Tuesday, March 31, 2009

I Know What You Did In The House On Sorority Row

One of my favourite 80s slashers (which is a bit of a derivative statement, since I love most of them) is "House On Sorority Row". In that film, a bunch of sorority girls play a prank on their housemother, which winds up with the housemother floating dead in the pool. Of course, it doesn't take long for somebody to start knocking off all those sorority sisters with a cane that looks just like the one the housemother used.

That whole "paying for past sins" aspect is an integral part of the slasher genre, in which a group of folks (usually teenagers) commit a bad act and typically have a masked maniac make them regret it. 1980's "Prom Night" is one of the best examples of this, and 1997's "I Know What You Did Last Summer" trotted out the same scenario when slashers became popular again after the success of "Scream".

The thing is, "I Know What You Did Last Summer" was based on a 1974 teen thriller novel written by Lois Duncan. Although the book featured no murders and more closely resembles something written by, say, R.L. Stine, it's title alone is the fundamental starting base for any decent slasher mystery: a group of people sharing a terrible secret forced to face their demons. Therefore, the book was released the same year as "The Texas Chainsaw Massacre" and "Black Christmas", but well preceded flicks like "Friday The 13th" and "Halloween", which really got the slasher genre going.

I love "I Know What You Did Last Summer". It's got a simple set-up that makes you think about what you'd do in similar circumstances (go to the police or dump the body), but which also makes the carnage that follows understandable within the context of the story (i.e. revenge). And while it does have one or two moments of nasty violence, it's surprisingly subdued, relying on suspense rather than gore. The sequence in which the slicker-wearing, hook-wielding killer goes after Sarah Michelle Gellar is largely agreed (even by those who don't like the movie) to be a suspense-filled, exciting chase scene.

So where am I going with all this? Well, "House On Sorority Row" has been remade as simply "Sorority Row", in which a group of sorority sisters dump the body of one of their friends after a prank gone wrong. I came across the trailer whilst visiting "Camp Blood", one of my favourite websites. The trailer reminded me very much of "I Know What You Did Last Summer", what with the premise and all, and I'm quite amused by the fact that Carrie Fisher is one of the cast members. But what I was most pleased about was that this plotline can still be trotted out after thirty years and still have me bouncing up and down in my seat in excitement - because the trailer was terrific: I can't wait to see the movie. You can probably find the trailer on YouTube, or just visit Camp Blood and have a gander at it there.

Monday, March 30, 2009

I love shark movies

So I hired "Shark Swarm" the other day. It was actually on TV a couple of months ago but it was a Friday night and I was lured by the weekly prospect of after-work drinks and missed it.

It stars Daryl Hannah and John Schneider as a married couple, and Armand Assante as the developer about to set the town flush with cash, except it means they lose their business....or something. Because, truth be told, I only got half-way through this one. Partly because it was awful, partly because the crappy DVD player I'm using at the moment doesn't have any buttons that let me toggle down on the menu and select "Feature: Part 2" (I have no idea where the remote control is, the DVD player actually belongs to my sister and I really, really miss my old multi-region DVD player that broke down beyond repair after ten years of faithful service).

Anyways, I could slap the movie into my laptop and watch the second part of it that way. But I don't think it's worth the effort. This one's really dire. For the first 75 odd minutes (it's a long movie), the main characters chat and chat and chat. Meanwhile, ancillary character after ancillary character get munched. Every five minutes there's some character we've only just met taking a swim and becoming breakfast, lunch or dinner. But it all gets soooooo repetitive. Swimmer sees swarm of very fake-looking CGI sharks coming towards them. Cut to actor or actress thrashing about in the water. Followed by a bit of blood. We don't see any actual chewing of humans by sharks.

