Park Chan-Wook’s “STOKER” Gets A Rave Review From Fangoria – Yet Another Reason We Cannot WAIT To See This! (Sundance Movie Review)

STOKER proves that the director’s unique brand of thrills and chills works in any language. For horror fans seeking something fresh and unique, look no further.

We put Park Chan-Wook‘s English-language début film, Stoker,  on out Ten Most Anticipated in Horror list for 2013. There’s plenty of reasons we can’t wait, but let’s start with one of  the many raves from the film’s premiere at Sundance.

…just because the film finds weight within its dramatic elements doesn’t mean horror fans will feel neglected. STOKER has several disturbing scenes, one in particular featuring explicit violence that leads to one of the film’s most jaw-dropping revelations. STOKER manages to be simultaneously beautiful, thrilling and frightening, and is different from most anything we’ve seen in recent time…

Here’s a couple of especially choice bits that made us grin with anticipation (the review itself, was written for Fangoria by ©Ken Hanley, so the block quotes in our post here belong to Hanley and Fangoria.©

Park pulls no punches, allowing the story to venture into dark places while always maintaining a level of class that elevates even the most shocking of scenes. STOKER never feels exploitative or even overtly horrific, but the atmosphere that Park and his cinematographer, Chung Chung-hoon, build through their awe-inspiring visuals inspires terror of the soul rather than of the senses.

Click the big red link below to read more on Stoker …and to read the Fangoria review!

 

“STOKER” (Sundance Movie Review by Ken Hanley).

 

Oh, MANY more reasons why we’re totally stoked psyched for the movie are coming, don’t worry, and if you have yet to be swayed (or haven’t heard much about the film), the review should piqué your interest… at the very least!

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“Mama” Rumor Control: Is This Really The Face Of Javier Botet In Make-Up As The Ghastly “Mama”? No! Wanna See The Real Thing? Read On!

4/15/13 UPDATE!

the Cool javier botet links TEASEd LATER IN THIS ARTICLE have been (mostly) inserted in this post, now that the pieces went up; check ’em out! Also, you can type ‘Botet’ into the horror boom search box in the upper right corner of the blog. Read on!

Mrs. Horror Boom

 

Well, this is a type of piece I’ve never needed to write and publish before! Here’s the deal.

Today a vague ‘source’ sent Horror Boom an email containing a pretty frightening attachment. It was labelled as “The Face of MAMA, Javier Botet in full make-up”. This is the first email/contact we’ve gotten from this individual, and we were impressed. But we’ve seen Mama,  and Javier Botet in make-up as Mama; it’s a different look.

So we did some research, and the photo (seen below) claiming to be a close-up shot of Javier Botet as Mama IS Javier Botet, but NOT in the movie Mama. We suppose we sort of see how someone could see the image and think that. Here’s the alleged photo of Botet as Mama below, that we got at our horrorboom@gmail.com email:

This is the very talented Javier Botet in make-up, all right, but not as "Mama"

This is the very talented Javier Botet in make-up, all right, but not as “Mama”

I did a little research (even though I was 95% sure it wasn’t the Mama creature effects). The shot turned out to be from Javier Botet’s 2010 reel. Mama hadn’t officially even gone into pre-production at the time.  By the way, more Botet links are coming up –some really great stuff.

So, we’ll chalk it up as an honest mistake; I seriously doubt the sender was deliberately being a prick up to any mischief, or just wanted attention (since if that was the case, they at least would have given us a nickname/site to credit, which they didn’t). I think they just got all excited, sent first, asked questions later.  We’ve all done that. I sure as hell have. Also, I can’t blame them if they jumped the gun, as every horror fan I know (and some that aren’t even big horror fans) are really excited about Mama and have been all month. I’ve been excited since before Halloween. Hot damn!

Oh and, hey, this will dial your anticipation up a notch: the new issue of Fangoria has a cover story on Mama*, and when it came to effects, they did practical effects whenever they could. YES. There are several composite shots, but very little CGI except for two scenes/effects that were pointed out (and they mainly used composite shots – especially the unearthly, floaty hair that the FX people later said they wanted to resemble tentacles at the request of the director).  You don’t hire an actor best known for being a creature performer who is 6 foot 6 and can’t weigh more than 130 lbs, (if that), to play a creature in your horror movie and then replace the majority of him with digital effects and CGI. You hire this guy when you know what nightmares look like and you need the real thing. The effects team made up his face and body, and sometimes his face was replaced with a prosthetic mask… otherwise that is ALL HIM.

