Thursday, January 27, 2011

Top 10 Recommendations By My Sister

Today is the birthday of my oldest sister, who would've been 39 years old today if not for the intense battle she lost against Cancer. In remembrance of my sister, I am putting up a(nother) Top 10 list of my favorite recommendations made to me by my sister. A lot of people have been coming to me and offering me their condolences for the loss of my sister. I appreciate everybody's kindness though I feel that not very many people were fortunate enough to spend the amount of time around her to truly realize what a great loss this really was. She was so much fun and so full of life. She was such an intelligent person that could shed a light on any topic and give you a different perspective on so many things. Before I begin to stray though, I would like to say that as far as movies go, she understood my tastes and offered a slew of fantastic movie/TV recommendations. Here are just 10 of my favorites:

10. Underworld (2003) - I know we've seen this movie on this blog a dozen and a half times in the past couple months, that's actually why it's going to make this list as well. If I keep making references to it, probably safe to call it one of my favorites, yeah? This was exactly the type of movie that my sister went for... strong females shooting big guns and/or kicking ass. Tough women, like her, always scored extra points with us when it came time to judge. This movie was pretty kick ass in terms of gun shooting, creature-on-creature violence, and casting the incredibly sexy Kate Beckinsale (one of my all time favorite sexy ladies of cinema!) who turns in a fantastic performance here as the dark and ruthless vampire vixen out hunting werewolves. My sister was the one who first suggested this film to me and let me borrow this on DVD. This movie makes a couple appearances on this blog and has been featured on a couple of lists including my anti-Twilight list of vampire and werewolf movie recommendations.

9. Final Destination (2000) - Knowing my love for blood and guts cinema, as well as my affinity for horror movies, my sister recommended and let me borrow the first Final Destination. (I didn't know then that it would become a never ending franchise with less and less spectacular sequels) There was an interesting and original storyline, creative kills, and Stifler from American Pie getting his head cut off by a rogue flying piece of sharp metal. My sister always knew my taste in movies and suggested this to me back when it was a standalone film. Fun to watch.

8. Italian Job (2003) - Hardcore fans of classic cinema will hound me endlessly for this pick.... but this is MY list motherfuckers. So my sister, who much like myself, was into good heist flicks. She told me that she thought I'd like this movie and said that mom would probably appreciate it too. So after one of our usual Wednesday night family dinners, she had me run up to her place to grab her VHS copy of The Italian Job. (Yes, my sister was old school) We rushed home and popped the movie into the VCR and sat back on the couch, eager to see what my sister was raving about. What we were treated to was a star-studded remake of the 1969 British original by the same name. Mark Wahlberg stars opposite of Charlize Theron with Ed Norton playing the villian?? Awesome. With Jason Statham, Seth Green, and Mos Def supporting? Sweet. Sure, people like to rag on how they totally advertised Mini Coopers but the storyline is there. Look past the product placement and you'll find a very enjoyable remake that both my mom and myself enjoyed.

7. The Others (2001) - After The Sixth Sense, psychological thrillers with a twist ending became all the rage. My sister suggested this film in the same vein as the aforementioned Bruce Willis supernatural thriller. She also lent me this film, telling me how much she enjoyed the "twist" at the end. Trying not to spoil the plot for me, she might've accidentally given away the ending. I just remember expecting something to come, which made it a little less surprising when it happened. Still, one of my favorite psychological supernatural thrillers of all time. Nicole Kidman is another very sexy lady that I like to watch. This one's parodied so often, I'm sure if you haven't seen it by now.... you already have some idea of how this one will end.

6. The Mummy (1999) - One of my favorite remakes of all time!!!!! I freakin LOVE this movie. This is one of the most entertaining films that my sister every recommended to me. I remember when she first lent me the VHS of this baby, I watched it at least a dozen times before returning it to her. Brendan Fraser, who I only knew at the time as the goof from George of the Jungle, completely shattered all my expectations with this amazing performance as a rugged adventurer who is pretty much bad ass in every way I can imagine. Fantastic story that mixes Egyptian mythology with gun blazing action makes this one of my all-time favorites. This was also introduced to me before it became an extended franchise. I liked it better as a standalone film.