The thing is, I love shark movies. Granted, I think most of the "Jaws" movies suck, besides "Jaws 2", which is great. Love the bit where Sheriff Brody and co. find poor Tina, who's just witnessed her boyfriend being dragged underwater, huddled in her boat. After some coaxing, they're rewarded with the explanatory cry of "Sssssshhhhhhhaaaaaarrrrrrkkkkkk!!!" Classic. And "Deep Blue Sea" is a favourite. Oh, and "Shark Attack 3: Megalodon" is unforgettable stuff as it contains the jaw-dropping dialogue exchange where the hero says to the heroine: "Now how about I take you home and eat your p***y?" No, really. I've got it on DVD if you don't believe me. Lots of bad shark movies out there, but usually even the bad ones are loaded with some sort of entertainment value.

I don't know why I love shark movies. I'm not scared of them. I won't step foot in any type of water where I can't clearly see the bottom for miles around. When my membership is recalled, it won't be by a shark, I can guarantee.

So "Shark Swarm" was an extreme letdown. I don't know how it ends, and I don't care. The only frightening thing about it was John Schneider's haircut and Daryl Hannah's face.

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Paul vs The Spider AND The Cockroach

Well, I had a horror movie moment of my own. Around 2am I woke up for a bathroom visit. All was well and good until I was washing my hands and a giant cockroach ran over my foot. I immediately rushed downstairs to get the fly spray and fix the problem. Of course, by the time I got back to the bathroom, giant cockroach had disappeared. I sprayed around the bathroom anyway.

I was about to head back downstairs to put the fly spray away when I noticed, latched to the window at the top of my steep spiral staircase, a GIANT spider. I just knew, now that the spider knew that I knew it was there, it would jump on my head if I walked past it. It's happened before. Back in the 1990s sometime, I stepped out onto the back porch to feed the cats and a Huntsman spider jumped off the roof and onto my shoulder. In the struggled that ensued, the bastard bit me. On the neck. I'd been told that Huntsman spiders were harmless, but since that day, I knew in my heart that Huntsman spiders just relished the chance to jump on your face. If they couldn't do that, the top of your head, your neck or your shoulder would do just fine.

Anyways, since I still had the fly spray in hand, I shot a load at this GIANT spider. It simply crawled across the wall. At that point, the giant cockroach made a reappearance, so I sprayed that some more and it ran across the floor, right off the landing, and fell to the floor below. At which point, the spider fell from the wall to one of the spiral staircase steps (couldn't see which one). In classic horror movie tradition, I was taking tentative steps down the staircase to locate the whereabouts of both creatures. As it happened, the spider was crawling up the underside of the staircase railing. I shrieked like an idiot for a few seconds before spraying enough spray to kill an energetic pony. Spider dropped to the floor below.

SO, from the safety of the upstairs landing, I was trying to locate both creatures once again. I could see something down there thrashing about. I didn't know it was the cockroach until the spider started CRAWLING BACK UP THE WALL TO GET ME. Spiders like dark, dank places, right? So if it were on the verge of dying, it'd retreat to dark, dank place it felt comfortable, right? Exactly. Therefore, the only reason a spider sprayed with enough fly spray to genetically mutate future generations of children would crawl back up a wall in full light is to seek revenge on its destroyer, right? By that time I had a shoe, so after a couple on unsuccessful whacks, I finally won the battle. There was a loud PLOP as the giant spider fell to the floor below, defeated at last.

By that time, the cockroach was finally dead as well (God, at least I hope so). Of course, I shrieked and flailed about like a baby whenever I felt anything brush against me, even if it was the blanket I was sleeping in. But I fought a giant insect and a giant arachnid and was the last man standing. Even if all that fly spray might leave me growing an extra arm or something...

Monday, March 23, 2009

RIP Natasha Richardson

Sorry to be maudlin, and I wasn't president of her fan club or anything, but I was very saddened by the news of Natasha Richardson's death. Unlike the Angelina Jolie, Jennifer Aniston, Nicole Kidman and Paris Hiltons of the world, she never seemed to court media attention to a nauseating degree. Rather, she seemed happy to work when she wanted and spend time away from the screen with her family. Her fifteen-year marriage to Liam Neeson was never fodder for the tabloids. And she was a good actress too (of what I saw of her).