Now if you want to see what ‘Mama’ really looks like, here’s a frightening screen grab (a very quick flash from one TV spot, barely shown) that gives you a pretty good, up-close look at the horrifying title creature, after the

SPOILER!

ALERT!

DO NOT SCROLL DOWN IF YOU DON’T WANT TO SEE THIS FREEZE FRAME THAT GIVES YOU A GOOD LOOK AT MAMA! I’ll even toss in this:

S
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Can’t say we didn’t warn you! THIS is what Javier Botet as  Mama looks like:

thisismotherfuckingmamaEEEEK.jpg

I can’t think of ANYONE stupid or foolhardy enough to get between THIS thing and her ‘kids’.  I saw that in my house, I’d be a time zone the fuck away within seconds!

And yep…that’s Mr. Botet in the above photo. The actor really is that … slender… (though he spends a long, long time in the make-up chair to look that horrifying), and why would any  effects supervisor in their right mind want to use CGI when you can hire an actor with his skill set?

And here’s his demo reel. Prepare to be dazzled (and terrified). More of Mr. Botet to come…

*I usually will say something out loud like, “new Fango? Oh fuck,  yeah!” when it shows in the mail, even if new neighbors are within hearing range of me. This time I almost ripped the plastic wrap off with my teeth …but I have nice sharp fingernails for that (you’ve seen my “gravatar” image)!

Twenty Facts About Total Recall (1990) –Including a Lobotomy– That Might Just Blow Your Mind!

What’s an article about the 1990 action/sci-fi/horror/thriller (the 2012 ‘reboot’ doesn’t really matter; I’m mainly including the year of release for clarification) doing on Horror Boom, you might ask? Well, the photo from the climax of Total Recall  used in the “featured image” above was on the cover of Fangoria in early summer 1990 (with better photo quality;  if either of us had the time and energy, we could dig through our storage area, find the hard-copy Fango magazine archive and post a photo of that, but we’d have to really  apply ourselves). Based on that horrifying Fangoria cover, the photos inside the issue, the fact that Rob Bottin did the EFX, and some really freaky things that were described but not pictured, I put it on my must-see list and did indeed see it in the theater. I was very entertained, and certainly not let down at any point. Oh, and as far as the horror factor- I’ve heard from dozens of younger fans that saw it when they were a kid and still recall having some pretty vivid nightmares. Cross-genre? Yes. Devoid of horror?  Shit, no!

Douglas Quaid: Ever heard of Rekall? They sell those fake memories.
Harry: Oh, “Rekall, Rekall, Rekall.” You thinking of going there?
Douglas Quaid: I don’t know, maybe.
Harry: Well, don’t. A friend of mine tried one their “special offers,” nearly got himself lobotomized.
Douglas Quaid: No shit?
Harry: Don’t fuck with your brain, pal. It ain’t worth it.

That actually turns out to be pretty good advice. We re-watch Total Recall  every so often; it’s still a great popcorn movie, and elaborate, often gruesome practical effects still hold up just fine. I’m not sure how one’s eyeballs (the rest of their faces didn’t look so great either) can pretty much get back to normal less than thirty seconds after being exaggeratedly bloated up from oxygen deprivation, causing them to pop about as far out of the eye socket as they can without completely exiting your skull (Schwarzenegger’s and Rachel Ticotin‘s characters were seconds away from looking like the hideous guy in the featured image) , but we’re not complaining, it’s a great effect.  To this day, though, that and the scene earlier on where Schwarzenegger somehow wrenches a tracking object that was implanted in his head, almost to eyeball level (roughly the size and density out of an extra-large gumball)  of his nasal cavity* while making horrible pained grunts still makes us wince.

SPOILER ALERTS for the 1990 movie are all over the place after the link below…

Mindhole Blowers: 20 Facts About Total Recall That Might Blow Your Mind.( pajiba.com)

 

Apparently not only did I miss the fact that the ending of the movie is not quite as storybook-happy as it seems, I missed the fact there was any ambiguity about the ending or even a discussion taking place. However, the facts speak for themselves after doing my research, and now everything that seemed a little unrealistic (such as being about to shriek for over a minute without any air in your lungs), or too perfect, makes perfect sense in light of what really  happened.  If Verhoeven says the lobotomy scenario was the real, intended ending, I’ll side with the director of the movie on this. Plus, this movie has enough borderline headache-inducing mindfucks in it already without going back and forth on it for months… though I very much respect the fact it’s still open for discussion among fans, writers, geeks, and critics alike after over two decades. Oh, and the dream/lobotomy scenario explains the two lead character’s faces going back to normal–their eyes weren’t even the least bit bloodshot  seconds after– that they can share a romantic, picture-perfect Hollywood kiss until that light in the background spreads to fade the entire screen to white.

