Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Nature's Grave (2008)

Nature's Grave (2008) Dir. by Jamie Blanks

Peter and Carla have a wasted marriage and constant friction. Peter buys expensive camping gear and, despite the protests of Carla, insists they travel with their dog Cricket to camp on the isolated Moondah Beach in the North Coast with his friend Luke and his girlfriend during the rainy holiday. Peter stops in a pub at the Eggleston Hotel and leaves a message for Luke with the owner of the pub. When Peter takes what he believes to be shortcut to the beach, he gets lost and the couple spends the night sleeping in their SUV. The next morning, Peter organizes the campsite and their intrusion into and abuse of the natural environment begins. During the two days, the couple's relationship deteriorates while the nature avenges the bad treatment the couple has inflicted upon it. Written by Claudio Carvalho, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil on IMDB.com

Nature's Grave has been sitting on my list of film's to watch but never really moved up on my list as other movies that sounded more interesting came out. When I saw it was going to be on Showtime this afternoon I decided to give it a try. My interest in the film stems from its original film, Long Weekend (1978). Yes... this film is another one of those dreaded remakes, and even shared the same name as its predecessor prior to changing its name on release in the U.S. of A. The story between the original and remake doesn't really change that much, but the major difference is how effective the message is. The story is supposed to be about nature fighting back after it is treated poorly.

Jamie Blanks has made some mildly entertaining films before with Valentine and Storm Warning. His most famous probably being the extremely entertaining Urban Legend. I had high hopes for this remake but it fell so short.

James Caviezel heads up the cast, and considering how I just put him on my list of top underrated actors, I was really let down. It felt like he just did the film for a paycheck. Claudia Karvan (Star Wars III, Daybreakers) plays his always angry wife, but has no real effect on the film.

I'm finding it really hard to say anything positive about the film. Even within the planet vs humans sub genre, it is probably worse than The Happening, and that is saying a lot, haha. Jamie just seems to misstep over and over again. There are parts that should be building suspense but instead trample through thoughtlessly. There are parts where you can clearly tell they are trying to build suspense, but fail miserably. For being a married couple there doesn't seem to be much chemistry between characters at all. It makes it really hard to believe they were once married. I think at some point I will have to watch this movie again, but there were parts that I was just confused. The plot would start building and all of a sudden deter as James just starts running pointlessly. Other than a very pleasing gory ending, there really isn't anything positive to say about this film. You guys should know me by now, I don't give out bad ratings to a lot of films but this film is deserving of what it gets.

Entertainment Value: 3/10 Dead Manatees
Cinematic Value: 4/10 Dead Manatees.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Top Ten Religious Horror Films

Top Ten Religious Horror Films

Dead End Drive-In just recently came to top 150 followers! It is a number I never thought this site would reach. I have decided that in order to reward my followers, and also to give thanks to the man that got me started in blogging, I am going to do my Top Ten Religious Themed Horror Films. I know this is a very popular genre to my friend The Mike over at From Midnight, With Love. Most people who know me very well know that I'm not a deeply religious person. I do understand the importance of beliefs and why people choose to have a religion, but I don't always share a lot of the same views. That being said... because of my lack of religious beliefs, I feel like religious themed horror has that much more of an impact on me. I know this doesn't really make sense at first, but when you think about it... most religious based horror films always have a character or two like me... where they don't seem to believe in heaven or hell or religion at all for that matter, and I tend to relate to them. The other reason is because there is always some person who is so devout in their beliefs that they are killing for it or doing something crazy, and that kind of devotion scares the shit out of me. There are people on this earth that have FOR REAL killed in the name of religion; Ed Gein grew up with a deeply religious mother, David Berkowitz killed to keep the demons at bay, Charles Manson is an obvious option, and there are many many more, and that scares the crap out of me. So when it came to making this list it was very hard to choose just the top ten, but I think I have managed to do it, and here is my list.

#10 - Demon Knight - Directed by Ernest R. Dickerson

This movie is just a blast to watch. It has the perfect elements of action, horror, and comedy, not to mention a STELLAR cast. Billy Zane has never been so good as a villain, and that says a lot because that is who he usually plays.

