The Conjuring Proves Horror Is Necessary

FACT: Human fear, on a chemical level, is almost indistinguishable from human arousal. :::Cue The More You Know Theme:::

I could spend my time here today trying to convince you to go see The Conjuring. You totally should. It’s a fucking great movie that will keep you up at night. Truly, just a slick little slice of terror that shows how good horror can be as an art. Go see The Conjuring, ok? And I’m going to spend the rest of this article talking about why horror is my personal favorite genre of movie and why it’s necessary to the cinematic universe.

Don’t get me wrong, I love all genres of film. Each one has it’s own merit and values that make them needed to film as an art. But, for my money, the genre that continues to grow and change in challenging and exciting ways is the horror genre.

Just so you know, I heard your groan from way over here. Yes, I said horror. Horror is not only underrated, it’s down right ridiculed. People hate horror. Horror gets accused of being corny and stupid by a large chunk of the population who aren’t weirdos like me. But, under all the bad effects and goofy monsters, there’s a large beating heart that few other genres have. So here are some bullet points of why horror matters.

1. Horror is inexpensive to produce.

Movies these days cost a shit ton to make. Big tent pole flicks like Batman and Avengers generally cost over two hundred million to get running. Even small comedies like The Heat cost around sixty million to make. And Hollywood is essentially a casino. These directors go up to a producer, describe their film, and hope they’ll get money out of it. The producer is basically a high stakes gambler. They don’t know if a film will make money. So they roll the dice. And, when you start dealing with such high sums of cash, the producer is going to gamble a lot less than a lower stakes table.

Horror is that low stakes table. Horror can be made between ten bucks to thirty million. It’s a safe investment. Thus, they’re willing to take a chance on crazier scripts. And, oh boy, do they! Cabin in the Woods and Attack The Block are two examples of batshit insane ideas that only got made because they were cheap to create.

Now, I don’t know about you, but I value that. I want my films to push limits and try to be as inventive as possible. Certainly, it doesn’t always work. For every Attack the Block there’s a Leprechaun but at least they’re trying, which is more than can be said for most homogenized pap coming out of Hollywood these days.

2. Horror starts careers.

Part of maintaining a low budget is hiring people who aren’t exactly celebrities. This extends to everyone involved: actors, writers, and directors. And, by and far, some of the best talent working today cut their teeth on horror.

In the actor category we have: Johnny Depp, Jennifer Connelly, Jamie Lee Curtis, Kevin Bacon, and John Travolta. That’s just naming a few.

And, don’t even get me started on directors. Almost every great director started somewhere in horror: Francis Ford Coppola, Steven Spielberg, James Cameron, Peter Jackson, Sam Raimi, Oliver Stone, and Guillermo Del Toro are all great examples of dudes with vision and raw talent learning their craft through horror.

To watch horror, good horror, is a great way to see talent shine before anyone else can, like seeing a shooting star before it disappears into the ether.

3. Horror is self aware.

Look, horror isn’t out to win any awards. It knows it’s stupid and trashy at worst. And fun and inventive at best. And that’s a good thing. So few films actually understand what they’re supposed to be. Take Nearly every superhero movie Warner Bros has made in the past decade. They’re all self serious bullshit because the studio heads don’t understand that superhero films are meant to be fun. Thus, we get stark shit like Man Of Steel.

Horror will never do that to a viewer. Nope. Horror knows people watch it for gore, fun, and shlock. And it almost always delivers. It wants you to have a good time, even more than comedies do.

So, yes, there are probably more technically polished genres. There are even genres that are deeper and smarter. But horror, in it’s purest form, is exactly what going to the movies is about. It’s the thrills. It’s the sense of awe. And, more than anything else, it’s about having fun. And that’s why, for my money, horror is the greatest genre out there.

Grade: B+


Turbo Brought To You By Vagisoft

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Sigh, sorry about that. Times are rough and, well, a man’s gotta earn a buck somehow. So I whored myself out and took on a sponsor for today’s review. And, yes, it’s distracting but at least it’s for a product I can get behind, literally.