She was a classy woman who set an example for other actresses to follow and I'm sorry for her loss, and my thoughts go to her family.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Turn off your bloody phone!!!

Despite watching a lot of movies, I don't go to the cinema all that much. Since 2006 I've seen exactly four movies on the big screen - "When A Stranger Calls", "Prom Night", "My Bloody Valentine 3D" and "Friday The 13th". I'm not sure if it's a coincidence they're all remakes, and two of them I watched just this year, but that's not a lot of cinema visits.

I think it has to do with the fact I get annoyed too easily when I see a movie on the big screen. People talk. People rustle their bags too noisily while stuffing their faces with popcorn. Kids squeal. Granted, I'm not a people person at the best of times, but the everyday civilian's cinema etiquette really, really stuns me. I'm not poor by any means, but "My Bloody Valentine 3D" set me back $19.50 (you pay extra for the glasses and the privilege of actually seeing it in 3D) and "Friday The 13th" robbed me of 14 hard-earned dollars. Why, after paying that money, would you then spend the majority of the movie looking at the tiny screen on your mobile??? Both my recent cinema visits involved at least a third of the audience constantly messaging friends and/or receiving messages in return. I find this distracting because every few minutes a screen would light up in the DARKENED cinema. Then the tap-tap-tap of the idiot messaging away.

Seriously people, turn them off. Show other people some goddamn respect. If something's so urgent it can't wait 9o minutes, what are you doing going to see a movie? Go sit on a bench somewhere and text to your heart's content and let those with lives beyond their mobile phone enjoy the movie they've paid good money to see. It's getting close to an epidemic. In MBV3D (I'm hoping people know what the acronym is for), three guys sitting in the same row as my friend and I were singularly focused on their mobiles. On those tiny little screens. Meanwhile, on the very big screen, there was a naked woman. Running around. Full-frontal naked. For five minutes. IN F***ING 3D!!!! Is there something wrong with this scenario? It got so bad I went and complained to staff. I'm not putting up with that shit.

I could rant and rant about this trend. I think cinemas should do more about it. I think mobiles should be banned from being taken into theatres. Or infringement notices handed out to those assholes who like to ruin the cinema-going experience for others. I honestly can't think of a good reason why you should be taking your mobile phone into the movie with you and using it instead of watching the movie YOU paid money to see. These last two experiences reminded me why I prefer to instead spend $4 and rent it as a new-release DVD and watch it in the comfort of my own home on my relatively big TV screen.

Saturday, March 14, 2009

Kill kill kill! Die die die!

Any seasoned fan of the Friday The 13th franchise will be familiar with that little catchphrase, which plays during most of the stalk scenes. So I was a little disappointed it didn't show up in the remake, which I went and saw at the cinema last night. But that being said, the movie was a lot better than I was expecting, as I had read quite a few negative reviews. The movie is a veritable slaughterhouse, as we are introduced to a group of campers who are all butchered within the first 15 or so minutes. Then we meet a second group of young folk going to a cabin for the weekend. And the cabin just happens to be near good ol' Camp Crystal Lake. Also loitering about is nominal hero Wade (Jared Padalecki), searching for his sister, who was one of the unfortunate campers in the first group. As we soon learn, however, said sister Whitney (Amanda Righetti) is alive and well and being kept prisoner in some underground cavern.

Now, this is where Friday The 13th 2009 veers off a little from what we expect. Jason Voorhees is not the type to hold on to a victim for six weeks. When it comes to slicing and dicing teenagers, he's generally quick and to the point. It's never really explained why he's keeping Whitney alive, other than a slight suggestion she bears a passing resemblance to Jason's mother. Not to mention how Whitney survived what looked like Jason's machete swinging directly towards her head during their confrontation.

