Month: October 2013

October 31, 2013

The Simplistic Reviews Podcast: October Edition

 The boys are back with another hard-hitting, face-melting, knee-slapping, balls-to-the-wall edition of The Simplistic Reviews Podcast.  October draws to a close with Halloween on their minds as they breakdown the best Horror Monsters/Villains/Demons of all-time.

The boys also vent their anger in another round of “Hey F%*khead” and no one is safe.  Everyone from Julliane Hough to Michael Bay are ripped limb from limb for their stupidity and overall douchebaggery.

Add in some TV talk, Casper the Friendly Rapist, and a barn-full of shenanigans and you got a podcast worth downloading and listening to while you’re running on the elliptical machine.  Enjoy!

Show Notes:

Julianne Hough in Blackface
Chris Brown Still Beating People
History of Halloween
Scariest Horror Villains

FOR MATURE AUDIENCES ONLY.

Click HERE to listen to podcast

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October 31, 2013

This is Halloween: The Shining (1980)

ICONIC

The Shining – Iconic

I hate to be so cliche when it comes to “The Shining” but since I like it not only as a horror film, but as a film in general, it’s hard not to call it iconic.  It’s the first film in the pseudo-slasher genre that was taken seriously by not only horror fans, but film historians and pundits.  I mean Stanley Kubrick directed it for goodness sake!  One of the most important directors in the past 75 years chose to follow up his epic “Barry Lyndon” with a Stephen King adaptation.

While I’m too young to have gotten the chance to experience this film in the theater during it’s initial theatrical run, luckily “The Shining” was being screened during one of Cinemark Classic Series months.  Myself, and two friends, got the chance to experience the way all film should be witnessed; on the big screen.  While I don’t fully agree with complete restoration when it comes to old films (I still like to see the cracks and film burns when I’m watching something that was actually shot on film as opposed to digital) the job they did on “The Shining” to clean it up and and preserve it was well done and didn’t take away from it being scary or it’s overall tone.  Another cool thing that I noticed was the night we watched the film, October 30th, was the same day in which The Overlook Hotel closes for the Winter in the film.  Eerie and awesome.

As a refresher, “The Shining” is based on the 1977 novel by Stephen King about a possessed hotel, The Overlook, and the Torrance family, who become it’s latest victims.  I highlight based because when “The Shining” was released it did not receive a seal of approval from King himself, who dismissed it and still holds it as one of his least favorite adaptions of his works, and there are many changes from the book to the film. The film features Jack Nicholson in the starring role as Jack Torrance, and former school teacher with a violent past who struggled with alcoholism.  Looking to get away and start a new writing project, Jack accepts the caretaker’s job at the Overlook Hotel deep in the heart of the Rocky Mountains.  With his wife and son in tow, the descent into madness begins.

Straying from King’s novel, Kubrick creates an original take that I think works very well.  The film becomes less about the supernatural and more about the breakdown of the psyche when isolated and away from society.  While the film does keep important elements, such as Danny’s ability to “shine” and the horrors in an infamous hotel room (Room 237 in the film, and 217 in the novel), the ending and what role Jack plays in the hotel’s lurid history is a little more vague.

Kubrick, who was known for his introspective films about the human condition and what drives man to his actions, creates a Jack Torrance who always looked like he was about to break from the very beginning. While the novel portrayed Jack as a sympathetic character come the end of the story where he saves his family from the ghosts of the Overlook, there is no redemption in Nicholson’s take on the patriarch of the Torrance family.  Can you chalk that up to Nicholson’s look?  Maybe.  He always looks manic so you knew his take on Mr. Torrance was going to be manic and unhinged.

Two other things I took away from this viewing of the showing was something good, and something not so good.  The good; The score.  Holy crap, but this score is relentless and puts you on edge nearly the entire film.  It’s a driving score that is the heartbeat of the horrors to come.  Listening to it in surround sounds simply puts shivers down your spine.  The bad?  I’m sorry, but for the most part, the acting is pretty lackluster.  Sure, it was 1980, and it’s a horror film, but goodness, Shelley Duvall and Scatman Crothers put forth some Razzie-worthy performances.  On the other hand, while Nicholson’s performance is over the top, it’s still haunting as a man who is succumbing to his own demons as well as the ghosts in the hotel.

