Thursday, March 27, 2008

Poll: How much is a good theater experience worth to you?

It's being reported that entertainment conglomerate Village Roadshow is entering into the movie theater business with a $200 million dollar project that will bring 50 deluxe movie theaters to the U.S. When I say deluxe, I'm talking really high-end, boutique theaters that only have about 40 seats, all of which are recliners. You know, the kind of theater that will charge and estimated $35 per ticket. Well, at least that's what they plan on.

The fact is-- there may just be a market for this type of theater. As of late, movie theaters in general have been suffering, due to both the advent of DVD/Home Theaters, as well as the rise in plain old bad movie theater etiquette. How many times do I have to sit there while some jackass types a text message, or even worse takes a cell phone call? That's why theaters used to have ushers.

The other perk to these deluxe theaters is that they will also include a bar an food made to order. Then again, it only takes one tub of lard to go chomping away on a burger and fries through the movie to ruin that idea. I'm not sure if the area to eat in will be separate or what, but that is definitely a consideration. The only other problem I foresee with these theaters arrangement is the price. $35 is a lot of money for most people, even if it does guarantee a quiet, peaceful screening. In reality, I think the price of admission would need to be around $25 for people to give this a shot.

However, I think it would make a fantastic first date, or a night away from the kids. To be able to sit back, have a cocktail and watch a film in luxury sounds awful tempting to me, but then again most people aren't as interested in movies as I am. So, that is the question I pose to you-- Do you think deluxe theaters sound like a good idea?

(You can read more about this story here.)

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Guaranteed to be funnier than the film it advertises

This is not my typical sort of post. In fact, don't even endorse the film that this video is advertising (Superhero Movie.) However, this is a pretty damn impressive Tom Cruise impersonation, and I thought it was worth a look. I mean, who better to be poked fun at than the man who is seated at the right hand of Xenu, right? Enjoy.

Monday, March 24, 2008

DVD Review: "The Evil Dead"

The plot of “The Evil Dead” is deceptively simple-- five college aged kids spend a weekend in the woods, and accidentally awaken evil spirits. It's the type of story that has roots as old as the horror genre itself. However, like any good storyteller, director Sam Raimi imbues the story with such a new perspective, such a unique delivery, that the film transcends any categorization, and demands the attention of all who view it.

The story revolves around five friends spending a weekend in a cabin deep in the woods of Tennessee. Upon investigating the cabin, they discover a tape recorder that belonged to the previous owner. As any curious person would do, they listen to the tape, which happens to be a recitation of a cursed text, unwittingly releasing demonic spirits from the Necronomicon, or Book of the Dead. One by one the spirits possess the group until only the film's hero, Ash, is left to fend for himself against an onslaught of zombies and other generally nasty beings.

For a film that is over 25 years old, “The Evil Dead” is scary as hell! The grainy, low-budget aesthetic adds a dimension of realism to the film that today's slick, CG-heavy movies completely lack. And the all-out dedication that Sam Raimi and his actors had for the film is evident throughout. The film looked different from anything that had been made before it. And the ultimate compliment for this film is that so many films, even today, still borrow heavily from it. "The Evil Dead" is one of those films that changed it's genre and, if only slightly, the film industry. Needless to say, anyone who considers themselves a horror fan and hasn't yet seen this film should do so immediately following this review. It's a true classic.

Score: 5 out of 5

(NOTICE: Just to clarify, I am not now, nor have I ever been on Sam Raimi's payroll. I understand that I have just about played out the whole "Evil Dead" thing, but I've had this review written for a while, and never got a chance to post it.)

Saturday, March 22, 2008

Lost Season 4, Episode 8: "Meet Kevin Johnson"

So, there we have it-- "Lost" is back on hiatus for another month. Damn that writer's strike! Anyway, at least last night's episode was a pretty good one to go out on. Here are my thoughts...

1.) This is a pretty dark route they are taking Michael down. and I must say-- I like it. I think it was pretty ballsy to have him actually try to kill himself-- twice! I had forgotten that he had killed Libby and Ana Lucia-- so I predict his character arc will be that he'll be able to "redeem" himself by helping those on the island, and in doing so he will end up dying. Naratively speaking, when a character has done bad things to innocent people (Libby), regardless of extenuating circumstances, they are rarely redeemed. (See "Road to Perdition")

2.) Mr. Friendly (Tom) is gay. I mean, this is something that was hinted at way back when the others first captured Kate, but I had always assumed a more ominous undertone to his "You're not my type" comment-- as in, maybe humans weren't his type, or something crazy like that. But, it turns out he's just into dudes. I must say that this does smack of tokenism-- now there is a "gay" character on "Lost" -- whoopty-doo.

