Wednesday, December 31, 2008

The 2008 Bone Breaker Awards

Who will receive the coveted Skulls?!?


*Note: These are my personal favorites for 2008.
[obviously I have not read every book published, seen every film or television show released, nor listened to every album produced this year - these are from what I can remember ~ I will have to keep a list for next year, as I had to rack my brain this year] :-)


Let's begin, alphabetically, shall we?


The Skull for Best Album goes to Metallica for Death Magnetic [this album rocks!!]


The Skull for Most Memorable Novel goes to Joseph D'Lacey for Meat [if you haven't read this book yet, you should!]


I am also going to give a Skull to both Chuck Liddell and Tito Ortiz for Iceman: My Fighting Life and This is Gonna Hurt: The Life of a Mixed Martial Arts Champion [respectively]
Of the many autobiographies that I read on mixed martial art fighters, these two stood out the most!


A Skull also goes to Stephenie Meyer for Breaking Dawn [a worthy conclusion to her Twilight Saga]


The Skull for Best Novel Written by a Christian Author goes to William P. Young for The Shack [a powerful, moving novel]


The Skull for Best Novel by a Debut Author goes to Brandon Ford for Crystal Bay [a great 1st novel]


The Skull for Best Horror Magazine goes to Rue Morgue [a top-notch magazine that I never get tired of reading!]


The Skull for Best Horror Novel goes to Ray Garton for Ravenous [an excellent werewolf novel!]


The Skull for Best Zombie Novel goes to Travis Adkins for After Twilight: Walking with the Dead [his sequel to After Twilight - Note: My review of this novel will be in the next issue of Hacker's Source magazine - also, my 1st ever "blurb" appears on this book!] :-)


The Skull for Best Event of the Year definitely goes to Chicago's Music Box Massacre IV [this was a 24-hour horror movie marathon shown in one of Chicago's old movie theatres - see blog dated 10/27/08]


The Skull for Best MMA Fighter goes to Anderson "the spider" Silva [my oldest daughter's favorite fighter ~ he dominated every fight that he was in this year!]


On to the movies. . .


The Skull for Best Action Film actually goes to two movies this year - Rambo & Punisher: War Zone [Rambo opened the year and Punisher closed it - these films perfectly book-end each other]


The Skull for Best Animated Film goes to Kung Fu Panda [a film you can watch repeatedly]


The Skull for Best Comedy goes to You Don't Mess with the Zohan [for me, this was laugh-out-loud funny!] *Note: I missed Pineapple Express in the theatres this year, and it doesn't hit DVD till next week - the 6th - this movie may have the potential to beat out Zohan. . .


The Skull for Best Movie Based on a Comic Book goes to Iron Man [I loved this film!]


The Skull for Best Film that went Direct-to-DVD goes to Joy Ride 2: Dead Ahead [I would have gone to the theatre for this one]


The Skull for Best DVD Release of the Year goes to Pieces [a must buy film!]


The Skull for Best Family Film goes to three films this year - Nim's Island, Kit Kittredge: An American Girl, and Speed Racer [I thought each of these films were excellent]


The Skull for Best Fantasy Film goes to Twilight [yes, this film is Fantasy - not Horror!]


The Skull for Best Foreign Film goes to Mongul: The Rise to Power of Genghis Khan [I cannot wait for the final two movies in this trilogy!]


The Skull for Best Foreign Horror Film goes to both Frontiere(s) and Inside [both French Horror Films]


The Skull for Best Horror Film goes to The Midnight Meat Train [if you haven't seen this film yet - do so!!] *Note: I keep hearing rave-reviews for the Swedish Film Let the Right One In - I haven't seen this one yet. . .


The Skull for Best Independent Film goes to Poultrygeist: Night of the Chicken Dead [see my review - dated 11/25/08]


The Skull for Best Martial Arts Film goes to The Forbidden Kingdom [this is the one starring both Jet Li and Jackie Chan]


The Skull for Best Mixed Martial Arts Film goes to Never Back Down [basically an MMA Karate Kid]


The Skull for Best Re-Make goes to The Day the Earth Stood Still [if they're going to re-make films, an award might as well go to the best one]


The Skull for Best Sci-Fi Film goes to X-Files: I Want to Believe [yes, I liked this one!]


The Skull for Best Sequel goes to The Chronicles of Narnia: Prince Caspian [I've heard rumors that they are not going to continue making these films - I hope this rumor isn't true!]


The Skull for Best Short Film goes to Of Darkness *Review forthcoming* and The Insane *you can watch this one on my post dated 11/11/08*


The Skull for Best War Film goes to Starship Troopers 3: Marauder [hey, it's a war on Bugs!] :-)


The Skull for Best Zombie Film goes to Zombies! Zombies! Zombies! [a hilarious low-budget independent film]


Now that the films are out of the way - how about the people behind them?


The Skull for Best Performance - hands down - goes to Heath Ledger for his portrayal of the Joker in The Dark Knight


The Skull for Best Director goes to Christopher Nolan for The Dark Knight


The Skull for Best Screenplay goes to David S. Goyer, Christopher Nolan, and Jonathan Nolan for The Dark Knight


The Skull for Best Special Effects goes to the F/X Team behind Hellboy II: The Golden Army


How about Television Shows?


