How About We Mix Things Up a Little Today…

Well, the news here in Seattle has been extremely fucking scary (and sad) today*, so I thought I’d post one or two things that might make some of you who follow my little blog smile, and provide a distraction. I’ve been holding on to some funny genre-themed clips and waiting for a clever time to post them, but now is as good a time as any. So, check them out! By the way, you don’t need to be a hardcore horror fan to find the first one entertaining. Familiar with The Dark Knight (2007)? There were dozens of copycats to weed through on this one, but since it has over 18 million hits, I think this is the one.

The above video has way, WAY more hits than the actual clip of the original scene, by the way.

Next up, some ghosts that are still in training…

Finally, here’s a favorite of mine, brought to us by the Bangkok Art Director’s Association. I especially recommend this one if you’ve seen one too many creepy Thai ghost movies in a row (not a good idea to watch three almost back-to-back in one day, as I discovered after it was way too late yesterday) and need some comic relief.

It’s a call for entries for the B.A.D. awards, 2009.  Love the music sting!

*while I was checking to see if there had been an update on the shootings, I saw a link to another news story. When I first glanced at it and registered the headline, my tired brain started to inform me that I was on the wrong window, and had stumbled across some viral marketing for an upcoming horror movie. Maybe for a Crossed prequel, perhaps? Wait, did one of our kittycats walk all over the keyboard when I was looking away and happened to hit the bookmark for rotten.com? I checked out the link and even after the shocks in the local news today, my jaw really dropped. It re-enforced my decision that Miami was not somewhere I wanted to travel. Ever. Sorry, but fuck that place. This happened IN THE MIDDLE OF THE DAY, in a public area. If you need cheering up, please re-consider reading the story, at least for today. If you think you’ve seen/heard it all  (and you’ve now been warned about disturbing content contained in these links), or maybe you’ve been having too many pleasant dreams lately and want to mix things up a little tonight with some nightmares, here’s the link to the article that sounds like the intro to a zombie apocalypse film or novel. There’s an actual Hannibal Lector reference. This is the kind of news story that makes you (or at least me) hopefully, briefly wonder it were April Fool’s Day. Caused by cocaine psychosis or not (my money would be on PCP), I’m pretty sure witnesses are going to need therapy. What I find equally unsettling are the 12K of Facebook “likes” on the story. Heeey! Check this shit out, yo! Really? Thumbs up on the face-eating story? I’m going back up to re-watch the comic relief videos above. If you’re in a morbidly fascinated mood, here’s a follow-up article, and yes, this time the writers do say the Z-word.

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That's Pretty Fucked Up Right There, Dude

Ten Trailers to Keep You Awake #9 – The Texas Chainsaw Massacre (1974)

I have no memory from the first viewing of Texas Chainsaw Massacre whatsoever of the newscaster voice-over describing this “top news story”. Missed the entire speech …though I definitely remember John Larroquette’s voice-over along with the crawl.

I get the feeling I’m going to be preaching to the converted here. Probably even some of the people who (generously) read Horror Boom and aren’t horror fans have seen this trailer, and I’m willing to bet some have even seen the movie.  The trailer captures everything that made the movie a classic. If  for some really bizarre reason you’re reading this and have NOT seen the original– OK, let me get something off my chest, goddamnit.

As I was composing that last sentence, it pissed me off that I have to even type that: the original. I’d say that I’ve seen worse horror remakes, but horror fans know that’s not saying much. The remake was unnecessary and contained every torture-porn cliché in the book. They took out the grind-house elements (though stealing the flash-camera sound that makes the hair up on the back of every horror movie fan’s neck did get some asses in seats). Even with a sloppy horror movie, there should be something, some image or moment etched in your mind (even if it’s gone forever in the next 24 hours) all I remember is them fucking up the hitch-hiker scene entirely, and the now-cliche torture porn scene where a character’s friend/lover/husband is so hopelessly and painfully messed up that it passes the point of no return and they end up begging the woman they love to kill him/her.*   If Tobe Hooper wasn’t involved, they shouldn’t have permission to use the character name “Leatherface”. The prequel was surprisingly good, enough so that I purchased it with my birthday money in 2007 (OK, partially to see the Unrated cut that Netflix didn’t have, but I don’t regret the purchase one bit. You know what really sold it, though? Bringing back Larroquette for a surprise/cameo voice-over to end the movie and bring it full circle). Texas Chainsaw Massacre 2 (the only sequel that worked–and DAMN did it deliver) well, Tobe Hooper was involved, and lucky for me I’d just turned 18 so I could see it at a midnight showing, since they weren’t letting anyone under 18 in. My friend and I both got carded. The only entry I saw in a theater, and probably the most repeat viewings.

