Dec 31, 2014

Review: Sleepless in Seattle (1993)

I've never seen Sleepless in Seattle which too surprising I guess. My girlfriend had never seen it either though and I've been poking fun at her these past few days with good reason. One of her favourite movies of all time is You've Got Mail which she will stop her life for if it is on TV. She adores Tom Hanks and Meg Ryan who also star in YGM and she even loves a few other Nora Ephron movies as well. You can easily see why she deserved every dig.

Maybe I should be made fun of too for being a movie guy and never seeing it? Maybe, but you could probably find better movies to laugh at me for if you ask me. After seeing Love Affair and An Affair to Remember which SiS is inspired by, I'm getting closer to having seen all of this series of films now. I'm just missing the 1994 remake as well as some particularly unappetizing Bollywood remakes.

Dec 30, 2014

Review: An Affair to Remember (1957)

There seems to be a fair amount of disdain for An Affair to Remember because of the role it plays in the 90's Nora Ephron directed Sleepless in Seattle with Tom Hanks and Meg Ryan. I haven't seen that movie yet, but apparently it's partially inspired by AAtR and it makes references to it multiple times. That's enough for it to have been given the ultimate chick flick moniker, but I'm not so sure that's really fair. There are definitely other movies I'd put ahead of it on that list, but that's just me.

I still find it pretty amusing that Leo McCarey directed a remake to his own movie. Eighteen years separate Love Affair and An Affair to Remember and there could be several reasons as to why he wanted to do a remake. Maybe McCarey didn't think he did the story justice the first time, or maybe he thought that it'd be cool to do the film in colour. Either way, I was interested to see what could be done with an updated version.

Dec 29, 2014

Review: Love Affair (1939)

Love Affair is one of those old classic movies that have been remade multiple times in ensuing years. One of those remakes was even by its own director, Leo McCarey. That would be An Affair to Remember with Cary Grant and Deborah Kerr and it's definitely the more popular version of the two. Following that, there was a 1994 remake with Warren Beatty and Annette Bening as well as a Bollywood remake called Mann with Aamir Khan.

The reason why I'm watching Love Affair is because I want to work my way to Sleepless in Seattle which was inspired by An Affair to Remember apparently. Christmas is also part of the plot but not overly so, which should make these movies a good way to ease out of December before a short foray into New Year's movies. 

Dec 28, 2014

Review: Jingle All the Way 2 (2014)

Before even watching Jingle All the Way 2, one can't help but wonder why this movie was made at all. Why would anyone want to see a sequel to Jingle All the Way 18 years later without Arnold Schwarzenegger? Without even a cameo from Sinbad? I doubt they were tendered any offers anyway because that would just be insulting.

What I want to avoid doing with this review is rant about Larry the Cable Guy, so I guess I'll just get it out my system now. I'm not really all that familiar with his stand-up career, but I think I know enough. He's essentially created this on-stage redneck persona who'll say controversial things, but gets a pass because he's just an ignorant redneck after all. Oh, he's got his "git-r-done" catchphrase too. He's imported this persona and brought it into awful titles like Larry the Cable Guy: Health Inspector and Witless Protection. It's the same schtick all the time and I just can't comprehend how it was ever funny in the first place.

Dec 27, 2014

Review: The Borrowers (2011)

I've been waiting on seeing this version of The Borrowers for some time after having gone through the lot of adaptations some months ago. This is a Christmas-themed version put out by BBC, so I had no choice but to wait until December. With a couple of notables like Christopher Eccleston and Stephen Fry, it couldn't be all that bad right?

The 1997 version of Mary Norton's novel was a childhood favourite of mine. Watching it now made me realize that it isn't quite as good as I remember it being, but it still has its moments. The cast is of particular interest. The 1973 version from The Hallmark Channel has aged horribly and that leaves us with Studio Ghibli's The Secret World of Arrietty. Although it doesn't measure up to other SG productions, it's a really nice effort and is definitely the best adaptation at the moment. Can Tom Harper find a way to best it?

Dec 26, 2014

Review: The Swan Princess: A Royal Family Tale (2014)

It's not easy seeing a sequel when the predecessor was just so good at being unbelievably bad. Director Richard Rich who's been around since the beginning of The Swan Princess film series returns once again to pelt more eggs at something that was once halfway respectable. The original The Swan Princess wasn't quite able to measure up to its Disney peers, but there's nothing like a little competition and you had to respect Rich for that. 

With two middling sequels that followed in 1997 and 1998, Richard Rich thought it would be a good idea for some reason to make yet another Swan Princess sequel after no one cared anymore, make it a Christmas film and replace the traditional cel animation with CGI. If that's not selling out, I don't know what is. The Swan Princess: A Royal Family Tale is the follow-up to The Swan Princess Christmas and it looks every bit as bad as you'd expect.

Dec 25, 2014

Review: How the Grinch Stole Christmas! (1966)

The last of my annual Christmas trifecta, How the Grinch Stole Christmas! is children's entertainment at its finest. It's the kind of movie that for me as a kid, it strangely felt a whole lot longer than it really was because of how awesome and draining an experience it was every time it came on. I don't really know why that is, but I guess it's because of the excitement I felt while watching it, which would  then flatline at the end. Kind of like going through a time machine you know? Some kind of fun to unfun time machine.

What's weird is that I don't think I've ever even read Dr. Seuss' How the Grinch Stole Christmas!, even as a kid. I've read some of his other books and it's honestly pretty difficult to pick a favourite. If I really had to narrow it down, I guess it would be between Green Eggs and Ham and The Lorax. Anyhow, back to The Grinch.

Dec 24, 2014

Review: A Charlie Brown Christmas (1965)

A Charlie Brown Christmas has to be one of the most amusing tales of film production. At the time, Peanuts had become a worldwide phenomenon and Lee Mendelson was looking to make a documentary on its success. Writer Charles M. Schulz agreed to take part in it, but unfortunately no TV studio wanted it. However, an offer came through for a thirty minute special that Mendelson agreed to immediately, thinking to use it as leverage to sell his Schulz documentary.

What followed was an animated production made on a shoestring budget, an unheard of Biblical reading as well as a voice cast totally composed of children which had never been done before. It went over budget and was rushed to meet the deadline. Pretty much everything pointed to it being a complete failure which is the exact opposite of what happened. Reception was overwhelmingly positive and it has become a staple during Christmas in North America.

Review: Home Alone: The Holiday Heist (2012)

I just don't get why anyone would think that people are still interested in a Home Alone movie anymore. Home Alone 4 is without a doubt one of the worst sequels ever put to film and it deserves every single bad thing ever said about it and everything that will be said about it. Although the goodwill of Home Alone and Home Alone 2: Lost in New York continues to live on, the ship for new Home Alone movies has long since sailed.

I think that the producers of Home Alone: The Holiday Heist realize that as does ABC Family which broadcasted the film. There wasn't really a whole lot of hoopla made over its release in 2012, at least not anything that I really heard of anyway. This was just about ABC padding their 25 Days of Christmas TV lineup with an established franchise, nothing more.

Dec 23, 2014

Review: Rudolph, the Red-Nosed Reindeer (1964)

2014 is the 50th anniversary of Rudolph, the Red-Nosed Reindeer and it's one of those movies that is a must see for me every year around Christmas. I'm not sure how old I was when I first saw it, but like a lot of people it's one of those movies that became a huge part of my childhood. It just doesn't quite feel like Christmas if I don't catch at least a little bit of Rudolph on TV. I'm a little bothered by all the merchandising I've seen for it this year, but I guess that's just the nature of the beast. You only turn fifty once after all.

My big three every year for Christmas are Rudolph, How the Grinch Stoles Christmas! and A Charlie Brown Christmas. Again though, I really don't think I'm alone in this at all. These are some of the oldest movies continuously played every single year on TV without fail and they're bound to have lots of fans. I'm just stating the facts here. Hopefully though, it's a Christmas trio that will live forever.

Review: Home Alone 4 (2002)

Home Alone 4 was at one point titled Home Alone 4: Taking Back the House. Personally, I like Home Alone 4: Wasting Your Time better, but I don't come up with titles for a living. I'm glad that at the very least this was released as a TV movie and not a theatrical film. It wasn't really that much of a favour though.

Want to know why? Because the plan was to turn this movie into a TV series. The producers even had the nerve to approach Daniel Stern to reprise his role as Marv from Home Alone and Home Alone 2: Lost in New York. All the principal actors of HA4 were locked into contracts that would have them return for the TV series that thankfully never came to fruition. I'm glad people had some sense to not watch this movie which should've been clear from Home Alone 3 anyway.

Review: It's a Wonderful Life (1946)

Despite seeing tons of movies and making a habit of watching nothing but Christmas movies for the whole month of December, I had never seen It's a Wonderful Life until two years ago. I'd seen snippets of it shown on TV and I'd even seen parts of it that were shown in other movies, usually Christmas ones of course. For me, it was definitely a long time coming for a movie that had become an undeniable holiday staple in North America.

Despite a pretty unconvincing performance at the box office in 1946, It's a Wonderful Life was able to become the popular classic that is because of how much it was shown on TV during the holidays starting in the late 1970's. Capra has called it his favourite of his movies and even James Stewart has as well. One thing's for sure though, It's a Wonderful Life is a Christmas fixture just as much as Christmas trees, turkey dinners and socks as presents are.

