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Tusk
Tusk
DVD
Price: $12.99

2.0 out of 5 stars A risky failure in over-the-top shock horror becoming more farcical from beginning to crazy end. Not even for Kevin Smith fans., October 1, 2014
This review is from: Tusk (Amazon Instant Video)
Ever wonder what happened to that kid who saw dead people in The Sixth Sense (1999; Haley Joel Osment)? Well search no more. He's right here! Sure, he's been doing some other stuff (Alpha House, A.I., some videogame voice work), but that was the big victory for me here--recognizing him. Otherwise Tusk largely disappointed me over and over again. Why? Because I thought I was buying a ticket to an envelope-pushing, body modification horror laced with torture and festooned with off-putting perversions of human frailty and fixation. That stuff was in there, but I feel that the execution did not do the theme justice.

From crude, hilarious dialogue and interactions with Canadian customs agents to excellently ominous scoring, this film's tone yoyo'd between serious (with funny introductory themes) to farcical…leaving me most perturbed as to what I was in for as I watched. We start by meeting shock podcaster extraordinaires Teddy (Haley Joel Osment) and Wallace (Justin Long; Drag Me to Hell). They tell the dirtiest jokes, have fun with ridiculous Youtube clips, and interview goofy internet sensations. Tusk's story finds its unsure flippered footing in one of Wallace's trips to interview a Canadian Youtube clip star who had cut off his own leg with his clumsily geeky katana skills. Wallace treks to Manitoba, all the way making Americans look like ignorant jerks to our friendly northern counterparts, only to find that his interviewee has killed himself.

Hoping not to return home empty handed, Wallace seeks some other "Canadian weirdo" to interview for his podcast. And in the restroom of a Canadian bar he finds an ad for a living arrangement with an old man who has "many stories to tell." He has found his man!

Our villain (Michael Parks; Django Unchained, Death Proof) was largely appropriate for an over-the-top horror film. From the moment we meet him things feel weird. He was zany and sometimes twistedly funny, but just plain sick and insane. Only a few times did his character lose his footing and misstep from over-the-top to farcical (e.g., the "walrus fight" scene or the "walrus suit" itself).

I felt that the effects met the gross-out expectations of the audience and that the body modification (or surgery) scenes succeeded at conveying a sense of sick hopelessness, torture, futility and a truly twisted mind. We see Wallace suffer in complete terror and we believe it. We see our villain take sick joy in Wallace's transformation…and we believe it. Unfortunately, the later in the film we find ourselves, the more frequent and long-lasting are the farcical aspects…to the point that the last 20-30 minutes feels purely farcical while trying to maintain its unsure grip of a very serious concept (i.e., that one can be stripped of his humanity and made into a monster).

Director Kevin Smith (Zack and Miri Make a Porn, Clerks II) has always been amazing at capturing his northeastern audience (and quickly the rest of the nation) with his well-crafted, oft-off color comedy. And whereas I felt that Clerks II (2006) showed a notable drop in quality in his work, I still loved it and formerly considered his only failure to be his most risky and quite off-genre undertaking of Red State (2011). Red State succeeded at being brutal and intense, but I just didn't feel that the delivery was there with the characters. But still, kudos for taking the risk. I like dipping my toes into risky movies.

This was another big risk on Smith's part. I consider it a failure, but I appreciate the risk that was taken. The failure came in keeping the tone consistent. I should add that if I walked in expecting something farcical (and was in the right mood for it) I probably would have enjoyed it MUCH MORE. I'd still wish it was "consistently" farcical, though. Whereas expecting something serious and sick, I left annoyed and feeling cheated.

It felt like Smith couldn't steer clear of his old ways (a la Mallrats and Clerks) as he painted his characters in this film. Wallace's too-gorgeous-to-be-true girlfriend (Genesis Rodriguez; Identity Thief, The Last Stand) felt a little forced and their relationship issues didn't really fit in the story. Johnny Depp (Transcendence, Dark Shadows) felt horribly misused and so farcical (compared to his surroundings) that I found his character to be nothing but annoying every minute he spoke or could be seen. And the shift from mostly serious at the story's inception to entirely cartoon-farcical at its close…well, that's what broke me. That was where my interest suffered.

