Lifetime Film Review: My Nightmare Landlord (dir by Dylan Vox)


So, put yourself in Lydia’s situation.

Lydia (played by Caroline Harris) is a student at the local college and she’s doing her best to write the paper that will basically determine the rest of her life.  However, she keeps getting distracted.  For one thing, she just broke up with her boyfriend and now both she and her cat are practically homeless.  While it’s true that she does have a job at the library, it’s doubtful that the head librarian would be willing to allow her to sleep down in periodicals.  It’s just not done.

However, one rainy day, Lydia happens to stumble into an apartment building.  The first thing that she sees is apartment manager Drew (Ignacyo Matynia), shirtless and doing manly building work.  Things are looking up already!  Drew also explains that he just happens to have an empty apartment.  It seems that the last tenant left suddenly and all of her furniture is still in the apartment!  Lydia can not only move in but she also won’t have to buy a new couch!

Sounds great, right?

Well, it gets even better.  First off, this apartment is HUGE!  Seriously, I was really proud of the first apartment that I ever got when I was in college.  I mean, I had chairs in the living room and everything!  But my little apartment was nothing compared to the apartment in this movie!  Secondly, Drew is like really hot and nice and he and Lydia have instant chemistry.

Of course, there are some problems.  First off, Lydia is terrified of the dark, to the extent that she has panic attacks if the lights dim, which is something that happens with disturbing regularity inside of the otherwise perfect apartment.  Secondly, Drew is possessive and crazy and murderous.  I mean, you probably already guessed that second part.  After all, the film is called My Nightmare Landlord and it’s a Lifetime film.  One of the rules of Lifetime is that any guy who appears to be too good to be true is ultimately going to end up committing two murders before tying you to a chair and talking about how the two of you belong together.  That’s just the way way things work and that’s pretty much what happens here.

But you know what?  That apartment is seriously nice.  In fact, I would say that it’s such a great apartment that it might be worth the risk of having a nightmare landlord.  (Technically, of course, Drew is just the apartment manager.  But My Nightmare Apartment Manager does have quite the same ring to it.)  Of course, Drew does take things a bit too far when he starts letting himself into the apartment at all hours of the night.  That’s definitely not a good thing.  I would probably change the locks after I moved in.  Still, it’s a really nice place….

Anyway, this isn’t the first Lifetime film about a crazed apartment manger and it probably won’t be the last.  As I’ve said in many other reviews, the familiarity of these films is a huge part of their appeal.  I will say that Caroline Harris is a likable protagonist and she does a good job capturing Lydia’s fear of the dark and making it feel real.  And Ignacyo Matynia is both dangerously handsome and believably charming as the apartment manager from Hell.  I enjoyed the film almost as much as I loved the apartment.

2016 In Review: The Best of SyFy


Well, here we are!  We have reached the end of the first week of January, 2017 and that means that it is time for me to start listing my favorite movies, books, songs, and TV shows of the previous year!  Let’s start things off by taking a look at the best that the SyFy network had to offer in 2016!

Below, you will find my nominees for the best SyFy films and performances of the previous year.  The winners are listed in bold and starred.  As you’ll quickly notice, it was a good year for films about zombies, spiders, and sharks!

(Please note: When it comes to determining the nominees, I have used the credits for each film as listed on the Internet Movie Database.  If anyone feels that they have been miscredited, feel free to let me know and I’ll correct the mistake.  Thanks!)

nightbeforehalloween4

Best Picture

2 Lava 2 Lantula, produced by Neil Elman, Anthony Frankhauser, Lisa M. Hansen, Paul Hertzber

Atomic Shark, produced by Tanya Bellamy, Diane Boone, Matt Chiasson, Angela Meredith Furst, Griff Furst, Stephen Furst, M. Juan Gonzalez, Ross Herbert, Howie Klein, Som Kohanzadeh, Yoram Kohanzadeh, Isiah LaBorde, Kevin Lamb, Daniel March, Will Matherne, David Poughatsch, Lee C. Rogers, Miguel Sandoval, Arthur Scanlan, Ben Yimlimai

