Review: Bates Motel 1.7 “The Man In Number 9”


Really, Bates Motel?

After all that build-up and all the dramatic cliffhangers, that’s how you resolve the Deputy Shelby subplot?

Last week’s episode of Bates Motel ended with the evil Deputy Shelby (Mike Vogel) getting shot by Dylan (Max Thieriot) and ending up lying dead at the feet of Norma (Vera Farmiga) and Norman (Freddie Highmore).  How, we wondered, would the Bates Family get out of this one?  How would they handle the suspicions of Sheriff Romero (Nestor Carbonell)?  How could they possibly get anyone to believe what had happened, especially since Shelby’s sex slave had disappeared into the woods?

Well, that was all resolved in the episode’s first five minutes.  Romero showed up, believed everything that Norma told him, and agreed to help cover up the truth.  Problem solved.

Oh, and the missing sex slave?

Well, who knows?

To be honest, nobody seems to be too concerned about her.

Despite the fact that the rest of the episode was actually pretty well-done, it was all overshadowed by the anti-climatic resolution of the whole Shelby subplot.  (Or, as it was referred to in this episode, “The Deputy Shelby scandal.”)  So far, Dylan, Norman, and Norma have — individually and together — murdered four people and they’ve managed to rather easily get away with it despite the fact that they live in a town where criminals are burned alive in the town square.

(Are we ever going to hear about that again?)

Anyway, once Romero let the Bates Family off the hook, Bates Motel got back to normal.  In preparation for the grand opening of the Bates Motel, Norma attempted to pass out some brochures at a few local businesses but was told that nobody wanted anything to do with the Bates Motel because of the “Deputy Shelby scandal.”  I have to say that I laughed out loud when I heard that phrase.  I just imagined people driving by the Bates Motel and saying, “Did you hear about the Deputy Shelby scandal?”

However, there is a glimmer of sordid hope on the horizon when a guy named Jake (played by Jere Burns) shows up at the motel.  As Jake explains, he had a standing reservation with the motel’s former owner for a block a rooms every few weeks.  It’s pretty obvious from the first minute Jake shows up that he’s evil and creepy but Norma needs the money…

Meanwhile, Norman has perhaps the worst week of his life.  He discovers a stray dog and starts feeding it.  He even names it Juno.  (At first, I assumed that he had named it after the Ellen Page movie but I doubt Norma would have allowed him to see that film.)   Then, Bradley (Nicola Paltz) rejects him, explaining that their sexual encounter was a one time thing.  An upset Norman walks back to the motel and arrives just in time to see Juno get run over by a passing car!

Picking up his dead dog, Norman announces that he’s going to see Emma’s father the taxidermist and that’s where this episode ends.

There was a lot to like in last night’s episode.  Jere Burns gave an appropriately creepy performance as Jake and Vera Farmiga continues to find the perfect balance between melodrama and camp.  However, the rather convenient resolution of the “Deputy Shelby scandal” overshadowed the entire episode.  Normally, I enjoy the melodramatic shifts on tone that have come to define Bates Motel but, during last night’s episode, it was all just a bit too much.

Random Observations:

  • Jere Burns certainly is a creepy looking guy, isn’t he?  He looks and occasionally sounds like he could be Christopher Walken’s younger brother.
  • I say this nearly every week but Olivia Cooke really does deserve her own show where she plays a high school student who solves crimes in her spare time.  Her scenes with Vera Farmiga were a lot of fun.
  • Norma’s sex talk with Norman was performed to squirm-inducing perfection by Farmiga and Freddie Highmore.
  • It looks like Bradley might like Dylan and who can blame her when Dylan’s played by Max Thieriot?
  • When Norman was imagining being in bed with Bradley early in this episode, I briefly thought the show was acknowledging what I initially suspected — that Norman and Bradley’s earlier encounter took place solely in Norman’s mind.  However, it turns out I was wrong on both counts.
  • I wanted to cry when Norman’s dog got run over.

Poll: Which Films Are You Most Looking Forward To Seeing In June?

Last month’s results can be seen here.

As always, you can vote for up to 4 films and write-ins are allowed.

Happy voting!

I know that most people will probably be voting for either Man of Steel or World War Z but for me, June is all about The Bling Ring and This Is The End.

Trailer: Pacific Rim (Wonder-Con Exclusive)


July 12, 2013 will be the date that will go down in otaku history when anime and live-action finally come together to prove that dreams of a live-action versions of some of the most beloved anime titles can work outside the animator’s studio. Guillermo Del Toro may not admit it but this Wonder-Con exclusive trailer for his upcoming Pacific Rim is chock full of anime influences.