Also, here, Jason runs. In the original series he was able to thump about at his own pace while his victim ran and stumbled, ran and stumbled, then hid somewhere stupid. But he always found his target. The victims here do the usual silly things I just mentioned, but they're further disadvantaged by the fact Jason can now work himself up to a jog. I guess you need to stay fit when you spend all day chasing young, healthy adults.

Anything else that doesn't work? Yeah. I lost count of the number of scenes where a hapless victim would investigate a strange noise/go looking for a missing friend, build us up to a false scare, then have Jason silently pop up behind them. It got old pretty quickly, and the scare just never worked. And don't shoot me for this, but it also went overboard on the T&A. Sure, exploitation horror wouldn't be exploitation horror without a girl dropping her top, but here it's distracting. Nearly half the female cast gets their boobs out before meeting the wrong end of a sharp implement, which gives the proceedings a slightly sleazy feeling it didn't need. And one sex scene in the later half of the film just goes on and on and on.

That being said, Friday The 13th circa 2009 looks great, moves quickly and provides a couple of jolts. There are plenty of gory murders and while the film generally takes itself seriously, does provide moments of incidental humour. The cast are young and pretty, obviously, but most of them are veterans of multiple TV shows, so the acting is above average too. Therefore in my opinion, this counts as one of the remakes that works.

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Horror movie villians would make great house cleaners

Have you ever watched a horror movie where the killer has just bloodily dispatched a young, innocent camper/college student/mensa candidate? Only the first two? Ever noticed that someone else inevitably strays into the crime scene moments later, calling "hello?" on their search for dead friend/mortally wounded friend/spiritual enlightenment? Only the first two?

In any case, I think we can all agree that there's never any blood, no victim, no sign of any mayhem. The crafty killer, despite spilling blood everywhere, trashing the room etc etc, manages to have the crime scene looking pretty darn pristene by the time other teenagers, police officers and whatnot arrive. I reckon it would be pretty handy to have somebody like Jason Voorhees on hand whenever I need to clean my house. Normally nothing gets done until my parents arrive for a weekend visit and I innocently claim I've been too busy to tackle dishes/washing/vacuuming. And now that it's down in writing, I need another excuse, quick smart.

But as long as I'm not on the premises while he's cleaning house, Jason Voorhees would have the place looking brand new. After all, once he's set a task (normally killing campers) he's completely focused until it's finished. And instead of a cash payment, I could just direct him to the nearest high school/university campus. I don't like teenagers much either, so no guilty conscience, and I'm not out of pocket either.

What? Jason Voorhees isn't real? He only exists in movies? Mum, you know how under the pump I am at work, don't you....?

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

"Saw V" is a hack job

I always hire the latest "Saw" movie when it comes out and I don't know why, because I don't really think that much of them. I'll watch it once then not think about it again - until the next one comes out. And that's something of a problem because the filmmakers rely on your knowledge of each film to provide the twists for the next one. But there are no real twists to be found in "Saw V", which I watched on DVD last night. Most of it consists of an FBI agent trying to prove that another FBI agent is continuing to carry on the work of serial killer Jigsaw. Not exactly riveting. Every now and then we jump back to five people who have woken up in one of Jigsaw's apprentice's traps. We never get to know these people before they're hideously tortured and murdered, so we don't much care about their fates. And the main storyline desperately tries to convince us it's exciting and shocking as the good FBI agent uncovers "clues" and mutters such things as "we were all meant to die" amidst flashbacks as to how Jigsaw drew the other FBI agent into his web. Basically, this series can go back and rewrite history a dozen times to ensure that further sequels will follow. But Jigsaw himself died two films ago and was graphically autopsied in part IV, so there's no way they can bring him back, and to simply say "surprise! There's ANOTHER apprentice!" is just convoluted and stupid. I'll take a direct-to-DVD horror sequel to this junk any day.

