Saturday, January 31, 2009

UFC 94: St-Pierre vs Penn 2 Re-Cap

In 2004, BJ Penn [my 2nd favorite fighter] did the impossible when he moved up a weight class to defeat the legendary Matt Hughes for the UFC Welterweight Title. BJ Penn, who is now the UFC Lightweight Champion [having defeated my favorite fighter, Sean Sherk, last year] has now attempted to become the first man, in UFC history, to hold two titles simultaneously, having squared off, once again, with one of the few men that has ever defeated him in the Octagon - the Welterweight Champion George St-Pierre [my brother's favorite fighter]

Who was left standing after the two champions collided in one of the most epic battles in Mixed Martial Arts history?!? Read on to find out. . . [and just for fun, for a female's perspective on tonight's event, be sure to check out my wife's Blog at http://havefamilywilltravel.blogspot.com/] :-)


George St-Pierre [Welterweight Champion] on the left
BJ Penn [Lightweight Champion] on the right


George St-Pierre & BJ Penn face off at the weigh-ins


The night started off with a Lightweight match-up between Nate Diaz & Clay "the Carpenter" Guida. I like both of these guys a lot, and it was hard for me to choose who I wanted to see win - it didn't help when Guida walked out to the song Hero by the Foo Fighters [my son's favorite band, and one of the few songs that I really like by them] not only that, Guida had a Punisher [the original logo] skull on one of his shirts!
Still, I had to go with Diaz on this one, who I always end up going with, as he seems to pull submissions out of thin air and ends up beating fighters you wouldn't expect him to beat.
Diaz started strong, pretty much dominating the 1st half of the 1st round, however Guida caught him about midway in, with a big slam, and pretty much dominated the 2nd half of the 1st round.
Both the 2nd and 3rd rounds were similar, though I felt that Diaz was the aggressor, with the slicker take downs - in the end though, I think that Guida was too strong for him, as every attempt Diaz made to submit Guida, Guida pulled out of, in the end, winning by split decision, which I felt was a bad call on the judges part. [like I said, I like Guida, however all he seemed to do, especially for the majority of the 2nd & 3rd rounds was hang on to Diaz, not really causing any damage whatsoever] Oh well, that is why it is never good to allow things to lay in the judges hands. . .

The second fight of the night was between Welterweights Karo Parisyan & Dong Hyun Kim
I am not really a fan of Parisyan, so I immediately was on Kim's side for this fight. [it helped when he walked out to Linkin Park's 'Numb' too] :-)
Kim definitely dominated the entire 1st round of this fight, which made me happy - in fact, Kim almost caught Parisyan in an armbar mid-way through.
The 2nd round could have gone either way really - Parisyan almost caught Kim in a kimora. . .
The 3rd round was the same - more back and forth, once again leaving a decision to be made by the judges. . . Parisyan won by split-decision. . . Boo!

The third fight was between Light Heavyweights Stephan "the American Psycho" Bonnar & Jon Jones. I had to go with Bonnar on this one, having watched him fight, ever since Season One of The Ultimate Fighter. This was only Jones' second fight in the UFC and he pretty much dominated all three rounds of the fight, winning by unanimous decision - at least this one was a good call :-)

We were then treated to the co-main-event of the evening between two undefeated Light Heavyweights - Lyoto "the Dragon" Machida vs Thiago Sliva - both with 13 wins and 0 losses in their mixed martial arts careers.
It is very rare for MMA fighters to go this long in their careers undefeated, so the thing about this fight was someone was going to get a loss on their record.
Having only seen Machida fight once [that I remember] I expected Silva to win this fight - once again, I was wrong :-(
Machida won the fight by knocking Silva out right on the bell at the end of the 1st round - winning by TKO at 4 minutes 59 seconds.

And now, the Main Event of the evening:

George "Rush" St-Pierre vs BJ "the Prodigy" Penn

If you remember, back in March of 2006, St-Pierre & Penn faced off for the first time, with Penn losing by a razor-thin split decision.

A pic from the first time St-Pierre & Penn faced off

This time, I fully expected BJ Penn to make history and take St-Pierre's belt, becoming the 1st fighter in UFC history to hold two UFC titles simultaneously, but alas - if you have paid attention over the course of tonight's fights, I have been wrong on every single one - including this one!

When the fight first started, GSP kept trying to take BJ down, and I was in shock, thinking to myself, what in the world is GSP thinking?!?
Then came the 2nd round, where GSP did the unthinkable - he took BJ down - not only that, he continued to pass BJ's guard, repeatedly!
BJ was in serious danger in the middle of the 2nd round, but I kept saying to myself - if only he can make it through this round. . . He did, only for the same thing to happen in the 3rd round, and the 4th round - it was complete domination on GSP's part - he controlled BJ and just "grounded & pounded" him mercilessly!
At the end of the 4th round, the doctor called the fight - BJ was unable to continue [I'm not even sure if he knew what was going on at this point]

So, GSP remains the Welterweight Champion, proving himself one of the greatest pound-for-pound fighters in the world! [Now, if only he will go up in weight and take on Anderson Silva - that will be a fight!!] :-)

Don't forget to check out my wife's thoughts on tonight's fights, on her Blog, [link above] probably on Monday [tomorrow is "Family Day" where we do not watch TV or get on the computer, etc]

In the meantime, check out the below pictures of George St-Pierre & BJ Penn fighting in the new UFC videogame, which will be coming out sometime in the Spring - it is going to be called UFC: Undisputed - here are some screen shots:



Awesome, huh? :-)

