Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Remake Rubdown

Today was remake madness here at Casa del Kimchi. For breakfast, it was Conan the Barbarian, The Thing* for lunch and finally, Fright Night for the nightcap.** While I'm naturally apprehensive about remakes (especially of great films) I was drawn to these three in particular because, honestly, like the majority of thirtysomething sociopaths nerds I think each of the aforementioned films is ridiculously cool and so, like moths to a flame and flies to feces, I took them in without hesitation. The hip thing to do, I suppose, would be to deride the films without having seen them (cough, cough, Harrison Forbes, cough, cough) but I'm not that hip. So.

Some quick thoughts:

Conan the Barbarian

The Good

What I respect about this movie is that the filmmakers attempted to create something different, which is a smart move (in theory) given that the original Conan is, arguably, so iconic within the sword and sorcery genre. Also, if you're going to cast someone besides Arnold, Jason Momoa is your man as he has the presence, intensity, and appearance to convince viewers that he's the titular barbarian. There's plenty of gratuitous violence to go around as well, to say nothing of a battle with a ravenous cephalopod that works in all the right ways.

The Bad

Difference doesn't always correlate with quality, of course. Without spoiling the plot, I'll go on record as saying that it reminds me a bit more of Kull the Conqueror than the original film, and for those who haven't seen that movie, I'll give you a hint: it sucks. Jason Momoa makes a fine Conan when the script isn't sabotaging his efforts by making the character positively loquacious, Khalar Zym is no Thulsa Doom, and priestesses are poor substitutes for badass thieves.

Have I mentioned the music yet? Basically, the original has an amazing soundtrack by Basil Poledouris.  The remake has, um, oh yeah, no one cares who composed the music on account of it being instantly forgettable.

And say what you will of John Milius (most of which would be spot on) but he's the kind of guy required for a concept like Conan. I'm sure Marcus Nispel's a nice guy and all, but he brings modern sensibilities to a film about bloodthirsty barbarians, which just doesn't work.

The Forbes

Was a body double employed for the sex scene between Jason Momoa and Rachel Nichols? My money is on yes.

I like Ron Perlman, sure, but does he have to be in every mid-scale action film? Goddamn. He's in the running with Samuel L. Jackson for the Most Overused Actor award.

Rose McGowen's not in everything but no matter where she pops up, I think of the bitchy bitch from Jawbreaker. Sorry, Rose!

The Thing

The Good

The film looks gorgeous. Be it lighting, locale, set design, special effects, or cinematography, The Thing is no slouch and worth watching in high definition. The story itself, while not on par with Carpenter's 1982 remake, is fairly engaging though admittedly predictable. The antagonist is one vicious alien (one plus a half dozen, I mean) and appropriately grotesque in all its applicable forms.

Mary Elizabeth Winstead is quite likable and the rest of the cast performs admirably...

The Bad

... But lack memorable, or even readily identifiable roles. In the Carpenter version, you had MacCready, rough around the edges but pragmatically heroic; Blair, scientist gone berserk; Childs, hothead; Windows, eccentric radio dork, etc. whereas in the remake, it's basically Winstead as Dr. Mary Elizabeth Winstead, Joel Edgerton as one of the pilots, and a bunch of Norwegians. Don't get me wrong, everyone likes Norwegians but they, alongside their un-Scandivanian counterparts, end up seeming a lot (as in, too much) alike.

The films takes more of a survival horror approach to the material than relying upon elements of suspense and the results are evident. I would have preferred to see the opposite, especially when it's painfully obvious, at some points, as to who the alien is imitating, which detracts from the horror of the scenario.

The Verdict

All things considered, this version of The Thing is a pretty good flick and recommended. The only problem is that it's not as good as John Carpenter's film.

