Argento’s Hatfields & McCoys & Dracula Equals Bad Blood

Hatfields & McCoys: Bad Blood and Dario Argento’s Dracula are currently available on instant Netflix

Hatfields McCoys Bad Blood

 

Hatfields & McCoys: Bad Blood (2012) – Rated PG-13

This action-packed Western tells the historical tale of the longstanding feud between the Hatfield and McCoy families, a decades-long grudge neither side will release as they continue to wreak bloody vengeance on each other.”

“He don’t hear you Anse. He dead.”

One Line Review: Bad Blood: bad history, bad movie.

I don’t know why I expect historical accuracy from these things. Here writer/director/producer Fred Olen Ray (Hollywood Chainsaw Hookers) rushes his movie out to take advantage of all the publicity surrounding the far, far, far superior Kevin Costner/Bill Paxton miniseries. The opening civil war battle scene gives you an idea of the cheapness of this picture.

Strangely, Christian Slater plays Kentucky Governor Bramlette and not one of the Hatfields or McCoys. They make him a much more major player than he was (especially as he wasn’t Governor during much of the feud). Jeff Fahey plays Devil Anse Hatfield and Perry King plays Randall McCoy. I like Jeff Fahey a lot but all he does in this film is wander around saying ‘my leg hurts’, ‘gosh my leg pains me’, etc.

They skip most of Asa’s story and just shoot him outright. Ellison Hatfield’s murder occurs seventeen years later historically but it appears to be two days in the movie. The story then devolves into an ahistorical mess. They make Johnse Hatfield a romantic fool who runs away with Roseanna McCoy. In reality he got her pregnant and then abandoned her for her cousin, Nancy McCoy. Even the postscript screen is inaccurate.

The only thing good I can say about the movie is that it appears to have been filmed in the general vicinity of Kentucky.

Argento's Dracula

 

Argento’s Dracula (2012) – Not rated

When Englishman Jonathan Harker visits the exotic castle of Count Dracula, he is entranced by the mysterious aristocrat. But upon learning that the count has sinister designs on his wife, Mina, Harker seeks help from vampire slayer Van Helsing.”

For those who don’t know, Dario Argento was a master of Italian horror, particularly the subset known as giallo. His films have influenced many low and high budget American horror films. The reason I say ‘was’, is because Argento’s quality has been slipping away. It has been over a decade since he had a really good film.

It take a certain amount of hubris to replace the author’s name with your own and Argento does not deserve it with this effort. Still it distances it from Stoker’s Dracula. The film was originally in 3D, though the uses shown are fairly gimmicky. The entire film appears oddly shot, with lighting appearing particularly off, a weird cross between current high definition and old technicolor. The CGI is terrible.

There is a particularly unsexy seduction scene early on with Tanja (apparently just an excuse to briefly show her topless). The later scene where Dracula prevents Tanja from attacking Harker is laughably bad. I’m not sure how anyone could kill Dracula as he apparently is telekinetic and possesses the speed of the Flash.

The acting, line readings in particular, are pretty awful. It is a mixture of wooden readings and those who feel every line they have is of equal importance. Dario once again employs his daughter Asia, this time in the role of Lucy Kisslinger. While Thomas Kretschmann is not a bad Dracula, the period setting makes me yearn for the Hammer Draculas with Christopher Lee. Somewhat hilariously, Kretschmann played Van Helsing in the recent Dracula television series.

People Watch: Thomas Kretschmann will be playing Baron Wolfgang von Strucker in The Avengers: Age of Ultron

I, Frankenstein – Second Verse Same as the First

I, Frankenstein is currently playing in theaters.

I, Frankenstein

 

I, Frankenstein (2014) – Rated PG-13

Frankenstein’s creature finds himself caught in an all-out, centuries old war between two immortal clans.

Wife’s Take: I hope I never see a worse film this year.

While I will say that my wife hated this movie, she was laughing almost all the way through it. Also the force of her eyeballs rolling back in her head was rocking the seats. Sadly because she was rescuing me at the closing theater, she wasn’t able to get her Bleu Cheese Chips. The chips at Carolina Cinemas are fresh, hot potato chips piled high with bleu cheese dressing, crumbled bacon and scallions. They are her favorite go to snack even if they upset her delicate tummy.

I, Frankenstein is just awful. Thankfully it was just awful in an enjoyable way, the way you wish Asylum movies were but aren’t. One newish trend I hate in Hollywood is the movie intended to launch a franchise. Honestly Hollywood, the way to launch a franchise is just to make a really good movie – the rest will follow.

