Monday, March 30, 2015

Into the Woods

***DISCLAIMER*** The following review is entirely my opinion. If you comment (which I encourage you to do) be respectful. If you don't agree with my opinion, that's fine. To each their own. These reviews are not meant to be statements of facts or endorsements, I am just sharing my opinions and my perspective when watching the film and is not meant to reflect how these films should be viewed. Finally, the reviews are given on a scale of 0-5. 0, of course, being unwatchable. 1, being terrible. 2, being not great. 3, being okay. 4, being great and 5, being epic! And if you enjoy these reviews feel free to share them and follow the blog or follow me on Twitter (@RevRonster) for links to my reviews and the occasional live-Tweet session of the movie I'm watching! Pretty sure there's a porn parody of this called Onto the Wood.

Into the Woods – 3 out of 5

Musicals are not really my thing. While I will admit that Les Misérables is ridiculously moving and The Book of Mormon might be the most brilliant piece I’ve ever set my eyes and ears upon, I don’t really seek out any other forms of musicals unless they are a Disney film, written by the geniuses behind Orgazmo and South Park, or contain Muppets. Since Into the Woods is a Disney film, I have to say that I was interested in this one, even though I was completely unfamiliar with the stage version…also, seeing Johnny Depp as a pimp wolf didn’t hurt my desire to watch this either.

Like all films he's in, there was no make-up artists for Depp.  He just showed up to
set already wearing this and taken from his private collections.

The joke is on Jack and the baker's wife.  That's
actually the golden kidney stone passed by the giant.
A witch (who may or may not be wicked) long ago placed a curse on her neighbor’s home and it has caused the son, a baker (James Corden), and his wife (Emily Blunt) to be unable to have a child. The witch (Meryl Streep) has offered to lift the curse if they can collect a few items for her; items like a cape as red as blood, a cow as white as milk, slippers pure as gold and hair as yellow as corn. Quickly the duo break for the woods to collect the items but, as they make their move, fate seems to play along and Red Riding Hood (Lilla Crawford) and her red cape make their way to Grannie’s house—as long as the Wolf (Johnny Depp) doesn’t get in the way, Cinderella (Anna Kendrick) is out to defy her Stepmother and sisters and make it to the ball and meet her prince (Chris Pine), and Jack (Daniel Huttlestone) is sent by his mother to sell their cow. Soon all their paths cross and it seems the curse will be lifted and everyone will have their happy ending…until the infamous beans that Jack sells the cow for work their magic and then all hell will break loose in the kingdom.

"Cinderella's hair isn't blond!  Stick to the source material."
That's my impression of the fanboys complaining on the internet.

Chris Pine's natural pheromones often cause open flames
to flare.  He's dangerously attractive, people.
Overall, I thought Into the Woods was okay. The performances are fun, the music is fantastically performed, the settings all look amazing and really helped create a whimsical atmosphere but, for the most part, the film did kinda bore me. Maybe the two hour running length is the cause but after a certain point, I found that I just could no longer stay immersed in the story. Maybe that’s because at one point, the film felt like it suddenly started all over again.

James Corden kinda looks like a chubby Star-Lord in the film...that's not
meant to be an insult.  I wish I looked like Star-Lord in pretty much any way,
even a chubby way.

The Earth got an erection again.
When the film begins, I was quickly diving into its events and was having fun with the songs, comedy, and the characters. However, at a certain point, the logical ending arrives and the movie feels like it should end but, in reality, it was really just the beginning of the final act; an act that involves the actions of all the main characters coming home to roost and causing mayhem, destruction and death. At this point, another point of conflict is created and the characters have to come together—while they are coming apart at the seams—and try and bring peace to their land. This is all find and dandy and contains some more of those lighthearted and brilliantly performed songs but, by this point, the film feels like it is firing up its sequel and the whole ordeal starts to feel tedious and I found myself getting very bored.

Dammit, Streep.  Stop being so likable and talented.

I've been there, Red...and I've also used the excuse
that they are "for Granny."
That’s the real killer of this film for me. The performances are fun—there isn’t a single player I didn’t care for—, the songs are enjoyable, and the film has some very moving and amusing moments. However, I just ended up getting very bored with it. It’s still very well made and I enjoyed the first half but there is no way I could ever sit through it again because of its second half and the film definitely didn’t interest me in seeing a stage production of it either. While mostly decent and fun, Into the Woods just dragged too badly in the second half for me really to get into it any more than a single-shot viewing.

Friday, March 27, 2015


***DISCLAIMER*** The following review is entirely my opinion. If you comment (which I encourage you to do) be respectful. If you don't agree with my opinion, that's fine. To each their own. These reviews are not meant to be statements of facts or endorsements, I am just sharing my opinions and my perspective when watching the film and is not meant to reflect how these films should be viewed. Finally, the reviews are given on a scale of 0-5. 0, of course, being unwatchable. 1, being terrible. 2, being not great. 3, being okay. 4, being great and 5, being epic! And if you enjoy these reviews feel free to share them and follow the blog or follow me on Twitter (@RevRonster) for links to my reviews and the occasional live-Tweet session of the movie I'm watching! A war movie called Furry would be a whole lot different...

