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Archive for November, 2009

DVD of the Day #335 - Monster Camp

Monday, November 30th, 2009

I ended up watching this off of streaming Netflix. Guin didn’t want to watch it with me as she was afraid it would be mean-spirited.

Monster Camp is a documentary on NERO (Now Alliance) Seattle. NERO is the world’s most famous fantasy LARP (Live Action Role Playing) game and I’ve always been morbidly curious about it ever since it was profiled in an issue of Dragon Magazine I purchased in 7th or 8th grade. I actually still have that issue somewhere… Now I’ve watched mockumentaries on gaming like Gamers and Dorkness Rising, both of which are a lot of fun, but they were fictional. I’ve also seen Darkon which is a look at a local DC Metro area LARP, but that focused more on nerd in-fighting and politics rather than why people do this and what makes LARP’ing appealing to them. So when I saw this as an option on Netflix, I decided to try it out to sate my 17 year curiosity about NERO (Which does have two chapters around me, one in Arlington and one in Annandale of all places) and also get a look a yet another documentary on gaming.

This documentary takes us through a full year of Nero, although the bulk of time is spent on the Winter campaign. We see couples form, relationships end and eventually, the owner of NERO seattle burn out and pull the plug on his creation. It seems like there are about 60 people playing it at one time, which is pretty neat, but a far cry from the original NERO games, where over 1,000 people could be found playing at any one time.

I do like that the documentary covers a wide range of people who play NERO. You had people like coders for Xerox or an elderly woman who is confined to a wheelchair who plays it with her caregiver as something fun for them to do. On the other hand you also had two uber nerds that didn’t even finish high school that do nothing but play video games and LARP. Seriously, they made me uncomfortable with their levels of nerdiness. Also, why is it that every person in this documentary, whether a likeable person or not is a total slob. Is that some inherent trait that comes with really being into fantasy?

Anyway, for the most part you had some really far out people and some pretty normal people who are just curious about LARP’ing. My favourite guy was a newcomer named Matt Yeager who is at NERO for the first time and is just trying it as a change of pace from all his video gaming. No, he’s not the Matt Yeager I hung out with back in MSP or that I still write with, but he does look a lot like him which threw me for a bit. I was like, “MATT??? WTF, YO? You’re an undead lizardman.”

Anyway, this was a lot of fun and it really treated everyone involved fairly and was a nice look the LARP’ing subculture. It didn’t make me want to go out and do this myself (IN fact, more the opposite), but you get a really good look at who plays these type of games and why.

Is It Worth Keeping? I’m considering buying it actually
Rating: 6.5/10

DVD of the Day #334: Feasting on Asphalt the Complete Second Season - The River Run

Sunday, November 29th, 2009

Wow, that’s a long title for a DVD, isn’t it?

I was a really big fan of the original FoA when it aired. It was Alton Brown taking us across the country looking at the evolution of food on the interstate. Of course, Alton was also far more of a dick to people he encountered than I expected, which is unusual because he’s just so damn likeable in Good Eats. I eventually watched the second season with heather and Vlad when we lived with them, but we both agreed it was missing something compared to his usual work. I did eventually buy the cookbook though because there was some yummy food in there.

A few weeks ago, Food Network’s website offered a special deal: Get both the River Run season and the River Run cookbook for $14.95. Well, as Heather and Vlad accidentally ended up with my cookbook in the moving process and this set is usually about thirty dollars, I decided to hunker down and buy it. Besides, maybe it would have aged better upon a second viewing. After all, the cookbook was quite good.

Well, the series was a little bit better than I remembered, but it still wasn’t as good as the original. Out of the six episodes, three deal with the south and the other three deal with the midwest. Now, not to disparage the Wisconsinites and Minnesotans that read this, but the Midwest episodes flat out suck. This is because Alton is more trying to find the worst of the worst cooking in these areas and makes fun of things like Lutefisk and Russian beet salad and the like. Now, I’m not a fan of these foods either, but the dick level is pretty high up in this season and he’s very condesending to a lot of these people, some of which are first generation immigrants and he’s mocking their cultural hertiage. Far be it from me to disparage a person for making fun of Minnesota, but at least when I do it I do over the top generalizations rather than specific ethnic remarks.