Dead 7, produced by Paul Bales, Nick Carter, David L. Garber, David Michael Latt, David Rimawi, Micho Rutare, Dylan Vox

Isle of the Dead, produced by Paul Bales, Lauren Elizabeth Hood, David Michael Latt, David Rimawi

*The Night Before Halloween, produced by Blake Corbet, Priscilla Galvez, Christina O’Shea-Daly, Marek Povisal, Lance Samuels, Mary Anne Waterhouse

Ozark Sharks, produced by Kenneth M. Badish, Sam Claitor, Eric Davies, Daniel Lewis, Jordan Lewis, Pierre-Andre Rochat, Tommy Talley

Best Director

Nick Lyons for Isle of the Dead

Nick Simon for 2 Lava 2 Lantula

Misty Talley for Ozark Sharks

*Sheldon Wilson for The Night Before Halloween

nick-carter

Best Actor

*Nick Carter in Dead 7

Steve Guttenberg in 2 Lava 2 Lantula

Justin Kelly in The Night Before Halloween

Michael Papajohn in Ozark Sharks

bailee

Best Actress

Jessica Blackmore in Dam Sharks

Laura Cayouette in Ozark Sharks

*Bailee Madison in The Night Before Halloween

Maryse Mizanin in Isle of the Dead

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Best Supporting Actor

Raymond J. Barry in Day of Reckoning

*D.C. Douglas in Isle of the Dead

Alex Harrouch in The Night Before Halloween

Thomas Francis Murphy in Ozark Sharks

ozark_sharks_2016_13_molly_woolf

Best Supporting Actress

*Allisyn Ashley Arm in Ozark Sharks

Barbara Crampton in Day of Reckoning

Kristina Hughes in Stakeland 2: The Stakelander

Kiana Madiera in The Night Before Halloween

2-lava-2-lantula

Best Screenplay

*2 Lava 2 Lantula, Neil Elman, Ashley O’Neil

Isle of the DeadJacob Cooney, Brandon Trenz

The Night Before HalloweenSheldon Wilson

Ozark Sharks, Marcy Holland, Greg Mitchell

Best Cinematography

Atomic Shark, Don E. FauntLeRoy

*The Night Before Halloween, Daniel Grant

Planet of the Sharks, Mark Atkins

Stakeland 2: The Stakelander, Matt Mitchell

Best Costumes

*Dead 7Sarah Sharp

Isle of the Dead, Cailan Calandro

Planet of the Sharks, Mary-Sue Morris

Stakeland 2: The Stakelander, Brenda Shenher

ozark-sharks

Best Editing

Atomic Shark, Stephen Pfeil

Isle of the Dead, Rob Pallatina

The Night Before Halloween

*Ozark SharksMisty Talley

Best Makeup

The Crooked Man, Laurie Hallack, Laura Morton, Hannah Schenck, Eric S. Wilson

*Isle of the Dead, Leslie Burdick, Dennis M. Chavez, Michael Robert Cypher, Lleva Radina

Sharknado 4Krystal Bagorio, Stacy Bisel, Haley Coats, Rebeca Ovadia, Magali Serrano, Melissa K. Webb

Stakeland 2: The Stakelander, Raven Dee, Jill Demaer, Lindi Edge, Pete Gerner, Nina McArthur, Brian Spears, Krista Stevenson

Best Score

*Dead 7Drew Lerdal, Bryan Shackle

Isle of the Dead, Chris Cano, Chris Ridenhour

Ozark SharksAndrew Morgan Smith

Sharknado 4Christopher Cano, Chris Ridenhour

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Best Production Design

2 Lava 2 Lantula, Yana Veselova, Megan Sunzeri

Dead 7, Caitlin Langen, Mikki Mamaril

*Isle of the Dead, Kalise Wallace, Taylor Jean

Sharknado 4Kalise Wallace

Best Sound

Atomic Shark

Isle of the Dead

The Night Before Halloween

*Sharknado 4

2lava-2lantula

Best Visual Effects

Atomic Shark

*2 Lava 2 Lantula

The Night Before Halloween

Shadows of the Dead

 

Congratulations to all the nominees!  Thank you for keeping us entertained in 2016!

