Aug 9, 2010

Aftermath: The Doors

“The Doors” (1991); Directed by Oliver Stone, who really should just stop. Dreamed up in a lurid vision of dancing demons in this desert that we call America, man, by Stone and Randall Johnson.

Remember the ‘60s and just what, like, an amazing time and place it was? … Oh yeah!? Well, you weren’t there, man, so you’ll just, like, never know!

Val Kilmer as Iceman, Meg Ryan as a long-suffering hippie girlfriend who’s still just cute-as-a-button!

Nodded Off/Nyquil Kicked In Around:
While Kilmer, as Jim Morrison, was writhing around on the floor in tight pants, shouting incoherently. I realize that this could have been at any time during the film.

Observation/Life Lesson:
The Doors were made up of a transcendentalist, inventive keyboardist who also deftly handled the bassline; a guitarist who combined flamenco-style finger-picking with bottleneck blues sensibilities; a drummer who fused elements of rock with the complexities of jazz; and a guy who mumbled/yelled into a microphone and fell down a lot. Guess which one Oliver Stone focused on?

As a band, The Doors are OK, and Morrison’s poetry is mostly harmless, though if you’re reading it and and you aren’t a middle school-aged girl, there’s probably something wrong with you. Kilmer’s Morrison is kind of a slouched, pouty hipster who throws tantrums because, people just, don’t like, get it, man. He's perpetually caught in a weird place between alcohol, drugs, and petulance. The movie itself is filmed as if it wants to take the viewer along on Morrison’s drug trips, and the resulting camera work is a little nauseating.

“The Doors,” however, has bigger problems than Stone’s look-how-cool-I-can-be directorial style, as it suffers from an acute and fatal form of 1960s Nostalgia Disease. During the late ‘80s and early ‘90s, it seemed, television and film makers were obsessed with cramming anything that had to do with the ‘60s counter-culture down the collective mass media maw. And we ate it up. We watched “The Wonder Years,” suffered thought countless Woodstock retrospectives, and there was, of course, this:

Am I adverse to every pop culture element of the 1960s? Not at all. But can we leave the baby and get rid of some of this bathwater?


Jun 29, 2010

Aftermath: "Revenge of the Naked Gerbil People" (US title "Avatar")

"Revenge of the Naked Gerbil People" (US title "Avatar"); James Cameron, dir., writer; CGI by all those guys you see at ComicCon


Dances With Wolves In Space!


Sam Worthington; Lt. Uhura; and Sigorney Weaver as "Ripley"

Nodded off/Nyquil kicked in around:I attempted, on about three separate occasions, to watch this film on behest of a couple of "Avatar" fans (I'll use the U.S. title, although it's been well documented that Cameron nearly quit the project over 20th Century Fox's refusal to reference the giant blue rodents in domestic promotions). I failed to make it through on about three separate occasions, getting as far as when the bipeds of Hamsteria had their treehouse knocked over.

Observation/Life Lesson:Much has been made about Director James Cameron's revolutionary use of 3D in "Avatar," with which he used to create stunning visual effects that wowed theater audiences and many critics alike. However, when played on a 17" screen without 3D, "Avatar," weighed down by contrivances and a plot that has been done to death, sinks like the Titanic. And like "Titanic," Avatar isn't necessarily a bad film, but it's not a great film, either.

There's not much to be said about "Avatar" that hasn't been said already. It seems like cheap shots, making fun of a movie whose main characters are able to control mutant ostriches by plugging their ponytails directly into the ostriches' ear. Cameron fills every inch of the screen with something colorful and fantastical. After a while, it becomes so visually overwhelming that it overflows like so much BP oil. All you can do is just let it kill some pelicans and hope your next film experience is a little less ridiculous.


May 13, 2010

Aftermath: Bloodrayne


"Bloodrayne" (2005); Uwe Boll, director; Guinevere Turner, writer, sort of; based on a video game that I can only assume must be more entertaining


The one where you stab a monk in the face with a sword


Kristanna Loken; a slumming Ben Kingsley; a constantly-slumming Michael Madsen; Meat Loaf Aday

Nodded off/Nyquil kicked in around:

About 3/4 of the way through, maybe more, maybe less? It's all kind of a red haze.

Observation/Life lesson:

Many people fear the name Uwe Boll, and they would be right to do so. He has bested critics in the boxing ring and has acquired a vast fortune tormenting paying audiences with films based on video games. I'm assuming he's amassed a vast fortune–for all I know he's blown all his dough on the ponies and is living under an overpass in Newark. But I like to think he sits upon a throne made of skulls, sipping on the blood of virgins out of a chalice also made from a skull, while talking to his agent–a skull–on a cell phone made of little skulls.

