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March 2, 2015

Wyrmwood: Road of the Dead

PROGRESSING

Wyrmwood – Progressing

Let’s admit it finally; the zombie genre needs to die….again….and again….and again. The days where zombies were a novelty are over, and part of that I blame on “The Walking Dead.” And no, I’m not saying the show is bad, but it simply created the over-saturation of zombies everywhere, and to me, it’s run its course as a horror fan. Here I am, of course, about to rain compliments all over a zombie film, what kind of person am I? This brings me to “Wyrmwood: Road of the Dead” yet another quality product from the Land Down Under, which also brought us “The Babadook” last year. What works in “Wyrmwood” is it’s ability to be different, progressing the same old tired zombie flick, while incorporating the best from other zombie films.

Here’s the skinny on this flick; The zombie outbreak has finally hit Australia and the Outback is in ruins. We have Barry and Benny, two guys trying to make it out alive, and we also have Brooke, Barry’s sister, an artist who has been kidnapped by two soldiers and is being experimented on by a scientist with a penchant for KC and the Sunshine Band. Barry has been traumatized by the zombification of his wife and daughter, who he had to kill himself, while Benny is a wild and crazy Aborigine. That is the basic story, and to spoil other aspects of the film would be a disservice.

I know I said I didn’t want to spoil anything, but *SPOILER BEGINS* skip ahead to the next paragraph, or better yet, skip this review for now, watch this flick, and come back and read the rest. What separates this zombie tale from others, is the way the zombies are created and what part they play in the film. While the origin of the infection is relatively tired and true (really, a meteor shower?) and the explanation a little hokey (Biblical) the actual literal fuel of the zombies is a interesting wrinkle to the genre. Basically, when the meteor show occurs, it creates an airborne event where everyone who doesn’t have A Negative becomes infected and all fuel becomes useless and zombie blood becomes the new gasoline….yes, zombie blood is now fuel. It makes you wonder how someone thinks of this type of stuff, but if you are watching a zombie film, you should already be suspending enough belief. Oh, and there is also zombie telepathy. Again, who thinks of this stuff, but again, somehow it works. *SPOILER ENDS*

For genre buffs, “Wyrmwood” is the perfect example of “stealing from the best.” You have the post-apocalyptic craziness of the “Mad Max” trilogy, the over the top gore of “Dead/Alive,” the younger in cheekiness of “Shaun of the Dead,” the screams of “Evil Dead,” and the unrelenting zombie hordes of “Dawn of the Dead;” get the point? This film is every zombie lover’s dream and is the proper homage to everything that has come before it. What is even more impressive is that this is director, Kiah Roache-Turner’s first film and while he borrowed from the best, it’s evident that he not only cares about the genre, but is also interested in expanding it and not just trying to create the same old carbon ops we’ve seen since 1969’s “Night of the Living Dead,” and “Wyrmwood” is far and away the most original and fun “zombie” film since “28 Days Later.”

Bottom line, if you are looking for a take on the zombie genre that will both have you scratching your head at its ridiculousness and leave you with hope for the genre, Wyrmwood is that film. It’s the perfect homage and shows that persistence and people that care can and will put on a product that fans can get behind and appreciate.
Fun Fact: The film took four years to complete since the cast could only shoot on weekends and holidays.
December 11, 2014

The Simplistic Reviews Podcast (Ep. 34): December 2014 Holiday Edition

FOR MATURE AUDIENCES ONLY

Ho-Ho-Holy Sh%t!   It’s December again and the boys at Simplistic Reviews has a show full of holiday cheer.  They’ve got partridges…pear trees….dreidels…Santa letters/threats…Olaf the snowman from Frozen…black stormtroopers…Kevin Feige: Stand-Up Comedian…megalomaniac Mickey Mouse…holiday movie spoilers…all that and more on the 2014 Holiday Edition of the Simplistic Reviews Podcast.

