Film: You know that when you get a movie starring a famous popular musical artist that your in for a treat, right? How good is Glitter, starring Mariah Carey… or Crossroads, with Britney Spears… or Spice World, with the Spice Girls…
Ok, I have to confess the Spice World movie is a guilty please, but I think you get the idea!
Dave (Dave Grohl) and his band, The Foo Fighters (played by… well The Foo Fighters) are trying to come up with something special and different for their tenth studio album. Their record company man, Jeremy Shill (Jeff Garlin) will do anything to get them to produce the new album so when they ask for a new studio environment, he gets his real estate agent, Barb (Leslie Grossman) to find them somewhere.
What Barb finds them is a house in Encino that has a horrifying past, and very quickly, Dave starts seeing strange things and acting weird. The next door neighbour, Samantha (Whitney Cummings) tries to warn them of the house’s history, but has she come too late… well, of course she has!
This movie was written by Grohl and the a screenplay was adapted from it by the 2019 Pet Semetery remake writer, Jeff Buhler and Der Vulkan’s Rebecca Hughes. It’s director, BJ O’Donnell is best known for directing music clips for Slayer and other heavy metal bands, but was also responsible for Hatchet 3.
It’s certainly The Foo Fighters Show, and not only are they good at playing themselves, their comedy timing is impeccable and hilarious. It’s certainly a love letter to heavy metal, with a lot of new music played, and some amusing covers of old ones, including a hilarious scene where Grohl is abused by a dream version of Lionel Ritchie, PLAYED by Ritchie, for trying to steal his love ballad ‘Hello’!
Don’t think the guest stars stop there. In addition to Ritchie and a role played by comedian Cummings mentioned earlier, we also see a roadie named Krug (no doubt a reference to Last House on the Left) played by Kerry King, and the music producer, Rip Haight is played by director and composer extraordinaire John Carpenter, the joke being his characters name is an alias he has used occasionally when playing roles in his own films.
It’s a pretty solid story, both suitably gory and really funny at times. There is a lot of references to horror movies too, like Evil Dead, The Exorcist, The Burning and probably many more that I missed.
Studio 666 is an amazingly fun movie that would be a great double feature with something like Shaun of the Dead. This could have been an ego fuelled, cluster bomb of tripe but the entire production is a fun watch. The only two things that disappointed me were a lack of extras, and we only got a DVD release here in Australia.
Extras: There’s only one extra which is a gag reel, but for the first time in along time, it did actually get a chortle out of me here and there.
WISIA: Hell, yeah! A gory horror comedy that’s ACTUALLY funny.
This review was done with the Australian DVD release.
Ok, I’m sorry but I needed to get that out of my system. That damned song is such a part of The Addams Family lore and legend that I felt I needed to get it out early, but now I’ve written it I’m afraid it’s revealed exactly what I thought of this film.
By do you want more than that amusing ditty to explain my thoughts on the film?
Ok, seeing as how you asked nicely…
A young Morticia and Gomez share a wedding kiss
The Addams Family were created by 20th century cartoonist Charles Addams in 1938, and were first published in the New Yorker as a series of single panel jokes that show a bizarre gothic family, including husband Gomez, wife Morticia and children Wednesday and Pugsly, along with Uncle Fester and Grandmama (and later on housekeeper Lurch and additional family member Thing) musing on the marvels of modern life in middle class America.
This cartoon went on to spawn a hit, and legendary, TV series starring John Astin and Carolyn Jones, as well as a cartoon and special guest appearances on the cartoon Scooby Doo, not to mention two hit films starring Raul Julia, Angelica Houston, Christopher Lloyd and an amazing Star turn by then young actor Christina Ricci as Wednesday… and a couple of lesser known efforts like the Tim Curry and Darryl Hannah led film.
This isn’t to mention that their entire look and lifestyle has influence an entire fashion culture of goth, and I’m sure every man and woman wished for a romance and dedicated partner like Gomez or Morticia!
Unfortunately, no dead horse can go unflogged and so a new version of The Addams Family has being released into the world. This time we have a more child-aimed CGI film featuring the voice talents of Oscar Isaacs, Charleze Theron, Chloe Grace Moretz, Finn Wolfhard, Nick Kroll, Bette Midler and Snoop Dog… yep, cause the kids LOVE that rap musics… and playing Cousin Itt. They must have had too much money to spend on voice talent to waste Dogg’s distinctive voice on a character that sounds talks in little more than pops and whistles like Keyop from Battle of the Planets!
