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Rambo is back, but does anyone care?

The trailer for the new Rambo flick (ingeniously titled “Rambo”) has finally hit the net, and I can’t tell whether the movie is supposed to be a follow-up to the third film in the popular action series or a sequel to “The Pacifier.” In it, John Rambo plays babysitter to a group of Christian missionaries after they’re kidnapped in Thailand. Along with his trusty knife, bow and cliched dialogue (“Live for nothing, or die for something” – seriously?), the Vietnam vet wreaks havoc on the savage Burmese mercenaries.

Sylvester Stallone has gone on record as saying that the reason the film wasn’t titled “John Rambo” (like “Rocky Balboa,” which signified the end of a franchise), is because he’s still very much open to making more. Too bad. If this trailer is any indication – not to mention it’s January release date – they should have quit while they were ahead.

Click here to check out the trailer, and then come back to let us know what you think.

You can follow us on Twitter @moviebuffs and on Facebook as well.

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Scare(s) of the Day: “Vincent Price: MGM Scream Legends Collection”

It’s a long scary day ’round my place, as I celebrate the final Scare of the Day for October by working my way through MGM’s awesome new box dedicated to that legendary scare-master, Vincent Price. I’ve actually been tackling one or two of these films as I’ve had the time, but I wanted to make sure they were all knocked out by the end of the day, so rather than wait ’til the wee hours to get this thing posted, I’m just going to update it as I go. I’ll make the acknowledgment right off the bat, however, that this is no way intended to be a comprehensive collection of all things Price; in fact, without even trying, I can think of half a dozen other horror films on his resume which are part of MGM’s Midnite Movies catalog. Does that mean we’ll get a “Volume 2″ come next Halloween…? We can only hope.

Tales of Terror – Price found himself in the midst of Edgar Allan Poe adaptations plenty of times within his career, but few are more enjoyable than this trio of tales, directed and produced by the inestimable Roger Corman.

Though he’s teamed with Peter Lorre and Basil Rathbone in the second and third segments, respectively, it’s in the first – “Morella” – where Price is truly the star. He plays Locke, a man who has spent decades mourning the death of his wife, who died in childbirth. When Lenora, the child in question, returns home after an absence of many years, she’s shocked to find the family mansion in disarray and her father but a shadow of the man he once was; of course, she’s even more shocked when she finds that Daddy’s been keeping the decomposing corpse of Mommy lying around for all this time. Somehow, father and daughter manage to reconcile, but in the end, it’s Moms who gets the last laugh.

The best of the three segments is unquestionably “The Black Cat,” which finds Lorre taking the lead role as Montresor Herringbone, a drunken lout who proves that just because you’re a drunk and a lout doesn’t mean you can’t be a clever – and deadly – son of a bitch. The entire story is played far more for laughs than horror, but the final shot is gleefully gruesome. Lorre goes all out with his drunk routine, though he probably had little choice in the matter if he wanted to match Price’s vigorously slimy performance as Fortunato, a pretentious wine connoisseur who ends up sleeping with Herringbone’s wife, the gorgeous Annabel (played by the gorgeous Joyce Jameson); the scene where Herringbone and Fortunato have a wine taste-off is, in and of itself, worth owning the film…if not this entire box set.

Though “The Black Cat” inspires quite a few chuckles, “The Facts in the Case of M. Valdemar” leads one to believe that Corman prefers to leave his viewers screaming rather than laughing. Here, Price plays the title character, a dying man who decides to provide a mesmerist by the name of Carmichael (Rathbone) with the opportunity of a lifetime: to hypnotize him at the moment of his death, to see if his passing can be prolonged via hypnotic suggestion. The experiment proves only half-successful; Valdemar remains in a half-dead / half-alive state, where his body is gone but his mind lives on, trapped within the lifeless vessel. Valdemar’s wife, Helen (Deborah Paget), and his longtime friend, Dr. Elliot James, demand that Carmichael release his subject, but Carmichael refuses, calling it the opportunity of a lifetime, providing him with the chance to find out what lies beyond this plane of existence. (You will not be shocked to discover that Carmichael soon gets the chance to learn about it first hand.) Rathbone is good and evil in his role, and Price’s ghostly voiceover is suitably spooky, making for a nice and creepy finale to three consistently enjoyable scares.

