Tuesday, November 20, 2012

And In This Corner..... (The Haunted World Of El Superbeasto)

I don't know who is actually following this blog other than myself, but for those who do, would know my posting frequency is erratic at best. I've had a rough week (don't ask), so when I got around to watching this, I wasn't in the humour of writing about it afterwards. This is also the reason why I postponed the planned Halloween series write ups.

In addition to whatever's going on in my life, my viewing choices have consisted of Chillerama (the best movie from Horrorthon 2011, in my opinion), UHF (a hit and miss affair, but at least I now know where the inspiration for Bum Reviews came from), Tales From The Crypt: Demon Knight (which if I had the motivation, I would have written about), and a cinema double bill of From Dusk Till Dawn (one of the most underrated films of all time) and The Lost Boys (second time I've ever seen it, but I already wish I was introduced to this as a kid).

And now we come to the next Rob Zombie inspired blog entry with this film based on a comic created by the man himself. Don't know much about it, as I'm not a big comic book fan admittedly. However, I will say that, as a film which stars a main character who is a wrestler, it's a lot better than Wrestlemaniac.

WARNING: Spoilers

Back then.....

I thought it was a fun, strange little movie.

And now.....

.....I still think it's a fun, strange little movie.

Okay, here lies the problem. My aforementioned lack of motivation has made it difficult for me to write a positive review on here without giving away too much in terms of jokes and particular scenes. It's like trying to write a review of one of my favourite films, Spaceballs, without making any Star Wars references. I know I begin every blog entry with a "spoiler" warning, but I'm not big on giving away too much, regardless of whether you've watched the film or not.

Getting back to the film itself, I only watched this at some point during the summer, as it was on sale for about 3 or 4 euros in HMV. So I can't give a retrospective view on it, in relation to films that I haven't seen in at least a year. So it's still fresh in my mind in that respect, and so my opinion has not changed that drastically, of which I found the film entertaining.

I am also reminded of the first impressions I had with the first two Rob Zombie films, where I didn't know what to make of them  as I wasn't overly familiar with their respective genres. Here, I know this is meant to be in the style of 70s adult cartoons such as Fritz The Cat, but the closest I've seen to to this type of adult animation was Cool World. And it's been years since I've seen that film too, so I can't make any comparisons either.

Hell, I even forgot Brad Pitt was in this.

But regardless of influence, you can't go wrong with what looks like an x-rated Spongebob Squarepants cartoon. It looks vibrant, the action is fast paced, and the story is.....well, some masked wrestler/celebrity/superhero on a mission to rescue a stripper with inflatable boobs from a villain called "Dr. Satan", who looks nothing like the "Dr. Satan" from "House Of 1000 Corpses". And I couldn't imagine Paul Giamatti's voice being used in that movie.

The inclusion of the name "Dr. Satan" is not the only reference to a Rob Zombie flick made in "...El Superbeasto", as it includes cameos from the "Rejects" themselves, Captain Spaulding and Otis Driftwood, complete with voice acting from the original actors themselves. Of course, Sheri Moon Zombie was moved to voicing one of the main characters, Suzi-X, along with Rosario Dawson voicing the foul mouthed Velvet Von Black (she of the inflatable boobies).

Hell, the film even throws an animated Varla from "Faster, Pussycat! Kill! Kill!", voiced by Tura Satana herself, among the other movie "monsters", human or otherwise.

These cameos and the world these characters inhabit don't really make sense. But then again, you're not gonna get much sense from a film that begins with Nazi zombies protecting the head of Hitler in a pickle jar. While the story may be all over the place, there are some elements of sharp and witty humour thrown in along with strange visuals and quirky scenes.

Also the musical element, which doesn't actually feature any classic rock songs, nor anything from the Rob Zombie library, does have some songs that add to the comedy, in that all they do is outline what is happening onscreen, poke fun at itself with self referential humour, and highlight the ample animated bodies of the female characters.

So like any other Sunday afternoon cartoon, just sit back, laugh at the silliness of it all, and enjoy the pretty colours, no matter what time of the day. And if you find yourself "enjoying" the animated boobage a little bit too much, it does include this little ditty which eases any thoughts you may have that makes you think you're a perverted weirdo.....not that I would enjoy such things, of course.....

And on a final note.....

Because there was no excuse for the "obligatory" Sheri Moon Zombie picture, here is a tribute video to her instead.

Monday, November 12, 2012

The Devil Made Me Do It (The Devil's Rejects)

Continuing the double bill of reviews this weekend is the follow up to "House Of 1000 Corpses", entitled "The Devil's Rejects". When I say "this weekend", I must point out that after I finished the previous article, I went onto watching the next one. Because it was in the early hours of the morning when it finished, I didn't attempt to write about it afterwards. Instead I scoured the menus of the American and UK/Irish versions of Netflix to come up with even more questionable viewing choices. Hence the late posting of this blog entry.