Dec 22, 2014

Review: The Swan Princess Christmas (2012)

Richard Rich what have you done? Is this really how far you've sunk? Forced to take an existing series and milk it into oblivion? I didn't even like The Swan Princess very much to begin with, but at least there was an attempt there at making it into a decent animated film. Followed by two very underwhelming sequels in The Swan Princess: Escape from Castle Mountain and The Swan Princess: The Mystery of the Enchanted Treasure that were made to be easy cash grabs, I don't know what good can come of The Swan Princess Christmas.

Were Swan fans even clamoring for another sequel, a CGI animated sequel at that? Eighteen years separate TSP and TSPC, so I doubt fans of the original were even paying attention when it was released. Oh, maybe it's the return of James Arrington to voice Chamberlain that got people excited. Doubtful eh? Money can be the only thing at work here and I don't even think there's any to be made. Too much time has passed and I think the cash grab ship has already sailed.

Dec 21, 2014

Review: The Swan Princess: The Mystery of the Enchanted Treasure (1998)

I'm glad that Richard Rich at least had the decency to release this second sequel to The Swan Princess direct-to-video. Releasing The Swan Princess: Escape from Castle Mountain theatrically was a big mistake, even if it was quickly corrected. Like TSP:EfCM, The Swan Princess: The Mystery of the Enchanted Treasure belongs nowhere else but in a bargain bin.

Funny how these sequels don't have a numerical designator right? It's not the first series to do it, but I'm pretty sure that this is done to make people think this isn't necessarily a sequel. That way, anyone can watch it if they want to even if they haven't seen the original. Also, the title is totally bogus anyway since there is no "enchanted treasure" in this movie. At least Escape from Castle Mountain had a mountain/volcano that doubled as a castle.

Review: VeggieTales: The Little Drummer Boy (2011)

Mike Nawrocki, one of the original creators and Mark Steele who's been around the series since 2009 did the script for this Christmas-themed VeggieTales entry. They've lifted the story directly from the 1968 Rankin/Bass TV special which sadly enough, I haven't even seen and I probably should've before watching this.

The Little Drummer Boy actually traces its origins back to a song written by Katherine Kennicott Davis in 1941 which was then recorded by the Trapp Family Singers in '55. It's been re-recorded many times afterwards by pretty much everyone who's done a Christmas album. It's not really a favourite of mine as far as holiday music goes, but looking at the long list of different versions reminds me that I should really track down Christopher Lee's A Heavy Metal Christmas and give that a listen.

Dec 20, 2014

Review: Jingle All the Way (1996)

When I finally discovered Arnold Schwarzenegger, movie watching changed forever for me. I wanted to see every single movie he ever appeared in and I've come pretty close to doing that. Arnold oozes charisma, he's got some pretty solid comedic timing and he's the size of a tree. He's too cool for school and if I met him in person I'd probably turn into a thirteen year old or something. 

Jingle All the Way is the part of Arnold's career where he decided to mix it up a bit with the odd comedy role. It was definitely a risky decision given his action hero persona, but it's one that paid off for him as well as studios. This started with Twins in 1988 and Jingle is pretty much the ending bookmark to that chapter until his tiny cameo in Around the World in 80 Days in 2004 (which is hilarious by the way). I suppose you could consider Batman & Robin which came out in 1997 as a pure comedy, but that's a matter of opinion.

Dec 19, 2014

Review: The Swan Princess: Escape from Castle Mountain (1997)

I would really like to know who made the decision to release The Swan Princess: Escape from Castle Mountain theatrically. The first movie was a pretty big bomb with less than $10 million at the box office on a $35 million budget. Maybe TSP:EfCM didn't have a very wide release, but it predictably failed to make much of an impact and was released on video only two months afterwards. The numbers just weren't there to begin with and I don't know who could've thought a second try was warranted.

The Swan Princess: Escape from Castle Mountain was the absolute perfect movie to be released direct-to-video.You know, the kind that would've been found in plentiful quantities in video rental stores in the kid section? Michelle Nicastro was the only voice actor to return which I suppose is pretty nice since she has the titular role. Oh, there's Steve Vinovich as Puffin as well. The fact that no one else returned is a pretty bad sign though. The animation also suffered very visably from some downgrading and the movie is barely over an hour long. All the ingredients were there for that perfect direct-to-video release.

Dec 18, 2014

Review: Window Wonderland (2013)

I went ahead with another Hallmark Christmas TV movie, this time about two would-be-lovers who work as window dressers. It's a job that melds art and marketing together which speaks to me personally since it's my field. I was honestly looking forward to seeing the kind of work that would be featured in the movie actually. Christmas window dressing is a pretty cool subject for a movie if you ask me, so I was pretty impressed that a good idea like this could be found in a Hallmark original movie.

Store windows at Christmastime have actually always meant something to me. It's maybe a bit silly I guess, but I still remember looking at the awesome Ogilvy Christmas window display in Montreal that my mom would take my sisters and I to go see every year. People would all huddle around, looking at at the mechanized characters, usually animals, skating around in what was a beautifully detailed environment. It's an early Christmas memory of mine and although I don't go see the Ogilvy window every year anymore, I have fond memories of it.

Dec 17, 2014

Review: Home Alone 3 (1997)

Home Alone 3 was the final film that John Hughes was contractually obliged to do with Twentieth Century Fox and I'd like to think that he didn't really care too much about it. For a movie with a kid planting traps for bad guys, there's only so much you can do anyway right? He is the only returning cast or crew member of importance to return besides director Raja Gosnell who was originally the editor of Home Alone and Home Alone 2: Lost in New York. Good for Raja I guess who went on to direct a bunch of mediocre to bad movies.

Home Alone 3 features a whole new story with a whole new bunch of characters. Is this a reboot before the word became so popular in Hollywood? One thing's for sure, Alex D. Linz definitely has some pretty big shoes to fill with the powerhouse performances that Macaulay Culkin was able to pull off. You got to sort of feel for him because there aren't many people who can succeed in situations like that.

Dec 16, 2014

Review: VeggieTales: It's a Meaningful Life (2010)

I'm feeling good right now because I'm one movie closer to being done with VeggieTales forever. I know that there's a lot more to go though but being finished with the Christmas themed entries would be a great Christmas present for myself. Of course, the real concern here is Big Idea continuing to make new films which does seem to be the case. They seem to be settled on making three films a year which is awful, awful news for me. It's sure to make lots of Veggie fans very pleased though.

Made in 2010, It's a Meaningful Life makes it pretty clear which movie it's inspired by. It's a shame that it's been pumped so full of references to God and being made special by Him. Talk about ruining a good story. All the same, seeing all these Christmas-themed VeggieTales movies has been great for me personally to get a good cross-section of the series as a whole.

Dec 15, 2014

Review: The Swan Princess (1994)

I'm sorry, but I never heard of The Swan Princess when I was younger. It was however one of the larger profile animated releases that wasn't under the Disney banner at the time besides what Don Bluth was putting out. With a lot of budget sunk into high quality traditional hand-painted cel animation, you got to give ex-Disney director Richard Rich credit for trying to compete with the giant that Disney was at the time though. From 1989-1999, this was Disney's Renaissance and a period of time where they could do no wrong.

It's a true David vs. Goliath story and one that didn't end well for David. It was competing with a lot of big movies at the box office as well as what some see as an act of sabotage by Disney. A re-issue of The Lion King was released at the same time, leaving The Swan Princess without much of a fighting chance to capture the family market. With only a little under $10 million earned domestically, The Swan Princess transitioned into nothing more than a cheap direct-to-video series.

Review: Home Alone 2: Lost in New York (1992)

If I remember correctly, I believe that as a kid I actually liked Home Alone 2 more than the first Home Alone. Watching it now I can actually totally understand that. HO2 turns up the cartoony violence and adds a lot of things that make it super interesting for kids. We're talking an avalanche of room service desserts, one of the great toy store scenes in cinema history and a lot more. This is like a film buffet for kids with all the best Christmas treats.

Critical reception for Home Alone was already pretty cool and it's even cooler for Home Alone 2. All the same, for a movie that at times makes it a little too clear that it's probably only being made to capitalize on the success of the first movie, it hits a lot of the right notes if you ask me. Every important cast member from the first movie is back as are Chris Columbus and John Hughes which is key.

Dec 14, 2014

Review: All About Christmas Eve (2012)

So, is All About Christmas Eve some kind of homage to All About Eve or something? I haven't seen the 1950 classic, but a really quick glance at the story seems to indicate that it jumps around a bit to different time periods. AACE on the other hand is a parallel universe story that presents two sides at the same time. I guess whoever titled this movie just liked the Christmas play on words that could be had with a main character called Evelyn.

All About Christmas Eve stars Haylie Duff, the less famous sister to Hilary Duff. At the same time, Haylie does deserve some credit for always having work and keeping herself busy with different projects even if most of her work is composed of TV movies these days. It's also kind of unfortunate that she's pretty much started doing two Christmas TV movies a year since 2013. Not sure if she'll continue that pace but if it pays the bills right?

Dec 13, 2014

Review: Home Alone (1990)

So a warning here, Home Alone has been a childhood favourite of mine for a long time and I know that I'm far from the only one in that regad. It's difficult to critically evaluate a favourite movie, but I'll try my best anyway. I make no promises to not throw logic out the window though.

The teaming up of Chris Columbus and John Hughes feels like a match made in heaven if you ask me. The work these guys have done meshes together quite nicely and the proof is in the pudding when you look at the success that Home Alone had during its box office run. People loved Home Alone. People continued to see it long after Christmas was over, making it not just one of the most successful Christmas movies, but one of the most successful comedies of all time.