Fright Night

The Sidestep

I adore the original film but, admittedly, the remake isn't bad. If anything, it's tweaking the establish story, this time focusing more upon Charlie as the teenaged hero and certainly not as strongly influenced by classic horror; in other words, less Peter Vincent and much less suavity, which may or may not be a bad thing. Colin Farrell's Jerry Dandrige, for example, is much more the serial killer (or manic slasher) than debonair vampire and while I prefer the latter, there's nothing particularly wrong with the former. Similarly, I've always been more interested in the Peter Vincent character than Charlie Brewster, so to see David Tennant's skill and charisma hampered by limited character development is a shame but again, there's nothing inherently faulty about allocating more screen time to Charlie. I'm partial to the original but thoroughly enjoyed the remake.

The Cameo

That's right, actor Chris Sarandon makes a cameo in the film, which is sixteen shades of spectacular. My question is, what about Stephen Geoffrey's cameo (namely, the lack thereof)? If nothing else, there could have been one of his porno films playing on some television in the background. You were robbed, Stephen. Robbed, I say!

* Technically a prequel but let's not kid ourselves. It's a premake.
** The nightcap takes the place of dinner and lasts for approximately six hours here on Planet X, FYI.

P.S. Out of sheer boredom, I attempted to watch the third installment of Transformers but fell asleep midway through. Talk about your steaming bowls of poop soup. 

Monday, November 28, 2011

Same Title, Different Song

David Cronenberg directed a film called Crash about people who get off on vehicular accidents. Paul Haggis, eight years later, directed a film with the same title, about racism (or a racist film about racism, if you ask a cynical white person), in 2004.

Certainly, Haggis wasn't trying to fool viewers, in The Asylum tradition, into thinking that his film was related to Cronenberg's critically acclaimed-yet-little-seen movie, but he at least must have known that a film with the same title existed. And he didn't give a shit.

Neither did Jay-Z and Kanye West, I imagine, give a second thought when they pilfered the title "Welcome to the Jungle" from Guns N' Roses.

I care, though. Tonight, after typing "good vibrations" on YouTube's (shitty, advertising-driven) search, the first page of results were a pagan mix of the Beach Boys's classic song and Marky Mark and the Funky Bunch's early 90's hit.

So, a song fight. In one corner, Brian Wilson and company; in the other, Mark Wahlberg and his bunches funky.

The stake? Song title ownership. Forever.



Saturday, November 26, 2011

The Stars, the Stars a Coyote Sees (Don't Call It a Comeback)