The other movie I watched was "Somebody Help Me" starring two guys from the R&B group B2K, who previously had a hit with the movie "You Got Served" (which itself was hilariously sent up in the South Park episode "You Got F***** In The A**!"). Not much to say - it's a low budget torture-porn shocker, except the main characters are African American. An ear gets cut off, someone gets scalped, eyes, teeth and nails are pulled out....you get the picture. Some of the non-torture sequences (e.g. stalk scenes) are surprisingly suspenseful, which helped the film a bit. I'm just getting a little tired of many films' emphasis on drawn-out torture. What happened to a good ol' quick throat-slitting? Or a chop-chop-chop-and-it's-over beheading? They can have lots of the red stuff but don't dwell on the suffering. But I suppose that's the point - getting hacked up by a serial killer probably isn't quick and painless. And considering I love some of the earlier torture-porn flicks (while they were still relatively new), it's a bit like the pot calling the kettle black. So I'll shut up.

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

"Mirrors", "Vacancy 2" and "Solstice"

I know I said this blog was my opportunity to give my useless opinion on books I've read, but I'm still struggling my way through "Scream For Me". I'll read about 20 pages and start getting all sleepy. I think I need to be in the right frame of mind for beautiful, fragile heroines and handsome, alpha male FBI agents. In the meantime, I watched 3 (yes, three!) movies the other night.

"Mirrors" was the only theatrically released movie of the bunch and would you believe, easily the weakest. Basically, it didn't make one lick of sense. I like to believe I'm no dumbass, but I just couldn't figure out what the hell was going on and why the mirrors were able to get into Keifer Sutherland's house and make Amy Smart pull her jaw off. The script attempts to give some explanation at the end, but it didn't add up to much. On the other hand, actress Paula Patton played Sutherland's wife and she was very good. You could understand why she was wary of her husband and why she didn't believe his crazy stories about mirrors killing people. And when she sees with her own eyes that his rantings are true (in an admittedly spooky sequence), does she immediately deny what she's witnessed and start behaving like a total boob? No, she calls hubby straight away and gets him to help her protect the family. A strong, credible and likeable character. When she and family find themselves under siege from the mirror demon thingies in the finale, it's the best part of the film: creepy, suspenseful and intense. If the rest of the film had matched that intensity, it would have been a keeper. It still wouldn't have made any sense, but you can't have everything.

"Vacancy 2" is actually a prequel to the 2007 thriller starring Luke Wilson and Kate Beckinsale. In this tale, we learn the origins of the creepy folk who run the deadly motel and like to make snuff films of themselves killing and maiming their guests. A newly-engaged couple and their cliched black best friend (by the time he'd provided a second false scare I was more than ready for him to be offed) are offered up as the first sacrificial lambs to the motel owners who are after something more substantial than the voyeur sex videos they usually peddle. "Vacancy 2" doesn't do anything to turn the genre on its head or try to knock your socks off. It's a straight-down-the-line survivalist thriller that generally succeeds in what it's trying to do: provide a few thrills and spills, a little tension and a smattering of gore.

"Solstice" is a teen thriller in which a girl (Elisabeth Harnois) and a bunch of her friends arrive at her family home shortly after her twin sister's suicide. The festivies are interrupted by several spooky goings-on. Harnois thinks her dead sister is trying to communicate with her, while her buddies naturally think she's losing her marbles. I must admit it was quite a surprise to find a teen horror flick that doesn't butcher its nubile young cast. The emphasis here is firmly on suspense, atmosphere and mystery, and to be honest it was a refreshing change. While it's always nice to see beheadings, amputations and people vomiting blood, the opposite can sometimes be the case. "Solstice" has very little on-screen violence and on occasion even sent a chill or two down my spine - genuinely spooky at times! Of course, witnessing black ghosts with glowing eyes while curled up on the couch with no lights on can do that to me. All in all, a spooky, tidy little mystery that won't tax your brain and might just give you the heebie jeebies.

