Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Phil attends the Midnites For Maniacs "TWIRP: TRIBUTE TO SADIE HAWKINS" at the Castro Theatre-April 19, 2013

You know, since I'm always going to San Francisco to see all the cool movies events and festivals, I should just move up here! Yup, I'm back in the City by the Bay to attend the latest Midnites for Maniacs show! The theme for Friday's show was "TWIRP: TRIBUTE TO SADIE HAWKINS." Host Jesse Hawthorne Ficks once again screened three great films, all on 35mm film prints! And as always, Jesse screened some excellent trailers before each movie. Joining me on all this fun was my fellow bloggers Jason Wiener (Jason Watches Movies) and Ms. Marya E. Gates (Cinema Fanatic) as well as my good friend Laura, making her Castro Theatre debut! So sit back and relax everybody, and away we go!

Theatrical Movie Poster (1997)
The first movie screened was the hilarious 90's comedy ROMY AND MICHELE'S HIGH SCHOOL REUNIONBest friends Romy (Mira Sorvino) and Michele (Lisa Kudrow) are living the good life in Venice, California. Romy works as a cashier and Romy's unemployed, but hey, they're having fun going out to cool clubs and dancing...with themselves. But when Romy runs into her old classmate Heather Mooney (Janeane Garofalo) and tells her about their 10 year high school reunion, the girls pack up their car head back to Arizona. But along the drive there, the girls realize that they haven't really done much with their lives since high school. So they come up with a very clever lie, one that nearly destroys their friendship before they even arrive at the reunion!

I saw the film when it first came out and I laughed so hard in the theater. The film predates the blonde trend in movies (the LEGALLY BLONDE films and BLONDE AND BLONDER come to mind). Both Mira and Lisa have great on-screen chemistry and they play off one another with such ease and believability. They look and sound like the bestest friends in the whole wide world. Janeane Garofalo is great at playing spiteful, bitter, angry bitches that I found myself wondering if she typecast herself with this role? Could very well be. The film was directed by David Mirkin, who also made the 2001 film HEARTBREAKERS. Mirkin is more well known for directing several episodes of The Simpsons as well as writing the screenplay for THE SIMPSONS MOVIE. The film was originally released by Touchstone Pictures on April 25, 1997. Before the film, Ficks screened two vintage trailers: 1976's BAD NEWS BEARS and 1980's TIMES SQUARE.

Click here to watch the film's original trailer.

Theatrical Movie Poster (198
Film number two of the night was the John Hughes teen classic PRETTY IN PINK. Andie Walsh (Molly Ringwald) is a high school senior working-class girl who lives on the wrong side of the tracks, wears old lady clothes and jewerly, has a unemployed drunk dad, and has a major crush on her pretty rich preppie classmate Blane McDonough (Andrew McCarthy). This causes much pain for her best friend Phil "Duckie" Dale (Jon Cryer), who is secretly and hopelessly in love with her. With their love for each other hanging in the balance, can Andie and Blane make their relationship work or will the social circles and circumstances keep them apart?

Even though he was an adult, John Hughes had the uncanny ability to tap into the teenage world and display all their angst, hang ups, and . Molly's Andie is a strong character: she knows who she is, she takes care of her father, makes her clothes, works at a hip record store, and still finds time to do her homework. On wonders what she sees in Blane; rich, spoiled, lives a lavish lifestyle, and doesn't really have to work at anything.  Even his name is freaking boring! Here is a classic example to that old adage "Opposites attract." But the screen stealer is John Cryer's Duckie all the way. Here is someone we can all relate to: he's weird, doesn't fit in with the other high school cliques, gets picked on, doesn't get the girl, but still comes out in the end. Another great attribute to the film is the kick ass soundtrack, boasting songs by the Psychedelic Furs, New Order, Orchestral Manoeuvres in the Dark, and The Smiths just to name a few. This 27th anniversary 35mm film print came courtesy from Paramount Pictures, which distributed the film on February 28, 1986. Three vintage trailers were screened before the film: 1987's THE PICK-UP ARTIST, 1985's THE BREAKFAST CLUB, and 1984's SIXTEEN CANDLES.

Click here to watch the film's original trailer.

Theatrical Movie Poster (1976)
The third and final film of the night was a true horror classic! Based on the Stephen King novel of the same name, CARRIE tells the story of a young girl named Carrie White (Sissy Spacek). She's shy, unpopular, and all the other girls pick on her, especially popular mean girl Chris Hargensen (Nancy Allen). Also, she discovers that she has telekinesis, which freaks her out for a bit. It also doesn't help that her mother Margaret White (Piper Laurie) is a scary, mentally unstable, brainwashed  Christian fundamentalist wacko! Feeling pity for poor Carrie, other popular girl Sue Snell (Amy Irving) has her boyfriend Tommy Ross (William Katt) take her to the prom. Carrie has the time of her life, even becoming the prom queen. But when Chris and her boyfriend Billy Nolan (John Travolta) pull a prank on poor Carrie, she takes bloody revenge on the entire senior class and the faculty.

The film was directed by Brian De Palma, and he has the perfect blend of horror, suspense, and exploitation with the T&A in the beginning of the film. De Palma has never hid the fact that he was a huge Alfred Hitchcock fan and has referenced the Master of Suspense in most of his films. In here, the name of the school is Bates High School, a reference to Norman Bates from PSYCHO. Sissy Spacek was fantastic in the film, but Piper Laurie' performance was just unnerving and just freaking creepy! This newly struck 35mm film print came courtesy of MGM. The film was origianlly released by United Artists on November 3, 1976. Once again, Ficks screened several trailers: 1980's PROM NIGHT, 1981's BLOW OUT, 1980's DRESSED TO KILL, and 1982's CREEPSHOW.

Click here to view the film's original trailer.