Jason

Friday, January 30, 2009

Taken

Genre - Action/Thriller
Year Released - 2009 [even though the above poster states 2008, it wasn't released till today]
Running Time - 91 minutes
Rated PG-13 (for intense sequences of violence/disturbing material, sexual content, some drug references, and language)
Directed by Pierre Morel (who directed the awesome, action-packed District B-13)
Written by Luc Besson (La Femme Nikita, Point of No Return, The Professional, The Transporter films, Unleashed, and District B-13. He is also writing the sequel to District B-13 titled District B-13: Ultimatum) and also Robert Mark Kamen (The Karate Kid films and Lethal Weapon 3)
Cast Includes:
Liam Neeson (Darkman, Rob Roy, Star Wars: Episode 1, Schindler's List, Nell, and the 1999 Re-Make of The Haunting - he is also the voice of Aslan in The Chronicles of Narnia films)
Maggie Grace (the horrible 2005 Re-Make of The Fog)
Famke Janssen (Jean Grey from the X-Men films, Lord of Illusions, Deep Rising, GoldenEye, Rounders, The Faculty - she also played Ava in Nip/Tuck and she was also in the 1999 Re-Make of House on Haunted Hill)
Katie Cassidy (the awful 2006 Re-Make of Black Christmas - she was also in the 2006 Re-Make of When a Stranger Calls, Jack Ketchum's The Lost, and she also played Ruby in several episodes the Supernatural television series)
*Notice how everyone in this cast has a prior re-make on their record? :-)

Rating: 5 Skulls



Plot Summary:
While vacationing with a friend in Paris, an American girl is kidnapped by a gang of human traffickers intent on selling her into forced prostitution. Now, her father, Bryan - a former soldier - must pull out all the stops to save her. But with his best years possibly behind him, Bryan's task may be more than he can handle.


Review:
The tagline for this film is: 'The time for revenge has come' and it couldn't have a better tagline!

Liam Neeson plays Bryan Mills - ex-husband to Lenore [Famke Janssen] and father to Kim [Maggie Grace] Bryan is a retired "preventer" [government agent] who gave up his career, just to live close to his daughter. You honestly feel bad for the guy, when he attends his daughter's 17th birthday party, only to be upstaged by her step-father [Xander Berkeley]

When Kim approaches her father to ask his permission to go to Paris with a friend, he is hesitant - feeling it is not safe for a 17 year old girl to go traipsing off across the globe. However, he caves in, giving her his permission - and if you watch the below trailer, you know what happens next. . .


Someone asked me, just the other day, about people whom I admire. Well, I can add Liam Neeson's character Bryan Mills to that list! Here you have a father who has given up everything, for the love of his daughter. Not only that, he will go to the extreme and do anything to get her back, after she is kidnapped by slave traders. [now you are probably telling yourself that any father would do the same, and I would hope so, however Bryan has the skills in which to do everything on his own, which makes for a nail-biting good time!]


This movie holds the number 1 spot of best movie of the year, so far, to me.
It is definitely the best thing that Luc Besson has written, and I encourage everyone to go see this one in the theatres - it is money well spent [especially if you are a father yourself!]

Here is the Trailer:


If you have seen this one, definitely let me know your thoughts!

[to me, Liam Neeson is "the man!" Bryan Mills is right up there with Rambo in my book!] :-)

Jason

The Uninvited

Genre - Horror/Mystery
Year Released - 2009
Running Time - 87 minutes
Rated PG-13 (for violent and disturbing images, sexual content, language, and teen drinking)
Directed by the Guard Brothers (Charles & Thomas) - their 1st feature film
Written by Craig Rosenberg, Doug Miro, and Carlo Bernard
*Based on the 2003 Korean motion picture Janghwa, Hongryeon [A Tale of Two Sisters] - written & directed by Ji-woon Kim
Cast Includes:
Emily Browning (Violet from A Series of Unfortunate Events)
Arielle Kebbel (the blonde girl, from the so-so film Reeker)
David Strathaim (L. A. Confidential, The Bourne Ultimatum, and The Spiderwick Chronicles)
Elizabeth Banks (Slither, Betty Brant from the Spiderman films, The Baxter, The 40-Year Old Virgin, Wet Hot American Summer, and Zack & Miri Make a Porno - which I haven't seen yet)

Rating: 4 Skulls

Plot Summary:
Committed to a mental hospital after her mother's tragic death, teenager Anna discovers, upon her release, that her father plans to marry his deceased wife's former nurse, Rachael - a woman who may not have the best intentions - and foreboding warnings from her mother's ghost only cement Anna's suspicions.

Review:
Generally, whenever I see a re-make of a prior film, I like to see the original first - however, in this case, I feel it may have been for the best that I had not seen the original, as I did not see the outcome of this movie coming. In fact, I almost didn't see this one at all, however I am glad that I did!

The film has a similar opening to that of The Unborn, in that a freaky occurrence happened in the middle of the woods. . . Afterwards, we learn that Anna has just spent 10 months in an institution, after a suicide attempt, after learning of her mother's death in a fire. She has just been released and is thrilled to be returning home, to be with her father and sister - the problem is, while she was away, her mother's nurse [she was very ill, before dying in a fire] has wormed her way into her home, winning the affections of her father. This does not bode well with either sister.


The main reason that I saw this film was because of Elizabeth Banks, and I was not disappointed. Elizabeth plays the nurse who is going to marry the father, and you could tell that she relished the role that she was playing! [you know an actress, whom you like, is doing well, when you hate her character!] :-)

Upon returning home, Anna begins having nightmares of her mother's burned corpse - visiting her in the middle of the night, etc. Not only that, Anna sees other people as well, who claim that all is not as it appears to be. Was her mother's death not an accident? Is Rachael [Elizabeth Banks] not who she appears to be? If you are in the mood for an interesting mystery, check this one out!

