Horror Movies, Music & More

Odd Ends

How’s it going, guys? This post is just a catch-up/check-in kinda thing. I have a few odds and ends to pass on about whatever. You know, a clear-the-decks deal. Also, I’ve seen a few different flicks lately, horror and otherwise, that don’t really warrant a full review, so I’m just going to give you some random impressions. Okay? This should be fun, right? And because this is the inwebternet, I’m going to use the easy-to-follow, reader-friendly bullet point format!

  • The recent deaths I’ve written about were unfortunate. But even more unfortunate was the fact that I had to file them under “Other Awesome Stuff.” Tacky, right? I mean, they weren’t an update or teaser; they weren’t a review; and they weren’t an interview. I suppose I could create an “Obituary” category, but that seems even tackier, doesn’t it?
  • Speaking of deaths, Robert Culp has left us. Culp did great work his whole career, including personal favorites such as I-Spy, Bob & Carol & Ted & Alice, Hannie Caulder and Spectre. Rest in peace.
  • Alice in Wonderland—Tim Burton sure seemed like the right choice for this flick. And I suppose he was for about two-thirds of it. But by the time it devolved into grrrl-power Alice running around in armor and fighting for her right to have rights, it was obvious Burton wasn’t any more interested in the outcome than I was. Still, it looked great and Danny Elfman delivered again. Maybe someday Burton will realize it takes more than visual whimsy and a cameo from Johnny Depp to carry a two-hour film. My favorite telling of this tale remains the surreal 1933 film, which was recently released on DVD. Check it out.
  • Zombieland—Saw it, liked it. Lots of fun. The cast was uniformly excellent. Am I the only one that thinks Jesse Eisenberg (aka Columbus) is not aging? He played pretty much the same character in 1992’s Rodger Dodger and he looks unchanged. Somewhere there’s a portrait that is paying the price.
  • Trick ‘r Treat—Saw it, liked it…but not as much as everyone else seemed to. Visually, the movie is amazing—gorgeous colors, wonderful set design, atmosphere for days. But overall, the flick just didn’t work for me. Anthologies are always an iffy proposition. For every good story, there are three that don’t make it. Such is the case here. Also, the whole thing seemed a little too impressed with itself. I get what Michael Dougherty was trying for, but when you can see the narrative trying this hard, it’s distracting (though, I must admit I loved the comic book adaptation). But the costume design for Sam, the bag-headed little kid, is very cool. And I loved the actors—Brian Cox and Dylan Baker in a horror film? Yeah, I’m there. Admittedly, I’ll watch it again in October. Maybe my opinion will mellow with age.
  • Bitch Slap—Some people think it’s terrible because it’s a modern attempt at grindhouse that doesn’t quite make it, and some people think it’s great because it’s a modern attempt at grindhouse that almost makes it. Me? I agree with them. It seems like the filmmakers wanted it to feel like an exploitation flick, but they didn’t really want it to be one. Sure, Bitch Slap loves violence and the female form, but it’s all too tidy. The grindhouse was a place to go to get your hands dirty. This film is just too clean. Also, it’s a tad too precious. The grindhouse was never precious. But there are some fun performances. It’s cool to see the Xena/Hercules crew together again. Michael Hurst is always great. Hey, if you want a real grindhouse flick, they’re easily available nowadays. You can visit anytime. I say see Bitch Slap and treat it like a present you didn’t expect: Gee, it’s wrapped real pretty and it’s always swell when somebody makes an effort—does it really matter that you don’t care for the gift?
  • One in the Gun—Rolfe Kanefsky has long been a favorite of horror fans. But One in the Gun, his latest film, finds him spreading his wings and taking a walk on the neo-noir side. And though the flick doesn’t connect in every way possible, overall it’s a very cool ride. While most of the cast is serviceable at best, I have to say that Katherine Randolph makes an extremely desirable 21st century femme fatale. Hopefully, Kanefsky will be frightening us again soon, but until he does, I’m more than happy to watch him exorcise his crime jones with this hip exercise in crime.
  • The Dunwich Horror (2009)—Man, I don’t know what they were thinking, but they were wrong. This modernization of H. P. Lovecraft’s classic tale is a misfire from the word “go” (some executive should’ve used the word “no”). Even the presence of Jeffrey Combs (in the role Dean Stockwell played in 1970) and Dean Stockwell (in the role Ed Begley played in 1970) can’t keep this from being a total waste of time. I kind of liked the idea of moving the setting from New England to the Louisiana swamps, but that’s about all I liked (and that was just “kind of”). See the 1970 version with the aforementioned Messrs. Begley and Stockwell. That was an update of Lovecraft that worked. Plus, it contains a very sexy performance from Sandra Dee. Poor Lovecraft—like Stephen King, movies of his books are rarely good. At least he’s not alive to see The Horror. Poor Cthulhu—what’s a Great Old One gotta do to get a decent adaptation?

~Theron Neel

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