Month: October 2008

Mock the Vote: Tina Fey as Sarah Palin

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For the past few weeks, people have been laughing their butts off at Tina Fey’s hillarious impression of Alaska governor and Vice-Prseidential candidate Sarah Palin. Even before Fey began performing the skits on Saturday Night Live, people have been sommenting on the uncanny resemblance between the two. The impression is dead on: the accent, the gestures, the hair. It has to be one of the best impressions on SNL in a long time. Here are some links to these hysterical videos:

Palin and Hillary–hillary-open#s-p1-st-i1

Couric and Palin–palin-open#s-p1-st-i1

Palin and Biden–biden#s-p1-st-i1

My Top Scary Movies

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Since it’s very close to Halloween, I have decided to list my favorite scary movies of all time. Please feel free to add some of your favorites that weren’t mentioned.

15. Saw

When Jigsaw first appeared on screens, he was an innovation. He gave method to most of the madness that is the slasher genre. And Saw is one of my favorite scary movies. It’s truly terrifyng and has a great script. Sure, Cary Elwes is overacting his butt off, but it thankfully does not mar the entire film. A-            

Fore more Saw, click here or here

14. The Birds

Alfred Hitchcock’s masterpiece about birds attacking poeple for an unexplained reason is till shiveringly powerful. Viewer be warned: this is a surprsingly graphic and scary movie and somewhat unsettling to sit through. A

13. Seed of Chucky

No, it’s not scary, but it’s very funny. Chucky, that killer doll who has polluted the airwaves and the film reels for twenty years, comes back in not so much a black comedy, but a comedy with a lot of blood. Kudos especially to Jenifer Tilly, who looks like she’s having fun sending herself up as Tiffany and as herself!  B+

12. The Sixth Sense

M. Night Shamylan’s first hit was one of his best. This eerie tale of a boy who consults a therapist about seeing dead people is very memorable, and, in a way, bittersweet. Bruce Willis is wonderful as the good doctor and Haley Joel Osment (Emily’s big brother) is exceptional as the young boy. Still has the power to send shivers down one’s spine. The ending is particularly powerful. A-  

11. The Shining

Stanley Kubrick’s masterful adaptation of the Stephen King bestseller is probably one of the greatest modern horror films of all time. Jack Nicholson is still one of the creepiest fathers in film history. The hallway scene with the twin girls and the flood of blood is just as creepy as when it was first released. Not to mention “REDRUM”, which became instantly famous, along with Jack screaming “Here’s Johnnny!” while chopping into a door trying to kill his wife and psychic son. A

10. Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street

Arguably one of the greatest stage-to-screen adaptations of all time (along with Cabaret, Chicago, etc.) Stephen Sondheim’s portrait of a serial killer remains relevant today. The lyrics “To take revenge may lead to Hell, but everyone does it and seldom as well!” is especially true today, when people can get revenge so easily as posting a nasty message on their Facebook profile. Johnny Depp is fantastic as Todd and Bonham Carter is diabolically wonderful as Mrs. Lovett. This film is full of blood, so I think that it qualifies as horror. Burton’s masterful directing pays is exhibited here. Depp was nominated for an Oscar and this is one of his best performances of his career. They may be “The Worst Pies in London”, but this is the best musical in years! A     

DVD Review, Stage Review, Theatrical Review

9. Pan’s Labyrinth

Whether this film actually belongs in the horror genre will begin some discussion between film buffs, but nevertheless, it’s powerful and frightening. But one of the most interesting parts is the fact that it’s an adult fairy tale. For adults. Not that many people make adult fairy tales; some may make kids tales with an adult spin, but this is one of the true fair tales for adults in a long time. Guillermo del Torro (Hellboy, The Devil’s Backbone) has a knack for creating mythical creatures in this film; from the flabby and creepy Pale Man to the wise and mysterious Faun, the creatures are truly fantastical. A