The Skull for Best New Show goes to Legend of the Seeker [a show based on Terry Goodkind's Sword of Truth Saga] Leverage [a new show that just started, recently, on TNT] and Eleventh Hour [based on the British Series that starred Patrick Stewart - this one is on CBS and stars Rufus Sewell]


Now, of course, along with the Best comes the Worst. . . here are my disappointments:


Most Disappointing Book
was Edward Lee's Bride of the Impaler [I enjoy Lee's work, and I had great expectations for this one, however it failed to deliver - in my opinion]


Most Disappointing Movie
was Cloverfield [for me, the film did not live up to its hype]


Most Disappointing Horror Film
was The Happening [I had high hopes for this one]


Most Disappointing MMA Film
was RedBelt [after Never Back Down, this one was a major let-down]


Most Disappointing Re-Make
was The Eye [I actually thought this one had potential]


Most Disappointing Sci-Fi Film
was Babylon A. D. [this film just plain sucked!]


Most Disappointing Sequel
was Feast II: Sloppy Seconds [Review forthcoming]


Most Disappointing Zombie Film
was Zombie Strippers [I saw this one in the theatres, and it just didn't do anything for me!]


Well, there you have it. . . I am sure that some of the above will garner some disagreements - please feel free to leave comments with your thoughts and opinions. . .


Before I sign off, I just wanted to list some of my favorite blogs that I've been reading this year:


For Movie Reviews I enjoy reading William Weird's http://beardedweirdoreviews.blogspot.com/ and Fred Wolf's http://fred-the-wolf.blogspot.com/ thoughts.


For Obscure Movie Reviews I enjoy reading Reverend Phantom's http://reverendphantom.blogspot.com/ and The Lightning Bug's http://www.thelightningbugslair.com/ opinions.


For Upcoming Entertainment News I enjoy reading The Geek's of Doom http://geeksofdoom.com/ and The Horror Geek http://thehorrorgeek.com/


Each of you get a Skull for Best Blogs :-)


HAPPY NEW YEAR everyone!!!


Jason

Saturday, December 27, 2008

I'm Back. . . with a UFC 92 Re-Cap

Well, after having driven to Florida, to visit with family for the holidays, the family and I returned this evening, just in time to catch tonight's "Ultimate UFC Event of the Year"
The UFC likes to end each year with a bang, and they certainly did it again this year, with an outstanding triple card. [A Light Heavyweight Showdown between Wanderlei Silva and Quinton Jackson ~ the Interim Heavyweight Championship between the two Coaches - Antonio Nogueira and Frank Mir - of Season 8 of The Ultimate Fighter ~ as well as the World Light Heavyweight Title Bout between the first season's winner of The Ultimate Fighter - Forrest Griffin - and the second season's winner - Rashad Evans]

So, without further ado, tonight's re-cap:

The first fight of the night was between Heavyweights Cheick Kongo and Mostapha Al Turk.
[I wanted Kongo to win this fight, and he did!]
The fight started off with Turk throwing a high kick, which Kongo caught with his left hand, in-turn, nailing Turk in the face with a hard right punch! Then, Turk caught Kongo with an accidental knee to the groin. A few minutes later, Kongo caught Turk with a knee to the groin as well, which I am pretty sure was no accident! [even the Ref, Steve Mazzagatti, stated "I sure hope that was an accident"] All of that aside, Kongo ended the 1st round with a vicious ground & pound, winning the fight by TKO.
Now, Kongo says that he wants to be the next in line for a Title Fight, which means that - if granted - he will fight the winner of the future Brock Lesnar fight against whoever wins tonight's match-up between Antonio Nogueira & Frank Mir. [I would love to see Mir win tonight's fight, which would mean a re-match between him and Lesnar - who he's already beaten. Then, Mir can beat Lesnar again, and defend against Kongo - that would rock!] :-)

The second fight of the night was probably the one that I was looking forward to the most ~ a re-match between Light Heavyweights Quinton "Rampage" Jackson and Wanderlei "The Axe Murderer" Silva. [for those who may not be aware, the two have previously fought each other, twice, in PRIDE, and both times Silva destroyed Jackson!]
This time however, I wanted Rampage to win. [I just had a feeling that after losing his belt to Forrest, he would come back, more focused and determined. Plus, I think that Rashad is going to beat Forrest tonight, and I would love to see a fight between Rampage & Rashad!]
Now, I think that Wanderlei Silva is a scary guy and an extremely ferocious fighter, and I am sure that Rampage had to have been nervous going into this fight [he was so focused on his walk to the octagon, that he didn't even stop and give his trademark howls!] however, in the very 1st round, Rampage caught Wanderlei with a left hook that knocked him out cold! [It didn't even look like Rampage's full power was behind the blow!] You can bet that Rampage was howling after this victory, and I was happy for him!

Now, because I have just driven 24+ hours, and I am extremely tired, I am just going to jump ahead to the two main events of the evening:
[don't worry, I won't leave you hanging on the other fights - I will re-cap those, very briefly, at the end]

First we had the Interim Heavyweight Championship Bout between Antonio "Minotauro" Nogueira and Frank Mir. Now, I already stated above - in the Kongo fight re-cap - that I would have loved to see Mir win this fight... I really like both of these fighters, and it was hard for me to choose who thought was actually going to win it, and in the end I chose Nogueira [I figured that in a 5-round bout, Mir would gas before Nogueira]

Before the fight, Joe Rogan spoke with Brock Lesnar about his feelings regarding the outcome of this match-up, and Lesnar earned my respect by telling Joe that he is not yet "the Champ" until he beats whoever wins this fight - I thought that was very cool of him! Lesnar then went on to say that he wanted a re-match with Mir. . . I am somewhat happy to report that Lesnar is going to get his wish, as Mir won the fight [though I feel bad for Nogueira, as he lost due to a somewhat controversial ref stoppage...]

