Thursday, October 31, 2013

The (Better-Late-Than-Never) Halloween Blogathon!

I have been awful busy lately between work and a pretty major, soon-to-be-announced project, so I fell behind on preparations for this year's Halloween Blogathon.  Have no fear, the blogathon is still here...just 24 hours late.  To make up for the delay, I'm even tacking on a few bonus posts.


I'm pleased to announce the Fifth Annual 
(Better-Late-Than-Never) Midnite Media Halloween Blogathon.

October 31, 2013.
November 1, 2013.
Beginning at Midnight.
24 hours.
29 hours.
24 posts.
29 posts.
Varying quality.
Guaranteed.

Last year, it was all about Jason Voorhees.
This year I'm tackling Pinhead, the Cenobites, and the whole Hellraiser franchise.

Happy Hauntings.

Saturday, October 26, 2013

Movie Review: Crystal Lake Memories (2013)

Crystal Lake Memories
CRYSTAL LAKE MEMORIES - Cover Image

The subtitle to this documentary is "The Complete History of Friday the 13th", and that is one of the most stunningly accurate descriptions in history. This epic 2-disc set, clocking in at over six whopping hours, covers everything from the original Friday the 13th to Jason X, Freddy Vs. Jason, the remake film, and even the basically unrelated television series of the same name. That's 13 chapters of 13th fun, each one packed to overflowing with fascinating facts and information, relevant clips and outtakes, and more talking head interviews than you can shake a stick at.

The filmmakers have assembled interviews with damn near every person involved in each entry of the franchise--actors, directors, producers, screenwriters, you name it, they've got it. You want to make it even better? The whole shebang is narrated by Corey Feldman, the young Tommy Jarvis himself, who does a commendable job.

My only qualm--and it's a minor one--is that I wish they had spent more time discussing the non-cinematic aspects of Friday the 13th. There was a whole host of novels, young adult books, and comics that continued the adventures of Jason Voorhees, even when the cameras were not rolling.

If you're a Friday the 13th fanatic, you probably think that you know everything there is to know about the series. Unless you have this in your collection, I can say without a doubt that you are wrong. Even if you are something of a more casual fan, this belongs in your collection. Are you an aspiring genre filmmaker? Then buy this set...and take notes.

This masterwork was brought to is by the same team that constructed the similarly themed Never Sleep Again: the Nightmare on Elm Street Legacy, which I haven't yet seen but will definitely be purchasing now. Here's hoping they continue their work with other worthy franchises. I'd love to see them do their thing for Halloween, Saw, Texas Chainsaw Massacre, and Hellraiser, among others.

Buy this. Call in sick to work. Plop ass on the couch. Enjoy.

2013
Not Rated
400 Minutes
Color
English
United States

--J/Metro

Sunday, October 13, 2013

Movie Review: V/H/S 2 (2013)

V/H/S 2
V/H/S 2 - Poster Image

In this sequel to last year's cult hit, we get another group of directors taking their stab at the found footage motif. This time the whole project has gone on a diet, trimming down the running time to a lean 90 minutes or so; but is leaner always meaner?

As with every anthology film, there are ups-and-downs, hills and valleys. We start off with a low in the form of "Tape 49", the wraparound story directed by Simon Barrett that revolves around a pair of sleazy private detectives whose search for a missing boy leads them to view the four VHS tapes that contain the individual segments of the movie. It's basically a rehash of the wraparound from part one, just starring different people. It brings absolutely nothing new to the table, and doesn't even make a whole lot of sense.

Phase I Clinical Trials directed by Adam Wingard
A man with an experimental ocular implant (complete with camera) begins to see spirits. It had a good premise and some solidly spooky moments, and the addition of a woman with a cochlear implant who could hear spirits was pretty clever, but it didn't pay off as well as I was hoping. Basically a high tech version of The Eye, and not as novel as some seemed to think, but still a decent opening to the whole shebang.

A Ride In The Park directed by Gregg Hale and Eduardo Sanchez
This story is captured on the helmet-cam of a bicyclist who finds himself first the victim of, and then a participant in, a zombie uprising. I wanted to like this one a lot more than I did--a zombie film from the POV of a zombie seems brilliant--but the endless wet undead snufflings became extremely tedious and I had to fight the urge to mute the whole damn thing. Plus, zombies have no personalities and having no personality can quickly escalate to no plot. This was just shuffling, moaning and flesh eating from a new perspective. Easily my least-favorite of all the actual segments.