For all of its stupidity, I really enjoyed the Underworld movies. The first is a slick, stylish movie about two young, attractive people caught in a war between two warring mystical factions. Yes, I know that Aaron Eckhart is strategically scarred but it’s the least convincing ugly since the latest Beauty and the Beast movie where tattoos replaced beastliness. If you replace the phrase ‘Frankenstein’s creature’ in the film description above with ‘Selene’ and himself with herself, you have Underworld.

The head of the faction with the upper hand in Underworld is Viktor, played by Bill Nighy. If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it so here the head of the faction is Naberius, played by Bill Nighy. Underworld is actually the far more nuanced (never thought I’d type that) of the two as neither faction is good. In I, Frankenstein, the demons are, well, demons and the gargoyles are the servants of angels.

Naberius has a virtual army of the dead that he hopes to raise. They look exactly like the army of the dead that Dracula wanted to raise in Van Helsing. Modeling your movie after Van Helsing is perhaps not the soundest of strategies.

I hardly know where to begin on the ridiculousness. When the demons die, they burst into fire that descends to the ground as their spirit descends into hell. Similarly the gargoyles burst into angelic light and ascend. Of course it wouldn’t look cool if the red lights just hit the ground so instead they swirl around before figuring out which way is down.

The worst aspect is that this world apparently only has three humans in it and yet a near infinite number of demons and gargoyles – so much so that in one scene waves of demons sacrifice themselves in an attack. Of the three humans in the modern world, one is simply there to show Adam, Frankenstein’s creature, the consequences of his actions and the other two are scientists because for some reason creatures that can live forever are incapable of being scientists.

Of the two scientists, one is the world’s foremost, and I hope I am getting this right, electro-physiologist, Terra. Apparently the way to be the world’s foremost is simply to be the only one. She is played by Australian Yvonne Strahovski who has made Maxim’s Hot 100 more than once. Most recently she was Hannah on Dexter. I think you can guess the fate of the lesser scientist.

Gargoyles are constantly flying around the skies and demons are constantly revealing themselves. I honestly would have expected tons of Youtube videos. Even the Russian meteorite, which lasted seconds, had tons of videos.

Of course the real similarity between Underworld and I, Frankenstein lies with its creator. Kevin Grevioux not only wrote the story for both of these movies but also was a producer on both (and the first two Underworld sequels). He also stars as Raze in Underworld and Dekar in I, Frankenstein. His low, rumbling voice and menacing manner are certainly a plus.

The dialogue is particularly eye-rolling. The demons do not look very good and the gargoyle CGI is not always the best. Still you could do worse for a dumb movie.

Lone Survivor

Lone Survivor is currently in theaters and nominated for two Academy Awards

Lone Survivor

 

Lone Survivor (2013) – Rated R

Marcus Luttrell and his team set out on a mission to capture or kill notorious al Qaeda leader Ahmad Shahd, in late June 2005. Marcus and his team are left to fight for their lives in one of the most valiant efforts of modern warfare.

I had read a few reviews ripping Lone Survivor to shreds and, while they weren’t wrong, they don’t tell the whole story. Lone Survivor is a middling effort, taking an exciting real-life story, dumbing it down, and serving it with a plate of jingoism.

First, even though this is based on Marcus Luttrell’s autobiography, this actually comes across as the same movie as Bravo Two Zero (1999), starring Sean Bean. Bravo Two Zero is the true story of a Special Forces team (SAS instead of Navy Seals) trapped behind enemy lines (Iraq instead of Afghanistan). In both stories, the teams are exposed after they capture and release a shepherd who stumbles across them.

Lone Survivor is nominated for two Oscars this year. It is nominated for Best Achievement in Sound Editing and Sound Mixing. The sounds, particularly the gunfire, were quite excellent but I have to admit that I was blown away by the sound in Gravity, which is also nominated for those two awards. While not nominated, the makeup effects in Lone Survivor are quite remarkable and, of course, gruesome.

The story of Lone Survivor is great but Peter Berg’s direction is rather pedestrian, sucking some of the life out of the story. He also, perhaps due to budgetary limitations, has a lot of shaky cam in the action sequences. The thing is, there is a how-to manual on how to film a modern combat movie. That playbook is called Black Hawk Down. Heck, even the low-budget Act of Valor was more authentic (not surprising I guess since the actors were actual SEALs).

Also strangely, in spite of having a fantastic story to tell, Berg alters quite a few of the details. Obviously, the big firefight was quite condensed to fit in the movie. Luttrell never stabbed any of his attackers. The team did not seriously argue whether or not to kill the shepherds. Luttrell didn’t just injure his leg, he was paralyzed and had to crawl.

