A Movie A Day #67: Animal Factory (2000, directed by Steve Buscemi)


Edward Furlong is Ron Decker, a spoiled 18 year-old from a rich family who is arrested and sent to prison when he’s caught with a small amount of marijuana.  Being younger and smaller than the other prisoners, Ron is soon being targeted by everyone from the prison’s Puerto Rican gang to the sadistic Buck Rowan (Tom Arnold).  Fortunately, for Ron, prison veteran Earl Copen (Williem DaFoe) takes him under his wing and provides him with protection.  Earl is the philosopher-king of the prison.  As he likes to put it, “This is my prison, after all.”  If he can stay out of trouble, Ron has a chance to get out early but, with Buck stalking him, that’s not going to be easy.

Based on a novel by ex-con Edward Bunker, Animal Factory was the second film to be directed by Bunker’s Reservoir Dogs co-stars, Steve Buscemi.  Though it was overlooked at the time, Animal Factory is a minor masterpiece.  Taking a low key approach, Buscemi emphasizes the monotony of prison life just as much as the sudden bursts of violence and shows why someone like Ron Decker can go into prison as an innocent and come out as an animal.  DaFoe and Furlong give two of their best performances as Earl and Ron while a cast of familiar faces — Danny Trejo, Mickey Rourke, Chris Bauer, Mark Boone Junior — make up the prison’s population.  Most surprising of all is Tom Arnold, giving Animal Factory‘s best performance as the prison’s most dangerous predator.

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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

Lisa 6 Favorite 2015 Super Bowl Commercials!


While I did watch the Super Bowl tonight, I have to admit that I only watched it for the commercials.  Back in 2013, I did a post on my favorite super bowl commercials and I meant to do the same thing for 2014 but, for whatever reason, I never got around to doing so.  So, I was definitely not going to miss out this year!

Unfortunately, the commercials really weren’t that great this year.  Perhaps if I was looking for a new car, the constant barrage of car commercials would have been more interesting.  I found a lot of the so-called “empowering” commercials to be condescending.  (To be honest, I always resent the idea that I need a commercial to make me feel good about myself.  I’m stronger than that.)  The McDonald’s commercial where people got free food for telling their mom that they loved them upset me because my mom’s not here for me to tell her how much I love her.  And then there were all the commercials about fathers bonding with their sons (never their daughters, interestingly enough) and those made me want to throw stuff as well.

In fact, when all is said and done, my favorite part of the Super Bowl was not watching that commercials.  Instead, it was watching the dancing sharks.

Dance, Shark, dance!

Dance, Shark, dance!

But there were a few commercials that stood out.  For example, there was the Nationwide dead kid commercial, which made me feel like a terrible person because I started giggling as soon as I saw that the TV had fallen over.  And then there was that GoDaddy commercial that was so offensive that it didn’t even make it to air.  (The commercial featured a lost puppy who, upon finally making his way back home, discovers that he’s being sold online.  Dear GoDaddy, I hate you and your asinine commercials.  Stop trying to be edgy, ‘kay?  Okay.)

Oh!  And don’t forget the Nissan commercial about the NASCAR driver who is a crappy father but then makes up for it by showing up at his son’s school in a new car.

My boyfriend actually paid more attention to the game than the commercials, which is like totally the wrong way to do the Super Bowl if you ask me.  But, for the record, his favorite ad was the Victoria’s Secret Super Bowl commercial.  I’m just happy that he got something out of the game.

Anyway, here are my 6 top Super Bowl commercials.

6) Liam Neeson for Clash of Clans

I really don’t know much about Clash of Clans but this commercial made me laugh because this is how I’ve always imagined Liam Neeson passes the time between Taken movies.

5) Pierce Brosnan for Kia

This is actually one of the few car commercials that I actually enjoyed.  Pierce is aging well and appears to have a pretty good sense of humor about how his career will always be defined by James Bond.