In this take of the Addams Family, we see all the subtlety of the theme of ‘being yourself’ thrown out the window, which the writers have done the extraordinary thing of making it both sublime and stupid
Our story sees our heroes living in their very haunted house on the top of a misty hill over looking the town of… are you ready?… Assimilation, which is a model American town built by the TV renovation star, Margaux Needler (Allison Janney from I, Tonya), who is a horrible combination of an American midwestern Tammy, and your average complain-to-the-Mánager-haircut Karen, maybe with a handful of Mattel’s Barbie thrown in for good measure.
The Addams family’s house doesn’t quite fit in with her idea of the town, and so she starts a campaign to change the aesthetics of it. This has come at quite a bad time though, as Wednesday and Margaux’s daughter, Parker (Elsie Fischer) have started a friendship and their fashion styles have started to crossover, with Wednesday starting to wear pink and white, and Parker… well, becoming more ‘Wednesday’… actually, becoming more Souisix Souix.
Not only is this happening, Pugsley is preparing for his Bar Mitzvah styled coming of age celebration which involves a rather extensive dance involving a family scimitar, but Pugsley’s a modern Addams, and relies less on blades, and more on explosives… will the family turn their back on tradition in favour of the boys more modern was of execution?
Of course, as you can see, this film involves all of the things one would expect from the Addams Family, but it all falls disastrously flat. Not just because it is the SAME thing almost every time they trundle out the franchise but also because they don’t sell it well. It’s ok to do the same thing over and over; cinema goers actually expect it (that’s why there is so many remakes and sequels), but rather than make it blatant, try dressing it up differently. The idea of making the ‘assimilation’ of the Addams Family was probably fun and seemed like a good idea, but it flat out was not.
Whilst we are talking about assimilation, the flat out rip off of the live action movie’s ‘Mamoushka’ for Pugsley’s coming-of-age party was almost offensive to the writer’s of that film. It offered nothing except for an opportunity for the character designers to come up with some occasionally clever but mostly bad other members of the family.
Most of the vocal casting is on point, aside from the aforementioned Snoop Dogg appearance, except for Pugsley. In casting a Stranger Things actor, who are so hot right now, there is a requirement to perhaps overuse them, and the character of Pugsley, who is better as a foil for Wednesday, comes across as an anxiety-stricken mishmash of Kevin McAllister from Home Alone, and as a slow-mo fuelled, John Woo supercop, and it all falls flat. I would have rathered seen a shorter film with all the Pugsley stuff cut out.
Wednesday is a difficult sell in this film also. Not because they changed the character, and some of the comedy from her ‘assimilating’ is actually quite funny, but because, in my experience, so many teenage girls seem to talk in bored monotones, and unusual haircuts are the norm. When Parker makes her dramatic change to Addams style, her character doesn’t change really at all: bored, hates her parents etc etc. Even though this was aimed at kids, maybe the better idea would have been to make it more about young Morticia and Gomez, which is how the film starts, and their courtship. He’ll, if you really HAVE to revive this franchise and you hire Theron and Isaacs, why not do it live action: they would look great together onscreen in these roles!
I liked the character design in the film as rather go for a more realistic style, they really emulated Charles Addams’ art, but modernised it somewhat. At times the characters almost feel like animated toys due to their grotesque appearances (even the normal ones) and it is almost jarring when you see a close up, for example, of Morticia’s skin and can see it’s not made of clay or plastic.
Another thing that really irritated me more than I can explain is the use of a couple of songs in the film. Firstly, at one point we see Lurch sitting at the piano, and instead of his usual moans sings in perfect tones, and the other is the song used in the appearance of Cousin Itt. Seeing as it is Snoop Dogg performing the character, they choose to use the song ‘Drop it Like it’s Hot’ but as it’s a kids film, blank out the words ‘bitch’ and ‘weed’… if you are going to use a Snoop song, pick one with no swearing or drug references, or another song altogether.
There is some pretty obscure film references peppered throughout the film, including Invasion of the Body Snatchers, various Universal Frankenstein films and the Man Who Laughs.
