Hallmark Review: Love, Again (2015, dir. Michael Scott)


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The other day I went hiking at one of my favorite regional parks in the Bay Area. It’s basically a straight path through a canyon. A ways in you can turn left and start to go up to the top of the canyon. Although my leg was hurting, I decided I hadn’t been up there in awhile, so I did it. When I reached the end of the path and looked down at the canyon my iPhone starting playing Captain & Tennille singing Love Will Keep Us Together in Spanish. Had no idea I had that in Spanish.

This is one of those Love Will Keep Us Together Hallmark movies. Just The Way You Are is the worst of these I have seen. Lead With Your Heart is the best. Love, Again is very much on the Lead With Your Heart end of the spectrum.

The movie opens up with our couple on the beach with their daughter. They are Chloe (Teri Polo), David (Paul Johansson), and their daughter Amanda (Chloe Babcook). The look all nice and happy. Then cut to 15 years later, and things don’t look so good anymore.

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The separate sinks and the distance between them represent the distance in their marriage. Not so subtle. But not as blunt as what happens next. The two of them go downstairs, get into their cars, and both try to pull out at the same time nearly hitting each other. That’s where this movie’s biggest issue is. Nothing is subtle about the problems with the marriage. It’s all blunt force trauma to the head stuff to make sure you know they are in trouble. However, they never really give a reason why. Yes, their daughter no longer lives at home, but that’s all. The marriage just seems to have gone stale like bread.

In Lead With Your Heart, their children were leaving home, a new job opportunity opened up for the wife, and the movie was about adapting their marriage to new circumstances. Here, it’s more a journey of rediscovery. They never really adapt, just remember. Hence the title.

After talking about divorce a little, their daughter comes home much to their surprise. But she isn’t alone. She has a fiancee in tow. Chloe and David don’t want to rain on her parade so they decide to pretend they are okay.

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It’s now off to Camden, Maine where the wedding is going to happen. The soon to be married kids and another couple’s stories run parallel to the main characters. Their part of the story isn’t that important. The focus is on Chloe and David. There’s more of the obvious stuff you would expect from a couple who is only pretending to be happy. But there are also moments here and there where they get a glimpse of reality. That being they still have strong feelings for each other.

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The centerpiece of this whole movie is a bridge. Chloe is afraid of heights. While the family is out hiking they reach it and Chloe just can’t cross it even with encouragement from David. He turns back to stay with her. She feels sorry that things like this prevent her from stuff like skiing with him. He tells her that’s simply not true. That they have had great trips with each other. Then they go back to the resort together.

This is a bit of a turning point in the story. Things shift somewhat from them finding stupid signs that their marriage is in trouble to finding real signs that they simply have forgotten their feelings for each other.

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An example of the stupid things comes very early in the film when they poor some wine for each other, their daughter, and the future son-in-law. The wine isn’t good. He says that ’89 must have been a bad year. Of course she responds that they were married that year.

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An example of something that reminds them of their love is when they loosen up a bit and dance together. They also play limbo. They wind up sharing the bed that night.

Near the end of the movie Chloe grabs David and they return to the bridge. This time she summons up the courage to try and cross it. She doesn’t make it all the way, but she gets as far as she does because she let’s herself be more than she can be alone. She listens to David’s words and trusts that no matter what happens, he will be there for her. He then goes out and joins her.

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As you can see, the bridge wasn’t very high at all. However, making this happen finally shifts their mindsets back to being greater than their individual selves.

It’s a nice symbolic touch that I thought worked well. It reminded me of the father counting in Love Under The Stars and the china in Bound By A Secret.

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With the couple’s love reignited, the wedding goes ahead even though the rain chases it inside.

This was one of the best Hallmark movies I’ve seen so far. I just wish there was less of the brick to the head obvious they are in trouble stuff. I think they should have dialed that back. I believe it would have worked better.

There was one thing that had me confused. When they show up at the resort they run into a guy they once knew and a story about a missing necklace comes up. Later it seems like that same guy has the necklace or a similar one. I’m not sure if that was meant to indicate that there was an affair at one point or not. It wasn’t clear to me. However, it didn’t make any difference for me.

Also, cause I always seem to notice this stuff. They replace the tablets and docking station company names with a fictional one called Lintus.

