Friday, December 15, 2017

The Black Cauldron

Release year: 1985
Production company: Walt Disney Pictures
Voice talents: Grant Bardsley, Susan Sheridan, Nigel Hawthorne, John Byner, John Hurt

In the fantastical land of Prydain, the evil Horned King (Hurt) is seeking the aid of the legendary Black Cauldron which can help him raise an army of dead warriors who will allow him to take over the Kingdom! But in order to find the Black Cauldron, the Horned King needs to also find a magical pig named Henwen who can find anything with her visions. But Henwen sees that she is being sought out by the Horned King and her keeper entrusts a young boy named Taran (Bardsley) to take Henwen into the forest to hide...and along their journey, Taran and Henwen meet a hopeless musician (Hawthorne), a fluffy critter who's always hungry (Byner), and a beautiful princess (Sheridan) who all want to make sure that Henwen is kept safe and out of the Horned King's grasp!

Feeling like Happily Ever After meets The Wizard of Oz with some Sleeping Beauty flair, this is one of my absolute favorite Disney movies because it is so unlike the Disney movies we are used to seeing! Gone are the lighthearted plots and the romances and the mild dangers we usually face, The Black Cauldron is much heavier than that! Word to the wise, if you're thinking about setting the kids down to watch this one...maybe hold tight a second and watch it yourself first. This movie is dark!

Didn't expect these guys in a DISNEY movie, did you?!

The plot is one of my favorites in fantasy movies - an evil guy is about to take over the world and the little heroes have to stop him! Good conquering evil is the best plot in my mind, and The Black Cauldron definitely has that....but it pushes the evil side HARD. The villain is terrifying, his henchmen are wicked and ugly...the danger is real and it's legitimately scary! But as evil and wicked as the bad guys are, that makes the good guys all the more wholesome and sweet. The little piggy Henwen is just too chubby and adorable for words, and the bravery of our hero Taran is so uplifting and inspirational! He believes in himself so much and he's so fearless! Even against impossible odds, you fully believe that the characters can accomplish everything that they set out to as bleak as things may get in The Black Cauldron, they are equally as uplifting and moving. This movie has excellent balance between it's two polar extremes. Even when Disney goes dark, it still manages to keep the integrity of it's movie together. The story, the characters, the all comes together perfectly.

The minute is gets too scary, the fairies appear! All is good!

The Black Cauldron gets a 5 OF 5 must own for those who love children's movies that tend to delve on the darker side - movies like The Dark Crystal and The Last Unicorn. And for those who also love fantasy-type movies too! It's a dangerously exciting Disney movie and I highly recommend it for Disney lovers hungry for something a touch different.

Thursday, December 14, 2017

Nekromantik 2

Release year: 1991
Production company: None again??
Starring: Mark Reeder, Monika M.

Monika spends her days working as a nurse, and in the evenings she spends all of her time with her new boyfriend Mark who treats her to lavish dates and genuinely adores her. But Monika has a secret that she keeps hidden in her apartment...a corpse she dug up from the ground that she keeps on hand as her secret lover and play thing. But the more time Monika spends with her corpse-lover, the more withdrawn and peculiar she begins to act around Mark...she doesn't want him to touch her when they have sex, she wants to watch movies about butchery...she's not the bright happy person he met. Will Monika be forced to choose between a man in her life with a pulse and once lacking in that department? Or maybe the choice won't have to be made for her...

Oh man oh man, here we go again! I feel like I got pretty lucky with the first Nekromantik movie, I found it more hilarious than anything else! But I definitely pushed my luck with Nekromantik 2...this movie didn't have any redeemable qualities about it, it just wasn't interesting or intriguing in any way. It's about as vanilla as horror-sploitation movies can get. Minus the parts that I hated. I guess I can give Nekromantik 2 credit for that - it's the only movie I've ever seen that has totally bored me and caused me to hate it all at the same time. Now that takes talent! Okay, enough of the "good stuff". Let's just dive straight into why this movie is worse than garbage.

As much as I didn't like the characters in Nekromantik, I have pretty much the same feelings toward the characters in Nekromantik 2 - uninteresting, boring people who are also weirdos. The girl has sex with a dead guy and the guy she dates works as a voice over actor for porn movies. Talk about a winning pair. The plot of the movie could have been much more interesting, but because the film quality was so cheap and poorly done and the movie was cast with the most bland humans possible it didn't do the idea behind the movie justice. Not that justice really could have been served period. It is a Nekromantik movie after all.

It's pretty pathetic when the corpse-dummy has more
life than the actual actors in the movie...

