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November 30th, 2014 Movies – Empire Records

empire records

I think I have lost track of the number of times I watched this movie between 1996 and 1998. One of the two movies on the infamous “Happy Tape” that was not directed by Kevin Smith, it was definitely a favorite among my friends. I think part of that is the fact that the DQ was ran kind of like Empire Records, at least on the shifts that I ran. Essentially, we had a lot of fun while we worked, I was probably the slackest manager there, and I will admit that my friends would take advantage of that. Man, I really was like Joe. Anyways, on to today’s movie, Empire Records.

The plot: Lucas, the night manager of Empire Records, has found out that Empire Records is in danger of becoming part of the Musictown franchise. He takes the day’s receipts and heads to Atlantic City in the hopes of making more money to save the store, but he winds up losing it all. The next day is completely hectic as aside from the normal hassles of their everyday customers, the Empire Records employees must also deal with an autograph signing by an has been rock star, a shoplifting kid with an attitude problem, and the owner of the store breathing down their necks for his money. As all of their personal problems start coming to light, the employees must find a way to save their store at the last minute.

On the surface, this didn’t do very well at the box office and only has a 24% rating among critics on Rotten Tomatoes. But it does have somewhat of a cult classic status and based on the average person’s review, most people like this movie. Personally I think this is a great movie to watch, as evidenced by the fact that it was on the Happy Tape. I knew full well that the movie was going to have a bunch of teenage angst and drama in it, that is just about every movie involving teenagers. But I liked that the problems all seemed to focus on the kids trying to figure out their future plans and towards the end, most of them had figured out what they were going to do. Hooray for happy resolution. I also liked the dynamic between the all the actors as it did showcase what it is like in that sort of work place. Of course, what movie involving a music related scene is complete without a great soundtrack. There were a lot of great songs used in this movie, too bad not all of them made it onto the soundtrack. All in all, a solid teenage centered comedy.

So if life is bringing you down, then damn the man and watch this movie

Rating: 4 out of 5

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November 29th, 2014 Movie – Empire Of The Ants

empire of the ants

As much as I love sci-fi movies, I have to admit that the 70’s were not a great time for the genre, or at least before George Lucas shook things up. The effects in a lot of these movies were just terrible. They could have a great story or idea to use for the movie and just kill it with lame effects. Today’s movie is no different as they took a story by H.G. Wells and pretty much ruined it with the effects. So allow me to present today’s movie, Empire Of The Ants.

The plot: A boat is shown dumping barrels of radioactive waste into the ocean, where they wash up onto shore and begin leaking onto some nearby ants. Sometime later, a land developer is running a scam by trying to sell some worthless land to a group of people. As the tour of the land progresses, the group is attacked by giant ants. Losing several members of the group, the survivors manage to make it up river to a nearby town. However, they soon find out that the townsfolk are actually working for the ants and using the nearby sugar mill to feed them. Surrounded by a brainwashed townspeople and at risk of becoming slaves themselves, the survivors must find a way to stop the ants before the rest of mankind is destroyed.

Ok. I know that they used similar techniques in the 50’s and 60’s but since it was new back then, they tended to do a better job with them. Rear projection was used in a lot of giant monster movies back in the day but in this movie it wasn’t used to the best of its ability. Due to the fact that they would use live ants shot in a set lined with photographs of the locations needed, there were times where the ants seemed to be crawling vertically or even walking in mid air. It looked so ridiculous that it was impossible to take the movie seriously.

Aside from the disaster with the rear projection effects, there were a couple of other things that made me dislike this movie. For one, the acting wasn’t that good. They did manage to get a big name star in Joan Collins but that didn’t really help the movie any. When they people were interacting with the ants via rear projection, it just looked really weird. When they had close up encounters, the used prop models which looked ok but the interactions were so faked (I know they are supposed to be acting but this was ridiculous.) Plus the ants would scream. No joke. One of the sound effects for the ants sounded like they were screaming. It would get on your nerves real quick.

So if you want to laugh at some lousy effects, then feel free to give this a try.

