Friday, November 25, 2016

Phil Gets Tromatized: SQUEEZE PLAY (1979) from Troma Entertainment - November 20, 2016

Starring Jim Harris, Jennifer Hetrick, Rick Gitlin, Helen Campitrlli, Diana Valentien, Al Corley, Rick Khan, Melissa Michaels, Sonya, Jennings, Kaye Bramblett, Michael P. Moran, Brenda Kaplan
Written by Charles Kaufman, Haim Pekelis
Cinematography by Lloyd Kaufman
Edited by George T. Norris
Produced by Michael Herz, Lloyd Kaufman
Directed by Lloyd Kaufman (as Samuel Weil)
Released by Troma Entertainment

Greetings from Tromaville! So who's ready to go back in time to the 1970's to visit a true Troma classic? Well, congratulations kids because our destination is the year 1979 and today's review I'll be talking about one of their all-time greats. Kicking off their hilariously raunchy comedy series, today's installment proved to be very popular among Troma fans. SQUEEZE PLAY was the film that gave the new company its first big boxoffice hit and continues to attract new fans!

The film's official synopsis: It's a wild battle of the sexes as the "World Series of Laughs" heats up on and off the softball field. In the small town of Springborn the local all-male baseball team, The Beavers, celebrates each victory by bedding their wives, sweethearts and casual dates. Tired of this chauvinistic treatment, rebellious Samantha (Jenni Hetrick) organizes an all-girl team, the Beaverettes. She forces a battle of the sexes on the baseball diamond, pitting her buxom teammates against the dirty-playing Beavers.

The film broke all the rules and is part of all those sexy comedies that would follow for years to come, such as MEATBALLS, PORKY'S and ANIMAL HOUSE. And like with a lot of their other titles, there's a lot of social commentary to be found around the nudity, racy jokes, wet T-shirt competition, softballs flying into a man's bum, topless women, vulgar language, sexual situations, cartoon sound effects and killer soundtrack. Yup, I totally miss the 70's!!

Original Theatrical Poster (1979)
There's so much comedy going in the movie you'd have to watch it three times to catch them all, but it still holds up after all these years. The sexual innuendos, slapstick, sight gags plus the plethora of cock shots you can shack a stick at!! The film contains classic lines like, "Honey, I love you. What about all the children and silverware we're gonna have, huh?" Plus, I could I forget the greatest comedic line in all of cinematic history, "I don't care how big it is, I won't put it in my mouth!" By the way, all of this is courtesy of screenwriters Charles Kaufman (Lloyd's brother) and Haim Pekelis. Man, they don't write movies like this anymore!

The cast is hysterical while showing off their ability of keeping a straight face. Lead actress Jennifer Hetrick is hilarious as female protagonist. This was her feature film debut and had a very long career in television, appearing as Veronica Barrett in the soap opera classic General Hopital, Vash on Star Trek: The Next Generation and Corrinne Hammond on L.A. Law. Her co-star Jim Harris, who portrayed her boyfriend Wes in the film, appeared in another Troma feature WAITRESS! and was in AMERICAN NINJA 4: THE ANNIHILATION. Rick Gitlin only acted in a couple more films like CHEERLEADERS BEACH PARTY, A MARRIAGE and HOTSHOT before leaving the business. Same with Helen Campitelli, who played Sam's best friend Jaimie. This was her only film she did and then disappeared until 2011 when sh started acting in a couple of short films before appearing in an episode of The Underground Kings in 2014.

Originally, Troma had difficulty in getting the film into theaters. Then one fateful night Kaufman received a phone call from a theater owner in Norfolk, Virginia asking if he could have the movie. His second feature backed out and he was desperate. Kaufman sent the film out there where it played as a double feature with THE IN-LAWS. He thought nothing of it. The following Monday the owner called back and told him that it was the funniest film he ever saw and the audience laughed their butts off. After that, the movie went out to several theaters and became Troma's first big hit. With the profits, Kaufman and Herz purchased the original Troma Building in Hell's Kitchen in New York, where they stayed until they moved into their new location in 2012.

SQUEEZE PLAY remains one of the most important films in the history of Troma and it's one of my all-time favorite raunchy comedies from the 70's!! It's interesting to see where the studio got their start and to see how much the company has grown since. Troma still remains as the only AND truly independent movie studio in America today! So go revisit this comedy classic today! 5 out of 5 stars!! Highly recommended!!