#9 - The House of the Devil - Directed by Ti West

I have just recently watched The House of the Devil, and I don't think it has quite set in yet, or it might be higher. Ti West has managed to perfectly film a movie in the late 70's/early 80's, and bring it to 2009 using some sort of time machine. I know this isn't plausible, but I don't know how else he could have done it. Everything about the film amazes me, and it doesn't hurt to have the amazing Tom Noonan on board either. He always creeps me out.

#8 - Children of the Corn - Directed by Fritz Kiersch

I live in Iowa people! How could this not terrify me, especially as a child. All I see is corn every day, and it still scares me. There is a cult of little kids out there getting ready to sacrifice me more and more as I get older. It is going to suck, but I know it is inevitable. This film is such a classic, and I really feel like it often gets overlooked.

#7 - Martyrs - Directed by Pascal Laugier

There is no movie in the last few years that has had as big of an impact on me as Martyrs did. The film just pushes everything right to the curve ball ending, and I just can't get enough of it. I keep re watching it. I won't say much more because it is one you need to see for yourself.

#6 - Frailty - Directed by Bill Paxton

This is one of those movies that just keeps you guessing until the very end, and it is that religious devotion that drives this film. It is such a character driven film that is supported by an excellent cast of kids and adults.

#5 - Prince of Darkness - Directed by John Carpenter

I hadn't actually seen this film until the last few years or so, but it is an instant classic. Carpenter proves that he truly is one of the kings of film making, especially in the 80's. It is a strange film for sure, but I seem to like it the more times I see it.

#4 - The Prophecy - Directed by Gregory Widen

I really don't understand why Gregory Widen didn't go on to direct any other films. Maybe I am missing something, but I thought The Prophecy was an iconic film with springboard potential for anyone attached. Just ask Christopher Walken. When you mention religious themed film to anyone (especially horror hounds), I can almost guarantee that 1 out of every 5 people says this film.

#3 - The Evil Dead - Directed by Sam Raimi

I know what you are thinking... The Evil Dead isn't a religious themed horror film... ahah! but it is my friends. It is just a much older, lesser understood religion. The Necronomicon is very much a real book. While I highly doubt it can cause trees to rape women, I'm sure it says some bad things.

#2 - Rosemary's Baby - Directed by Roman Polanski

I apologize if I am upsetting anyone by saying this, but Roman Polanski has never made a film as good as Rosemary's Baby, and I would be willing to be you would be hard-pressed to find anyone would not have Rosemary's Baby and my #1 not in their top five religious based horror films.

#1 - The Exorcist - Directed by William Friedkin

Surprise, Surprise... I bet none of you saw that one coming. I'm Sorry, but that is just the way it has to happen. There is no film out there with as much impact on the religious themed horror genre as The Exorcist. There has also never been a film following it that did it quite as good as Friedkin did.

Well I hope you enjoyed the list, and let me know if there are any other lists you would like me to make for you in the future. With School starting up again soon, I will only be posting few and far between, but I assure you I will try to make-up for my lack of amount of goodness with raising the magnitude of the said goodness.

Now I will leave you with my honorable mentions:

The Omen
The Wicker Man (original)
The Sentinel

Saturday, August 6, 2011

Support Film

As a once in a while filmmaker myself, I know how much work goes in to getting your film made, and getting the word out about it. So now I want to take some time to mention a few projects in the making or coming out that need your love and support in order see the light of day.

First up, is Evidence. Following in the footsteps of The Blair Witch Project, this film is done in the documentary style hand held camera, and it most definitely looks to be entertaining. Here you can watch the trailer to see for yourself:

If you want to stay up on updates, please feel free to stop by the facebook page here.

Now doesn't that look like something genuinely creepy?

Next up us "I Chop You". "I Chop You" is actually a dark comedy bloody messy love story. Anyone who knows me, knows that I am a sucker for Dark Comedies, and this one hasn't escaped my radar. It is about a couple of Butchers in love.

