Cleaning Out The DVR: Get Over It (dir by Tommy O’Haver)


“I wouldn’t play with that, Kelly,” Berke Landers (Ben Foster) says as Kelly Woods (Kirsten Dunst) playfully aims a crossbow at him.

Kelly laughs and tells him that it’s just a prop.

Berke suggests again that she should probably stop aiming it at him.

Kelly laughs and proceeds to fire an arrow straight into Berke’s arm.

The next scene, of course, is Berke in the back of an ambulance, groaning in terrible pain while Kelly apologizes and a paramedic repeatedly warns Berke not to look at his arm.  In most movies, that would seem like a pretty dramatic plot development and, at the very least, you would expect that Berke would try to avoid Kelly and perhaps have his arm in a sling for the rest of the film.  In the 2001 film, Get Over it, Berke recovers rather quickly, he and Kelly fall in love, and the film ends with Kelly making a joke about how she thought the crossbow was a prop.

That’s just the type of film that Get Over It is.  This is a film from the age when all teen comedies were very loosely based on Shakespeare and they usually had a three word name like She’s All That or Drive Me Crazy or …. well, Get Over It.  Ben Foster has the type of role that would usually go to Freddie Prinze, Jr.  Sisqo has the Usher rule of the supercool sidekick who raps over the end credits.  Shane West speaks with a British accent and steps into the Matthew Lillard role of the obnoxious teen celebrity.  Melissa Sagemiller is the girl who the main guy thinks he’s in love with while Martin Short plays the eccentric and overdramatic theater teacher.  And finally, Kirsten Dunst gets to play another version of her Bring It On role as the quirky and perky girl who wants to do the right thing.  Meanwhile, Zoe Saldana, Mila Kunis, Colin Hanks, Swoosie Kurtz, and Ed Begley, Jr. all have small parts.  It’s a good cast, if nothing else.

Get Over It centers around a high school production of a musical version of A Midsummer’s Night Dream.  Basketball star Berke auditions for the play because he thinks that it will convince his ex-girlfriend, Alison (Sagemiller) to take him back.  Instead, Alison ends up falling for the duplicitous Striker Scrumfeld (West), who has the exact type of personality that you would expect someone named Striker Scrumfeld to have.  Meanwhile, Berke is falling in love with Kelly, who is the sister of his friend, Felix (Colin Hanks).

It’s all very predictable but, at the same time, the cast is absolutely charming and there’s enough quirky humor to make it memorable.  I’ve watched Get Over It several times and, every time that I rewatch it, I’m always a little bit surprised to rediscover just how funny it actually is.  For instance, as Berke leaves Alison’s house after being dumped by her, Vitamin C and a marching band suddenly appear behind him and start to perform Love Will Keep Us Together until Berke finally loses it and starts screaming.  The musical production of A Midsummer’s Night Dream is the perfect parody of every pretentious high school play ever produced and Martin Short cheerfully throws himself into being the director for Hell.  Ben Foster is a bit too intense to be a romantic or, for that matter, comedic leading man but the rest of the cast is enjoyably laid back and fully embrace their quirky roles.

Get Over It may not be a classic but it is a fun 90 minutes.

Lisa Reviews An Oscar Winner: The Silence of the Lambs (dir by Jonathan Demme)


Oh, The Silence of the Lambs, I have such mixed feelings about you.

On the one hand, I’m a horror fan and Silence of the Lambs is a very important film in the history of horror.  Back in 1992, it was the first horror film to win the Academy Award for Best Picture!  It even made history by winning all of the big “five” awards — Picture, Director, Actor, Actress, and Adapted Screenplay!  It was the first film since One Flew Over The Cuckoo’s Nest and It Happened One Night to pull that off!

Beyond that, it’s one of the most influential films ever made.  Every erudite serial killer owes a debt to Anthony Hopkins’s performance as Hannibal Lecter.  Every competent but untested and unappreciated female FBI agent owes a debt to Jodie Foster’s performance as Clarice Starling.  Even though the whole criminal profiler craze probably owes more to Manhunter (a film to which Silence of the Lambs is a sequel, though that often seems to go unacknowledged) than to anything else, this Oscar winner still definitely played a part.  I mean, how many people watched Manhunter for the first time, specifically because Lecter mentioned the events in that earlier film in Silence of the Lambs?