Show Notes:
Star Wars Trailer
Suicide Squad Casting
Spectre
Stand-Up Comedian from the 80s Fashion

Music Notes:
Christmas Is All Around Us By Billy Mack
My Flows is Tight By Lord Digga
Christmas Vacation By Mavis Staples
Christmas Time Is Here By The Vince Guaraldi Trio 

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November 1, 2014

The Simplistic Reviews Podcast (Ep. 32) Halloween Edition 2014

FOR MATURE AUDIENCES ONLY

On this Spooktacular Halloween edition of The Simplistic Reviews Podcast, the boys welcome back JD Duran from Insession Film.  Other than further corrupting this classy professional podcaster…the boys talk about Marvel’s HUGE announcements, DC’s HUGE announcements, gush over The Flash, bitch more about Gotham, comment on the Boardwalk Empire finale, Walking Dead premiere, and consider NBC’s Constantine.  JD also gets to moderate our second ever draft, which this time involves the boys trying to make their best monster squad.  It’s a razor ‘blade in the apple’ sort of show that you don’t want to miss.

SHOW NOTES
Insession Film
Cenobites
The Monster Squad
Marvel Film Slate
DC Film Slate
Age Of Ultron Teaser
Age Of Ultron Extended
Ever See Chinatown Motherf@%ker?!
Skinny Zach Galafanakis
Jason Biggs pissing on Chelsea Handler

MUSIC NOTES
“Nightmare On My Street” By DJ Jazzy Jeff & The Fresh Prince
“Autumn Thunder” By Sam Spence
“My Flows Is Tight” By Lord Digga
“Inside The Actors Studio” By Angelo Badalamenti

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December 25, 2013

The Simplistic Reviews Podcast: December Holiday Edition

‘Tis the season to talk movies and TV…and R.Kelly…and…um… Jolene Blalock’s disappearance…and Lara Flynn Boyle?  I’m pretty sure that’s not how the song goes.

An oddly optimistic Justin Polizzi makes his triumphant return and unveils his latest character impression.  Neal DaSouza joins us again to talk some anime and take dictation.  DJ is confused over the midseason finale of The Walking Dead and discovers he has some sort of Die Hard Tourette’s Syndrome.  Matt starts an all out war between people of the Jewish faith and jolly ol’ Saint Nick in a new segment called Dear Santa.  And a crippled little boy is able to walk again at the end.  It’s a Christmas Miracle!  Sorry, that last bit I made up or partially stole from Charles Dickens.  But I swear, the rest of that stuff does happen on the holiday edition of the Simplistic Reviews Podcast.

Show Notes:
Ellis From Die Hard
Police Academy
R.Kelly Cookie Song
Detective Quentin Lance
Akira
Jolene Blalock
Lara Flynn Boyle Is Melting

Music:
“Holiday Road” By Lindsey Buckingham
“Christmas In Hollis” By Run D.M.C.
“Christmas Time Is Here” By Vince Guaraldi
“The Best” By Tina Turner
“Let It Snow” By Vaughn Monroe


FOR MATURE AUDIENCES ONLY.

Click HERE to listen to podcast

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October 3, 2013

Here Comes Halloween: Phantasm II

Phantasm II – Look-a-like

LOOK-A-LIKE

Naturally it would make sense to review the first “Phantasm” before I get to it’s sequel, but there is a logical explanation; I simply enjoy “Phantasm II” better than it’s predecessor.  An odd way to begin a review, I’m sure, but I just wanted to get the semantics out of the way before I get into this review.  Welcome back to October, and an entire month of scares, frights, masks, blood, gore, inferior sequels, and more blood.

Phantasm II” is the 1988 sequel to the 1979 cult classic, “Phantasm,” written and directed by Don Coscarelli.  If you’re unfamiliar with “Phantasm” here is a quick refresher; A kid named Mike begins experiencing strange happenings around his town, with a sinister figure called The Tall Man behind said happenings.  As things begin to reveal themselves Mike finds himself stalked by The Tall Man in nightmarish visions involving corpses, metal flying balls with a taste for blood and a body full of embalming fluid and dwarves created from the reanimated corpses of the town’s dead.  Throw in a Bruce Campbell look-a-like named Reggie, and you got yourself “Phantasm.”