For more information you should check out the Production Blog. Also if you would like to have a hand in helping make this film happen, please check out the Indie GoGO, where you can see a hilarious pitch video made for the film.

Please feel free to be generous, or at least spread the word to help these films make it to your DVD collection, as these people need just as much help with their films as I do with mine.

Also, if you have a film you would like to run by me and see if I will add it to my next Support Film article, please feel free to contact me at deadenddrive-in@hotmail.com or leave a comment below. Thank you for your time.

R.D. Penning

Thursday, August 4, 2011

Top Ten Current Underrated Actors

Top Ten Current Underrated Actors

Underrated… What is underrated? Is it not winning awards? Is it not being on the cover of magazines? Is it not being filthy rich? I assure you that everyone on my list is doing well in the wealth department, but that doesn’t matter to me. To me… underrated is doing all the hard work that is required of your job, and not getting all the credit you deserve. Although most of the people on my list have won awards, are rich, and a few have been on the cover of magazines… I just don’t feel like they are all getting the credit they deserve. So I am taking a moment to look at all the actors I think deserve way more credit than they are getting.

10. James Caviezel

James Caviezel, I assure you, is a name most people probably recognize at this point in time, but he has done so much more in acting than people may give him credit for. He makes my list for his disregard of selecting movies based on what it will do his career. For him… it doesn’t seem to matter. He always picks challenging roles, and they are always different than the ones he picked before. Outlander, a man from a different planet crash-lands during the time of the Vikings and has to help them fight an alien. A disillusioned man in Déjà vu, and Jean Jacket in the film Unknown. A man talking to his son in the future in Frequency, and my all time favorite for him, Edmond Dantes in The Count of Monte Cristo. The list goes on and on, and I could go on for pages. He has done so much for film in the last twenty years, and I just don’t feel like he is getting the credit he deserves. Just check out his massively awesome list: http://www.imdb.com/name/nm0001029/ .

9. John Turturro

Sure, John is pretty well known now thanks to the Transformers movies, but he was doing awesome performances long before they were even a live action film concept. His unique ability to pick and portray strange characters makes him a perfect fit for my list. Det. Larry Mazilli in Clockers to Jesus Quintana in The Big Lebowski, John Turturro takes every role he is given, and turns it in to an over the top awesome performance. The butler In Mr. Deeds to the extremely creepy performance he put on as John Shooter in Secret Window, he just amazes me every time he touches the big screen. Just look: http://www.imdb.com/name/nm0001806/ .

8. Emile Hirsch

Emile Hirsch is just one of those people that lights up the screen every time he is on. He has only been movies for the better part of ten years. That makes him one of the younger people on my list, but man has he made an impact. From The Dangerous Lives of Altar Boys to the not so great Speed Racer… the boy is everywhere. No matter what he does, the characters he plays always have an impact on how I view the film. The Emperor’s Club, The Girl Next Door (blew me away at how good it was compared to what I thought going in), Imaginary Heroes, Lords of Dogtown, Alpha Dog (although a bad movie), Into the Wild (AMAZING!), Milk, and Taking Woodstock all pop in to my head. The guy is everywhere and judging from his IMDB page… he isn’t going anywhere. The list keeps building: http://www.imdb.com/name/nm0386472/ .

7. Giovanni Ribisi

Oh boy was I excited to talk about this one. Aside from The Other Sister, Giovanni Ribisi is damn near flawless. With a heavy background in TV growing up, it is no surprise that Giovanni worked his way in to film quickly. SubUrbia is the first film that comes to mind where I remember seeing him. It has only grown from there. He has gone on to have strong performances in Saving Private Ryan, The Mod Squad (guilty pleasure), Boiler Room (which is amazing), Gone in 60 Seconds, The Gift (which he is phenomenal), Basic, Lost in Translation, a unique performance in Flight of the Phoenix, Middle Men, Public Enemies, and most recently Avatar. He has had so many amazing performances on TV and film, but he doesn’t seem to get the credit he deserves. Just look: http://www.imdb.com/name/nm0000610/