Plus, this won an Oscar for Jonathan Demme, one of my favorite directors!  And while I’m sure Jodie Foster would have gone on to have a strong career regardless of whether she had played Clarice Starling or not, it’s generally acknowledged that Silence of the Lambs revitalized the career of Anthony Hopkins.  So for that, we should all be thankful.

And yet, it can be strange to watch Silence of the Lambs today.  All of the imitations (not to mention some ill-thought sequels and prequels) have lessened its bite.  I can only imagine how it must have freaked out audiences when it was first released but I have to admit that I was slightly disappointed the first time that I watched the film.  Looking back, I can see that disappointment was due to having been told that it were one of the scariest movies of all time but, because, I had seen a countless number of imitations, parodies, and homages, I felt as if I had already watched the film.  So, I wasn’t shocked when Lecter turned out to be ruthlessly manipulative and dangerously charismatic.  Nor was I shocked when he managed to escape and poor Charles Napier ended up strung up in that cage.  I’m sure that audiences in 1991 were freaked out, though.

Actually, as good as Foster and Hopkins and Scott Glenn are, I think the best performance in the film comes from Ted Levine, playing Buffalo Bill.  Seriously, Levine’s performance still freaks me out.  It’s the voice and the way he says, “Precious.”  Levine’s performance, I found to be a hundred times more frightening than Anthony Hopkins’s and I think it’s due to the fact that Hannibal Lecter was clearly an author’s invention while Levin’s Buffalo Bill came across like he might very will be hiding in an alley somewhere, waiting for one of your friends to walk by. (Interestingly enough, I had the same reaction when I first saw Manhunter.  Brian Cox did a good job as Lecter but he still came across as a bit cartoonish.  Meanwhile, Tom Noonan was absolutely terrifying.)  Levine has subsequently gone on to play a lot of nice guy roles.  He was a detective on Monk, for instance.  Good for him.  I’m glad to see he was able to escape being typecast.  Admittedly, I do kinda wonder how many serial killer roles he had to turn down immediately after the release of The Silence Of The Lambs.

Still, it’s a good film.  Time may have lessened it’s power but The Silence of the Lambs is still an effective and well-directed thriller.  It’s impossible not to cheer for Clarice.  It’s impossible not to smile at the fun that Anthony Hopkins seems to be having in the role of Lecter.  Jonathan Demme creates a world of shadows and darkness and still adds enough little quirks to keep things interesting.  (I especially liked Lecter watching a stand-up special in his cell.)  It’s the little details that makes the world of The Silence of the Lambs feel lived in, like Clarice’s nervous laugh as she gives a civilian instructions on what to do in case she accidentally gets trapped in a storage locker.  Even the film’s final one liner will make you smile, even though it’s the type of thing that every film seemed to feel the need to do nowadays.  It’s still a good movie, even if it no longer feels as fresh as it once may have.

Icarus File No. 4: Captive State (dir by Rupert Wyatt)


Does anyone remember Captive State?

Captive State came out in March and, before it was released, it seemed like it had the potential to be something special.  The trailer looked good.  The cast was impressive.  Perhaps even more importantly, the film was directed by Rupert Wyatt, who did such a good job with Rise Of The Planet Of The Apes.  Surely, if anyone had the talent to create a convincing film about life under an alien dictatorship, it would be Rupert Wyatt!

In fact, my only reason for concern had to do with when the film was being released.  March seemed like a very strange time to be releasing a big “event” film.  Don’t get me wrong.  A March release isn’t as bad as a January or even a February release.  I mean, unless your film is a romantic comedy, you definitely do not want it to be released in either one of those two months.  Those months are where studios dump their worst films so that they can die a quiet death.  March, on the other hand, is when the studio releases films that have the potential to be a success but which they’re still not expecting to set the world on fire.

Of course, there have been exceptions to that rule, as both Wes Anderson (Grand Budapest Hotel) and Jordan Peele (Get Out) can tell you.  So, as Captive State’s release date approached, we were left to wonder.  Would this be another case of a film being better than it’s release date or would this be just another forgettable but not terrible movie that the studio probably spent a bit too much money on?

Captive State, sadly, turned out to be more of a case of the latter than the former.