5. Se7en (1995) - Once again, my sister definitely knew my tastes when she recommended I watch the movie Se7en. She even lent it to me, I'm pretty sure also on VHS, so I can watch this dark and brutal film about a serial killer who kills according to the 7 Deadly Sins. What was great about this film is that even though there are some graphic scenes, a lot of the violence is actually implied and never explicitly shown. Most of the stomach churning elements of this movie are committed off-screen and what is shown is more of the result of the violence and torture that must have preceded it. This is one of my favorites as well as a great example of a Thriller that takes its time to patiently build its story and doesn't rely on a sudden plot twist at the end to make the movie. The storytelling is fantastic in this film.

4. 24 (2001-2010) - Alright, so this one isn't a movie but it was recommended to me towards the end of 2009 or beginning of 2010. She was telling me how she thought that I'd enjoy this show because of all the shooting and explosions in this show. She built up the show so much that I just had to check it out. I borrowed the first season from her since she had all of them, now she had upgraded to DVDs thankfully, and when I finally popped it into my DVD player, I finished the entire first season in a matter of days. The action and excitement in this series is backed by rock solid storylines, which the show tends to juggle about three at a time, and fantastic performances by everyone inlcuding the always awesome Kiefer Sutherland. Great show, go check it out... now.

3. Doomsday (2008) - When this movie was in theaters, my sister bugged me about watching it for the longest time. From director Neil Marshall (Dog Soldiers, Centurion) comes this post-apocalyptic story of a city walled off after a viral outbreak turns the city's civilians into violent "sickos". My sister's biggest selling point was that she thought I'd enjoy it because it was "good and bloody". As a matter of fact, that's all she had to say. Anything recommended to me by my sister and is approved due to violence was almost guaranteed to be a winner in my book. Sure enough, another strong woman leads the charge back into the forbidden zone in order to find a cure for the disease. Before long, her and her team is captured by a bunch of punk rock cannibals that cook and eat one of her friends. Great stuff.

2. Taken (2009) - Another movie that my sister saw before me in theaters, she bugged me to watch this one for a long time as well before I eventually got around to it. She kept describing the movie to me as some older guy who doesn't look like he can fight just going around and taking everyone out. My interest was piqued as I waited for a DVD release since it was out of theaters by the time I found the time to go see it. Sure enough, my sister was absolutely right about me enjoying this film as I popped it into my DVD player to find none other than Qui-Gon Jinn... shaved!!! I love how he was able to kick so much ass but not have to be an extremely fit young guy who runs off of walls or something. Liam Neeson is very convincing as a kick ass older guy who is tough as nails and highly trained. (a role which he cements in The A-Team)

1. The Omen Trilogy (1976-1981) - When I first started my Netflix account, I did so because I realized that I was a very big fan of horror movies. The problem was that I had not seen a lot of the classic horror movies that serious horror fans would know off the top of their head. So after re-watching some of the some of the classic horror movies like A Nightmare on Elm Street, Hellraiser, and Texas Chainsaw Massacre, I needed some ideas on what to watch. One of the first series of film recommended to me after I started my Netflix account was The Omen trilogy. The reason I refer to it as a trilogy is because that's how they were recommended to me and that's how I watched them. There was also a fourth made-for-TV installment and a remake that came out in 2006, but the original trilogy had a continuous storyline that spanned the three films. In the original, we see the son of the devil born and how he is unaware of the evil around him. The second film is about his teenage years where he finds out that he's the anti-christ. Then in the final chapter, he's a full grown adult who is fully aware of who he is and fully understands his powers. Great movies that rank high up on my list of favorite film series/franchises. Probably my favorite recommendation by my sister though I think I can safely say that any of the films on this list could've taken #1 on a different day.

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Thinner (1996)

Thinner (USA, 1996) - Color, Director(s): Tom Holland
MPAA Rating: R
[UK: 18]
Approx. 92 min.