6. Justin Timberlake

I know what all of you are thinking, Justin Timberlake isn’t an actor, but that is entirely untrue, and I am squashing this rumor before it even begins. Justin is hands down the rookie on my list of underrated actors, but he is here because he deserves to be. Putting aside that he isn’t a half bad singer, and a much better dancer that I could ever dream of, he is actually pulling the Will Smith triple threat here. Yes I am counting him being the best SNL host in the last ten years as a TV Show. Recently he has been putting out quality performances left and right, starting with his most recent film Friends with Benefits. In Time, coming out this year also looks to be a film worthy of my liking. Sure he has a few things that I could live without, cough cough, Yogi Bear, cough cough, Shrek the 3rd, but other than that he has done amazing and shocked the hell out of me after every good performance. I started believing in his talent when I saw the relatively unknown film Edison, to which he held is own alongside solid performances from the greats, Morgan Freeman and Kevin Spacey. From there he has only gotten better with great small roles In The Love Guru and Bad Teacher. He was also great in The Social Network, The Open Road, Black Snake Moan, and Southland Tales (confusing movie), while doing an OK job in Alpha Dog. The man is going to have a solid career in film and his track record shows it: http://www.imdb.com/name/nm0005493/ .

5. Willem Dafoe

Everyone should know this name by now. Willem Dafoe is a legend! Ok, that might be my opinion, but I’m sure there are a lot of people out there that agree. He is amazing no matter what role he touches. He was perfect casting as Norman Osborn/Green Goblin in the Spider-Man movies. The guy is everyone and it is only now that people are starting to recognize his work. Unforgettable performances include, but not limited to, Antichrist, Daybreakers, The Boondock Saints 1 and 2, Inside Man, American Psycho, Mississippi Burning, and of course no one could forget Speed 2: Cruise Control! Oh there are so many more, but he deserves to be recognized as one of the greats in American cinema. Hopefully someday he gets what he deserves. http://www.imdb.com/name/nm0000353/

4. Joseph Gordon-Levitt

Joseph Gordon-Levitt is one of those actors that everyone knows, but until recent years has been overlooked by many, or still viewed as the kid from 3rd Rock From the Sun. That is not the way to look at him… he was ridiculous on that show, and it certainly didn’t help him showcase his talents. Now he is a superstar, but I think that people still underestimate his acting ability. As a kid, the TV series Dark Shadows was one of the first places where he really got a foothold in the business. I really hope he gets a cameo in the upcoming film adaption. There have been so many films that he is absolutely amazing in, and it shows his acting talent. He has done Angels in the Outfield, The Juror, Halloween H20, 10 Things I Hate About You, Brick (which is amazing), Havoc (also amazing and not just because Anne Hathaway gets nude), The Lookout (one of my favorites), Stop-Loss, Miracle at St. Anna, Killshot (probably his best performance to date), G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra, Inception, and a slew of other amazing films. The guy is on the up and up to becoming a great in the film business. I just hope people start to recognize his talent, and not just his memorable face. http://www.imdb.com/name/nm0330687/

3. Paul Dano

Now we are getting to my top three, and it is an awesome Top 3. Paul Dano is one of my favorite actors. Even if you follow the actor, you still don’t know what movie he is really going to be in. He is one of those actors where I start watching a movie, and start thinking…”Holy Shit! That’s Paul Dano!”. He does such a great job at playing different characters, and I was only reminded of it this past weekend, when I spotted him in an unforgettable Cowboys & Aliens performance. He seems to pick his roles very carefully, which is uncommon for someone his age. Usually actors his age are throwing themselves in everything just trying to get their name out there. This tells me that he is just an amazing talent who truly enjoys his job, and wants to continue doing it for the right reasons. The first time I remember seeing Paul was in the amazing film The Emperor’s Club. Such a great film, and he has gone on to make lots of amazing films. He has picked such unique roles, such as Klitz in the previously mentioned underappreciated film The Girl Next Door, his CREEPY CREEPY role as a deranged kid in Taking Lives, Thaddius in The Ballad of Jack and Rose, powerful performances in Little Miss Sunshine and There Will Be Blood, and catapulting on to the scene recently with Knight and Day and Cowboys & Aliens. From the looks of IMDB, he seems to be continuing his ascending trend to stardom, and I truly hope he gets there. http://www.imdb.com/name/nm0200452/ .

