Rocky Horror Picture Show (2016) Review

     The Rocky Horror Picture Show exists as a bit of an oddity; it started off as a stage show, made its way to the movies, and bombed horribly at the box office. It was thanks to the growing trend of Midnight Movies that breathed new life into the film, and much like the title character, it started to take on a life of its own. 

     This new version produced for television, just further cements the fact that some shit is just a product of its time; it was just a series of shit situations that ultimately lead to it being this insane cult phenomenon. You cannot replicate that kind of success, no matter how many virgin sacrifices you make. 

     On a dark and stormy night, Janet (Victoria Justice) and Brad (Ryan McCartan) seek shelter in a strange mansion run by the mad scientist Dr. Frank-N-Furter (Laverne Cox) where along with help from Riff Raft (Reeve Carney), and Magenta (Christina Milian) to create the ultimate specimen, Rocky Horror (Staz Nair). 

     I’ve made it no secret that no matter how many times I’ve watched The Rocky Horror Picture Show I still think it sucks. The music is catchy, and the original film performers really put their all into it, and that’s when it creates an odd charm that has endured for over four decades. 

     But Jesus Christ, this time felt like someone cashed in a fucking favor. 

     What it cames down to was the fact that all the actors, except Tim Curry in a cameo, played the script for laughs. I shit you not, I was waiting for just one actor to look at the camera and wink. I’m pretty forgiving towards actors, I’ll admit, but God damn it there’s no fucking excuse for blatant over acting and passing it off as comedy. I get this story is outlandish as fuck, but the joy is seeing the actors have fun, not like they’re being blackmailed by a producer. 

     In an interview I saw with the original director in a midnight movie documentary, he stated that he and the crew thought they were making a good movie with broad audience appeal, and that right there is why this new version is a waste of fucking time. Everyone seems to be in on the joke this time, and that comes off as condescending. A bad movie doesn’t know it’s a bad movie,but when it acts like one, you just want to punch it in the face. 

     Seriously, the original is a product of its time, and while I find it boring, it at least has its joy and originality to make it interesting. 

     Fuck this new version. 

Jack Reacher: Never Go Back Review 

     This has quickly become one of my new favorite series in cinema right now. This is all in no small part due to Tom Cruise just owning the role of Jack Reacher. The man oozes confidence that is almost downright second to none. So when it comes to this new installment, that’s why you should see it. Fuck the plot. 

     Reacher (Tom Cruise) goes back to his old Army base to meet up with Major Turner (Cobie Smulders) when he finds out that she’s been arrested for espionage. After her lawyer ends up dead, and Reacher has been framed for the crime, he and Turner must go on the run in order to clear their names and protect a girl named Samantha (Danika Yarosh) who may or may not be Reacher’s daughter, from an contractor (Patrick Heusinger).

     Having been a huge fan of the first Jack Reacher film, my hopes were pretty high for this one, and it’s alright as a piece of entertainment overall. As stated before, Cruise just kills it in the part with oneliners that would make The Bruce Willis blush. At the showing I attended, everyone was laughing or ohhhh-ing when Reacher just said some badass shit, that I would never be able to get away with saying. 

     That’s when the movie works the best; Reacher just beating the holy hell out of people after he warns them. You know you want to see that shit. 

     The plot on the other hand doesn’t quite jive like the first film did. This film doesn’t have much of a mystery, and this whole subplot about Reacher’s supposed daughter just felt like fluff that distracted from the main plot, and gave an artificial motivation for the character. This time the sum of it’s parts didn’t come off as a cohesive whole. 

     As much as I didn’t enjoy Jack Reacher: Never Go Back nearly on the same level as the first one, I did get what I wanted which was Reacher doing Reacher shit. I guess deep down I wanted more of that; more of Reacher’s history revealed, more detective shit, and I can’t get enough of a man beating the shit out of people when he wants to be left alone. Regardless, I still can’t wait to see the next one. 

The Best Horror Film You’ve Never Seen: Bubba Ho-Tep (2002)

     I never understood the manic obsession that people have had with Elvis Presley. I recognize the man being a hell of a singer and entertainer, but this godly status status that he has obtained over the decades, just over my head. 

     So I guess I entered Bubba Ho-Tep with a bit of a smile. The story is a bit silly that some Elvis fans could see as disrespectful, but I found to be incredibly engaging. One of the most famous theories, that the film capitalizes on, is that Elvis (Bruce Campbell) didn’t actually die in 1977,but had switched places with an impersonator and is now in an old folks home in Texas. One of the residents is Jack (Ossie Davis) who claims to be JFK (the CIA dyed him black to cover up the truth). At the home, an evil, ancient mummy (Bob Ivy) is taking the souls of the residents, so its up to old Elvis and black JFK to stop it once and for all. 

