Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Shark Week: Giant extinct fish edition

What is it about bad movies that makes people love them? What magic does it have? What fairy dust does it fart to fill our homes with it's stench and make us love them for it?

These are the questions that have plagued mankind for millenia! Cavemen, when they went to look at the cave paintings...why did they enjoy the ones that barely looked like buffalo? But they did like them! They might not have been the caveman's favorite, but they smiled and told their friends about how bad it was but how much they enjoyed it anyways.

So, what made Shark Attack 3 so awesome?

Was it the corporate villain, Apex? Run by a man who asks:

"And who would believe you? A disgruntled employee with stolen, confidential documents? My lawyers would have a field day with you! They are the REAL sharks!"
(It's funny, those are the types of people news crews do tend to believe.)

Maybe it was our hero, Ben Carpenter and his ability to say possibly the most...inexplicable and out of place line ever.

Or our heroine...who goes for it.

Maybe it's that the scale of the shark changes. His mouth is always just the right size for what he's eating. Either that or resort owners and patrol boats are exactly the same size.

Yes, Al. I'm sure that's part of it too.

What makes this movie so great? I don't know. It's just such a fun movie. It's bad. Awful even. But, like so many before it, just a blast to watch. Seriously, if the Sci Fi Channel made movies this good, it's all anyone would watch.

I know that there's no way I can do a review of this movie justice. Seriously. The best possible review of this movie has already been written. And it was that review alone that made me want to see this movie. As you can tell, I loved the movie, terrible in just the right way, 9 hotel owners stealing life vests without saying a word out of 10.

Monday, July 30, 2007

Shark Week: Better looking people than me edition

Let me start by warning you that Spring Break Shark Attack was a CBS made for TV movie. Knowing this myself, I watched it without very high hopes. Obviously the potential for lots of blood and gore and the like would be low. I mean, CBS, right? It's not like it's Fox or something.

And besides, theres a five fin-to-one person shark ratio on the cover! Hello, McFly!! That means carnage!

Danielle is a college student, still living at home with her parents. It's spring break and her friends went down to Florida. Danielle, like, totally wants to go, but her dad is totally harshing her mellow and not letting her go. So, Danielle is all like, 'Well, I go to Habitat for Humanity' and dad is like 'Coo' and Danielle is all like 'Haha, I so lied' and goes to Florida anyways.

Once there, she meets up with her friends. They try on hats, and then go to the beach. I don't get it either, but, hey, whatever. Once at the beach, it's all about pretty people without much clothes on. It's all...very exciting.

Danielle's brother, who looks like a poor man's Luke Wilson, goes to school in the area, or something. Maybe he's a grad student. I wasn't really paying much attention. Whatever he is, he's doing research. On sharks. His research however has left him oblivious to the big fucking sharks swimming around his boat!

How do you miss that?

Come on! It's right fucking there, dude! It almost bit your fucking foot off!

Danielle, while trying to find out where her brother is, meets a dude named Shane. He's a righteous dude. Seriously. Working to save up money for college. Not like these rich kids partying. Nope. He's working.

Danielle kind of digs this dude, but earlier, she met a guy named JT who is a massive douche bag. He seems like the kind of guy who would try to give a girl the roofies to get some, you know?

Well, that confirms THOSE suspicions.

Basically, the non-shark story is that Danielle is a virgin, and JT wants to get some. But Danielle like Shane because he looks like a poor man's Jason Mewes. I guess. Or maybe it's because he's not some pretty boy like the others. He's 'deep'. He reads books without half naked ladies on the cover. JT, however, doesn't seem to like Shane. But, it's not like an antagonistic hatred, it's like an ambivalence. I don't get it. But, whatever.

They rent a boat from Shane's mom's company, so Shane, reluctantly, takes the gang out to sea. JT wants to go swimming and drags Danielle in, and then the rest of the gang jumps in, but suddenly...blood comes from under the boat, and then...the sharks arrive!! Woohoo!

However, sharks apparently are much like t-rexes in that they don't attack things that don't move, so by staying very still, Danielle survives long enough to get to the boat. That's not good enough though! The boat won't start! And the sharks aren't really leaving! OMG! What ever will they do!