There!

OK, the point I started to make above, before I suddenly got all pissed off, was: if you some bizarre reason you haven’t seen the Texas Chainsaw Massacre but PLAN to and want to go in clean (good luck), see the movie first, then this trailer, since there’s a crazy amount of spoilers, reveals, and jump-scenes included. Hooper and his team needed to put a trailer together that would get someone’s attention enough to get a major distributor involved, and it fucking worked. I haven’t watched TCM in over five years, yet this trailer hits all the right buttons so well that it feels like five minutes (or less).

I don’t know about you, but I cannot watch this trailer without remembering the first time I saw the movie (a sign of a killer trailer, and a successfully memorable movie, if I ever thought of one). I’d worked odd jobs–ones a 13-year-old could do in the 80s, anyway–all summer, specifically to earn the money to purchase a video cassette player.  Specifically, so I could rent and watch all the horror movies I’d heard about and missed in the theater.  My also-specific mental list of the first handful I’d rent included My Bloody Valentine (the origi–GODDAMNIT!), Dawn of the Dead, and the Texas Chainsaw Massacre. It was that time of evening film-makers call “the magic hour”, basically shortly before dusk, and I sat on a pillow on the floor while my patient mom sat in a chair. The opening flashes of what first looked like spoiled meat, then different parts of a decomposing corpse, made me uneasy enough that I recall thinking maybe I should see this at some point in the future, not tonight.

The trailer brings back John Larroquette’s narration that never gets old or campy, just cooler, no matter how many times I hear it, the flashes of the corpse that freaked me out so much the first time that I didn’t even put together that it tied in with the rest of the plot,  (I have no memory from that first viewing whatsoever of the newscaster voice-over describing this “top news story”). Missed the entire speech …though I definitely remember Larroquette’s opening voice-over along with the crawl.  Human bones and chicken feathers. Sally way past the point of sanity. The almost-complete lack of a soundtrack, making the already-gritty movie feel that much more like a documentary, Leatherface picking up poor Pam as she scrambles and screams her lungs out, and carrying her inside as calmly as though he was back working at the slaughterhouse. And of course …that sound. **

Feeling nostalgic? Here’s the skin-crawling opening scenes (in HD) of The Texas Chainsaw Massacre:

*Not that the scene doesn’t work when done well, but if a movie relies on it, they shouldn’t have bothered in the first place. Variations that worked, off the top of my head: The Descent, Cabin Fever, and Dusk till Dawn all had very memorable, heart-breaking versions. However, all of those movies earned those scenes, and sold them so well that in most instances, when a see a poster for the movie, I remember that moment, above others. The DTV Rest Stop, not exactly a real stand-out of a movie, but at least I have that (and one other) moment, that worked well enough that I still recall it when someone brings that bleak, mean-spirited movie up.  It should be disturbing, not just depressing.

**I’ve never actually heard a flashbulb that sounds anything like that,  and now that I think of it, I hope I never do.

Trailer Beats the Movie- “Death Tunnel” (2005)

Saved from a misleading* horror trailer again. This is only my second entry in my little “The Trailer Beats the Movie” series, but I can tell it’s going to be a frequent one. If I can save even one fellow horror fan 90 minutes of their life, I’ll be happy!

I’ve been on a Disturbing Haunted Asylum Flick-kick the past couple months, so the description below seemed like a good idea to check out. There’s some pretty goddamned scary fright films set in asylums out there, but every time that I read one is based on true events, the events manage to blow the movie out of the water. My imagination does the rest, even if that’s not a good thing because I need my sleep that night.

Here’s the official PR synopsis used to plug the film– it actually could have been better-written, but at least is descriptive to a point: When an initiation ceremony goes awry and five college girls become stranded in a haunted sanatorium with a wicked past, they struggle to uncover the dark secrets that lie within and make it out alive in filmmaker Philip Adrian Booth’s dark tale of supernatural terror. Deep within the darkened halls of a massive Kentucky sanatorium built in 1910, 63,000 lives were lost to the mysterious “White Plague.” Now, decades after the historic tragedy, the abandoned sanatorium remains haunted by five lost souls whose spirits can’t find rest in the natural world. As the terrified girls fall one by one to the vengeful specters, the discovery of a massive, 500-foot underground tunnel used to dispose of the bodies may provide the only escape from a world where the cold hand of death maintains a frightful grip on the pulse of the living.