3.) The idea of Widmore staging the plane crash is cool. But, if it's as hard to accomplish as Tom makes it out to be, how would Widmore have done it with nobody knowing about it? I think Widmore himself needs to be brought into the plot of the next few episodes to clarify some things. And where is Penny during all of this?

4.) Sayid's big outing of Michael as a traitor will have no effect-- I believe the Captain is complicit in it. Maybe Michael doesn't know that yet, but that has to be where this is headed.

5.) Where as the concept of "Jacob" gone? I mean, Locke has had Ben captive for some time now, don't you think he would hold his feet over the proverbial flame to find out exactly who/what Jacob is? This has nothing to do with this episode in particular, but come on already!

Well, if we HAD to take a break from "Lost", this was at least a good way to keep me wanting more. There are lots of unanswered questions, and April 24th can't come soon enough for me. I've DVR'ed every episode so far, so I think I may go back and watch some of them. If anything new pops up, I'll post a little episode recap redux.

So, until April 25th....

Thursday, March 20, 2008

50 bucks is 50 bucks-- I'll take what I can get!

If your like me, and jumped into HD-DVD head first only to have the format tank-- this news is for you. Best Buy has decided to reward (read: console) any customers who purchased an HD-DVD player before February 23rd. They are offering us a free $50 gift certificate to be used on anything in the store-- I suppose they are hoping to get people to jump to Blu-Ray. Anyway, I was pretty happy about this, after all, they didn't have to do that. I don't plan on using the certificate on a blu-ray player per-se, I mean it's still only $50 off of a $400 player. But I'm happy about the gesture all the same. If this news pertains to you, take a break from licking your wounds long enough to get the whole scoop from High Def Digest to make sure you don't miss out.

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

DVD Review: "Terror Train"

After the success of John Carpenter's "Halloween," the horror film industry began looking for ways to capitalize on the slasher genre. While some of the products of this era are pure schlock, there are a few that ended up being decent films in their own right. One such film is 1980's "Terror Train." It may not stand the test of time quite as good as those that inspired it, but it still yields enough creepy imagery to warrant a viewing, espcecially for those of us who consider ourselves fans of the genre.

The story is about a group of fraternity brothers who, as freshman, played a horrible prank on a fellow pledge that not only drove him out of school, but put him right into a mental institution. Now, four years later, those same frat guys have chartered a party train to celebrate their upcoming graduation with a costume party (despite the fact that the film takes place in January.) When an uninvited guest starts to kill off the members of the frat one by one, there seems to be only one person with reason to do so-- or is there?

The film was not quite as cheesy as it sounds. Sure, it's a complete product of it's time-- complete with a disco soundtrack and a co-starring role for then-newcomer David Copperfield. But the film does have an upside. First off, the idea of the killer using the costumes of each victim in order to get around the train worked beautifully. In fact, some of the costumes were quite creepy when used as the mask of a killer (Groucho Marx never looked so scary.) Also, the cinematography was very impressive, thanks to frequent Stanley Kubrick collaborator John Alcott. And of course seventies scream queen Jamie Lee Curtis is the heroine-- as she is seemingly every horror film of the decade.

The film was pretty tame by today's standards-- actually it was tame even by seventies standards. Most of the more brutal scenes take place off camera, and there is not much blood in the film at all. But still had it's fair amount of scary moments, and it will keep you guessing about the killer's true identity right up to the end. So, If you can look past the seventies score, and campy plot, I think you'll find it's something of a forgotten classic of the genre.

Score: 3 out of 5

Monday, March 17, 2008

What's the score...

I like to listen to instrumental music when I write. In fact, it's just about the only thing I listen to when I write, because otherwise I get distracted too easily. I like jazz, classical, electronica-- anything ambient and different. But lately I've been listening to certain motion picture scores when I'm writing, especially if the mood of a scene I'm working on works well with the tone of the music/movie.

One that I've grown especially fond of is James Newton Howard's score for "Signs." It's really an amazing score, and if you aren't too experienced with this genre, this is a good place to start. I'm finding it very inspiring. Give it s shot if you like instrumental music-- you won't be let down.

A few others to check out are Javier Navarette's score for "Pan's Labyrinth", Michael Giacchino's score for any of the seasons of "Lost" and any of John Carpenter's scores, especially "Halloween." All good stuff.

Saturday, March 15, 2008

"Monster Mania Magazine" is on the street...

