Tag Archives: comedy

REDNECK ZOMBIES – 13 Days of Shot on Video! (#10)

With 13 Days of Shot On Video I’ll be reviewing a new shot-on-video horror film every weekday for the last two weeks of October. You can view all entries HERE.

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I’ve said this many times before, but SOV horror movies are not for everyone. One of the biggest factors in deterring the average viewer is the overall aesthetic: bad editing, even worse acting, junky sound, and just a general aura of cheapness. Redneck Zombies is sort of the exception to the rule, however, as it was released by Troma Entertainment — the film company who prides themselves on their no-budget, laughable productions. So in a way, Redneck Zombies was safeguarded from the usual expected shortcomings that plagued the average SOV horror movie; suddenly, those limitations were now strengths. I assert that Redneck Zombies just may be the crossover hit that bridged the gap between shot-on-video and the collective hip consciousness. I can’t name many (if any) friends who have seen SOV gems such as Sledgehammer or Killing Spree, but all of my friends know what Troma is and have seen many Troma films, and even a handful have seen Redneck Zombies. Whodathunk. Redneck Zombies, a vanguard film! Continue reading REDNECK ZOMBIES – 13 Days of Shot on Video! (#10)

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“Dude Bro Party Massacre III” (2015) REVIEW

There is so much — and yet, somehow, so little — to say about Dude Bro Party Massacre III, so I’ll offer up both a short and lengthy review.

Short review: the movie, sadly, is a mess – both tonally and stylistically – and that’s a real bummer because the trailer looked promising, and my hopes were high. Whether intentional or not, the movie ended up being confusing, distracting, and (unfortunately) just plain unfunny. I kept checking to see how much longer until it was over, and that’s not a great reaction to have when watching a movie.

There, that’s the succinct review and I already feel like a jerk. If you’re interested in the details, read on.

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Perhaps the biggest sign that Dude Bro Party Massacre III was doomed from the start is the fact that it was made by the people at 5-Second Films. Now, I have nothing against 5-Seconds Films; I love their stuff. In fact, if you aren’t familiar with their work, do yourself a favor and go check them out right now — their videos are hilarious, bizarre, and creative (this one is my personal fave of their shorts.) However, the micro format is clearly their strong suit, and attempting to stretch that out into a full length film unfortunately just doesn’t work. It makes this 90 minute movie feel like you’re actually watching 1,080 of their shorts back to back; a very exhausting feeling. Another unfortunate side-effect of cramming a joke in every 5 seconds is that almost of all of them fall painfully flat.

The central plot is fairly straightforward: a college kid joins a frat that his dead brother was once a member of in order to solve/avenge said dead brother’s mysterious murder. There is a bizarre (and completely unnecessary) subplot involving a couple of bumbling cops (and a cult leader? And oranges?), but their involvement in the basic story is too confusing to explain. Interstitial bits and pieces of bad tracking, blunt cuts, and fake commercials are thrown in the mix, making even the most basic storyline that much more impossible to follow.

That’s another issue I have with the movie: it tries to cash in on the current very popular trend of making something look like it was shot on VHS tape. Films, Youtube videos, TV shows — they all want to achieve this ‘look’ without adhering to the restrictions that would actually result in an analog recording being shot on magnetic tape. (One of the greatest offenders of this rule is V/H/S, a horror anthology which inexplicably dedicates an entire segment to computer video chats [a digital medium], not to mention several other anachronisms such as a pair of glasses outfitted with a hidden camera [yet another digital medium.]) Let’s put it this way: if the movie Super 8 featured a kid lugging one of these RCA shoulder-mounted consumer camcorders around instead, people would cry foul. Dude Bro Party Massacre III commits similar bothersome acts.

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Animated words pop up onscreen, goofy sound effects occur, weird out of place transitions and obvious green screen effects abound. None of it makes sense in the context of things. The recently released Kung Fury — another VHS-style throwback — also commits these same acts, but the difference is that Kung Fury so obviously takes place within its own imaginary landscape, one that feels more videogame than actual movie, that it’s pretty much able to do whatever it wants and get away with it. DBPM3 wants you to feel like you’re watching an 80s horror movie taped off TV (it even tells you so with an opening crawl), but yet it doesn’t want to play by its own rules. (It also helped that Kung Fury was only 30 minutes long.)