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Scare of the Day: “Voodoo Moon”

I gotta tell you, I haven’t a clue how long this has been sitting around my office, waiting to be reviewed; worse, my wife watched it when it first got here, and she can’t remember how long ago that was. The best I can offer you is that it was originally released on October 3, 2006, so we’re almost certainly looking at an entire year…and while I realize that I should feel embarrassed about the fact that it’s been loitering around here for so long, the best defense I have is that it’s a Sci-Fi Channel original film, and, statistically, those things are generally best left unwatched.

In the case of “Voodoo Moon,” I’ll at least say this: it’s a far cry from being the worst Sci-Fi Channel original film that I’ve ever seen. In fact, at times, it feels like a cross between “Fallen” (the Denzel Washington flick which probably blew most of its budget just to license The Rolling Stones’ “Time Is On My Side”) and “The Crow,” though the latter comparison probably only comes into play because the film’s lead, Eric Mabius (“Resident Evil”), walks around wearing a long black trenchcoat for the majority of the movie.

Mabius plays Cole, who basically spends his life practicing voodoo and hunting demons, one of which – a dark fellow named Daniel (Rik Young) – keeps popping back into our realm when he’s not wanted. Daniel’s been a thorn in Cole’s side for years, growing stronger each time he returns, and, now, he’s back for a final battle. To draw as much strength as possible, Cole draws together a group of folks he’s helped over the years, and they’re more than willing to step up and help him defeat Daniel. Also in the mix is Cole’s sister, Heather, played by Charisma Carpenter; it’s pretty clear that Carpenter didn’t have to stretch much to play this role, which has her reacting to things in much the same way she did when she played Cordelia Chase on “Buffy the Vampire Slayer” and “Angel.” John Amos (“Good Times”) plays a biker buddy of Cole’s, and there are also appearances from horror flick stalwarts like Dee Wallace Stone and Jeffrey Combs. Amos is great, but that’s also probably the least surprising revelation about the film, given that he’s usually entertaining in any role; Combs, however, is part of the most entertaining subplot of the film, playing one of Cole’s cronies who gets killed on his way to assist him but refuses to let little things like death or rigor mortis get in the way of doing his part. Young is pretty entertaining with his portrayal of the evil Daniel, too:

As with any Sci-Fi Channel flick, there are plenty of moments which will inspire you to yell at the screen because of their stupidity, but Jenn – my wife and my regular “Scare of the Day” viewing companion – became very vocal about her issues with a small moment in the movie. It occurred when Heather stepped into the hallway of the hotel where she and Cole were staying, only to get immediately stabbed in the leg with a fork by an old woman who’d been possessed by Daniel. Heather’s reaction was basically, “Ow, that hurt,” taking it pretty much in stride when Cole yanked out the fork. “Oh, my God!” yelled Jenn. “You would so NOT act like you’ve just gotten a slap on the leg if you’d been stabbed by a fork!” This really, really bothered my wife. Later in the film, Heather accidentally cuts herself on a broken glass and barely holds it together, at which point Jenn yelled, “Suck it up! You took a fork in the leg…and I know that hurt worse than that!” I won’t waste your time or mine by regaling you with the other fork-related references made throughout the course of these 89 minutes, but suffice it to say that the issue was still going strong even as I was typing this paragraph.

The special effects range from the not-bad to the outrageously-crappy, with the battle royale between Cole and Daniel falling somewhere in-between the two poles, but probably the most annoying thing about “Voodoo Moon” is that it’s one of those movies where you’re always aware that there’s a good idea getting the shit kicked out of it by poor execution. The character of Cole is actually a rather interesting one, particularly the idea of a demon hunter who has a team of people he’s saved working with him (it reminds me of “The Shadow”), but the concept is wasted here.

Oh, well. It’s not like I had high expectations, anyway.

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Long live Goulet!

