Tag Archives: Plex

Kingu Kongu tai Gojira

You may recall that the only reason I’m watching these Godzilla movies is to determine just how many Godszilla there are, having been betrayed by the first one. So anyway, the third movie in the series maintains us on Godzilla number two, while introducing a surprise guest star!

King Kong vs. Godzilla is the story of how rival Japanese television networks try to drum up ratings by pitting Godzilla (who has recently been freed from an iceberg that is approximately where he ended up in the previous movie[1], which is how I know it’s the same Godzilla) against King Kong (who has recently been kidnapped from his home in the Solomon Islands by the lower in the ratings of the two TV networks, in a bid to gain marketshare by showing him off to Japan).

No really, that’s the whole movie. Wake up Godzilla who will attack Japan because it’s a habit at this point. Kidnap King Kong for ratings. Notice that maybe since he’s tall, he could defeat Godzilla and save Tokyo. Notice that atomic fire breath sets giant ape skin on fire same as everyone else’s. Notice that, implausibly, where a million volts of electricity makes Godzilla say “ow” and wander off in a different direction, it makes Kong say “yummy!” and then flex like Popeye on a week-long spinach bender. Put them both on the slopes of Mt. Fuji for an electro-charged rematch. Profit?[2]

I’d say you cannot make this stuff up, but, singing Mothra twins? This doesn’t even scratch the surface of what you can make up. In conclusion, Godzilla’s fate at the end of the movie was uncertain, which means I still have to watch another one. Sheesh. At least it’s on Max, because having to settle for 1080p because my Plex server couldn’t deal with the 4K version of this movie was an annoyance and a half.

[1] by meddling Americans, of course
[2] In fact, yes, massive, massive profit in the Japanese market.

X (2022)

Friday night double feature! Even better, unexpected double feature, but I’ll get to that.

The first movie was lent to me by Ryan a number of months ago[1], but the time was finally right, so, hooray. Here, I was about to launch into a brief plot synopsis, but the problem with those is if I start with the title, I will inevitably say “Title is the sensitive story of” and it feels less like an homage and more like a ripoff, even though its not my fault I’ve read and heard so many of Joe Bob’s reviews that the phrasing is just lodged in my brain. In any event, I’ll start over.

After a scene designed in every way to evoke The Texas Chainsaw Massacre, we fade in on a strip club owner and two of his employees, hopping in a van[2] with a few other folks on their way out of Houston to the rural remote wilds of southeast Texas (or arguably New Zealand) to shoot the first direct-to-video but also high-minded and artistic pornographic feature, set on a farm owned by an aging, nay decrepit, couple named Howard and Pearl. The house[3] and barn reflect the owners’ decay, but the rented cabin a few hundred yards away is actually kind of nice, I think by virtue of not having been occupied over the past who knows how many decades.

The remainder of the film would be the shooting schedule of The Farmer’s Daughters, complete with the sexual liberation of Jenna Ortega and lessons on film editing and assorted X-rated shenanigans, except for the air of disquiet that hangs over the remote farm. I think it’s fair to say that if our merry band of videographers aren’t careful, they may find themselves on a collision course with that opening scene I mentioned, set 24 hours after they got into the van.

So aside from how on the nose (but in a good way) I found the setup and payoff to be, I was sincerely impressed by a lot of the acting and cinematography choices[4]. Some of the cuts were very disquieting, and this may be the first time I’ve experienced a successful jump scare that was set after the victim’s death.

But honestly, the single most unsettling aspect of the film was a casting choice that is frankly a spoiler for this movie’s mood, if not per se its plot. However! I think I can talk about it in the next review. Like I said: double feature.

[1] long enough that it’s since on Netflix and I did not technically need the lend, so, um, oops
[2] All van scenes also shot with Chainsaw in mind.
[3] Also, the layout of the house’s entryway? Immediate Chainsaw flashbacks.
[4] and also the soundtrack was baller

Godzilla (2014)

Back when they made that Godziilla remake, I still remembered the one with Matthew Broderick. You know, the one that basically killed his career?[1] So naturally I avoided with prejudice. Then later I saw Kong: Skull Island[2], and learned that these two movies were related? And they’ve made two sequels since then, of which I’ve seen one. I think? …nope, additional minor research indicates I’ve seen both, and, I don’t know, am just conflating them?

But for whatever reason, I never saw the movie that [re]started it all.

Godzilla has three distinct acts, connected linearly by the flow of time and not at all by theme. In act one, Bryan Cranston is [spoilers for the prologue] trying to figure out who murdered his wife. In act two, his son is taking a tour of the Pacific in the style of Raymond Burr. In act three, there is a final confrontation in San Francisco.