4) Nationwide — Invisible Mindy

Everyone was so traumatized by the Nationwide Dead Kid commercial that the Invisible Mindy commercial kinda got lost in the shuffle.  That’s a shame because it’s actually pretty clever.  What really made the commercial, for me, was the Matt Damon cameo at the end.  It was appropriate because Mindy first came to prominence when she and a friend wrote and performed a play called “Ben and Matt,” which told the story of Matt’s bromance with Ben Affleck.

3) The Snickers Machete Bunch Commercial

Danny Trejo and Steve Buscemi!  Need I say more?

2) The Budweiser Puppy Commercial!

This one made me cry.

1) NO MORE’s Official Super Bowl Ad

And finally, here’s my top ad.  This one was powerful and important and all it was selling was hope for a better future.

Film Review: In the Blood (dir by John Stockwell)


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Do you remember Haywire?

Haywire was an action film that came out in 2011.  It briefly got a lot of attention because it starred MMA fighter Gina Carano in her feature film debut and it was directed by Steven Soderbergh.  I have to admit that I didn’t care much for Haywire.  Some of that is because Gina Carano herself didn’t seem to be a very good actress but my main issue with the film was with Steven Soderbergh.  Don’t get me wrong — I know that Soderbergh can be a genius.  However, he’s also a remarkably pretentious filmmaker.  Sometimes that pretension works, like with The Girlfriend Experience.  But, in the case of Haywire, all the pretension served to do was to make a thin story even more annoying.

John Stockwell, on the other hand, is a director who is the very opposite of pretentious.  Whereas Soderbergh often makes genre films that try too hard to be art, Stockwell makes genre films that are so unapologetic about being genre that they often become art despite themselves.  Stockwell may never be as acclaimed as Soderbergh but, on the whole, he’s a much more consistent filmmaker.

Take In The Blood for instance.  In the Blood came out earlier this year, got thoroughly mediocre reviews, and disappeared from theaters pretty quickly.  When I watched it last night, I had very low expectations.

But you know what?

In the Blood isn’t bad.

In fact, it’s a perfectly entertaining and, ultimately, rather empowering film.

In In The Blood, Gina Carano plays Ava.  Ava, we quickly learn, has led a difficult life.  Raised in extreme poverty by a father who taught her early how to fight and how to defend herself, Ava is a former drug addict.  When she goes to rehab, she meets and falls in love with fellow addict Derek (Cam Gigandet).  Once they’re both clean, Ava and Derek marry despite the concerns of Derek’s wealthy father (Treat Williams).

For their honeymoon, Derek and Ava go to the type of Caribbean island where bad things always happen in movies like In The Blood.  They meet Manny (Ismael Cruz Cordova), who agrees to be their guide on the island.  One night, Manny takes them out to a club where Ava ends up getting into a huge fight with literally everyone on the dance floor, including a local gangster played by Danny Trejo.  The next morning, Manny takes them zip lining but Derek ends up plunging from the zip line and crashing down to the ground below.  He’s rushed to the hospital where he promptly vanishes.

Despite being ordered to return to America by police chief Luis Guzman, Ava is determined to figure out what has happened to her husband and she’s willing to beat up the entire island to do it…

Obviously inspired (much like almost every other low-budget action film released over the past few years) by Taken, In The Blood is a familiar but enjoyable burst of pulp fiction.  As opposed to Soderbergh’s approach to Haywire, Stockwell doesn’t worry about trying to disguise the genre roots of In The Blood.  Instead, he simply tells the story and he tells it well.  In The Blood is a film that’s full of beautiful island scenery, villainous character actors, and enjoyable melodramatic dialogue.  The pace never falters and the action is exciting.  In a few years, the club fight scene will be remembered as a classic of action cinema.

And best of all, Gina Carano kicks ass!  In The Blood gives her a chance to show what she can actually do when she has a director who is willing to get out of her way.  As opposed to Haywire, where she often seemed to get lost amongst all of Soderbergh’s showy techniques, Gina Carano gives a confident and determined performance in In The Blood.  After having to sit through countless action films where every female character is either a victim or a pawn, there is something so wonderful about seeing a movie where a woman gets to do something more than whimper and beg.  Regardless of how predictable the film’s plot may be, the fact that it’s a woman — as opposed to a man — who is getting to kick ass (and look good while doing it!) serves to make In The Blood something of a minor masterpiece of the pulp imagination.

