“The Best Gems you’ve never seen”

Another installment. If you have any recommendations send them my way.

The “One Missed Call” trilogy

Asian cinema is known for being twisted and atmospheric. The trilogy entails victims receiving a call from their future selves predicting their deaths. Grisly and enthralling. There was also a TV series based on the films. In 2008 an American remake received a cold reception. The remake actually isn’t *that* bad but is watered down.

“Audition”

A Takashi Miike joint. When a production company worker suddenly loses his Wife he is shattered. Years go by before he thinks of dating again. Using his clout he searches for the perfect date and meets his perfect match. Quiet but intelligent he has no idea what he’s in for. A film not for the squeamish.

 

The “Piranha” series

Thrills and child abound. The franchise boasts 5 films. (Including two remakes, 2 sequels,) One of the better “Jaws” ripoffs. It’s hapless victims versus hungry Piranhas. Whip up some Margaritas and grab a Pizza and let the carnage unfold.

“Growing Up Brady”

Yet another unauthorized made for TV film. This lighthearted film takes a look at America’s favorite family. Scope out Kaley Cuoco in an early role. America was shocked years later when “Mr. Brady” died of AIDS and was revealed to be gay. A secret the cast and crew kept for years.

 

“The Anna Nicole Smith Story”

Anna Nicole came from humble beginnings as a single young Mother working at a fried Chicken joint. She had dreams of becoming famous like her idol Marilyn Monroe. Though she was known for her raunchy antics she fulfilled her dreams. But not without scandal and heartbreak. The film takes a sympathetic look at the rise and fall of a tabloid celebrity.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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“Guilt”

Posted on June 14, 2016 by orangesody84

 

With the name change from ABC family to Freeform edgier entertainment was promised.“Guilt” aims to be the Summer’s potboiler mystery. Shades of the real life Amanda Knox case spring to mind. After a wild night in London roommates Molly (played by Rebekah Wainwright) and Grace (played by Daisy Head) return to their hip Flat. As Morning dawns Grace and her French boyfriend discover Molly’s body in a pool of blood. Grace’s Sister who is also a Lawyer flys in from America. It isn’t long before the local detectives are interested in Grace and her boyfriend.

 

Right off the bat I found it refreshing that the show boasts an international class. (American, British, Irish, French, so far) In some ways the show is shot like a British crime drama and other times like an overly bright episode of “Pretty Little Liars”. As we open with a grisly murder and othet plots unfold the point is driven home this is not a kid’s show. It’s obvious the show is trying to piggyback on the “Pretty Little Liars” crowd despite this. It has been confirmed the mystery will be solved this season and not drag on.

 

Despite the claims it will differ from the Amanda Knox case it really isn’t made clear in the pilot. Pilots tend to suck before a show is built up. Out of all the actors Billy Zane steals the show as a washed up Lawyer who attaches himself to the case. The rest of the actors are okay but we aren’t really given much to care about. They fill the void as “French boyfriend”, “American roommate”, “grieving Brother”,  and “dogged Detectives”.

 

“Back home this crime scene would’ve been wrapped up in a matter of hours!” Grace’s Sister (played by Emily Tremaine) guffaws. This is but a taste of clashing cultural styles. Quickly we realize Grace is not the wholesome sweet girl she pretends to be. At this point in time I keep thinking this should be called “The Amanda Knox Story”. Because making minor changes really isn’t helping differentiate from said case.

 

Before I knew it the episode was over. As it ended I knew the show had hooked it’s claws into me. Flaws and all I wanted to find out who killed Grace. Judging by the Pilot the show could crash and burn or be a success. Given the premise it could be a new case every season if it’s not just a single season show.

 

I hope the show will expand upon media affecting a crime and our perceptions. I certainly hope the show will carve it’s own  storyline and not stick to the obvious real life refrences.Most of the characters are a bit bland but given it’s only the first episode that could change. One thing is for sure, the show has potential.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Mini Reviews

“Green Room”

A ragtag group of Punk rockers (inuding the late Anton Yelchon and Imogen Poots) make the mistake of playing a gig at a Nazi bar. After playing a set they witness a nurder. They must fight for their lives as the Bar’s manager (played by the creepy and charismatic Patrick Stuart) plans to leave no witnesses. The violence is horrific in two scenes but in all honesty isn’t super gory or cartoonish. 86 minutes of awesomeness.