Besides these issues with Alton (that really only crop up in this series. I’m not sure if he was suffering from burnout or what, but this is totally outside his usual personality), I really liked seeing all these old time mom and pop eating places that have survived for a while. It’s great to see these places that are ignored by the majority of Americans and their love for chain dining to proudly promote their classic recipes that have been handed down for generations. This is what eating out should be about.

I’ll keep this, but it really is on the cusp. However, it stays if only because the set is hard to find and I got it during a crazy deal.

Is It Worth Keeping? Barely
Rating: 5.5/10

DVD of the Day #333 - The Lurking Fear

Saturday, November 28th, 2009

Oh my, do I have a soft spot for Full Moon films. SubSpecies Blood Dolls and The Dead Hate The Living are my favourites, but I don’t think i could ever bring myself to own any of Charles Band’s other films, this one included. Yes, they’re purposely comedy-horror, but most of them are so bad, they’re for watching once and mocking for the rest of your life.

Originally this was meant to be a Stuart Gordon film, but there were issues between him and Band so he was replaced as director by one of the scriptwriters. The film actually boasrs a pretty good horror movie cast. Ashley Lawrence, Jeffery Combs, and Paul Mantee are just some of the cast that help to make the film fun.

For a B-Movie film, this isn’t too bad. It’s definitely got a higher budget than most Full Movie films, and for a movie where 85% of the action takes place on the same backdrop of a creepy church, things manage to move nicely.

This film is based on a serial by H.P. Lovecraft and by based I mean, it is very very loosely related to the original story. Lovecraft purists should stay the hell away from this just for that reason. The original story is about a young man learning that his isolationist family has devolved into monkey-men over the years. Here, the monkey-men are replaced by ghouls that live under a church and graveyard and eat people. There’s also the MacGuffin of a dead body stuffed with hundred dollar bills bring the main character and a triad of bad guys to the graveyard (seperately of course) in addition to ghoul hunters who are there because one of that crew had their sister eaten by one.

What follows is entertaining crap and pretty good ghoul costumes for an early 90’s B-movie. Is it a good movie? God no. It’s a FULL MOON MOVIE. You either love Charles Band for making awful crap or you utterly hate the guy. There’s not much room for leeway there.

As Full Moon movies go, this is one of the better ones. It’s not a good movie by any means, but if you’re a fan of cheesy low budget horror, there’s a lot worse out there than this one.

Is It Worth Keeping? No.
Rating: 4/10

DVD of the Day #332 - Wonder Woman: The Animated Movie

Friday, November 27th, 2009

I was a bit hesitant to ever see this as the militant Wonder Woman fans I know wish everyone involved in this production a slow and painful death. However, a friend of mine suggested I see it after watching Green Lantern: First Flight, so I decided to Netflix it. I’m glad I did, as the film isn’t worth being in my permanent collection, but holy shit if it wasn’t funny.

The movie follows the plot of the Silver Age Wonder Woman where Steve Trevor crash lands by accident on Paradise Island which is populated only by women. Not just any women either, but Amazons, power warrior-queens devoted to the Greek Gods. Here he meets Diana who is intrigued by the thought of other lands, even if they are populated by men, so she decides to compete in the Amazon games under a mask to earn the right to accompany Steve back to Man’s World. There’s also the plot about Ares escaping his prison in Paradise Island and trying to destroy the world with the help of undead amazons.

Truthfully the overall story isn’t that great. It’s a pretty generic Wonder Woman story that is highlighted by the equivalent of Porky’s references. A great example is when Steve Trevor is ensared in the lasso of truth by Hippolyta (Wonder Woman’s mom) and asked to say what he is thinking he says, “Your daughter has a great rack.” It’s things like that that make the movie enjoyable, but it’s also obvious why the Womynists hate this movie so much. The voice acting isn’t very good either. Everyone is pretty wooden and Artemis, is obviously voiced by a black woman even though she’s a pale skined redhead. That kind of ruins things a bit.

As a rental, this was fun but there’s no way I’d buy this. There’s a lot of death, which is a bit offputting and the end of the movie is pretty insipid, but for a one-shot it was an amusing waste of an hour.

Is It Worth Keeping? No, but it was worth watching
Rating: 5.5/10

DVD of the Day #331 - Trick r Treat

Thursday, November 26th, 2009

I have to say, I first saw this using Netflix, but I ended up loving the movie so much, I used part of an Amazon gift certificate to buy this film. It was that fun.

