Let's play a round of "Name that Auteur". Who is the filmmaker who is obsessed with New York, classic films and religious guilt? If you said Woody Allen, you're right, if you said Martin Scorsese, you're right too. Ok, now name the director who is obsessed with old horror movies, asymmetrical design, dark fantastic alternate realities where the villains are far more physically attractive than our hero. Did I mention that these dark visions are normally used for family flicks? Was Tim Burton pretty much the only person that come to mind? That's because Mr. Burton practically has the market cornered on family friendly, goth-lite fare. Which why the new animated film "Igor" will likely be labeled a "Burton-esque affair" at best and a "total rip off" at worst. And that is really too bad, because while there do appear to be a couple of things lifted from Burton's films (the character design for one), this little monster movie deserves a fair shot at your heart, the one in a jar on your desk that is.

At the start of the film we are plunked down into the middle of a world where there are two classes of people. At the high end of the class spectrum are the mad scientists, who get to cackle and wring their hands and shout things like "Pull the switch!" The lower class consists of the eternally downtrodden who are so repressed that they don't even have individual names, they are all called Igor. Their primary functions are to pull the switches that their masters shout about, and to take abuse.

Enter, Igor, more specifically our Igor (John Cusack), we know he's ours because the cutest Igor that were introduced to. Igor is an evil genius in his own right, but as an Igor he's not allowed to invent.His biggest achievements to date are the pair of sidekicks that he has managed to cobble together out of spare parts. There's Scamper (Steve Buscemi) a rabbit that Igor was able to make invulnerable, unfortunately he wants to kill himself. And Brain (Sean Hayes) who is a brain in a jar who thinks he's a genius, he clearly is not. To add insult to injury Igor is forced to work for a mad scientist (John Cleese)who's most evil invention is a tasty lasagna. When his scientist is blown to bits because he wouldn't listen to Igor's advice, our hero finds himself in a unique position. He finally has unfettered access to a mad scientists lab. He decides, along with Brain and Scamper, to take on the status quo an enter his newest creation into the annual evil science fair. His newest creation is a sure fire winner. Life. Evil life that is, in the form of a monstrous stitched together creation who dubs herself Eva (Molly Shannon). The first hiccup in Igor's plan is that Eva is inherently good. Things only get worse when she also decides that she's an actress.

Most of the rest of the action is concerned with a rival scientist named Dr. Schadenfreude (Eddie Izzard) who has gained a position of respect by stealing the plans for the winning entries in the evil science fair year after year. This year the best shot appears to be Eva herself, which leads to a very funny series of poorly planned attacks and botched kidnapping attempts.

I was able to have a pair of co-reviewers in the form of my 5 year old son and 53 year old father for this film. My father who is notoriously hard to please in the realm of film, actually had a good time with this one. My son, who is the real litmus test, did get a little antsy towards the end of the film when a lot of the plottier elements come together. But, the movie still managed entertain him enough that he was quoting it afterwards, and acting out Brain and Scampers goofier moments.

The movie is slower paced than the Dreamworks family of CGI films like the "Shrek" series. It also featured less toilet humor, which as a parent pleased me. Of course the animation also is lesser than its big budgeted brethren, which to my mind should be weighed against the fact this movie has a lot of personality. While certainly not everyones cup of tea, if you have a fondness for black and white creature features and have kids you would like to introduce to the friendlier side of horror movies, I think you should find a lot to like in "Igor".


FG Film Club: Food of the Gods

I've been following Final Girl's film club for months now, reading wonderful reviews of fantastic movies. I mean look at past film of the month entries; The Descent, The Exorcist, Prince of Darkness, Behind the Mask. It's like a veritable cornucopia of tasty horror practically guaranteed to please. I've been waiting, biding my time for the right moment to jump into this fray of horror classics and newly found gems. So what was the highlight of horror film culture that caused me to break my code of silence?

That's right, I decided to join the FGFC ranks the same month that a Bert I. Gordon flick is featured. Now, come on, give the guy a shot. After all he is the director of such classic fare as The Amazing Colossal Man and Earth vs. The Spider (which is right up there with Them! as one of my favorite giant bug movies.), so this couldn't be all bad. Right? RIGHT?

Actually, if we're being totally honest here, from a film making standpoint you could tear this thing open from groin to gullet. The dialog is laughable, apparently the special effects that make tiny things huge hadn't developed one iota in the 19 years between Amazing Colossal and Food of the Gods, and Ida Lupino manages to chew more scenery than the giant rats. (Zing!) Seriously, I am amazed that the amount of raw ham on this set didn't develop into an outbreak of trichinosis.