Here's the Trailer:


Jason


Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Thicker than Water - The Vampire Diaries: Part 1

Genre - Horror/Dark Comedy
Year Released - Currently Undistributed
Running Time - 86 minutes
Written, Directed, Edited, and Produced by Phil Messerer
F/X by Randall Leddy
Cast Includes:
Eilis Cahill as Lara Baxter
Devon Bailey as Helen Baxter
Jo Jo Hristova as Mom
Michael Strelow as Raymond Baxter
Other Cast Includes:
Anthony Morelli as Dad
Peter Chaskes as Patrice Duchamps III
Myles Angus MacVane as the Freakatorium Owner

Rating: Near Perfect!

Plot Summary:
Thicker than Water tells the story of the Baxters, an ordinary suburban family whose world is turned upside down when their youngest daughter becomes a vampire.

Review:
It is times like these when I wish that I had money to just throw around, because if I did, I would throw a whole lot Phil Messerer's way! You see, Phil is a self-taught director and this is his very first film, and I was completely blown away! [this is why I love movies!]

As you can tell from the title, there is much more of the story to be told - I believe that Phil's intention is a projected trilogy, though there is infinite growth potential. I sincerely hope that Phil finds the perfect distributor, who will not only finance the remainder of this project, but will give Phil free reign in his future endeavors.

But enough of all that, let's get on to the film, shall we?

The film takes place in Sugar Loaf, New York, where we meet the Baxter family. We first meet twin sisters Lara & Helen, who couldn't be more different from one another! Lara is a cynical, precocious Goth teen who seems obsessed with death and has an altar with a shrine to Anne Rice. Helen is the "goody-two-shoes" of the family - she is sweet, innocent, and also a vegetarian.
We immediately feel the reality of these two as sisters, just in the way that they argue with one another.

While eating a holiday dinner, we meet the rest of the family. The father, who is the kind of guy who picks his nose with a q-tip and talks about seizing the day and grabbing the bull by the horns, and the mother, who is an old-world Bulgarian immigrant. We also meet Lara & Helen's brother, Raymond, who is a neuro-scientist.

One of the traditions of the Baxter family, is to talk about their accomplishments, that day, over dinner. Raymond went first, telling everyone that he just won 1st prize in a monthly neuro-science journal for a paper that he wrote on the benefits of lobotomy in treating obsessive compulsive disorder! Helen went next, telling everyone that she just lost 2 pounds. When it was Lara's turn, she informed everyone that she posted a picture of her butt on the internet - ha!
Over this dinner, we become completely comfortable in knowing each member of this family, which is important, for what is to come. . .

During Lara & Helen's 16th birthday party [in which Lara claimed she would rather be gay in Texas, than have a party] we come to realize that Lara genuinely despises her sister, who is little "miss popularity" during the party. After Lara is humiliated at the party, she retreats to her Anne Rice altar and performs an intricate voodoo ritual [which involves a "Margie doll" from "Toys R Mine" - copyright issues, I guess - and a calf's heart] At the end of the ritual, we learn that it is an Anal Acne Curse.

The next morning, Helen awakens with the worst nose-bleed EVER and then ends up dying [in a very emotional scene] in Lara's arms.
Lara is filled with guilt and her mother [who is very religious] is filled with philosophical anguish.

Raymond, who was more curious than anything else, ended up taking a sample of Helen's blood [for research] and ended up determining that Helen died, not only from blood lost through her nose-bleed, but also because of red-blood-cells that were disappearing inside of Helen's body. This is apparently due to a new, unknown virus, which feeds on red-blood-cells and is still reproducing itself in Helen's blood.
After further study, Raymond discovers a vulnerability - the introduction of ultraviolet light!

Shortly after Helen's death, there is a knock at the door, and there is Helen standing outside, still wearing her white body bag, covered in blood. After Raymond takes a look at her, he determines that the blood is not hers. About this time, the police show up to inform the mother of Helen's body disappearing. Lara & Raymond quickly rush Helen downstairs to the basement. Here Raymond lets the family know that Helen's blood-cells are dying again, and will need to be replenished within the next 72 hours.

The family then realizes that they are going to have to kill, to feed their vampiric daughter. However, Helen refuses to feed, suffering through gut-wrenching blood withdrawals, until she blacks out and rips her victims to shreds!

Her first "human sacrifices" were a pair of Mormons who had stopped by, to spread their message of love. After Lara basically interrogated them both about their faith [as well as picturing them in their underwear, while they responded] the mother ended up poisoning their tea.

When we first see Helen feed, we see needle-thin fangs protrude from behind her teeth, right before she rips into her victim's throat.

Around two weeks later, we find out where some of the "sacrifices" are coming from and how the family goes about disposing of the bodies.

After about two months go by, the plot begins to thicken, with the introduction of a new character - Patrice Duchamps III - who seems to know that Helen is a vampire, and a lot about vampires [fledglings & pure-bloods] in general.

Which brings me to another underlying piece of this film, which I haven't discussed yet.
Interwoven within this film's story is the tale of Oya - the 1st vampire. Her story is told to Lara by the owner of a "cabinet of curiosities" type shop where she likes to hang out. He recently came across one of only 13 copies of Oya's illustrated biography. [Phil Messerer, the director, has a brief cameo as the guy who printed these copies]

A page from The Book of Oya

Oya's tale goes back to the days of the Mayan empire, where she lived comfortably in a Mayan pyramid feeding off of their human sacrifices to her. However, after the Spanish army basically massacred the entire Mayan civilization, hunger drove Oya back out into our world. . .