If nothing else, In The Blood shows that sometimes it’s best to keep things simple.

Horror Review: All Souls Day (dir. by Jeremy Kasten)


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All Souls Day was part of the wave of zombie films that continues to flood the direct-to-video (and at times straight to cable) market. This particular zombie movie was written by Mark A. Altman who also wrote the campy and very B-movie-like House of the Dead 2. This was a  zombie flick which actually improved on Uwe Boll’s own House of the Dead that doesn’t really come as a surprise. All Souls Day was Altman’s second try at another zombie movie and while this second attempt wasn’t as fun as his previous one it still managed to be a watchable and interesting zombie movie.

The film’s set in a dusty Mexican town that hides a dark secret from its past. A young couple (played by Marisa Ramirez and Travis Wester) happen upon what seems like an abandoned town. They soon come across a funeral procession and when they inadvertently interrupt the ritual all hell literally breaks loose. It doesn’t help the couple that the only person who seems to be real in this town was the sheriff whose own past ties in with the secret of the town. It was very good to see genre veteran David Keith in the role of the town sheriff. His limited time in the movie was pretty good.

When the town’s people (who by now have shown themselves to be zombies) begin to lay siege on the young couple in the town’s only hotel the rest of the movie gradually shows more of what made this particular Mexican town a death trap for any passerby who happen to come across it on All Souls Day. Soon enough help comes in the form of the young couple’s two friends who arrive in town only to get themselves stuck in the same dire situation the original couple find themselves in.

The resolution of the movie was handled well and it brought a nice supernatural origin and reason as to why the town’s population has turned into flesh-eating zombies. The performances in the film could be seen as being mixed. The more veteran performers like Jeffrey Combs, David Keith, Danny Trejo (as the town’s manipulative patriarch) and Laura Herring perform their roles well without being too over-the-top. The actors playing the pair of young couples on the other hand go from very good to awful in the span of moments in some of the scenes. It’s really this mixed bag in the cast’s performance which keeps All Souls Day from turning into one of those hidden gems in a hill of crap that most zombie flicks turn out to be.

The gore effects in this film was pretty good in the small amount of sequences where the zombies end up doing what they do best once they get a hold of someone. While I was hoping for more of the grue in this particular zombie movie I wasn’t too surprised why it didn’t have more. Other than the pair of young couple there really wasn’t much living people for these zombies to munch on. The film itself show’s it’s low-budget origins in that it looks like something one would see premiere on a random Saturday night on the SyFy Channel. The film actually did premiere on that channel when it was still called SciFi. It’s a look that says TV instead of film, but despite that little nitpick it doesn’t distract much from the experience.

Now, most zombie films of the low-budget variety tend to just have badly done make-up effects. With All Souls Day the filmmakers seem to have done an end-around that budgetary problem by taking a page out of the classic Italian zombie flicks of the 1980’s by making these undead dry, decayed creatures. It’s something that worked well for the Fulci zombies and here it works as well.

All Souls Day was not a great zombie film by any stretch of the imagination, but it had enough entertaining moments and some genuine scary sequences to make it an enjoyable hour and a half of horror viewing on any October night.

Machete Kills: Trailer #2


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So, when I saw You’re Next last weekend, I also saw the second trailer for Machete Kills.

The audience I saw seemed to be really excited about the trailer but I have to say that, after seeing it, I’m actually a bit worried about Machete Kills.  The first Machete was a parody of grindhouse filmmaking but it was an affectionate parody.  As over-the-top as it was, it still felt like it could have also been a genuine grindhouse film.

This trailer for Machete Kills, however, feels like the exact opposite.  Instead of celebrating the excesses of the grindhouse, this trailer feels more like it’s inviting us to mock the films to which it claims to be paying homage.

This trailer almost feels like it’s for a film that was made by somebody who has never seen an actual grindhouse film but who has seen plenty of YouTube videos.