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Halloween Havoc!: KING KONG (RKO 1933)


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No matter how many times it’s remade, no matter what new technology’s available, the original 1933 KING KONG will never be topped. The story’s familiar to horror lovers: Showman Carl Denham (Robert Armstrong) charters the ship Venture to take him to the unchartered Skull Island. He scours New York to find a “love interest” for his next picture. Finding down on her luck gal Ann Darrow (Fay Wray) trying to steal an apple, he offers her a chance for “money and adventure and fame….the thrill of a lifetime”. Denham’s brainstorm is to travel to the island to capture pictures of Kong, a beast that Captain Englehorn (Frank Reicher) thinks is just “some native superstition”. First Mate Driscoll (Bruce Cabot) is reluctant to have a woman on board, but soon warms up to her. They arrive at the island to observe the natives performing a strange ritual. A young native girl is being adorned with…

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Horror On TV: Twilight Zone 2.17 “Twenty-Two”


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“Room for one more, honey!”

Agck!

This classic episode of the Twilight Zone originally aired on February 10th, 1961. It was written by Rod Serling, directed by Jack Smight, and stars Barbara Nichols.

Hallmark Review: Perfect Match (2015, dir. Ron Oliver)


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This Hallmark movies cuts any setup out of it and goes immediately to the couple meeting. The second shot in the movie is of our boy and girl reaching to press the same elevator button. Our boy is Adam (Paul Greene). Our girl is Jessica (Danica McKellar). You know, Winnie Cooper! Last time I saw Danica McKellar it was in an episode of that short lived Fred Savage sitcom Working. I probably could have entitled this Hallmark Horror Review because it’s horrifying that she has been reduced from doing something like The Wonder Years to this. It’s also horrifying that this movie was penned by Patricia Resnick who co-wrote 3 Women (1977), A Wedding (1978), and Quintet (1979) for Robert Altman and co-wrote the screenplay for Nine To 5 (1980). Then again, she also co-wrote the screenplay for Second Sight (1989).

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Our leads decide to take the stairs to the big event room. This is when we find out what they do and why they are going to clash. She’s a wedding planner. Now prepare yourself for this because what he does is so incredibly different. I mean I was just shocked! Ready? Here it comes. He’s an event planner. Yep, did my build up seem like a bunch of BS? Good, because that is what any and all of the conflict between the two characters in this movie is. This may be the lamest excuse for the boy and the girl to dislike each other I have seen in a Hallmark movie. They both want the same space for their own events. But it gets better when we find out the excuse for why they are going to have to spend time together.

After the two of them have a little argument about who gets the space for her wedding and his event, we meet Jessica’s kid (Graham Verchere). He’s a classic movie fan. He brought home a copy of Kansas City Confidential (1952). But the kid is watching it stretched to widescreen.

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Poor kid probably didn’t have a choice. That’s what happens when you buy knockoff OSHIB televisions. Anyways, this is one of those Hallmark movies where the kid is actually a kid. He’s not a cardboard cutout, nor just a plot device. In fact, he’s the most likable character in the whole movie.

Jessica now goes to meet a client. She basically tells the bride everything that sounds good to her, but it’s freaking him out. And I would to if I were him. I can handle a pink themed wedding, but a groom wearing a pink cummerbund and bow tie seems a bit ridiculous to me. But luckily he has a member of the family he wants to bring in to help plan the wedding. Guess who?

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He throws out some ideas that are so stupid I’m surprised the actor could keep a straight face. However, I am curious what his and hers dart boards look like. Jessica leaves, but after being called back by the groom’s mom, Adam and Jessica set out to plan the wedding together.

What follows are the two of them clashing less and less as they begin to like each other more while planning the young couple’s wedding. The only other thing to note is that on his birthday he throws a dart at a map of the world and then takes a trip there. She doesn’t have any adventure in her life because of her kid, but that kid makes it clear to her that she needs to have more in her life cause he’s doing just fine.

You know how the rest plays out. There are more sleepwalking formulaic Hallmark romances out there, but this one is so forced that it hurts. I really can’t recommend it.

A couple things to look for if you do.

It really seemed like they were in front of a green screen for this scene to me.

It really seemed like they were in front of a green screen for this scene to me.

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The license plate says it’s the “Coastal State”, which doesn’t exist.

We see him take the photograph in portrait.

We see him take the photograph in portrait.

But later in the movie the photograph is in landscape.

But later in the movie the photograph is in landscape.

The only other thing is a sound goof right near the beginning of the movie. When the groom’s mom calls Jessica to come back and help plan the wedding, Jessica answers the call on her cellphone. They accidentally start the mom’s audio before they cut back to her. So, for a few seconds, it sounds like the mom is on a PA system since it’s the sound recorded for when we are supposed to be in the same room with her.