Want to see my picks for last year?  Click here!

Click here for my picks from 2014!

And here for my picks from 2013!

Tomorrow, we’ll take a look at the best from Lifetime!

Previous Entries In The Best of 2016:

  1. TFG’s 2016 Comics Year In Review : Top Tens, Worsts, And Everything In Between
  2. Anime of the Year: 2016
  3. 25 Best, Worst, and Gems I Saw In 2016

 

Film Review: Dead 7 (dir by Danny Roew)


Dead 7 is a strange one.

The latest film from the geniuses at the Asylum (and I mean that as a compliment because there is definitely a strain of genius at the heart of The Asylum’s madness), Dead 7 premiered on SyFy last night.  I watched it.  My friends, the Snarkalecs, watched it.  And about a million boy band fans watched it.  As usual, the Snarkalecs and I attempted to live tweet the film.  Unfortunately, for every genuinely witty tweet from me and my friends, there were a few thousand tweets from people begging Nick Carter to retweet them.  A lot of wonderful snark got lost in the deluge of fangirl exhortations.

But I can’t really blame the fangirls.  If I hadn’t discovered the joys of snark and if not for the fact that I have too much self-worth to beg anyone (no matter how hot or famous) for a retweet, I might have been there with them.  Dead 7 is many things but it will probably best be remembered as the movie that featured a lot of former boy band members fighting and being eaten by zombies.  (As more than one tweeter put it, Dead 7 was like watching all of your childhood cruses die a terrible and bloody death.)  Not only was the film’s story conceived by Backstreet Boy Nick Carter but he also starred in it and convinced a lot of other boy banders to join the cast.  Of course, neither Justin Timberlake nor Lance Bass are anywhere to be found in the film.  (For that matter, I was surprised that Aaron Carter didn’t show up.)  But the film does feature three Backstreet Boys, two from *NSYNC, Jeff Timmons from 98 Degrees, and O-Town.

Yes, O-Town.

(Fortunately, super creepy, super sleazy, and super imprisoned Lou Pearlman did not have a cameo.  I imagine that he was one of the first people to be eaten during the zombie apocalypse.)

As for the film itself … well, it’s not exactly easy to describe.  The plot was not always easy to follow and there was a surprisingly large amount of backstory for an Asylum zombie film.  The apocalypse has come and gone and now, the world has been transformed into the old west.  What remains of humanity lives in tiny and isolated communities.  Gunslingers wander through the desert.  High atop a mountain, a mad woman named Apocalypta (super scary Debra Wilson) breeds zombies and holds the town below hostage.  Sheriff Cooper (Jon Secada) recruits a group of warriors to take out Apocalypta and her hordes.

(Incidentally, Apocalypta’s main henchman is named Johnny Vermillion.  Johnny wears clown makeup and giggles uncontrollably.  He also gouges out a man’s eye.  Johnny is played by A.J. McClean of the Backstreet Boys and he makes for a surprisingly effective villain.)

Despite the fact that Cooper and his impressive sideburns are later eaten by a zombie horde, the warriors still go after Apocalypta.  They are the Dead 7, not quite magnificent and almost all dead by the end of the film.

O-Town’s Erik Michael Estrada is Komodo.  He’s a samurai.  He kills a lot of zombies with a sword.  Watching the movie last night, we all really loved Komodo but I think we mostly just liked the sword.

Carrie Keagan is Daisy Jane, who I liked because she was a woman who kicked ass.  (Plus, Carrie Keagan was a good sport and replied to a few of my snarky tweets.)  Daisy’s boyfriend is Billy, who is played by 98 Degrees’s Jeff Timmons.  Personally, I think Dead 7 needs a prequel that will focus exclusively on Daisy Jane or Billy.

Joey Fatone is Whiskey Joe.  Whiskey Joe is boisterous and always seems to be having a good time.  He’s also always drinking whiskey but when he explained that he can blow himself up if he ever finds himself overwhelmed by zombies, I cringed a little because it was such obvious foreshadowing.  If nothing else, Dead 7 forces you to consider whether a world without Joey Fatone is a world worth living in.