Hopefully, I’ll be proven wrong.

What Lisa Watched Tonight: The Killing Jar (directed by Mark Young)


Earlier tonight, I happened to catch, on Chiller, the 2011 film The Killing Jar.

Why Was I Watching It?

I was hoping that, at some point, the classic Siouxsie and the Banshees song would show up on the soundtrack.  It didn’t.

What’s It About?

I’m trying to work up the strength necessary to go into it all but basically, there’s this diner down south and one night, right around closing time, a news story comes over the radio about a brutal murder that was committed at a nearby farm.  There’s only a few people left in the diner — a depressed waitress (Tara from Buffy, a.k.a. Amber Benson), a tough trucker (Kevin Gage), a wimpy deputy (Lew Temple), a mysterious stranger (Harold Perrineau), two teenagers who don’t matter, and the Danny Trejo-look alike who apparently owns the place (Danny Trejo).  Anyway, all these people are so upset to hear about the murders that they blame them on the first surly stranger who happens to step into the diner.  Unfortunately, that stranger is played by Michael Madsen and he responds by shooting up the place (Danny Trejo’s head explodes in close-up) and holding the survivors hostage.  Things get a little bit more complicated when Mr. Greene (Jake Busey) shows up and reveals that someone at the diner happens to be a contract killer known as Mr. Smith.  Guess what?  It’s not Michael Madsen.

After typing all that, I feel I have a responsibility to add that this all sounds a lot more interesting than it actually is.

What Works

Well, the big “twist” is kinda obvious and you probably figured out just from reading the previous paragraph.  However, it’s still kinda fun, kinda being the word to remember.  Benson and Gage both give pretty good performances and Busey seems to be having a lot of fun.  Madsen, to be honest, seems to be on the verge of falling asleep in a few scenes but still, he can say more with an annoyed eye squint than most actors can with a 10-page monologue.  However, the film really belongs to the always underappreciated Harold Perrineau and his combative, confrontational scene with Madsen is one of the few instances when the film really comes to life.

Danny Trejo’s head explodes with style.

What Doesn’t Work

Oh.  My.  God.  Where to begin?

I can count the number of succesful “hostage” films on one hand and let’s just say that The Killing Jar is no Dog Day Afternoon.  Taking place entirely in one location and with a small cast mouthing melodramatic dialogue, The Killing Jar unfolds like one of those really bad plays that an ex-boyfriend of mine used to write in high school.  They always ended with everyone dead and always seemed to feature at least one evil redhead who ended up crying over the dead body of her ex-boyfriend.

Director Young does not help matters by confusing tension with meaningless pauses.  There’s a lot of scenes of people glaring at each other but since nobody really comes across like a human being, the glares don’t mean anything.

HOWEVER, what really didn’t work about this film was the fact that the first 20 minutes of the film was taken up with Amber Benson asking people if they wanted a slice of “Pecan Pie,” that she claimed was “the best this side of the Mason-Dixon.”  The problem here is that the film was clearly meant to be set in my part of the world.  And in my part of the world, we pronounce it “PEH-cahn.”  However, Benson repeatedly pronounced it “PEE-can.”  Seriously, this annoyed me more than words can express.  Listen up all you aspiring filmmakers — if you’re going to insist on setting your crappy films in my part of the world, at least try to get the pronunciation right.  Speaking for myself, I don’t have the slightest idea what a PEE-can is supposed to be but it sounds kinda nasty.  I’ll take a PEH-cahn over a PEE-can any day.

PEH-cahn Pie.  Good Lord, people, it’s not that difficult.

“Oh My God!  Just Like Me!” Moments:

None.

Lessons Learned:

I have no desire to ever eat another pecan pie.

 

5 Performers Who Deserve A Role In A Tarantino Movie


One of the great things about watching a Quentin Tarantino film is the chance to see B-movie actors and various grindhouse veterans getting a chance to show off just how talented they actually are.  Below are four men and one woman who, in a perfect world, would have a date with Tarantino in the near future.

