A.D.D. Film Review: Frozen

Here's all you need to know about Adam Green's Frozen: Due to a convoluted plot complication, three friends get stranded on a chairlift at a ski resort that is closing down for the week.  It's very cold, it begins to snow ... there are man eating wolves gathering below the elevated lift.  It does not get any worse than this.  And, unfortunately, it does not get any better.

Yup, that's all you need to know.


Monsters : an ingenious love story masquerading as a creature feature

Made on the cheap, starring a cast of unknowns, directed by someone most folks have never heard of;   Gareth Edwards' Monsters turns out to be one of the most interesting and original films of the year.

What starts as a science fiction / creature feature soon morphs into an existential love story as we meet world weary photographer, Andrew Kaulder (played with a sort of David Duchovny - like charm by Scoot McNairy) who finds himself saddled with the responsibility of getting his boss's daughter, Whitney Able (Samantha Wynden) out of monster infested Mexico. You see, several years earlier a space probe carrying alien biological material crash landed in Mexico, and soon, giant Lovecraftian beasties began terrorizing the countryside. Considering the subject matter, one would assume we are going to be witnessing a District 9 / Cloverfield affair at this point.  One would be wrong in that assumption.

While Monsters opens with a terrific action sequence, and a glimpse of one of the tentacled leviathan's wreaking havoc, it soon slows way down and morphs into a two person drama that could be taking place with any type of negative situation as the back drop; in fact, it's almost like the alien infestation is secondary to the story.   McNairy and Wynden are so believable and so likable as the star crossed strangers, you can not help but want them to connect, brush off the semi apocalyptic goings on, and set up house together in a safe place.  Furthermore you learn just enough about the two of them (she's about to enter a loveless marriage, and he's a single father who does not get to see his young son as often as he'd like thanks to the boy's vindictive mother) that you understand that they are broken people who just need to connect to another human.

And speaking of connections; that seems to be the name of the game in Monsters:  escape from Mexico back to the states can only be had through a series of convoluted connections with soldiers of fortune and seedy black market types.  Missed phone calls and dropped connections from cell phones add to the drama.  And, most surprisingly, when we finally get to one of the very few scenes that involve the creatures, it becomes clear that the humongous beasts are connecting to each other, possibly mating...two spectacularly huge Cthulhu-like beings glow and pulsate as they do a sort of mating dance above an abandoned gas station, while our hero and heroine stare at this sight, dumbstruck.    And frankly, by the end of the film that's how I felt - dumbstruck.

Monsters is going to alienate a lot of people, especially those who go to it expecting a monster movie.    I do believe, the film makers were really trying to make an honest love story about strangers meeting under dire circumstances and opted to use the alien infestation angle as nothing more than a framing device (kind of like setting a romantic drama during World War II), and for the most part they succeeded.  My advice?  Leave the kids at home, and check out Monsters and see if you don't fall under Gareth Edwards' ingenious spell.  As for the rest of you, well, there's always Sharktopus.


Fresh Slabs of Meat: Hunky Victims (14)

Victim: Carl, the well dressed frat boy from Avalon Bay College in Avalon Bay, New Jersey.
Film: The Prowler.
Hunk Factor: A yuppie with a sense of style, a great head of hair, and a gorgeous smile - what's not to like about Carl?  True, he was a member of Avalon Bay College's Young Republican Club, but we can forgive him that fact as he was just as cute as a button, and had a nice butt that always looked good in a well pressed pair of Farah slacks.

Dispatched By: A rather long bowie knife plunged into his skull by some guy in a gas mask wearing a soldier's uniform.
Played By: David Sederholm

Carl, we hardly knew ye!


A.D.D. film review: The Silent Scream

Obnoxious college student, Scotty (Rebecca Balding) forget to sign up for a dorm when she registered for classes at Disco Tech University, so she's forced to go looking for a room to rent, and eventually finds one in a gorgeous Victorian house that sits on a bluff overlooking the ocean...
cliche' check list: scary nerd with a perky butt (check), brash jewish girl with big glasses (check), obnoxious preppy who wears sweater around his neck (check), flat chested - humorless final girl (check).