Fury – 4 out of 5

I'm pretty sure that man in the middle is a character
from Game of Thrones.
War movies can be a difficult pill to swallow sometimes. Whether you like it or not, war movies are propaganda. Some are a little more subtle in that fact but, in the end (especially when made by Hollywood), they’re out to say how ‘Murica kicked some ass—said ass belonging to Nazis, Charlie or the absolutely horrible nicknames Toby Keith fans have created for absolutely everyone of Middle Eastern decent during our never-ending conflict overseas. Another issue is every certain war has their own stereotypes that come with it—for example, films about Vietnam always have "Fortunate Son" on its soundtrack and, apparently, everyone who served over there lost their mind and are on the verge of snapping and murdering innocent people any second. WWII has a little easier history with film because Adolf and his army were truly, honestly, absolutely fucking horrible people and the fight is as close to as a comic book-style Good vs. Evil match as you can get with war (I realize it’s not a popular outlook but war rarely is such a thing, there are so many shades of gray to consider). So, in that sense, I have an easier time watching war movies about WWII than I do about our more recent wars—especially skirmishes in Iraq. The thing is, history has already recorded what happened and how it happened so any debate, like the arguments over American Sniper recently has shown, aren't really around to get in the way in any significant or heated way…it also helps that this film is pretty amazing!

The horse is a huge Pitt fan.

Fuck...look at that mane.
In 1945 during the Allies great push in the war, Don "Wardaddy" Collier (Brad Pitt with some incredible fucking hair) and his team; Boyd "Bible" Swan (Shia LaBeouf), Trini "Gordo" Garcia (Michael Peña), and Grady "Coon-Ass" Travis (Jon Bernthal), are given a new recruit to join their tank crew after they lose their assistant gunner/driver. Norman Ellison (Logan Lerman) is wet as wet can be behind the ears and has abso-fucking-lutely no experience in a tank and doesn’t have the stomach for war. Soon, Wardaddy and his crew are sent, alongside a few other tanks, to go hold a vital crossroads. Along the way, Ellison is given a harsh dose of the realities of war and the team sees all their tanks lost but the one Wardaddy and his team call home. Now, alone, they must hold the crossroad as an army of Nazis march their way.

"This is Tyler Durden signing off."

War movies about WWII are pretty straight forward: The war itself is dirty, horrifying and brutal and the enemy was so horrible that they would be cast as film villains for the rest of eternity. Like I stated earlier, enough time has passed that the ink on the pages of the history books have long since dried and there’s no real question or debate over whether or not we should have been involved. So watching something like Fury doesn’t involve some internal discussion like something akin to Lone Survivor would bring. Ultimately, this made it a lot easier for me to engross myself in and watch the characters go through their journeys and hardships.

"They're pew-pewing at us, men.  Quickly, pew-pew back at them!"

The story that David Ayer (director of Sabotage, End of Watch and the upcoming Suicide Squad) wrote was something simple but incredibly effective. The drama, on paper, is nothing really new in the world of war movies. A tight knit squad has a new member that, initially, is an outsider and that outsider is unprepared for just how fucking insane war is. However, the strength of Ayer’s visuals and the incredible performances (and shocking, hardcore action) helped make this film standout and become something bigger than the cliché it had the potential to end up as.

The Nazis legacy?  Being villains in works of fiction until the end of time and having their
leader be used as a comparison to people when they disagree on pointless shit on the Internet.

Ayer’s visuals perfectly showcase the theater of war that is WWII and that has been ingrained, nearly genetically, into audiences thanks to anecdotes from the Greatest Generation, documentaries, and history lessons. The world is muddy, greasy, dirty, smoky, cold, violent and hard to look at. He perfectly showed the horror that is war through not only the visceral and shocking (and I mean really shocking) violence during the action but through something as simple as the shots of the crew or the tank moving across the screen in the fire, smoke, blood, and wet mud. Combine this with Ayer’s drive to bring realism to nearly every aspect and you have a feature that feels more authentic than tales that were actually adapted from real life events in the war.

To showcase how horrifying the action can be, that splatter you are seeing was once
a person's face.

War is fun...just kidding, it's not.
Additionally, this film has some absolutely amazing acting. There were solid bets in the cast that you already knew were going to be amazing and they don’t disappoint. Players like Brad Pitt—whose handsomeness and good looks make me feel extremely insignificant as a man—and Jon Bernthal and Michael Peña are all actors I enjoy and have, almost with a perfect batting average, have always knocked it out of the park with me. Even Logan Lerman has a great track record as well with me. I dig him as Percy Jackson and a few other projects he’s been in—hell, I’ve even threw his name around when some buddies of mine and I were discussing who should be the next Spider-Man after Marvel Studios and Sony reached their epic deal. Granted, I will say that I occasionally thought Lerman was laying it on a little too thick with his "I’m losing my innocence in this war and this shit is horrifying as fuck" moments but it wasn’t horrendous. One actor, however, I was unprepared for…

The look he's giving means he's either scared still or just shat his pants...which
is also scary enough to make you stand still.

