Sunday, October 25, 2009

Paranormal Activity - A Thriller Movie With The Production Value of About $20 and a Lot of Spare Time

Despite what the trailer might lead you to believe Paranormal Activity is not a jump out of your seat scary movie. With only a cast of four ‘actors’, and we use the term actors loosely, you get to sit through 90 minutes of repetitive night camera scenes. These scenes are brought about out of one of the characters’… Mika’s fascination with whatever it is that is haunting the two main characters. The story surrounds a couple who have only recently moved in together. Set entirely in one location, a midsize suburban house where Mika the man of the story who is a day trader and lives with Kate who is in teachers college. With paranormal investigation shows seemingly being the bases for all of the twists and turns it makes you think that the creators of the movie were in fact trying to make a spoof of the popular yet unsubstantiated subgenre of television. The TAPS team would be proud of Mika’s paranormal investigative skills, I’m sure. He busts out the big guns, a Weegie board, EVP sessions, night vision video camera, a psychic and other little tricks picked up from the internet.
The story progresses following the captured paranormal activity through Mika’s video camera that he has set up to catch any activity around the bed he and his girlfriend sleep in. At first their little activity only catches the door to their bedroom opening and closing on its own, but this soon becomes the least of their worries. Several nights follow with progressively worse activity happening around their bed room, such as loud thumps coming out of nowhere. During the day it seems that there is no threat whatsoever the cast lightheartedly jokes about the experiences that they are having, all but Kate, the center of the paranormal activity. She insists on having a psychic come over to their house, once again keeping it within the boundaries of the movies singular location, to do a reading. After this psychic tells the couple that they have a non-human entity in their house that is in fact attached to Kate, the story takes on a sometimes playful sometimes scary tone. These tones are directly related to whether the sun is up or not. What makes this movie better than the run of the mill horror film? It is not a horror film at all, it is more of a dark thriller. The reason it is popular is the same reason shows like Paranormal State, Ghost Hunters (both of them) are popular. People can’t seem to get enough of quasi-science that makes up the investigation of supernatural ghosts and demons, (or my personal favorite a Wendigo… look them up they are the craziest).

Thursday, October 15, 2009

10 Best Zombie Movies... Ever!

10. Shawn of the Dead
It’s a comedy that spoofs the genre to perfection. It is on this list because in its own way Shaun of the Dead is one of the best Zombie movies to have come out since….Forever.

9. The Night of the Living Dead
It is the original that started it all. Why so low on the list? Well even though it began the genre it comes off as cheep and socially irrelevant, focusing on the tensions between whites and African Americans. It’s a boring movie and if it wasn’t the first of its kind it wouldn’t have made it on the list at all.

8. Dawn of the Dead (the new one)
Dawn of the Dead is a remake of the 70’s classic of the same name. This gore and playfulness land it on this list. The movie has a few special features that borrow slightly from Rob Zombie’s attempt at a zombie flick, having the zombies be fast on their feet was a good movie. In the older films the only way to create tension in a zombie attack was to break one of the survivor’s ankle or a leg. This tool of suspense has become passé in recent years, so good on the re-makers Dawn of the Dead.

7. Omega Man
First off this is a zombie movie. No matter what some people might say, this film does fall under the category of zombie survival. Its just that the zombies are able to talk and throw spears. This movie is right up there with Charlton Heston’s other notably bleak future film, Soylent Green.

6. Resident Evil
Originally a popular video game title Resident Evil gave the audience exactly what they wanted to see from a game to movie crossover. In this universe zombies are not the result of some mysterious phenomenon as it is in so many other zombie movies. Instead the entire movie revolves around the attempts to contain/control the T virus. A man made virus that reanimates dead tissue, i.e. brings the dead to life. A less poetic or socially observant take than other film interpretations of what causes existence. One big corporation is to blame for the world turning into zombies, is easier to swallow than the second coming.

