The Silence of the Lambs

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I am now entering the third phase of my children’s film education. Phase 1 was the off-the-wall kid stuff, like the 60s Batman and Howard the Duck. Phase 2 was the slightly more PG-13 and adultish stuff – everything from Army of Darkness to Zoolander. Phase 3 is the hard R stuff, like Friday the 13th and Silence of the Lambs. There IS a super-secret fourth phase…but I am not quite sure how old I’ll have to be to sit through Pink Flamingos with my son. Probably at least 75 or so.

My son has been wanting to watch Silence of the Lambs FORever. Not because of all the Oscars, or because he is into sewing…but I’m guessing it’s solely because of how often I say, “It puts the lotion on it’s skin, or else it gets the hose again!” Or some variation thereof – it never gets old! Oh, AND he had to listen to his grandmother and I endlessly dissect the wonderful TV version, Hannibal, a few years ago.

The plot was harder for my son to follow at 13. I vaguely remember difficulty and I must have been 16 or so when I watched it. I’m envious of his innocence – honey, that wasn’t saliva Miggs threw at Agent Starling. Even though there were several points I had to pause the film and explain, he really seemed to enjoy it. At least I didn’t have to explain the tucking part.

Believe it or not, the film holds up. The tension is palpable in the last 20 minutes – even though I’ve seen it a gazillion times, I still get jumpy around, “Oh yeah, was she a great big fat person?” So few films these days are able to build this kind of tension, sheerly through the narrative and creative editing. Buffalo Bill stands up as a villain, even the horrors of the last 25+ years haven’t made him any less freaky. Hannibal, on the other hand, is virtually a pop culture hero. He’s become this superhero-like entity…eat the rude. I’m actually considering that for a tattoo…along with a Death’s-head Hawkmoth tramp stamp, if only to make my children cringe at the waterpark!

I know I’m a goober, but I always forget about Chris Isaak in the SWAT Team and squeal at the TV, “Oh look! Chris Isaak!” My son was like, who dat? I explain that he sang our wedding song, again, a blank look from my son – why is he is the movie, if he is a singer? I don’t know dammit!

I’ve got Red Dragon on DVR, I somehow managed to miss seeing that one – so I think I’ll hold off on Hannibal and watch this one next. Now, if I can only get my child to read the books…

Hannibal Rising

The only thing more gag inducing than sitting down to watch a movie that you know includes cannibalism is seeing ‘The Weinstein Company’ as the first slide in the opening credits.

That being said, Hannibal Rising is somewhat of a boring slog, although I don’t know if I would be felt the same way if I had seen it soon after release. See, the TV show Hannibal ruined me. Bryan Miller’s rich imagery and characterization is like an onion – so many layers. There are no layers to Hannibal Rising…the character of Hannibal jumps directly from traumatized child to hand-stabbing lunatic. There’s no mystery, Hannibal’s inner monologue is missing. I feel that Hannibal’s voice is the most compelling part of the book, while the film views Hannibal coldly, in the third person. (Thomas Harris wrote the novel and screenplay simultaneously, in order to avoid the studio handing the project off to another writer.) Both the book and the screenplay were from the same writer, during the same time period, so I’ve got to shift blame to the Director, Peter Webber. Sorry, Peter.

Casting, however, was masterful. Gaspard Ulliel’s chiseled features were perfect for young Hannibal – imagine if Crispin Glover and Andy Samberg had a love child. Gong Li (or Li Gong?) is as lovely as she was 16 years earlier in Raise the Red Lantern. She is suitably sympathetic as Lady Murasaki, although I have to admit, it’s a bit annoying to watch a Chinese actress cast as a Japanese character. Ugh.

For most of the film, I thought that Kolnas was played by Tony Goldwyn and I was rooting for his death. (Residual grudge from Ghost – I always root for Tony Goldwyn’s death now.) But It wasn’t Goldwyn, it was Kevin McKidd! Tommy in Trainspotting! I swear, this has happened before…but cannot remember when.

As I alluded to earlier, the film was visually boring, but my standards are admittedly high. It wasn’t that I wanted more gore – I just wanted more creative gore. I feel like more attention should have been paid to the scenes that Hannibal was creating, and the crimes themselves.

Now I just need to watch Red Dragon, which has probably also been ruined for me!

Jennifer’s Body

I couldn’t stop looking at Megan Fox’s freaky toe thumbs.