I remember this hooker whose image probably made most of the males who saw it wish they had three hands pretty well...

Most people who saw the movie remember this hooker, and if they are male, also wishing they had three hands.

I also wish they would put out a restored edition, with all the graphic violence they had to censor to avoid an X-rating put back in. OK, it wouldn’t be an X-Rated version of Total Recall, as cool as that sounds, it’d be Unrated, NR, NC-17, of more likely released as “Special Director’s Cut” these days. I’d still go out of my way to see it.

Screen shot 2013-01-12 at 2.03.03 AM

I actually repressed this horrifying character’s image until I re-watched the movie today, though.

Check out the linked article above for more facts that might blow your mind. Unless you wrote the article (or a similar one) I’m guessing more than a few of them will probably surprise you.

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We do NOT own the rights to this image (or any images in the article) of Arnie from Total Recall. Gee, I wonder why some kids who saw it had some slightly disturbing dreams?

*IN YO FACE, CGI! The practical effects in this 1990 movie are amazing. Oh, I know there’s digital FX in the movie and composite shots (though I don’t think composite shots, especially the way they were done back then, qualify as digital). I’m just saying that Total Recall’s  practical FX, much like Bottin’s practical FX in John Carpenter’s The Thing  and almost all of The Howling,  to name a few, hold up to this day without looking phony (unless you’re seriously jaded). I’m not totally anti-CGI, but my belief is: only use it when a practical effect isn’t possible.

Red Band Trailer of the Week – “Maniac” Remake (2012) Doesn’t Screw Around

I still remember watching William Lustig‘s original Maniac  (1980) …on a VHS tape rental in my bedroom in high school; I had lugged the TV set and VCR in there because I was stuck in bed nursing a flu at the time.

I’m pretty sure Maniac  (along with a few other serial-killer horror movies; I saw Henry, Portrait of a Serial Killer  at SIFF in 1990 and purchased my first purse-sized canister of pepper spray shortly after) was a big part of the reason I took the first “Self-Defense for Women” class I could find (and the second, and the third, and the…) and developed habits that I keep to this day, like always having my car keys in my hand by the time I left a building to walk through the parking lot to my car, even if it’s only ten yards away. Also probably among the reasons why, after dark, I keep them in my hand, with the self-defense trick of holding them in your fist with the pointy end of the keys jammed between my fingers and pointing out, so you have a better chance of breaking your attacker’s skin, or putting out an eye, if you need to strike out to defend yourself.

Frank Zito’s victims get themselves some payback in the fucking blood-curdling, nightmarish finale of the original Maniac (1980).

Here’s the HD red band trailer for the Maniac (2012)  remake – there’s a separate piece coming on why I’m actually optimistic about the chances of it being successful. Don’t expect to see the titular character Frank Zito even remotely resembling Joe Spinell, though!

*I didn’t actually SEE it in 1980 (that’d be a great movie for a girl still  in elementary school to watch, scarred for life? Check!), I think it was 1984.  My mom would buy me a Fangoria–and even Famous Monsters Magazine– in 1981, though.  Towards the end of the run of Famous Monsters of Filmland, I had a subscription. I wish I’d held onto it!

 

Check out Horror Artist Joshua Hoffine’s Making JACK THE RIPPER!

Hell, just check out Joshua Hoffine, for starters. His still photography is some of the most creative– and downright nightmarish– imagery I’ve ever seen outside of a horror movie. I’ve been following Joshua Hoffine since an article in Fangoria a few years back did a feature on his art that just fucking blew me away. I’ve been keeping tabs on his work through his website on a regular basis ever since. His new projects never cease to amaze and frighten me; JACK THE RIPPER is no exception. I’ll be sure to share more content from his blog and site with you.  While I admire his entire portfolio, I especially enjoy his pieces that draw inspiration from childhood nightmares (the monsters waiting under your bed, in the dark space of a closet or under the basement stairs), or urban legends (the maniac escaped from a mental institution who just so happens to be hiding in your house …and has almost made his way to grabbing range of you).

Don’t miss it …but at the same time, remember much of what you see will be burned into the inside of your eyelids for years!

