I return again to the special plane of suffering known as made for TV Christmas movies. In this place, you will find alcoholics, children who talk like creepy adults, homely love interests, and D-List celebrities. In this particular movie, JD's brother from Scrubs is Nick Snowden, an Ersatz Santa Claus. The homely love interest is Sandy, a maladjusted zoo employee in California.
Whoo boy. This one really takes the bad storytelling cake. Picture if you will, a world where a professional hunter can not only capture a wild reindeer instead of transporting the deer requested from a farm by the zoo with dodgy paperwork with no repercussions, but can also harass, stalk and in many other ways be a complete creepy lunatic and no one calls the police or so much as pushes him away. Picture a world where a woman can display a regular fondness for Christmas but become an inexplicable angry wench when someone takes Christmas decorations that she has stored in the attic and put them on display in her lawn and around the boarding house she resides in for no good reason (my family really loved Christmas and they died is not a good reason.). A world where a spinster rejects the compliments and advances of a charming single man and treats him like a stalker for daring to compliment her. Picture a world where the mythical North Pole is simultaneously not of this world and very literally part of this world. Imagine in you can, a child who actively hits on a 30-something woman. Are you bothered yet? The people responsible for this movie want you to find this all whimsical and good holiday fun.
This movie is so aggressively stupid that I started to believe it had achieved awareness and malevolence and was actively trying to hurt me because I knew things and kept trying to insist logic and sense should exist within its framework, but my protests were drowned in a sea of poorly timed slapstick, awkward romantic tension, and forced drama. I knew that I had begun my descent into madness anew when the hunter contacted a poaching hobbyist so that he could sell him the rights to shoot a flying reindeer rather than reveal the animal's nature to the world at large and sell it to research or charge circuses to showcase it, or literally ANY other thing you can do with a flying reindeer that you have caged for ready transport and the money and means to do said transporting. No, forget that. I knew where I was when Ugly Mcvacantsmile got all ticked off about the Christmas decorations. Also the CG in this movie is completely laughable and the soundtrack hurt my sanity points directly with no saving throw.
Christina Milan AGAIN? Jeez, did she lose a bet or something? Anyway, this ABC Family original gets bonus points for having significantly less booze flowing about than others I have seen. Milan plays Angela Moreno, who lives in an apartment owned by her family and working in her family's butcher shop. Her mom is Italian and her dad is black, and her sister doesn't look anything but white. Whatever. Angie's family is worse than the "Worst Family in England" sketch that Monty Python did. Her family wanders in and out of her apartment putting whatever they feel like in there without so much as a glance in her direction, they make plans regarding her life without consulting her, and they leave when they feel like it and keep the volume on the TV as loud as they can stand it. There is even a subplot about her pregnant sister being treated better because she is married-to a deadbeat who shows no desire to actually get a job and take care of his growing family. Angie is- horror of horrors!- SINGLE! And in an ABC Family Christmas movie no less! There is one apartment in their building that has a frequent turnover as Angie's mom puts up young single men there to marry Angie off.
Okay, so there's this magic snowglobe. Angie shakes it and thinks about it and is transported inside to the pastoral village depicted therein. There just aren't any people who are more into Christmas than these folks...yet somehow they know nothing of Christ. This is a plot point. The people in the village are empty-headed, Pleasantville, Stepford Smiling, drones. Angie thinks this village is just TOPS. She spends more and more time there and time keeps on passing in the real world while she is there and finally when she isn't around to walk over, her family care, but just so they can guilt her about being inconsiderate. I'm serious here. She meets up with a guy there who shovels the snow and goes ice skating with a girl in town. Angie starts seeing him a bunch and makes the ice skater girl jealous. Angie also begins to build a relationship with the current "potential husband loft" resident who is an aspiring architect.
In the third act the snowglobe guy somehow comes out of the globe and wants to spend time with Angie in the real world, which prompts her to ask if he's having some sort of existential crisis knowing that he lives in a snowglobe and he doesn't bat an eye. The girlfriend shows up too, and forced drama all around, and the snowglobe falls and gets damaged, and I feel asleep a few times watching this one. Luckily Cheffiepie was there to fill me in.
They repair the snowglobe with pieces of other snowglobes and send everyone home, and she moves in with architect guy in the next apartment down the street and no one learns anything. God bless us, everyone! This movie is dull, annoying, and dull. I really hate this movie.