The Daily Horror Grindhouse: Castle Freak (dir by Stuart Gordon)


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Originally released in 1996, Castle Freak is a film that I watched a few years ago and seriously, it totally freaked me out!  Seriously, this is one truly creepy, scary, and disturbing film.  I imagine that I’m not alone in having nightmares after watching Castle Freak.

Castle Freak takes place in Italy and yes, the main setting is a castle.  (One the reasons why Castle Freak was so effective in freaking me out is because I have actually been to Italy and I have stepped inside castles much like the one featured in this film.)  The castle belonged to a duchess who has recently passed away.  The duchess’s son, Giorgio, is still alive.  The duchess it seems was a bit insane and, after being abandoned by her husband, she was so angry that she had Giorgio chained up in the basement.  After being trapped for years, Giorgio has reverted to a feral state, speaking in grunts and growls.  Horribly disfigured, Giorgio is served a meal a day by a frightened maid.  When Giorgio finally escapes (via breaking off his own thumb so he can slip out of his manacles), he is looking for revenge against humanity.

Giorgio is probably one of the most frightening monsters in cinematic history but yet, like all great monsters, he is as much a victim as a villain.  One reason why the film works is that, even though you’re terrified of Giorgio, you can’t blame him for being angry.  Indeed, one of the film’s strongest moments come when Giorgio sees his reflection for the first time and wails at the sight.  Jonathan Fuller gives a great performance as Giorgio.

Just as Giorgio escape, the duchess’s last remaining descendants move into the castle.  John Reilly (Jeffrey Combs) is a recovering alcoholic.  Years ago, a drunk John had an automobile accident, which led to the death of his son and the blinding of his teenage daughter, Rebecca (Jessica Dollarhide).  His wife, Susan (Barbara Crampton), cannot bring herself to forgive John for the accident.

Though neither is initially aware of the other’s existence, there’s an obvious bond between John and Giorgio.  Much as the duchess never forgave Giorgio, Susan will never forgive John.  Giorigio was held prisoner by chains while John was held prisoner by both his own guilt and Susan’s anger.  Both of them are capable of monstrous acts with the only difference being that John has yet to totally surrender his humanity to his rage.  It’s somewhat appropriate that, after John picks up a prostitute from town, it’s Giorgio who ends up killing her because Giorgio really is John’s id unleashed.  And now, John’s entire family is in danger to falling victim to that id.

Castle Freak is a frightening movie, one that mixes shocking gore with other more subtle scares.  Director Stuart Gordon makes good use of the castle’s ominous atmosphere and he also gets wonderful performances from his entire cast, with Jeffrey Combs as the stand-out.  This is a scary and gory film that was truly made for intelligent adults.

And finally, that scene where the blind Rebecca talks about her hopes and dreams while Giorgio stands unseen beside her?

Pure nightmare fuel.

Late Night Cable Horror: Scared Topless (2013, dir. Jim Wynorski)


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I think director Jim Wynorski just recycled a title here because he also directed The Bare Wench Project 2: Scared Topless in 2001. I really don’t need to see that because it probably has the girls bath in snot. No joke, there’s something like that here.

The movie opens with a lady in a one piece bathing suit seductively washing an old car while ~1930’s jazz plays.

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Note that it’s in HD, widescreen, and color because your mind is about to be blown. First we see a hand reach out to a blonde who is sitting on a bench behind the car. She doesn’t come to him so he goes to the girl in the bathing suit.

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That’s a WWII uniform. Then they proceed to have sex. That’s when it suddenly cuts to some people sitting on a coach watching them on TV. By the way, this guy looks happy, doesn’t he?

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Maybe he was just informed that this was not only one of those where the girls look into the camera, but also was just told about the ectoplasm scene later in the movie.

Anyways, now Professor Rand (Michael Swan) informs us that we were watching Hollywood couple Gayle Evelyn and Peter Sherwood. Them screwing by a pool was the last time they were seen in front of a camera. And then.

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Yep. Now we’ve mixed the 1940’s with the 1920’s. Oh, and nobody corrects her. However, she does go on to say she “didn’t even know sex existed back then.”

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Thank you, Frankie Cullen. Thank you for showing us what our face is going to look like just about anytime anyone in this movie opens their mouth to say something. Now we find out that Sherwood rose to fame in the 1930’s. At this point, I don’t care. 1920s, 1930s, and the 1940s are the same decade as far as this movie is concerned. Now we get some story about how they both died. It really doesn’t matter. All you need to know is he died in a plane crash and she locked herself up in a mansion all alone.

