Monday, October 8, 2018
Schlocktober Fest 2018, Vol. II
Reposting the rules. 31 days, 31 movies.
1.It has to be a horror movie (loose definition of horror, to include anything I deem horror or, simply, whatever movie I watched thinking it was horror).
2.It has to be a movie I haven't seen before (or, don't remember having seen -- I've seen a lot of movies, some under the influence of something or other).
October 4, 2018
Pay the Ghost (2015), Netflix
Key contributor: Nicolas Cage, force of nature
Here we have a totally not "I owe the IRS so what else can I really do" type of picture from Nic Cage. It's one of about 7,000 movies he currently has streaming on Netflix, all produced within the last five years Nic Cage is the kind of actor you either love or you hate. Or, I guess you can also be indifferent? I'm not sure how that's possible. Personally, I love the guy. Raising Arizona, Red Rock West, Moonstruck, Peggy Sue Got Married, Wild at Heart, Vampire's Kiss, Face/Off, The Rock, Con Air, Bad Lieutenant: Port of Call New Orleans, Knowing, Joe, etc etc. I also love listing things to bulk up word counts. Lord of War, Kiss of Death, Bringing out the Dead, Snake Eyes, Wicker Man, Left Behind, Mom and Dad....
Here we have a supernatural thriller involving a demon that steals children right out from under their parents. It stashes them in like some celestial closet type deal that can only be accessed via a portal in the subway station. But, to get to that portal you have to get through Stephen McHattie's mole person or something, I guess? This is a somber picture. Cage acts somberly, quietly, and, for the most part, very un-Cage-y, which was...a disappointment. After a brief pre-title sequence involving kids looking up at floorboards, we basically get it established that Cage is some sort of professor type dude. He teaches a horror lit class at a big NY University. He's looking for tenure. He also played a professor in Knowing except in that one I think he taught Astrophysics for Dummies. Watch Knowing is the point of my digression. Once Cage gets tenure, he and Walking Dead mom can finally afford that new apartment that isn't smack dab in the middle of a neighborhood where kids are snatched up by vulture demons. Oh yeah, did I mention Cage's son is snatched while they attend one of those Halloween-y carnival block festivals New York is so well known for? This leads to tension with his wife ("how could you lose him") and also makes it so Cage can only celebrate receiving tenure by gently pumping his fist behind his back while arguing with his wife (this cannot be disproved).
This is not a good movie. I fell asleep a few times and did not rewind. I got the gist of it. There is a detective character who thinks Cage is responsible. He's the one that saw him last, it's almost always a relative, etc. This "I'm just waiting until Cage slips up" ethos culminates in an incredible scene where a medium is killed by the demon, in the presence of Cage, and Cage isn't immediately arrested. We don't have enough "wrongfully accused" type pictures involving frame jobs perpetrated by demons followed by lengthy courtroom scenes. If Cage had made that picture I would have bought in whole heartedly. As is, he made a picture we've seen a thousand times before and cashed in with whatever this type of DTV bullshit pays these days. Recommended only for Cage completists (If you can't name every movie he appeared in during 2015, you're not a Cage completist). Don't worry, I'm not either. It's almost impossible.
October, 5, 2018
The Mummy (2017), HBO
Key contributor: Russell Crowe, because he has no idea what movie he's in
I'm really bummed we didn't get the Universal Monsters cinematic universe but, after seeing The Mummy, I guess I now understand why. Tom Cruise stars as Ethan Hunt, a sergeant (wait, how old are sergeants??) in the US military who, as the movie opens (or at least around when the movie opens) is trying to steal antiquities from somewhere in Iraq. It's the Iraq war. I didn't pay enough attention to know which one. His partner is Jake Johnson. There's a mummy's tomb. They go in with a lady named Ilsa (struggling to remember this meet cute), get attacked by spiders (almost reminiscent of the spider pit scene in Jackson's King Kong, but also totally not reminiscent of that) and then get evacuated (insurgents are approaching) with the mummy in tow. Also, why is Jake acting strange? Is it from the spider bite? I thought Tom Cruise (smartest man in the universe) said they're not even poisonous. Holy shit, they're on a plane now. Holy shit, Jake killed their CO and now the plane is crashing because birds flew into the cockpit and killed the pilot and co-pilot and now there's only one parachute for some reason. I thought this was a well stocked military cargo plane? Also, how and when did Tom Cruise get this mummy's curse? Why does Jake Johnson Griffin Dunne his way through the entire picture? Why do I wish Jake Johnson was Griffin Dunne?
