Archive for the 2011 Category

The Ghost of Christmas Past Presents: ELVES (1989)

Posted in 2011, 80s Horror, B-Movies, Bill's Bizarre Bijou, HOLIDAY CHEER, William Carl Articles with tags , , , , , on December 21, 2012 by knifefighter

Bill’s Bizarre Bijou

William D. Carl

This Week’s Feature Presentation:

ELVES (1989)

“They’re not working for Santa anymore.”

Welcome to Bill’s Bizarre Bijou, where you’ll discover the strangest films ever made. If there are alien women with too much eye-shadow and miniskirts, if papier-mâché monsters are involved, if your local drive-in insisted this be the last show in their dusk-till-awn extravaganza, or if it’s just plain unclassifiable – then I’ve seen it and probably loved it. Now, I’m here to share these little gems with you so you too can stare in disbelief at your television with your mouth dangling open. Trust me, with these flicks, you won’t believe your eyes!

Ah, Christmas . . . a time to relax on the couch with a cup of warm cocoa (with mini marshmallows, of course), a time to bring the family together to view one of the great holiday films from yesteryear that always brings a tear to your eye and a lump to your throat. What is it to be this year? IT’S A WONDERFUL LIFE (1946)? MIRACLE ON 34th STREET (1947)? The Mexican atrocity SANTA CLAUS (1959)? No, this year good cheer and warm cockles will be brought to you via the 1989 horror/fantasy film, ELVES. You’ve never heard of it? Well, there’s a reason. Several reasons, in fact.

During a typical Christmas movie title sequence, I discover the star is none other than Grizzly Adams himself, Dan Haggerty (Haggerty was the star of THE LIFE AND TIMES OF GRIZZLY ADAMS from 1977 – 1978). This does nothing to instill confidence in the director’s choice, but he does sort of resemble a coked-up Santa with his bulging belly and golden beard.

Next, we meet three typical 80’s chicks, complete with big hair, Spandex outfits, and candles. Their leader, Kirsten, played by Julie Austen (EXTREME JUSTICE – 1993) claims they’re the Sisters of Anti-Christmas, and they decry the holiday as a commercialized, media-driven event. Well, duh. Kirsten displays a piece of nearly pornographic art called ‘The Virgin of Anti-Christmas,’ and they try out a satanic ceremony so one of the girls can obtain the attentions of a boy. They hurry home as a thunderstorm approaches (at Christmas-time?), while something scrawny and wrinkled and rubbery tracks our naughty artist to her home, where she’s bitch-slapped by her German grandfather (Borah Silver, who played Prince on the KOJAK television series from 1973 – 1978). It’s his spell book the girls were using. In the stark lighting of the home, we can plainly see this ‘girl’ is at least forty years old. We also meet her mother, played by Deanna Lund (Valerie on THE LAND OF THE GIANTS TV show from 1968 – 1970), who looks both younger and prettier than her daughter, and she threatens to clean out the girl’s baby-sitting money from her bank account. Cue shower scene, where little brother peeks on Kirsten. When discovered, Sis calls him a pervert. He calmly replies, “I like looking at naked girls. And you’ve got f—-g big t—ts, and I’m gonna tell everyone what I saw!” Meanwhile, the rubbery creature conjured out of the ground watches as sister and brother make up and wrestle inappropriately on her bed. What is with this family?

Anyway, the elf creature breaks a window with its wobbling little rubber fist and we’re treated to two minutes of blurry elf-vision until the gremlin rip-off straddles the foul-mouthed kid brother. Sadly, it doesn’t kill him.

Our hero, Mike McGavin, played by Haggerty, walks into the local department store after giving a few shekels to the Salvation Army outside, so you know he’s a good guy. Due to the prevalence of elf-vision POV shots, we ascertain the creature is following Kirstin to her work in the department store cafe. Behind her, Mike is pleading with the store manager for a job, any job. I think we all see where this is going. The ‘teenaged’ girls get in line and wait to sit on Santa’s lap, where Kris Kringle cops a feel up her leg and talks dirty. Back at home, Mom drowns her daughter’s kitten in the toilet. Why? Just to be mean, that’s why! Joan Crawford had nothing on this evil witch!