I'll give Boll this: His vampires aren't the kind you dip in glitter and who attend high school in rural Washington State. Boll works from the "Blade" school of thought when it comes to the undead–the more blood, the better. None of this makes "Bloodrayne" – the story of a "dhampir," the offspring of a human mother and vampire father, on her quest for ooey, gooey vengeance – a decent film.

"Bloodrayne" is rife with continuity errors and historical inaccuracies, which would be forgivable if the film had decent acting, a decent script, or decent special effects. I'd even settle for a decent wardrobe, except our heroine looks as if she shops exclusively at Olympia Sports. What "Bloodrayne" does have is blood–lots of it–as well as many ridiculous scenes of people getting stabbed all nasty-like. (I probably should mention the soft-core scene with Rayne and, well, some guy, which the AV Club coined brilliantly as "a hilariously gratuitous bit of acrobatic dungeon sex.")

"Bloodrayne" should count as a good time if you're a decent person with good taste. But in this case, "decent person with good taste" applies strictly to Boll himself, and maybe to juggalos.

Tweetcast Transcript:

  1. Although directed in a completely different style, I daresay this is the craziest f*cking thing since H R Puff n Stuff

  2. Give Boll this: He has endless ideas on how to impale/dismember/disembowel his extras
  3. It sounds like they call a half-vampire/half-human a "Zamfir." Must be born with the powers of the pan flute, Windham Hill record contract.
  4. And they say you can't make a decent film from a video game. Well, I guess "they" are right.
  5. Imagine the 18th C. midriff-revealing bodice is the most historically accurate thing about Bloodrayne
  6. Boll briefly considered having his actors "act," ultimately decided against it. Other ideas rejected: Decent script, continuity.
  7. Ben Kingsley! What are you doing here?
  8. Judging by the costumes and accents, I'm guessing thus takes place in the year Whenever in the nation of Gypsyvainia.
  9. Well, about a minute into the film, and we do have blood. Can't wait for the Ra---oh, no, there she is
  10. Tonight's BTM: "Bloodrayne," from the always reliable Uwe Boll


Apr 1, 2010

Aftermath: "Carny"


"Carny" (2009) (TV); Sheldon Wilson, director with utmost contempt for viewing audience; Douglas G. Davis, writer who sneezed on keyboard while Microsoft Word was open and called it a script.


So bad it's bad


The Inevitable Lou "Diamond" Phillips; Alan C. "Lucky" Peterson; Vlasta "Vad-Ass" Vrana

Nodded Off/Nyquil Kicked In Around:

Not soon enough.

Observation/Life Lesson:

The Jersey Devil is real, but is only heard and seen mostly in shadow, as it is so ashamed of its poor rendering and rubberized appearance. "J.D.," as all his hipster friends call him, escapes early in the film from a carnival and apparently terrorizes the locals. Or maybe he just hangs out at Denny's. The first half of "Carny" isn't clear as to what, exactly, is causing the dismemberment of the local pasty-face teen set.

"Carny" also has a conspicuous lack of carnies, instead choosing to populate its carnival atmosphere with tattoo artists, people with giganticism, and Quatto from "Total Recall" fame. It's as if the producers wanted to do "Freaks" but with a sci-fi twist, and failed miserably.

It's obvious director Sheldon Wilson has nothing but bald-faced contemptible hatred for an audience he probably visualizes as a group of rural, low-life stoner hicks, which is a horrible ascertation, considering that some of us live in cities.

Writer Douglas G. Davis is a credit to all writers who envision, yet can't quite execute, having someone lose an eyeball to a monster who is not actually seen. Very impressive, considering he is listed on IMDB as a writer for Blues Clues

Lou Diamond Phillips seems to have resigned himself to the role of Sheriff of a Small Town Threatened By Crappy CGI Monster in films that inevitably wind up on SyFy, USA, or Chill. He already landed a role on Stargate Universe, so you'd think whatever penance he's doing would have been paid by now. The ghost of Richie Valens is probably very disappointed.