This does not at all address my problems with the shift from serious to farcical. But an Amazon reviewer made a good point: "There’s really only one thing you need to know about this movie: It’s about a guy that kidnaps another guy and starts turning him into a walrus. If that sounds interesting to you, then you can stop reading this and go watch the movie. If it doesn’t sound interesting to you, then you can stop reading this and don’t go watch the movie." I wanted to see it knowing that, and I was disappointed. Just FYI.

Lots of risks were taken in this off-farcical film. And this is not a slam-review, it's just a review from a disappointed viewer who can still appreciate a risk-taker even if I don't like the product. My advice to you…don't see this until it's free for you to view and even then think twice. My advice to Kevin Smith…please keep taking risks outside of your comfort zone, but ask for some help (like a co-writer or co-director with experience in the genre but who also appreciates your style).


Tusk [Blu-ray]
Tusk [Blu-ray]
Price: $22.49

9 of 15 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars A risky failure in over-the-top shock horror becoming more farcical from beginning to crazy end. Not even for Kevin Smith fans., September 30, 2014
This review is from: Tusk [Blu-ray] (Blu-ray)
Ever wonder what happened to that kid who saw dead people in The Sixth Sense (1999; Haley Joel Osment)? Well search no more. He's right here! Sure, he's been doing some other stuff (Alpha House, A.I., some videogame voice work), but that was the big victory for me here--recognizing him. Otherwise Tusk largely disappointed me over and over again. Why? Because I thought I was buying a ticket to an envelope-pushing, body modification horror laced with torture and festooned with off-putting perversions of human frailty and fixation. That stuff was in there, but I feel that the execution did not do the theme justice.

From crude, hilarious dialogue and interactions with Canadian customs agents to excellently ominous scoring, this film's tone yoyo'd between serious (with funny introductory themes) to farcical…leaving me most perturbed as to what I was in for as I watched. We start by meeting shock podcaster extraordinaires Teddy (Haley Joel Osment) and Wallace (Justin Long; Drag Me to Hell). They tell the dirtiest jokes, have fun with ridiculous Youtube clips, and interview goofy internet sensations. Tusk's story finds its unsure flippered footing in one of Wallace's trips to interview a Canadian Youtube clip star who had cut off his own leg with his clumsily geeky katana skills. Wallace treks to Manitoba, all the way making Americans look like ignorant jerks to our friendly northern counterparts, only to find that his interviewee has killed himself.

Hoping not to return home empty handed, Wallace seeks some other "Canadian weirdo" to interview for his podcast. And in the restroom of a Canadian bar he finds an ad for a living arrangement with an old man who has "many stories to tell." He has found his man!

Our villain (Michael Parks; Django Unchained, Death Proof) was largely appropriate for an over-the-top horror film. From the moment we meet him things feel weird. He was zany and sometimes twistedly funny, but just plain sick and insane. Only a few times did his character lose his footing and misstep from over-the-top to farcical (e.g., the "walrus fight" scene or the "walrus suit" itself).

I felt that the effects met the gross-out expectations of the audience and that the body modification (or surgery) scenes succeeded at conveying a sense of sick hopelessness, torture, futility and a truly twisted mind. We see Wallace suffer in complete terror and we believe it. We see our villain take sick joy in Wallace's transformation…and we believe it. Unfortunately, the later in the film we find ourselves, the more frequent and long-lasting are the farcical aspects…to the point that the last 20-30 minutes feels purely farcical while trying to maintain its unsure grip of a very serious concept (i.e., that one can be stripped of his humanity and made into a monster).

Director Kevin Smith (Zack and Miri Make a Porn, Clerks II) has always been amazing at capturing his northeastern audience (and quickly the rest of the nation) with his well-crafted, oft-off color comedy. And whereas I felt that Clerks II (2006) showed a notable drop in quality in his work, I still loved it and formerly considered his only failure to be his most risky and quite off-genre undertaking of Red State (2011). Red State succeeded at being brutal and intense, but I just didn't feel that the delivery was there with the characters. But still, kudos for taking the risk. I like dipping my toes into risky movies.