Mir was simply on-fire tonight! He came out with superb combinations, and just kept rocking Nogueira. He definitely, won the 1st round! He was also controlling the 2nd round, when he dazed Nogueira yet again, this time pouncing on him and raining down some blows. The ref [Herb Dean, who I think is very good] then came in and stopped the fight. Me personally - I think the fight was stopped too early - Nogueira is known for being able to take a beating and yet still being able to continue and conquer - I feel that he was not given the chance, though I do feel that had the fight not been stopped, Mir would still have emerged the victor! So, now Mir will go on to fight Lesnar to see who deserves the title of Heavyweight Champion of the World!

Next was the World Light Heavyweight Championship Bout between Forrest Griffin and "Sugar" Rashad Evans. Again, I stated above, in the Rampage fight re-cap, that I thought Evans was going to win this fight. I love Forrest, however this was his first title-defense, and I just thought that Evans was going to take the title.
The fight started off similar to the Forrest/Rampage fight, with Forrest throwing brutal kicks into Evans' legs - this continued throughout the 1st & 2nd rounds. After the 2nd round ended, I told my wife that I had a feeling that the 3rd round was going to be it - Evans was going to knock-out Forrest [my wife was rooting for Forrest] Sure enough, Evans figured out Forrest's style, moved inside, knocked Forrest down and just pummeled him with hammer fists and elbows, until the ref stopped the fight.
Rashad Evans is now the Light Heavyweight Champion of the World! [Bring on Rampage!] :-)

For those who care, the other fights were between:

Dan Evensen & Pat Barry ~ Pat Barry won this fight with some extremely nasty leg kicks - he actually ended up blowing out Evensen's knee with one of his kicks! [I'll be keeping an eye on this dude!]

C. B. Dollaway & Mike Massenzio ~ Dollaway won via ground & pound/ref stoppage [no surprise here]

Matt "The Hammer" Hamill & Reese Andy ~ Another win via ref stoppage/ground & pound courtesy of Matt Hammil [again, no surprise]

Antoni Hardonk & Mike "The Juggernaut" Wessel ~ this was a Heavyweight fight, and it was Wessel's UFC debut - this guy is a beast, however Hardonk took him down with some pretty vicious knees to the head & nose!

Well, there you have it ~ another exciting MMA event ~ re-capped by yours truly! :-)

I also wanted to say that my oldest son is with the family this week (through the 4th) so, I will be keeping busy with him and the family through then. I will try to post a review or two between now and then, however no promises until afterwards - hopefully then, I will also find the time to continue reading everyone else's wonderful blogs! :-)

Jason

Monday, December 15, 2008

Happy Holidays

I just wanted to wish everyone out there a very Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!!!

The family and I will be travelling back to Florida, to spend Christmas with our families, so I will be off-line, probably until next year [unless of course we make it back in time for UFC 92, on the 27th!] :-)

So, stay safe - remember the true reason behind the season - and take care!

Till next time,

Jason

Saturday, December 13, 2008

The Ultimate Fighter - Season 8 Finale Re-Cap

Before I get into tonight's Live Finale of Season 8 of The Ultimate Fighter, I want to 'Rewind' to Wednesday night's Live "Fight for the Troops" [see Re-Cap - dated 12/10]

The second [Preliminary] fight of the night [which wasn't aired] was between Lightweights Cory Hill & Dale Hartt. Shortly into the 2nd round, Hill threw a kick, which Hartt blocked with his shin - nothing unusual, except for this time, the angle with which Hill's shin connected with Hart's shin, caused Hill's leg to snap - fortunately for the freaks in all of us, this moment was captured via a perfect snapshot [which has not been altered] OUCH!

Thanks to my brother for sending me the above snapshot


Now, onto tonight's Re-Cap:

The first fight of the night was between Lightweights David Kaplan & [the controversial] Junie "the lunatic" Browning.
If you have been reading the few blogs that I have posted, regarding this season, then you know that I am no fan of Junie's. [nothing personal, just a horrible attitude!] So, I shouldn't have to tell you that no matter who he would have been fighting, I would have wanted to see him go down. . .
I started to have my doubts though, as Junie emerged. In the 6 months between the real ending of the show and tonight, you could tell right away that Junie was much more confident [and bigger!]
Compare this to Kaplan's emergence. . . [I don't even know what was up with that!]
The first round between these two guys was fantastic - lots of trading blows, back and forth, etc.
I have to admit that I was digging Junie's stand-up/performance - he was definitely the more in control, and started dominating in the 2nd round as well. Then, 92 seconds into the 2nd round, Junie caught Kaplan in an excellent armbar - winning the fight by tap out submission!
Even though I did not like Junie on the show, that may now very well change, as this was a well-deserved win for him. Congratulations Junie! [Hopefully you are no longer a Punk and have matured as a fighter]

Before I continue on, I just have to mention the hilarious conversation that took place between Joe Rogan [Comedian & UFC Commentator] and Kevin James [Comedian] The point of it all was to plug Kevin's new movie - Paul Blart: Mall Cop [which comes out January 16th and looks hysterical!] though Joe started talking about Kevin's MMA expertise and Kevin started talking about how he's a Master of the Rubber Guard - too funny - I was laughing out loud! :-)

The second fight of the night was between Light Heavyweights Eliot Marshall & Jules Bruchez.
I wanted Marshall to win this fight, and he did, catching Bruchez in a deep rear-naked-choke, early in the 1st round, causing Bruchez to tap out.

The third fight of the night was between Middleweights Jason MacDonald & Wilson Gouveia [who didn't make weight - weighing in, yesterday, at 4 pounds over, causing him to have to give 20% of his purse to MacDonald, win or lose]
I wanted MacDonald to win this fight, however - in the 1st round - Gouveia caught MacDonald with a blow that stunned him, allowing Gouveia to take him down and rain vicious elbows down all over him, splitting his head open, until he finally tapped.