"Carny" Twittercast Transcript:

  • A carny, in my understanding, is one who runs carnival rides. Ironically, "Carny," so far, has been carny-free.
  • about 21 hours ago via Twitterrific

  • Lou Diamond Phillips is an inspiration to all those born without an upper lip.
  • about 21 hours ago via Twitterrific

  • Chase sequence seems to have been choreographed by Benny Hill
  • about 21 hours ago via Twitterrific

  • Quote of the night (so far): Pasty-faced teen: "Is that a foot?"
  • about 21 hours ago via Twitterrific

  • Bad news: Jersey Devil has escaped carnival, leaving "cuts, bruises and broken bones." Good news: has only passing resemblence to Snooki.
  • about 21 hours ago via Twitterrific

  • Half of this film seems to be LDP shaking his head & sighing in mild exasperation
  • about 21 hours ago via Twitterrific

  • Concerned that the fake-outs seem horribly obvious
  • about 21 hours ago via Twitterrific

  • "Carny" thus far makes the bold statement "circus freaks are weird"
  • about 21 hours ago via Twitterrific
  • LDP plays a small town sherif in a low-budget direct-to-DVD horror flick. Big surprise. Yup.
  • about 21 hours ago via Twitterrific

  • Less than 5 min in & someone's already lost an eye
  • about 21 hours ago via Twitterrific

  • One of these characters looks like the mutant offspring of Christopher Walkin and Jon Voight
  • about 21 hours ago via Twitterrific

  • Sad to say "Carny" only reinforces gap-toothed hick/rubber monster stereotype
  • about 21 hours ago via Twitterrific

  • Lou Diamond Phillips ... Carny ... Carnie Wilson ... Wilson Phillips!!!!!!
  • about 21 hours ago via Twitterrific

  • Tonight's BTM: Lou Diamond Phillips in "Carny"
  • about 22 hours ago via Twitterrific


Pardon our appearance

Hey, gang! We've made a few minor changes to make Bed Time Movies posts conform visually to a standard template. This only meant deleting every single one of them and then re-posting. Apologies for the deluge in your Google reader. We promise this won't happen again until the next time we're really bored.

–The Management


Aftermath: "Alien: Resurrection"

"Alien: Resurrection" (1997); Jean-Pierre Jeunet, dir.; Joss Whedon, writer

The kind where giant black lobsters jump out of your chest

Sigourney Weaver; Winona Ryder; Ron Perlman; and Robert Faltisco as "Soldier Shot Through Helmet"

Nodded Off/Nyquil Kicked In Around:
After we discover Ryder is a Secret Robot, but before Weaver makes sweet, sweet love with the alien

Observation/Life Lesson:
Aliens may look cute when they're babies growing up in a lab, but as they get older, their poop gets bigger and they become more stubborn, refusing to eat Science Diet you paid extra for and killing off your entire crew. While they lack the dander that cause people to be allergic to other pets, the fact that aliens bleed a highly toxic and corrosive acid make them unsuitable for children.

When we last left Ellen Ripley (Weaver) at the end of "Alien 3," she had just dove into a pit of molten metal, incinerating herself and killing the alien growing inside her, as well as the "Alien" franchise. It seemed everybody was happy, except for people who were hoping that Alien 3 would be a good movie, which it wasn't. It sucked on toast. Obviously we needed to clone Ripley and have a fourth movie.

Director Jean-Pierre Jeunet introduces the special extended edition of "Alien: Resurrection." At least that's what I think he's doing. He might be giving instructions on how to make a dirty bomb or announcing that Wolfgang Puck is going to make a delicious soufflé, his accent is so thick. But lo! Who cometh to write the script? Tis Joss Whedon, gentle naive who bequeathed us with "Firefly" and "Dr. Horrible's Sing-ALong Blog"! Maybe this wouldn't be a total waste.

Which it wasn't. There are some entertaining parts of "Alien Resurrection." Weaver's a little creepier than usual, and she pushes Ryder around some, which is neat to watch. Plus, you can see the origins of Wheadon's "Firefly" characters in the crew of smugglers who deliver human hosts for the aliens, only to get picked off one by one in predictable fashion. They're a little like the crew of the good ship Serenity, only lacking basic human understanding and a sense of humor.

While it's not horrible, "Alien: Resurrection" isn't a particularly good movie–Jeunet's obsession with the characters mugging into a wide-angle lens killed any hope of this winning a Golden Globe or even a Cable Ace Award. But it's far better than the next film in the franchise, 2004's "Alien Vs. Predator," which is a lot like saying a 1987 Chevrolet Celebrity is better than a 1978 Ford Pinto.

So maybe that's not the best compliment.



We are a nation facing high unemployment, a lumberingly slow economic recovery, wars on two fronts and the constant threat of terrorism. So let's talk serious about the number one challenge facing America: Vampires.