Essentially, this film is terrible, and if you want to introduce your kids to ANYTHING Addams Family, this should be the horrible secret, hidden in the attic, and fed a bucket of fish heads once a week.
The menu screen for The Addams Family Bluray
Format: This review was done with the Australian Bluray release, and both the 1.85:1 image and the DTS-HD Master Audio 7.1 are impeccable.
Extras: This release does have a few extras on it.
There is four deleted and extended scenes, which the film neither benefits from having in or out. All of the excised bits were obviously dumped quite early as they only appear as rather basic animations.
Charades with Thing is quite possibly one of the worst ‘games’ I’ve ever seen on a DVD or Bluray.
Life of a Scene explains how storyboards eventually become the final product.
Welcome to the Family would be a decent little making-of featurette if it were longer.
Addams Family Throwback is a barely one minute look at the odd occasion where the film takes elements of Charles Addams’ original cartoons and incorporates them. I’m not sure how important they ACTUALLY thought this is as the extra goes for barely a minute. It was nice to see Addams’ art, though.
Thee is also videos for Haunted Heart by Christina Aguilera and My Family, which doesn’t seem to be credited, but they are really just bits of the movie with the lyrics displayed over the images,
WISIA: *dahdahdahdah Heck, No!
Morticia is horrified by Wednesday’s fashion choices.
Film: I never used to be a fan of horror comedies because I didn’t like the juxtaposition of laughs with horror. Actually, I still don’t really believe that the horror/comedy exists: horror/ comedies are just comedies with monsters and or gore in them.
Having said that, some of my favourite movies are horror comedies. Movies like Shaun of the Dead, Return of the Living Dead and Re-animator hit this amazing balance between the ridiculousness of the situation, humans ability to laugh in the face of danger and blood and gore.
Unfortunately a lot of horror/ comedies fail because they can’t hit that balance; The Spierig Brothers’ Undead was one of those for me. It had a few funny lines, but essentially it fell flat as either horror or comedy.
This film, Little Monsters, is a winner though. Written and directed by Australian actor/ director Abe Forsythe who previously gave us the Ned Kelly comedy Ned (2003) and Down Under (2016), Little Monsters tell of Dave (Alexander England), a washed up worker who is constantly at war with his girlfriend until they finally decide to call it quits.
With nowhere to go, he moves in with his sister, Tess (Kat Stewart) and her son, Felix (Diesel La Torraca) where he proves to be not the best influence on the boy, especially when he discovers that Felix’s teacher is the stunning Miss Caroline (Lupita Nyong’o), and volunteers to chaperone the children in his class on an excursion to Pleasant Valley, which has a petting zoo and mini golf, but also, for a limited time, the 5 times Nickelodeon kids award winning entertainer, Teddy McGiggle (Josh Gad).
What starts as a delightful excursion becomes a nightmare as the American Army base next door has a breakout of zombies who find their way onto the theme park grounds. Very soon, Miss Caroline, Dave, Teddy and Miss Caroline’s class find themselves holed up in the souvenir shop, surrounded by the undead, with seemingly no way out!
Will they all survive?
I admit to have blind bought this Bluray for two reasons, the first is you just have to put the word ‘zombie’ on anything and immediately I’m interested. The other is Lupita Nyong’o. For me she was about the only thing I liked about the Black Panther movie (well, her and Shuri), and she shows some amazing skill playing both Adelaide and Red in the Jordan Peele science fiction/ horror movie Us.
After watching it though, I also have to take my hat off to Josh Gad, who plays Teddy with a gleeful delight at first before revealing his deplorable true colours, and make for a hilarious ‘jerk’ character. That’s not to take away from Alexander England either: Dave is one of the most irredeemable characters prime for redemption ever seen in a comedy.
The type of zombie that appears in the film is the slow, non-tool using type, but part of the script suggests that there are lots of types as one of the American Army guys asks ‘Fast ones or slow ones’ which was a nice truce in the war between running and walking zombies.
The best thing about this film though is how damned funny it is. It starts like a stoner comedy and switches so easily to a horror comedy/ romantic comedy that you barely notice where the change is… and that’s not to cast shade on the imbues either: they look amazing, considering most of the budget must have been spent just on the international cast members!