Well folks, there you have it! Another M4M show has come and gone! If you missed out, no worries my friend! There's another show next month at the Castro Theatre on Friday, May 17th. The title for that show is called "Dirty Little Munchkins" so mark that date on your calendar! To learn more about Midnites for Maniacs, visit their website at www.midnitesformaniacs.com. To view upcoming shows at the Castro Theatre, visit their website at www.castrotheatre.com.

Thanks for reading, and enjoy the show! 

Phil sees AMERICAN MARY at Monsterpalooza-April 13, 2013

For Screamfest's third and final film of the night, they screened one of the most talked about films of the past year! A film that has won critical and numerous awards from several respected film festivals from all around the world. The film won five awards at last year's Screamfest alone! In 2009, filmmakers and twin sisters Jen and Sylvia Soska (aka the Twisted Twins) unleashed upon the world their debut film DEAD HOOKER IN A TRUNK, a beautiful and gore-soaked homage to exploitation films. Now the Soska Sisters return with their latest cinematic endeavour entitled AMERICAN MARY.

Mary Mason (Katharine Isabelle) is a medical student, who dreams of becoming a surgeon once she's done with school. However things are not going well for Mary; she's in severe debt, has bill collectors calling her, and one of her professors keeps demeaning her in front of the class. All this pressure and stress thrusts Mary into applying for work at a strip club just to pay the bills. However club owner Billy Barker (Antonio Cupo) has another job in mind for her: save the life of a bloodied and tortured man and receive $5000 cash. This one event sets off a chain reaction that engulfs Mary into the underground world of surgeries that she dubs "Body Modifications," which proves to be very lucrative trade for the former starving med student.

Miss Isabelle's acting is simply captivating; one has to see her in the film to believe just how incredible she is! Riveting, stunning, and outstanding; she just radiates up on the big screen! Her ability to convey a wide array of emotions is marvelous. One moment we are sympathetic for her, the next we are shocked to see her go completely insane. Now if you think that Katharine Isabelle looks familiar, there's a very good reason for that. She is most famous for starring as Ginger in the beloved GINGER SNAPS Trilogy. In 2003, she broke into the American mainstream portraying Gibb in the major Hollywood horror blockbuster FREDDY VS. JASON. With this film, Katharine proves without a shadow of a doubt that she belongs in the world of the Hollywood elite! She's that goddamn talented and that goddamn good!

The film also shows off the maturity of the Soska Sisters, which is far and away a major step forward in their evolution as writers and directors. While their first film utilized the standard hand-held style of directing (which is very common in the low budget indie film world), AMERICAN MARY enjoys of having a bigger budget, which enabled the Twisted Twins to really stretch out as directors and prove what they are capable of doing. From a technical standpoint, the film is just marvelous: beautiful sets, smooth and precise directing, top notch production values, exquisite lighting, and awesome editing. Sylvia and Jen have time to really hone their skills on the film, proving that they are more than just a one trick pony and the end results are a just incredible! Writers, actresses, directors; these ladies prove that they are a force to be reckoned with!

As I previously mentioned, the film won five Screamfest awards last year, including best Best Actress, Best Director, and Best Picture. It's played at prestigious film festivals all across the globe such as Toronto After Dark, Shudderfest, and Fantastic Fest. It has also received critical acclaim from numerous media outlets, including Fangoria, FEARnet, and Ain't-It-Cool News. The film was distributed by Universal UK overseas and it will be hitting American shelves on both Blu-Ray and DVD on June 18th.

AMERICAN MARY ranks as one of the best modern horror films of the past 20 years! In an age where Hollywood is cranking out endless remakes that lack integrity and intelligence, Jen, Sylvia, and Katharine have contributed to the horror genre a cinematic feminist fright film that has it all! It's beautiful and yet tragic, funny and subversive, insightful and bloody, this is a film that we need now more than ever! Let this be a wake up call to all other aspiring female filmmakers; get out there and make your movies because I can't wait to see them! And I can't wait to see what the Soska Sisters do next! 5 out of 5 stars!! Highly recommended!!

AMERICAN MARY will be available on Blu-Ray and DVD on June 18, 2013. To pre-order a copy, visit the Amazon website at www.amazon.com or visit your local retailer once it's released. Also follow the film on Facebook and Twitter.

Thanks for reading, and enjoy the show!

Phil sees INCIDENT ON HIGHWAY 73 at Monsterpalooza-April 13, 2013

After the screening of THALE, I was more than ready to see the next film. The Screamfest folks then screened a short film entitled INCIDENT ON HIGHWAY 73. Right away I fell in love the film, mainly because it had the number 73 in the title and I was born in 1973. So I had a good feeling about the film already.

The film's official plotline is as follows: Five years ago, newly engaged couple, Jeff Bedict (Ian Alda) and Kelly Moga (Elizabeth Schmidt), took a trip through the desert from San Diego to New Mexico and mysteriously disappeared never to been seen or heard from again.

At a mere running time of just 27 minutes, director Brian Thompson packs on helluva punch with this short! First off, we have great characters to feel for. Both Elizabeth Schmidt and Ian Alda are perfect as couple Kelly and Jeff. They look, feel, and sound like a real couple, so right there I'm hooked. Next is the film's location, which was shot at scenic Desert Hot Springs, California! If you have never been there yet, don't! It looks like a place where cannibalistic hillbillies from THE HILLS HAVE EYES would live! It's just looks creepy! And speaking of creepy, the creepy meter goes haywire, especially towards the end of the film!
Needless to say, I felt sorry for Kelly and Jeff, but that's what I liked about the film. By the end, we are sympathetic for them. We don't want to see them come to any harm. But remember, this is a horror film after all!

