Playing Catch-Up With 6 Film Reviews: Avengers Grimm, Bad Asses On The Bayou, Hayride 2, Insurgent, Poltergeist, Tomorrowland

Here are 6 films that I saw during the first half of 2015.  Some of them are on Netflix and some of them were major studio releases.  Some of them are worth seeing.  Some of them most definitely are not.


Avengers Grimm (dir by Jeremy M. Inman)

Obviously made to capitalize on the popularity of Avengers: Age of UltronAvengers Grimm opens with a war in the world of fairy tales.  Evil Rumpelstiltskin (Casper Van Dien) uses Snow White’s (Laura Parkinson) magic mirror to cross over into our world and he takes Snow White with him!  It’s now up to Cinderella (Milynn Sharley), Sleeping Beauty (Marah Fairclough), and Rapunzel (Rileah Vanderbilt) to cross over into our world, save Snow White, and defeat Rumpelstiltskin.  Also sneaking over is rebellious Red Riding Hood (Elizabeth Petersen) who is determined to kill Rumpelstiltskin’s henchman, The Wolf (Kimo Leopoldo).  

Got all that?

Avengers Grimm is another enjoyably insane mockbuster from The Asylum.  The budget’s low, the performances are intentionally melodramatic, and it’s all lot of fun.  Casper Van Dien has a lot of fun playing evil, the women all get to kick ass, and Lou Ferrigno is well-cast as a labor leader named Iron John.

Avengers Grimm is currently available on Netflix.


Bad Asses On The Bayou (dir by Craig Moss)

Apparently, this is the third film in which Danny Trejo and Danny Glover have respectively played Frank Vega and Bernie Pope, two old guys who kick ass in between worrying about their prostates.  I haven’t seen the previous two Bad Asses films but I imagine that it really doesn’t matter.

In this film, Trejo and Glover go to Louisiana to attend a friend’s wedding.  When she’s kidnapped, they have to rescue her and impart some important life lessons to her younger brother.  It’s all pretty predictable but then again, it’s also pretty good for a film called Bad Asses On The Bayou.  This is a film that promises two things: Danny Trejo kicking ass and lots of bayou action.  And it delivers on both counts.

In fact, I would say that Bad Asses On The Bayou is a better showcase for Danny Trejo’s unique style than the better known Machete films.  Danny Trejo is a surprisingly adept comedic actor and he gives a performance here that shows his talent goes beyond mere physical presence.

Bad Asses On The Bayou is currently available on Netflix.


Hayride 2 (dir by Terron R. Parsons)

I should admit up front that I haven’t seen the first Hayride film.  Luckily, Hayride 2 picks up directly from the end of the first film and is filled with so many flashbacks and so much conversation about what happened that it probably doesn’t matter.

Essentially, Pitchfork (Wayne Dean) is a murderous urban legend who turns out to be real.  He killed a lot of people in the first film and he stalks those that escaped throughout the 2nd film.  Like all good slasher villains, Pitchfork is a relentless killer.  He’s also an unrepentant racist, which leads to a genuinely unpleasant scene where he attacks a black detective (Corlandos Scott).  Say whatever else you will about the film, Hayride 2 deserves some credit for being on the side of the victims.  No attempt is made to turn Pitchfork into an anti-hero and the movie is relentlessly grim.

Hayride 2 is an odd film.  The film’s low-budget is obvious in every single scene.  The pacing is abysmal and the performances are amateurish.  And yet, when taken on its own meager terms, it has a dream-like intensity to it that I appreciated.  Then again, I always have had a weakness for low-budget, regional horror films.

Hayride 2 is available on Netflix.


Insurgent (dir by Robert Schwentke)

Insurgent is both the sequel to Divergent and was also 2015’s first YA dystopia film.  Shailene Woodley is as good as ever and I guess it’s good that she has a commercially successful franchise, which will hopefully inspire audiences to track down better Shailene Woodley films like The Spectacular Now.  