The parts in the description above that caught my eye :

  • Initiation ceremony (for what, I don’t know)
  • Abandoned sanatorium (massive and set in Kentucky don’t hurt) remains haunted
  • Built in 1910
  • 63,000 lives lost mysteriously

Big Red Flags:

  • the lives were ‘lost mysteriously’ to the “White Plague”
  • the phrase ‘terrified girls fall one by one’
  • five college girls become stranded
  • the clumsy phrase a world where the cold hand of death maintains a frightful grip on the pulse of the living.
  • a positive endorsement from Bloody-Disgusting**

And here’s the HD trailer, which I can assure you in a more satisfying, interesting, entertaining experience than sitting through the movie. Some people couldn’t even make it past the first half hour. Holds a little potential, right? Right?

This trailer makes the movie look like it’s worth a watch, huh? OK, let me get another bitch out of the way here. The fact that there used to be a website for the movie that told some back-story that might be cool (and cooler than the movie, for sure) and that the website is still there but none of the links work (which I guess is due to the 7-year time gap from the movie’s DTV release till now) further pisses me off.  One of the taglines used to promote the film is (or is a variation on): Five Girls. Five Floors. Five Ghosts. OOo, back story! Nope. As I said, they kept all the “art” up, but the five links on each page (the girls, the floors, the ghosts) just go to an annoying 404-type “Blogspot” error pop-up.

Make the links all work, but wait till we get right to the actual text before we get a “Oops! This Page no longer Exists!” message. We horror fans looooove that shit!

Look, just take the goddamned thing down, OK?  The DVD/poster art is terrible and an actual deterrent unless someone viewing it has an intense diving-helmet fetish. Even they’d be let down, since nothing remotely like this appears in the film.

Death Tunnel DVD Cover “Art”. Is that supposed to scare us?

What are the elements that make this movie a piece of shit to be avoided at all costs, even on DVD,  you ask? Believe me, I’ve done my homework to glean this information. Believe it or not, I actually had to pare the list down to ten bullet points. The general consensus from unfortunate fans, viewers, and reviewers includes, but is not limited to:

  • Editing that is choppy at best,  but more often infuriating and nonsensical. “Horrible” was the adjective used most to describe it.
  •  Story hard to follow for viewers of all ages and IQ levels; most reports emphatically state that it makes no fucking sense at all.
  • unnecessary flash-forwards and flash-backs (not that anyone was able to discern the flashbacks from the flash-forwards) that manage to confuse the shit out of the most patient viewer, while giving NO explanation (let alone back story),whatsoever
  • total % of Death Tunnel containing shocks, thrills, and scares varies from next-to-nothing to nothing (a deal-breaker for a horror film/thriller on its own)
  • PACKED with horror clichés, also rips off nearly every plot element, twist, and “jump scene” (whether the movie actually contains any is doubtful, however), and sequence from other, better movies
  •  a great potential atmosphere/setting was tossed to the floor and pissed all over
  • Acting ability that reportedly ranges from, “it might have been the poor material and dialogue that made the acting seem terrible” to “NO EXCUSE for the pathetic, wretched acting”.
  • characters impossible to root for; unlikable at best. Described repeatedly as whiny, bitchy, boring, spoiled, irritating morons. Also, they were difficult to discern from one another, adding to the mess they called a plot
  • terrible pacing, consisting of a shitty jumble of disjointed ideas and scenes that have little to do with one another, stumbling towards an ending that most agree merely describing as “nonsensical” is far too kind
  • definitely no fun to be had in any aspect. For example, some people were unfortunate enough to rent this hoping for a cheesy B-movie, amateurish flavor they could have a chuckle at. Their hopes collapsed like a flimsy house of cards within the first five minutes.

D-E-T-H? OK, now you’re not even fucking trying. There’s room for an A on the chick in front, but nope! They couldn’t be bothered.

OK! I think that just about covers it, but it is also rare to hear (especially repeatedly) that many horror fans had to force themselves to keep watching because a movie was unbearably atrocious, and even then had to turn it off around the 30-minute mark before their head exploded. Many returned to the movie the next day to watch the remainder before the rental period was over, and every single person I heard from deeply regretted this decision, most ashamed and disgusted with themselves for having the terrible judgement to do so.

Other than that, it sounds great, though!

*misleading in that it makes the movie look like something cool or fun, enough to give it a rental of free watch, anyway.

**Trust me, I’ve got my reasons for that snarky remark. Rather than blurt them out here on what is more or less a public forum, I’m going to exercise some rare restraint. Drop me an email if you’d like me to elaborate.