Whiskey Joe’s partner is the Vaquero (played by Howie Dorough).  The Vaquero is good with a rifle and, at one point, calls Whiskey Joe “estupido.”

Sirene (Lauren Kitt-Carter, who is married to Nick in real life) is a mysterious woman who shows up nearly halfway through the film.  She doesn’t say much but she’s good at killing zombies.

And finally, Nick himself played Jack.  Jack is a man of few words, a stoic gunslinger who always does the right thing.  Nick Carter does a surprisingly effective Clint Eastwood impersonation.

By the end of the film, only one member of the Dead 7 will still be alive.  Can you guess who?

Beyond the cast (and former boy banders play even the smallest roles), the most interesting thing about Dead 7 is how seriously it takes itself.  This is not another Sharknado 3.  There’s very little intentional camp to be found in Dead 7.  Instead, it’s a gory and violent film, one in which characters die terrible deaths while howling in pain.  The juxtaposition of boy banders and blood makes for an odd viewing experience.

Fortunately, I like odd things.  Dead 7 may not be perfect (the editing occasionally feels rushed and haphazard and, as a result, the story isn’t always easy to follow) but when it concentrates on zombie mayhem, it works well enough.

Keep an eye out for Dead 7!

(Just make sure that AJ McLean does snatch it out of your head…)

Adventures in Cleaning Out The DVR: Night of the Wild (dir by Eric Red)


night of the wild

After I finished up my review of Buried Secrets, it was time to watch Night of the Wild.  Night of the Wild, which was produced by the wonderful people at The Asylum, originally aired on the SyFy network on October 3rd.  Much like Ominous, The Hollow, and They Found Hell, it was aired as a part of their 31 Days of Halloween.  I was on vacation when Night of the Wild was originally aired, so I missed it.

Night of the Wild is exactly the type of film that appears to have been made to give me nightmares.  It’s a film about killer dogs and I’ve always been a bit scared of dogs.  Recently, as a result of meeting some very well-behaved and sweet-natured members of the species, I’ve become a little bit more accepting of them but, for the most part, dogs still make me very nervous.  I just can’t deal with all the barking and the growling and the jumping.  Add to that, it freaks me out that dogs are apparently attuned to human emotions because I tend to be pretty moody.  Get a dog around me and chances are my emotional nature will cause them to have a nervous breakdown.

Night of the Wild opens with a green meteorite crashing down to Earth.  It lands near a small farming community.  Soon, glowing chunks of the meteorite are appearing everywhere and the town’s dogs start to turn against their owners.  (It’s debatable whether or not it’s just dogs that go crazy.  One of my favorite shots of the movie is of a hundred cats safely perched up in a tree, as if they’re aware that the dogs are having issues and don’t want anything to do with them.  There’s another shot the features several cows mooing in a slightly ominous fashion, as if they also can’t wait to take out a few farmers.)  It’s pretty much a typical SyFy/Asylum scenario — the dogs go on a rampage through town, a lot of people die, and the members of a family (made up of Rob Morrow, Kelly Rutherford, Tristin Mays, and Carmen Tonry) try to get to safety.

And yet, there are a few things that set Night of the Wild apart from other SyFy films.

First off, there’s the look of the film.  According to the imdb’s trivia section, director Eric Red and cinematographer Spencer Hutchins were inspired by the look of Dario Argento’s classic Suspiria.  And you can certainly tell while watching the film.  The colors are vibrant.  The green glow of the meteorite is often seen in the background.  When the dogs lay siege to a farmhouse, the reddish lighting will remind you of Suspiria‘s scenes of Jessica Harper investigating the hidden passageways of that haunted dance academy.

The other thing that sets apart Night of the Wild is just how violent and gruesome the film eventually becomes.  Unlike Sharknado 3, this is not a comedy.  This is not a film that invites you to laugh over all the mayhem.  Night of the Wild is a grim and dark movie, one in which you’re never quite sure who is going to survive and who is going to fall victim to the dogs.

Night of the Wild is a film that will make you want to hug your favorite cat.