This was another big risk on Smith's part. I consider it a failure, but I appreciate the risk that was taken. The failure came in keeping the tone consistent. I should add that if I walked in expecting something farcical (and was in the right mood for it) I probably would have enjoyed it MUCH MORE. I'd still wish it was "consistently" farcical, though. Whereas expecting something serious and sick, I left annoyed and feeling cheated.

It felt like Smith couldn't steer clear of his old ways (a la Mallrats and Clerks) as he painted his characters in this film. Wallace's too-gorgeous-to-be-true girlfriend (Genesis Rodriguez; Identity Thief, The Last Stand) felt a little forced and their relationship issues didn't really fit in the story. Johnny Depp (Transcendence, Dark Shadows) felt horribly misused and so farcical (compared to his surroundings) that I found his character to be nothing but annoying every minute he spoke or could be seen. And the shift from mostly serious at the story's inception to entirely cartoon-farcical at its close…well, that's what broke me. That was where my interest suffered.

This does not at all address my problems with the shift from serious to farcical. But an Amazon reviewer made a good point: "There’s really only one thing you need to know about this movie: It’s about a guy that kidnaps another guy and starts turning him into a walrus. If that sounds interesting to you, then you can stop reading this and go watch the movie. If it doesn’t sound interesting to you, then you can stop reading this and don’t go watch the movie." I wanted to see it knowing that, and I was disappointed. Just FYI.

Lots of risks were taken in this off-farcical film. And this is not a slam-review, it's just a review from a disappointed viewer who can still appreciate a risk-taker even if I don't like the product. My advice to you…don't see this until it's free for you to view and even then think twice. My advice to Kevin Smith…please keep taking risks outside of your comfort zone, but ask for some help (like a co-writer or co-director with experience in the genre but who also appreciates your style).
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Oct 7, 2014 12:09 PM PDT


Sharknado 2: The Second One
Sharknado 2: The Second One
DVD ~ Ian Ziering
Price: $10.19
11 used & new from $6.19

4.0 out of 5 stars Clearly the most creatively named sequel to a weather-induced shark attack movie OF ALL TIME!, September 7, 2014
This review is from: Sharknado 2: The Second One (DVD)
The utter bonkersness of this movie, by comparison, makes Snakes on a Plane feel like a perfectly reasonable action movie that could totally happen…and that's a good thing for the adventurous dumb-movie lover who doesn't mind a zany flick with a low budget and shamefully abundant past-gen CGI.

Now heroes, Tara Reid and Ian Ziering's (Beverly Hills 90210, Sharknado) returning characters are no strangers to the over-exposition that plagues Scy-Fy's movies-of-the-week, including Sharknado ("the first one"). But fret not, it's all in good fun and we don't get five minutes into the movie before paying homage to William Shatner's (or John Lithgow's) Twilight Zone short Terror at 20000 Feet! Even using the famous line "There's something on the wing!!!!" Only now..there are sharks on the wings of the plane! This is basically how I knew this would be worth a watch….that, and part one was bonkers amaze-balls fun!

Director Anthony C. Ferrante (Boo, Sharknado, Sharknado 3) lays on the stupid fast and heavy…and by stupid I mean stupidly awesome! The utter bonkersness of this movie, by comparison, makes Snakes on a Plane (2006) feel like a perfectly reasonable action movie that could totally happen.

Is this movie fast paced? Well, it has plenty of slow parts where we are forced to watch the cast try to act their way through to the next scene. But when the action is happening all is forgiven, lots of funny dumb stuff happens, and festive CGI gore abounds.
Are the effects good? It's a ScyFy movie-of-the-week…so NO. No they're not. But the movie is still fun and there were some choice gore effects.

