dark comedy, drama, movie, movie review, romance

June 20th, 2017 Movie – The Rules Of Attraction

the rules of attraction

Ahh, the memories of all of the random movies I was able to watch for free due to my old roommate. Back when she worked for Disney, my roommate would get advanced screening passes to all sorts of movies, even some that were not Disney films. Today’s movie was one of those movies and I remember enjoying it in the theaters so during a random movie buying binge several years ago, this wound up being one of those purchases. So let’s see if this movie is still enjoyable as I watch today’s movie, The Rules Of Attraction.

The plot: Lauren is attending the End of the World Party at Camden College and wants to lose her virginity to Victor but he had been having sex with her roommate Lara. So she ends up taking a film student upstairs to have sex with him but she passes out and when she comes too, she finds herself being raped by a “townie” while the film student films it on his camcorder. Paul is at the same party and stares across the room at Sean but ends up taking a jock up to his room to do some ecstasy. As the pills start to take effect, Paul tries to kiss the jock, who violently shoves him away and when Paul taunts him about being “closeted”, the jock throws him out of his room and spits on him. Sean sees Lauren taking the film student upstairs and rips up some letters written on purple paper. As he looks around the party, he heads towards a girl who he had sex with at the beginning of the term but when she asks him his name, he lies and says he is a freshman named Peter. Sean takes the girl back to his dorm and as they are having sex, he finds himself thinking that he can’t remember the last time he had sex while sober. Going back several months to the beginning of the school year, Sean checks his mail and receives a love letter written on purple paper. Later, Sean goes to see Rupert, his drug supplier, who is angry over the amount of money that Sean owes him and threatens to shoot him but Rupert’s friend, a Jamaican named Guest, tells him to leave Sean alone. When Sean says that all the new freshmen are coming to campus so he can charge them more for the drugs, Rupert agrees and allows Sean to leave but Sean has trouble getting his customers to pay the money that they owe him. At the Edge of the World Bonfire, Paul sees a guy, Mitchel, that he had flirted with before and continues flirting with him but Mitchel’s girlfriend shows up and tells Mitchel to take her back to her room. She invites Paul to join them but Mitchel tells her he can’t come. Paul goes to get a beer from the keg but Sean cuts in front of him and the two end up talking. Sean is only half paying attention to what Paul is saying and through miscommunication, Paul believes that Sean said he was bi and arranges to meet with him the next day. Saturday morning, Sean and Lauren both head to a Saturday morning class but the teacher is passed out in his office so the class is cancelled. Sean and Lauren start talking and after Lauren takes his sunglasses as she leaves, Sean pulls the letter from his pocket and thinks that she is the one writing to him. Meanwhile, Paul is getting ready for his supposed date with Sean when a friend bursts into his room saying another friend is overdosing and drags Paul away to help him. Paul reluctantly helps take the kid to the hospital and watches as his two friends panic over the fate of their friend. Elsewhere, Lauren is at her dorm looking through a book of venereal diseases in order to convince herself to not go to a party and hook up with a guy, though her roommate Lara tries to convince her to come. At the party, Lara talks with Sean for a while, who asks if Lauren is coming, and she explains about the book. Later, Sean is getting some more beer and Paul approaches him and apologizes for missing their date, then invites Sean back to his room to smoke pot. Lauren shows up at the party and asks Lara if she has seen Sean and when Lara tells her he went off with Paul, shoe worries at first but calms herself by thinking that he just went to sell Paul some pot. As