Saturday, February 28, 2015

A Ghoul Versus The Legend Of Hercules

Dueling Movies: The Legend of Hercules Vs. Hercules (2014)!”

It's almost hard to believe, but there was a point in Renny Harlin's career when he was one of the leading directors in Hollywood. Not leading in a sense of critical acclaim, but more like the Michael Bay aspect where his films brought in truckloads of money. He got his big break with 1988's A Nightmare on Elm Street: The Dream Master, which was the highest grossing entry of the series at the time, and then went on to direct the second Die Hard, which actually outperformed the beloved original. His next film was 1993's Cliffhanger, which also set the world on fire and earned nearly a quarter of a billion dollars.

It seemed he was the Next Big Thing, so famed movie studio Carolco gave him somewhere in the area of $100 million dollars to direct a larger than life adventure about pirates Cutthroat Island. I'll get into MUCH greater detail about this film when I get around to reviewing it, needless to say the film bombed as hard as humanly possible to the point it was THE biggest box office dud of all time for many years to follow. This effectively killed Harlin's A-list status, and his career has steadily slid downhill ever since.

This brings us to today's film, the Legend of Hercules. Not only did Harlin direct it, but he co-wrote it with the relatively unknown Daniel Giat, who only has two made for TV credits on his resume. Helping out on the script were Giulio Steve and Sean Hood, a name you should recognize if you read my thoughts on the second Cube movie.  Hercules... did not do well. It was made for 70 million dollars, and didn't even make 20 million domestically. Factoring in the all important foreign box office receipts, it barely cleared 60 million dollars total. It didn't fare any well critically, earning a dreadful THREE PERCECT on Rotten Tomatoes and racking up a Michael Bay-esque six Razzie Award nominations. What was SO terrible about it? How could a movie starring the big guy from Twilight perform so horribly? It's time to find out, so break out your gladiator gear, cue up the slow motion, and get ready for A Ghoul Versus The Legend of Hercules!

Sunday, February 22, 2015

A Ghoul Versus The 35th Annual Razzie Awards

Tonight are the 87th Academy Awards, in which the best and brightest of the film industry are honoured with the much coveted golden Oscar statues. The Golden Raspberry Awards are the antithesis of this as they honour the worst and the stupidest the industry churns out with cheaply made awards called the Razzies. Begun in 1981 by publicist John J.B. Wilson, they originally were held in the living room of his house but gradually grew in scope over the years until they commanded their own theater attended by hundreds. Even some of Hollywood's biggest stars have shown up to claim their awards, including Ben Affleck, Sandra Bullock, and Halle Berry.

As is the tradition, the Razzies are always held the night before the Oscars and thus the 35th annual show just went down yesterday. You may recall many, many moons ago I predicted the abominable Robocop remake was going to rack up the nominations in the same manner it racked up my complete disdain. I'm always a big enough zombie to admit when I was wrong, but even I was shocked at how wrong I was. Robocop didn't even score a SINGLE nomination, not even in Worst Prequel, Remake, Rip-off, Or Sequel. Fucking REALLY, Razzies? Did they not see that movie? The Razzies have always had a reputation for picking on what's really popular to hate, hence why Michael Bay and Adam Sandler always do quite well come award season, but to not even give Robocop acknowledgment of any kind? Pitiful. What did win for 2014?

A Ghoul Versus The Houses October Built

Just how Found Footage is your Found Footage movie?”

The Paranormal Activity franchise launched a lot of careers in the movie industry, but I'm not talking about acting ones. Instead I'm referring to producers, specifically Oren Peli (who also wrote and directed the first movie), Jason Blum, and Steven Schneider, who are among THE hottest properties in Hollywood right now. Between these three men, they've produced over thirty mainstream horror movies since 2007, earning well over A BILLION dollars in profit. Even more impressive, they've done this with “micro-budget” films, not a single one of them having a budget that exceeded ten million dollars. This is why no matter how bad it gets (and wow, is it bad right now), mainstream horror will never go away because it's basically guaranteed profit.

Today we're going to be taking a look at one of Schneider's latest productions, The Houses October Built. The film was actually based on a 2011 documentary by the team of Bobby Roe, Zack Andrews, and Jeff Larson, in which they traveled across the country exploring the growing phenomenon of Halloween haunted houses (better known as “haunts”) that go the extra mile to scare people by really amping up the terror. Along with their interviewer Brandy Schaefer and Bobby's brother Mikey, who handled editing duties, they drove around in an RV talking to people who ran the crazier haunts. It was a fairly interesting documentary, but then it took an inexplicable detour into fiction when they started pursuing a legendary place called the Blue Skeleton Inn and ended up getting killed in the end. It was jarring, to say the least.

