Archive for Mary Elizabeth Winstead

Black Christmas (06) Review

Posted in Black Christmas (2006), Christmas Themed Horror Reviews with tags , , , , , , , , , on December 16, 2012 by Last Road Reviews

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BLACK CHRISTMAS

** ½ Out of 5

Tagline- Terror Is Coming Home for the Holidays

Release Date- December 25th, 2006

Running Time- 92-Minutes

Rating- R

Writer/Director- Glen Morgan

Starring- Katie Cassidy, Michelle Trachtenberg, Kristen Cloke, Mary Elizabeth Winstead, Lacey Chabert, Crystal Lowe, Oliver Hudson and Andrea Martin as Barbara MacHenry

Horror purists weren’t too happy about a remake to Bob Clark’s 1974 cult classic Black Christmas and with good reason, but I’m actually not against remakes for the most part, now that doesn’t mean I like the idea that every classic and cult classic has to get a remake, but really remakes are no different than the sequels that dominated the 80s and 90s; both are made to cash in on the success of another movie the only difference is one continues the story the other starts it over. Black Christmas for the longest time was an almost forgotten movie, but over the years it gained a massive cult following and in time that audience grew larger and larger.

Don’t go in expecting the remake to be anything like the original; truth it outside of a few aspects Black Christmas 06 is a totally different movie and feels more like a remake of your run of the mill mid to late 80s slasher flick. Everything that made the original film such a classic of the genre is nowhere to be found in the remake and while the original Black Christmas is prime example on how to make a horror film the remake is one of those movies that sort of falls into the category of so bad its good, well sort of.

What made the original so great was the fact writer Roy Moore doesn’t explain every last detail to the viewer and Billy was very much a mystery. If you listen to what Billy says you can get some insight, but not the whole story, you get just enough info again to get some insight into his psychotic mind, but it still keeps the character mysterious or you can just see what Billy says has nothing more than rants by someone who is clearly insane, but Glen Morgan creates a whole backstory for Billy and thus takes away any mystery the character had in the original. I wouldn’t want Morgan to simply do a rewrite of Roy Moore’s script, but I think he missed what made it such a wonderful screenplay; Billy and Agnes are explained in full detail, but the worst part is the backstory, which was idiotic and silly.

Rob Zombie’s Halloween also had a backstory, but in my opinion at the end of the day Michael was still Michael, but in Black Christmas everything that made Billy so chilling is lost and the phone calls in the movie were rather pointless since everything is already explained the phone calls offer nothing for the movie and feel as if they are just there for the sake of it.

Glen Morgan has done some good work and he’s best known for writing episodes of the X-Files and Final Destination, but as I stated before with his script for Black Christmas he missed everything that made the original so excellent. The characters in the original may not have been the best developed, but they were interesting and had their own identity, but in the remake all the characters are so miserable they’re better off dead and they are all basically the same. Kelli (Cassidy) is the only character that sort of stands out from the rest and is fairly likeable. The screenplay by Morgan very much has faceless victims; at least in the original you could maybe root for some of them whereas here the sooner they die the better.

As director Glen Morgan fairs just as bad; the original Black Christmas had a great sense of eerie atmosphere and always had the feel of looming danger, but Glen Morgan never establishes any sort of tone for the movie and he seemed unsure if he wanted to make a campy flick or a suspenseful flick. Everything in the direction is sloppy with zero suspense. Also despite running at 82-minutes (not counting the credits) it does feel a bit longer than that. Based on interviews it was clear Glen Morgan had no passion for the project and the very much shows in his lifeless direction. He’s stated he’s making a movie the audience wants with gore and jump scares and while sadly this is what the audience wants I think they also want a scary flick something this film sure as hell wasn’t. If the original Black Christmas was made today I’m sure the movie would most likely flop and be called boring by the idiot audience so I understand where Glen Morgan was coming from. But that doesn’t mean he still can’t create any suspense or some kind of eerie tone for the movie. Many of the early 80s slasher flicks like My Bloody Valentine would balance gore with legit attempts at suspense, but Black Christmas only gets the gore done right.

The backstory comes out so idiotic I couldn’t help, but laugh at most of it and the problem I had though was I wasn’t quite clear if it was meant to be comedic. I honestly can’t believe for a second that Glen Morgan thought any of this was scary or creepy, but regardless the way it comes out it’s not clear if it was meant to be campy and that’s just sloppy direction. Everything that happens in the movie I refuse to believe Glen Morgan ever had any intention of making a movie that was scary or suspenseful in any way what so ever. Black Christmas is a very poor made flick, which was surprising since even though I didn’t love Willard I thought it was fairly good and at least well made, but what the hell happened here?

After Willard was a box office flop it made it tough for Glen Morgan to get another job directing and I understand in Hollywood you need success if you wanna keep working, but I can’t respect Glen Morgan for totally selling out and pissing all over the original. By no means do I think the remake in anyways tarnishes the legacy of the original since the movie will always be there for us to view, but it does disrespect everything that made the original the classic chiller it is. Typically in my reviews no matter how negative a review I write I always try and add some positives to the filmmaking, but Glen Morgan doesn’t deserve any credit. If he went into this film with a passion for it I’d ease up, but all he cared about was a paycheck.

The kill scenes are pretty much the same over and over again, but at least there was a decent level of gore something this movie very much needed. When the victims are stabbed it’s done repeatedly and so over the top, which only makes it more hysterical and in no way scary. For some reason Glen Morgan decided to make Billy a cannibal and these scenes are probably the funniest; with the idiotic kill scenes and cannibal Billy it can provide some decent laughs intentional or not.