The film opens with Chicago being invaded in 2019.  Significantly, unlike other recent invasion films, this one doesn’t spend too much time on the invasion itself or Earth’s initial attempts to fight back.  Instead, it jumps forward eight years, to 2027.  The aliens are in control of Earth, though the aliens themselves claim to only be “legislators” who are governing the planet for our own good.  While the majority of Earthlings just seem to be resigned to accepting being conquered as their new normal, there are a few resistors.  There’s also quite a few collaborators.  The tricky part of life in 2027 is figuring out who you can and can not trust.

There’s a lot of characters in Captive State and, at times, it can be difficult to keep track of how everyone’s related and who is working for who.  However, that seems to be intentional on the film’s part.  Rather than telling a conventional tale of alien conquest, Captive State sets out to be a serious exploration of what life would be like for the people living under the thumb of not just an intergalactic dictatorship but actually any dictatorship.  The Legislators rule by fear.  The collaborators have their own individual reasons for collaborating but, now that they’ve declared which side they’re on, there’s no going back for them.  One way or another, they’ve sealed their fate.  The same can be said for those in the rebellion.  Meanwhile, most people are just trying to not get caught in the crossfire.

And the thing is …. you want the film to work.  It’s an intriguing idea and how can you not respect that fact that Wyatt wanted to try to do something a little bit different with his story of alien invasion?  But sadly, the film never works the way that you’re hoping it will.  The film tries to do a lot in just 109 minutes.  In fact, it probably tries to do too much and, as a result, there’s little time to get to know the characters, the majority of whom come across as being underwritten and with murky motivations.  Captive State hinges on the actions of a detective played by John Goodman but the film itself doesn’t seem to be sure of who Goodman’s supposed to be.  Hence, the film’s final twist seems to come out of nowhere.  It’s hard not to feel that the ideal way for Captive State to have told its story would have been as a 10-episode miniseries on HBO.  Trying to stuff all of this into under two hours of running time just doesn’t work.

And it’s a shame, that it doesn’t.  Ambition should never be faulted.  If only the results, in this case, lived up to the ambition.

Previous Icarus Files:

  1. Cloud Atlas
  2. Maximum Overdrive
  3. Glass

AMV Of The Day: I’m Not A Vampire (Blood Lad)


Today’s AMV may feature the same song as yesterday’s but it’s also a different anime.  Let’s see how I’m Not A Vampire mixes with Blood Lad.

Anime: Blood Lad

Song: I’m Not A Vampire by Falling In Reverse

Creator: Amerutox

Past AMVs of the Day

The Nationals Have Won the World Series


It took seven games but the Washington Nationals have won the 2019 World Series.  Being a Texan, I was cheering for the Astros the whole time but Nationals earned the victory and no one can take it away from them.

Congratulations to Washington for showing what can done with some talent and a lot of luck and also to the Nationals for not only going to the World Series for the first time but winning too!  My Rangers have gone twice and they still haven’t won.

(I’m not bitter at all, by the way.  If anyone needs me, I’ll be in a corner, crying and watching that clip of Rougned Odor punching Jose Bautista’s sunglasses off of his face.)

Here’s hoping that the rest of Washington D.C. follows their baseball team’s example, gets their act together, and concentrates on winning a victory for America.

And now, it’s time to start counting down the days until the start of the 2020 regular season!

Horror on TV: Halloween Is Grinch Night (dir by Gerard Baldwin)


So, we all know that the Grinch once tried to steal to Christmas and then his heart grew a few sizes but did you know that apparently, the Grinch also tried to steal Halloween?

Until a few days ago, I did not.  I was going through YouTube, searching for horror films that I could share here on the Shattered Lens, and guess what I came across?

A TV special from 1977 entitled Halloween is Grinch Night!

Unlike How The Grinch Stole Christmas, Halloween is Grinch Night apparently never became a holiday classic.  Perhaps that’s because Halloween is Grinch Night is not exactly the most heart-warming of holiday specials.  Whereas How The Grinch Stole Christmas tells us about how the Grinch learned the true meaning of Christmas, Halloween is Grinch Night gives us a Grinch who has no redeeming features.  There is no hope for this Grinch.  This Grinch will steal your soul and probably drink your blood.  This Grinch is pure Grinchy evil.

This is the Grinch of our nightmares.

Check out Halloween is Grinch Night below and hope the Grinch doesn’t capture you this Halloween…

Night of the Slasher, Review by Case Wright


slasher

The short is a treat like chicken nuggets or playing Wing Commander III.  It needs to establish a backstory and a plot without a lot expedition, but keep the popcorn popping! Alter is a fun treat! It has an entire section on Horror Comedy.  I love a good scary suspense The Ring nailbiter, but An American Werewolf in London style horror comedy are just what the doctor ordered today.

