Evil Dead, Splatstick Horror

Evil Dead

Splatstick. That term is almost as funny as Evil Dead itself. The remake, mind you, done by Sam Raimi. I swear, this guy’s got the most morbid sense of humor I’ve ever encountered. And that’s actually pretty nice, you know. Most horror movies try to be genuinely scary and thus wind up taking themselves a little too seriously, but Evil Dead is a drastic turn in a different direction. Well, sort of. It’s a gross-out jump-startle fest that’s meant to be taken with a grain of salt.

Five estranged friends come together to help the sister of the almost main character break her addiction to… to whatever drug it is she’s using. Likely heroine. They vow to keep her there even after she begins withdrawals, because last time they let her go during her healing process, she OD’d  so badly her heart stopped. I’ll list off the characters for your convenience.

  • Mia: Main protagonist. Heroine junkie going cold turkey.
  • David: Mia’s brother. Good intentions, but a little dumb.
  • Eric: Sexy-ass hippie teacher with aviator-looking glasses.
  • Olivia: Voice of reason nurse. Doesn’t last too long.
  • Natalie: David’s girlfriend. Virtually no relevance/purpose.
  • Grandpa the Dog: Is a dog. Doesn’t survive.

Evil DeadMia complains of a foul stench, which causes everyone to blame her withdrawal. Then Grandpa uncovers the secret basement where the prologue exorcism took place. Dead cats are hung from the ceiling, and Eric discovers the Evil Book. And reads from it after taking graphite rubs from some of the pages. Utter. Stupid.

Oh, right, that reminds me. They kept the tree scene, but it’s a little different. It isn’t graphic by any means, but it’s rather… intense. Yeah. Anyhoo, once Mia gets tree’d, she gets possessed and shit starts going down. From this point on, you have to start worrying about jump scares and visual gross-outs. Worse than the vine thing. Much worse.

There are several things about this Evil Dead remake that I really, really like. The first is Jane Levy’s performance. She plays Mia, by the way. And, er, Randal Wilson plays the “Abomination Mia,” but as a singular character, she earns all my love. The expression she makes when telling her brother about the evil presence… Hoo. Gives me the heebie-jeebies just thinking about it.

The second thing I like is that CGI was only used when absolutely necessary. Everything else was done with makeup effects or props. There are a number of CGI scenes, but they never go over-the-top. I mean, over the top with the CGI, not with the violence. All the violence is over the top. Point being, every goddamned scene that wants to make you cringe will make you cringe. See it in theatre.
Evil DeadThe third and final thing I absolutely love is the demon summoned from the souls taken in the cabin. It doesn’t get a lot of screentime, but it’s too many kinds of badass. I can’t stress that enough. Can’t say any more, though; spoiler-heavy talk is a no-no.

I recommend this movie to anyone who wants to say “Eww! Why?!” while laughing their rumps off. It’ll scare you while giving you the giggles. That’s something to be proud of. Evil Dead! Nice one, Raimi.

Julianna Ross of PolicyMic, your review is spectacular. It’s great! Really. I didn’t even notice the lack of god-awful horror movie cliches. The blonde never even gets half-naked, no sex scene, no obligatory sex scene, no legitimate nudity (you’ll notice the final demon has no nipples, just breast-like structures), and the crowning moment of badass is actually pretty damned badass! Sam Raimi, four thumbs up. Full credit. Encore. Er, but the uh, tree scene… Right, well, anyhoo, you should probably rea

d this right here: http://www.policymic.com/articles/34587/evil-dead-movie-review-why-it-s-almost-a-feminist-film

Kill Bill Volume 2, Love Among Murderers

Kill Bill Volume 2

We all know that REAL Tarantino fans would have watched Kill Bill Volume 2 before the first one. That way you get the full effect. And watch out, because this one’s got a pair of big old flashbacks stuck right in the middle. Volume 2’s considerably less violent than the first, focusing more around the Bride and Bill’s relationship. It’s an excellent conclusion, if not a bit cheesy, and bound to please those who enjoyed Volume 1.