Obviously, Peter Berg does have a lot of love for the SEALs. The opening scenes are a montage of actual SEAL training, some of it quite shocking. After the movie finishes, several minutes are devoted to photos of the actual participating U.S. soldiers.

New Streaming Releases for the Week of 2/11/14

Not much here, perhaps Saving General Yang?

Action/Adventure: Suddenly

Comedy: Bad Parents, What Happens Next, Chocolate Sundaes, Cottage Country

Documentary: Filthy Gorgeous: The Bob Guccione Story, The History of the WWE, The Pyramid Code

Nobody's Fool

Drama: Mulligans, Nobody’s Fool, Nuit #1

Brother Bear

Family: Brother Bear, Primates of the Seven Seas

Foreign: The Rooftop, Saving General Yang

Zombie Night

Horror: Zombie Night, Alyce Kills

Special: Aquarium for Your Home: Saltwater Reef

Television: 30 for 30: The Price of Gold, 6Teen, Ruby Gloom

Thriller: The Seasoning House

Poppa John, Pizza, and Star Wars

Art installation

My beloved father-in-law was actually an honest-to-goodness rocket scientist. He was a professor of astronomy at the University of Florida. He worked on the telescope at the South Pole, not once but several times. He trained students who went on to be astronauts and other NASA personnel. His list of accomplishments goes on and on, including an astronomical art installation in Ireland that he did the scientific work for (above).

Poppa & Dorothy

In spite of all that – to me and the rest of the family, he was Poppa. Every year at this time, our family gets depressed as we finally lost him to the cancer he had fought so hard. He stretched a three-year prognosis out to six but no amount of time with someone you love is enough. He got to be there for the birth and first birthday of his great-granddaughter Dorothy.

Poppa

My granddaughter Dorothy has grown up calling me Papa. I’m proud of the title but spell it differently so as not to tread on hallowed ground. My loving wife has learned how to make Poppa’s pizza this year. We even bought a pizza paddle and a pizza stone.

Poppa

My wife and eldest daughter are taking the day off work. Dorothy is going to miss a day of HeadStart. We are going to remember Poppa as we sit around eating his pizza and watching Star Wars all day. Tell your loved ones that you love them. Never miss an opportunity.

Wish you were here with us Maya – we love you!

 

Spoilers – Entertainment Weekly and Kevin Smith

“A bad day at the movies is still better than a good day exercising.”

I normally never post spoilers. I am basically the anti-Entertainment Weekly. For those who don’t know, EW regularly spoils shows and movies just after they’ve aired. Recently they spoiled a major plot point from the third season of American Horror Story on the cover of their magazine BEFORE the episode even aired.

I have learned to skim or avoid any article about things I like. That said, a spoiler I do like is Kevin Smith’s movie series, Spoilers.

Spoilers

 

Spoilers with Kevin Smith (2014) – not rated but foul language is used.

Watch “Spoilers”, Kevin Smith’s movie “revue.” Spoilers is a multi-act film extravaganza mixing lively group chats, interviews with movie and pop culture icons, animated shorts and cinematic reenactments. Each week, Kevin, a special guest and movie lovers passionately sound off on the year’s most anticipated summer blockbusters, breaking down their favorite scenes and what should have been left on the cutting room floor.

After a year and a half hiatus, Kevin Smith’s Spoilers has returned. The first seven episodes of the second season are now available on Hulu. I enjoyed the first season more but the second season is still worth watching.

As the title implies/states, the movies covered are often spoiled so viewer beware.

Breaking Bad

 

* I finally got to finish watching Breaking Bad with only one character arc having been spoiled for me (by Entertainment Weekly naturally). Of course I won’t spoil anything for you but I will say that the ending was leagues more satisfying than the rather poor wrap-up to Dexter.

R.I.P. Philip Seymour Hoffman (1967-2014) and Maximilian Schell (1930-2014)

Last week, Hollywood lost two actors who enriched any movie they appeared in.

Maximilian Schell

 

 

Maximilian Schell passed away February 1st, 2014 at the age of 83. Instant Netflix has only three of his movies available but two of them are ones he directed (Marlene and My Sister Maria). The other is House of the Sleeping Beauties. I highly recommend the documentary Marlene.

Philip Seymour Hoffman

 

Philip Seymour Hoffman died tragically at the age of 46 on February 2nd, 2014. There isn’t really a need to rehash this as his death, presumably from a heroin overdose, is all over the media. He was one of my favorite character actors.

