The Hateful Eight
Directed by: Quentin Tarantino
Starring: Samuel L. Jackson, Jennifer Jason Leigh, Kurt Russell, Tim Roth
The Weinstein Company
Runtime: 187 Minutes, Rated: R
A group of traveler’s, consisting of bounty hunters, Civil War veterans, and killers converge on a remote outpost in the heart of the Wyoming wilderness during a severe blizzard. As these strangers seek shelter, each appears to have their own agenda. Is it the storm that brings upon this chance meeting, or is it destiny that has these folks are gathered at Minnie’s Haberdashery on this cold winter’s afternoon?
I always look forward to Quentin Tarantino’s new films simply because they are typically brilliant. The dialogue, acting, and dark humor are always engaging and enjoyable. Those points remain true in his 8th film, The Hateful Eight. The movie comes across like a stage play, as it takes place primarily in one room. The blocking and back ground performance away from the primary action is well done. I did have one issue with the film that kind of took away from it being close to perfect. The run time, at over three hours, is too long. When the ending came around, it almost seemed like a relief that the movie was over, and lessened the impact of the conclusion for me. Also, the score music seemed incredibly loud in spots, but that could be the fault of the cinema. Overall, an entertaining film, full of humor and violence. Walton Goggins and Samuel Jackson are brilliant, as is Jennifer Jason Leigh. For me, this one falls between Inglorious Basterds and the amazing Django Unchained.
4 out of 5 Bloody Moons
Before you read, please be assured that this tiny review contains NO SPOILERS.
Star Wars: The Force Awakens (2015)
Directed by: J.J. Abrams
Starring: Daisy Ridley, John Voyega, Oscar Issac
Lucasfilm, Bad Robot, Walt Disney Studios
Thirty years after the Galactic Empire is defeated by the Rebellion, The First Order is now attempting to seize control of the galaxy, like the Empire before them. A map that the First Order seeks falls into the hands of a scavenger, a First Order deserter, and a droid. They must deliver this map to the Rebellion, or it could spell the end of the Jedi forever. Along the way, this group of heroes run into some familiar faces, as well as new evil foes. Is it a coincidence that these strangers are brought together, and can they bring balance to the force once again?
The long-awaited and much-hyped sequel every Star Wars fan has been waiting for has finally arrived. Was the wait worth it? In my humble opinion; yes. This film admirably lives up to the original trilogy, and introduces this generation to new characters, and fondly reintroduces us to some familiar old favorites like Han, Chewy and Leia. I was actually nervous (seeing as Star Wars basically raised me) going into see the film. It took about three minutes to let my guard down and realize this installment would not be questionable like the prequels are. I am relieved and happy that the franchise is in good hands with Disney, and J.J. Abrams. As the director, and a fan of Star Wars, he has made a movie for the fans. In the process, he has reignited the myth and mystique of the Force. Without giving away any plot details, I would just like to conform that the galaxy is in good hands with Rey, Finn, Poe Damron, and B-88. The Force is indeed awake, at long last. I love you Star Wars.
Scouts Guide To The Zombie Apocalypse (2015)
Directed by: Christopher Landon
Starring: Tye Sheridan, Logan Miller, Joey Morgan, Sarah Dumont
Broken Road Productions, Paramount Pictures
Three friends, and fellow Scouts, get set to go on their last camping trip. Plans are also in effect to ditch the camp out after dark and go to the biggest secret location party of the year. Much to the surprise of the friends, they walk right into the middle of a full-blown zombie outbreak upon their return to town. After enlisting the help of a stripper, the group races to find the secret location of the party to save their high school friends. Scouts are always prepared, but are they prepared for this?
Horror-comedy can be really good if done right. I went into this film with no expectations. I had not heard much about it besides seeing a couple teaser trailers. I must admit. I enjoyed Scouts Guide to the Zombie Apocalypse. The film knows it is a comedy and never tries to be serious. They follow the formula very well, and throw in some blood and guts for good measure. I found this movie very reminiscent of another good horror-comedy; Idle Hands (1999). Week after week, T.V.’s The Walking Dead slams us with an intense, end of the world zombie drama. Once in a while it’s nice to relax and laugh at hordes of undead. You won’t need your brain for this one, and that’s not a bad thing now and then.
3.5 /5 Bloody Moons
May I proudly bring to you, a collection of my favorite non-traditional Christmas carols. Each day I will share a song, just to fill your Holiday season with cheer. Behold…12 Riffs of Christmas!