This is apparently an advanced psychokinesis class. Now it’s off to the haunted house where they are going to spend a couple of nights. This is also where we finally get that title card at the start of this review. Also, Jim Wynorski used the pseudonym Harold Blueberry for this movie.

But before we go we need to have two sex scenes. This one guy goes at it with his girlfriend, who we learn is the skeptic of the bunch. It’s because he’s from the Show Me state. You know…New Jersey!

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After that is over with, Cullen and one of the other girls go and visit a psychic. By that, I mean they have a threesome with her. But not before Frankie Cullen gives use these lines.

Cullen: “I don’t know about you, doll, but if she appears to me, don’t go grabbing for the trousers flying out the front door.”
Girl: “Why?”
Cullen: “Cause I’ll be in ’em. Any horny ghost shows up, I’m gone.”

Now we arrive at the mansion. We meet a girl who is supposed to be the great granddaughter of that blonde sitting on the bench at the beginning of the movie who was named Dawn Cummings. Dawn was Gayle Evelyn’s best friend. Apparently, she was also the one filming that video. We also learn that one of the girls is into the paranormal stuff cause her dad was a magician.

Now the three girls go and have a shower together. Cause of course they do. It’s actually a humorous scene because the one girl has breasts bigger than the shortest girl’s head. She’s on one side of the short girl and another girl taller than her is on the other.

Anyways, after washing each other with Oil Of Olay soap, the psychic from earlier and her sidekick show up. And of course they proceed to go at it with mister Show Me state. Oh, I’m sorry, they read his palm. When they go to kiss his palm, music that sounds like it’s from Friday the 13th plays for a few seconds. Funny since Michael Swan who plays the Professor was in Part VI.

Now we finally get some paranormal activity.

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That’s Gayle Evelyn who shows up in one of the girl’s rooms. Of course they have sex. Then this happens.

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I’d say that’s the scariest thing in this movie, but that would be the ectoplasm scene. Now the possessed blonde goes and visits Frankie Cullen. After noting that her lingerie is “fun for the whole family.” He has sex with Gayle Evelyn through her new body. They keep changing the girls out during the scene.

After the Professor makes it clear that he bought this special thing that can contact the dead from an old fakir, not an old fucker, things start to come to a head. Luckily, Show Me state brought holy water with him that he never uses in this movie. The house shakes and so that’s when the Professor says they need to follow him to see if this manifestation leads them to Gayle Evelyn. Cue Frankie Cullen.

Cullen: “Um, I may have already been there, done that.”
Professor: “How do you mean?”
Cullen: “Well, earlier this afternoon, I may have had a close encounter with the spirit world.”
Professor: “You mean you felt her presence?”
Cullen: “That’s not all I felt.”

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Oh, Frankie, you kill me. But not as much as the next scene.

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The girl’s get together and after some ectoplasm drips on the one girl, they all bathe in it naked. You know, just like that scene in Ghostbusters (1984). This scene is disgusting. Let’s move on.

Of course that means to another sex scene. Show Me state goes into a room where an old radio is playing when the ghost of Dawn Cummings shows up. After informing her that she is the “ghostest with the mostest”, they have sex.

Running into Cullen and the Professor, he tells them that while he didn’t speak to Gayle he did get a “mouthful from her friend Dawn”. This whole conversation amounts to the dead couple needing to be reunited, which happens in short order. Then just when we think the movie is over a man steps out of the shadows.

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That’s the dead father who was a magician. He returns to tell his daughter to “believe in magic, sweet heart. Just believe.” A sentimental ending to a movie that had five girls bathe in what was clearly meant to look like sperm. I can’t say I expected to see that.

This one wasn’t bad. Well, except for some of the music. This is one that uses that Johnny Wet Pants song. I really hate that song and a couple of the others that I have heard in other late night cable movies.

Cthulhu in October


It’s October and what better way to celebrate this month than with these seven pictures inspired by H.P. Lovecraft’s Cthulhu Mythos?

Tsathoggua Rising by Richard Loung

Tsathoggua Rising by Richard Loung

 The Chase by Douglas A. Sirois

The Chase by Douglas A. Sirois

Lovecraft by Francesco Francavilla

Lovecraft by Francesco Francavilla

Cthulhu Rising by Richard Loung

Cthulhu Rising by Richard Loung

Cthulhu Rises by Silberious

Cthulhu Rises by Silberious

Awakening by Douglas A. Sirois

Awakening by Douglas A. Sirois

All Bow Before Mighty Cthulhu by Erin Nicole

All Bow Before Mighty Cthulhu by Erin Nicole