In past reviews, I’ve been quite unkind to Shia LaBeouf. I’ve called him names like Shia LaDouche or Stutter LaBadActor but, lately, I’ve slowly started to come around with him. While I didn’t care for Nymphomaniac and its sequel that much, I was impressed with LaBeouf's performance and that controversial Sia video with him in it really threw me for a loop because it was one of the most tragically beautiful things I’ve ever seen (unlike some denizens of the ‘net, I didn’t see pedophilia in that video…I actually saw the battle of parent and child when I watched it but what do I know?). And then this film came along and I saw LaBeouf who wasn’t stammering like a fool and staring wide-eyed at everything like he’s tripping on narcotics. I saw a realistic and moving performance and it has become the final straw for me to realize that this guy truly does have talent…I guess he just shouldn’t be in popcorn summer action films.

Please keep the path you're taking your career on, Mr. LaBeouf.

This was expected, we all knew this shot was going
to happen in the film.
Fury is pretty awesome but it’s not perfect. My complaints and drawbacks are minimal. Really, the only problem I had was I wanted more development from Gordo and Coon-Ass. Both have terrific scenes and help craft the dynamic of the tank crew but I felt I knew less about them than I did Wardaddy, Bible and Ellison. Finally, the film doesn’t offer a lot of replay value. While the story is interesting and intense and capable of being tragic, horrifying, shocking, amusing, dramatic, and filled with the indomitable spirit of soldiers out to do what is needed of them, it is a little on the long side and, even with all its shocking action and spectacular scenes, doesn’t contain enough memorable moments that I want to go and relive over and over again. That sounds harsh but I don’t mean it to be. The film is still really awesome and I will watch it again but it just didn’t have that certain magic to get me to watch it more than a few times in my life.

Enjoy this still of Bernthal itching his head with a spoon.

Despite my very minor criticisms, Fury is still a very incredible film that has a killer story, some "HOLY FUCK! Did that just happen?" style action and absolutely perfect performances.

That tank should be nominated for an award.  It's performance was incredible.
I actually believed it was a Sherman tank.

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

The Amityville Asylum

***DISCLAIMER*** The following review is entirely my opinion. If you comment (which I encourage you to do) be respectful. If you don't agree with my opinion, that's fine. To each their own. These reviews are not meant to be statements of facts or endorsements, I am just sharing my opinions and my perspective when watching the film and is not meant to reflect how these films should be viewed. Finally, the reviews are given on a scale of 0-5. 0, of course, being unwatchable. 1, being terrible. 2, being not great. 3, being okay. 4, being great and 5, being epic! And if you enjoy these reviews feel free to share them and follow the blog or follow me on Twitter (@RevRonster) for links to my reviews and the occasional live-Tweet session of the movie I'm watching! This is the 11th film that is about The Amityville Horror...let me repeat that...the 11th.  What number to we have to get to in order to have a good one?

The Amityville Asylum – 0 out of 5

It’s actually kinda amazing when you think about it…in 1977 a book was published called The Amityville Horror. The book made a claim that it was based on the true story of George and Kathy Lutz, who moved their family into a large home on 112 Ocean Avenue in Amityville on Long Island. The book claims that they only stayed a month and were driven from their home due to angry spirits that stemmed from the home being built on an Indian burial ground and the previous residents being murdered by their son. If you look deep enough, their story reeks of bullshit but it ended up being made into a movie with James Brolin looking like a Muppet when he gets spooked and that spawned way too many sequels of ever decreasing quality including ones that tried to make a dollhouse and a mirror scary (and a player from one of those sequels wasn’t too happy with my review and emailed me to tell me I’m fat…so I asked him if he wanted to play laser tag. You can read all about it here) and it even got a remake starring Ryan Reynolds and his stupidly perfect abs. For some reason, this horror franchise (or the name and premise, at least) won’t die and many wannabe filmmakers are leeching off this infamous name in order to make films that come off worse than the official sequels. There’s been The Amityville Haunting and now we have The Amityville Asylum….surprisingly, not made by The Asylum.

Spoiler Alert:  This is the closest you'll get to ghost activity in this film.

Young Lisa Templeton (Sophia Del Pizzo…who, sadly, doesn’t have the last name Pizza) gets hired on at a relatively new asylum for the mentally disturbed as a night shift cleaning person. After being trained by the cleaning veteran of the institute; Delaney (Lee Bane), Lisa starts to see strange things happening in the sterile walls of this mad house. She sees a little girl wandering alone and a patience that recently passed away walking the halls. She soon learns that the asylum was built on the very location where the infamous Amityville incident took place and that the vengeful spirits are still hanging around. Things quickly turn from bad to worse when it seems that the operator of the facility; Dr. Elliot Mixer (Jared Morgan) is fully aware of the history and might even be working to help bring back the terror…

Before Dr. Mixer worked at the asylum, he managed a Blockbuster.