Ten Trailers to Keep You Awake #8 – The Eye 10 (2005) AKA Gin Gwai 10 + Review!

 

The Eye 10, also known as The Eye 3 and The Eye Infinity*, isn’t the 10th installment in te series (this might be why some American releases titled it The Eye 3, God forbid anyone doesn’t see it because they think they’d have to see the original and nine other sequels). All it has in common is that characters begin to see ghosts, and after a bad scare (the first in a series of many, many bad scares) really, really wish they could stop.  Fun fact:  the original Thai title for The Eye and the others in the series is Gin gwai 10, which I was told means Seeing Ghosts in Cantonese.

I went into this not really expecting much (I hadn’t seen the below trailer), and became very frightened as soon as the first method of seeing ghosts worked, and stayed that way until the Pang brothers were done playfully kicking my central nervous system around the room. I also stupidly watched it at 1 or 2AM, the only light in the room coming from the TV. I had two kittens and my husband asleep next to me, so I’d hate to see how freaked out I would have gotten if I’d watched the movie alone with all the lights off. Not that I would have done it; I’ve gotten more than I bargained for with a horror movie many times, but I’m not a total imbecile. I’m well aware that would be about as smart a way to treat my insomnia as taking an entire box of No-Doz.

When this movie sets out to scare you, be ready to feel your heart leap to your throat the way it would during that first huge drop on the coaster, because you’re in for one fucking scary, memorable ride!

The official plotline is this:  While visiting their friend Chong Kwai (Ray MacDonald) in Thailand, cousins Ted (Bo-lin Chen) and May (Kate Yeung), May’s friend April (Isabella Leong), and April’s boyfriend Kofei (Yu Gu) are introduced to The Ten Encounters, a Thai book (called, I believe, “The Ten Encounters”) detailing ten ways to see ghosts.  For fun,** they try out some of the easier methods and get sucked deeper and deeper into the game until it becomes tragic, even after Ted and May return to Hong Kong.

 

Fun? For FUN? Jesus Christ, HOW BORED would you have to be to resort to that? They can’t, I don’t know, get high and go to a park and play Frisbee? Go see a movie about ghosts? Plenty of those to pick from over in Thailand! Great ones, too! Have a beer, maybe even smoke a joint, and go see 4Bia or Taai Hong, Death Place with all your ‘bored’ buddies together at a midnight showing.  Or go and rent a couple of them, hell, rent and watch  Jackass: The Movie.  Even if there’s no Cantonese subtitles, they’d still be rolling on the floor laughing. Go find and chew some “bozo leaf”–whup, sorry, wrong movie, that’s Bedeviled from South Korea I’m thinking of.*** Trying hard drugs would probably be safer than fiddling with this book. Not that I recommend trying hard drugs, I’m just pointing out that it’s about as smart and safe of an idea as following the methods described in an ancient book (especially one that just kind of showed up in a store out of the blue one night, rather than having to go out of your way to be able to locate and purchase it) that not only appears to have certain illustrations of some kids who look almost just like you, but also that you were warned strongly against fucking with by several very wise, elderly people who had personal experience with the supernatural. Come on, what’s the worst thing that could happen? All you have to do on one of the first ones is dig up a dead body to prepare for the ritual!

Anyway, apparently,  the book says once you start the first method, you have to go through all ten of them or something horrible will happen (worse than getting in an elevator crowded full of hideously burned ghosts that appear and hover around you the second the doors close, or vividly hallucinating that your entire eyeball suddenly fell out of the socket and is resting in your hand, I guess). As far as I recall, no-one bothers to tell them this key piece of info until after they finish one of the rituals.  They mention, rather vaguely, in the trailer that once the game is started, it must be finished, but that’s not really specific enough. Which of the games? Oh, when you said ‘the game’ you meant all ten of them? Thanks for not waiting until it was way too late and we’re too terrified to leave our apartments, or sleep. No, it’s cool.