-Mrs. Horror Boom

Joshua Hoffine | Behind The Scenes

This is my new photo project titled JACK THE RIPPER.

It is a 2-panel diptych.

Put together, JACK THE RIPPER 1 & 2 depict the moments “just before” and “just after” a grisly alleyway murder.

What makes Jack the Ripper so compelling is that nothing is factually known about him.  Because he was never caught, we have no information about who he was or why he committed his gruesome crimes.  We do not possess a historical or biographical portrait, but instead share a communally imagined idea of Jack the Ripper as an aristocratic predator.  As a boogeyman, he graphically symbolizes the idea of the wealthy preying on the poor.

For the brick alleyway, I decided to build a set.  The walls were made from large sheets of styrofoam that I carved and sculpted to look like brick using a hot-knife and heat gun.

My cousins Steve Hoffine and Jerry Hoffine…

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Name that (Horror) Frame – Week of 10/14/12 – Special Creepy Insane Asylum Edition!

Well, American Horror Story: Asylum is coming along in a couple days, so I picked frames from horror movies taking place in haunted –or at least creepy– insane asylums.

First up… it won’t take long to recognize this, but the trick is picking the RIGHT movie, as there’s lobotomy scenes in quite a few horror movies set in or around asylums.

Second up… sorry for the less-than-stellar photo quality, but if you’ve seen the movie, it won’t take long to recognize:

and finally… oh hell, it’s going to be hard enough to identify these as it is, so I’ll flat-out tell you that the third and final frame below is from the same movie as the first image. A little more, what’s the word, memorable,  though…

This isn’t even the most horrifying image from the scene, either. GAH!

OK, so who’s ready for the American Horror Story: Asylum season premiere Wednesday at 10:00PM on FX?  I just wish it was two hours, or even ninety minutes. Watch for plenty of pieces focused on the show all week!

Matteawan Asylum for the Criminally Insane (NY)

Matteawan Asylum for the Criminally Insane (NY) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Red Band Trailer of the Week – The Revenant (2009)

It’s actually embarrassing that this breakout horror-comedy somehow slipped under my horror geek radar till now. Well, I saw on my IMDB account that I added it to my watch list at some point in the last year, so I must have been really tired or inebriated (or both) when I added it. Hell, it probably was in Fangoria last year or the year before, and I read about it then filed it away, or it was one of the rare issues I didn’t read from cover-to-cover after it showed in the mail. Check out this very entertaining brand-new Red Band trailer!

C’mon, now how fucking cool is that? Too bad that can’t be used as a tagline, because it’d sure fit and definitely put asses in seats. The Revenant: How Fucking Cool Is That?

I’m guessing somewhere along the line, something did not go as planned here…

The Revenant roared through the Festival circuit in 2009, winning a ton of audience awards. The official website is right here, and is packed with information and fun stuff. I do recommend skipping the Comments section if you haven’t seen The Revenant and are planning to, because the section is teeming with spoilers from people who have seen it, most wanting to discuss the ending.

Here’s the official plot description from the “Press” section of the official website…

A horror comedy in the vein of SHAUN OF THE DEAD and ZOMBIELAND, the film tells the story of a soldier (David Anders, from TV’s 24 and Vampire Diaries) who is killed in Iraq and then finds himself resurrected as a “revenant,” or one who has returned from the dead. He turns to his slacker best friend (Chris Wylde, of Descent and The Ten) to help him manage his newfound thirst for blood, and the duo quickly realize that this zombie-fied state is a perfect opportunity to become vigilante crime fighters. However, their adventure quickly becomes more complicated and bloody than they expected as the movie escalates into a series of unexpected and horrifying twists.

Here’s an extended (4+ minute) clip. A little more conversation and a little less action than the above trailer, but it’s pretty cool. Check it out below:

I’m going to have to get way more proactive about local film festivals. Oh, and yes, 2009 is right; it took THIS GODDAMNED LONG for the flick to get a distribution deal. Well, as fucking frustrating as it is, the movie is in good company; The Cabin in the Woods, Trick R’ Treat, and Army of Darkness had to go through the same bullshit (and I don’t think they even got the chance to go through the festival circuit). I doubt I have to convince anyone reading this, though, that when they finally do get a chance, the wait is worth it for us.  But man, time slows to a crawl when you’re trying to be patient!

Heh!

Heh!