SQUEEZE PLAY is currently available on DVD at your local retailer and on the Troma website. To purchase this film as well as books, posters and Blu-Rays and DVDs, visit The film is on iTunes, Amazon Instant Video, Netflix and Video On Demand.

Thanks for reading, and enjoy the show!

Friday, November 4, 2016

Phil's Horror Watch: 31 (2016) from Lionsgate - November 4, 2016

31 Blu-Ray Cover
Starring Sherri Moon Zombie, Malcom McDowell, Jeff Daniel Phillips, Meg Foster, Lawrence Hilton-Jacobs, Kevin Jackson, Judy Geeson, Jane Carr, Richard Brake, Pancho Moler, Elizabeth Daily (E.G. Daily), Ginger Lynn Allen, David Ury, Torsten Voges
Written by Rob Zombie
Cinematography by David Daniel
Edited by Glenn Garland
Produced by Rob Zombie, Mike Elliot, Andy Gould, Michael Sherman, Matthew Perniciaro, Eddie, Vaisman, Craig Walendziak
Directed by Rob Zombie
Released by Lionsgate

Musician and filmmaker Rob Zombie has had, let's just say, a very colorful and controversial career in the horror genre. His 2003 directorial debut HOUSE OF A 1000 CORPSES was a decent film, but it didn't live up to all the hype surrounding it. His follow-up and sequel THE DEVIL'S REJECTS was a masterpiece of horror cinema. Then he did the unthinkable: he remade John Carpenter's 1978 classic HALLOWEEN. Needless to say, the movie received mixed reviews, caused an avalanche of controversy among fans but made a killing at the boxoffice, taking in $59.3 million worldwide. The 2009 sequel HALLOWEEN II fared worse and performed poorly in theaters. In 2012, Zombie directed THE LORDS OF SALEM, a throwback to those classic witch and satanic films from the 1970's. Combining intriguing characters, magical and mystical themes and art house style of filmmaking, it looked like Zombie was growing as a director and poised to go on to make some really intriguing and fascinating movies. Then last month I saw his newest film 31 and all my hopes and expectations were flushed completely down the crapper.

The film's official synopsis: Five carnival workers are kidnapped and held hostage in an abandoned, Hell-like compound where they are forced to participate in a violent game, the goal is to survive twelve hours against a gang of sadistic clowns.

The main problem I have with Zombie's films is that the characters are all interchangeable and they all sound the same. They're dirty looking, cuss like a truck driver, sound deranged and are about as deep as a child's swimming pool. Since THE DEVIL'S REJECTS, the majority of his characters have been exactly the same! While LORDS OF SALEM was something completely different, it had a couple of his trademark characters but it didn't take away from the story nor its main protagonist. I was really looking forward in seeing what we was going to do as a filmmaker, but not anymore.

Theatrical Movie Poster (2016)
Now the film did have a few shining moments within the proverbial garbage that I was subjected to see. The opening scene was very fascinating to watch, as it was shot in black and white with actor Richard Brake as Doom-Head talking directly into the camera. It's actually a POV shot as we are seeing him through the victim's eyes, which I thought it was a very effective way  as to giving the audience an idea of the tone of the movie. And I have to admit, seeing E.G. Daily all sexy and batshit crazy was pretty damn cool! She's come a long way since playing Dottie in PEE-WEE'S BIG ADVENTURE that's for damn sure!

The film was originally crowdfunded, giving fans the opportunity of bringing Zombie's vision into fruition. A lot of them (plus the media) were speculating that the movie would be a sequel within the Firefly Family Universe (CORPSES and REJECTS) based on the teaser poster which had a bloody clown face, the title and the words "a Rob Zombie film." Others thought it was a movie about serial killer John Wayne Gacy, or perhaps another HALLOWEEN installment. Zombie later said that the title 31 refers to October 31, the Halloween holiday itself. The idea for the film came about when he read a statistic stating that Halloween is the number one day throughout the calendar year that more people go missing than any other day. Also, because of the tone of the screenplay, he wanted the visuals  of the film to be really down and dirty (like his movies didn't already look like this).

The movie had its premiere at the 2016 Sundance Film Festival in Park City, Utah. Lionsgate picked up the distribution rights and gave it a limited theatrical release in September. Originally, the movie received an NC-17 from the MPAA twice before finally getting an R rating. Zombie assured fans that he would release an unrated director's version on home video.