Santa’s mild gropings get him fired, and he is promptly castrated by a rubbery knife in a little rubbery hand while he is snorting cocaine. Merry Christmas, everyone! Slay bells ring!

Kirsten arrives home and says, “It was a rough day at work. Santa got murdered.” Grizzly Adams—I mean, Mike—arrives home to his trailer and finds it padlocked. When the girl sees a little monster peeking in her window, her grandpa goes crazy and interrogates her. He speaks to his daughter in German and she screeches, “Don’t start in on those elves again!” Again? Is this a typical conversation in ANY home?

Mike makes friends with Kirsten at the department store, and he’s spotted by the manager. Soon, he’s the new Santa, getting peed on by infants and with a changing room with a bloody chalk-outline on the floor. Luckily, he used to be a detective, so he can investigate the death of the previous St. Nick.

Grandpa has another German friend from the old days, Ruebenkreutz (I’d love a Rueben with kraut, please) who gets really excited when he finds out Grandpa’s granddaughter has been “chosen” by the elf. Grandpa, however, seems less than thrilled.

It’s not Will Ferrell. It’s an ELF from the 1989 movie ELVES

After investigating in the local library (“Section 666”), Camel-smoking Mike discovers a link between the Nazis and the murder. You see, Hitler ordered his scientists to create a race of supermen (feeble little rubbery guys?), but they must mate with a virgin to achieve their true superpowers. Mike heads back to the store, where he plans to sleep, and the trio of girls break into the place for a party in the lingerie department. Yowza! Three boys show up to join the party. So now we have three bubble-headed, big-haired girls in fancy underwear, Grizzly Adams, an oversexed boy band, and the Elves of the Third Reich all in the same cheap location. Trouble is definitely brewing. And this is before the house detective is killed and three robbers in bad suits (also Nazis) show up. Several people are killed, and the store manager declares “It’s Christmas Eve tomorrow. You think anyone’s gonna want to shop here with blood stains on the floor?”

Back home, Gramps is determined to protect Kirsten from his wheelchair, but Mom doesn’t believe in any of his “stupid myths.” Mike enlists the aid of a professor who provides all the exposition necessary . . . and it deals with Noah’s Ark, God, and elves. He’s smart, you know, because he smokes a pipe. He even says about the Nazis, “If you ignore their brutality, they were just a bunch of crackpots.” What?

Mom goes a bit crazy when her daughter says she wants her father. “Go down to the study,” she screeches, harpy-like. “He’s your grandfather and your father!” I waited for the slapping to start (“He’s my father. He’s my grandfather. He’s my father.”) Gramps explains how Mom wasn’t harmed at all, that he needed to sleep with his daughter in order to produce a Kirsten – a receptacle for elf sperm. (All I can say is. . . Ewww!)

Mike tracks down another exposition-spouting John Waters look-alike professor to explain the very last pieces of the elf puzzle to him, and he’s off to the rescue. Racing to Kirsten’s house at an amazing forty miles per hour, his car is possessed by an elf spirit (what the what?) and blows up just as he leaps from the vehicle. But will he make it in time to prevent the master race from being created or even to stop the elf from getting his floppy hands on Kirsten’s virgin (Ha!) body? You’ll have to watch till the ludicrous apocalyptic ending to know for certain, but I really wanted to shout out “Oh, mighty Isis!”

Grizzly Adams himself (Dan Haggerty) is humanity’s only hope against ELVES!

Dan Haggerty must have been in his pre-Betty Ford Clinic days when he made this. He slurs his lines in a barely intelligible manner that sounds like Brando with a bag of marbles in his mouth. He’s pretty bad, seemingly bored out of his probably stoned skull.

And let’s take a moment to talk about the Elf himself. Despite his crinkled, scary face, the little beastie doesn’t look like he could chase down a double amputee. He’s weak, powerless, and if the elf-o-vision POV is any indication, he’s nearly blind. All he can do is sneak up on the clods in this move and attack them by surprise, because these schmucks don’t even try to fight back. At one point, the elf is actually frightened by a wind-up plush toy pig. They look like the kind of thing you can pick up at any Halloween City to decorate your lawn. Some poor P.A. is probably under it moving it around a bit. And what’s with the plural nature of the title of the movie? There’s only one damn elf in it!