However, honestly again (we might as well be at this point, eh?), none of that matters in the slightest, about ten minutes into the film I was ready to turn it off and then and there declare it the best use of celluloid in the history of well...celluloid I guess. The sequence in question does make me wonder if ol' Bertie had some psycho-sexual issues to work out. You'll see what I mean in a minute.

It plays out like this, Marjoe Gortner's character, 'Football SuperStar' has just witnessed his good friend 'Plot Device' get all kind of killed 'cause he got stung by a wasp the size of a 10th grader. Turns out when mutant wasps sting your face, thats a bad, bad thing, you get swelled up real bad. Of course the locals are just goint to say that you fell off your horse anyway.

SuperStar, Football decides to run for help and winds up at the Pacific Northwests answer to the Texas Chainsaw house. Ida Lupino, playing 'Elderly Psycho Housewife' spys SuperStar coming up the drive and like any sane person seeing a fellow human in need, she hides behind the curtains. FSS decides to forgoe the usual route of knocking on the front door and heads directly into the barn. Logical, right? Here's where it gets weird, er, weirder I guess. Inside said barn are giant chickens, huge fucking hens folks, and a rampaging rooster on a roid rage. (The rooster is also large, I just couldn't figure out an 'r' word that meant big to go with my whole alliteration bit there.) The subversive sexual content comes in (sorry for the pun) when you realize that you are watching a scene wherein a star football man is mauled by a giant cock.

The Cock in Question

Fan-fucking-tastic. Here are some other even randomer thoughts I had whilst watching FOTG; Marjoe Gortner actually won the Best Name In The Universe Award 8 years running, Bert I. Gordon's name is comforting to see at the start of a movie, Ida Lupino really? that's odd, I hope the rats didn't mind being shocked too much, they must have had a deal with the local Vancouver Ferrymens Union (chapter 873), Marjoe Gortner doesn't actually look like a football player at all, I want a lady bacteriologist to as my zippy sidekick, no wait, I want a lady bacteriologist to love me like they love Marjoe Fucking Gorter (According to Stacie that is his official middle name).

To bring back a scoring convention of mine I give this one
7 giant rat testes out of 10.

Seriously though, read up on Marjoe Gortner, if even half of that shit is true I vote that the next biopic not be based on Stevie Ray Vaughn but on Marjoe Fucking Gortner.


Trickery Afoot!

As you may or may not know, I loooooovvvee horror movies, have since I was way too young to be watching them. See, my parents read to me every night when I was a wee lad and at one point I picked out a Zilpha Keatley Snyder book, this led to The Witch Saga, then to the Scary Stories To Tell in the Dark series. From there I was a goner, didn't stand a chance, horror had me dead to rights.

By the time I was in middle school I did what any good child of my generation should do, traded my library card in for a video store membership. (Video whositwhatnow?) Living in Indiana Children of the Corn was an early favorite. (If you don't get why, then you've never been to the Hoosier State.) I was made of pretty stern stuff back then, Evil Dead? No problem. The Funhouse? Bring it on! The Shining? Creepshow? Om nom nom nom. (That means I ate them up, if you're not from the internet.)

But still, I had my limits. If the box freaked me out sitting in the dusty, neon lit, linoleum tiled video store (no lie, the place was called The Tapeworm), I figured there was no way in H-E-double hockey sticks that I could make it through the damn thing all on my own. Enter, April Fool's Day
Now I know it doesn't look it but that box art creeped me out to no end. I'm guessing it had something to do with how happy everyone looks whilst some crazy bitch who could strangle them with her fucking hair toasts them all. Seriously, hair noose! Think about it folks. It was either the fact that she could kill you with her coif or the way that dress clung to her body, promising some hot, caucasian, preppy sex. Lets face it, as a 12 year old mid-western boy that WASP's ass was scarier than the butcher knife she was hiding behind it.

What ever it was, AFD was one I could never bring myself to rent, or to ask someone to rent for me, for that matter. Which leads me to today. Today, if you were to give me the keys to a time machine (really, your time machine needs a key? LAME!) I would travel back to 1990 and smack my 11 year old self in the back of the head. Apparently preppies and knives don't traumatize me the way they did way back when, because I watched this flick last night all by my lonesome. And you know what? Turns out AFD is a great, great, great, movie.