After a quick recap of the last few chapters of her story, you find the Bride driving down the road to meet Bill for their final confrontation. Before that happens, it flashes back to the Two Pines Wedding Chapel, where the Bride is rehearsing a wedding with her friends and Tommy, her husband to be. To her surprise, Bill is on the scene. Worrying that he’ll start something up, she makes him promise to be nice. He declines, but says that he’ll be sweet. Enter four members of the Deadly Viper Assassination Squad. They kill everyone in the chapel, save for Beatrice and Bill.

Flashing back to the present, Bill is talking to his brother Buck, warning him that the Bride is going to hunt him down and kill him with a Hattori Hanzo sword. Buck doesn’t seem to care that much, mentioning that he sold the Hattori Hanzo sword that bill gave him for $250.
Kill Bill Volume 2Then you see Buck go to work. Apparently, his job is shitty, he doesn’t like it, yet he does nothing about this because he’s a pushover. Upon returning home, he notices something amiss. Not soon after this, the Bride is shot full of rock salt and buried alive. With only a flashlight and a few inches of space, she must escape her grave of earth and wood.

Second flashback! You get to see a bit of the Bride and Bill before the shooting and scheme and revenge. They appear to be pretty normal for murderous assassins, and very much in love. Bill mentions a Chinese kung-fu master known as Pai Mei, a man who demands respect while giving none to his students until they absolutely earn it. The Bride decides to train under him. Time passes, and under Pai Mei’s cruel tutelage, she learns several combat techniques. In particular, she learns how to punch through a wood board not more than three inches away from her.

And that’s how she escapes. The one-eyed Elle gets a call from Buck, who wants to sell her the Bride’s Hanzo sword. She agrees to pay him one million dollars for it, on the condition that he makes sure the Bride, now revealed to be Beatrix Kiddo, suffers to her last breath. Beatrix manages to see Elle as she arrives at Buck’s trailer, and infiltrates as soon as Buck dies to the Black Mamba hidden in the briefcase full of money.

Kill Bill Volume 2Beatrix enters the trailer to find Elle wielding her katana, and a grand fight ensues. The cyclops reveals that she killed Pai Mei after he plucked her eye out for calling him a senile old fool. So, Beatrix plucks out her other eye and leaves her to die.

Then, finally, she follows a trail of names back to Bill’s final location, the place where she would complete her revenge. To her astonishment, Bill isn’t the only one there. Also present is her daughter, initially thought to be dead. End synopsis for spoilers.

Kill Bill Volume 2 doesn’t feel particularly long, though some of the scenes drag. The action is rather sporadic, as some of the characters change their tones on a dime when Beatrix makes too sudden a move. Exciting to a fault, I suppose. Overall, the conclusion is rather quiet and much more emotional than that of the prior volume. I personally enjoy it, but that may just be because I thoroughly enjoy Tarantino’s works. Maybe a second opinion will help.

Brian’s Film Review Blog can provide just that. The theme of humanity is given priority over the thrill and the gore, though the latter two each have a notable presence. As far as sequels go, Kill Bill Volume 2 seems to have taken a very minor hit in the realm of quality. But that tends to go without saying. Check out the micro-review by Brian here: http://www.bpdreview.com/2009/02/five-really-really-short-reviews-1.html

RoboCop, Big Bad Business

RoboCop is a classic of sci-fi corporate/criminal warfare. With a greater plot and cluster of subplots to direct the audience’s attention, the odds are you’ll have a lot to catch up with if you miss a part. Mixing stop-motion, spiffy makeup and badass outfits, RoboCop is as much about the flash and flair of the cybernetic age as it is about the complex sequence of events that lead up to the death of the a member of Omni Consumer Products.

Dick Jones presents to the chairman of OCP a new line of mechanical law enforcers, the ED-209. During its exhibition, it murders an executive attempting to perform a disarming procedure. Thus, Bob Morton steps in and offers up RoboCop, the revolutionary cyborg police officer. Since nobody is quite willing to sacrifice their body for the sake of this project, Bob turns to the Detroit police. He keeps tabs on high-risk operations, eventually nabbing Alex Murphy as his candidate.