The biggest thing that I couldn't get over during the movie was the actual corpse was slimy and gooey in ways that a decaying body shouldn't be. I'm talking about the same slimer effect found in the first movie, but applied much more heavily here. Now, the thing I really wasn't fond of was the fact that this movie showed the entire anatomy of the corpse...right down to his junk. It was so gross and shriveled and disgusting...I didn't want to see it! But it felt like because I didn't want to see it, they kept purposefully showing it in the movie!! Sorry dude, but I'm not here to check out your gangrenous-toe-looking-penis. Yuck. Aside from the nasty anatomy, the boring-ass characters, and the little plot that couldn't...Nekromantik 2 was dead on arrival. No pun intended. Kind of. And worse still...this movie was an additional 30 minutes longer than the first Nekromantik! There was just no winning here, Nekromantik 2 just plain sucks.

Nekromantik 2 gets a 2 OF 5 must own for those who found something amusing about the first movie, or for the people who are just plain curious. The gore is non-existent (unless you count the scene where they're watching a movie where a seal is being butchered, but even that isn't that shocking), the corpse is disappointing, and the plot is held back by terrible writing and acting. Just nothing redeemable here! Next!

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Sick of the Holiday Hits yet? RPR has got the cure!

Wednesday, December 13, 2017

Fright Night

Release year: 1985
Production company: Vistar Films
Starring: William Ragsdale, Chris Sarandon, Roddy McDowall

Some people might be excited at the idea of new neighbors...but not Charley (Ragsdale)! But, you wouldn't be all that excited either if you found out that your next door neighbor is actually a vampire! Charley's new neighbor Jerry Dandridge (Sarandon) is charming, handsome, but also extremely dangerous! Charley sees Jerry take unsuspecting woman after unsuspecting woman into his home, only for them to come out again in a body bag. But when his friends and the cops don't believe him, Charley turns to the only person he knows will listen - late night horror movie host Peter Vincent (McDowall)! Surely this "famed vampire slayer" will know what to do to get rid of this villainous neighbor before he comes for Charley and his mom next!

Feeling like Howling II: Your Sister is a Werewolf meets The Lost Boys, Fright Night is a super fun movie!! Normally I am not too keen on vampire movies because they all feel way too played out...but Fright Night was fun in all the right ways. I love that the plot is intensely zany and outlandish while still remaining creepy and intense - what teen boy wouldn't freak out constantly when he sees his vampire neighbor sucking the blood out of a hooker through his bedroom?! But I think it's the outlandishness that makes this movie a real home run! All the panic, the silly humor, the fact that the hero of the movie ends up being a washed out horror actor-turned-television-host-turned-hero...on what planet should this work?! Thankfully ours.

It's rare to get a horror movie with decent characters!
Fright Night got it right!

I think the best character in this whole movie definitely has got to be the vampire in question Jerry Dandridge.. he's so cunning and charming, but also has the ability to quickly flip the switch and make you scared for your life! This guy's got range! Now, the real pinnacle of the movies has got to be the gore!! You've got to wait until the end of the movie for it to show up, but once it does WOW!! The practical effects and transformations are AMAZING!!! So gooey, and hairy, and slimy, and creepy...yes!! And what's better still is that the end of this movie totally builds up for a sequel!! More gore, more goo, more hilarity and horror! Score!!

Check out that make up - and there's more where that came from!

Fright Night gets a 4 OF 5 must own for fans of 80's vampire horror movies, or just 80's horror in general. If you're thirsty for satisfying kills and special effects done the right way, you will not be disappointed. But you'll probably be a little disappointed if you're trying to check out the sequel - unless you can track it down on a streaming service it's really hard to get your hands on a copy of Fright Night II. I've also heard that the 2011 remake of Fright Night isn't worth checking out - so let's compromise and just keep watching the original Fright Night on repeat, deal?

Tuesday, December 12, 2017

My Week With Marilyn

Release year: 2011
Production company: The Weinstein Company
Starring: Michelle Williams, Eddie Redmayne, Kenneth Branagh, Judi Dench

Film student Colin Clark (Redmayne) excitedly badgers his way into assisting on working with Sir Laurence Olivier (Branagh) on his latest film project which happens to be casting the infamous Marilyn Monroe (Williams) as the leading lady! Everyone on the cast is eager to be in the presence of a film icon like Marilyn...but once on set, it quickly becomes clear that Marilyn isn't the glittery starlet that she portrays herself as. High maintenance, insecure, and particular Marilyn quickly finds herself being disliked by most people on the cast...but not Colin, who becomes infatuated with Marilyn's vulnerable persona.

