Friday, April 5, 2013

The Evil Dead (1981)

Number Rolled: N/A [ was 31 on the list ]
Movie Name/Year: The Evil Dead (1981)
Genre: Horror
Length: 85 minutes
Rating: NR
Director: Sam Raimi
Writer: Sam Raimi
Actors: Bruce Campbell, Ellen Sandweiss, Richard DeManincor, Betsy Baker, Theresa Tilly

Five college students on a trip find themselves needing to rent a cabin for a stop-over. They have never seen the place before, but they find it not so bad when they arrive. A little musty, but livable. That is, until they find some occult items (including the “Book of the Dead”) in the cellar and Cheryl begins to become affect by strange things. The supernatural effect simply heightens from there leaving Ash to try and help his friends survive the night.

I didn’t roll dice to choose this one. I know! I’m bad. I broke my own rules. Sorry, I just thought it would be a good idea to do this one since I have midnight showing tickets today (it’s Thursday, I pre-write my articles before posting) to go see the remake. We will return to our previously scheduled rolling for my next review.

“The Evil Dead” is hailed as a staple of the horror genre. I’ve seen this movie several hundred times and I still feel myself not only able but happy to sit through it again.

Though there are some definite corny aspects to the film, they aren’t swept under the rug in the hopes that you won’t notice them. Those moments are brought into the light and made fun of. The movie owns its imperfections. Scenes last a bit too long here and there, but the movie makes it amusing. The graphics are pretty much clay inspired, but it was the early 1980’s, so of course it wasn’t going to have the kind of graphics we have now. It’s gory and brutal and one hell of a cult classic.

I would also like to note that before I did my research for this movie, I’d never heard of a “Fake Shemp.”  I came across the term when I was looking up all the actors names and found a list much, MUCH, longer than I expected. A huge amount of the list was marked as “Fake Shemps.” So I looked up the term. What it means is that those actors filled in for others who were unable to make it to the set because of sickness, injury, death, etc. It turns out “The Evil Dead” filmmakers popularized the term because without the use of these fake shemps, they wouldn’t have been able to finish filming.

So there we have it, a review of the original version just in time for the remake to come out. I will admit I’m a little nervous. The original movie is so great because it so easily accepts its faults and makes fun of itself while keeping its intense creepy edge. My nerves make me wonder if the remake will lose that comedy at the expense of cheapening the film. Tonight I will find out.

Overall Opinion – 4.5/5

Thursday, April 4, 2013

RIP Roger Ebert

With a heavy heart I must report that at the age of 70, one of the most well known reviewers of our time, Roger Ebert has passed away.

He lived a full life, having won a Pulitzer Prize in '75 (the first film critic to do so), written over 15 books with articles in over 200 newspapers in the U.S. and a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. There are very few people who haven't read his reviews and fewer still whom haven't heard of him at all.

For more on the life and death of Roger Ebert I refer you to the New York Times:

RIP Roger Ebert, and may you have all the "Citizen Kane" and Haagen-Dazs ice cream you could ever want.

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

Die (2010)

Number Rolled: 79
Movie Name/Year: Die (2010)
Genre: Thriller
Length: 93 minutes
Rating: UR
Director: Dominic James
Writer: Domenico Salvaggio, Nick Mead
Actors: John Pyper-Ferguson, Emily Hampshire, Caterina Murino, Elias Koteas, Patricia McKenzie, Karl Pruner, Katie Boland, Fabio Fulco, Simone-Elise Girard, Bill Croft, Chip Chuipka, Frank Schorpion

Much like my last reviewed movie, “Nine Dead,” “Die” started off on the same premise. People who seem to be completely unconnected are locked in a room because of a single thing they have in common. This time, however, the connection is revealed early on: each of them recently attempted suicide. The six victims come from all different walks of life; a gambler who lost it all, a cop that has been corrupted by what he’s seen, a teenager with a drug addiction, a psychiatrist with a nasty past, a nurse who can’t stand the suffering and a philanthropist with no control. Their captor forces them to roll a six-sided die in order to determine their fate.