Murphy has a bad run when trying to take down notorious crime lord Clarence Boddicker at an abandoned warehouse, and is shot to death. Bob’s crew claims the corpse and builds it into RoboCop! Crime gradually begins to taper off with this big guy on duty. Only, despite his memory wipe, he’s starting to flash back to his past, little by little.

RoboCopOff on the side, Bob makes some unpleasant remarks about Dick, which earns him an assassination by none other than Clarence himself. Apparently, Dick is in deep with several crime families, and he’s looking to lead the company after the old CEO dies. Ruling with an iron fist, likely enough. Unfortunately for Dick, Murphy’s memories lead RoboCop back to Clarence, which could expose the entire operation.

When RoboCop tries to reveal the video he recorded that documented Clarence’s admission of working with Dick, the secret fourth protocol disables him. Dick then activates ED-209 in an attempt to destroy RoboCop, which fails miserably. But with this protocol in place, how can RoboCop arrest the man who set all the loopholes in place?

That about covers the almost non-spoiler synopsis, anyway. As for the quality of the actors, props, effects… It’s about on-par with what you’d expect from a late 80’s sci-fi movie. Stop-motion, borderline silly lines from the robo-cop, criminals with enough spunk to do stand-up comedy. You get the concept. In this particular movie, however, these things blend and flow; no sudden stops to realize how stupid something is. It’s a classic for a reason, kay?

RoboCopThe final bit of commentary I have for RoboCop is: Doin’ it right. If you don’t know how to go about making a cyborg, do it in as vague a way as possible. That way people can’t say you did it wrong. How clever, says this observer.

For those who are more aware of corporate and political matters, James Berardinelli’s review is the one for you. He describes the movie as a “biting satire of big business practices.” Looking back after having viewed RoboCop again, I certainly do agree. But that hardly matters, since I’m about as aware of business crap as I am of how Mark Wahlberg keeps getting acting jobs. Non sequitur zing! Here’s the link, before I get too distracted: http://www.reelviews.net/php_review_template.php?identifier=1716

Tekkonkinkreet: About Kids, For Older Kids

TekkonkinkreetTekkonkinkreet is very deceptive. The cover makes it look like a kids’ story about two cheerful boys who spend all their time running around a ragged city, having a grand old time. This is incredibly and mind-numbingly incorrect. This movie contains bloody violence, people being shot, people being bashed with poles, burned alive, stabbed with shortswords, and generally transported to places of physical discomfort.

Black and White are two street urchins that make up a gang known as the Cats. Black is savvy, bold, and harsh, while his counterpart, White, is a regular innocent daydreamer. In the run-down city of Treasure Town, they fight to control a turf they call theirs, fending off other gangs, yakuza… even aliens. Several characters in particular are of great importance to the plot and subplot, so they get initial coverage.

Kimura is a young member of the yakuza group trying to claim Treasure Town. He’s spent a fair portion of his life doing dirty work, and he’s starting to grow sick of all the crime. He wants to abandon the yakuza and travel somewhere far away with his pregnant wife, but fate won’t have it. Poor guy.

TekkonkinkreetThe Rat is a mob boss that Kimura works under; a sort of world-weary father figure who’s on his last legs, just trying to do what he can for his organization before his time is up. Surprisingly, he comes off as a very positive protagonist helper sort of character, which makes the impact of what happens to him all the more powerful.

Snake is the antagonist here. He represents an enigmatic though incredibly powerful organization that wants to change Treasure Town into a huge amusement park called Kiddie Kastle. In order to do that, however, he needs to have all competition put down. He uses Kimura and his two alien assassins to strike out against the Cats and the yakuza, deciding that the only way to get them out of the way is to kill them.

Snake is the basis of the plot, because it’s he who uses Kimura’s wife as leverage and orders him to kill his old boss. It’s he who has his two alien assassins try to take the lives of Black and White by gun and blade. This contributes to a fairly terrifying development in Black.