Lastly, one final impediment: contradictory as it may sound, Dude Bro includes far too many references which end up hurting it doubly. The movie is loaded with 80s cliches, silly commercials, cheesy gore (the best part of the movie, actually) vapid characters, etc. DBPM3 is its own worst enemy because it fails to find a balance. Had it been played perhaps a little more straight-forward (and cut out about 2/3 of the jokes), it might have played a little better.

There is a crossroads — a junction where satire, homage, parody, and pastiche all intersect — that, if handled carelessly, can create confusion, blur the point, and distract the viewer. Ultimately, that’s what happens in Dude Bro Party Massacre III.

There are a few things that almost work — a montage where the bros clean up a dirty frat house to a dorky 80s song (ala Revenge of the Nerds) and a brief scene where a guy (Greg Sestero!) gets freaked out by several gardening implements in a tool shed (shot in a very Raimi way) — but those moments are quickly buried as the film eagerly jumps to the next weird joke/setting/character/edit/effect.

It has a great premise, a great title, and I do love the worn out videotape look, but there’s just too much going on. If you want a film that does a good job of spoofing a specific era, look no further than Wet Hot American Summer (a film I feel greatly inspired this one.) Or hell, just rent an actual shot-on-video horror movie like Woodchipper Massacre, Cannibal Campout, or Video Violence. Those movies are just as cheesy and silly as DBPM3, but are far less likely to induce seizures. If a 90-minute Tim and Eric sketch on speed is what you’re looking for, you will love this film. Otherwise, you may find yourself feeling a bit let down.

Drive-In Double Feature: BEETLEJUICE & THE FRIGHTENERS!

Choosing which two movies I wanted to talk about for my Drive-In Double Feature wasn’t easy. As all the entries this past month have shown, there are endless combinations — none of them wrong, each one utterly singular and wonderfully creative. I had a couple ideas bouncing around (ones I’ll save for next year, or maybe before then) but I finally decided on Beetlejuice and The Frighteners since Beetlejuice — more specifically, its potential sequel — has been in the news lately.

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See, for years now, people have been clamoring for a Beetlejuice sequel — but what they don’t realize is they’ve had a Beetlejuice sequel for years already: The Frighteners. Let’s look at some of the obvious comparisons:

  • Both are about the dead interacting with the living, specifically the dead helping the living accomplish a goal.
  • Both are about a living person using the dead to dupe other living people.
  • Both feature smart-assed ghosts.
  • Both prove that even the dead can still die again.
  • And perhaps most damning of all: both were scored by Danny Elfman! I mean, c’mon people!

The similarities don’t end there.

The catalyst in both films is a car wreck: in Beetlejuice, a car accident kills the Maitlands, which allows them to interact with the dead. In The Frighteners, Michael J. Fox and his wife are also in a car accident; the crash kills the wife, but near-death experience allows Fox to — you guessed it — communicate with the dead.

Plus, look at this car chase from The Frighteners. Everything is very lush and green, hills are winding, homes are painted white and almost look like models. Tell me these locations don’t look exactly like the model set Adam Maitland builds of the little town in Beetlejuice! The car crash at the end of Beetlejuice (the one that takes place on the miniature model) looks identical to the one that happens in The Frighteners. Hell, they even both involve antique model vehicles!

Both also have interesting MPAA ratings: Despite the violence being comical in nature or happening offscreen entirely, The Frighteners was deemed far too violent, and the board forced an R-rating on an unhappy Peter Jackson despite him making as many cuts as he possibly could. Yet Beetlejuice — which features a perverted ghost marrying an underage girl, corpses who talk about suicide, one crotch grab, and one use of “fuck” — snuck by with a harmless PG.

And there is one more loose, tenuous parallel: in The Frighteners, Michael J. Fox lives in an home he never finished building, and it’s in need of major repairs; in Beetlejuice, after the Maitlands die, the Deetzes move in and make major repairs and changes. The homelife in both films, the disarray — it’s too blatant to ignore.

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But despite their numerous similarities, the reception to either film couldn’t have been any different. While Beetlejuice became a smash hit and an 80s classic, and probably the most memorable film production for all those involved, The Frighteners failed at the box office and became a mere footnote in Peter Jackson’s filmography. It was also Fox’s last leading role in a live-action feature film. However, in recent years, people seem to be coming to their senses and have now realized what a goddamn gem The Frighteners is, and it has developed, as the cool kids say, a “cult following”.