And now for some fun facts about the film, the cast and its crew: It was shot in eight days under extreme weather conditions. Ian Alda is the nephew of legendary actor Alan Alda (TV's M*A*S*H and various films). This film was written by first time screenwriter Michael Kirkm, who is well known for producing big budget horror films like THE GRUDGE, THE GRUDGE 2 and BOOGEYMAN. Brian Thompson has directed videos for bands like As I Lay Dying and Killswitch Engage. Elizabeth Schmidt has acted in a number of short films, but she maybe recognized for her role as Carol on the day time soap opera As The World Turns.

INCIDENT ON HIGHWAY 73 is a creepy, nail biting, nerve racking little slice of cinema that really delivers the goods in such a short time. This is a perfect example of what a short horror film should be and what it can accomplish. 4 out of 5 stars!! Recommended!!

INCIDENT ON HIGHWAY 73 is still playing at film festivals across America. To learn more about the film, visit their official Facebook page and follow the film on Twitter as well!

Thanks for reading, and enjoy the show!

Phil sees THALE at Monsterpalooza-April 13, 2013

So during my trip to Monsterpalooza, the fine folks at the Screamfest Horror Film Festival were on hand to screen a couple of really outstanding and eclectic films. I had heard of both films and I was very excited to see them. The first movie of the night was THALE, an interesting Norwegian horror/fantasy film written and directed by Aleksander L. Nordaas.

Meet Leo and Elvis (Jon Sigve Skard and Erlend Nervold repectively). They run a crime scene cleaning business. When they are sent out to clean a crime scene where only half a body was found (which in itself is a bad sign), they discover in the basement a Thale, a mythical character in Nordic folklore called the "huldra." Leo and Elvis soon discover that the Thale has been captive there for a number of years and now someone (or something) wants her back.

The movie is an interesting hybrid, channeling both the fantasy aspect (the mythical Thale) and the horror (the mysterious creatures that want the Thale). Nordaas does an excellent job of creating beauty, mood, and tension within the film. The cinematography was excellent, capturing the beauty of the Norwegian countryside. As the movie progresses, we the audience become sympathetic to both Leo and Elvis, who were just doing their job and as well as with the mute Thale, who can only remember bits and pieces of her life before becoming a captive.

The budget of the film was so small that not only Nordass directed the picture, he was also the writer, producer, cinematographer, and editor! In fact, the basement where the film takes place is actually his father's basement! Now that is low budget filmmaking at its finest!

Both Jon Sigve Skard and Erlend Nervold are great and have perfect on-screen chemistry. However, hats off to the stunning Silje Reinåmo, who as Thale didn't have any lines, but was able to convey a wide array of emotions using just her eyes, hands, and body movement. And yes, she is naked throughout the film, but her acting is so mesmerizing I forgot that she was naked. Now that should tell you just how talented she is!

In the end THALE is an astounding, intriguing, and original film that captures the imagination and wonder of what the possibilities of what movies can be! The film appeals to both horror and fantasy fans who want something different. Truly an unique and visually captivating film! 4 out of 5 stars!! Recommended!!

THALE is currently available on Video On Demand as well as on both Blue-Ray and DVD. To purchase a copy, visit your local retailer or visit the Amazon website at www.amazon.com. To learn more about the Screamfest Film Festival, visit their website at www.screamfestla.com.

Thanks for reading, and enjoy the show!

Phil attends MONSTERPALOOZA 2013 at the Marriot Hotel and Convention Center in Burbank-April 12-14, 2013

Greetings and salutations from Burbank!! Over the weekend I headed on down to sunny Southern California to attend my very first MONSTERPALOOZA, which was held at the Burbank Airport Marriott Hotel and Convention Center. For almost three days, yours truly (along with my friends Michelle and her boyfriend Bobby) had one of the most amazing times I have ever had! I got to meet cool horror celebrities, saw some amazing make up effects and designs, got a ton of autographs, bought a bunch of cool stuff, hung out with my LA friends (Dave Reda, Jessica Cameron, Joe Flynn, and Pat Jankiewicz)as well as with all my other friends that came down from NorCal (Miss Misery, Lord Blood-Rah, John Gillette, Adam Richardson, and Ken Constantine), and made some great memories.

There was so much to see and so much to do and so many people to meet I was in overload mode the entire time! I met so many of my idols (and got a TON of autographs), it's best that I list them:

1) Tom Savini: One of THE most influential make-up artists of all time! This legendary SFX wizard was responsible for the cool make-up and special effects on George Romero's 1978 film DAWN OF THE DEAD, Sean Cunningham's 1980 FRIDAY THE 13TH as well as MANIAC, THE BURNING, THE PROWLER, CREEPSHOW, and DAY OF THE DEAD. He also directed the 1990 remake NIGHT OF THE LIVING DEAD and has acted in such films as TWO EVIL EYES, FROM DUSK TILL DAWN and GRINDHOUSE: PLANET TERROR.

2) Camille Keaton: You can't tell by looking at this breathtaking actress, but Keaton stared in one of the most controversial exploitation films of all time; 1978's I SPIT ON YOUR GRAVE. A beautiful woman, inside and out.

Kenneth J. Hall, Ginger Lynn, me, and Linnea Quigley.
3) Linnea Quigley: Here is an actress that I grew up with. Having watching Linnea's films on USA Up All Night, I have been a fan for over 20 years. Meeting her was such a thrill! She has appeared in so many classic B-movies such as CREEPOZOIDS, VIRGIN HIGH, NIGHTMARE SISTERS, VICE ACADEMY, RETURN OF THE LIVING DEAD, HOLLYWOOD CHAINSAW HOOKERS, and SORORITY BABES IN THE SLIMEBALL BOWL-O-RAMA.

