COMING SOON...

COMING SOON...

THE HOT ROCK, CINDERELLA LIBERTY, ART SCHOOL CONFIDENTIAL and DISTANT VOICES STILL LIVES

Saturday, April 16, 2011

HUSK: CORNFIELD KILLINGS

A few years back the After Dark Film Fest began. It started with 8 films shown over 8 nights, horror films that might not have seen release had it not been for this small fest. And from the start it was hit or miss, some good and some not so good horror films. But when they were good they were some of the best horror films to be seen, many small films without major studio budgets or push, but scary none the less. Among the current releases to DVD, HUSK proves to be one of the scary ones.

A group of friends are off for a weekend trip (aren’t they always?). Brian (Wes Chatham) and Natalie (Tammin Sursock) are the couple of the four, together for a while now. Chris (C.J. Thomason) is the smart aleck, the party animal of the group, somewhat jealous at what he feels is the loss of his best friend Brian. Rounding out the group is Scott (Devon Gray), the glasses wearing nerd of the pack, ready for some fun and to finally find a girl over the weekend.

As they head to a weekend of partying on the beach of some lake, they travel down a dirt road that passes between row upon row of corn. When a freak bird attack busts up their windshield causing them to wreck their car, Brain and Scott go in search of help. From the roof of the car they think they see a house and head that direction. Remaining behind, Chris and Natalie form a truce and wait for their friends until Natalie see what she thinks is a boy in the cornfield (no one has heard of Stephen King in one of these movies). Heading that direction she is dragged off by something unseen while Chris chases after.

Reuniting with Brian and Scott they determine something is not right. Worried that something terrible is happening with Natalie, Brian sets off to find her. In the meantime Scott has visions of what is going on, relating back to the original owners of the farmhouse and a troubled young man who gets involved in evil rituals involving the scarecrows seen on the farm. As a person falls victim to the evil and is killed, it takes possession of their body and transforms them into the physical manifestation in the field.

Filled with all sorts of jump moments and creepy visuals, HUSK is scary at times offering a nice mix of in your face portions with skin crawling scenes. There have been other films to use the whole scarecrow as a scary killing character, but this one adds a new twist in their formation and makes them seem perhaps a bit more chilling. The film seems to pull minor ideas from other films but not enough to be called a rip off. Instead, it pulls those ideas together in a new and different way that makes it a story unto itself.

The acting here for what some would consider unknowns is believable and each actor makes the role their own. The photography is great considering much of the story takes place at night in the dark. Too many good horror films have been ruined by not being able to see anything. That’s not the case here. When something is hidden from view its due to the director wanting that, not an incompetent director of photography.

The weakest portion of the movie might be the jump into the whole inter-relationship story. It doesn’t slowly unfold, we find ourselves in the middle of it and have to assume so much so fast. It’s not enough of a problem to ruin the film, but for some that might seem too contrived to suit them.

On the whole this is a satisfying horror film with a touch of gore, a nice story and a great villain that gives you shivers. So turn out the lights, pop in this DVD and prepare for a nice scare. If you dare.

WHITNEY CUMMINGS-MONEY SHOT: ON THE MONEY

Comedian Whitney Cummings suddenly appeared on the scene out of nowhere. My guess is this isn’t quite true as most comics tend to work the clubs, get noticed and then the more fortunate ones gain a TV or cable special before they’re well know. The first time I saw Cummings was one of the Comedy Central roasts and I had no idea who she was. She was funny but nothing prepared me for her stand up special MONEY SHOT.

As with all comedians Cummings tosses out expletives but anyone watching comedy should expect that by now. While its there throughout it never comes off as being tossed in for shock value. With that out of the way, let’s discuss her comedy because she is absolutely hilarious.

Kicking off discussing her sex life via reading Cosmopolitan Cummings immediately notes how ridiculous the ideas presented there can be. Everything from making your man scream (“this is so…gay”) to role playing, Cummings takes aim at the ideas presented there and how they just don’t match reality. From there she moves on to men’s fantasies of women as strippers to a friend who made a sex tape. No, she doesn’t get vulgar (though her language does at time); she actually demonstrates how over the top some of these ideas can be. For some her reference to men’s genitalia may seem risqué but once more she’s on the mark when discussing people’s point of view on the subject.

