Wednesday, March 27, 2013

A review of "Jack Ketchum's The Girl Next Door"

Confessions of a Film Junkie: A review of “The Girl Next Door”
By: Brian Cotnoir

     Yet another fantastic film based off of a novel by Author Jack Ketchum is the 2007 Horror/Thriller “The Girl Next Door” (not to be confused with the 2004 Comedy of the same title).  The story of “The Girl Next Door” is loosely based off of the real life murder (and torture) of a young girl named Sylvia Likens.                                                         
The film is told in narration form by the adult version of our main protagonist.  Our story is set in 1958, and our protagonist is the young David Moran.  David becomes infatuated with a young girl named Meg, who just moved next door to him along with her younger sister Susan.  Meg and Susan’s parents perished in a tragic car accident, and she was sent to live with their mom’s cousin, Ruth Chandler.  On the outside, Ruth appears to be calm and fun: she lets the kids in the neighborhood wander into her house any time they want and gives them cigarettes and beer.  However, the way she treats her three sons and the other neighborhood kids, is the complete opposite of how she treats Meg and her younger sister.  Ruth verbally and physically abuses Meg and Susan in front of her sons and the other children and is real casual about it; if Meg tries to defend herself—or her crippled sister Susan—she is punished in the most physical and horrific ways imaginable.  She is beaten, tied up, stripped naked, and humiliated in front of her cousins and friends.  Mrs. Chandler even let’s one of her son’s and other boys in the neighborhood rape her and invites other kids to come and watch.  She even uses a blowtorch to give Meg a clitorectomy (look it up on your own, because I am NOT explaining what that is).  Now David struggles with the ultimate problem of what can he do to help his friend?                                           
Actress Blanche Baker plays a straight up psycho!
     So you know how in my review of Jack Ketchum’s “The Woman” I said the Cleeks were the Most Dysfunctional Family I have ever seen in a film?  Well Ruth Chandler is definitely the most despicable, sadistic, and Most Evil character I have ever seen in a film.  The fact that she was based off of a real person absolutely terrifies me.  The woman Ruth Chandler’s character was based off of is
Gertrude Baniszewski
named Gertrude Baniszewski and just as I’ve said all those nasty things about Ruth Chandler being the Most Evil Character I’ve ever seen in a film, I believe Gertrude Baniszewsi is the Most Evil person who has ever lived!  I’ve read most of the “Encyclopedia of Serial Killers” and I think she’s worst than Charles Manson, worst than Albert Fish, worst than Ted Bundy, worst then John Wayne Gacy. I am absolutely flabbergasted as to how this woman was not put to death by the state of Indiana and somehow managed to get paroled after committing these horrific and shocking crimes, but I digress.  The actress who played Ruth Chandler is Blanche Baker, and one thing that’s great about her performance is just how nonchalant she is about what she’s doing.  She is committing the most serious crimes imaginable to a child—in front of other children—and she looks like she should careless and doesn’t think she’ll ever get caught.  Her hatred for Meg and the crimes she commits against her seem entirely unmotivated and that she’s only doing these things because she feels like she can.  That’s a pretty evil and horrifying character in my eyes.                        
Blythe Auffarth plays the role of Meg
in Jack Kethcum's "The Girl Next Door"
Then we have the character Meg, played by actress Blythe Auffarth.  Auffarth gives a good performance as well, and I applaud her because this is not an easy role to play; the helpless tortured girl.  I know I’m just nitpicking on this next part but, Blythe Auffarth seems too old to be playing a teenager.  Auffarth was 22-Years-Old when “The Girl Next Door” was filmed, the person her character was based off, Sylvia Likens, was sixteen.  I understand why they had to cast an older actress for this role, because there’s no way you would ever want to cast minor for this type of role.  It’s kind of like how Stanley Kubrick cast—then 28-year-old—Malcolm McDowell to play the role of 15-year-old Alex DeLarge in “A Clockwork Orange”.  Like I said, I know I’m nitpicking, but when all the other kids in the film are between 10-15 it’s really hard to believe that this character claims to be a teenager when they are very obviously much older.                                               
Young David Moran struggles with what to do
    Then we have the character young David Moran.  Young David has to deal with a lot of difficult issues that are better suited for adults.  Unfortunately, the adults don’t give him any real good advice. He goes to his parents, and he is told that it’s none of their business to interfere with other families domestic problems.  He goes to the Police and they pretty much tell him the same thing, by the time anyone decides to listen to him or help Meg it’s too late.  One thing I like about his character is that he is put a situation that far too many people are placed in at some point in their lives.  I believe that everyone has known at least one person that has been abused at some point in their lives.  When we are teenagers, our closest friends confide in us their darkest and most tragic secrets, and suddenly we are more qualified at fourteen to help our friends solve their problems then a trained professional or responsible adult.  David’s story is also tragic because he wants to help Meg, but he’s scared to and doesn’t know what he can do.  I hate it in films when a good character stands by and watches others abuse a helpless victim/character, but in David’s case I can forgive it.  What teenager would know what to do if he was put in that situation?  How do they overcome their fears and know what’s the right thing to do?  All David wants to do is help his friend, but no one seems like they want to help.  Even when he tries to do something right on his own, it just ends up causing more pain and hardships for the people he’s trying to help.             
Meg get's savagely abused throughout the film
    Besides great characters and a terrifying story, this film also offers a great retrospect into the “Social-Norms” of its setting.  The first time David witnesses Meg being disciplined by Mrs. Chandler he is told that it a “Domestic Matter” and that it’s “none of his business”.  It’s sad to believe that this was once considered typical; hell I still think this is typical for what happens a lot today.  There’s a scene in the film where David and one of Meg’s cousins see her telling a Police officer about the abuse she suffers and all the cop does, initially, is show up and ask a few questions.  Once the police officer leaves, Meg is beaten by her cousins, while her cruel Aunt ponders a most horrendous punishment that does not fit the crime.  Seeing how nobody in an authority position tries to stop Ruth Chandler and her sons until it’s too late is almost as scary as the crimes they commit against Meg.                    
     By the way, I’ve noticed that Jack Ketchum likes to have his female character’s tied up in basements in his stories.  Also in a couple of his novels/films that were adopted from  his works his antagonists are unfeeling and very monotone, and their only motivation appears to be that they’re just really evil or really bored; anyone else notice that?                         
     “The Girl Next Door” is another great horror film adapted from the literary works of Jack Ketchum, if you ever get a chance to see a movie based off of his works or read one of his books I seriously recommend you do it.  If you want to read my review of Ketchum’s “The Woman” just click the link below.