4) Ginger Lynn: Another actress I've been watching for the past 20 years, Ginger started off in the adult film world, appearing in such classics like TABOO IV, NEW WAVE HOOKERS and BLAME IT ON GINGER. She crossed over into the mainstream in the late 1980s and that's when I first saw her in films like VICE ACADEMY 1-3, YOUNG GUNS 2, and BOUND AND GAGGED: A LOVE STORY. She made her triumphant return to adult films in 1999 with TORN, and soon starred in WHITE LIGHTENING, NEW WAVE HOOKERS 6, and SUNSET STRIPPED. She now has a radio show and acts in both mainstream movies (THE DEVIL'S REJECTS) and adult films (SEASONED PLAYERS 4).

5) Kenneth J. Hall: Screenwriter extraordinaire! Kenneth has written such classic genre films like NIGHTMARE SISTERS, DR. ALIEN, and PUPPERTMASTER. He's also written and directed his own films like EVIL SPAWN, LINNEA QUIGLEY'S HORROR WORKOUT, and THE HALFWAY HOUSE.

6) Donna Wilkes: This lovely lady starred in one of my favorite films from the 1980's: ANGEL! The tag line for the film was, "High School Honor Student by Day, Hollywood Hooker by Night." How can you not love a movie with that tagline? Donna also appeared in JAWS 2, ALMOST SUMMER and GROTESQUE (with Linda Blair). She also appeared in numerous television shows like Father Murphy, T.J. Hooker, and Days of Our Lives.

Yours truly with genre icon Danielle Harris.
7) Danielle Harris: This very beautiful and talented actress has been in numerous horror films like HALLOWEEN PART 4 and PART 5 as well as in Rob Zombie's HALLOWEEN and HALLOWEEN II. She's also been in HATCHET II, STAKE LAND, THE VICTIM, and the upcoming HATCHET III. She's also just released her directorial debut with the feature film AMONG FRIENDS!

OK this list is taking waaaayyyyyy too long. Let me just say that I meet a TON of celebrities in the horror genre: Linda Blair (SAVAGE STREETS, THE EXORCIST, and my favorite film ROLLER BOOGIE), Barbara Steele (BLACK SUNDAY), the Ladies of the NIGHT OF THE LIVING DEAD Judith O'Dea, Kyra Schon, and Judith Ridley, Eric Roberts (THE DARK KNIGHT, CHILLERAMA), Eugene Clark (LAND OF THE DEAD), McKee Anderson (from Tom Savini's 1990 remake NIGHT OF THE LIVING DEAD), Virginia Madison (CANDYMAN), just to name a few. Also there were rock legends Lita Ford from The Runaways and Ace Freely from KISS!!

But the really cool part of my trip was meeting several of the living legends there. I met Sara Karloff, the daughter of Boris Karloff (FRANKENSTEIN, THE MUMMY), Ron Chaney, the grandson of Lon Chaney Jr. (THE WOLFMAN) and great grandson of Lon Chaney Sr. (THE HUNCHBACK OF NOTRE DAME, THE PHANTOM OF THE OPERA), and Julie Adams (Kay Lawrence from THE CREATURE OF THE BLACK LAGOON)! However the biggest thrill for me was meeting the legendary Carla Laemmle!! For those of you who may not know her, Carla is the niece of Carl Laemmle, the founder of Universal Pictures! She has appeared in the 1925 silent film THE PHANTOM OF THE OPERA (with Lon Chaney Sr.) and she spoke the first lines in Universal's very first all talking supernatural thriller: DRACULA!! What made meeting her so special was that not only is she the link between  silent films and talking pictures, but the woman is 103 years old! And she's still making public appearances!! Plus she was one o the nicest person I have ever met! She even recited her opening line from DRACULA for me!! Meeting her was the highlight of my weekend!!

The "FX of the HATCHET Series" panel.
There were many cool panels to attend as well. Michelle, Bobby, and myself sat in on a couple. On Staurday we did was the "FX of the HATCHET Series" and it was amazing! Creator and filmmaker Adam Green was there along with Kane Hodder, makeup artist Robert Pendergraft, Danielle Harris, Derek Mears, and HATCHET III director BJ McDonnell. Then right after that was the HOLLISTON panel. Just in case you have been living under a rock or in a cave, HOLLISTON is the Adam Green's hilarious sitcom that you can see on Fear.net! Once again Adam Green, Robert Pendergraft and Kane Hodder along with Joe Lynch,
Laura Ortiz, and Oderus Urungus from the freaking awesome rock group Gwar!! After both panels, the entire gang signed HATCHET III and HOLLISTON Season Two posters for everybody! On Sunday we did THE MONSTER SQUAD Reunion! I first saw this film when it first came out way back in 1987, and it was so cool to hear all their stories and the hilarious anecdotes! A good time was had by all who attended these panels!!

Also worth noting was that the ultra cool Screamfest Horror Film Festival was there to screen two incredible and diverse films THALE and AMERICAN MARY along with the short film INCIDENT ON HIGHWAY 73. I'll be reviewing each of those films separately so keep your eyes peeled for those!

The purpose of Monsterpalooza is to celebrate the art of monster makeup and special effects. In the main convention building, fans were treated to some of the most astonishing and awe-inspiring creature and makeup effects that must be seen to believe! There were live demonstrations throughout the convention from well respected schools like Cinema Makeup School, Gnomon School of Visual Effects, The FX Lab and such. There were suppliers there that were selling makeup paints and other cool products like Premiere Products, Inc., Silpak Inc., and Reynolds Advanced Materials. There were many sweet dealers there selling T-Shirts, movies, and such. My good friends from Time Tunnel Toys were on hand there, as well as Rotten Cotton, who have awesome T-shirts and posters to sell! They also have made a truly remarkable exploitation film called BLACK DEVIL DOLL!! So make sure you check these guys out! Remember kids, if it ain''t Rotten Cotton, it ain't shit!