Z-rating: 2.5 out of 5 stars

B-factor: 1 out of 5 stars

First off, my apologies to all my readers for having been away. As stated in my last couple posts, my sister had recently passed away and I've been busy scrambling to get everything done in time for her ceremony. With that said, I look forward to a New Year with great interest and look forward to meeting a ton of new people. Thank you loyal readers who showed their support (Oli) during this time of need. But I'm back now, and I wanna talk about some New Year Resolutions. I know that during this time of year, gyms are busiest because they're packed with a bunch of fatties who resolved to lose some weight for New Years. The funny thing is that by mid-to-late Feb, most of these people would've given up on their resolution and begin staying home. Silly chubbies, didn't you know you can just piss of a Gypsy and have a curse put on you? Best diet ever... you can eat whatever you want and still lose the weight!!

Based on a novel by Stephen King, written under his pen name Richard Bachman, this movie begins with an obese lawyer defending a gangster in a case where he's being charged with putting a bounty on another man's head. Billy Halleck, who reminds me of Jiminy Glick doing his best "Dirty Harry" impression, gets the case thrown out. While driving home one night from a celebration dinner, his wife gets a little frisky in the front seat and helps herself to a little meaty Man-sausage. Well, as you probably already guessed, that story ends the way it always does... with one dead gypsy and an entire cover-up in the works. Wanting revenge for this fossil, that was trying run down while crossing the street, is her even more archaic father who puts a curse on each of the men responsible for the death of his daughter. Without spoiling what the other contestants got for their prize, our lucky protagonist gets to shed a few pounds with the patented on "Thinner" diet... um... curse. The pounds are just falling off this man and since there's so much of it to lose, this Gypsy curse actually seems like a good thing at first, until it doesn't stop. The pounds are dropping off by the dozen and poor Billy Helleck needs to eat insatiably in order to keep from just deteriorating away. (Oh god, the horror!!) Needless to say though, things start getting a little ridiculous and he goes in search of the gypsy to lift the curse because only the one that put it on may take it off. Unable to make a convince them on his own, he phones in the help of his new found gangster pal....

This Stephen King film scared the crap out of me as a kid, probably because I was quite pudgy myself. Either way, I found this to be a fitting movie to return on because of how relevant it was to the topic of New Years Resolutions and it also fit my horror focus. Anyone else up for some pie?

"Hey, punk, I thought I told you THIN crust..."

Nudity: Nothing good.

Gore: Used sparingly, not over-the-top but effective. The wife's face when she wakes up the morning after was always a freaky scene.

Awesome: Kinda. Probably not the best movie I've ever seen, but I thought it wasn't a terrible choice for me to get back into the groove of reviewing. I'll be back with more soon, good luck to all with your New Years Resolutions!!!

Saturday, January 8, 2011

Top 5 Celebrity Deaths in 2010

2010 was a year, for me, that was shrouded by significant deaths in the family. Seeing as death was all around me, I thought I'd come up with another list (this time a Top 5) of notable celebrity deaths in the horror genre. I wanted to write a review but couldn't decide on which movie to review so I'll just put this up for now. Reviews will be coming soon, I promise. In the meantime, check out this short list:

5. Lisa Blount (1957-2010)

Known in horror circles for her roles in Dead & Buried, a zombie film that was actually banned in the Video Nasties act of 1984, and John Carpenter's Prince of Darkness. She also starred in the uber-violent Italian exploitation film Cut and Run, directed by Ruggero Deodato, the final chapter in Deodato's cannibal trilogy.

4. Corey Haim (1971-2010)

Corey Haim who, along with fellow childhood star Corey Feldman became known as "The Two Coreys", made a name for himself in the movie The Lost Boys. (A fang-tastic vampire film I named in my anti-Twilight post) Preceding this performance with a role in the werewolf film, based on a novel by renowned horror author Stephen King, Silver Bullet. (which I'm sure was also a better movie than Twilight)

3. Leslie Nielsen (1926-2010)

Funny man Leslie Nielson is best known for his roles in comedies such as Airplane!, Wrongfully Accused, and The Naked Gun series. His significance to the horror community comes in the form of horror anthology Creepshow. Written by horror author Stephen King himself, and directed by none other than George A. Romero, this awesome film features five different segments of horror shorts. (with special effects by special effects master, Tom Savini) In addition to this serious horror role, he starred in a comedic retelling of the classic tale of Dracula in the film Dracula: Dead and Loving It as well as the horror parodies Scary Movie 3 and 4. (long after they stopped being funny because the Wayans brothers left the series)