5. Dawn of the Dead (the original)
This 70’s cult classic is a great example of zombie movies taking a very political tone, taking aim at the buy and throwaway society. The zombies are a blue colour in this one and there are really only three actors throughout the how film. Note worthy moments in the film come in the form of outdated taboos which seem so out of place to a current moviegoer.

4. Evil Dead: Army of Darkness
A comedy zombie movie but classic none the less, taking place in medieval times, the star of the previous Evil Dead films makes a chainsaw handed boom stick wielding splash in this film. Battling an army of darkness seems to be a full time job for this guy, this being the third film in the franchise. That doesn’t make it any less enjoyable to the Bruce lover in all of us.

3. Evil Dead
The original which was supposed to be serious but ended up ridiculous should be on any zombie movie lovers’ shelf. Its bad props and cheesy acting make it cult favorite. Who knew that the director of this film would go on to direct one of the highest grossing films of all time? Sam Ramie we love you. If you haven’t seen this film before one scene might jump out at you when the woman that is playing Bruce’s sister is raped by a tree or something with branches. It’s weird. But weirdness is what makes it this zombie movie great.

2. 28 Days Later
28 Days Later tops this list with one of the scariest zombie movies to be made in years. It’s the most innovative zombie movie in years, disregarding the formula of the past Romero films and rip offs by creating an original story and style. With very dark themes (as if the end of the world wasn’t dark already) this film brought the scare back to the genre and that is why it is so good.

1. Day of the Dead.
George A. Remero’s greatest zombie movie takes place in Florida, sounds sunny right? Not if you are in an underground facility studying zombies. The movie almost is exclusively shot underground in a bomb shelter. The human residents’ of one of the last human safe spots have decided to bring some zombies down with them to befriend and study. Sounds strange, but this is the best example of a zombie movie, trapped underground with zombies that seem to be getting smarter. This is the first time we see ‘smart’ zombies in a movie in fact almost all of the elements from this movie are stolen… sorry incorporated into the first Resident Evil movie. An underground facility testing zombies, and so on it sounds familiar. The scenes where the ‘smart’ zombie that the scientists are studying shows off his ability to recognize what some objects are and what they do is both funny and interesting.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

The Top 10 Movies For Halloween

1. Shaun Of The Dead

A man and his idiotic friend attempt to survive an outbreak of zombies in England and save his friends and family. This is a very funny British movie that combines the zombie genre with comedy. The gory parts are hilariously gory, and everything else is just plain funny. The draw is in seeing what funny loser British people would do in a zombie apocalypse, which has always been set in America.

2. Evil Dead II

I know what you’re thinking: where is the original Evil Dead? Well, it’s not here, not good enough, and the weird tree rape scene is disturbing. Evil Dead II is probably the best of the trilogy, and you don’t need to watch the first one to understand it. There is a recap in the intro and it doesn’t even follow the original story. Bruce Campbell stars as Ash, the chainsaw wielding, shotgun toting vacationer fighting evil spirits that are invoked by a mysterious spell book in a secluded cabin. A mixture of horror, gore, and dark comedy, this movie is a great go-to for the Halloween season.

3. Fright Night

A teenage boy who enjoys watching horror movies presented by Peter Vincent on the series “Fright Night” finds that his new neighbour is a vampire. The sounds of horror movie classics set the tone for this 80s gem, giving it that Halloween feel. It features the main protagonist attempting to fight monsters with what he’s learned from movies and Peter Vincent as a movie monster hunter confronted by real monsters. It’s cheesy, but in a good way. What more can you ask for in a movie?

4. The Thing

A team in Antarctica encounter an alien that can become any living organism, and could be any one of them. Kurt Russell stars as MacReady, the pilot and reluctant leader against the alien menace, in this horror-thriller. There is only one word that describes the greatness of this movie: flamethrower.

5. Near Dark

This is cowboys mixed with vampires to make something special. A modern cowboy gets bitten by a strange girl and becomes a part of a traveling group of vampires. Not everybody knows about this one, but it is one of the best vampire movies of all time. Bill Paxton and Lance Henriksen (who played the android in Aliens) star as some very memorable vampires. These vampires are almost never in the dark of night even though they violently burst into flames struck but sunlight.