8. Wes Craven’s New Nightmare

I actually never really cared for horror maestro Wes Craven’s original Nightmare on Elm Street. Sure, it was good, but it wasn’t really a film I loved. The sequels after that totally sucked, but that was mostly because Wes Craven had very little to do with them. It was worth the wait for Craven to come back with his original vision of horror, Freddy Krueger (Robert England). He’s just as frightening as ever, and in this incarnation, as the actor’s inner demon, even more so. The film is in a way an insider’s film, just like this summer’s Tropic Thunder and the soon-to-be-released Robert de Niro comedy What Just Happened?. The original Nancy, actress Heather Lagenkamp, is called by Craven for a new Freddy film, but she has her doubts…and her Nightmares. A

7. Scream

Another film from Wes Craven! The film, that digs deep into our fascination with horror films and then makes us even more fascinated, spoofs those idiotic and yet addictive slasher films of the 1980s. The tagline says it all “Someone’s taken their love of scary movies one step too far!”. A very clever movie with some nice humor. But, like most films these days, they didn’t let it die; Scream 2 was released in 1997 (which was pretty good) and Scream 3 was released in 2000. But that’s not all: there are rumors of a Scream 4 to hit theaters. What a shame! A-

6. Grindhouse

Oh, Quentin Tarantino and Robert Rodriguez doremember the good old days of the “Grindhouse” era, where old drive-ins played raunchy “Women in Prison” flicks, Italian zombie films, and gear head movies like Vanishing Point. Together, they bring a piece of (get ready for snobby critics to cringe) modern artwork called Grindhouse, a double feature just like the good old days, complete with advertisements for unpalatable Mexican food, warnings that kids can’t watch this presentation, and, best of all, fake movie trailers. The fake trailers, which are a real novelty (but sadly left out of the DVD release), were created by some of the strangest films makers out there (that’s a compliment): Edgar Wright, who directed Shaun of the Dead and Hot Fuzz, directs a haunted house trailer called Don’t; Eli Roth, director of Cabin Fever and Hostel, directs what surprises me isn’t already a slasher film, Thanksgiving; and Rob Zombie, infamous for House of 1000 Corpses and The Devil’s Rejects, directs what is probably the most controversial trailer, Werewolf Women of the S.S.  Tarantino (Pulp Fiction, Kill Bill) directs the second film, Death Proof, and Rodriguez (Spy Kids, Once Upon a Time in Mexico) directs the first, Planet Terror.  A  

Death Proof, Planet Terror, Grindhouse

5. 1408

The short story originally collected in Everything’s Eventual is about a skeptical writer who goes to so-called “haunted” houses and disproves their “Haunted”-ness. When he decides to check into room 1408 at the Dolphin Hotel in New York, the manager tries to dissuade him to no avail. John Cusak, as Mike Enslin, is very good and brings a very dramatic sense to the film. Samuel L. Jackson is mysterious as the manager. The visual effects for the haunted room are amazing and terrifying! B+  More Stephen King

4. Dracula

The classic novel by Bram Stoker was brought to life by Universal Studios, but before this memorable tale of the vampire was on the silver screen, it was portrayed on the stage by a Hungarian actor who would recreate his role for the film. From then on, Bela Lugosi would be typecast until his dying days, even by his good friend Edward D. Wood Jr. Though not entirely accurate, the film still is very eerie and has engendered a million mimics and remakes, including one by Godfather director Francis Ford Coppola. A-

3. The Exorcist

This film would be higher on the list if it weren’t so darn scary! Though probably the best on this list, it’s not the kind of film that you want to watch any old time. Young Regan (Linda Blair) is possessed by an evil demon and starts to spew curse words and pea soup, all the while violating herself with the cross and making out stomachs revolt and her head turn (literally). Strange and graphic and totally scary. If, for one reason or another, you are looking at this list for something to watch to scare yourself silly, choose this film. It just may scare you senseless. A-                           

2. Bride of Frankenstein

James Whale’s second adaptation of Mary Shelly’s novel and it remains a classic still. The most emotional of the Universal Horror series, the Doctor creates a mate for the monster. When Elsa Lanchaster wakes from her sleep, she takes one look at her mate and lets out a scream that breaks the monster’s heart. “She hates me…” is one of the most heartbreaking scenes in the horror genre and will forever be remembered for its heart breaking quality. A+ 

