Wednesday, December 31, 2014

I, Frankenstein

A man wearing a trench coat who knows martial arts battles a bunch of guys in suits and flying monsters in an overly CGI'd landscape in an effort to save humanity. There's a technological Girl Friday, a wingback chair in a crumbling house, a bunch of bodies in pods, multiple biblical references, a subway scene, and at least one fall from a tall building. No, I'm not describing The Matrix, I'm describing I, Frankenstein, where a slightly scarred and mostly miscast Aaron Eckhart is surrounded by demons and gargoyles and action film cliches, and I don't know what it all has to do with Frankenstein other than the cast repeating the name and original storyline over and over again. I, Frankenstein is a really just an expensive episode of Charmed sans Alyssa Milano and the charm, and they should have called it Demons Vs. Gargoyles Vs. A Guy In A Hoody which would have made more sense, or Underworld: With A Dude.

Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Mr. X

The enigmatic director of Mauvais Sang, Les Amants Du Pont-Neuf, Pola X, and Holy Motors, none of which I have seen, is outlined in this documentary. Featuring clips of his films, interviews with stars of his films, and very little of the director himself, I didn't learn an awful lot about Leos Carax, but I am intrigued by his film-making.

Invasion Of The Space Preachers

An alien crash lands on Earth and interrupts two nerds' camping trip in this sci-fi film that doesn't have many space preachers in it. Featuring wooden acting, an unconvincing space ship, an unconvincing alien that changes into a hot chick, hacky-sack, and at least one mime, Invasion Of The Space Preachers also features hippie dancing, offensive appalachian stereotypes, unconvincing spearfishing, acid-washed jeans, and stock animal footage. There's also The Amazing House Of Dung which isn't as good as it sounds, and a Grey Poupon joke. On the plus side, someone's head explodes, but Invasion Of The Space Preachers is exactly as exciting as a film about invading space preachers could possibly be.

Absolute Wilson

The avant-garde theater director is outlined in this slow-moving documentary. Although I'm familiar with the music associated with him, i.e. Philip Glass' Einstein On The Beach and Tom Waits' The Black Rider, I was completely unfamiliar with Robert Wilson's theater work. His piece "KA MOUNtain and GUARDenia Terrace" was a continuous 7-day long performance on a mountaintop in Iran which caused the hospitalization of himself and some of his performers for exhaustion and dehydration, and is just one of his pieces which test the boundaries of time, music, language, and movement. Absolute Wilson also tests the endurance of the viewer by examining the inexhaustible director/playwright/choreographer/artist and his prodigious output.

The Strange Color Of Your Body's Tears

A man's wife disappears and some other stuff happens in this tedious, over-long, avant-garde film. Utilizing every film technique imaginable and wearing its influences on its sleeve, The Strange Color Of Your Body's Tears borrows liberally from De Palma, Cronenberg, Lynch, Brakhage, Argento, Hitchcock, and Bunuel, and it just goes on and on and on. Basically an extended experiment in editing, lighting, art direction, sound, color, and composition, The Strange Color Of Your Body's Tears boils down to style and technique over plot. It's a beautiful thriller with a sprinkling of horror and BDSM that tries really hard to be deep and subversive, and a good 15 minutes could have been whittled out of it. I give it a meh.

Wednesday, December 24, 2014


Some unconvincing Norwegian archaeologists try to unravel the mystery of a strange set of runes in this adventure film. Featuring some lovely fjordy scenery and some suspect archaeology, the adventurers travel across the old Soviet border, fashion an unlikely raft, rappel into a foreboding cave, and flee from a giant serpent. There is one tense moment when the archaeologist's children are being dragged into the lake by the serpent, and one cliched moment when the same children hide from the serpent in a locker. I don't know an awful lot about Norway, or sea serpents, or archaeology, or Andrew Lloyd Webber, but here's a video by Gwar about the Viking legend of Ragnarok.

Like I said, I don't know an awful lot about Andrew Lloyd Webber, and I don't think the film Ragnarok has much to do with the legend of Ragnarok, either, but I've been wrong before.

Knives Of The Avenger

An unconvincingly bleached-blond viking does some unconvincingly knife-related Viking stuff in this slow-moving Mario Bava film. Waves crash on a beach, and people stand around and talk. Sometimes people start fires. Then a guy wearing a fur toga gets startled by a chicken and then he pours water on his head. Suddenly, someone gets knifed in the neck, someone chops a salad, and someone gets an ax to the face. The someone carries a sheep, and a couple of guys hurl severed heads at a bride. Suddenly, an unconvincing fire breaks out, and someone uses the word 'implacable'. Then someone gets stabbed in the face, some other stuff happens, then the movie ends.

