Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Tucker and Dale vs. Evil (2010)



When you think about rednecks and hillbillies in film history , you are immediately reminded of characters who made Ned Beatty squeal like a pig in Deliverance or rubes who are too stupid to be considered human like Cousin Eddie from National Lampoon's Vacation series. You might also think of more established villains such as the bizarre backwoods families who sliced and diced teenagers as a hobby in countless slasher movies like Texas Chainsaw Massacre, Mother's Day and The Hills Have Eyes. Throughout the years, the dim-witted psycho hillbilly has become a stereotype that is hard to shake, never appearing as a hero, savior or caring individual. Writer/director Eli Craig improbably squashes this stereotype in his 2010 horror-comedy Tucker and Dale vs.Evil.

Tucker (vet Alan Tudyk) has finally accomplished his lifelong goal by purchasing his own summer home and decides to take his longtime companion Dale (Tyler Labine) along for some needed R&R. Saying that his dream home needs some work is a bit of understatement, since it is decrepit, resembling the cabin from the first two Evil Dead films. They got their work cut out for them, but these two Virginia hillbillies have a cooler of beer on ice and are ready to make the most of it. On a stop at a general store along the way, they encounter another stereotype found in most horror films, a group of young college co-eds who are heading to the woods for some sex, drugs and rock-n-roll. Looking like your usual hillbilly slaughterhouse specialists, the kids get majorly freaked out by their appearance, especially when the portly Dale gets fixated on Ally (the ridiculously hot Katrina Bowden) and his shyness is mistaken for creepiness. 


This is where the film turns a corner. Tucker and Dale are actually a fun-loving duo who have nothing but good intentions set on fixing up their new summer hang spot and are not as dumb as the usual rube you see in these kind of films. Tucker is the tough and strong-willed big brother to the giant teddy bear Dale, who is pretty timid and lacks confidence with life as well as women. 

After Chad (Jesse Moss), the alpha frat boy of the group, tells a story of two backwoods killers who slaughtered a pack of teens several years ago on the very spot they are hanging out at, they all decide to go for a skinny dip. On their nighttime fishing trek, Tucker and Dale coincidentally see Ally stripping down to her panties about to take a splash into the pond, but awkwardly falls in once she catches them innocently spying on her. Once they realize she has not come up for air, Dale dives in and saves the unconscious girl from drowning. Her friends come over in time just to see the limp-bodied Ally being dragged into the boat. Thinking that she was attacked and being kidnapped by Tucker and Dale, they scream and run away even though the guys yell for them to come help her. 


The next morning at the cabin, Ally awakens with an injured head and is frightened until she listens to Dale explain what happened while he nurtures her back to health. She realizes that Dale is just a simpleton with a heart of gold and he sees this as a chance to try to win over her heart as well. Meanwhile, our college kids deduct the whole situation to be similiar to that in Chad's story, with Tucker and Dale as two crazy murderers holding Ally as a hostage and now they must figure out a way to "rescue" her. Thus the stage is set for an unconventional film filled with many gruesome laughs.

Craig's genius flick plays out like an episode of Three's Company set in the horror universe, the narrative being filled with misunderstandings. While the audience is aware of what is truly happening the entire time, the kids are jaded by only being able to view one side of the story and their reactions led to many grizzly results - again, totally played for laughs. This hilarious formula is followed for the entire running time. The film plays on the downfalls of the reliance of stereotypes with the kids' mindset blinded to the same cliches that we as moviegoers have become accustomed and have translated into reality.


This satire's success stems from flipping the script on standard backwoods horror convention by having the usual psycho hillbillies act as our heroes and the usual youngsters as villains. Never before has a film maker taken two usually iconic antagonists and built them to be pure iconic protgaonists, without being labeled anti-heroes. On the other side of the fence, the kids' undoing is by their own hands and not by Tucker and Dale, a unique aspect that is reminiscent of another great indie horror flick, I Didn't Come Here to Die

Tudyk and Labine are nothing less than phenomenal as our leads, containing genuine charm within their own individual characters and having genuine chemistry as a duo. Bowden is absolutely stunning to look at, but she also shows she can do comedy as well. Besides our headliners, there is not a weak link in the cast even though they all play the usual cliche characters found in most horror films. Moss is perfect as the douche frat boy with a bit of a razor's edge and it is good to see Brandon Jay McLaren (from the underrated Harper's Island), as the token "black" guy Jason, and Chelan Simmons (Final Destination 3), as the blonde bimbo Chloe, back on screen.   


