Monday, February 23, 2009


Before this viewing an hour ago I had honestly never heard of this movie which, as it seems, is a bit of a crying shame. First of all, wen you combine such heavy-hitting B-list actors as Wings Hauser, Bo Hopkins, George Kennedy, and Brion James and you don't actively seek that film out like a blood lusting hound dog, well you're just letting the best in life slip past. Coupled with that, you find this film and it's called NIGHTMARE AT NOON, well, the choice to watch it was pretty much made for me.


As soon as this skewed view on a semi-modern Western opens, we see an Albino (no name for this guy - Brion James) creating something out of a circa-80's Commodore 64 complete with random numbers and machines with arbitrarily flashing lights. At first, it looks like something out of a bad Sci-Fi movie, until we see the outside of the van/facility where the Albino prepares to soot some kind of yellow-fluid filled capsule into a river. A slew of armed men from another van arrive and fend off (and by fend I mean unnecessarily slaughter) a passerby in his old truck and push him, too into the river. And now, once the goo is shot into the water, the real fun begins.

Arriving into town in a really snazzy retro-RV is Ken (Wings Hauser) and his far too attractive wife, Cheri (Kimberly Beck) sporting a top that more than makes up for her gorge-rising acting skills. They trundle into town, both not quite made for the life on the road as they're from a far more urban (see: wealthy) area and are immediately curious/taken aback by a drifter called Reilly (Bo Hopkins) whom they quickly invite into their rig. They all decide a nice breakfast is in order and pull into the nearest 'DINER' for a fill up. While placing their orders, a local crud named Charlie starts going ape shit and sticks a steak knife into the waitress's hand! It takes all the combined power (see: slow methodical choreography) of the trio to hold him back, and even as the 'cop' arrives, Charlie is still bat-shit crazy enough to steal her gun and only falls when... GEORGE KENNEDY (as Sheriff Hanks - so cool!) fills him full of holes. Soon, more reports of wacky townsfolk start pouring in to Hanks and he and Reilly and Ken determine it's likely the cause of something in the water (because, apparently, any other option seems too far fetched?), and down goes Cheri because she'd had a tall glass for breakfast. 
Once the 'hot chick' is sedated in a jail cell for a ton of the movie (crap), the rest go on a town-wide hunt for anyone who's been transformed by the tainted water supply. As it turns out, it's a whole bunch. This goes on for a bit until the Military arrives and firebombs the joint leaving our heroes to decide to go after the Albino and his cohorts. At this point the whole Western thing really kicks into gear, up to and including a showdown of sorts. 
Not too bad a flick all in all, and it was really nice to see a town full of raging maniacs who weren't some kind of super zombies for a change. Oh, and the best line in the whole thing, uttered by Reilly to an abstinent Cheri: "You know what I think? I think you're overdue for a good fuck." If only. Check it out, if just for the slew of familiar faces and an oddly-placed helicopter duel! 


Yeah, haven't watched these in a while. Too long, too self serving and too damned boring. Slumdog Millionare won a bunch of awards so, good for them. Heath Ledger got the pity Oscar like I knew he would.
I didn't miss anything.

Thursday, February 19, 2009


In this, the latest DVD release of our favorite cat and mouse chases. Warner Brothers proves to us that it's perfectly fine to revisit classic icons of animation. As long as it's done correctly.

In this volume of Tom and Jerry Tales, Tom and Jerry’s unending pursuit takes them around the world from Africa to Australia and on. The duo also learns some valuable lessons about history, including an episode where Tom inadvertently turns the Declaration of Independence into a paper airplane and an episode where Jerry has a role in the Wright Brothers first flight at Kitty Hawk. Tom and Jerry are also involved in a number of musical adventures that are anything but harmonious -- Jerry sabotages Tom’s efforts to win a Flamenco dance contest and Tom tries to avert his girlfriend’s attention from Jerry by singing the blues. Three very cool episodes on this DVD are entirely devoted to the theme of snow and ice. The duo confronts each other on a frozen pond where Jerry wants to skate but Tom plans to play hockey. Tom and Jerry also engage in an all-out snowball battle and later on, find themselves face-to-face with the giant abominable snowmouse.