Lara goes to hook up with a guy, Lauren’s teacher approaches her and asks about why she missed the tutorial on Saturday. Lauren accompanies him back to his house and they start making out but when she finds out he is married, she refuses to sleep with him but does end up giving him a blow job. Sean and Paul end up getting stoned in Paul’s room and Paul imagines sleeping with Sean. The next day, Paul receives a call from his mom telling him to come up to the city for the weekend and he asks Sean to give him a ride to the bus station. Returning to campus, Sean gets another love letter that says “Tonight is the night.” Meanwhile, Lauren and Lara are snorting cocaine in their dorm room and Lauren tells her that she plans on going all the way with Sean, saying that they have a connection. In the city, Paul meets up with Dick, the son of one of his mother’s friends, who will be joining them for dinner and ends up causing a scene at the restaurant before he leaves. Back at college, Sean attends a “dress to get laid” party and is talking to Lara as she snorts some more cocaine and when he asks about Lauren, she tells him that she isn’t coming and that she has a boyfriend. Sean ends up having sex with Lara but he imagines it is Lauren. Meanwhile, the girl who was writing the love letters is actually a student that works in the cafeteria. She sees Sean leave with Lara and ends up writing him a suicide note, then heads into the women’s bathroom and slits her wrists in one of the tubs. Lauren returns to her room and finds Sean finishing getting dressed and she slams the door as he tries to apologize and heads to the bathroom to cry, only to find the girl’s body. When Sean finds the suicide note, he tries talking to Lauren but she refuses to speak with him. When Lara tells him he is wasting his time, he ends up punching her, blaming her for what happened. Sean attempts to commit suicide through various methods but they all fail so he decides to fake it. Lauren shows up at his room and sees him lying in bed with fake blood and while Sean laughs at fooling her, she calls him sad and runs off. Victor, arrives back in town from Europe and he is telling Sean and Mitchel about his adventures in Europe. Victor asks Sean for some pot and Sean agrees to get him some but says Mitchel has to come with him. Sean and Mitchel head to Rupert’s house to get the pot but when they get there, Rupert demands his money. Sean gives him the money that Victor gave him but Rupert says it isn’t enough and ends up threatening Sean and Mitchel. A fight breaks out, with Sean cutting Guest’s hand, and Sean and Mitchel manage to escape and make it back to college, where Mitchel kicks Sean out of his car. Meanwhile, Lauren learns that Victor is back in town and heads to his dorm and runs into Sean, who tries to talk to her and asks to get to know her but she tells him he will never know her. Lauren reaches Victor’s dorm and knocks on the door and when he opens it, she hugs him and starts kissing him but Victor says he doesn’t know who she is and Lauren notices Lara jumping on Victor’s bed in her underwear. Paul sees Sean sitting on the steps at the stadium and tries talking to him, saying he wants to get to know him but Sean tells Paul that he will never know him and Paul starts yelling at Sean as he leaves. Sean goes and checks his mailbox but doesn’t find a letter inside. Rupert and Guest enter the mailroom and Sean tries to run but the stop him and proceed to give him a beating. Returning to the events at the beginning of the movie, Sean sees Lauren heading upstairs and then spies the blonde but it is shown that his sleeping with her was only a fantasy as Sean puts his drink down and leaves the party. Later, Lauren walks outside and runs into Paul, who is moping on the porch. The two start talking and Paul tells her that Sean loves her but Lauren says it doesn’t matter. Paul asks if she was the one writing Sean letters and Lauren tells him it was someone else, as the two watch Sean ride off on his motorcycle. As he rides, Sean starts a monologue about his thoughts on Lauren but it is cut off as the credits start to roll.