Giant mecha aka Giant robots piloted by humans: CHECK

Giant monsters alien or interdimensional in origin: CHECK

Humanity brought to the brink of extinction and living in fortified cities: CHECK

It sounds like the basic outlines for anime of the past 30 or so years. There’s a bit of Neon Genesis Evangelion. There’s definitely a healthy dosage of the Mazinger Z DNA in this film. We can’t forget the classic Voltron that introduced many young people in the West in the 80’s to the joy of ultra-violent anime. Outside of anime there’s the Ultraman versus  kaiju live-action Saturday serials that continues to be popular in Japan to this day and was a staple of any growing boy’s entertainment agenda on Saturday mornings.

Whether this film lives up to the hype it’s been gaining since the first teaser was shown late last year is still an unanswered question, but for fans of action anime this film looks like a love-letter to us and everyone else should just hang on for the ride whether they want to or not.

Plus, for those not steeped in otaku culture it has something for you as well: Jax Teller, Luther, Clay Morrow and Charlie “Kitten Mittens” Kelly.

On July 12, 2013 will be the date to cancel the apocalypse.

Source: Joblo Movie Network

6 Trailers For The End of April

Hi!  It’s time for another edition of Lisa Marie’s Favorite Grindhouse and Exploitation Film Trailers!

1) Turbulence 3: Heavy Metal (2001)

Say what you will about this trailer and the idea of having a concert on an airplane, Slade Craven is a great name.

2) Harrad Summer (1974)

This film is a sequel to the Harrad Experiment, which I reviewed earlier this year. From what I can gather, this film is about the values of the future challenging the values of today…

3) Parasite (1982)

Speaking of the values of the future…

4) Score (1974)

“Amyl Nitrate?  What’s this?”  For some reason, that line made me laugh.

5) Screamtime (1983)

This trailer is actually scared me a little.  It was the puppet.

6) In Love (1983)

In Love was apparently an attempt to make a “real film” that just happened to feature hardcore sex scenes.  For that reason, the trailer’s been edited but you can probably guess what’s going on behind those “Scene Missing” cards.  I just like the trailer because of the theme song.

What do you think, Trailer Possum?*

Possum Charlie—-

*The Trailer Kitties have the week off.


What Lisa Marie Watched Last Night #80: A Mother’s Rage (dir by Oren Kaplan)

Last night, I turned the TV over to the Lifetime Movie Network and I watched A Mother’s Rage.

Why Was I Watching It?

First off, it was on the Lifetime Movie Network and, as anyone who knows me can tell you, I am an LMN fanatic.  Seriously, there’s nothing I love more than watching a good, silly Lifetime movie.

Secondly, just the title, A Mother’s Rage, is so melodramatic and over-the-top.  Just hearing that title, I knew this movie would be the epitome of everything I usually love about a good Lifetime movie.

What Was It About?

After her daughter is murdered, Rebecca Mayer (Lori Loughlin) sets out to find the man responsible.  Driving across a desolate desert highway and hallucinating that her daughter (Jordan Hinson) is still alive, Rebecca murders every man that she comes across.

Fortunately, all of these men happen to be rather scummy but still, the local police are determined to catch Rebecca and stop her trail of a murder.  Sheriff Emily Tobin (Kristen Dalton) pursues Rebecca with the help of her own teenaged daughter (played by Alix Elizabeth Gitter).

What Worked?

Lori Loughlin and Jordan Hinson were well cast as mother and ghost daughter and, for the first 20 minutes or so, the movie did a pretty good job of keeping you guessing as to whether or not Hinson was real or if she was just a hallucination.

Over the course of the film, Loughlin did murder a few people but, fortunately, everyone she killed was so sleazy that she still managed to remain a sympathetic character.

What Did Not Work?

Even by the melodramatic standards of Lifetime, A Mother’s Rage was not a very believable story.  Plot holes abound and the film’s final scenes were so sloppily edited that the film’s  imdb message board is full of people still trying to figure out what exactly happened at the end of the movie.

One huge issue that I had with this film was that Lori Loughlin essentially murders several people in broad daylight and yet, somehow, there are never any witnesses.  Seriously, Loughlin apparently managed to find the least traveled highway in America.

Then again, it was a Lifetime movie and therefore, it all worked.  Criticizing a Lifetime movie for being melodramatic is like criticizing a kitten for being cute.