The cast was fairly good and slasher flicks are often known for having some very hot women and Black Christmas is no different; all the girls are hot and at least we have something nice to look at with all the idiotic moments. The performances are about the only thing really positive about the movie and while none of the performances were great or anything they are strong enough and make the material a little better than how it turned out. All the actors play their roles straight, which does also make it a little funny since everything around them is so absurd, which brings me back to what I said earlier on how Glen Morgan’s direction was unclear on what he was trying to make.

Despite my review on Black Christmas I actually didn’t hate the movie since it’s so idiotic that sometimes that makes the movie fairly entertaining. This is the kind of movie you sit back and just laugh at how idiotic everything happening on screen is, so the movie does provide a little bit of fun. Black Christmas sort of plays out like a parody of the original even if that wasn’t the intention or was it? Based on my first viewing I found the movie idiotic, but a little bit of fun whereas now I just find the movie mostly idiotic. Overall Black Christmas has some fun moments, but overall it’s mostly a dud and an insult to the original. While I can’t really recommend this, but if in the right mood it can provide some laughs due to the horrid filmmaking.

And despite my negative review I would actually watch this again since again its poor, but can also be fun at times.

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Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter (2012) Review

Posted in Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter with tags , , , , , , , on November 26, 2012 by Last Road Reviews

(Note. This is my first review since flooding so it may not be my best, but for now it will do)

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ABRAHAM LINCOLN: VAMPIRE HUNTER

*** Out of 5

Tagline- President by Day; Hunter by Night

Release Date- June 22nd, 2012

Running Time- 105-Minutes

Rating- R

Screenplay- Timur Bekmambetov

Director- Seth Grahame-Smith

Starring- Benjamin Walker, Dominic Cooper, Anthony Mackie, Mary Elizabeth Winstead, Jimmi Simpson, Erin Wasson

Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter is based off a novel of the same name written by Seth Grahame-Smith who also wrote the screenplay for the film version. Based on the title most would expect a silly shlock fest, but the novel was amazingly written with great characters and a lot more historical accuracy than one would expect. Actually if you remove the vampires from the book it could almost play out like a bio. The novel rates as one of my all-time favorite books and it got rave reviews from legit newspapers, magazines and critics and was a New York Times best seller. Upon seeing the trailer my fears were the film would be a dumbed down version of the book with over stylized Hollywood action rather than built on solid characters and sadly all my fears came true. However with that said there is still fun to be had, but its a shame such a terrific novel was made into a brain dead movie.

The plot follows Abraham Lincoln (Walker) as he battles Vampires on his way to becoming president, freeing the slaves and winning the civil war. Seth Grahame-Smith adapts his novel and I wonder if the changes made were his choice or the studio? I haven’t read much about the script, but even if they weren’t his choice I suppose he couldn’t say if he wants to continue working in Hollywood. Unlike the novel there is very little historical accuracy besides Abraham Lincoln becoming the president of the United States. Like I said the novel actually at times was historically accurate and if you take away the vampire aspect the book can almost be a bio, but really outside of a couple of things there is no historical accuracy.

The screenplay by Seth Grahame-Smith is subpar and is far inferior to the novel. The characters are mostly faceless and boring and character development is pushed to the side in favor of action scenes. I’m not gonna get into all the differences between script and novel, but its different enough that at times it has very little resemblance to the novel outside of the basic plot. Some changes are Abe’s first encounter with Henry (Cooper) and in the film it takes Abe a while to find out Henry is a vampire whereas in the novel he finds out right away. I also really liked the dynamics between Henry and Abe in the novel, but in the film its sloppy and rushed. The character of Will Johnson (Mackie) is created for the movie and doesn’t appear in the book. While again I’m not sure who is to blame for the changes from book to script, but none of the changes are for the better and as great as a book Smith wrote his screenplay is the opposite. Obviously there has to be changes made for the film for timing and since certain aspects of a book won’t work in the film, but this screenplay was a major letdown and even if I didn’t hate the film it takes away everything that made the novel such a great and fun read.

Director Timur Bekmambetov fails at brining much excitement to the film and the action scenes are by the book and are the typical sequences we see in every other Hollywood film. Outside of a few action scenes nothing really stands out. About the only positive thing I can say about the direction is visually the film looks good and despite lacking the film is never boring even if its never really exciting.

I was quite excited for this movie since the novel is one of my favorites and outside of Stephen King’s ‘Salem’s Lot, Abraham Lincoln Vampire Hunter would be my favorite vampire book and one of my favorite vampire stories period in written word or film, but everything that made the novel so great is pretty much lost in the movie as its overly stylized and everything wrong with Hollywood.

I can’t believe I’m gonna say this, but the Asylum knockoff film Abraham Lincoln Vs. Zombies was actually the better film! My advice is skip this and wait for cable and just read the book and if you’ve already read the book than read it again. If you must see the movie consider Abraham Lincoln Vs. Zombies instead and while that film is far from great it was more enjoyable than Vampire Hunter.

My review might be harsh and I actually didn’t hate the movie, but again I loved the novel so much and the film just strays way too much and is the typical Hollywood film and a big reason why I avoid mainstream cinema. Abraham Lincoln Vampire Hunter has its moments, but not nearly enough. Perhaps one day I’ll lighten up on the film, but as such a fan of the book this left me with a bitter taste.

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