Rating: 1 1/2 out of 5

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November 28th, 2014 Movie – The Emperor’s New Groove

emperors new groove

You know what is surprising? This is my first Disney animated movie. I have watched some animated movies before today but this is the first Disney one. Which is surprising because I like Disney’s animated movies. Oh well. The first time I saw this movie was after it had come out on DVD. My roommate Emily wanted to buy it so we decided to go to the 2-story Target in Buckhead. We picked up the DVD, but realizing how cool the cart escalator thing was, grabbed a cart to put the DVD in just so we had an excuse to use the cart escalator to go up and down the two floors. Silly, I know, but it was a lot of fun and made watching that movie even funnier. So here is today’s movie, The Emperor’s New Groove.

The plot: The young emperor Kuzco, a selfish, spoiled teenager who cares only about himself, finds himself turned into a llama by his former advisor Yzma and her servant Kronk. To become a human again, Kuzco must get to Yzma’s secret lab and find the potion that will change him back. His only hope to make it back to the palace is with the help of Pacha, a local village leader. But Pacha refuses to help unless Kuzco cancels his plans of destroying the village in order to build a summer palace. Kuzco must find a way to convince Pacha to help him turn back into a human before Yzma and Kronk hunt them down and finish the job of killing Kuzco.

Critics were mostly positive about this movie, giving it a 85% rating on Rotten Tomatoes. Many considered it one of Disney’s better films from the Post-Renaissance era (after 1999). It earned $169 million worldwide, which was a little bit lower than some of Disney’s early films from the late 90’s. But it made up for it when it was released on DVD, becoming the top selling home video release in 2001.

I love this movie. It is such a funny movie to watch. I am not a David Spade fan but I would be hard pressed to find someone better to voice Kuzco. John Goodman was good as Pacha and the dynamic between him and Spade seemed very natural. But the best part of this movie was definitely Kronk, played by Patrick Warburton. He had some of the funniest lines and scenes in the entire movie. All in all, there are very few things about this movie that aren’t funny.

So if you really want some laughs, then you definitely should watch this movie.

Rating: 4 out of 5

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November 27th, 2014 Movie – Embrace Of The Vampire (1995)

embrace of the vampire

Another example of an actress shedding her clothes to get rid of her “good girl” image. I remember a lot of hoopla about this movie when it came out. Mainly because of the fact that Alyssa Milano repeatedly goes nude, or at least topless, in this movie. This must have seemed like a dream come true to all of the teenage boys that grew up watching her on Who’s The Boss. But just because someone goes nude, no matter who the star is, does not mean the movie will be good. So let’s see just how good today’s movie, Embrace Of The Vampire (1995) was.

The plot: Charlotte is trying to keep her virginity but is being plagued by dreams of sex involving a mysterious man. The dreams are beginning to have an effect both in her classes, and her relationship with her boyfriend. As the dreams progress, Charlotte not only finds herself changing, but begins seeing the man from her dreams everywhere she goes. She learns that the man from her dreams is a vampire and he believes she is the reincarnation of his past love. If she remains pure for 3 days, he will be able to make her his own and live together in eternal life. Will Charlotte decide to stay with he boyfriend, or continue things with the vampire?

Man, 1995 was definitely the year of Good Girls Gone Bad. You have Elizabeth Berkley in Showgirls and Alyssa Milano in this movie. The one thing that both of those movies have in common, aside from the nudity, is that they are both terrible movies. This movie was just terrible. The plot was a mess. The vampire wanted her to remain pure, yet the result of her dreams was to have her act more sexual. While Alyssa Milano did a good job going back and forth between playing the innocent girl one minute and a sexpot the next, the rest of the acting was pretty atrocious. All in all, this really isn’t worth watching.

So if you want to see Alyssa Milano naked, then this is probably the only reason to watch this movie.

Rating: 1 out of 5

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November 26th, 2014 Movie – Elvira’s Haunted Hills

elviras haunted hills

After her first movie fared rather poorly at the box office, no one was willing to finance a second Elvira movie. So she decided to do it herself. 13 years later, her second movie was released straight to video. Paying homage to Vincent Price by spoofing many of the films he was famous for, Elvira’s Haunted Hills was an interesting movie. Was it as good as her first film? I will leave that up to you. So here is today’s movie, Elvira’s Haunted Hills.