Why settle for Will Ferrell when you can have a jolly good laugh with the real thing?

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Goulet! is dead

Yes, it’s true. Robert Goulet is dead at 73, waiting for a lung transplant. Bobby had a rare form of pulmonary fibrosis. So long to you, sir. In tribute, here is Will Ferrell on “SNL” as Goulet.

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Journeyman 1.6: “Keepers”

This week’s installment of “Journeyman” was really hard to follow. There was so much going on, from pretty much every angle of the series as presented thus far, that unless you’ve been following the show from week to week, you’d have no idea what was going on. Yes, faithful viewers, the series has finally entered “The Continuity Zone.”

And that’s fine, because a series with a setup like this needs to go down these roads sooner rather than later. What’s frustrating is that the questions an average viewer has aren’t being answered: What’s Livia’s function?; Who’s behind Dan’s travels?; Is Dan restricted to traveling within the last 30 or so years?

The biggest problem with this episode was that it attempted to do so many things at once, and as a result left something of a hole in its core theme: The relationships between brothers. Dan found himself dealing with two brothers in the past that echoed the current gap in his relationship with his own brother, Jack. Aside from that, we saw references to the money stash last week, Katie trying to reignite her TV anchor career – which seems inexplicably ballsy given the life she’s been thrust into, and the assertion from a genius that time travel isn’t even possible. What does it all mean?

I did a little surfing and found an interview with creator Kevin Falls that was conducted last week. Go check it out by clicking here and then come back and see what I have to say.

Kevin Falls said: “Alex Graves and I are two guys who don’t believe in time travel, but we have a great respect for that genre.”

This hit me harder than anything else in the interview. Only the most involved of scientists and theorists are qualified to comment on the possibility of time travel, but I think the reason the genre survives is because of the romance that surrounds the premise. Why, as a showrunner, would you point out that you don’t even believe in the basis of your series? Do you at least believe in it insofar as the concept of the series allows? In qualifying your disbelief, does that inform viewers as to what they should expect as the series moves forward? I may be reading too much into Falls’ statement, but I can’t help but wonder what it means for “Journeyman” as a whole.

Kevin Falls said: “I think we owe it to the audience to find who Livia is, and who Dan is. I mean they were dating, and they are time travelers – why those two? That’s what we’re going to address in sweeps. You’ll know by episode 9, or actually 7 or 8 who Livia is. Then we’ll get into Langley and who he is up until episode 12, then god willing, towards the end of the season we’ll get into what this is all about in a global sense.”

So there’s a plan – a plan that involves the numerous elements we’ve been exposed to thus far. The Livia questions could be answered within the next two episodes. Langley, as I predicted, will be a major force. This is all great to know ahead of time, because there’s nothing worse than investing time in a series that ultimately fails to deliver. But frankly, statements about sweeps give me the cold shivers, even though I understand that’s how showrunners have to think.

Kevin Falls said: “I never watched ‘Quantum Leap’. I read the first 50 pages of ‘Time Traveler’s Wife’… “

Despite my constant comparisons to “Quantum Leap”, this doesn’t surprise me. But I think Falls and Graves could learn a lot by going back and checking out old episodes of THE series that did something of the same oh so successfully. My biggest criticisms thus far of “Journeyman” have been that I feel uninvested in Dan’s journeys outside of how they affect Dan and those close to him. Dan needs to be affected by those he comes into contact with and his journeys should mean more to him than “Another week, another leap”. That was always something “Quantum Leap” excelled at: You felt the weight of the travels on Sam Beckett’s shoulders.

Oh, don’t get me wrong – I love “Journeyman”, but you’ll not find a more critical time travel devotee than the guy who’s trying to guide you on these journeys [i.e. me]. When all is said and done, I expect this show will deliver, but I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t worried that it might not. Luckily, Falls seems to indicate that NBC loves the series, so here’s to hoping that they continue to stay behind it.

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Rule of thumb: “Sesame Street” is always hipper than non-parents think it is.