Sunday, December 21, 2014

Santa Claus Conquers The Martians

Since nobody asked, here is my list of the best Xmas movies ever made:

The Best Xmas Movies Ever Made
by Stabford Deathrage

  1. Die Hard
  2. The Thin Man
  3. Batman Returns
  4. Sorry, there isn't a 4th one
  5. A Xmas Carol (1951), but only because it's filled with ghosts
  6. A Christmas Story, I suppose, but only because of tongue and eye violence
  7. There isn't a 7th one
  8. There isn't an 8th one
  9. Elf
  10. And there isn't a 10th one
Actually, the entire holiday is pretty depressing, and Xmas movies accurately represent that. Xmas is always under some sort of threat of not happening, even though the Beach Boys insist that 'Xmas comes this time each year' in possibly the worst Xmas song ever written. The kids aren't going to get their toys, or Santa's a lazy bum and he's not going to climb into his sleigh this year, or someone wishes they were never born, and it's tedious and boring and awful. Santa Claus Conquers The Martians is really no different. Santa is kidnapped by unconvincing martians wearing plumbing for a hat, and he's taken to Mars to, I don't know, do something. There's chocolate layer cake pills, someone knocks out martian children with sleep spray, and someone is unconvincingly dressed as a polar bear. It's really just a handful of clips of military stock footage hot-glued together like a holiday craft, and it's really tedious and boring and awful. Speaking of holiday crafts, in lieu of putting up a Xmas tree, I put up a mare lwyd, which is a Welsh tradition of decorating a horse skull and wassailing. I'm not sure what wassailing is, but I'm a big fan of skulls of any variety, and I decorate with them often. Here's a picture of a mare lwyd that I grabbed off the internets. It's not mine, because mine is much too frightening for you to see, and frankly, my wassailing is none of your business.

Anyway, Santa Claus Conquers The Martians features a robot made out of cardboard and dryer vent hoses, which coincidentally is what my mare lwyd is made out of. There's also a brief moment of unconvincing martian fisticuffs, and more phony beards and mustaches you can shake a horse skull on a stick at.

Demented Death Farm Massacre

4 unconvincing jewel thieves hide from the fuzz in this horror film that suspiciously lacks any death farm massacres. John Carradine unconvincingly stars as an unconvincing Judge Death, and he unconvincingly narrates the film, and by "narrates" I mean "he struggles to remember his lines, looks up a lot, and doesn't seem to believe what he's saying". Then the four jewel thieves walk through the woods, and you should get used to that because people walk around a lot in this film. After lots and lots of stagey, wooden dialogue, one of the female jewel thieves wearing a rope for a belt gets killed with a jug of moonshine after an unconvincing cat fight, then there's a tedious high-speed jeep chase with banjo accompaniment. Demented Death Farm Massacre isn't particularly demented, doesn't seem to occur on a farm, and has very few massacres of any variety.

The Xmas That Almost Wasn't

The rent is due and Santa can't seem to figure out a way to pay in this dour, tuneless, Xmas film. A mustachey villain bought the North Pole and is demanding Santa pay him rent, so Santa travels to a tinsel-strewn miniature town and recruits the worst lawyer in the world to help him. Instead of fighting back with lawyery stuff, the lawyer decides that Santa is fairly unemployable and should become the world's first department store Santa, and the lawyer becomes a janitor. They'll be able to earn the rent money by rolling around on the floor of the store playing with toys, and that sounds like a great idea if you often come up with really bad ideas. So the villainous landlord buys the department store, whips out an HR manual, and fires the two hapless fellows on the spot in the first bit of realism in this film. I may not know a lot of stuff about Xmas, but I do know there's no way I would hire Santa to do a darn thing. During the job interview with a hiring manager who oversees a department store filled with toys, Santa neglects to mention that he can create billions of toys and deliver them by magic seemingly overnight, and if I was conducting that job interview I would hire him just to instantly fire him, but then again, no one wants to watch a holiday film where Santa updates his resume or where Santa is standing by the overpass holding a cardboard sign that says, "Will Make Toys For Rent $". Anyway, The Xmas That Almost Wasn't is a dark, garland-covered, arctic wasteland of camera shadows, and when Santa's sleigh is flying over the town you can see the strings. There's a startling chimney montage, and to prove that Santa would be the worst employee ever, he manages to raise the revenue to pay his rent by panhandling in the village square, shaking down the village children for their piggybanks, and then ends up dusting the villain's home. Someone clearly cannot manage their time properly, and he's fired.