2. Dennis Hopper (1936-2010)

Rebel actor Dennis Hopper played many roles throughout his career, from gangsters to cheesy video game characters and even the leader of a terrorist group in the hit show 24, but none more memorable (at least to me, in relation to the horror genre) than the police Lieutenant in The Texas Chainsaw Massacre 2. Following a lead on the killer family in this sequel to the original TCM, Hopper ultimately comes to save the day by dueling chainsaws with ol' Leatherface!!! (You can't make this stuff up!) Hopper also starred in the more recent zombie movie flub, Land of the Dead, but I really don't much care for that film myself. (I would like to mention that Hopper was super bad ass in the more recent 2008 biker film, Hell Ride)

1. Zelda Rubinstein (1933-2010)

A face that I'm sure many already recognize, Zelda Rubinstein is best known for her role as the psychic medium in the supernatural horror Poltergeist. One of the best, if not THE best, creepy ladies in all of horrorland... Zelda had the creepiest voice for explaining the "rules" to the supernatural I've ever heard. She played a similar character in (many films I'm sure) the 2006 pseudo-documentary/slasher Behind the Mask: The Rise of Leslie Vernon. She will be a great loss to the horror community, without a doubt.

Z-portal would like to recognize these celebrities for their contributions to the horror genre and pay homage to their work. These great actors/actresses will be missed by the horror community and, I'm sure, by the world as a whole. I, for one, will be re-watching the films that I've listed in this list... would anyone care to join me?

Thursday, January 6, 2011

Tribute: Top 10 Bad Ass Babes

Those of you who know me personally knows that my sister just passed away recently. She was diagnosed with lung cancer early on in 2010 and fought an uphill battle all the way. She was the strongest person I've ever known, with the exception of my mother for having to suffer the loss of her own mother and daughter within the same year. (Keep your chin up mom!!!) So in honor of two of the toughest ladies I've ever known in my life, I would like to dedicate this list to the toughest, baddest, hardest-hitting females ever to grace the silver screen.

10. Sarah from The Descent (Shauna Macdonald)

A spelunking trip goes fubar as this "all girls" outing turns into a nightmare when the cave they're exploring collapses around them. As if things weren't bad enough, they're also trapped in the cave with a bunch of blind predatory creatures. Losing both her husband and daughter in a car crash, as well as the lot of her closest friends in those caves, she teeters on the edge of sanity. After finding out that one of her "friends" killed her closest friend (by accident) AND slept with her man.... she totally loses it. She goes off the deep end and totally beasted on a few of those creatures before exacting her revenge on that two-faced bitch and leaving her for dead in the caves down below. Hardcore...

9. Alice from Resident Evil: Apocalypse (Milla Jovovich)

After being infected with the T-virus, she goes from being an lost naked chick with amnesia to an ultra bad ass femme fatale that can run down the side of a building AND kick your ass. I picked her out of the second movie because this was her at her most bad ass, back before there was a million of her and had the ability to kill with a stare. I mean, come on, she even fought Nemesis hand-to-hand. You can't tell me that's not pretty fucking bad ass right there. Besides, not everyone can look as good as she does while kicking butt. Undead, rotten, decaying zombie butt. (Also worth noting: Jovovich was the bad ass babe in Ultraviolet as well)

8. Sarah Connor from Terminator 2 (Linda Hamilton)

Talk about bad ass, you've got to be a real bad ass if you're going to raise the future savior of mankind. Transforming from a terrified young lady who's being chased by an unrelenting killer robot in the first movie to a tough as nails, take no bullshit, big bad mama who pulls off a daring escape from the loony bin to fight off a liquid metal automaton from the future with a hail storm of bullets. She breaks a few bones while making her way out of the nuthouse, holds her psychiatrist hostage with a syringe full of liquid drain opener, and shoots up somebody's house with an automatic rifle. She was definitely a fighter, no doubt...