Vampires have been a part of folklore for centuries, but it took Dracula to make the blood sucker into a character full of charm and sexuality. And that took a lot of Victorian cojones, my friend, to sex-up a creature that sleeps in a dirt-filled coffin and who comes to your room late at night to rip open your carotid artery and lap up the blood.

Since then, it seems, vampires have gotten ever classier, and I for one blame Anne Rice and the whole "Interview With A Vampire" thing for getting us to a point where the work of Stephanie Meyer is acceptable.

Because, let's face it, vampires are dicks. They stand outside your window at all hours of the night, looking pathetic, so you feel like you have to invite them in. And when they do come in, they wreak havoc, ruining your bed sheets because, hey, blood is hard to get out. Then you die. But you're not really dead. Instead you're stuck with pale complexion and have to obey this guy who insists on wearing a stupid-looking cape for all eternity.

So, fuck you, Dracula.

I recently viewed four films in about as many days that interpreted Bram Stoker's 1897 novel, and to be honest, none came close to the crappitude of "Twilight," though it's touch and go with Coppola's 1992 take.

The films
"Nosferatu" or "Nosferatu, eine Symphonie des Grauens (Symphony of Horror)" (1922); F.W. Murnau, dir; Henrik Galeen, writer; Starring Max Schreck as Count Orlok, Gustav von Wangenheim as Hutter

"Dracula" (1931); Tod Browning, dir; Hamilton Deane and John L. Balderston, writers, from the play by Garrett Fort, plus several uncredited other writers; Bela Lugosi as Count Dracula.

"Dracula" or "The Horror of Dracula" (1958); Terence Fischer, dir.; Jimmy Sangster, writer; Christopher Lee as Count Dracula, Peter Cushing as Dr. Van Helsing.

"Bram Stoker's Dracula" (1992); Francis Ford Coppola, dir; James V. Hart, writer; Gary Oldman as Count Dracula, Winona Ryder as Mina; Anthony Hopkins as Prof. Abraham Van Helsing; Keanu Reeves as – for some reason – Jonathan Harker.

Viewing experiences
In keeping with Bed Time Movies tradition, I watched these films right before bed. In breaking with tradition, I would finish a film the next day, before moving onto the next, if i fell asleep before finishing. Under these conditions, I found the first first, albeit unauthorized, film based on "Dracula," to be the best.

Technology evolved tremendously since the silent movie era, but it's the strangeness that comes with seeing a silent film, with all it's surreal oddities, in modern times that makes "Nosferatu" so compelling. It's an unsettling work. That Murnau and Galeen set the film in the mid-1800s and used Count Orlok – with his rat-like visage – as an analogy for bubonic plague somehow makes the menace of the vampire feel more immediate, more real.

It's Bela Lugosi's portrayal of a suave and very sexual Count Dracula, however, that will rightfully be forever associated with the character. Lugosi exudes an old-world charm that not even Connery's James Bond can top. This is one suave motherfucker, and no wonder people fall, at least at first, for his ruse.

Christopher Lee is often overshadowed when it comes to 20th Century Dracula lore, which is a shame, but blame the drac-spoliation films in which he starred following his 1958 debut as the character. Lee's Dracula is, pun intended, a towering menace. He's less a scenery chewer, more more business, which makes him a serious threat. "Horror" is a solid film, as is Lee's performance, and here's hoping that legions of Lord of the Rings fans will take a serious look at this film.

Coppola's version is the most visually striking (second only to the 19th Century Germany of "Nosferatu"), going full-bore with shadows that exist out of synch with their owners, and a Renfield who is truly loony tunes. But it falls flat in several crucial regards. If you had to cast Reeves as Harker, why the hell couldn't you change the character to be American, rather than try to make Keanu do an English accent?! Reeves is utterly terrible. The pressed fiberboard furniture in my apartment has better acting chops.

The problem is Drac-o himself. He spends almost all of the film as a huge dick, kidnapping people, killing the crew of the ship transporting his wrinkly ass to England, and turning himself into a wolf-man just to bump nasties with Lucy the Village Slut. He expends countless hours putting the moves on Keanu's wife (an almost equally miscast Ryder) and then, just as she's on the cusp of becoming the next Elvira, he tells her, "Oh, no, baby. I love you too much to turn you into some hideous bat-child!" Whatever. That's him trying to clear his conscious before committing an act of adultery that could last hundreds if not thousands of years – which he does, by the way. Know what, Dracula? If I were Van Helsing, I'd pound a stake right up your immortal ass, you shit-fuck.

Other than that, "Bram Stoker's Dracula" is a fine piece of filmmaking.