Cleaning Out The DVR Yet Again #2: Mommy’s Secret (dir by Terry Miles)


(Lisa recently discovered that she only has about 8 hours of space left on her DVR!  It turns out that she’s been recording movies from July and she just hasn’t gotten around to watching and reviewing them yet.  So, once again, Lisa is cleaning out her DVR!  She is going to try to watch and review 52 movies by Thanksgiving, November 24th!  Will she make it?  Keep checking the site to find out!)

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The next film that I watched off of my DVR was yet another Canadian-produced Lifetime film.  This one was called Mommy’s Secret and I recorded it off of Lifetime on October 8th.  I was on vacation when Mommy’s Secret originally aired, which is why I’m only now getting around to reviewing it.

Mommy’s Secret opens with a bank robbery.  The robber appears to a skinny man who wears a baseball cap and has a goat-tee.  He’s not a violent robber.  He doesn’t threaten people or fire guns into the ceiling or anything like that.  Instead, he simply slips the teller a note, collects his money, and then flees on his bicycle.  We watch as the robber skillfully avoids the police, riding his bike to a parked SUV….

Hmmmm….a bank robber driving a SUV.  That’s … interesting.

After stashing his bike and the money in the back of the SUV, the robber steps out of the way and the camera zooms in on a bumper sticker.  “PTA” it reads.

Hmmm…does that stand for Pernicious Thieves Association?  Or, actually, could our robber be a member of the Parent-Teacher Association?

The robber gets in the SUV.  He removes his baseball cap and … wow, he’s get really nice hair.  He then proceeds to remove his goatee and …. OH MY GOD, IT’S CHARISMA CARPENTER!

That’s right!  Charisma Carpenter plays a bank robber in Mommy’s Secret.  However, it turns out that the character she plays, suburban mom Anne Harding, has a good reason for robbing all those banks.  Her husband has recently died and the insurance money has dried up.  Her teenage daughter, Denise (Sarah Grey), is a soccer phenom who might be able to get a college scholarship but it still costs money to keep her playing.  And then there’s her son, Kyle.  Kyle is addicted to gambling but, unfortunately, he’s not every good at it.  He owes the local crime lord a lot of money.

So, in order to keep her son alive and her daughter playing soccer, Anne agrees to rob a few banks.

And she’s surprisingly good at it!  Seriously, I don’t think I could handle robbing a bank.  I would get too nervous and I wouldn’t have the patience necessary to wait for them to open up that big vault in the back.  Add to that, I always like going to the bank.  Part of me would love to work at a bank, just so I could see how much money everyone has.  So, no bank robbing for me.

As for Mommy’s Secret, it has a few slow spots but, for the most part, it was enjoyably ludicrous.  Sarah Grey, who was also in A Mother’s Instinct and The Wrong Girl, does well as the responsible and concerned Denise.  I think, for most people, the main appeal of the film will be seeing Charisma Carpenter robbing a bank and Carpenter actually gives a really good performance.  Between this film and Bound, Carpenter is cornering the market when it comes to playing mothers with a secret.

Horror on TV: Buffy the Vampire Slayer 3.20 “The Prom”


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This episode of Buffy the Vampire Slayer made me cry the first time I saw it. And it’s made me cry every time that I’ve watched it since.

(Along with She’s All That, It also left me with a totally unrealistic expectation of what my senior prom would be like but that’s okay.)

The Prom originally aired on May 11th, 1999.

(10/13/2015 update: Oh my God, y’all! I am so pissed off at Hulu right now! This entire show was available when I first created this post. And now, that I’ve actually published it, Hulu suddenly just wants to provide a 90-second preview. Please accept my apologies.)

Horror on TV: Buffy the Vampire Slayer 3.18 “Earshot”


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In this episode of Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Buffy gets infected with the blood of a demon and develops the ability to hear other people’s thoughts. Along with allowing her to discover that Xander is obsessed with sex (like she needed telepathy for that) and that Giles and her mom did it twice on the hood of a police car, it also allows her to discover that one of her classmates might be planning on doing something violent.

This is one of my favorites episodes of Buffy, largely because it uses the paranormal as a way to expose a very real issue and to explore everyone’s shared humanity. Plus, I’ve always felt that, even after playing Buffy and starring in the wonderful guilty pleasure Ringer, Sarah Michelle Gellar remains a sadly underrated actress. This episode features her at her best.

