Sunday, May 5, 2013

MOVIE REVIEW: Phantasm (1979)

When Mike's older brother Jody doesn't let him attend a funeral he decides to spy on it from the sidelines instead. When everybody has left he sees something very strange, the creepy undertaker loads the casket into his hearse by himself and drives of with it. He suspects something weird is going on but has a hard time convincing his brother who is more annoyed that Mike follows him around everywhere
ever since their parents died. Mike decides to check out the funeral home and comes back with something that makes it plainly clear something odd is indeed afoot. Mike, Jody and family friend Reggie decide to investigate what exactly that Tall Man is up to.

Phantasm is clearly filmed on a small budget, it's got that classic 80's b-movie vibe about it that is just so exciting, you know that you're going to be in for something entertaining. (Considering it was made in 1979 you could even call it a trendsetter.) The plot is pure horror cheese, you've got a lanky creepy dude, blonde babes (one that easily puts out), a mystical, psychic grandma and an awkward looking kid who has to overcome his fear to figure out what trouble he's gotten himself into. 
The actors aren't particularly good, apart from Michael Baldwin who plays the young Mike Pearson and gives an excellent performance, but good actors aren't what you want in a movie like this. You want actors who are game and go all out to make the movie as fun as it can possibly be and they certainly deliver on that. 

The contrast between the quiet suburban town it takes place in and the disturbing funeral home is really effective. Oh my god, is that funeral home disturbing with its huge echoing marble halls, I can imagine plenty of nightmares taking place there. Phantasm is an extremely atmospheric movie, it looks very nice and it's got an awesome score reminiscent of the Nightmare on Elmstreet movies, or  John Carpenters work. Actually, that is the best way I can describe it. Phantasm is like a John Carpenter horror movie aimed at a slightly younger target but for one scene that merited the movies original X-rating. Even with that in it, Phantasm is not particularly gory, it's a movie that keeps you on the edge of your seat biting your nails and giddy at the same time. I bet you're wondering now what that scene is (all I'll say is, it involves that metal ball thing on the poster). It's certainly worth a watch if you're feeling nostalgic for the creativity and fun that is lost in mainstream horror movies now but was so abundant twenty, thirty years ago or if you're wishing you were still at that age you had to sneak in to the movies you were a bit too young for. Not one of the best, but very enjoyable and it puts today's output to shame.

Sunday, July 8, 2012

MOVIE REVIEW: Along Came a Spider

When the senator's daughter gets kidnapped, detective Alex Cross (Morgan Freeman) receives a call from the kidnapper, luring him into a case he initially wants nothing to do with. Alex teams up with a secret service agent (Monica Potter) who worked at the girls' high security school. The kidnapper (Michael Wincott) lays out a clue-finding game, trying to get Alex to play along, making this the crime of the century.

I don't generally care much for kidnap movies, they're so often too formulaic, focusing on the (always very rich) parents' pleas, the clever set-up at the ransom handover where they try and grab the kid before giving the kidnapper any money, but 'Along Came A Spider' has very few of these cliches (it does have the very over used detective-is-brokenhearted-about-his-previous-partner's-death-that-he-could-have-avoided cliche, but I'll look the other way). Instead it's fast paced, focusing more on the game of cat and mouse than emotional turmoil and it has a great, exciting twist that I didn't at all see coming.

The acting is very good, obviously Freeman is great as always. (Has he ever not been good in a movie?) The criminal, played by 'The Crow's' Top Dollar, is very human, never once crossing the line into cartoon villain territory and the kidnapped girl is suitably strong-willed and inventive without it becoming very 'Home Alone' (which I do love, but not in a thriller).

At the time it came out the movie didn't receive much attention and I feel it was underrated. 'Along Came A Spider' is an action-packed movie with exciting twists and turns whose ninety-nine minutes breeze by in no-time. There is no lingering, no time to get bored, just a good, solid psychological thriller. It really shows that you don't need two and a half hours to tell a story. So, if you're in the mood for plunging into 'a tangled web of danger and deceit' definitely check it out!

Friday, June 1, 2012

Battle of the Snow Whites - previews

So there are now two Snow White movies out, Mirror Mirror, which came out about a month ago and now Snow White and the Huntsman. I have not yet seen either films, so I'm basing this solely on the trailers.

Mirror Mirror stars Julia Roberts as the evil queen and Lily Collins as Snow White. The movie seems to have quite a silly take on the fairytale with a fair amount of stumbling, Nathan Lane and a steampunk-looking corseting contraption. The costumes are colourful and over the top and the scenery seems to consist entirely out of computer generated backgrounds. Whilst Lily Collins makes for a beautiful, traditional looking Snow White, Julia Roberts seems to lack real evil resulting in a movie that seems more like a pantomime than a modern retelling of one of the most well known and best loved fairy tales.

