Friday, November 30, 2018

IT'S HO-HO-HORROR TIME!

Coming December 1st: As many X-mas themed horror movies as I can stomach until December 24th.  And there's A LOT of holiday horror title out there, folks.  

To see previous X-mas-related Tremendo blogs, click here:



Hope you can join the fun!

"I...am...so...merry!"

Monday, October 29, 2018

SNAKE OUTTA COMPTON (2018)

THE CARD:

Ricky Flowers Jr., Motown Maurice, Donte Essien, Aurelia Michael, Joston Theney, Jon Kondelik, Tarkan Dospil, Eric Paul Erickson, Samuel Jackson’s lawyer, Denzel Washington’s lawyer, the SyFy Channel’s lawyers, and the NAACP’s lawyers.   

More details here.

WARNING: SPOILERS BELOW



THE ANGLE: 

A familiar mother-effing voice is heard as a snake is tossed from a passing airliner over sunny Los Angeles.  The snake lands on the hood of LAPD Officers Denz (Theny) and Ethan (Kondelik) who are out on a training day patrolling the streets of Compton in South Central LA.  

"We're about as subtly named as King Kong!"
Denz and Ethan wipe the snake from their windshield as if it's nothing and go about their business.  They will soon regret the decision.  Meanwhile, science nerd and also subtly named Vurkel (Essien) finds the snake on the road and takes one of its intact eggs for an experiment.

Yes, you fucking did that!
Vurkel goes to his laboratory in a house he shares with this roommate Pinball (Maurice) who aspires to be in a rap group along with the alluring Neon (Michael) and vocalists Beez Neez (Dospil) and Cam (Flowers).   

Day Players with Attitude
Pinball's rap group is set to audition for a big recording contract but Vurkel is annoyed by their constant partying and bullying.  He experiments with the snake egg in his room and exposes it to some kind of weird sciencey ray gun thing.  Unfortunately, the experiment results in the creation of a big ass snake that's hungry for homies.

Snake? I thought you were dead.
To complicate matters, white gangsta Alley Jaws (Erickson) shoots up Pinball's house demanding money owed to him. 

Less Eminem, more Almond Joy 
Broke and desperate, Pinball and Beez Neez dress up as Mexican wrestlers and plan a series of robberies to get Jaws' money quick.

Always worked for me.
The snake starts devouring the citizens of Compton from Korean grocers to publicly pooping hobos.  With the cops hot on their tail, the gang makes a quick stop for ice cream.

Mike Mendez as Mexican Ice Cream Man is the role of a lifetime.
And then stop at a strip club for an extended rap battle scene.

I just couldn't, so here's a pic of a young and comely Elsa Lanchester.
But both the snake and the cops soon catch up with our heroes.

Welcome to Jurassic Korean Grocery Parking Lot!
After being bitten by his giant ass snake, Vurkel gets the TMNT treatment and begins to spread a violent virus.

Still better than Super Mario Bros.
So the final stage is set and Pinball and his crew will have to confront the snake atop the recording studio building and kill it with the most inhumane weapon known to man.

'Nuff said.

THE FINISHER:

Being the avid bad movie watcher that I am and will always be known to be (wipes tear), I’m often asked about how I feel about the SyFy Original line-up of craptastic fare.  You know, the Sharknados, the Shartopusses, and other such stuff.  Lord knows, I’ve seen my share, like this one and this one.  And the answer I give is the same as the one I give to those who ask me about other terrible Z-grade movie brands like the Asylum, Troma, or DC Entertainment: I don’t care for bad on purpose.  What I mean is that the prime factors – inept acting, ridiculous plotting, second-rate FX – are manufactured to fit the bad movie mold.  The badness, for lack of a better term, feels artificial and forced.  A true bad movie experience should be void of intentionality; the incompetence should sweep you off your feet and carry to a higher plane of mockery, gratification, and self-hatred, like a pitch meeting with Tara Reid.  Add to that the pre-conditioned response of “Well, what did you expect?  It’s supposed to be bad!”, that audiences have about these movies don’t motivate producers to aim for anything above the punny title.  Unfortunately, this type of attitude is being applied to films in general nowadays, which may spell doom for movie-going in general.  But to answer the question of what did I expect watching something called Snake Outta Compton? I expected to chuckle a bit.  I expected at least one good kill.  I expected it to pass the time.  

