PLP – Pod Shots – JCVD Double Feature

In this episode, I am joined by returning guest Shawn Pryor as we discuss the one and only Jean-Claude Van Damme!  We begin with a discussion on one of the earlier Van Damme films, Kickboxer!  We discuss what works, what’s comically bad, and the nightmarish presence of Tong Po!  We then briefly discuss the upcoming Kickboxer remake before moving into a much different film, JCVD.  We talk about the film and what it is trying to do by having the audience sympathize with Van Damme.  We mention all the plot elements and the similarities to his real life before really digging in on what we describe as, “the scene”.  It’s always a good time having Shawn on and I think this was a particularly strong episode, check it out!

Music: Stan Bush – Never Surrender – Kickboxer OST

Facebook: Eric Williams, Shawn Pryor, Plain Label Podcast

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http://www.movienoise.com/plainlabel/podcasts/PodShots086.mp3

PLP – Episode 96 – Movies About the Mob Part 1

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Welcome to the Plain Label Podcast!  In this episode Rachel and Eric begin their new theme of Movies About the Mob!  We begin with a discussion on the classic On the Waterfront and conclude with a look at The Iceman which is “based on a true story”. Check it out!

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Music: Leonard Bernstein – On the Waterfront

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http://www.movienoise.com/plainlabel/podcasts/PlainLabelPodcast097.mp3

PLP – Pod Shots – Gone Girl

In this episode, I am joined by returning guest Sean Stangland as we discuss the 2014 film Gone Girl! We begin with a discussion of Sean’s history with the film and then wade through tangents to discuss the plot, the performances, the fact that this is the first non-science fiction film Sean and I have discussed, and finally we get to the end. We mention all the spoilers in this film so if you haven’t seen it, please watch the film first, or be spoiled. Sean is one of my favorite guests to have on and it’s always a good time discussing film with him. Join us won’t you?

Music: Trent Reznor & Atticus Ross – Technically, Missing – Gone Girl Soundtrack

Facebook: Eric Williams, Sean Stangland, Plain Label Podcast

Twitter:@EricWilliams @SeanStanglandDH @SeanTheDisNerd @PlainlabelPodcast

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http://www.movienoise.com/plainlabel/podcasts/PodShots085.mp3

PLP – Episode 96 – Return to Horror Part 2

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Welcome to the Plain Label Podcast!  In this episode we are welcomed by Cameron Rice and Anelle Strauss as we conclude our discussion of some Horror Films with a chat about Don’t Look Now, Pet Sematary, The Orphanage and Coraline! Check it out!

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Music: Ramones – Pet Sematary

Facebook: Eric Williams, Rachel Szelag, Cameron Rice, Anelle Strauss, Plain Label Podcast

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http://www.movienoise.com/plainlabel/podcasts/PlainLabelPodcast096.mp3

PLP – Pod Shots – It Follows

In this episode, I am once again joined by Cameron Rice as we discuss the 2014 film It Follows!  Join us for a discussion on a film that needs your attention.  We discuss performance, structure, scares, and what the film does so very right.  Do yourself a favor and get this film and then check out this discussion, it’s a good one.

Music: It Follows soundtrack – Disasterpiece

Facebook: Eric Williams, Cameron Rice, Plain Label Podcast

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http://www.movienoise.com/plainlabel/podcasts/PodShots084.mp3

Movie Review: Crimson Peak (2015)

crimson-peak-posterHalloween is only a few days away, and in the years past I would make an effort to watch and review as many horror films as possible. Life has a way of getting in the way of course, and now I’m lucky if I can get to see a small handful of scary movies.

One of those few films was Crimson Peak, directed by the great Guillermo Del Toro. I didn’t even think I’d get to see this movie in the theater, but an opportunity came up and I took it… the trailers for this film looked like it was a beautiful film with beautiful set pieces in the world of turn of the century England. This is a Victorian era ghost story, what more can you ask for?!

Crimson Peak follows the story of Edith, a young girl who was raised by her father, a wealthy businessman working in Buffalo, New York. Edith‘s mother died when she was just a small child, and (presumably) her mother visits her beyond the grave, and gives her a warning to avoid the Crimson Peak. Fast forward to Edith, now in her 20s, an aspiring writer who strives to get her ghost story published.