I've just returned from monster mania with the hot-off-the-press premiere issue of the magazine in hand. The magazine itself looks gorgeous-- full color and glossy. And turn to page 26 for the most gorgeous feature of all-- my article.

I'll be returning to the convention tomorrow to meet up with a few friends. However, the autograph prices were just as exorbitant as I'd expected so I'll not be getting any of those. The line to have Bruce Campbell sign took about 4 hours. Who has that kind of time? Actually-- a lot of people, because his line was out the door. But alas, my article was not destined to be signed. Oh well.

Click on the pictures below for some low-res scans of the article. I'll try to post higher res, full versions later. If you can make out the article in the pics, drop me a comment and let me know what you think. Enjoy!

Friday, March 14, 2008

Monster Mania is here

Well, it's finally here-- this is Monster Mania weekend. I'll be attending both Saturday and Sunday, and I'll post updates with high-res scans of the magazine as soon as I can.

I don't think I'll be spending too much dough on getting autographs-- they average $20-25 bucks a pop. That's just ridiculous. I could see maybe $10 per, and maybe $20 only for the biggest stars. But when you've got Brian O'Halloran (Dante from "Clerks") charging $20, I have to pass. The only real concession I would make is to have Bruce Campbell sign my article. But even that would depend on both price and length of the line.

Anyway-- check back throughout the weekend for updates and pictures.

Lost Season 4 Episode 7: "Ji Yeon"

Episode 7 was relatively uneventful overall. It presented a neat little editing trick in the contrasting scenes of Sun giving birth and Jin presumably rushing to be by her side. Then again, if you were paying attention to the fact that Sun makes #6 of the Oceanic six, you would have caught on a little early. Anyway, here is what I noticed during last night's episode:

1.) I was thrilled to see Zoe Bell as one of the crew members aboard the freighter, but was pissed when they had her character commit suicide 10 minutes later. What a waste.

2.) However, the fact that the crew seem to be killing themselves is a very dark and interesting twist to the story of the people aboard the boat.

3.) Well, in the most anti-climactic build-up scene ever, we "discover" that Michael is indeed the mole aboard the boat. I suppose the twist is that the crew seems not to know who he really is. I was a bit let down that they didn't cut back to the meeting of Sayid, Desmond and Michael in the hall-- I guess that will start next week's show.

4.) English is perhaps the hardest language in the world to learn, and get a firm grasp of. Jin seem to have picked it up awfully fast. I know it's just a show, but c'mon...

5.) Juliet gave up the goods on Sun. Man, that was cold. After all this time I still don't think Juliet is a "good guy."

6.) I hope I'm not bordering on sounding racially insensitive here, but was it me or did they seem to cast a few Jin-look-a-likes during the birth of Sun's baby. The doctor and the man in the hallway (who obviously was supposed to look like him.) That was an interesting choice. In fact, I want to go back and watch, because I could have sworn that the 1/2 second shot right after the baby is born was, in fact, Jin. Have to check the DVR on that one.

7.) Jin is dead. Or so that is what we are meant to believe. Oh, and Hurley's hair looked ridiculous in that graveyard scene. Ridiculous.

So, as far as I know, next week will be the last show for a little while? I know during the writer's strike they had said that episode 8 is where it would be left off, but does that still stand? There has also been a rumor that the season as a whole will be cut to 12 episodes instead of 18-- cant speak to the truth of that. If anyone has any info, please feel free to leave it for me in the comments section.

As per usual... We shall see what happens next week.

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

DVD Review: "John Carpenter's Pro-Life"

"Masters of Horror" is a series of one-off cable television movies that has been host to some of the horror genre's most famous directors. To be more accurate, the series hosts a lot of the most famous directors of yester-year. "Pro-Life" was my second venture into the series-- my first being Carpenter's "Cigarette Burns," which was atrocious. Turns out, I should have left well enough alone, because after this one I'm starting to think one of my favorite directors has lost his touch.

The story is about a young girl found running along the highway. The man who finds her happens to be a doctor who works at the local women's clinic. He brings her into his office, and upon an examination finds that she's pregnant. Meanwhile, the girl's father (Ron Perlman) arrives at the gates of the clinic, and just happens to be a militant pro-life demonstrator. He believes he is on a mission from God to protect his daughter's baby, and will stop at nothing to do just that. Turns out, he couldn't have been more wrong.

