Tag Archives: films

The WORST Horror Movies of All Time

It’s February, the month of love, black history, groundhogs, and awards shows (and if they ever have an award show honoring the most lovely groundhogs in all of history, you can bet that event would take place in February). With the Academy Awards and love on the brain, it seemed like the right time to countdown the worst horror movies of all time. So here they are. (I’m not big on segues).

The WORST Horror Movies of ALL TIME

The Passion of the Christ
Blood! Guts! Zombies! While this movie contains all the staples of a good horror movie, it really fails to deliver that jump-from-your-seat terror that we’ve come to expect from modern horror movies. Mel Gibson just doesn’t have the directorial chops to pull off a horror movie of this magnitude, hopefully things will look up for his career after this misstep.

E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial
This may be a movie about a blood-thirsty alien that crashes into Earth with the intention of savagely devouring its inhabitants to slake its bloodlust, but the only thing that crashes and burns here is the idea that this alien could be a danger to anyone. Drew Barrymore as a child pulls off the screaming victim ok here, but ultimately the terror of this film just falls flat.

Toy Story 2
The much-anticipated follow-up to the terrifying legend about one boy’s dolls that come to life and terrorize an entire town, the sequel sadly doesn’t live up to the scare-levels of the original. With not nearly enough blood and gore for die-hard screamsters like myself, Toy Story 2 is at best not scary, and at worst infuriatingly tame. Some parts are even downright laughable. But in true horror movie fashion, once they get one sequel made they just start cranking them out nonstop, so don’t expect Toy Story 3 to be any better (and SHOCKER, there’s already a Toy Story 4 in the works. It’s the Saw franchise all over again).

Mary Poppins
The premise is a tried-and-true one: a supposed children’s caretaker flies into town on the wind of a dark spell and uses her evil magic powers to wreak havoc in the lives of all whom she encounters. Whether it’s trapping her young wards into mystical drawings, or imprisoning children in chimneys, this is one bad-news nanny, but that sadly doesn’t make up for a lack of scares that leave this movie feeling more like a walk in the park rather than a scream-filled fright-fest that viewers want. Even when the nanny summons her dark familiars like her demon-possessed umbrella harpy, or her chimney-sweep henchman, this movie fails to make you feel like there is ever any real danger afoot. Better luck next time, Scary Mary.

The Nightmare Before Christmas
Stop-motion animation can definitely make for some spooky movie-making, but this film about the dark lord of the netherworld rising to take-over Christmas for him and his dark minions feels more like a daydream than a true nightmare. Too many stockings, not enough stalkings for THIS horror-movie-lover.

The Little Mermaid
The well-known Hans Christian Andersen tale — about a young mermaid that wants to steal a part of a prince’s soul so she can get into Heaven but ultimately can’t bring herself to kill him, so she kills herself by throwing herself off a cliff into the craggy rocks of the seaside — FINALLY gets the big screen treatment it deserves. BUT unfortunately the Hollywood Machine does what it does best and totally ruins the source material with this horror movie. Say goodbye to Andersen’s trademark gory details about the Mermaid getting her legs split with a sword and having her tongue ripped out by the Sea Witch’s curse (and who could forget the cost of the spell, that any movement the Mermaid makes with her legs will feel like she is constantly walking on sharp knives), and instead get ready to see a Mermaid that’s so untrue to her source character that she doesn’t even commit suicide at the end. Just like the mermaids in HCA’s tale, this movie turns into sea-foam and fizzles away before we get the horror movie we wanted!

…Hope you got some ointment for those BURNS, would-be horror movies, maybe next time you won’t short us on the scares that we crave! ;) On the upside, I finally got my hands on the film adaptation of the famous Brothers Grimm’s scary story, Snow White, so I’m excited to let that one scream me to new heights of scariness (I’m especially excited to see how they depict the scene where Snow White and her prince force the Evil Queen into a pair of glowing-hot iron shoes and force her to dance until she drops dead as punishment for her attempted murders).

Play on,
Dustin

I haven't seen this horror movie yet, but I imagine it's a lot like Taken.

I haven’t seen this horror movie yet, but I imagine it’s a lot like Taken.