1) Giovanni Lombardo Radice

Who is he? He’s one of the great Italian exploitation actors.  He played a character named Charles Bukowski in Cannibal Apocalypse.  He was Bob the Pervert in City of th Living Dead.  Remember his little disco dance in House On The Edge of the Park?  And who can forget him snorting cocaine, getting castrated, and shouting “Twatface!” in Cannibal Ferox?  He was also a regular in the movies of Michele Soavi and though he hasn’t been as active in recent years, he can be seen in both Gangs of New York and the Omen remake.

Why Should Tarantino Use Him?  Are you kidding?  Because he rocks that’s why.  Plus, Tarantino has said that he’s a fan and, in a documentary included on the Cannibal Apocalypse DVD, Radice expressed a desire to some day work with Tarantino.  And, with his current bald look, Radice could easily play Mussolini if Tarantino wanted to make a prequel to Inglorious Basterds.

2) Tony Sirico

Who is He? He’s the Italian version of Danny Trejo, a real-life gangster who went to prison and then became an actor. 

Why Should Tarantino Use Him? Because Paulie was my favorite character on The Sopranos.  Sirico deserves at least one starring role in his  post-prison career.

3) Colby Donaldson

Who Is He? Okay, Colby’s kinda been a little bit pathetic on the current season of Survivor but in his two previous appearances on the show, Colby was the man.  In between reality show appearances, Colby has pursued a career as an actor and, surprisingly, he’s not half bad.  His best post-Survivor role, though, was playing himself on Curb Your Enthusiasm.

Why Should Tarantino Use Him? Because someday, Tarantino’s going to have to make an actual western and who would be better to star in it than my fellow Texan, Colby?

4) Fred J. Lincoln

Who is He? Lincoln has spent most of his career working in the porn industry but Lincoln has appeared in a few “mainstream” movies.  Most infamously, he played “Weasel” in the original Last House On The Left.  In the 70s, Lincoln was the owner of Plato’s Retreat, an infamous sex club in NYC.  He’s also one of the central figures in Legs McNeil’s The Other Hollywood: The Uncensored Oral History of the Porn Film Industry .

Why  Should Tarantino Use Him?  David Hess got the majority of the attention but, of Last House’s trio of killers, Lincoln was the truly scary one.  A cameo in a Tarantino movie would be the perfect way to pay credit to Lincoln’s role in one of the seminal exploitation films in history.

5) Catriona MacColl

Who is She? English actress who appeared in several exploitation films in the late 70s and early 80s.  She is probably best known for starring in Fulci’s Beyond trilogy.  Currently semi-retired from acting and living in France.

Why Should Tarantino Use Her? Because she starred in The Beyond, of course!

10 Movies I’m Looking Foward To and 5 That I Am Not And 1 That I’m Kinda Sorta Undecided On


I had all six of my wisdom teeth extracted on Tuesday.  Yes, you read that correctly.  Not only where my all my wisdom teeth impacted but I had two extra ones as well.  I was passed out during the operation and, to be honest, I wish I could be passed out for the recovery as well.  I’m bruised, puffy, and it hurts to talk.  In short, even with a healthy supply of Vicodin, I am miserable.  Boo hoo.

However, one thing never fails to cheer me up and that’s watching, discussing, thinking about, and writing about film.  Since Tuesday, I’ve had a lot of extra time to think about some of the films that are due to come out during this year.  Below, I’ve listed 16 of them.  Ten of them are movies that I’m looking forward to seeing, five are movies that I know I’m going to end up seeing and hating, and finally, one is a movie that I’m genuinely undecided on.

The Ten I’m Looking Forward To:

1) Iron Man 2 — Iron Man 2 is opening tomorrow and I’m exciting for several reasons.  First off, I loved the first movie.  Super hero adaptations usually bore me to tears but the first Iron Man was actually a lot of fun.  Traditionally, sequels are disappointing but most of the people behind the 1st movie — director Jon Favreau, Robert Downey, Jr. and Gwynneth Paltrow — are returning.  As well, you’ve got Mickey Rourke chewing the scenery and blowing things up, Sam Rockwell (who I love! love!  love! — go and rent Moon if you haven’t seen it!) as a villain, and Scarlett Johansson (Lost in Translation is one of my all time favorite movies) kicking ass in black leather.  