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Dude, Bros, come on here. I’m trying to conduct a review. We’re gonna talk about Turbo today and how annoying product placement can really fuck with an audience.

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Damn it, anyway. Turbo is about this snail who wants to go fast. So he takes an obscene amount of performing enhancing drugs until he can go fast. That’s when he meets this hapless human dude who wants to race him in the Indi500. If that sound familiar, it should. The entire film steals the entire plot structure of Ratatouille. But, unlike Ratatouille, Turbo isn’t very good at being deep.

This wouldn’t be a problem under normal circumstances. I’m ok with a stupid cartoon being a stupid cartoon. But, Turbo is average to begin with and, toward the end, the entire film devolves into one giant product placement and it’s aggressively distracting.

The film is littered with branding. I can count four or so off the top of my head. The most notable culprit is Verizon. That brand is seriously everywhere in this film. Little cartoon kids run around using their Verizon phones, snapping pictures of racing snails, and uploading them onto the interwebs. Every time a phone is used the camera stops and focuses on the Verizon logo for a good ten seconds. It’s distracting and pulled me out of the movie every time. Not to mention, it’s more than a little fucking creepy that product placement has gotten so rampant that it’s bled into animation.

Animation should be above that. Animation, more than any other genre, belongs to the ages. Children watch certain cartoons over and over again. These children grow up, have kids of their own, and they will show the next generation the cartoons they grew up on. It’s how every generation knows the story of Bambi. It’s how, fifty years from now, kids will still be calling clown fish, “Nemos.”

To blatantly show off products in a children’s film dates it immediately. Cause, while I’m certain my kids while know who Buzz Lightyear is, I’m doubtful Verizon will exist in thirty years. And as a result, I also doubt if Turbo will have any place in the future of animation.

Grade: C-

This review was brought to you by Vagisoft. Buy Vagisoft or we’ll murder your children.

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Yeah. Ok. I can actually live with that one. 

The Way Way Back

This sullen son of a bitch gets cranky about working at water park. When I was a kid I was flipping burgers at the King. And now I sound old.

A lot of movie reviewers like to talk about the Manic Pixie Dream Girl. She’s a narrative device basically used to give the hero a quirky, cute chick to bang. Generally speaking, she doesn’t walk or talk like a normal broad. Usually she’s perfect in an almost offensive, unrealistic way. Yet, for better or worse, most films have some version of her in them. That’s not a bad thing, necessarily. It just is. But, while I was watching The Way, Way Back, I noticed that there’s an entire genre of film that acts exactly like Manic Pixie Dream Girls do.

The Way, Way Back stars this depressed kid as he spends the summer at his mother’s boyfriend’s beach house. He hates it. In fact, he pretty much hates everything. His mother’s boyfriend is a douche bag. His mother doesn’t really pay attention to him. And the hot chick living next door won’t give him the time of day. So he’s all, “Fuck this, I’m gonna hang out at the water park all summer.” He gets a job there and slowly starts to grow into himself.

It’s a very sweet and funny movie. The characters are vibrant. The jokes are plentiful. And the camerawork and soundtrack are perfectly indie. And that throws this film in a strange meta-world where everything is almost too manicured.

Once or twice a year Hollywood releases an independent exactly like The Way, Way Back. Juno and Little Miss Sunshine are the perfect examples. All three films are filled dysfunctional characters who all know how to speak in whip-smart dialogue. They are the Manic Pixie Dream Flick.

Because, yes, they all rock. They’re great movies that are designed to manipulate you into feeling a serene sense of euphoria that makes you laugh and grow as a human being. They’re also just enough depth for you to chew on, give you conversations the next time you want to debate shit with your friends.

Now, on one hand, I hate to be manipulated. Unless it’s my balls, you can manipulate those until the cows come home. But, on the other, these are all interesting character pieces that Hollywood is loath to make anymore. It’s very conflicting. Because, no the Manic Pixie Dream Flick doesn’t exist. Every movie has imperfections. Every movie will let you down sometimes. But these quirky independent films are a glass of cold water in a desert of fighting superheroes.