These include Defendor (not even Kat Dennings could save this movie), Kevin Smith's SModimations (rubbish) plus Too Fat For 40! (really entertaining), and Postal (I still don't know what possessed me to watch a Uwe Boll film, but I'm guessing lack of sleep twisted my mind). Throw in some wrestling segments from WWE and ECW, and that makes up my viewing for the weekend, which included passing out on the couch.

Still, it's a successful weekend for me in financial terms (since I'm saving money for going away next month), and in getting through the first two Rob Zombie flicks. So enough about my lazy weekend, lets move on to my second viewing of "The Devil's Rejects".

WARNING: Spoilers

Back then.....

I was taken aback by the change of style Rob Zombie incorporated into "The Devil's Rejects" (TDR from now on), but it feels like he had more creative control with this one. While I got into it more than its predecessor, the fact that the criminal and law enforcement sides were just as bad as each other, once again I couldn't really sympathise with any of the characters onscreen.

And now.....

I'm not sure if it was because I watched this film on the same night as I saw the previous installment, but I began to appreciate this film more than I did first time around. Again most of the characters on show are despicable in nature, but like the previous film, it's more about the characters and the world they live in. Not only have I become familiar with the characters and the story, but also with the style of the movie itself, thanks to years of watching similar films in the grindhouse and horror genres.

While "HO1C" had this surreal nature to it, in terms of not just the family itself, but of what was lurking underneath, this one just takes the characters out on the road, in a twisted version of "Easy Rider" meets "Bonnie & Clyde", again going with influences from the 70's and backwards. Speaking of which, it didn't register with me that "HO1C" was set in the 70's to begin with, considering I had to look it up while writing this article. I guess that explained why these people didn't have mobile phones. While these stories could be set in any decade after the 70's, I can understand the time setting, in terms of its influences.

Because of the familiarity with "HO1C", the story felt a little stronger this time around, yet I'm not sure if I would have felt the same way if I just jumped right into this one without watching the last film. But at least it stands on its own as a single film instead of just a sequel, which benefits first time viewers. But for me, I was wondering what happened to the grandfather since then, and why Rufus suddenly turned into Tyler Mane (who would go on to be Michael Myers in Rob Zombie's "Halloween" double bill).

Although I did approve of the casting of Leslie Easterbrook taking over the role of Mama Firefly. I wasn't sure why this was, maybe the original actress was unavailable or wanted more money or something. But since I was a fan of the Police Academy movies as a kid, it was fun to see "Sergeant Callahan" both times while watching "TDR" as I haven't seen her, nor most of the Police Academy cast, in anything other than those films.

It took me a while to recognise her in "The Devil's Rejects" the first time, but how could I forget her.....erm, face.....

Speaking of recognisable faces, I also got a kick of finding a variety of familiar faces to the cast, such as Brian Posehn (who I recognise from Metal By Numbers, and his voice work in BrĂ¼tal Legend ), the "Unholy Two" bounty hunters played by Danny Trejo (star of many films, especially the Robert Rodriguez ones), and Diamond Dallas Page (aka. DDP, former WWE and WCW wrestler), and a cameo from Ginger Lynn (who I recognise from a Metallica video.....and nothing else, I swear).

The wide selection of characters, bar the hotel room victims who are just cannon fodder as this film is concerned, make the film interesting to watch, with the already established family trio, along with the psychotic Texas sheriff and the Unholy Two, the latter of which I felt were underused. They would have been cool characters to have in a spin off film of some sort, considering the fact that Tiny from the first movie makes an appearance also, if it was done right, and made right after "TDR"

While it was a problem to root for any of the characters on either side of the law, considering the despicable nature they show onscreen with their actions and characteristics, it was still intriguing to watch. The fact that it poses the question of whether you should feel sorry for any of them, whether it is the sheriff's reason for revenge, or during the final shoot out between the family trio and the cops, does give some food for thought.

Not to mention a sudden case of coulrophobia.

While I have praised this film so far, I do have to point out three niggling issues (call it nitpicking if you must) with the film. The part where one of the hotel victims was running away from the hotel room wearing the face of her dead husband (or boyfriend, I can't remember and I'm not bothered looking it up) was pretty powerful in itself. But the fact that she was comically knocked down by a truck somewhat lessened the impact of the scene.

The part where the sheriff was having an argument with the Marx Brothers loving film critic, who disrespects Elvis Presley, was a little out of place and seemed like a forced attempt at humour. As for the final shootout, while it's a trademark of the director by playing a classic or somewhat upbeat song during a dramatic moment, I thought the visuals during the realisation that they had nowhere to go were a little lazy. But I guess that had to do with the length of the song, but I do question whether it would have the same effect if one of the verses was edited out. It's a good scene, but it's just two of them waking up in the back seat, making faces of despair.

