ridiculous moments of the show.  I just wish they’d start working in some of the graphic novel material.  Unfortunately, I don’t think we’ll see “The Governor”, and Shane is still certainly alive and kicking, so I’m not holding my breath.  I am hoping that the season stays away from kitschy moments – that would really kill the season.

The make-up effects were savagely on par with what I would expect some sun-dried zombies to be.  The actors were top-notch again, and the dialogue wasn’t stuffy or over-bearing.

Overall – I’m pretty much in the same spot as where I left off.  Hurrah that there’s a zombie TV show, boo-rah that it’s not as awesome as it could be. (Oh, and I keep hearing rumors that there will be a video game based on the TV show.  Not thrilled about that at all.  Some things shouldn’t be poisoned by a need to make money off of people who don’t know a good zombie when they see one.)

As always – let me know what you think!

“The Walking Dead” – TV Series

Walking Dead panel

Image by gluetree via Flickr - From left to right Andrew Lincoln, Sarah Wayne Callies, and Jon Bernthal from Comic-con's The Walking Dead panel. The season 2 trailer debuted this year at Comic-con.

AMC debuted it’s highly anticipated zombie series last year on Halloween.  My family and I huddled together in the darkness of our living room, staring in rapt attention at the TV as zombie after zombie shuffled across the screen.  It was sheer brilliance.  The zombies were so real you could almost smell their foul putrescence, each one more gruesome than the last.

I had high hopes for the season, but it didn’t pan out.  In retrospect, I think it was my fault.  I had hoped that the show would follow the books.  They were such a wealth of ideas it would be crazy not to use the material.  Instead, the show saw survivor Rick Grimes dragging his wife, son, and other survivors to the Center for Disease Control.  There they found some interesting facts about the zombie virus, and we got to see an x-ray movie of a zombie.  Cool, but not as awesome as some of the scenes in the book.

On the other hand, my gripes aside, the casting was beyond perfect!  Hero Rick Grimes is played to perfection by Andrew Lincoln, who seems to not only portray Rick’s strength but simultaneously bring an air of unspoken uncertainty and insecurity.  After all – he’s not Superman.  He’s a man who is lucky to have his wife and son still alive, and he’s fully aware of it every moment that they survive.  His guilt-stricken and confused best friend Shane is played by Jon Bernthal, who leaves nothing to be desired in the role of friend-turned-foe.  Unfaithful wife Lori is given life by Sarah Wayne Callies.  The other characters are perfect to the point of being creepy.  They look almost identical to their characters, right down to their facial expressions.

Thankfully, AMC chose not to inundate the series with cheesy celebrity cameos.  I can’t speak for other viewers, but I know I’d rather have people starting their careers.  I don’t want to watch and say, “Oh wait, I know that person”.  To me, that ruins the apocalypse because you know that actor or actress as someone else.  The one exception is Norman Reedus, of “Boondock Saints” fame.  It had been so many years since he was in that iconic movie that he was not immediately recognizable to me.

As the debut of “The Walking Dead” Season 2 gets closer I find myself excited.  The trailer for the new season can be found at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1OZ0mu8Ey6A and you NEED to watch it right now.  It’s going to be amazing.  I’m back on board fully and counting down the days.  When the season debut is televised, I will be right there, glued to my chair and devouring every frame.

My Hero, Vincent Price.

Cropped screenshot of Vincent Price from the t...

Image via Wikipedia - Dashingly handsome !

When I was a child, I had a terrible crush on actor Vincent Price.  I don’t remember exactly how it began, but I think it had to do with my viewing of an AMC showing of “House of Wax“.  Which ever movie it was, I remember Vincent Price starring, and a skeleton with obvious wires being lowered into a vat of acid.  [If anyone remembers which movie that is, please let me know.  I want to get it on DVD if possible!]  Anyhow, I saw “Tower of London” tonight for what I thought was the first time, but apparently I had seen it before because I remembered the ending.  I thought it would be in keeping with my recent leitmotif to write a blog post about it, being that it is a retro horror film.

In the 1962 movieTower of London“, Vincent Price gives a virtuoso performance as the mad King Richard III of England.  Why is this movie in a horror blog, you ask?  Simple.  What is more horrible than fratricide, multiple homicide, torture chambers, unrelenting ghosts, and a quick descent into madness?  Oh, and it is loosely based on history too.

Vincent Price was a gifted actor.  He was able to show the King’s change from somewhat sane murderer to doddering madman.  Price was never out of character during this movie.  He was positively revolting as the cruel hunchbacked man who rose to power on a wave of the blood of innocents.  While demanding that the rack be tightened on one of the servant girls, the look on Price’s face is terrifying.  If I didn’t know it was a movie, I’d be seriously worried!  [The actress being broken on the rack was pretty convincing too.]  Price was so ruthless, in fact, that I didn’t feel pity for his character during the movie, but rather fear for those who had to come into contact with him.

What I found to be the most intriguing about the movie was the duality of Price’s performance.  Was the King really seeing the ghosts of those he murdered?  Or was his guilt driving him mad?  Perhaps it was a combination?  So far as I could tell, Price never gave the answer.  The audience was left to make their own conclusions.

If you’re looking for a good, old-school horror film with class then I suggest you rent or buy “Tower of London”.  All the performances are top notch (though I’m inclined to say Vincent Price stole the show).  The sets are very effective in conveying the time period without being outlandish, and the music fits perfectly without being too outdated or too modern.  Overall this movie was very well-done.