Despite all these problems, ELVES moves quickly from point A to point B, with plenty of quotable dialogue, ugly violence, pretty girls with giant hair and 80’s slang, an extended nude scene by Deanna Lund in a bathtub, a throbbing synth score, car wrecks, scary faces inside Christmas trees, drugs, bad puppetry, and some seriously messed-up family situations. It’s never boring! With a bit of help from a few alcoholic beverages, this would be a laugh riot to watch with friends during the holidays. Peppermint Schnapps would probably be perfect.

More good lines:

“What’s going on? Are we going to be all right?” “No, Grandpa’s a Nazi.”

“Now that Hell is full, I wonder where you will go?”

“Santa said oral.”

A sick and twisted no-budget movie that’ll have you in stitches, this little wonder of ickiness is a cool antidote to all the syrupy Christmas films available, but I wouldn’t rush out to try and locate a copy. Good luck if you do, because it is tough to find.

I give it two incestuous Nazis out of four.

© Copyright 2011 by William D. Carl

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PETER DUDAR’S BEST MOVIES OF 2011

Posted in 2011, Best Of Lists, Exorcism Movies, Ghost Movies, Paranormal, Peter Dudar Reviews with tags , , , , on January 15, 2012 by knifefighter

This really has been kind of a blah year in terms of media events.  You have to figure when idiots like the Kardashians and Donald Trump garner more attention than movies, music, and books, then we as an artful society have really suffered and lost ground.  It almost feels like the entertainment world really has nothing new and exciting to offer.  Nonetheless, it’s imperative that we celebrate the best of the best (even if our opinions are subjective and have cause for disagreement) and since L.L. is sending me hate mail to write something, here are my picks and pans for 2011:

Best Movie:  Hands down, my choice was INSIDIOUS.  The fact is, though, that I just don’t have time anymore to rush out and see every movie that I want to see, and I kind of have to pick and choose.  My year in the theater was peppered with must-see only flicks and kids movies like ALVIN AND THE CHIPMONKS, CHIPWRECKED!  But INSIDIOUS was the one I really, really wanted to see.  It lived up to the hype of the Facebook preview clips and the blurbs I’ve seen posted everywhere (and you’ve probably seen them too…the campaign where they show people getting interviewed immediately after walking out halfway, most crying or too frightened to talk about what they’d just seen).  The contenders were PARANORMAL ACTIVITY 3CAPTAIN AMERICA and the final HARRY POTTER flick.  I also want to add a DVD flick that I saw at the beginning of the year (which had been released the year before) called THE NEW DAUGHTER.  I thought this movie was quite sensational, and it took me a whole year to get L.L. to finally sit down and watch it.  After all the protests, he finally agreed that he liked it, too.

Worst Movie:  Well, not really.  More like a pan on the motion picture industry in general.  Over the last several years I’ve railed against remakes and reboots of my favorite horror films.  This year I’m pissed off at the idiocy of presenting kick-ass trailers, only to have the movie itself NOT get released on the big screen.  Cases in point: THE POUGHKEEPSIE TAPES and GRAVE ENCOUNTERS.  The previews for both these movies left me drooling and checking the Moviefone app on my iPod, but were released in either limited engagements or direct-to-download releases.  If you’ve made the investment on the film, why wouldn’t you try to recoup your finances?  Even the worst horror films seem to make money at the box office, so what the hell is holding you back?  I have seen reviews for GRAVE ENCOUNTERS, and even though they’ve been unfavorable, I still want to see it.  So take note, Hollywood…don’t take us half-way and leave us like a cheap ho with the clap!

And with an eye to the future:  I’m highly anticipating January’s release of THE DEVIL INSIDE.  The trailers look supremely frightening; especially the NC-17 preview where the priest drowns a baby during it’s baptism (I’m still in shock from watching THAT one).