As iconic as “The Shining” is, there are still problems with the film.  People have pointed out spacial issues with the hotel that make no sense, the fact that the Torrances had a lot of luggage to put into a small sedan, and other assorted things that simply didn’t add up, but I think the reason why a lot of people overlook those irregularities was the fact that Stanley Kubrick was directing, and no one argues with Kubrick.  There’s also the fact that this was a horror film and perhaps Kubrick was pointing out the silliness of horror films and the inconsistencies that all films of the genre possess.  Maybe that’s reaching a little bit, but I wouldn’t put it past Kubrick to create a parody of the horror genre before the horror genre had become a parody of itself.

Overall, “The Shining” stands the test of time, and aside from the silly clothes that most of the characters wear, the film is pretty timeless.  It takes a classic haunted house film, adds the creepiness of King, and incorporates the psychology of Kubrick, a combination that adds up to a horror film that is a cut above the rest.

Fun Fact:  Do you think you know what Kubrick was “really” trying to say in “The Shining?”  Check out “Room 237,” a documentary about the “true” meanings behind “The Shining.”

October 31, 2013

Simplistic Reviews Presents: Simply Horrifying featuring Tales from the Crypt Ep. 12

There were days when vampires were vampires and not whiny little bitches who sparkle in front of mouth-breathers.  Vampires were bad-ass creatures of the night that seduced women and drained them of their blood while making them their vampire mates.  Those were the days, or nights, if you will.
On this episode of Simply Horrifying we take on a little tale entitled “The Reluctant Vampire.”  A really strong episode from season three that finds Malcom McDowell as the titular vampire who works the night shift at the blood bank.  Fearing for his job when a blood shortage hits, he succumbs to his primal nature to save the bank.
Click the link above for the full review, if you dare……..
October 31, 2013

This is Halloween: A Nightmare on Elm Street 3 Dream Warriors

A Nightmare on Elm Street 3 Dream Warriors: Imaginative

96mins/Horror/1987

This is it guys and girls!

This is the film that introduced me to horror and Freddy. Two loves that will never die for me. I remember that day, it was a cold rainy day and me and my family went to a farmers market early that morning. I walked around couldn’t find a damn thing to buy, but I knew I wanted to buy something thou nothing had peaked my interest.

I began to check out a collection of VHS’s that seem to just collect dust.

Then a beat up VHS cover came my way…

That is what I saw, and I was never the same again. I asked my mom, since it was rated R and I was like 6, she obliged; lucky for me! I went home holding the shit out of that VHS counting the time to when we would get home. It was getting late so once everyone went to bed and my tracking on the VHS player cleaned up that damn picture I begin to watch the film that would make me into a man that faithfully night!

Dream Warriors is the 3rd film in the Nightmare on Elm Street series, raking as one of the stronger Freddy films. This film is the one with the “puppet strings”. My favorite kill on Freddy’s slasher list and yes its a gory film if you didn’t know, maybe the most out of all the Nightmares. This time around the the victims fight back using their own dreams to create a force Freddy has yet to see. This is a interesting turn in the films that really makes it stand out. Almost everyone agrees possibly the best sequel in the franchise.

Chuck Russell (The Mask, Eraser, The Scorpion King) does a fantastic job as Director. Sure its a bit goofy, gory and somewhat cheesy but its hands down one of the best entertainment bang for your buck of films in years. Its a film I would watch with friends and never get bored with the repeats we had with that one old beat up tape.

October 30, 2013

This is Halloween: The Faculty

The Faculty: Underrated

104mins/Horror/Sci-Fi/1998

It’s a film by Robert Rodriguez, that when I say that, a shit ton of people that never knew that pop up with seriously? That Robert Rodriguez? Yes that one. I know it doesn’t have that Rodriguez feel to it, but after a few viewings it starts to become clearer. The story is simple as dirt, teachers bodies become taken over by aliens and a few students stand up to take them down. The film has a Breakfast Club mixed into Invasion of the Body Snatchers vibe in it. And that there for me takes this film to a different level you don’t get very much anymore.