“#FollowFriday”

This made for TV film targets College students who are a bit too into Twitter. As the bodies pile up one of them surmises there is a connection between the victims using the same hashtag. Equally cheesy and spot on with how many talk down to eachother and ignore one another. Not particularly gory if you are into that. A nice way to kill some time. (No pun intended)

“The Finest Hours”

Recounts one of the greatest rescues at Sea. In 1959 a group of men set out just as a major Storm heads in. They only have one another to depend on.  Dazzling special effects and good acting. My only complaint is the added Fluff. Several moments such as a love interest driving into a Snowbank or storming into the Office and demanding her Hubby come home did not happen. It cheapened what otherwise was a good movie.

 

 

 

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Mini reviews

“The “The ABC’S of Death 2”

With two other films in the can and one on the way this anthology franchise seems to be going strong. The premise is fairly simple. Give a director a platform to contribute a short film all stemming from a letter in the Alphabet. The shorts are generally macabre in nature. Literally a mixed bag entries range from great to mediocre. The twisted anthology doesn’t seem to be slowing down as “The ABC’S of death 2.0” is  in production.

 

“The Girl in the Photographs”

2015 dealt with the loss of horror director Wes Craven.  His last executive produced offering tells the story of a young woman (played by Claudia Lee) who runs afoul of a serial killer who enjoys distributing gruesome pictures of his victims. It isn’t long before she and others (including a local photographer played by Kal Penn and his motley crew) end up on the proverbial chopping block. This is not a typical flashy fast paced slasher. It’s a slow burn thriller. Kal Penn is good as a pretentious “Artist”. The movie tries to have legit character development before the carnage begins but casual slasher fans may be too bored for the payoff.

 

“Operation Bottleneck”

Despite the clunky dialogue and stagey vibe (as some older movies possess) There is a decent love story between a Japanese woman and an American Soldier in WWII Burma. 6 Soldiers find themselves in a strange land with an aggressive opponent. It’s not so much the action I was drawn to but the emotional side of it. Clocking in at 76 minutes it’s short and sweet. Starring Ron Foster and Miiko Taka.

 

 

“Holidays”

Ever since “Halloween”  was released Holiday horror themes have seemed to become popular. The “Black Christmas”, “Tales of Halloween”, “Trick ‘r treat”, “Krampus”, and “My Bloody Valentine” spring to mind. But what do you get when you create an anthology film featuring ten holidays? The results as expected are a mixed bag. With 10 to 15 minutes the directors have their work cut out for them. In particular I thought Savanah Kennick and Madeline Coglahn were great in the Valentines Day segment. The Christmas Day, New Years Eve, Easter, and Father’s Day segments were also highlights for me.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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“Star Trek: Beyond”

Admittedly I’m not an expert and am a casual fan of the classic show. I have seen the original films either on TV or in theatres. Not expecting a lot I took up the offer to see the latest J.J. Abrams production. I noted there were a lot of older people in the audience. After seeing trailers for “Rogue: A Star Wars story”, “Xxx:the return of Xander Cage”, “Keeping up with the Joneses”, and “Suicide Squad” the movie mercifully finally begun.

Sadly the movie is clouded by the death of one of its recent stars, Anton Yelchin. Personally knowing he was gone made his scenes harder to watch for me. While the franchise is known for it’s cheese factor things get very dark indeed. The Enterprise answers a distress call from an unknown entity and offers them safety. A decision Kirk (played by Chris Pine of “Bottleshock”) may regret. Meanwhile Spock (played by Zachary Quintin of “American horror story”) still questions his feelings for Uhura (played by Zoe Saldana of “Haven”) Soon the Crew is besieged by a new villain by the name of Krall. I won’t spoil who stars as Krall but he is an underrated and a brillant actor.

While the quirky humor remains the movie goes up a notch in the action sequences. With the exception of a few shoddy sequences the CGI is well done.  Simon Pegg digs into his role as Dr. Bones. Pegg also shares the duties of having helped the write the script. While Sofia Boutella is charming and fierce as Jaylah. There are a few refrences to the original show sprinkled in the film.

The film has good acting throughout. The interior and exterior of Yorktown is visually stunning. Another beautiful landscape plays a major role which I won’t spoil. One aspect was brief but may be controversial. The character of Zulu has a male lover. George Takei of the original show is gay so in a way it plays as tribute to him.

