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Archive for the ‘Lists’ Category

Ranking the SNL Movies Worst to Best   Leave a comment

To celebrate the 40th anniversary Saturday Night Live I thought I would take a look back at what has represented the long running series biggest successes and resounding failures.  These are the 11 feature films based on the show’s sketches.  Some translated perfectly to the big screen, while most are best left forgotten forever. But I’ll go ahead and dredge them back up anyway. According to the only unit of measure that matters, their Rotten Tomatoes scores, here are the SNL Movies ranked worst to best!

11. It’s Pat – 1994 – Rotten Tomatoes: 0%

It is hard to tell if Pat is a man or a woman.  The end.  This was a hard sell as a two minute sketch, and it should have never been attempted to be stretched into a barely feature length (78 mins) film. The film’s antagonist is a man obsessively trying to figure out Pat’s gender and solve the mystery that no one cared about.  Maybe Pat is trans? Or ambiguously gendered? Anyone ever think of that?  None of our business, people!

10. The Ladies Man – 2000 – Rotten Tomatoes: 11%

After a string of movies through out the 90’s, The Ladies Man put an end to SNL on the big screen for a decade.  Like many SNL movies, it just didn’t have enough story or jokes to sustain a full length movie.  The premise, an old school player tries to turn himself around but has a hard time letting go of his lifestyle, is so cliche and hackneyed that it never had a chance rise above the sketch that spawned it.

9. A Night at the Roxbury – 1998 – Rotten Tomatoes: 11%

I can’t help but feel that if this movie came out about six years later it might have succeeded.  Will Ferrell’s breakout role in Old School and subsequent success as a leading man-child in Elf were still five years off, leaving Roxbury with a star that we were all still some time away from appreciating.  The movie was written off as being one note, and that is true, but it’s not like Will Ferrell’s best comedic work is known for being nuanced or deep.  Maybe Roxbury needed to happen so Will Ferrell could figure out how to be a leading man and work up to having the confidence he now has that allows him to be a human cartoon character.

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Posted February 15, 2015 by atomicsam in Film, Lists, TV

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Evolution of The Living Dead   Leave a comment

George Romero‘s Night of the Living Dead is the quintessential zombie movie.  The first of its kind and the father of all modern zombie cinema. Today, you can’t walk five feet without running into a zombie and you can thank Night of the Living Dead for that.  As well as its sequels. And remakes.  And its other remakes.  And the sequels to those other remakes.

Recently I mentioned the Night of the Living Dead franchise in my post about the Army of Darkness sequel (which may have all been based on a lie). Night of the Living Dead is the only franchise that I can find where the original film continues to get sequels after there has been a reboot. Several reboots in fact.

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An oversight by the distributor left the film without a copyright.  Since it is in the public domain any TV station can air it for free.  Soon after its release it became an easy go to late night filler for TV stations with nothing else to air, introducing it to a wide audience that it otherwise would not have reached.  This error in paper work lead the film to becoming the most widely known zombie film of all time.

This also lead to the film’s content and title to be fair use for any other filmmakers to capitalize on.  Anyone can shoot a movie, call it Night of the Living Dead and legally release it in theaters. And many people have.  Beyond that, rights to the many of the films that followed the original have been sold off to various entertainment groups, and have had their own series of sequels.

Today there are over 30 movies and TV shows (plus comics, novels and who knows what else) that tie directly back to the Night of the Living Dead in someway. With more to come!  With that in mind I thought this could use some sorting out.  I Present to you, Dear reader, The History of the Living Dead! Complete with nifty Flow Chart!

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James Wan For the Win   Leave a comment

James Wan is killing it right now.  Freaking killing it.  Not only did he pump out The Conjuring and Insidious Chapter 2,  the two scariest movies of the year, but he is also working on Fast & Furious 7 and another, as yet untitled, horror film of his own making.

This dude. Is. Killing it.

But he looks so friendly!

One scary dude.

via IMDB

He first came onto the horror scene when he directed the first Saw movie and stayed on as a producer for the rest of the franchise.     Which explains why when I ask people why the like the series they always say “Well the first one was really good.” Sagging quality after he stopped directing aside, over the course of seven years the films earned $873.3B world wide.  You have to admit the guy knows what he is doing.

Wan is hands down the strongest horror/suspense director working right now.  The question is, what is important to know about this guy as he brakes through to major main stream success?