"Classics" A review of "Ben-Hur"

Confessions of a Film Junkie: A “Classics” Review of “Ben Hur”
By: Lauren Ennis

Following the advent of television in the early 1950’s, Hollywood was forced to face its first serious competitor in popular entertainment. In order to combat the easily accessible, and often light weight, fare that enthralled television audiences, Hollywood struck back in a big way with its new favorite trump card; the epic. In an era before premium channels and mini-series, television could offer comedies and melodramas on par with Tinseltown’s finest, but it simply could not compete with the sheer grandeur of cinema’s period pieces. As cinema saw a return of box-office record breakers, Hollywood responded by releasing a seemingly endless stream of historical epics. Unfortunately, many of these films relied more heavily upon special effects and exotic costumes than dialogue and plot development, and have aged poorly as a result. Despite the fact that many films of this era are now considered more camp than art, a few select films stand out from the trend, including one of the most powerful films of the genre, Ben-Hur.

   Over time, Ben-Hur has become engrained in American pop-culture and inspired countless other films. The film has been parodied and imitated so often that at first glance its many twists and turns seem cliché. Upon closer observation, however, it becomes evident that this is in fact a masterfully crafted work that ‘they don’t make ‘em like’ anymore. Despite the limited special effects of the time in which it was released, the film is able to successfully transport viewers across a vast scope of first century locations ranging from the market-places of Judea, to the tents of Arab nomads, to the palaces of Rome. The famous chariot race in particular remains a cinematic landmark. Not only does the scene utilize expert stunts and breathtaking action, but it also excellently summarizes the central conflict between the film’s hero and villain.

Actor Charlton Heston plays the title character Ben-Hur
    Ben-Hur was released at the tail-end of the historical epic craze which also included such classics as The Ten Commandments and Spartacus. Like The Ten Commandments, Ben-Hur featured leading man Charlton Heston and a cast of thousands. Unlike The Ten Commandments, however, this film focuses upon the personal struggle of an ordinary man forced to withstand extraordinary circumstances. The film chronicles the efforts of a Judean prince to reclaim his former life and attain vengeance after being convicted of a crime that he did not commit. After refusing to act as an informant for the occupying Roman forces, Judah Ben-Hur is betrayed by his former friend Messala and sent to the galleys as sentence for an attempted murder charge. Messala openly admits that the charge is false but still carries the charge even further by arresting Judah’s mother and sister as co-conspirators. Through a combination of persistence and circumstance Judah is eventually able to escape and make his way home with a new identity. Upon his return, he immediately pursues obtaining revenge against Messala and freedom for his mother and sister. Although he eventually does gain vengeance, his victory is at best bittersweet, as he continues to blame himself for the arrest of his mother and sister who have contracted leprosy and been banished in his absence. This bitterness eventually consumes him and alienates those closest to him. It is only after Judah learns to move on with his life and let go of his hate that he is able to finally achieve redemption.

Messala in "Ben-Hur" (1959)
One of the most difficult aspects of completing the screenplay reportedly was resolving the motivation of villain, Messala. In the film, Messala betrays his childhood friend after the latter refuses to act as an informant for the Roman Empire. The writers found it difficult to believe that a man would betray his friend over politics and attempted to include a gay subtext into the script in order to explain Messala’s seemingly over blown reaction. Personally, I was shocked to read that the writers would not see the significance and divisive effects of politics a mere fifteen years after the end of the Second World War. This is particularly striking when one considers the fact that Hollywood was in the midst of the McCarthy era, which saw the destruction of countless relationships and livelihoods, particularly in the motion picture industry, as the result of a political ‘witch-hunt’.

Ultimately, the most compelling aspect of the film is the protagonist’s psychological struggle after he regains his freedom. While attaining his freedom was his immediate goal, achieving it is an empty victory because he cannot share it with his family. Even after finally obtaining vengeance against Messala, Judah is still a tormented man. He isolates himself from his former slave turned love interest, Esther, and lashes out at her each time that she offers him consolation. At one point, Esther becomes so frustrated with Judah that she compares him to Messala and says she cannot love the man he has become. Although his argument with Esther does lead him to question his decisions, it is not until he witnesses the crucifixion of Christ, another wrongly convicted man, that he gains a sense of perspective, which ultimately leads to his redemption.