The Rules Of Attraction met with mixed to poor results from the critics, holding a 43% rating on Rotten Tomatoes. The critical consensus on the site is that it is, ” A tiresome movie about unsympathetic college kids engaging in self-destructive behaviors.” The movie originally received an NC-17 rating so the director made cuts to the film in order to get an R rating, however those cuts were retained in some of the foreign releases of the movie. The movie was a mild success at the box office, earning $11.8 million off of a $4 million budget and has since garnered a bit of a cult following.

This is a pretty dark look at an aspect of college life that most people don’t necessarily want to think about. The acting was good, with James Van Der Beek (Sean), Shannyn Sossamon (Lauren), and Ian Somerhalder (Paul) doing good jobs in their roles. The story was really good and from what I remember, followed the novel it was based on pretty closely. Like I said, this movie essentially focused on the other aspect of college life that did not involve grades or sports, sex and drug use, though some aspects of this felt like something out of the 70’s. Especially Lauren hooking up with her teacher, which felt similar to what happened in Animal House. There wasn’t much special effects work in this movie, but they did have a pretty effective use of split screen camera work a couple of times, especially when Sean and Lauren first meet. It’s probably not going to be your first choice for a college themed movie but it is worth watching.

Rating: 3 out of 5

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dark comedy, horror, movie, movie review, sci-fi

May 9th, 2017 Movie – Re-Animator

reanimator

H.P. Lovecraft. Now there is an influence that I honestly don’t think I have come across in my movie collection, and one that I might want to rectify. See, I enjoyed reading Lovecraft’s stories and also enjoyed playing the various games that were based in his literary world. So, being the type of person that I am, I would naturally watch any movies based on his works but never got around to actually buying any of them. Luckily for me, I have friends to help me out with those shortcomings. So let’s get into today’s movie, Re-Animator.