I really can’t recommend this film enough. It’s been a long time since I laughed out loud at a co edgy, let alone a horror/ comedy!
Format: Little Zombies is presented in an absolutely perfect 2.35:1 image, and a cracking DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1.
WISIA: There is so much happening in this film, and it’s so bloody funny, it deserves multiple watches!
Film: It is occasionally pretty cool when a film takes inspiration from another source, and extends its ideas out to make it its own. Sure it could be a travesty, it when it works it can be interesting. This film is one of those time-loop styled stories which you can tell immediately from the opening of the film, with Universal’s titles, which suggests it with a not-so-subtle hint of playing over and over a few times.
This film is directed by Christopher Landon who has a smart eye of being able to combine genres as could be told with his Scout’s Guide to the Zombie Apocalypse, here joining horror, time-loop scifi and collegiate-styled, John Hughes-ian teen comedies. His advantage here is a smart script by comic writer, Scott Lobdell, who created the mutant team Generation X, as well as writing other titles such as Alpha Flight, Fantastic Four, Teen Titans and Red Hood and the Outlaws.
Sorority sister Tree Gelbman (Jessica Rothe) is, to put it bluntly, an absolute bitch. She wakes up one morning in the bed of Carter (Israel Broussard), on a day which happens to be her birthday, and prepares for the walk of shame back to her sorority house. At the end of the day, whilst walking to a party, she is murdered… and then wakes up back at the beginning of the day, and very quickly realises… well, after living and dying in the same day several times… that the only way to move on to the next day is to solve her own murder.
During the course of her birthday, we are introduced to a bunch of people who could be responsible: The bitter ex-lover, the hateful sorority sister, the friendly sorority sister whom she disrespects, the wife of the professor she’s bonking, her disappointed father and just so many others… but who is it?
That’s the mystery, and can Tree discover who it is before her lives run out?
The film is a pastiche of Groundhog Day, Mean Girls and every slasher film ever made, especially Scream as we see our masked villain is of the human variety, and can be hurt, and not an unstoppable Michael/ Jason type.
Typically with these sorts of ‘groundhog day’ films, everything you see happen and every movement made by various actors is really quite deliberate so it can be easily replicated on each new pass and honestly, the over exaggeration of some of the players is a touch blatant, to the point of distraction, but honestly that’s my only criticism of the film.
Those who love a bloody, gory slasher may be disappointed as this film isn’t one of those at all. The kills aren’t inventive, though they are sometimes surprising, but this film is more about the victim than the blood.
I have to give a specific shout out to Jessica Rothe who plays her role brilliantly, and wasn’t afraid of her character going from total glamourpuss to horrendously dishevelled victim. The character gets weaker every time she is killed so her appearance suffers.
Derivative with its idea but innovative with its execution, Happy Death Day is a thrilling, intriguing and funny version of a cinematic trope that has a nice bunch of twist and turns, and even pays direct tribute to the film that obviously inspired it, Groundhog Day.
Format: Happy Death Day was reviewed with the Australian multi-region Bluray which runs for approximately 96 minutes. As one would expect from a modern film, both the 2.40:1 image and DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1
Extras: The disc opens with previews for Pacific Rim Uprising and Pitch Perfect 3 before hitting the menu screen. The other extras are:
Alternate Ending is just what the title would suggest it is and it’s an amusing alternative, but they definitively went with the right one.
Deleted Scenes, as usual, are an interesting distraction but the film ultimately benefits without them.
Worst Birthday Ever looks at the aspects of the ‘time-loop’ movie.
Behind the Mask: The Suspects looks at all the potential perpetrators of the crime, and the design of the killer’s mask.
The Many Deaths of Tree isn’t about the destruction of the rainforests, but instead about the various ways in which Tree dies through the film.
Unfortunately none of the extras last very long.
WISIA: This movie was great and I can’t wait to watch it again.
One from the to watch pile… Pride and Prejudice and Zombies (2016)
A few years ago, the cool literary thing to do was to take a classic piece of literature, mix it with elements of horror and turn it into an amusing variation on the original text. The first of these was when Quirk Books’ editor Jason Redulak approached Seth Graeme-Smith with the title and idea of Pride and Prejudice and Zombies; the concept being taking Jane Austin’s public domain book and ‘remastering’ it with elements of a zombie apocalypse.