The sequel picks up right where the original leaves off, so for the purposes of this review, and if you don’t want to be spoiled, even though these would be 34, and 23 year old spoilers, respectively, tread lightly.  Mike is about to be taken away by The Tall Man but is rescued by Reggie.  We skip ahead roughly 10 years to an adult Mike who is being released from the local mental hospital.  After tragedy besets Reggie, the two spring into action to track down The Tall Man and end his reign of terror, forever.  Joined by a young girl, named Liz, with a psychic link to Mike, the trio head out to, once again, stop The Tall Man’s devious plans, including the creation of more zombie dwarves and to rescue Liz’s grandmother.

What I love about “Phantasm II” is the excess.  You can see clearly that the sequel takes a lot of it’s cues from another famous cult classic sequel; “Evil Dead II: Dead By Dawn.”  While the original “Phantasm” relied on real scares and it’s tone to convey a feeling of dread, just like “The Evil Dead,” it’s sequel relies on banter between Mike and Reggie and a lighter tone, which includes a chainsaw fight and the creation of a quadruple shotgun, smells like “Evil Dead II.”  Consider the time frame between all the films as well.  “Phantasm” was released two years before “Evil Dead” and you can see some similarities in the tone, but that was also the sign of the times in the late 1970s and 80s.  Fast-forward to 1987, when “Evil Dead II” is released with a more comedic tone, and a year later “Phantasm II” is released with a lighter tone as well.  I’m not saying that “Phantasm” and “Evil Dead” share much with one another, but in comparing the two, you can see where there are similarities and the fact that each franchise borrowed a little from one another.

Now back to the “Phantasm II.”  I’m sure purists who love “Phantasm” will kill me for saying the sequel is superior, and I’m not actually saying that, I’m just saying that “Phantasm II” is more accessible for non-fans than the original.  Just as he was in the first film, Angus Scrimm literally stands out, again, as The Tall Man, the series’ main antagonist.  While The Tall Man never received the fanfare of Jason, Freddy, or Michael Myers, there was still something very creepy about an old supernatural man who steals corpses to create evil dwarves.  I liken The Tall Man to Henry Kane from the “Poltergeist” series as they both share a similar, skeletal look.

Like most sequels in the late 1980s, there is an extreme case of style-over-substance in “Phantasm II” with more special effects, spotty acting, and plot holes big enough to throw a million of those killer metal balls into.  However, the cheese doesn’t take away from the fun.  There are some excellent creature effects, done by a than relatively unknown Greg Nicotero and Robert Kurtzman, now of “The Walking Dead” fame.  And of course, it’s no surprise that Nicotero also did effects on “Evil Dead II.”  The comparisons continue!

While not exceptional, “Phantasm II” is a fun little sequel that lives in the zeitgeist of horror during the late-1980s.  It’s over indulgent, silly, campy, and not as good as it’s original.  But, it gives horror and gore fans what they wanted; MORE!

Fun Fact:  For even more The Evil Dead/Phantasm fun, take a look at one of the bags an undertaker is filling up and you might catch the name on the name.  That name being Sam Raimi.  Meta!!!!

March 23, 2013

The Simplistic Reviews March Madness Bracket of Good and Evil Round One Results: TV GOOD

ARYA STARK (16)
JACK BAUER (1) WINNER

If this matchup was based on potential badassery, Arya (SPOILER ALERT FOR THINGS TO COME) would win hands down.  However, Arya is just scratching the surface of being a badass. She’s a survivor akin to Matilda in Leon: The Professional (Even here I had to refer to it).  Jack Bauer, on the other hand, has been a badass survivor for years.  Since the closest our country thought we’d get to a black president was the Allstate guy.  And if you think Bauer doesn’t have what it takes to put young, sweet Arya down, I recall a time where Jack shot a suspect’s wife in the leg in order to convince said suspect to give him a lead.  A lead that didn’t even pan out.  He’d have no trouble wiping the floor with our favorite wayward Stark.