7. Fox from Wanted (Angelina Jolie)

Whether she's raiding tombs, curving bullets, or masquerading as a housewife while she's secretly an assassin, Angelina Jolie is one of the baddest (and hottest) of bad ass babes ever to grace the silver screen. A personal favorite of my sister's, she always enjoyed watching Angelina Jolie with a gun in her hand. I must admit, this is definitely when she is at her best. (Also worth noting: Angelina Jolie was also in Sky Captain and the World of Tomorrow, Beowulf, and Salt)

6. Zen from Chocolate (JeeJa Yanin)

You wanna talk about a bad ass babe that's a real fighter, JeeJa Yanin is one of the newest faces around to keep an eye out for. In her debut role as Zen, the autistic martial arts prodigy who grows up next door to a Muay Thai school, goes around collecting her mother's old debts from when she used to run with a leader of the Japanese mob. She kicks ass Bruce Lee-style in fight at the ice factory (borrowed from Big Boss), is involved in a bad ass beat down at the meat market, and lays waste to a room full of people with samurai swords... I'd say she's earned her place on this list of bad ass babes. (Also worth noting: JeeJa followed up this fantastic performance with a role as a stylized Drunken B-Boy fighter in Raging Phoenix)

5. Luz from Machete (Michelle Rodriguez)

This one-eyed revolutionary femme fatale is a major bad ass (with a soft heart!) who runs a taco truck that serves the hungry day laborers. Helping to propagate the myth that is SHE, Michelle Rodriguez works as an underground organizer for a group that aides in the relocation of immigrants and assists in job placement once they cross the border. Operating mostly under the radar, when the time comes, SHE takes to arms and fights alongside Machete and her people against crooked politicians and unjust immigration laws. Viva la RevoluciĆ³n!!! (Also worth noting: Michelle Rodriguez stars opposite of Milla Jovovich in the first Resident Evil movie and plays a variety of other tough girl roles in movies such as the Fast and the Furious, Girlfight, and Million Dollar Baby)

4. Ellen Ripley from Aliens (Sigourney Weaver)

Ellen Ripley is one of the quintessential bad ass ladies ever to have graced the silver screen. She does something that none of the other lovely ladies on this list ever was able to accomplish, kick ass in space!!! Much like the other ladies that are a part of an ongoing film franchise, she comes back badder than ever in the sequel, so my pick is Ripley from Aliens. (The second film in the series) This time, she actually knows what she's up against and, albeit involuntarily, returns to the Alien planet that is now home to a terraforming colony. When the group of ragtag marines she is accompanying start getting slaughtered and begin to lose all hope, Ripley is ready to step up and kick her some extraterrestrial ass. (Come git sum!!!) Who can forget her epic battle with the Alien Queen in that giant robotic suit? (Also worth noting: Weaver, who played Ripley through four consecutive films in the Aliens franchise, was also the hard ass research scientist in Avatar. Let's not forget that, after being possessed by a demon, she also became "The Gatekeeper" in the first Ghostbusters movie)

3. Beatrix "The Bride" Kiddo in Kill Bill (Uma Thurman)

After taking a bullet to the head on her wedding day and waking up in the hospital to find her unborn child is gone, this deadly ex-assassin begins down a blood-drenched path of furious vengeance against the people responsible... leaving behind only a trail of death and mangled bodies in her wake. Armed with little more than a katana made by the greatest Japanese swordsmith in the world, she battles like 100 gangsters armed with samurai swords in her yellow tracksuit. (Yeah, I know they're the Crazy 88 but I don't think that's cause there are 88 of them) She stops at nothing to get her revenge, eventually culminating to a final battle between her and Bill. (the late David Carradine) Trained in various hand-to-hand combat techniques including Kung Fu and Japanese swordplay as well as weapons training to use guns and whatnot. There's no denying that she was a total bad ass in this movie. (Also worth noting: Uma Thurman also played the sexy but deadly Poison Ivy in Batman & Robin)

2. Coffy from Coffy (Pam Grier)

Alright!! Now, you wanna talk bad ass? No list of Bad Ass Babes would be complete without Coffy. This is an absolute wild woman we're talking about here. You see, her little sister doped up with some bad smack and is now lying somewhere in a coma. Pretending to be a junkie in need of a fix, she warms up to a local dealer who brings her back to his place so he can try her out... but she pulls out a double barrel shotgun and blows his head off!!! In what has to be my favorite chick fight I've ever seen in any movie, Coffy hides a bunch of razor blades in her fro and goes to put a beat down on a bunch of white girls. Chaos ensues and, sure enough, one of the girls eventually goes for the hair-pull. (but gets two fistfuls of razor blades for her efforts) No doubt one of the baddest bad ass babes of all time. (Also worth noting: Pam Grier also plays Foxy Brown, Jackie Brown, and a slew of other strong female roles)