I’m not going to pull any punches here…The Amityville Asylum is terrible. How terrible? Take all the cheesy, painful, and non-scary sequels that tried to make haunted lamps frightening, put them in a blender and mix them all together and you have something that is infinitely better produced and infinitely more terrifying than this piece. I can’t say I’m really surprised considering this film is clearly just trying to use the name to get some uninformed people to make a horrible mistake when picking out a movie at their local RedBox—and this isn’t the first time the writer/director did this…he also made a film called Poltergeist Activity and The Last House on Cemetery Lane (he should really work for The Asylum because he already has the sleazy mockbuster producer moxie working for him). So, what exactly made this film completely horrendous for me? Well, baby bird, I’m going to tell you…

Here's a little taste of the quality the film presents you.

First off, there are the obvious and most expected drawbacks that are seen extremely prominently in Direct-to-DVD features: Absolutely shitty acting. Okay, that’s a little unfair because most of the acting isn’t overbearingly shitty. Sure, Lee Bane is choking on scenery with his pseudo-melodramatic performance, there’s a jerk orderly that is doing his best to use this role as an audition tape for the role of the bad guy in the next Expendables movie, and Jared Morgan is jumping back and forth from looking like he’s giving "The check didn’t clear but I owe you a favor" amount of effort and looking like he is trying so hard that it’s not hard to imagine that his overacting caused him to succumb to exhaustion after "Cut!" was called. When such fine examples of over acting is seen, the film presents us with Eeyore-level of acting from the likes of Sophia Del Pizza Pizzo. She looks like her whole mantra of the movie was "Why Bother?" because she is giving absolutely no effort. Fuck, during the supposedly shocking scenes, she barely looks like she’s giving a single shit about what is happening.

Her "not giving a shit" amount of effort, however, did come in handy during the
absolutely needless training scene.

Next up, you have the absolutely terrible lighting of the film. Too often, the complete lack of proper lighting makes characters completely obscured by shadow and while this can work occasionally to create suspense, terror, or tension, using it too often because your production clearly can’t afford lighting apparatuses means that entire scenes play out in near darkness (or lit by a single bulb in a hallway in the background) and you can’t see actors’ faces and their performance…but, judging by the actual performances, this might not exactly be a bad thing.

Also, if there was proper lighting, it might have showed the exact level of shittiness
to the sets.

One question I really have to ask and it was something I kept quietly asking myself out loud as I sat on my couch watching this like a crazy person: Did the production not have any money for a tripod? I can’t recall a single shot in the film that remained absolutely stationary. Every scene the camera is moving—and I don’t mean in a dynamic way like zooming and panning or nifty things like having the camera circle the action—No, this movie’s camera is constantly wavering like the cameraman is constantly battling the fact his body is seconds away from snapping into a full-blown seizure from trying to stand motionless with a camera on him for long periods of time…and that’s when it is at its stillest. There were times I actually wondered if the cameraman was drunk and was slowly wavering back and forth seconds before violently projectile vomiting and falling to the floor. If this is the case, I don’t blame the cameraman for being drunk, something was clearly needed to ease the pain of this go-nowhere, boring story.

And that last sentence brings me to the worst thing about this movie…the story is boring as shit. Look, I can overlook the fact that the writer/director never bothered to explain to one of his actors that she constantly mispronounces "Amityville" but I can’t overlook a story that is filled with predictability, clichés, and a complete lack of tension, horror, and suspense. The film is already on the verge of falling over the cliché cliff with its Direct-to-DVD Bingo style plot points but writer/director Andrew Jones could have at least TRIED to make something unique about this film (or make it less obvious he WASN'T trying). Instead, the entire film plays out exactly how you would expect it and it does so with absolutely no energy.

I had the same amount of enthusiasm during the entire running length.

These are just the major points of awful The Amityville Asylum threw at me. Believe me, there’s a shit-ton more because absolutely nothing about this film worked. I could nitpick about how the asylum looks awful—it’s claim to only be a few years old but, for some reason, the builders felt it necessary to construct a boiler room-style basement to keep their worst patients—with walls made of concrete and brick for them to hurt themselves on. Or I could talk about how the film wastes its standard running time by having the first 15 minutes show Lisa’s interview and then training—I don’t need to see her hear about how to get gum off some surface or what type of vacuum the cleaning crew needs to understand that she is a cleaning person. Or I could talk about how the production tried to pass off a Word Document as a website…

To sell the illusion, you could have at least done a spell check or add the words
that aren't in the dictionary in order to remove the dreaded Red Line of Misspelling.

I could bring all this up in detail but what’s the point? The Amityville Asylum wasn’t too worried about details like character development, atmosphere, decent music to help craft suspense, or even editing that helped actually show what the hell was going on, so why should I bother going into detail about the shitty storytelling and filmmaking this production showed? In the end, The Amityville Asylum is just another example of a Direct-to-DVD feature that is trying to leech some money off a pop culture product in the most free-use/you can’t sue us way. With its lack of a decent story, terrible acting, awful presentation and utter lack of technical know-how, the film proves to be an utter waste of time and carries no redeeming factors—shit, I could barely make fun of it because it was so bad and so obviously not trying to accomplish anything.