The fourth fight of the night was between Welterweights Anthony Johnson & Kevin Burns.
[this fight was a re-match between the two, due to the fact that the last time they fought, Burns caught Johnson with an accidental finger to the eye, which was bad enough that the fight was stopped - in favor of Burns winning the fight, which Johnson was not happy about...]
I wanted Johnson to win this fight, and he did, with a fabulous head kick - knocking Burns out cold, in the 3rd round.

Next up was the fight for the 6-figure contract between Light Heavyweights Ryan "Darth" Bader & Vinny Magalhaes.
Bader was my brother's 1st pick, from the very beginning of the season, to go all the way, and he did! I expected Magalhaes to submit Bader pretty quickly, however 2 minutes and 18 seconds into the 1st round, Bader caught Magalhaes with a big right, knocking him out!
Congratulations to Bader! [and to my brother, whose fighter went all the way!]

Before the Lightweight contract fight, we had a Light Heavyweight match-up between Krzysztof "The Polish Experiment" Soszynski [who was my top pick to go all the way, but lost in his semi-final match-up] & Shane Primm.
Of course, I wanted Krzysztof to win, and he did, in the 2nd round, by a vicious kimora, almost ripping Primm's shoulder right out of its socket!

We then had the Lightweight battle for the 6-figure contract, between Phillipe Nover & Efrain Escudero.
The majority of folks [including UFC President Dana White] seemed to think Nover was going to win this match-up. While I like both of these guys, [I would have been happy no matter who won] I thought Escudero definitely had a chance, and he proved me right!
After 3 fantastic rounds [where both fighters proved why they were in the finale together] the judges decided, by unanimous desicion, that Efrain Escudero was this season's Lightweight Champion!
Congratulations Efrain!!


Next up, in MMA, the coaches from this season [Antonio Noguiera & Frank Mir] will face off, in UFC 92, on Saturday, December 27th [on Pay Per View] Whoever wins that fight will go on to face Brock Lesnar, for the Heavyweight Title!
Also on that card, Forrest Griffin will have his 1st Title Defense against the Undefeated Rashad Evans.
Also, Wanderlei "The Axe Murderer" Silva will face Quentin "Rampage" Jackson - a fight that I cannot wait to see. . .
The bad news is that I am not 100% sure if I will be getting this fight, as I will be returning home, that day, from visiting family for the holidays. . . here's crossing my fingers! :-)

Jason

Friday, December 12, 2008

The Day the Earth Stood Still (2008)

Genre - Science Fiction
Year Released - 2008
Running Time - 103 minutes
Rated PG-13 (for sci-fi violence and disastrous imagery)
Directed by Scott Derrickson (who also directed Hellraiser 5: Inferno and The Exorcism of Emily Rose. I am very curious about his next project, titled Paradise Lost, as it is about Lucifer's fall from Heaven and Adam & Eve!)
Written by David Scarpa (who also wrote The Last Castle)
*based on the 1951 screenplay written by Edmund H. North
Cast Includes:
Keanu Reeves (Ted "Theodore" Logan from Bill & Ted's Excellent Adventure and Bogus Journey! :-) and of course Neo from The Matrix Trilogy. He is also in Point Break, The Devil's Advocate, etc)
Jennifer Connelly (Labyrinth, The Rocketeer, Dark City, Ang Lee's Hulk, etc)
Jaden Smith (Son of Will Smith - he was also in The Pursuit of Happyness)
Kathy Bates (Misery, Fried Green Tomatoes, Dolores Claiborne, Failure to Launch, etc)
John Cleese (of Monty Python fame) also has a meaningful appearance in the film

Rating: 4 Skulls

Plot Summary:
A re-make of the classic 1951 sci-fi film about an alien visitor and his giant robot counterpart who visits Earth.

Review:
Where do I begin with this one?
I am not a huge fan of re-makes, and I feel that the majority of re-makes chosen are pretty pointless. [Have you heard that Hollywood has just given fifty-five re-makes the green light?!? FIFTY-FIVE! I mean, c'mon - originality has its place guys!] If a re-make is going to be made, I have no problem with re-making a film that didn't necessarily have a budget at the time, or a perhaps unknown film, but a Classic?!?
However, every now and then a re-make works [I'm thinking of John Carpenter's The Thing here] and I feel that, in this case, this one worked as well. [oh man, I can feel the ire of the purists now - I'm thinking of you Jack!]

After the disastrous re-make [in my opinion] of War of the Worlds, in 2005, I was a little leery when I first found out about this film - though when I saw the 1st trailer, a few months ago, I began to get excited, and I am happy to report that I was not disappointed [necessarily]

I saw the original of this film, for the first time, only about ten or so years ago, and have maybe only seen it one other time since then. I was tempted to watch it again, before watching this one, but I decided against it. [If I am going to watch a re-make, I generally look forward to seeing the director's vision/spin on the story without comparing it to the original - even though that is sometimes hard to do]

One of the things that I loved about the original was the fact that it started off things right away - no build up needed! As for the re-make - to me, it had a pointless beginning [that took place in 1928]
I still do not understand the point of that beginning. However, once it jumped to the present, with the massive mobilization of military personnel, scientists, etc I was psyched!