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Seriously, her thumbs look like TOES!

I had to entertain myself somehow…most of the movie was shit-fuck-boring. I couldn’t bring myself to care about any of the characters at all – whether they lived or died or got fucked. Speaking of fucking, there wasn’t much of it. Megan Fox was not really a Succubus, as she wasn’t even nice enough to fuck guys before she ate them. She only made out with them – she was a total demon cock tease. I was also disappointed by the much hyped “lesbian scene” with Amanda Seyfried – all they did was kiss, people! It wasn’t that big a deal!

At least I got some Amy Sedaris!

Diablo Cody, I see what you did there. Megan Fox as a man eating demon is a metaphor for the toxic environment that girls experience in High School. Lots of pretty high school girls are maneaters metaphorically, if not literally like Megan Fox’s character. Those bitches chew men up and spit them out, fucking over their friends in the process. Sorry Diablo, it’s been done better…Heathers is the gold standard, but even JawBreaker did it better. Diablo’s trademark teen slang was immediately apparent. Although I won’t be saying hot guys are ‘salty’ or getting ‘a wetty,’ I may start calling people ‘freaktarded.’

There were a few really good laughs in the film. The ‘867-5309’ scene was the best moment in the film. The scene with the Goth guy singing Screeching Weasel in his car on the way to meet Jennifer also struck me as really genuine. (Or maybe I just like Kyle Gallner?) All in all, I liked the music a lot – especially ‘Kiss with a Fist.’ I know I’m old and shit, but I can still like young people music, right? RIGHT? I’m not permanently relegated to listening to old people music, am I?

Speaking of old people music, I kept expecting the song ‘Jennifer’s Body’ to figure into the film somehow. When the credits rolled, I heard the riff of a familiar Hole song…but it was ‘Violet,’ not ‘Jennifer’s Body.’ I’m so confused…I guess they didn’t want to go with the obvious choice?

It wasn’t a horrible film or anything, it just wasn’t as good as it could have been…with more nudity, more sex and maybe less toe thumbs.

Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street

About halfway through, I found myself wondering if they would ever stop singing, craving a cigarette madly.

I’ve never been much into Broadway Musicals, even as a self-professed Drama Fag throughout High School and College. I can pinpoint my rapid loss of interest to exactly the moment that I wasn’t cast as Rizzo in my High School’s production of ‘Grease.’ My complete lack of singing ability was as much to blame as my Amazonian height, hence I was cast in the only non-singing role as the Principal, Mrs. Whatshername. I still watch Grease every time it’s on TV, but the more singing in a Musical, the quicker I get bored. The Wizard of Oz and Grease have about the right amount of music for me – less than 50%. Both Willy Wonka and Charlie & The Chocolate Factory are borderline. Pretty much all other musicals (except, of course, Poultrygeist) annoy the shit out of me. Hold on a sec, I actually have to take some brownies to a girl scout meeting.

…Now that I’m back, I’ve got to admit that the Sweeney Todd songs are catchy. ‘Mrs. Lovett’s Meat Pies’ has been stuck in my head all morning, intermingled with “Pretty Women.” Johnny Depp, probably the most versatile actor on the planet, did an admirable singing job. While obviously not a classically trained singer, he did a good job. Not good enough to warrant an attempt at a music career, but good. Good singing is not always a good thing. Every time that Johanna sang, I wanted to stick cigarette butts in my ears to drown out the noise. I know that’s how professional singing is supposed to sound, but it doesn’t mean I want to listen to it.

Notwithstanding all the singing, it seemed more like Tim Burton was adapting a comic book or graphic novel, rather than a Broadway Musical. My husband said it reminded him of Sin City. Sweeney Todd + comic book = an imaginary lightbulb going on over my head. As much as I would have liked to block this memory, it just jumped out of my memory holder. (Props to my four year old son for coming up with a much better phrase for ‘brain.’) I spent about five years sleeping underneath a massive Sweeney Todd comic book poster at my ex’s apartment. I hadn’t thought about that poster in over a decade, but I’m seeing it now, every single detail. How many times did I stare into the eyes of Michael Zulli’s artwork, bored to tears, waiting for the assault on my nether regions to be over? How many conversations did I have with Sweeney Todd while I was under the influence? How many times did I wish that Mr. Todd could tell me how many strange women (and men) had been through there when I wasn’t around? I digress…Neil Gaiman never actually finished the comic, but if he did, it would have been very, very close to Tim Burton’s vision.