MAL REYNOLDS (15)
BUFFY SUMMERS (2) WINNER


In the matchup I call “The Whedon War” our favorite space smuggler…um okay…our second favorite space smuggler Mal Reynolds found himself up against the vampire slaying extraordinaire Buffy Summers.  With their equal wit and back up partners thrown out the window, it would come down to physical prowess and resume.  Buffy has Mal beat with the physical.  And With Firefly lasting barely a season, Mal’s body count can’t compare with Buffy’s resume of a thousand vamps slain, including her true love and DRACULA, hellmouths closed, demons decapitated, werewolves whacked, cyborgs stopped, inter-dimensional beings beaten, singing succeeded, and a triumph over the first evil EVER.  Buffy stakes her claim to victory.  And no the result have nothing to do with the fact I’ve had the hots for Sarah Michelle Gellar since I Know What You Did Last Summer. 

RAYLAN GIVENS (3) WINNER
DARYL DIXON (14)

Nobody loves a redneck good ol’ boy until the zombie apocalypse hits.  When it does, it pays to have an ass kicking guy like Daryl Dixon by your side.  However, someone like Daryl Dixon is the type of guy US Marshall Raylan Givens HANDLES on a day to day basis in Harlan County.  I’d love to see the snark off before the shoot out alone.  However, Raylan dispatches Daryl lickety split.

OMAR LITTLE (4) WINNER
B.A. BARACUS (13)

Really?  The only two black guys in this conference go against each other?!  As the lone black reviewer for Simplistic Reviews, I would be offended if it wasn’t for the fact THIS IS THE ONE MATCHUP I’D ACTUALLY PAY TO SEE.  Baracus is, by name alone, a badass.  However, he still has the discipline to follow Hannibal’s orders.  Omar Little don’t follow no one but Omar Little.  Hell, even the President loves him.  Now, you can either be a soldier, or you can go out to the streets and get into some real gangsta sh*t.  In the immortal words of Omar Little himself, “Indeed.”

XENA (5) WINNER
RICK GRIMES (12)

Seeing as for the first three seasons of Walking Dead, all Rick Grimes did was get run over and guilt tripped to death by his despicable wife, how long do you think he’d last against A WARRIOR F*%KING PRINCESS.  Xena doesn’t eat his brains but does eat his lunch.

TITUS PULLO (6) WINNER
RON SWANSON (11)


One is a savage,  no nonsense, barbarian of a man who is more comfortable wielding an axe in an ancient Colosseum than listening to the dodderings of the heads of state.  The other is Titus Pullo.  Ron Swanson was a man born in the wrong century for sure.  However, Pullo is more man than even Ron could handle.  The mustache did give him a fighting chance though.  

KARA “STARBUCK” THRACE (10)
SHERLOCK HOLMES (7) WINNER

Man, I hate to see two of my favorite TV characters go at it.  Starbuck is seriously one of the most groundbreaking female characters television has seen in a while.  She doesn’t nearly get the recognition she deserves.  The best thing about Kara, however, is the worst thing.  She leads with her emotions at all times.  Something the world‘s greatest detective could easily exploit.  And unless your last name is Adler, your feminine wiles aren’t working on good ol’ Sherlock.  Sherlock wins…no sh*t. 

TYRION LANNISTER (9) WINNER
MICHAEL WESTEN (8)

The conferences first and only upset comes from the House of Lannister.  Michael Westen and Tyrion Lannister are great at thinking on the fly and surviving with whatever means they can muster.   However, Michael has been a sucker for manipulation from the beginning.  And no one manipulates better than Tyrion.  I’m not even gonna think of what he’d do to Fiona.  With the betting public in a frenzy this month, it is a good thing that a Lannister always pays his debts. 

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