Dec 12, 2014

Review: Veggietales: Saint Nicholas - A Story of Joyful Giving! (2009)

There are a whole lot of things about VeggieTales that brings out the worst in me. The preachiness is always a problem, the animation is usually an eyesore but probably it's the combination of voice acting and writing that gets to me. I understand that VT is for kids, but even kids deserve better entertainment than this. Yeah there are good messages and all that but if you need movies to teach your kids how to be good citizens then that's a parenting problem if you ask me. Let the kids have fun for crying out loud!

Dec 11, 2014

Review: Hitched for the Holidays (2012)

It's exactly two weeks to Christmas now and here I am still watching TV movie tripe. I definitely want to up the quality the closer we get to Christmas, but I'm having a pretty good time laughing at this stuff anyway. For my sanity though I probably want to think about moving on to some other stuff pretty soon.

I don't know anyone in the cast of Hitched for the Holidays except for Marilu Henner, very loosely anyway. She's mostly known for the TV series Taxi from the late 70's, but I personally know her from some random talk show that  I saw my girlfriend watching. Apparently she has this super crazy memory or whatever which must make memorizing lines quite easy. Too bad it doesn't take a genius for anyone to memorize the lines in HftH.

Review: The Wishing Tree (2012)

I don't know what I expect to find by going so deep into Christmas TV Movieland, but I'm guessing it won't be a deeper understanding of the true meaning of Christmas. Hallmark certainly likes to think that it has the answer in its 90 minute productions, but I think we can all agree that it has a better chance of doing that with its cards. It's doubtful that The Wishing Tree is any different.

The only actor I could recognize in The Wishing Tree was Richard Harmon who I remembered from the awful sequel Grave Encounters 2 which spoiled everything the first Grave Encounters accomplished. Harmon's character is pretty much just as annoying this time around too. He plays a rich emo kid who refuses to be anything else but negative at all time. All he needs is a good dose of Christmas spirit eh Hallmark?

Dec 10, 2014

Review: A Christmas Wedding (2006)

You got to hand it to the main characters of A Christmas Wedding. I can actually see the draw for non-traditional wedding dates, but Christmas Day?!? People make plans for Christmas, some people even go away for Christmas. Some people don't want to do anything on Christmas Day, like me. Personally I like to spend all day in my pajamas with all my new loot. It sure is lucky that the extended families of Emily and Ben plan their Christmases around this wedding. I'm glad it never even posed a problem.

A Christmas Wedding proves that you cannot get away from Trailer Park Boys if you film in Nova Scotia. I didn't know that this movie was even filmed there at all until I saw Cory Bowles playing a car rental agent. I knew it was only a matter of time before I'd see another familiar face which ended up being Jeremy Akerman, the second time I see him in a Christmas TV movie this year.

Dec 9, 2014

Review: The Star of Christmas (2002)

So I'm skipping ahead some more with the VeggieTales series because I honestly I want to get them out of the way. If I finish all the Christmas entries now then I'll be a step closer to being done with this unbearable series as a whole. I honestly felt like I hit a brick wall when I saw that the run time for The Star of Christmas was 50 minutes. That's 20 minutes longer than the usual VeggieTales short which is 20 minutes too much. You could also say that it's 50 minutes too much anyway.

Dec 8, 2014

Review: Recipe for a Perfect Christmas (2005)

It's pretty amazing just how many Christmas TV movies there are out there. Between Hallmark, Lifetime and ABC there's enough out there to satisfy all tastes I would think. Well actually that's probably not very true. Most of these movies all follow the same general storyline which is usually someone disliking Christmas or having the wrong idea about Christmas, later finding the true Christmas spirit within themselves come Christmas morning.

I'd like to see something different for a change but I doubt that'll happen any time soon. People seem to like their candy cane coated, family romantic comedies that always have a happy ending. Smart businesses give people what they want, so there's no reason for Hallmark, Lifetime or ABC to change their course.

Dec 7, 2014

Review: Alone for Christmas (2013)

I always thought The Asylum had a pretty good thing going on with their mockbusters. It basically entails riding the coattails of a major blockbuster with a similar title and plot and then tricking people into watching their movies. It's all pretty low, but makes at least a little bit of business sense. I think they're realizing that people are wising up to their scheme though and it looks to me like their releasing more "original" movies with some trademark mockbusters thrown in for good measure too.

Alone for Christmas is one of those "original" movies. Kevin Sorbo who's been in some garbage of his own somehow was convinced that being in this movie would be worth his while. Most of the budget probably even went to him. It's a good thing that he took the role though and I should probably write him a Christmas thank you card for doing it. I honestly don't know what I would've done without him.

Review: Så som i himmelen [As It Is in Heaven] (2004)

As it turns out, As It Is in Heaven isn't as much of a Christmas movie as I was expecting. I'm not sure what made me lump it in with the holiday movies, but besides a couple of times where the choir sing a couple of Christmas songs, there's not much that makes it a movie to watch at Christmas. Even if I didn't really realize it, I probably needed a break like this from all this Christmas stuff anyway.

As It Is in Heaven is a perfectly good movie to watch in December though. After all the setting is cold, wintery and the story is about people being brought together by music. Mikael Nyqvist who is best known for his role of Mikael Blomkvist in the Swedish Millennium series of films stars in this one. It made history at the Swedish Guldbagge Awards by nabbing a nomination in every category, but also by going empty handed by the end of the night. AIIiH was also nominated for Best Foreign Language Film at the Academy Awards.

Dec 6, 2014

Review: The Most Wonderful Time of the Year (2008)

So continuing on with the worst that TV has to offer, we got The Most Wonderful Time of the Year up next courtesy of The Hallmark Channel. This is the movie that has single-handedly turned director Michael Scott into a Christmas TV movie zombie. Since directing TMWTotY he's made a slew of other holiday TV movies such as Mrs. Miracle and its sequel Call Me Mrs. Miracle. I vividly remember sitting through both of these movies last year and not in a good way.

Henry Winkler of Happy Days fame is along for the ride in a role where he plays a goofy retired cop. I remember Brooke Burns from the awesomely awful Titanic II that The Asylum put out, but that's pretty much it for actors that I know in this one. I wonder if the song It's the Most Wonderful Time of the Year will be part of the soundtrack...

Dec 5, 2014

Review: The Toy That Saved Christmas (1996)

What is there to say really? Another day, another VeggieTales. Is that the expression? Sure feels like it anyway. There's just too many of them. I'm skipping some entries because I want to get through the Christmas ones before the month is out. The sooner I'm done with this series, the better because only VeggieTales could make thirty minutes feel like four hours. Only VeggieTales could make me want to become a complete carnivore.

Review: One Magic Christmas (1985)

I've been stuck watching some pretty bad Christmas movies these past few days. Not that I'm complaining. After all, I expected them to be bad. It was no surprise to me when The Christmas Shoes and An All Dogs Christmas Carol didn't end up being Christmas classics. It's all in good fun anyway. I still needed a good movie to break up the pattern though and I hoped that One Magic Christmas would be just what the doctor ordered.

Produced by Disney, OMC seems so far away from the kind of movies that Disney makes now. It seems like everything they release has to be that next billion dollar movie at the box office. While their movies are still good for families, One Magic Christmas really fits the bill a lot better if you ask me. It's about a regular family trying to make ends meet during the Christmas holidays which is a very real concern for families all around the world.

Dec 4, 2014

Review: An All Dogs Christmas Carol (1998)

With An All Dogs Christmas Carol, MGM was willing to sink to new levels in order to get an easy Christmas-themed direct-to-video out there. The original All Dogs Go to Heaven was flawed in its attempts at trying to be a Disney animated movie, but it did succeed in creating a dark and seedy world for its characters. A lot of what happened in ADGTH wasn't even suitable for kids, but that's where its charm lies.

With MGM taking over production of All Dogs Go to Heaven 2, you could really tell that they were going for a more straightforward kids movie. Losing Burt Reynolds was huge though and in no way is Charlie Sheen able to replace him. There are a lot of other things that were wrong with this sequel and An All Dogs Christmas Carol just makes things worse.

Review: The Christmas Hope (2009)

I've finally and thankfully arrived at the final movie in this sappy Christmas trilogy which began with The Christmas Shoes and was followed by The Christmas Blessing. To be honest, my first question was (Spoilers) who is going to die this time? (End Spoilers) TCS and TCB seem to love that topic. Mixed in with some inspirational moments and sprinkled with just a little bit of Christian values, it's clean family entertainment.

There are some returning crew members like Lawrence Shragge for the score and Wesley Bishop for the teleplay, but not much more beyond that. There are however some returning characters from The Christmas Blessing which is standard practice for this series, but not a single returning actor. So yes, I kid you not when I say that Neil Patrick Harris' character has been re-casted. He has pretty much no incentive to return anyway, but why the Nathan Andrews character wasn't written out is beyond me.

Dec 3, 2014

Review: The Christmas Blessing (2005)

Did we really need a sequel to The Christmas Shoes? Although I don't have any numbers in terms of viewership, I think the film did quite well. Judging from the popularity of the song by Christian group NewSong as well as how the book became a best seller, TCS probably did exceedingly well. A sequel was probably predestined before production had even started for The Christmas Shoes.

