Happy Halloween Horror Month 2019! Today I’m reposting my mini-reviews of The Funhouse & The Monster…
The Funhouse (1981) (also released as Carnival of Terror)
Directed by Tobe Hooper
Starring: Elizabeth Berridge, Cooper Huckabee, Largo Woodruff, Miles Chapin, Kevin Conway, Sylvia Miles, William Finley
Plot Synopsis: (via Wikipedia) The film’s plot concerns four teenagers who become trapped in a dark ride at a local carnival and are stalked by a deformed killer inside.
My Brief Opinion:
Not only do I love 70’s horror… I also love cheesy 80’s horror! So this Tobe Hooper movie seemed right up my alley. PLUS it’s set in a carnival and I always love this sort of setting. And a Funhouse! What’s better than a creepy-ass Funhouse?! Well… damn. This movie isn’t exactly the worst 80’s horror I’ve seen since I’ve seen MANY bad ones – It’s just very forgettable. Maybe I hyped it up too much in my mind. Meh. Watch it only if you’re sad like me and feel the urge to watch every movie ever made in my favorite sort of genres…
My Rating: 5/10
The Monster (2016)
Directed & Written by Bryan Bertino
Starring: Zoe Kazan & Ella Ballentine
Plot Synopsis: (via Wikipedia) Its plot follows a troubled mother and her adolescent daughter who find themselves stranded at night on a country road with a malicious creature hunting them.
My Brief Opinion:
This was fine for a (I’m assuming) low-budget indie “horror”. It’s more of a psychological horror, although you do see the monster (even though it’s symbolic of the mother and her strained relationship with her daughter). If you want a straight-up horror, this one probably won’t be your kind of thing. If you want an indie drama about a mother & daughter with some decent acting (for a “horror” movie), you might like this one. But I gotta admit it’s a little boring & the mother (played by Zoe Kazan) is a little too hateful.
For October Horror Month, I’ll be re-posting some mini-reviews of horror movies that I watched in the past year. Here are my reviews for Cam & The Love Witch…
The Love Witch (2016)
Directed & Written by Anna Biller
Starring: Samantha Robinson, Gian Keys, Laura Waddell, Jeffrey Vincent Parise, Jared Sanford, Robert Seeley, Jennifer Ingrum
Plot Synopsis: (via Wikipedia) The film stars Samantha Robinson as Elaine, a modern-day witch who uses spells and magic to get men to fall in love with her with disastrous results.
My Brief Opinion:
Like American Mary, this was on Film 4 the other week and I was really happy as I’d been intrigued by the look of this one since it first came out. Damn – this was a huge disappointment. While I did indeed love the look of it, I can’t say that I thought the film was good. Film critics will say something about this exploring gender roles or some shit but I thought the film was all style & no substance. However, I appreciate the effort it made on its 60’s aesthetic and the lead actress is definitely beautiful (and half naked quite often, which may be why the positive reviews I’ve seen have mostly been from dudes. Hmm). As a woman, I was hoping to like this a lot more as it’s from a female director and has a strong female role. It’s artsy and pleasing to the eye but the intentionally bad acting and the slow pace made it a chore to even finish it. Still, it has fans and I can see why it would as it’s a unique film. It just didn’t work for me personally, so don’t let my unenthusiastic review keep you from watching it if you like the look of it.
My Rating: 5.5/10
Honestly, this chick is gorgeous. As if she’d need to use spells to get guys to fuck her.
Directed by Daniel Goldhaber
Starring: Madeline Brewer, Patch Darragh, Melora Walters, Devin Druid, Imani Hakim, Michael Dempsey
Plot Synopsis: (via IMDb) Alice, an ambitious camgirl, wakes up one day to discover she’s been replaced on her show with an exact replica of herself.