Ben-Hur meets Jesus
    The presence of Jesus is a recurring theme that puts the story into a historical context without undermining its central conflicts. In many ways, Jesus is a foil to Judah; both are citizens of an occupied country who are persecuted for trying to do what they believe is right. The dignity that Jesus exhibits during his trial and crucifixion directly contrasts the obsessive rage that consumes Judah after his own conviction. Their acquaintance eventually comes full circle after Judah recognizes Jesus as the stranger who gave him water during his journey to the galleys. He asks a fellow spectator what Jesus could have done to deserve such a fate. The man explains the prophecy that Jesus was meant to fulfill by taking “the world of our sins onto himself” and says that it was for “this beginning” that he was born. It is at this moment that Judah is finally able to see the possibility for a new beginning at even the most tragic endings and determines to rise above the bitterness of his past.

I chose to review this film in honor of Easter, but recommend it to viewers of any faith to watch during any season. Although the film does feature a religious motif, its central themes of family, hope, patriotism, and justice are universal. The characters’ struggle to maintain their personal lives in an increasingly politicized world continues to be relevant in today’s world of economic and social uncertainty. Despite the advances of modern special effects, the action sequences, sets, and costumes remain truly epic and cannot be matched. At the very least, I recommend this film to any viewer interested in seeing how truly great movies are made and to those curious to see what exactly they ‘don’t make ‘em like’ anymore.

Friday, March 22, 2013

A "Classics" Review of "Un Chien Andalou"

Confessions of a Film Junkie: “Classics” A Review of “Un Chien Andalou”
By: Lauren Ennis

Lauren Ennis
According to Webster’s Dictionary’s definition, surrealism is “a style of art and literature developed principally in the 20th century stressing the subconscious or nonrational significance of imagery”. In less clinical terms, surrealism was the spark that started the modern art movement in the early 20th century, which eventually led to the formation of modern art as we know it today. Surrealism was an artistic movement in which artists attempted to reveal the absurdity of life by juxtaposing unrelated and contradictory images. For many artists, surrealism was an outlet through which they could rebel against the hypocrisy of society, particularly the senselessness and horrors of World War I. Although such a malleable movement would seem suited to a multitude of mediums, surrealism was most often applied to the visual arts, largely due to the constraints of plot and character development that dominate film and literature.                                                 
A handful of films did succeed in defying the confines of their medium and shocking audiences by telling their stories through‘dream logic’ rather than a linear plot. One of the most popular of these surrealist films was the 1929 silent short film Un Chien Andalou (French for ‘an Andalusian dog’). The film was a collaboration between painter Salvador Dali and director Luis Buenel, which reportedly began when Buenel told Dali of a dream he had in which a cloud sliced through the moon “like a razor-blade slicing through an eye”. Dali responded by discussing his own bizarre dreams, and Buenel concluded that the assortment of images would be ideal for a film.                              
Film Poster from 1929
The artists maintained that the film does not have a plot and is instead meant to be viewed as a rebellion against the conventions of plot. The film opens with a man restlessly looking out at the sky from his balcony as he sharpens a razor. In what is perhaps the film’s best known image, the scene moves to a woman calmly staring into the camera as the man holds her head in place and proceeds to slice her eye with the razor. Despite the advances of modern special effects, the scene still manages to shock as the camera captures both the initial cut and the aftermath of fluid oozing from the deflated eye (actually the eye of a dead calf). According to the title card, the film then flashes ahead “eight years later” and depicts the same man as he watches the now blind woman be run down by traffic outside his house. The man then begins a series of arguments and altercations with another woman that comprise the majority of the film.   
The Most Iconic Scene from the Film
Although the filmmakers explicitly stated that the film was nothing more than succession of unrelated images, it is possible for audiences to form a plot through their own interpretation of the images. Personally, I interpreted the film to be about the vicious cycles that often compose human relationships. From this perspective, the slicing of the woman’s eye is a symbol for the man lashing out at her in his restlessness, and attacking one of her most vulnerable parts. When the scene shifts to the man crashing his bicycle while wearing a nun’s habit, it could represent his emasculation and lack of direction as a result of his actions, or (given Buenel’s contempt for the Catholic Church) as the result of the constraints of life under the influence of a flawed religious system.                     
Ant Hands!
Later, a hole full of ants appears in the man’s hand as he watches the woman from the first scene (now blind), poking at a severed hand with her walking stick. This scene represents the void in the man’s life after he has hurt the woman and the pestilence that is created by his inability to fill that void. He then gleefully watches as the woman is run down by a car, which represents the destruction of his memories and the torment that they inflict upon him. Now confident after his victory over his past, the man proceeds to make sexual advances towards a young woman who appears to be his current girlfriend. She is disgusted by his reaction to the other woman’s death and rebuffs his advances. He continues his attempt to seduce her but is held back by two pianos that suddenly appear tied to his shoulders, representing the ties from his past that prevent him from moving on with their relationship. The young woman runs from the room and shuts the man’s infected hand in the door. After a brief pause, she opens the door and sees that he is not trapped by the door and is actually lying on the bed, asleep. Her fear and attempt to escape from the man demonstrate the fear that his past actions instill in her and her inability to reconcile his past actions with their present relationship.                   
Hello Dali! (Pictured Right)
She leaves the building and the camera returns to the bedroom as the man engages in a duel with a younger version of himself that is revolted by the man he has become. The man shoots the younger version of himself, effectively severing his ties with his more innocent past. The young woman returns to the apartment after the shooting and they resume arguing. In one of the most bizarre images in the film, the man points at the woman, causing her armpit hair to appear on his face in what appears to be an example of him calling attention to her physical flaws. She becomes furious and storms out of the apartment. The scene then shifts to a beach where the young woman meets a new man. This man shows her the time on his watch, warning her that their acquaintance cannot last forever. Despite his warning, she takes his arm and they walk along the beach. They briefly pause when she discovers the first man’s belongings then continue on their path, revealing her desire to move on from her past with the first man. The film closes with an image of the couple one year later buried in the sand, as their relationship has been buried in the sands of time.          
Director Luis Bunuel
Un Chien Andalou surpassed the odds and became a success despite the fact that it was a short film reportedly devoid of any meaning. It eventually became a cult classic in art house cinema and is now considered a landmark in cinema history. This film marked the beginning of the career of director Luis Buenel who later went on to make such classics as “Discreet Charm of the Bourgeoisie” and “Belle Du Jour”, and was one of the first independent films to achieve mainstream success. Through their collaborative “prank”, Buenel and Dali created a work of art that has maintained an ability to shock and a sense of intellectual mutiny that continues to awe and inspire today.