The idea took off, and a glut of like-minded sequels and imitators emerged, but this one stood out with its ability to maintain the ‘proper’ elements of Austin’s text with a refreshing tongue-in-cheekiness. It maintains the themes of the original, and the addition of the zombie apocalypse somehow fits seamlessly.
Of course, it was only a matter of time before it was adapted to the cinematic form, and what a victory it is!
Pride and Prejudice and Zombies is set in England in the early 1800s, after a time where the undead have returned to life. Of course, proper society must prevail, but everyone; men, women and children, are taught combative ways to defend themselves and their families against the undead.
Our tale is of Elizabeth Bennett (Lily James) and her four sisters who reside on a country estate with their parents, and are well trained with gun, sword and in Chinese martial arts. Her mother has a fascination with making sure all her daughters marry well so they can be ‘taken care of’, but Elizabeth is a strong willed girl who resists.
She meets a well versed, and austere zombie killer named Colonel Darcy (Sam Riley) whom she immediately dislikes, but even more so after she meets an ex-friend of his, Lt George Wickham (Jack Hutson) who tells her tales of bastardry performed by Darcy upon him.
Wickham shows Elizabeth that the zombies aren’t all they seem, and that perhaps mankind can live alongside zombiekind, but wherever she goes, Darcy seems to show up, but is it accidental, or is he quite taken with Elizabeth?
Also, attacks by zombies seems to be coming more frequent… Is it just a coincidence, or is someone organising them to attack the living?
I must admit to having a lot of trouble reviewing this film as whilst I totally enjoy the zombie aspect of it, and it is quite funny, I wasn’t sure if it was a horror film, but instead a parody. Eventually I told my brain to shut up, and just flowed along its river.
The action and effects are great, though those who hate CGI for hates sake will probably criticise the blood splattering effects. The fighting is all well choreographed and played with great comedy timing, and the zombie make up is fantastic.
The zombie mythos within the confines of the story are a nice breath of fresh air over the usual ‘get bit and eat shit’ style. These zombies can maintain a sense of humanity, as long as they don’t eat human brains, which is a nice change from the modern day World War Z styled zombies who instantly turn into a berserk enraged hunger monster, which is just not what a proper educated zombie would do!
The casting is perfect as well, and all the girls (Bella Heathcoate, Suki Waterhouse, Millie Brady and Ellie Bamber) are played as coquettish as they should, and are all beautiful. The men are mostly square-jawed and bold, and the Bennett parents, played by Charles Dance and Sally Phillips are the perfect straight man and stooge. A special acknowledgement has to made of Lena Heady as zombie fighting heroine Lady Catherine De Bourgh who plays the tough type in the fashion she always does.
Truly the hero of the casting in that of ex-Doctor Who Matt Smith. His portrayal of the foppish Parson Collins, whom has hopes of making Elizabeth his bride,is so effeminate and precious that it would have made Hugh Grant jealous. Truly here he nailed a positively hilariously ‘English’ character.
All in all this film was a real fun and enjoyable watch, but is hardly a horror film. It really is a period drama that happens to have zombies in it.
Format: This review was done with the Australian release, region B bluray. The image is presented in 2.40:1 with a DTS-HD Master Audio soundtrack, and both are impeccable.
Extras: Heaps of extras on this disc. First, there is a blooper reel, and a few unnecessary deleted scenes, and then we get to the meat of the disc.
Creating the Unmentionables looks at the design and execution of the zombies.
From Austin to Zombies: Adapting a Classic is not just about adapting the book to the film, but also how it was completely necessary to keep the ‘Austin-ness’ to it for it to efficiently work.
Mr Collins Line-O-Rama gives Matt Smith the limelight as he delivers and re-delivers several of his lines.
The Badass Bennett Sisters looks at the development of the various fighting styles of the actresses playing the Bennett sisters.
Courtship, Class and Carnage: Meet the Cast looks at the cast choices of the film.
WISIA: It’s charming, so I can see myself watching it again.
One from the to watch pile… The Scouts Guide to the Zombie Apocalypse (2015)
Film: When a moronic, tryhard janitor accidentally starts the zombie apocalypse, only those skilled at survival even stand the slightest chance of getting by.