All that said, Insurgent often felt even more pointless than Divergent.  For a two-hour film featuring performers like Woodley, Kate Winslet, Octavia Spencer, Ansel Elgort, and Miles Teller, Insurgent has no excuse for being as forgettable and boring as it actually was.  The next installment in The Hunger Games can not get here soon enough.


Poltergeist (dir by Gil Kenan)

When a family (led by Sam Rockwell and Rosemarie DeWitt) move into a new house, they discover that everything is not what it seems.  For one thing, they come across a bunch of creepy clown dolls.  They also hear a lot of scary sounds.  They discover that the house was built on an old cemetery.  Their youngest daughter vanishes.  And finally, someone says, “Isn’t this like that old movie that was on TCM last night?”

Okay, they don’t actually say that.  However, as everyone knows, the 2015 Poltergeist is a remake of the 1982 Poltergeist.  Since the 1982 Poltergeist still holds up fairly well, the 2015 Poltergeist feels incredibly unnecessary.  It has a few good jump scenes and it’s always good to see Sam Rockwell and Rosemarie DeWitt in lead roles but ultimately, who cares?  It’s just all so pointless.

Watch the wall-dancing original.  Ignore the remake.


Tomorrowland (dir by Brad Bird)

Welcome to the world of tomorrow!  Wow, is it ever boring!

Actually, I feel a little bit bad about just how much I disliked Tomorrowland because this is a film that really did have the best intentions.  Watching the film, you get the sinking feeling that the people involved actually did think that they were going to make the world a better place.  Unfortunately, their idea of a better world is boring and almost oppressively optimistic.  There is no room for cynicism in Tomorrowland.  Bleh.  What fun is that?

Anyway, the film basically steals its general idea from the Atlas Shrugged trilogy.  Tomorrowland is a secret place that is inhabited by inventors, dreamers, and iconoclasts.  Years ago, Frank (George Clooney) was banished from Tomorrowland because, after learning that the Earth was destined to end, he lost “hope” in mankind’s future.  Fortunately, he meets Casey (Britt Robertson), who is full of hope and through her, he gets to return.  They also get a chance to save the world and battle a cartoonish super villain played by Hugh Laurie.  (Why is he a villain?  Because he’s played by Hugh Laurie, of course!)

After all the hype and build-up, Tomorrowland turned out to be dull and predictable.  What a shame.  The Atlas Shrugged trilogy was at least fun because it annoyed the hipsters at the AV Club.  Tomorrowland is just forgettable.

Trash Film Guru Vs. The Summer Blockbusters “Ant-Man”

Trash Film Guru


If you accept the axiom that “super-heroes are our modern mythology,” then allow me to start this review with a little bit of myth-busting. It’ll be fun, I promise.

Myth #1 : I reflexively hate all Marvel movies. This idea has become so entrenched among my friends and readership (such as it is) that I’ve come to accept it myself. But before I sat down to write this thing — well, okay, I was already sitting down, but I hadn’t started writing yet — I looked back over my past reviews of Marvel flicks and discovered something curious, namely : I’ve actually “gone easier” on most of these than even thought.

Thor? I gave that one a pretty decent write-up. Captain America : The First Avenger? I gave that a glowingly positive review. X-Men : First Class and X-Men : Days Of Future Past? Again, wildly…

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I usually write about old movies here, but they’re not my only interest. When I was younger, back in the 70s, I collected comic books. I had stacks and stacks of them: Marvel, DC, Charlton, Atlas, undergrounds. Even the oversized Warrens and of course, Mad. Now that I’m slightly older (well, okay maybe more than just slightly), I’ll occasionally pick up a trade paperback that grabs my nostalgic interest. While browsing through the local Barnes & Noble recently, my gaze came upon one that screamed “Buy me now”! That book was WARLOCK BY JIM STARLIN: THE COMPLETE COLLECTION.

Starlin’s cosmic opus starred Adam Warlock, a Christlike space hero, pitted against Thanos of Titan and his quest to posses the Infinity Gems. Adam has the soul gem imbedded in his forehead, an vampiric emerald that steals mortal souls. The story’s themes concern philosophical questions about life and death, chaos and order, gods and madmen. Very heavy stuff. The books weren’t all that popular though, and the series only lasted from 1975 to 1977. Way ahead of its time, Starlin’s Adam Warlock saga has now become considered a classic of the comic world as the years have passed.