Snow White and the Huntsman has a grittier tone to it. When I saw that Kristen Stewart was going to play Snow White, I cringed. Her acting in Twilight was so excruciatingly bad, I couldn't imagine her being able to do anything other than staring poutily off in to the middle distance but, I must confess, she looks pretty badass in this trailer. Of course the story is pretty much the same as Mirror Mirror, but while that one seems to go more for a family audience, Snow White and the Huntsman appears a lot more true to the original darkness of the fairytale. Charlize Theron looks pretty convincing as the poor girls evil stepmother, Kristen Stewart seems to bring a resilience and cunning to Snow White that really makes it stand out from previous versions. Instead of solely relying on the protection of the dwarfs and the huntsman, she makes her own escape and fends for herself. The whole movie looks a lot darker, of course there is again plenty of CGI but it all looks pretty stunning. I suppose with them casting K-Stew as Snow White and with the look of the film they're hoping to attract the Twilight audience which is not an inconsiderable one, but while I couldn't stand the tedious, slow-paced sulkfest that was Twilight (I didn't even finish watching the first one even with the help of Rifftrax) I'm really quite looking forward to watching Snow White and the Huntsman.

So, who is the winner? Undoubtedly Snow White and the Huntsman, Charlize Theron totally out-evils Julia Roberts, Kristen Stewart would totally kick Lily Collins' ass and you don't have to put up with Nathan Lane in jodhpurs. Let me know what you think!

Mirror Mirror official trailer:

Snow White and the Huntsman extended preview:

Friday, May 25, 2012

New bookclub/blog and bookreview City Under the Moon

Hey guys! I have set up a new blog solely for book reviews/recommendations and everything else reading-related. It's called the Bookworm Society and you can find it at: My first review is of Hugh Sterbakov's (Robot Chicken, Freshmen) City Under the Moon, a werewolf thriller of epic proportions!
Click on the link for the review, or continue reading here! Next time I'll only put up the Bookworm Society posts on that blog, so please check back there.

The story starts outside the United Nations Headquarters in Manhattan where an ambassadors wife got brutally attacked and her baby has been stolen (or worse). The fierce, emotionless FBI Special Sgent Brianna Tildascow gets called out to take on the case. Quickly she finds out that this is not just an ordinary animal attack, but something far worse. The attack seems to have infected to victim with a virus that triggers something in the body, causing her to become a wolf-like beast who goes on the rampage. The victims start multiplying fast each night and soon Manhattan has a werewolf epidemic on their hands.

While Dr. Jessica Tanner, Director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and her viroligist husband start fighting over the nature of the virus, Lon, a geeky basement-dweller gets cut off from talking to his online girlfriend when his werewolf expertise gets called upon by none other than the government...

City Under the Moon is a fast-paced read. Every moment is utilised to it's full extend, every page is covered with werewolves, guts and action. Yet, it's not a lighthearted story full of fluffy werewolves that rip their shirts off, or even your usual anguished puberty-metaphor, it goes in deep and it goes in hard. Everything and everyone becomes involved, from the Center of Disease Control and Prevention, the President, the Military, the FBI, a Romanian werewolf hunter with a tragic past and the irritating but lovable lycanthropy nerd Lon (after Lon Chaney Jr.) Toller who, despite not having the guts to meet his girlfriend in person, shows a hell of a lot of bravery when faced with disaster.

This story is so well written and planned out, it must have been a hell of a job to make sure everything is plausible and fits together. All the details make sense and seem extremely accurate. The governing bodies involved are written very realistically, Sterbakov has obviously done extensive research into the way things work and the methods that are available.

Sterbakov set out to write a story that portrayed the transformation as a werewolf to be far more frightening than being attacked by one and I think he managed that perfectly. The description of what happens to a person when they transform made my bones ache and my tendons recoil in horror. No thanks, I'd rather be ravaged by a werewolf (ooh err!) than become one myself.

If you like a good fantasy story packed full of action, gore, kick-ass female FBI agents (well, there is only one of those, but she sure counts for more than one woman), triumphing nerds and a President facing a terrible dilemma, this punchy, throat-grabbing book is for you.

I'm trying to come up with a rating system here, eeehmm, I give City Under the Moon five werewolves out of five!