The plot: At the University of Zurich’s Institute of Medicine, the dean and two police officers head for the office of Dr. Hans Gruber, where they meet a frantic nurse outside the door. The nurse and dean knock on the door, calling out for Gruber and his assistant, Herbert West, but when they hear screaming coming from inside, the police smash through the glass and unlock the door. Heading inside, they see Gruber having convulsions on the floor, with Herbert kneeling over him with a syringe in his hand. The police quickly grab Herbert while the nurse goes to check on Gruber when he suddenly stands up and starts screaming before his eyeballs burst and he collapses dead. Herbert says that the dosage was too large and when they accuse him of killing Gruber, he tells them that he gave him life. Some time later, at Miskatonic University in Arkham, MA, medical student Dan Cain is attempting CPR on a patient who is flat-lining but the head doctor calls it, telling Dan that she admires his optimism but a good doctor has to know when to stop. Dan takes the body down to the morgue, where he sees Dr. Carl Hill drilling into another corpse’s head. Dan is surprised by Dean Halsey, who is showing their new transfer student, Herbert, around the campus. Halsey introduces Herbert to Dan and Hill, but Herbert insults Hill and says he is considered to be a plagiarist in Europe. Later that night, Dan is having sex with his fiance Megan, who happens to be the dean’s daughter, and as she is leaving, they find Herbert at the door, having come there to rent the room that Dan had listed on the bulletin board. As Herbert looks around, he asks if there is a basement and when he sees it, quickly agrees to take it and though Megan has some misgivings, Dan accepts. The next day, Dr. Hill is showing his class how to perform a lobotomy but is constantly distracted by Herbert, who snaps his pencil whenever Hill says something that he doesn’t agree with. That night, Hill is having dinner with the Halsey’s in celebration for the latest grant he earned the school. When Megan says that she has to go on a study date with Dan, Hill questions Halsey about her seeing Dan and tries to convince them to study there but the two kids quickly leave. At his place, Dan tries to make out with Megan but she is nervous, citing her unease about Herbert. When she notices that Dan’s cat Rufus hasn’t been seen, they go looking for him and Megan decides to look in Herbert’s room and finds Rufus’ body in Herbert’s fridge. As she screams for Dan, Herbert shows up and is upset about finding her in his room. When Dan gets there and sees Rufus, he asks what is going on and Herbert says that he found her dead and was going to tell Dan later but Megan says that he killed Rufus. When Dan asks about the strange, glowing liquid in the fridge, Herbert says it is none of their concern and asks them to leave his room. That night, Dan hears a strange sound and when he goes to investigate, he finds Herbert in the basement being attacked by something and when Dan helps him deal with it, he realizes it is Rufus. Herbert explains that he has found a way to reanimate the dead and wants Dan to help him. Dan refuses to believe him at first, thinking that Herbert had merely put Rufus in some sort of suspended animation but Herbert proceeds to inject his serum into Rufus’ body, bringing the cat back to life. As Dan looks on in shock when Rufus comes back to life, he is shocked to find that Megan had come down and seen what happened and he goes to calm her down. The next day, Dan goes to Dean Halsey to tell him what Herbert has done but Halsey believes that Dan and Herbert have both gone mad and suspends them both, as well as warning Dan to stay away from Megan. Dan sneaks Herbert down into the morgue, where they go looking for a fresh body to experiment on. They manage to find one and inject the serum into it but when the body eventually comes to life, he begins to attack them. Halsey shows up at the morgue looking for Dan and Herbert but when he bangs on the freezer door, the dead man breaks the door down and attacks and kills Halsey. Herbert finally manages to kill the dead man with a bone saw, then has Dan help him as he injects his serum into Halsey. Halsey comes back to life and starts to get violent but when Megan, who had come to the hospital with Halsey, enters the morgue and screams out, Halsey seems to regain part of his memory and retreats into a corner. When the security guard enters the room, Herbert explains everything that happened as if Halsey had gone crazy and attacked them. Halsey is placed in a padded room and under the care of Hill, who wants to perform exploratory surgery on Halsey. Halsey also uses this to try and get into Megan’s good graces but she is still shocked over what has happened to her father. When Megan heads home, she finds Dan waiting for her and she demands to know what happened to her father but breaks down when Dan tells her he is dead and starts to tell her everything. Meanwhile, Hill goes to see Herbert in his basement lab and questions him about why Halsey is dead, yet able to move and cry out. When Hill demands Herbert show him his work, Herbert reluctantly hands him his notes, then puts some dead cat tissue on a slide and some of his reagent for Hill to observe but as Hill looks into the microscope, Herbert strikes him with a shovel and then uses the blade to decapitate him. Herbert then places the head in a tray, then uses his reagent on the body and head while they are separate. When Hill’s head revives and begins speaking, Herbert starts writing down notes but is knocked unconscious by Hill’s body. Meanwhile, Dan and Megan break into Hill’s office and Dan starts going through Hill’s files, where he finds a folder full of information and items about Megan. Megan goes to check on her father and they discover that he has been lobotomized, and Dan thinks it is so Hill can control him. Herbert wakes up and discovers that his notes and reagent are all missing and when Dan shows up, he explains what happens, Dan thinks he will go after Megan and rushes off. Back at the hospital, Hill’s body carries his head into his office and, after placing some more blood in the tray for his head to absorb, he then goes to the window of Halsey’s padded cell and gains control of him. Dan gets to Megan’s house and finds that she is ok but suddenly, Halsey bursts through the door, knocks out Dan and then captures Megan. Halsey takes Megan back to the morgue, where Hill has been having his body perform lobotomies on some of the other corpses. Megan is placed on a table and stripped naked, and Hill then straps her to the table and begins to sexually assault her. Herbert wakes up Dan and they head to the morgue to confront Hill, but just as Dan frees Megan, Herbert reveals that he has injected the serum into the other corpses and proceeds to control them. Herbert is grabbed and placed on the table, and Hill is about to use his laser drill on him while Halsey and some other corpses attack Dan and Megan. Megan manages to get through to her dad, and he begins fighting the other corpses, then attacks Hill, grabbing his head and eventually crushing it. Herbert grabs his reagent and gives Hill’s body an overdoes but as they are trying to escape, he is attacked by Hill’s mutating body and tosses the bag containing his notes and reagent to Dan for him to save. Dan and Megan make it to the elevator but Megan is attacked by a corpse and though Dan manages to chop off it’s arm, she is still killed. Dan takes Megan’s body upstairs to the emergency room and the doctors try to revive her but to no avail. As they leave the room to give Dan a moment alone, Dan grabs a syringe from the bag and, saying he loves her, injects the reagent into Megan, with the last sound heard is Megan screaming.