Hope you enjoyed 2011.  I, for one, could have skipped it, but as my daughter is fond of saying, “You git what you git and don’t pitch a fit!”

Cheers and Blessings for 2012!

© Copyright 2011 by Peter N. Dudar

DAN KEOHANE’S BEST MOVIES OF 2011

Posted in 2011, Aliens, Best Of Lists, Daniel Keohane Reviews, Superheroes with tags , , , , , on January 14, 2012 by knifefighter

DAN’S BEST FILMS OF 2011
By Daniel G. Keohane

I’m always amazed, when I compile these “Best Of” lists, how many movies released this year I actually managed to see. I don’t remember going to the cinema that often. Of course, some of the following movies I watched on my TV via Amazon or Netflix. Even so, I did well, though I have yet to see a number of films I really wanted to. For instance, MELANCHOLIA, for some strange reason, was only showing for a couple of weeks at the Coolidge Corner Theater in Boston. A bit far for me. But it’s a film I have on my “To See List.”

Well, what did I see and enjoy this year?

Let’s start with the plethora of superhero films from 2011. Having been a comic book geek in my youth, these usually rise to the top of my Have To See thingy. Of the five I watched, X-MEN: FIRST CLASS was by far the best. This surprised me—after the last couple of left-me-wanting sequels/prequels to this franchise, my expectations were low. But FIRST CLASS was just that, a first class film in acting, writing and special effects. It did loving homage to such an established comic franchise. And there was no cameo from Nick Fury that I can remember.

Before seeing FIRST CLASS (on DVD), THOR had been at the top as the best of these types of films for 2011. Thor was one of my oft-read comics, and the guy who played Captain Kirk (yes, I’ve decided to write this column without the use of my faithful friend, IMDB.com) kicked ass as Odin’s adventurous son. I watched the 2D version by the way. But let’s not get into that. (Captain Kirk was Thor? Now I’m really confused ~ your intrepid editor)

GREEN LANTERN was a surprise pleasure. Mind you, growing up I was a Marvel kid, and my friend Kevin was the DC fan. But there were a few DC series I’d read regularly: Green Arrow and Aquaman for example. Green Lantern sometimes, and to be honest this whole “space cops protecting the universe” mythos must be a recent theme because I don’t remember all these other “Lanterns” in the seventies. For the movie, I had read complaints abut the back story being too long, the story too silly. I rented the film—maybe they edited it for the DVD—and the opening story was maybe a minute long, no more. I thought the movie was as fast-moving and enjoyable as any superhero flick can be. Good effects, too. Maybe my expectations were low enough to actually enjoy the movie, who knows?

On the flip side, one movie where my expectations were high but the film did NOT smack me upside the head was CAPTAIN AMERICA: THE FIRST AVENGER. It was good, mind you. Well acted, good script, but… I don’t know. Cap was one of my favorites, and maybe because this movie was a period piece—more war movie than modern-day tale—or maybe — and I think this had a lot to do with it —because I’d already seen most of the movie in the trailers, something felt missing for me. The previews for this film pretty much showed everything. I did enjoy parts (how he was commercialized by the army for propaganda, etc), but overall, the move fell a bit flat.

Lastly in this category, and I only mention it for one reason: TRANSFORMERS: DARK SIDE OF THE MOON was a feast for the eyes visually. The special effects were mind-popping, especially with the 3D glasses. The story itself was inane and well beyond silly. But it made this list for the sheer over-the-top audacity of the visuals. Nothing else.

The final half of the final chapter of the story of the Boy Who Lived, HARRY POTTER AND THE DEATHLY HALLOWS, PART 2, rocked. Perfect adaptation of the last half of the book, and it even managed to improve on parts, especially the climactic battle. In this year of overly-long film titles, HPATDHP2 stands above the rest. At least to me—quiet Prince of Geekdom, that I am.

