Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Weekend Movies & Television

I originally wanted to call this post Valentine's Day Means Slasher Flicks, Mental Hospitals, Lesbians and British Teen Dramas, but it seemed a little over the top. Shall we begin?

Starring: Sid Haig, Bill Moseley, Sherri Moon & Karen Black
Director: Rob Zombie
Release Date: 11 April 2003
DVD Release Date: 12 August 2003
Approx Time: 88mins
Genre: Horror/Slasher
Rated: R

Friday called for a slasher movie. My first option was the slasher horror classic, The Texas Chainsaw Massacre. Sadly, I don't own that film. I do own the cult film, House of 1000 Corpses, which marks the directorial debut for musician Rob Zombie. Back in high school, I caught wind that Mr. Zombie was to write (possibly direct) the third installment of the Crow franchise - the film to be entitled The Crow: 2037. The film, however, was dropped and my curiosity about Zombie's ability to cross to the silver screen waned and vanished. Then, in 2003, this film was released and I heard so much about it that I had to see it for myself. It wasn't until its DVD release that I purchased the film and popped into my DVD player only to be greatly disappointed.

Not only did the film make me think that Zombie really wanted to remake The Texas Chainsaw Massacre. There were elements that felt really familiar in the film and I was somewhat disillusioned by his ability to convey a story.

However, the film wasn't that bad. I just had higher hopes for it. So every once in a while, when I'm completely bored out of my mind and want to watch a silly little slasher flick that isn't one the Scream films, I pick up this one. Overall rating: 3 stars.

The Devil's Rejects
Starring: Sid Haig, Bill Moseley, Sherri Moon Zombie, Ken Foree, Matthew McGrory & William Forsythe
Director: Rob Zombie
Release Date: 22 July 2005
DVD Release Date: 8 November 2005
Approx Time: 109mins
Genre: Horror/Slasher
Rated: Unrated

After being disappointed with House of a 1000 Corpses, I was more than reluctant to watch its sequel, The Devil's Rejects. Picking up a few years after the events of the first film, the Firefly family are woken from their sleep by a vindictive sheriff seeking revenge for the murder of his brother (who was murdered in the first film).

Again, it seemed that Rob Zombie borrowed a bit element from the Texas Chainsaw Massacre sequel. However, the film reminded me of a western rather than a horror film. While the film was better scripted, better directed and several times more coherent - goodbye Dr. Satan! - than the first, it was a film that provided everything I had wanted from the first movie. Cult Classic status immediately, however, this movie is a classic in its own right.

It wasn't until I saw Rob Zombie's Halloween 2 that helped me realize that he has a knack for sequels. Halloween was unwatchable (clearly, this is all my opinion), but the sequel was better structured. Overall rating: 5 stars.

Starring: Keir Gilchrist, Emma Roberts and Zach Galifianakis
Director: Anna Boden & Ryan Fleck
Release Date: 8 October 2010
DVD Release Date: 8 February 2011
Approx Time: 101mins
Genre: Teen/Comedy/Drama
Rated: PG-13

It was finally time that we watch something a little romantic. And because Valentine's Day landed on a Monday this year, we did our romantic movie watching on Saturday.

Based on the novel by Ned Vizzini, It's Kind of a Funny Story opens with a suicidal Craig seeking help from a mental hospital. Expecting an in-and-out treatment, he finds himself stuck in the facility for a nearly a week. And while the world outside seemed complicated, the help he's seeking is equally as tough.

The film mixes the romantic teenage drama with hints of comedy - thanks to funny man Zach Galifianakis. It reminds you just how tough things are growing up, shining the light on those who don't handle it so well in a less banal way. Overall rating: 5 stars.

The Texas Chainsaw Massacre
Starring: Marilyn Burns, William Creamer, Allen Danziger & John Dugan
Director: Tobe Hooper
Release Date: 1 October 1974
DVD Release Date: 26 September 2006
Approx Time: 83mins
Genre: Horror/Slasher
Rated: R

We chased our romantic mood with the slasher classic, The Texas Chainsaw Massacre (the original, of course). Having already seen Rob Zombie's rendition of it (yeah, I'm talking about the familiar elements from House of a 1000 Corpses), I wasn't as into it as I had hoped. Still, the original is better than the remake.

It's amazing how much screaming the 1970's contained. I wonder if anyone will ever make a film in which it just highlights the best screaming scenes from 70's horror flicks. It's an idea, isn't it? And how about that frustrated chainsaw dance at the end of the film? Pure gold. Overall rating: 4 stars.

Starring: Dennis Hooper, Caroline Williams, Jim Siedow & Bill Moseley
Director: Tobe Hopper
Release Date: 22 August 1986
DVD Release Date: 10 October 2006
Approx Time: 89mins
Genre: Horror/Slasher/Dark Comedy
Rated: Unrated

Unlike The Devil's Rejects, a sequel that perfected its predecessor, The Texas Chainsaw Massacre 2 failed me greatly. The fact that it had Dennis Hooper - who I'd rather not think of as that guy from Speed, but the guy from Easy Rider - and Bill Moseley - who starred as Otis Firefly in both of Rob Zombie's films - I hoped that film would actually be good. And through most of it, it was. Mixing in the horror slasher elements with dark comedy. The film is funnier than the first one - and it's meant to be funny.

However, it runs too long and the decisions by the characters - namely Stretch - seemed a little unrealistic. And can we cut the screaming? I mean, it is the 80's now. Overall rating: 2 stars.

Also on my plate Sunday, I started watching The L Word again. I started watching it at the tail end of 2010, but petered out before I finished the first season.

Having already watched the entire series, it was refreshing to see lovable, (not so) innocent Jenny before she takes that turn for the worse and becomes a bitch everyone hates. Not to mention Shane. Damn. I'd forgotten the reason I loved this show. I'm skipping along on the seventh episode. Hopefully, this time, I finish the entire series.

Not only was The L Word a part of my weekend television viewing, so was the British Teen Drama, Skins. After a horrible ending to series four, series five is beginning to take on the old feel from the first two. Hopefully, the storylines get better and we could put behind us the days of randomly killing off main characters at the hands of psychopathic therapist that add not plot to the story other than shock value. Shock value that almost ended its fan base.

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