1. Jessica Yang from Supercop (Michelle Yeoh)

My vote for the number one spot would've been Pam Grier as Coffy but being a list that I'm dedicating to my sister, I thought it'd be only fitting to have number one be an Asian star. As fast and dangerous as she is beautiful, Michelle Yeoh was super bad ass in her role as Jessica Yang in Supercop. Starring opposite of Jackie Chan, Yeoh was able to hold her own in this film and kicked ass in a ton of amazing fight scenes. No stranger to martial arts cinema, Yeoh has starred in many martial arts films including Tai Chi Master, Wing Chun, and Heroic Trio. If you haven't seen Michelle Yeoh in action, Supercop would be a great film to introduce Yeoh. I'm sure my sister wouldn't argue my choice for the number one spot on this list. (Also worth noting: Michelle Yeoh was the love interest of Chow Yun Fat in the movie Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon)

And so, I dedicate this list of my Top 10 strong female characters to my sister who was a fighter that fought all the way until the end. Too bad she wasn't battling against a physical opponent as I'm sure she would've kicked its ass. I love you so much and I always will. Your memory will live on forever.

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

LAMB Acceptance!!!

Large Association of Movie Blogs

 I know it's been a couple days since I've posted but I haven't been slacking off, I promise you that, I've just been working on a couple different posts that I haven't had a chance to finish as of yet. Although, I do have some good news in the meantime. I have been accepted into a movie blog association that I was trying to join and I'm currently being featured on their homepage!!! I'm really excited about this and would love a show of support. You can click on the image above to link to their homepage (also on blogger) where I should still be featured at the top. (For any stragglers that come after I've been bumped off, can check out the direct link to my entry by clicking here)

Show me some love by checking out my new association cause if I refer enough people over to them, I get my name on their leaderboard. (YEAH!!!)

This association seems kinda cool, I absolutely love that their name can be shortened to Large Ass Movie Blog... or even further to LAMB, where it becomes relevant to use images from the movie Black Sheep for their banners and icons. (genius!)

Saturday, January 1, 2011

New Year, New Focus

Happy New Years to all!!!! In honor of the New Year, Z-portal will be trying out a new rating system (details here) and also shifting the focus of this blog. I seem to have stretched myself a bit thin by jumping in and out of different genres, with no real direction, which may have been a bit confusing to my readers. So with the New Year, I would like to drive this blog in a new direction so as to have a more concise focus. And so, I will be returning to my roots and focusing on the genre that I know best... Horror. That's not to say that this blog will become a straight up Horror blog and never talk about any other genres, I started this blog so I could talk about the movies that I love with people who share similar interests. What I am saying is that I will primarily be focused on Horror with an emphasis on cheesy, sleazy, dark, obscure, outrageous, and exploitative cinema. (but wasn't that supposed to be the focus all along? ...shut up...)

I will still try to encompass different genres such as Kung Fu, Sci-Fi, Thrillers, and even Comedy. The reason for the need to re-focus this blog is because I am also a regular viewer of foreign films but whenever I get into a conversation about them, I realize that I primarily watch dark and disturbing (mostly Horror) films from other countries. Then I came to realize that I'm really not particularly fond of either Romance or Dramas (foreign or otherwise) and so I would like to shift my focus to shy away from too many feel good films. Don't get me wrong, I like to "feel good" just as much as the next guy... I'm just old enough now that I don't always need my movies to have some Disney-esque happy-go-lucky ending. The world isn't as perfect as all that and I hope that my readers aren't here looking for those kinds of fairy tale movies, as I'm sure you'll be severely disappointed. (If you were looking for Disney films and somehow ended up here.... you were seriously misguided)

So if you'd like to take a journey into the darker side of cinema... turn out the lights, pack an extra pair of underwear, and get ready for the ride of your life. (cause this is about as close to Disney as I get....