The film runs about 2 hours. So be sure to fill up on Soda and Popcorn. Be sure to be prepared to be assaulted by a loud symphony of intergalactic sounds. The fight, flight, and action sequences are well done. The new villain is at times sympathetic and horrifying.

While stars have stated a desire to move on only time will tell if there is a new film. It is a fitting tribute to the original show. It is also bittersweet to watch Anton Yeltin. As corny as it sounds seeing the movie has given me the spark to go to the movies again after a lenthgy absence. It has been an entertaining trilogy.

 

 

 

 

 

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“Cabin Fever”

2002’s “Cabin Fever” was notable for it’s practical effects and offbeat cast that had great chemistry. When it was revealed that there would be a remake skepticism and annoyance ran across the web. In both versions recent College graduates get off the grid to vacation  at a Cabin. They run afoul of the locals and other nasty surprises. Friendships and loyalties are tested.

Right off the bat we are treated to an opening montage ripped off straight out of “The Shining” for no aparent reason. Friends Paul, Karen, Marcy and Bert settle into some rustic digs. While part one had a charming ensemble cast  this remake has an unconvincing and mostly generic cast. Three of the male cast pretty much resemble eachother. Certain scenes and important dialogue have been changed for no reason.

While Marcy was sweetly ditzy here she is smarter and more competent. Burt was a lovable buffoon in the original but is just plain annoying here. Karen is upgraded to a slightly smarter Blonde Waif. The character of Deputy Winston is changed to a female for no reason. She plays the role as a predatory Cougar. While the cast play their roles slightly different I couldn’t help but think they lack the charm from it’s predecessor. This may be since the new film plays it straight and avoids  humor.

Part one favored practical effects while here many parts look downright CGI. The musical score is given a more cinematic epic upgrade instead of a Southern influence. As much as I’m partial to the original I will say some of the cast shine in more emotional moments. It’s a shame they seem to be sleepwalking until an hour in.  Interstingly enough certain moments are changed for our more politically correct times. It’s interesting to watch how certain dialogues are changed completely with a different tone.

The film moves at a breakneck pace with not a lot of time to breathe. Commentary is made about the obnoxious use of technology and Phones as the kids are bereft without a TV or WiFi signal in sight.  While some aspects are watered down other parts go for a more meanspirited route. The remake is a strange experiment. Some parts work others fall flat. But overall I didn’t hate it.

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“Dead of Summer”

We open with an creepy flashback starring none other than the “Candyman” himself Tony Todd. We quickly switch to the “present” day of the Summer of 1989. It’s three days before Debra Carpenter (Elizabeth Mitchell) re-opens Camp Clearwater . Cue the 80’s music and Counselors wearing said Band T-shirts. Chatter goes around the campfire about “Geraldo” and Satanic panic. Already I’ve been mentally assaulted with “This is 1989!” pop culture refrences. There’s even a gruff and creepy Gardener to boot.

For better or worse the creators of “Lost” and “Once upon  a time” have decided to dust off the 80’s slasher catalogue and put their own twist on it. It’s been stated it’s not a slasher in the traditional sense. There will be no Jason Voorhee’s character stalking the campgrounds. We are treated to a plethora of cliches. We have the sweet mousy girl, openly gay counselor, grungy stoner, the sexy one, the weird quiet one, the Prep, and the one with a Camcorder stuck to his hand. We also have the Keystone Cop characters.

Right off the bat it in no way ever feels like the 1980’s. It feels like a bunch of hipster Teens trying to emulate that era. Gripes aside the pilot isn’t awful. The acting is competent and the show takes itself fairly serious. It’s filmed in the same generic way all Freeform shows are. (Formerly ABC family) Soft and washed out.

 

Before the episode is over everyone looks shady as hell. Everyone has secrets, right? There is even an off the wall scene that harkens back to a slasher classic. For a show that adamantly claims to not be a slasher it spends a lot of time cherry picking it’s greatest hits. The show is made for modern young audiences but also tries to satisfy horror buffs. It’s a tall order that I feel the creators have a lot to live up to.