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

A review of "Someone's Knocking at the Door"

Confessions of a Film Junkie: A review of “Someone’s Knocking at the Door”.

By: Brian Cotnoir

     Add this to the list of the Most Unpleasant Films I’ve ever sat through in just one sitting.  The thing that led me to want to watch this film was it boasting on one of its movie posters that it is the: “Most Depraved Film of the 21st Century”. That’s probably a fair title to give this film. I mean with multiple graphic scenes depicting rape and mutilation it’s impossible to not feel uncomfortable or uneasy while watching this film.          
The film I’m talking about is “Someone’s Knocking at the Door”, and I have to be perfectly honest with everyone: despite the graphicness of this film and all the unpleasant things that happen in the film, I still thought it was a good film.  The film is about a group of Med Students in College—most of them who have some pretty bad drug addictions—and one night one of the students, Ray, is attacked in his dorm after shooting up an unknown narcotic.  Ray is brutally raped to death by an unknown attacker, and now the police are out to find out who killed him.  Ray’s angry and grieving mother suspects it was one Ray’s friends who did it, so the police bring in his friends to question them and see if any of them knew who could have killed Ray.  As it turns out the students broke into a records room on campus and uncovered an experimental drug called “Taldon”.  Ray and most of his friends shot it up in the room and later uncovered a file that the drug was created in 1973 by a former Professor at the college to treat a schizophrenic couple named John & Wilma Hopper.  As the students look more into the file they find out that John & Wilma were both serial rapists and raped all of their victims to death—including the professor who created Taldon—and now some of them believe that the drug may have been what caused John & Wilma to commit their violent sexual crimes.  After find out this fact the med students & friends become fearful that the drug they injected into their bodies may have caused one of them might of unknowingly committed the sexual assault that killed their friend Ray, or maybe John & Wilma (who reportedly escaped after killing the Professor) have come back to finish what they started.               
    Holy shnikes where do I even begin to dissect this film?  I guess I should probably start with the story.  The story is actually quite creative. It’s violent as all hell, but creative.  It’s also mysterious and it’s terrifying. I don’t want to give away too many details or spoilers about this story.  It has an original story, and there is a lot mystery and build-up towards the end and I would hate to give away the ending.  There is a twist ending to it—that is vaguely reminiscent of the ending to “Sucker Punch”—and I didn’t think it was bad, but I can easily understand how some people could call it a copout ending. 
Actor Noah Segan plays Justin in the film
The actors in this film are also gave competent performances.  No one’s really bad, but none of them are really anything special.  Noah Segan is probably the most notable actor in this film, and for those of you who read my review of “Deadgirl”, know that I think he get’s type-casted into playing the role of the film’s “Biggest a$$ hole”, but I was actually surprised that he wasn’t in this film. His character, Justin, is pretty douchy at times, but he’s not the most deplorable character in the film.  Most of the film is told from his perspective, and I actually like how they told his story in the film; it was unique, it was unexpected, and this probably the only time, so far that, I’ve ever liked Noah Segan in a film (by the way did you also know that he was the voice of Henry on the Nickelodeon sketch cartoon show “KaBlam!”?).                          
Well that sure was unpleasant.
I felt that this film was well made even with the excessive violence and told it’s story in a way that was mysterious but comprehendible.  If you’re a sick f*ck like myself and love to torture yourself with movies that have unpleasant imagery and graphic violence then this film is for you, other than that you will not like this film.  

Saturday, March 16, 2013


Confessions of a Film Junkie: The Repo/Devils Carnival Double Feature

By: Brian Cotnoir & Lindsay Holcomb

So on Friday March 15, 2013 the Orpheum Theatre in Foxboro, MA hosted a Special Double Feature showing of "Repo: The Genetic Opera" and "The Devils Carnival".  At this event was the director of both films, Darren Lynn Bousman (who also directed Saw II, III, and IV, and the Mother's Day Re-make) and Terrance Zdunich who co-wrote and performed in both films (Grave Robber in Repo & Lucifer in "The Devils Carnival".  For those who do not know Repo The Genetic Opera started out as an idea Terrance had and it grew to a 10 minute opera performed by him and friends in clubs and small theaters. Darren saw the play and wanted to direct a stage version of it and from there it blossomed into a movie production that many fans were behind. The studios were not. Terrance and Darren fought to release REPO and only got a limited release in very few theaters. The fans came out in droves, sold out many showings and are still doing this as REPO is shown in theaters on special occasions like this: The tour of Devil's Carnival, the next film of Terrance and Darren's in the same vein as REPO: A Gothic movie musical with lots to offer in sing along's and shout outs most appreciated in a packed theater.

