Archive for the 'TV' Category

21
Dec
08

My Favorite Christmas Flicks

Christmas is a time of giving.  Unfortunately,  fans of darker, more alternative cinema usually get nothing in the way of movies geared towards there interests. So for all of you out there who think Santa should be more like this:

gothsantaOR THIS:

hailsanta

Here are my suggestions for a few holiday films that should satisfy both your desire to get into the “spirit” of the season, and your unquenchable lust to see blood split.

santasslaySanta’s Slay is every bit as silly and wild as it’s title and casting (Ex-Wrestler Bill Goldberg stars as Santa) suggests, but despite being a movie i laughed at when I first heard about it, I was pleasantly surprised at how entertaining it was.  Plus, it starts off with one of the best scenes in cinematic history.

And if that’s not enough reason to watch this movie, I just don’t know what is.

batman_returns_ver41

Batman Returns, the last Batman movie to be directed by Tim Burton, is kind of like a superhero, Christmas themed acid trip.  Along with a lot of maiming, killing, and a terrific role by Christopher Walken, people often forget that Gotham city is heavily entrenched in the Winter season during the film, making it the perfect movie for all you comic books fans to turn on while remaining in the holiday spirit.

Samuel L. Jackson's Christmas Motherfuckin' Special Motherfuckers.

Samuel L. Jackson's Christmas Motherfuckin' Special Motherfuckers.

The Long Kiss Goodnight, directed by the criminally underrated Renny Harlin (who also directed Die hard 2, which pops up on this list as well) is a great little action movie taking place around Christmas.  The whole movie is full of winter scenes, and of course, the awesomeness that is any word Samuel Jackson speaks.  A great flick in it’s own right, made appropriate for this list by the time of year in which it takes place.

Fucking Terrible...but so much fun.

Fucking Terrible...but so much fun.

It had to be done.  A Killer, Mutant Snowman movie.  Words can’t describe how terrible this movie is.  But, if you have friends with a high tolerance for garbage, a great sense of humor, and lots of alcohol and/or illegal drugs, this movie can be really really fun.  Shannon Elizabeth is in it, and she is “raped” by the snowman.  How can you not watch?

Remember when Mel Gibson was the fucking man?  I do.

Remember when Mel Gibson was the fucking man? I do.

Another 80’s action classic, taking place mostly on Christmas Eve and Christmas day.  This one really put the “buddy-cop” movies on the map, fusing intense, over the top action with quality, mostly conversational humor.  Add a Christmas theme to the proceedings and you got yourself another violent winter classic.

Poor Ol' John McClain can't even enjoy Christmas without having to waste some Jerkoffs and Scumbags.

Poor Ol' John McClain can't even enjoy Christmas without having to waste some Jerk offs and Scumbags.

John McClain has a second run in with some terrorists dirt bags in Die Hard 2, this time in the form of William Saddler, character actor extraordinaire.  Die Hard 2 is universally seen as the only weak link in the “quadrilogy”, but it’s still a perfectly serviceable late night Christmas action romp.  Plus Dennis Franz is in it, and he kind of looks like Santa anyway.

Holy shit.  That's so cute I just want to squeeze it.

Holy shit. That's so cute I just want to squeeze it.

Gremlins is one of the best, and only true, Christmas time creature feature movies.  Made back in the golden age of puppets and robot controlled dolls, Gremlins isn’t tainted by shoddy computer graphics or green screen trickery.  It’s an old fashioned mini-monster movie made the way they should all be made, with convincing puppets and prosthetic effects that give you something tangible to fear, or love in the case of Gizmo.  And like most 80’s movies, this one has some truly dark and scary moments, making it perfect for younger audiences and adults.  Long live the Mogwai.

yippee kiya mother fucker.  Merry Christmas.

yippee kiya mother fucker. Merry Christmas.

Die Hard is not only the holy grail of “one man army” action movies, it’s also one of the best Christmas movies ever made.  John McClain’s wise ass comments, the perfect “radio only” sidekick in Ellis, a tremendously devious villain in Gruber, and a supporting cast chock full of talent.  Add to the mix a phenomenal pace, some of the most impressive action scenes to date, and a not one, but two, finales and you have yourself the perfect action movie.  Oh yeah, and it all takes place around Christmas, complete with a Christmas music credit scene.  Truly a gift of a movie.

That’s it for this years edition of my personal Christmas movie favorites.  Hopefully some of these selections will help ease the pain of having to see another Hallmark Christmas special starring Tony Danza on your TV.
Oh yeah, I almost forgot to share this gift.  It’s some power metal band who wrote a Christmas song about how Frosty and Rudolph never liked each other.  It’s really funny, and actually pretty well done.




21
Nov
08

Dead Set: A Reality TV Show Zombie Mini-Series

Big Brother is watching...you get eaten by Zombies!

Big Brother is watching...you get eaten by Zombies!

Dead Set is a thrilling mini-series that combines two of the most popular things going in TV and movies today, the reality TV show (in this case Big Brother) and zombies.  The style in which this 5 part story is told is similar to Danny Boyle’s 28 Days Later series, complete with shaky camera-work and ravenous, feral running zombies.  Personally, I have found the “28” series of zombie movies very underwhelming, and I also haven’t been too big a fan of the idea of  running zombies.  Dead Set, however similar to the aforementioned films it may be, sets itself apart, and is, as far as I can tell, a hidden gem of a horror genre, at least among American audiences.

Dead Set starts off showing the inner workings of reality television.  It’s sort of a nice behind the scenes look which I’m sure has been slightly exaggerated for dramatic effect, but still feels very genuine.  We are introduced to a gaggle of characters, some more important than others.  You’ll immediately begin playing the “Who’s gonna survive game” in your head, which is always a good thing, because it means the actors and the director have already made empathetic characters early on, which winds up being one of the main reasons this series had me in the clutches of suspense for almost 3 hours.

After we get a look at “Eviction Night”, where one of the house guests is sent home, no longer eligible for the prize that awaits the final contestant, we are plunged into a crisis happening right outside the studio, which is an apparent (and unexplained, a classy touch.  No need to always explain why there is zombies) zombie apocalypse.  Chaos ensues, and different sets of the relatively large cast get separated and wind up having to find ways of surviving in and around the studio.

Seeing as house this is a 5 part mini-series, I was slightly skeptical going in how the director and writers were gonna keep up the frenetic pace they started off with.  Fortunately, a combination of clever nods to classic zombie flicks, interesting scenarios and obstacles, and the rule of “anyone can die at any time” meant that I was fully engaged, and holding my hand over my mouth at the conclusion of each episode that always seemed to be a cliffhanger.

Special effects also helps elevate this to near legendary status, with a COMPLETE ABSENCE OF CGI (FUCK YES) and awesome practical gore such as this incredible exploding head.

BOOM! Headshot.

BOOM! Headshot.

There are other surprises as well, all of them really bloody and particularly brutal.  I won’t ruin them for you, but they rival some of the best kills I’ve ever seen in the genre and really stand out.  Make no mistake, just because this is “made for TV” doesn’t mean it wimps out on the hardcore stuff.   its R-Rated goodness should put smiles on the faces of even some hardened horror fans.

Solid, if not a little trendy, directing, good acting, and a storyline that doesn’t wear out it’s welcome while also exploring many possibilities a shorter, 90 minute zombie flick wouldn’t have time to touch on make Dead Set a solid recommendation for someone wanting zombie goodness, with a European flair.  For zombie fans, this is a must see.

Big Brother is watching, and so should you.

What a story she would have to tell in the diary room.

What a story she would have to tell in the diary room.