But to be honest, deep down inside I expected it to be entertaining, perhaps even good.  Maybe expected isn’t the word; call it hope.  Hell, a movie with a cameo from the great Mike Mendez, maestro of such fun and rewatchable SyFy works like Big Ass Spider and Lavalantula amongst other fine horror films, can’t be all bad.  But Snake Outta Compton is pretty bad.  The production feels rushed, even though its main reference is a movie from three years ago, to say nothing about the seventeen-year-old Training Day references.  The comedic acting falls somewhere between the last Scary Movie and anything dragging along the bloated comedy corpse of Rob Schneider.   Fortunately, it avoids being grossly stereotypical given its setting, but the terrible 90s jokes, South Central references, and rapper puns reek of some white dude writer who ran lines via text past his one black writer friend who also went to Yale.  That, or cocaine.  Actually, I see that four people wrote the script.  Hope there was plenty of coke to go around.  But the news isn’t all bad.  Like I said I did laugh a few times and I liked the fact that this served as a tongue-in-cheek sequel to Snakes on a Plane.  But I shuddered at the thought that since there is a pencil-thin link between Lionsgate, the distributor of this film, and Universal Studios, the once-distributor of older Lionsgate titles, the Compton Snake could be considered a Universal Monster.  Let that sink in!  Ridiculousness aside, I can recommend Snake Outta Compton for your Halloween night marathon.  It’ll wake your guests up and arrive as a welcome relief after a long night of being terrorized by ElePhantom*, LavaRats vs. RoboRaccoons*, and Helk: The Elk from Hell*.

*These movies do not exist, but SyFy if you’re interested – call me!

Monday, October 22, 2018

WNUF HALLOWEEN SPECIAL (2013)

THE CARD:

Paul Fahrenkopf, Aaron Henkin, Nicolette le Faye, Leanna Chamish, Richard Cutting, Brian St. August, Helenmary Ball, Robert Long II, a long look back at a long gone era that refuses to go away, and a trick-or-treat bag full of 80s yucks.

More details here.

WARNING: SPOILERS BELOW



THE ANGLE: 

WNUF Channel 28 is hosting a live investigation of a rumored haunted house in which a young Donald Webber murdered his parents in cold blood years ago.  The special is announced on the Halloween evening news which is presented with all the professional decorum and journalistic integrity that is local TV news.

"Vell, at least I'm not on Fox!"
Cornball news reporter and jaded skeptic Frank Stewart is on the scene hosting the ghostly goings-on along with a host of looky-loos in costumes who all may very well be high.

"After tonight, I'm going back to doing traffic in Tucson."
Joining Frank are famous paranormal researchers Louis and Claire Berger who will attempt to reach out to the evil spirits that infest the Webber home.  They are joined by their psychic cat which prompts Frank to make high brow jokes.

"Tonight, we'll be busting ghosts and stroking pussy, folks." 
Earlier in the evening, we learn that a local group of religious kooks want to ban Halloween and are especially angry that WNUF is promoting what they believe is Satanic works.  Naturally, they interview the most sane, rational, and calm member of the group.

"GOD HATES CANDY CORN!" 
The investigators are joined by a nervous nelly priest, Father Joseph, who claims he can conduct an exorcism to rid the home of the malicious entities.  That is, if he can keep his bladder together.

"And now, a reading from the Book of Cystitus."
The terror unfolds in the Webber home as the Bergers' equipment is mysteriously destroyed, their cat is mutilated, and horrific noises are heard from an upstairs room.

"Walk towards the poofy orange mic cover, Carol Ann!"
While things go haywire during the live broadcast, the show's producer frantically tries to maintain order before the true nature of what is tormenting our hosts is revealed.  And it's probably more vile and villainous than any spook or specter.  But first, here's what's next on WNUF, a mummy stalks New York in search of souls to reap:

I will totally watch this.

THE FINISHER:

Say whatever you will about the 1980s, from over-saturation of the period’s nostalgia in almost every aspect of current pop culture and the infernal member berries it has sprouted that drive every Hollywood franchise today (Predator, Aliens, TNMT, Ghostbusters, etc.), the decade was at least for me a glorious time, especially at Halloween. The WNUF Halloween Special, a found footage/mockumentary local TV satire embodies everything the eerie night meant to someone whose best friend was the boob tube.  After a cool night of trick-or-treating, getting spooked by pranksters, chugging Grandma’s hot chocolate, and watching Night of the Living Dead, Halloween, or Devil Dog: The Hound of Hell, I found myself wanting more.  And usually all the local TV stations had to offer after the late news was either Benny Hill reruns or some cheeseball B-movie that would knock me out after 15 minutes. How times have changed.  