... her roommates seem OK, even if the rich kid looks to be pushing 40 ... and the Norman Bates-like son of the owner of the house seems a bit odd...what's most disturbing is that the land lady (played by Yvonne De Carlo) does not seem to have much to say...
"don't mind me, dear, I'm just slumming it until The Munster's residual checks kick in again"

...luckily, the fourth roommate shows up on his chopper smelling of Aqua Velva, and Scotty thinks this might not be such a bad deal after all...
"let me just brush back my gorgeous mop of hair and give you a view of my treasure trail, like it?"
...soon the happy foursome go out for a bite to eat, but the obnoxious guy ends up drunk and passes out on the beach and is then stabbed by someone.  This causes the Aqua Velva dude to go shirtless a lot and make a pass at Scotty...
"that's right, I am lean and like to go shirtless so you can view my fuzzy chest!"

...so while Scotty and Aqua Velva dude are fucking, the Jewish girl gets hacked up in the basement by someone ... luckily, the cops are on the case, and Sgt. Manny Ruggin and his awesome tie (Avery Schreiber and his awesome tie) thinks he's figured out who killed the rich guy on the beach ...
"my tie and I have got this all worked out!"

 ...will Scotty and Aqua Velva guy survive?  Will Yvonne De Carlo ever get any dialouge?  And what about the crazy chick with the knife, where did she come from?
"quick somebody call actor's equity for me!"

For answers to these and other questions, go rent The Silent Scream...so bad it's good, and so good it's bad!
"did someone request a rear view?"


Like no business I know : Popcorn

Intrigued by the podcast I heard today over at The Vault of Horror, in which Vault Master, B-Sol and Mistress of Mayhem, Kristy Jett, spent some time reminiscing  fondly about 1991's rarely seen, Popcorn - I felt it was time to hit up Netflix and see what all the hubbub was about.  Actually, I saw Popcorn when it first came out in 1992, but  frankly I only barely remembered it. 

Today seemed a good day to rediscover this film.

Set in sunny LA at the dawn of the 90's, Popcorn is an ambitious, clever, mess of  a film that tells the tale of a group of film students who decide to run a series of William Castle-like films one night at an abandoned movie palace so that they can raise money to fund some their own projects.  While going through some props for the big night's festivities they come across a film tin that features a rather trippy short named, The Possessor.  Problem is that the maker of this odd ball short was a Kenneth Anger / Anton LeVey-like-freak named Lanyard Gates who apparently sacrificed his wife and daughter on stage at the only showing of The Possessor.   Oh, did I mention that one of the main characters has been having dreams about Lanyard Gates?  Well, now I did.  Be that as it may, the show must go on, and once the movies start playing, it seems that we've got a homicidal stalker hell bent on ruining the film going experience (or maybe enhancing it?).
hey look, it's Stockard Channing's double and that chick from A Nightmare on Elm Street 5!
With a cast including 80's B-Movie queen, Jill Schoelen ;  America's favorite Mom, Dee Wallace; Woody Allen's Annie Hall confidant, Tony Roberts; and the inimitable, Ray Walston; as well as an ambitious story line, one would suspect that Popcorn might have been a contender - and it comes damn close!  Unfortunately, there seems to be so many themes that the movie's makers were trying to cobble together that they sort of lost sight of their ultimate goal ... or maybe it all just got lost in the sauce.  While watching Popcorn, I could not figure exactly what genre film this really was - Slasher?  Supernatural Thriller?  Parody?  Satire?  Murder Mystery? - Frankly, it seemed like a combination of all of these genres - and while that's not a bad thing, it's something that might have been better served with a tighter script and some better acting (Roberts seems to be phoning in his performance, Walston, while delightful, is in the movie for all of five minutes, and Schoelen, well, I was never a fan of hers, she always seemed flat, and here she's like a desert highway).  But before you give up hope, hold out and hold on, because the late great Tom Villard nearly saves Popcorn during the11th hour.  Seriously, Villard seemed like a heady mix of Jim Carrey in Mask and Vincent Price in Theater of Blood.  What a talented guy he was, and what a shame we lost him to AIDS back in 1994.
Tom Villard : it's called "acting".
When all is said and done, you could do far worse than checking out Popcorn and its loony plot that echoes everything from The Phantom of the Opera, to The Abominable Dr. Phibes, to A Nightmare on Elm Street.  I say overlook the flaws, the plot holes and the less than stellar acting, and just go with it; while a few of the kernels might not have popped, it's still a tasty, trashy treat.
Jill, how you can turn your back on Derek Rydall's beefy bum is beyond me!