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Halloween Contest

Halloween Contest Byzantium

Official rules for the Halloween Contest to win a Blue Ray of Byzantium starring Gemma Arterton and Saoirse Ronan, and directed by Neil Jordan.

Official rules are
To enter you must be a resident of the United States, or agree to pay international shipping or handling fees. You must leave a comment on this post to qualify and enter the drawing. One post per, person, per day on this post. You may earn bonus entries by also commenting on any other post on this blog ONLY if you have commented here at least once. Contest will end October 31,2013 midnight CST (not EST). Comments after this time will not be considered. A winner will be selected and announced Nov, 2nd 2013 by random drawing from all entries. All entrants must agree to not be whiny bitches or sore losers. There is no monetary substitute. Contest must have a minimum of 10 entries (qualifying comments) to happen. If 25 comments are reached an additional prize will be added and two winners announced. Additional prize is a new DVD of Trick r Treat. If contest reaches 50 comments another prize will be announced, and another winner drawn. Winners will be allowed to select among prizes, first winner, first choice, and so on. If the contest reaches 100 comments another prize will be announced and added to the first place prize.

Any questions? If not then Go

Ok to kick it off right here is a Facebook contest to go along with the main shabang. Share this post on Facebook, tag me and be entered to win a copy of High Plains Drifter on Blue Ray

Halloween Contest High Plains Drifter

Halloween Contest Trick r Treat

Trick ‘r Treat [Blu-ray]


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Halloween Giveaway

Byzantium [Blu-ray]


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So I have always wanted to do a Halloween Giveaway for those people who actually follow and support me. I know I’m not the best writer, and I don’t consider myself a reviewer, I just enjoy writing. Still it’s nice to be acknowledged, and this is my way of acknowledging YOU. Full disclosure, this Halloween giveaway will also bring traffic to my site, but unless it really, brings a shit ton of traffic (not likely), it wont make me a profit. Or as prophet. Funny how those words sound so much alike
Back on track. Details will be released later on how exactly to win, but if you are interested the prize is….

Halloween Giveaway Byzantium

Byzantium by Neil Jordan

If you just want to buy it and support me that way, see below

Sushi Girl

Sushi Girl

I’m blessed with having a cool group of friends. In several ways, but with regards to movies, they usually lead me to some good choices. Sushi Girl is one of those great choices. The shout out has to go to my friend Kelly, who mentioned it on Facebook. He said it was reminiscent of Reservoir Dogs, and starred Tony Todd and Mark Hammil. Yep, Luke Skywalker himself is a major player in Sushi Girl, but you will be hard pressed to recognize him from his Tattoine days. In fact, if you didn’t know going in his unmistakable Joker voice would likely be the giveaway. It’s on full display in Sushi Girl.

Besides Todd and Hamill, the cast includes James Duval (Donnie Darko, Mad Cowgirl), Noah Hathaway (Troll, original Battlestar Galactica), and legendary martial artist Sonny Chiba. Also look out for genre favorites Michael Biehn, Jeff Fahey, and Danny Trejo in small roles.

Fish, played by Hathaway, has just been released after serving six years for a botched jewelry heist. Upon release he is summoned by Duke (Tony Todd), the leader of the hold up, to a celebration dinner. Dinner is served on a naked “Sushi Girl”, and the rest of the gang, including Hamill and Duval are there. But is it a celebration or a inquisition? Fish was the only member of the gang caught, and he was also the last one holding the jewels. The fact he has refused to name the other members, means little to men who have lost their share of a huge heist.

The band of criminals take turns, one on one, trying to extract the information from Fish. Meanwhile the naked sushi girl, played by Cortney Palm, forbidden to move or talk, bears silent witness to the torture. Now if you think I’m going to spoil this one, guess again. I’m going to try not to anyway.

Right from the start the botched heist, torture, and multiple flashbacks are reminiscent of Reservoir Dogs. Tarrantino is definitely an influence to director Kern Saxton. Like QT’s work, Sushi Girl has a lot of dialogue, but it’s not nearly as talky as Quentin tends to get. He also isn’t afraid to get ultra violent, and there are some major squirm moments. If you have a low tolerance for tooth torture, be warned.