Horror on TV: Buffy the Vampire Slayer 3.16 “Doppelgangland”


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Let’s continue our look at Horror on TV with another classic episode of Buffy the Vampire Slayer! Just as yesterday’s episode focused on a supporting character (Xander), this episode focuses on Willow!

I was going to say that Doppelgangland was one of my favorite episodes of Buffy the Vampire Slayer but then I realized that everyone would probably say that. This is an episode that truly shows why countless fans continue to love the show after all these years.

Horror on TV: Buffy The Vampire Slayer 3.13 “The Zeppo”


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OH MY GOD, IT’S BUFFY!

I love Buffy The Vampire Slayer and it’s always bothered me that I haven’t been able to share any episodes on this site. But, fortunately, this Halloween, Hulu has come to the rescue!

The Zeppo is one of my favorite episodes. While Buffy and the Scooby Gang save the world in the background, Xander (Nicholas Brendon) finally gets an adventure of his very own! Actually, there’s a lot of things that Xander finally gets to do in this wonderful episode!

(On a personal note, it breaks my heart whenever I read about Nicholas Brendon getting arrested and I’m reminded that Xander was just a fictional character.)

Seriously, enjoy Buffy the Vampire Slayer!

50 Shades of Obsession: The Boy Next Door and Bound


Happy Valentine’s Day!

Okay, I know.  It’s not Valentine’s Day yet.  But it will be soon.  50 Shades of Grey is opening tomorrow and I have a feeling that, come November, there will be hundreds of newborn babies being named Christian and Anastasia.  (And, in a few years, they’ll all have teenage babysitters named Bella…)

However, in case you can’t get into 50 Shades of Grey, here’s two other films that you could possibly watch on Valentine’s Day.  Much like 50 Shades, they both involve a woman having sex with a manipulative sociopath.  The Boy Next Door is still in theaters while Bound has just been released on video.

And they’re both reviewed below!
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The Boy Next Door, which was released towards the end of January, was the first film of 2015 that I was really excited about seeing.  That’s not because I thought that the film was going to be any good.  Instead, it was because I literally couldn’t watch any movie on Lifetime without seeing about a dozen commercials for The Boy Next Door.  The commercials promised a lot of cheap thrills and sordid melodrama.

Anyway, my BFF Evelyn and I saw The Boy Next Door on the weekend that it was first released and we had a great time watching it.  Though the film may start slow, it eventually becomes a minor triumph of so-bad-its-good filmmaking.  This is the type of film that you would normally expect to see going straight to cable but, somehow, it managed to get a theatrical release.  Making it all the more fun is the fact that it stars Jennifer Lopez, playing the type of role that you would normally expect to see Jennifer Love Hewitt or Elizabeth Berkley playing in a Lifetime movie.

Jennifer Lopez plays an AP English teacher who has recently separated from her adulterous husband (John Corbett).  When a teenage boy (Ryan Guzman) moves in next door and starts standing naked in front of his bedroom window, can you really be surprised that he and Lopez end up spending one night making torrid love?  Well, unfortunately, Guzman turns out to be a bit obsessive and, when the new school year begins, he suddenly shows up as one of Lopez’s students.  And you can probably guess what happens from there…

As directed by Rob Cohen, there’s really nothing surprising or interesting to be found in The Boy Next Door but we still had a lot of fun watching it, if just because it gave us an excuse to be snarky.  Ryan Guzman was undeniably hot and, wisely, Jennifer Lopez didn’t seem to be taking the film that seriously.  The great Kristin Chenoweth showed up as Lopez’s best friend and the film’s climax was appropriately over the top.

And, three weeks after seeing the film, Evelyn and I are still laughing about the scene where Guzman gives Lopez a gift, a copy of The Illiad.   Looking down at the book, J. Lo says, “Oh!  A first edition!”  Evelyn and I were just like, “Really?  So, that book’s from 760 B.C!?”  Seriously, did the character have a time machine?

Now, that would have made for an interesting movie!

Bound

If, for some reason, you can’t find a theater showing 50 Shades of Grey this weekend, I would suggest instead watching the Asylum’s mockbuster version, Bound.  

(Personally, I would have titled the film 50 Shades of Charisma but anyway…)

In Bound, Charisma Carpenter plays Michelle, a real estate broker who has an unsatisfying sex life and who finds herself regularly being bullied by her boss (Daniel Baldwin).  However, Michelle then meets Ryan (Bryce Draper), who is young, handsome, rich, and very much into domination  He even has a red room in his mansion where…

Oh wait, does this sound familiar?

