Friday, February 5, 2016

DOOM campaign trailer is out and it looks awesome

The list of things which had a big impact on me is too long to mention, but DOOM is right up there with Mad Magazine and monster movies. While I didn't hate DOOM 3, I love that the new colors and some of the art design reflect the 90s graphics that helped make the original games a mind-melting addiction. DOOM works better as a nonstop action game with horror (and SF) elements rather than going full-blown horror. It looks like they're hitting that mark.

For those of you who missed out on the craze, RetroAhoy has a comprehensive retrospective on why id Software's masterpiece was so damn significant to video games and pop culture in general:

I know most of the original developers have moved on, but if it's anything like Wolfenstein: The New Order, I probably won't be terribly disappointed.

read the hyper-90s comic at Doomworld... it's radical, dude

Wednesday, February 3, 2016

Space Cop is a terrible movie so... success?


Do you know how family videos are only funny to people in the family? That's what Red Letter Media's Space Cop is like. If you're a fan of these guys you'll probably enjoy their movie. Probably. When the promotional material suggests it would someday be a contender for RLM's own Best of the Worst series, they weren't kidding. It's a bad movie, but that's kind of their expertise, isn't it? Expecting them to make anything other than a bad movie is like asking Mike Tyson to figure skate.

Whether or not the Blu-Ray is worth the twenty-five bucks is another story, but there's a digital download which also provides the same special features (behind-the-scenes footage, commentary, and more than twenty minutes of outtakes) for $17. There's also a movie-only download for $14. Although I'm hesitant to recommend the movie itself for $14, you might as well buy the special features if you're paying for the movie anyway. The outtakes are often funny, but it feels like they included every single take in which the actors flubbed a line or broke character. Although I haven't had the time to check out the commentary track yet, I'm eager to do so.

I'm no stranger to crowdfunded films so I knew what I was getting into... in other words, I wasn't expecting much. Space Cop is A) better than I thought it would be and B) a lot more entertaining than the Angry Video Game Nerd movie, even if that one had a lot more production value. Space Cop starts off promising enough and feels like an authentic movie for the first few minutes despite the Spanish soap opera lighting. Then it quickly descends into the non sequitur jokes and politically incorrect humor which work roughly half the time.

As for the plot, a gung-ho policeman from the future is accidentally transported to 2007 after he chases aliens into some kind of time-space vortex thing. During a modern day shootout in a cryogenics lab, the future cop accidentally thaws a cop from the past. They'll have to team up to save the world from a devious plot involving aliens and a brain in a jar.

The two main characters are only about as good as a memorable Saturday Night Live sketch, but they're stretched to feature length. The actors' decision to speak in "funny" voices from beginning to end is, at best, easy to look past, while at worst it's frankly annoying. When Patton Oswalt makes a cameo early on, it's pretty clear they were reluctant to trim their only star's footage because it goes on and on. The length then becomes part of the joke, but not a very funny one. Also, I don't get why the guys think the slow-running gag, as seen in the trailer, is funny. I don't get it. I don't think it's a reference to anything, either.

Perhaps an inside joke?

My biggest issue with the movie is a complaint RLM have voiced themselves: the best bad movies are the ones that weren't intentionally bad. Movies that set out to be bad just can't capture the charm of good bad movies. Space Cop isn't a good bad movie, but it's a decent one, at least when the jokes hit their target.

If you're on the fence about purchasing the film, don't bother. But if you're a veteran of bad movies, and you like RLM—like, really like them—then you probably want to support them anyway. Might as well get something to show for it while you're at it.

Thursday, January 28, 2016

Director's Cut trailer: Penn Jillette's crowdfunded film

Leave it to Penn Jillette to make a feature length film that's completely unmarketable. I have no idea what this mess of a movie is trying to accomplish. All I know is I can't wait to see it, even though something tells me I'll like it roughly as much as I liked Penn & Teller Get Killed... not much at all.

On the other hand, I really like Penn, Missi Pyle, Lin Shaye, and Gilbert Gottfried. It couldn't be any worse than most of the shit coming out in theaters this weekend, that's for sure.

Wednesday, January 27, 2016

The Great Silence (1968) [Western Wednesday]

My favorite stories tend to put the heroes and the bad guys in the same room long before the final showdown. Early on in The Great Silence, Sergio Corbucci puts his three most combustible characters in the same stagecoach, which will take them to the little town where the final shootout will brutally go down. And boy, I do mean brutal: the resolution is so alien to what casual audiences are used to, Corbucci was forced to shoot an alternate ending, which I believe is lost by now. Any copy you can track down today will have the original ending in all its hard-hitting, don't-give-a-fuck glory.

The hero of the film is Silence (Jean-Louis Trintignant) who had his vocal cords cut when he witnessed his parents' murder as a kid. Legend says they call him Silence because the silence of death is the only thing that remains in his wake. His holster is a wooden box, which can also be attached to the end of his pistol like a makeshift rifle stock. Instead of killing bad guys, he shoots their thumbs off so they can never hold a pistol again. According to Wikipedia, Corbucci got the idea for a silent gunslinger from Marcello Mastroianni, who always wanted to do a western like this, but couldn't speak English.

Then there's the sheriff who's played by Frank Wolff, an American-born actor who made his career out of foreign films and westerns like this one. He's an honest, scared, and competent lawman who's investigating the town over allegations that its bounties aren't ethical, even though they're technically lawful. The character immediately distrusts the latest addition to his stagecoach: a bounty hunter named Loco who cheerfully ties his victims' corpses to the roof. It's obvious Loco is a man who didn't give a damn about the law until it became corrupted enough to protect him.

Here's the thing about Loco. When you create a hero as bad ass as Silence, you've gotta work hard to come up with a worthy villain. So Corbucci cast none other than Klaus Kinski. Director David Schmoeller made a short documentary about the legendary difficulties Kinski was known to create on movie sets. At the end, Schmoeller suggests a reason why directors like Werner Herzog continued to work with the maniac: few actors were as compelling.

Here's the full vid:

Please, Kill Mr. Kinski from Tromadance Vol. 1

When Loco kills the husband of Pauline (the beautiful Vonetta McGee of Blackula fame... or infamy, depending on where you stand on blacksploitation films), she sells her house to the banker who's responsible for creating the corrupt bounties. She plans to use the money to hire Silence so that he can set things right. Silence, who's fallen in love with Pauline, tries and fails to goad Loco into a shootout. The problem is, Loco is as clever as he is sneaky. He refuses to partake in a shootout until the conditions favor him 100%.

It's a slow burn to the explosive ending, which makes it clear the filmmakers are unwilling to dilute their message for commercial viability. This is probably the reason the film never saw a proper release in the United States until a few years after DVD players came along. What I just watched was one of those earlier DVDs and it only makes me hurt more for a proper Blu-Ray release.

Ultimately, I've enjoyed other Corbucci films a little bit more for keeping true to the entertaining style and convention of spaghetti westerns, but few have been as masterful—or risky—as this one. It's a great movie because it's harder to digest than traditional films. Love it or hate it, you won't be unaffected.

Tuesday, January 26, 2016

Scream Factory releases Sonny Boy

This is great news. In my review for the American VHS release I wrote, "Pan and scan this terrible is like trying to watch a movie through a telescope, but someone else is holding it to your eye. It's a pain in the ass, but it's worth watching it this way until someone tracks down the rights and gives the film a proper release." And here the godlike powers at Scream Factory come along with a proper release.

There a million reasons to love Scream Factory to begin with, but here's another. Sonny Boy is weird (and flawed) in ways you wouldn't expect from a movie that puts David Carradine in a dress.