I loved Sushi Girl and I’m not going to say a lot bad about it, and going to try my damndest not to spoil any of the major points. James Duval is one of the most underrated, and under utilized actors in Hollywood. He consistently gives a solid performance and Sushi Girl is no different.
Tony Todd is likewise his regal classy self. No one, except possibly Doug Bradley can make being evil sound so elegant. In Sushi Girl, he’s so cold blooded, he would make the Candyman flinch.

Mark Hamill in Sushi Girl

Hamill nearly steals the show and tells everyone else to take a sick day though. With long stringy hair, and a psychotic laugh, he was finally getting to play the Joker he has voiced so well. Well not the Joker, but damn close. His character of Crow, manages to out psycho the rest of the gang combined. If I can’t convince you to watch Sushi Girl for any other reason, watch it for Hamill. He’s that damn good.

Then there is Cortney Palm, the sushi girl herself. Her role is a bit bigger than you might expect, and she is more than just a naked body. Oh, what a naked body she is though, and that’s all I will say about that.

The film is pretty non stop from beginning to end, but still we get a smart film with a lot of dialogue. The dialogue is wonderful and helps add a bit of a balm to the gory torture scenes. We get to know a little about all of the characters before the end of the movie, but there is still mystery about the group. Duke’s fascination with the Orient, the ties between Duke and Crow, what caused Frances (Duval) to do what he did, all this adds a realism to the film. It’s like we just dropped into the middle of their lives on this fateful night.

There are a few twists in Sushi Girl, and you may see some of them coming, especially as it climaxes, but I bet you wont guess them all. This is surely a cult movie in the making from a new director, who looks like he might have the goods. He likes his movies bloody, shocking and beautiful, and he assembles a good cast, and gets the gold from them. What else could you ask for? Check out Sushi Girl today

Courtney Palm the Sushi Girl

Sushi Girl


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Dario Argento’s Dracula

 
Dario Argento's Dracula

The master of the Italian Giallo has fallen on hard times with a lot of fans lately. While he still has his die hard fans, many people have been severely under impressed by his recent body of work. While I enjoyed his two Master’s of Horror episodes, I was let down by Giallo and Mother of Tears. So it was with a mixture of excitement and low expectation that I felt when I heard he would be doing his version of the Transylvanian Count. The initial report and first leaked footage of Dario Argento’s Dracula seemed to bode evil fortunes for this 3-D version of Dracula.

Argento’s camp ad supporters claimed it was unfinished footage that was illegally leaked, and demanded the film not be judged by it. So I waited. Then I saw the “official” trailer  for Dario Argento’s Dracula and my heart sank. It looked horribly bad. Still when it was released, I gave it a chance. Trailers aren’t always a fair judge of a film. With Rutger Hauer and Asia Argento, it couldn’t be all bad could it?

In fairness, it wasn’t all bad. But it was pretty damn bad. The sad part is it could easily have been a lot better. Argento is famous for doing it his way, and damn detractors or conventions. There is a lot to be said for that, but it can be a handicap. Kind of like Rob Zombie’s continued use of Sheri Moon as a leading lady. Some of those quirks, like having his cast over emote to the point of silliness, can be put off as just Dario’s style. Other decisions, I just have to shake my head at.

One of the biggest contentions among fans was his decision to have Dracula transform into a giant Praying Mantis and kill a victim. Yes, Dracula can take the form of insects in the book, and yes a praying mantis is deadly to victims it’s own size, but it’s still visually silly. Also it does not fit with Dracula being a being of darkness. When Dracula turns into a owl, it makes sense. Owls are nocturnal hunters, they are dark (mostly) and they are vicious. When Dracula turns into a wolf, it’s OK. Wolves are feral creatures, they hunt at night, they are specifically mentioned in Stoker’s book.

The mantis is green, for blending in with foliage, so changing into one in the middle of a house makes no sense. Changing into a six foot mantis outside makes no sense unless the grass is six foot high. Come on, Dario this was just beyond a silly move. Turn him into a spider, or a fly, and it all works out. The fly effect in the film looked awesome and it fit with him being an undead creature.