I had a feeling that this movie wasn't going to be up my alley, but I dared to give it a shot in the hopes that I would be surprised. Shocker, I wasn't. Not because the movie wasn't well-made, it was actually done really well. But for my preferences, My Week With Marilyn just wasn't a great fit for me.

The old film industry setting was really cool and very authentic, and made all the more interesting because it didn't take place in Hollywood - that was a neat twist. The characters were also amazing! So well cast and perfectly adhered to their roles, I was really swept away by Kenneth Branagh's role as Sir Laurence Olivier and Julia Ormand as Vivien Leigh - absolutely amazing! But this is where things get a touch fuzzy for me because I don't know much about Marilyn date, I've only seen one of her movies...and it was Monkey Business which isn't one of her better known movies. So I don't really know if this was an accurate portrayal of Marilyn at all, but I really liked that this was a more vulnerable, demanding, and completely different side of Marilyn than what we usually see. That was a really cool factor in this movie.

At least you know that you won't be
disappointed by the actors!

The overall plot of My Week With Marilyn, which is based on a journal kept by the real Colin Clark, was very good - I have no complaints there. But the biggest thing that turned me off with this movie was the film style. If there was a scene where several characters were in a room together and two of the characters are talking to each other, the camera would randomly cut away to one of the characters in the room that isn't talking. If that character was reacting to the conversation, it would have made sense...but the character was usually just standing there, existing. I don't get what the point of this technique was but it kept happening throughout the movie and I was really annoyed with it. So between this bizarre cutaway mixed with a subject that I wasn't too keen on to begin with, this movie ended up being one that wasn't really for me.

Why would you make a movie about such an
icon in such a strange manner?? Major turn off!

My Week With Marilyn gets a 2 OF 5 must own for me, personally! If you're not really into Marilyn Monroe or her story, then I don't see you enjoying this movie in the least. I guess I was just hoping to be surprised and pulled into a story I didn't expect to enjoy, sadly not this time around. But if you're a fan of Marilyn and enjoy British romance films like Atonement or One Day, then My Week With Marilyn will be a dead-on win for you. And if that's the case, I wish you happy watching!

Monday, December 11, 2017

State Fair

Release year: 1945
Production company: Twentieth Century Fox
Starring: Jeanne Crain, Dana Andrews, Dick Haymes, Vivian Blaine

The time has come for the Iowa State Fair, and the Frake family has loaded into their pick-up truck and are heading out for the festivities! While their parents are busy entering preserves and prize-winning pigs into the fair contests, children Margy (Crain) and Wayne (Haymes) meet the loves of the life at the fair and quickly fall in love...but is it a last romancing or a fleeting fling brought on by the fun of the State Fair?

Fantastic!! Here I was, worried that I was going to be let down by Rogers and Hammerstein once again but State Fair totally took me by surprise!! Feeling like Charlotte's Web meets the better parts of Oklahoma!, State Fair was vibrantly fun and had a plot I just plain didn't expect! What a gem!

Nothing says romance like candy apples and spontaneous
musical numbers at the fair!

I loved that the cast of characters were warm, familiar, and not overly exaggerated to the point where you can't even enjoy the kind of people they are. The story is also so sweet and innocent and full of promise and hope, exactly what a musical is supposed to be (yes La La Land, that was a dig at you). We have the right mixture of romance and comedy so we don't get overly annoyed with the romantic ballads - like South Pacific - but we don't get smacked over the face with comedy like we would in a Marx Brothers movie. And the music is fantastic!! State Fair is pure, wholesome musical fun and I'm so happy that it has found it's way into my life.

Speaking of comedy - the pickle tasting scene had to be one
of my favorite scenes of the movie, it's so ridiculous!

State Fair gets a 5 OF 5 must own for musical lovers who want some comedy mixed in their romance, who want fun as much as they want a happily ever after! And we finally get our happily ever after! So there it is, my Rogers and Hammerstein collection can be laid to rest...and until more of the musicals wander their way into my life, I love all of these musicals in exactly this order:
  1. The Sound of Music
  2. The King and I
  3. State Fair
  4. Carousel
  5. Oklahoma!
  6. South Pacific
I only really enjoyed 3 of these musicals, but it's enough
to warrant keeping this beautiful box set - hooray!!

Ready for some non-musical movies now? Same here! Keep checking this space for daily movie reviews, I've got tons of good stuff lined up this week including horror, Disney, and a delve back into the world of Nekromantik!