“Oh my God!  Just like me!” Moments

Lori Loughlin’s daughter is described as being an aspiring dancer who had a massively overprotective mother and, seriously, how could I not relate to that?  Meanwhile, Kristen Dalton’s daughter spends her time stealing crime scene photographs and trying to solve crimes and again, how could I not relate?  Seriously, there were times when this entire film seemed like one big “Oh my God!  Just like me!” moment.

Lessons Learned

I will apparently watch anything that shows up on Lifetime.

Grindhouse Classics : “Pick-Up”


One word that doesn’t usually (if ever) come to mind when you’re talking about the drive-in fare churned out by Crown International Pictures in the 1970s is weird.

Yeah, okay, fair enough — I suppose just about any CIP flick looks a little bit “weird” to a contemporary audience, given that they’re all very much  products of their time, but honestly, pretty much everything released under their banner boils down, story-wise,  to a simple morality play with a generous helping of sex (always) and violence (sometimes) thrown in — and more often than not, as with most exploitation fare, the most common themes in the Crown back catalog are “don’t set your sights above your station in life” and “don’t talk to strangers.”

At first glance, 1975’s Pick-Up, directed (and produced, and shot, and edited) by Bernard Hirschenson, would appear to fit comfortably into the “don;t talk to strangers” category, since it’s the story of two footloose-and-fancy-free hippie chicks named Carol (Jill Senter) and Maureen (Gini Eastwood — no relation, at least that I know of, to you-know-who), who hitch a ride across Florida with a far-out guy named Chuck (Alan Long) who is, like them, at loose ends and just “taking in what the world has to offer, one day at a time, man” in his fuck-pad RV.

Come on — he’s gotta be trouble, right? I mean, he’s an Aries, and according to the supposedly-metaphysically-tuned-in Maureen, Aries guys are bad news these days because of some state of flux going on in the universe or something. Still, the girls hop in for a ride anyway —


Trouble eventually does come their way, but Chuck isn’t the cause. After a deluge, the RV gets stuck in the Everglades mud, and that’s when things, as I promised at the outset, get weird. Chuck and Carol get busy screwing their brains out, but Maureen in between reading star charts and tarot cards and having waking (and sleeping) visions of her childhood, is visited by Pythia, a priestess of Apollo, who gives her a sacred dagger for some reason or other. And if you think that sounds strange, wait until the slimy politician and latex-faced clown show up.

Okay, yeah, none of this makes a tremendous amount of narrative sense — or even common sense — but it sure is interesting. It turns out that Maureen was molested by a priest as a child (guess they were into girls in the ’70s) and this is at the root of her psychological disturbances, which culminate in quite possibly the most bizarre  scene (of many contenders) in the film, where she and Chuck finally “make it” on a stone altar with the clown, the politician, and the priestess watching on. And all this right after Chuck kills a wild boar (be warned, this film does feature genuine animal slaughter, although hardly of Cannibal Holocaust proportions) What does it all mean? Who knows. And honestly, who really cares? Pick-Up was clearly made with the stoner crowd in mind and, frankly, was probably made by members of the stoner crowd, as well. It’s all good, man. Just go with the flow.


There are some notable things to point out in relation to this film while we have a moment — the Florida Everglades locations are authentic, and were probably an absolute bitch to film in (good thing everybody was probably high), and both Senter and Eastwood are not only reasonably talented actresses, but absolutely gorgeous, as well — yet neight ever made another film. Go figure.


Like most of the Crown stuff we’ve covered both here and at my “main” site — , for those of you who don’t know — Pick-Up is available on Mill Creek’s 12-disc, 32-movie “Drive-In Cult Classics” DVD boxed set collection. There are no extras, but the remastered widescreen transfer looks surprisingly crisp and clean and the mono sound is, at the very least, perfectly adequate. This may not be the best film in the collection by any stretch, nor is it the most fun, but it’s definitely one of the most interesting, and it’s well worth the 80 minutes of your life it takes to watch it.

Is Upstream Color The Best Film of 2013?

(Minor Spoilers Ahead)

Is Upstream Color, the new film from Shane Carruth, the best film of 2013?

Realistically, it’s probably too early to say.  After all, it’s only April and there’s a lot of films waiting to be released.  However, it’s hard for me to imagine how a more thought-provoking, haunting, and occasionally frustrating film could be released this year.

Don’t get me wrong.  A lot of viewers aren’t going to embrace this low budget, independently made film.  Some will dismiss Upstream Color as being pretentious or they’ll incorrectly assume that the film is all about style over substance.  Even in this age of Tree of Life and Beasts of the Southern Wild, Upstream Color is not the type of film that’ll be embraced come Oscar time.

But no matter.  As of right now, Upstream Color is the best film of 2013.