Another problem with the trailer was the special effects. The CGI looked awful, and I hoped it would be cleaned up before release. It wasn’t. Some of the effects really looked cool, but most of them looked really bad. The good scenes included the fly scene. In it flies start to gather until suddenly there is a swarm, they eventually coalesces and form Dracula. The few remaining flies disappear into his face Likewise when Dracula transforms from an owl to vampire, the effect is simple and it works.

When he transforms from a wolf, it’s another matter. The scene looks cheap and fake, little better than a sci fi original CGI effect. Another particularly bad, almost funny scene is where Asia’s character is set on fire. The fire doesn’t even look the right color, and you can easily tell it’s a computer effect. I understand not wanting to use real fire, and the fact that the safety measures would prevent you from seeing her face due to safety equipment, but it does no good to see the face if the whole effect just looks like shit. It looked like shit, and it went on forever.
The bad effects look even worse due to the decision to keep the camera on the effects for far too long. the most successful ones, we see only for a short time. The owl transformation, the neck slashing, and while the fly scene lasted a bit the actual transformation was almost instantaneous. In both the fire and the wolf scene the shot seems to go on for minutes, showing way to much.

Speaking of showing too much, one high point of the film was the beautiful Asia willing to bear even more of her body. The fact that her father seems intent on showing more of her nude body with every film, may be disturbing to many people. While it is definitely a, um, different father/daughter dynamic, if she’s getting naked on film for daddy you might as well enjoy it. I guess.

While Asia is definitely gorgeous, she does not quite seem right for the role. Lucy Westerna was a young, single, eligible girl. Asia is just a little too old, and changing her name doesn’t change the whole character. She was still unmarried and courting suitors, which would imply the late teens in the Victorian era. Plus her acting was really subpar, and in all honesty her acting seems to suffer when she is working with her father. Still she is pleasant eye candy.

Marta Gastini, as Mini was just forgettable. I’m sorry but I never felt any investment in her character. She was bland, and for the most part I could have not cared less what happened to her.
The real female star of Dracula was Miriam Giovanelli as Tania. She was stunningly beautiful, and I found her a more sympathetic character than either of the two leads. Her dialogue was limited, and like most of the dialogue borderline silly. I would have loved to seen her as Mina, except it probably would have meant she had to keep her clothes on. It would be a push at best.

Dario Argento's Dracula

Rutger Hauer did his usual great performance. Was it his greatest ever? No, but he, like the rest if the cast was weighed down by the direction and at times inane dialogue. Dialogue and plot always come secondary to style though in Italian cinema. So what if the story sucks, as long as it looks good. Hauer made a very adequate Van Helsing, although he look a bit tired and lost at times. I would love to see him assay the character under a better director, I know I just dissed Argento, blah, blah, blasphemy and all that, but I’m standing by that. Let’s have Christopher Nolan do Dracula, how’s that sound?

Dario Argento's Dracula

For the lead role, Thomas Kretschmann made a very impressive Dracula. It’s not his fault that he turned into a giant mantis, or made these weird hand gestures, that Bela would have been embarrassed to be caught doing. That over acting is totally Dario, and I’m only shocked Rutger got away from it. Still for the most part he was believable in the role, and carried himself with a swagger befitting the Prince of Darkness.

 

 

Visually the film looked like a mix of old school Argento and Hammer films. The outside shots were well composed, and looked like the villages and cities in the best Hammer Dracula films. Even the acting of the support cast seemed to mimic, the movement, and speech patterns of the extras in a hammer film. The interiors had interesting color schemes, that reminded me a bit of Suspiria, only much more subdued and subtle. I think if he had stuck to filming the entire film in the Hammer style, with touch of garish light and color, this film could have been a huge success. I can look over the Argento acting style, but giant mantis’s an twilight lycanthrope transformations have no place in Dracula,