I’m working my way through the new “Twin Peaks” set, and during the feature-length documentary on the creation and history of the show, I was made aware of a tribute / parody that I’d never heard about: “Twin Beaks,” which aired as part of Cookie Monster’s “Monsterpiece Theater.”

Wow. Just…wow.

You know, this might well explain what’s wrong with today’s generation: they grew up watching stuff like this.

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Heroes 2.6 – One Less Bell To Answer

So Claire’s back, but Kristen Bell’s nowhere to be found. Is there some sort of ruling that the two can’t appear in the same episode? And as long as we’re asking questions, did cheers get dumber since I was in high school? I mean, they were never Shakespeare to begin with, but are they really busting rhymes about planting trees now…? Claire is so prone to being swayed by peer pressure…or, specifically, the words of one cute boy…that it’s a wonder she hasn’t been captured and utilized by The Company by now. Her avenging angel is clearly a man who’s in love with his power, but despite her concerns about his plan to get her onto the cheerleading squad, you can’t argue with the results.

HRG and Brother Voodoo are off chillin’ in the Ukraine, and it’s like Starsky and Hutch reunited. HRG is back to his bad-ass ways…and, worse, he’s intimidating the man who trained him in the first place. You know the guy’s not screwing around when he’s threatening to have Brother Voodoo removed all of his most treasured memories…and he starts with the day the guy met his wife! I like the ongoing comparison between Claire and HRG and how neither of them are being truthful to the other. And speaking of a lack of honesty, did anyone really think that Ivan was being truthful when he said that the company had changed…? Well, I guess it doesn’t matter now, after that “oh, shit” moment when HRG popped a cap right into Ivan’s forehead. (“That’s a hell of a powerful gun,” said my wife, when Ivan went flying backwards after the shot.)

Mohinder’s really between a rock and a hard place when the fate of Monica’s abilities are placed in his hands, but the big revelation is that Bob (Stephen Tobolowsky) isn’t just a bad-ass; he’s a DICK. When Mohinder finally snapped, I think it was fair to say that no-one believed Bob’s sudden recanting of his earlier threats toward Mohinder; Tobolowsky’s just too damned good at playing a complete skeeve, and Nikki’s appearance at the end of the episode was suitably ominous.

Sylar’s trying to sway Maya over to the dark side, but Alejandro’s not having any of it. To watch Sylar seem to soak up Maya’s power, though, was to witness sheer evil bliss, and his speech to Alejandro was downright chilling.

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Two girls one cup (reaction)

Forget about “scare of the day.” How about “gross out of a lifetime?” I was listening to Opie and Anthony’s show today on XM and they had a comedian on as a guest and were showing him some little web clip called “Two Girls One Cup.” It’s apparently really heinous, and no, even I have not bothered to disturb myself to the point of throwing up over and over as the comic was doing live on air. At any rate, it was mentioned that there were plenty of hilarious clips on YouTube of other people reacting to seeing the video, and indeed, this is some funny shiz. So here is one of the reaction clips for your amusement. Don’t worry, this is safe for work, no surprises pulled here. If you find this funny, you might want to look at some of the plenty of other reactions clips as well. Dig it.

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Scare of the Day: “Welcome to the Grindhouse: ‘Black Candles’ and ‘Evil Eye’”

Damn you, Quentin Tarantino and Robert Rodriguez! Damn you all to Hell!

I love those guys, don’t get me wrong, but it’s because of their “Grindhouse” flick that I received a couple of DVDs from BCI / Eclipse, each of which features two of the sort of exploitation films from the ‘70s and ‘80s that served as stylistic inspiration for “Planet Terror” and “Death Proof.” When I got them, I mistakenly thought that I might actually enjoy watching these old-school flicks and at least appreciate their kitsch value…and when I saw these descriptions, I thought, “This is Scare of the Day material if I’ve ever seen it.”

Black Candles: Carol and her boyfriend, Paul, travel to England after the unexpected death of her brother. Once there, she finds out her sister-in-law is involved in a satanic cult, and she finds out that Paul is being drawn into the cult.