You don’t need to have seen the classic original (or The Eye 2, which I thought was definitely the weakest of the series and was glad I watched on Netflix Steaming rather that waste a disc rental on) to make sense of this (though you should see the original regardless). There’s about a two-second nod and a very brief clip of the first two films during a montage, that’s it. Like The Eye, it’s really a pretty simple concept that the Pang brothers just fucking go to town with. There’s a couple of awesome and even clever in-jokes, as well as nods for viewers of the first movie, however, (“Have you seen my report card?”) so I recommend seeing The Eye first, if you haven’t already. After I finally caved and bought this movie, there’s a featurette with the Pang brothers. They said they wanted this final installment to be akin to a roller-coaster ride with scares and fun, and I think they definitely made that movie. There’s more comic relief (intentionally) in this installment, not the least of which are a few of the character’s reactions to having seen ghosts (if you saw the trailer, you get the idea). On that first badly-timed 2AM viewing, I recall watching with the blankets almost pulled up to my nose after only 15 minutes or so, but I remember being surprised by laughing more than twice.  It only came out as a nervous semi-muffled heh heh at the time, but I also knew I was in the hands of someone with a genuine sense of humor as well as horror. When this movie sets out to scare you though, be ready to feel your heart leap to your throat the way it would during the first huge drop on that roller-coaster, because you’re in for one very fucking scary and memorable ride! Strap in. And if Thai ghost movies already scare you? Then you really might not want to watch it alone.

Finally, I included a clip of one of the most memorable and frightening set-pieces (as I like to call it, “Fuck it, I’ll Take the Stairs”) from the original 2002 The Eye …just in case you still feel sleepy. You can count on the Pang Brothers to keep your ass awake!  This scene should be shown in film scools to illustrate an example of how to build a mood of suspense, tension, and utter terror without using one drop of blood. If you haven’t seen the 2002 film, this will probably help you decide whether or not it’s too creepy for you to handle after dark. Feeling a little off-filter/jumpy at the moment? Save this to watch when you’re not alone…

*In more than one case, I’ve even seen it titled The Eye …Infinity.

**Rather than putting away the book in an extremely speedy manner and walking away as fast as possible, then immediately pretending the book never even existed, something I would have probably excelled at doing, I’ve found that upon occasion, I can surprise myself with pretty decent compartmentalization skills).

*** Though if I lived in the small community that Bedeviled takes place in, I’d be chewing ‘bozo leaf’ 24/7 just to escape the completely wretched reality of being female while stuck there for life. Then I’d probably take a dive off the cliff if I saw the bozo leaf supply was about to run out. I doubt any other women who have seen the movie will disagree with me on that.

 

Red Balloon – 12 Minutes of Must-See Horror!

OK, it’s actually 13 minutes long, but a minute of that is end credits (not that the cast and crow don’t count), plus I’m one of those irritating people who avoids the number 13 if at all possible.

Remember the short French film The Red Balloon? Released in 1957, cute little boy follows a red balloon to see where it leads him, written and directed by. Albert Lamorisse. I recall seeing it on a local PBS station from time to time in grade school.  A couple of times it was played for us in junior high (always in a Liberal Art-oriented class). Maybe you remember seeing it on YouTube, if you were born in the 80s or 90s;  it was about a blonde kid found a red balloon that brightened up his life. The 1957 movie suitable for all ages was beautifully shot with an upbeat finale. Official IMDB synopsis: a red balloon with a life of its own* follows a little boy around the streets of Paris.

Shockingly, the piece is NOT about that wholesome, upbeat movie above. Well, I guess they both created a great work of film-making with what they had excellent production values with the money they had, a small cast, beautifully shot, not an abundance of dialogue, but I think similarities end there*. I think  there’s only one red balloon in a brief shot, but I was too busy scraping myself from the ceiling to say with 100% certainty.Nelieve me, you’ll the moment when you see it. The tagline (if that applies to a short film, but hey, it’s on the poster art and I think it’s cool) gives you just the right amount of information, no more. LET ME TELL YOU A STORY YOU ARE GOING TO LOVE. IT’S ABOUT A COUPLE WHO HIRE A BABYSITTER FOR THE EVENING…

This  thirteen-minute horror film is an absolute blast. No gore, but scary enough so that every other comment on You Tube (where I first discovered it) makes some kind of comment referencing their wish for a box of Depends adult diapers. This movie is scary as hell, carefully crafted and shot,.and deserves recognition. I was lucky enough to discover this hidden gem of a short on you Tube a week or so ago. It’s tightly edited, the acting is above-average,  flawlessly directed, and you can bet your sweet ass it delivers on the scares well before the time it roars to a finish. Writers/directors Damien Mace and Alexis Wajsbrot make their debut, and I can’t wait to see what they’re cooking up now. Like many of the best horror stories,  it takes a simple concept and focuses on making that concept simply terrifying. I recommend that you watch the movie first (with the sound up and the lights down, especially if you’re feeling cocky in a yeah, right, whatever, I guess I’ll watch this candy-ass short movie way). So find thirteen minutes and give The Red Balloon a well-deserved watch. I highly recommend it …but not if you happen to be baby-sitting in an unfamiliar house at the time, or are sensing you may be on the verge of a panic attack. Here it is! Come on, you can find 13 12 minutes free to check it out…

OK,  now that you’ve seen it (do yourself a favor and don’t read further until you do – go in clean, you’ll thank me later) I dug up a little more info on the film-makers, and have some for you.