Shane, luckily, gets the boat started, but it's broke and they'll never make it back to shore. There's an island nearby, though, so they head there for the night.
The sharks follow.

Meanwhile, elsewhere on the ocean, Danielle's brother is finding a lot of half-eaten sea turtles. And the kids find themselves a half eaten human!

He used to be JT's friend. Aw. Now he's leftovers.

Shane manages to get the boat going again and get them back to shore, but he also brought...some friends.

By friends I, naturally mean a metric shit ton of sharks.

And look! Lunch is ready! It's up to our three young adults to save the day now. Because, god forbid the authorities get involved or anything. Nope. 3 kids without a clue are going to save the beach!

But, not one will save JT. He's lunchmeat.

The kids manage a pied piper type strategy with a trail of fish guts to lead the sharks back out to sea, where they'll have to find a way to stop them from coming back to the beach!

This wasn't what I would call a great movie, by any means. But, it was fun. It could have been a hell of a lot worse. The story isn't very good, but you get to watch a bunch of kids who are better looking than you get killed by sharks. And while, as I said earlier, it's not very gory, there is a fair amount of blood around. Think about it though, Jaws wasn't exactly gory. It's kind of a goofy movie, made primarily to cash in on some vaguely familiar faces and a string of shark attacks a couple years ago. I'm okay with that though. And while the kids are playing archetypes as opposed to people, again, I'm okay with that. You have your virgin/heroine, the outsider/hero, the asshole/jerk. These are the characters that have been in every teen movie ever. You know what's going to happen before it begins, but it's still not bad. It's mindless, but not offensively so. It's worth a watch with a couple beers on a Friday night, that's for fucking sure. A solid 7 1/2 sharks chasing after your boat and the delicious people in it out of 10.

Shark Week: I'll show them edition

And so I'm back from outer space I just walked in to find you here with that sad look upon your face...


Hello there! It's me, your humble...um...narrator? Host? I like host. Your humble host. I'm back from my vacation! I got in from New Orleans yesterday afternoon after a week of travel from New Orleans to Costa Maya and Cozumel and back.

No. Really. Here, look:

The Pirates Alley in The French Quarter

Mayan Ruins in Mexico


That would be me in Cozumel...I'm not sure who's arm I'm on...

A hammerhead shark...

Fun stuff, right? Okay, now lets get back to the business at hand...

Last night started the Discovery Channel's 20th annual Shark Week. The highlight of the year for many cable viewers. This does not include me, you see, I am missing out on Shark Week for the first time in...17 or 18 years. Stupid Comcast. What a bunch of jerks. How dare they decide that I should PAY to watch their crappy commercials. Needless to say, I have no cable, and since I'm at home and not on some fancy pants work trip, I will not get to enjoy the wonderful programming that the Discovery Channel has to offer this week.

Well, to hell with them! I'll have my own Shark Week! With booze, and blackjack and hookers! And I'll watch shark movies on my own. And then I'll write about them! You'll see! I'll prove to Comcast that I don't need them!

I've got a few things to do this afternoon, so the first post won't come until this evening...let's see what happens!

Monday, July 23, 2007

FGFC: Uh...girl parts

Hey! Welcome to this month's entry into the Final Girl Film Club. This month it's Behind the Mask: The Rise and Fall of Leslie Vernon. This time around, I'm posting from The French Quarter in New Orleans. Like I said yesterday, this is the last post from me until I get back from vacation.

So lets get this ball rolling! First off, who is Leslie Vernon? I'm glad you asked. Leslie Vernon, as the legend goes, killed his parents and was thrown over a waterfall to his death, but now he's back, and he's found a documentary crew to film his side of the grisly tale.

The whole story takes place in a world where the actions of all of the 'greats' are real. Jason, Freddy, Micheal Myers...heroes of the trade. The trade being...well, being evil. To paraphrase Eugene, in the battle between good and evil, you have to have evil, right? And that's what guys like Leslie and Eugene represent. Pure evil. Not that diluted stuff. Not the evil from concentrate. Not even the similar, but not quite the same, imitation evil flavoring. Nope, these guys are the real deal.