Director Shane Carruth made his directorial debut in 2004 with Primer.  Made on a budget of $7,000 and filmed in my hometown of Dallas, Primer was a low-key but intriguing film about time travel.  It was a science fiction film that succeeded not through CGI but through an intelligent presentation of ideas.  I have to admit that I’ve watched Primer a handful of times and I still don’t quite understand everything that happens in the film.  However, that’s a huge part of the film’s appeal.

The same can be said of Upstream Color.

Playing out like a mash-up of David Cronenberg and Terrence Malick and told through a series of jump cuts, Upstream Color begins with Kris (Amy Seimitz), a successful young woman who is kidnapped by an enigmatic figure known as the Thief (Thiago Martins).  The Thief uses a drug made out of orchid larvae to hijack her mind.  Once she has given him all of her money, the Thief vanishes while the larva continues to grow in Kris’s body.

A mysterious man identified in the credits as The Sampler (played quite brilliantly by Andrew Sensenig) comes to Kris’s aid.  As Kris lies unconscious in a tent, The Sampler cuts the larva out of her body and then puts it into the body of a pig.  The pig is set loose in a pen with hundreds of other pigs who apparently carry larvae in their bodies.  Kris, meanwhile, wakes up the next morning in her car with no memory of why she’s covered in blood, why she’s lost her job, or why her bank account is now empty.

One jump cut later and suddenly, we see Kris riding a train through downtown Dallas.*   We’re not sure how much time has passed but we can see that Kris has changed.  With her hair cut short, Kris sits huddled in the back of the train.  Also on the train is Jeff (Shane Carruth).  Despite Kris’s efforts to be anonymous, Jeff notices her and eventually manages to strike up a conversation with her.

Kris finds herself oddly drawn towards Jeff, especially after he confesses to her that he once stole a lot of money from his employers and he’s not quite sure why he did it.  Not realizing that they’re both victims of the Thief, Jeff and Kris fall in love.  Fortunately, Carruth and Seimetz have a palpable chemistry.  You believe both of them as wounded souls and as lovers.  As a result, even as the film gets more and more surreal, you still care about these two characters and their relationship.

While Kris and Jeff fall in love and struggle to understand what happened to them in the past, the Sampler continues to appear throughout the film as a detached observer.  Sometimes, he’s recording the sounds of nature.  At other times, he’s looking over his pigs.  And then, sometimes, he’s just there.  For his first few appearances, the Sampler seems to be almost a benevolent figure but, halfway through the film, he performs one action that forces you to reconsider everything that you’ve previously seen him do.

Who is the Sampler and how is he connected to the Thief and Kris and Jeff?  This is one of the many questions that the film poses and, quite frankly, the answer is not easy to find.  Don’t get me wrong, the answer is there.  You just have to be willing to look for it.  Carruth, a former engineer, directs with an eye for the reoccurring patterns of nature. (For instance, the curve of the larva in Kris’s bloodstream is later replicated by the sight of Kris and Jeff curled up in each other’s arms.)  As opposed to the very verbal Primer, Upstream Color is a film almost totally told through image and, as a result, one has to be willing to be an observant viewer in order to learn the answers to the film’s questions.  The film’s final 15 minutes features no dialogue, just images scored to Carruth’s propulsive electronic score.  It’s a brave move on Carruth’s part and, even more importantly, it works brilliantly.

As you might guess from reading this review, Upstream Color is not an easy film to understand.  As a filmmaker, Carruth emphasizes the surreal and the obscure but, much like David Lynch, he comes up with images that are so haunting that you can’t look away even if you don’t fully understand what you’re seeing.  Upstream Color may, at times, be an obscure film but it’s compelling in its obscurity.  This is a film that is meant to be seen with four of your smartest friends.  This is a film that is meant to be debated and argued about.

In other words, it may very well be the best film of 2013.


*On a personal note, I do have to admit that I loved seeing how much of this movie was filmed at places that I either go to or drive by every single day.

Review: Oblivion (dir. by Joseph Kosinski)


Good science-fiction films tend to be far and few between. Most of the time the ideas and ambition to make a good or great science-fiction film are right there on paper, but loses much once people actually have to create it for others to see. This puts the latest sci-fi film from Tron: Legacy filmmaker Joseph Kosinski in a weird position. His follow-up to the underwhelming sequel to the classic sci-fi film Tron is called Oblivion and it manages to be thought-provoking and entertaining, yet also have a sense of a been there and done that to the whole proceeding.