The plot: Elvira and her maid/servant Zou Zou are on their way to perform in a show in Paris when they are hit with money problems and chased out of the local village. Accepting a ride from Dr. Bradley Bradley, the ladies find themselves spending the night in a strange castle in the hills above the village. The castle is owned by Lord Vladimere Hellsubus, a man plagued by fits of madness and whose long dead wife bears a remarkable resemblance to Elvira. As strange things begin happening involving the inhabitants of the castle, Elvira is plagued by dreams involving the former Lady Elura and must figure out what is going on and how to escape.

To be perfectly honest, when I first watched this movie, I didn’t really like it. When I saw how high it was rated on Rotten Tomatoes, I figured maybe I had missed something and should give it another shot. Today is my third time watching it and while I can respect all the different elements in this movie, I still don’t think it is that good of a movie. I did like the various references to Edgar Allen Poe and thought that they did a decent job considering the limited budget. My main problem is that in stead of telling the story, they seemed to try too hard in making people get that this was a spoof. It just killed the mood for me. Of course, that is just my own hangup. If you don’t mind that sort of thing, then you might like it better.

So whether or not this is better than the first movie is a matter of opinion. If you want to know, you are welcome to watch it yourself.

Rating: 2 out of 5

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November 25th, 2014 Movie – Elvira: Mistress Of The Dark

elvira mistress of the dark

As a kid during the 80’s, there were always two things that were guaranteed to happen over the weekend. I would wake up early to watch cartoons, and I would be staying up late to watch a certain raven haired beauty in a cleavage baring dress showcase some awesome B-movies. Elvira’s Movie Macabre was such a great show, not just because of the movies themselves, but Elvira’s sense of humor and comments laced with Innuendo, which I will admit to not understanding when I was a little kid, made it even more fun to watch. So when I heard that she was starring in her own movie, of course I was going to see it. So on with today’s movie, Elvira: Mistress Of The Dark.

The plot: Elvira is trying to get an act in Las Vegas but needs $50,000 for her show to open. When she is informed that she is to receive an inheritance from her great aunt, she heads for the New England town of Falwell where she finds out she has received her aunt’s house, dog, and recipe book. Elvira manages to befriend several of the local teenagers as well as to local theater owner, but the rest of the town feels that she is a bad influence on their strict moral ways. To make matters worse, Elvira’s uncle is feeding the townspeople;s suspicion and hatred towards Elvira in an effort to gain possession of the recipe book, which is actually her aunt’s spellbook. Elvira must find a way to stop her uncle and gain the community’s trust before she finds herself burnt at the stake.

In spite of it getting mixed reviews from critics and doing poorly in the box office, I still like this movie although I will admit it is not a great movie. I mean, it’s Elvira. You know what you are going to get. A lot of puns, some sexual innuendo, and a lot of glimpses of Elvira’s cleavage. It was definitely on the campy side for a horror comedy but I didn’t have a problem with it. Unfortunately, there are also some scenes/lines that I wish I could erase from my memory. Still, there was plenty to laugh about with this movie and I was entertained, which is what I want out of a movie.

So if you want to relive some 80’s camp, then throw this movie in and laugh.

Rating: 2 1/2 out of 5

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November 24th, 2014 Movie – Eight Legged Freaks

eight legged freaks

Sometimes, timing is everything. When this movie was being filmed, it was under the title “Arac Attack.” But since the release date was right around the time the second Iraq War began, the studios decided to change the title to Eight Legged Freaks, although it was still released under the original name in some countries. Still, no matter what the title, this was a fun little horror comedy that played tribute to the classic giant bug movies of the 50’s. So on to today’s movie, Eight Legged Freaks.