TekkonkinkreetWithin Black is a demon referred to as the Minotaur; a creature of impossible darkness and power that is kept in check by the purifying presence of White. When an assassination attempt pulls Black and White apart, everything starts to look bleak. Black finds the strength to murder the two assassins with whimsical ease, but where his physical struggle ends, his mental struggle begins

That’s about all I can tell you about the plot. Tekkonkinkreet is a very surreal anime movie, one with a unique art style and tone that you really can’t find anywhere else. Many of you will notice an obvious focus towards visual appeal, which may very well have taken away from the complexity of the plot and characters. From a neutral standpoint, I believe that Tekkonkinkreet is a great movie with a lot to offer to its audience, from plot to characters and shiny backgrounds.

Also worth mentioning is that Tekkonkinkreet is a three volume manga series. For those of you who’ve seen the movie and know that cinematics never perfectly reflect their work of origin, the manga might be a good place to turn. I hear there’s even a three-in-one graphic novel for those of you that don’t want to worry about three separate books. Whether you get the movie or the books, I’m sure you’ll enjoy them. If you get nothing, then poo on you.

Kill Bill, but Not Just Yet

Kill BillKill Bill is Quentin Tarantino’s unreasonably corny and ultra-violent revenge action thriller. I’m not sure whether to warn the squeamish or the non-squeamish, considering the violence is both excessively morbid and pretty damned stupid. I suppose I could get into the nitty-gritty of that first, but it would really do the movie justice if I started with plot.

The Bride,” as the character Uma Thurman plays is called, was assaulted on her wedding day by the Deadly Viper Assassination Squad. Though she’s now retired, she used to belong to this squad, working under the guidance of an enigmatic man named Bill.  From initial speculation, The Bride and Bill must have had a thing going, because he crashed her wedding with the rest of his squad, murdered everybody, and shot her (during the later stages of her pregnancy) in the head. However, she didn’t die. She wakes up, finding a metal plate in her head and her baby nowhere to be found, and revenge on her mind.

One by one, The Bride hunts down those responsible for her “murder” and delivers to them the fullest extend of her vengeance. In the much loved Tarantino style, the Deadly Viper Assassins go down in a blaze of bloody fury. Vernita Green’s the first, dying from a knife to her chest in her own home. Not very exciting, but if you look closely enough during the fight, you can see Vernita’s rubber knife flopping around. Heh.

Kill BillThen The Bride goes to Japan to get a sword from Hattori Hanzo. That’s really the only part of the movie that doesn’t involve blood splurting out of ragged katana wounds like a crimson fire hose, or people firing guns through cereal boxes only to have a four inch dagger buried into their chests.

O-Ren Ishii is the half-Chinese half-Japanesese American born mob boss of the Crazy 88. She kills people a lot, which is why she’s still the boss. Unfortunately for her, she took part in the kicking of The Bride’s ass, which  earned her a one way trip to being irrevocably dead. The Bride slaughters every last one of her gangsters with Hanzo’s katana, making blood shoot out everywhere like some morbid new age artist’s masterpiece. Then, afterwards she chops the top of O-Ren Ishii’s skull off so her brain is sticking out. I forgot to mention, Lucy Liu plays O-Ren Ishii, and the skull-chopping scene would have been epic if not for the fact that it was so gosh darned silly.

Flashback (because this is a Tarantino review of a Tarantino movie) to the origin of O-Ren Ishii. Her dark and brooding past: A gangster kills her family, she kills the gangster, then becomes a world-renowned assassin. That catches Bill’s attention, and she becomes a part of his super-secret boy band. The Japanese anime style in which this is presented makes the violence almost more extreme than that of the live action movie itself. It’s awesome if you can get over how overdone it is.

Kill BillSo, uh… That’s about all there is to the movie. Violence, violence, and more silly, willy-nilly violence. I guess if you’re into that sort of thing it makes for a good watch, but I’d guess that most people just watch it for a good laugh if they’re in the mood for one of the crappier Tarantino flicks. I’m not saying this one is horrible, I’m just saying it could afford to be a lot better.

There’s a sequel, you know. The final chapter. If you make it through the first, you’re going to HAVE to see the second, just out of morbid curiosity. Very morbid curiosity. My personal recommendation, don’t see Kill Bill Volume One if you’re going to try to take it seriously. You’ll regret it. You should see it anyway, though, just to lower your standards a tad.