In the Tradition of Gold, comes another serious gamer show
So many independent-made shows by and for gamers are comedies. This is not. This is a serious drama. Some may call it melodramatic, and maybe that's true. Most tabletop gamers are adults, and while the comedies that have been made have their place and most of them are good fun, I like that we have a mature, serious alternative if we want it. The acting is solid and the world is populated with believable characters. Some of them are downright unlikable.
Know what you getting into and you will likely enjoy yourself.
Night of the Zombie King takes place during the events of Gold: the Series. Old friends reunite to tackle the game module that had lain unfinished after a night when many of them parted ways. The night in question is spoken of in infamy and with lots of pain and repressed feelings. The gang is back together now, years later and the game master has preserved all of their character sheets and marked their place in the module.
Can they pick up where they left off and be the friends they once were? Or, will the misdeeds of their past prove too much for their friendship to bear?
You gotta believe! This parody/homage is filled with humor beginning with the menu screen. The music is fun and well made.
P. Rappa (Chad Williams also of PBC Productions) wants to win the heart of his friend Sunny Funny, but he lacks the confidence and must earn his "Thug License" to prove to himself and Sunny that he is a real man...er, puppy. He must train with four rap masters to earn his license and then he must compete in the rap battle.
References to Parappa the Rapper abound and also not to be missed are a dancing Vin Diesel poster (Yes, really), and Cheap Cheap who is channeling the Ultimate Warrior.
Aaron Spelling produces a soap opera about vampires
If you are a fan of Vampire: the Masquerade you will be disappointed and annoyed. The clans of the Camarilla are there, but the notable things that distinguish them are mostly missing, every kindred can shape shift in this universe and all of the "really" cool clans are gone. No Malkavians, no Sabbat, no Independents, no Tremere, and Nosferatu are just bald with funny shaped ears. People who aren't fans will find a decent soap opera-type show with iffy acting and cool vampire intrigue stuff, but overall this series is a disappointment and I just want to know who to blame. The music is very good, and the opening is fantastic. I would love to see something done with a closer eye to the correct continuity, but that will never happen.
What if someone started actually distributing snuff films?
Cheap is a film about an amateur porn director who decides that there is no more innovation in the world of erotic film. He has a stroke of inspiration--actual snuff films. The dialogue in this movie is spot on, but the acting is hit and miss. There are good actors, and there are bad actors in this movie. The picture quality is poor, but I think that lends to the charm and is thematically appropriate. The audio is a bit quiet and a little crackly and fuzzy. This again, is appropriate to the sleazy cheap film theme. It is explicit and sleazy and showcases the dark side of humanity unlike any pulp novel you may have read. It disturbed me a time or two and that is saying something. Likable characters are few, but that is of a necessity. We're not dealing with a mainstream film here.
Overall, I was entertained throughout. I didn't get bored. I don't exactly like the movie though. I do not mean to say it is without merit, but it is not my kind of story. Were I the target audience, I would rate it higher. This is a movie by Brad Jones, a proclaimed lover of exploitation films, and it is made for fans of exploitation films. As it is, I'll break it down.
Cinematography and camera work is solid. It does precisely what is needed. 3/5.
Dialogue and writing is good. The characters behave in a believable fashion, and talk like real people talk. The dialogue is engaging, even though the characters are rarely likable. 4/5.
The soundtrack is a very nice touch. The music is bubblegum 50s pop rock and it creates such a contrast to the story as to be downright jarring, yet at the same time it makes sense. People are achieving their dreams and you feel their excitement. 3.5/5.
Overall, I give Cheap a solid 3/5. I recommend it, even if you only watch it once. Shadowdancer out!
The World of Madness is gaining new residents daily.
Akai Hayate is one of those forgotten gems of the VHS era. This film has a fantastic cast of characters and a powerful soundtrack. Akai Hayate tells the story of a group controlling Japan from behind the scenes using ninja with supernatural powers and the ability to awaken "Shadow Armor" that gives them added power and shows their affiliation with a certain animal as well. Hayate, our protagonist, flees with his sister after being hunted for the murder of his father, which he swears he did not commit. While in hiding, he is near death from wounds sustained in battle. He swears to defend his sister with his last breath and uses an esoteric art to transfer his soul into her body so that he may "posess" her in times of need and use his fighting skills to defend her from the forces of their enemies. This is a great mini-series and gets my full seal of approval!