Spinal Tap – Christmas with the Devil (from the album This is Spinal Tap [re-release], 2000 Polydor). I could not think of a better way to begin the 12 Riffs of Christmas than the worlds greatest fiction band; Spinal Tap. This is Christmas through the eyes of Nigel Tufnel (Christoper Guest), David St. Hubbins (Michael McKean), and Derek Smalls (Harry Shearer). This is what happens to X-Mas when you turn the amps up to eleven. If you have not seen the mock documentary This Is Spinal Tap, you probably won’t appreciate this as much of those of us who have seen it. None the less, even the Devil gets lonely during the holidays. Spend some time with him.
Directed by: Michael Dougherty
Starring: Adam Scott, Toni Collette, David Koechner, Allison Tolman
Legendary Pictures, Universal Pictures.
Max, a young boy who is tired of his family not taking Christmas seriously, swears of the holiday, and in the process, he accidentally summons an evil spirit. Krampus and his army of demonic elves are coming to town, and they are not in a festive mood. Max and his family must try and survive the Christmas Eve from hell, and hopefully their X-Mas spirit can overcome Santa’s shadow; Krampus.
Being a fan of Michael Dougherty’s brilliant Halloween film Trick r Treat, I was really looking forward Krampus. Both films share a common theme; people disrespecting holidays, in this case Halloween and Christmas, and they are paid a visit by not-so-nice entities representing their respective night. They also share bad ass villains. Just like pumpkin goblin Sam (Trick r Treat), Krampus is a half beast half man Christmas creep. The effects design for the creature, as well as his army of elves, toys, and gingerbread men are great. The acting is decent, and the majority of the story is adequate. Those are things I liked. What I did not like was the lack of blood and violence. I image that Christmas demons would not be as relenting as these ones are. They could have been much more brutal. In spots, the film seemed lost to the fact that it is a horror movie. Unfortunately the ending of the film seemed pretty wishy-washy until the very last scene, which made the attempt to straighten out which was an unsatisfying payoff. If you go in expecting the brilliance of Trick r Treat, you will be disappointed. If you go in with low expectations, you might have a good time. Merry Krampus!
3 / 5 Bloody Moons
In 50 (or so) Words…
Sinister 2 (2015)
Directed by: Ciarán Foy
Starring: James Ransone, Shannyn Sossamon
Automatik Entertainment, Blumhouse Productions
A mother and her two sons move into secluded rural house to escape a domestic situation. There is only one problem; the house has been marked by the demon Bhughul. Using a series of “snuff” films and a gang of ghostly children, Bhughul continues his evil work, and wants this family to join him in hell. Ex-deputy So & So, who is investigating the events from the first film (Sinister, 2012) must uncover the truth and race to save the Collins family from certain death.
The first Sinister film was a good surprise for me, as I thought it was pretty creepy and had some original ideas. I enjoyed how the old home movies were incorporated into the film, and the method in which the families were chosen for death. It was obvious that a sequel would be made, as the first film was good, and turned a decent profit. For the most part, this is just a rehash of the first film with a different target family. James Ransone does return to reprise his character, Deputy So & So. Unfortunately, the character lacks the hero quality and just blends in. Where the first film had great eerie atmosphere, Sinister 2 goes for the jump scares more so than suspense. I felt as if the story showed its hand too early and too often for this sequel to be as effective as the predecessor. The “snuff” movies within the film were good, but the film itself was just not sinister enough for this guy. Hopefully the third installment can reinvent Bhughul. He seems to have lost his demon game.
2/5 Bloody Moons
In 50 (or so) Words
Why Horror? (2014)
Directed by: Nicolas Kleiman, Rob Lindsay
Starring: Tal Zimerman, a host of interview subjects including John Carpenter, Don Coscarelli, Eli Roth, Soska Sisters, and George A. Romero
Don Ferguson Productions
Life long horror fan, Tal Zimerman, goes on a mission to document and discover the answer to the age old question; why do we love to be scared? Zimerman travels from Mexico to Japan to investigate different cultures, interviews many authorities on the subject, and has physical tests performed on him to try and understand his own personal obsession with horror, and also mankind’s interest in the macabre.