Neil Patrick Harris plays the returning character of Nathan Andrews who was the young boy from the first movie. It's kind of weird to see him in a role like, this but taking a quick look at his filmography reveals that besides some important TV roles, he was in quite a few TV movies for whatever reason. The Christmas Blessing was pretty much his last real TV movie experience and no surprise there. In 2004 he had had his big cameo in Harold & Kumar Go to White Castle where he famously played himself. He's moved on to better things now, like hosting the Emmy Awards and of course the upcoming 2015 Academy Awards.

Dec 2, 2014

Review: The Christmas Shoes (2002)

Oh boy, I just knew it wasn't going to be long before I was stuck watching a corny Christmas TV movie. It just had to be a movie based off one of the worst Christmas songs ever made didn't it? If you can believe it, the song The Christmas Shoes which was released in 2000 inspired a book in 2001, followed by this movie a year later. What you got to admit though is that it's quite the production from just one dumb song. I'd probably do the same thing if I could if I wrote a bad song that became popular.

I never actually heard this song by Christian group NewSong before, but it's very featured in a pivotal scene in The Christmas Shoes. You won't need to hear it more than once though because once is more than enough. That's just me anyway. That's because there seem to be a lot of vocal fans of the song as well as the movie even. I don't really understand it myself, but everyone is entitled to their opinions I guess.

Dec 1, 2014

Review: Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer (1948)

Today is December 1st and that marks the beginning of my annual Christmas movie marathon until the end of the month. It might go on a bit longer with New Year's still pretty much being part of the holiday, but we'll see. It's a month where I get to see the best and the worst of the Christmas movies that are out there as well as also testing my patience. Let's hope I can live through this and still hold onto at least a smidgeon of Christmas spirit by the end.

Pretty much anyone who celebrates Christmas and watches TV is familiar with the Rankin/Bass Rudolph, the Red-Nosed Reindeer from 1964 right? You can practically forget the existence of any other Rudolph movies all because of it, which is a bit unfair. It would appear that this 1948 version is the very first Rudolph adaptation and that makes it a pretty good reason to see it. Wikipedia and IMDb list different release years though and I'm not sure who's right or wrong. Internet Archive also lists 1948 so I'm going to side with IMDb on this one.

Nov 30, 2014

Review: ThanksKilling 3 (2012)

I had a lot of fun watching ThanksKilling. It's a really special kind of bad where Jordan Downey pretty much satirizes the slasher genre to great effect. Characters are incredibly stupid and the murderer is only the coolest killer turkey ever put on the screen. Shot for $3,500 over 11 days, it's the kind of movie that knows it's bad and relishes in it. That's why I gave it a 5/10, the highest possible score for a bad movie. That's like a 10/10 really.

I just finished ThanksKilling 3 and I'm kind of at a loss for words. That's not a typo either, ThanksKilling 2 was skipped over because, well why not? I'm going to be trying to put my mind back together over the course of this review but I can't promise anything. Either I've seen the dumbest movie ever conceived or I've seen the greatest masterpiece since the dawn of cinema. Either one is possible at this point. 

Nov 29, 2014

Review: ThanksKilling (2009)

I live in Canada so I've already had my Thanksgiving celebrations. I'll admit that I prefer the timing of my native Canadian Thanksgiving because American Thanksgiving is too close for comfort to Christmas. I love my turkey, but I need time to recover after eating huge amounts of it. That's why the longer gap between both holidays suits me just fine.

So besides partaking in some Black Friday madness, all online mind you, how could I celebrate American Thanksgiving in some way? By watching ThanksKilling of course. What better way could there be? I had been biding my time on this one because everything that I had heard about it made it sound like one of the best bad movies in recent memory. I was sure that I was in for a real treat. 

Nov 28, 2014

Review: Begin Again (2013)

Writer/director John Carney did something really special with Once. With zero star power and an undeniable sense of authenticity, it's a beautiful film full of great music and real performances. It's clear that Carney is attempting to recapture that magic with Begin Again. The unfortunate reality is that he probably failed before he even started. You can't recapture magic just like that.

Unlike the star-less cast of Once, Begin Again is completely chockablock. Actors like Mark Ruffalo and Keira Knightley find themselves opposite musical talents like Adam Levine, Mos Def and CeeLo Green. I'm guessing that a big reason for that is Judd Apatow's presence as producer. While it's nice to have this level of talent, one of the themes that John Carney explores is selling out and on the surface it looks like Carney has done exactly that.

Nov 26, 2014

Review: Die Another Day (2002)

I still remember all the fun I was having when I began a marathon to see every James Bond movie ever made. I had never seen a single one excluding a bit of a pirated copy of Casino Royale at a party  and I thought it was about time I fixed that. After all, I had always been a big action movie aficionado and how could I call myself that if I had never seen any of what is the largest action movie series in cinema history?

I even remember being pretty excited to see the Pierce Brosnan Bond films which were the beginning of what I consider to be the modern Bond era. GoldenEye was maybe not as good as I was expecting, but it was still quite good. From there things took a steady nosedive from soullessness to pure unintended satire with a pinch of tone deafness. Die Another Day is the entry that finishes the job that The World is Not Enough unfortunately started, the straw that broke the camel's back if you will.   

Nov 25, 2014

Review: Chef (2014)

The food and restaurant industry in general has always been something that's close to me. Both my parents are currently working in it in and I feel a certain attachment to it. I respect the workers in the field a lot because I know how tough it is. Unfortunately, the cooking skills of my parents have never rubbed off on me because I just left the cooking to them instead of trying to learn any trade secrets. Wouldn't you? I'm getting better, but it's safe to say that I'm no Michelin chef.

What's interesting is that the story of Chef is a bit of a reflection on Jon Favreau's own career in the film industry. After doing Iron Man, Iron Man 2 and Cowboys & Aliens for some major film studios that set their own parameters for these films, Favreau was looking to get back to basics and be his own boss. This is exactly what his character does in Chef and Favreau has actually said that the story is slightly autobiographical.

Nov 24, 2014

Review: VeggieTales: Are You My Neighbor? (1995)

I don't know why I do this to myself. Every time I get ready to watch a VeggieTales movie, I have to mentally prep myself for thirty minutes of torture. I get ready to face the opener with my two least favourite vegetable hosts, Bob the Tomato and the Larry the idiot Cucumber. The thing is, I've been holding off on seeing more VeggieTales for too long and it's about time I get back on track. It's just really disconcerting to know that I have an exceedingly long road of singing vegetables ahead of me.

Review: Wakusei daikaijû Negadon [Negadon: The Monster from Mars] (2005)

In 2005, it had been 51 years since the release of Godzilla in 1954. If that's not a reason for celebration, I don't know what is. There's just something irresistible about Showa era Japanese special effects films and that is clearly what director/writer Jun Awazu is looking to capture with Negadon: The Monster from Mars. It's an animated short film that took two years to complete which is too bad because it could've made the 50th anniversary of Godzilla if it were finished a year earlier.

Nov 23, 2014

Review: The Necessary Death of Charlie Countryman (2013)

Shia LaBeouf gets a pretty bad wrap and for some of the things he's done in his personal life and understandably so. We can't know all the circumstances to what led to some of his controversies and trouble with the law, but Shia strikes me as a bit of a weird guy who just loses his cool way too easily. None of this really matters to me when it came to reviewing The Necessary Death of Charlie Countryman because I always separate the artist and their personal lives when I evaluate their work.

One thing I'll always give Shia LaBeouf credit for is trying and putting in the effort. He takes acting really seriously (maybe a bit too seriously) and that's something I really respect. Although he does seem to end up doing the same sort of performance over and over again, I usually enjoy his hectic energy.

Nov 22, 2014

Review: The Sessions (2012)

The Sessions tackles very mature ground with its story line and it's definitely not the kind of thing you'd typically see in Hollywood. That's why it's no surprise that it's an independent movie that managed to get its distribution rights bought by a bigger studio looking to capitalize on the film's success at the 2012 Sundance Film Festival. Slight star power and good performances also help. You got to admit that it's pretty impressive that director Ben Lewin managed to get John Hawkes, Helen Hunt and William H. Macy with a budget of only $1 million for the entire movie.

With a storyline centered around being physically handicapped and sex, The Sessions is a story that breaks new ground. It's based on the true story of poet Mark O'Brian who got sick with polio in 1955 and became paralyzed from the neck down. He required an iron lung to help him breathe but despite his handicap, he attended UC Berkeley and co-founded a poetry house that featured handicapped poets. The film centers around his experience with a sex surrogate that he hires once he decides he no longer wanted to be a virgin.

Nov 21, 2014

Review: Nebraska (2013)

Alexander Payne has got to be one of the most consistent directors in the business. Excluding the few things he's directed and written before 1999, he's directed some really good films that all deserve recognition. I've noticed that a lot of them have to do with traveling and road trips and I suppose that's his way of having his characters embark on personal journeys of self-exploration. I can count About Schmidt, Sideways and Nebraska as part of this pattern. It's important to note that Payne didn't actually write Nebraska and he apparently didn't want direct the film right after Sideways because of that similarity.

With Nebraska, Alexander Payne has made the choice to film everything in black and white, despite studio opposition. B&W always seems to be a controversial thing for people these days and it has no business being. Movies filmed in black and white always seem to be automatically associated with boring which is dead wrong. That's how you miss out on gems like Nebraska. From a business standpoint, the studio probably wasn't wrong though. I bet that the decision to do black and white is probably why Nebraska only made a little over $17 million worldwide.