Tuesday, March 24, 2015


***DISCLAIMER*** The following review is entirely my opinion. If you comment (which I encourage you to do) be respectful. If you don't agree with my opinion, that's fine. To each their own. These reviews are not meant to be statements of facts or endorsements, I am just sharing my opinions and my perspective when watching the film and is not meant to reflect how these films should be viewed. Finally, the reviews are given on a scale of 0-5. 0, of course, being unwatchable. 1, being terrible. 2, being not great. 3, being okay. 4, being great and 5, being epic! And if you enjoy these reviews feel free to share them and follow the blog or follow me on Twitter (@RevRonster) for links to my reviews and the occasional live-Tweet session of the movie I'm watching! If you see the movie, you would think the title is describing the quality of the film.

Vulgar – 1 out of 5

Kevin Smith and his View Askew Productions have a legion of fans. With this production company, the man has been involved with the creation of films that have become pop cultural icons and have hit home with lots of people and have remained precious to them. Hell, I like Smith but will admit that I can no longer watch a lot of his films in the View Askewniverse. Thanks to Comedy Central playing Dogma a million times a week while I was in college, I can no longer watch that film and Clerks, its sequel, Mallrats, and Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back have worn thin for me and are no longer funny. While that sounds like I’m being negative, it’s really just my experience with these films.  I simple don't find them amusing anymore.  I actually have a great deal of respect for Smith because he has the means to make his creative dreams come true and not a lot of creative types have that opportunity. For example, I hated Tusk but I was damn impressed that Smith had the ability to make his idea a reality. But enough talking about Smith because this film wasn’t made by him, only produced. This one, instead, was written and directed by his friend Steve Dave Bryan Johnson—or, as some might know him as, the man with the epic beard on Comic Book Men.

Here's what Johnson looked like 14 years ago...the younger days of his
epic beard.

Vulgar tells the story of the mascot to View Askew Productions. Will Carlson (Brian O’Halloran) is a man struggling through life. His career is being Flappy the Clown and performing at kid’s parties but the problem is that it doesn’t pay the bills, as so pointed out by his best friend Syd (Johnson). Carlson eventually gets the idea that he should take Flappy and make him more adult oriented and hire this new clown, called Vulgar, out to bachelor parties for prank purposes. After putting an ad in the paper (it’s like Craigslist, kids, but made from dead trees), a man named Ed Fanelli (Jerry Lewkowitz) hires Vulgar but Carlson soon finds terror when Ed and his two sons; Frankie (Ethan Suplee) and Gino (Matthew Maher), viciously attack, drug, and rape him. Carlson tries to put the pieces of his life back in order and, by accident, becomes a hero after he saves the life of a little girl. Carlson, as Flappy (not Vulgar), is thrown into the spotlight and it ends up giving Flappy a career where he gets a successful kid’s show. However, Carlson’s past catches up when Ed Fanelli sees his familiar face and wants money in exchange for not releasing the video of the assault…

Dammit, why did I include this screencap?

Looks like a Richard Marx video.
Overall, I didn’t really care for this film. Even with the disturbing nature of the story, it held some potential but was held back by a lot of factors. The first one was the piss-poor quality of the filmmaking. The lighting is awful, the video quality is messy and muddled, and the editing is sloppy. I understand the drawbacks of small budgets but when the lighting is so bad that characters are entire consumed by shadows that you can't see them during intense sequences, it ends up hurting the overall story telling and it quickly threw me out of the tale.

Seriously, has there ever been a person who wasn't already a clown that actually
liked clowns?

The biggest problem I had with the film was the acting from Brian O’Halloran. I’ll be honest, and I know this will piss off the Smith fans who look at Clerks like it is some sort of holy item, I don’t think O’Halloran is a good actor. He seemed okay for Clerks and its sequel but, aside from that, I see a guy who has one setting and it’s the one he uses in the iconic first film of Kevin Smith. Will Carlson comes off not too much different from all the other characters in the View Askewniverse and it made the film a bit distracting to me. Granted, there were times when his pain after his assault was done quite well but the rest of the time, he comes off no different than the guy who is, essentially, the tired joke of how he’s not suppose to be here today and the world won’t stop shitting on him.

O'Halloran just looks like an evil clown when the make-up comes off.

Another issue that became really distracting was the sense that Bryan Johnson was trying really hard to imitate the writing style of Kevin Smith. Very often, dialogue (and this is usually only seen during the scenes Johnson is in) comes off unnatural and like it is trying to recreate the back-and-forth seen in films like Clerks, Mallrats, and Chasing Amy. While Smith can make this dialogue—which is wholly unnatural but often amusing and witty—actually work. Johnson, on the other hand, didn’t seem to have that under control and too much of the dialogue comes off laughably (or uncomfortably) unrealistic. This is extremely evident after Carlson is attacked and violated and is being visited by Syd. The back-and-forth the two have doesn’t sound like something that would really be exchanged and, rather, sounds like some faux-intellectual dribble that a first year film student would write and think he created the smartest sounding thing in the world. It ended up taking the horrific event that happened to Carlson and downplay it, making it impossible to sympathize with the character.