Where the original was more political, and had to do with nuclear weapons and our nature as a violent race [which this one touched on as well] this one was geared more to our mistreating nature and our environment [which I liked better]

Things that I loved about this movie:

#1) Gort [the robot] I believe it stands for Gentically Organized Robotic Technology[?]
In the original, Gort was played by an actor who was literally some seven feet tall.
In this one [obviously, CGI - though great CGI] he is twenty some feet tall! [I could not find a picture]

#2) The spaceship, which was some sort of biological sphere [see below]

#3) I thought that Keanu Reeves was fantastic as Klaatu! I'm not sure what it was - some sort of 'twitchiness' about him or something - you could just tell that he wasn't human, which I loved!

There were several other things which I loved, such as the purpose of the mini-spheres, Klaatu's arrival [you'll see what I mean] and others things that I cannot say, as they would be spoilers.

What I didn't like about the film - and this one is a biggee [though perhaps a bit nitpicky] is that the classic line, Klaatu barada nikto, was never uttered! :-(

I also felt that the film's biggest flaw was the ending - letting us survive - Klaatu was way too quick to change his mind - unfortunately, I do not believe that we will ever change. . .

Here's the Trailer:


Now, if you'll excuse me, I have to go Google something called 2012
Remember last year, when Transformers came out, and we all saw a trailer for J. J. Abrams "Untitled Project" [which turned out to be Cloverfield]
Well, there was a trailer for 2012, which asked the question how would our world governments prepare 6 billion people for the end of the world? To which they replied, They wouldn't.
[meanwhile a giant flood was covering the earth, splashing between mountains - it looked awesome! :-)

Here's the Teaser Trailer:


Jason


Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Santa's Slay

I now have a new favorite holiday film! :-)

Genre - Horror/Comedy
Year Released - 2005
Running Time - 95 minutes
Directed by David Steiman (this is his directorial debut)
Written by David Steiman
Cast Includes:
Bill Goldberg (ex-WWF wrestler, ex-Elite XC commentator ~ he is also in Universal Soldier: The Return)
Robert Culp (Bill Maxwell from the 80's television show The Greatest American Hero)
Douglas Smith
Emile de Ravin (the alternate ending of this film alluded to the fact that she is in the television show Lost - I really need to start watching that show, as I've only heard great things! She is also in the 2006 Re-make of The Hills Have Eyes)

Rating: 5 Skulls

Plot Summary:
Jolly old Saint Nick isn't making a gift list this year - he's making a hit list, checking it twice, and unleashing his inner demon for an unforgettably terrifying Christmas.
A bet that Santa lost to an angel 1,000 years ago has expired, and now he's hell-bent on spreading some holiday fear.
As the big day approaches, only young Nicholas Yuleson and his grandfather can stop him.


Review:
This movie was an absolute blast to watch! During the first five minutes of the film, you know that you are in for a good time! Definitely Recommended!

At the very beginning of the film, a family is gathered for their Christmas dinner. [This family consists of James Caan, Rebecca Gayheart, Chris Kattan, Fran Drescher, as well as a few others that I may not have recognized] While they are bickering with one another, they are interrupted by Santa Claus (Bill Goldberg) who totally decimates the family! :-)

The film has a great premise as well. You see, in this film, Santa is Satan's only son [born of the virgin Erica] Through a stop-motion-animation sequence [like those old Christmas classics most of us grew up on] we see an angel descend from heaven, taking the form of a human. He approaches Santa, while ice fishing [in the North Pole, I presume] Knowing that Santa enjoys gambling, the angel creates a contest - the rules are simple - whoever can slide a rock closest to the ice hole, without the rock dropping in, wins. The bet: If Santa wins, the angel is thrown into Hell for an eternity of suffering. If the angel wins, Santa has to create a joyful holiday of cheerfulness & happiness, for 1,000 years. [Before Santa starts, he slaps his face a few times, which is hilarious, as Goldman used to do the same thing before his wrestling matches]
Well, I am sure that you can guess the outcome - the problem - the 1,000 years are up! :-)

This movie has everything going for it!

The writer & director, David Steiman, was Brett Ratner's [the director of the Rush Hour films, as well as X-Men 3] assistant for seven years. [Ratner produced this film]
Steiman came up with a whole "Viking feel" to Santa and his sleigh [which is pulled by a hell-deer, which is really a buffalo!] which really worked - I thought.

Santa's antagonists - young Nicholas and his grandfather [who reminded me of the grandfather from Lost Boys - I'm not really sure why, he just did] as well as Nicholas' girlfriend were perfect as well.

On top of the all-star cast, at the very beginning of the film, the movie also has Dave Thomas, [as a preacher who steals from his congregation and then spends the money at a strip club] Saul Rubinek [True Romance - he was also in Rush Hour 2 - and I have to plug the new television show Leverage, which is on TNT, on Tuesday evenings - he was in last week's 1st episode]
You will also recognize Tommy "tiny" Lister as the main prisoner on the ferry boat in The Dark Knight - he shows up as a gas station attendant in this film.

So, tuck the kiddies in bed and watch this one, before Christmas! :-)

Just in case I haven't convinced you yet - here's the trailer:

This movie is begging for a sequel to be made!
Perhaps since the Elite XC, [an MMA organization that went under, in October] which Goldberg was a commentator for, is no more - Goldberg will sign up for another one - he seemed to really be enjoying himself in this one! :-)

Also, be sure to watch all of the Special Features on the DVD - there are some good Deleted Scenes, as well as an Alternate Ending - which I thought was even better than the one used!
There are also some hilarious [easily found] Easter Eggs on the disc.

Let me leave you with what I thought was the funniest line in the film:
[after Nicholas discovers one of his grandfather's "inventions"] he tells his grandfather to "file that next to brown colored toilet paper, as a bad idea" HA!
Also, when Nicholas first sees the "Book of Claus" he asks if it is the Necronomicon! :-)

Enough - just go buy/rent this film. . .