Jim Starlin is now recognized as one of the giants of the comic industry. Starlin wrote and drew the series with a deft hand, knowing exactly what he wanted to say and how to get there. He was ably assisted by inker/finishers Steve Leialoha and Joe Rubinstein. They make Starlin’s pencils and layouts pop with cosmic wonder. Tom Orzechowski’s lettering aids tremendously in setting the tone and mood for this galactic epic. The book’s loaded with extras, including a “lost” Warlock tale Starlin conjured up as a fill-in issue. The adventure is fanatastic as a whole, but some favorite chapters of mine are the Steve Ditko inspired “1000 Clowns” (Strange Tales #181), the solo interlude starring Warlock’s degenerate friend Pip the Troll (Warlock #12), and the cataclysmic conclusion from Avenger Annual #7 and Marvel Two-in-One Annual #2.


Marvel Cinematic Universe fans (of which I’m one) are already aware of the power of the (now renamed) Infinity Stones. We’ve seen Thanos appear in the two AVENGERS flicks and GUARDIANS OF THE GALAXY. And where Thanos treads, can Adam Warlock be that far behind?? One can only dream…

Film Review: Antboy (2013, dir. Ask Hasselbalch)


“How about Antman?
Antman? It’s already taken”

I came across this on Netflix a few months back, but since Ant-Man is out now, I thought it was time to watch it. It’s a Danish film and I would like to take a moment to be thankful that it is not Lars Von Trier. Anyways, this film follows the adventures of Pelle Nøhrmann (Oscar Dietz). One day after running away from bullies, he winds up in someone’s backyard. It’s there that a radioactive spider…I mean an ant crawls up onto his neck and bites him. Then we get that shot inside the brain from X-Men and so many other movies.

Inside The Brain Shot

After passing out, Pelle goes home to bed. Then he has the bat dream…I mean the ant dream. That night he goes into the kitchen in a daze and eats a bunch of stuff. The next day powers begin to emerge.

You know the milk carton itself has expired when it sticks to your hand

You know the milk carton itself has expired when it sticks to your hand

No worries! That door needed to be replaced anyways.

No worries! That door needed to be replaced anyways.

But none of that stuff matters. Meet the greatest superpower of all time. His urine is acidic. Yes, he actually uses that later by peeing on a lock.

Acidic Pee

Acidic Pee

But Pelle isn’t alone. He has a friend named Wilhelm (Samuel Ting Graf) who is a comic book nerd. He helps Pelle to figure out his powers and design a suit. Now they just need some criminals. They decide to hang out in a parking garage which we all know are dens of sin. Sure enough, a woman has her purse snatched and Antboy comes to the rescue.

To The Rescue

After this, one final piece of the Antboy setup comes to light. He ate all that stuff the first night because in order to maintain his powers, he must eat sugar. So, instead of batarangs in his utility belt, he carries sugar. Once he becomes well known enough he is approached by a girl whose sister has been kidnapped. She wants him to rescue her. Enter the villain of the film: The Flea. I’m guessing because The Tick was already taken. He was doing research that could have saved his mother, but it was cancelled by the company he was working for. That’s why he has kidnapped the daughter of the CEO, demands money and his resignation.

The Flea (Nicolas Bro)

The Flea (Nicolas Bro)

Turns out that Antboy and The Flea have similar origins except that The Flea must drink blood. That’s why he carries containers of it on his back with a tube running into his neck.

It proceeds like you imagine it will from there. It’s a fun kids superhero movie and it’s short too. I do like that The Flea isn’t a complete joke. I also enjoyed the comic book panels it uses numerous times as well as directly referencing other superheroes. That makes the film not feel like it’s trying to exist in a vacuum. You know what I mean, those movies that have people do Internet searches, but magically don’t use Google or any other search engine in existence.

I enjoyed it and look forward to seeing the sequel.