THIS WAS THE BEST WEEKEND I HAVE EVER HAD!! I saw so many of my friends from LA as well as all my friends from NorCal that came down! I meet so may icons in the horror genre, saw some great movies, party hard with all my friends, stayed up way too late, got up way too early, drank, ate, everyday was party!! This was such a blast! No you're all probably wondering when's the next convention? Glad you asked! There's gonna be a show in October called Son of Monsterpalooza! As soon as more details are released. I'll let you all know! In the meantime, to see who else was there, and to learn more about the event, check out their website at www.monsterpalooza.com.

Thanks for reading, and enjoy the show!

Thursday, April 25, 2013

Phil attends the midnight screening of THE ROCKY HORROR PICTURE SHOW at the Camera 3 Downtown San Jose-April 6, 2013

So for the fifth and final movie on Saturday, I participated in a midnight tradition that has been going on since 1975. Over at the Camera 3 in Downtown San Jose, I once again attended the midnight screening of THE ROCKY HORROR PICTURE SHOW. And as always, my friends from Barely Legal Productions were there to bring the film to life! Plus, this was the special Easter Show! Joining me on my trip were my good friends Krista and her boyfriend Joe. The show is presented by The Camera 3 Cinemas and by Psycho Donuts and it features the cast of Barely Legal Productions!!

The Camera 3 lobby was packed full of people, mostly young teenagers and college students, and some of them have never been to a midnight ROCKY screening before! Mmmmm.......I smell virgins! To my surprise, Krista and Joe were also a virgins! OK I knew that tonight was going to be a lot fun!

After the theater was filled, the show began! As always, our host Nate McHavoc was our emcee (and Riff Raff) for this special Easter show. He had all the virgins come up and do the butt dance (there were A LOT of virgins), and then sent everyone under 18 years old back to their seats. Those who remained had to answer a his traditional contest which involves taking a basket, "And putting it between your legs." Now remember, this was the special Easter show, so the games involved Easter eggs and baskets. And of course, Krista was part of it all! I was so proud of her!

Since this was Easter show, some of the cast members wore Easter costumes during the show. But the best costume was Nate's GIGANTIC EASTER BUNNY costume that he wore during the grand finale of the film! It was hilarious! OK here's a little SPOILER. So for those who haven't seen the film yet (and shame on you if you haven't!), skip this part and go to the end. So in the final scene of the film were Riff Raff and Magenta confront Dr. Frank-N-Furter, there dressed in their alien garb. So naturally, the shadowcast does the same thing. But when Nate instead came out in the bunny costume, I almost died laughing! And what made it even funnier was that Nate just popped his head up and down to make it look like he was talking along with the movie! The whole audience was just laughing and cheering! Yes folks, fun was had by all!

After the screening, my friends and I kept the party going by heading over to IHOP down on N. First Street. Both Krista and Joe had a blast at the show, and both wanted to attend the next month's show. I gotta say, tonight was an awesome night!

So another great midnight screening has come and gone. The next Barely Legal will be Saturday, May 4th so come on out and join in on all the fun! To learn more about future shows, and how you can become a cast member, visit their website at barelylegal.rhps.org.

Thanks for reading, and enjoy the show! 

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Phil sees EVIL DEAD (again) at the Camera 12 Downtown San Jose-April 6, 2013

OK, I know what you're thinking. "Phil, you already saw this film last night, and you didn't like it." Yes, that may be true, but I wanted to see it again. Reason being was that when I saw it the first time, all I thought about was the original. In all fairness, I believed that I didn't give the movie a fair shot. Also my good friend Laura wanted to see it as well. So for film number four, I headed back over to the Camera 12 to rewatch EVIL DEAD.

So Laura and I entered the theater and found some sweet seats. The lights dimmed and the movie begin. I cleared my mind of the original and I proceeded to watch the film with an open mind. As I was watching the movie, I could hear the audience scream in fear, laugh at the gross out blood shed, whimpered at the ghastly sights that the characters had to endure. Then the lights came on, and the people left the theater. I turned to Laura ans asked her what she thought of it. She replied, "It wasn't scary."

Holy crap!! So I wasn't the only one?!? There was someone else who thought the very same thing!! As I said, I wanted to watch the film again and judge it on its own merits. And unfortunately, I came to the same conclusion that I had from last night. It wasn't scary. There was no build ups, no real character development, no nothing. Sorry to say this folks, but EVIL DEAD is a horror movie that didn't scare me. Wow, am I that desensitized?!? No, I still get scared when I get my taxes done. OK I'm fine folks.

EVIL DEAD is currently playing in theaters nationwide, including at the Camera Cinemas here in the Bay Area. To view showtimes, visit their website at www.cameracinemas.com.

Thanks for reading, and enjoy the show!

Phil sees THE CROODS in 3D at the Camera 7 Pruneyard Campbell-April 6, 2013

Welcome back to my movie binge weekend! So for film number three that I saw Saturday over at the Camera 7 was THE CROODS 3D, DreamWork's new computer animated family film. Yup, it was a 3D kinda day for me. Didn't plan on that to happen but it did.

Let's meet America's newest prehistoric family (because The Flintstones are so last millennium): There's dad Grug (Nicolas Cage), his wife Ugga (Catherine Keener), daughter Eep (Emma Stone), son Thunk (Clark Duke), and their feisty grandma Gran (Cloris Leachman). Grug's duty is to keep his family alive, and the best way to do that is to keep them in a dark, dank cave all the time. This doesn't sit well with Eep, who longs for the sun and to be outside. She sneaks out one night to follow a strange person named Guy (Ryan Reynolds) who has the power to harness fire! He tells her that the end of the world is coming and that she and her family better leave. Grug doesn't believe them, but when an earthquake destroys their beloved cave, they have no choice but to go with Guy on their greatest adventure yet, despite Grug's disapproval.