I remember seeing The Frighteners in the theater with my folks when I was 12 years old. It blew me away. I’ve always been into two things: scary stuff and funny stuff; The Frighteners knocked it out of the goddamned park with both! Aside from just being incredibly fun and well written and beautifully shot, it has tons of incredible special effects. In fact, it required more digital effects shots than almost any movie made up until that time (thanks, Wikipedia!)

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I originally saw Beetlejuice as a small child, most likely from a video store rental. I don’t remember when I saw it I just remember being so young that stuff about the film didn’t make sense to me until years later. Like when the Maitlands drown; I didn’t realize they were dead. When Geena Davis trots the horse statue in front of the mirror to show she has no reflection, I had no goddamned idea what was going on. When the Maitlands possess the Deetzes and force them to dance to calypso music, I couldn’t have been more lost — but damn if that wasn’t a great scene to a toddler!

A double feature of Beetlejuice and The Frighteners makes more sense the longer I sit here and type (also, the more beer I drink.) Beetlejuice is a wonderful ode to the practical effects of 80s horror — even utilizing ‘old-school’ stop motion animation in several scenes. The Frighteners shows the turning of the tide, blending both practical effects and digital effects but leaning more on the latter. Both films would be nominated for and win several Saturn awards. Beetlejuice would even win an Academy Award for best make-up!

Both films also have huge, colorful supporting casts — Beetlejuice with Sylvia Sydney and Dick Cavett; The Frighteners with Dee Wallace, John Astin, and Jeffrey Combs!

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It feels silly summarizing both films, especially Beetlejuice since it has become so embedded in the pop culture collective consciousness — so I’ll skip the summations. But trust me: these movies are the perfect double feature, not simply because they compliment each other, but because one feels like an extension of the other. Go watch both…now!

Drive-In Double Feature: GHOSTBUSTERS & TEEN WOLF!

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My buddy Trent would give even the best nostalgist a run for their money. His interests seems to exist within a small window of time, maybe 1980-1985. Maybe 1978-1987 if I’m being generous. And I don’t blame him: movies, music, hell even quirky foodstuff was more enjoyable then (Ecto-Cooler, anyone?) So it was my hope that Trent would use his knowledge of the arcane to summon a Drive-In Double Feature of childhood favorites, and he did not disappoint.
Drive-in theaters, you may have heard, have become a dying breed. In their 1950s heyday, locations for seeing the latest film (and in a lot of cases, a pair of films) numbered in the tens of thousands, and accounted for one-third of theaters in the United States. Now, we are at about 350 across the country.
I was near one today, and that seemed somewhat remarkable to me. Now when I see a drive-in, I make a mental note of it and try whenever I can to make it there. It’s one of the few vestiges of pure Americana we have left.
So let’s say I pull up to one, and they are showing a double feature in honor of me (maybe I’m dying or I’m the president or something). I get to pick – which two movies would I want to see in the best setting for the viewing of movies that remains?
I looked at this question from dozens of angles and tried to avoid the following conclusion because since I was five or six years old, I have not been able to shut up about –
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I’m leading off with what remains, 31 years later, as my favorite film of all time – Ghostbusters. I’ve seen it on televisions, computers, movie screens, tablets, phones, gaming systems, apartment walls. But to see it in the great outdoors at a drive-in movie theater with my fellow Americans? I would be so happy I’d be eligible to be busted before the theme song kicked in.
I cannot say enough good things about this film. The perfect cast, in their prime, with the perfect script working with possibly the greatest film comedian of all-time in Bill Murray.