And Leslie wants the world to see what he's about to do. Hence Taylor and the crew. They're going to create a documentary about Leslie. That's sort of the gist of the movie. It's a fairly standard slasher story (and intentionally so) told from the other side. How does he train, how does he pick a victim. How much planning goes into the seemingly random process. They say every story has two sides, well, this is the bastard's side.

Horror movies have a way of holding a mirror up to society in a way that few other movies can. And, I think Behind the Mask does just this. The internet has, rather than an age of shared information and intelligence, ushered in an age on banality. We're a society that has opened our lives rather than our minds. We document the minutiae of our lives in our livejournals and on our MySpaces. We video then mundaneness of our days to make YouTube videos. Here we are, with the world's knowledge at our fingertips, and we're putting silly captions on pictures of cats.

Not only this, but look at reality tv. Instant stardom, just let us tape your life. Is there any doubt that a real life Leslie Vernon could appear? Is it so far outside the realm of possibility that in the near future, a serial killer could enlist a news crew to document his preparations and executions? How far outside the realm of possibility that there'd be an audience for it?

This is where Behind the Mask succeeds. While Leslie himself is a very...over the top character, there's a tinge of believability to this scenario. Here is a guy who is so convinced that he will be the new heir to the throne, that he wants someone to follow him along the way to preserve the event for posterity. Is this really that different than a show about Posh Spice moving to America?

Now, don't get me wrong, things in the movie aren't necessarily what they seem. And Leslie may certainly have his own motives for his actions beyond what I'm attributing to him. And the movie on it's own is a great critique/satire of the genre. It's really interesting to listen to Leslie talk about the symbolism behind slasher movies. As a deconstruction of the slasher movie, it again, works.

And, if there's one thing I've noticed in slasher movies, it's the predisposition towards a twist ending. There's always a red herring. There's always something to throw you off the trail of what's really going on. And, in this, Behind the Mask delivers. And, while you may see it coming, it's the execution that really stands out.

Certainly, the movie had flaws as well. Most notably in character development. Sure, Taylor and Leslie are pretty well fleshed out, but Eugene and his wife were fairly useless. Not to mention Robert Englund as Leslie's 'Ahab', Doc Holloran could have stood to have a bit more depth. But, these are pretty minor in the grand scheme of things.

Over all, I couldn't help but like this movie. Nathan Baesel was certainly perfect for the role of Leslie, creating a villain that is a bit...well, odd, but strangely likable at the same time. He seems like a fun guy to hang out with, never mind that he kills people. It's about empowerment, not sadistic glee.

Angela Goethals plays journalism student (and interviewer), Taylor Gentry. Taylor is the one who gets to sort of play the straight man to Leslie's antics. Well, that may not be the best way to put it. Basically, she's the outsider looking in. She's the objective viewpoint. She's also tasked with, perhaps, the heaviest question in the film...'how much is too much?' At what point do we stop watching and intervene? At what point do we remove the mask to reveal the bullshit for what it is? At what point do we stop being objective and let our feelings intercede? At what point do we step in to prevent something that doesn't affect us? And finally, once we do stand up, what is the cost and is it worth it?

So, in addition to being damned entertaining, it's the kind of movie that will make you think a little bit too. With that in mind, I can't help but recommend this movie to anyone that will listen. Stacie, you picked another good one! 9 bodies in the house, and all the exits I showed you earlier are now booby-trapped out of 10

Sunday, July 22, 2007

Make like a tree and do that thing

Well, this week didn't go as I had planned. Oh well. That's the way it goes sometimes. I worked more than I wanted to and slept less than I should have. And, while traveling allowed to me to watch a few episodes of Heroes (Save the cheerleader, save the world, baby), I did not actually manage to watch or write about any movies liked I'd hoped to be able to. It's so sad. Tragic even.

I'm off now though, or soon enough. I've got my Final Girl Film Club post to do for Monday, but aside from that, I'm done. I'm on vacation.

Since I know you'll miss me this next week, here's a scene from Clerks II, enjoy!

Oh! As long as I'm doing videos, I may as well hook you up with the trailer for that awesome French movie I watched not to long ago, Ils:

And don't forget, next week is Shark Week here at 7dp! A week full of shark movies, or possibly a big fish movie. And maybe a movie about sushi. Who knows! It'll be crazy and it'll start on the 30th! See ya then!