 

 

Red Band Trailer of the Week – Juan of the Dead (2011)

I’ve been hearing nothing but RAVES for this zombie flick. Juan of the Dead, (2011) written and directed by Alejandro Brugué,  has won eight audience awards since making the festival rounds, and honestly, the kind of awards where fans and viewers all get a vote gain my trust the most. An early pitch sold it as “Cuba’s first horror film.” I’ll take their word for it!

Juan of the Dead was featured in a recent issue of Fangoria magazine with (I believe) the Fangoria Seal of Approval(™). A review from someone I trust, who saw it at a festival début, said if it had in a traditional theater showing with a traditional audience, he was so vocal that someone would have complained about him to an usher, and he might’ve even been asked to leave. Instead, the VERY live fan crowd howled and cheered through the entire movie. That’s sure as hell good enough for me! Here’s the Red Band trailer.


Here’s the official lavishly written plot synopsis, fresh off the official movie site…
Juan is 40 years old, most of which he spent in Cuba doing absolutely nothing. It’s his way of life, and he’s prepare to defend it at any cost, along with his pal Lázaro, as lazy as Juan but twice as dumb. Juan’s only emotional tie is his daughter, Camila, a beautiful young girl that doesn’t want anything to do with her father because the only thing he’s good at is getting into trouble.
Suddenly some strange things start to happen, people are turning violent attacking one to the other. Juan was first convinced it’s just another stage of the Revolution. Official media refer to the attacks as isolated incidents provoked by Cuban dissidents paid by the US government. Little by little Juan and his friends start to realize that the attackers are not normal human beings and that killing them is quite a difficult task. They’re not vampires, they’re not possessed, but they’re definitely not dissidents; a simple bite turns the victim into other violent killing machine and the only way to beat them is destroying their brains.
Juan decides that the best way of facing the situation is making some money out of it…


“Juan of the Dead, we kill your beloved ones” becomes his slogan. Lázaro, along with his son Vladi, and Camila (who had no other choice but joining her father after he rescued her from grandma´s killing desires) are Juan´s army, and their mission is to help people get rid of the infected ones around… at a reasonable price.
But this plague of bloodthirsty attackers is out of control. The population is helpless. There comes a moment in which the only way out people found is throwing into the sea and try to run away from an island that became a real carnage, and Juan has no choice but to do what he avoided all his life: take some responsibility assuming a hero role, to guide his beloved ones with the hope of getting them safe out of the madness in which Havana, full of flesh-eating zombies has turned.

Here’s the teaser, longer than most traditional teasers, and a pretty clever one at that:

How do you see it,  we both ask? Well, the movie is on the festival route  now (you can also check the somewhat plaintively titled section “WHERE?” on the official Juan of the Dead site , which is packed with info and fun stuff, by the way). Guess what, though? It will hit digital VOD platforms from Focus World next August. Uh… wait, this IS August!  It better be available somewhere to watch FAST when it hits digital VOD (which it hasn’t yet, at least on Comcast, and surprise surprise,  Netflix doesn’t even have a fucking availability date).

I’m not entirely sure what the story behind THIS still is, I’m thinking a creative zombie-kill.

By the way, there’s an entire You Tube channel created by the film-makers, which I’m guessing has enough behind-the-scenes, making of, and Q&A footage that it adds up to at least the running time of the film. I didn’t see any major spoilers, either, so if you have time for the movie but no way to watch it yet, the You Tube Channel for Juan of the Dead should hold you over temporarily! Until then…

Review: Wreckage (2010) I’d Say Don’t Expect Fireworks, But…

…but there are, in fact, a shitload of actual fireworks let off in two scenes from Wreckage: in place of a flare gun at one point, and in a scene at the end of the credits. They’re pretty cool fireworks*. I am sorry to report, however, that even Aaron Paul couldn’t save this movie.* If you haven’t figured it out yet (or never met me) I am a huge, HUGE Breaking Bad fan. and Paul does the absolute best he’s got with a mediocre, thankless (at best) script,  and unsurprisingly was the best, most talented actor in the cast. The acting in the movie isn’t as bad as most people say. There were two cast members, who I will keep anonymous, who were pretty bad, and I wanted the characters killed off just because I didn’t know how much longer I could stand them being onscreen.

So here’s the official plot synopsis:

Jared, Kate, Rick, and Jessica find themselves stranded in a wreckage yard after their car breaks down during a drag race. Meanwhile, the sheriff’s office receives notice that a convict escaped from a local state prison. As the teenagers mysteriously disappear one by one, the killer grows hungry and the thriller continues to unravel.