Jason

UFC: Fight for the Troops Re-Cap

Tonight's special UFC event took place to help raise money for the Intrepid Fallen Heroes Fund, which will help build a special, state-of-the-art, treatment center for the brave men and women in the United States Armed Forces who have sustained traumatic brain injuries [or TBI]

Feel free to call 1-800-340-HERO (4376) or go to https://www.fightforthetroops.com/donate.asp to donate to this cause now.

Tonight's live event took place in Fort Bragg, North Carolina, in front of 10,000+ troops!

The first fight of the evening was between Lightweights Jim Miller [who took the fight on short notice] and Matt Wiman.
I wanted Wiman to win this fight [and not only because his brother - a green beret - was in attendance]
The 1st round started with fists flying, until Miller caught Wiman in a deep choke hold - fortunately [for me] Wiman pulled out of it. Unfortunately for Wiman, Miller kept up a furious pace, controlling and dominating both the 2nd & 3rd rounds, winning the fight by unanimous decision. Great 1st fight!

The second fight of the evening was between Middleweights Nate Loughran & Tim Credeur [a Navy veteran]
I wanted Credeur to win this fight [not just because he's a veteran] and he did, however it was due to default, as Loughran sustained a broken rib during the 2nd round and was unable to continue...

The third fight of the evening was between Light Heavyweights Steve Cantwell [the last man to hold the WEC Lightheavyweight title!] and Razak Al-Hassan [making his UFC debut]
Even though I like Cantwell, I had a feeling that Hassan was going to give him a run for his money.
I was wrong - Cantwell caught Hassan in a vicious armbar, early on in the 1st round, almost breaking Hassan's arm [it looked like his elbow popped out of joint!] I was shocked that Hassan did not tap!The ref ended up stopping the fight.
What was weird was the fact that Cantwell won by TKO What?!? He should have won due to Ref Stoppage!

Next up were Welterweights Mike "Quick" Swick & Jonathan "The Road Warrior" Goulet.
I definitely wanted to see Swick win this match-up, and he did!
Mike "Quick" Swick" promptly used his rapid-fire punches to knock Goulet out cold, only 33 seconds into round 1! [I love to see trash-talkers go down!] :-)

Next, we were shown an earlier fight from the evening between Ben Saunders & Brandon Wolff.
I didn't even have time to choose a victor, before the fight started and Saunders caught Wolff in a clench and began to wail on him with brutal knees, winning the fight!

Now, the main event of the evening: Josh Koscheck vs. Yoshiyuki Yoshida
Now, I like Koscheck [where my wife doesn't - she thinks he's an arrogant jerk - which he sort of is, though he has matured since the 1st season of The Ultimate Fighter - another reason that I like Josh, is because he reminds me of my friend Brian] :-)
I am happy to report that Koscheck won by a Great Knock-out - 2 minutes and 15 seconds into the 1st round!

Well, that wraps up this evening's events ~ remember to support our troops!

Next up, in MMA - this Saturday night - the Season 8 Finale of The Ultimate Fighter
[Ryan Bader & Vinny Magalhaes will vie for the Lightheavyweight (6-figure) Contract and Phillipe Nover & Efrain Escudero will vie for the Lightweight (6-figure) Contract]
So, be there, or at least be here, afterwards, for the re-cap! :-)

Jason

Into the Woods

I just finished conducting an interview with the director of this low-budget indie-film, for Scars magazine. If you are interested in reading the interview, you can visit http://www.horrordecor.net/scarsinterviews2.htm

Before I conducted the interview, the director (Phil Herman) sent me a screener of the film.
Here's my review:

Genre - Horror
Year Released - 2008
Running Time - 62 minutes
Directed by Phil Herman
Written by Phil Herman
Cast Includes: Nancy Feliciano, Phil Herman, and Tiffany Sinclair
With appearances by: Christopher Kahler, Lilith Stabs, Joe Scott, Owen Keehnen, Darla Doom, M. Catherine Wynkoop, and Joel D. Wynkoop

Rating: 1 Skull

Plot Summary:
Danielle is stuck in a dead-end relationship with a married man. It takes a turn for the worse when he leaves her and then comes back and rapes her.
Her life, which has been turned upside down, has just become worse. She mysteriously turns up in a place unfamiliar with her - on a lonely stretch of beach, near an equally desolate, unrecognizable forest. Stripped of everything, she wakes drugged and lost in the woods. With a few clues, and constant torments, she runs from an unseen character that little by little reveals his intentions and who he is.
When she returns to reality, an explosive climax ties up all loose ends and conflicts.
[Note: these are the words of the director - not mine]

Review:
The movie opens with a scenic view of rolling ocean waves, and a woman boogie boarding. . .
When she gets home, she pops in a horror movie which depicts a woman (Lilith Stabs) getting out of a bathtub, only to find a note on her computer screen, which reads "You can never leave me!" [next to the computer is a bloody knife with bits of animal fur around] The woman is then attacked by a crazed stalker (Chris Kahler)

[The reason that I am mentioning the first few minutes of the film is because they are pretty much the only decent minutes that the film has to offer, besides the last few minutes with Joel Wynkoop and his wife]

After watching the movie, Danielle (Nancy Feliciano) decides to turn in for the night. She strips naked and goes to be nude. [nothing to get excited about, trust me!]
In the middle of the night, she wakes up to find a naked man (director Phil Herman) standing at the foot of her bed - she doesn't scream, but merely mewls. . .