Nov 20, 2014

Review: The World is Not Enough (1999)

Now into the third Pierce Brosnan James Bond film out of four, this is where things really start to get problematic for this era. Interestingly enough, Neal Purvis and Robert Wade were the writers for The World is Not Enough and they remained so all the way until Skyfall. Fortunes really can change can't they? To think that they're responsible for some of the biggest successes and duds of 007 is pretty impressive. It's important to remember that box office success has never been a problem for them though.

The World is Not Enough is probably most famous for the failed attempt at having Denise Richards as a Bond girl. She's definitely pretty bad and ill suited for her role but she's not the worst Bond girl there's ever been either. I still give that honour to Halle Berry who's so lifeless you might think she's in a zombie movie. We'll save that for another time though once I actually review Die Another Day.

Nov 18, 2014

Review: Dirty Dancing 3: Capoeira Nights (2010)

I'm going to make a pretty big confession here: I love Dirty Dancing. That's with zero sarcasm. It's for sure one of my guiltiest pleasures out of the movies that I like and I can't help do anything about it. I love Patrick Swayze, I love Jennifer Grey, I love the song "(I've Had) The Time of My Life" and I love every single stinking montage. Don't even talk to me about the climax because I just love it too much.

Now for the 2004 prequel Dirty Dancing: Havana Nights, I prefer to just ignore it. It can be summed up as a transplantation of Dirty Dancing's story into the past with the Cuban Revolution in the backdrop. It's nothing special and it didn't need to be made at all. Six years later in 2010, Website Funny or Die saw the need to make a comedy short on Dirty Dancing. I can't kill the completionist inside of me so I just had to see it.

Nov 17, 2014

Review: Pleasantville (1998)

Gary Ross is the kind of guy who regularly alternates between director, writer and producer roles. Sometimes he does all three, sometimes he only does one. Not all his movies are that great but he's got enough to his name that makes him a guy to look out for. Out of all the movies he's worked on and that I've seen, I'd say Dave is my favourite in which he was the writer.

Pleasantville is one two movies that Gary Ross acted as director, writer and producer, the other being Seabiscuit. Both movies star Tobey Maguire so he must have a thing for him. Nothing wrong with that because I like him myself too. He's got this kind of innocence and vulnerability about him that I like.

Nov 16, 2014

Review: 9 (2005)

I saw 9, the feature length animated film that is, quite a few years ago. Without a doubt, its biggest strength is its rich, visual details and animation. In that sense it's a good film with a really well constructed and unique world. It's also quite gloomy to say the least.

What I missed those years ago is that 9 is based off of a short film that was created by the director of 9, Shane Acker. Apparently he made this film as his UCLA animation thesis project. Acker made the most of his four and a half years of work by doing the film festival rounds. His hard work didn't go unnoticed because he managed to get Tim Burton's attention as well as a nomination for best animated short film at the Academy Awards.

Nov 15, 2014

Review: My Best Friend's Wedding (1997)

My girlfriend really likes Julia Roberts, so here I am once again with another movie of hers that definitely falls in the "chick flick" category. Wish there was a better term than that because I hate using it. Not that I give my girlfriend any grief though, we're totally even when it comes to what movies we choose so there's no hard feelings. Plus I watch anything anyway and My Best Friend's Wedding is meant to be one of Julia's top movies, so I was curious to see it.

Truth be told, I'm not really sure where I stand in terms of my like for Julia Roberts. Without a doubt Erin Brockovich is my favourite performance of hers that I've seen, bar none. But then she has roles in movies like Runaway Bride and Valentine's Day that I don't find very good. I think my problem is that I never really like her in romantic comedy roles. Notting Hill is the only rom-com I've seen her in that I actually liked. One thing you can't deny though, she's always been a big box office draw. That time is probably coming to an end though.

Nov 14, 2014

Review: The Bling Ring (2011)

Sofia Coppola's The Bling Ring was a pretty good movie but lacked depth in actually exploring its characters. It made for a pretty good satire of celebrity worshiping culture though. One thing I can say is that it was a pretty film that had the benefit of being able to actually shoot in Paris Hilton's real house. It also had some pretty tense moments. 

Anyway, when I found out that there was a Lifetime TV movie version of the Bling Ring that came out before Coppola's effort, I just had to see it. It's pretty much just a case of wanting to be able to say that I've seen it though, as a completionist. I definitely wasn't watching it and expecting it to be better than the 2013 version. Good TV movies do exist, but they're pretty rare.

Nov 13, 2014

Review: Bridget Jones: The Edge of Reason (2004)

I didn't think that Bridget Jones's Diary was the greatest romantic comedy ever made or anything like that. Despite some predictability, it's quite funny, it's cunningly biting and contains a great Renée Zellweger performance. It's no small feat to bring such a popular book character to life. No doubt about it though, Renée gets the job done despite the early criticisms to her casting announcement.

The other way in which BJD was a huge success was at the box office. We're talking almost $300 million worldwide off of a $25 million budget. That's impressive stuff so no wonder a sequel makes sense. Author Helen Fielding had written a sequel to her original book anyway so the material was there. However I've read though that there are some pretty big differences between this adaptation and Fielding's novel which isn't usually a very good sign.

Nov 12, 2014

Review: The Lucky One (2012)

You know, I don't think Zac Efron is that bad a guy. Most of his success came from the High School Musical series, but so what? He was just a heartthrob that Disney was able to milk for a while. Who wouldn't want to be paid to play that role for a while? It's true that he's maybe not much of an actor, but he just seems like an alright guy. I think that's because he's had personal problems recently that he's tried to fix and I admire that. Hope everything works out for him.

Anyway, Zac stars in what is the seventh Nicholas Sparks adaptation with Taylor Schilling. She doesn't have much to her name but has a few roles between TV and movies since 2007. She's now mostly famous for Orange Is the New Black. With Scott Hicks directing, will The Lucky One offer anything new as far as Nicholas Sparks romances go? Judging a book by it's cover is usually wrong but I'm sure you can already guess the answer.

Nov 11, 2014

Review: Nazis at the Center of the Earth (2012)

Although you might not think so at first, I think that The Asylum has made a very educated decision with pretty much everything about Nazis at the Center of the Earth. The title is a clear indicator to anyone that it's not a movie to be taken seriously. It's not a movie that's out trying to trick you as being the recent blockbuster you'd heard about either and best of all it's got Nazis in it. Is there a more classic group of bad guys more adored than Nazis? I doubt it.

It's not exactly clear but I'd surmise that NatCotE is a combo of Journey 2: The Mysterious Island and Iron Sky. Not a bad idea really because both movies are pretty much guaranteed to do well in their respective fields. You might be wondering which actor or actress The Asylum managed to cast, probably under duress for this film. That would be Jake Busey this time, famous for, well being the son of Gary Busey.

Nov 10, 2014

Review: Nang nak [Nang-Nak] (1999)

Thai cinema is a relatively unexplored corridor of Asian cinema as a whole for me. I'm far more familiar with movies from China, Hong Kong and Japan. Strangely enough though, I seem to be pretty familiar with Thai director Nonzee Nimibutr's work, albeit as a producer. He's produced titles like Bangkok Dangerous (not the remake with Nicolas Cage) and Jan Dara which I've seen. But Tears of the Black Dragon seems to be the most well known of all his productions which is still on my watch list. 

The story of Nang-Nak is based on a very famous Thai legend about a man who has to leave his pregnant wife as he goes to fight in a war. Unbeknownst to him, his wife dies during child birth but still finds her there to greet him when he comes back home. Nothing seems to be amiss but in reality, his wife and baby son are ghosts. It might sound like I've spoiled the story if you're reading this, but the movie does this itself in the first ten minutes anyway with narration, so don't worry. I haven't done anything the movie doesn't do itself.

Nov 9, 2014

Review: Se, jie [Lust, Caution] (2007)

Ang Lee has proven himself to be a great film director, but not without some bumps in the road. Take Hulk for example which just seems to be an attempt at fitting a square peg in a round hole. Taking Woodstock is another weaker movie in his, but let's not be all negative about Lee's filmography.

Without Hulk we maybe would not have gotten Life of Pi. My favourite film of his though is Eat Drink Man Woman from twenty years ago. It's probably one of the most delicious movies I have ever seen. That's because food is a huge part of it and if you haven't seen it, you're going to be starving afterwards from all that food porn. With Tony Leung Chiu Wai in the fold, Lust, Caution definitely has a pretty big chance of being one of Lee's better titles.

Nov 8, 2014

Review: Bridget Jones's Diary (2001)

Bridget Jones's Diary was huge in the early 2000's as can be easily evidenced by its box office take. It was huge before it was ever even a movie because of the fact that it was based on Helen Fielding's 1996 novel of the same name. I'm more of a fantasy/sci-fi guy myself, so no I've never read it. It got rave reviews though so I'm pretty sure it's quite good as far as books go. I just don't think I really fit into the target market.

The casting of Renée Zellweger was a controversial decision though and for good reason if you ask me. Bridget Jones is an English character who needs a good English accent. Wouldn't it just have been easier to cast a native Brit in the role? Probably, but once everyone saw Renée performance it didn't matter. She blew everyone's expectations out of the water and got an Academy Award nomination for her efforts.

Nov 7, 2014

Review: Tomorrow Never Dies (1997)

GoldenEye was huge when it was first released. It still pretty much is but I think a large part of that is because of the large amount of nostalgic video gamers who adored the Nintendo 64 first-person shooter version of the movie. It's not exactly playable anymore because of how poorly it aged, but I too have some very fond memories of it.