Thankfully, scouting offers one all the right tools and skills to make it!
Our tale follows the exploits of the only three members of scout troop 264: the keen and excitable Augie (Joey Morgan), motormouth Carter (Logan Miller) and nice guy Ben (Tye Sheridan) who after cutting short an overnight scout trip to go to a secret high school senior’s party find themselves in a town that empty except for zombies and a hot cocktail waitress named Denise (Sarah Dumont) who is as tough as nails, has the longest legs in the history of mankind and is a shotgun diva… Literally.
The kids at the secret party, including Carter’s sister (and Ben’s secret crush) Kendall (Halston Sage) don’t know what has happened to the rest of the town, and our heroes find themselves with a time limit to save the partygoers when they discover the entire town is going to be bombed by the military to contain the ‘zombie problem’.
So what do scout’s do when they face the zombie apocalypse? Why improvise, of course… Let’s just hope that zombiefied Scout Leader Rogers (David Koechner) doesn’t catch up with them…
In general I am not a fan of the term ‘horror comedy’ as I don’t believe the two elements sit together at all because I want my horror to be, well, horrible: I want to be scared by it… And realistically, whenever we talk about ‘horror comedies’ we are referring more to either a comedy with monsters, or a gore-comedy. Films like Return of the Living Dead, Re-Animator and Shaun of the Dead nail both those descriptions perfectly, and I reckon I’d put this film in with those three comfortably, though it would certainly be the lesser of them, as whilst it appealed to my love of gory movies, it also tickled my less mature delight towards dumb, dick, tit and fart joke comedies.
Basically, if the Goonies grew up to be the kids from Superbad and had to fight Shaun of the Dead zombies in the town Monster Squad took place in, that contained a strip club that someone like Porky would own, this would be their story.
It’s not very often that a film can be both laugh out loud at the comedy one second, and cringe with empathy at an act of violence the next. The writers, Lona Williams, Carrie Evans and Emi Mochizuki and director Christopher Landon (who also has a script credit) really nailed the balance well, and once it gets underway, the movie never stops for a breather. The four main actors nail their stereotypes perfectly, and parody them well too, but they are also well rounded characters, with back stories and histories that are touched on but never to the detriment or the movement of the story.
In the extras the crew regularly comment that they are trying to get that eighties teen sex comedy feel and that is done well, but the tributes to other horror are there also. The film takes Romero’s tropes of residual zombie memory and turns it on its head, and also nods to Dr Tongue from Day of the Dead (in a scene that echoes Reanimator’s head-giving-head scene, but with more tongue), and did I see a road sign showing how far away Haddonfield was?
I can’t finish this review without mentioning that the wonderful Cloris Leachman makes an appearance as a very cranky old cat lady and really steals the few scenes in which she appears.
Essentially, the sophomoric humour lover and gore hound in me really loved this film, and if you like films that don’t take themselves too seriously, you will probably get a kick out of this.
Format: The review copy of this film was the Australian bluray release, which runs for approximately 92 minutes, and is presented in an immaculate 2.39:1 image with a matching DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 soundtrack.
Extras: A nice bunch of extras on this disc, and with titles reminiscent of my Cub Scout days…
Scout’s Guide to Filmmaking is you normal ‘making of’ mini-doc but the personalities of the filmmakers and the cast make it quite entertaining. Sure there’s the usual mutual-masturbation ‘oh he/she’s SO good’ stuff, but it doesn’t come across as fake, they actually seem genuine.
The Zombie Make-up FX Handbook is all about the practical and CGI zombie effects. I love these sorts of extras as I’ve always had an interest in make up effects.
Undead Movement Guidelines: Zombie Choreography takes a look at the work done by choreographer Mark Steger who taught the cast and extras how to ‘move’ like a ‘real’ zombie. His concepts of these zombies being quick because they are fresh, rather than the slow, disinterred old dead was interesting.
Uniforms and You: Costume Design shows us the skill of the costume designer Marylou Lim and the subtleties of some of the costuming, and how they individualised the zombies.
There’s only two Deleted Scenes: extended Scouting video and Pharmacy. They certainly aren’t missed in the film.
WISIA: A Scout’s Guide to the Zombie Apocalypse is a gory and funny movie with a lot of personality so I can definitely see me watching it again.