Okay, so Bound pretty much tells the same story as 50 Shades of Grey but there are a few significant differences.  A big one is that, as played by Carpenter, Michelle is a much stronger character than Anastasia Steele.  For one thing, she’s not an innocent and naive girl being introduced to sex for the first time by a charming sociopath.  Instead, she’s significantly older than Ryan, which also brings an interesting dynamic to the film.  Michelle’s not a virgin, she doesn’t say things like “jeez” or “oh my,” and she’s capable of getting aroused without obsessing about what her inner goddess is doing as a result.  And, while her relationship with Ryan does head in a similar direction as Anastasia’s relationship with Christian Grey, Michelle never seems weak as a result.  Instead, she’s experimenting and there’s no way you can’t root for her as you watch the movie.

(Ryan, meanwhile, is ultimately portrayed as being the type of manipulative sociopath that Christian Grey would be in real life.)

Perhaps my favorite part of the film was Michelle’s relationship with her teenage daughter, Dara (Morgan Oberender).  The two actresses play off each other well and, from the minute they first interacted, I believed that they could be mother and daughter.  They’re relationship felt real and, as a result, you cared about both of them and found yourself hoping that things would work out for the best.  And, as a result, it made one of the film’s final plot twists feel very immediate and real.

Bound is the type of film that will be (and has been) dismissed by a lot of mainstream critics but it deserves more consideration than it’s been given.

Horror On TV: The Unaired Pilot of Buffy the Vampire Slayer


When I first decided that I wanted to devote some of October to horror-themed television, I knew i wanted to feature a few episodes of Buffy the Vampire Slayer.  After all, Buffy is one of the most acclaimed and influential shows of all time.  On a personal note, the show started when I was 12 and it ended right before my senior year of high school.  As a result, Buffy was a show that I watched during some of the most emotionally turbulent years of my life and, as a character, Buffy Summers was the type of role model that I needed.

However, what i quickly discovered was that there really aren’t any full length episodes of Buffy on YouTube.  There’s plenty of fanvids.  There’s a lot of music videos featuring clips of Angel and Buffy staring soulfully at each other.  But, because of copyright issues, there aren’t any full-length episodes available on YouTube.

However, there is the unaired pilot.

This was a 30-minute “sample” episode of Buffy the Vampire Slayer that was written and directed by Joss Whedon in 1996.  The episode was never meant to be televised.  Instead, it was a tool that Whedon used to pitch the concept of Buffy to the networks.

So, since I couldn’t find Hush on YouTube, here’s the 1996 unaired pilot of Buffy the Vampire Slayer.

Trailer: The Expendables 2 (Official)


In 2010 Stallone released his love letter to all things 80’s action with his ensemble actioner The Expendables. The film was a modest success, but not the huge one some thought it would be considering it’s cast was made up of action stars of the past 20-30 years. Yet, it’s box-office numbers made the studio heads at Lionsgate happy enough that they greenlit a sequel.

This sequel, The Expendables 2, finally gets it’s official trailer and it looks to be more of the same as the previous film, but to a new level. The previous comes back with expanded roles for Bruce Willis and Arnold Schwarzenneger who had brief cameos in the first film. This sequel also adds Chuck Norris to the cast and Jean-Claude Van Damme in the role of the film’s villain. There’s really no need to explain the plot of the film. What audiences should expect is lots of gunfire, explosions, testosterone-laced interaction between the actors and more explosions.

Stallone backs off the director’s chair this time around and hand’s over to veteran action director Simon West.

The Expendables 2 is set for an August 17, 2012 release date.

A Quickie Review: The Expendables (dir. by Sylvester Stallone)


Lisa Marie has already done a wonderful job of reviewing Sylvester Stallone’s latest action vehicle, The Expendables. I’ll keep my review to a quickie format since her review went into detail and my thoughts ran at a similar path.

To start things I will say that despite the obvious gigantic leaps in logic one may have to take to buy into Stallone’s latest once that leap has been taken then The Expendables becomes a piece of mind-numbingly loud, fun and entertaining piece of popcorn cinema. Yes, this film is not going to break any new grounds in cinematic history (though in terms of piecing together a cast so manly and testosterone-fueled it may). Stallone will not have found his inner-Bergman or even his closeted-McTiernan. What The Expendables has shown would be how Stallone knows exactly what his core audience wants to see.