Evil Eye: Peter Crane is having nightmares about murdering someone. His psychiatrist, Doctor Stone, has him hospitalized for being unable to differentiate between dream and reality. Soon, people start turning up dead at the hospital. Is Peter really a killer, or is there something more sinister afoot?

I…I don’t even know what to say about “Black Candles,” except that, despite the suggestion that this story is predominantly about a satanic cult, that aspect is quickly forgotten in the midst of more softcore sex scenes than you’d find on your average Saturday night on Skinemax. There’s oral sex, mutual masturbation, man on top, woman on top, orgies with not-terribly-attractive participants, guy on girl, girl on girl, girl on goat…and, yes, you read that right. A woman has sex with a freaking goat. I mean, you don’t really see anything, thank God, but let me assure you that it’s still no less disconcerting when she shifts from “ow, that hurts” into the unbridled throes of pleasure. In fact, I was reaching for the remote when the camera suddenly focused on the goat’s eyes, and the look made me laugh out loud. It was, like, “Dude, what the fuck?” (Yes, it’s confirmed: the idea of bestiality is just as weird for the beasts as it is for us.)

In between all of this sex, you’re left with a movie that’d be perfect if The Playboy Channel ever decided to do its own version of “Mystery Science Theater 3000,” with bad foreign dialogue dubbed into bad English dialogue. Once you take the goat out of the equation, the only remotely scary moment during the first hour of the film occurs when a face unexpectedly appears in a window, which is pretty pitiful for a movie about a satanic cult. Mind you, ten minutes before the movie ends, we do get a thoroughly revolting sequence where a greasy fat man gets a sword shoved right up the ol’ poop chute, but it’s hardly a moment that you’d describe as a saving grace. When the movie ends with the revelation that all of its events were just a dream, your only wish will be that you could say the same. Then again, I should’ve known this thing was going to suck just based on the fact that its original Spanish title literally translated into “The Sex Rites of the Devil”; anyone who wastes a perfect good title like that by changing it to “Black Candles” clearly doesn’t know the first thing about quality motion pictures.

On the flip side of the coin, “Evil Eye” is extremely entertaining…though, okay, it’s as much for the wrong reasons as for the right ones. There are some highly disconcerting moments here…and not the having-sex-with-a-goat-kind, but some legitimately creepy stuff. Unfortunately, there are also moments which are so awful that I’m still tempted to declare it to be one of the best bad movies I’ve seen in years. Frankly, it earned that honor with one line, then permanently secured it with another…but I’ll get to those in a moment.

As noted above, the film’s premise revolves around a rich playboy named Peter Crane (Jorge Rivero) who keeps having nightmares about having murdered people. Director Mario Siciliano, who was also responsible for “Happy Sex,” “Erotic Family,” and “Orgasmo Non-Stop,” somehow manages to resist his baser instincts and avoid incorporating too many sex scenes into the proceedings, even scoring several legitimately creepy moments over the course of the film’s 90+ minutes, but it’s the dialogue that dooms “Evil Eye.” Blame the melodramatic dubbing into English if you wish, but the lines themselves are the real killer here, such as when Peter complaints to his psychiatrist (played by Robert Conte, a.k.a. Don Brizio in “The Godfather”) that he’s having awful dreams. When he’s asked if he takes drugs, he snaps back, “No way, I don’t like that crap…unless you count whiskey and tobacco as drugs.”

My personal favorite amongst the film’s many completely surreal lines comes via this conversation, where Peter’s longtime paramour meets his psychiatrist’s lovely partner.

Tanya: Who’s the lady?
Peter: Dr. Sarah Turner, this is Tanya.
Tanya: Well, I don’t her very much.
Sarah: Yes, you’re probably just tuning in on my reaction to you.
Tanya: I do tune in on grand pianos.

Um, what?

“Evil Eye” is definitely a must-see film…as in, “You must see just how bad the dialogue is.” But unlike “Black Candles,” at least you won’t feel like you need a shower after watching it. I should mention, though, that the DVD offers the full “grindhouse” experience by providing the original trailers for other films in the series, and while I can’t say they necessarily look any better, they were enough of a hoot that I almost wanted to check them out.


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