Imogen Heap - 2-1
      What bewilders you isn’t the sound, first heard upon streaming back into the flow of consciousness a scant seven seconds prior, of dislocated vertebrosternal ribs realigning themselves with fractured sternum, nor does the labored wheezing which accompanies every subsequent inhalation as your lungs, once punctured, find themselves nearly regenerated though not without an excruciatingly painful mishap (or two, maybe five, possibly eight) along the way. Peripheral noises, of people opening windows and doors and dialing 911 and telling spouses to hush and of others lighting fuses and fumbling with matches and of dogs barking and toddlers crying should annoy you and indeed they do but there’s more to it, of course, since everything’s related somehow. 
That you’re dislodging a warm, mushroom-shaped chunk of lead and copper from just beneath your left breast with fingers alone isn’t quite as irksome as searching for a flip-top box of Marlboros which, hopefully, still resides (and however improbably, contains cigarettes yet intact) within the left front pocket of a ratty pair of Levi 525s using your other hand, which happens to be restricted by a broken thumb and forefinger. 
Having accomplished these feats of manual dexterity, the former as tedious as the latter, there remains the issue of your faces, both the original and the rubbery one stretched, pressed, and draped atop it. Vision is hindered, everything darkness. With weathered pack of smokes and misshapen metal alike resting upon your tattered chest, the better hand claws its way to the mask and removes it with less than the utmost care and with its departure there’s the distinct sensation as well as the sound of peeling, vaguely reminiscent of removing packing tape from cardboard and even now, though things can be seen, the blur of distant, elevated lights and the stars even farther, much farther away is bisected by a carmine haze resulting from some hitherto unrealized damage suffered by your left eye or perhaps the flesh and bone previously encasing it. There’s something dripping down from above said socket and your sense of touch informs you that it contains more than blood itself, but this isn’t what addles you. 
     By the time an arched cigarette touches your lips, the two mangled fingers have been snapped, rather unpleasantly, back into place and before you manage to retrieve the lighter from its pocket sanctuary the cigarette has been set ablaze, the flame a brilliant shade of vermillion to your desecrated eye. Focusing upon the pleasure of that first inhalation almost makes you immune to the fivefold torment of an equal number of bullets being extracted from your tenderized physique. Almost, yet this is not what you find so terribly annoying, either. 
For starters, there’s a voice telling you that things don’t have to be this way, that motivations are suspect, that the world needn’t be as you view it, that events remain unfixed. This insipid voice doesn’t speak yet it speaks nonetheless and its point of origination is the same nothingness currently reconstructing your flesh, lighting cigarettes and... missing the point. Though He would have you believe otherwise, He is neither here (not really, at least) nor are you as docile as his other projects. You reek not of putridity, streaked not with ghastly, florescent orange (not entirely, at least, and even then, not for long) and have not a brain the size of a walnut. Mostly, you realize that for all His asinine proclamations, He is scarcely insouciant, let alone benevolent. He’s a liar, a charlatan, a fraud; and you’ll prove it, one way or the other, just not tonight... because it’s the scent which agitates you so vehemently; of people, though not of people themselves, but of their numerous machinations, desires and ineptitudes - and not those of the general populace, for the delightful stench of cigarette smoke cloaks the vast majority of such irritation, but of those who reside within an apartment three stories above, the ones that stink of false victory, flawed regret, and frenzied apprehension. The stench of the very blood coursing through their veins, therein lies the problem, for once upon a time it was much akin to your own (or what remains of it). 
A burst of agonizing pain accentuates the popping of your left femur back into its original position, and with the culmination of that procedure you mirthfully shake the leg a tad, if only to amuse yourself with the comical floppiness of Sketchers-covered foot adjoined, however loosely, to splintered ankle. To ruminate on the state of the world you inhabit alongside billions of others is merely a reminder of the coveted stillness which divides these hideously deformed processes of refurbishment that, in turn, shred through a seemingly endless recurrence of sentience. Some folks would label you nihilistic but that’s simply because they interact with you in the daytime; which brings you back to the here and now, some forty-three seconds after being brought back, not to life but from death. 
When you finally stand erect, upon ankle once broken and leg once twisted, He has vanished, gone (and at once, already there) to swallow the moon in silent, contradictory disapproval, and with sight no longer reddened your neck cranes upward to watch that big clump of dust and rock depart from ocular reality, leaving only the stars shining brightly across the night sky, each celestial sphere so blatantly indifferent to what unfolds before them. His dismay is mere fabrication, of course, for as your gaze lowers to meet the light emanating from that third-story apartment, your fingers begin to twitch in nascent anticipation because you know as well as He that post-resurrection is when you’re at your finest. 

Wednesday, November 23, 2011


After so, so many, many years I decided it was time to re-watch Martin - and no, I'm not referring to Martin Short (though a post about me watching him would be titillating in its own way) but George Romero's tale of a vampire in the modern era. Wait, did I say modern? Okay, modern as in 1976 yet for the most part the film still holds up and, furthermore, lacks that dated feel I like to call the Saturday Night Fever Effect. Well, mostly.

The fashion leaves a bad taste in my mouth, especially in the sweater department. There's probably a proper term for what the titular character is wearing in the above picture (i.e. other than sweater) but whatever; it's hideous, plain and simple. Speaking of fashion:

This guy's whole Steel-town Colonel Sanders get-up is... ridiculous.

Along similar lines, the zeitgeist of the Seventies is, shall we say, questionable at moments.

Seat belts? Fuck seat belts!
Time to hassle some white women!
Yeah, I'm black, too and yeah, I'm a criminal.
The seat belt thing is a silly reminder that the Man is always telling me how to live my life! life was different in the Seventies, but what of the representation of racial minorities? A reminder, certainly, albeit one decidedly less whimsical, of a period in cinema when it was perfectly acceptable to make each and every person of color a gun-toting, lady-harassing rogue. For the record, I'm not suggesting anything of Mr. Romero but rather of the cinematic landscape corresponding to the decade in question. Now don't fill that noggin of yours with fears about me going all politically correct (PC PK!) on your ass. I'm just saying that if one were to believe everything they see in films from the Seventies, the world would be a strange place. Granted, if the world were like the ones depicted in, say, Godzilla vs. Mechagodzilla or Romero's own Dawn of the Dead the world would be fucking awesome but I digress. 