The obligatory Sheri Moon Zombie shot.

Those niggling issues aside, I found more appreciation for the "Rejects" films as a whole. With "TDR", I have a feeling I will warm up to it more with the next viewing, as I begin to digest what I saw onscreen. Sure the same old issues will be there, and maybe I'll find one or two more flaws with it, but I have a feeling I would find another reason or two to like it. Hell, even the tonal shift between the two films is bizarre. But since it was the same with the director's Halloween movies, it's another one of his trademarks that I'm beginning to appreciate.

And on a final note.....

Speaking of the Police Academy series, I remember watching Michael Winslow (aka. Larvelle Jones) live last year, and he mentioned that a new Police Academy film was in the works. Granted the films did have their flaws, but they were a part of my childhood, so I would definitely be looking forward to it. Also, Michael Winslow is really entertaining live.

Saturday, November 10, 2012

Welcome To My Nightmare (House Of 1000 Corpses)

For the first proper article on this blog, I will begin with a theme I chosen towards the end of Halloween. After 31 consecutive blog posts, I decided to take a break last weekend. Right now, I'm trying to get back into the routine of watching films without having to write about them. I recently configured my Playstation 3 to play the America version of Netflix, which has a greater selection than the UK/Ireland version.

Films I've watched included the Insane Clown Posse films Death Racers and Big Money Rustlas,  Dracula 3000, two films from the Halloween series, and The Human Centipede 2 (Full Sequence). Any of these films were worthy of a write up, but I had to restrain myself. Funnily enough, the two movies I want to write up on were on the UK/Irish version of Netflix. So after reconfiguring the settings once again, I loaded up this from the menu, so I can begin with a theme I mentioned before.

WARNING: Spoilers

Back then.....

I wasn't that impressed by it, and while I wanted to like this movie, I just couldn't get into it. I read about this film years before its released, and the difficulties Rob Zombie had to get the rights after a delayed release, and the fact that he had to make major cuts to it. So I didn't feel the need to criticise it that much.

And now.....

It's been close to a decade since I last saw it, but second time around I was surprisingly impressed by the film. Granted the film does tend to drag, and some of the effects are a little amateurish, such as the mirror shots and filtered images, but after watching Zombie's "Halloween 2" I can see where the surreal imagery in his films started. Along with the use of classic songs during intense scenes. It's a neat touch, although at some points it does feel misguided.

When I first watched it, one of the main reasons I couldn't get into it was that it focused too much on the family, and none of the other characters were memorable so I found it hard to sympathise with their suffering. Infact, I don't even remember the names of those four kids. All I know is that one of them is in the American verison of "The Office" nowadays.

After many years of watching similar films, along with changing tastes, I can understand now what the film was going for. It reminded me of a mix between "The Hills Have Eyes" and "Texas Chainsaw Massacre", and it's funny that I found this watchable, yet I never liked those two movies.

Yes, shocking as it is, I never liked "Texas Chainsaw Massacre", so sue me. If there's one thing they both share, was an annoying vocal sound from a female character. In "TCM" the screams from the final victim on repeat for what feels like half an hour bugged the hell in me. In this, it was the constant laughing of Baby (played by Rob's wife, Sheri Moon Zombie). It doesn't bug me as much as the first time, considering I keep hearing it on the title song of the movie, but it can be a bit irritating. At least her character was entertaining to watch.....and I mean that from a film standpoint.

.....and yes, she's easy on the eye too. Moving on.....

Whenever a movie is focused on the "villains" of the story, it can be hard to feel anything for them, which was another reason why I wasn't a fan of "House Of 1000 Corpses" (HO1C from now on), and "The Devil's Rejects" (which will be the next blog entry, as I too haven't seen it in years). But now that I understand what this movie is, I can now find something to enjoy in watching their quirky selves, despite what they do onscreen.

Because of the tone of the film, along with whatever memories I had of the previous film, I found myself becoming more invested into this strange world onscreen, from Captain Spaulding's run-in with a couple of wannabe robbers, to the unexpected twist at the end, via some bizarre visual sites courtesy of this dysfunctional family.

Granted you do question why the four travelling kids were willing to stay in their house, despite the obvious batshit crazy nature of them, from their personalities to their Halloween show after dinner, not to mention Baby's constant laughing. But again, this is an exploitation film of which Rob Zombie is obviously a fan of, so he knows what he's doing. It's more to do with the gruesome nature of the family, and the world of which they occupy, not to mention the one beneath them.