This one hit all of the horror tropes, but it WAS A TRAP!!! Janelle, the protagonist, wanted revenge on the psycho who disfigured her and she used the horror checklist to lure him in to her spider web for the kill.  I really liked this twist because mixed girl power with exploitation.  Thumbs up!

The TSL’s Horror Grindhouse: Dead Night (dir by Brad Baruh)


Hey, I’ve got an idea!  It’s Spring Break so why don’t we spend it in a cabin in the middle of a snow storm!?

Great idea!

Let’s go!

Oh, look — we’re at the cabin now and there’s some strange woman passed out front.  What should we do!?

Hey, let’s bring her inside!

Good idea!

Uh-oh, the woman’s inside and she’s alive but she’s acting kind of weird!

Hey, let’s eat dinner!

Now, in all fairness to the characters in 2018’s Dead Night, things are a bit more complex than that.  It’s not just that they decided to go up to a snowy cabin for Spring Break.  The cabin is actually supposed to be a therapeutic location.  James Pollack (AJ Bowen) is dying of cancer and it’s felt that the cabin will not only ease his pain but perhaps increase his life.  If nothing else, the wilderness will bring some sort of inner peace.  Accompanying James are his wife, Casey (Brea Grant) and their two teenage children, Jessica (Sophie Dalah) and Jason (Joshua Hoffman), and Jessica’s best friend, Becky (Elsie Luthman).

As for the mysterious woman who shows up out front of the cabin, they’re just trying to be nice when they invite Leslie Bison (Barbara Crampton) to stay in the cabin with them.  Even though Leslie can’t tell them how she ended up at their cabin, the Pollacks are not the type to just allow someone to die in the snow.  Really, we should all be more like the Pollacks, I guess.

Still, Leslie does turn out to be really obnoxious.  She makes inappropriate jokes.  She rudely asks which member of the family is dying.  She blows kisses at Jason and smirks when Jessica announces that they can’t eat until they’ve said grace.  In fact, the family is on the verge of kicking Leslie out when …. well, things happen.

What things?  We get some hints from a terrifically over the top true crime show, segments of which appear throughout the movie.  Hosted by Jack Sterling (Daniel Roebuck), the show deals with the question of how a perfect wife and mother like Casey Pollack could eventually go insane and chop up her family and friends with an ax.  Sterling tells us that, even though Casey called several people and told them that she had found a strange woman outside the cabin, the police were convinced that this was all just a part of an elaborate lie.

Hmmm….so, I guess we know what’s going to happen, right?

Well, no,  Not quite.  It turns out that the true story is a little bit different from what we might have seen on television.  For instance, Jack Steling’s show says nothing about the weird incident that happened in the early 60s, when a young woman got lost in the wood and was apparently impregnated with a piece of a tree….

If you go over to this movie’s imdb page, you’ll find a lot of angry reviews from people who felt that this movie didn’t have a real plot and that it was too gory but I don’t know.  I kind of liked it.  I mean, it’s a horror movie about people stuck in the middle of the woods.  What exactly are you expecting to get other than some nonsensical ax murders?  I mean, yes, the film doesn’t make complete sense but the cabin and the woods are both wonderfully creepy locations and the film also featured the great Barbara Crampton playing a …. well, I won’t spoil it.  Plus, I watch a lot of true crime television and I can tell you that this film’s satire of the particular genre is spot-on!

So, what can I say?  Suck it, imdb.  I kinda liked Dead Night.

Great Moments In Comic Book History: Spider-Man Meets The Monster Maker


With the Marvel Cinematic Universe about to enter it’s fourth phase and having said goodbye the majority of the Avengers, it’s time to really go through the Marvel vaults and give some consideration to some characters who may not be as well-known as Iron Man or Captain America but who still deserve their own shot at cinematic immortality.

Consider, for instance, Baron Ludwig von Shtupf, the Monster Maker!