Monday, July 16, 2007

Taking a break from all your worries sure would help a lot

Alright, I have good news and bad news. The good news? Well, I still remember most of the lyrics to the Cheers theme song. After all these years! Pretty sweet, right? Hell yeah.

The bad news is that I'm about to take off for a couple weeks, and my irregular posting will probably be...well, even less regular. I want to get something up here this week, and since I'll have interweb access in Prescott, AZ...well, I might be able to come up with something. After that though, the only guarantee is next Monday's Final Girl Film Club entry. You better fucking believe I'll be down for that one! After that though, it's a week without a computer as I head off into the horizon on a sunny family vacation (how the hell did I let that happen?) in the Caribbean where I will see me some fucking pyramids, yo! That will accomplish life goal #3421!

The good news is that I'm gearing up for Shark Week when I get home. That's right! A week of shark movies baby! Probably. There may be some other aquatic animals that work their way in, but I assure you there will be carnage. And blood. And teeth. Hey! I wonder if I can find a shark's tooth on my vacation!

Wish me luck, I'm going to be doing some time traveling tomorrow!

Friday, July 13, 2007

Friday the 13th blog-a-thon special. Woohoo!

So, a couple weeks ago, I'm checking out what's probably my favorite blog, Final Girl, and I see that Stacie has decided to do a Friday the 13th Blog-a-thon. Naturally, I think to myself "A what's that now?" My interest piqued, I continued to read.

"Basically, the blog-a-thon is a great melding of the minds about a common subject all across the super cyberverse: a blogger chooses a topic, gives a date, and folks who choose to participate write about the given subject"

I think to myself, "Self, you know. Being a blogger sure is great. I mean, look at the life it affords me. Private jets, international super stardom. Lots of money. Oh my god, so much money. Fancy cars. All the chicks just want to be with me, and the guys want to be me. Self, your life sure is super, but it's lacking. You should participate in this blog-a-thingie, be a part of the community. Didn't you start this thing because you wanted to alk about movies with people? This is your chance, man!"

"Me, I don't know what the fuck you're talking about. Jets? What the fuck is wrong with you?"

"That's harsh, Self. Why ya gotta be like that. I didn't insult you. But oh, you have to turn around and talk shit. Well, fuck you man. I don't need you. I got my mother fuckin jet. So piss off."

"Yeah. Whatever, dude."

So, it would seem that the task is to write a Friday the 13th post on, of all days, Friday the 13th.

Holy shit that's today!!

"Uh, Me?"

"Oh sure, now you want to talk to me, Self. What?"

"Uh, you do remember that I've never SEEN Friday the 13th, right?"

"Oh. Shit. Well, good luck dude. I'm outta here."


Ok, so, the cat is officially out of the bag. I have never seen Friday the 13th. In fact, I was pretty young when I didn't see it. I must have been 12 I guess the first time I didn't watch it. I remember, it was on USA one night while I was watching something on TNT. I don't remember much about it except how Kevin Bacon-less it was, and how little it scared me. I mean, that's TNT for you. And this was in the pre-Law & Order-is-all-we-show days. I was so unafraid when I went to bed that night.

Since then, I've not watched Friday the 13th, wow, I don't know how many times. I've lost count really.

You know what though, even though I've never seen it, it's such a legend amongst horror movies that it's impossible to not know a few things about it. Even a poor shlub like me who has never seen a single one of the movies knows the goalie mask. It's synonymous with horror. It's an icon in itself along with Freddy's glove, Ash's chainsaw, Michael Myers' mask , Hayden Christensen's performance as Anakin Skywalker. I mean, these are things that at this point, are so well known, that you don't even have to have seen the movie to know what they symbolize. They're scary in their own way now, they've transcended the movies that started them off. You see that goalie mask and you don't think about hockey. You think about teenagers getting their shit fucked up at Camp Crystal Lake. Even a guy like me, who has never seen it knows that.

Really, I think that's kind of neat. I love the way something like that can become so ingrained in our culture.

I guess that's what I find so great about movies. The way a two hour story can go from being a two hour story to a cultural experience. At a certain point, it's no longer just a movie. It becomes a part of who we are as people. No other medium has done this. Sure, you may not like country music, but you know who Garth Brooks is. But, you don't know the words to his songs, do you? I know people who don't like horror movies, but they know what the goalie mask is and what it stands for. That's something that only a movie can do.