Tom and Jerry Tales: Volume 6 offers 15 animated shorts including Declaration of Independunce, Kitty Kawked, 24 Karat Kat, When the Snowing Gets Tough, The Abominable Snowmouse, Hockey Schtick, Kitty Cat Blues, Flamenco Fiasco, DJ Jerry, You’re Lion, Kangadoofus, Monkey Chow, Babysitting Blues, Catfish Folly, and Game of Mouse and Cat.

That is a lot of bang for your buck and with Tom and Jerry bang usually means someone is getting smashed, mased or blown up. Always a good time when it comes to animation.

This one slipped through the cracks here at Penguin Comics so, my apologies, but that shouldn't mean you should miss this set of great cartoons.

Monday, February 9, 2009


Before I even get into the full review of this movie I will say immediately that this was, by far, one of the most disturbing and uncomfortable films I have EVER seen. I know, I know: suspense thrillers and shock cinema has more daily releases onto DVD than just about any other genre, but take it from me: find this movie at all costs if you enjoy something so in-your-face horrific that I, the stalwart and nubile horror fan that I am, had to take a break half way through to catch my breath. I hope all of this build-up chatter has really piqued your interest because, as I've already said: it is well worth it.


From the very first minute, you just get that nagging feeling that there's got to be something wrong with Chatty-Cathy Birdie (Ainsley Howard) and her mute brother, Elbie (Toby Alexander). They both work at the local airport and do quite a fine job of pilfering offices and desks of items of nominal value. Starting her first day on the job is Lena (Olga Fedori), and she introduces herself as Polish, new to London, on a work visa while she attends University. Birdie and Lena seem to get along quite well at first. AT FIRST. They share stories about their childhoods, where each has lived, and each other's families. They work the overnight, and when the dawn bus arrives to take Lena back to her dorm, Birdie asks her to wait as she heads back inside to retrieve her missing cell phone. But it is all a ruse as Lena is quickly dispatched by an whack to the head.
Soon, Lena wakes on a strange bed with shackles on her arms and legs and doors leading off into unknown directions. A shadowy man exits the room, dripping with perspiration and blood and begins making his way toward a silent and scared Lena. Just then, a kindly and quite defensive matronly figure swoops in and pleads that Lena not scream else she arouse Dad (Perry Benson) and rise his already burning ire. She says she's Mum (Dido Miles) and will do anything to take care of her new 'angel'. Lena obliges and is soon put back under by another injection right to the throat that effectively numbs her voice. Mum and Dad have become, by force, Lena's new parents and, much to her chagrin, intend to keep her locked up, but alive and cared for, as long as she maintains her role and does as she's told... sometimes to the point of being violently disturbing.
And so begins a trainwreck of sadomasochism, murder, gory violence, psychological suspense, and dirty, filthy, reprehensibly parenting. Lena is subjected to one vicious beating after another since she basically refuses to give in to her captors, even going so far as to lull Mom into a false sense safety turning her on Birdie and Elbie -each a captor in their own right, yet far more accustomed to their new lives. The narrative as well as the brutality escalates to such a fever pitch at the near-end, that  a 'standard' family Christmas becomes such an absolute horrific farce, complete with a wall-hung Crucifixion, almost completely encompasses the whole movie in a nutshell. I was, needless to say, appalled yet at once intrigued and even brought to a laugh a time or two, but, I have to warn you: this is not a film for the faint of heart by any stretch. If you enjoyed such classic gut-busters as Cannibal Holocaust, this is right up your alley. That's just the kind of nightmare this was. Enjoy!