1. Psycho

The Master of Suspense based this film on the novel Robert Bloch and it remains the high standard for horror-suspense even to this day. With so many classic scenes (shower, staircase, etc.), it has been spoofed and lampooned a dozen times. Several films pay homage to it and it was even remade. But don’t watch that one; stick with the original classic. The shower scene still has the power to send shivers down your spine. A+  

“Mind” Games: Review for “Nightmares & Dreamscapes: From the Mind of Stephen King”

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As versatile of a writer that Stephen King is, he tends to write in the horror genre. Most of the films that have been adapted from his novels and short stories have also been in that genre (with the exception of The Shawshank Redemption, Stand by Me, Hearts in Atlantis, etc.). Not to mention the television movies that has premiered. There is no need to name those. In 2006, however, TNT broadcasted a television series based upon the short stories of Stephen King. Thankfully, though in the horror genre, they tended to be adaptations of King’s more versatile works (i.e. Umney’s Last Case). Nightmares & Dreamscapes: From the Stories of Stephen King has quite a few good mini-movies and one dreadful one. Here are capsule reviews of the episodes:


Battleground: From King’s collection Night Shift, Battleground tells the story of a professional hit man (William Hurt) who kills a toy store owner. When a box containing army men toys arrives at his apartment door, he simply is puzzled and leaves the box on the kitchen table. What he doesn’t know is that the army men in the box are alive and well, ready to avenge their master. The episode is entirely dialogue less, which may seem a little strange (the original short story has dialogue), but the way the script was written makes it believable. The special effects are extraordinary, every little green man running for cover, or firing a canon into the bathroom, or a Rambo-like figure stabbing Hurt with a machete.  B+


Crouch End: A newlywed couple is in England and invited to the husband’s (Eion Bailey) boss’s house for dinner. The house is on Crouch End, a supposed Druid burial place. Claire Forlani’s wife is a bumbling and whiny person which makes you feel almost totally disgusted at how she acts. Very superstitious, she is, and yet she makes the most trivial observations that end up not making a difference in the story during the attack. The special effects are dreadful, as is the storyline. Claire Forlani’s American accent is one of the worst I have ever heard, closely tying it with Anthony Hopkins in All the King’s Men and Bobby. The interpretation of this classic Stephen King story is very, very bad.  D


The End of the Whole Mess: In this episode, documentarian Howard Fornoy (Ron Livingston) tells the story of his late brother, a prodigy at birth. His brother, Bobby, began wondering why people are “so mean to each other” when he was in college. He spent most of his life researching ways to find the “nice” in people. When he discovered a certain chemical in bees, he went to his brother to help Bobby fund the brand new idea. After Bobby manages to spread his chemical world wide by way of dropping it on a volcano, the world becomes an Indian summer for three years. Bobby then discovers that this chemical gives Alzheimer’s to those who come in contact with it. Howard has little time to tell this to the audience, but he does an excellent job. A very accurate adaptation and at the same time very original (in the short story, Howard is a writer).  A-


The Road Virus Heads North: Famed horror novelist and Maine resident Richard Kinell (Tom Berenger) likes creepy stuff. Hmmm….it sounds an awful like that man who wrote ‘Salem’s Lot and The Shining. When he stops at a yard sale on his way to his aunt’s.\, he finds this eerie painting of a black car with a mad driver entitled The Road Virus Heads North. Earlier that day, he had his first prostate exam. His doctor was worried and has asked him back the following week.  The picture begins to change, as if stalking Mr. Kinell back to his own house. This is a very interesting story, where the painting could be interpreted in several different ways. I suppose the man in the painting could be the “virus” that is killing Kinell. Very well done and very suspenseful. A-


Autopsy Room Four: A man is bitten by a snake and paralyzed, but when the doctors come, they believe he is dead. The man has to watch the doctors come very close to cutting him open. Very suspenseful adaptation, but the self narration can sometimes get a little tiring. Kudos to Richard Thomas for lying on a table for hours on end!  B+


You Know They Got a Hell of a Band: A husband (Steven Weber) and wife (Kim Delaney) are on vacation when the husband (of course) gets lost. When he decides to take a shortcut through the woods of Oregon, they end up in a peculiar little town called Rock and Roll Heaven. It seems to be a nice little town, but when the couple begins to realize that the inhabitants of the little town are mostly rock and rollers who died terrible deaths, like Janice Joplin, Elvis Presley, and Ricky Nelson. A very well done piece; the story maintains the original suspense of the story.  B+