The plot: In the town of Prosperity, Arizona, an accident occurs and a barrel of toxic waste winds up in a nearby reservoir, where an exotic spider farmer named Joshua has been collecting crickets for his spiders. A few months later Joshua is showing a young boy named Mike how the spiders have been growing due to the crickets he has been feeding them. After Mike leaves, Joshua is attacked and killed by his spiders. Pretty soon, giant spiders begin showing up around town and attacking the townspeople. Urged by Sam Parker, the town sheriff, the surviving townspeople take refuge in the nearby mall but when the spiders manage to make it inside the mall, the people retreat into the mines. With hundreds of spiders on their heels, it is up to Sam and Chis McCormick, the owner of the mine, to find a way to save the people and kill the spiders.

Critics were mixed on this movie, giving it a 48% rating on Rotten Tomatoes. As for the audience, they simply were not in the mood for giant spiders as it would only earn a little over $17 million dollars worldwide. Personally, this is not a great movie but I do think this is a pretty funny movie, which is surprising because I ABSOLUTELY DESPISED the “cough” movie “cough” that Dean Devlin produced in 1998. They did a great job of paying tribute to the classic bug films, even having clips of “Them” showing on a TV in the background. I thought a lot of the sound effects and almost human voices that were added to the spiders was very funny, almost like Gremlins in a way. I honestly don’t care for David Arquette but he wasn’t terrible in this movie. It is a stupid kind of funny, but that is what I expected from this movie.

So if you want a couple of laughs, then you might give this a try.

Rating: 2 1/2 out of 5

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Flashback Review: January 21st, 2014 Movie – 007: Casino Royale (2006)

007 casino royale

In 2006, Eon pictures decided to do a reboot of the Bond series and cast a new Bond to star in the movie. I was excited for a new Bond movie and curious about how Daniel Craig would do as Bond, but slightly worried about the whole reboot premise. Still, at the time this came out, I was in need of some cheering up and a Bond movie was definitely a good way to cheer up. So on to today’s movie, Casino Royale.

The plot: Having just earned his 00 status, Bond is sent to Madagascar to hunt down Mollaka, a known bomb maker. After killing him, Bond discovers a link between Mollaka and Le Chiffre, a known banker and financier for terrorists. Bond finds out that Le Chiffre has organized the bombing of a prototype airplane in order to take advantage of the stock market surrounding the plane. With his plan foiled, Le Chiffre hosts a poker tournament in order to recoup his client’s money. M authorizes the money for Bond to participate in the tournament in order to bring in Le Chiffre. Alongside Vesper Lynd, Bond proceeded to play and would eventually win the tournament. Le Chiffre kidnaps Bond and Vesper in order to get his money back, but there is a third party involved in this matter and it is unclear whose side they are on.

Critics were overwhelmingly positive about this movie, with it earning a 95% rating on Rotten Tomatoes. The critics praised the script as well as the performance of Daniel Craig. Many critics said that Daniel Craig’s portrayal was the best to embody the character as written in Ian Fleming’s novels. Some critics did criticize the pacing at times and lack of gadgets, but mostly they all loved it. As for the audience, they went to see it in massive numbers. It earned $599 million worldwide, making it the 4th highest grossing film in 2006 and the highest grossing Bond movie of the franchise at that time.

While I admit that I was nervous about this movie before it came out, when it finally did come out, it made me fall in love with the series all over again. I loved the story and how well the action flowed throughout the movie. Daniel Craig makes a great Bond and is second only to Connery in my opinion. I did like the fact that this was showing Bond just starting out so he was not the well polished spy that he has been in previous movies. My only negative thing about the movie is the fact that Judi Dench was M. Don’t get me wrong. I loved Judi Dench as M during the Brosnan years. But this is supposed to be a reboot of the franchise. When Judi Dench started playing M, it was a big in the movies because this was the first female M (in story, not the fact that it was the first female actor playing the character). This point was brought up several times in Goldeneye. So if they rebooted the series to show how Bond is starting out, then you need a male M. Otherwise you are just giving a giant FU to the previous movies.

So if you want to watch a great Bond movie, definitely watch this one.