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Dustin’s Three to See: January

Don’t get out to the movies as often as, say, a single 29-year-old manchild with an escapism complex? Well don’t fret, I’ve taken all of Hollywood’s shoddy offerings and narrowed them down to the three that won’t make your $20 movie ticket feel like a total waste. I call it Dustin’s Three to See because I am as creative as a kindergartner. As always I keep things as spoiler free as possible.

As any even casual observer of movie culture can tell you, January is a bad month for movies. Generally considered the graveyard of the release calendar, January is where bad movies go to die. After the holidays people usually have less in the budget for activities like moviegoing or tipping their bartender, and as a result, movies that are deemed not as good as movies like Tyler Perry’s Madea’s Witness Protection end up here. Whether it’s rewrites, poor focus group results, or just an overall bad film…if you think of a movie as a toddler, January is the timeout-chair its sent to when it’s misbehaved.

That said, there were still a couple diamonds to be found in the rough of this January, and if you got an AMC giftcard for Christmas like I did, here are the January releases that are worth your while.

Movie 1) — Gangster Squad
Remember a second ago when I said how January is full of mediocre movies? Gangster Squad is not a good movie. However, it’s not a terrible movie, either. And against the rest of the January slate, that makes it…watchable. The awful tragedy in Aurora, Colorado last summer meant that Gangster Squad’s much-publicized scene where the gangsters shoot through a movie theater screen and into the audience instantly became extremely inappropriate, meaning that the newly-infamous scene and the ending of the movie both needed to be rewritten and reshot before the film could be released. Whether it was those drastic post-wrap changes or something else that made Gangster Squad only okay, we’ll never know. But if you like Ryan Gosling (and just a cursory glance at any social media suggests that you do…a lot), flapper-style Emma Stone, and some cool period-accurate visuals, Gangster Squad is worth a go…if only to whet your whistle for when The Great Gatsby comes out.

Hey girl, sorry you couldn't be in Drive.

Hey girl, sorry you couldn’t be in Drive.

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Dustin’s Three to See: December

In an effort to stay slightly more topical than, say, reviewing 33-year-old episodes of Saturday Night Live, I wanted to share the top movies I saw last month — to help out those of you who don’t see 90% of the films that are released like I do. And actually full credit goes to my longtime friend Phil (if you live in Columbus or the surrounding areas, go see his awesome cover band!) who was like “You see a lot of movies…you should put together a top three list every month so people who don’t go to the movies very often know which ones they should see.” And so here we are.

December is a huge month for movies, so coming up with a list of good movies to see this month wasn’t the hard part…the hard part was keeping it to three. However if you were on death row and your last request was to see three movies (instead of something more practical like, say, a hacksaw baked into a cake), these are the three to see. They are in no particular order.

 

Movie 1) — The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey
The only unexpected thing about Peter Jackson’s Middle-Earth prequel is that they broke the shortest book (J.R.R. Tolkien’s The Hobbit) into the most movies (three so far, not counting an animated spinoff I’m pitching about dysentery called “Gollum’s Revenge”). But just because you know what’s coming doesn’t make it any less of an enjoyable ride. Jackson’s visuals have only sharpened since 2003 and brought an even more vibrant Middle Earth to life (just as those poor Kiwis were starting to be known for something other than the LOTR movies). In fact, if you’re re-watching the Lord of the Rings: Extended Edition on BluRay like I am (cue a chorus of “ohhhh THAT’S why he’s single”), you’ll really notice how much the CGI and other effects have improved in Middle Earth over the last ten years since Return of the King came out. This movie feels every bit like it’s only the first third of the story, versus the original trilogy where each installment had its own sense of closure. But to its credit, The Hobbit doesn’t drag, despite the 170-minute run time (every bit of three hours if you include previews). A good movie, with the clichéd “something for everyone” vibe that does, in fact, have something for everyone.

 

Movie 2) — Django: Unchained
Quentin Tarantino bears the blessing and curse of being mentioned equally alongside each of his movies — versus other directors who enjoy a slightly more anonymous presence and are able to let their movies speak for themselves. That said, QT’s latest work still has a lot to say, and if you can get past the decidedly R-rated Tarantino-style gore and more gratuitous use of the N-word than a Li’l Wayne + Mark Fuhrman mixtape, you’ll find a complex and compelling story, woven full of complex and compelling characters. With the spot-on performances you’d expect from Leonardo DiCaprio and Jamie Foxx, and tons of support from scene-stealers Samuel L. Jackson and Christoph Waltz (the latter just today nominated for Best Supporting Actor…hard to not think of him as a lead, though), this film would be a master class in acting and directing, even without its very solid story and script. But the difference between a very good movie and a great one is what you come away with once the credits have finished rolling, and when you leave Django you won’t be thinking about the exploding limbs or the racial slurs, you’ll be thinking about what the world would look like with a little less hate in it. And that’s a great thing to take away from any experience.