Otis now gives me an idea for a Halloween costume next year.

What I didn't remember about the film first time around was the whole sub-plot about the mystery of Dr Satan. At least my confusion matched the final victim when she stepped into this, for want of a better term, layer of Hell on Earth. I suppose that's what the director was going for when he included that short clip of the religious conspiracy nut earlier on, but even then it still looks a bit out of place in the film. But I digress.

The mood was creepy, especially as I didn't know what to expect down that well. But again, it made sense in relation to another early scene where one of the female captives was thrown into what seemed like an empty cage, only to be ravaged by three other people, without an explanation. I even had to rewind that scene, just so I was clear in what I just saw.

While the people underground looked disturbing enough, what I didn't expect to see was Dr. Satan himself. And I have to say, it came as a complete surprise, as I genuinely didn't recall seeing this part. And I'm surprised I didn't, as it was a very striking reveal, along with some impressive make up and prosthetics, from Dr. Satan himself, and his axe wielding guard.

Despite my newfound appreciation for it, I still don't know whether I think this movie is actually any good. The story can be a little weak, but the visuals make up for it. The family are interesting to look at, but with an underdeveloped supporting cast, you have to remind yourself that it's more about the nightmare than the survival of the victims. But considering the fact that I found myself enjoying what I saw, I feel that, along with "Halloween 2", this is a film that will get better with each consecutive viewing.

And on a final note

The only song I remember the first time watching "HO1C" was "Run Rabbit Run" by Rob Zombie. Second time around, I was introduced to this song, "Everybody Scream". I'm not sure about the amateur video that accompanies this, but it's the only high quality version of the song I could find at time of writing.

Thursday, November 08, 2012

Welcome Note

Ladies and gentlemen, let me welcome you to the first proper post of the Raven Cassidey Movie Blog. To quickly explain what I mean by "proper", at time of writing, I had the bright idea to create a blog that is based on quite possibly my main interest in life: films. A couple of months ago, I started a blog during a period of boredom, where I wanted to get back into writing, creative, journalistic or whatever. So I posted the odd blog entry here or there, testing the waters a bit.

At the beginning of October, I had the bright idea to watch a movie everyday from the "horror" genre, in the lead up to Halloween, and write about it afterwards. At time of writing, I am taking a break from transferring the HTML codes of my previous entries, so depending on when you read this, look through the links in the "October 2012" section on this blog, or view them as they appeared on the other.

To sum it up, providing a post a day proved to be an exhausting challenge, and thought me a lesson that, if I was to make scheduled blog posts, I'd better do them in advance. But at the same time, I found myself having a lot of fun creating them, even if nobody else was going to read them. Hence the idea for this blog.

I'm not sure what type of movies I'll be posting up here, but considering I've had fun writing about horror movies, I'll probably stick to those that are in that field, with hints of action, comedy, bizarre and downright crap. I did make an effort to write about the the early Batman films, and the last one, not to mention an analysis of one of the worst movies I've seen this year, Cosmopolis. Not to mention the "Halloween Countdown" of 2012 (see links for the month of October on the right hand side).

At first, I chose not to include them here, as I felt they were just me testing the waters, in terms of blogging about film. But in the end, I decided to repost them here, just for added content, and to see how my writing style has progressed/regressed.

Granted I have a long way to go before I can perfect my blogging skills, but I'm trying to find my own voice, instead of just making a long, boring ass review about how much I like or hate something. I tend to open these blog posts with something of a personal nature, like a diary piece, before I begin with the article itself. There are times that I will include spoilers, but I try to avoid them if possible, depending on the review itself.

As for the title "Raven Cassidey", my reasons are, well, pretty simple, if a little stupid. I couldn't think of a clever title that would reflect the content of this blog. So I just picked two characters, real and fictional, that I admire, and combined the two of them. If you look at the first sentence of this piece, and click on each name, you will see a picture of professional wrestler Raven, and Cassidy from the "Preacher" graphic novels.

Unfortunately, the web domain ravencassidy.blogspot.com was already taken. Hence why there's the added "e" in the "Cassidey". But I'm okay with that. While messing around on Google, the first Wikipedia page to appear in the results when I type in "Cassidy" was this, while the alternate spelling, "Cassidey", came up with this result.

Well, that's good enough for me.

Warning: as a bloke I will more than likely find any
excuse to post up gratuitous shots of women.

And on a final note.....

I'm sure to mess around with the layout of this blog over the next few weeks, to settle on a look that I'm happy with. But what I'm keeping from my other blog is this section at the end of each entry. This is where I will post a video from YouTube, whether it be related to the preceding article or not. For example, I talked about Raven, so I'm gonna post up his entrance theme in TNA. Think of it as the "end credits" of the article.

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