TROLLHUNTER is probably not a 2011 film, but was released this year in the US, played for a bit in theaters before rushing onto Netflix’s Instant Watch. It was AMAZING (caveat: amazing considering its budget and the obvious restrictions that come with it). The use of the camera (yea, it’s one of those hand-held camera flicks a la BLAIR WITCH) worked well as a student documentary/expose. The acting was quite good, and the trolls were very, very cool! The best thing, and I’m not giving away anything, (I promise!) is they stayed away from the most annoying aspect of this film subgenre. The filmmakers did not kill off every character at the end of the movie. Big Yay! (Lesson to be learned here….). Oh, and it was subtitled – I believe it was Norwegian or Swedish or something. (Remember, promised not to IMDB this one).

I have to admit, PARANORMAL ACTIVITY 3 was at least as good as any three-quel could be. There were some scary parts, and since it “scared the shit out of” my then-16 year old daughter Amanda (and that’s a quote), I had to put it here.

RED RIDING HOOD was another surprise. Quite good, cleverly done, decent acting. One thing that helped was that it was kind of a weird and eerily-shot movie. Everything from the sets to the music to the performances themselves were dream-like and creepy. Targeted to a teen audience, it did not succumb to the need to condescend, or lower itself to some imaginary mental level. The creators assumed, rightly, that teenagers have a brain and an imagination and made a unique little film with some clever twists.

It took me until a couple weeks ago to see COWBOYS & ALIENS, but it was worth the wait. Great performances all around, nice special effects that did not go too overboard (it was a western after all). The concept of old west cowboys trying to defend themselves against high-tech aliens was well done. The introduction of one character halfway through the film who seemed to have all the answers was a cop-out, truth be told, but aside from that, a great film.

Quick shout out to a few other movies that I enjoyed, but I’m running out of room: THE ADJUSTMENT BUREAU (I liked it, clever in an INCEPTION kind of way, though it got a bit sluggish in the middle); LIMITLESS (great movie, another which got itself tied in knots midway but which unraveled nicely); THE LINCOLN LAWYER (not horror or science fiction, but a great date movie); SUPER 8 (disappointing for me as a Spielberg and Abrams fan—and an example of how a vastly stupid ending can ruin an otherwise great movie), and J. EDGAR (I just watched it last night—amazing performance by Leonardo DiCaprio and every other cast member—though not the most exciting film ever made… if you like historical, semi-period pieces, you’ll enjoy this. See it for no other reason than to watch the guy from the television show BURN NOTICE playing Bobby Kennedy).

I saw other films as well, but they weren’t in the Best Of category in my mind, so we’ll skip them.

Before I leave, I just wanted to give a quick list of my favorite movies from prior years which I finally got to see for the first time this year:

THE KING’S SPEECH (2010) and THE FIGHTER (2010) —we saw these in January to get ready for the Academy Awards. Both deserved the Oscars they won. Both are Must See Films in my mind.

BLOOD DIAMOND (2006) —another DiCaprio flick and one which almost won the Oscar in its year. I finally got around to seeing it at Linda’s urging and it blew my mind.

VALKYRIE (2008) —yes, Tom Cruise should not do talk show circuits, but yes, he should make movies. He and everyone else in this “Based on a True Story” film about a plot to kill Hitler was amazing. Watch it. Yes, yes, I know he’s wearing an eye patch, but the real life soldier being portrayed had an eye patch. Get over it. Eddie Izzard’s in the movie, too, so watch it for that if for no other reason.

ADAPTATION (2002) —I devour all writer-themed movies and ADAPTATION was no exception, though “bizarre” does not do this one justice.

RED CLIFF (International Version, 2008) —was the best war/samurai/epic film I have probably ever seen. Period.

THE MAN WHO FELL TO EARTH (1976) —is a movie everyone my generation should see because it was so unique for its time and David Bowie didn’t suck in it, though the film overall wasn’t great—a bit long and low budget—but it was curiously interesting.

MIDNIGHT COWBOY (1969) —finally projected itself into my brain and I am so much better for it. What a fantastic performance not only from Dustin Hoffman—who won an Oscar for the role—but in my mind more so by Jon Voight.

ONDINE (2009) —was reviewed here earlier this year. Loved it, loved it. Tender and warm and simple. Watch it with your best girlie by your side.