Re-Animator met with high praise from the critics, holding a certified fresh rating of 94% on Rotten Tomatoes. The critical consensus on the site is, “Perfectly mixing humor and horror, the only thing more effective than Re-Animator‘s gory scares are its dry, deadpan jokes.” Director Stuart Gordon had originally thought to make Re-Animator for the stage but, along with writers William J. Norris and Dennis Paoli, decided to make it into a half-hour television pilot, before being convinced to turn it into a feature film. The movie would make just over $2 million domestically at the box office off of a $900,000 budget and would spawn 2 sequels.

It may turn some people off, but if you can get past all of the gore, this is actually a pretty good movie. The acting was really good, with Jeffery Combs (Herbert), Bruce Abbott (Dan) and David Gale (Hill) all doing great jobs in their roles. The story was interesting, being somewhat reminiscent of Frankenstein with the whole aspect of a doctor trying to bring bodies back to life. I honestly haven’t read this particular Lovecraft story so I don’t know how close the movie follows the story. The special effects were pretty good, and very graphic in regards to the blood and gore, which almost caused this movie to get an X-rating until it was toned down some. I especially think they did a great job with the reanimated head of Dr. Hill, with the whole thing adding a really creepy aspect to when he molests Megan. Definitely a movie worth watching for any horror fan.

Rating: 4 out of 5

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dark comedy, horror, movie, movie review

April 25th, 2017 Movie – Parents

parents

Sometimes, you have to wonder what happens to some actors. Take Randy Quaid, the star of today’s movie. Now while most people are more familiar with his younger brother Dennis, Randy is a well known actor in his own right; having earned a Golden Globe and even been nominated for an Academy Award. Then, numerous lawsuits, including one for illegally occupying a guest house, occurred and Randy and his wife wound up fleeing to Vancouver and begging for refugee asylum, saying that they feared for their lives as numerous actors were killed by a mysterious group called “The Hollywood Star Whackers”. Yeh, there is no explaining that bit of paranoia. So let’s watch him before all the craziness occurred with today’s movie, Parents.