Except for all the singing and the fact that the film accidentally reminded me of sex with my ex – say it with me, “Ew!” – I enjoyed the film. Johnny Depp is always fun to watch and I am one of the few people I know that can stand Helena Bonham Carter. (Maybe because I went through a phase where I dressed and acted like Marla Singer?) Sacha Baron Cohen’s manbulge makes an appearance, as it does in every film he does. Alan Rickman was also fun to watch as a dirty sex offender – I wonder if my best friend got turned on? She’s got a serious Snape fixation. I definitely recommend Sweeney Todd as a Musical for people annoyed by Musicals, such as myself.

2001 Maniacs

The South shall rise again. Preferably with a taste for human flesh.

Robert Englund stars in this remake of Two Thousand Maniacs! – H. G. Lewis’ classic tale of Confederate Cannibalism. The story is essentially the same – Brigadoon plus Blood Feast. Eight Northerners get lost on their way to Spring Break and opt to join a Civil War Anniversary Celebration. It doesn’t take much more than the promise of dirty barnyard sex and free moonshine to get kids to forget all about Spring Break, does it?

Robert Englund’s partner in crime was Lin Shaye, AKA the skanky landlord in Kingpin and the mummified tanned neighbor in There’s Something About Mary. She mostly cooked in the movie, although she had her fair share of killing, too. Compared to the other characters she’s played, she actually looked pretty hot.

The special effects were surprisingly good for such low profile film. The first death was a girl being drawn and quartered…and it was way more graphic and realistic than a similar scene in Faces of Death. Other ghastly ends included a beer bong full of acid, anal impalement with a hot poker, death by milling…and one dude had his junk eaten off by a chick with big metal jaws like that guy in the James Bond movies – although she also resembled Baraka from Mortal Kombat. It made no sense for a Civil War era woman to be equipped with jaws like a bear trap, but it sure was fun to watch. The best deaths were the ones at the very end of the movie…I don’t want to ruin it, but the trick involves barbed wire.

Eli Roth cameos as Justin, the same character he played in Cabin Fever. I thought that Justin had gotten killed off in Cabin Fever, but maybe I am remembering wrong. Or maybe it was just his dog that died? Either way, he’s back with a dead armadillo and he wants a ride.

This is the movie for my old high school buddies that do Civil War re-enactments on the weekend. I think they’d enjoy it quite a bit, especially while drinking a bit of the S’MORES FLAVORED SCHNAPPS.

I was delighted to find that a sequel is already being made. It’s slated for release next year and so far the title is to be 2001 Maniacs: Beverly Hellbillys. It sounds cheestastic, so I’ll definitely be there.

The Texas Chainsaw Massacre (2003)

How did she fit that gun in her vag? Furthermore, once she got it up there, how did she get it to stay there?

Although there are many other fascinating topics of conversation that I could expound upon relating to the remake of The Texas Chainsaw Massacre – there’s only one that comes to mind again and again. My mouth dropped down to the floor when the hitchhiker pulled a gun out of her crotch, put the barrel in her mouth and pulled the trigger. Un. Fucking. Believable.

The rest of the movie is just as foul. Meat hooks and inbred rednecks and torture and chainsaws all that you would expect from the remake of the first slasher flick. About the only things I can find to recommend about the film are the crotch gun and R. Lee Ermey. He’s like cheese – everything’s better with cheese and/or R. Lee Ermey.

I’m not a fan of Jessica Biel. I don’t know if it’s 7th Heaven or…yeah, it’s definitely 7th Heaven. Although she’s the only one who had the good sense to get out for good, any association, no matter how brief, is pure evil. That show will ultimately be responsible for the coming apocalypse. Anyone who watches that god-forsaken show is dead to me. (Except Mrs. Z, of course.) On the other hand, if they could have gotten Reverend Camden to play Leatherface, this would have truly been a film worth watching.

And no, the movie definitely is NOT based on a true story. There was never a family of killer cannibals living anywhere in Texas. No matter how many times I try to explain the Ed Gein connection, I find people (including one of my sisters) who swear up and down that it really happened. Whatever dude.

 

Sin City

In the past couple of years, I’ve reviewed many comic books movies – the great, the mediocre, the bad, the craptacular and the almost completely unwatchable. But in all of these cases, never once have I been interested enough to investigate the source material. Until Sin City, that is.