Grade: B+

Pacific Rim and The Art Of Simplicity

“Rawr, rawr, mother fucker!!!! I’m a mother fucking monster!!! Rawr, rawr!!!!!” – The Monster

I used to have a go to move back when I first started balling broads. I called it the Tallahassee Twister. First, I’d start by swirling my tongue around the chick’s eye. Then, once she moaned a little, I’d flip her around and give her ass a massage. (Ladies love a good ass massage.) Next up comes the bends and grind, where I’d squeeze her legs together, fold them over my shoulders, and then insert my penis into her vagina.

Now, obviously, hindsight being what it is, I understand that all this work isn’t actually necessary during sex. I was making things far, far too complicated. And, while I’ve never had a bad review from a lady (Whatever Tanya told you is a fucking lie.), I didn’t realize that fucking is best when it’s straightforward, without all the frills. In a lot of ways the same can be said of a good action movie. Lately, they’ve been so complex and bloated it’s hard to remember that, at one point, an action movie consisted of a good guy fighting a bad guy. Pacific Rim harkens back to a simpler time and it’s a better movie for it.

Pacific Rim is about a dimensional rift that opens up, sending crazy ass giant monsters onto earth. They kill a whole bunch of people, as monsters are want to do. Then humans are like, “Fuck these assholes that keep killing us. Let’s kill them for a change.” So they make these giant ass robots and spend two hours fighting monsters.

Pacific Rim is straight forward like that. There aren’t any plot twists or third act hi-jinks. It gives you exactly what it sells: monsters fighting robots. It’s easy to enjoy a film that wears its sleeve like that. Cause, I don’t know about you, but when I go watch a film about monsters fighting robots, I pretty much only want to see monsters fighting robots.

And oh boy do they ever fight. Great, intense sequences that are simply filmed. Cause another pit most action films have fallen into lately is the hyper-kinetic-ever-shifting-camera action scenes. And those are a chore to follow. You can never tell who is doing what or where they’re doing it.

Pacific Rim favors steady wide shots that clearly show the action and further the narrative. The viewer always knows which robot is fighting what monster and why. And, because it’s so easy to understand the stakes, the film is easy to root for.

Hopefully one day action directors can chill out and realize, much like sex, an action film doesn’t need a convoluted plot or complicated action shots. It just needs a good guy to root for and a bad guy to get punched.

Grade: A-

The Manic Lone Ranger

Are you ready for this? We’re gonna talk for two hours before anything awesome happens.

I dated this broad once, a real piece of work, bi-polar as shit. One minute, we’d be out having a perfectly fine dinner down at the local Arby’s. The next, she’d be throwing roast beef sandwiches at me because I called her fat. Then two seconds later, she’d be banging me on a pile of curly fries, pulling my hair, and calling me a little bitch. The chick was as extreme as a BMX biking snowboarder climbing a mountain. I thought about her a lot during the equally manic The Lone Ranger.

The Lone Ranger stars Facebook Ranger as he teams up with Racist Captain Jack Sparrow. They don’t really like each other but they hate criminals. So they’re all like, “Fuck criminals. Let’s take them down. WITH TRAINS!!!” So they ride around on horses until they find trains. Then they blow shit up. With more trains. The end.

If that sounds entertaining, I’m sorry. I spiced it up a bit. It’s seriously light years from entertaining. There’s more walking and talking than a Lord of the Rings movie. And it’s practically just as long. Worse yet, there’s no fucking reason for it. This stupid fucking film is crammed with pointless scene after pointless scene. It bloats it up until it’s almost impossible to understand the themes, characters, or tones.

And, these unnecessary scenes are wildly different. Sometimes there’s a wacky Three Stooges physical gag. Sometimes they get real serious and murder Native Americans for no good reason. Sometimes they’ll throw in a pointless love triangle, cause everyone enjoys a good lay. Sometimes it just wants to be a loud action movie. You’ll get whiplash dealing with all the genre changes.

It’s a shame too cause some sequences really do pop. The climax of the film, in particular, is so frenetic and perfect they should turn it into a ride at Disneyland. Of all the tones and genres The Lone Ranger steals from, the climax is the greatest. It’s kitschy without being lame. It’s entertaining without trying. And, unlike the rest of the film, it knows exactly what it wants to be.