I will definitely be looking forward to learning more of Oya's story, in the sequels [especially since her son was mentioned. . . Count Vlad [Dracula] perhaps?!?
Also, even Elizabeth Bathory was mentioned [and even shown briefly, in a scene portrayed by Ginger Stebbins] I'm not sure why, but I've always been fascinated by Bathory.

There is a huge reveal at the end of this film and a shocking ending!
Even though future sequels are planned, Messerer made a complete film here, explaining to us how Helen became a vampire, however some questions remain, such as - How did vampires come to be and what exactly are they in Messerer's mythology? I so cannot wait to find out!! :-)

Here's the Trailer:


There is so much more to tell [the only reason that I've told you this much, is so that you will at least remember something about it, when this film is finally distributed]

I didn't even get into the film's inspiration from American Beauty, nor did I discuss the film's outstanding soundtrack [an eclectic mix of music ranging from piano all the way through goth metal!]

Messerer has made a completely believable film here - one in which I was completely immersed in. He raised challenging, thought-provoking questions, and covers a range of emotions - ranging from funny to horrific! Messerer has proven that a film can be made, on a low budget, that rivals anything released out of Hollywood! [and as for the cast - every single person gave an Oscar worthy performance!]

This film has already received numerous awards [it is currently running the film-festival circuit] and rightly so. Once again, I hope that Messerer finds a worthy distributor for this film!

Thank you Phil, first of all for making this film, and secondly for sending me a screener copy.
This is, hands-down, the best independent film that I have ever had the pleasure of watching!

Jason

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

RocknRolla

Genre - Action/Comedy/Crime Thriller
Year Released - 2008
Running Time - 115 minutes
Directed by Guy Ritchie (Lock, Stock, and Two Smoking Barrels and Snatch)
Written by Guy Ritchie (who also wrote Lock, Stock, and Two Smoking Barrels and Snatch)
Cast Includes:
Tom Wilkinson (The Patriot, The Exorcism of Emily Rose, and Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind)
Karel Roden (Blade II, Hellboy, Running Scared, and The Bourne Supremacy)
Thandie Newton (Crash, Mission Impossible 2, and The Chronicles of Riddick)
Gerard Butler (300, Nim's Island, Dracula 2000, and Reign of Fire)
Tom Hardy (Star Trek: Nemesis - he is also going to play Charles Bronson in the upcoming film Bronson)
Idris Elba (28 Weeks Later, American Gangster, and The Unborn)
Ludacris (Crash, Hustle & Flow, and Max Payne)
Jeremy Piven (PCU, Grosse Pointe Blank, Very Bad Things, Serendipity, and Old School)
Gemma Arterton (Strawberry Fields from Quantum of Solace)
Toby Kebbell


Rating: 4 Skulls


Plot Summary:
In London, a real-estate scam put millions of pounds up for grabs, attracting some of the city's scrappiest tough guys and its more established underworld types, all of whom are looking to get rich quick.

While the city's seasoned criminals vie for the cash, an unexpected player - a drugged out rock 'n' roller, presumed to be dead, but very much alive - has a multi-million dollar prize fall into his hands.


Review:
I am a fan of Guy Ritchie [I love his film Snatch! - notice how I phrased that :-) and I enjoyed Lock, Stock, and Two Smoking Barrels] I was going to see this one in the theatre, however it was one of those that was here for a week and then gone :-(

If you like Guy Ritchie's other movies, then you will like this one as well.
[I would have to say that I liked this one even more than Lock, Stock, and Two Smoking Barrels - though Snatch is still my favorite Ritchie film]

As with all of Ritchie's films, there is a ton of stuff going on - all intertwined and intermingled.
I had quite a few favorite scenes in this film, and there are some really funny parts as well. [one of which is when Handsome Bob - played by Tom Hardy - lets One Two - played by Gerard Butler - in on a little secret of his - that was too funny!

Let me leave you with my favorite line of the film [spoken by Tom Wilkinson, who was fantastic in this film!] "I own these bollocks, and right now they're more fragile than a pair of quail's eggs" :-)

Here's the Trailer:



Oh, and just so you aren't left hanging at the end of the film - this is the 1st film in a planned trilogy...

Jason

Monday, January 26, 2009

Just One Night

Genre - Thriller/Short
Year Released - 2008
Running Time - 22 minutes 50 seconds
Directed by Mike West
Written by Mike West
Cast Includes Juliet Ladines, Steve McMahon, Steve Luckie, and Sarah Butcher

Rating: 4 Skulls

Plot Summary:
What would you give for just one night with a beautiful woman?
Be careful how you answer that, because it might come true.

Two married friends are about to discover what "just one night" and a beautiful woman in a bar will mean for their friendship, marriages, and health.
In a story of deceit, lies, and sexual fantasies, who will come out on top?

Infidelity Kills!

Review:
The film starts out with a woman preparing for a night out on the town. . .

When she walks by two businessmen sitting in a bar, one takes notice and tells the other that he would give his left nut to be with a woman like that. To which his friend reminds him that he is a married man. He then replies back that she is an unmarried woman - he can tell because of her make-up, stockings, and vgl [visible garter line]

Meanwhile, the film jumps back to a few hours earlier, with said woman meeting with the wife of the one who is taken by her. We begin to get the feeling that this is some sort of set-up. . .