     I know this plot sounds fucking absurd and silly, but holy shit does it work. There’s an unexpected pathos to the character of Elvis, which actually made me care about him. He actually wonders through this beautiful written narration that if his daughter knew he were still alive, would she come visit him? 

     The key to Bruce Campbell’s performance is that he doesn’t treat Elvis as a joke; he skillfully manages to weave a characterization that doesn’t even come close to parody. When the climatic battle occurs, I was genuinely worried that Jack and Elvis might not be able to get out alive; I started to wonder how many horror films have evoked that feeling in myself. 

     Director Don Cascarelli (Phantasm) found the delicate balancing act that evokes both laughs and a tear or two by his use of Brian Tyler’s oddly melancholy score. When one of the residents went out guns blazing facing off against the Bubba Ho-Tep, it was fucking sad. The characters actually mourned his death, isn’t it against the law to have characters in a horror movie actually give a shit that someone they knew died? Maybe they didn’t get that memo. 

     After first seeing this film, I finally got the joyous appeal of the King, how heroic and tortured the man was. I’m shocked to this day that more Elvis fans haven’t lauded the movie as the most respectful portrayal of their icon in film. That they finally get to see their hero in the way they have always seen him. 

     I’m a big advocate of films that are fearless in just taking a batshit crazy idea for a movie and just fucking go with it. The difference with Bubba Ho-Tep is that Coscarelli actually shows respect to his characters, and I’m pretty damn certain that after you see the flick, the bar for horror was unknowingly set quite high. 

Phantasm: Ravager Review 

     The Phantasm film series, which this would make the fifth installment, is a bit of an odd duck in the horror film community as its quite beloved, but no one ever talks about it. The first part came out in 1979, and now this purported final part has finally been released to bring us select few some sort of closure. 

     It’s been a hell of a long time since Mike (A. Michael Baldwin) has disappeared, and his friend Reggie  (Reggie Bannister) has been searching for him nonstop, getting closer and closer to the only one who can give him some answers, The Tall Man (Angus Scrimm). But the closer Reggie gets, he may discover a truth that he isn’t ready for. 

     I’m not going to bullshit you here; if you’ve never seen a Phantasm movie before, don’t fucking start here (why anyone would start a series at part 5 is beyond me). Phantasm: Ravager keeps the tradition of the other films by being really confusing. The line between reality and dream is so blurred that even Freddy Krueger would have a hard time keeping track. In it’s own twisted way, that’s the charm of the whole series. Was trying to decipher where we were in the narrative. The filmmakers didn’t even try to make this movie accessible to the common folk. 

     I can only speak here as a fan, unapologetically, but knowing this is the last part brought a sense of melancholy to me. Even though Phantasm as a whole has been around for decades, I still feel like this is my thing. Talk to anybody and they’ll know who Freddy or Jason is, but no one knows who the fuck the Tall Man is. 

     The relationship between Mike and Reggie is a special one; a man who swore his late best friend to take care of his brother. Reggie, till the very end, is a man of his word, and it’s hard for me to process that I reached the end of a journey that I gave up on to be blunt (The last one came out 18 years ago; when I first saw them). So to see and hear all the talk about the family you make, and never giving up on them, never fails to get to me emotionally. 

     So as a fan, it was nostalgic and bittersweet that I won’t see these characters again, and the main theme still gives me chills, but the narrative does jump around a bit much for my taste, and I wish the movie were a bit more grand in scale and scope. Look, I’m grateful we got the fucking movie, but I’m not gonna lie to myself in saying this is EXACTLY what I wanted. Shit, name me another horror film franchise that actually ended things and it stayed that way? That’s right you fucking can’t. Even with it’s flaws, strictly as a fan, it works as a farewell. For everyone else? You can fuck off if you’re stupid enough to think you can watch a part 5, and have it make sense. 

Yoga Hosers Review 

     Horror-Comedy is a tricky thing. If you veer off too much into one direction, you undermine the other and you end up with an uneven film that can cause you to lose the audience. Yoga Hosers sadly falls into the camp of being way too silly to be effective as both horror and comedy. 
     The Colleens (Harley Quinn Smith, Lilly Rose Depp) are now minor celebrities due to the events in Tusk just want to party and become popular. But one day, evil bratwurst Hitler clones start to terrorize the Colleens and with the help of master detective Guy LePointe (Johnny Depp), they set out to destroy the bratzis once and for all. 