2. Sam Rockwell

Sam Rockwell is without a doubt a recognizable name at this point, but even as little as three or four years ago he wasn’t as well known. He is always so good at playing different characters that people often overlook him. Since this is a horror site, there might be some people here that might remember him as a boy all they way back in 1988’s Clownhouse. I know I remember it… how could I forget… frickin clowns. There are a few things he does for the next few years, but I want to fast forward to 1994, and the next performance that I remember very well. A little known Film comes to mind, one called The Search for One-Eye Jimmy. If you haven’t seen it yet, you should. It has a whole bunch of great actors in it, including the previously mentioned John Turturro, and also includes Samuel L Jackson and Steve Buscemi. Sorry to do this again, but it is the only way I can point out a few of his amazing performances is to fast forward. He has so many! The year is 1999, and the AMAZING Frank Darabont puts out a film called The Green Mile. A film based on a book by my favorite author and idle, Stephen King. It is here that we see Sam’s unique ability to really play characters outside the box. He takes on the role of a child rapist/killer/crazy man/whatever else “Wild Bill” Wharton. He really struck a chord with me on this one. From this point on it is one amazing performance after another with Galaxy Quest, Charlie’s Angels, Confessions of a Dangerous Mind, Matchstick Men, The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy (which his is fan-frickin-tastic in), The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford, Choke, Frost/Nixon, The Winning Season, Iron Man 2, Conviction (Riveting performance), the recent Cowboys & Aliens, and who could forget my favorite new movie Moon. He continues to amazing me at every turn, and I look forward to seeing more of what he can do. http://www.imdb.com/name/nm0005377/

1. Ben Foster

Ben Foster is without a doubt THE most talented man in Hollywood right now, and yes I am aware that that is an opinion. It is also an opinion that I can back up. Ben Foster as an actor SO good that people often don’t recognize he is in a film. I am aware that he is probably one of the youngest people on my list, but man he is deserving of this title. Ben Foster has come a long way from being Tucker James in the Disney Show, Flash Forward, back in the late 90’s. Now that I think of it, there aren’t many people who have done as well as he has coming out of Disney, other than maybe Shia LaBeouf. Flash Forward was such a good show, but didn’t necessarily launch Ben in to a promising acting career. He went on to play the nerdy kid in the film Get Over It, which wasn’t much of a reach from his TV days. It wasn’t until 2002 where he just began to do one good film after another with Big Trouble, Bang Bang You’re Dead, Phone Booth (although uncredited), 11:14 (unique and fun film), The Punisher (yes he was the dude with all the piercings), Hostage (yes he was Mars, the deranged psychopath lighting the walls on fire with Molotov cocktails, great movie), Alpha Dog (not a great movie, but another unique performance), X-Men 3 (unrecognizable as the way underused Angel), 30 Days of Night (as the creepy stranger in jail worshiping the vampires), The Messenger (an outstanding performance in a strong emotional film), 3:10 to Yuma (amazing and unrecognizable as the ruthless right hand man of Russell Crowe), Pandorum (a fun film, and a great performance), and most recently The Mechanic (unrecognizable and opposite Jason Statham in probably his most memorable character to most because of being essentially and equal lead to Jason). That is one HELL of a list, and he continues to WOW me over and over again with his ability to dive in to every character he plays and do it to the point where Ben Foster no longer exists and he is someone completely different. I think his is most definitely my favorite actor currently in the business, and I look forward to seeing what he comes up with next, especially since he is in the Alien prequel Prometheus! Oh yeah… and he and his brother Jon Foster (Stay Alive – horror movie) are from Iowa bitches!!! WOOT WOOT! Sorry… had to represent. Probably the best actor to ever come out of Iowa, and yes that includes Ashton. WAY BETTER! http://www.imdb.com/name/nm0004936/

I hope you enjoyed my list, and I look forward to hearing who you might think is an underrated actor. Please let me know in the comments if you can think of anyone.