But this crazy movie offers that something more I’d wished for then: a live investigation of a haunted house with a murderous history.  And the makers pull it offer wonderfully from the dorky news reporter, to the Warrens-esque psychic couple, to the pee-pee prone priest with frayed nerves, to the countless commercial breaks, to the anti-Halloween Westboro Church-eque religious freaks who dominated the political platform at the time.  How times have changed.  Among very convincing commercials and news stories from the era, there’s plenty of good natured silliness and laughs but the scares emerge gradually with a particularly gruesome payoff.  In fact, the commercials almost steal the show featuring everything from adverts for video stores, arcades, locally manufactured snacks, corny ethnic festivals, strip clubs, rip-off 976 numbers, suicide hotlines, and public service announcements from cops warning trick-or-treaters to watch out for “needles infected with the AIDS virus”.  Yeah, those existed.  The 80s VHS/UHF look, feel, and composition are so authentic, it's obviously made by someone with aptitude in production of the era and much affection.  I can totally recommend WNUF Halloween Special to satisfy your post-10 PM desire for extra Halloween amusement.  Really well done, really funny, and really recommended.

Saturday, October 20, 2018

UNFRIENDED: DARK WEB (2018)

THE CARD:

Colin Woodell, Stephanie Nogueras, Betty Gabriel, Rebecca Rittenhouse, Andrew Lees, Connor Del Rio, Savira Windyani, more scary hacking than a weekend at Grandma’s, and an IT department headed by IT

More details here.

WARNING: SPOILERS BELOW




THE ANGLE:

Matias (Woodell) is a broke ass software developer who's having relationship problems with his deaf girlfriend Amaya (Nogueras).  He is on the verge of a breakthrough on a product called Papaya which translates voice and sign language into text on a video chat platform. (Actually, not a bad idea).  His story unfolds on his newly acquired laptop. 

"Logging into my favorite website Tremendo Time...tralala"
He's scheduled to meet with his friends online on Skype.  But things soon turn awry when we learn than the laptop he "acquired" may be stolen property, and the owner starts to contact him directly asking for it back.  

"Oh shit, he's reviewing another bad 70s horror movie..."
As the owner's messaging grows increasingly menacing, Matias slowly learns he may be in over his head and is in real danger.  So naturally, he involves his friends during the online gaming and chat session.  

"Another fart joke?  Are you fucking kidding me, Tremendo?!!!"
We learn that Matias actually stole the laptop from an internet cafe (really?) and the owner is part of a cabal of evil hackers, online perverts, scumbag torture trolls, and libertarians who destroy lives for their own amusement.  

A glimpse of Apple's new Aye-aye-aye-phone.
One by one, the hackers wreak havoc on the Matias and his friends' lives, including Amaya who is unaware she's being stalked.  All the friends can do is witness the horror unfold with top-notch fast and uninterrupted internet service.  Fart!

"Oh, Tremendo, you had so much potential." 

THE FINISHER:

Along with its fellow 2014 release Open Windows, the original Unfriended used the then-fresh concept of telling a story about a killer stalking a group of friends online in real time, each of them  subjected to a dangerous game tied into their troubled pasts.  Told from the perspective of the main character’s desktop, the movie used social media, internet apps, and online software to not only deliver a relatively satisfying thriller, but also convey themes of trust, friendship, and the decay of social interaction in our current technological age.  Simple as it was, it at least tried to even have a message backed by a plot with motive.  This next chapter in the Unfriended series affords no such attempt at depth as it’s pure gimmick in which all of the characters are random victims of circumstance with little to no character development.  Instead of an Eli Rothian torture chamber, the victims’ gruesome fates unfold live on the latest IO operating system.  If this is supposed to be a more modern update of early 2000s torture porn, then for the most part it’s successful.  But much like early 2000s torture porn, it’s not for me.  

But what does work is how the movie depicts actual things that may and do happen like the vulnerability of home security cameras and other devices, the availability of personal information that can be easily accessed and used against someone also known as “doxing”, the ugly practice of “swatting” in which a false report prompts an aggressive police response, and the frightening tools available to hackers (and others if you spend the time to learn their methods) to destroy someone’s life.  Less convincing is the speed and efficiency in which these diabolical tasks are executed, the almost supernatural ways in which the evil hackers’ identities were concealed, the fact that a YouTube conspiracy theorist has friends, and several head-scratching Bill Gates’ wallet-sized leaps in logic.  Many story threads with potential are left hanging as nothing is done with Nogueras’ character who is only hearing-impaired for sake of plot convenience.  Much like its predecessor, the cast is made up of relative unknowns, except for Gabriel who was terrific in 2017’s stunning Get Out.  Woodell as the lovelorn Matias was particularly good at conveying sweaty paranoia as doom unfolds in the wake of his terribly stupid mistake.  Unfriended: Dark Web works at picking at all-too real fears of privacy invasion, identity theft, and online terrorism that exist in our world today. Although you may not walk away from the film chilled to the bone, you will definitely clear your browser cache more often.  Pervo!