Danielle then wakes up in a shed of some kind, not knowing who or where she is. She then wanders around until she comes across a bag with a note inside. Here we learn that she has been drugged, which is behind her temporary memory loss. Through flashbacks we learn that Danielle has been having a 5-year affair with a married man (Phil Herman) When he decides to break it off, she ends up telling his wife, who then leaves him ~ is he the one doing this to her?!?

In all honesty, this film was awful!
It has atrocious acting for one thing, and things just did not make any sense - one minute Danielle has curly hair, while in the very next scene her hair is straight, and she is wearing a completely different outfit! In another scene, Danielle is hanging, tied from a shower rod - then the scene shift and is hanging (topless) from a tree in the woods! WHAT?!?] In my interview with the director, he tried to explain this 'disjointed method in time' to a dream kind of effect. . . To me, it failed to work!

There was another scene where Danielle is talking to herself - she states that there has got to be a logical explanation for all of this. She then asks, Am I dead? Am I crazy? Have I gone mad? I was wondering the exact same thing!

On a positive note, the editing by Christopher Kahler and the score by Joe Sherlock weren't half bad. . .

Here's the trailer for the film:

Even though I did not like the film, thank you Phil for the screener and for the interview!

If anyone is interested in this film, or the director's other projects, visit http://www.geocities.com/pharmpon/Falconvideo.html

Jason

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Boylan's Original Birch Beer

I know that this post has nothing to do with entertainment, however when I'm watching a movie, I love me some good 'ole fresh kettle corn and some ice cold root beer! :-)


My all-time favorite root beer!

Yesterday, my wife had to pick up some things at our local grocery store - Festival Foods - and she picked herself up some Boylan's All Natural Black Cherry Soda - while she was at it, she also grabbed some Boylan's Birch Beer, for me. Now, I had never heard of Boylan's, nor had I ever heard of Birch Beer, but I tell you what ~ it is delicious!

Their description on the box reads: "This carbonated soft drink has been the flagship product of the Boylan Bottling Co. for over 100 years. [they're registered since 1891!] Its availability on draught has given it a truly nostalgic image that all birch/root beers try to convey. The unique taste is distinctively minty and sharp. Because of its "bite" this product appeals to the true birch/root beer consumer. Its heritage has created a loyal following among people who associate Boylan's Birch Beer with their childhood."

So there you have it - my second favorite soda - next to Virgil's Root Beer.
The only thing with Boylan's is that it has sodium benzoate - a nasty preservative that's not so good for you - in it :-( [for those who do not know me personally, I try to eat as naturally as I can...]

With all of that said, go out and find you some Boylan's Birch Beer, for your next movie marathon ~ you'll be glad you did! :-)


Jason

Monday, December 8, 2008

Jack Frost

Note: This is not the family-friendly Michael Keaton version of Jack Frost. . .

Genre - Horror/Comedy
Year Released - 2006
Running Time - 89 minutes
Directed by Michael Cooney (who also directed a sequel to this, titled: Jack Frost 2: Revenge of the Mutant Killer Snowman)
Written by Michael Cooney (who also wrote Identity) and Jeremy Paige
Cast Includes:
Scott MacDonald
Christopher Allport
Stephen Mendel
Rob LaBelle (Eddie from the television series First Wave)
Shannon Elizabeth (American Pie 1 & 2 - this was her 1st film)

Rating: 2 Skulls

Plot Summary:
When his prison transport collides with a truck full of "genetic material", condemned serial killer Jack Frost is inexplicably transformed into a terrifying, murderous snowman.
With a red plaid scarf, a carrot nose, and a heart made out of coal, the icy madman sets his sights on a small, rural town and goes on an old-fashioned killing spree.

Review:
Generally, I do not review awful films on this Blog, however I felt inclined to review this one, as it was the inspiration behind the cult-classic Monsturd [see review dated 10/18/08]

Where Monsturd got everything right, Jack Frost got everything wrong.
I get what the film was going for, however I feel that it failed miserably!
[I should have rated it the dreaded 1 Skull - however Monsturd may never have been, if not for this film, so for that I have to give it something]

The film starts off with a little girl wanting a story [a similarity shared with Monsturd, except that it was the little girl telling the story in that one] In this one, an adult tells the young girl the story of Jack Frost, who was nimble and quick and gouged out people's eyes with candlesticks! He smashed in skulls with sticks and stones, and used iron bars to crush their bones. . .
This Jack Frost is a serial killer who has been on a rampage through 11 states, killing 38 people in 5 years time.

Sounds all well and good, however the film rapidly deteriorates!
After an accident (described in the plot summary) Jack Frost becomes an evil snowman, who is able to freeze & unfreeze at will, and who can shoot icicles out of his body. [it's even worse than it sounds!]

I would avoid this one, if I were you!

Here's the Trailer:

This movie also has a sequel, which I have absolutely no desire to see!
If you are in the mood for a mutated monster flick, watch Monsturd instead - at least that one is funny! :-)

Jason


Friday, December 5, 2008

Punisher: War Zone

Genre - Comic Book/Action Adventure
Year Released - 2008
Running Time - 107 minutes
Rated R (for strong brutal violence, language, and drug use)
Directed by Lexi Alexander (who, if you follow Martial Arts at all, is a World Record Kickboxer & Karate Champion - she also wrote & directed Green Street Hooligans - with Elijah Wood & Claire Forlani - I have never seen it, but it is in my Netflix Queue)
Written by Art Marcum, Matt Holloway, (both of whom also co-wrote Iron Man) and Nick Santora
Cast Includes:
Ray Stevenson (who played Titus in HBO's Rome)
Dominic West (who played Theron in 300 and Kirk - the guitarist - from Rock Star)
Doug Hutchison (Tooms from the X-Files! He was also in The Green Mile)
Wayne Knight (Newman from Seinfeld, Officer Don from 3rd Rock from the Sun)
Julie Benz (Rita - the girlfriend of Dexter, Darla from Buffy & Angel, Sarah in Rambo - she is also going to be in next year's sequel to Boondock Saints)
Colin Salmon (David from HEX - he is also in The Bank Job)