That success put a lot of pressure on the production team of Tomorrow Never Dies. MGM had a new owner, Kirk Kerkorian who wanted the movie to be released along with the public stock offering of his newly acquired company. Time was short and that problem was compounded further because of the script having to be completely rewritten from zero.

There also seemed to have been a lot of other production issues including on-set trouble with actors as well as John Barry not wanting to score the movie since he would not be allowed any control in creating the title song which was something he'd always been able to do. The budget ballooned up to $110 million, making it more expensive by $52 million compared to GoldenEye. On the bright side though, all the budget was offset by product placement so everything worked out pretty well as long as noticeable product placement doesn't bother you.

Nov 6, 2014

Review: Safe Haven (2013)

It's amazing how Nicholas Sparks has turned his romance book empire into a scheduled yearly movie release isn't it? 2010 had two releases in Dear John and The Last Song so we can count one of those for 2011. Following that there's been a Sparks adaptation every year. I'm not convinced that the box office takes will be consistently good forever but you got to hand it to the guy for turning schmaltzy romantic books into schmaltzy romantic movies that certain people really seem to like.

Safe Haven brings in director Lasse Hallström who has already done a Nicholas Sparks adaptation. With Dear John under his belt, he's the only Sparks veteran. I knew right away that even if Safe Haven was pretty bad, at the very least it would be a pretty-looking bad movie. Hallström seems to usually stick to very familiar ground with his movies, but at least he can make things look nice.

Nov 5, 2014

Review: Curse of the Fly (1965)

I wasn't particularly looking forward to seeing Curse of the Fly. For one thing, Vincent Price is long gone and I think everyone can agree that like Return of the Fly, there's a probable drop off in quality. I mean for the most part Return of the Fly felt like a simple cash grab that was just made to capitalize on the success of The Fly. I don't think that the goal has changed very much with this release.

No way could I leave the final sequel to the original The Fly unwatched though. This was even a tough movie to see at one point since it never got a video release until 2007. Imagine, 42 years without being able to buy this one. The poor box office probably had a part in this, but all the more reason for me to see it. I can't resist little-seen films.

Nov 4, 2014

Review: LUV (2012)

For the most part, Sheldon Candis only really has experience making short films. LUV is pretty much his first big break, especially given the fact that he's working with established actors like Danny Glover, Charles S. Dutton, Dennis Haysbert and of course Common. Not sure if LUV has really helped Candis' cause though because he doesn't have any upcoming movies unfortunately.

LUV did end up getting a nomination for a Grand Jury Prize at the Sundance Film Festival, but besides that the critical response hasn't been very good. I can understand as well because despite a strong cast that pulls off some good performances, the script is really at fault here. We'll get to that though.

Nov 3, 2014

Review: Luna Papa (1999)

Luna Papa is one of those relatively unknown movies that I love stumbling on. The less people have seen it, the better. It's a movie that relatively unknown in North America anyway. I had never heard of Luna Papa before and I had never heard of Russian director Bakhtyar Khudojnazarov either.

Luna Papa is definitely his most famous movie by far though and made the rounds through several film festivals around Europe. Khudojnazarov even won best director at the Russian Nika Awards which is like the Academy Awards in the US, so that's nothing to sneeze at.

Nov 2, 2014

Review: Lumière et compagnie [Lumière and Company] (1995)

Lumière and Company is definitely an interesting documentary from the perspective of a cinema lover. Gathering 40 renowned directors from around the world, they're given the chance to shoot a short film with the original Lumière cinematograph. This was among the first few movie cameras invented in the 1890's and even doubled as a projector. However, three rules had to be followed:
  1. The film must be 52 seconds long
  2. No synchronized sound allowed
  3. Three takes max
I'll be the first to admit that I know less than one third of the directors featured in this film. I suppose that is because of the fact that most of them are from outside of North America. I feel like I should know more of them but I suppose that it just gives an idea of how much movies and directors are out there. It's all the same an all-star cast of directors as far as I can tell.

Nov 1, 2014

Review: The Nightmare Before Christmas (1993)

The first time I ever saw The Nightmare Before Christmas as a kid, I was entranced. I didn't quite grasp everything that was going on, but the animation style, the songs and all the ultra cool characters had me transfixed. I had never seen anything like it before. The closest thing I had were the Wallace and Gromit stop-motion animation shorts, which of course have a really different tone.

It's known as Tim Burton's The Nightmare Before Christmas, but I really see it as Henry Selick's movie. Tim Burton did of course come up with the base story in the form of a poem and he did produce it. He was too busy with Batman Returns and Ed Wood to really be all that involved though. Ever since then, Selick has carved himself a place in Hollywood as one of the top stop-motion animation kings. He's like a stamp of approval to me when it comes to stop-motion.

Oct 31, 2014

Review: Return of the Fly (1959)

With a surprisng amount of depth, The Fly rose above its B-movie roots to be a more than competent movie. With some pretty serious implications and some slightly horrifying elements, it's just as good a movie as David Cronenberg's version. Just in a different way. Sadly, director Kurt Neumann died only a month after the premiere and never saw his movie become the hit that it did.

No doubt that it's too much to hope for Return of the Fly matching its predecessor from just a year earlier. At the very least it was nice to be able to look forward to Vincent Price back as Francois Delambre. The man is like silk onscreen and would probably never look out of place in any kind of role. Ever. He probably should've been the one cast as Genghis Khan, not John Wayne. They say hindsight is 20/20 though.

Review: The Conjuring (2013)

I heard a lot about The Conjuring when it was released in July of 2013. It generated a lot of word of mouth and made a killing at the box office, in the summer no less instead of the month of October as you'd think. I'm not the type to go see horror movies in theatres though. I'm too much of a baby for that, but I knew I'd see it eventually.

With Malaysian director James Wan at the helm who boasts titles like Saw and Insidious, there did appear reason for me to hope that The Conjuring could be a good horror movie. I was a little leery though about writers Chad Hayes and Carey Hayes who are credited with titles like Whiteout and the 2005 House of Wax. The Conjuring however is based on true events, centered around Ed and Lorrain Warren who were paranormal investigators beginning in the 1950's. They were best known for their investigation into the real Amityville Horror case, so there's definitely a good solid base there at least.

Oct 30, 2014

Review: The Fly (1958)

After having seen David Cronenberg's The Fly, it was only a matter of time before I'd see the original 1958 version. While it was certainly gory and special effects laden, it had some pretty significant dramatic touches that made it a pretty tough movie to get through. Add in Jeff Goldblum's superb performance and you've got yourself a sci-fi classic.

Interestingly enough, I've actually already seen a Kurt Neumann directed sci-fi movie before in Kronos. Although fun in a B-movie kind of way, I was expecting a bit more out of The Fly. Based on a short story by George Langelaan which was published in Playboy magazine, I was expecting a lot more in fact. If the remake was so good, then this had to be good as well right?

Oct 29, 2014

Review: Mr. Sardonicus (1961)

Another entry in the gimmicky William Castle schlockfests, Mr. Sardonicus required audience participation to further the story. In order to decide the fate of a certain character, audience members were asked to relay their opinion with glow-in-the-dark cards. With a thumbs up or a thumbs down, the ending would apparently vary depending on what the audience would vote.

According to the "legends," only one ending was ever shown. However, it would appear that William Castle never shot another ending at all and it was all just a marketing ploy to attract people to check out the movie. The technology to "choose" an ending in theatres didn't exist at the time anyway, so it's all pretty amusing to think about now.

Oct 28, 2014

Review: Paranômaru akutibiti: Dai-2-shô - Tokyo Night [Paranormal Activity 2: Tokyo Night] (2010)

So it's true that Paranormal Activity 2: Tokyo Night is not officially part of the American Paranormal Activity series. I just couldn't stop myself from seeing it again and writing a review for it. I live for weird stuff like this and it's just too wacky that there's somehow a Japanese sequel to Paranormal Activity.

I'm curious though as to how this movie was allowed to go through at all. You would think that Paramount, which distributes PA movies, would want to prevent a movie like this from ever coming out. Oren Peli actually got credit, was that all that was needed? It seems to have done quite well at the Japanese box office, but I guess it never had a chance of making big money worldwide. Maybe it's just not worth the fight to go all across the Pacific.

Review: House on Haunted Hill (1959)

William Castle was known to be an expert at making B-movies. His filmography dates back to the early 1940's, pretty much ten years before Roger Corman made his first movie. What was unique about Castle though were his promotional talents along with implementing different gimmicks that were executed during his movie showings. Strangely enough, he also happens to be the producer of Rosemary's Baby.

The gimmick he used for House on Haunted Hill was a skeleton with red glowing eyes. Attached to a wire above the audience, it would "float" out during the climax. I don't know about you but that just sounds like a lot of fun. I'm not sure if it actually scared people then, but it's kind of sad you don't hear about things like that being done anymore because I think a lot of people would have a momentary heart attack. No one would expect it. Word would get out pretty quick though with everyone having a smartphone, so only the first viewers would really get a kick out of it.

Oct 27, 2014

Review: Afflicted (2013)

Afflicted caught my attention from a review that fellow blogger Peter Pluymers did a while back. You can find check out his blog here: My Opinion as a Movie Blogger. The fact that it's a Canadian film and that it happens to be a found footage horror film made it stick out in my mind as something I should definitely see.

Directed and written by newcomers Derek Lee and Clif Prowse who have only done shorts before this, also star as the main characters in the film. It's crazy to think that with only $318,000, they were able to shoot scenes in Barcelona, Paris and Italy with pretty good special effects thrown in for good measure. Although it didn't make back its budget theatrically, I hope that it's doing well on video and any other mediums because it deserves it.