Despite being set during prehistoric times, the film deals with a lot of modern day issues. Themes and conflicts are all about here. The most obvious is the universal clash between parents and their kids. We have all experienced this first hand. How many times to do we see kids rebel against their parent's rules and decisions? Numerous times. And according to this film, it's been going on since the dawn of man! In this situation, it's father versus teenage daughter who wants to live her life on her terms.

There's also that age old theme of brains versus brawn. Grug is the old fossil sticking and using his strength to prove that he's the top male. However Guy is the link to modern man, coming up with a series of ideas and inventions, like making fire and making his little furry animal companion not only his pet, but a belt as well! I'm surprised that some manufacturer hasn't made these animal belts yet. It's guaranteed money!

The film was made by writer/directors Kirk De Micco (SPACE CHIMPS) and Chris Sanders (HOW TO TRAIN YOUR DRAGON and co-directed LILO AND STITCH). Now this is the first film from DreamWorks Animation to be distributed by 20th Century Fox.Their old distribution deal with Paramount Pictures ended with their last film RISE OF THE GUARDIANS.

The 3D effects actually work very well in this film. When the Croods leave their old home for the bright color of the jungle, it looked really amazing. The lush technicolor dreamscape is alive and well in the film. Think of colors found in OZ THE GREAT AND POWERFUL only made for a kid's movie and the story being a lot better! These 3D effects I dig, unlike the effects I saw in JURASSIC PARK.

THE CROODS is a very funny family film that everyone can enjoy! While it lacks the Pixar emotional punch, it still satisfies that basic human need to be loved and to be mattered. 4 out of 5 stars! Recommended!

THE CROODS is currently playing in both 2D and 3D in theaters nationwide, including the Camera Cinemas here in the Bay Area. To view showtimes, visit their website at www.cameracinemas.com.

Thanks for reading, and enjoy the show!

Monday, April 22, 2013

Phil sees JURASSIC PARK in 3D at the Camera 7 Pruneyard Campbell-April 6, 2013

Hello again folks and welcome back to my movie binge weekend. So staying at the Camera 7, the next film I saw was JURASSIC PARK 3D. This year marks the 20th anniversary of the film, so Universal Pictures decided to re-release the film to theaters, but in 3D form.

Based upon the novel of the same name by author Michael Crichton, the movie stars Sam Neill (Dr. Alan Grant), Laura Dern (Dr. Ellie Sattler), Jeff Goldblum (Dr. Ian Malcolm), Richard Attenborough (John Hammond), Ariana Richards (Lex Murphy), Joseph Mazzello (Tim Murphy), Martin Ferrero (Donald Gennaro), and Bob Peck (Robert Muldoon). Also joining in on this prehistoric thrill ride are Samuel L. Jackson (Ray Arnold), Wayne Knight (Dennis Nedry), and BD Wong (Henry Wu).

The film was originally released to theaters on June 11, 1993! That was 20 years ago! And if you have yet to see this film, there is something seriously wrong with you! The film's about a group of scientists who get whisked away on a rich white man's helicopter to his remote island fun park called Jurassic Park, filled with real live dinosaurs, thanks in large part to scientific DNA cloning. But unlike their ancestors, these reptiles are highly intelligent, and soon they all brake out and take over the island!

The special effects were done by Industrial Light and Magic (ILM) which is owned by filmmaker George Lucus. When the film was completed, Lucus realized that digital and computer technology had finally caught up with him and his imagination. It was this film that he decided that it was time to start work on the STAR WARS prequels. So like I always joked, "We can thank this film for those prequels, because if it wasn't for the fierce T-Rex, we wouldn't have Jar Jar Binks!"

So is it worth seeing in 3D? The short answer: No! The 3D didn't do anything for the film. It's already a great film to watch! So why do we need it in 3D? It's unnecessary folks. Now it is being shown in its original 2D format, so go see it that way! Plus you'll be saving some money!

JURASSIC PARK 3D is still a great movie to watch, but it's not really worth seeing in 3D. Stick to the 2D version. But still go see it because it looks amazing on the big screen! And when's the next time we'll get to see it on the big screen again? 3 out of 5 stars! See it in 2D!

JURASSIC PARK is currently playing in both 2D and 3D in theaters nationwide, including the Camera Cinemas here in the Bay Area. To view showtimes, visit their website at www.cameracinemas.com.

Thanks for reading, and enjoy the show!

Phil sees THE SAPPHIRES at the Camera 7 Pruneyard Campbell-April 6, 2013

Hello again everybody! This past weekend I decided to go on one of my massive movie binges! I get like this from time to time so just bare with me. Now the first film I saw on Saturday was a film that I had the privilege of seeing last month during the Cinequest Film Festival. The film is called THE SAPPHIRES and it's still a fun film to watch a second time around!

So here's what I said in my original review of the film: "Directed by Wayne Blair and set mostly in Australia, the movie is about four Aboriginal girls who get a chance at the end of the Sixties to go entertain the troops as a singing group in Vietnam. Managing them is down and out musician Dave (played by Chris O'Dowd from BRIDSMAIDS). Things go great for the girls, however once they arrive in Vietnam, they all experience love and witness the horrors of war." 

"Adapted from the stage play written by writer/actor Tony Briggs, the film is inspired by the true story about four extraordinary Aboriginal women; sisters Laurel Robinson, Lois Peeler and their cousins Beverley Briggs and Naomi Mayers. Blair actually starred in the stage production, which made him the obvious choice for directing the film version. All four actresses are fantastic in the film, bring so much humor and attitude. Words cannot express just how mush I enjoyed this film! With it colorful and funny characters, a solid script, great directing and acting, the film was a very welcomed surprise!"

So what do I think now after seeing it a second time? Exactly the same thing as I wrote about the first time! It has a great soundtrack, a lot of humor, some drama to make it interesting, and of course, fun and interesting characters. Chris O'Dowd is hilarious as the down and out wanna be musician Dave. Also Deborah Mailman (Gail), Jessica Mauboy (Julie), Shari Sebbens (Kay) and Miranda Tapsell (Cynthia) are just fantastic in their respective roles!