I do think that these movies find their footing, but this first one is interesting only insofar as you are entertained by fights with kaiju (80% of the movie) or shadowy government conspiracies regarding kaiju (20% of the movie). Otherwise, it’s kind of a shambling mess full of extraneous characters in service of a plot in which one rando is solely responsible for the salvation of humanity, even though the movie is named Godzilla.

But I mean… it was still mostly pretty cool to look at.

[1] I mean, is he still doing anything and I just don’t see it, or was that the coffin nail and now he’s retired on Ferris money? …or in that retirement home for Hollywood people who lost it all? Well. He’s probably not old enough for that.
[2] If you think I wanted to see that one on the strength of Peter Jackson’s remake, well, you’re at least partially right. but also I’ve always had a soft spot for King Kong.

The Hunger (1983)

I was prompted by that podcast to watch The Hunger, a movie which inexplicably I’d never even heard of, even though it has David Bowie and Susan Sarandon in a lookalike contest, vying for[1] the affections of an Egyptian vampire. Vampiress? It is usefully descriptive, but I think it may be more reductive than it is descriptive.

So anyway, first she loves David Bowie, and then she apparently doesn’t, and then he experiences unforeseen (by him, at least) side effects, and meanwhile in what is maybe too much of a coincidence for how precisely similar Ms. Sarandon is to Mr. Bowie, she (the vampire) meets her (the sister of Chris Sarandon, who also once played a vampire, so that has to be weird at Sarandon family Thanksgivings) and feels-slash-creates an immediate connection to Bowie’s replacement. And then dramatic events unfold, but almost certainly not the ones you’re thinking of. Also, sexy-time events unfold, and these are the ones you’re thinking of, since all vampiresses are lesbians, at least in the movies.

You know what the movie really suffered from? If I hadn’t seen Let the Right One In first. There are some pretty crucial differences, not least of which is that this one is a little less plot driven than that one. Honestly, I think that’s why this was the wrong order. Because if I’m thinking of a Scandinavian movie which had snow as one of the three main characters and yearning for a similar movie to please get on with having something, anything, happen, well, you can see how that’s a bad sign.

It’s not that I didn’t like The Hunger, it’s that it didn’t meet my unjust expectations. If you want to watch a movie in which people mostly stare longingly at each other, punctuated by short bursts of violence and/or medical research, but also all the longing stares are performed by impossibly attractive androgynes?

Come to think of it, that’s every David Bowie movie, isn’t it?

[1] The summary blurbs they put in imdb and atop movies on streaming services, etc., would have you believe this “vying” thing is accurate, but I don’t think it was. Catherine Deneuve seemed strictly serial to me.

30 Days of Night

Here’s another movie I watched for podcast purposes. I’m in like August of 2020 right now on all my podcasts, and you can see how this is going to be a problem for me. Also, though, it’s not perfectly fair to say I watched 30 Days of Night. See, it was on last week[1] while I was working, and this usually works out fine for me, subtitle movies excepted. Do I miss some fine plot points of my TV shows and random horror movies on shudder? Sure, maybe! But I know what’s going on, and if I don’t I run things back and rewatch and pay closer attention for a while. No problem! Or if I realize that haha no it’s actually that complex, I watch it while not at work instead.

But this time… I just could not bring myself to care. Like, I thought I knew what was up. Northern Alaska, dead of winter[2], axial tilt means no sunrise for, let’s say, thirty days? All of which equals vampires! And so there’s this initial rush of people dying, and you have survivors, and it was all making sense, until at some point I realized that it was already halfway through the month even thought I thought it was still the first, er, night. Calendar night. You know. And maybe if I’d gone back then it would have been okay, but I figured no problem at least now I know how things are going, but then time kept jumping[3], and I kept not caring enough about the characters to try to keep up, and finally at the end, well, it was a perfectly cromulent ending I guess and ultimately I still really don’t care that I maybe probably don’t actually know what happened in the movie?

So, uh… meh.

[1] two weeks ago? I bet you can already tell where this is going based on that uncertainty alone.
[2] a) get it? b) good boardgame tho
[3] This is based on a graphic novel [series?] that I’ve never read before, and I wonder if this was the source of the time jumps. (Or alternately maybe there were not any particular time jumps, and I was just paying even worse attention than I assume.)

Black Sheep (2006)

You know how sometimes the plot of a movie goes in so many different directions that you can tell the person (or more likely “people”, and probably in serial rather than parallel) had no idea what they were doing, and just kept throwing anything and everything at the wall to see what would stick, with the result that basically nothing sticks and the movie makes no sense whatsoever?

Apparently, in New Zealand, you can do that and it all weaves back together and every part of it makes sense. …well, okay, no, that is an exaggeration at best. But enough of it comes together and what remains is funny enough that you can ignore the plot holes. Well, also arguably I should not generalize to everything they make, but at least for Black Sheep, it’s all true.