If you want to see a unique horror-comedy filled with hilarious situations and a bizarro version of what is found in the same ole' backwoods slasher flick, you need to see Tucker and Dale vs. Evil immediately. By film's end, you will be longing to see this duo embarking on more zany adventures in subsequent sequels. Craig has created two lovable characters who could be tagged as the Bob and Doug McKenzie of hillbillies.



RATING:
4 out of 5 Drunken Rednecks











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Monday, February 27, 2012

Rubber (2010)




Ever wonder why certain things happen in movies, like why E.T. is brown or why the characters in Texas Chainsaw Massacre never use the bathroom like people in real life? Or how about why we are surrounded by air, yet cannot see it? The answer is simple: No reason. Rubber is a film that establishes itself on this factoid and runs, err, rolls with it. 

After awakening in the desert, an old car tire embarks on a murderous rampage once it discovers it has destructive telekinesis powers. Meanwhile, a group of people (including genre screen veteran Wings Hauser) watch the events of our film from a distance via binoculars, facilitated by a faux police officer and his assistant. The tire's psychotic tendencies evolve from squashing a plastic water bottle rolling with its girth to detonating human heads with its new found ability.


The film itself is subject to all sorts of interpretation, so here is this reviewer's take on it. The crowd of people watching the events in the film are essentially us, the audience. Most demographics are represented in the crowd, including different races, ages and film diehards who will sit through anything to satisfy their completest desires. In the opening scene, the police officer breaks the fourth wall to deliver a lengthy monologue until it is revealed that he was talking to the audience within the film the entire time. In turn, the officer and his assistant are the feature's cinematic entities of the real life filmmakers. So it can be interpreted that the film makers as the officer were explaining the film to us as the in-movie audience and will be communicating as such throughout the remainder of the running time.  

An experimental flick, and a bold one at that, director Quentin Dupieux understands his project's own creative concept is essentially its own trap. How do you produce a full length feature with three acts focused on a mute, inanimate and non-threatening object as the main antagonist with no real protagonist to combat it? Dupieux takes the plot's limitations and then plays off of it in comedic fashion within his own film. You will even realize that there is a certain point in the film when he expects his real life viewers to have either left the theater, turned the channel or ejected their DVD/Blu-ray which he depicts through an event that occurs among the in-movie audience. It is very morbid, but pretty funny at the same time.


Rubber is labeled as a horror film, but besides some gore is truly a dark comedy... a whacked out, unique and memorable dark comedy. Not the most groundbreaking experimental film, but one that really wants to poke fun at the Hollywood formula status quo. Worth watching for something different, but keep in mind that the overall picture is not as cool as the premise makes it sound. And make sure to wear a Rubber (sorry, just had to do that).



RATING:
2.5 out of 5 Creeper Santas









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Thursday, February 23, 2012

Book Review: "Hitman: My Real Life in the Cartoon World of Wrestling"



by Bret Hart
 
WWE Hall of Famer Bret "Hitman" Hart always proclaimed himself as the "Best There Is, Best There Was and Best There Ever Will Be" and rightfully so. When pro wrestling was in its darkest creative and financial era back in the early to mid-90's, Hart was the company's top guy. As the world champ, he carried the company on his back amidst the WWF's steroid scandal and also after money draw Hulk Hogan left the organization. He barely ever missed a date due to family conflicts or injuries and sold the merchandise that helped keep Vince McMahon's empire afloat until he left for WCW in 1997. His book "Hitman: My Real Life in the Cartoon World of Wrestling" tells his story.

Hart begins from the very beginning of his life as he grew up with a mass amount of siblings in a family whose bread and butter was his father's, legendary Stu Hart, Stampede Wrestling promotion in Calgary (Alberta, Canada, right Lance Storm?). The first quarter of the book deals with his slow incorporation into wrestling, dwelling in minor promotions, until he finally cracked the shell of entering the big time of the WWF. 

Once his story reaches his time in the major leagues of pro wrestling, Hart confesses that even though he had strong morals and incomparable work ethic, he was certainly not without sin. Being on the road 90% of the time is a cause to the lifestyle of wrestlers taking on  detrimental vices. For some, it was alcohol and substance abuse, but Hart's was women. He openly details his many trysts due to having beautiful women at his beckon call coinciding with his countless struggles in the relationship with his wife at home, who was essentially raising their children on her own - albeit with his financial support. 