Please Enjoy our Commentary/Clips from the Show as well as some pictures of some awesome Hardcore Cos-Players.

All Ladies love the Pavi Largo

Shiloh pre- Genetic Opera Cos-Play

Zee as Shiloh during the "Seventeen" Number

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

A 2-4-1 Special of Danielle De Luca

Confessions of a Film Junkie: A 2-for-1 Special of Danielle De Luca

By: Brian Cotnoir

Actress Danielle De Luca
A while back I watched two Horror films (courtesy of Netflix) that were just awful. The films were called “Naked Fear” and “Necrosis”.  So why have I decided to group them together instead of giving them each a separate review?  Well for one thing I didn’t think I had enough material to talk about why I didn’t like both films, but besides that I noticed that while watching both films they had one thing in common; both films had the same leading actress.  The actress I’m talking about is a pretty young red head by the name of Danielle De Luca.  Danielle De Luca is an unknown actress who has been featured in 14 straight to DVD horror films since 2006.  So I have decided to give you a two-for-one special on Danielle De Luca this week.  The purpose of this review was more to bash the films that Danielle De Luca has appeared in rather than making fun of her as an actress.  I mean her acting isn’t terrible; I think it has more to do with the films she has appeared in.  If you know any others films that Danille De Luca appears in that you thought were good just let me know in the comment section. 

Naked Fear (2007)

This is the first film I ever saw starring Danielle De Luca, she plays a girl named Diana who leaves her home in Texas and moves to a rural town in New Mexico to work as a stripper. The town and the club were a lot worse than what Diana thought she was getting into, but unfortunately no one will lend her the money to get back to Texas, and she barely makes any money at her job as it is.  One night her roommate suggests that she try hooking to make some extra cash.  After resisting for a while she eventually gives in.  Unfortunately for Diana, her first client turns out to be a serial killer who beats her unconscious, strips her naked and flies her out into the middle of the wilderness so he can hunt her.                             
     This film’s plot is based off the crimes of American serial killer, Robert Hansen who did abduct prostitutes and fly them out to the Alaskan wilderness to hunt them, and it is also almost identical to the plot of the 1994 film “Surviving the Game”, but instead of Ice-T being hunted by Rutger Hauer and Gary Busey, we get a naked Danielle De Luca being hunted by some unknown guy, whose character name I could not remember for most of the film. I had no problem with Danielle De Luca being naked for more than half the movie, and that’s really the only positive thing I have to say about this film.  The story to this film has been done-to-death more times than I can count.  There’s nothing new, or original, or exciting about it.  It’s a generic film with a predictable plot and no action or excitement.  This film stretches the truths of reality way too many times.  I want to know how she doesn’t freeze to death the first night with no clothes or shelter, or how come when she knocks out the guy hunting her the first time she didn’t take his rifle or make sure he was dead, and how the hell after days without any food and barely any time to rest she somehow manages to survive being run over by a van and is able to steal it from the owner and drive to civilization before passing out.  The ending to “Naked Fear” makes a little bit of sense, but it does still stretch the truths of reality.  There’s just nothing spectacular I can say about this film.        
Necrosis (or Blood Snow) (2009)

Sometimes called "Blood Snow"
Another horror film I saw starring Danielle De Luca was “Necrosis”.  The ultimate problem with this film is that it tries so badly to be like other—much better—horror films that it loses its central focus and just ends up sucking so much! Besides not having a central focus to the story of the film, the characters are all poorly established, and the film spends more time trying to rip off other films rather than trying to be good on its own.  Just from the opening scene you get the sense that they tried way too hard to make this a good film.  The second scene in the film is the most blatant rip off of the opening scene to “The Shining” I have ever seen, and that is just the first of many fails.                                           
    The plot to “Necrosis” is the following: A group of recent college graduates are heading up to a cabin in the mountains to for a week of snowmobiling and fun.  As it just so happens there is a huge blizzard that supposed to be coming through, and despite all the warnings the six friends receive from the locals they decide to ignore them and head up to the mountains. But this just isn’t any mountain they’re on; as it turns out the same cabin they’re staying in is on the same mountain where the Donner Party Massacre happened!  So the six friends are, obviously, going to be killed by the zombies of the Donner Party, right?  Wrong!  They die by either freezing to death or gunshot wounds!                                               
     This film really pisses me off because throughout the first half of the film they go out of their way to establish that the mountain they’re staying on was the same one that “Donner Party” got stranded on, and then the Donner Party Zombies aren’t even the bad guys in the film, it’s themselves!  There are even a few scenes of the cast having nightmares about being eaten by zombies, so you would think that the film was foreshadowing events that were to come in the film, but no!  Instead they wasted time on other things.    
Danielle De Luca & James Kyson Lee
    The other major problem with this film is it fails to establish its characters properly, our Hero (if we can even call him that) has like a half-dozen different background stories; he was a med student, he quit to become a writer, he’s also a master mechanic, he was engaged a few months ago, etc.  Jesus Christ, what can’t this guy do?  Then there’s Danielle De Luca’s character, Samantha, who is revealed to be 2-months pregnant half way through the friggin` movie!  What effect does this have on her character or the films plot? Absolutely, nothing her character decides to keep it a secret from her boyfriend—who we later find out is a schizophrenic—and ends up getting killed by him before she can ever tell him.  So thank you movie for deciding to invest us in this twist-to-the-plot and leaving it unfulfilled!  Thank you so VERY much.   
The worst thing about this film is what they did to poor Michael Berryman.  Michael Berryman is a Cult-Horror Movie legend and it angered me so much that this film did not let him live up to the potential we would normally expect from an actor like him..  I don’t even think he took this film that seriously, because he put so little effort into his character, and I honestly think this film was just another paycheck to him.  He’s just awful in this film.  So do yourself a favor do NOT see “Necrosis” it is one of the worst horror films I have ever seen, and it is just too stupid to be comprehended by sane human beings.  I have half a mind to go up to this film’s crew and smack them all across the face with a shovel!  For Shame on them all.  FOR SHAME!