Dario Argento’s Dracula is a weird little film. Even though this is a blog for weird little films, I can’t really recommend it. Maybe at some point in the future, we can enjoy Argento’s Dracula. In the same way we enjoy Billy the Kid vs Dracula, but not as a horror classic. For now, unless you are a die hard Dario fan, or a die hard collector, or maybe you have just never saw Asia naked, you probably will want to give it a pass,

 

Dario Argento’s Dracula on VoD

Argento’s Dracula


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Just finished Dario Argento’s Dracula a few minutes ago. It wasn’t nearly the cluster fuck that I was afraid it would be. I’m probably going to watch it again before a review, which might be posted her or possibly on Lord Dixie’s Dark Domain. I think this film would fit in here, although some might argue it’s too new to be a cult film, or Argento’s track record makes this mainstream. My opinion, nothing of Argento’s is mainstream, but maybe that’s just me. You can catch it now on VoD if you want

BIlly Jack

Sometimes nostalgia is best left in the mind. It can be fun going back and reliving those fond memories, but at times it can be an unkind kick in the head. That’s kind of how I felt after watching Billy Jack this weekend. Harsh reality kicked the living shit out of my fond memories of this Cult classic.

I first saw Billy Jack as a kid. No clue how old I was probably under ten. I remember watching it at school. As I wrote in another article published on Squidoo, I was lucky enough to be exposed to some really cool films at school. Billy Jack was one of them.

Billy Jack

To say it had a huge effect on me is a bit of an understatement. When the other kids wanted to play cowboys and Indians, they would be the Lone Ranger, Hopalong Cassidy or Tonto. I was always Billy Jack. OK, sometimes I was the Lone Ranger, but mostly I was Billy Jack, the ass kicking half breed former Green Beret.

And I still think kindly on it, but I had this fear re-watching it for the first time in years. I had read all the bad reviews, and faintly remembered that the last time I watched it, the magic had faded.

And my fears were pretty much true. It really isn’t a very good film. The acting is pretty bad all around. Billy’s girlfriend, Jean, was especially memorably bad. The fight scenes, that were all so cool as a kid, now look very amateurish and staged. The dialogue is silly at times, along with the story and plot. The characters other than Billy Jack, seem uneven and not fully developed.

Billy Jack

The main villain, Bernard is probably the most pathetic spoiled rich kid ever. I think I know where they were going with his character. Trying to show someone who lived in the shadow of his father, and was full of big talk, but really was a coward. I think that’s what they were trying anyway but it just didn’t work. The rape scene is supposed to be shocking, but instead it’s just sad and almost laughable.

The movie does deal with subjects that are still relevant today such as racism and bigotry. However it delivers it’s message in such a ham fisted way, it’s near impossible to take it seriously.

Sadly there isn’t a lot to really recommend about Billy Jack, and yes I was disappointed. But I still love this movie and the character of Billy Jack. You see, the one thing I can recommend is the character himself.

There is just so much to like, at least for me in the character. What’s not to love about the soldier, who has turned his back on war. Billy Jack is a man who values peace, and is tired of war, but who is all to willing to fight to protect those he loves.  As far as I know Billy Jack was the first “Half-breed” action star. At a time when race relations were at a fever pitch, he stood not only for the rights of indigenous Americans, but for blacks, hispanics, and all those who weren’t a part of the white majority.  Billy Jack was a hero for everyone who felt oppressed.

If Tom Laughlin had one thing it was screen presence and swagger. He was larger than life, and he made Billy Jack larger than life. Under a better director and writer, Billy Jack could have been the great American hero, but Laughlin kept the reins all tightly in his own hands, and those hands were not’t capable enough to deliver the goods.

One Tin Soldier

So Billy Jack isn’t a great movie, it isn’t even really a good movie, but I can’t bring myself to call it a bad movie. The worst I can do is label it a guilty pleasure. And it’s a part of Cult Movie history, and it needs to be seen and appreciated, even with all it’s flaws. Plus it has the coolest closing theme song ever.  If you do decide to check out Billy Jack look out for Howard Hesseman, apparently preparing for his role as Dr. Johnny Fever.

Billy Jack [Blu-ray]


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