The film stars Josh Hartnett, Elijah Wood, Shawn Hatosy, Jordana Brewster, Clea DuVall, Laura Harris, Robert Patrick, Bebe Neuwirth, Piper Laurie, Famke Janssen, Usher Raymond, Salma Hayek, and Jon Stewart. If that isn’t an amazing cast I’d like you to prove me wrong.

Like Matt said in our upcoming podcast, The Faculty is an underrated film. This is something that I’ve said for years now. Since the film came out in 1998, I’ve heard nothing but hatred toward this film. Every time it came up people would downplay the entertainment value and said that is was just crap. I would always come to its defense with how enjoyable this film is.

Trust me, Give it a shot this Halloween!

October 29, 2013

Simplistic Reviews Presents: Simply Horrifying featuring Tales from the Crypt Ep. 11

What’s scarier than a watching a stage version of “Hamlet?”  How about Jon Lovitz as the lead.  Of course I’m not putting Jon Lovitz down, even if Andy Dick did wish death upon him, I still think he’s great.

“Top Billing” is another fine episode from the already great third season of “Tales from the Crypt.”  The aforementioned Lovitz plays a down on his luck actor looking for his big break.  Seeing an ad for a stage production of “Hamlet” he thinks he’s finally found it, or has he?

Click the link above for the latest edition of Simply Horrifying, if you dare…….

October 28, 2013

Simplistic Reviews Presents: Simply Horrifying featuring Tales from the Crypt Ep. 10

After a bit of dead silence, Simply Horrifying is back!  In this ghoulish offering we witness what some people will do for money.  Pretend to kill themselves mostly, but if you think there won’t be any repercussions, you have to be out of your mind.

“The Trap” directed by Michael J. Fox, is an entry from the “Shock Suspenstories” line of comics where “Double Indemnity” is given a run for it’s money.  Starring Bruce McGill and Teri Garr, as a couple just dying to make it rich, “The Trap” is one of the stronger early episodes from Season Three of “Tales from the Crypt.”

Click the link above for the full review, if you dare……

October 27, 2013

Simplistic TV: Dracula: Premiere Episode

ORDINARY

Hey!  You know what the entertainment world needs more of?  Vampires!!!  I’m sorry.  My sarcasm is turned up to eleven because I’m a little jaded.  This will probably sound like an old man boring his grandchildren about the “Good Old Days”, but I truly long for the days when vampires were frightening, bloodthirsty monsters.  The days when they were wolves in sheep’s clothing, and that clothing wasn’t True Religion jeans or Tom Ford suits.  The days they plucked at the entrails of their victims, not their own body hair.  The days of Blade, Bram Stoker, and Buffy The Vampire Slayer.  I know I’m not covering any new ground here.  No one can argue that over the past decade, Hollywood’s use of vampires has…well…sucked.  Oh, there are some outliers.  However, for every Let The Right One In, there’s a fifth sequel to Twilight.  For every Angel, there’s a Vampire Diaries.   Even True Blood has steadily declined into nothing more than an oversexed softcore porn film set at a Louisiana college frat’s Halloween party.  (Seriously, I’m more afraid of the city of Compton than Bill Compton.)  Now NBC, with all the timing of a Jay Leno punchline, tries to pick the bones of this dead genre with a show about the king of all vampires.  A show about Dracula.

Dracula comes to us from Cole Haddon and HBO’s Carnivale creator Daniel Knauf.  The show centers around Dracula, going by the name Alexander Grayson, as he hunts down the members of an evil Illuminati-esque organization in 19th Century England.  That concept might sound interesting on paper.  However, when Dracula explains his reasons why, something feels a bit strange.  I mean, he is a vampire after all.  It works when a Hannibal Lecter punishes people he finds disgusting, but here it’s like watching Freddy Krueger take out members of Halliburton.  I know it’s an attempt to place Dracula in the sympathetic protagonist role.  Though, after watching the first episode, I’m not sure if it totally works.  No matter how evil of an organization it is, no matter what they did to Dracula (I won’t spoil it), do you really think he’d have any difficulty taking them down in about eight seconds?  Do you really think we as an audience can look at them in a light harsher than that of a demonic creature that randomly slaughters innocent people?  Hypocrisy aside, I hope Knauf and Haddon don’t end up neutering the character in an attempt to make us like him.  We like him because he’s a wicked, deadly, unscrupulous creature of the night, not some mopey introvert. 