     I had a similar experience watching Mallrats after seeing Clerks in which I fucking hated Mallrats for being too slapsticky in comparison, but I later came to love and appreciate it in time. I’m not sure that’ll happen with Yoga Hosers. Tusk was this hilariously grotesque film that even made you feel unclean after seeing it. I go into this, and get a film that is neither. 

     This time around Kevin Smith has a movie with no seeming inspiration for what he’s trying to do here. The Colleens have no real distinct personalities, which made it difficult for me to give a shit about them. And LaPointe just comes off as a half assed Colombo rip off without the endearing qualities. 

     At its core as I thought more about the film, I just realized that the film wasn’t funny, witty, scary or imaginative enough for me to even begin to like it. Yeah, I may not be the intended audience for it and some of you can maybe get a kick out of it, but I expect better from Kevin Smith as a writer and a director. Hell, I’ve seen him do better and that’s what depresses me so. 

The Magnificent Seven Review 

     It just dawned on me that we have reached a point in film history, where we’re retelling old stories as if they were fables or myths; even though this is the third official version of The Magnificent Seven there have been countless versions that have taken the basic plot and down their own spin on it. 

     The story is still basically the same. Seven men (Denzel Washington, Chris Pratt, Ethan Hawke, Vincent D’Onofrio, Byung-hun Lee, Manuel Garcia-Rulfo, and Martin Sensmeier) are brought together to defend a small town in the U.S. against a corrupt landowner (Peter Sarsgaard) instead of a small Mexican village against bandits. But it’s the same story, different enough to work for modern audiences. 

     I know that the once mighty Western is pretty much extinct at this point; with Django Unchained being the only one to not only make money, but that people talk about. That scared me when it came to this retelling. It being very cynical and hip to make it “cool”.

     The smart thing was that it just let it be cool. This group of actors had such wonderful chemistry together that if I had a harsh criticism, it’s that we didn’t hang out more with them. Don’t get me wrong, there’s plenty of that; I’m just a greedy bastard who wants more of a great thing. And yes I was bummed out when some of them perished (They’re at war, fuckers are going to die). I knew the movie worked when I went from a smile to a frown because some just had to go. 

     What astonishes me the most is that director Antoine Fuqua has proven that you can still make a great conventional western in today’s age. The man relied on great action, great acting, fun writing, and great set pieces. You could say there’s nothing special about the movie, but that’s what makes it so special; its the kind of movie our parents and grandparents would fucking love, and so will you. 

Ash vs. Evil Dead Season 1 Review 

     The Evil Dead trilogy was something I grew up on since I was in my early teens. You’d think it was Army of Darkness that got me into the mad adventures of Ash Williams (Bruce Campbell), but it actually Evil Dead 2: Dead by Dawn (the video store by my house didn’t have part one because reasons). I eventually saw part one and loved it, but I kept hoping for part 4 to come out. But after 21 years in my case, and the remake having come out, I gave up on seeing my favorite idiotic hero fight the Deadites once more. 

     Until now…

     Ash vs Evil Dead is that batshit crazy sequel that fans had all hoped for. Now, Ash is joined by coworkers Pablo (Ray Santiago) and Kelly (Dana DeLorenzo) after Ash’s stupid ass read from the Necronomicon and unleashes the Deadites. Again. 

     I didn’t have much trepidation going into this as I do with many other revivals; it has Bruce Campbell (yay), Sam and Ivan Rami involved (yay, yay). After the first couple of episodes I did start to worry, as they didn’t strictly adhere to the formula that the films established, which is the one location thing. 
     The show was fun, but it wasn’t quite the Evil Dead that I know and love, but (spoilers) once they the cabin, holy fuck did the series get fun. Jesus, that energy did not let up. And there were some revelations about the Necronomicon (Ermahgerd)!

     Speaking as a fan boy, and as I lover of Army of Darkness, is that Bruce Campbell still has the comedic chops and charms to play someone so egotistically stupid. I may be alone in this, but the reason I didn’t enjoy the 2013 Evil Dead, was because it was so fucking serious. Yeah, I’m all for unrelenting bloodshed, but Jesus lighten the fuck up a bit. Break the tension, have some fun. My main criticism of the movie was, “Needs more Ash”.

     Now, we got him folks. Season 2 just started, and what better way to start the Halloween season but with your old pal Ash. And always remember folks: Shop smart. Shop S-Mart.