Yup, I borrowed Sin City from a friend and am in the process of reading them right now. I won’t belabor the obvious and point out how closely the film follows the comic – oh wait, I just did. Oops. Of course, some deviation occurred. For instance, instead of solely sticking with black and white – bright bits of color made a statement that plain old black and white never could. So yeah, the visually stunning comic book makes an even more visually stunning film. Now here’s the part of the review where most reviewers compare Sin City to the similarly green screened Sky Captain and the World of Tomorrow. But see, I would actually have to sit through that tardalicious movie in order to make that comparison. And that just isn’t very likely. I love my readers – but not THAT much. Sorry.

Even though my irritation with Jessica Alba is well documented, she wasn’t the most irritating actress in Sin City. That honor far and away belongs to Brittany Murphy. I shouldn’t even be calling her an actress, should I? Anyone who can be out-acted by Eminem doesn’t really qualify as an actress, does she? Murphy also happened to be afflicted with the worst of the “noir talk” – one of my personal movie pet peeves. “Noir talk” makes me grind my teeth and roll my eyes – and Murphy’s line delivery was just twee enough to make me consider knocking a BOB off the rating of this film. Seriously, the dialogue in the film tended to get on my nerves when delivered by sub-par acting (Jessica Alba, Brittany Murphy, Alexis Bledel), but I didn’t notice it all when delivered along with talented acting (Benicio Del Toro, Rutger Hauer, Carla Gugino – or was I just blinded by her boobs?)

I will never be able to look at Frodo the same again. I am going to have nightmares about him eating Samwise Gamgee’s fingers…AND MAKING HIM WATCH! I should hope that Frodo no longer has any kind of problem with typecasting…but if I’m still calling him Frodo, those typecasting problems may be sticking around a good while longer.

So this is supposed to be Mickey Rourke’s big comeback role? His Pulp Fiction, if you will. There are those that would argue that Mickey Rourke never left, and so is not in need of a comeback. I am not one of those people. If this works out to be his big break back into the public eye, more power to him – way to go Mickey. Maybe if he gets a few more jobs, he’ll stop toting around that stupid damn chihuahua like he’s Paris Hilton.

The one thing this film was missing? Johnny Depp. Rumor has it that he was originally pegged for the character of Jackie Boy, but couldn’t make it due to conflicts, hence Benicio Del Toro. (Possible Fear and Loathing connection?) Which leaves me with one question – Why was Benicio Del Toro wearing Antonio Banderas’ hair? I think he also may have been wearing his nose?

So does Frank Miller have a thing for junk trauma or what? We counted four weener catastrophes – an all time high, even though two are the same person. Way to go Frank!

Ultimately, there’s good news and bad news about the success of Sin City. The bad news is that every successful comic book adaptation nudges the door open a little bit wider for further adaptations from the seemingly endless stream of comics – and Sin City was so successful (and economical) that it pretty much kicked the door open and propped it open, giving filmmakers license to attempt to capitalize of the story of every single comic book hero ever devised. *SIGH* The good news is that at least one of those films, maybe more, will be Sin City sequels, as Rodriguez and Miller have committed to bringing the rest of the Sin City stories to life.

  

  

Motel Hell

Strange…so strange.

On the surface, Motel Hell is exactly what it seems to be – an amalgam of earlier slasher flicks; The Texas Chain Saw Massacre, Last House on the Left, etc. – but as you watch, there are moments that are just so strange that they defy explanation.

It’s obvious from the start that Farmer Vincent and his sister Ida (Balbricker the penis puller from Porky’s!) are up to no good. Adding unsuspecting travellers to their smoked meats is the least of the weirdness. Why the hell do they keep their victims alive, buried in the garden up to their necks? What if it rains? And what’s with cutting the vocal cords? Wouldn’t it be easier to cut out their tongues?

Farmer Vincent does come across some interesting victims…my personal favorite is a band called Ivan and the Terribles, a middle aged Heavy Metal band. Their song sounds suspiciously like a ripoff of Stranglehold by Ted Nugent and for that, they must die. That and the fact that their drummer is Cliff from Cheers. I was left rather confused by the way that Farmer Vincent finally dispatches the band. He rigs up some trippy flashing lights and hypnotizes them, entreating them to attempt astral projection to visit other planets. He then takes off in his tractor, strategically placed nooses breaking their necks. I promise, I’m not making this up.