Remember when the internet went crazy because Smith shaved his beard and
news sites reported it like it was real news?  Sometimes the internet has too much
time on its hands.

While many might find the story to be disgusting and disturbing, I actually found a lot of potential in it. What happens to Carlson is primed for unique drama that is emitting from a male perspective that is, in this particular case, not seen in the world of film. The film probably could have been interesting alongside its disturbing side if the script was tweaked but the end result is just a floundering tale that can’t figure out if it wants to be a comedy, drama, a crime thriller, or even a different version of Death Wish or I Spit On Your Grave (but with a clown).

Seriously, fuck everything about clowns.

Overall, I just didn’t care for Vulgar. The story was a mess that couldn’t figure out if it was a comedy or something darker, the lead is filled by a man who is trying to play a completely different role and is forcefully squeezing it into a role it wasn’t meant for, and the film just looks awful. The whole thing felt muddled and unclear over what it wants to be and it results in a film that is hard to watch and even harder to really engage in.


***DISCLAIMER*** The following review is entirely my opinion. If you comment (which I encourage you to do) be respectful. If you don't agree with my opinion, that's fine. To each their own. These reviews are not meant to be statements of facts or endorsements, I am just sharing my opinions and my perspective when watching the film and is not meant to reflect how these films should be viewed. Finally, the reviews are given on a scale of 0-5. 0, of course, being unwatchable. 1, being terrible. 2, being not great. 3, being okay. 4, being great and 5, being epic! And if you enjoy these reviews feel free to share them and follow the blog or follow me on Twitter (@RevRonster) for links to my reviews and the occasional live-Tweet session of the movie I'm watching! I won't Google it but I'm fairly certain there is a Disturbed cover band that calls themselves Deranged.

Deranged – 3 out of 5

Besides cheese, the Green Bay Packers, and currently having an asshole governor with the IQ of a molding grapefruit, Wisconsin (the state I call home) is known for having a prominent history with serial killers. Maybe it’s because we don’t have a lot of shit to do in this state and a lot of the smaller areas give off a very Deliverance vibe but Wisco has a knack for making people who will kill people and do completely fucked up shit with their corpses. The most famous of them, of course, being Jeffrey Dahmer and Ed Gein. This film, made in 1974, tells the story of Gein…although the names and places were changed.

Spoiler Alert:  Ed Gein was not played by himself.

Ezra Cobb (Roberts Blossom) lives in the small, unidentified town in the Midwest. The film opens with him caring for his sick mother—sick physically and very clearly mentally as she is all about the fire and brimstone version of religion and teaches Ezra that women are dirty whores and that the only person good enough for him is her (sounds like another horror film, doesn’t it?). Mama Cobb ends up kicking the bucket and Ezra can’t cope. He eventually steals her body back from the grave and decides to go around and start killing more people for his corpse collection. Ezra’s journey off the deep end culminates with him using these bodies to make household objects out of bone and skin…and nobody in town is wise to his insanity.

The lesson to be learned here is that motherly admiration leads to being a serial killer.

There's a fine line between creepy and adorable...
he crossed it.
Sure, Wisconsin has produced some awesome people like Liberace, Gene Wilder and more but, Man Alive, have we churned out some duds in our history. Epic assholes like Joseph "Everyone is a Commie" McCarthy, Jeffrey "I fucked dudes and eat their corpses" Dahmer, and Scott "I was kicked out of college for being a criminal but your Conservative Uncle still voted for me" Walker but none of them were as insane as Ed Gein (Walker is close but the only saving grace he has is the complete lack of murder in his past…unless you count killing jobs and our education system). Gein’s horrific handiwork would be a tale of atrocity that made the horror film scene creams their pants. His antics went on to inspire such characters as Norman Bates from Psycho, Leatherface in The Texas Chainsaw Massacre, Buffalo Bill from Silence of the Lambs, and Bloody Face from the television series American Horror Story. Real life can be way more fucked up than fiction and Gein proved it and, inadvertently, ended up being the inspiration for some of the greatest thrillers, chillers, and bladder spillers in pop culture. Until an actual movie was produced about Gein, this film was the most accurate portrayal of what he committed in the name of love for his mother.

Nowadays, people just share dumb photos on Facebook that say "Share if you
love your mother" in order to show parental love.

By today’s standard, this film comes off incredibly tame. There’s very little blood and gore and, when you have advancing practical effect techniques that help create the most realistic gore money can pay for, the little blood that is shown is your typical 70s stuff that looks like bright red paint. Newer horror fans that go for gore porn might not dig the film but the film is pretty interesting stuff and offers up a spine-chilling insight into the mind of a madman.