On a personal note, my friend Jeff once referred to me as “the Black Widow.”  At first, I was a little taken back because I thought he was suggesting that I devoured my mates but fortunately for him, he then explained he was referring to a comic book character who, like me, has red hair.  Anyway, for the longest time, that’s been an inside joke between the two of us.  I’ve always been the Black Widow even though I have no idea who she actually is.  So, imagine my delight when I found out that this is apparently the same character that Scarlett Johansson is playing in Iron Man 2!  For that reason alone, I have to see this movie. 

Finally, when I’m not obsessing on films, I work as a receptionist/secretary/file clerk/personal assistant and there are times when I’m sitting bored at my desk and I start to think about myself as if I were the character played by Gwynneth Paltrow.  I’ll sit there and wonder if maybe my boss is secretly a costumed super hero.  (I’m fairly sure that he’s not.)  Strange as it may seem, Iron Man has become the fuel for my fantasies. (Release Date: May 7th, 2010 — T0morrow!) 

2) Robin Hood — When it comes to English folklore, I tend to gravitate towards stories involving King Arthur accidentally sleeping with his half-sister and thousands of cocky knights vainly searching for the Holy Grail and getting killed in various macabre ways as a result.  As a result, I really don’t know much about Robin Hood beyond the basics.  I know that he was apparently some sort of socialist and that he liked to hang out in the forest with a bunch of “merry” men.  To be honest, the whole idea of Robin Hood has always struck me as being childish and the character bores me.  But I’m still looking forward to this latest Robin Hood film and I can explain it in 2 words: Russell Crowe.  If anyone can make Robin Hood into an interesting — even compelling character — it would be Crowe.  Director Ridley Scott also seems to be the ideal director for this movie and then toss in some speeches about taxation without representation and you’ve got the potential for the perfect Libertarian film. (Release Date: May 14th, 2010)

3) The Expendables — Yes, I am usually not a huge fan of action films and I’ve never quite understood how Sylvester Stallone ever became a star but I’m still looking forward to this movie.  Why?  Just judging from the trailer, every actor on the planet appears to have a role in the this film.  I find Jason Stathan to be about as appealing as Sylvester Stallone but Jet Li and Mickey Rourke should both be fun to watch and who wouldn’t jump at the chance to see Eric Roberts play yet another villain? (Release Date: August 13th, 2010)

4) Splice — I nearly included Splice on my list of films that I’m not looking forward to because, I swear to God, the trailer for Splice is so dull that it could be used to torture prisoners at Gitmo.  Add to that, I’ve never quite seen the appeal that Adrien Brody supposedly possesses as an actor.  However, I’m willing to take a chance on Splice because 1) it also stars one of my personal role models, the wonderful actress, director, and activist Sarah Polley and 2) director Vincenzo Natali has promised to take a very European approach to the film’s horrors (i.e. lots of casual sex with the monster serving as a symbol for something deeper than just box office receipts).  I’m looking forward to seeing if Splice can overcome Adrien Brody and live up to that promise. (Release date: June 4th, 2010)

5) Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Part One — Okay, I admit it.   I’m a fan.  Don’t judge me.  (Though I will also say that I think J.K. Rowling needs to get over herself in a major way.)   It’ll be interesting to see what Daniel Radcliffe, Rupert Grint, and Emma Watson do with themselves now that their indentured servitude is done with.  Radcliffe, in particular, is capable of playing a lot more than just Harry Potter.  (Release Date: November 19th, 2010)

6) Howl — James Franco as the late poet Allen Ginsberg?  Strangely enough, I think the idea might work.  (Release Date: September 24th, 2010)

7) Machete — Robert Rodriguez finally makes a film for someone other than his kids.  How can you not be excited about the chance to see Robert De Niro and Jeff Fahey on-screen together?  Plus, Lindsay Lohan (who really should just be allowed to live her life) gets a chance to remake her image playing a socialite with a gun.  My hope is that if Machete finds success at the box office, Eli Roth will make Thanksgiving.  (Release Date: September 3rd, 2010)