It’s not only a great, and hilarious film, it is also a marvel to behold and its huge (and occasionally dated) effects lend themselves to a huge and occasionally dated setting. It’s a film to share in the hot and sweaty company of others, and it puts us halfway through the perfect summer night. So go take a whizz and buy another 6 dollar popcorn and settle in for –
Teen Wolf 1985

To show you I’m a reasonable man, I cannot laud Teen Wolf the same way I did the previous film. But I don’t care. It’s an even better movie for an old-school drive-in setting than its predecessor, and it’s a fuckin’ hoot. Ever wonder what would happen if you pretended to surf on top of a moving van while your friend blasts “Surfin’ USA”? Nothing, dude. You’d be fine.
Fresh off of Back to the Future (my runner-up, by the way) Michael J. Fox makes you believe a teen could also be a wolf, and use that quirk to his or her advantage, suddenly excelling at basketball and becoming wildly popular.
Playing the son of a hardware store owner (and fellow wolfperson), Mike Fox crushes it as Scott Howard, a teenager who suddenly realizes an ability to become a wolf almost at will (though sometimes against it), and with the help of his enterprising best friend, Stiles Stilinski, capture the school’s attention and takes his basketball team to dizzying heights.
Typing that out loud it sounds a little crazy, but it is, and that’s the point of drive-ins. You go to escape, because making sense isn’t always fun. You go to be with other people, to let your imagination run wild, to immerse yourself in a world where things work out in the end.
Short of finding this perfect pairing at the drive-in, I will keep searching for the next best thing this summer at my local drive-in, in the dwindling moment where seeing a film outdoors from a car is still a thing that can happen on the planet Earth.
Trent spends most of his free time talking about old episodes of Saturday Night Live, reading Kurt Vonnegut, and hustling little kids at the local arcade with his Tommy-like Ms. Pac-Man skills.

Dr. Jose’s Favorite 80s Tees

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I’m a t-shirt kinda guy. Always have been, probably always will be. Sure, I clean up nice on special occasions, but nothing beats a comfy tee – preferably with some sort of antiquated, obscure, or flat-out offensive message emblazoned upon it. Yep, I’m one of those types who likes a good ol’ vintage t-shirt. They look cool, and plus they fit better!

No decade embraced this fashion choice more than the 1980s, and nowhere was it more noticeable than the various cult films over the years. My love and appreciation of these films is probably why I have such an affinity for weird, wordy, retro tees. Or maybe it’s my love of weird tees that lends itself to my love of flicks from the 80s?

To celebrate my appreciation of these 50/50 cotton-poly blended gems, I’ve compiled a few screenshots of my favorites from various 80s movies. Now this is far from a comprehensive list; just a compilation of the ones I really dig – the ones that stuck with me. They’re listed, as always, in chronological order. Enjoy and lemme know which ones you like!

I wanna start the list with two honorable mentions, actually. Neither are t-shirts exactly (one is sleeveless, the other is a sweatshirt), but I’ll be damned if they aren’t cool as all get out!

Stripes (1981) & Police Academy (1984)

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First up is Lori Singer in Footloose (1984). I fully support curse words on t-shirts, especially when it’s embracing a healthy and positive message. Or when it’s just cursing for cursing’s sake.

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This next one is a little weird. Not sure if I find it so troubling because I, without hesitation, would take him up on the offer — or if it’s because he wore this to a Halloween party in the real-life drama, Mask (1985). I mean, Cher’s kid Rocky is dying of a super rare disease, and you show up rocking that tee? I guess that’s why nobody puts Sam Elliott in the corner.

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This one may be a little hard to see, but this amazing shirt from Aliens (1986) says, “Peace Through Superior Firepower”. Kinda prophetic, ain’t it? Anyway, I wear a size small (or Youth XL) in case any a-you charitable types wanna snag me one.

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Oh boy, The Feldster. While Corey Feldman’s personal attire has always been pretty embarrassing — especially during his Michael Jackson phase (1988 – Current) — he’s always been pretty decked out in his movies. Look no further than the film The Lost Boys (1987). I always felt his Edgar Frog character was some distant relative to his Ricky Butler character from the film The ‘Burbs (1989), but that’s another article entirely. Feldman’s hard-to-see shirt says “Why Waltz When You Can Rock & Roll?”, and it’s got an AK-47 on it. Look, I’m no gun nut or anything, but there’s no denying: that is a badass shirt. Again, size small/Youth XL for those reading.

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Confession: I own this next shirt. I don’t care if that makes me lame, or wannabe-cool, or a dum-dum or what. Stephen King does, in fact, rule – as does the shirt itself. As does Monster Squad (1987). It’s a win-win-win. Fun fact: I wore this to a horror convention last year and so did one other person — A 50-something grandma type. I still say the shirt is cool.