Now, back to the bar, where we watch Kevin [the one infatuated with the woman] make small talk with the woman [Isabella is her name] Isabella ends up inviting Kevin back to her place, much to the chagrin of Kevin's friend, who adamantly reminds him that he is a married man!

Again, another flashback scene, which gives us a little more information to what we think is about to transpire. . .

Isabella ends up tying Kevin to the bed and ask him how wild he would like it, to which he replies, give me the deluxe treatment. Isabella then whips out a vibrator and begins buzzing it around Kevin's nether-region. Kevin becomes a little agitated and bucks Isabella off the bed. . . It is at this point that things spiral out of control and writer/director Mike West throws some unexpected twists into the story.

I really liked the story and the twists at the end - I didn't see them coming and I was surprised. The film was well written, acted, and directed. 23 minutes well spent!

Here's the Trailer:


Also, be sure to visit the film's website at http://www.roadragefilms.com/ to check on other projects that Mike West is working on. And, of course, a special thank you to Mike for sending me a screener of his film - thank you Mike!

Jason


Sunday, January 25, 2009

Cheerbleeders

Today's film was sent to me by a director by the name of Peter Podgursky, and this just happens to be his thesis film for the University of Southern California. Peter is currently the office manager for J J Abrams production company Bad Robot, and he counts, as mentors, such genre greats as John Carpenter, Joe Dante, Mick Garris, Stuart Gordon, and Chris Carter, as well as others.

Let's get on with the review, shall we?


Genre - Horror/Short
Year Released - 2008
Running Time - 11 minutes
Directed by Peter Podgursky (who previously directed another short film by the name of Surrogate, which I have not yet seen)
Written by Peter Podgursky (who also wrote his prior film, Surrogate)
Cast Includes Laurel Vail (who was also in Podgursky's previous short, Surrogate) and Wyatt Fenner

Rating: 4 Skulls

Plot Summary:
Penny and Devon, a pair of highschool outcasts, are best friends in their isolation in the small town of Blackfoot, Idaho. But things take a turn for the worst when Penny inadvertently turns Devon into an unspeakable evil. . . the most popular boy in school!

Review:
The film starts off in Thebes, Greece - the year is 1933 - where we see an urn being secreted away. . . the film then jumps to the present day - the location is Blackfoot Highschool, in Idaho.

Here we meet Penny - the least popular girl in school - and her one and only friend Devon.
[these two are the misfits of the school, and are looked on with disdain by the other students]

Penny ends up showing Devon a mysterious urn that belonged to her great-grandfather. She tells him that it was found in his office, right after the locals had killed him. . .


Turns out that Penny is going to use the urn [and Devon] for a project in her history class.
While giving her report, in front of the history class, Devon is laying on his back, and Penny is acting out a ritual that was used by the Cult of Dionysus. [if I remember correctly, Dionysus was the Greek god of madness, or some such thing - I vaguely remember an episode or two of Dionysus showing up in Hercules: The Legendary Journeys] :-)

Where did Penny learn this ritual, you may ask? Why from the book "Cult of Myth" of course!


After Penny is through with her report, a jock walks up and takes the urn, and pours its contents [thick, black, viscous sludge] all over Devon's face. . .

Turns out that Devon has somehow changed. When he walks by the girls in school, they immediately become infatuated by him. Once Devon realizes that these girls will do anything for him [including some rather humorous scenes] he soon comes to enjoy his new found popularity, seemingly ignoring Penny.

Of course Penny is not too happy about this, and upon doing some further research, she discovers that eventually Devon is going to lose control over the girls who are in his thrall.

This perfectly coincides with the fact that the school's homecoming football game is about to happen and Devon is planning some sort of blood orgy, which causes the enthralled girls to become demonically possessed - during their blood frenzy, they end up [literally] ripping the football team to shreds. [meanwhile everyone else is just standing by, watching nonchalantly!] :-)

In the above picture, she is looking up at the decapitated head of a football jock!

Knowing that this isn't going to end well, Penny once more tries to talk some sense into Devon. When Devon asks her just who she thinks she is, she simply replies, "the least popular girl in school". Realizing that Devon is too blind to see what is happening, Penny decides to take matters into her own hands. . .

To see a trailer for the film, visit http://www.cheerbleeders.com/


For an 11-minute film, this one was perfectly paced and I thought that it was well written and well directed. It also had a very complimentary soundtrack to it, some of the music I will definitely be checking out myself! [for instance a band by the name of Teen Meanies - their song, Face Against the Wall played during the credits - very cool!

Thank you Peter, for sending me a screener of your film, and I will definitely be looking to see what you send our way next!

Jason

WEC 38: Varner vs Cerrone Re-Cap

Even though tonight's main event was Jamie Varner defending his lightweight title against undefeated Donald Cerrone, I was just as excited to see the re-match between featherweights Urijah Faber & Jens Pulver. . .

First up was a featherweight bout between Jose Aldo & Rolando Perez. Perez trains under Brandon Vera and this was his debut fight in the WEC. However, having seen how fast Aldo is, my money was on him, and that's a good thing as Aldo won by a TKO victory! [in the 1st round, Aldo caught Perez with a knee, directly to the chin, stunning Perez - he then was all over him, until the ref stopped the fight.