Umney’s Last Case: Stephen King called this story a “pastiche”, its style very similar to that of Raymond Chandler. He also mentioned that it was his favorite in the collection Nightmares & Dreamscapes. The story follows Clyde Umney, a private investigator straight out of a noir novel, who goes on through a “normal” morning in 1930s Los Angeles. He then discovers that he isn’t real, that he was created by a present day author. The author writes himself into the story and many ingenious plot twists follow along. William H. Macy, who was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor in Fargo, does a brilliant job at the hardboiled detective and the broken down writer. This is a very good episode.  A-


The Fifth Quarter: A released convict (Jeremy Sisto) goes on a hunt for “treasure” promised to him by a map that has been ripped into four pieces. When he finds the other people trying to find the same trove, he does whatever he can to get that money; even if it means violence. Risking his family and friends, he goes on an adventure that keeps your heart beating till the last second. Very well done and well acted, but the plot line sometimes goes off on unnecessary tangents.  B+


The Series: It is very nice to see a television series that delves into our deepest fears without any gross out gags. It is a question on how close they creators worked with Mr. King, but they have been made accurately and passionately, with the exception of Crouch End. A very enjoyable series with fine actors in fine roles. A very nice choice of stories, as well, although I kind of wished they had adapted either The Man in the Black Suit or Lunch at the Gotham Café, both collected in Everything’s Eventual.   




















HAL on Earth: Review for “Eagle Eye”

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Well, I guess my mother was right; Big Brother is watching us all the time. In a world where every teenager has the latest and greatest phone, every car has the latest touch screen GPS, every adult has a Blutooth ear piece, and even Grandma is listening to Elvis on her new iPod nano. In this new film from producer Steven Spielberg, Shia LaBeouf plays Jerry Shaw, a guy who is barely making rent when he finds weapons in his apartment that have obviously been planted there. When he is taken in for questioning, a mysterious female voice calls and orders him to duck. Somewhere across town, Michelle Monaghan plays a single mother who is called by the same, unemotional voice that ordered Jerry. Her son is on the way to D.C., and this lady, who is apparently Big Sister, threatens to hurt Rachel’s son if she doesn’t do what Big Sister tells her to do. Hat is interesting about this film is that it kind of uses the viewer in a way that could be interpreted as mean after all that 9/11 stuff. Post 9/11 films can be a touchy subject these days, with such films demonstrating this rule as Oliver Stone’s World Trade Center, Paul Greengrass’s United 93, and even the mildly controversial poster for J.J. Abrams’s apocalyptic monster movie Cloverfield.

          The voice on the phone is so very reminiscent of that robot in 2001: A Space Odyssey HAL 9000. The film is aimed mostly at teens looking for those action moments of crazy car crashes they saw in the trailers. The plot is preposterous, as many reviews have already said. The notion that the government is totally believable in some sense, but that the government is willing to frame and manipulate you is absolutely unbelievable. Monaghan and LaBeouf give acceptable performances, while Billy Bob Thornton plays an irritable FBI agent looking into the case of Jerry’s murdered brother. Mr. Thornton is steadily looking more and more like our current president, M. George W. Bush, which, for this film, is a little eerie. Rosario Dawson (Death Proof, Rent) who was so enjoyable in the movies italicized next to her name, plays an agent from Air Force Office of Special Investigations. This seems to be a strange miscast. It’s not that she’s not good in the role, it’s just seems that she isn’t really right for the role, playing someone who plays by the rules, which is a character trait that was definitely not featured in Abernathy, who plays Ship’s Mast with Zoe Bell, or Mimi, a drug addict/stripper. Now I’m not saying she isn’t versatile, I’m just saying that it would have been better if someone else played this role.

          The action is so high-octane, it may give you a head-ache after awhile.


Grade: C+


Happy Almost Halloween!

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It’s October, the “scariest” month of the year (depending on who you talk to, December may be the scariest, especially near Christmas), and that means much more horror and suspense reviews. Expect classics, new releases, and bottem-of-the-barrel reviews. Happy Halloween!