The official site says it was shot with Red Cam (I have no idea what this is, other than the fact it’s something you can use to shoot footage). It was also an official selection of over 20 international film festivals-not rinky-dink ones either.The movie was nominated to numerous festivals (including Festival international de Clermont-Ferrand, Palm Springs International ShortFest , Festival International Du Film Fantastique de Gerardmer , Festival De Cannes Short Film Corner, and more.  The short’s won the Directorial Discovery Award at Rhodes Island film Festival and 12 selections in others. Here’s a little more about awards/selections on this page of the official site. Check it out!

It draws a little on an urban legend (one that not everyone has heard),  yet puts an original spin on it that I didn’t see coming.  I didn’t quite catch a minor plot element the first time, but it wasn’t due to any flaw with the movie, more to the fact I had the sound turned down as low as possible and since it was after dark, lights off, decided not to watch it on full-screen. Oh, and that I was a little freaked out. The second watch filled in any blanks for me, and the third watch I decided to just quit while I was ahead if I wanted to get to sleep at a decent hour, and wait until daytime to revisit the film (which I did). If you’re interested in any of the FX, here’s something from You Tube where the writers/directors discussing the. Their accents are strong enough that I wish there were closed-caption, but it’s still fun (and you can see the duo is having fun, too, better yet).

*Goddamn, I’d sure hate to see the results if someone in an Elementary school AV department got their wires crossed and showed THIS Red Balloon by mistake to an elementary-school classroom of hyperactive kids  as one of those post-reccess/lunch “quiet time” activities. You may remember those –and I recall this from kindergarten myself–where the point is to get the kids to simmer down, relax, and calm the hell down after 30+ minutes of charging around the playground. If say, the teacher went out for a smoke and put this on the projection screen, I’m fairly sure someone present would end up in therapy, and someone would definitely have to make an apology to parents. This movie doesn’t have a calming effect on MY mood, and doubt it will with other adults, let alone jumpy kids, unless they are very, very mellow.

** Describing anything without a brain as ‘taking on a life of its own’ sounds sort of ominous, even if the object in question is a balloon.

The Trailer Beats the Movie- Rubber (2011)

I’m guessing the title is pretty self-explanatory.  I’ve seen plenty of trailers that got me pumped, then after watching the movie, realized I should have quit while I was ahead.*

So, I’ll kick this new category off with a trailer that I can confidently say is better than the movie. I wanted to like this movie …instead, I was not just let down (my expectations weren’t all that high in the first place, but enough so I figured it was worth a rental) but the suppressed rage made me go to IMDB just to let off some steam by giving it a terrible review**. Not even going to  tell myself I wrote it to warn off other viewers, I was just actively angry. Maybe 5% of my motivation was compassion for possible viewers/fellow fans. The rest was just to try to write the anger away (which did actually help).

Did you get insulted by the appearance of the rat at the end of The Departed (like everyone else I’ve talked to, even the ones who are not big movie geeks)? Then BEWARE this shit-bomb. Imagine if the rest of The Departed that preceded the insulting rat was NOT entertaining, well-acted, well-written, well-directed and cool enough that you let that insult to your intelligence go.

Even if you don’t find yourself especially entertained by the trailer, it’s a much more fun, satisfying experience than sitting through the pretentious garbage that is Rubber. Oh, and it contains almost all the gore from the movie, too, so there you go.

Here’s the Red Band trailer…

And here’s an expanded version of the not-too-popular review I wrote on IMDB!  I noticed from the trailer that it opened in theaters on April Fool’s Day, which is ironic, since …yeah. (I’m sure you can easily fill in the blank there).

Not Funny, Not Scary, Not Entertaining, Just …No.

First,  I am VERY glad I watched this as a ‘New Release’ rental. Several months ago, it was ‘premiered’ On Demand, and the price to watch it was $9.99. Fortunately, with our low budget, I couldn’t justify the expense just because Rubber was featured in Fangoria magazine. I wish it had been a .99 cent rental, because that’s what it’s worth, TOPS. If I had paid that $10 to see this movie, I would have been enraged at myself and my stupid mistake, then tried to figure out a way to get the price refunded. 