Next up was a welterweight bout between Danillo Villefort & Mike Campbell - this was Campbell's debut fight in the WEC [coming in with an undefeated record] and he looked impressive enough for me to choose him as the victor [even though he is shorter than Villefort and Villefort has like a 6 inch reach advantage!]
Campbell started off great, definitely holding his own against Villefort, but Villefort was a submission madman, going for submissions every chance he could! [once, he even went for a triangle while Campbell was standing!] There were a lot of flips and roll-overs, until Villefort ended up taking Campbell's back. Villefort then started, basically, slapping the sides of Campbell's head, and in a horrible ref stoppage, the ref called the fight because Campbell seemed to not be defending himself [the hits were nothing more than little slaps - no damage being done whatsoever!] I hate bad stoppages! I feel that Campbell was robbed on this one - he should have been given more of a chance to get out of the predicament that he was in. . .

Next was a bantamweight bout between Scott Jorgensen & Frank Gomez. I had never seen either of these fighters fight before and I decided to go with Jorgensen. Good thing too, as 1 minute and 9 seconds into the 1st round, Jorgensen caught Gomez in an upside down rear naked choke [a deep guillotine] making Gomez tap out!

Then came the re-match between featherweights Urijah Faber & Jens Pulver
[if you remember, the last time these two guys fought, Pulver lost by a unanimous decision - and that was a fight for the belt/title]
This time, it's wasn't a title fight [Faber lost his belt to Mike Brown] but it may as well have been, from the crowd's energy. . .
Now, I like both of these guys, [Faber's my second favorite WEC fighter and I've always liked Pulver, ever since he was in the UFC] yet being a fight between the two, I still had to choose - I expected Faber to win, but I was hoping for Pulver - just because [I can't remember the last time Pulver won a fight] :-(
Alas, Pulver lost again [but he's still not giving up - he will be back again!]
1 minute and 34 seconds into the 1st round, Faber caught Pulver with a vicious left-hand to Pulver's body - I'm not sure what happened, but right away you could tell that Pulver was hurting - Faber took advantage of Pulver's hesitancy, threw a couple more hits, and then caught Pulver in a guillotine, causing Pulver to tap out.

The main event of the evening was lightweight champion Jamie Varner - defending his title, for the second time - this time against the undefeated Donald Cerrone.
The 1st round was great, with Varner catching Cerrone with 2 hard hits, right in a row - a hard right, then a hard left - then Varner took Cerrone down, raining blows, definitely dominating the 1st round - but with about 20 seconds left in the 1st round, Cerrone came back, attacking Varner, for a strong finish to the round.
Round 2 was back & forth, with the round ending with Varner in a triangle choke by Cerrone!
Rounds 3 & 4 were pretty much the same - blows being exchanged, etc.
Then came the 5th and final round. . .
Midway through the 5th round, Varner was down, on the mat, getting back up, when Cerrone threw a hard knee grazing Varner's head. [this is an illegal move, being that Varner was not yet completely off the ground] that aside, Varner is waving his arms around, and the ref comes in to look at Varner, and then comes back saying the fight is stopped due to Varner being unable to continue [Varner claims that he couldn't see] *this is a title fight, with only minutes left to go! [I say, give the guy time - 5 minutes at least, and then see if he can continue!]
Being that this was a title fight that was stopped due to an unintentional foul, the judges decided to go ahead and score all 5 rounds, to declare a winner - winning by split-decision was Jamie Varner - still the Lightweight Champion!

So, anyone out there with thoughts on this fight?
[did Varner wuss out, thinking that he may end up losing?]
Let me hear your thoughts. . .


The next big WEC event is going to be on March 1st, with two title fights [Brown vs Garcia for the Featherweight title and Condit vs Larson for the Welterweight title]

and don't forget this coming Saturday [the 31st] UFC 94: the re-match between BJ Penn & George St. Pierre for the Welterweight belt ~ this is a fight that I cannot wait to see!!
[and just so that you hear it here 1st - I predict BJ Penn as the victor!] :-)



Jason

Friday, January 23, 2009

Night of the Hell Hamsters & Eel Girl


Genre - Horror/Short
Year Released - 2006
Running Time - 15 minutes 50 seconds
Directed by Paul Campion (this is his directorial debut)
Written by Paul Campion [*Hadyn Green & Mike Roseingrave also contributed to the story]
Cast Includes Stephanie Ratcliff & Paul O'Neill

Rating: 5 Skulls

Plot Summary:
On a dark and stormy night, a young babysitter [Julie] and her boyfriend [Karl] begin to fool around with the occult and inadvertently summon up a demon which possess the family hamsters.
Suddenly Julie and Karl find themselves fighting for their lives against a tiny, furry, bloodthirsty supernatural evil from the very pits of hell!


Review:
Directed by Paul Campion [who was a visual f/x artist on such films as The Lord of the Rings, Sin City, 30 Days of Night, Prince Caspian, Eragon, Fantastic Four 2, and X-Men 3, just to name a few] this 15-minute short will remind you of Peter Jackson's earlier works!

The film starts off with Julie [the babysitter] watching some sort of were-rabbit horror film. [the kids are asleep at this point]
Suddenly, her boyfriend, Karl arrives, and he brought along an ouija board to play with - problem is, he just brought the box - the board is not inside. So, Julie decides to make her own, out of the kid's alphabet toys. [meanwhile Karl is poking at the children's hamster, in its cage, when it bites his finger] Karl meanders back over to Julie, to see what she's up to. Julie takes his bitten finger and squeezes out a drop of blood onto her home-made ouija board, christening it.

Julie & Karl then decide to summon forth a fictitious demon by the name of Spozgar. When the board starts to act on its own accord, and declares that Spozgar is there, lightning suddenly strikes the home and [coincidentally] strikes the hamster's cage, frying the little buggers inside.

Karl then goes over to investigate the dead hamsters, lifting the fried carcass of one up by its tail, when suddenly its eyes began to glow red and it attacks Karl, biting him on his nose/nostril.
Karl tosses the hamster away, only to have it scurry back and crawl up his pant leg!