V/H/S 2 - A Ride in the Park

Safe Haven directed by Gareth Evans and Timo Tjahjanto
A group of reporters receive inside access to a religious cult whose prophetic ramblings turn out to be less about getting to heaven and more about bringing hell to them. This was the best of the entries, featuring one-thousand-and-one batshit crazy elements...even if I didn't always fully grasp what was happening. Of all of the shorts, this is the one that could be easily expanded into a feature film.

V/H/S 2 - Safe Haven

Slumber Party Alien Abduction directed by Eisener
The title pretty much tells you what to expect--though one would assume there were more teenage girls involved. A bunch of horribly obnoxious youngsters play horribly obnoxious pranks on each other while some creepy stuff happens, first in the background and then on the forefront. If I had any reason to not root for the eternal silencing of these pups, then I might have enjoyed this one more than I did.

Overall, it was an uneven experience that left me rather disappointed. The first one wasn't perfect, but I hoped that the filmmakers would have learned from their mistakes for part two. In some instances they did...but merely replaced them with new ones.

Oh well. Surely the third time will be the charm, and if not, at least we should have enough decent segments to fan edit a really good film from.

2013
Rated R
96 Minutes
Color
English/Indonesian
USA/Canada/Indonesia

--J/Metro

Thursday, October 3, 2013

Service Review: Full Moon Streaming/Grindhouse Flix

Less than a year ago, the madmen over at Full Moon launched GrindhouseFlix.com, a subscription-based streaming site where you could view vintage, some may say "classic", exploitation films. Some time later, they launched FullMoonStreaming.com--same business model, different menu. But they have now done the only thing that makes sense: combine the two platforms into a single service.

Full Moon was kind enough to invite me to peruse the new Full Moon Streaming service for a week on their dime in exchange for a review. I've been streaming movies and toying with the website for a few days now, so I'd like to share my thoughts.



Visually speaking, it's a simple website that is functional but doesn't dazzle the eyes. It's a plain white background with black text and various horizontal scrollbars--one each for: films currently available, films coming soon, merchandise available to purchase, home video available to purchase, bonus media, and vidcasts. To access the Grindhouse Flix titles, you have to click on a link that takes you to a separate page, but the layout remains basically the same.

I wish that you could hover over the title or image to read a synopsis of the film, but the only way to learn more about any given movie is to visit that movie's page. That page features the streaming screen, original movie poster, synopsis, link to the trailer, links to purchase related collectables or home video, and links to bonus material where applicable (including the famous VideoZone vids from classic Full Moon VHS tapes).

Streaming the movie can be done in standard halfscreen mode or in fullscreen, and you can easily switch between low, medium, high and HD qualities. The default is set to medium which is passable but looks a bit murky; but once I kicked it up to high or HD, I had a few buffering issues. I also found that if I paused the film for too long, I could not get playback to resume and would have to start back at the beginning, dragging the cursor along the time bar until I could find my spot again.

Low Quality
Medium Quality
High Quality
HD Quality
The good news is that the service is very cheap--only $6.99 a month for unlimited viewing! The bad news is that there still aren't all that many titles available. If you are a voracious viewer, you could run through all the titles you truly want to see in a relatively short amount of time. New Full Moon and Grindhouse titles are added weekly (for a total of 8 per month), so in theory there should always be something new that you want to watch just around the corner.

My only major qualm with the service is that it is only viewable on your home computer and select mobile devices (it worked on my iPhone but not on my Kindle Fire). I hope that once they build their library up, they add a ROKU channel so that subscribers can stream movies directly to their TV--I think that would really increase their customer base.

If the service is worth it to you will really depend on how you feel about Full Moon's features, and the titles that they acquire for the Grindhouse banner. Click HERE to see what titles are currently available and learn more about the service.

It's still a young project, and I have faith that any and all bugs will be worked out in time, that the library will become much more expansive, and that a ROKU channel is on the horizon. When that time comes, I'll have my credit card number ready.

--J/Metro

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