Cut to a couple of years later and the idea came around to make a movie based out of their documentary, since it was a unique premise in the WAY overcrowded world of found footage horror. All of the film makers signed on to play themselves, Bobby was handed directorial duties, and on October 10, 2014 we had ourselves a movie. Was it any good? That's what I'm here to answer, so put on your best brave face and enter the dark hallway, because it's time for A Ghoul Versus The Houses October Built!

Saturday, February 21, 2015

A Ghoul Versus The Andy Sidaris Collection: Fit To Kill

Toward the end, when we did Fit To Kill, Dona said to Arlene 'I feel like in this script there's a little bit more nudity,' and Arlene said 'Rest assured, Dona. You're absolutely fucking right.' There was a lot more nudity, but that's the way it's going to be. That's just the way that one worked out.” - Andy Sidaris

Bah, I don't want to relive that. Andy Sidaris gave us an IMMENSELY entertaining story that had all kinds of over the top fun... until he threw a rape in. Oh, and Kane transformed from an elderly Asian man into a white British guy in his late 20's. And like half the cast of the last movie that were killed came back from the dead with new identities- and you know what? I'm wasting my time here. What IS important is that Kane escaped death once again, so you just know he'll be showing his smug face to throw more drama into the lives of Donna and Nicole.

Speaking of Kane, did you know he's played by the son of Roger “James Bond” Moore? Geoffrey Moore's last on screen role was this very film as he now works as a producer and restaurateur, but gave acting one last attempt in 2004 when he auditioned to take his father's place as the new Bond. He faced some stiff competition against people such as Hugh Jackman, Clive Owen, Jude Law, and some guy named Daniel Craig. How'd that ever work out, anyway? Maybe I'll have to find out someday...

Thursday, February 19, 2015

A Ghoul Versus The Andy Sidaris Collection: Hard Hunted

In making a movie, the most important thing you can do is to keep the action moving as you tell the story. We don’t do long, drawn out scenes with underlying psychological bs. We set the story, set the pace and move on. We know people like our style. And, yes, we throw in nudity whenever possible and augment it with a whole bunch of chases, explosions and gunshots.” - Andy Sidaris

Crime lord Kane (Pat Morita) went full Bond villain and hired a bunch of idiots to try to kill Donna and Nicole when he had them unarmed and fully at his mercy. Donna and her legion of boring idiots killed all the assassins but instead of dealing out the same fate to Kane they secretly had a tracker planted on him so they could get dirt on his entire organization. It- it wasn't a very good movie.

It's 1992 and another Sidaris movie. That's all I got. There's not a lot of information about these films floating around out there, so let's just get to it. We have no Erik Estrada this time so we're just going to have to rely on Shane, Bruce, and Lucas to supply all the cool. ...oh no, WE'RE BONED!

Sunday, February 15, 2015

A Ghoul Versus Dracula Untold

Are you ready for ANOTHER reboot? Of course you are! Join us as we journey back to the beginning of the ORIGINAL Batman, Vlad the Impaler!”

I think it's safe to say I'm taking a break from the Andy Sidaris collection for a bit. Just a quick break though, if I can survive Bayformers, Twilight, and all NINE Hellraiser films, a bunch of Playboy Playmates armed with guns and implants sure aren't going to stop me! Today I thought we'd take a look at 2014's Dracula Untold, which was the directorial debut of Gary Shore. Shore made a name for himself directing commercials for companies such as Gatorade and Adidas, which I guess is all the qualifications you need to make a feature film in this day and age.

Dracula Untold had a case of Development Hell to make it to the silver screen, as it was originally set to be a big budget film by Alex “Dark City” Proyas and starring Sam Worthington. That didn't work out because the budget was getting sky high, so it was handed off to Shore and the writing team of Matt Sazama and Burk Sharpless. Sazama and Sharpless are currently hard at word writing the script to MISSILE COMMAND, which is based off the Atari video game where three lumps of pixels blasted pixels at incoming pixels. Should be riveting. They're also credited with the screenplay for the upcoming Clue remake, because THAT totally needed a remake. I'm telling you, reboots of the Princess Bride and the Godfather are right around the corner...

After production was finished, distributor Universal Pictures saw what Marvel was doing with their Cinematic Universe and said “Me too! Me too!” so ordered reshoots to make the film a springboard to their own version. This was to be a reboot/reimagining/remake of their Universal Monsters movies, featuring characters such as Dracula, the Mummy, the Wolfman, Frankenstein, etc etc etc. Oh goody, so that means ALL movie studios will be “borrowing” this format soon doesn't it? Four delayed releases later and the film was FINALLY released on October 10, 2014 where it was ravaged by the critics and only earned 56 million dollars versus its budget of 70 million. It did MUCH better overseas because these kind of movies always do, bringing its total to 215 million and all but guaranteeing the Universal Cinematic Universe will become a thing.