Well, I can get behind that last phrase, this thriller unravels pretty goddamned fast (though that happens by the end of the ‘drag race’, not after).

I got clued in to this movie when I saw a full-page ad in Fangoria, with Aaron Paul prominently featured in the cast, and jotted down the title so I could look into it. I didn’t see very good reviews, but I figured with Aaron Paul in it, and promises of “buckets of gore”, it should go in my Netflix queue.  Yeah, I can work with that for 90 minutes of my life!

I’ve learned that many genre movies claim a well-liked, popular actor with a big fan base to be one of the leads; their name gets the biggest, most prominent billing. Then the actor makes it maybe 1/2 of the way through (sometimes much less) and is then killed off, meaning that actor was in the supporting cast and NOT the lead. I’ve seen genre actors get top billing when they just had ten minutes (or less) worth of screen time before they get decapitated or hit by a huge truck that came out of nowhere without any warning (or explanation).  Fortunately, this was not the case here. He got less screen time than the lead, but just barely, and part of his missing screen time was necessary to the plot, and the reveal …or  what the writers thought was a reveal. It’s not a good plot and I saw the “shocking” reveal coming less than a third into the movie. I was hoping they’d  pull a kind of switcheroo leading to the reveal  and surprise me, but …no. He’s…SPOILER ALERT…  alive in/at the last five minutes, so at least you won’t get screwed on the screen time of the “lead” this time around.

This subject will later be a piece (or three) of its own: I’m a gorehound. I only started verbally admitting it five years ago. However, not every kind of gore is my thing. I’d rather the gore be caused by a giant monster attacking  and eating people in unexpected ways, or some virus that causes people to melt or morph into a monster (a lá The Thing, the original, but I have to give the remake points for…okay, that’s another article too) or a wish made to a demon that comes true in a horribly ironic way, or a Final Destination mishap*** that you don’t see coming , or Freddy Krueger really on his A-game and getting creative. I also prefer my gore in the form of bunch of over the top zombie attacks (Dead Alive, Return of the Living Dead 3, though I think most of us can agree Dead Alive RULES in that department …and many other departments) or hundreds of blood-thirsty piranhas attacking and massacring a bunch of drunk spring break douchebags and bimbos. Oh, and especially when Nicotero-Berger is in charge or the gore, then I’m sold. I really prefer that to some guy in a mask with a butcher knife. If the guy turns out not to be human, then I’m usually in.  This is just a general rule, there’s some amazing slasher movies out there (most from the 80s), ones that had clever plot twists or a new spin, ones that are well-written or surprise me in some way (a good way).

Classy.

OK, back to the review I was supposed to be focusing on. God I hate when a clumsy, predictable horror movie comes out and some people say, “hey, it’s not supposed to be great art or rocket science, just turn off your brain and have fun!” First of all, I know how and when to turn off my brain and have fun. I have decades of practice and have gotten very good at it, thank you. Sometimes, though, there’s not that much fun to be had.

I think most people can overlook “goofs” in a movie, if said movie is entertaining and they don’t pull you out of the story. Hell, sometimes even after I’ve seen the movie a couple times I was having such a blast I don’t even notice the goof until it is pointed out to me. In no way does it lower my opinion of the movie or entertainment value. If you look up The Dark Knight on the IMDB, there are literally over a hundred “goofs” listed. I didn’t notice them the first time I saw it, nor the fifteenth time I watched it on Blu-ray.

Unfortunately, I wasn’t having fun watching Wreckage.  If Aaron Paul hadn’t been in the movie, I  would have turned it off right after a scene I’ll explain after the jump, about ten minutes in–excuse me, there’s two pre-credit scenes that are both shot in wildly varying styles, 15 years apart, than ran an actual ten minutes before the opening credits. The first looked terrible, but at least it made sense (more or less) when replayed later in the film, with what passes for a reveal in Wreckage. So make that about twenty minutes in, after the male lead and his girlfriend decide to (I think) hop in his car and go party for the weekend. I can’t tell if they’re supposed to be in high school (probably not, since they easily obtained alcohol) college age, or mid-twenties, but it really doesn’t matter. I figured it was only about 80 minutes long, and Aaron Paul Aaron Paul’s character was still alive, and there was supposed to be a scene where someone was killed by a truck being dropped on them, with over-the-top gory results, and a character was also supposed to die by having their head split in half vertically with a weapon.

OK, back to the scene where I re-calibrated my already-low expectations. The male lead (supposed to be a gear head) is driving his …whatever model that was… car down a country road in the afternoon. Some dick in a flashier car pulls up next to him. They make eye contact  …and start racing!

whoop de doo.