My Brief Opinion:
I really need to stop trusting tweets from Twitter’s “horror community”. I’ve realized that they rave about every horror movie no matter how good or bad it really is. Cam is yet another Netflix film that everyone thinks is great, probably because they get to watch it at home as part of their subscription, which is a lot easier than dragging your butt off the couch to go the cinema to watch something that’s actually good. Netflix is the new equivalent of “straight to video” in the Eighties. Anyway, after all my bitching I can see why this would have some fans (especially horny guys). And, yes – it’s an original story so I definitely give it credit for that in this day & age of sequels and reboots. It’s a good concept but having a thoroughly annoying character as its focus didn’t really work. I don’t want to hate all the characters in a movie – it just means that I don’t care what happens to them. To be fair, this movie did have a good idea and I think I’d have liked it okay if they’d gone about it differently. Plus the porn thing didn’t work for me, I suppose, since I’m a girl. Hey – whatever happened to Babestation in the UK? Is that still around?? I haven’t been channel surfing at 3am in recent years…
For October Horror Month, I’ll be re-posting some mini-reviews of horror movies that I watched in the past year. Here are my reviews for Better Watch Out & Amber Lake…
Better Watch Out (2016)
Directed by Chris Peckover
Starring: Olivia DeJonge, Levi Miller, Ed Oxenbould, Aleks Mikic, Dacre Montgomery, Patrick Warburton, Virginia Madsen
Plot Synopsis: (via IMDb) On a quiet suburban street, a babysitter must defend a twelve-year-old boy from intruders, only to discover it’s far from a normal home invasion.
My Brief Opinion:
This was an odd one. I was excited about this as I like a good Christmas horror comedy: Gremlins is an all-time favorite & I thought Krampus was a fun film. The marketing was strange for this… I got the impression that it might be another comedy horror such as Krampus but it’s nothing of the sort despite being listed as a “comedy crime horror thriller” on IMDb. Everything I read said to avoid spoilers for this so I’ll not say much about it other than that I absolutely hated the turn that this film took. As I’ve said before, it takes a hell of a lot to offend me but I didn’t like the creepy way this played out. And, as always, I hate movies filled with hateful characters (though the girl wasn’t too bad). I don’t know. This has an okay IMDb rating (as far as horrors go) so clearly some must like it but I can’t for the life of me imagine who as I can think of no one I would recommend this movie to.
Plot Synopsis: (via IMDb) Three half-sisters, after being invited to their father’s lake house to meet him and each other for the first time, are each questioned by a local sheriff to explain the events that took place leading up to the discovery of their father floating dead in the lake.
My Brief Opinion:
This was one of those movies with a decent story idea but truly hateful characters. The low budget didn’t help either, I suppose. Actually, one of the Ambers was okay (Mekenna Melvin). The girls are all named Amber because their father is an asshole and you wouldn’t blame any of them for wanting to possibly kill him. The movie uses the Rashômon concept of telling the same story from different perspectives. But that of course worked in the hands of Akira Kurosawa as he was a genius and one of the greatest filmmakers of all time. Amber Lake is no Rashômon! Obviously. Um… I don’t actually know what to say about this. Here’s the plot synopsis from IMDb: “Three half-sisters, after being invited to their father’s lake house to meet him and each other for the first time, are each questioned by a local sheriff to explain the events that took place leading up to the discovery of their father floating dead in the lake.”
It’s on Amazon Prime in the UK if you’re interested but do yourself a favor & watch Rashômon instead. Or any Kurosawa film. To be fair, though, I’ve seen worse “horror” films (well, this is more of a “mystery thriller”) with much bigger budgets. I guess Amber Lake did have some potential and it had a decent ending. And I hated the baddie in Better Watch Out FAR more than any characters in this.
Welcome to Day Two of my annoying End-Of-Year Lists! Today I’m ranking the thirteen books that I read in 2016 (but it’s still a Top Ten as I didn’t really like the bottom three very much). As always, I rank things according to my own personal taste. For example, number 13 is a far better & more well-written book than 12 or 11 – I just enjoyed 12 & 11 slightly more. I’m also quite proud that I somehow managed to review them all (poorly, though – I suck at book reviews even more than movie reviews) so I’ve included the links to what I said about each.
So now, counting down to my very favorite, these are all the books that I read in 2016:
Can I just say that, while I highly recommend at least my top seven, I want to give a special mention to Joe Hill’s 20th Century Ghosts. I’ve now read several of his books after wanting to find out if he was as good as his father (Stephen King). I’ve really enjoyed all his books so far but, finally, 20th Century Ghosts is one that I really loved. As with all short story collections, some stories are much stronger than others. But the best ones are fantastic!
**See you for two more end-of-year lists over the next two days. Tomorrow I’ll be posting a list of My Top Ten Movies Watched At Home In 2016 then will end on Friday with My Top Ten Movies Released In 2016 (going by UK release dates). 🙂
I have four quickie kids’ film reviews for you today! I promise they’ll be quick. Why? Because I barely remember three of them.
I’ve just seen Kung Fu Panda 3 so that review will be a little longer than the rest. You see, I get a little annoyed when I look at the pages on my blog & see that I still have some movies that I watched but never reviewed on the 2014 page & the 2015 page (never mind the 2016 page! I’m way behind). It’s especially annoying that the only movies that I actually went to the cinema to see but then didn’t review were these three 2014 kids’ movies. They were so “meh” that I guess I couldn’t be bothered.