Is EVERYONE in this movie? Absolutely! Fantastic cameos include The Today Show's Matt Lauer and Al Roker, Kelly Ripa, ex-Sugar Ray singer Mark McGrath, scream queen Tiffany Shepis (The Hazing), Judah Friedlander, Billy Ray Cyrus, Perez Hilton, Vivica Fox (Kill Bill Vol. 1/Vol. 2, Independence Day), Judd Hirsch (Independence Day), Jared the Subway guy, Kelly Osbourne and Andy Dick.
Much to my surprise I must say this movie taught me a few things…

1) Based on more than one scene I can safely say that the best way to fight a shark is with a baseball bat. That, and Ian Ziering has an amazing swing whether wielding a bat, chainsaw, fire axe, sword or that wooden thing they use to get pizzas out of a pizza oven. 2) Sharks hate physics and take every opportunity they can to defy its lame laws. As you watch this movie you'd swear the sharks were "aiming" themselves at their victims harnessing the propulsive force of the tornado. 3) Not only is Ian Ziering tougher than a CGI shark, but his butt is so rock hard that he doesn't even feel it when a baby shark is biting it! He probably taught The Rock how to be tough. 4) Judd Hirsch is actually Jason Voorhees! Bare with me for a second. Whenever you don't see him he transports unreasonable distances almost instantaneously and he's always where you least expect him. The only real difference is that there are no drug-using, fornicating teens around to trigger his urge to kill.

This movie is pure, mindless fun. Just watch it and stop being so judgy.


The Prowler [Blu-ray]
The Prowler [Blu-ray]
DVD ~ Vicky Dawson
Price: $11.49
27 used & new from $9.30

4.0 out of 5 stars A lesser-known slasher film that was the ultra-violent movie of its time (back in 1981), August 22, 2014
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
This review is from: The Prowler [Blu-ray] (Blu-ray)
This lesser-known slasher film was the ultra-violent movie of its time, brandishing more gore and "visible" kills than others of its era. This will please seasoned admirers of 70s and 80s slashers. ALTERNATE TITLE: I believe that this is titled Rosemary's Killer in the UK and Australia.

The year was 1945; it was a time of war. After receiving a "Dear John" letter from his girlfriend Rosemary, a soldier with a wounded heart returns home and goes on a killing spree. 35 years later, a (perhaps new) killer wearing WWII regalia begins slaughtering youngsters on the weekend of their Graduation Dance before he even changes out of his military greens. And, following in the most typical and dated of horror tropes, once the kids spike the punch bowl and start touching each others' fun parts prior to saying their "I do's" the killing can commence.
The acting is bad and the story runs way too slowly, but after the dragging lulls of plot we are rewarded with satisfying (for the era) death scenes that should please seasoned lovers of the classics but which may leave youngsters who grew up on the Final Destination films wanting quite a bit more out of their kills.

The gore is "simple" by today's standards, and representative of Tom Savini's early work. But hey, make no mistake, it was the 80s and before horror ever had much of an effects budget. For its time this was REALLY GORY! And what's really impressive is that you can see the penetration of the weapon into the victim during the kill scenes instead of a shot of a knife, a shot of a screaming victim, and a shot of blood spraying on the wall.

At the time of its release this was the equivalent of what we now call "ultra-violent." The style of the kills in this film predates the commonality of "fun" kills in horror, but there's still some good diversity including a couple getting collectively stabbed by a pitchfork while making out, someone getting stabbed all the way through the skull and then having it wrenched back out, someone's head is blown to chunky bits before our eyes, and there's a delightfully drawn out and gory shower kill.

The clichés abound but…wait a sec, here…as I watch I actually realize that this movie is so old in the history of slasher flicks that at the time things like murderer POV shots, the all-too-cool killer "walking" after his victims who just can't seem to outrun him because of stumbles and locked doors and dropped keys and jammed doors, the killer suddenly "appears" in places to which he couldn't possibly have moved in the allowed time and circumstances, and of course (VERY, VERY long) shower scenes weren't even tired out clichés yet.

So the moral of the story here is, ladies, don't send any of our troops a "Dear John" letter until your absolutely certain that you're not in a horror movie! Otherwise, you and the next generation may be in for an unpleasant surprise at your next school dance.


Cabin Fever 3: Patient Zero [Blu-ray]
Cabin Fever 3: Patient Zero [Blu-ray]
Offered by MEGA Media
Price: $30.95
8 used & new from $4.81

4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Still fun, but CLEARLY the least impressive flesh-eating virus movie of the franchise., August 9, 2014
Although still fun, this was the least impressive flesh-eating virus movie of the franchise. It's often more than gory and wacky enough to please fans of the franchise though.

A group of friends embark on a Caribbean bachelor party cruise and come across a remote island research facility and they are exposed to a deadly, flesh-eating virus during a gore-chummed snorkeling expedition.