Let me state for the record that I have not yet read the novel that this is based on. Because of the movie I will probably seek out the novel, but more on that later.
First up is my sense of irritation. I was basically forced to watch this in 3D. In all of Kalamazoo and it's surrounding areas there were only two theaters showing the film and it was in 3D. Did 3D enhance the film in any way. Not for me. I admit there was no headache like my previous experience with My Bloody Valentine, but that's because the film wasn't made for 3D. Not a lot of stuff flying at you. It does give the film some depth, but a well done 2D movie can achieve the same effect.
There, I have complained sufficiently.
Now, on to the movie. It was quirky, funny and weird. There were things that reminded me of it's predecessor, A Nightmare Before Christmas, but it stands on it's own. I found myself being creeped out more than once and there was a scene that takes place near the end with the living room full of bug furniture that reminded me a lot of Beetlejuice.
I thought that the film was fine. I have a lot of questions that I won't go into here because I don't want to ruin the film for anyone else. It's probably more me being a nitpicker than anything else. The best part for me was that I got to go with my family. I always enjoy time spent with my family so, that was the best part of the film for me.
That and the trailers for Land Of The Lost and Monsters VS. Aliens. Two films that I will definitely see in the theaters because;
You'll understand eventually.

Tuesday, February 3, 2009


Ya know, I really ought to start getting a little bit more background information before I assume what these movies are going to be about. Now, based entirely on the fact that I found this in the back of Rue Morgue magazine should have, naturally, triggered the thought that this was, likely, a horror movie. I mean it's called SUMMER SCARS, it's not like I was getting mixed signals here. Well, as I turned out, I was. Not being completely here nor there, the movie certainly had its fair share of terror, that's for sure, but it certainly was not a horror movie, in the general sense. Be that as it may, it turned out to be one of the best movies I've seen. Period.


As I watched the credits, done completely in graffiti, splash across the screen the the bass-pounding strains of rap music, I was momentarily taken aback. As I stated previously, I was expecting horror: metal, goth music, even the twanging refrains of Hillbilly rock, but surely not rap! Soon came the suffering little children. Okay, not exactly little, but none certainly over fifteen by any stretch and each little Brit (thick Cockney accents, not withstanding) performing their hooligan acts instantly leading one to believe that this was definitely not going to be a gore-festival. I mean, who guts kids in films, right? You'd have to be some kind of sick-o! Anyway, eventually we follow the six kids into the woods and three pairs of two sort of separate and give us a little character building. Leanne (the soul female-Amy Harvey) and Bingo (Ciaran Joyce) go off and begin a bit of adolescent heavy petting (no, certainly not crudely). Paul (Jonathan Jones) and Ben (Christopher Conway), the brothers of the bunch, tear off on a nicked MoPed, despite, or more accurately because of, Ben's paraplegia, and go racing through the woods. Mugsy and Jonesy hang around back at their make-shift camp surrounding an old brick building covered with spray-painted names and a few demonic symbols that Jonesy does his best to scare Mugs with. At first I figured this might have something to do with what was to come, but it wasn't until Ben and Paul smack into Peter (Kevin Howarth), a woods-wandering adult that I knew I was really wrong. 
As false senses of security go, Peter's leading of the group smack into one could easily go down as a classic in Hollywood lore. Though unharmed and friendly to the crew as he lumbers into a camp full of a quivering six buddies, his demeanor never hangs onto a pleasantry for very long. Now, unfortunately, I am hard pressed to go any further into the story as anything I say from here on could potentially ruin what rapidly morphs into one of the finest mental character studies I have seen in quite a while. Is it scary? Absolutely. These six children are absolutely realistic almost to a fault as I could immediately feel as I felt as a lad of their ages when faced with situations where an exit seems nigh impossible. Keeping the entire narrative within the woods almost doubles the tension factor, just as having a cast of actors younger than twenty really makes you feel almost helpless as a viewer to the situation at hand. I was pulled into the story and wrenched along in a emotional way I hadn't personally felt in a while from a film. If you can find a way to locate this movie, I highly recommend you do so. It's a bit like KIDS meets KILLING ZOE only not in a bank, but you get the idea. So, before I leave this time, I quickly want to pimp my NEW WEB COMIC SITE. Yes, it's called SWIMMING  UPSTREAM and I draw what Doug, the other half of Penguin here, writes. It's good fun. Click HERE to see for yourself. See ya next time.