The plot: In 1954, Nick and Lily Laemle move to a new suburban neighborhood with their son Michael. After dinner, Nick goes to put Michael to bed but Michael is scared of the dark and Nick tries to tell him a story to help him overcome his fear but Michael ends up having a nightmare of him drowning in a pool of blood. In the morning, is helping his mom in the kitchen as she is trying to cook all of the meat they had brought with them. At his first day of school, the teacher, Miss Baxter, introduces Michael and another new student, Shelia, to the class but when she asks them to tell them something new, Michael tells the class about how to cook a cat, and the teacher tells the class not to try cooking their cats. After school lets out, Michael and Shelia are talking and she tells Michael that she is from the moon and Michael begins asking her questions about what it’s like there until she heads home. When Michael returns home, his father is coming up from the basement and his mother seems surprised to see him and makes a note to remember what time he will be home from school now. That night, Michael gets up to get a glass of water and sees his parents having sex in the living room but Lily quickly gets up and takes him back to bed. The next day at school, Michael tries to tell Shelia but Miss Baxter tells him to return to his seat. She then starts handing out workbooks and asks that they draw their family as their first assignment. When Michael draws his family covered in red, the school calls and Lily goes to meet with the school psychiatrist Millie Dew to talk about Michael. Meanwhile, Michael goes to his fathers work, where he is working on making a chemical defoliant that will kill off plants. That night, the Laemle’s have dinner with the Zellners, as Mr. Zellner is Nick’s boss and Shelia’s father, and Michael and Shelia sneak down to watch the adults, with Michael thinking they are acting weird. The next day at school, Michael is called into Millie Dew’s office and she tries to talk to him about his drawing but Michael refuses to talk. At Nick’s work, Nick head’s down to the morgue, where a fresh body has been delivered, and gets some liver and limb tissue to be used for testing. Back at his home, Michael is watching his mother prepare some meat and imagines himself being wrapped up by a giant sausage link. At dinner, Michael refuses to eat and asks his parents where the meat came from but they don’t answer. The next day at class, Michael overhears Millie talking to someone about Michael before he heads home, where he finds Shelia waiting for him. Though Michael says he’s not allowed to have people over, Shelia heads inside and they have fun but Nick catches them inside the freezer splashing wine over each other. That night, Nick tells a story to chastise Michael and forbids him to see Shelia Zellner again. Michael refuses to do that as he sneaks out to see Shelia the next day and as they discuss their parents, Shelia puts the idea in Michael’s head to find out what his father does at work. Michael sneaks over to Toxico, the company Nick works at, and he sees Nick in the morgue cutting into a body. Michael manages to sneak out of the building and is walking home but Nick drives up next to him and gives him a ride home. During dinner, Michael is fiddling with a pair of surgical scissors he grabbed from Toxico and drops them but Nick picks them up and questions Michael about where he got them. That night, Michael decides to sneak down to the basement and sees a meat cleaver and bloody table down there, and a human leg hanging from a hook. Michael rushes back to his room but finds Nick there, who asks what Michael was doing up and Michael pulls out a snack cake that he had grabbed from the kitchen as his excuse. The next day, Michael is in Millie’s office and she is asking him about what is bothering him but he can’t tell her. Millie drives Michael home and he rushes inside, with Millie following behind him as he heads down to the basement. When Millie sees a rat, she thinks that is what scared him and chases the rat away only to discover a human corpse there. Michael runs up to his room and gets in bed, leaving Millie alone just as Nick and Lily return home and kill Millie. As they cook dinner and bring it inside, Michael hits Nick in the stomach with a baseball bat but Nick recovers and ties Michael to a chair. He then tries to explain things to Michael as he unties him and attempts to feed him some of the meat they cooked but Michael grabs a knife and stabs it into Nick’s shoulder. Nick is angered and attempts to kill Michael, telling Lily they can have another one and raise it right but as Nick starts to carry Michael down to the basement, Lily stabs Nick in the back with a knife. Michael runs down to the basement while Nick kills Lily, then follows Michael into the basement but Michael trips him and he falls down the stairs. Michael attempts to head back upstairs but Nick grabs him and Michael manages to slip from his grasp and hide. As the injured Nick stumbles around in the basement, he accidentally breaks the gas line before knocking the wine rack down on top of him. Michael runs from the house as a fire in the kitchen ignites the gas and the house explodes. Later, Michael is seen living with his grandparents and as they tuck him into bed, his grandmother leaves a glass of milk and a sandwich full of meat on his end table, making it seem like cannibalism runs in the family.

Parents met with mixed reviews from the critics, holding a 50% rating on Rotten Tomatoes. While there isn’t a critical consensus on the site, the critics that liked the movie seemed to think it was a clever dark comedy but didn’t live up to it’s full potential. The family name of Laemle is likely a nod to Carl Laemmle Jr., the producer for some of the classic horror movies such as Dracula (1931), Frankenstein (1931), and The Mummy (1932). The movie was a dud at the box office, earning only $870,532 off of a $3 million budget but wound up gaining a cult following .

This was kind of an odd movie to watch. The acting was ok for the most part, though felt a little stiff at times. Randy Quaid (Nick) was pretty good, as was Bryan Madorsky (Michael) and London Juno (Shelia). The story was interesting, acting more like a dark psychological comedy than an actual horror movie, though it did turn into a bit of the traditional horror movie towards the end. The special effects regarding Michael’s dreams were ok, though a bit basic to be honest as they mostly just involved a lot of blood flowing around. An interesting movie but not exactly one I would rush to see.

Rating: 2 1/2 out of 5

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