Choosing something through the roll of a die, I can relate to that! This entire blog is based around that idea, so naturally I had to add this movie to my instant queue. Going into it, I felt like it wasn’t going to differ much from the last movie I reviewed. I couldn’t have been more wrong.

It was fantastic. I’m actually really surprised it didn’t score better on Rotten Tomatoes. I’m going to go ahead and assume that was because of how little known it is. Obviously it wasn’t a summer blockbuster or anything. It’s one of those movies on Netflix that’s easily overlooked. It could be mistaken for one of the “mock” movies floating around. By that, I mean a low-budget version of a high-budget movie that seems to be used as a placeholder until the rights to the real movie can be obtained. If you frequent Netflix, you know what I mean. It’s not that, though.

Much like the previous movie, “Die” had some “Saw”-like qualities. Well, that shouldn’t really be plural. There was a single “Saw”-like quality and that was only in the motive. One can have the same motive as someone else and reach their goal in a completely different manner – if at all. If you want to be a writer, there are billions of different paths you can take to get there. I don’t believe that should cheapen just how good this movie is.

The actors sold their parts to me. There wasn’t a single character I didn’t believe the story of. The plot was deep and thought-provoking. Even the thriller aspect of it was point on, without bothering to be gory. “Die” got its message across while managing to be entertaining.

Overall Opinion – 4/5

Monday, April 1, 2013

Nine Dead (2009)

Number Rolled: 38
Movie Name/Year: Nine Dead (2009)
Genre: Thriller
Length: 86 minutes
Rating: R
Director: Chris Shadley
Writer: Patrick Wehe Mahoney
Actors: Melissa Joan Hart, William Lee Scott, John Terry, James C. Victor, Marc Macaulay, Lucille Soong, Chip Bent, Edrick Browne, Daniel Baldwin, Andrew Sensenig, Lawrence Turner, John Cates, Emily Hart, Gina St. John, Ritchie Montgomery, Rebecca Newman

A man kidnaps nine people. Each person is handcuffed to their very own pole around a dirty, basement-style room. Upon introduction to them, he warns them that they are all there for a reason. They have a factor that links them together. Every ten minutes until they figure out that reason, he intends to kill one of them.

“Nine Dead” had a very “Saw”-like quality to it. Nine people locked in a room, needing to figure out exactly what they are willing to reveal about themselves in order to survive. The blurb that’s offered by Netflix, that explains this likeness, is what led me to put it on my instant queue. Now I’m faced with a very difficult review.

The very first thing I should note is that the movie is pretty much in real time. Every ten minutes for the characters, is roughly the same amount of time for us. We watch them struggle to accept their position, figure out their link and try to come to terms with coming clean. Between that real time factor, the stereotyping of the characters and Melissa Joan Hart’s ridiculously bad acting, I’ll admit I was bored to tears; at least, at first.

At first, I was pretty certain that I liked the theory of the movie, but not the execution. Somewhere between the steady tick of the flipping clock and the pieces of the intense mystery coming together, I not only began to enjoy it, I began to lose myself in the story. I don’t know when it happened. I don’t know if there was a triggering event or statement in the movie that caused it, but after about twenty minutes of lamenting the real-time aspect I became engulfed.

The mystery plot of this movie was fantastic. I don’t know what professional critics mean when they say they were on the edge of their seat, but I’m saying it now and I mean it literally. When I finally paid attention to myself, I was sitting on the edge of my couch, trying to put two and two together myself.

The move had its faults. It was very slow to get going. The only actor I would actually label ‘good’ was made a non-issue early on. Finally, the ending was horrible. If the movie had ended about eight minutes earlier, I would have loved it. With all its faults, though, the story was simply spectacular.

“Nine Dead” is the equivalent of the perfect one night stand. It was thrilling, stimulating and unforgettable – with little to no repeat value. I don’t see myself sitting through the movie a second time. Now that I know the ending and am familiar with the ins and outs of the rest of the story, there’s nothing else to go back for. The result is what makes this movie. If someone spoiled it for you, don’t bother watching it. However, if you don’t know where the story’s going, it’s worth a single watching.

Overall Opinion – 3/5