Rating: 5 Skulls

If you look in the top left corner, of the above poster, you will notice Thomas Jane - before he left the production. . . :-)


Plot Summary:
Frank Castle, a one-man force of vengeance known as "the Punisher", battles mob boss Billy Russoti. Left disfigured by the encounter, Russoti reemerges as Jigsaw, a psychotic villain with a small army at his command.
Too bad for Jigsaw, that the Punisher is preparing to annihilate him and his reign of terror, armed with a cache of high tech new weaponry by the handy Microchip.


This is not Tobin Bell from SAW
Review:
I need to start off by saying that I probably should have rated this movie much lower, however as a long-time fan of the Punisher [he is one of my all-time favorites!] I just couldn't help myself.
[My rating system, after all, is that this movie is well worth buying - to me - and I will watch it repeatedly]

I happen to be [one of the few?] who enjoy the 1989 version, with Dolph Lundgren, [I own it on VHS] and I loved the 2004 version with Thomas Jane.
[I do not know the full story of why Jane left this one, mid-way into production - my understanding is something to do with script discrepancies]

In all honesty, I didn't start off liking this one, very much, but after a while it started to grow on me.
Basically, the director - Alexander - stripped the comic character down to it's core and provided us with vengeance, pure and simple.
In the comics, you can understand where Frank is coming from - in the film though, that line becomes very blurred - Frank is just on a bloody rampage throughout this film! [though at one point he does question]

One thing that I really liked about this version, is the fact that this it stayed true to the comics, in regards to what happened with Frank's family [something the 2004 version failed to do]
I also loved the fact that Microchip was in this one! [Wayne Knight is the perfect Micro!]
I do not recall the Martin Soap character [he was the head of the Punisher Task Force, but I liked him as well.
Another thing that was very cool, was when Jigsaw 'became' Jigsaw - he put a three-dimensional puzzle together, on his computer, and at the bottom it stated "The World is Yours" ~ ala Scarface!

Two of my favorite scenes are 1. when the Punisher shows up on the roof top, where three meth addicts are bouncing around... and 2. when Agent Budiansky starts to call for back-up... these are laugh out loud moments - whether or not they are supposed to be, I am not sure. There is so much over-the-top action/violence in this film, that it really can't be taken seriously, however that is also part of the FUN!

Something else that I found interesting was the fact that it was hinted that Frank had previously attended seminary - he, obviously, has come a long, far way since those days!

Here's the Trailer:


Just keep in mind that this film is extremely violent! [I am still amazed that it was directed by a female] :-)
However, if you enjoy head explosions, stabbings to the face, etc, etc, then this film is a must see! [preferably in the theatre, with intense surround sound, which makes the experience of all of the explosions, gunfire, and the metal soundtrack all the more enjoyable - speaking of which, Rob Zombie wrote a new song for the film, which I did not know, until the credits rolled!]

Enjoy!


Jason

Thursday, December 4, 2008

Fred Claus

Genre - Comedy
Year Released - 2007
Running Time - 115 minutes
Directed by David Dobkin (who also directed Clay Pigeons, Shanghai Knights, Wedding Crashers, and the upcoming DC movie The Flash in 2010)
Written by Dan Fogelman, (who co-wrote the screenplay for Pixar's Cars) and Jessie Nelson
Cast Includes:
Vince Vaughn (Old School, Dodgeball, Four Christmases, etc)
Paul Giamatti (Big Fat Liar and Lady in the Water - he will also be in next year's sequel to Bubba Ho-Tep ~ Bubba Nosferatu: Curse of the She-Vampires)
[Other notable cast members: Kathy Bates as Mother Claus, Rachel Weisz as Fred's girlfriend, Elizabeth Banks as Santa's Helper, and Kevin Spacey]

Rating: 3 Skulls

Plot Summary:
The joy and happiness of the holiday season is ruined for Santa Claus when his cranky older brother Fred comes to stay with him in the North Pole.
Always outdone by his saintlike brother, the bitter Fred (a repo man with a rap sheet) threatens to squash the spirit of Christmas.

Review:
After having recently watched Four Christmases, I was in the mood for another Vince Vaughn film, so I decided to try this one. . .
While not the best holiday film out there, I rather liked this one - it wasn't all that funny, however I liked the message.

The film starts off with the birth of Nicholas, Fred's younger brother, who we all know grows up to be St. Nick - aka Santa Claus. As Nicholas heads towards sainthood, getting all of the positive attention from his parents, Fred becomes resentful and leaves home. [At this point we learn that one of the rules of sainthood is that all family members, spouses included, freeze in time]

Time then jumps ahead, to the present, where Fred is a Repo man [who's company name is Repo-a-go-go] After Fred gets into some trouble, he has to call on his brother for help. . .

Fred calls this the very smurfy Smurf hut! :-)

Doesn't Giamatti look great as Santa?

My wife did not enjoy the film as much as I did. One of the things they did was make Christmas like a Corporate Business, where Santa and the elves had quotas to make, etc. My wife didn't like this aspect, even though that is basically what Christmas has become! So, the film may not be for everyone. I'll leave it up to you to decide. . .


Here's the Trailer:



Jason