Thursday, March 7, 2013

A review of "Michael"

Confessions of a Film Junkie: A review of “Michael”
By: Brian Cotnoir

I once heard another film critic say that “[‘Michael’] is going to be the next ‘[A] Serbian Film”. Those who read my review of “A Serbian Film” know that I thought the movie was well made, and I went into detail about the scenes of graphic violence throughout the film.  I didn’t find the film really to be all that shocking, but I know many people who do and shutter in fear at the mere mention of the film’s title.  So my morbid curiosity was more than enough to motivate me to sit through the 2011 film “Michael” and see whether or not it was as shocking—or worst than—“A Serbian Film”. I’ve reached two conclusions: Either everyone who saw this film is just a total wuss or I have become completely desensitized to everything.
    The film tells the story of an insurance salesman named Michael who on the outside seems like a quite, harmless, reclusive man who keeps to himself and doesn’t really like to be bothered with other people.  However, Michael has a dark secret. In his home—which is heavily fortified—he keeps a young boy hostage as a sex slave.  Michael keeps the boy locked up all day in a secret room in his basement and only lets him out at night to have dinner with him and watch television.  The film mostly focuses on the difficulties and steps Michael takes to insure that no one finds out about the boy, and how he tries give the boy a normal life and how he makes himself seem like he’s a normal man.   
   This film is absolutely nothing like “A Serbian Film”.  Not once in the film do they ever show Michael sexually abusing the boy.  It is implied in the film that the boy was kidnapped and that Michael keeps him locked up as his sex slave, but it is never fully established that that is the case and, in my opinion, the story is open up to many different interpretations.  Since it is only implied that Michael keeps the boy as a sex slave the graphicness of the scenes of abuse are open to minds of viewer of the film.  I didn’t find the implications to be particularly shocking, and therefore I never felt like the boy was any real danger.  There’s a scene where we see Michael take the boy on an outdoor outing where there are other people around and at no point does the boy try to run away or inform someone else to say that he’s been kidnapped or that he is in danger.  Also, the young boy in the film doesn’t appear to be bothered by the abuse at all.  I don’t want to sound offensive—I may be totally off on this assumption—and I apologize if this statement offends anyone: but is the boy’s character in the film supposed to be Autistic?  His character kind of shows some symptoms, but I don’t really know.  He acts like it’s just another part of his daily routine in the film and we rarely see him speak or break from a bleak monotone expression. The seriousness and severity of his situation just sort of goes away.                        
This film's better than "Michael"; see it.
    I’ll break it down for you like this: there’s a Norwegian film I saw called “The King of Devils Island” and part of the story deals with one of the young boys being sexually abused by one of the schools disciplinarians.  Even though there are no scenes in the “King of Devils Island” that depict the boy being sexually assaulted by the disciplinarian the boy expresses fear and panic every time the disciplinarian is near and we even get a few scenes of him crying after leaving the disciplinarians private room.  Now compare that to the boy in “Michael” who just seems to shrug it off like it’s not that big of a deal. To me Michael comes more off as an over-protective parent in the film rather than as a sadistic pedophile, and that annoys me.  The film shows Michael in a way that almost makes him seem nurturing and caring, but he’s a God d@mn pedophile; we’re not supposed to like him or see him portrayed as a human being. He’s so calm and well-mannered and he doesn’t even yell at the boy.      
    Another problem with this film is there is not a lot of dialogue spoken in this film. The film depends on a lot of atmosphere in the film to establish the tone of the film, and I think that just makes things more confusing for the people watching the film.  The atmosphere in this film is good, but it just leaves you sitting there with so many questions.  Most of the notes I took while watching the film were questions that I had about the story.  I actually had to look up a lot of things about this film so I could try to understand the story better.  For each question I had answered about something that went on in the film “Michael” there was about five other questions that went unanswered.                                              
This is Michael
This film is terrible at establishing plot and characters.  I’m going to be honest I thought that Michael was the name of the young boy, not the adult.  The boy’s name is actually Wolfgang (according to IMDB), but I don’t recall his name ever being mentioned at any point in the film.  Even Michael, the first time I heard someone call him by his first name in the film was about 2/3 of the way through the film.  They really should have chosen some better ways to introduce the characters.    
    Another problem I had with this film was that the editing was very choppy.  There are countless scenes in the film that last 5-10 seconds that really don’t have any relevance to the plot and then jump to another scene.  The style of filmmaking that the film’s director, Markus Schleinzer, used was very similar to the same style of film making used by Danish film director Lars Von Trier.  There’s a lot of scene jumping, no music, and lots of random scenes that don’t seem to go anywhere or hold any importance to the plot.                                 
Michael tries to lure another potential victim
The only actually “shocking” scene I found in the film was when they were having dinner and then Michael stood up whipped out his penis and pointed a knife at the boy and said “This is my dick, and this is my knife; which one should I stick in you?” (To which the boy replied nonchalantly “the knife”).  The film does have a few good scenes to add to its story.  There’s a part in the film where Michael tries to abduct another young boy so the other boy can have a playmate (and more likely so he can have another boy to abuse).  There’s another part where Michael goes on ski vacation with some friends so he just locks the boy up with extra food for a week and hopes for the best.  There’s even a part where Michael tries to have sex with a woman, and it was just really funny.                            
    Whether or not this film is good is totally up to you.  This is definitely one of those films where you are going to have to see it yourself and form your own opinion.  It’s not a bad film, but it’s far from being great film.  Is it controversial and shocking? I don’t think so. I found it to be mostly confusing so I didn’t really care much for it, but I can also understand why someone might actually think this is a good film.  If you want more details then just watch the film “Michael” yourself, and let me know what you think about it.  It is filmed in German, so you’re probably going to have to watch it with subtitles on (unless you already speak German, of course).  