I should point out that even though Trick r Treat is a horror anthology film, it is neither scary nor gory. Instad it’s simply very dark. Thre is a lot of death and even some supernatural elements. However, it really should be PG-13 rather than R, but the censors have a problem with children being hacked up, it appears.

The movie entails five short stories that are non linear and yet intertwined. You also can see Brian Singer’s handiwork as both brian Cox and Anna Paquin have starring roles here. You have the story of a principal, the story of undead cannibal retard children, the story of a man who loves hallowe’en and his wife who hates it, the story of a young girl trying to find that special someone, and finally you have the story of an old man and an odd little boy named Sam Hain. This last story is my least favourite of the five, but it’s still awesome if only for a reference to “No beer and no TV makes Homer go something something.”

It’s a damn shame this didn’t see a cinematic release, as it would have done killer at the box office from word of mouth alone. Still, finally having it on DVD is better than never having it at all and it’s a must see for all horror fans. This is certainly one to watch at your yearly Hallowe’en get-together.

Is it Worth Keeping? YES
Rating: 8/10

DVD of the Day #330 - 100 Feet

Wednesday, November 25th, 2009

Only 35 of these left to do and I’m free! NEVER AGAIN.

Anyway, I netflixed this puppy and was expected a really bad horror film, but what I got was a dark disturing slow moving film I actually liked…until the last ten minutes when the window opened up and stupidity came flying in.

Famke Jannsen is the wife of an abusive dirty cop she happened to murder to save herself from a deadly beating. She was sentenced to prison, but has recently been allowed to come home on house arrest. Too bad the house is haunted by the ghost of her crazy shithead husband who the cops protected because he was one of their own. This was not just a horror film with a ghost. It was more about the ghost of spousal abuse that lingers on even after the victim has escaped. What it does to you inside and out. Of course, this being a horror movie, it’s also demonstrated by having an actual ghost administer spectral beatings to his wife. The ghost is really well done and sometimes the film is hard to watch simply because the violence is realistic and the excuses Marnie gives for what happened to her face are all too common. it was really well done and properly spooky.

Until the last ten minutes when the ghost goes bat shit and kills her new lover in slow and very agonizing ways with really good special effects. I could live with this because an abusive crazy husband with power issues probably would kill his “property’s” new lover. Then the ghost causes the body to fall through the floor when cops are visting marnie on a routine check-up, basically sending her back to jail on another murder charge. This would have been a great, but very depressing ending. Sadly they tacked on more crazy ghost violence and it killed the movie for me as the ghost just went totally nuts.

Had they cut out the last ten minutes, this would have been a good but hard to watch movie ala The Girl next Door. Instead it kind of kills itself at the end, which is sad.

Is It Worth Keeping? No, but that’s why I netflixed it
Rating: 5.5/10`

DVD of the Day #329 - PCU

Tuesday, November 24th, 2009

PCU was the 1990’s version of Animal House. Also the crazy Clinton-era level of PC had ebbed since then, it’s still a hilarious (and oft-quoted movie) film and it’s Jeremy Piven’s at his best. Even better than the film though is Piven’s commentary where he spends most of it in a drunken tirade against the director. Shades of Mr. S and the Conan: The Barbarian faux pas.

PCU tells the story of “The Pit” which are the wacky kids on campus at Port Chester University. They’re the kids there to have funny and do the usual college wacky antics while everyone else is grim and trying to save their world in their own little way, be it Womynsts, vegans, black separatists or Republicans. Eventually the Republicans team with the extremely liberal dean of student to get the pit shut down, and it’s up to Droz, Gutter, and the rest to save their house and keep from getting expelled.

The movie’s plot isn’t that great, but the dialogue and stupidity is. I can quote lines like “You’re wearing the t-shirt of the band you’re going to go see? Don’t be that guy Gutter. Don’t be that guy.” and if you’ve seen the movie, it’s hilarious. Otherwise it’s just kind of there hanging. Same with “We’re not gonna protest.”

As much as I love this film, it’s only for a niche audience. For example, I showed it to Elisa back in 2002 and she didn’t laugh once. She didn’t get it. Of course, she’s British and College here is so totally different from University there. Of course she didn’t get it. She couldn’t. If I show this to another college hellraiser like myself, and they’ll love it because it’s so much like shit they or I did in college. Ah the dogfucker incident…early hacking at it’s finest.