Wolfman Jack makes a cameo as a Hustler-reading televangelist (actually, most of the people in this movie read Hustler – it’s a fine magazine.) I have a soft spot for movies with Wolfman Jack cameos – The Midnight Hour, Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band and now, Motel Hell. I’m a sick individual, I admit it.

The final confrontation is utterly confusing. The idea of a chain saw duel is pretty cool, but why the fuck is Farmer Vincent wearing that pig head? It’s like Leatherface…Porkerface? Either way, the film ends with the inevitable triumph of ‘good’ over ‘evil’ – and definitely make sure and take note of Farmer Vincent’s shocking confession – another truly WTF? moment.

 

Wrong Turn

Saturday night, flipping through the cable guide, trying to find something suitable to watch. After vacillating between Willard and Equilibrium, my husband passed by Wrong Turn. I stopped him and demanded that he go back and we read the description. He said that he didn’t think this would be the type of thing I would want to watch. I asked him how long he had known me and what part of “cannibalistic hillbillies” did he think I wouldn’t be interested in?

As it turns out, I actually wasn’t interested at all in these cannibalistic hillbillies. They were so damn boring. They didn’t really do anything but swing an ax and shoot some arrows. I’ve had scarier School Bus Drivers than those hillbillies. And what was up with the credit sequence? The credits where mainly composed of a montage of different “news” articles on inbreeding related psychosis and birth defects. Right…I see what they’re getting at – there’s a reason why these hillbillies are going nuts and killing campers. Well, the three hillbillies were male, with no female hillbillies in sight – so exactly how were they breeding at all, much less inbreeding?

This is possibly the least original horror movie to come out in the past decade…scratch that – ever!. It’s as if Deliverance and The Texas Chain Saw Massacre were entered into a computer and the mathematically precise result given was Wrong Turn. From the very moment all the characters were introduced, I could tell you exactly which two would be the survivors. Even the order in which the victims die was predictable. Of course, the potsmoking, blow job recipient (the kid from Air Bud!) has gotta die first. Then of course, the blow job giver. Wait a little while, then the brave guy risking his life to distract the killer dies. Next of course, is the annoying-as-hell whiny screaming girl – what a relief. Then the random-adult-authority figure, followed by the pyrotechnic demise of the killers. What, did I spoil it for you? I could have been talking about any of a hundred horror movies, you know.

Eliza Dushku – meh. As far as I could tell, she was the same character as Faith. Bitter and ass-kicking are usually traits that I find attractive, just not in her I guess. Her hair looked really great throughout the entire movie though.

There are many other fine movies out there about murderous hillbillies. This movie was not on par with Redneck Zombies…or even Mother’s Day – and don’t even mention Wrong Turn in the same sentence as The Hills Have Eyes. Even so, it is necessary viewing for anyone who enjoys cannibalistic hillbillies – what can I say, it reminds me of home.

  

The Return of the Texas Chainsaw Massacre

It was on again last night. How could I not watch Renée Zellweger’s finest film?

Truthfully, I view this as her finest film. Normally, I can’t stand the squinty eyed little rat, but she’s not so bad when she’s being chased around by a chainsaw.

This is also one of Matthew McConaughey’s best. He plays Vilmer, patriarch of the Chainsaw family. Why he has never been tapped to play a psycho after this, I do not understand. McConaughey is totally over the top and fucking crazy. See, Vilmer had an accident and has a mechanical leg brace that he runs with TV remotes. He actually wears a tool belt full of a dozen remotes, just in case he runs out of batteries. Vilmer is the second best thing about film….

The best thing about the film is the explanation of the existence of the Chainsaw family. (I’m gonna spoil this for you, since it’s highly unlikely that you’ll actually watch this stupid film.) Simply enough, they are commissioned by the Illuminati. That’s right, THE ILLUMINATI. The Illuminati wants to control people through fear…and to show people true horror, they hire a bunch of psychos to continually kill people and eat them, in Texas, of all places. You know, it gives us Texans a bad name….

Leatherface is a transvestite in this film. No shit, he wears women’s skin like Buffalo Bill from Silence of the Lambs and dresses in drag.

The acting is horrible and Renée Zellweger doesn’t die, but other than that – it’s a riot to watch.