Two Late Holiday Reviews: Santa Claws and Happy Christmas


So, Christmas is over and, at this point, you’re probably sick of hearing about Christmas movies.  However, before we say goodbye to 2014 and welcome the new year, I wanted to take this opportunity to tell you about two new holiday films that I saw this month.

Santa Claws

Directed by Glenn Miller and produced by the wonderful people at the Asylum, Santa Claws tells the story of what happens when Santa Claus comes into contact with three adorable kittens.  Unfortunately, it would appear that Santa is highly allergic to cats and he ends up sneezing so much that he falls off the roof of a house.  Of course, this means that it’s up to the three kittens to climb into Santa’s sleigh and deliver the rest of the gifts.  Fortunately, Santa’s sleigh is equipped with a GPS system and two talking reindeer.

Did I mention that the kittens can talk too?

Because they so totally can!

Okay, okay — this is the type of low-budget, straight-to-DVD family film that critics are always snarky about.  But you know what?  I’m a cat person and I think kittens are the cutest things in the world.  And when they’re capable of talking, it’s even better!  Whatever flaws the movie may have had (and it had more than a few), the kittens were cute and really, that’s all that matters.

Add to that, Santa Claws was full of Asylum in-jokes.  For instance, one creepy, Santa-obsessed character also happens to love (and own) Sharknado.  When the kittens pulls up the list of who has been naughty and who has been nice, one of the names at the top of list is that of frequent Asylum actor (and star of A House Is Not A Home) Gerald Webb.

Ultimately, Santa Claws is cute fun for cat lovers.  Watch it on a double bill with the Grumpy Cat Christmas movie.

Happy Christmas

And, after you watch Santa Claws, you can watch a film that basically takes place in an entirely different universe.  Happy Christmas was this year’s film from director Joe Swanberg.  Swanberg, of course, is one of the major figures in the mumblecore movement, making films that feature improvised dialogue and which treat the mundane realities of life with the same reverence that most mainstream films reserve for chase scenes and CGI explosions. Swanberg’s previous film, Drinking Buddies, was one of the best of 2013.

Happy Christmas never works as well as Drinking Buddies but fans of both Swanberg and the mumblecore movement will probably enjoy it.  Anna Kendrick plays Jenny, an irresponsible woman who might be an alcoholic.  When she breaks up with her boyfriend, Jenny ends up moving in with her older brother Jeff (played by Joe Swanberg, himself).  The rest of the film follows Jenny as she goes to parties with and embarrasses her friend Carson (Lena Dunham), dates an amiable pot dealer named Kevin (Mark Webber), and bonds with Jeff’s wife, Kelly (Melanie Lynesky).

Kelly is a novelist who has been suffering from writer’s block.  With the help of Jenny and Carson, she starts to work on what Jenny refers to as being a “trashy, sexy mom novel.”  Probably the best scene in the film features Jenny, Carson, and Kelly just sitting around and debating the best euphemisms to use while writing a sex scene.

(As well, I think that any writer can relate to Kelly’s situation here.  Who hasn’t been tempted to just sell out and just write something that’s totally commercial and goes against every idealistic dream you’ve ever had about being a serious writer?)

Many viewers will probably dismiss Happy Christmas as being a film where nothing really happens but I think they’re being shortsighted.  There’s a lot going on in Happy Christmas — you just have to be willing to look underneath the surface.  Though Happy Christmas rejects the melodramatic conventions that we’ve come to expect from most movies, that doesn’t mean that the film itself is plotless.  By the end of this rather short film, neither Kelly or Jenny is the same person that she was at the start of the film.  They’ve both changed for the better but — much as in real life — that change isn’t always obvious.  But the change is there, waiting to be discovered by those perceptive enough to notice.

Finally, it’s interesting to see both Anna Kendrick and Melanie Lynesky playing against type here.  Kendrick especially seems to be having a lot of fun, finally getting to play a character who doesn’t always do the right thing.

And so, next Christmas, watch Happy Christmas when you want to think and watch Santa Claws when you need an excuse to go, “Awwwwww!”