I may never see Friday the 13th. It's just not that important to me. I didn't grow up watching horror movies like a lot of people did. As a young kid, when most of my friends were in love with Jason and Freddy, I just wasn't interested in them. It wasn't until I was 18 or 19, when I was working in a video store, that I really started to watch horror movies at all. I may see it. It's hard to say. maybe next time, I'll be sitting here writing about having finally watched it, and what I thought about it.

For now though, that's all I have on the subject. All *I* have. this a communal thing though, so go check out Final Girl, she'll have more. Not to mention she'll have links to other people blog-a-thoning (I hope that's the right way to say it). So go! Go now. I'm done. I got nothing more to say. Ok. I have one more thing for you.

My own, written just now, just for you, Friday the 13th Haiku!

camp crystal lake
teens go there and get laid, right?
then they get killed, yo.

Alright, go on. Get going. I'm done now.

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Le singe est sur la branche.

Tonight was French movie night in my apartment. Or, ce soir, c'etait soiree "film Francais" a mon appartement. A long standing tradition ever since it's inception way back at 4 this afternoon. So much history, you know?

Le film was Them, or Ils if you prefer. It came out some time last year, and I'd been hearing a bit about it lately (including a small blurb in Rue Morgue). The poster claims 'you will never feel secure at home ever again.' Oh yeah? I'll be the judge of that.

The movie begins with a mother and her teenage daughter in a car. They're arguing, as mothers and teenage daughters do. The mother swerves off the road to avoid hitting something and ends up in a ditch. She gets out to pop the hood (rather than call AAA on her daughter's cellphone) and silently disappears. Naturally, the daughter is a little put off and goes to investigate. Her mom is just gone, and there's a weird noise coming from the woods, she's freaked out and jumps back into the car, trying to call for help. Suddenly, balls of dirt start hitting the windows. Then, two arms reach out from the back seat and strangle her.

What the crap?

Next, we're at a school. Apparently, we are in Bucharest. Clementine is a teacher. She is a French teacher, to be precise. Clem lives in a big fucking house with her boyfriend Lucas. Lucas is a writer. A writer who doesn't seem to be writing much. However, their jobs are relatively unimportant, since it doesn't come up again. We're told that they have jobs to flesh out the characters a little bit, I think.

So, regardless of what they do, they live in a big old house. One of those places with lots of space and noisy, creaky floors. They enjoy a quiet dinner, watch a little tv and go to bed. But, some noises wake Clem up. And she wakes Lucas up, and they go and investigate. Outside, they think they see someone, and they do, someone is stealing their car! They go inside and call the police, but there's nothing the police can do that night (for some odd reason). Then, the power goes out. And the phone is dead. The shutters start slamming shut, and someone is in the house.

At 70 minutes, Ils is a short movie. But it's quick and to the point. And it does so many things right in that small amount of time. It's atmosphere and tension. There isn't any real gore or jump scares here. It doesn't need those things. Everything just builds so beautifully. Everything about this movie is executed so well. Even 'them', or bad guys. You, in the end, find out a bit about them, but for most of the movies it's shadows and mystery. You never know how many there are. You don't know what they look like. You don't know what they want. It was, as the kids are saying these days, fucked up.

I can't say that I'll 'never feel secure in my home ever again', but I tell you that this was a great movie. It was really a great example of what a good horror movie should be. 9 screwdrivers through the keyhole out of 10.

Sunday, July 08, 2007

Random conversations while watching movies...

I managed to find myself a copy of Chuck Heston's Planet of the Apes today, which I promptly watched to get the taste of the remake out of my head.

My friend swung by while I was watching it, and we got to talking about how many sequels they made.

There was

Beneath the Planet of the Apes
Return to the Planet of the apes
Revenge of the Planet of the Apes
The Planet of the Apes Strikes Back
The Planet of the Apes Menace
Attack of the Planet of the Apes
A New Planet of the Apes
Back to the Planet of the Apes
Planet of the Apes Runner

The Planet of the Apes Reloaded
Planet of the Apes Revolutions
Planet of the Apes Park
The Lost Planet of the Apes
Raiders of the Lost Planet of the Apes
Temple of the Planet of the Apes
Planet of the Apes High
Godzilla vs the Planet of the Apes
Planet of te Apes of the Dead
Army of the Planet of the Apes

There were a lot of sequels. Did I miss any?