So, here we go! I’ll finally say something about them two years later. I’m limiting myself to one paragraph each for the three older ones (plus my kid’s opinion on each). But let’s start with the longer review for the most current film (and by far the best of the four)…
Kung Fu Panda 3 (2016)
Directed by Jennifer Yuh Nelson & Alessandro Carloni
Starring: Jack Black, Angelina Jolie, Dustin Hoffman, J. K. Simmons, James Hong, Jackie Chan, Lucy Liu, Seth Rogen, David Cross, Bryan Cranston, Kate Hudson
From: DreamWorks Animation
Plot Synopsis: (via IMDB) Continuing his “legendary adventures of awesomeness”, Po must face two hugely epic, but different threats: one supernatural and the other a little closer to his home.
I actually thought this movie was really good. As far as DreamWorks movies go, at least. I’ve stated here before how I see DreamWorks movies as strictly kids’ films while I view Pixar & most Disney ones as just being great films overall for every age group. Like, I wouldn’t feel weird discussing both WALL-E & Citizen Kane in the same breath. Except, I’ve not seen Citizen Kane… Never mind.
What I liked about Kung Fu Panda 3 is that, while it has a message as does every kids’ movie, it didn’t let the message get in the way of the movie being fun and actually making kids laugh. The previous movie we went to as a family was Disney’s Zootropolis (aka Zootopia) & I did NOT expect to think a DreamWorks film was far better than a Disney one! But that’s the case this time.
Kung Fu Panda 3 hasn’t forgotten that, first & foremost, it’s meant to be aimed at kids. I felt that Zootropolis completely forgot this while trying to drive its message home with a convoluted plot and uninteresting characters. But Kung Fu Panda 3 isn’t dumbed down for kids, either, which is a big pet peeve of mine. Kids aren’t stupid & shouldn’t be treated that way. The jokes were all age-appropriate without being dumb but also not being too grown-up like things such as the Godfather references in Zootropolis.
I have to admit that Kung Fu Panda 3 was even enjoyable to me as an adult who probably wouldn’t watch many animated films not made by Disney or Pixar if I didn’t have a kid. I do love Jack Black (I don’t care about the haters!) and think he’s been perfect as Po in all these films. I think all the characters are strong & really like the setting and the look. In this one, the baby pandas are adorable & even had grumpy me going “aww”. The baddie in this one was also pretty cool, as were his storyline & all the chi stuff. Plus I’m a sucker for the color green. Here’s the baddie:
I’d even go so far as to say that I like the Kung Fu Panda movies the most out of all the ones made by DreamWorks. I find Shrek a little overrated and I’d say that the How To Train Your Dragon films are possibly their “best” work but they’ve never really clicked with me at all (or the kid). But all three of us have enjoyed each of the three Kung Fu Panda movies.
My Rating: 7/10
My Kid’s Opinion: She liked this movie a lot & giggled through the whole thing. She was far more enthusiastic about this one than she was after walking out of Zootropolis, which she called “not very good”. Her favorite part was Po doing his “chitty chitty chat chat” thing that she’s been annoying us with ever since (thanks a lot, Jack Black!). She also loved the baby pandas, especially when they ate everything in sight. She’s not watched the first two films since we went to see them but this one has renewed her interest (and mine!) in watching those again. I’d happily pick them up on DVD now – I think this is a very solid trilogy from DreamWorks.
The House Of Magic (2013) (US Title: Thunder And The House Of Magic)
Directed by Jeremy Degruson & Ben Stassen
Starring: Cinda Adams, George Babbit, Murray Blue, Kathleen Browers, Joey Camen, Grant George, Shanelle Gray, Nina Grillo, Kyle Hebert
From: nWave Pictures, StudioCanal
Plot Synopsis: (via Wikipedia) The House of Magic is a 2013 3D Belgian-French computer-animated fantasy-comedy film. The film focuses on an abandoned young cat who seeks shelter in the home of an old, retired magician with his automatons and gizmos.
I admit to not fully remembering the plot of this strange little Belgian/French film (which was in English but I assume originally in French?) two years later. But I clearly remember the kind old magician, the cat he adopts, and the man’s REALLY cool magical toys (automatons and gizmos) such as that adorable lightbulb dude in the photo at the very top of this post. I also remember some great songs being used quite prominently (The Lovecats by The Cure & the always catchy House Of Fun by Madness). It’s not some big Disney, DreamWorks, etc production and that does show but I still thought that the characters, the music, and especially those inventive toys were pretty damn good! I wonder if those who made this have gone on to do more animated films? I’d like to see this sort of thing with a bigger budget. It’s a very sweet & charming film from what I remember. I wouldn’t complain at being made to watch it again.