She moves on to relationships and tops it off discussing the “silent treatment” that women give their men. Telling them that this is not a punishment, she offers an alternative that I’m sure many men would dread but that once more is perfect in the idea she conveys in a funny fashion. Yes ladies, the idea offered will work.

Cummings discusses how relationships make people go insane, in particular women. Not being a woman I can’t say she’s right like I know it to be true, but from experience I can see where some of the points she makes are dead on. Then again she misses the fact that guys can be just as crazy, though perhaps not as sneaky (her idea, not mine folks).

Relationships seem to be the main focus throughout the special seen here as Cummings discusses everything from breakups to new romance. And she makes you laugh from start to finish. She never feels sorry for herself but makes you think that even with the ups and downs she may have experienced it at least provided her with new material.

Romance leads to her discussion of films and how they present the most false ideas about romance that exists. Taking on the TWILIGHT phenomena she points out how ridiculous turning this into a romantic idea is but at the same time considers how nice it would be to date a vampire. The comedic riffs she offers this topic will inspire laughs rather than longing for Robert Pattinson.

But women’s ideas of romance aren’t all she talks about. She goes into a piece discussing porn and how men love it and women don’t. She lays it on the line and lets the audience know that in watching porn women can discover where their men come up with the weird ideas they have in the bedroom. Her version of porn is an hour and a half of cuddling ending with a man proposing.

Cummings is an attractive woman who takes numerous shots at herself throughout, referring to her figure as boy like. Truth be told she needn’t do so and presents an engaging smile to go along with a dynamic sense of humor. I’ve since seen her on CHELSEA LATELY but have yet to figure out why we haven’t seen more of her than this special.

The most difficult thing about describing this DVD is in not revealing the best jokes, the belly busters, and yet trying to convince you how funny this woman is. Trust me; you will laugh if you watch this DVD. You will discuss portions with your friends later. And you’ll have spent your money wisely in renting this one.




MAN MOVIES: WHERE EAGLES DARE

I’ve noticed in posting these “man movies” that many are war films. While at first I thought this might seem odd I soon realized that most “chick flicks” are romances so I guess there’s something to be said about the way genders look at film, eh?

Released in 1968, WHERE EAGLES DARE was based on the best selling novel of the same name by author Alistair MacLean. Having written THE GUNS OF NAVARONE (another man movie if there ever was one), the film is set during WWII. Intelligence brings in Maj. Jonathan Smith (Richard Burton) and a team of soldiers that includes American Lt. Morris Schaffer (Clint Eastwood) for a covert mission. It seems that a general has been captured by the Nazis and is being interrogated. This same general has information concerning D-Day that mustn’t fall into their hands. The goal of this team is to rescue the general before he can say anything.

Of course in the best tradition of movies from the time, the rescue isn’t the main mission going on here. After landing they discover one of the team with his neck broken, apparently from a mishap when he parachuted in. Not so. Burton is the only member of the team who knows the truth behind the mission and the reason that an American was included on the team. One of the commandoes involved is a traitor.

Posing as German soldiers, the team splits and heads to town to meet with agents already in place. Burton and Eastwood keep together while the others are picked up. Now they not only have the general to rescue but the other members as well. To do so they’ll have to get to the mountainside fortress where they are being held, a fortress only accessible via the cable cars that go to and from.

The pair makes it to the castle along with the agents already on the scene. The discovery of the traitors plays out quite well with a double double cross in the works that helps move things along. And once the traitor is revealed and the general in hand, all that remains is to escape the fortress and avoid the Nazis in place there and at the terminal where the cable car will end. Sounds simple, right?

The action is well placed here, never making the film non-stop but mixed with enough story to keep it all together as a well told tale. Burton does a great job as the stand up English sort while Eastwood uses the laid back style of acting he’s noted for to perfection. These are two different sorts of characters as well as actors, but they work off one another to great effect here.

The photography is marvelous and the locations amazing. You feel the cold of the snow covered mountains, even more so during a battle on top of the cable cars near the film’s end. Its one of those moments that stays with you, a classic scene.

Yes, once again men are men, women are women and the hero saves the day. There’s plenty of bloodshed, plenty of bullets flying and lots of action in this film. But as I said, it has more story than most which just adds to the greatness of the film. It seems this is a forgotten treasure of sorts that I hope you’ll take the time to rediscover. You’ll find yourself entertained and rooting for the good guys all the way.

As something new I'm going to attempt to include the trailers for some of these films. Let me know what you think.