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Blood Lake: Attack Of The Killer Lampreys

Shannen Doherty sort of stars in this Asylum film where poorly computer-animated walking killer lampreys attack a small, mountainous Michigan town, and there's nothing at all wrong with that sentence. Anyway, lampreys leap out of a lake and attack a hobo in the eye, and his eyeball dangles for a while out of his head, and his trusty retriever runs for help and quickly abandons him at the first sign of a frisbee.

People frolic on a beach in knee-deep water, and it's a picture postcard of a tedious Michigan vacation with picturesque Michigan mountains in the background, which strangely enough, do not exist. The lampreys burrow under someone's skin and burst out, and that seems fine. Then Shannen Doherty is hunted by a lamprey in her own home, and it lurks under the couch. She then gets mansplained about how lampreys work, and I'm surprised she took it so well.

Speaking of Shannen Doherty in the bathroom, Shannen Doherty is trapped in the bathroom by lampreys, even though she was mansplained to avoid lamprey-filled water, and she fights them off with a curling iron because that's fine. 

Then people run through parking lots in a panic, someone gets attacked by lampreys in their truck in a confusing sequence the editors use a couple of times, and someone fights off lampreys with a weed-whacker a la Dead Alive.

Blood Lake is dreadful, which is what you'd expect from an Asylum film, and it's mildly recommended if you like stuff that sucks, but you should probably watch Heathers or Dead Alive instead.

Monday, December 15, 2014

Sharknado 2

The curious weather phenomena heads to New York City because it's in the script in this cameo-heavy, derivative sequel. After a bit of Coors Light product placement, Kelly Osbourne asks Tara Reid to sign a copy of Tara's best-selling book "How To Survive A Sharnado", then Ian Ziering sees a shark-shaped silhouette in the clouds, and it's a lot like that episode of the Twilight Zone if the Twilight Zone sucked. Did I mention this is happening aboard a plane? No? Well, it's an Asylum movie, and you should probably just assume some of the plot is taking place aboard a plane with sharks.

Suddenly, Robert Hays appears as the pilot, and it's very reminiscent of the film Airplane! if the film Airplane! sucked.

An airborne shark hits Engine #2 because of course it does, and it's suddenly reminiscent of every Asylum film ever.

What, no clip? Ok then.

Suddenly, everyone on board the plane starts screaming, and again, it's a lot like the film Airplane! if the film Airplane! sucked.

Then Kelly Osbourne gets her head chewed off by another airborne shark, and you should probably get used to that happening because it'll happen a lot. Suddenly, Tara Reid is nearly sucked out of the plane because this is an Asylum film and it's in every Asylum script, and while she's dangling outside the airplane's fuselage with one hand she manages to shoot another airborne shark, while another chews her hand off. Her plaintive screams sound a little like someone smothering a dozen kittens in a pillowcase, and it's very reminiscent of the film The Empire Strikes Back if The Empire Strikes Back sucked.

Did I mention this all happens before the credits? Well, it does, and it's not very good.

Anyway, the dude from Sugar Ray shows up, and he resembles Wink Martindale, and it's very upsetting.

Suddenly, Billy Ray Cyrus, Andy Dick, Downtown Julie Brown, and Pepa from Salt'N'Pepa show up, and I realize Sharknado 2 is really just The Love Boat with a lot more sharks.

Suddenly, Stephanie Abrams from the Weather Channel says, 'The sharks are going to pile up at the rate of 2 inches an hour', and that seems fine, the Judd Hersch drives a cab and refuses a tip, and I'm pretty sure that's the first and only time a New York cabbie did that. Someone tazes a shark aboard a ferry, and someone says, 'We've got to move this boat faster!' as Jerod from Subway eats fresh in another moment of product placement. Then someone hits a subway shark with a bat, and it's very reminiscent of a key scene from the film Orca, which sucked.

Sorry, someone replaced my clip of Bo Derek sliding into the open jaws of a man-eating killer whale with a clip of Richard Harris warbling "Macarthur Park". Please excuse the inconvenience.

Suddenly, Biz Markie prepares a shark in a pizza oven, Al Roker recommends that everyone should try to 'avoid any sharknados', and Vivica A. Fox swings with a kid.