Simultaneously we switch back and forth with a parallel plot in which researchers have isolated "patient zero" (Sean Astin; The Strain, The Goonies, Lord of the Rings)--the carrier of the original strain of this horrible virus that blessed us with this franchise--moved him to an island lab (yes, that lab) for study and… we'll just say things get out of hand inside their research facility as well. So we have two simultaneous infections occurring on this normally sleepy, sunny island.

If you've seen any of these movies, you've sort of seen them all. But let's be clear here, director Kaare Andrews (The ABCs of Death - V is for Vagitus, Altitude) delivers extravagant levels of gore consistent with the franchise. After exposure our early infected cast members have a rash which quickly shifts to symptoms of blisters and…worse. More advanced victims practically melt away and projectile vomit liquefied gore into the faces of the yet uninfected. Skin sloughs off of bodies, pus erupts from bloated flesh, and--perhaps the most flawed aspect of this sequel--victims eventually become almost zombie-like. Also, like its predecessors, it uses a sex scene to set the tone of the urgency…because after all, and I can't speak for everyone here, but when my girlfriend's body is covered with festering sores the first place y mind goes to is "then we should probably have sex!" Perhaps this is all just to teach younger viewers that sex might just catch you something deadly. Oh, and bonus, there's also a flesh-ripping zombie girl catfight.

Part one of this franchise succeeded with a rather serious tone, part two was basically slapstick and goretastically hilarious, and this third installment attempts to re-secure a sense of fear and urgency as the infection advances while maintaining some playful silliness (e.g., having your softened, flesh-eaten skull crushed by a giant dildo). In my opinion the urgency is long missed and, while this movie is entertaining for the sake of the gore and some most welcomed wackiness, the overall Cabin Fever experience doesn't measure up strongly to the first two and is, in fact, ranking far below either of them in quality.

The nigh-zombiism of the infected left me feeling a bit derailed and the plot (revolving around getting off the island) degenerates down a dumb path. But kudos for not just "redoing" the movie and "calling" it a sequel as we often see in the horror genre. At least a solid effort was made to make this installment feel different from the others. In that respect, the entire franchise is successful.

I must say I was entertained, though. This flick was a lot of fun and any film featuring a bludgeoning death-by-dildo scene deserves some attention from gorehound goofballs.


All Cheerleaders Die [Blu-ray]
All Cheerleaders Die [Blu-ray]
DVD ~ Caitlin Stasey
Price: $11.99
24 used & new from $11.99

2.0 out of 5 stars An unexciting movie about zombie succubus cheerleaders and their magical Wicca stone-fueled, bonkers, aimless revenge story., August 7, 2014
I'd only recommend this to the most adventurous horror-goer with a good sense of humor and low expectations. There's nothing special here and the tone erratically shifts. But there's some bonkers humor for those who enjoy such flavor.

After the tragic death of the captain of the cheerleading squad, her meek outsider friend Maddy (Caitlin Stasey; Evidence, I Frankenstein)cleans up and goes undercover as an enthusiastic pom-pomer to expose these mean girls for what they really are. Early in her sting operation, during a beer bash Maddy and her close newfound cheerleader friends are wronged by the captain of the football team (resulting in their accidental death) and now she has an entirely new target.

But wait, Maddy died. So how could she exact her revenge? The answer here is weird little divination stones (or Wicca witch rocks or something, not sure what to call them exactly). A full moon, a little blood and the right cast of the stones seemed to be enough to resurrect three wrongly killed cheer squad members essentially by accident. They basically turn into super strong, zombie succubi and they show up to school the next day with a killer new sexy look and an appetite that is to die for! Cliché.

Co-writer/directors Lucky McKee (The Woods, May, The Woman) and Chris Sivertson (I Know Who Killed Me) don't really bring us anything special this time around. Their actors are weak and inexperienced (but serviceable, I guess), the effects are mundane, none of the characters develop at all, and the story and execution is weak. Strangest and least consistent is that the tone and direction of the movie change erratically between scenes…shifting from a zombie succubus cheerleader revenge movie to a weird gemstone-eating dude versus a bunch of scared cheer zombies. That sentence probably made no sense--rest assured that neither does the movie

But there were some fun perks. After the resurrection two of the girls accidently switched bodies, there's a randomly hilarious "cat kill", we see a lot of girls in their undies, and some bonkers dumb-but-funny things end up happening.