There are some positives I took away from the premiere.  First, Dracula doesn’t sparkle in the sunlight, he burns.  Thankfully, most of the traditional vampire motifs are back at play here.  Secondly, it is pretty graphic for a show on NBC.  The limitations broadcast television presents hasn’t seemed to hinder the bloodshed.  Third, the show looks very expensive.  Making a show a period piece tends to shoot the budget up a few million dollars.  That’s something networks usually shy away from or alter into modern day re-imaginings.  (See Elementary & Sherlock)  NBC says that Dracula will be a limited series for now, which may account for the liberal use of elaborate costumes, sets and locations. 

In regards to performances on Dracula , this show is totally a John Rhys Meyers vehicle.  I think he’s a solid actor and I’m happy to see him in something for mass American audiences.  His run on The Tudors and a brief role in Mission Impossible 3 had him poised to be a big star at one point.  (We’re not gonna talk about From Paris With Love)  As Dracula, Rhys Meyers is good.  He has the charm, the air of mystery and brings the appropriate…um…bite when the character needs it.  Sadly, everyone else in the cast stands out as well as wooden furniture in a log cabin.  The closest you get to a pulse is Nonso Anozie as Renfield and Victoria Smurfit as Lady Jayne Wetherby.  They appear to be having fun with their parts and relish every bit of the setting.  No one else manages to grab your attention.  Even Thomas Kretschmann’s Van Helsing feels ORDINARY and boring.  To be completely fair, Francis Ford Coppola did have in Bram Stoker’s Dracula a British speaking Keanu Reeves and a supposedly sultry Winona Ryder.  So, glass houses and all that.  But the gulf between fun acting to forgettable acting wasn’t as large as it is on this show.

As a whole, Dracula does try and put some of the teeth back into the vampire genre.  However, it doesn’t really grab you as much as it should.  A television show focusing on the origins of the most famous monster ever should feel like more of an epic experience.  This show only winds up feeling kind of ORDINARY.  With its expensive budget and its Friday night time slot of death, I fear Dracula is not long for this world.  Bring your garlic…and your crosses…and your holy water…and your overly elaborate staking methods…watch it…then tell me I’m wrong. 

October 25, 2013

This is Halloween: Ghostbusters II

UNDESERVED

Ghostbusters II – Undeserved

Will we ever see a “Ghostbusters III?”  The easy answer is no, the hopeful answer is, please no.  Trust me, “Ghostbusters” goes down as one of the best comedies of the 1980s, if not the best comedy from the past 30 years.  There was nothing else like it when it was released in 1984; a live action cartoon starring some of the funniest people in the world.  It made Bill Murray the biggest comedian in the world at the time, and the film still has a huge fan base to this day.  It’s a timeless classic that was way ahead of its time, but a third entry into the “Ghostbusters” saga would never work now, and would strictly anger fans of the first one while simply catering to today’s movie-watching public; a group of viewers who idolize Justin Bieber, Selena Gomez, and any other crap that today’s fast food media tells you to idolize.  Just look at what Michael Bay is doing to the “Ninja Turtles!”  But that’s a rant for another review.  Getting back on track, fast-forward five years and the gang got back together for 1989’s “Ghostbusters II” a sequel that gets an undeserved bad rap from fans of the original.

“Busters II” opens with Dana Barrett (Sigourney Weaver) and her baby Oscar out for a morning stroll.  Needless to say something spooky happens and Ray, Winston, Peter, and Egon, The Ghostbusters, are back in business.  Apparently Dana’s baby has been chosen by an ancient evil to take over the world, it’s hokey, but that’s your plot this time around.  Throw in a creepy painting of an ancient European wizard/madman, a river of ectoplasm, and an art curator from the “Upper Vest Side” and you got a sequel, while not perfect, still captures the magic of it’s predecessor and manages to be charming.

The fact that the entire original cast decided to come back for the sequel says one of two things; 1) The story was interesting and funny enough to bring everyone back or 2) sequels usually equate to desperation for actors and greed for the studio.  Back in 1989 Murray was coming off of “Scrooged”  Dan Aykroyd, “Caddyshack II,” Harold Ramis had become more of a writer and director than an actor, and Ernie Hudson was coming off of “Leviathan.”  When I think about it, I guess it was time for a sequel to “Ghostbusters.”