Review: Paranormal Activity: The Marked Ones (2014)

I still can't believe how disappointing Paranormal Activity 4 was. All the same, I'm kind of anxious to see if Paranormal Activity: The Marked Ones can right the ship. I think that's just me getting greedy from how well the second and third sequels worked out. I mean a decline was bound to happen at one point. Law of diminishing returns right?

In all, Paranormal Activity is a horror franchise that's somehow been able to stave off the usual decline in quality for sequels. Maybe the makers had made a deal with a demon or something? With movie number 4, it would appear that the deal has gone south. PA:TMO isn't a straight up sequel, but more of a spin-off that tries to clear the air before Paranormal Activity: The Ghost Dimension comes out in 2015 which I believe will be a direct sequel to PA4.

Oct 26, 2014

Review: The Fly II (1989)

David Cronenberg's The Fly is an insane movie, just pure insanity. It's horrifying, it's disgusting and it's a real heart wrencher truth be told. So it's no wonder that a sequel had to be made right? A shame that the only returning actor is John Getz. It is however directed by Chris Walas who was responsible for the creature effects in The Fly.

Walas has no previous experience in directing. But all the same, it wasn't a terrible idea to hand the reigns to the guy who did such a good job for the effects right? I wouldn't automatically think so anyway, but there are some risks for sure. Can Walas manage to do as good a job on the special effects as he did for The Fly and direct a decent movie at the same time? There's a lot of juggling there for sure but I was ready to give him the benefit of the doubt anyway.

Review: Zombie Apocalypse (2011)

Zombie Apocalypse is one of the collaborations between The Asylum and Syfy. It's the kind of collaboration that is sure to disappoint many who happen to tune into the movie on TV or rent it without being aware of who The Asylum really is. There's money to be made on schlock like this though and The Asylum is going to make it. They've practically cornered the market of ultra cheap productions that astound at times with their badness, so good for them.

In terms of production values, this is probably on the higher end in terms of what you usually see out of The Asylum. They've also managed to lasso Ving Rhames and Taryn Manning into starring roles, so there's that I guess. Manning never really got out of the shadows of 8 Mile and Hustle & Flow, but really Rhames? I suppose that movies like Rogues Gallery and Piranha 3D in 2010 signaled the beginning of the end for him, which is too bad.

Oct 25, 2014

Review: Abraham Lincoln vs. Zombies (2012)

Leave it to The Asylum to ripoff a movie like Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter. Based off a 2010 novel by Seth Grahame-Smith, it made some noise for depicting Honest Abe as some kind of vampire bounty hunter. I think we can all agree that the whole thing sounds pretty awesome, history be damned. So a movie sounded like a great idea if you ask me. Too bad the end result wasn't very good.

2012 was clearly the year of Abraham Lincoln. We had Steven Spielberg's Lincoln with the almighty
Daniel Day-Lewis playing the role of Lincoln and of course the already mentioned Tim Burton produced Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter which featured Benjamin Walker in the starring role. With The Asylum jumping into the fray and changing Lincoln's target from vampires to zombies, you'd think that Bill Oberst Jr. as Abraham Lincoln is in over his head. Surprisingly, you'd be dead wrong.

Oct 24, 2014

Review: Paranormal Activity 4 (2012)

I think we can all agree that to a certain extent there are just way too many sequels out there. Hollywood thrives on established properties though which are safe in comparison to developing a new property. Paranormal Activity is also an extremely profitable property and the movies only cost a few million to make. It also helps that the return on them is pretty incredible. PA4 was able to make almost 29 times more than its initial budget which is bananas. No one can deny that Paranormal Activity movies are a smart investment.

Directors Henry Joost and Ariel Schulman return for this installment which would appear to be a good thing. Paranormal Activity 3 after all was surprisingly good for a third movie in what could've just turned into a tired horror franchise. It wasn't the case though, so they deserve the opportunity to continue their work.

Oct 23, 2014

Review: Gone Girl (2014)

Leaving out Alien 3, there are very few directors who are as consistent as David Fincher is. Alien 3 isn't quite his fault anyway because from what I understand there was a lot of studio interference. It was also his first movie and part of a hugely popular and established series, so I think we can cut Fincher a bit of slack for that one.

Getting to the main topic at hand, Gone Girl is adapted from Gillian Flynn's identically titled novel from 2012. After attracting some interest from just a manuscript for the book, she even wrote the script to the film. Staying faithful to the source material, Gone Girl integrates the typical David Fincher style that I love and will keep loving. 

Review: The Fly (1986)

I think it's been years that my sister has been asking me if I'd seen The Fly yet. Strict adherence to my system of movie selection has kept me away from it but luckily for me, my girlfriend decided that she wanted to see The Fly. Of course I'll need to go back to the original movie as well as it's sequels eventually, I knew before watching it that I was in for something special with David Cronenberg's version.

I really respect David Cronenberg as a director even though I've hardly seen anything he's done. Most of what I've seen are his more recent films like A History of Violence, Eastern Promises and Existenz. There's lots more for me to see, but The Fly definitely represents an important pinnacle in his career and I'm happy to finally have seen it.

Oct 22, 2014

Review: Paranormal Activity 3 (2011)

Paranormal Activity 2 did something that very few horror sequels manage to do; be a competent movie. In fact, it was just a little bit better than competent if you ask me. It may not explore anything all that new, but it added some bells and whistles to the formula that were very effective in creating some scares. That mainly being the use of multiple cameras showing more than one room in the Rey household.

Now it's more than easy to be completely skeptical of Paranormal Activity 3. It's a true prequel compared to Paranormal Activity 2 which is more of a prequel and "midquel" at the same time. Henry Joost and Ariel Schulman take the helm of this installment, both who had just come off success with their documentary Catfish. The results are honestly surprising.

Oct 21, 2014

Review: Dark Skies (2013)

Marketed as a movie with the same producers of Paranormal Activity and Insidious, Dark Skies definitely holds promise. At least for me anyway because of the fact that it's got aliens! Whenever a horror movie is about aliens I just can't help but think of The Thing or Alien. I pretty much set myself up for disappointment each time, but that's life isn't it?

I've never seen Insidious before, but it does look pretty promising at first glance. Paranormal Activity on the other hand is up there in terms of scariness, but I understand that it isn't for everyone. Dark Skies had actually been recommended to me in the past from someone who doesn't appreciate the found footage style of Paranormal Activity one bit. As a traditionally filmed horror, I was definitely interested to see what Scott Stewart could bring to the genre with Dark Skies.

Oct 20, 2014

Review: Zonbi asu [Zombie Ass: The Toilet of the Dead] (2011)

I don't really know what to say. There's actually a movie that exists called Zombie Ass: Toilet of the Dead. I've actually watched a movie called Zombie Ass: Toilet of the Dead. I'm definitely still alive but I'm not sure if I'm the same person anymore. I knew going in that I was in for something off the wall with a title like Zombie Ass, but nothing could have prepared me for what this movie is like.

It's pretty clear that Noboru Iguchi has made ZA:TotD with the North American market in mind, to bring us his flavour of Japanese weirdness. Case in point. it premiered at a film festival in Austin, Texas and only came to Japan five months later. Iguchi is no stranger to bizarre but intriguing movies with works like Karate-Robo Zaborgar and RoboGeisha, but I don't think he's ever gone as far in weirdness as he does with Zombie Ass. I shudder to think if I'm wrong.

Oct 19, 2014

Review: Paranormal Activity 2 (2010)

I'm a pretty big fan of the first Paranormal Activity movie except for its extremely disappointing ending. That doesn't stop it from being a powerhouse in scariness and it's definitely not a movie you want to watch on your own, especially if it's late at night. It does a great job at suspending disbelief and patiently builds itself up as things progressively get worse and worse for the main characters.

This is my second run through the series (not including Paranormal Activity: The Marked Ones) and I remember my anticipation before seeing this movie. Or was that dread? Both feelings were probably mixed in there. Paranormal Activity 2 despite its title is in fact a prequel to the first movie. More specifically, it takes place before and during the events of the first film so there are some familiar faces from the first movie that we get to see again.

Oct 18, 2014

Review: Hocus Pocus (1993)

I never saw Hocus Pocus growing up and it would seem like I really missed out on something. At least that's what it sounds like. For a film which didn't do that well at the box office, it's a bit surprising just how well it did in terms of VHS/DVD sales as well as TV viewership over the years. Now part of ABC's 13 Nights of Halloween programming, it's the most watched movie of the entire lineup with a record 2.8 million viewers in 2011.

There's always the risk of running into one of these cult-following movies and coming away disappointed. A lot of the time I find myself siding with the critics, who weren't so impressed with Hocus Pocus when it was released. With a 33% score on Rotten Tomatoes, it's not very reassuring.

Oct 17, 2014

Review: Abominable (2006)

Bigfoot is really cool isn't he? I mean, just imagine seeing some big, hairy and smelly beast roaming about and leaving huge footprints behind. I've watched a couple Bigfoot specials on TV in the past and I guess I'm just drawn to the absurdity of the whole thing. No I don't think Bigfoot actually exists, but he's just fascinating to me.That's why it just sounds like an awesome idea to put Bigfoot in a movie.

Bigfoot could be the makings of an interesting horror movie no? Maybe it's just me, but I can see it. I suppose that the only thing a movie like that would be good for is what could be categorized as a Bigfoot slasher. It could be done right though! With just a touch of irony I think it could be pretty fun. Anyway, I guess I'm just crazily intrigued by the novelty of a movie with Bigfoot. I want Abominable to work so bad.