If I’d seen this for free, it wouldn’t have been worth it.

I’ve never said this in a review before, but I want the 90 minutes of my life back that I wasted watching this VERY over-rated flick. I got a bad feeling very early on when a character (the most irritating one in the entire movie, turns out) breaks the fourth wall within a minute tops of the start. Now, a decent script, or premise can pull this off. Not here, the movie is way too in love with itself. “Why is the alien in ET brown? No reason.” Then with each example given (“Why do the two main characters in Love Story fall madly in love? No reason”) I got increasingly worried we’d wasted a rental, but also started getting insulted. Then, in a very condescending way, he points out that all good movies must have an element of NO REASON. I am capitalizing that it due to the fact it got shoved down our throats over and over his whole monologue …in less than three minutes I was sick of it and sighed, oh, fuck you under my breath (in case my husband was actually enjoying it for some reason and I didn’t want to ruin it if so), on the final one.

Whup! Time out. Uh, dude, I hate to break it to you, but you’re not exactly Tarantino (who can come off as arrogant during interviews, but has also earned it to an extent) giving a lecture to film students. After he establishes the fact that we’re all fucking morons, he says this ‘film’ is an homage to that crucial element of NO REASON. Believe it or not, the film manages to become more insulting as it slooowly plays out. There’s no need for me to give you examples–not because of spoilers (it’s already spoiled stinking rotten, trust me) but out of courtesy to anyone reading this. It wasn’t worth wasting the paper to print the screenplay, definitely not worth repeating.

 Here’s an example, though. Did you get insulted by the appearance of the rat at the end of The Departed (like everyone else I’ve talked to, even the ones who are not big movie geeks)? Then BEWARE this bomb. Imagine if the rest of The Departed that preceded the insulting rat was NOT entertaining, well-acted, well-written, well-directed and cool enough that you let that insult to your intelligence go.

The makers of Rubber might as well have flashed messages every five minutes or a non-stop teletype in huge letters reading LOOK HOW UNEXPECTED AND QUIRKY WE ARE! ARE YOU SMART ENOUGH TO UNDERSTAND THE GENIUS OF THIS? PROBABLY NOT, BUT WE SURE AS HELL DON’T CARE EITHER WAY, THAT’S HOW COOL WE ARE!  The only semblance of a plot in this movie is already given in whatever the sentence or two on the box pitching it to you is: for no apparent reason, a tire with the ability to make things (mostly human heads) explode goes on a killing spree. By the way, that summary is much more entertaining than the actual movie.

They also had the nerve to brag, on a DVD featurette, that Rubber is also an homage to the grind house movies of the 70s. First, no. No. NO no-no-no-no. Second, I know what a good, fun grind-house tribute looks like: Planet Terror, Machete, and Hobo With a Shotgun are a few. Thirdly, grind-house tribute movies do not feature crystal-clear, hi-def quality, and the shots in them are not composed in a deliberately artsy, avant-garde style.*** As far as good, fun-to-watch movies with unexplained elements that are hard to second guess: Nowhere, Storytelling, and the original Feast are a few who do it MUCH better. Take 15 minutes of any of the above movies I named, watch and enjoy, because even the weakest 15 minutes of these are still better than the entire running time of Rubber.

If 90% of a movie deliberately makes no sense, then whoever is responsible better fucking make sure that said movie is very good, and worth seeing. By the end of the first act– woop, wait, this movie doesn’t have discernible acts! It’s too edgy and KA-RAZY for such structure! By the end of, I’ll say, the first twenty minutes (tops) I said out loud, “OK, now you’re not even fucking trying.”

If you’re curious what the 3/10 stars I gave it are for (actually, while writing this review, I decided I was being too generous and wished I could knock it back to two stars) then here it is. One for supporting indie films (in general, not this one), another for some pretty well-done gore (no obvious CGI), then I break the third down into parts: cool title ****, good and occasionally amusing puppetry of Robert the killer tire, decent enough art direction, and…uh… I guess that’s it, round it up to 3!  Hacks.

Just in case you’re still tempted to watch Rubber (God knows why), here’s seven reasons for the remaining seven stars I did NOT give it:

  •  a half-decent premise that goes absolutely fucking nowhere
  •   trying to pass off sloppy writing as deliberate non-conformance and ultra-cool rule-breaking
  • deliberately random events (and dialog), painfully contrived, to make the movie seem edgy
  • clumsy breaking of the fourth wall
  •  not even pretending to attempt any semblance of characterization
  •  a slow pace that never pays off, ever
  • clearly, the “creators” of Rubber either know nothing about story telling, suspense building, and climax–or worse yet, they do, but instead preferred to be self-righteous elitist hipster douchebags and made a deliberate choice to not include any of it. Either learn the basics or just STOP THAT. Stop it!