Hilarity & horror ensues, especially when Karl's gnawed off finger [or penis - I really couldn't tell which, which my wife tells me is pretty sad - if it was indeed his penis...] falls to the floor.
Anyway, with Karl out of commission, Julie prepares to battle the demon possessed hamsters, tying her hair up, duct-taping her pant legs [smart!] and grabbing a frying pan and a butcher knife. . .
I don't want to tell you anything more, as you need to see this one for yourself!
[I will tell you that one scene involves a cricket bat, which brought back memories of Shaun of the Dead!] Also, near the end, we find out that this situation has apparently become an epidemic [Julie receives a call from someone that guinea pigs ate their mother!] *Here's hoping for a sequel! :-)

Here is the trailer for Night of the Hell Hamsters:


For more information, be sure to visit http://www.nightofthehellhamsters.com/
Or you can go to http://www.indieflix.com/ to buy the DVD [which includes a "10-minute making-of feature] for only $5.95! Or you can even just stream the film [only] for $1.95! Well worth the money!


When I received Night of the Hell Hamsters, Paul also included his newest short film:

Genre - Horror/Short
Year Released - 2008
Running Time - 5 minutes 18 seconds
Directed by Paul Campion
Written by Paul Campion
Cast Includes: Julia Rose & Euan Dempsey

Rating: 5 Skulls


Plot Summary:
In a secure military laboratory, a scientist has become obsessed with the half-human/half-eel creature that he's been studying.
When she beckons him to her, it is the call of a siren. . .

Review:
If you are like me, you must be asking yourself what can possibly happen in 5 minutes? I asked myself the same thing, and believe me, when I say that plenty can happen!

The film starts off with a military [Navy?] officer entering a secured room to inform a scientist that he is needed in the briefing room. There is another scientist in the room as well, and the scientist being informed begins to spout protocol [apparently it isn't a very good idea to be left in this room alone, for reasons you'll find out in just a few short minutes time!]

Outside of this room, beyond a pane of glass, lies this tub - filled with a black, viscous liquid:


and within the tub - is the eel girl:


As soon as the other scientist leaves the room, the remaining scientist quickly begins to enter over-ride commands, calling forth the eel girl, to come into the room with the tub. We see a door open, and a webbed hand curl around its frame. Out of the darkness, the eel girl steps forth, completely naked. We see small fins on her forearms and gills in her cheeks. She slowly walks to the tub, and the scientist watches as she seductively slides into the thick, black liquid. As she lies in the tub, alarms begin to go off in the observation room, telling the scientist that her hormone levels are fluctuating.
Distracted by the computer, the scientist does not see the eel girl get out of the tub and approach the glass window. . .

What happens next, you just have to see to believe!

All I know is that if this is what Paul Campion can accomplish in 5 minutes, I cannot wait to see what he will be able to do with a full feature!

For more information, you can visit http://www.eelgirl.net/

To my knowledge, Eel Girl is still going around the festival circuit and is not yet available to purchase, so a special thank you to Paul for sending me this one, as well as Night of the Hell Hamsters! Thank you!
[and to all of you reading this, keep an eye on this guy!]

Jason

Underworld: Rise of the Lycans

Genre - Action/Fantasy
Year Released - 2009
Running Time - 92 minutes
Rated R (for bloody violence and some sexuality)
Directed by Patrick Tatapoulos (who did the f/x work for the 1st two films - this one is his directorial debut)
Written by Danny McBride, (who also co-wrote the 1st two films) Dirk Blackman, and Howard McCain (both of whom are writing the new Conan screenplay - coming in 2010!)
Based on characters created by Len Wiseman, Kevin Grevioux, and Danny McBride
Cast Includes:
Bill Nighy [who reprises his role as Viktor, from the 1st two films]
Michael Sheen [who reprises his role as Lucian, from the 1st two films]
Rhona Mitra [as Sonja, Viktor's daughter] (Rhona also played Kit in Nip/Tuck and Sinclair in Doomsday)
Steven Mackintosh [as Tannis]
Kevin Grevioux [Raze, from the 1st film]

Rating: 4 Skulls


Plot Summary
:

A prequel to the first two Underworld films, this one explains the origins of the feud between the Vampires and the Lycans.

Aided by his secret love Sonja, courageous Lucian leads the Lycans in battle against the brutal Vampire Viktor. Determined to break Viktor's enslavement of his people, Lucian faces off against the Death Dealer army in a bid for Lycan independence.

The lovely Rhona Mitra replaces the void left by Kate Beckinsale

Review:
First, I just have to say that I am a big fan of the Underworld series. I have been since the day the 1st one came out in the theatres, and I have eagerly awaited this prequel! [hey, any well-made film that pits vampires against werewolves - I'm there!!] :-)


I have always loved vampires and werewolves, though I used to be more partial to vampires [probably due to Brian Lumley's Necroscope saga] However, over the years, I have grown to love werewolves even more - especially since last year's novel, Ravenous, written by Ray Garton - the werewolves he writes about would easily be able to tear a vampire to shreds! [Not to mention that Garton is planning some cross-overs that will bring his werewolves - from Ravenous, and it's upcoming sequel, Bestial - and vampires - from Live Girls & Night Life together - I am anxiously awaiting that day!]


Wow, I really got off track there, didn't I?
This is supposed to be a review about Rise of the Lycans So, how was the movie, you ask. . .
If you are a fan of the 1st two films, I do not see why you wouldn't love this one!
If you are a fan of werewolves and/or vampires, and have been waiting for a movie where they battle one another, then this one is it!