And, finally, got caught up with the amazing television series THE WALKING DEAD (2010 – 2011). If you like traditional zombies, this is the series for you. The second season got a bit slow, but has been picking up nicely.

OK, that’s it. Everything you wanted to know about Dan’s movie-watching year, and likely far more than you probably wanted to know. I hope and pray 2012 finds everyone better, happier and closer to those you love and cherish. And remember one important event coming, if you must remember anything in 2012: there are less than six months remaining before Ridley Scott’s PROMETHEUS is released! A prequel of sorts to ALIEN (1979) by the man who first introduced such nightmarish creatures into my psyche. Hopefully the Mayans weren’t off by a few months and I’ll get to see this when it comes out on my birthday. And so should you.

So should you.

© Copyright 2011 by Daniel G. Keohane

NICK CATO’S TOP 3 1970S GRINDHOUSE FLICKS REDISCOVERED IN 2011

Posted in 1970s Movies, 2011, Best Of Lists, Campy Movies, Fun Stuff!, Gangsters!, Grindhouse, Killers, Nick Cato Reviews, Suburban Grindhouse Memories with tags , , , , , , , on January 12, 2012 by knifefighter

SUBURBAN GRINDHOUSE MEMORIES Presents:
NICK CATO’S TOP 3 1970S GRINDHOUSE FILMS REDISCOVERED IN 2011
By Nick Cato

3) ANOTHER SON OF SAM (1977).  If you enjoy inept filmmaking, horrendous 70s fashions, plot-holes galore, and a GENUINE grindhouse experience, pay attention: Harvey, who was sexually abused by his mother as a child, escapes a mental institution and goes on a shooting rampage at a park before taking hostages in a college dorm.  A SWAT team and local cops eventually apprehend him.  As a show of total CLASSLESSNESS, this film was released in 1977, BEFORE there was any other fictional film about the Son of Sam, and (I’m assuming) while Berkowitz was still at large.  If you like trashy, pointless films full of unintentional laughs, ANOTHER SON OF SAM is pure gold.  All others, turn and run away as fast as you can.

2) In my never-ending quest to see every obscure low-budget 70s film, I came across (no pun intended) a 1972 sex comedy titled THE GODDAUGHTER, which—among other things—just might be a precursor to the current crop of adult films that parody popular movies (not to mention “Nunsploitation” films).    While nowhere near as entertaining as last summer’s re-discovered 1981 Mafia flick GONE WITH THE POPE, THE GODDAUGHTER is an interesting piece of grindhouse trash for mob film completists with little-to-no conscience (some brief and ugly hardcore scenes guarantee this one will never be shown on Comedy Central).

1) THE GODFATHER AND THE LADY (1975).  The lunatics at Something Weird Video claim this had never been released, all the more amazing as it stars the legendary Jane Russell (who appears in her FINAL film role before doing a couple of TV shows in the 80s), as well as six (count ‘em, SIX) former boxing champions as hit men, including Rocky Graziano, Jake La Motta, and Willie Pep.  It’s a goofy comedy, featuring an opening brawl with sound effects right out of a Warner Brothers cartoon, atrocious acting, and a scam-the-inheritance plot that makes one wonder what episode of Scooby Doo they tried to rip off.  Lots of cornball fun.

© Copyright 2011 by Nick Cato

(All titles are available through Something Weird Video).

REMOTE OUTPOST – 12 FOR 2012

Posted in 2011, Best Of Lists, Ghosts!, Mark Onspaugh Columns, Remote Outpost, Science Fiction, Television with tags , , , , , , , , , on January 11, 2012 by knifefighter

REMOTE OUTPOST… 12 FOR 2012
By Mark Onspaugh

Those who haven’t given up on me in disgust will remember I did a Fall preview back in September.  Of the nine genre shows I previewed, I am only continuing to watch three… I guess 33.33% isn’t bad, but I am jonesing for some good science fiction on the order of STAR TREK, STARGATE: UNIVERSE or CAPRICA… I may get my wish on that one in January.