So THE SAPPHIRES is this spring's go-to-film to escape all the craziness that's been going on in the world. Sometimes we just need to escape from it all. If you feel like this, then go see this film. It will definitely will put you in better spirits! 4 out of 5 stars! Recommended! 

THE SAPPHIRES is currently playing in theaters nationwide, including at the Camera Cinemas here in the Bay Area. To view showtimes, visit their website at www.cameracinemas.com.

Thanks for reading, and enjoy the show!

Phil sees EVIL DEAD at the Camera 12 Downtown San Jose-April 5, 2013

So the day has finally come. After months of watching the trailer online, after months reading about it in horror magazines and websites, after months of anticipation, the remake of EVIL DEAD has finally hit theaters. And yours truly was very excited about seeing it! So I made my way over to the Camera 12 in Downtown San Jose to witness this new re-imaging of the iconic horror classic. Was it worth it? Did it live up to all the hype? Is it worthy entry in this beloved and legendary horror series? Yes and no.

The premise of the EVIL DEAD is this: young Mia (Jane Levy), a recovering drug addict, heads to the old remote family cabin in the woods with her brother David (Shiloh Fernandez) and their friends Olivia (Jessica Lucas), Eric (Lou Taylor Pucci) and David's girlfriend Natalie (Elizabeth Blackmore). While trying to help Mia with her sobriety, they discover the Book of the Dead in the basement. Eric reads some of the passages from the book that summons the dormant demons that live in the woods. One by one the kids are picked off until there's only Mia left to fight off the evil dead spirits.

So let's begin with the positives that I found in the film. The production values are incredible! The cabin itself looks fantastic, set design looks great, and so is the cinematography. Another interesting fact is that director Fede Alvarez has stated that they didn't use any of CGI in the film. This statement was also said by the film's producers: writer/director of the original EVIL DEAD Sam Raimi, original producer Robert Tapert, and original star Bruce Campbell. In fact, Alvarez said in an online article by Bloody-Disgusting that, "We didn't do any CGI in the movie [...] Everything that you will see is real, which was really demanding. This was a very long shoot, 70 days of shooting at night. There's a reason people use CGI; it's cheaper and faster, I hate that. We researched a lot of magic tricks and illusion tricks." So this I applaud feverishly! Very rarely in this day of age where every single special effect is done with CGI, I was extremely blown away but their technical use of traditional special effects, which by the way, look freaking amazing!

As a special treat to longtime EVIL DEAD fans, there are several references to the original trilogy that are sprinkled throughout this film. First off, Sam Raimi's 1973 Oldsmobile Delta 88 can be seen in the opening scene with Mia and David arrive at the cabin. Mia wears a Michigan State sweatshirt, just like Betsy Baker's character Cheryl did in the original. Mia gets buck wild with a chainsaw like Campbell's Ash did in EVIL DEAD 2 and ARMY OF DARKNESS. There's also a tree rape scene, just like in the original, only less graphic. These are just some of the observations I made.

So the film is gory as hell! It's sickening as hell! The blood just pours out of the screen! There's body parts being sawed off, nails piercing flesh, carving of a tongue with a box cutter! Yup, there's so much blood in the film that it would make Dracula jealous with envy. But there was one major problem that I had with this film: it wasn't scary.

Yes my friends, it wasn't scary. It was very gory and graphic, but it wasn't scary. Now call me old fashioned, but I remember when horror films use to scare the hell outta me. When I first saw the original EVIL DEAD, it was scary! Raimi's POV shots of the evil spirits that roamed the forest were mesmerizing as well as haunting. It's the POV that made the original so scary. It would stalk each person in the cabin before it possessed them. Raimi used this technique to build up tension as well as scares. We were scared, then it was quiet. Then scared, then quiet. It was this roller coaster ride that made the original film so much fun to watch. With this remake, there's no build ups to the scares. It's all just gore, which look good like I said. But with without the build ups leading to the gore, you have nothing. And unfortunately, this film is NOT scary.

Another problem I had with the film was that I felt all the characters were too flat and interchangeable. Plus Jane Levy's Mia didn't look like a drug addict. She looked way too pretty to be one. But I will give her credit on this though: when she becomes possessed, she goes all out! So basically I'm saying that she plays a better possessed girl than a junkie.

When the film premiered at the ever popular South by Southwest Film Festival in Austin, TX on March 8, Alvarez announced that he was working on a sequel to the film. Then a couple of weeks later at the WonderCon Convention, during the EVIL DEAD panel, both Campbell and Alvarez said that their ultimate plan was for Alvarez's EVIL DEAD 2 and Raimi's ARMY OF DARKNESS 2 (which he will write with his brother Ivan Raimi) to be followed by a seventh EVIL DEAD film which would merge both Ash and Mia's worlds. So look at this film not as a remake, but as the next chapter in the EVIL DEAD universe. Also on a side note, stay after the credits for a special bonus scene.

So EVIL DEAD is a fun-filled gorefest ride of death, but it's not "The most terrifying film you will ever experience." The audience I saw it with were scared out of their minds, but unfortunately, it didn't have the same affect on me. But it's worth seeing for all the cool special effects. 3 out of 5 stars. It's worth a peak, but stick to the original.

EVIL DEAD is currently playing in theaters nationwide, including at the Camera Cinemas here in the Bay Area. To view showtimes, visit their website at www.cameracinemas.com.

Thanks for reading, and enjoy the show!