While there are problems with the plot, which dances the line of parody of itself and ridiculous, it’s just nice to see the whole cast back together.  The addition of Peter MacNicol to the cast adds quite a few comic beats, and his interactions with Bill Murray are some of the best in the film.  To be honest, I almost prefer Murray’s portrayal of Peter Venkman in the sequel.  It seems that he has more to do, and unlike the original “Busters,” he is the big name and the draw, and he stands out from the ensemble this time.

The story gets a little sappy near the end with a theme that only kindness can defeat evil (I mean…..come on).  Granted, this film was coming off the Saturday Morning Cartoon, “The Real Ghostbusters” which I also adore beyond words, but I feel like the story could have used a little more bite.  It simply came off as a little sappy, and frankly, simplistic, to me.  If you asked a New Yorker to be nice, there is no doubt you would get a one-finger salute, especially in the late 80s/early 90s.  Maybe in today’s New York you would get a nicer response, but the New York of yesteryear would tell you to take a hike, and than probably knife you.

Overall, “Busters II” is a fine companion to the “Ghostbusters” mythology.  It bridges the gap between the two films nicely, and is just as funny as the original.  It really does get an undeserved bad rap.  Plus, they made Janine hot!  I mean there was even a cameo by Bobby Brown for goodness sake!  Booby FREAKIN’ Brown!  Mr. Humpin’ Around!  He just wanted a proton pack for his kid brother!  I’m sure if he asked Peter instead of Egon he could have gotten that deal to work.  But alas…..

Fun Fact:  For all you Nintendo fans out there, check out the sweet NES Advantage joystick that was used to control The Statue of Liberty.

October 23, 2013

This is Halloween: Hocus Pocus

Hocus Pocus: Immortal

96mins/Family-Comedy/1993

As a kid growing up in the 90’s things were pretty awesome in the world of film and TV. Disney had a gold mine of 90’s kids movies that became instant classics to us of the 90’s and we still hold that to ring true to this very day. If you go to a flea market, I can almost guarantee you will see a flood of Disney VHS for sell. They were cranking them out every single week, sure a few kinda suck but a good majority of them are classics children films that as a “adult” now I still find myself watching every now and then.

Hocus Pocus is one of them. And every year in October this is a film I pop in and watch. Why because its fantastic. It holds up well and still allows me to dive into a bit of excitement that a children’s Halloween film should. They don’t make films like this anymore. Halloween films are made mostly for teens and adults these days. The younger children don’t get the focus anymore. Sure when I was 7 I was watching Freddy frighten teens in their nightmares and Leatherface doing what he does best with a door and hammer, but that’s that. Some kids can’t do that. And honestly shouldn’t experience that stuff at such a young age. But hey I turned out somewhat… decent.

After 300 years, Three sister witches are resurrected in Salem Massachusetts on Halloween night, and it us up to two teenagers, a young girl, and an immortal cat to put an end to the witches reign of terror once and for all. (IMDB)

Bette Midler, Sarah Jessica Park and Kathy Najimy star as the three sister witches, who steal the souls of children! Omri Katz, Thora Birch and Vinessa Shaw are the hero’s who go up against the witches. The three witches steal the show with their goofy antics and song, “I Put a spell on you” that will be stuck in your head. Thora Birch’s acting stands out good. She’s young and doesn’t turn in to one of those annoying forced line delivering children actors can sometimes bring.  The cast works pretty well and only add to the wonder of a story Disney put out.  

Hocus Pocus is a incredibly well-made film that brings the scary part and fun part together and a well wrapped candy bar for a kids eyes and mind. It single handle brings back the excitement that seems to have been lost anymore during Halloween. It’s a simple story about putting a end to the witches, which is place on top of a brother and sister relationship that I find mean more to me then any other film when I watch with my sister. Sure if you might not have watched this film before then it might be hard to understand now as a adult. But when you watch this when your young and grow up from it, then it becomes something more. Its a fun film to watch that doesn’t get made as much but luckily its immortal and seems to last forever. 
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