So here is a dozen faves that we all support here in the Remote Outpost:

TOP 3 GENRE SHOWS THAT PREMIERED THIS PAST FALL

PERSON OF INTEREST—the closest you will get to a live-action Batman series.  The cast is amazing, especially the stars Jim Caviezel and Michael Emerson. You’ll never find them, but if your number comes up, they will find you.

AMERICAN HORROR STORY—who gave up on GLEE? We did, just couldn’t take it any more (it’s become like the parody on COMMUNITY).  I didn’t think a horror show by the creators of that singing infestation would work, but it is compelling, scary and thought-provoking.  The season ender was really amazing, and I hope we spend a lot more time in “The Murder House” with the Harmons and their not-so-friendly ghosts.

GRIMM—I lost interest in ONCE UPON A TIME, but GRIMM is like Buffy the Vampire Slayer was—fun.  It may not be as smartly written (not everyone is Joss Whedon), but it is inventive and has its own compelling mythology. And Silas Weir Mitchell as a reformed “blut bad” (“Big Bad Wolf”) is hilarious.

TOP 1 NON-GENRE SHOW THAT PREMIERED THIS FALL

PRIME SUSPECT—I read someone didn’t find Maria Bello convincing as a tough, Irish New York cop—she is.  The men in her department think she slept her way up to detectives.  They’ve learned to respect her toughness and her instincts, but there is still plenty of resentment and conflict.  Good stuff

TOP SITCOM THAT PREMIERED THIS FALL

NEW GIRL—we just couldn’t stomach WHITNEY, but NEW GIRL often makes me laugh out loud. I know a lot of you will find Zooey Deschanel annoying, but the writing for her roommates and her boyfriend (Justin Long) is funny… Not MODERN FAMILY or COMMUNITY funny, but worth a half hour of our time.

TOP PILOT THAT PREVIEWED BEFORE THE SERIES PREMIERE

LUCK—the new series from David Milch, who created and wrote the awesome DEADWOOD and JOHN FROM CINCINNATI. This one is centered around horse racing and stars Dustin Hoffman (you heard me) and Nick Nolte (you heard me).  The show looks to be another Milch masterwork of Shakespearean drama with complex characters in a complicated world.  Yes.

MOST EAGERLY AWAITED PREMIERE

ALCATRAZ—less than a month away for the new JJ Abrams show that is produced by LOST alumni.  Sam Neill is our guide to the prison where, forty years ago, all the inmates disappeared… Now they are returning and wreaking havoc.  I would be tempted to dismiss this as another THE 4400, but Abrams always turns things on their ear.  I want another LOST-type show, don’t you? Yeah, even if you didn’t like the way it ended, you enjoyed the ride.

SHOW WITH THE BIGGEST JAW-DROPPING FINALE

BOARDWALK EMPIRE—this show continues to amaze.  The attention to period detail, the drama of Prohibition leading to organized crime and the heroin trade… It’s superb.  Steve Buscemi and company can’t return fast enough… If you watched the season ender you are, like us, saying “Damn! Now what?”

MOST EAGERLY AWAITED WINTER RETURN

JUSTIFIED—if you aren’t watching this show with Timothy Olyphant as a U.S. Marshall in Kentucky dealing with various outlaws and criminal types, you should be.  I have a feeling the new season is going to deal with the “Dixie Mafia,” and methinks they are not stupid, inbred trailer trash.  Justified presents an honest portrayal of mountain folk, good and bad.  Plus, an amazing cast including Walton Goggins as best frenemy Boyd Crowder. Watch it, ya hear?

TOP SHOWS WE WANT TO RETURN

TRUE BLOOD—Alan Ball’s twisted and amazing version of Charlaine Harris’s “Sookie Stackhouse” novels.  Great characters and tremendous mythology… And no twinkly vampires!

FRINGE—not many of you are watching this, but it fills that void left when THE X-FILES went south.  Compelling and weird, and a hell of a lot of fun.  If you haven’t ever watched, try the first season on DVD.

SONS OF ANARCHYHamlet on motorcycles.  Kurt Sutter is another man who brings compelling drama to a world we may not be familiar with, but surely exists.

