Wednesday, April 27, 2016

Real Fear: The Truth Behind The Movies

The real-life inspirations for the horror films Amityville Horror, Poltergeist, Mothman Prophecies, and Silent Hill are examined in this paranormal documentary.

Featuring film clips, interviews, news clips, visits to actual locations, and some ghost hunting, Real Fear: The Truth Behind The Movies gets to the bottom of the inspirations behind a handful of horror films in the style of ghost-hunting TV shows like Ghost Hunters. I particularly enjoyed when the crew visits Point Pleasant, West Virginia, the small town that's the home of the mythical Mothman, who appeared after the collapse of the Silver Bridge that killed 46 people in 1967. The best vignette is when they visit eerie Centralia, Pennsylvania, a ghost town that's the basis for the film Silent Hill. With smoke rising from the ground from an underground coal fire that's been burning for decades, Centralia truly is a town straight from a horror film.

The Man Whose Mind Exploded

The life of an eccentric individual who can no longer form new memories is examined in this frank documentary. Drako Zaraharzar was a dancer and model until several head injuries gave him brain damage. Dressed in a cape, well, when he was dressed, and coloring in his mustache with paint, he lived in a house with nude photos dangling from the ceiling and snaps of paper covering every surface, tools he used in an attempt to help create new memories. After the motorcycle accident which placed him in a coma, Zaraharzar decided to live in the now to help him cope with depression. A fascinating glimpse at a fractured mind, The Man Whose Mind Exploded is an unflinching look at the resilience of the human brain and a creative, NSFW, one-of-a-kind persona.

Wednesday, April 20, 2016

Pee-Wee's Big Holiday

Pee-Wee Herman takes a vacation in this charming but slight third film in the Pee-Wee Herman series.

Pee-Wee is in a rut. His band breaks up just as motorcycle riding bad-boy actor Joe Manganiello rides into town. Pee-Wee makes him a milkshake, and they bond over root beer candies. Deciding he needs a vacation, Pee-Wee leaves town to attend Manganiello's birthday party in the big city, and after a raucous version of One Million Bottles Of Pop On The Wall, picks up 3 hitchhiking chick bank robbers straight out of Faster Pussycat, Kill Kill, which results in traffic violations and a pillow fight. Various adventures ensue.

Not as madcap as the first film or the classic TV show, Pee-Wee's Big Holiday is light in plot, and gags seem to stretch for time. Thankfully utilizing little CGI, Peewee's Big Holiday's outrageous costumes, vintage cars and furniture, and real sets and locations seem refreshing in contrast to the cluttered, phony look of modern films. It's naive, charming, and silly, and exactly what you'd expect from a Pee-Wee Herman film.

Wednesday, April 13, 2016


Five years after a zombie apocalypse, a military squad 're-kills' reanimated corpses in this Fox News-esque horror film. Presented in a reality TV format complete with commercials, ReKill is the story of post-zombie apocalypse America featuring the fast moving zombies typical of modern zombie films. With the action broken by ads for anti-zombie meds, Procreation For America propaganda, pro-smoking ads because 'you're gonna die anyway', and more ads for a Post-trauma clinic and firearms 'for the children', Re-Kill is reminiscent of daytime television. Featuring a well-choreographed high speed truck chase, lots of interview-style closeups, quick cuts and edits, and twisting, twirling, shaking, jostling nausea cam, the action also resembles a gory role-playing video game. A sequence of dozens of zombies swarm out of the back of a semi-truck was rather effective, culminating in the head of zombie crushed by the gate of the semi. In an homage to Escape From New York, the sub-plot of trucks carrying zombies into The Zone, the walled remnants of New York City, seemed unfortunately familiar. I was entertained by the humorous vignettes entitled 'Survival Stories', personal interest tales of charmed survivors of the first day of the outbreak, who seem a little dumb, prone to violence, and very lucky, as though they were destined for the battle to come. The stunts were also well-done, particularly a sequence with flaming zombies. The nihilism inherent in the subject matter keeps the film somber throughout. I thought I was going to hate Re-Kill, and was pleasantly surprised when I didn't.