His film is quite lean to the level of anorexic when one has to describe it’s plot and characters. The film’s main plot involves Stallone and his band of expert mercenaries (using the film’s title as their name) being hired by a Mr. Church (Bruce Willis in an uncredited cameo) who wants them to overthrow a certain dictator-general who rules a small South American island nation called Vilena. Stallone and his writers try to add some complexities to this set-up of past CIA dealings with the general and rogue agents (sounds like rogue CIA agents are the villains of the season for 2010 with The Losers and The A-Team also having their own rogue agent) and daddy issues. But all that was just gristle that could’ve been taken out of the porterhouse that this film ended up being.

The Expendables works best when bought into it as being a throwback, meat and potatoes type of action flick. It definitely owes much to the many action flicks that got churned out for film and direct-to-video in the hundreds during the 80’s. Even the casting brings to mind the typical casting list of 80’s action. Take the most recognizable (then move down the tiers) action stars of the day, put them together, add guns and explosions and you got yourself an actioner. And boy does this flick have tons of explosions and a veritable buffet table of weapons on-hand. My favorite has to be the AA-12 assault shotgun carried by Terry Crews’ character Caesar. A character who seemed written just someone will come into an action scene firing this most awesome of weapons. When Crews’ Caesar does put the AA-12 into use the theater I was in erupted in cheers (yeah, cheering nameless soldiers getting shotgunned off their feet seems tackless, but oh so fun!).

I really don’t need to go too much into the plot in detail. What I had mentioned earlier and what Lisa Marie has already written pretty much explains everything. The film’s cast of past and current action stars have chemistry together. Though I will say that the chemistry may be just due to the fact that they all are in on the joke while making the film. They seem to know not to take the screenplay seriously and just go with the flow of the action. We’re not watching a film about Stallone’s character interacting with Statham’s or Rourke’s or Li’s. We’re watching Stallone shooting the shit with the others and there just happened to be cameras around them rolling. The only thing missing from the non-action scenes between the cast members were stripper poles, dancers and a few Hell’s Angels bikers doing boucner duties (maybe the director’s cut edition of the dvd/blu-ray will put those back in).

Now, what would a Stallone flick be without talking about the action. While the action scenes are not revolutionary and not even stylisticly different the way the action in The Losers and The A-Team were shot again Stallone stuck to 80’s meat-and-potatoes. The action scenes were reminiscent of scenes from Commando, Rambo: First Blood Part II and Die Hard. It was a by-the-numbers, point a to point b style of filming an action scene that audiences will accept with a nostalgic smile or dismiss as being boring and been-there-done-that. The one thing Stallone added to these scenes which made them feel somewhat fresh and new was the brutal and gory way people reactedwhen their clumsiness made them get in the way of the thousands of bullets, shotgun shells and explosions. Stallone first showed this in its over-the-top glory in his previous film, Rambo, and he uses the same style in a slightly more subdued way in this film.

I will like to point out one particular action sequence which was brief but done with a certain panache that convinced me that Stallone should just crank out action flicks for the rest of his career. I’m talking about a point in the middle section of the flick when Stallone and Statham use their team seaplane to strafe then firebomb the waterfront docks in Vilena. Part of me knew what was going to happen when they began their run but by the time it ended I was smiling like a goofy 8-year old kid watching his first rated-R action movie. Yeah, The Expendables definitely plucked the nostalgia strings in this film-fan’s heart.

One other way to look at this flick is to compare it to Stallone’s Rambo which also had a mercenary team who unwittingly becomes sidekick to Rambo by the film’s end. I, and more than a few other reviewers, where actually interested in seeing a film with Rambo and said mercenary team in a film together. While such a film would’ve been one of the most violent if not the stadard bearer if ever made we’ll just have to settle for a more tame version with The Expendables. Maybe this flick will make that particular spin-off happen down the line.

I would like to say that The Expendables had more to offer than the guns, explosions and overwhelming aura of testosterone, but I’d lying if I did. That’s all one needed to know going into the theater to watch this flick. To expect anymore, even a decent dialogue, would be asking for sauteed mushrooms and artichokes when all that’s needed is that porterhouse cooked just above rare and a six-pack of brews. Just think of The Expendables as that kind of meal and one will enjoy the bloody fun being had by all on the big-screen.