Oblivion quickly gets the introductions to the film’s backstory out of the way. Earth was attacked 60 years ago by aliens who were called “Scavengers” (Scavs for short) who destroyed the moon thus causing massive tectonic upheaval and gigantic tsunamis to ravage the planet. Humanity in its desperation would fight back with the only weapons it had left once the aliens began landing troops and that would be the nuclear kind. The planet is now devastated with the surviving population leaving Earth for a new colony on Saturn’s moon of Titan and in a massive tetrahedron space station orbiting Earth simply called “The Tet”.

It’s the story of the technician pair left behind to provide support for the array of armed drones who patrol Earth for any remaining Scavs and protect the reclamation factories that has been removing the remaining resources that the planet has to be used as an energy source for the Titan colony. This pair of technician are Jack (Tom Cruise) and Victoria (Andrea Riseborough) who live in a towering base above the clouds. Jack does the dirty work by flying patrols in the area that encompasses what used to be the East Coast of the United States while Victoria (who also happens to be Jack’s lover) provides comm and technical support back at their base.


Victoria can’t wait to finish their five-year stint on Earth and with two weeks left before they can rejoin the rest of humanity on Titan her dream is coming closer. Yet, Jack doesn’t seem to want to leave Earth behind. He has begun to dream about Earth before the war that he should have no memory of. First they’re dreams while he’s asleep but as the film shows it soon begins to invade and distract his waking hours as well.

It’s during one such mission where he comes across the a sudden arrival of a human spacecraft with surviving humans aboard that his dreams become reality. A woman he has dreamed off that he’s never met is one of the survivors (played by Olga Kurylenko) and she becomes the key to unlocking the secret that’s been kept from him about the true nature of the war that devastated Earth sixty years past and why he continues to have flashes of memories that he should never have had.

Oblivion sounds like it’s original at first glance, but as the story moves along we begin to see influences (at times outright plot point lifts) from past innovative sci-fi films such as Moon and The Matrix. While Kosinski (who co-wrote the film as well as directed it) does put his own spin on these ideas it’s not enough to fully distinguish the film from past sci-fi films which did them better. Oblivion is not bad by any means, but it fails to stretch beyond it’s influences that would’ve made it a great film instead of just being a good one. It doesn’t help that the script lags behind Kosinski’s talent for creating some beautiful images and vistas. The world-building he does with art director Kevin Ishioka manages to make a devastated Earth look serenely beautiful which when paired with cinematographer Claudio Miranda’s panoramic sweeps of the Icelandic location shoot make Oblivion one of the best looking film of 2013.

Yet, the script tries too hard to explore some heavy themes such as the nature of memory and identity. The film doesn’t explore them enough to make this film come off as something heavy sci-fi like Solaris. It just teases the audience enough to start a spark that could lead to conversations afterwards. The action that does punctuate the more introspective sections of the film does come off quite well despite coming only few at a time and not for any extended length.


What seems to hold the film together outside of it’s visuals would be the performance of the cast which sees Tom Cruise doing a very workman-like performance as Jack. We’ve seen him do this sort of performance time and time again that it seems to be second-nature to him by now and something audiences come to expect now. Even Morgan Freeman as an aged resistance fighter lends a bit of serious gravitas to the film whenever he’s on-screen. But it’s the performances of the two female leads that sells the film despite it’s flaws. Olga Kurylenko has less to work with in the role of Jack’s mystery woman Julia. What she does get she does so with a level of empathy that instantly sells the notion that Jack and her were destined to be together despite the vast gulf of time and space.

The stand-out performance comes from Andrea Riseborough as Jack’s lover and partner Victoria. Where Jack comes off as restrained chaotic glee who marvels at the sight he sees every day he’s out on patrol the opposite is Victoria. Her organized and reserved demeanor comes off as sexy in a cold and calculated way, yet just behind that British reserve we see glimpses of her hanging on by a thread at the chaos she sees in Jack. Andrea Riseborough plays Victoria so well that every scene she’s in she steals it from Cruise. Her performance was all about slight changes to her body movement, a quick glance that speaks volumes of what she’s thinking. While this film may not make Riseborough an outright star it will get her noticed by other filmmakers soon enough.

With the summer blockbuster season of 2013 coming closer like a freight train with the approach of Iron Man 3 it’s a good thing that Oblivion was released weeks before this hectic season. For despite it’s flaws in it’s script and the lack of originality in it’s premise the film does succeed in being entertaining and thought-provoking enough that people should see it on the big-screen. Plus, nothing but the massive screen (especially IMAX) does full justice to some of the vistas shot of Iceland that doubles as devastated Earth. So, while Oblivion may not be the slam-dunk hit for Kosinki after failing with Tron: Legacy it is still a film worth checking out.