Review: Paranormal Activity (2007)

The first time I saw Paranormal Activity, I didn't watch it alone and I'm glad that I didn't. I'm not sure if I would've been able to fall asleep that night if I did. I saw it with my sister who I would consider a veteran of the horror genre, but luckily also not the kind of person who's constantly saying to watch the next part or warning me of any scary bits. She was just there as a silent companion, there to listen to me swearing when stuff got out of hand.

That being said, Paranormal Activity is not the kind of movie you want to watch on your own. Especially if it's late at night. In the same vein as The Blair Witch Project, it's a found footage film that was extremely cheap to make and delivers big on the scare scale. It features pretty much just two actors and one stationary camera in the home. That's all it takes.

Oct 16, 2014

Review: The Mist (2007)

With The Mist, Frank Darabont continues his love for Stephen King stories following adaptations of The Shawshank Redemption and The Green Mile. Based on King's 1980 novella, The Mist has apparently been on Darabont's wishlist for a long time. It's definitely pretty different in terms of the kind of material Darabont has done in the past so I was interested in seeing how he handled the sci-fi and horror elements of the story.

It's been a long time since I've been hearing about how good The Mist is. I knew the story involved mist and something in the mist. I also knew that there was some hyper religious lady too, but that's really all I knew about the story beforehand. It's better to go in more on the blind side anyway. I'm the kind of person who tunes out people who talk spoilers about movies that I haven't seen, so I was pretty much where I wanted to be before watching The Mist.

Oct 15, 2014

Review: Grave Encounters 2 (2012)

The first Grave Encounters isn't the greatest horror movie ever but it had enough for me to like it personally. The biggest problem with it in my opinion was giving a physical appearance to the paranormal activity going on inside the insane asylum instead of keeping everything in the mind of the viewer. Oh, that and the pretty poor CGI. What happened was that the scares started getting less effective the more the film went on.

That's definitely something of concern for a sequel. If the scares were already getting a bit stale, what are the scares going to be like in Grave Encounters 2? The Vicious Brothers move on from directing to only writing the script which is another point of concern. This is John Poliquin's first real directing job so I guess we'll just see what he can do.

Oct 14, 2014

Review: Grave Encounters (2011)

Grave Encounters doesn't sound like anything all that original. It's about a group of people who lock themselves inside an abandoned insane asylum overnight, all shot in a found footage style. I was all the same intrigued by the subject because there's definitely some scary stuff you could do. Abandoned insane asylums are scary to pretty much everyone right? This was filmed in a real one that was closed down a year after the film's release. The production does a great job at making the asylum look abandoned for quite some time though.

I don't watch enough Canadian films as I've said before, so Grave Encounters is a chance for me to rectify that. Directed by "The Vicious Brothers," or otherwise known as Colin Minihan and Stuart Ortiz, there's something special about Canadian horror and I'm hoping that GE can add something there. The film apparently has a cult following and there is a sequel, so there is a chance that I might be in for a pretty good ride.

Oct 10, 2014

Review: World of the Dead: The Zombie Diaries (2011)

Somehow, terrible British zombie film The Zombie Diaries got the green light for a sequel. Michael Bartlett and Kevin Gates return to the helm, but for what I'm not quite sure. Is there really anyone asking for a second helping of bad acting and some of the most boring zombies to grace the screen?

I suppose I'm being harsh here. I mean maybe Bartlett and Gates have learned from their mistakes. Maybe they've learned how to properly take advantage of doing a movie in found footage style and maybe they've been able to get an injection of funds to cast some better actors as well as a proper makeup specialist to make those zombies at least a little more convincing. Let's hope the dialogue is a bit better too.

Oct 9, 2014

Review: Carrie (2013)

Remaking Brian De Palma's Carrie is a big deal. Stephen King doesn't seem so enamoured with the original but then again, he doesn't seem to really like any of the adaptations of his books now does he? Personally I really like Carrie quite a bit. De Palma wraps everything up with a stylish bow and Pino Donaggio's score is pretty top notch. In terms of a horror film, it only kicks into overdrive in the last quarter of the film and man is it horrifying. It's pretty hard to forget the imagery of those powerful scenes near the end, that's for sure.

Kimberly Peirce has a big challenge to come anywhere close to matching the original. I do think that she's a pretty good candidate in terms of being able to deliver the goods though. Or maybe not though because she quite literally hasn't done much since 1999's Boys Don't Cry, which was brilliant all the same. It's tough to say. With Chloë Grace Moretz and Julianne Moore in tow, at the very least there's no way this film can be worse than mediocre right? No way can this be worse than the 2002 TV movie remake right?

Oct 8, 2014

Review: Double Jeopardy (1999)

Double Jeopardy reminds me dangerously of The Fugitive. In The Fugitive, Richard Kimble played by the almighty Harrison Ford is framed for the murder of his wife and subsequently hunted down by Tommy Lee Jones. DJ features Libby, played by Ashley Judd, framed for the murder of her husband and subsequently hunted down by Tommy Lee Jones as well.

OK I suppose it's a bit of a loose connection, but I still made it quite a bit while I watched Double Jeopardy. I'm sure that DJ is also the kind of movie that bothers lawyers like mad with its use of the Double Jeopardy Clause of The Fifth Amendment. What's for sure is that you have to be ready to shut off your brain for any of the legal stuff in here. On a sidenote, I was excited to see Normand Corbeil as the composer of the score since I had loved the music in the video game Heavy Rain which he was responsible for. It was a score with a ton of weight and I enjoy listening to it outside of the game.

Oct 7, 2014

Review: Carrie (2002)

Here we are back again with another version of Stephen King's novel Carrie, this time as a TV movie. Apparently this was made in the hopes of spawning a TV series, but poor ratings put a stop to that. Although a quick look at director David Carson's filmography is a bit concerning, at least the filmography of writer Bryan Fuller looks promising. 

It'd be easy to be all up in arms about there being a remake to such a classic film like the Carrie wouldn't it? I think that we can all agree though that a remake is far more desirable than a sequel though. The Rage: Carrie 2 demonstrated that perfectly. I mean, the worst that can happen is that it'll be mediocre right? I don't think they can't screw up Carrie that bad.

Oct 6, 2014

Review: The Zombie Diaries (2006)

We can all thank 28 Days Later for bringing back zombies with a vengeance. It's up there as one of my favourites of the genre, most being part of George A. Romero's filmography. Unfortunately, the zombie resurgence means having to deal with all the junk films that will also try to take advantage of what's popular at the time.

Looking at the IMDb score as well as the Rotten Tomatoes entry for The Zombie Diaries would seem to indicate that it's not a very good film. I tried to avoid making that assumption. It's shot in a quasi-found-footage style as far as I can tell so it could be interesting. TZD is also a pure independent effort from Englishmen Michael Bartlett and Kevin Gates, so I'm willing to give them the benefit of the doubt.

Review: 11/11/11 (2011)

I'm kind of curious as to why The Asylum decided to go ahead with this "mockbuster" of 11/11/11. Was Darren Lynn Bousman's 11-11-11 really making that much noise before its release? Bousman is known as the "director of Saw II-IV" so I guess that does count for something. With a title that's so similar, 11/11/11 also has some real potential to trick unwary movie watchers who are looking for 11-11-11. At the time of writing this even Wikipedia is confused about this film, saying that it made almost $6 million at the box office with a citation from the Box Office Mojo entry for 11-11-11.

Anyway, I think I may have some sort of sick fascination with watching The Asylum's crap. I get to watch what is usually some big production and then I can look forward to a cheap copycat movie that never fails to astound. Astound in the sense that you wonder how anyone could be willing to take part in a production like this. Like really, how does it feel to know that you are in what will be a certifiably bad movie? I wish I knew.

Oct 5, 2014

Review: 11-11-11 (2011)

Darren Lynn Bousman is a long-time veteran of the Saw series. From Saw II to Saw IV, he was at the helm. With 11-11-11, he goes from the gorno genre into the biblical horror genre which I think we can all agree is a pretty big shift. The big goal he has now is to create some real scares without the use of any kind of gore-tactics. 

11-11-11 sounds pretty cheap right off the bat though. Released on November 11th, 2011, its title refers to some big scary thing happening on that day. This is completely Bousman's movie as he also wrote the script, so I was all the same curious to see what he'd been able to come up with. It wasn't a movie he was able to get distributed very widely in North America unfortunately, mostly having to settle with foreign releases. I remember seeing 11-11-11 posters here in the Montreal subway system at the time though, so I guess we had one of the 17 domestic theatres in town which is pretty cool I guess.

Oct 4, 2014

Review: Death Becomes Her (1992)

All the right ingredients seem to be there when it comes to Death Becomes Her. Starting with the director, Robert Zemeckis is a great one with more than enough great titles to his name. Then you got Meryl Streep, Goldie Hawn and Bruce Willis in starring roles which sounds great. Death Becomes Her is a black comedy though and usually it's the kind of thing that's pretty divisive. I find myself liking black comedies more often than not, but it remains to be seen if I can count this one among the ones that I like.

The other notable thing about Death Becomes Her is that it won an Academy Award for Visual Effects. It dates back to 1992, so there's a strong possibility that the effects are completely outdated and might look awful. We'll see though, but at the same time I don't want to be too harsh just because the effects might look bad now. They were good once upon a time and as long as they don't dominate the movie, we're good.