Sunday, April 21, 2013

Phil sees THE LAST EXORCISM PART II at the AMC Eastridge Mall-April 1, 2013

So far 2013 is shaping up to be an interesting year for horror films being released to theaters. Some look very promising while others look bad. And then there are others that I wonder why they made in the first place. Case in point; Lionsgate's latest release THE LAST EXORCISM PART II is an unnecessary sequel to the film THE LAST EXORCISM.
Picking up exactly where the first film left off, Nell Sweetzer (Ashley Bell) is found in a home somewhere in rural Louisiana. After being in a state of catatonic, she awakens with no real memory about what happened to her in the past several months.  She's then sent to Frank's home for girls. Nell's condition is improved and is no longer having the "bad dreams" that has plagued her. She has a job as a maid in a hotel and even has a new boyfriend. But soon her nightmares become a reality once again the evil force that once possessed her returns. As a result, Nell's last exorcism wasn't the last after all.

So where to begin with this movie. Well first, off it was so damn dull and boring. Nothing happens in this film. Literally, nothing happens here. We basically see Nell wake up from being catatonic, she works at the hotel, she meets a guy there, she sleeps, works at the hotel, begins to float in her sleep, works at the hotel, etc. Nothing really happens until the third act, but even then it's a let down.

The film builds up to this climatic exorcism and all is revealed about the evil spirit and why it wants Nell, but when the actual exorcism  occurs, we don't get to see the conclusion of it AKA the good part! I felt very cheated about that! The whole point of the movie was to see the exorcism and we don't get to see it!

The film is a complete 180 from the previous installment. THE LAST EXORCISM was shot in that "found documentary style" that's so popular. With this, the movie was shot in the traditional style of filmmaking. So right away it looks and feels like a totally different movie. Not that it's an improvement over that last one.

The only saving grace of the film was Ashley Bell, whose performance is outstanding as usual. Now I had the pleasure of meeting Miss. Bell during the Cinequest Film Festival here in San Jose last month (it was Day Four, March 1st of the festival to be precise). It was after the screening of SPARKS, which she played the incredibly beautiful and bad ass super heroine Lady Heavenly. After the screening, I was chatting it up with Ashley and told her that I was a fan of hers. She said thanks and told me that I should check out her other new movie that was coming out soon. Turns out it was this film she was talking about. Bells' performance in the first film was legendary, however I feel that her talent was wasted here.

All in all, THE LAST EXORCISM PART II is an unwanted, unimaginative, and unnecessary sequel that doesn't even come close to living up to the standard set in the first film. Best to skip this one altogether. 2 out of 5 stars!

THE LAST EXORCISM PART II is currently playing in theaters nationwide, including at the Camera Cinemas here in the Bay Area. To view showtimes, visit their website at www.cameracinemas.com.

Thanks for reading, and enjoy the show!

Phil sees THE WINNING OF BARBARA WORTH at the Niles Essanay Silent Film Museum-March 30, 2013

It's been way too long since I've seen a movie at the Niles Essanay Silent Film Museum but this past Saturday I was back! With all the crazy film festivals and other events going on in my life, it was great coming back to the historic Edison Theatre where silent films live again! I got to see all my old friends again, and saw my fellow film fanatic a blogger Jason Wiener (Jason Watches Movies). I also brought my good friend Laura to the museum as well. As always, there were two shorts screened before the film. So let's talk about tonight's program, shall we?

THE CURE (1924): Out of the inkwell comes Koko the Clown! That's right, the first short screened was a Koko the Clown short! In this bitty, Koko has a really bad tooth ache and coincidentally, so does his animator Max Fleisher. Koko's glasses wearing rabbit friend helps him out, then they turn their attention to Max. Sight gags galore run rampant towards the end of the cartoon. Interesting fact: the Fleisher brothers invented rotoscoping, which is an animation technique in which animators trace over footage, frame by frame, for use in live-action and animated films. The Fleisher Studios used this technique for a lot of their cartoons, including the widely popular SUPERMAN cartoons from the 1930's.

BE YOUR AGE (1926): In this short, the great comedian Charley Chase plays a bashful clerk whose boss (Frank Brownlee) lends him money to help out his family. In exchange his boss forces him to marry the recently widowed Mrs. Schwartzkopple (Lillian Leighton) so he can keep control of her $2 million dollar inheritance. But Charley falls for her secretary (Gladys Hulette) and so a series of hilarious comedic situations ensues. Also look for Oliver Hardy appearing in the film as  Mrs. Schwartzkopple's son Oswald. The film was released by Hal Roach Studios on November 14, 1926.

After a brief intermission, the show continued on with the main feature:

Theatrical Movie Poster (1926)
THE WINNING OF BARBARA WORTH (1926): Based on the novel of the same name by Harold Bell Wright, the film is about Willard Holmes (Ronald Colman), an engineer who buts heads with local cowboy Abe Lee (Gary Cooper) for the affections of a rancher's daughter named Barbara Worth (Vilma Bánky), while building an irrigation system for a Southwestern desert community. This was Cooper's big break out role and he was so young when he made this film. Reason being because he was young! He was only 25 years old when he made this film! Of course he later when on to star in MEET JOHN DOE, SERGEANT YORK, HIGH NOON and THE WESTERNER.

The film was directed by Henry King, who from 1930 to 1961 directed some of finest films at 20th Century Fox, including TWELVE O'CLOCK HIGH, CAROUSALTHE SUN ALSO RISES, and THE GUNFIGHTER. It was produced by the legendary Samuel Goldwyn, known as Hollywood's leading "independent" producer. The movie was filmed on location in the Black Rock Desert in Nevada. Now this is the same area where the infamous Burning Man festival is held at. The film was released by United Artists on October 14, 1926.

Remember the museum is open for tours every weekend from 12pm-4pm and every Saturday night there's a silent film show starting at 7:30 (doors open at 7pm). So if you would like to learn more about the Niles Essanay Silent Film Museum, becoming a member, and to view their film schedule, visit their website at www.nilesfilmmuseum.org.

Thanks for reading, and enjoy the show!