Dammit, who spilled paint?

Don't worry, he redeems himself later in life when
he saves the McCallister kid.
Deranged definitely has its drawbacks. For one, there is some bad acting. There’s a scene where a girl is targeted by Ezra to be his and when he takes her back to his house and she sees his corpse collection, her reaction is…um…too calm. She doesn’t look terrified or even paralyzed with fear to the point that she can’t process what she is seeing. She just looks…indifferent. So that was weird. However, beyond that, the acting isn’t too terrible. In fact, when it concerns Roberts Blossom (you might remember him as the creepy old dude with the snow shovel in Home Alone and some of you might be asking what the hell Home Alone is—I don’t know how old you are, person reading this), he’s absolutely incredible as Ezra. He has the right blend of being terrifying during the scary parts and being somewhat normal appearing during the scenes where he isn’t trying to murder people for their skin.

A lively dinner party...

The only other drawback I had with the film was the inclusion of a narrator. In and of itself, this element is a fine idea but, at one point, he just disappears. He opens the film and will occasionally jump into a scene to give the viewer a deeper understanding of what is going through the mind of the serial killer but, for a period of the film, he’s just not around and I found myself wondering if the production just abandoned the idea. Then, at the end, he shows up again. It wasn’t über-distracting but distracting enough that you notice when he’s not suddenly around.

"Hi, I'm Troy McClure..."

Deranged is clearly not a horror film for the generation that finds "found footage" terrifying. The film offers up no visceral and immediate jump scares and relies solely on psychological terror and the horror found from the idea that everything you are watching was based on a real dude that anyone of us could have met or come into contact with in our daily lives. While I won’t say it scared me as much as it interest me, Deranged did prove to be a captivating insight into the man who is from my state and went on to inspire some of my favorite horror films. Add in Roberts Blossom’s unsettling performance and I found a film that may have not been completely satisfying but was still pretty damn unnerving.

The Bates Haunting

***DISCLAIMER*** The following review is entirely my opinion. If you comment (which I encourage you to do) be respectful. If you don't agree with my opinion, that's fine. To each their own. These reviews are not meant to be statements of facts or endorsements, I am just sharing my opinions and my perspective when watching the film and is not meant to reflect how these films should be viewed. Finally, the reviews are given on a scale of 0-5. 0, of course, being unwatchable. 1, being terrible. 2, being not great. 3, being okay. 4, being great and 5, being epic! And if you enjoy these reviews feel free to share them and follow the blog or follow me on Twitter (@RevRonster) for links to my reviews and the occasional live-Tweet session of the movie I'm watching! There's a masturbation joke somewhere in that title...

The Bates Haunting – 1 out of 5

Whenever there’s a huge horror film that either makes butt-loads of moola or becomes a pop culture icon, there’s always a host of people who will try and leech a bit of the fame that is leaking from its infamous teat. Whether it be all the folks with GoPros making their own versions of Paranormal Activity on YouTube or the endless parade of mockbusters that The Asylum pumps out or the plague of low quality zombie films or that people are still making movies that connect to The Amityville Horror, people are always going to go after that already established cred and try to make a buck off of it. Hell, even those traps called "haunted houses" that pop up every Halloween will borrow and steal from famous horror films in order to get some cash from the drunken youngsters out to piss themselves over a Domino’s delivery boy moonlighting as a vampire in shitty makeup. One particular real life Halloween attraction becomes the focus of The Bates Haunting and ends up being a ridiculous way to get some press.

When you think of haunted houses, you think of...dragons?

Agnes (Jean Louise O’Sullivan) has the misfortune of having a name that belongs to someone in a retirement home but also has the misfortune of watching her bestie Lily (Aleksandra Svetlichnaya—you gotta wonder if she was the mail order bride of the director or something) die while working at The Bates Motel & Haunted Hayride. It looked like an accident but Agnes never believed it, even an entire year later. It affects her personal life and makes her a basket case in the workplace. She can’t keep a job and no one will hire her anymore…except the haunted house. Once there, she is determined to find out what really happened that night. Her investigation gets a little easier when she is quickly shown that the death was, in fact, NOT an accident as other employees start getting mutilated and murdered. Now Agnes must find out who the killer is before she meets the same fate as Lily.

Captions and screenshots can NOT do justice to how bad Aleksandra's acting
was...and she was barely in the film.

If I was the owner and operator of The Bates Motel & Haunted Hayride, I would be demanding that my property’s name be removed from this film because The Bates Haunting is a very bad movie. However, judging by the fact that it never hit theater release or was even popular (and the fact that the haunted attraction is still in operation), I guess there is nothing to worry about with the owners. I understand why they would want their attraction to show up in a film because it gives the place cred and free publicity but, judging from the fact that there is a near total and complete lack of mentioning the 2012 film on their website, they might have realized what anyone watching the film realized…this movie isn’t good.
Strangely, the attraction didn't change their name after this was made...hmmm.