Friday, July 06, 2007

In which I only say 'Goddamn that looks awesome!'

Goddamn that looks awesome!

Thursday, July 05, 2007

In which an otherwise enjoyable movie is ruined by an inexplicable ending

I watched Tim Burton's Planet of the Apes last night. I had never really been incredibly interested in seeing it. I mean, I liked the original. I'm not a huge remake fan (sorry, it was a re-imagining), nor am I incredibly into Tim Burton's movies. So, as I'm sure you can tell, I wasn't in a great hurry to see the movie. Hell, I only picked it up because it was free (buy 2, get 1 free (I also picked up Constantine and Lake Placid for the curious)).

That said, hell, I liked it well enough. It was entertaining, in a 'I like Chuck Heston more than anyone else in this movie' kind of way. I just had, really, a few questions.

1) Why was Thade always so pissed off? Every time he spoke, he was growling. He just sounded mean and, as a character, completely unsympathetic. The most intimidating characters are never the ones who are just full out bad. The really good bad guys are the ones that you can see their side a little. When you start to sympathize with the villain, and you start to see a little of yourself in him, that's when the bad guy gets interesting. There are, of course, exceptions. Zombies, velociraptors, sharks. They don't care if you sympathize with them. They will just fuck your shit up. This is because, unlike humans and the apes in the movie, they don't posses the same cognitive abilities as us. Therefore, while a possible exception, they are excluded from the category. Once again proving that Darth Vader is the ultimate badass.

2) When the humans, led by Marky Mark, are trying to escape Apeville, why do they run through everyone's bedrooms? Wouldn't there be a more direct route through town? One that didn't involve waking everyone up? Sure, I understand the desire to stay off the road so that the Ring Wraiths don't find you, but surely there is an alley or something. It just seems silly to have to go through so many bedrooms.

3) Why bother rescuing the little girl? She only gets sent back to the house anyways, and is never mentioned again. It's like making yourself a really nice dinner and then throwing it out because you weren't really that hungry in the first place. One could simply have removed the three scenes involving the little girl and made the same movie. The story would not have been any different.

4) Why did Helena Bonham Carter look so good while made up to look like a monkey? She looked hotter than she does as a human. What kind of weird bestiality fetish is Tim Burton trying to inspire?

5) Alright, yeah, the ending. Holy crap, what was that? It's one thing to do a twist ending and then let the audience put the pieces together, it a whole other thing to say 'Here you go! I'll explain what happened if we do a sequel!' It's as bad as declaring Darth Vader the ultimate badass when you've done nothing to support the argument.

And, while the ending is a bit of a puzzle, and lord knows I like a puzzle, the movie itself wasn't good enough to warrant trying to figure it out. There's a big difference between making the audience think and telling the audience 'fuck you. figure it out yourself jackass'. Unfortunately, the ending seems to fall into that second camp.

Imagine a crossword puzzle. 5 across reads: 5 letter word for monkey. You know from reading that that the answer is chimp. However, there are only 4 boxes. The puzzle isn't able to be solved because you are automatically disqualified from giving the correct answer before you start. That is what the movie was like.

Sunday, July 01, 2007

Einstein at the Movies

In a never ending effort to keep 7 Dollar Popcorn fresh, it's time to introduce a new segment. A segment as lofty in it's aspirations as Quick Reviews of Bad Movies. A segment as fresh and creative as jokes about Joe Piscopo. A segment called Reviewed by Einstein.

7dp's first movie to be Reviewed by Einstein? Insecticidal. A movie about giant bugs and bitchy sorority girls. So, tell us Al, what did you think?

There you have it! He liked it! He really liked it! Anything else to say?

I don't know, Al. I guess it was some sort of crazy sort of directorial choice. Is that all you have to say about this movie?

Alright, Al. Thanks for your time.
That's great, Al. Thanks for letting us know. Are you done now?

You know, fuck you, Al. We're done.