6. The Forsaken

A guy on a cross country road trip to deliver a luxury car and attend his sister’s wedding encounters a vampire hunter and a group of vampires that stalk the desert roads. It has some great gore, action, and suspense, not to mention the car chases.

7. The Devils Rejects

The story of a family of serial killers being hunted by an obsessed sheriff. This is directed by Rob Zombie and is probably his grand opus in term of film making. It is a twist on the old formula of horror movies. Rather than have an unsuspecting family, group, or person tormented by some serial killer(s), the serial killer family is tormented by a sheriff.

8. The Exorcist

What can I say, it’s a classic. An exorcist attempts to save a girl possessed by a demon. What better to watch on a dark night?

9. Idle Hands

A slacker finds that his hand is possessed and murdering people on Halloween. This one has been forgotten and put in the 99 cent bins of most stores, but it is a funny little horror-comedy, and one of the only movies set on Halloween besides the obvious “Halloween” and “It’s The Great Pumpkin Charlie Brown”. It features a young Jessica Alba before she was famous and Seth Green.

10. The Hitcher (Remake)

A couple on a road trip during college break are terrorized by a mysterious hitchhiker. It’s a short 70 minute movie, and it crams a lot of entertainment into that short length of time.

Thursday, October 8, 2009

The Different Ways Of Remembering Patrick Swayze | It’s a Swayze Movie Night

Is anyone else having a Patrick Swayze marathon? Patrick Swayze fell out of favour over the past decade or so and only really generated press on account of his battle with cancer. That is until his death. His career did have a few highlights some more for the ladies such as, Dirty Dancing and Ghost, while others were more testosterone injected. Point Break, Red Dawn, and Road House were some of the more impressive films he was in. And this is how people could choose to memorialize him with the manly Swayze film marathon. There is something crazy and entertaining about all three of the roles that Swayze breathes life into in these movies. From a former high school quarterback turned Commie fighter in Red Dawn to the bank robbing Zen master Bodhi in Point Break, all of these characters are fun to watch and could not really have been pulled off by any other actor. That was the magic of Patrick Swayze.
I choose the ass-kicking Swayze, and why not? Sure, weepy dancing Swayze has his charm but that can’t compare to Bodhi.

Highlights from Red Dawn

Swayze’s character in true form, constantly tells his fighting force to “Never Cry… I never want to see you cry again.” This after many of the boys that make up his rebel force find out their families have been killed by the commie invaders.

Swayze makes you believe that a grown man taking a group of young boys into the mountains during a holocaust does not sound the least bit fishy.

Swayze’s kamikaze run at the occupying force is both ridiculous and awesome. It is kind of a First Blood reenactment, if Rambo was blond and had a kid brother to help carry his ammo during the ‘this is what you get when you fuck with VETs little towns’ part of the movie where Rambo destroys the town.

Highlights from Point Break

Swayze as Bodhi is the highlight of the movie. Keanu Reeves trying to surf is much less enjoyable than watching Swayze actually skydiving in the movie.

Bodhi’s speeches about rebelling against the status queue through living the life of a migratory surfer.

Bodhi’s death scene is one of the most ass kicking ways any movie character has ever gone out. As Bodhi paddles out to the waves, the Australian officer says that they will get him (Bodhi) when he comes back in. Only for Jonny Utah to say, “He’s not coming back.” We then see Bodhi trying to ride the 30 foot waves only to meet his ultimate end in the wash of the wave. Bodhi, “100% Adrenaline.”

Neither of these characters really would have been as memorable if they had been played by anyone else. Patrick Swayze will live on through his work, which were more engaging and memorable than they were excellently acted. But who needs Shakespeare when you do something that is just fun and entertaining. Here’s to Patrick Swayze and his dancing/fighting/skydiving/bar bouncing/surfing/ generally cool shit movies.