As this is the days long before Kickstarter; Thomas Sharp, a young and handsome English gentleman arrives (Tom Hiddleston) seeking funding for a strip mining excavator that he has invented. Edith’s father has an uneasy feeling about Thomas and his sister, Lucille who accompanies him on the trip. He hires a private investigator to dig up information about the Sharp’s in order to satiate the feeling he is having. Meanwhile, Thomas is getting closer to Edith, sweeping her off her feet.

After a tragic event, Edith marries Thomas and accompanies him back to England to live in this large, cold, mansion which is falling apart and beyond repair. This is where the fun begins, as Edith explores the house, she quickly learns the truth about Thomas and his sister.

There’s so much I’m leaving out, but I can’t spoil this movie for you as the reveals are all part of the fun of this movie. I say this is a fun movie, which is true… but the plot overall was very weak. Guillermo Del Toro is an excellent filmmaker, and he’s working in a genre that is not new to him… he started his career making horror films like The Devil’s Backbone and Cronos, (two movies I’ve unfortunately not seen, but I’ve heard they are really great films) so he knows horror. However, there was something about this movie that just fell flat. I enjoyed the movie, but I have a hard time getting past the weak plot… it’s as if the plot was only there to serve the visuals. The creation of Buffalo and England in the Victorian era was flawless, and the Sharp’s mansion fit the genre perfectly. During the films’ climax, the audience is taken from the dark monochromatic mansion, to the bright white (and also monochromatic) landscape in the middle of a snowstorm, which helps to add a level of spookiness to the final scene.

All of this eye candy made the film more appealing, but the one visual element of the film that didn’t work was the ghosts themselves. Don’t get me wrong, they were freaky as hell… but there was no consistency between the various ghosts. The translucent figures seen in these types of movies were more or less abandoned for a dark black or red spirit that is far from translucent. They looked more like a zombie covered in charcoal dust, with the ability to float (confused?). There was one ghost in the film that did follow the paradigm of past ghost stories, and it felt out of place because it was so different from all the other ghosts.

The other big complaint I had with the movie, was the casting of Jessica Chastain. She is a wonderful actress, and has the ability to pull off an outstanding (and award winning) performance, but sadly she was miscast for this role. I don’t believe it was because she was playing a British woman, or because her signature red hair was instead a dark dark black. I honestly don’t know what it was about her performance that was lacking, but she did not fit that role. Since her award winning performance in Zero Dark Thirty, it would seem that Jessica Chastain is in every single movie now, and with so many great actresses out there, it feels as though she was only cast because she’s a Golden Globe winner, and the current Hollywood “it” girl.

All that aside, Tom Hiddleston turned out a perfect performance as an English gentleman. His character becomes creepier and creepier as we learn more about him. Mia Wasikowska was also wonderful in this film, her character was powerful, determined and independent, and she played her character with that same gumption.

If you like ghost stories though, than this movie might scare the pants off you… the ghosts ARE pretty freaky, and got my heart jumping a little bit. So keep that in mind when deciding if you want to go see it.

PLP – Pod Shots – It Follows

In this episode, I am once again joined by Cameron Rice as we discuss the 2014 film It Follows!  Join us for a discussion on a film that needs your attention.  We discuss performance, structure, scares, and what the film does so very, very right.  Do yourself a favor and get this film and then check out this discussion, it’s a good one

Music: It Follows soundtrack – Disasterpiece

Facebook: Eric Williams, Cameron Rice, Plain Label Podcast

Twitter:@EricWilliams @JurassicAlien @PlainlabelPodcast

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http://www.movienoise.com/plainlabel/podcasts/PodShots084.mp3

Kent’s Damned Movie Reviews: Goosebumps

ER MAH GERR!

One has to give Goosebumps credit for not taking the easy way out.

I’m not saying it’s a great film, but compared to the lazy cash-in on 90s nostalgia it could be, it’s a somewhat novel film that takes a new direction on the material at hand.