Baron Ludwig von Shutpf made his first (and, to date, only) appearances in two issues of Marvel Team-Up.  In Marvel Team-Up #36, he kidnapped Spider-Man from New York and Frankenstein’s Monster from the antarctic.  In Marvel Team-Up #37, he summoned Man-Wolf to join them all in his castle.  Baron von Shtupf was the latest in a long line of mad scientists and he had come up with the perfect plan for world domination.  Why not take three great monsters and combine them into one big monster?  It seemed like a good plan but Spider-Man, Man-Wolf, Frankenstein’s Monster, and an Agent of SHIELD named Judith Klemmer stopped him and left him tied up in his study.

The Baron would never appear again in the pages of Marvel Comics, which is amazing when you consider that even a character like the Living Eraser made a handful of appearances over the years before being permanently erased.  Was it because Baron von Shtupf’s name sounded suspiciously like a certain Yiddish vulgarity?  Perhaps.  Not bringing back Baron von Shtupf is a waste of a perfect good character so how about, Disney?  How about a little love for the Monster Maker?  Just imagine what Christoph Waltz could do with the role.

 

 

The main reason that I remember the Monster Maker is because, when I was seven years old, I found a copy of Marvel Team-Up #36 at a garage sale and I got excited because The Frankenstein Monster was on the cover.  My mom bought it for me.  When I got home, I read the comic and I was stunned to discover that it ended with a “to be continued” right after Spider-Man and the Monster discovered the Man-Wolf waiting for them in the Baron’s laboratory.  (This was when I was still too young to understand that all comic books ended with a “to be continued” because that was the easiest way to get kids like me to spend my allowance on them.)

I spent years searching for a copy of Marvel Team-Up #37 so I could find out how the story ended.  It was not until twelve years later, when I came across it on Ebay, that I was finally able to get a copy of the second part of the Monster Maker saga!  For that reason, I have never forgotten Baron von Shtupf and I guess I never will.

 

Marvels Team-Up #36 (August, 1975) and Marvel Team-Up #37 (September 1975)

“Once Upon A Time In A Castle” and “Snow Death”

  • Writer — Gerry Conway
  • Penciler — Sal Buscema
  • Inker — Vince Colletta
  • Colourist — Al Wenzel (#36) and Phil Rache (#37)
  • Letterist — Charlotte Jetter (#36) and Karen Mantio (#37)
  • Editor — Len Wein (#36) and Marv Wolfman (#37)

Previous Great Moments In Comic Book History:

  1. Winchester Before Winchester: Swamp Thing Vol. 2 #45 “Ghost Dance” 
  2. The Avengers Appear on David Letterman
  3. Crisis on Campus
  4. “Even in Death”
  5. The Debut of Man-Wolf in Amazing Spider-Man

Mortal Sins: Absolution (1978, directed by Anthony Page)


Father Goddard (Richard Burton) is a stern and repressed teacher at a Catholic boys school.  Goddard is strangely obsessed with two of his students.  The intelligent and athletic Arthur Dyson (Dai Bradley) is a favorite of Goddard’s.  However, Goddard cannot stand Arthur’s best friend, Benji (Dominic Guard).  Benji wears a leg brace and takes a sarcastic attitude towards Goddard and the Catholic Church in general.  When Goddard finds out that Benji has been hanging out with a drifter named Blakely (Billy Connolly) and that Blakely is camping near the church, Goddard calls the police.  After the Blakely’s camp is destroyed and the drifter mysteriously vanishes, one of the boys goes to confession and tells the priest that he has murdered Blakely and hidden the body.  Is the boy telling the truth or is Goddard the victim of an increasingly complicated prank?

Written by Anthony Shaffer (who also wrote the classic The Wicker Man), Absolution is an extremely complicated mystery that sometimes seems like it’s trying to do too much at one time.  It starts out as a character study of an out-of-touch priest and then it becomes a coming of age story about Benji and his friendship with the free-thinking Blakely.  Then it turns into a murder mystery and a horror movie before finally settling on being an anti-Catholic tract.  The story does hold your interest because of the actors but that does not mean that it always makes sense.  The film’s central conspiracy is clever and complicated but also thoroughly implausible.

The man reason to watch the film is that Richard Burton gives one of his best performances as the self-loathing Father Goddard.  Burton had a famously mixed-record as a screen actor but Absolution makes good use of his tendency to ham it up.  Much of what motivates Goddard is left unclear in the movie, though it is subject of much speculation among his students.  Burton fills in the screenplay’s blanks with an intense performance as a man who has convinced himself that he has complete control when he actually has none at all.