Monday, March 9, 2009

All The Boys Love Mandy Lane

And one of the girls, too (I'll get to that, later). "All The Boys Love Mandy Lane" is a horror flick I've been waiting to see for a couple of years now, believe it or not. Made in 2006, it struggled to find a distributor in the US, and most did not get to see it until last year. And it took until now, it seems, for the movie to make it to Australia. I must say it was worth the wait, as it is one of the best horror films I've seen in some time.

The deceptively simple plot has Mandy (Amber Heard) agreeing to go along with some friends to an isolated ranch in the country. Most of the guys see it as an opportunity to get into Mandy's pants, but she's not having any of it. She maintains a polite distance while all the others get down to the sort of stuff you'd expect from teenagers not under any adult supervision: sex and drugs. As the night wears on, it appears somebody is so in love with Mandy they're willing to kill for her.

However, there is so much more going on here than just your typical slasher. The cinematography is amazing. The film has a sort of hazy, washed-out look to it that to me seemed both modern and yet evoked feelings of 70s grindhouse features. The script examines the hang-ups males and females have about their bodies; mens' attitudes (often negative) towards women; how those attitudes frequently lead to women being their own worst enemy (two of the female characters, supposedly friends, are horrible to each other, simply because they're competing for a guy); teen herd mentality and a whole lot more. I'm not going to give away the ending, but while not entirely ambiguous, it lets the viewer come to their own conclusions about characters' actions and motives. Basically, the script doesn't lay it all out for you, which is refreshing in this day and age of simplistic stalk-n-slash offerings like the (gasp!) remake of, say, "Prom Night".

That's not to say the script is full of witty dialogue like "Scream". Rather, it presents teenagers pretty much like they are: boring, self-involved and quite intolerable. But that's the point. If you can handle a few moments of cringe-inducing violence (like you would expect in a slasher, after all), "All The Boys Love Mandy Lane" is definitely worth a watch. It's not just a good horror film, it's a good film, full stop. Why it took more than 2 years for it to see the light of day is a real mystery.

Oh yeah, and that little tidbit about one of the girls loving Mandy Lane, too? That was a tease. There's no lesbo action. Just one scene - like many others - that can be interpreted in many different ways.

I happened to watch another movie last night - "While She Was Out" starring Kim Basinger as a put-upon (and perhaps abused) wife and mother who ventures out to the shops on a rainy Christmas Eve to get some more wrapping paper. When she comes across a car that has sloppily parked across two parking bays, she leaves a narky note for the driver, not really thinking much of it. But when she finally returns from her shopping expedition, she comes to regret that spur-of-the-moment decision. The car belongs to a group of four thugs who don't like the note she left them. In fact, they're downright mad about it and start behaving threateningly towards her. Intervention from a security guard results in the leader of the gang (Lukas Haas) shooting him in the head. Of course, Basinger is now a witness and must be eliminated.

There are some moments of tension as the gang of four chase Basinger, who has only a toolbox at her disposal to protect herself. But I must admit the film wasn't as good as I was hoping it to be. Kim Basinger is excellent. I never thought I'd say that about her, but she really delivers here. I dare say her performance is the best part of the film! One big negative is Lukas Haas as the main baddie. You might remember him as the little child witness in "Witness". He was not believable in this role for one second. Luckily, Basinger's fear of his character was believable (she's that good). The movie is a servicable thriller for the most part until the final confrontation between the two main characters. Both their actions are hard to understand, and certainly not realistic. Even more puzzling is the final few moments of the film. But you can discover that for yourself because, at the end of the day, fans of women-in-jeopardy thrillers will find something to enjoy here - it plays a lot like a more-violent-than-usual TV movie. And I love TV movies, so I found more positives than negatives.

And here's what I'll be watching tonight: "Solstice", "Mirrors" and "Vacancy 2". Yeah!