Instant Netflix has eight of his films available for streaming, from Leap of Faith in 1992 to Salinger in 2013. The best, from a Hoffman perspective, is probably A Late Quartet though my favorite is The Talented Mr. Ripley. The others are Nobody’s Fool, Hard Eight, Punch-Drunk Love, and Mary and Max.

R.I.P. Maximilian Schell and Philip Seymour Hoffman – you will both be missed.

FREE February Movies at The Carolina

Carolina Cinemas

 

Every Tuesday at 8 p.m., the Asheville Film Society puts on a FREE movie at the Carolina. Membership is not necessary to attend.

2/4 Midnight (1939, Mitchell Leisen)

2/11 The Good Thief (2002, Neil Jordan)

2/18 Funny Face (1957, Stanley Donen)

2/25 The Working Man (1933, John G. Adolfi)

Thursday Horror Picture Show

 

Every Thursday night at 8, Ken Hanke & Justin Souther put on a FREE horror movie in Carolina’s cinema lounge.

2/6 Paranoiac (1963, Freddie Francis)

2/13 Spider Baby (1968, Jack Hill) w/ Lon Chaney Jr.

2/20 Angel Heart (1987, Alan Parker)

2/27 Phantom of the Opera (1943, Arthur Lubin)

It’s a Trap!

Ackbar

 

I just can’t resist FREE movie tickets. I received a text the other day from Carolina Cinemas, with a buy a ticket, get a ticket FREE offer. My good wife was unavailable so I decided to go catch a double feature of Lone Survivor and I, Frankenstein (I save the Oscar nominees to watch with her).

Carolina Cinemas

The forecast was for a dusting of snow. My daughter warned me that they hadn’t salted the roads yet. I thought meh, it’s just a dusting. The snow got heavier and heavier on my way in. While the snow was nothing compared to what Northerners and Midwesterners get, my old convertible fishtailed a couple of times on the way in and I’m a very careful driver.

By the time I arrived at the theater, the forecast had changed from dusting to 1-3 inches. After the first film, the forecast changed to 3-5 inches. My wife graciously offered to pick me up on her way home from work. I swallowed my pride and accepted as her new car had these fancy things called brakes.

She arrived during I, Frankenstein and they let her in the theater as they were shutting down as soon as I and the only other patron were done with our movies. We left the parking lot and descended the hill toward the traffic light. In spite of going 5 mph, we slid toward the light. Thankfully, she was able to stop before the light. I doubt my convertible would have.

 

New Streaming Releases for the Week of 2/4/14

 

Patriot Games

Action/Adventure: Crocodile Dundee 2, Death Wish 2, Dirty Mary Crazy Larry, The Hard Way, Patriot Games

Marathon Man

Classic: A Fistful of Dollars, From the Terrace, The Good the Bad and The Ugly, Harold and Maude, Marathon Man, MASH, North Dallas Forty, Sunset Boulevard

Comedy: Airheads, Airplane!, Airplane II: The Sequel, American Milkshake, Down Periscope, Failure to Launch, Heartbreakers, Leap of Faith, A Life Less Ordinary, Miss Firecracker, The Naked Gun, She’s Having a Baby

Documentary: The Fabulous Ice Age, 9/11: Day That Changed America, Asteroid Trackers, Day of the Kamikaze, Everything or Nothing: The Untold Story of 007, History in HD: The Last Bomb, Nazi Temple of Doom, The Real Story: Escape From Alcatraz, Shuttle Discovery’s Last Mission, Smash & Grab, Smithsonian Channel: Titanoboa, Tapestries of Hope, Titanic’s Final Mystery

Drama: Adore, Broken, Concussion, The Dancer Upstairs, Flashdance, Home of the Brave (2006), Intersection, StreetDance 2, Suzanne’s Diary for Nicholas

Family: Aqua Tales, Flicka 2, Garfield Gets Real, Garfield’s Fun Fest, A Pony Tale, Team Hot Wheels

Fantasy & Science Fiction: Cocoon: The Return, Star Trek V: The Final Frontier

Foreign: City of Men, Confessions of a Brazilian Call Girl, Hush, Key of Life

Bubba Ho-Tep

Horror: Bubba Ho-Tep, Darkwolf, Exit to Hell, Tales from the Darkside: The Movie

Musical: Jesus Christ Superstar

Sports: WE: A Collection of Individuals

Television: Aerial America, Air Disasters, Bates Motel, The Borgias, Catching Killers, Criminal Minds: Suspect Behavior, Ever After High, Mystery Files, Pingu Family Tales, Pingu to the Rescue, Playtime with Pingu, Queer as Folk, The Re-Inventors, The Real Story, Secrets, World War II: Final Days

Thriller: In Dreams, The Usual Suspects, The Weight of Water