Saturday, February 14, 2015

A Ghoul Versus The Asylum's Bound (A 50 Shades Of Grey Mockbuster)

Happy Valentine's Day! What better way to celebrate a holiday based around love and romance than a twisted take on bondage, discipline, domination, and submission?!”

At this point, you should be aware of who The Asylum is. They are a film studio that specialize in “mockbusters”, low budget imitations of big budget Hollywood films that usually end up being better than the films they're inspired by. They've given us films such as the Da Vinci Treasure, Pirates of Treasure Island, Transmorphers, AVH: Alien Vs. Hunter, Paranormal Entity and my personal favourite 11/11/11. That was the equivalent of Darren Lynn Bousman's horror film 11-11-11, their clever change of the title's punctuation has always amused me. Of late, they've gained mainstream recognition thanks to a little franchise called Sharknado, which is ONE HUNDRED PERCENT FUN. Those movies are perfect in what they set out to do, and the upcoming third movie is easily my most anticipated movie of 2015. Yes, even over the new Star Wars film.

In the meantime though, they have bills to pay, hence today's film Bound. This is a mockbuster version of 50 Shades Of Grey, the fictional abortion that has been enjoying an unfathomable amount of popularity since 2012. The story behind its creation is so sad and depressing I could dedicate an entire article to it, but author E.L. James originally conceived the story as Twilight fan fiction between Bella and Edward, originally called Master Of The Universe. For added lulz, James posted it under the nickname Snowqueen's Icedragon, which I believe was the original working name for Evangeline Lilly's character in the Hobbit sequels.

James eventually rewrote her story to be about two “original” characters, and the rest is history. Horrible, horrible history that we'll get to when the movie eventually comes out on blu-ray later this year. Getting back on topic, we've got the Asylum's take on a genre that is outside their usual comfort zone of CGIfests and, uh, CGIfests. So break out your nipple clamps and your whips because it's time for A Ghoul Versus The Asylum's Bound!

Friday, February 13, 2015

A Ghoul Versus Friday The 13th (1980)

Join me as I join the ranks of a zillion other reviewers today in watching Friday The 13th on Friday The 13th!  ORIGINALITY!”

John Carpenter's Halloween is undeniably one of the most influential films of all time, doubling as one of the most ripped off as well. In reality, one can make the claim Halloween ripped off a 1974 indie horror flick called Black Christmas, but that's an article for another day. The fact of the matter is Halloween is the movie EVERYONE saw, and the one everyone attempted to emulate. Sean S. Cunningham, a producer and director, was one such person that viewed Carpenter's classic and thought “Hey, why not me too?”.

Cunningham already had some minor success with his own knockoff versions of the hit 1976 film Bad News Bears, Here Come The Tigers and Manny's Orphans, so he was no stranger to emulating superior movies. Cunningham and his writing partner Victor Miller set out to directly copy all of the signature techniques that made Halloween so original: their film would use a first person view to put audiences behind the eyes of their killer, the killer would get a signature theme that would play whenever he was about to kill, the cast would be a bunch of unknown teenagers that would get killed off one by one with the exception of the Final Girl, pretty much everything Carpenter thought of, they imitated.

Their ONE innovation in the script was to include bucket loads of blood and gore, because Halloween is actually one of the most bloodless horror films ever made. In this aspect, Friday The 13th ALSO became one of the most ripped off films of all time because after it was a hit EVERY slasher film turned into a bloodbath with severed body parts flying everywhere. With all these elements in place, all they needed was a title for their upcoming production. Originally it was going to be called Long Night At Camp Blood, but Cunningham decided to change it to Friday The 13th, which oddly enough was the working title for Manny's Orphans.

Sunday, February 8, 2015

A Ghoul Versus The Andy Sidaris Collection: Do Or Die

Certain of our girls, like Roberta Vasquez, Dona Speir, and in some cases Cynthia Brimhall, they are as good as the gals who the soaps or do the stuff at night. But because they were Playmates, people thought they weren't going to be very good actresses. Check out some of the fucking broads on late-night television, they've got one blonde broad on The Pretender, and one blonde broad on C.S.I., they are fucking awful. They're not awful, you can't understand them. I've always said at least our girls enunciated.” - Andy Sidaris

The latest chapter of the Trials and Tribulations of Donna Hamilton brought us a very enjoyable caper involving gun smugglers, transvestite assassins, a murder mystery that led to Las Vegas, and Erik “Motherfucking” Estrada. All of this fun came at a high cost however, as we lost our beloved Taryn to... huh. They never actually said, did they? They didn't even MENTION HER ONCE! BASTARDS!