Then there's Russell Crowe. He's in London. Some of this movie takes place in London. These scenes must have been shot for another movie that was later scrapped. The Crowe reels exist and we only have enough usable footage from this Cruise thing we're shooting to fill up 75 minutes so let's do this (!) is what likely happened. Anyway, Crowe's the guy behind the desk you see in some movies. The power guy. The moneyed guy. The guy that makes plays with a telephone. He's also a doctor. Dr Jeckyl I wrote in my notes. Crowe has fun, is ridiculous and basically relishes his screen time (of which there is little). Oh, he also injects himself with a serum that is derived from something and turns him into his alter ego, Mr. Jive. He appears in the beginning and the end (after you've long forgotten he was even in the thing).
Cruise is fun in that "look I'm slightly fallible but not really" sort of way. The woman that played Ilsa (what was her name again?) was fine and forgettable. The mummy was played by a newcomer. A newcomer to me, anyway. She was tremendous. I like that they go all Hellraiser with her regeneration scenes, sucking face with poor men as she reconstitutes and they wither. I would have suggested casting, as mummy princesses sidekick, Claire Higgins and having her follow mummy around with a hammer.
Sequel's set up. We'll never get it. Certainly not with Cruise. Bring back Brendan Frasier, maybe? Anyway, recommended for people with HBO and nothing but time.
October, 6, 2018
Cold Skin (2018), VOD
key contributor: buck naked Ray Stevenson
I like a good movie about a meteorologist. Has there ever been a good one? Has there ever been one? It's the eve of World War I and young meteorologist whatshisface hitches a ride on a ship to a remote island in the South Atlantic where he'll replace some guy that was running a weather station. Turns out, the guy died. There's one other guy on the island. He runs the lighthouse. Name's Stevenson. Ray Stevenson. Naked Ray Stevenson. This is his Tom Hardy breakout.
There's a bit of a mystery surrounding whathisface's predecessor. Mystery answered on the first night when fish-people-things come in from the sea and overrun his cabin. He hides in the cellar. Next day he goes to Stevenson for answers. Stevenson's elusive. He put clothes on. Eventually they bond when whatshisface threatens to shoot one of the sea-creatures that Stevenson has taken a liking to and hidden away in a cave. It's a sea-she creature. She-sea creature? He begs whatshisface not to shoot her, promises to help out against the creatures when they come again at night. They always come at night. Also, I'm pretty sure Stevenson beats her. I'm really sure he has sex with her. Gruner (Ok, I looked up his name) is not a great man but he was a man of his time and place (lonely on an island in 1914). Gruner at one point exclaims "I am an island" like he's a cut-rate philosopher. He's a lonely, rapey island.
The movie reminded me of a cross between Dagon (Stuart Gordon-Lovecraft-fish people movie) and the scenes in the mines of Moria in Lord of the Rings with all the orcs and trolls. These humanoids from the deep attack night after night after night. It's not until the last couple attacks where you start to see the toll taken on the human characters and also on the she-creature. This stuff is exhausting. I call bullshit on Gruner having survived all these years alone (he fortified his lighthouse but that shit doesn't hold long, the things climb right up it in no time). As whatshisface learns more about the island, the creatures, and possible modes of rescue, Gruner withdraws more into himself. He needs companionship but not if it involves a return to the outside world. Guy just wasn't made for those times. And certainly not these times (#metoo, etc).
Anyway, this is a good one. An against all odds we will fight type picture in the vein of Zulu, Zulu Dawn, and maybe The Alamo with Billy Bob Thornton. The siege scenes are well done, get repetitive but not too repetitive. Recommended for the guy or girl that says he likes Lovecraft but really just wants to zone out to some (below and above) surface fish monster stuff.