What really got me about the film was how the owners were all for showing their real site with its real name and seemed okay with the fact that the film isn’t portraying the attraction very well or making the owners seem like decent people. Since it’s a Halloween attraction, I understand that having it associated with murder and bloody death might be a good thing—fuck, I’ve been to TONS of haunted houses and, at most of them, the teenage boy, whose costume is usually nothing more than a hoodie and some green paint smeared on his face, will make the claim that "Someone totes died" there and there is really ghosts or the place looked so authentic that people shit themselves, passed out, or died on the spot because their hearts couldn’t take the obvious plastic skeleton dancing around on the piece of fishing line in front of the strobe light.  It's a selling point, I get that.  Additionally, I understand the drive to have your attraction be put in a movie that will be at all the RedBoxes in the country where it will rest until bored movie geeks like myself rent it out of pity and a desire to laugh at shitty filmmaking on a lonely Saturday night but I really didn’t see the film portraying this attraction in a positive, "I really need to check this place out" sort of light.  Instead, I see this attraction as the place that allowed itself to be put in a terrible, terrible film and I ask myself, "Is this place even scary because the movie wasn't."
I think the girl on the left isn't overacting enough.

How can you make your shitty horror film shittier?
Simple:  Add a Jackass star that isn't Johnny
The film’s quality is quickly established in the first ten minutes of the film. Whether it is the half-asses acting from the character of Lily (which only helps my theory that she is actually the director’s mail ordered bride) or the fact that the douchiest member of Jackass and his late tag along are in the film—in 2012, Bam Margera and Ryan Dunn were already old news and on the fast track to obscurity, so having them and their terrible comic relief in a horror film felt completely unnecessary and made the film feel like it had no idea what type of tone it wanted to set. This ends up being a motif that is repeated endless through the feature as it awkwardly inserts bad humor. The film is already suffering from a complete lack of a decent horror atmosphere and inserting jokes that would be hard for even the best comedic performer to pull off and make work only assisted in making a bad horror film with no scares, suspense or tension even more lacking.

If you just punched your monitor looking at this picture, don't worry.
That is a totally normal reaction.

Things only get worse when you realize that the character of Agnes not only suffers with having an actress who is incapable of having any passion or emotion but also comes off less like a person grieving her friend and more like an entitled asshole. I understand Agnes was supposed to be in pain over losing her BBF but she is rude to everyone she talks to and acts like a complete dick-hole the entire film. It was impossible for me to feel any sympathy towards her—even when she has to watch her friend die I couldn’t feel anything for her…but that was because her performance there was making me cringe.

I was shocked when I found out that she made noises and gestures beyond irritated
sighs and eye-rolls.

Bad acting is pretty much the name of the game in this film—however, considering the film, this fact wasn’t really a surprise but rather an expected element. Whether it is the laughable emotionless performances of the people in the opening scene where Lily dies (seriously, with the exception of Jean Louise O’Sullivan, all the actors look like they had no idea the director yelled "Action!") or the endless parade of flat delivery or the occasional overacting by the few who believed that GRAND GESTURES and RIDICULOUS DELIVERY was the way to go, all the players in this film—with the exception of one—come off either terribly or laughable…and, more often than not, both. 

Jesus, the actors can't even make being passed out drunk look convincing.

The only real decent performance came from Zachary Fletcher who plays Junior, the son of the owners of the attraction and the manager of The Bates Motel & Haunted Hayride. His character comes off as a simpleton and Fletcher, beyond an awkward introduction, ends up playing the part very well and, most of all, very realistically. This character could have easily been transformed into a cartoon that is too over-the-top to enjoy or take seriously but he made the character a bit endearing and was infinitely more sympathetic than the arrogant jerk-stain that was the main character of Agnes. However, eventually Fletcher’s performance breaks down when the obvious plot twist comes along and his realistic portrayal turns into what you would expect from a Direct-to-DVD feature.

The only good thing about this movie...

Aside from the very obvious problems The Bates Haunting suffers from, like bad acting, barely passable editing, and weak gore effects, the major deficiency the film had was the formulaic story with all the obvious plot turns. Nothing about this film is surprising and, when you factor in a weak horror atmosphere with absolutely no scares, it makes a film that is grossly predictable, poorly developed, and very boring. Elements that need to be focused on and feathered out are established and pushed under the rug immediately so they will be forgotten happens a lot in this one. Hell, even the motive behind the murders is weakly established. This horror movie clearly wants to have some mystery to it but it also clearly doesn’t want to put in any effort that would actually make it mysterious and, instead, settles for the obvious and an ending that is seen coming the moment the film begins.

The only real saving grace I found with The Bates Haunting was the fact that I enjoyed Zachary Fletcher’s performance for most of the film. Besides this, the film is cliché and very boring. It offers up nothing new or original and is just an hour and a half of no scares and absolutely no surprises. In the end, combing the bad acting and filmmaking that is about on par with a first year film student, The Bates Haunting comes off exactly how you would expect a Direct-to-DVD low budget horror film that looks like it is riding the coattails of an iconic film to be.