This one is more violent than its predecessors [from what I remember, anyway - I should have watched the 1st two, before this one, but I just didn't find the time. . .] Lots of werewolf decapitations and amputations, and werewolves tearing vampires apart, etc.

For those who may be unaware, this one tells the story of why the vampires & lycans first went to war [something that we already knew, but was cool to see, feature-length]
I loved the collars that the lycans were forced to wear, preventing them from shifting [the collars had sharpened metal points, facing the throat, so a shift would cause the throat to be torn open] I badly wanted to see this happen, but alas, that never happened.

For those who may wonder about Selene [Kate Beckinsale's character from the 1st two films] this film takes place before her time. If you remember, Viktor was always fond of Selene, due to her likeness of his daughter, Sonja [perfectly cast as Rhona Mitra, as she looks a lot like Beckinsale! Remember, Sonja was also in the 1st film, but was not Mitra]

Alas, I digress. . .

Obviously, for some odd reason, my mind is wandering all over the place this evening, and I cannot seem to stay on subject.

If you liked the 1st two, then by all means, go see this one as well.

If you have never seen an Underworld film, this one is a good one to start with, as there will be surprises for you - you will then want to go see the 1st two :-)

Here's the Trailer:


Jason

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Amusement

Genre - Horror/Anthology
Year Released - 2009
Running Time - 85 minutes
Directed by John Simpson
Written by Jake Wade Wall (who also wrote the '06 Re-Make of When a Stranger Calls and the '07 Re-Make of The Hitcher)
Cast Includes:
Laura Breckenridge [as Shelby]
Katheryn Winnick [as Tabitha]
Jessica Lucas [as Lisa]

Rating: 2 Skulls

Plot Summary:
While being interrogated by a police psychiatrist, the near-catatonic Tabitha tries to explain why she and two of her childhood friends are being hunted by a serial killer. The truth that's dying to come out weaves together three tragic secrets from their past.

Review:
Not much to tell here really - the movie starts off with scenes from a grade-school yearbook, telling us those "most likely to succeed", "most likely to be famous", and "most likely to shine" [our three main female leads in the film] We then see a report of a likely deviant - "behaviour problems", "dangerous", etc. [the film's antagonist]

The movie is shown in anthology format - the 1st story is Shelby's - her and her boyfriend, Rob [Tad Hilgenbrink] are on a road trip. I liked this one, mainly due to Rob's fascination with driving in a "convoy" [you know, when you're on a road trip, and you get behind someone who you like to follow. . .] Well, turns out Rob decides to get into the wrong convoy.
This story had greater potential - it could have been fleshed out into its own movie.

The 2nd story is Tabitha's - she is the central character which the film revolves around. In this tale, Tabitha shows up at her young nephew's home, only to discover that the babysitter is no longer there. . . It is a dark & stormy night, and her nephews have a thing for clowns [including a killer motion-sensor one, that I want for myself!] There is also a life-size clown which makes for an extremely creepy atmosphere.
It was this story that bumped the movie up a skull - this story too could have been fleshed out into its own movie.

The 3rd story is Lisa's, and hers is the weakest one. She is simply looking for her missing roommate, who may or may not be in a creepy old house that doubles as a hotel. . .

This movie started off really well, however once the stories tried to tie-in with one another, it rapidly fell apart, and for that I have to blame Jake Wade Wall [the writer] This movie should have never been in anthology format, as the pieces just did not fit - by the time the movie gets to the end, you no longer care. [Like I said, the 1st part was really good, though if it hadn't been for Tabitha's story, and the direction of the movie, in general, I doubt that I would have even reviewed this one]

Best to wait for television on this one!

Here's the Trailer:


Jason

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Cold Prey

Foreign Film from Norway - Norwegian Title: Fritt vilt
Language - Norwegian with English Subtitles or English [Dubbed]
Genre - Horror
Year Released - 2006 [in Norway]
Running Time - 96 minutes
Directed by Roar Uthaug [how cool a name is Roar?!?] :-)
Written by Roar Uthaug, Thomas Moldestad, and Martin Sundland (all of whom also wrote a sequel to this film)
Cast Includes: Ingrid Bolso Berdal, Rolf Kristian Larsen, [I had a dwarf character, in D&D named Rolf!] Tomas Alf Larsen, Endre Martin Midtstigen, and Viktoria Winge

Rating: 3 Skulls

Plot Summary:
Upon breaking his leg, a snowboarder and his four friends find themselves stranded at a decrepit ski lodge in the Norwegian mountains. After learning that the ski lodge was closed long ago when a boy vanished, the group discovers that they are not alone and they'll be lucky to stay alive, let alone return home.


Review:
The movie starts off with the disappearance of a child, the ensuing search, and related newspaper articles [sort of like those used at the beginning of the re-make of My Bloody Valentine, except without the 3-D effects!]

The movie then jumps ahead to five friends [3 guys and two girls] who are looking for some thrills on the Norwegian slopes. After one of them breaks their leg, they realize that they are miles from their car and it will soon be getting dark. They spot an abandoned ski lodge and decide to stay there, overnight, not knowing that a killer resides in the cellar of the lodge. . .

While I enjoyed this movie, I was still a bit disappointed [I mean, after hearing great things about it ~ Norway's best horror film ~ one of the best slasher films out there right now, etc] I guess that my expectations were just too high.
With that said, the movie is still worth seeing - it is well acted [the terror and pain portrayed is very realistic] and it has a good story and a good ending [though I am not too sure how the sequel plays into things]

Here's the Trailer:

Jason