Cause tone means everything in filmmaking. Quentin Tarantino films, for example, would be lost without his usual flourishes. They set an expectation for an audience member. The Lone Ranger wants to be jack of all trades and it becomes a master of none. Except for that climax. Damn, that scene was awesome.

Grade: D-

Scene Stealers in Despicable Me 2

I don't know why these little yellow pills entertain me so much. I'M IMMUNE TO CUTENESS DAMN IT!!!!

I used to play Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles when I was a wee-little-Dudebro, kicking it around my hood, chilling with my dudefriendbros. We’d each dress up like one of the turtles and run around scaring the shit out of Old Mrs. Flanagan.(She died of a heart attack a few years later. I hope it was unrelated. But I’m not a fucking doctor.)

Obviously, as kids do, we each had a favorite turtle. Even then, before my balls dropped, I knew I was all about Michelangelo. The dude partied harder than all the other turtles AND got to swing around nun-chucks like a fucking boss. Sign me up, cause that’s the turtle I want to be, Fucktards.

The problem was, every kid wanted to be Mikey or Raphael? Why? Because they were the more interesting turtles. Raph was cool but rude. Donatello got to build machines. All Leo got to do was lead the team. Big fucking deal, I could boss around a bunch of turtles. Call me when you get an actual characteristic, Leo. Straight men like Leo are often fucking boring and easily overshadowed by crazier, more interesting, characters. Despicable Me 2 is a wonderful example of this phenomenon.

Despicable Me 2 stars Reformed Evil Dude Gru as he tries to save the world by falling in love. That’s it. It’s a very thin plot because Evil Dude Gru gets about as much story as his sidekicks, The Minions, who totally steal the show. The entire film is a test run for The Minion Movie.

They’re seriously in it all the time. It’s nearly impossible to escape these beautifully rendered little guys. Each scene without them works, the film is perfectly passable without them, but it’s hard to care much about Reformed Evil Dude Gru when there are characters with greater energy and likability vying for screen-time.

I don’t think many people will complain about this either. The Minions fucking rule. They’re little. They’re loud. They should be annoying as shit. But for some reason they’re so perfectly daffy that you want more of them. This isn’t exactly a new thing, as sidekicks go, but it rarely has worked out so well in the past.

A similar thing happened in Pirates of the Caribbean. Orlando Bloom was supposed to anchor that film onto stardom. That is, until Johnny Depp swam in and turned a thankless sidekick role into the main course. The sequels then starred Captain Jack and Bloom got fired after the third pirates.

Hell, the same thing happened to the first Ninja Turtles Movie. Leo was so boring that the entire moral center of that film belongs to Raphael. In fact, Raph is pretty much the main character of all the Turtle movies, except for Turtles 2, Vanilla Ice stole that shit like a bandit. So, Reformed Evil Dude Gru should really watch his back because, if The Minion Movie does well next year, I hardly see a reason for Despicable Me 3 to entice the audience.

Grade: B-

For The Ladies Of The Heat

Just a couple of foxy ladies. Keepin’ it classy. Ain’t no thang.

Awwwww yeah, let’s turn the lights down low, break out the chocolate strawberries, pour some wine, set the mood with a little Barry Manilow, and talk about the ladies. You know ’em. You love ’em. You want to get your penis all up in ’em. I feel ya. I feel ya. They are the fairer sex, after all. The Yin to our Yang. The light to our dark. The vagina to my dick. Ladies make the world go ’round fellas. So why are films with women like The Heat so damn rare?

The Heat stars Anal Miss. Congeniality as a federal agent looking to take down some mysterious drug dealer. But she needs a Bridesmaid Cop to show her around Boston. They shoot some criminals. Get stabbed a few times. But mostly they bust chops in an entertaining fashion.

And, damn, do they bust chops. Everything out of Bridesmaid Cop’s mouth is a verbal hand grenade. She’s lobbing them left and right, mostly at Anal Miss. Congeniality’s expense. And, because Miss. Congeniality always gives as good as she gets, the two develop a delightful little relationship that isn’t defined by men or stereotyped female-cattiness.