That said, I'll only recommend this to the adventurous horror goer with a good sense of humor and low expectations.


Wishmaster: The Prophecy Fulfilled
Wishmaster: The Prophecy Fulfilled
DVD ~ Mariam Bernstein
Price: $5.80
48 used & new from $1.72

3.0 out of 5 stars A weirdly pseudo-romantic end to the ever worsening evil genie franchise, May 31, 2014
Director Chris Angel (Wishmaster 3: Beyond the Gates of Hell) returns to bring us the dreaded fourth installment in this series. Some may be shocked that he'd be asked back after seeing part 3. But, much like the Matrix sequels, parts 3 and 4 were filmed back to back with hardly a weekend's break in between. So don't be surprised that the make-up for the Djinn looks exactly the same since, well…it is.

Lisa (Tara Spencer-Nairn) is in the middle of a pretty rough patch with her boyfriend, who suffered a crippling motorcycle accident. As with the previous installments she somehow randomly encounters the Djinn's ruby prison, rubs it (really just touches it) and releases the Djinn (unbeknownst to her). Magically disguised as Lisa's lawyer, our genie tricks Lisa into making her first two wishes, which include a healthy legal settlement and her husband's ability to walk again.

If Lisa makes her third wish then all Djinn--oh, yeah, Hell is just brimming with their kind--will be freed and they'll create Hell on Earth. At this point it should be easy for the Djinn to fool her into making some whimsical wish. No clue why he doesn't…she still has no idea that he's actually an evil genie. But wait, there's a weird twist. When Lisa wishes something the Djinn can't grant himself, he most dote on her emotions to make her love him…in order to open the gates of Hell…romantic, huh? That's right! Djinn's can't just make someone fall in love with someone else. Evidently the Disney Aladdin genie followed the same rules.

The execution of the gore is iffy at times. But there are some satisfyingly gross moments like the "face peel" scene typical of the franchise and some genie-wish-induced self-mutilation. We also get to see other Djinn, which was neat I guess.
Overall…meh. I wouldn't recommend this.

Don't get mad at me for saying this, but isn't the Wishmaster franchise about due for a serious remake/reboot? The original isn't even 20 years old yet and, to this day, is very entertaining and a favorite to gorehounds. But I'd love to see this approached with a real budget (which none of the franchise installments have ever enjoyed) and a far more serious tone. Yes, serious. If it's not serious then there's no point in remaking it at all.


Generation Iron
Generation Iron
DVD ~ Arnold Schwarzenegger
Price: $9.99
40 used & new from $5.99

5.0 out of 5 stars Interesting, inspiring, even soulful with Mickey Rourke's narration, this film is a modern day Pumping Iron, May 31, 2014
This review is from: Generation Iron (DVD)
Generation Iron follows a group of professional bodybuilders from pro-qualifier competitions to the 2012 Mr. Olympia. Some make that journey rather stress free, others find it more tolling. The presentation of these men is appropriately down to Earth and humanizing. You forget that they are in the top 0.0001% in their sport and appreciate them for their flaws and struggles in the microcosm of this single competition in their career. When we see them fail, we understand the realities and that there can only be one winner. But when they triumph, we get lost in the moment and feel happy for them. By the end (when they named the 2012 Mr. Olympia) I was at the edge of my seat…even though I already knew who won! LOL

Mickey Rourke's soulful and wizened narration breathes life into this work and allows the audience, who may have once viewed these athletes as steroid-abusing sideshow spectacles, to understand the level of determination and struggle of these men.

Pumping Iron (1977) introduced the world to bodybuilding which, at the time of its release, was just as unknown and fantastic to the general public as Harry Potter's wizarding world and Hogwarts. In need of a protagonist, they depicted the arrogant veteran and current champion Arnold Schwarzenegger as the hero while essentially vilifying the kind-hearted newcomer Lou Ferrignou. Here, we find Phil Heath filling the role of the arrogant champion and Kai Greene as his humble opponent. The dynamic, however, is rather different since Kai Greene is a veteran who never won a Sandow (the trophy) and Heath is a young champion. So it comes with little surprise that Heath finds comfort in his arrogance. He expects to win whereas Kai Greene expects only to bring his best. That said, there is no clear protagonist in this story. In a way, that may be the documentary's greatest fault. But I still thought it was great!

