Wednesday, January 30, 2008

When a Stranger Calls (1979)

--Reviewed by Lindy Loo

Plotline: A young woman is babysitting two children when she starts receiving phone calls from an anonymous man. When she realizes that he can see her and what she's doing, she calls the police. If you've ever heard the babysitter urban-legend before, you'll know where it goes from there. Seven years later, the crazy man who delivered all the phone calls has escaped from the mental institution. A PI is hired out by the father of the previously mentioned children to track him down.

Scariness factor: The first 10 minutes were great. I even knew what was coming, but they still did a good job. The rest of the movie was hit or miss.

Gross-Out Factor: Absolutely nil.

Complaints: I could never quite decide whether I thought the villain was creepy and spooky or just plain lame. And although the first 10 minutes of the movie were damn good, it sort of winded itself after that and never quite managed to achieve that nerve-wracking pace again.

High Points: The first 10 minutes. Also, the 1970s-ish quality of the movie is fun as well, but then again, I'm a sucker for 1970s movies.

Overall: I am at a loss as to whether or not to recommend. It was no means bad, but it also didn't leave me with any huge voracious desire to ever see it again. So I guess, if you're bored one day, it wouldn't be a waste of your time. But then again, if you never ever see it, your life won't be meaningless.

Grade: B-



--Reviewed by Lindy Loo

Plotline: Blade is half-man, half-vampire, and his goal is to eradicate the vampire race.

Scariness factor: It has some fast-paced tense moments. If I didn't hate Stephen Dorff and think him the epitome of lameness, that would've probably helped in this regard as well.

Gross-Out Factor: Most of the grossness is CGI, and thus, not so gross, in my opinion.

Complaints: I really liked it until the end decided to gunk itself up with a whole bunch of lousy CGI. Remember how when you were little and watched the bad Nazi-guys die in Indiana Jones in that whole "melting like a candle"-type way, and it scared you to your very core and you couldn't stop thinking about it for like days? Well, there's a reason for that: you can do lots of creepy stuff without CGI. And it looks better. Because it actually LOOKS kind of realistic instead of looking clearly computer-animated. Case-in-point is the demise of one of the vampires at the end which, since it's integral and climactic to the movie, should've been bad-ass and terrible but really just ended up being laughable because it was so obviously computer-animated (not to mention that it was just sorta SILLY how he died). Other complaint: Stephen Dorff. What is that boy's deal? Seriously? He irritates the sin out of me. An obligatory aside to Stephen Dorff: You are not hot. Neither are you bad-ass. You are a pasty, skinny, Casper-ish white-boy, who doesn't have enough body-hair or muscle (or the general unaffected bad-assness of, say, Johnny Depp) to pull off all the cock and swagger you're toting around. If *I* were a vampire hunter, I could easily pin you to the ground and flick your ears until you started crying like a little girl and begging to be staked. Just because you suck on a cigarette and fail to button up your shirts does not make you cool.

High Points: I really kind of liked the first half of the movie. The blood stuff was sexy. The Blade-sucking-on-hot-doctor scene was beyond overtly sexual. The dancing-in-blood was fun. The action was decent (if far-fetched, but that's to be expected for an action movie). Some of the death-scenes were fun. I kind of liked Kris Kristofferson's character. And Blade was bad-ass.

Overall: The ending really kind of made me mad because it sucked dry all the goodness and excitement of the beginning half. CGI BE DAMNED! Nonetheless, it made for an entertaining 90 minutes, and obviously, if you're a fan of vampire-flicks, it's a definite must.

Grade: B-


Tuesday, January 22, 2008


--Reviewed by Lindy Loo

Plotline: Something is happening in NYC, and no one's quite sure what to make of it. A group of friends happen to catch the events on film as they take place.

Scariness factor: It has a few tense moments, but they are fewer and farther between than one might think.

Gross-Out Factor: Minimal.

Complaints: The characters were a bit irritating in the way that characters from The Blair Witch Project also got complained about--I think a lot of it's just the nature of setting up the story as though the characters are the ones filming it. The logic of the movie doesn't make sense at times, at least for a film that's trying to be a fake-documentary-style movie. For example, when four of the characters retreat into a subway station for safety, THEY ARE THE ONLY PEOPLE IN THE STATION. Which is *really* goddamn difficult to buy in a city so packed-full of folks: That station would be JAMPACKED with people trying to take cover. So fah on that. The movie's not as high-paced and tense as I'd expected. It sort of is, but sort of isn't. The mystery behind what's going on in the city isn't all that interesting, especially since it's never explained (I couldn't decide whether I *liked* this fact or whether it was a too easy cop-out on the part of the film's writers). And I really had a hard time buying the fact that the video-camera lasted as long as it did, especially through the end of the movie. (I also had a hard time believing that the folks with the video camera would continue to make such a concerted effort to film everything the whole time.) Oh, and the camera-work will easily get you feeling seasick, you may want to take some dramamine before watching.