A trailer that's almost as boring as the film

Saturday, March 2, 2013

5 Actual Confessions of a Film Junkie

Confessions of a Film Junkie: “5 Actual Confessions of a Film Junkie”
By: Brian Cotnoir

It's Me; The Film Junkie
So I’ve been writing for this blog for quite some time now, and really not much has changed; Each week I post a review of what film psychologically damaged me the most that week and you sadists read it and take pleasure in my torment.  I’m only kidding of course.  This blog would not be where it is today without you—my loyal readers—to keep me going, and I thank you all.  But still, the premise to my blog is pretty basic.  I review an awful movie and go of an angry and detailed rant on why I hated it.  Occasionally, I have been known to review and recommend good movies as well, but those are really more of my own opinions rather than an actual “confessions” so this week I decided to share with you all some of my personal experiences from watching films and let you know some of the hidden truths behind this blog.  I’ve listed them in no particular order and I hope you all enjoy them.  Thanks
Brian (“The Film Junkie”) \m/

1.)    I don’t think “The Godfather” is as good as people say it is.

This one surprises a lot of people when I tell them, but it’s true I don’t think “The Godfather” is as good as people say it is.  And I just want to clarify, I don’t hate “The Godfather” or think it’s a bad movie, I just think it’s a little bit overrated.  I’ve heard it referred to as the “Perfect Movie” or the “Best Movie of All-Time”, but I don’t really think it’s that great.  I saw this film for the first time when I was 15-years-old with my grandfather, and I was pretty excited to see if it lived up to all the hype, and I didn’t like it.  I remember thinking to myself that I was probably too young to understand it, and that when I was older I would probably really like it.  My Freshman year of college my suite mates said they were having a “Godfather” movie watching party, so once again I got all hyped up, I sat through the whole thing and I still didn’t like it.  This past summer on one of my days off, I sat down in my living room and watched all three “Godfather” movies in one day.  I had never seen any of the sequels before then, and you know what seeing the sequels actually helped me enjoy “The Godfather”.  I LOVE “The Godfather Part II”! “The Godfather Part II” is everything to me that the original “Godfather” film is to everyone else.  Again, “The Godfather” is not a bad film; I just think “Part II” is way better and more enjoyable.  My ranking of the Godfather films goes Part II, the Original, and then Part III.

2.)    “Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan” is the only movie that’s ever made me cry.

This is one of those things that even baffles myself.  I have never been, nor do I consider myself, a fan of “Star Trek”.  I’ve seen a few episodes of the “Original Star Trek” series and “The Next Generation”, but I never really watched the show(s) seriously or with that much interest, so as you can imagine I was surprised to find myself crying at the end of “Star Trek II” when Spock died. This is not the saddest movie I’ve ever seen, or the only sad movie I have ever sat through, this is the only film that’s made me cry more than once.  I can remember a couple tears running down my cheeks after I saw “Brian’s Song” for the first time—it is IMPOSSIBLE for any man to see that film and not get a little bit teary eyed—and my eyes did start to water a little bit during the climax of the documentary “Dear Zachary”, but “Star Trek II” is the only film that’s ever made me shed tears, have snot running out of my nose, and everything else.  I’ve seen this film three times in my life and each time when Spock dies and Captain Kirk gives his eulogy, and they send him off while Scottie plays “Amazing Grace” on the bagpipes it get’s me going every time.

3.)    To this day there are only two films that I’ve sat through and written reviews for that I refuse to post on my blog.