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Posted September 16, 2013 by atomicsam in Film, Lists

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New SciFi/Fantasy Shows for 2013-14… and When They Will End   9 comments

FALL IS HERE! I can tell because there are dead leaves on my car each morning!  And with fall come all sorts of new TV Shows!

As has been seen as the trend in recent years, many of these new shows fall into the SciFi/Fantasy genera.  And as always, most of these shows are going to fade off.  So the question is how long they will last and if it will be worth your time to get invested.

Prep your DVRs!  We are going to go thought this seasons upcoming shows and figure out when they will end!

From NBC

Dracula

The king of all vampires is back in this heavily reworked vision of the old story.  Dracula returns to London after spending sometime in the states.  The old neck sucker has cast himself in the role of American business man in the vain of The Men Who Built America as a cover for his nefarious dealings in Europe.  Looks like this is NBC attempting to fill the void that the cancellation of True Blood is going to leave in the sexy-vampires genera.

Premier: October 25, 2013

Cancellation Prediction: I think this show is going to do well and get a five season run.  Normally I am a bit of cynic when it comes to NBC but they have been doing better in resent years with shows like Revolution and Hannibal.

Undateable

God damn it, NBC… This show is going with the old strange-guys-learn-to-love trope.  A bunch of weirdos get dating lessons from a more successful male specimen.  Based on a book.  Not a SciFi/Fantasy show, but expect it to be a retread of a The Big Bang Theory.  Have fun stigmatizing people.  F**k you, NBC.  Seriously.

Premier: Winter 2014

Cancellation Prediction: Probably never.  This show will never end just despite me.  (Or it will go unnoticed and and fade off after half it’s produced episodes are aired.  Those remaining episodes will be burned off in the summer with a hastily produced finale to give closure to the main romantic story line.)

Believe

A little girl with mysterious powers is pursued a secretive organization so that they can use her to take over the world.  Because that is just how these things go.  A priest who knows about her abilities turns to a convict to be her protector.  Because that is also how these things go.  It’s from JJ Abrams, so expect a lot of lens flair.

Premier: Winter 2014

Cancellation Prediction: End of season one with a cliff hanger that will never be resolved.

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In Space No One Can Hear you Scream… or Groan   6 comments

I made the decision to check out Apollo 18 last week. It had been sitting on the ole’ Netflix queue for a while and let me tell you, it should have stayed there.  Wow, did it suck.

If you haven’t seen it, Apollo 18 is a sleep inducing found footage horror film about two astronauts being attacked by giant spiders on the moon. Spoiler warning, they die, and by the end of the sluggish 90 minute film you’ll be glad to see them go.  Well… assuming you are still awake or haven’t gone off to do something more exciting, like cleaning out the junk underneath your bed.

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If Syfy had made this movie and just called it Moon Spiders it would have been 100 times better.

While I can’t recommend Apollo 18, this did get me to thinking about horror movies that take place in space.  There is of course the Alien series; and a personal favorite of mine, the often overlooked and poorly reviewed Event Horizon. But then there are the times when a long running franchise seems loses faith in its established formula and attempts to breathe new life into itself by sending its primary antagonist into space.

First Space, then Da Hood!

First Space, then Da Hood!

OH LOOK! I’ve made a list of them! By my count this has happened four horrendous times.

Critters 4 – 1992

Of all of the film series to make the jump to space Critters makes the most sense.  The Critters were from outer space, after all and all of the films involved shifting alien bounty hunters.  Space just made sense as a place for the story to go.  Supporting character Charlie from the previous films accidentally gets locked into stasis with the last two eggs of the carnivorous fur balls that have been terrorizing  people throughout the series.  He wakes up on a space station to discover that it is the year 2045.  Critters get lose! Oh no! How could that have happened?

The original Critters and its three sequels were favorites of mine as a kid.  They combined violence in comedy in a way that any nine year old boy can get true entertainment out of.  They represent the odd movie monster that gets less threatening from film to film, with each  installment dropping of some of their abilities.  My guess is due to budget restrictions.   In the first movie they could shoot poison darts, grow larger depending on how much they ate, and could combine together into a giant man eating fur ball.  By the last installment all they did was kill and eat.

Aside from the Critters of the fourth film being the least threatening, the stakes in this film are also at their lowest.  Where as in the previous films the Critters could have been a threat to the Earth, these ones could only be a threat to the people on the space station.  A grand total of seven people.

Best IN SPACE moment:

The space station they are on is so old that may explode at any time, and the computer program that runs it is malfunctioning and does the opposite of what ever the crew asks it to do.  So apparently at some point in the near future we are going to start packing space stations with explosives and never bother with software maintenance.  Sounds like a smart plan.