Saturday, March 7, 2009

Still in remake mode

While I'm still on the topic of remakes, I imagine one remake that will never see the light of day is a reimagining of the obscure 80s movie "Black Devil Doll From Hell". I bring this movie up because it partly inspired this blog and is, obviously, referenced in the blog's name. Unfortunately, I can't take credit for the name, which was thought up by my dad (thanks dad!) although I can't say I have any sort of appreciation for "Valley Of The Dolls", either the book or the movies - but it makes for a good title.

"Black Devil Doll From Hell" is worth tracking down and finding for the name alone, right? Or is that just me? Anyway, the viewing experience forever left its mark on me, even more so than "Croaked: Frog Monster From Hell" and "A Nymphoid Barbarian In Dinosaur Hell". And yes, both those movies exist. And yes, I've seen them both. And yes, I need help. The devil doll of the title is a rustafarian-looking ventriloquist dummy thing purchased from a store by a frumpy, sexually-repressed, highly-religious church-goer. Despite warnings from the store owner that the puppet always returns to the store no matter what, Helen goes ahead and takes the doll home. Well, suffice to say, this action eventually leads to the doll knocking Helen out, tying her to the bed and having his way with her. I'm serious.

If ventriloquist dummy rape weren't offensive enough, Helen winds up enjoying the experience so much she doesn't want it to stop. When the doll pulls a runner, Helen tries to recreate the puppet pleasure with mere mortals, but the men she pulls in off the street simply can't satisfy her the way the doll did. I won't spoil any more, just in case someone out there, like me, has now decided they can't wait one more second before tracking this oddity down. If you do have the same terrific taste in the bizarre as I do, it can be found at cultrararevideos.com. You can't download it - you have to watch it on the website, although they have countless other rare movies that you can download. I was in heaven when I found this site, I can tell you.

And "Black Devil Doll From Hell" did obtain some sort of video release back in the 1980s because I found a listing for it in "Mick Martin & Marsha Porter's Video & DVD Guide 2003". They gave it two stars and called it sluggish and predictable. Predictable??? I can say with certainty that I was not expecting most of what I came across in this movie and I'm usually pretty good at guessing what will happen next in a movie. A ventriloquist dummy that rapes and verbally abuses its owner tends to fall under "what the - ???" for me. I even joined a group on facebook about this movie, so it goes to show other people have been forever changed by the experience of watching it. Okay, only about 60 out of the millions that use facebook, but at least I'm not alone anymore.

So there you go. You know something about what inspired the name of this blog. You probably wish you didn't. Oh well.

Friday, March 6, 2009

Friday The 13th

I'm assuming that the remake of "Friday The 13th" is going to be released next week to coincide with Friday The 13th. Great marketing. I've watched the preview on YouTube and I've got to admit I'm excited about seeing it. Even though I often groan at the announcement of yet another horror remake, most of them are turning out fairly decent. Most would disagree with me, but I thought the remake of "When A Stranger Calls" was pretty decent, and I love the two "Texas Chainsaw Massacre" updates. Of course, there have been lumps of dung like the remakes of "Halloween" and "The Omen".

Another remake I saw just a couple of weeks ago was "My Bloody Valentine 3D" (the original of which I own on DVD), which I really enjoyed. The prospect of seeing a movie in 3D had me excited enough that I was bouncing up and down in my seat before the movie began. All that anticipation resulted in me being left a little disappointed, but I was still impressed, both by the film and the intention of the filmmakers. While most studios churn out remakes of the well-known films for a quick buck, these guys found a lesser-known movie (albeit one with some die-hard fans) and updated it. They threw in a high body count, some classic gore - the pick-axe through the back of the head and out through the eye was a keeper - and a six-minute long full frontal nude scene while one potential victim was being pursued. On top of that they thought: "what else can we do to make this even more extreme and gratuitous?"

So they made it in 3D! When the people involved in the project appear to actually enjoy what they're doing and actively find ways to give audiences what they want, how can you not like it? Cliches and predictability aside, there's something to be said for a movie that delivers exactly what you expect.