Rating: 4 1/2 out of 5

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November 23rd, 2014 Movie – Eegah

eegah

Greetings from Nashville. Well, depending on read you are reading this I will either be in Nashville, back in Atlanta, or driving somewhere in between. Since I knew I wouldn’t have time to watch this movie today, I decided to watch it  and write as much of the review as I could last night and then finish it this morning. So, a couple of years ago. a friend of mine showed me IMDB’s list of bottom 100 movies, that is to say the movies that have the lowest ratings on their site. Knowing my penchant for watching these sort of movies, she asked how many I had seen/owned. I have seen quite a few of them but do not own all of the ones I have seen. Today’s movie, Eegah, happens to be one of the ones that I own.

The plot: A young girl named Roxy is driving in the desert when she almost hits a giant but nobody believes her. She goes back with her boyfriend Tom and her father to look for proof and find giant footprints leading into a nearby mountain range. Her father decides to head out and find the giant to try and photograph him but winds up being captured by the giant himself. When her father doesn’t come back, Roxy and Tom go looking for him but Roxy finds herself captured by the giant. Tom manages to rescue Roxy and her father and the all escape from the giant, but the giant manages to track Roxy to a local party where a final confrontation occurs.

Yeh, this definitely can be considered one of the worst movies ever. This was just terrible. The director of the movie also played Roxy’s father and his son played Tom. Tom was basically written as some Elvis wannabe, he was playing a guitar and singing almost as often as he was acting, and he sucked at both. The scenes with Richard Kiel and Marilyn Manning (Roxy) are just awkward to watch. The only redeeming thing about this movie was the fact that we got a funny episode of MST3K out of it.

So if you really want to torture yourself, you can try and watch this. But I would recommend watching the MST3K version of it. That way you won’t have to watch all of the movie.

Rating: 1/2 out of 5

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November 22nd, 2014 Movie – Earth Vs. The Spider

earth vs the spider

If there is one thing that the 50’s is known for in the realm of science fiction movies, it was the multitude of giant bug movies. Dozens of movies came out in that decade featuring all sorts of everyone’s favorite arthropods, everything from ants, grasshoppers, scorpions, and of course, spiders. Lots of people tend to have some form of arachnaphobia, so a movie featuring a giant spider attacking people and destroying towns would really be terrifying for them. I’m curious how many people were scared by today’s movie, Earth Vs. The Spider.

The plot: When her father doesn’t come home last night, Carol and her boyfriend Mike head out to look for him. When the discover the wreckage of her father’s truck, the two kids check out a nearby cave to see if he is in there, but what they find is a giant spider’s web, and the spider that built it. Heading back into town, Mike and Carol tell the sheriff what they saw and he agrees to investigate along with their high school science teacher, Mr. Kingman. The group find the body of Carol’s father and are attacked by the spider but they manage to kill it with a large amount of DDT. The spider’s body is taken to the high school gym for study while Mike and Carol sneak back into the cave where Carol dropped the present her father had bought for her. When a band begins to practice their songs for the upcoming dance, the spider is woken up from it’s stunned state and begins attacking the townspeople on it’s way back to the cave. Now the Mr. Kingman and the sheriff must find a way to kill the spider and save Mike and Carol before it is too late.

When this was first released, this was billed as Earth vs. The Spider, but after The Fly became such a huge hit, the studio changed the title on all the promotional material to The Spider to try and cash in on the success. Now aside from all of the giant bug movies, another thing that was featured in a lot of movies from the 50’s was rock and roll, or what passed for it at the time. If you had a bunch of teenagers in a movie, it was almost guaranteed that at some point, their would either be a band playing or a radio playing and the kids would start dancing and having an impromptu party. It started to become so prevalent that the studios began making entire movies dedicated to that premise. Needless to say, rock and roll played a somewhat pivotal part in this movie.

I love the classic sci-fi movies and this movie is definitely one of the good ones. While the story was not as good as in Tarantula, which came out the year before, I think this one had better effects. The acting from the teenagers was ok but I really liked the conflict between the sheriff and Mr. Kingman, the science teacher as they each had their own opinions on what to do with the spider but in the end, put their differences aside to save the kids. One thing that I found especially funny was the mention of two other films that the director made within this movie. A solid example of 50’s sci-fi.

If you are in the mood for a classic bit of sci-fi, then give this movie a try, unless you are afraid of spiders.

Rating: 3 out of 5

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