All of the competitors presented have found their way to the Olympia in different ways. Branch Warren thrives on his instinct and almost reckless work ethic whereas Ben Paluski relies on science to track his progress and hone his training program. Kai Greene protests that his devoted training will earn him Mr. Olympia, but Phil Heath suggests that his natural talent provides a powerful edge. We get a taste of many bodybuilder philosophies, but we delve very shallowly into supplements, training programs or steroids. Although, they do make some strong statements about steroid use in general with respect to competitive professional sports and bodybuilding, especially the fact that steroids don't make their jobs at all "easy." Their development is wrought with pain and sacrifice.

These powerful athletes, often considered dumb meathead hunks of chemically-developed muscle, reveal their vulnerabilities and what they can and cannot control. For some, their career is everything, for others it's just a chapter in their life, and bodybuilding saved Kai Greene from a youth of delinquency and a likely troubled adulthood.

This is a fun ride for any fan of the sport. You'll see the likes of Lou Ferrigno, Michael Jai White, Busta Rhymes, Phil Heath, Kai Greene, Dennis Wolf, Jay Cutler, Ronnie Coleman, Ben Pakulski, Roelly Winklaar, Bob Cicherillo, Branch Warren, Hidetada Yamagishi, Sibil Peeters, Victor Martinez, Dennis James and Jim Stoppani. Stick around to the end of the credits for a Mike Katz cameo paying homage to when he was pranked by Ken Waller in Pumping Iron almost 40 years ago.

As a weightlifter myself, I found this film inspirational and I'd beg anyone with waning dedication, discipline or interest to give this a watch. You'll be re-invigorated!


Happy Birthday to Me
Happy Birthday to Me
DVD ~ Melissa Sue Anderson
Offered by newtownvideos
Price: $9.58
38 used & new from $2.20

4.0 out of 5 stars A GREAT "bad" 80s horror/slasher flick with plot twists and integrity., May 31, 2014
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
This review is from: Happy Birthday to Me (DVD)
This is truly a "great" bad horror movie and it has more integrity than others of its generation. Although I wouldn't recommend it to gorehounds, fans of classic 80s slashers will enjoy it.

Remember the days when all horror was rated R? Yeah, I miss the 80s, too. Those were the good old days when everything was either good or "bad" good. I'd call this particular 80s film a "great bad" horror.

Meet Virginia Wainwright (Melissa Sue Anderson). She's one of the smartest and most popular kids in school, but she suffers from memory loss and blackouts. Now, in the days leading up to her 18th birthday, her hip clique friends begin dying one by one in strange ways and many of them begin acting strangely.

As her friends become defensive, aggressive and damn near homicidal, Virginia slowly regains traumatic memories from her past. However, she also seems to be seeing some things that her friends aren't seeing. All the while we are left to wonder just who is killing all these privileged private school brats? After the first kills, all we know for sure is that the victims know their killer. Is the killer the now mentally unhinged Virginia, or one of her snotty privileged friends?

Grin-worthy 80s lameness abounds. From the opening sequence we have a lame strangling which is salvaged by a most spirited struggle by our hysterical coed victim. The deaths range from ho-hum quality to laugh-out-loud hilarity. My favorite kill involves giving a mean spot while someone is doing bench presses, which of course reminded me of Killer Workout (1987; aka Aerobicide) and Death Spa (1989). And the deliciously macabre birthday scene at the end smacks of The Texas Chainsaw Massacre (1974).

The gore was definitely adequate for its time, but nothing special. This film is clearly more for classically bad 80s slasher fans than sloshy gorehounds, and this lacks the level of zany gore suggested by the DVD cover art. Fans of the 80s will be pleased to see Lisa Langlois (The Nest, Phobia). And by the way, this was directed by J. Lee Thompson (the original Cape Fear, Conquest of the Planet of the Apes)!