BONUS BAKER’S DOZEN ENTRY

BREAKING BAD—amazing. One season left to go in the disastrous decline of a chemisty teacher turned meth cook turned criminal mastermind…  Lots of tension in this one, folks.

© Copyright 2011 by Mark Onspaugh

TOP TEN REMAKES I’M GLAD WEREN’T MADE IN 2011

Posted in 2011, Best Of Lists, Jenny Orosel Columns, Remakes with tags , , , , , , , on January 7, 2012 by knifefighter

TOP TEN REMAKES I’M GLAD WEREN’T MADE IN 2011
By Jenny Orosel

10-BIRTH OF A NATION, directed by Mel Gibson.  As appropriate as that pairing is, that would be wrong on so many levels.

9-GOODBYE UNCLE TOM directed by Steven Spielberg.  He would have to tack on a happy ending.  Sexploitation about slavery in the US shouldn’t have a happy ending.  Just saying.

8-EL TOPO directed by Michael Bay.  Somehow there would be an exploding midget if these two were combined.

Could Michael Bay do justice to a remake of Jodorowsky's 1970 surreal classic, EL TOPO?

7-SALO: 120 DAYS OF SODOM directed by Tim Burton.  Sadism at its worst, but with bright colors and a Danny Elfman soundtrack.  That seems wrong.

6-UROTSUKIDOJI from Pixar.  The only good thing about this would be seeing the merchandising of tentacles in the Disney stores.

5-MY DINNER WITH ANDRE directed by Eli Roth.  Instead of discussing philosophy and life, Wallace and Andre would spend two hours trying to rip the flesh from each others’ faces.

4-FACES OF DEATH directed by Gus Van Sant.  Do we really need a shot-for-shot remake the way he did with PSYCHO?

3-THE WHALES OF AUGUST directed by Alejandro Jodorowsky.  Those who know me would be shocked—Jen opposed to a Jodorowsky movie?  THE WHALES OF AUGUST is a beautiful, sensitive movie starring Vincent Price in the twilight of his life.  Jodorowsky would make the star Marilyn Manson, and somewhere there would be sex with the whales.  But because it was a Jodorowsky flick, I would have to see it.  Then I would be traumatized.

What would happen if Alejandro Jodorowsky remade 1987's THE WHALES OF AUGUST?

2-CAT PEOPLE directed by the guy who makes the Maru videos for YouTube.  You know those videos of a large cat jumping into boxes?  That’s Maru.  Now imagine him in a movie about repressed sexuality.  Yeah, I don’t want to, either.

1-ONE FLEW OVER THE CUCKOOS NEST directed by Charlie Sheen.  You know what?  Scratch that—I would totally go see this!

© Copyright 2011 by Jenny Orosel

Garrett Cook’s SIX BEST MOVIES OF 2011

Posted in 2011, Best Of Lists, Garrett Cook Articles, Nicolas Cage Movies, Superheroes with tags , , , , , on January 7, 2012 by knifefighter

My Top 6  Movies of 2011
By Garrett Cook

6. Drive Angry

As much as I can’t stand excessive CGI or Nicholas Cage, this movie was everything Hobo With a Shotgun claimed to be but fell short of. A pure adrenaline rush.

5. Chillerama

Transgressive fun. Giant sperm. An AIP beach movie gone horribly wrong and Hitler plagued by an insubordinate golem. What’s not to like?

4. Super 8

A little bit Stephen King, a little bit Stephen Spielberg. A surprisingly sincere and sweet movie.

3. Rubber

A movie that makes you root for a psychotic and psychokinetic tire and reexamine how you think of storytelling. An impressive Bizarro feat.

2. The Last Circus

An amazing piece of work. A union of Guillermo del Toro and Todd Browning’s aesthetics, with a dose of Jodorowsky. An eyepopping and moving struggle for love between two clowns in Fascist Spain. It’s streaming on Netflix and you should watch it.

1. Captain America

Finally, a comic movie that is not ashamed of being a comic book. Full of Marvel history and a balance of action and emotional content, which is a difficult one to pull off. Dieselpunk genius. My favorite Marvel movie hands down. Maybe my favorite superhero movie.

© Copyright 2011 by Garrett Cook