And these days, it’s pretty rare to see flicks with real chicks. That’s probably why movies like Pitch Perfect and Bridesmaids have been so resonant with the fairer sex, despite their flaws. Hollywood is basically starving women of representation. So any films with women, real women, in them automatically feel like a grand feast of pop culture.

That’s probably why I’m willing to look past some of the more obvious flaws of The Heat. Cause, sure, the cop plot line is banal and obvious. They aren’t trying to reinvent the buddy cop dynamic, merely inject it with a bit of estrogen.

But the jokes are so damn snappy you won’t be focused on the plot. A drama or action film displays tight writing through inventiveness. Comedy, conversely, simply needs clever jokes to show tight writing. And all genres need good characters. The Heat excels at comedy and likable characters, especially when it comes to women characters.

Cause I don’t know about you man, but the chicks I fuck generally aren’t the cardboard stereotypes Hollywood paints. Nah, man. Dudebro doesn’t bang stereotypes. Chicks in real life are closer to the broads in The Heat. They can be funny. They can be loyal. They can even be hot tempered and fastidious. And that’s why we love them. That’s why, night after night, we want them by us in our beds, carefully cradling our balls. So, thanks women, you make the world a better place just by being your fine, sexy ass selves.

Dudebro Out.

Grade: B

White House Downing It On The Fourth Of Fucking July

I would totally rub Captain Ripple Abs down, no homo.

I like to speak in over the top hyperbole because it gets my points across quickly. But, for all the crazy statements I make, for all the stories I embellish, I know two things for certain. 1. I have the biggest dick in the world, we’re talking Sequoia sized, son. 2. President Thomas J. Whitmore’s speech at the end of Independence Day is the greatest speech every committed to film. Come on, just look at it, just watch this shit and try not to get jacked up on some old American jingoism.

You just popped a chub listening to it, didn’t you? It’s ok. I did too. Roland Emmerich will always have a sweet spot in my heart for that speech alone. The guy knows how to blend the perfect amount of excitement and sap. So I had high hopes White House Down would rock the cheese just as hard. And, while it’s not perfect like President Thomas J. Whitmore’s speech, it’s still entertaining.

White House Down stars Captain Ripple Abs as he gets stuck in the White House during a terrorist takeover. He then has to make like Die Hard and protect President Ray Charles from a bunch of crazed ex-military dudes who want to murder him. The White House explodes a few times. There’s a close quarter knife fight. And they give President Ray Charles a bazooka. All in all, there’s very little to hate.

First, as always, the good. The action scenes are clean and crisp. There’s been a trend in action movies lately to throw shit on screen and use lots of quick edits. The idea is to build a sense of kinetic action but it always looks like a mess to me. My veins can’t be throbbing with adrenaline if I don’t know what the fuck is happening on screen.

Luckily, White House Down avoids this by miles. The camera always shows where the villains are, where the heroes are, and the stakes they are fighting for. So you never once have to wonder, “Wait, what just happened?” Instead you can sit back and be like, “Snap, that was radical when President Ray Charles used a bazooka!”

Also good? The characters. There’s nothing deep here. No one will be writing psychological profiles of Captain Ripple Abs anytime soon. But he’s likable and you want to root for him. Same goes for President Ray Charles. And there are numerous other characters who are equally broad yet engaging. In an action movie, that’s all you need.

Now, the bad, White House Down never hits the great heights of Independence Day. It wants to. It wants to be the same flag waving, make you proud, buy tickets to NASCAR, chug a Bud, honk your Chevy good time that Independence Day was. Unfortunately, we live in darker times, so instead of cheesing it up, turning the stupid dial up to eleven, they tone it down to fit today’s gritty reboot Hollywood.

So there’s a tone problem with White House Down. It’s a clear clash between what it wants to be and what it should be. Yet, I will happily watch it every Fourth of July, right after I catch Independence Day. I may even start quoting bad one-liners from it in the near future. But it will never give me goosebumps like only President Thomas J. Whitmore can.

Grade: B-