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Puppets and Quests: A Lost Genre   4 comments

There was a time when the latest big budget fantasy adventure didn’t mean CGI monsters or 3D glasses that don’t fit over my regular glasses.  There was a time when a good family friendly fantasy film meant just two things: Puppets and Quests.  We called that time the 80’s and it was glorious.

Bowie was there! What more could you need?!

Bowie was there! What more could you need?!

But as special effects technology improves the film making techniques of the past become lost arts.  Computer animation has rendered the art of Puppets and Quest films all but lost in modern cinema.   Unless you are Guillermo del Toro.

*sob* DON'T LOOK AT ME! *sob*

*sob* DON’T LOOK AT ME! *sob*

If someone had handed Jim Henson The Hobbit in 1986 he would have done the whole thing in an hour and a half, added songs and there would have been Muppets! Muppets galore I tell you!

Just because the hay-day of the Puppets and Quest genre has passed that doesn’t mean that those films are forgotten.  I would say that they are anything but forgotten.  I, like many members of my generation, grew up on those movies and even now, long after I left the target age range, I still sometimes get together with my friends to watch them.  Marathoning through a four or five of these still makes a pretty awesome Friday night.  Nostalgia and beer are a winning combo.

The impact that these films had on the fantasy genre is still being seen today, so lets take a look back and appreciate them for the master works (and sometimes master disasters) that they are!

Time Bandits – 1981

Time Bandits follows a boy, Kevin, who’s sleep is interrupted by a group of dwarves entering his bed room through a hole in space and time.  They have a map of the holes in the universe, that they use to travel through time and steal wealth from the past.  Kevin ends up tagging along on their adventure as they are perused by a sorcerer, simply named Evil, who wants the map for himself.

Terry Gilliam has directed some strange movies over the years.  Not surprising, considering he got his start as a member of Monty Python.  He has made cult favorites like Monty Python and the Holy Grail, Brazil and Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas, thrillers like 12 Monkeys, and quirky adventures like The Brothers Grimm and The Adventures of Baron Munchausen.  He has a distinct visual style that can be seen throughout his body of work.  A sort of jitteryness that is fascinating and almost uncomfortable.   His next film, The Zero Theorem, about a computer hacker’s search for the meaning of life, is due out at the end of the year.

The Dark Crystal – 1982

Whenever I mention my love for The Dark Crystal someone tells me about how it gave them nightmares as a kid.  It followed Jen, an elf like being on his quest to reunite a divided society by returning a missing shard of a sacred crystal to its proper place.  Along the way he makes new friends and fends off strange monsters.

It is easily the darkest of the films directed by Muppet creator Jim Henson, and represents some of the most monstrous creatures to ever come out of his puppet studio.  This attempt to take the Muppet Workshop in a bold new direction was bit too extreme for the family friendly studio, so their next adventure film (appearing later in this list) lightened things up a lot.  The intense visual style and wild new designs were still an important step the advancement of Jim Henson Studios.

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Is this the real life? Is this just fantasy?- Musical numbers in Non Musicals   Leave a comment

Has everyone seen This is the End yet?  No? Well, if you haven’t seen this apocalyptic comedy, I highly recommend it.   It got me to like Seth Rogen and company again after having been tired of them for a long time.  It managed to be the best horror movie I’ve seen in quite sometime while also being the best comedy this crew has put out in years.  I have maintained that post The Cabin in the Woods successful horror movies would need to be something fresh and new, and This is the End got it right.

Good job, thumbs up.

Good job, thumbs up.

It also happens to utilize one of my very favorite film making techniques: the musical sequence in a non musical film.    The moment where narrative story telling stops for a little while and the emotion plays out through song.  I won’t spoil the surprise for you if you are planing on checking the movie out, but you can find a poorly framed cell phone video of the clip here.

In musicals there is an understanding that the world those characters inhabit is one where emotions and important moments are played out through song and dance.  Although the characters never seem to acknowledge it is happening.  I have always wondered if the characters are supposed to be aware that this is happening and never talk about it because it is so wholly unremarkable to them, or if they experience the song as just a regular conversation/ interaction/ thoughts.  But that’s a whole other blog post…

Musical sequences can be worked into non musical films in a verity of ways and for a verity of reasons.  He are just a few examples to help you through the slog that is a Tuesday afternoon:

 

Anchorman- Afternoon Delight

Wayne’s World – Bohemian Rhapsody

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