Maybe what sets this 80s slasher most apart from the rest is that it is filled with red herrings. Virginia's flashbacks, blackouts and possible hallucinations combined with her friends' changing behavior offer ample opportunity to misdiagnose the killer. The ending packs such a twisted punch that it would make the plot of a Mexican soap opera seem plausibly reasonable.

This 80s slasher maintains a great deal more integrity than its peers as well. There is no nudity and some effort was clearly placed in constructing the twist-rich plot. I'll say that again, this is a low budget 80s horror/slasher flick with a thoughtfully made plot. That never happens! That's reason enough to consider it worth seeing. But, plot aside, this is fun in its own right anyway. I really enjoyed it.


The Quiet Ones [Blu-ray]
The Quiet Ones [Blu-ray]
DVD ~ Jared Harris
Price: $16.00
17 used & new from $9.08

31 of 36 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Abnormal psychology faces off against paranormal psychic phenomena and loses in this well-acted yet poorly written film, May 31, 2014
This review is from: The Quiet Ones [Blu-ray] (Blu-ray)
Very entertaining, but it's not making any "top" lists this year. This film was good-but-mismanaged and found greatness out of reach due to weak story synthesis and character development. However, this movie is rich with charm, jumps and excellent production value. So watch it with a date instead of with a horror snob.

Loosely based on a true experiment that took place in Oxford in 1974, this film delves deep into the notion that what we commonly consider "the supernatural" actually represents telekinetic and "teleplasmic" manifestations of the minds of disturbed believers. Led by Professor Coupland (Jared Harris; Poltergeist), graduate students Krissy (Erin Richards) and Harry (Rory Fleck-Byrne; Vampire Academy) and videographer Brian (Sam Claflin; Snow White and the Huntsman, The Hunger Games: Catching Fire) band together to investigate the psychic phenomena produced by the suicidal young Jane (Olivia Cooke; Bates Motel) with hopes of "curing" her.

From Act One to the next weird things happen, Coupland's methods are called into question as Jane's health is placed at increasing risk, and Coupland shifts from methodical to manic in his obsession to cure her. Both Coupland and Brian share a competitive interest (almost a sexual fixation) in saving her, but go about doing so by conflicting means. Jared Harris' psychological descent is impressive and committed whereas Sam Claflin embraces his character's own brand of emotional fragility.
This film was filled with entertaining moments including shocking effects, gripping jump scares and some long scenes tensed up with a solid creep factor. I'd add that the acting was very good; great, in fact, for a horror film. Olivia Cooke managed to capture crazy, disturbed, scary, dangerous and sympathetic all at once. The style of the film goes from something like a "house" movie, to a demonic possession movie, and then to something altogether different which I don't want to spoil (not that it's anything super special). However, as the story shifted gears from skeptical science and rational explanations to "what have we gotten ourselves into?" I found myself generally uninvested in the characters and the outcome. Don't get me wrong, the movie is not without its charm, I enjoyed it and was entertained, and I really "liked" the characters. The thing is, their "development" didn't lead me anywhere interesting. And whereas the facets of the story (and the scenes behind them) were independently interesting, they failed to find any of that effective and satisfying synthesis that makes us care if the protagonists succeed.

Director John Pogue (The Skulls, Quarantine II) may not have wowed us with this film's story synthesis. But, given his résumé, this represents a good step forward in his professional development and I must admit that it was very entertaining. However, the premise itself is more interesting than its execution. It won't please gore hounds or story snobs who pine only for unique horror fare--and who, might I add, are almost never 100% happy with what they're served--but it will please the popcorn "movie night" guys who just want to see good effects, enjoy acting that doesn't hurt their soul, and laugh at well-placed jump scares. It would probably be a good scary movie on date night as well. Had it only balanced its writing with its quality scares, acting, ideas and filming with a better screenplay, this would have been quite good instead of good-but-mismanaged.

To the less-initiated and perhaps younger horror fan, this PG-13 film may serve as a great introduction to horror. Those who aren't overly critical or "so tired" of loud-noise induced jump scares should get a real kick out of this. What it lacks in character development and cohesiveness it more than makes up for with jumpy scares, neat effects, minimal gore, great acting, solid production value and a cool premise.


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