Monday, August 1, 2011

Cowboys & Aliens (2011)

Cowboys & Aliens (2011) Dir. by Jon Favreau

The Old West.. where a lone cowboy leads an uprising against a terror from beyond our world. 1873. Arizona Territory. A stranger with no memory of his past stumbles into the hard desert town of Absolution. The only hint to his history is a mysterious shackle that encircles one wrist. What he discovers is that the people of Absolution don't welcome strangers, and nobody makes a move on its streets unless ordered to do so by the iron-fisted Colonel Dolarhyde (Ford). It's a town that lives in fear. But Absolution is about to experience fear it can scarcely comprehend as the desolate city is attacked by marauders from the sky. Screaming down with breathtaking velocity and blinding lights to abduct the helpless one by one, these monsters challenge everything the residents have ever known. Now, the stranger they rejected is their only hope for salvation. As this gunslinger slowly starts to remember who he is and where he's been... Written by Universal Pictures on IMDB.com

I was so pumped to see this film. I was a little sad that Jon gave up Iron Man 3 to do it, but I was happy it was done. I love Westerns and I love Aliens, sooooo naturally I was expecting to like Cowboys & Aliens, and I was not let down at all. It was even better then I had anticipated. It starts off with our lead waking up in the middle of nowhere, and clearly not knowing who the hell he is, or how he got there. Shortly after he is attacked by a group of men fixin' to rob him. That ends in their death. After taking some clothes and some money, he heads to the nearest town, where unfortunately for him, he starts to figure out who he is. Soon after being arrested, chaos ensues in the form of aliens attacking. After managing to get loose from his chains, he manages to take one of the alien ships down, but the creature gets away.

The characters are what really drives the film in a classic sense of old westerns. I don't think they could have picked a better cast. In the last ten to fifteen years or so I have been nothing but let down by Harrison Ford. I always have high hopes for him because he helped me get through the 80's and early 90's, but lately he has been atrocious. With What Lies Beneath probably being his last good movie, I was excited for him to enthrall me on the big screen once again. I am so happy to say... Welcome back Harrison Ford. His son, played by one of the most underrate actors out there; Paul Dano, is an interesting addition to the cast. He plays a cowardly drunk of a boy who thinks he can get away with everything because his dad is the big man in town. There is where our lead, played by Mr. Daniel "I'm a ripped badass" Craig, begins to get in a bit of trouble. The rest of the supporting cast is filled with tons of A-B list actors all pulling their own weight. Clancy Brown (Pet Sematary II, Starship Troopers) is great as usual as the town's religious man. Adam Beach (Flags of our Fathers) was a nice touch as Ford's right hand man. Sam Rockwell (Moon, The Green Mile) lit up the screen once again in yet another very versatile roll. And how could I forget the beautiful and amazing Olivia Wilde. She is probably one of the busiest people in Hollywood right now, and she deserves every bit of it, wowing me every time she steps on the big screen. The cast had so much chemistry together and it showed frequently. It made this a very character driven action film that I knew I would love immediately.

Now, let me get to the rest of the film. I should have known it had been from the J.J. Abrams ragtag group of misfit producer/writers Roberto Orci & Alex Kurtzman. The same team behind Transformers, Star Trek, Fringe (TV), and so much more. It was perfectly written and it showed. It really had a Western feel that I had been missing in film these days. There was so much well filmed action, and not too much of it was too terribly over the top. I really appreciated that. Now I didn't know what to expect from the aliens, since they don't really show them in any of the previews, but they were very well done! They were new and inventive looking creatures. It was great that they pretty much kicked ass the entire movie, as they should. It would have been ridiculous to have a bunch of cowboys beating the shit out of big aliens with future technology. I really appreciated it that the filmmakers recognized the balance between species. There were a few twists in there that I didn't expect either, but were definitely unique. I can honestly say that I had a blast watching C&A, and recommend it to everyone.

Entertainment Value: 10/10 Oddly placed alien appendages
Cinematic Value: 8/10 Oddly placed alien appendages