Speaking of digressions, have you ever noticed how people utilize, often successfully, the phrase But it was the Seventies! to somehow negate any awkward and/or weird situations? I have. For example:

A: Oh, man, do you remember that wild party at Kris Kristofferson's ranch in Montana where we dropped acid like it was going out of style? Margot Kidder did a swan dive off the balcony into the back of my El Camino, broke three ribs, and proceeded to chew on my spare tire. You walked in on Burt Reynolds getting fisted by Loni Anderson and if I recall correctly, you proceeded to give her a rim job. 

B: Damn, that night was messed up.

A: Yeah, but it was the Seventies, man!

B: True.

Now contrast that with the following story.

A: You remember that time back in college, at that party where Elijah Wood and I did lines of coke off of Eliza Dushku's ass while you performed the dirty sanchez on Elisa Cuthbert - at her request no less? Then Ashton Kutcher showed up dressed as Santa Claus even though it was July and the shit got real.

B: Yeah, that was... that was pretty fucked up.

A: Yeah, but it was the Nineties, man!

B: No, it's still pretty fucked up, dude.

It doesn't quite have the same air of plausibility when you use another decade, does it? It almost seems as if the Seventies is a blank check (cheque!) or get out of jail free card for absurdity. (Color me envious!)

“But don’t worry, we won’t have any offspring. We won’t even wind up together. Arthur is just my way out.”
Damn, Christina, isn't that a bit harsh? I understand that 1) your situation is messed up 2) Arthur isn't the greatest man in the history of the universe and 3) you view men as commodities to be used up, but still. Does Arthur know about this? And don't give me any of that but it was the Seventies shit either. Ice cold, baby! And I know I said that Arthur isn't spectacular but since he's portrayed by Tom Savini, he kinda-sorta is

Okay, now I know it may seems as if I'm knocking Martin but in reality, the film is worth viewing and showcases George Romero's talent for something other than zombie movies, and his approach to the vampire genre is still refreshing after all these years. I recommend it highly, and hopefully this post hasn't divulged so much information that you feel as if you've seen the film already.



There is one more thing. I don't want to give away any big events within the film, I really don't, but something needs to be said right here, right now. I'll try to set it up as best I can. Basically, Martin is on the run from a couple of police officers and stumbles into a den of criminals. The police subsequently arrive and the result is sheer pandemonium!

1) A shootout ensues. Note the stylish hat.
2) Cop shoots first bad guy. Second bad guy shoots cop in the back.
3) Another cop shoots second bad guy in the leg. Second bad guy gets plowed by a third criminal attempting to escape via automobile.
4) Second cop fires upon the vehicle careening toward him instead of getting out of the way.
5) Third bad guy gets shot in the head. Ironically, he loses control of the car. 
6) Second cop is crushed by the now out-of-control automobile.
The purpose of this gratuitously ludicrous, abso-fucking-lutely superfluous scene is to provide Martin with a plausible means of eluding capture, except that it's the patented antithesis of plausible in every way imaginable. What the fuck were you thinking, George?* 

Just asking. 

* See also: Monkey Shines

Monday, November 07, 2011


As you may already know, I happily traverse the Web, forever on the lookout for interesting, kooky, and confounding imagery; much of which eventually makes it to this hallowed blog. If this is news to you, then you probably stumbled across this blog while searching for one of those peculiar images and frankly, you should be ashamed of yourself.*

Now that we have that out of the way, let's play a game. It's called Guess the Celebrity! and all you have to do is correctly identify the actor (or actress) displayed above. The prize? Something, something, something grand.

* Ashamed for not finding this place sooner, that is!

Friday, November 04, 2011

I Don't Take Sides...

... But sometimes I laugh.

(Courtesy of 9gag.com)