8 ) My Soul To Take — Wes Craven has had an odd career and, to be honest, I struggle sometimes with whether he’s truly a great horror filmmaker or if he’s just a journeyman director who has occasionally gotten lucky.  Looking at his career, it’s hard not to wonder how the same guy who made the original Last House on the Left and The Hills Have Eyes could also be responsible for something like Cursed?  Regardless of how the actual film turns out, My Soul To Take will add another piece to the puzzle.  This will be the first film to be both written and directed by Craven in 16 years.  Hopefully, as in the majority of his better movies, Craven will be able to balance his commercial side with his sadistic side. (Release Date: October 29th, 2010)

9) Inception — My tastes usually run more towards horror than sci-fi but I find myself growing more excited about Inception with each passing day.  Not only does the plot sound like it could have easily come from a long-lost book by Philip K. Dick (one of the few sci-fi writers that I enjoy reading, A Scanner Darkly being my personal favorite) but the film is being directed by Christopher Nolan who proved with Momento that he can make the surreal compelling.  And just check out that cast — Leonardo DiCaprio, Cillian Murphy, Ellen Page, and Joseph Gordon-Levitt (who I’ve been crushing on ever since (500) Days of Summer). (Release date: July 16th, 2010.)

10) Salt — I love it when girls get to kick ass in the movies and, when she’s at her best, nobody kicks ass like Angelina Jolie.  (Release Date: July 23rd, 2010)

One That I’m Kinda Looking Forward To But I’m Kinda Not

1) Sex and the City 2 — Why are they in the desert?  How exactly can you have Sex without the City?    (Release date: May 27th, 2010) 

The Five I Am Not Looking Forward To

1) The A-Team — Yay!  It’s an action movie based on a show I’ve never heard of.  I love Liam Neeson and it’s good to see that Sharlto Copley’s underrated performance in District 9 has led to him getting more work but, sorry, I think I’ll pass. (Release Date: June 11th, 2010)

2) The Social Network — I know a lot of people are looking forward to this movie about the founding of Facebook and it is true that it’s being directed by David Fincher.  However, there are a few things that lead me to fear that this is not going to be the movie that so many people think it will be.  First off, it was written by Aaron Sorkin who is probably one of the most overrated screenwriters working today.  He may be best known for The West Wing but most of Sorkin’s work resembles the heavy-handed sermonizing of Studio 60 On The Sunset Strip.  Remember how Sorkin reacted when a few bloggers criticized his show?  This is not a guy who is comfortable with the Internet.  Secondly, the film is being produced by Kevin Spacey, another overrated talent who doesn’t so much act as much as he smugly pretends to act.  Third, and most important, The Social Network has got to be one of the worst titles I’ve heard in a long time.  Everything about this movie just screams “misfire.” (Release date: October 1st, 2010)

3) Paranormal Activity 2 — Because, you know, the first one was so good. (Release Date: October 22nd, 2010)

4) Twelve — I loved Nick McDonnell’s novel and I usually enjoy movies about decadent rich kids destroying themselves with lots of drugs and promiscuity.  I mean, if you’re going to self-destruct, you should at least look good doing it.  Unfortunately, Twelve is directed by the American Umberto Lenzi, Joel Schumacher.  Schumacher’s films aren’t even enjoyably bad.  They’re just bad.  Interestingly enough, Joel Schumacher tends to turn up in just about every movie star biography and Hollywood history book that I own.  He’s someone who has obviously been around for a very long time and who has cultivated a lot of friends.  I imagine he must be very likable in person.  But, seriously, isn’t it time to revoke his DGA membership? (Release Date: July 2, 2010)

5) Saw VII — Sorry, I got bored with the Jigsaw Killer about five movies ago.   The film’s in 3D so I’m sure we’ll get to see a severed limb fly directly at the camera.  (Release Date: October 22nd, 2010)