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Poor Martha Dunnstock. Besides the fact that she’s alienated, picked on and given the nickname “Martha Dumptruck”, her short, permed hair is the true tragedy. It’s so painfully 80s. But at least she’s got that awesome Big Fun shirt. Big Fun, of course, being the fictional band that sings the incredibly catchy “Teenage Suicide (Don’t Do It)”, from the film Heathers (1988). Considering Martha walks into traffic shortly after this scene, I don’t think the song worked. (Don’t worry, she lives! Oh, SPOILERS. Sorry.)

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This beaut from The Great Outdoors (1988) is just a simple, cool looking shirt. Nothing particularly spectacular about it, but it definitely looks like something you could find in your local thrift store if you dug deep enough. Plus, it’s being sported by the dude who gives Danny his magic ticket in Last Action Hero (1993)!

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Okay, so this list didn’t start as a competition, and it’s not intended to be, but these next three characters have to be handled a little differently. There’s no doubt in my mind that they not only are the most memorably-clad of the decade, but that their styles helped influence and solidify the quirky/offensive/wordy t-shirt trend that exists today. Bold statement, sure. But just check these out and tell me I’m way off base.

First up, your friend and mine, Stiles Stilinski from Teen Wolf (1985). The man might not have been the smoothest operator when trying to score a keg from the liquor store, but boy he sure knew how to wear a t-shirt. Let’s take a look:

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“What Are You Looking At Dicknose”, “Life Sucks Then You Die”, and “Obnoxious: The Movie”. Classics. I know “Dicknose” is a crowd favorite, but – while it does have a nice ring to it – I gotta say my favorite is “Obnoxious: The Movie”. It’s a head-scratcher, which gives it that extra edge. T-shirts should do one of three things: educate, offend, or confuse. If you wear one that can do all three, hell, you’re doing it right. And don’t it look great on that robin’s egg blue shirt?

Next up is probably my favorite character from an 80s comedy, hands down: Dudley “Booger” Dawson, from Revenge of the Nerds (1984). I don’t want to say he’s a direct influence on my wardrobe/personality, because he’s such a scumbag. But I also don’t want to say he’s not, because then I’d be lying.

If Stiles was the high school version of the lame-o who thinks he’s hotshit, Booger is definitely the college version. But what Booger lacks in hygiene and charm he makes up for in amazing t-shirts. Check ‘em:

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“Gimme’ Head Till I’m Dead”, “High On Stress”, “Who Farted?”, and “Greasy Tony’s”. First off, “Who Farted?” is timeless. Secondly, tell me that “Greasy Tony’s” shirt isn’t one you’d see hawked at some store in the mall. And “Gimme’ Head”? I mean, the man is a fashion icon. If you’re a scumbag and you know it, clap your hands *clap, clap*

However, despite his extensive and awe-inspiring collection, Booger is not the ultimate t-shirt idol of the 80s. That honor actually goes to Val Kilmer’s Chris Knight character in Real Genius (1985). While not as offensive as I like, they’re all still really cool. Some may be hard to read, but I’ll go through them:

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“International Order For Gorillas”, “Roy Rogers Olympic Games 1984″, “Summer Games 1984″, “Surf Nicaragua”, “I (heart) Toxic Waste”.

Now, I’m not sure on the history of all these shirts, but the word is that Val Kilmer was friends with Roy Rogers and eventually bought his house, so that may have something to do with the Roy Rogers shirt. But why “Roy Rogers Olympic Games 1984″? Remember: it’s important to confuse. The other shirts are just as bewildering and colorful, and one was apparently popular enough to pop up in another film: “Summer Games 1984″, which shows a runner in a gas mask, carrying a torch, smoggy Los Angeles in the background — that shirt also made an appearance in Repo Man (1984). That’s gotta be a first, right? And “I (heart) Toxic Waste”? Forget about it.

Well, that concludes my list of favorite t-shirts from 80s movies. Although I didn’t include Chainsaw from Summer School (1987). He had a couple really cool tees in that film. As did Billy from Big (1988).

Looks like it’s time to start working on a second list.

Dr. Jose’s Horrific Holiday Films! (Thanksgiving Edition)

It’s Thanksgiving time again, and Dr. Jose has compiled the perfect list of must-watch horror films on this fowl holiday, to be enjoyed by you, and only the most demented of your relatives.

So make a plate of seconds, dim the lights, and give thanks that you’re not being chased by a chainsaw-wielding maniac!