Now I’m definitively not the audience for this film. Like Jurassic World, it seems to have been thought up as a way to get late twenty-something parents who came of age in the 90s down to the theater with their kids. I, however, am probably what one would consider an 80s kid. I was too old for the series when it came about. Like a lot of things that feature teenagers, the Goosebumps books were actually for ‘tweens and younger. This means I’ve never read one of the books. I also never saw the TV show of the same name. Honestly, I thought R.L. Stine was like the “author” of the Nancy Drew books, Carolyn Keene in that he was someone Scholastic made up to give continuity to an impossibly long book series. It’s hard to blame me seeing as how there’s somewhere around 10,000 of them. Now, seeing that nearly every monster and villain featured in the film is a take-off of an existing monster from a famous horror film, I guess I understand how it may not have been that difficult to push them out so fast.

One would expect a push to turn the series into a franchise with an adaptation of some of the more beloved individual stories or a Creepshow-style anthology film for the little ones, but that’s not what we get.

While the film isn’t terribly original (I found myself referring to it as “Spoop-manji,” as it’s impossible to escape thinking of it as a horror-themed remake of the Robin Williams vehicle), it’s certainly more than one would expect from a kiddie-lit franchise. It’s jumps into the same meta-flavored Kool-Aid that The Lego Movie occupied in terms of trying to be something better than it could be. And the result is enjoyable, slickly made and not insulting.

In fact, I could see it becoming like the Monster Squad was to a cult audience of my generation; something beloved to a gaggle of horror-loving youth as they get older, while those who see it over a certain age will view it as a not-unwelcome curiosity, but not get what all the fuss is about.

The basic premise is that a fictional version of Stine, played by a barely restrained Jack Black bring more ham to the screen than a movie about a Hawaiian pizza, has to keep his creations locked in their books, else they’ll come to life and terrorize the populace. The premise is as paper-thin as his typing paper as to the “why.” When a new kid moves next door for his brush with the supernatural, a la Joe Dante’s The Hole, he befriend’s Stine’s daughter and through a short series of mishaps, unleashes the author’s imagination on their unsuspecting ‘burg.

It’s all in the name of throwing the entirety of the series’ creatures at the audience at once and it has something of a “burn-the-house-down” feeling to it. Sure, one can’t completely dismiss a sequel being made of pretty much any film but Passion of the Christ these days, but it doesn’t feel like an attempt to jumpstart a franchise. In fact, it feels like just the opposite and it’s refreshing.

There are points where the film threatens to go off the rails as Black competes with Super 8’s Ryan Lee to see who can be the bigger weirdo, but fortunately it trucks along at a commendable pace and there are enough welcome character actors (Amy Ryan, Ken Marino…) and jokes for the grown-up horror aficionado to keep things from ever capsizing. (Yes, I realize I just mixed a train and a boat metaphor.)

The bottom line is, if you’re the afore-mentioned audience this film was made for, you should enjoy it, especially as Halloween draws near. If you’re not, you may still have fun, but you’ll be missing out on the inherent charm for fans and young ‘uns.

Three damns given out of five

PLP – Episode 95 – Return to Horror Part 1

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Welcome to the Plain Label Podcast!  In this episode we are welcomed by Cameron Rice and Anelle Strauss as we return to an old favorite, Horror films!  In this episode we discuss: A Tale of Two Sisters, You’re Next, and The Babadook!  Check it out!

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Music: Dwight Twilley Band – Looking For The Magic

Facebook: Eric Williams, Rachel Szelag, Cameron Rice, Anelle Strauss, Plain Label Podcast

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http://www.movienoise.com/plainlabel/podcasts/PlainLabelPodcast095.mp3

PLP – Pod Shots – The Taking of Deborah Logan

In this episode, I am once again joined by the Ms. Anelle Strauss! This time around, we’re discussing the 2014 horror film, The Taking of Deborah Logan!  We discuss why this film particularly creeped us out, why the time in which we watched it may have influenced us a bit and what works and maybe doesn’t work about this first effort from writer/director/editor Adam Robitel! Check it out! 

Music: Creepy Ambient Horror Suspense Music (Instrumental Scary Music)

Facebook: Eric Williams, Anelle Strauss, Plain Label Podcast

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http://www.movienoise.com/plainlabel/podcasts/PodShots083.mp3