 

Movie 3) — Les Misérables
I know I said earlier that I wasn’t ranking these films in any particular order, but if you see one movie this month (or this year for that matter), it absolutely has to be Tom Hooper’s soon-to-be legendary movie based on Claude-Michel Schönberg’s legendary musical based on Victor Hugo’s legendary novel (as epic as it is lengthy). Hyperbole aside, what makes this story so compelling is that it calls into attention the eternal (and arguably only) struggle of humankind — how to forgive the unforgivable and how to hope in the face of hopelessness. To do what’s right even when it will bring no recognition or personal profit. Why else would a story written over 150 years ago and a musical that’s been running for over three decades still carry such weight in our modern lives? The acting is spectacular, the score and arrangements are deeply engrossing…overall this is an incredibly faithful and powerful adaptation of a property that isn’t easy to convert to the silver screen. The most nitpicky will wonder if the director’s ever heard of any shot besides a closeup, and will decry Russell Crowe’s vocals as subpar, but neither of these things diminish the overall experience or “must-see” status of the film. And if you’re adapting a famous stage musical, why not showcase the one element that you never see when you’re seeing the stage version in person? The closeups of the brilliant acting taking place. And as for Crowe’s vocals, the simple fact of the matter is that they’re not actually that bad…he’s just the least-talented singer in a cast of VERY talented singers. It’s not like watching American Idol auditions, and even Randy wouldn’t be so bold as to call him pitchy (he has a nasally timbre to his voice, to be sure, but he sings in tune). And if it still bothers you that much, just do what Paula did to tolerate bad singing — get hammered drunk until you don’t care. And really, isn’t that what the holidays are all about anyway?

Kidding aside, none of us are so perfect that our lives don’t need some dissection more often than not, and if it takes a major motion picture like Les Misérables to be the caveat that pushes you to choose hope and life and right in the face of this world’s constant negativity and darkness, then so be it.

“To love another person is to see the face of God.” —Victor Hugo

 

So there’s your three to see for December, and don’t fret, I’ll be sure to sort through January’s best for you in time for the start of next month!

Honorable Mentions (from November and December): Wreck-It Ralph, Skyfall, Lincoln, Amour, Promised Land

Play on,
Dustin

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Best Picture is Worth a Thousand Words

I am aware that this topic is well past its relevance point, and a sea of people have covered it more thoroughly and accurately than I have, but I simply had to write a thousand words on this particular topic just so I can sleep at nights. Believe me when I say that I really, really tried to leave this alone. It’s one of those things that bugged me to my core, but I knew that no one else cared about or wanted to hear me rant about on any deeper level than fleeting small talk. So I resisted. And resisted. But nope, just like Scottish whiskey and Irish women, I’ve caved in and decided to rant to the one medium that doesn’t take no for an answer (besides Ben Roethlisberger): the internet. Early mornings be damned, let’s get our blog on.

I guess we just chalk this one up as a failure of willpower.

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Hollywood: The Great Sequelizer

We all hate needless sequels/remakes/reboots/big-screen-conversions/bastardizations of our favorite franchises, yet moviemakers in LA are pumping them out faster than ever. Can you imagine pre-ordering tickets for a remake of a played-out 80s teen franchise or a movie about a newspaper comic strip dog (The Karate Kid and Marmaduke, both scheduled for release later this year)? Me neither. It wouldn’t be quite so painful if we didn’t all know ahead of time that these movies will be terrible, but alas, the quality of these movies is often as predictable as their poor plots…and take a moment to realize what you’re saying about the quality of a movie when you know going in to it that the movie adaptation isn’t going to “live up” to the original Dukes of Hazard. But Hollywood’s erection for pre-established and thus cheaper-to-market brands clearly isn’t going away any time soon, so rather than fight the beast, I say we agree to a compromise, as I present:

Five Movies Hollywood is Allowed to (re)Make:

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