My Rating: 6/10
My Kid’s Opinion: She doesn’t now remember much of this but does remember all those really cool toys that I mentioned above. She said she’d like to watch it again too (fine with me – I’ll pick up the DVD if I see it).
Rio 2 (2014)
Directed by Carlos Saldanha
Starring: Anne Hathaway, Jesse Eisenberg, Leslie Mann, Rodrigo Santoro, Andy García, Bruno Mars, Jemaine Clement, Kristin Chenoweth, George Lopez, Tracy Morgan, will.i.am, Jamie Foxx
From: Blue Sky Studios
Plot Synopsis: (via IMDB) It’s a jungle out there for Blu, Jewel and their three kids after they’re hurtled from Rio de Janeiro to the wilds of the Amazon. As Blu tries to fit in, he goes beak-to-beak with the vengeful Nigel, and meets his father-in-law.
Wow. I really remember very little of this except that I think it was about saving the rainforest, right? I don’t remember the first one either – I only know that these Rio movies are very bright & colorful and have some big musical numbers that are okay. This is from Blue Sky, whose movies are quite similar to DreamWorks in that I see them strictly as films aimed at kids and only truly enjoyed by kids. The only Blue Sky one I really liked was The Peanuts Movie but that’s because I’m obsessed with Peanuts & the movie stayed very true to its spirit. Don’t get me wrong – these Rio movies aren’t bad. They’re very pretty to look at & not the worst way to spend a couple of hours with your kid but I don’t think they’re very memorable. I’d have to say that the Ice Age films are a stronger series from this studio as the characters are better. Also, could they get a more annoying set of voice actors for Rio? Anne Hathaway, Jesse Eisenberg, Leslie Mann & Kristin Chenoweth(!!)?? Ugh. I think I remember Eisenberg’s bird kids in this being quite cute, though…
My Rating: 5.5/10
My Kid’s Opinion: She says she liked this although she couldn’t remember the specifics of it now. She said “I liked the pink frog!” (Ugh. Kristin Chenoweth.) I think it’s proof that the Rio films are pretty & enjoyable enough while being watched but are ultimately forgettable.
Muppets Most Wanted (2014)
Directed by James Bobin
Starring: Ricky Gervais, Ty Burrell, Tina Fey, The Muppets
From: Walt Disney Pictures
Plot Synopsis: (via IMDB) While on a grand world tour, The Muppets find themselves wrapped into an European jewel-heist caper headed by a Kermit the Frog look-alike and his dastardly sidekick.
I grew up with The Muppet Show so I of course love The Muppets. Who doesn’t?! The Muppets movie in 2011 (2012 here) was pretty good. It was fun and managed to kind of capture the spirit of the original show (plus I like Amy Adams). But I found Muppets Most Wanted really disappointing even though it was great, as always, to see these beloved characters. The problem was the messy, boring story and the fact that I really didn’t like the main real-life stars. Ricky Gervais, Ty Burrell & Tina Fey? How do you go from Amy Adams to some TV stars? Never been a fan of any of them (in fact, who is Ty Burrell anyway? That prick in Dawn Of The Dead??). I just think they made a real mess of this movie – I’ll stick to watching my DVDs of the original show.
My Rating: 5.5/10
My Kid’s Opinion: She remembers this one more than I thought she would! She remembers the plot & the evil Kermit with the mole. She likes The Muppets & says she liked this movie. Maybe I should give it another try…
This is her favorite Muppet-related thing. I agree:
**I’d like to finally take this opportunity to draw attention to a favorite blogger of mine here who does fantastic paintings of The Muppets (and loads of other awesome artwork with a focus on pop culture – but I first started following him because of The Muppets). Please have a look at Scott’s site at Mojoswork.com. You can see all his Muppets artwork HERE.
Scott – I’m sorry it took me two years to finally get around to doing this review! Let me know if you want me to add any more info or if you want me to include a specific Muppets image you’ve done. 🙂 Oh! Scott does a lot of wrestling & sports stuff as well and I thought his History Of The WWF was absolutely amazing despite knowing nothing of that sort of thing myself (MIB – you should really check this out).
I figure I should end this with some Madness since I have House Of Fun in my head after talking about The House Of Magic. I miss this era of music!