Depending on your tastes the pilot is low on thrills or chills as we settle in. If you are looking for a “Friday the 13th” clone you will be disappointed. If you are looking for realism you will be questioning the storyline. For example, an openly gay character makes jokes about kissing another guy. Being gay was not accepted in the 1980’s. There is also the issue of questionable looking fashions, haircuts, and technology claiming to be circa 1989. If you are looking for a traditional slasher show you might want to look elsewhere.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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“The Best Gems you’ve never seen”

The almost 3 years I’ve logged off this account I have transcended. I am timeless. I am omnipotent. What follows will be small descriptions of hidden movie gems I’ve watched recently.

“JU-on: White Ghost/Black Ghost”

The curse is back. Anyone who enters the death house becomes a part of it. Equal parts horror and drama as the curse spreads from victim to victim. Meanwhile overseas “Saddako vs. Kayako” is already finished. There is also talk of “The Grudge” being rebooted in America. Meanwhile the teen oriented “Rings” sequel to “The Ring” is scheduled for Halloween.

“Henry II: Portait of a Serial Killer”

Leaving off where part one ended Henry (played by a competent different actor) finds work from a shady low income family. Cricket (played by Kate Walsh) offers the aimless worker food and shelter in exchange for illegal jobs on the side. What the family doesn’t know is Henry is a ruthless serial killer. The film works as a standalone title as it makes refrences to the brillant part one. The scuzzy 90’s fit in just right with the film’s atmosphere. Despite Michael Rooker not playing Henry the sequel is not too shabby.

“Titanic” (1996) and “Titanic” (2012)

While James Cameron’s Oscar winning spectacle was in production so too was a TV movie version. On a modest budget and a hackneyed schedule the TV version isn’t so bad. This version focuses a bit more on the aftermath of the disaster. It is also Catherine Zeta Jones’s first movie role. The 2012 version focuses on an array of characters including the Servants of different classes on the Ship. The class distinction reaches beyond the Passengers. It also has a non linear format.

“In Cold Blood/Capote”

The 1996 miniseries of “In Cold Blood” focuses more on the tragic 1950’s Clutter family who were murdered by two convicts in search of money. The murder shocked the world and compelled author Truman Capote to write the award winning true crime book. “Capote” focuses on Truman who is a flamboyant homosexual who runs in high society. He becomes infatuated with one of the convicts as he digs for salacious details. The more Truman writes the closer he is to critical acclaim. But at what cost? A fine double feature.

“See no evil: the Moors murders”

For a period of years England was rocked by the disappearence of small children and young people. The two responsible were sadistic couple Myra and Ian. They were responsible for the coldblooded rape and murders of said victims. The miniseries is more invested in the couple’s background and does not show any assaults or kidnappings. This does not make the miniseries any less bearable to sit through. Fantastic performences across the board including Maxine Peake and Sean Haris as the diabolical couple.

“2001 Maniacs/2001 Maniacs: Field of Screams”

Horror master Robert Englund is the undead Mayor of Pleasant Valley, Virginia. A large group of youngin’s find themselves taken in by the town for dome good ole Southern hospitality. The body count rises in cheeky, gorey, dark humor. The sequel has Sid Haig as the Mayor. While part one was charming on a practical budget the sequel is a bit of a disappointment. The sound mixing is atrocious and barely discernable. This time around no travelers are coming to the Valley so the Maniacs hit the road on a Bus to find fresh victims. Two spoiled divas and a hapless reality show film crew wander into the maniac’s clutches as chaos ensues. Despite the lower budget and ludicrous plot I still found the movie entertaining. If only the terrible sound mixing issue could be fixed.

“Posion Ivy: the new Seduction/ Posion Ivy: the Secret Society”

The 90’s were known for slick erotic thrillers. The first “Posion Ivy” ushered in a time of films about sexy women taking over families and becoming obsessed with disastrous consequences. This time around Violet (played by Jaime Pressly) comes back to her childhood friend’s manor. It isn’t long before she’s slinking around and undressing causing mayhem. While the first film was fairly serious this one embraces it’s cheesy plotline. “The Secret Society” has no connection to the franchise. Country girl Daisy stumbles upon a College secret society known as the Ivy’s who use sex and murder to get what they want. Miriam Macdonald of “Degrassi” strips down to play a more “adult” role with laughable results.