The story is interesting enough, especially in that it takes no particular stance on the abortion issue, and all of the characters are flawed in some way. Where the film falters is in it's murky explanation of the origin of the baby to be aborted/delivered. It's the spawn of some sort of demon-- or is it the devil? Whatever it is, it's left completely up in the air. And the message of the story, if that's what we are going to call it, is delivered through a few heavy-handed lines of dialogue instead of leaving it to the imagery and performances to bring home the point.

It should be noted, however, that the effects of the film (both digital and practical) are terrific. Greg Nicotero and Howard Berger developed the demon character into a fully articulated suit (above) that looked amazing on film. Overall, The story was interesting, and the effects worked well, but the film ended up feeling like exactly what it is-- a low budget, cable TV series. Let's just hope Carpenter's next feature project, L.A Gothic, gets him back on track.

Score: 1.5 out of 5

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Extra! Extra!

Well, it's here. My article has been published and will be released this weekend at the Monster-Mania Convention.

If you're in the area, and have even a slight interest in the horror/sci-fi genre, you should definitely consider stopping by the convention. Loads of screenings, panel discussions and special guest stars will be there. Bruce Campbell, Corey Feldman, Jason Mewes and Malcolm McDowell are a few of the bigger names that will be appearing this weekend. Oh, and me-- I'll be there, too.

If you can't make it down, no sweat. I'm going to post high-res scans of the article over the weekend for all to enjoy!

Monday, March 10, 2008


Just wanted to mark the occasion of my 100th post since starting my blog. Thanks to anyone who checks in on a regular basis. Yep, that's about it. Guess I should have saved something good for this post, huh.

Friday, March 7, 2008

Lost Season 4 Episode 6: "The Other Woman"

Episode six was Juliet-centric. That was a nice change, because it returned to flashbacks and fleshed out her story a bit more. The show's arc is moving along, slowly but surely. Anyway, here are a few of the things that I noticed. (A word of warning-- number 8 has a potential spoiler, so you may want to stop reading at 7.)

1.) The book Ben is reading in his cell is Phillip K. Dick's "Valis." This is interesting because "Valis" is the story of P.K. Dick's alter-ego, Horselover Fat, and his quest to discover the truth behind a communication he believes to be from God. I'm not sure what this could mean for the show, exactly, but it was by no means a random book. It was most definitely significant to the story. If anyone has read, or knows anything more about "Valis", please leave me a comment.

2.) I think we can all agree that the appearance of the therapist in the woods was a manifestation of the smoke monster. If you listen right before she appears, there is audible whispering in the woods. Not to mention the fact that she simply disappeared after she was done talking to Juliet.

3.) If I were Jack, I think I have a stern heart-to-heart with Juliet and let her know that it's not okay to keep things secret and leave under false pretenses all the time. I understand that it keeps the show compelling, but from a character standpoint, it would get frustrating.

4.) And on that note-- I would have to sit Daniel and Charlotte down and say, "Okay, let's get it all out in the open, right now. What the hell are you doing here!" Jack does indeed have a gun, and should really use it to insist upon them that they talk.

5.) For my money, John Locke remains the most compelling, well written character on the show. terry O'Quinn deserves some recognition for that. The show is at it's most interesting when he is onscreen.

6.) Penny's father is the man for whom the "new others" work for. He is in search of the island "so that he can exploit it," according to Ben. However, there is obviously more to the story. Did anyone have any clue who the guy Widmore beat up was?

7.) I laughed out loud when Ben walked past Hurley and Sawyer and said, "See you guys at dinner." That was very funny.

8.) I think it's rather obvious that the person Ben has on the boat is none other than.... Michael. He is the only legitimate person it could be that would shock Locke (and us.) Add to that the fact that Harold Perrineau (Michael) is indeed scheduled to appear in episodes 7 and 8, and you've got yourself one anti-climactic reveal.

I do believe I built this episode up to be something bigger than what it was. It was interesting, but nothing world-changing.... yet. I do hope that Ben's man on the boat is not Michael, but I don't think it could be anyone else. Anyway, next week is shaping up to be a pretty interesting episode. Then again, I say that every week.

Anyway-- as per usual, we'll see.

Thursday, March 6, 2008

Poll: Is the High Def Format war really over?

If you've been reading my blog for a while, then you know-- I was an early adopter of the HD-DVD format. You may also know that, as of last week, Toshiba and Microsoft ceased production of their HD players, effectively putting the final nail in the HD-DVD coffin.

Granted, it's the fault of any HD-DVD owner who hopped on the format knowing that there was a 50/50 chance of it being the losing format. However, I honestly did believe that HD would be the victor. First off, I though that on name recognition alone, HD-DVD would have a hand up due to the fact that people would hear HD-DVD, and associate that with a format that they've known for years. Blu-ray just sounds like too odd a name for the main format for movies to be distributed on-- or, so I thought.