However, the prevalent condescending, tone (Hey! Assholes! We’re already renting a non-mainstream movie, independently released, so how about deciding we are all not necessarily virgins to a non-traditional format) ranging from mildly irritating to really insulting, is still by far #1 on my Rubber Shit List, though. 

I sat through the whole thing because I thought it might be worth taking a chance on. Please, learn from my mistake! Life’s already short and there’s too many GOOD indie movies (and mainstream too, now that I think of it) worth your time to watch instead.

Want some suggestions? Drop me a line or post a comment.

*And you probably have, too. Feel free to send your personal picks!

**furthermore, I am apparently not the only viewer to do so. The same aspects pissed them off that pissed me off. That’s actually positive to discover.

*** And they have fun, really cool titles (not ones contrived to be cool) that make it clear what the movie is about, and that the movie is going to be a love letter –or lust-letter– to grind-house movies. Hobo With a Shotgun –any questions?

****I changed my mind.

Happy Birthday, Ms. Hepburn – Wait Until Dark (1967)

In honor of Audrey Hepburn’s birthday, I found a really fun trailer for Wait Until Dark (1967).  Check it out below!

I recall a teacher who saw the movie in theater when it was released telling me that they did indeed turn all the possible lights down during the last eight minutes (or as the trailer puts it, Darkened To The Legal Limits –that phrase has kind of a cool ring to it). This movie doesn’t need a gimmick, but I’m a sucker for 60’s movie gimmicks. They had really cool ones after than, but the William Castle era gimmicks just make me light up. Oh, and if you do give this movie a watch, keep those lights off-and as the trailer tells you, avoid lighting up a cigarette. Not so much because it’ll distract you from the effect, but you really, really don’t want to have a lit cigarette in your mouth–or anywhere near you–for the jump in the final minutes of Wait Until Dark!

Think twice before unlocking...

Ten Trailers to Keep You Awake #7 – Don’t Be Afraid of the Dark (2011)

…keep in mind- I’d seen the trailer online at least six months earlier on Dread Central, so I knew what was coming and I still screamed as loud as anyone in the theater.

Please note that yes, the first 30+ seconds are supposed to be pitch black!

I can keep this one simple: the only theater trailer I’ve ever seen in my life that made me scream. OK. It was somewhere between a loud yelp and a shriek, and I wasn’t alone. Keep in mind this was a theater filled with people ready, pumped, and impatient to see Insidious. Also keep in mind that while you’re watching it on your computer/device, I watched in a theater with top-quality THX digital surround-sound (or whatever the hell the official up-to-date name of the best, most advanced sound system currently used in theater audio is, I’m too exhausted to look it up at the moment). That means the screen was black, and the increasingly creepy whispering voices you’ll hear were (clearly) coming randomly from all around the unusually-dark theater, sometimes overlapping. Up in the corners, all sides, behind you, overhead, beside you. Another thing to keep in mind: I’d seen the DBAOTD trailer online at least six months earlier on Dread Central (in a small pop-out window) albeit with the mute button on, because they were thoughtful to warn those of us with insomnia and/or anxiety issues at the time to dial the volume down a notch or two. So, I knew the seat-jumper was coming and I still screamed as loud as anyone in the theater. Maybe others there had also seen it before, or they were horror fans who sensed a biiiiiig jump coming once the little girl went under the sheets, because you could have heard a pin drop … THEN you sure as hell heard some noise!

Sad to report, the movie was regarded by most fans and critics as a mediocre-at-best letdown, disappointing those of us who had raised expectations from seeing the above trailer; even the majority of devoted Guillermo del Toro’s fans as well as fans of the 1973 made-for-TV original that I heard from were bummed out). So, I decided not to invest in a theater ticket to see it after enough people I trusted told me the scariest parts were in the trailer, and confirmed that the original movie they saw on TV as kids was much scarier and more effective. I haven’t even watched it from Netflix.  I may in the future, but I decided to wait for the time being. In fact, I plan to add this to a future list I’m working up now called, “Trailers That Are Far Better Than the Movie”.

But watch the trailer, and see it if you’re having trouble staying awake. The first teaser for Don’t Be Afraid of the Dark (2011) should probably do the trick.