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“Animal Kingdom”

The TV show is based on the Australian movie from 2010. It is based on a real Austin crime family. After Jay’s Mother dies he(played by Finding  Cole of “Peake Blinders”)  is taken in by Smurf. (played by Ellen Barkin) It isn’t long before he is taken in by his  wiley Uncles Baz,  (Played by Scott Speedman of “The Strangers”) Craig, (played by Ben Robson) Pope, (played by TV’s  “Southland” Shawn Hatosy) and Deran. (Played by Jake Weary of “It Follows” ) Yuou don’t have to watch the movie before watching the series. Though it’s fun seeing what has been added or changed. The series promises to be a sundrenched thriller.

Having not been familiar with Ellen Barkin I was impressed with her. She would steal the eyes out of a Cat as soon as fix you Dinner.  Danielle Alonzo (from TV’s “Jericho”) takes over the role of Catherine, Pope’s worried  girlfriend. The real wildcard is Shawn Hatsoy’s character who is fresh out of the slammer. He has serious boundary issues.

The location change from Australia to California is flawless. The characters are seen hanging out and surfing at the local beach.  Jay’s girlfriend Nikki (played by newcomer Molly Gordon) has an expanded role as a sympathetic ear. The action scenes are shot at a crackling neckbreak pace. Luckily it remains realistic and doesn’t go into popcorn movie territory.

For being a TNT show there is enough nudity and sex to spare. Plenty of ripped Sixpacks and fit bodies in bikinis. The characters are a far cry from the original film and perhaps that’s for the best. The boys herr appear to be adrenalin  junkies instead of lost boys. It will be interesting to see how the rest of the show pans out. Guy Peace will also be on board to play the role of a Detective.

 

There is a pervading sense of dread and debauchery. After watching the first two episodes I am interested where it will go from here. If it will stick to the movie’s template or do it’s own thing. With a likable cast and eerie  sunny atmosphere it promises to be a thrilling summer event.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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“The Legend of Hercules”

Films about Mythology and the Greeks and Romans have been popular in recent years. “The Legend of Hercules” (Directed by Renny Harlin) stars Kellan Lutz better known for his “Twilight” fame. This film begins with the inception and birth of said hero. His Mother Alcmene (Played by Roxanne McKee of TV’s “Game of Thrones”) makes a bargain with the God Zeus to carry his Son to bring an end to her tyrannical Husband Amphitryon. (Played by Scott Adkins of “The Expendables 2”) Meanwhile Hercules and his Brother Iphicles (Played by Liam Garrigan from TV’s “The Pillars of the Earth”) both vie for the beautiful Princess Saphirra. (Played by Gaia Weiss from “Mary Queen of Scotts”) Their Sibling rivalry results in the shunning of Hercules and his Friend Sotiris (Played by Liam Mcintyre of  “Spartacus”) into Slavery and the battling arenas. He must survive to make his way home to win back his love and restore order in his Kingdom.

 

If you are a nitpicker for Mythology you may be disappointed with this version of Hercules. Hercules does not even know his origins for the first half of the film. instead the film focuses on his Kingdom’s politics and treachery. Interestingly enough we meet Lucius (played by Kenneth Cranham) is the ringleader behind an underground fight club if you will. It is here where Hercules’ Godlike strength comes in handy.

 

Speaking of fight sequences many of the action sequences feel straight out of the film “300”. While it’s not a bad thing but I was kind of confused why the Director chose to go this route. There is violence a plenty but hardly any Blood or gore. This if after all a PG-13 film. the musical score is rousing but hardly memorable.

 

The lavish Costumes and special effects are impressive. I was enthralled by the opening sequence which literally swoops us into the action with a bird’s eye view. At 99 minutes the movie pretty much zooms by. For me though the movie hits all the right notes and is just the right amount of time.

 

As is stated in the title this is more of an origin tale. There is no Hydra beast in this movie. In fact what little references there are of Zeus is just about all of the Mythology you will be getting. Sure there is romantic elements and drama but it’s mostly an action film.  I think this was a smart move to make the film appeal to different ages.

 

The movie heavily changed the Mythology of Hercules. If successful I could see a possible franchise in the future. The cast all do fine in their roles but then the movie is really nothing you haven’t seen before. (traditionally speaking.) it’s a movie that focuses more on the human side of Hercules and that’s fine. But I won’t lie and say I was hoping for Monsters and Gods to pop up.  I will give the makers props though for giving a different spin on the character of Hercules.

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