When I first started this blog there were a number of different films that I “swore off”—insisting that I would never watch or review them—but as time went on, I saw most of those films and if you can sit through films like “Cannibal Holocaust”, “A Serbian Film”, and “Antichrist” in just one sitting, you’re practically immune to ever being afraid of sitting through a movie.  When I watch a film for the first time I take notes while watching the film and after I look at the notes I compiled and then I decide on whether or not I have enough material to write a decent review.  There’s maybe been about a dozen films that I’ve watched for this blog that I haven’t written a review for, and it’s mostly due to the fact that I believed I didn’t have enough material or critiques to write a decent review.  To this day, however, I’ve only written two reviews for films that I’ve watched, and I decided that it was in the best interest of not only myself, but the well being of this blog, and the readers of my blog to not post them.  You’re all going to hate me for this next part, but I will not tell you the titles of these two films, not because the films were bad--they were both really good--but I do believe that each films content should only be seen by certain audiences and I would not want some of my younger readers to look up these films and watch them on their own. I will tell you this much, one was a horror film, and the other was a drama, and the reason why I decided I couldn’t post them because they dealt with some “sensitive material and issues”, and I personally felt like I was not the most qualified or professional person to discuss the films subject matters.  I can also tell you, I was going to post the horror review and two days before I was going to do so, something tragic happened, and this event was very similar to the plot I was going to review, and without hesitation I decided not to publish the post, and wrote another film review to take its place.

4.)    The Best and Worst Acting Performances I have ever seen in film.

Anthony Perkins as "Norman Bates"
Best Acting Performance by Male: Anthony Perkins as Norman Bates in “Psycho”.  I love this movie; this is hands down one of my favorite horror films, and I think a large reason of why I like it so much is the acting performance give by Anthony Perkins.  True, by today’s standards the film isn’t all that scary and the ending isn’t all that shocking; hell even I accurately predicted the ending to the film the first time I saw it, but my gosh Anthony Perkin’s is fantastic in this film.  His character was largely influenced by American Serial Killer Ed Gein, and for the time this film was made, this was not an easy role to play.  Anthony Perkins is playing a psychotic murderer, who struggles to hide behind the mask of sanity in the company of other people.  His monologues in the film are fantastic and they’ll just send a chill through your spine, and for those of you wondering if I’ve seen the “remake” of the film, my answer is no, and I don’t ever plan on seeing it.  Why? Because I think the remake of “Psycho” will make me want to go “Psycho” on a few actors and film crews.

Sigourney Weaver in "Snow Cake
Best Acting Performance by a Female: Sigourney Weaver as Linda Freeman in “Snow Cake”.  Not many people have heard of this film.  To be perfectly honest, when one of my friends tried to get me watch it I was thinking up excuses in my mind as to why I didn’t want to watch it.  I thought the movie was going to suck, but it was awesome.  Sigourney Weaver’s character is autistic and her daughter is killed in a car crash, and the driver of the car her daughter was in (played by Alan Rickman) stays with Sigourney Weaver’s character to help arrange her daughters funeral and help her adjust to now having to be on her own.  The way Sigourney Weaver Plays her character in the film is perfect.  She’s not over-the-top, she isn’t dumbing down her character, her performance is actually pretty believable.  If you really want to see why Sigourney Weaver is great in this film, then see “Snow Cake”.

Seth Green (L) & Macaulay Culkin (R)! WTF?!?!?!
WORST ACTING PERFOMANCE: Macaulay Culkin & Seth Green in “Party Monster”.  Again, just to clarify: when I say this is the worst acting performance I’ve seen, I’m not talking about some unknown actor/actress who was in low budget, straight to video crap fest made in the 1970’s-1980’s.  I am talking about the worst acting performance I’ve seen done by professional and credible actors, and Macaulay Culkin & Seth Green in the early 2000’s film “Party Monsters” is the worst I’ve seen.  You know how “Bros” talk and act when they pretend that they’re gay; picture that going on screen for 90 minutes.  Both Culkin & Green’s characters were based off of two gay club promoters in New York in the 1990’s, and they just overplayed and stereotyped the hell of their roles, and it’s just bad.  I like Culkin & Green in films where they play a wise cracking supporting character, but the two of them as leading actors are just obnoxious and un-entertaining.

5.)    I don’t know how “Burn After Reading” ends
Yep, still don't know :)

This is probably my most embarrassing confession, but yeah, I really don’t know how “Burn After Reading Ends”.  I saw this film when it came out in theaters with a few of my friends, and when the film got to the part where George Clooney’s character found Brad Pitt’s character hiding in the closet and shot him in the head made me jump in my seat and shout Holy Crap!  It wasn’t like a bullet just entered Pitt’s head and left a small hole on his forehead; his head freaking exploded!  I don’t know why but I was surprised and in disbelief of what I saw on the big screen, but that’s all me and my friends could talk about for the rest of the film.  I actually remember a lot of people in the theatre getting mad at me and my friends because we just rambled on and on about how Brad Pitt’s head exploded on screen.  We rambled on about it for so long that we totally missed the ending of the film.  Once the credits started rolling and the lights came back on, we all just sat their wondering how we missed the ending of the film, and of course we never bothered to ask anyone in the theatre how the movie ended because we weren’t sure how made som of the people sitting near us had gotten, and for some reason or another I have never gotten around to watching it on DVD.  Part of me wants to find out what happened in the end, but then there’s the strange part of me, that likes how I don’t know how the movie ends because it just contributes to the mystery of the film.

Well there you Have it: 5 Actual Confessions of a Film Junkie.  I hope you all enjoyed them and maybe learned something’s about me.  Maybe if I can think up 5 new things, I’ll do an editon of “5 More Actual Confessions of a Film Junkie”?  Until Next time, Take Care. J