Ooooo! The “drag race” is ON! OK, not really.

Good thing there were no curves coming up, since the male lead was in the oncoming lane. They go faster…and faster… KA-BROOF!  Something blows under the male lead’s hood, smoke starts pouring out, and his engine dies. The guy swears, pulls over, gets out for a look…

like sooooo…

…and he and the three other ” road trip” characters –his  fresh-faced girlfriend, Aaron Paul, and his skanky-dressed girlfriend (I actually was concerned for the actress, as she was wearing one of those white trash ultra-short skirts that look like a denim belt, and she had to walk carefully around dirt roads and later, a junkyard, in heels and that skirt and heels. I hope the wardrobe department sewed some hidden shorts in) appear out of the fucking blue to look under the hood, wincing and cursing at the damage.

Uh… where the fuck did you come from?

What the…

Which would be fine, if he hadn’t been clearly shown completely alone in the fucking car during every single shot, from every single angle. I guess the three of them were hunched down on the floor of the back seat the whole goddamned time. Almost before I can finish the sentence OK, now you’re not even fucking trying, one of them suggests walking to a junkyard “like. less than a mile down the road” to get spare parts. At this point it’s late afternoon, in summer. We then cut to a shot of them approaching the gate to the yard–pitch black out, stars in the sky. SIGH.

That was one long-ass mile.

If Aaron Paul wasn’t in the movie (or they’d killed him off) I would have just stopped the DVD (Strike Three for any other movie, Strike One here since I was trying to keep an open mind) and put it back in the Netflix envelope and sealed it up to put with outgoing  mail. However, Aaron Paul might not be killed off just yet, and there’s all that gore to look forward to! I still had to force myself not to pick up a book or my Kindle Fire or my laptop while watching this one, but kept telling myself the movie was only about 80 minutes long,

Characters get picked off, not in especially interesting, emotional, creative, or surprising ways. I guessed the killer almost as soon as things started to go awry. Strike Two! Probably, everyone else who’d seen more than ten horror movies similar to this did, too. Nothing close to a head-splitting happens, and if a car suddenly got dropped on someone, it was  either presented with no showmanship at all or I missed it.  I was surprised at the fact …SPOILER ALERT (sort of, because really, you’re not going to see the movie after you read this, are you? Please don’t) that Aaron Paul’s character made it through the whole movie, but so did two other characters who were much less interesting. One was badly wounded in the junkyard and when she woke up in the hospital, didn’t appear to have an IV, much less a morphine drip. She looked about the same even though she’d been shot in the stomach (in an earlier scene that made no logical sense, and probably violated the laws of physics) and had gone more or less all night without any medical care other than someone covering up her midsection with their coat.  I’ll give the movie credit for a couple things (after I bitch a little more). I  honestly didn’t have an agenda going in to watch it, other than seeing Aaron Paul and what was supposed to be some OTT gore, though I only got one of those. I’ve seen WAY more gruesome movies that got away with an R-Rating, so releasing it as UNRATED!!!  was clearly just a marketing tactic. I think someone probably went in to the IMDB and spiced up the Parent’s Guide a little, too. Strike 3!

Speaking of shameless marketing ploys, the re-done artwork for the DVD (I never saw it until I had already started to watch the DVD, got a bad feeling,  and decided I should read reviews other than those on the IMDB), gives it a torture porn-y spin that shows a hot half-naked blonde wrapped up with rope and some kind of shrink-wrap and blindfolded, though neither the character nor the scene appears in the movie. Well, at least the freaks who rented it based on that image alone didn’t get off by seeing it in the movie (somehow that doesn’t make me feel better, though).  While I’m bashing the cover art,  prominently displaying  the three lead names along with the TV show/movie you’d recognize them from lost any impact when it boasts Cameron Richardson in the top billing (Harper’s Island)  next to Aaron Paul (Breaking Bad). Hmm, never knew a TV show called Breaking Bad existed, but they got someone who was on HARPER’S ISLAND? Now that I recognize and can totally get behind!