Well I was going to write a proper review of the movie but I'm close to using up all my brains for the day. So let me sum up my feelings, Final Girl hearts it, and now I do too. What's your friggin problem? Go check it out and then tell me my love is wrong.


This isn't an Adventure Story

Here is the trailer for Rian Johnson's sophomore feature. His debut, Brick, is one of my favorite films of the last 5 years, and that puts it among some heavy competition. It was lean and tough, showing Johnson to be an assured director. He was surprisingly mature, not resorting to tricks or gimmicks, even though the story he told could've quickly devolved into such shenanigans.

I have to say by this trailer it does kind of appear that he is biting the Anderson Style at least a little. But between Brick, and his openness with his fans, I'll give him the benefit of the doubt.

The cast at least looks fantastic. At this point Mark Ruffalo is one of those guys I trust will deliver a good show, he seems to be game for pretty much anything. Adrien Brody generally turns in odd yet enjoyable performances. Rachel Weisz has already done a respectable con flick and she was in one of my favorite underrated movies The Fountain.

Here, to play us out, is Johnson's video for The Mountain Goats song, Woke Up New.


Calamity Jane

Contemplating writing this piece, I was trying to find my hook, my way into the world of this movie. Would I expound on my natural first reaction, the slight disgust at the contrived plot device of the woman who has to conform to get her man, or that she even needs a man in the first place? It's a common reaction from me, (I liked Sandy just fine before she donned those tight black pants and took up smoking.) But no, an over the top, PC thug reaction would just label me a stick in the mud.

Would I write about the lesbian undertones of (apparently) the only two women in Deadwood shacking up? While a fun proposition, it's not really worth much more digital ink than to point out that it does exist, (of course having said that someone else will probably make a brilliant piece out of it.)

No, I think I'll write about how the movie grew on me. I have to admit at first blush Doris Day's shtick is off putting. All furrowed brow and tomboyish pouting, she manages to chew scenery in a musical, and that takes a lot of work. Nope, this one was a bit of a hard sit at first for yours truly, but there was an a-ha moment about 16 minutes in. When desperate stage actor Francis poses as hotsy totsy songstress Frances to fool the crowd at the Golden Garter. Wild Bill's first reaction to seeing Francis in drag "She ain't very good lookin'" is charming enough, but when met with Calamity's rejoinder "That ain't all she ain't!" it sets the stage for a musical number that is goofy and more than a little disturbing. Those Deadwood men must have some screwed up standards. I mean, really, which one would you choose?


The men of Deadwood know what they want!

This scene sets the surprisingly odd tone for the rest of the film, which contains; identity theft, xenophobia, (implied) unwed intercourse, multiple counts of cross dressing. All that is before you get to hear Doris Day threaten to shoot someone in the face! So turns out it really is my kind of movie after all, although it could have used more dancing.

I did want to mention Howard Keel, who although I think he falls a little flat in this show, was wonderful a year later in Seven Brides for Seven Brothers.


#8 The Monster Squad

Another revisit of a pre-critical era flick. Surprisingly the film holds up pretty well, the dialog is sharp and zingy even if the plotting is a little thin, and there are a few too many coincidences. Actually it's not that surprising considering it was written by Shane Black. He's also written two of my favorite christmas movies of all time. Once again my nostalgia for the flick will actually preclude my inclusion of an intelligent rating, but as I love doing them anyway:

87 Fictional Creature Testicles out of 10

#7 Mighty Aphrodite

Mostly silly entry from Allen. But I have to say I prefer a silly movie from him over most of the comedies that come out. Some highlights:

Lenny Weinrib: Achilles only had an Achilles heel, I have an entire Achilles body.

Linda: You didn't want a blowjob so the least I could do is get you a tie.

Linda: Okay, so I had one guy fucking me from behind and two guys dressed as cops in my mouth and all I could think was, "I like acting. I wanna study."

Kevin: I've had 16 fights and I won all of them but 12.

8 Pornographic Timepieces out of 10


#6 The Terminator

This movie predates any critical thought for me by several years, so it could really be terrible and I would never even know it. I love this movie. One thought: Why wasn't Michael Biehn a bigger star? He holds the movie together as the emotionally wounded soldier who was manipulated into his job.

95 Time Traveling Paradoxes out of 10

(I told you I couldn't think critically about this movie!)