Andy Sidaris went all out for 1991's Do Or Die, not only did he bring Erik Estrada back into the fold, he added Pat Morita as well. Honestly, I'm only excited about Estrada returning as it's REALLY hard to even hear the name Pat Morita and not be reminded of the utter abomination that was Jay Leno's Collision Course.  That movie left SCARS, deep deep scars. Let's hope I don't start getting PTSD-style flashbacks when I see him as I undertake A Ghoul Versus Do Or Die!

Thursday, February 5, 2015

A Ghoul Versus The Andy Sidaris Collection: Guns

Hope was terrific. She was good on the screen, but she was difficult. She thought she should be doing bigger and better, and we said please go do bigger and better. She was not a team player as much as we would have liked, but she delivered for us. She was always late, and very difficult, and she knows it. But we're happy she did our pictures, and she certainly had great sex appeal, but she just wasn't quite with the program. She's a nice enough person, she just wasn't right for the program. She finally had her breasts made just right, and when we were getting ready to make Guns, she said 'I don't want to expose my breasts.' We said 'Hope, bless you, child, we think the world of you, God Bless you, but we'll see you later.' Who the hell are we kidding?” - Andy Sidaris on Hope Marie Carlton

Previously on Savage Beach...

I'm still not really sure. A Filipino revolutionary named Martinez was playing all sides to steal a bunch of gold, half the cast was masquerading as someone else, and we got some clunky back story about Taryn's grandfather getting murdered by Crazy Katana Man. It was a very rough movie to sit through.

The 1980s are dead, long live the 1990s! The ULTRA creatively titled Guns is kicking off the new decade, although it's still very much a 1980s style movie. 1990s style action wouldn't truly begin until the following year when James Cameron and Terminator 2 redefined the genre forever, but that's another review for another time. Guns is most memorable for bringing the legendary Erik Estrada into the Sidarisverse, one of the most engaging actors to ever grace the silver screen. While his career has mostly consisted of TERRIBLE B and C-grade level movies, you can't once tell me he wasn't the shining highlight of any of them. Let's see what kind of magic he can work with this one, as it's now time for A Ghoul Versus Guns!

Tuesday, February 3, 2015

A Ghoul Versus The Andy Sidaris Collection: Savage Beach (Part 2)

Click here for Part 1!

The agents check into their room and are brought room service by two other Japanese men that look a tad bit conspicuous, especially when they pull out blades and try to kill them.  One of the men is played by the awesomely mustached Al Leong, a famous actor I'm sure you've seen in at least several movies as he's been in hits such as Die Hard, Big Trouble In Little China, Lethal Weapon, and Bill And Ted's Excellent AdventureA 1980s martial arts movie breaks out as I've pretty much given up on this entire thing. I'm sure the would be assassins will get explained soon enough, but how much shit do we NEED in this movie?! Once again, this feels like Sidaris just put three partial scripts he had in a blender and assembled one movie out of them. The fight between four characters we know absolutely nothing about drags on until the assassins win... and then don't kill the agents.

INSTEAD, they take the agents' clothes because this is now Dress Up: The Movie and forge their own ID's. I really hope at the end of this movie like twenty naked guys run out all at once to call out all the imposters going on.  The assassins search the room and find ANOTHER fucking disc, which mercifully ends the scene. Trying to sit through this movie is an endurance test unto itself. The pilots find a beach to land on but just because they're ostensibly the stars of this movie is no reason to focus on them so let's see what those wacky assassins are doing now. They enter the Pearl Harbor Naval Complex thanks to their faked credentials in a scene highlighted by a security guard glancing directly into the camera as he walks out of the frame.

A Ghoul Versus The Andy Sidaris Collection: Savage Beach (Part 1)

I think I'm a pretty good storyteller. I think Savage Beach is as good a story as anything. It's a throwback to the old days of adventure pictures. Anybody can shoot a back alley and have two guys say 'motherfucker', stab each other and call that a movie. That's what most people do. We don't do that. We don't hold women hostage, or slash their throats. I see movies that are so despicably mean spirited that I can't believe them.” - Andy Sidaris

Donna and Taryn took a backseat from their usual adventuring to get involved in a story about a guy named Salazar trying to kill a guy named Ortiz who was trying to kill members of the Agency, only to have them try to kill him and then try to kill Salazar because... actually, never mind. I'm getting the brain pains just thinking about it.

One year later, one more Sidarisverse movie. This one is Savage Beach, starring the usual gang of blondness and their hedonistic ways. Hopefully another Abilene relative turns up, because Donna's not going to be happy until she's banged her way through the entire family tree. Get ready to hit the jacuzzi, because it's time for A Ghoul Versus Savage Beach!