Everyone runs through a flaming-shark-filled stairwell in another trademark Asylum move, and then Ian Ziering spouts inspirational gibberish while holding a chainsaw, and it's reminiscent of Army Of Darkness if Army Of Darkness sucked.

Suddenly, Tara Reid has a circular saw attached to her stump, and it's very reminiscent of Army Of Darkness if blah blah blah.

The camera and crew is visible whenever something reflective is onscreen, and sometimes they pixelate it when it's super obvious, then someone attacks a shark with a trident.

Suddenly, Ian Ziering falls out of the sky for about 15 minutes, and it's very reminiscent of Dr. Strangelove if Dr. Strangelove sucked.

Then everyone claps for a really long time, and it's a lot like Birdemic, and then the movie ends.

Sharknado 2 tries much too hard to suck, and suck it does, and I'll mildly recommend it if you like stuff that sucks.

Sunday, December 14, 2014

The Crimson Cult

Boris Karloff, Christopher Lee, and Barbara Steele do some witchy stuff in this seemingly unending horror film. A chick in pasties whips another chick chained to a bench while a blue Barbara Steele wears a ram head-dress. Someone cuddles a chicken, someone else cuddles a goat, a muscle dude wears a leather mask and tiny underpants, and a chick wearing a lacy red leotard and granny panties gets chased through the forest. I'm not sure why. Then someone gets their decolletage painted, and two dudes shower each other in champagne. I'm pretty sure why. Suddenly, Christopher Lee and Boris Karloff show up, and they sip brandy and disparage the lead character. The villagers burn a witch in effigy, and fireworks nearly set Boris Karloff on fire. Boris Karloff and Christopher Lee take a suspicious midnight stroll in a cemetery, then it's back to the mansion for more brandy, putdowns, and octogenarian eyerolling as Boris invites the lead character back to his pad to show him his instruments of torture which is probably fine. Various Scooby-Doo shenanigans occur for the next hour or so, including explaining how the villain filled a hidden attic torture chamber with some phony cobwebs, and you almost expect someone to say "Zoinks!" or at least "Jinkies!" but they don't.

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

3 Seconds Before Explosion

Everyone chain-smokes in this action film that doesn't seem to have much action in it. There's some judo, a guy gets whipped with a cat-o-nine tails, the hounds are released, and a villain wears a fez. When did the fez become the standard uniform for C-Squad henchmen? I'm not sure. There are a few explosions in 3 Seconds Before Explosion, but other than the one where severed hands and human chunks are thrown against a wall, they're nothing much to write home about.


After a failed attempt to halt global warming, the last survivors of a frozen Earth live crammed aboard a segregated non-stop train in this dystopic sci-fi film. Claustrophobic, dim, thrilling, and darkly humorous, Snowpiercer is simultaneously original, inventive, and very familiar. Borrowing liberally from The Odyssey, 1984, the Matrix, and Charlie And The Chocolate Factory, the film shows a hero leading a band of warriors through brutality, oppression, and class separation in search of an unseen, mythic Big Brother. I was particularly alarmed by the shiny, happy 'egg sequence'. The protagonist arrives in a squeaky clean classroom compartment, as well-dressed children are indoctrinated through the use of sloganeering and patriotism from a pregnant teacher until the firearms appear. It's a fascinating, thought-provoking scene rich with allusion and symbolism in an exciting, action-packed film.

The Conformist

A man is forced to arrange the assassination of his former teacher in this beautifully shot drama. Utilizing every technique imaginable, The Conformist is filled with striking, iconic imagery: The crane shot of leaves blowing in the wind, the imaginative use of moving light through venetian blinds, dutch angled street shots, dolly shots in a mental ward with a dramatic black straight-jacket, a beautifully constructed dance hall scene with a seductive tango, and a remarkable handheld scene in a snowy forest. Unfortunately, I'm not as familiar with the Italian history of Fascism in Italy during the early 20th century as I should be.


A couple takes a vacation in their caravan when the bodies start to pile up in this bone-dry British black comedy. Heading out to the tram museum, the pencil museum, a viaduct, and several campsites on an erotic odyssey, Chris takes vengeance on those who wrong him on their travels, and blissfully oblivious Tina finally catches a clue and joins in. I found myself laughing out loud at the natural, stone-faced dialogue, with standouts being "I don't think I can cope without potpourri" and "Those crisps are filled with horrors".