Check out the official City Under the Moon website:
You can follow Hugh Sterbakov on twitter here: @darhkhugh
Not had enough of the Sterbakov? Official website:

Monday, May 14, 2012

RECOMMENDED: Mystery Science Theater 3000

Ever end up cracking jokes with your friends because the movie you're watching is just too awful? I think many people who have watched a lot of films, have come across some really bad stuff, especially if you're interested in old sci-fi and horror, and what else can you do but turn it off or entertain yourself by making fun of the bucket of poopy you have been confronted with? Maybe you'd turn it off, but life isn't so easy for Joel or Mike.

Joel was the first victim of an evil scientist, he got sent into space and was forced to watch terrible movies. Troubled by his fate, Joel builds robots to keep him company and prevent him from going completely insane. Later on in, about five seasons on, the same fate befalls Mike, who gets pestered by Pearl and her two minions Brain Guy and Bobo (one of the most annoying chimps ever!) To make their punishment less agonizing, both guys end up riffing on the movies with their robot pals Tom Servo and Crow (there's also the derpy Gypsy and the very quiet but important Cambot).

At first, I mostly just enjoyed watching them tear down the movies, but gradually I came to like Mike (I haven't watched any of Joel's episodes yet) and the robots and enjoy their little segments in between the movie scenes, maybe even more so than the riffing. The jokes in the segments aren't always particularly funny, it's a little hokey and it's all got a very home-made feel about it, but that's exactly why it's so enjoyable. The banter between the robots and Mike is silly and endearing, you come to regard them as the go-to friends for when you're in the mood for a bad Star Wars wannabe film and it feels friendly and familiar every time you see them sat at the front in the ever recognizable sillouhette.

Mystery Science Theater 3000 ended in 1999 but both formations have continued to take the mickey out of bad movies. Cinematic Titanic consists of most of the earlier cast, they seem to stick to the more traditional riffing of trashy horror flicks and you can also go see them live. Rifftrax is made up of Mike Nelson, Bill Corbett and Kevin Murphy (the Crow and Tom Servo I'm familiar with) and besides a vast library of shorts, such as public service announcements, they also riff on more familiar movies such as Twilight and Transformers. So, always wanted to watch Twilight, but felt like you couldn't live with the embarrasment? Try downloading the Rifftrax version and play it along with the movie, guaranteed fun (and astonishment at just how bad the movie really is)!

Mystery Science Theater 3000 is really worth checking out if you have a big interest in movies, especially bad ones! Or if you love adorable robots! You know what it's like to watch a bad movie and be in stitches with your friends about it and you know you want more - check out Mystery Science Theater 3000!

DVD's are available from Shout! Factory and you can also download episodes to rent or buy on iTunes, Xbox Live and PSN. I'd recommend the third-rate Gremlins rip-off 'Hobgoblins' to start you off, or perhaps 'The Final Sacrifice', a cult-based 'thriller' that's guaranteed to have you cheering on the mighty beer-swilling Canuck RRRRRRRRRRROOOOOOWSDOOOOOWERRRRRRRRRRRR!!!! 

Mystery Science Theater 3000:
Cinematic Titanic:            

Monday, May 7, 2012

MAKE-UP TUTORIAL: Draculaura from Monster High

Hey there! I've finally done a make-up video again. It's taken me some time, but it's a fun one, especially for all those Monster High and Draculaura fans out there. Please let me know what you think and don't forget to subscribe to my YouTube channel! You can now also follow me on Twitter @MissDaiquiris.

Saturday, April 28, 2012

GAME REVIEW: Crow for iPhone/iPad

Even though I love having an XboX, I tend to play a lot of games on iPhone, and most of them are fun to keep you occupied for a few minutes. But once in a while a game comes along that blows my socks off. 'Crow' by indie developer Sunside Inc. is one of those games. Straight from the intro, I was hooked.

The story goes as such: you're a crow and you're a minion of the Dark Lord. There's certain enemies he wants you to defeat for him. Meanwhile, as you're flying around, you collect tokens that let you buy certain powers, or protection. But it's not that straight-forward. There's choices to be made, you're not just a pawn for evil. The gameplay is very easy and intuitive, that's not to say the bosses don't get harder to defeat. I love the fact that you're actually playing as a crow. The way it moves and soars through the sky are so realistic, it's not hard to identify with the creature.

The visuals of the game are stunning. Even just flying around, high above the land, is a pleasure. I mostly just love the atmosphere of the game. It's dark, magical and I guess the best way I can explain it is, it is just such an immersive experience. It is more than just a game, it's a whole world, like stepping into a legend and becoming part of it. I'd say 'Crow' was possibly the best iPhone game yet. It's totally worth the $2.99 it costs.

Check out the trailer for a closer look: