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Movie Review: Wendigo



I caught this on the Independent Film Channel last night.  Very, very rarely will I actually watch IFC, as I find most of their selections obnoxious and pretentious.  But I was flipping channels, and this one was about a monster!  And not only that, the commercial they played beforehand made it look awesome, with all sorts of twitchy, antler headed goodness. 


Plus, I had done research on the Wendigo legends, and there is one featured in a small role in my first novel.  And I made him creepy as hell.  So I like Wendigos.  Cannibalistic Shamans cursed to walk the earth?  How friggin’ cool is that?


So, I sat down to watch Wendigo, full of hope, and I’ve got to say, that it was one of the absolute worst, most annoying, boring, pretentious, and self-righteous pieces of garbage I’ve ever seen.


Let me break it down for you.  This one was so bad, that my lovely wife of 10 years, who usually hates monster movies, watched it with me, just so she could give it the MST3K treatment throughout.  I took notes on her comments, because though my snark-fu is strong, my wife is a 10th Dan Master Of Snark. 


Basically the plot is some New Yorkers and their Volvo go out to Connecticut, where they hit a deer, and then get scared by some rednecks, and then almost nothing happens for an hour, until you’re so damn bored your eye start to bleed, then somebody gets shot, and in the last couple of minutes, the Wendigo shows up, looks stupid, doesn’t even kill anybody, and then the movie ends. 


This movie pissed me off for a few reasons.  First off, the New Yorkers are obnoxious.  I could care less if they lived or died, and it wasn’t like the movie didn’t give us plenty of opportunities to get to know them, because all they do is talk and talk and talk and talk and talk for an HOUR.  This move is titled Wendigo, not Woody Allen’s Deer Monster, damn it! 


I’m not kidding about the talking.  And it wasn’t dialog that was pertinent to the movie.  There was one part where the puffy headed father has a five minute phone conversation (you only hear his half) where he talks about his photography job, and how the client didn’t like the lighting.  Then a scene later, the wife, who’s apparently a shrink, has a phone conversation with one of her clients, which has no bearing on the plot at all, only to have another call come in, that might possibly be related to the plot, only to put that caller on hold, and then go back to the inane conversation, only to come back to the plot related call, to find out that he’s hung up.


No, I’m not kidding.  Meanwhile Dewey from Malcom in the Middle is having nightmares, and we get to have scenes of psychobabble between the parents about their kid.  The boredom was palpable.  You could actually see the boredom collecting on the TV screen.  You could TASTE the boredom.  It tastes kind of like cauliflower. 


Secondly, apparently the scariest thing in the world to a New Yorker is a redneck.  Because when I think of terror, I think of some guy gutting a deer.  (honestly, that just makes me think of jerky).  Man, I don’t know about you, but I sure do wish I could be in a nice, safe, friendly place, like Manhattan, as opposed to a very unfriendly place like Danbury, Connecticut. 


At one point, we see a redneck kid, cleaning a deer, coated in blood, because you know, that’s how us hillbillies roll, always killing stuff with our blood soaked children.  Not like civilized folks from Manhattan, who buy their meat prepackaged.  There’s a subplot about bullet holes through the vacation home, because you know, there’s never any gunfire in New York, ‘cause that would be illegal.  Whereas in Danbury, you shoot somebody’s house, the sheriff don’t care, because that’s just life out in Red State Country.


But worst of all, is the artsy shots.  This movie clocked in at an hour and a half, but if you pulled out all of the slow cuts of trees, then it would have been thirty minutes.  There would be a scene, then a shot of trees, more trees, drift wood, fence posts, etc, then another small scene, then some trees, some more wood, some snow, oh wait, something new, a spider web!  And it went on like that for the whole movie.   It actually opened to slow artsy shots of Voltron and the Wolfman.  Sadly, that was the best part of the film.


The artsy shots did have one small payout.  They showed a shot of a sign for Numrich Gun Parts.  Shout out to my homies at Numrich.  They’ve got parts for everything, good service, and prices!


They go to a convenience store, and there are art shots of toy guns, and racist cartoons of Indians (pardon me, Native Americans).  Ironically the toy guns are from the ‘50s and ‘60s, which is pretty sweet, because not only when you leave the paved wonderland of New York City and travel to Hickville, you actually travel BACK IN TIME!  I think the director was trying to make a comment about something, but I was so bored at this point, I just couldn’t care.


Then an Indian gives Dewey a magic totem of a Wendigo, and sums up the legend. (in time with the boy’s choir version of creepy Indian music)  Note to self, if a mysterious stranger ever gives one of my kids a magic totem relating to the legend of a blood-thirsty spirit, leave the friggin’ thing there.  Sorry Correia kids, no evil totem for you…


When I made the comment that I wished the rednecks would show up and kidnap and torture the family or something, not only did my wife agree (and she doesn’t approve of torture movies) she thought that having a little bit of cannibalistic redneck massacre would be a definite improvement. 


Then, at over an hour into it, something happens.  They go sledding!  Yay!  Sledding!


Only the idiot father gets accidentally shot off the sled by the scary redneck.  (Remember kids, Rule #4 of gun safety, be aware of your target and its environment, comes right before Rule #5, no evil spirit totems in the house)  Then stuff actually starts to happen, only to slow down for more idiotic, obnoxious art shots (moon, trees, trees, driftwood, and GASP! Blood on the snow) and then the father, even though he’s just taken a high powered rifle round to the liver, monologues for like ten straight minutes, while the wife drives the Volvo to the hospital at, I kid you not, 12 miles an hour. 


Then the redneck hits the sheriff in the head with a hammer, and gets chased through the forest by a twitchy weredeer, or something, only to get hit by a car (in an oh so subtle touch) in the exact same manner as the deer that got hit by the Volvo at the beginning of the movie.  Yes, film school class, that’s called FORESHADOWING! 


So the father dies, and then the nurse comes out, and for some inexplicable film school reason, gives his shoes to his wife.  Yes, his shoes.  No, I don’t know why.  Quit asking.  But it does enable them to make another art shot of the shoes.  Moon.  Trees.  Trees.  Deer.  Snow.  Moon.


The end. 


Yes, it really was that bad.  And no, not in a good way.  If I want art, I’ll go look at art.  I don’t need somebody to hit me in the head with a hammer while screaming THIS IS ARTISTIC!  ART!  ART! 


Look, if a movie is going to be named after a monster, then it should actually have some monster in it.  If you rented a movie called ALLIGATOR!  Or GIANT ANTS!  Or ZOMBIE BUS DRIVER! You would expect some monster action, right?  No… Not this time.  You get angsty whiners, talking about how they don’t pay enough attention to their kid because they bring their work home, and dimwitted rednecks.  15 seconds of a guy in a fur suit with a deer head, and 3 seconds of some CGI branch spirit, and they never actually kill anybody?  Not only no, hell no. 

 Screw you, director of Wendigo.  No more monster movies for you. 

Movie Review: The Rage

I watched The Rage this weekend.  http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0497432/


Overall, B-Movie nerds must watch this.  It has a very big 80s splatter movie feel to it, with mutants, killer vultures, some bad special effects, some good special effects, disposable obnoxious characters, and that Russian guy from Lost as a mad scientist.


This movie goes for all out B-movie awesomeness by not shying away from clubbing children to death with a tree branch, or a mutant midget who screams KISS THE MONKEY. 


Erin Brown is actually a pretty decent actress, considering that she started out doing porn.  I’m not into that, but she’s always enjoyable in horror movies.  She actually really surprised me in Master Of Horror’s Sick Girl with a really good performance.  There isn’t really a lot of what I would consider good acting in The Rage, but movies like this are not about drama awards, they’re about hitting mutants in the head with pipes, and Erin does a fine job at that.


The mad scientist, played by Andrew Divoff, is excellent.  You may know him as that difficult to kill Russian from Lost, but now he’s the difficult to kill mutant Russian out in the woods.  He does a great job, and I would have to say, best mad scientist since Jeffery Combs. 


It won’t win any awards, but where else can you have an insane midget (with subtitles!) introduce GAR!  The king mutant, and they shout Sayonara F******s!  I loved it to the core of my B-Movie soul.  It made as little sense as Ice Queen, but it did it with STYLE! 

Movie Review, 30 Days Of Night

I just got back from a showing of 30 Days of Night. http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0389722/ and all I can say is, damn, that was one hard core vampire movie. 


Now regular readers know I’m a monster movie geek, and I love to review low budget B-Movies.  This is certainly no B-Movie, but it totally brought out my inner monster movie nerd. 


30 days is brutal, absolutely brutal.  If you don’t know the basic plot, you’ve been living in a cave, but basically vampires take over an Alaska town that has doesn’t see the sun for a month during winter.  They take out the communications and transportation, and then proceed to kill the hell out of the townsfolk. 