Sunday, December 10, 2017

South Pacific

Release year: 1958
Production company: Magna Theatre Corporation
Starring: John Kerr, Mitzi Gaynor

While stationed in the South Pacific during the second World War, a young military nurse falls in love with a French expatriate, but is co-erced by  the American officers to find out as much as she can about his past work with the European military to see if he's up to anything. While the nurse struggles with her personal feelings for the Frenchman and trying to distance herself from her dangerous assignment, a Lieutenant in the army falls in love with a local girl and is forced to hide their relationship for fear of being scored for their interracial relationship.

Of all of the Rogers and Hammerstein musicals to date... I am the most disappointed with South Pacific. The minute I talk with someone about a shared love of musicals, one of the first ones I tend to hear them mention is South Pacific. I've gone my entire 28 years of life without seeing this musical, and frankly I could have gone much longer. I've seen some terrible movies in my life, some of them musicals, but this one is absolutely the worst.

Maybe musicals and interracial relationship dialogue don't mix?

The biggest turn off for me about this movie is that there are so many characters in this movie and they all interconnect together and create this complex web within the plot... it's too much to keep track of. Musicals always have tons of characters in them, but you can usually pick out the main ones and focus on them...not so much with South Pacific. And because I was so caught up trying to figure out which character was who, I couldn't latch onto the plot or even get interested in it. And the songs were pretty...meh. I mean, they're fine and all but nothing outstanding and gripping. I wasn't swept away, and that's what musicals are supposed to do. South Pacific didn't do it's job and I'm pretty disappointed.

Also, can we talk about how sailors apparently wore
crop tops back during WWII? Was this real???

South Pacific gets a 2 OF 5 must own for musical fans...but I'm really not all that pleased with this one. Of 5 Rogers and Hammerstein musicals I've watched so far, they rank as:
  1. The Sound of Music
  2. The King and I
  3. Carousel
  4. Oklahoma!
  5. And now South Pacific is bringing up the rear!
With only one more musical to go - State Fair - I'm pretty nervous and expecting that I'm in for another stinker. I would dare to hope for the best... but let's face it, the future isn't looking too bright for me. Harumph.

Saturday, December 9, 2017

My Cousin Vinny

Release year: 1992
Production company: Palo Vista Productions
Starring: Joe Pesci, Ralph Macchio, Fred Gwynne

When native New Yorkers Bill (Macchio) and his best friend Stan (Mitchell Whitfield) are wrongfully framed for murder while passing through a small Southern town on a road trip. Miles away from New York City and not sure where else to turn, Bill calls on the help of his cousin Vinny Gambini (Pesci). Vinny is a lawyer and Bill is sure that Vinny can help get them out of this sticky situation...but it's not until Vinny shows up that Bill and Stan learn that not only has Vinny never taken a case to court, but he's merely a personal injury lawyer! Oh no! And what's worse, Vinny makes the judge of the case - Judge Chamberlain Haller (Gwynne) - angry with his big city antics. Can Vinny win the case, save these two kids from the electric chair, AND figure out how to be the type of lawyer he needs to be all within a matter of weeks?

Feeling like Goodfellas meets To Wong Foo Thanks for Everything, Julie Newmar, My Cousin Vinny is everything that is right about 90's comedy! I love that the plot is about how out-of-towners have to try to fit in with the local yokels  despite sticking out like sore thumbs, and have to put up with all the crazy antics that are considered norms in their new surroundings. I don't know why they are such a big hit to me, but I adore them so much! The plot also perfectly dances along the line of being outrageously funny while still holding some seriously dramatic moments, it's a very cool balance.

I'm not one for courtroom dramas, but I am all
for courtroom comedies!

The characters in this movie are also fantastically exactly what you would expect from a movie like this - there are the abrasive and unfriendly country folk, the loud/foul-mouthed New Yorkers... it's great! The comedy in this movie is also hilarious! Word play, hilarious rips on character, courtroom antics, physical and slapstick comedy - the laughs are well rounded and plenty! Fans of comedy need look no further, My Cousin Vinny is a fantastic gem!

My Cousin Vinny gets a 5 OF 5 must own for fans of 90's comedy and comedy movies that also focus on courtroom happenings, kind of like Jury Duty but also not because I know plenty of people are not Pauly Shore fans (poor choice on your part I must say, but I digress). Basically if you're looking for an excellent laugh, this is a great movie for just that. And I also highly recommend watching this movie on TV as well, because of the language there is a lot of dubbing over the curse words and the alterations are HILARIOUS!!