Overall, this is a film to see if only because it’s PCU. You probably have though, as Comedy Central ran it into the ground for a few years by playing it constantly. It’s not great, but it’s fun, especially when you’re tired or sick. That’s what counts.

Is It Worth Keeping? Yes
Rating: 7/10

DVD of the Day #328 - The Spectacular Legacy of the AWA

Monday, November 23rd, 2009

I loved the AWA as a kid. Even with the crappy production values and weird decisions on who to push, it had Stan Hansen and Sgt. Slaughter! It had the Freebirds, Baron Von Rashke and Curt Hennig. These guys called the Midnight Rockers and their arch-enemies Badd Company. I loved seeing the AWA live and it really hit me as a kid when it died.

I’m not going to cover the matches here as they’re only really worth watching if you’re a longtime AWA fan. Otherwise you just won’t get them or care about them. Still, it has Ventura Vs. Von Rashke which is a match I’ve never seen before.

If you’re an AWA fan. then this is a great look at why the company was once the biggest in the US and why it died a horrible, horrible death. It’s great fun to see who was pushed and why and all the controversy that surrounded a lot of title changes. Quite simply Verne should have let other people book and his unwillingness to adapt killed the company. It’s a shame too, because when the AWA was firing all cyllanders, it was amazing.

This is only worth watching if you are an AWA fan, which is pretty much just going to be people in the Midwest, but this is probably the second best documentary WWE has done save for The Rise and Fall of ECW.

Is it Worth keeping? yes
Rating: 7/10

DVD of the Day #327 - Justice League: The New Frontier (HD DVD)

Sunday, November 22nd, 2009

Man, it’s been a while since I removed a HD DVD, eh? Eh, I felt like watching this while writing a review. It’s short and fun and I got to remind myself how amazing animation looks on HD DVD.

This 75 minute movie at the dawn of the Silver Age of comic, right after the Korean War. It’s based off of Darwyn Cook’s graphic novel, which is turn was one big metaphor for why socialism and/or communism is evil. Okay then. All your classic super heroes are here, although the main character is Hal Jordan followed closely by Barry Allen and Martian Manhunter. Wonder Woman, Superman and Batman all have supporting roles, but they are by no means main characters. The film is what you would expect abou the 1950’s. A lot of anti-communism, fear of nuclear war, fear of anything that isn’t white and Protestant. Fear fear fear. Super heroes are regarded as creepy vigilantes and the Justice Society has had to disband for refusing to reveal their identities to the House’s Unamerican Activities crew.

At the same time a creature with amazing cosmic and mental powers called The Center (because it lives in the center of the earth) awakens and decided humanity needs to be wiped out before they nuke the whole planet and kill all life on Earth. Yet, it’s considered the bad guy even though it is rather in the right. So all the super heros get together and kill it, thuis proving its fears correct.

It’s a fun film as long as you just look at it as entertaining crap. The entire premise and concept is a bit pants though. The animation style looks just like the graphic novel which is a lot of fun and a big departure from the usual DCAU. It’s not the best film they’ve done, but it’s worth keeping for the documentaries and overall fun nature of the film.

Is It Worth Keeping?Yep
Rating: 6/10

DVD of the Day #326 - Nova: Who Killed the Red Baron?

Saturday, November 21st, 2009

Well, it wasn’t Snoopy. I can’t tell you how shocked I was at that one.

Seriously though, I love Nova. This one hour documentary was basically a biopic on the most feared and respected pilot of World War I and how he died a day before retirement. Man, that’s like a TV Trope, isn’t it? Although the narrator was dry and the presentation was dull at times. The last half of the documentary actually covered the titular topic, pointing out that the man who claimed to have killed the Red Baron couldn’t have due to trajectory, timing, location, size of the wound, and so on. Altjough the documentary doesn’t give us a clear answer, it says the front runner is some Australian guy, but they don’t really go into why or how. As such, this was a bit of a dissapointment, but the first half with the strong look at the life and times of the Red Baron and why he was so infamous was great. it’s too bad they didn’t just stick with that.

Is It Worth Keeping? No
Rating: 5/10