The movie is based on the graphic novel by Steve Niles, and if you’re a fan of Steve Niles, then you know that he can do no wrong.  The man is a friggin’ genius.  Check out his other work.  I had already read the book, and the story diverged a bit, but the overall feel was captured. 


The cinematography is excellent.  You get these constant great views of the town, that makes you realize how small and vulnerable it is.  The characters are believable, realistic, and you feel like you know them, and that makes it hurt more when they suffer.  In my opinion, Josh Hartnett is actually a pretty good actor who catches a bunch of crap because he’s a pretty boy.  He does a great job in this, but the scene stealer is Danny Huston, the lead vampire who absolutely dominates the screen.  He’s just one bad mother. 


And on the vampires, thank goodness that these aren’t those damn Anne Rice homo-erotic sissy vampires that have been foisted on us.  Damn it, I want my vampires to be evil, not “misunderstood”, and these vampires are monsters, pure and simple.  No poofery, no puffy sleeves and silk cravats, no angst, and thank you, no whiny-ass goth kids in capes and their mom’s purple eye-liner. And when your monsters are monsters, that means you can really love it when they get ground to bits by pieces of heavy equipment, and that is half the fun.  Plus, major bonus points for what was probably the best beheading scene I’ve ever seen. 


If you like an honest, kick in the gut, horror flick, you should catch this one. 

B-Movie Review: Evil Aliens

Evil Aliens


I saw this last night at Blockbuster and picked it up.  I had heard some hype about it, how this new British movie was the best splatter comedy since Peter Jackson’s early stuff.  Now that’s a pretty bold thing to say, because Peter Jackson is the friggin’ man.  For those of you that only watch “normal” movies, you know Peter Jackson as the mastermind behind the Lord of the Rings, but when he first started out, he made some of the finest B-movies the world has ever seen. 

Just ask any B-movie geek about the lawnmower scene from Dead Alive and watch them start to snicker uncontrollably.  We just can’t help ourselves. 

Evil Aliens was billed as a black comedy, and since I only understand about 30% of British comedy, I wasn’t expecting much.  In the first few minutes you have an alien abduction and a rectal probe with a 10 inch drill bit, from that point on you know that this movie is going to at least be interesting. 

The movie slows down for a bit to introduce the characters, a bunch of stereotypical victims from bad movies, who then head out to a Welsh island to investigate this alien abduction.  Then the aliens arrive, and the movie kicks into high gear.  Something is either getting chopped to bits, shot at, blown up, stabbed, burned, chainsawed, mutilated, impregnated, smashed, run over, or put through a piece of farm equipment, every couple of minutes for the remainder of the movie.  It is non-stop fun as blood and limbs kept getting thrown into the air or onto the screen.

To decide if this movie is for you, ask yourself a simple question, have you ever wanted to see somebody chase down a couple dozen aliens with a combine and tear them into pulp, while listening to a tape of  “Motivational Welsh Farming Music”?  If your answer is yes, then throw this one in your Blockbuster queue. 

A note on the characters, they start out as typical caricatures, but by the end they’ve really grown on you, and that says a lot since most of them are scumbags or morons.  Considering what this movie is about, and how the lead actress dresses, there was actually no human nudity (well, except for the anal probe obviously), but there was alien nudity as every Star Trek dork’s dream comes true.  (boobie spikes, hoo ray!  B-movie goodness!)

 I laughed my ass off.  The movie was awesome.  It lives up to the hype, and is in fact just as fun as Dead Alive or Bad Taste.  

Review of Frostbitten

Over the weekend I got to catch a couple of monster movies.  The one that stood out was Frostbitten, http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0454457/, a dandy little vampire flick from Sweden.   Yes, Sweden, which means that A.  It is subtitled, B. Everything looks vaguely like it came from Ikea. 

The movie revolves around a doctor with a stash of red pills that turn the user into vampires.  And apparently it is totally cool amongst Scandinavian teenagers to take random unknown drugs to see what happens.  (must be from the socialized medicine).   They pills get passed around at a party, and hilarity ensues.   

Monster movie fans should catch this one.  There are some good performances as various people turn into vampires, talking dogs, and assault and battery with garden gnomes.  Which leads to my favorite lines of the whole flick, “Quit hitting me with gnomes!” 

It drags in places, and nothing really resolves, but I’ll recommend anything where somebody eats a poodle, bonus points if it is still on the owner’s leash.