High Points: The video-camera usage *was* sort of interesting. It lent to the excitement of not seeing EXACTLY what was going on when it was going on, which lent the movie a LITTLE bit of spookiness at least. And I actually liked the framing of the ending of the film. Perhaps it wasn't unexpected, but it was kind of nice.

Overall: I could take or leave this movie. If you *DO* have some urge to see it, it's definitely something you'd want to catch in the theaters though, because I don't think it'll be quite so visually interesting on dvd.

I have also been urged to note that my friend MC (whom I went to see the movie with and who had been looking forward to seeing the movie for weeks) hated the movie to the point of anger, so much so that he very emphatically (and repeatedly) told me that I need to make sure I quote him in all his hatred of the film while reviewing it, that way people can understand what a horrible film it was and avoid it--so I quote:

"My hatred for the movie Cloverfield burns with the passion of a 1,000 suns." -- MC

So there you have it. Two reviews for the price of one.

Grade: C


Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Evil Dead II

--Reviewed by Lindy Loo

Plotline: Ash (lone survivor of the original Evil Dead) is back in the cabin where all the demonic craziness went down, and finds himself battling demons yet again, this time with the professor's daughter.

Scariness factor: It's spooky, in a going-crazy-type way (with a little peppering of campiness thrown in for good measure).

Gross-Out Factor: Not quite so much pus as in the original, but it still has its campy gross-out moments.

Complaints: The ONLY thing that bothers me about this movie is why Ash is back at the cabin. I mean, you had a REALLY bad time the first time around. All your friends got killed off. You battled demons. So why the hell go back again?

High Points: This Evil Dead film marks the dawning of the Ash we all know and love. We get to see the transformation from the meek Ashely to the bad-ass, chainsaw-arm, shotgun-wielding, one-lining Ash, and boy is it fun. Seriously: this film is all Bruce Campbell. I mean, I'd say 80% of the movie consists of shots focused on his crazed slapstick, and the boy is BAD-ASS funny. His pratfalls, his hamminess, his chin: all of these are what make all us Evil Dead geeks love him so much. He's just so much fun to watch. And granted, the premise is basically the premise of the first movie, but this time it's directed in such a way that you feel as though you're just watching Ash's mental breakdown from the inside-out, and it's crazy-ass wild. The special fx are still a delightful combination of claymation, green-pus, and talking deer-heads, and you can't beat that either for Friday-night entertainment. Good stuff.

Overall: Bruce Campbell is bad-ass cool. And this movie is all Bruce-Campbell, all the time. Good good stuff. If you've not hit up the Evil Dead trilogy, get your ass to the video store.

Grade: A


Monday, January 14, 2008


--Reviewed by Lindy Loo

Plotline: An abused woman whose ex-husband has just gotten out of the joint finds solace in a kind drifter. Unfortunately, he begins to inflict his own paranoid madness on her--what starts out as a passing mention of bugs turns into a full-blown obsession.

Scariness factor: *Snort*

Gross-Out Factor: Teeth get pulled out. That's about the worst of it.

Complaints: Wow. Seriously. I've not seen such a bad movie in quite some time. The plotline was just plain old boring. Bugs infesting your body, sent by the government? Surprisingly uncreative. The acting was equally bad: Harry Connick, Jr, you need to stick to singing and/or Will & Grace, because you just can't pull off a bad-ass, friend. Harry Connick aside, the manic moments in the film were just BEYOND laughable. I felt like I was watching little kids put on a movie, and watching their interpretation of "craziness" unravel into goofbally over-the-top horribleness, which is excusable in children, but not so much in a film.

Conversation between lead actors:

Ashley Judd: How can we pull off "crazy?"
Michael Shannon: Let's throw ourselves onto the bed and writhe around a whole bunch.
Ashley Judd: Cool! And maybe then we can jump up and down on the bed wildly and scream?
Michael Shannon: Ooh! Good call!
Ashley Judd: And then I can shout "I am the super bug mother!" really loud a few times!
Michael Shannon: OMG! Seriously: brilliant. It is hard to believe you've never won an Oscar, Ashley Judd.
Ashley Judd: I know. I AM THE SUPER BUG MOTHER!!!!!

There was just *nothing* interesting about this movie. You never really develop a sense of caring about the characters. Their relationships with one another aren't convincing at all. The movie's really not all that suspenseful or interesting. I think it was *trying* to be deep, but it just failed miserably.

High Points: That it ended.

Overall: Wow. So bad. If you want to make fun of a movie, then rent it. Otherwise, stear clear.

Grade: F