Monday, December 8, 2014

Deadly Bees

After collapsing on set from a strenuous session of lip-syncing, a nosy, mink-wearing pop chanteuse is sent to convalesce on a creepy remote island bee farm with a cranky, sinister beekeeper and his chain-smoking wife, where she inexplicably meets a second, slightly-less sinister beekeeper who inexplicably keeps bees in a secret wall hive because that's not at all suspicious, and it's difficult to keep all the beekeepers straight although there only seems to be about a half-a-dozen people on the whole island. The sinister beekeeper and his chain-smoking wife bicker, and neither one of them seem to mention the arm-long hypodermic needle or the pint of horse blood that's just hanging around. The sinister beekeeper throws a bucket, and meanwhile someone keeps editing in the same shot of someone shaking out a screen of bees against a blue sky over and over. Suddenly, the Shaggy D.A. is attacked by poorly green-screened bees, and the dog's death stops the chain-smoking wife from chain-smoking for five seconds, and by "stops chain-smoking" I mean "cries hysterically and sets fire to all the hives with kerosene". Then there's a bee-filled montage dream recap, the chanteuse sets a fire in the bathroom while wearing a slip (which sounds a little like a failed Adele song), there's a high-speed Jeep chase, someone ends up face down in the mud, and the police use scientific forensics by sniffing the working end of a blood-filled hypodermic needle. Anyway, I didn't realize pop chanteuses were equally adept at solving mysteries as they are blazing a trail atop the pop charts, but now I know.

Tuesday, December 2, 2014

Life After Beth

I attempted to watch the zom-rom-com Life after Beth last night, and I forgot it was Cyber Monday, which in all honesty shouldn't even be a thing, and because everyone in the world was trying to annoy me and purchase holiday gifts for their friends and loved ones, Amazon Prime kept buffering due to high traffic of everyone buying their zombie apocalypse horse head masks, which was very inconsiderate of everyone in the world to do to me.

So what should have been a ninety-odd minute movie turned into a two-and-a-half hour living nightmare, which completely ruined my movie experience, but I'm pretty much used to things being ruined. One plus for my evening, though. I finally found some Little Debbie Cherry Cordial cakes, which are a hideously delicious snack cake that tastes a little like cough syrup, and just like cough syrup, I'm hideously addicted to them.

As I was purchasing them from the local supermarket, the checkout clerk held the box up, gave them a suspicious glance, and asked me, "So, do these taste like chocolate covered cherries?" Since I wasn't in the mood to point out the obvious, that they're chocolate covered, cherry-filling filled snack cakes, I just said "Yeah", and I didn't destroy the Earth at all, but I was tempted to.

Life After Beth is one of those zombie movies, like Shawn Of The Dead, where normal people don't really seem to notice their surroundings, and they seem to be oblivious to the fact that the world is going to heck in a handbasket, which is fine by me. If no one seems to notice that Little Debbie Cherry Cordials taste like chocolate covered cherries, then I can buy them all and ride out the inevitable zombie apocalypse, which is probably happening right now and no one is noticing because they're busy buying zombie apocalypse horse head masks and buffering the heck out of my movie.

So I watched Life After Beth for what seemed like forever, even though music by Brian Eno, Can, and The Brian Jonestown Massacre played on the soundtrack, and after about a million years and a really terrible acoustic guitar performance by the nondescript lead actor, Aubrey Plaza finally goes nutty and knocks down a beach bungalow, and the only thing that can comfort her is smooth jazz, and strangely enough, smooth jazz makes me want to freak out and knock down a beach bungalow.

I don't really care for smooth things, although I do enjoy the smooth flavor of a Little Debbie Cherry Cordial. Any way, Life After Beth is a dryly funny zombie movie that underutilizes its supporting cast, but Aubrey Plaza froths and foams at the mouth in the latter half of the film.

Under The Skin

Scarlett Johansson cruises for lonely guys in her creep van to take back to her house filled with syrup in this Stanley Kubrick-esque sci-fi film. Featuring a cold, detached performance from Johansson, gorgeous deep focus cinematography, and a metallic, enigmatic score, Under The Skin's long, nearly silent scenes of abstract beauty often evoke 2001: A Space Odyssey. A seemingly tranquil moment in the film of a family enjoying a choppy swim in a rocky cove becomes quite harrowing when everyone including the family dog is swept out to sea, leaving a screaming, defenseless infant on the beach as Scarlett pounds the hapless swimmer who attempted to save them in the head with a rock, and then drags his lifeless body back to her van. The film loses momentum in the final third as Johnasson wrestles with assimilation, but the tension ramps back up at the surprising conclusion.