OK, the aforementioned credit for  a couple of elements. The actors (minus those two I mentioned) all did the best with what they had (which wasn’t much). Uh, next element …there was a scene where a victim got knocked out, someone (offscreen,  pushing/pulling it with a stick) putting a noose made of some kind of heavy wire to loop around his neck  then was pulled up with a junkyard mechanical hook and pulley  to strangle/bleed to death. His friends/co-workers rushed to cut him down, and two of them tried to giver him CPR as they were weeping and swearing. As a rule, you don’t see characters going to so much effort to try to save someone in a slasher/horror pic. His feet also stopped kicking before they could get him down, but they still tried. Usually in this type of horror movie, they’ll just freak out/scream and take off (often right into the killer), or some trap set by him (that say, triggers a spear to run them through).  If there’s more than one character, the female will scream a variation of  “No! They can’t die!” and flailing towards the body while another character holds them back and tries to comfort them by saying something like, “It’s too late. They’re gone. We need to get out of here and get help!” Also, it looked to me like they used practical effects.  If there is CGI, it wasn’t shitty or obviously in front of a green screen.

About the only other thing I can credit them for is somehow landing Aaron Paul (based on the filming dates and his haircut, between seasons 2 and 3 of Breaking Bad). This movie came after his role as a vile sexual predator in the Last House on the Left remake**** was shot, too –what the hell happened to his agent? He was great in LHOTL, an interesting casting choice, and even though I’d gotten so attached to him as Jesse, (who didn’t even want to step on a beetle in the BrBa episode “Peek-A-Boo) he was still NOT someone I would have let in our home when he and his three sketchy-looking friends showed during a pouring rainstorm claiming car trouble and wanting to use my phone. He got the worst/most satisfying death in the movie, too, remember?**** He’s a nice guy, easygoing and in demand, it’s possible he was doing a favor to a friend. Breaking Bad had DEFINITELY taken off before he agreed to film it.  Sadly, however, I stand by my opener: even Aaron Paul couldn’t save Wreckage.  Neither could the fireworks.

Here’s the trailer, save your 85 minutes (that will seem more like 185 minutes by the end of the first act).

*pretty long scene, for a post-credits one. I can’t tell if it was done tongue-in-cheek or not. It’d be nice to know, since it would completely change a character that was mainly in the movie for comic relief from a harmless sane one to a total psycho. Oh well, we’re just horror fans, your target demographic. Why gear it towards us?

**Maybe if he stayed in character as Jesse Pinkman. “Hey bitch, you really messed up your fan belt, yo!” “Can you fix it?” “No, but my chemistry teacher from high school has, like, mad skills, yo.” (pulls out his cell phone) “Swear to god, yo, he’s smart enough to like, build us a robot or something, dude. Just chill.” That might have  partially saved the movie for the most part, then if Heisenberg shows up, it would turn into a 10-out-of-10 star entertaining movie. But shockingly, that does not happen.  Late September 2012 Update: Congratulations out to Aaron Paul on his second Emmy win playing Jesse Pinkman! Magnets, bitch!

***mishap is just a tad of an understatement, actually.  Oh, the series of events where the LASIK machine she was already scared of malfunctioned, burned through and destroyed her eye and her hand as she screamed at the top of her lungs, then she got free from the machine, slipped on the teddy bear she had been holding, stumbled and crashed through a plate-glass window and fell 10 stories to her death, and when she hit the top of the car she landed on, her one good eyeball flew out, landed on the pavement then got run over by the front AND back wheels of a car? Yes. Unfortunate mishap, that.

**** Remember THAT shit? That was probably the best scene in the movie. He got a wine bottle smashed on his head by the wife, then she stabbed him with the biggest, sharpest knife in the house, Then got another heavy object broken over his head,  THEN he  got his  broken nose viciously twisted, smashed around again, THEN they shoved his head in the filled sink, in the middle of him drowning they jammed halfway down the garbage disposal, which then got turned on, he started screaming like a woman, and the running sink got clogged with blood, then they hit him again and both of them held his head under the water, THEN the husband took a gigantic claw hammer and buried the claw end in his skull,  finally ending him. I loved the moment when the husband and wife, while holding the monster’s head in the sink, make wordless eye contact. An agreement that they are doing the exact right thing:  no mercy. This motherfucker dies.  They killed the SHIT out of him. I love payoff scenes when an antagonist is so vile and has done so much damage to the protagonists that several family members/victims all kill him/it three different ways in quick succession, because just one person doing it and one method of death is not enough payback. See the impressive, brutal Mother’s Day  remake (2010)  for another satisfying example.

Oh fuck it, here’s the scene-and it’s even uglier than I remember. Plus, Aaron Paul must have been exhausted  by the time they wrapped. At the very least, his throat was probably killing him …that was a lot of screaming to do.

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.