To be honest 31 isn't Rob Zombie's best film to date. Is it gory? Yes. Is it grotesquely sickening? Absolutely. Is it profoundly disturbing that it feels like a snuff film? Pretty damn close. But the auteur doesn't bring anything new and fresh to his project. It looks, feels and sounds like your typical Rob Zombie film, basically your familiar with the characters because we've seen them in his other films. So if you were looking forward to watching this movie, I'm sorry to report that it's just not that good and your better off watching THE DEVIL'S REJECTS and LORDS OF SALEM. At least you'll enjoy those films!! 2 out of 5! Only watch if you're bored!

31 is available on both Blu-Ray and DVD. The movie is also available on iTunes, Video On Demand, digital download and Netflix.

Thanks for reading, and enjoy the screaming!

Tuesday, November 1, 2016

Phil sees MISS PEREGRINE'S HOME FOR PECULIAR CHILDREN from 20th Century Fox - November 1, 2016

Filmmaker Tim Burton has had one of the most interesting careers in Hollywood. His unique vision has brought some of the most beloved, iconic and original films to the silver screen. PEE-WEE'S BIG ADVENTURE, EDWARD SCISSORHANDS, BEATLEJUICE, SLEEPY HOLLOW, BIG FISH and SWEENEY TODD: THE DEMON BARBER FROM FLEET STREET have all garnered worldwide acclaim, cult like fandom and huge boxoffice returns. He's delved into the world of comic books with both the highly successful BATMAN and the equally successful sequel BATMAN RETURNS. His stop-motion films CORPSE BRIDE, FRANKENWEENIE and A NIGHTMARE BEFORE CHRISTMAS have become unique children classics. But, he's also made some notable bombs such as PLANET OF THE APES, CHARLIE AND THE CHOCOLATE FACTORY, MARS ATTACKS!, DARK SHADOWS and ED WOOD (which is a personal favorite of mine). All this brings me to his latest project MISS PEREGRINE'S HOME FOR PECULIAR CHILDREN, based on author Ransom Riggs's 2011 novel of the same name.

The film's official synopsis: When Jacob (Asa Butterfield) discovers clues to a mystery that stretches across time, he finds Miss Peregrine' Home for Peculiar Children. But the danger deepens after he gets to know the residents and learns about their special powers.

I found the movie interesting to watch, but it didn't really contain hardly any of Burton's trademark weirdness. The only real thing that I found somewhat Burton-esque was the evil monsters that plague Jacob and the other Peculiars. His directing style has become more polished and more mainstream looking. There's not a lot of sweeping shots of cities or gothic looking locations, nor crazy camera pans and such. It's a lot of basic set-ups and shots. Nothing that looks out of the ordinary, which to me isn't Tim Burton. He's an artists in the most purest way; he writes, he draws, he paints, he directs, he's really a talented individual. But somewhere along during his journey throughout Hollywoodland, he seems as if he lost his way. This, of course, is only my opinion but he was a better filmmaker when he was more eccentric and goth. Not that the movie was bad, but it just didn't look and feel like a Tim Burton movie.

Asa Butterfield was good in the role of Jacob, bringing some layering and personality to his performance. However let's be honest, Eva Green just steals the whole movie.  She just radiates when she's on the screen: her speech, her mannerisms, her intelligence, her body language, she is just a joy to watch. She is so damn talented that she could read me the Yellow Pages and I would be hooked! Plus she's a very attractive and sexy woman that you cannot take your eyes off of her when she walks into a scene! Lastly, Samuel L. Jackson as our main antagonist Baron. Seriously, he's having a lot of fun in this movie. He's the MAN folks! 'Nuff said!!

As I mentioned earlier, the movie is based on the young adult novel by Ransom Riggs. The book was published by Quirk Books on June 7, 2011. It went on to become a New York Times bestseller and reached the Number 1 spot in April of 2012. The sequel "Hollow City" was published in 2014, while the third chapter of the series "Library of Souls" was released in September of 2015. As to whether Burton will direct the other two adaptations is still unknown.

So to wrap this review up, MISS PEREGRINE'S HOME FOR PECULIAR CHILDREN is an entertaining movie, but it's not Tim Burton's best work. I sincerely hope that one day he returns to his cinematic roots and craft a film that truly represents his voice, his vision and his eclectic personality. If your children really want to see the movie, then by all means take them. Nothing wrong with a family night out to the movies. 3 out of 5 stars! It's mediocre at best!

MISS PEREGRINE'S HOME FOR PECULIAR CHILDREN is currently playing at theaters nationwide. Check your local listings to see if it is playing in at a theater near you.

Thanks for reading, and enjoy the show!