Secondly, this past holiday season HD-DVD made a real push to get into as many households as possible. Players were below the $199 mark, and the discs were priced competitively. Christ-- the cheapest way to get a Blu-ray player so far is to buy a bare-bones PS3, and that's $399.

Regardless of what I may have thought, HD is dead. The only question now is whether or not to jump into Blu-ray (via a PS3) and continue lapping up the higher priced, better looking next-gen discs. Or do I wait. Is it out of the realm of possibility that the high-def war is not yet over? After being let down by HD-DVD, I'm reticent to run out and get a Blu-ray player because, what if that tanks, too. Granted, it probably wouldn't be for a year or two, but still...

So, I think I'm going to hang tight and see how this all plays out. I have neither the money, nor the foolhardiness to fall for another high-def blunder. For now, I will enjoy the 10 HD-DVD's I have (And trust me, they do look beautiful) and also enjoy the hundreds of other DVD's I have. After all, the HD player is also an upconverter, so my DVD's never looked better.

What do you think? This is the first poll I've included on my blog, and I'm anxious to see what people think (or if people will even take part.)

Wednesday, March 5, 2008

My (Very Belated) Top Ten of 2007

Here it is, more than a week after the Oscars, and three months into the new year-- my Top Films of 2007. Any of these films would make more than worthy additions to your Netflix queue.

10.) The Host - Great film. It's what "Cloverfield" should have been.

9.) Grindhouse - I had a ball with this film. I just wish more people felt the same way. Bring on "Machete!"

8.) Superbad - Maybe not quite as amazing as many people say it is, but for me this film marked the real return to form for the R rated comedy. However, the Judd Apatow crew is now a real risk for over-exposure now.

7.) Breach - This one got lost in the shuffle, but it's a terrific film, and one hell of a screenplay. Chris Cooper could have snagged a Best Supporting Actor nod for his role.

6.) Michael Clayton - This one should have taken he Original Screenplay Oscar. It's a terrific corporate conspiracy thriller. And "I am Sheva, God of Death" is perhaps the best film line of the year. (Milkshakes notwithstanding)

5.) The King of Kong - Not quite as heady as the other big name Docs this year, but pound for pound the best one I've seen. It should have at least been nominated.

4.) Eastern Promises - Great crime drama. It's a damn shame Cronenberg didn't get an Oscar nod-- he deserved it.

3.) Rescue Dawn - Werner Herzog has amazed me every time I see one of his films. This one was no different. Any film fan should see this film.

2.) Once - A true independent film masterpiece. And one hell of a romantic movie. Not to mention it was the best part of the Oscar ceremony.

1.) There Will Be Blood - Yep, it's that good. I put a lot of faith in Paul Thomas Anderson, and as of yet he has not done me wrong. I believe this film will be regarded as the Best Film of 2007 when we look back ten years from now. Genius.

Honorable Mention:

The Lives of Others

Notable films I have yet to see:

The Bourne Ultimatum
No Country for Old Men - (I know, I know... but hey, I read the book. Does that count?)
Into the Wild - (I want to see it, but my Sean Penn "Pretentious-meter" keeps going off.)
Sweeney Todd
The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford
Lake of Fire and 4 Months, 3 Weeks, 2 Days - (The "abortion movie" marathon will have to wait for DVD. )
El Orfanato

Simply not as good as advertised:

Hairspray -- I saw this on an airplane. I contemplated hiding out in the stench of the bathroom until it was over.

Sicko -- Beyond the fact that I find Michael Moore despicable, this film just didn't have the impact, for better or worse, that most of his films have.

The Simpsons Movie -- A movie nearly 20 years after the show came out, eh? Nothing like striking while the iron is hot.

In Memoriam:

HD-DVD - The high-def disc that I once believed would win the format war has passed well before it's time. Goodbye friend, we hardly knew ye. In fact, about 5 of my HD-DVD's are still in their shrink wrap, so literally-- I hardly knew ye. Anyway, I tip my 40 ouncer for HD-DVD.

If you have any thought on my selections or any films I may have forgotten to mention, drop me a line in the comments.

Still here...

No, I haven't given up on blogging. I've just been very busy trying to keep up with the deadline I've set for the screenplay I'm working on. I have several reviews and other things backing up in my head that will be posted just as soon as I get my next batch of pages written.

So, apologies if anyone has been checking the site looking for new material. I'll have some new stuff up in the next day or so.