The reviews I've read so far of "Friday The 13th" suggest the base elements will be covered: death, gore and boobies. Just not in 3D.

Thursday, March 5, 2009

Die With Me

No, it's not an invitation, it's the name of the book I have just finished reading. "Die With Me" is a book by Karen Rose, detailing Det. Vito Ciccotelli's investigation into the discovery of multiple dead bodies. It appears a few of the victims were killed according to the old rules of medieval torture. Through a series of mostly-believable contrivances, he is paired with archaeologist Sophie Johansen, who can provide him with whatever history lesson he needs, handily speaks several different languages and is a tall blonde bombshell to boot. Of course, they are instantly attracted to one another but thankfully the narrative doesn't drag out the love/hate/love/hate aspect for too long. That's not to say it's light on the syrupy romance stuff. Vito and Sophie constantly marvel to themselves just how attractive one finds the other. But at least a considerable amount of time is spent on the crime angle, which kept me going despite the 695 page length.

What really irks me is the tendency of authors such as Rose to include mutliple other characters from previous novels. I guess some like to know how those other characters have fared since their (undoubtedly) traumatic experiences, but here Vito's whole family and the kitchen sink get thrown in and contribute little other than to up the word count. And in "Die For Me" it's highly evident that supporting character Special Agent Daniel Vartanian is going to get a story of his own in the future (and he does - I'm reading "Scream For Me" as I write this). If you're going to write a series - write a series. If you're going to write stand alone novels - write stand alone novels. But having nearly every single character have their own tortured past with their own scary experiences is a little unrealistic and convoluted.

But, all that whinging aside, I read a book that was 695 PAGES LONG!!! So it can't be that bad.

Oooh. Law & Order: SVU is on tonight.

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Sarah Murdoch is the biggest hypocrite ever

I was watching the news last night when there was a report about Sarah Murdoch claiming she felt bad for the families affected by Pacific Brand knocking off 1800 jobs while raising the salaries of the big bosses. But when asked if she'd leave the company she replied: "I'm not answering that!" Obviously, despite being married to a multi-millionaire and earning bucketloads through promoting the company, she can't bear to part with any cash to help the jobless out. Does she seriously think anybody is stupid enough to think she's sincere?

To top that off, I read on news.com.au today that she's joined a "panel" to promote women having a healthy opinion of themselves no matter what their size. This from a woman who has made her entire living off of what she looks like: skinny and blonde. This from a woman who parades around in her undies for the company mentioned above. Does she seriously think anybody is stupid enough to think she's sincere?

I think she's an idiot.

On another topic entirely, I notice that "Guerilla Gardeners" still has a primetime slot on Channel 10. Is anybody watching this? I read (also on news.com.au) that it had disastrous ratings upon its debut, yet it has still lasted for another week. Why? Channel 10 seemingly targets the 16-39 year-old demographic. I thought gardening shows were aimed at the 30-55 year old demographic that Channels 7 and 9 target. So just because they're gardening outlaws makes it cool? Gardening is still boring - all the other gardening shows are on a Friday night when most people between 16-39 are out or simply watching something more interesting. The show must be cheap to produce, which is why it has lasted longer than any of the recent shows Channel 10 has imported from the US.

However, should the Guerilla Gardeners dig a big hole and dump Sarah Murdoch in it and plant some trees on top of her, I would probably tune in to watch.

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Welcome to "Valley Of The Devil Dolls". I was originally inspired to create a website with book reviews because I was tired of reading Amazon reviews along the lines of: "this book was really great and I think this author's books are all cool!" But I figured a blog would let me include reviews of movies and other pop culture stuff, along with any other opinions I think people should know. Plus I'm not computer-literate enough to create a proper website, so this was the next best option!

Check back often. I'm opinionated enough that I'll probably never be short of something to complain about - and every now and then I might have something positive to say.