I was flipping through movies on the television and came across Why Horror?, and since I am also a fan of the genre, decided it would be in my best interest to watch this feature documentary. If you go in expecting a film about horror films, this is not going to satisfy you. What is satisfying about this film is that there was a great amount of work put into it. Art, literature, other culture’s beliefs in death, science, and of course film are all explored. The question being asked is a valid and interesting question; why does horror appeal to see many people, while other people do not care for it? The film flows really well. The quality of interviewees and “experts” is impressive and insightful. The addition of the brain scan during a viewing of a horror movie was a nice and interesting touch. Overall, Why Horror? is a really cool watch. It’s nice to know that there are freaks like me out there. It was stated in the film that while people watch the horrors and atrocities of real life on CNN, I’ll stick to watching my horror in the cinema and reading it in comic books, where it won’t drive me mad.
3.5/5 Bloody Moons
In 50 (or so) Words
Redemption of the Devil (2015)
Directed by: Alex Hoffman
Starring: Jesse Hughes
This documentary follows a year in the life of charismatic front man for the band Eagles of Death Metal, Jesse Hughes. He is many things; wild-man, political activist, worshiper of women, ordained minister, and father. Leading up to Hughes’, aka Boots Electric, fortieth birthday, he is preparing to record a new album, play solo shows, record his radio shows, and most importantly, trying to reconnect with his son.
As a big fan of EODM, I was looking forward to watching Redemption of the Devil. To me, Jesse Hughes has always come off as a cock-sure and confident rock n’ roller, with a desire to live up to the legend that comes along with that lifestyle. He is that, and so much more. The film is very candid, and of course there are moments that it seems the man called “Boots Electric” is playing it up for the camera. After watching, I don’t believe that is the case. Hughes has a bombastic personality, and his views and opinions mirror that. There is also another side to Jesse Hughes; devoted son who honors his mother’s beliefs by becoming an ordained minister, as he tries to tone down his hedonistic ways. He is also a tortured father, who desperately wants to see his son after being estranged for a year. At some points during the film, I thought to myself how amazing it would be to live this lifestyle, which were counter-balanced by the realization that things can sometimes slip through your fingers and the fun is not all it is cracked up to be. I really enjoyed Redemption of the Devil, and because of this, I see “Boots Electric” as a human being, and not just the charismatic wild-man you see on stage.
4/5 Bloody Moons
In 50 (or so) Words…
The Hallow (2015)
Directed By: Corin Hardy
Starring: Joseph Mawle, Bojana Novakovic
Occupant Entertainment, IFC Midnight
After a month of living in an old house in the remote Irish countryside, a couple and their young son come under attack from supernatural forces that haunt the woods surrounding their home. The experience becomes dire as the evil entities target the couples infant boy.
I went into my viewing of The Hallow with zero expectations as I had not read too much about the film. In my opinion, it is a pretty well made homage to the old “don’t go into the woods at night” theme. The beautiful Irish landscape makes for a nice atmospheric setting. I was impressed with the creature design, as the forest demons are well crafted and effective. The heavy lifting as far as the acting goes is carried by Joseph Mawle (TV’s Ripper Street) and Bojana Novakovic (TV’s Shameless), and they do an admirable job. There are a few plot holes, and perhaps the writers gave away too much too soon, but nothing that should deter you from viewing the movie. My main complaint is that the film sputtered in some spots, and lost some momentum. All-in-all, this a very decent spin on an old Irish folklore that should have no problem finding an audience. Not perfect, but solid.
3 /5 Bloody Moons
In 50 (or so) Words…
Directed by: Bruce McDonald
Starring: Chloe Rose, Robert Patrick, Rachel Wilson
Whizbang Films, StoryBook Corporation, DHX Media
It is Halloween, and seventeen year old Dora is stunned and distraught after discovering she is four weeks pregnant. Her night gets worse as she is terrorized by a group ghostly trick-or-treaters who are after more than just candy. Halloween becomes surreal and terrifying for the young mother to be.
I was really excited to watch Hellions simply because it is directed by veteran Canadian filmmaker Bruce McDonald (Hardcore Logo, Pontypool). The first half of the film is very promising, but then things fall apart. The film becomes wishy-washy with too many scenes that left me guessing if what I watching was reality or a fantasy sequence. By the last ten minutes I had lost interest because I wasn’t sure which direction the story went. Not all was lost. There are some very creepy scenes as well as a little bit of tension. Canadian actress Chloe Rose (Degrassi: The Next Generation) is convincing as the tormented protagonist, and Robert Patrick (T2: Judgement Day) is, well, Robert Patrick. It is unfortunate that Hellions did not finish as strong as it started. I really wanted to like it more than I do.