It’s like this: two brothers, unalike dignity, in fair Aotearoa, where we lay our scene, from ancient grudge break to new mutiny, where ovine blood makes civil hands unclean[1]. …but I suppose I should say more. See, the grudge between them is over the murder of Henry’s sheep and also, due to the gory shock and unrelated timing of the event, over Henry’s subsequent ovinophobia. Unfortunately, the day fifteen years later that Henry shows up to finally wash his hands of the relationship (and the massive sheep farm that he owns a 50% share of) is the day his brother has set aside to reveal his new breed of sheep upon the world.

This is unfortunate because the disgraced geneticist that has assisted him with a unique (or, depending upon your perspective, distressingly common) form of animal husbandry has also been performing her own experiments in what I choose to believe was a method of keep meat fresh for the longest period possible. If you guessed “zombie sheep that are still alive even after being dressed and hung on meathooks, but also one of the experimental animals escaped and spread the, er, modification to the herds at large”, then, well, I really painted an evocative picture in the first place, and go me! Or you’re an uncommonly good guesser.

The thing is, there’s so much more to it than just that, and most of it chuckleworthy. Also, there are multiple instances of unnecessary to the story rabbit dismemberment. I wonder if it’s lingering resentment over Night of the Lepus? But whatever, the point is, the movie is mostly good, mostly funny, and has more subplots than you can shake a pointed stick at.

[1] There’s no reason for this, and yet here we are.

Das Cabinet des Dr. Caligari

I can say with a high degree of confidence that The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari is the first movie I’ve seen that is over 100 years old. I mean to say “seen for the first time”, but there’s a near certainty that it’s also the first movie I’ve seen of that age, period. So that’s something!

Here’s what I like about it: it’s terribly modern. It opens on two men on a bench. The old man says he was driven from his home by spirits, and the young one responds with, essentially, “You think that’s bad? My fiancee and I (here she walks by in a long white dress? night gown?, in a complete daze, as if to emphasize his sentence) were just subjected to a traveling carnival!” And okay, there’s more to it than that, but the whole story of Caligari and his cabinet (that is, wooden box) and the man inside who has been asleep for 25 years and can now tell the future (barkers Caligari, so you know it must be true)  and the series of murders that follows, it’s all told in this dreamlike atmosphere, and on twisted, confusing, dreamlike sets. Sure, you know Caligari is the bad guy and his pawn? accomplice? Cesare is the murderer, but the plot spins in so many directions that it’s possible to continuously speculate about what will happen next.

In conclusion, I don’t think it’s fair to say that all old movies are as good as or better than new ones. But once a movie is still widely known and available to be seen past its century mark, yeah, there’s no surprise that it’s a good one, and that it’s still just as relatable to a modern audience. Pity I didn’t watch the 4K remaster that I understand exists.

Oh, caveat: the music was mostly a terrible fit for the plot and ongoing events on screen, and that hurts a silent film a lot. Eventually I was able to mostly tune it out, at least.

Hatchet

So there I was, ready to watch the second movie in Joe Bob’s slumber sleepover thingummy that aired a week or so ago, when I find out, oops, it’s Hatchet Four in disguise, and here I am never having watched Hatchets One through Three. And, in maybe the least likely turn of events in streaming history, all of them are available on services I already have!

Well, okay, not quite. The first one was on Plex, which I understood to be a way to stream things you have the data file from your data repository to your screen, but apparently they also have a commercial service with random shows and movies on it as well? Which is weird, but unedited plus commercials is as good as I was going to get.[1]

Hatchet, then, is the story of Victor Crowley, a deformed backwoods mutant with a tragic past who is now maybe a ghost or maybe just still alive, but either way, he doesn’t like it when you go to his part of the swamps outside New Orleans. Which is exactly what an old touristy Midwestern couple, a Girls Gone Wild knockoff producer and his marks, a couple of guys in town for Mardi Gras, a sullen girl with her own agenda, and their spooky nighttime ghost tour guide do. So, y’know, big mistake.

Consequences include body parts flying everywhere, multiple alligator attacks, enough breasts to believe this could have been made in the ’80s, blood sprays upwards of 20 yards, and laughs every couple of minutes. I know I was just complaining about what makes a horror movie also a comedy (and more to the point what doesn’t), but this is just one step shy of being a snarky self-aware post-Scream horror movie, except that nobody winks at the camera even once. There are trope jokes everywhere, there’s just not anybody using the script to say see, look at this trope! I have three sequels to get through over the next not very many days, and I really hope this trendline continues.

[1] Unless I had remembered earlier than two thirds of the way through the movie that I’m pretty sure I have this one on DVD (or maybe Blu-ray, who knows?). I miss when there was a wall of movies I could look at before making mistakes like this.