Some of the most intriguing parts of his book include the antics of Jim Hellwig, AKA The Ultimate Warrior, and his despicable mistreatment of a dying Make-A-Wish child, his constant love/hate relationship with Vince McMahon and his oil and water relationship with brother-in-law Jim Neidhart on the road. A lot of wrestling fans will appreciate his account of the slowly burning turmoil that built between him and Michael Hickenbottom (Shawn Michaels), which eventually led to his departure from the WWF, and the many wonderful stories of his youngest brother Owen Hart, who died in a freak accident on a wrestling PPV. You can tell that Bret and Owen were always the closest and that Owen was actually one of the good guys in the business. Add to the fact that he was only planning on wrestling a little while longer so that he could spend more time with his wife and kids, whom he cherished more than anything, and it makes his 1999 death even more tragic, if that is possible.


Many people will want to learn as much as possible about the 1997 Montreal Screwjob, and you will certainly get a whole two chapters based on that event and what transpired leading up to that night. This book was authored before Hart's 2010 reconciliation with McMahon and Hickenbottom, so he definitely grinds his axe when it comes to those two individuals. You will discover what happened between McMahon and Hart after that Survivor Series mess as well as the circus between the Harts and McMahon stemming from Owen's unfortunate passing. 

Even more interesting are his stories concerning Tom Billington, otherwise known as one half of the British Bulldogs, Dynamite Kid. Any fan of Kid will have a totally different opinion of him after Hart's recollection of him going back as far as early days in Stampede. For as much as Billington and Hart mirror each other in style and skill, they are polar opposites when it comes to personality and handling relationships with others. You know what they say about what goes around comes around? Wait until you hear how karma handles Billington after all of the horrible things he did to other wrestlers throughout his career.

The bad issues with this book is that it is simply too long, with many of the young childhood stories that could have been edited out. Another issue is that Hart is almost a "mark" for himself, taking the business and his Hitman persona way too seriously at times. Maybe it is his passion for the business, but it seems like he has a bit of an ego...that he simply refers to as needing respect. Add to the fact that every match he discusses ends with someone like Hogan or Terry Funk coming up to him just to say that his match was "the best they have ever seen" starts to get a little old after a while. Even though he was always fun to watch in the ring, it makes you wonder if those comments are Hart executing his creative license. Did people really say that to him all of the time? All of the time?

Bret in his Sgt. Pepper's jacket (couldn't resist)
But no matter how you gauge it, Hart tells it like it is and does not hold back. In a business where top guys get their own private dressing rooms or travel in tour buses, he has always been "one of the boys" and treats every wrestler with class, even going as far as being a father figure to a lot of the up and coming grapplers. He might not have been an angel, but he was always a saint when it came to colleagues in his profession. His battle back from a stroke is also a testament to him as a human being who is very strong willed and faces a challenge against the odds head on.

Originally entering the wrestling profession as a way to make some cash until he decided what he really wanted to do in life, Hart's natural talent at the game made him fall in love with the business. He always believed in hard work paying off and maintained a solid moral fiber when everything else in the crazy world of pro wrestling was spinning wildly around him. That is the message of his book.

Whether you are a fan of Bret Hart or a fan of wrestling in general, his book is worth checking out. It may be a little long and the early years might be a little boring, but his experiences in the business are quite interesting and give you a new perspective on this zany world we call sports entertainment.

RATING:
4 out of 5 Overacting Cenas

Monday, February 20, 2012

Rage (2010)



 Directed by Chris Witherspoon


Duel was Steven Spielberg’s directorial debut and did to the road terror subgenre what he accomplished later for summer blockbusters with Jaws. It launched many clones throughout the decades that pretty much follow tSpielberg's formula to the tee that creates an experience that is more retread than treading into new waters. Along comes filmmaker Chris Witherspoon’s Rage which attempts to emulate another road terror flick, but thankfully adds many layers to the story and depth to its characters. 

Leaving behind his sweet wife Crystal (Audrey Walker) in the suburbs for the day, Dennis Twist (Rick Crawford) drives into the city to end his affair with his mistress Dana (Anna Lodej). Once Dennis arrives downtown, a mysterious and helmet-sporting biker (Witherspoon) secretly tails him to his rendezvous and watches the proceedings. Dennis admits to loving his wife and tells Dana that he is ending their tryst. At first, she is rightfully furious until she finally succumbs to his request. A red flag goes up when she asks if her ex is bothering him, because he will be tossed back in jail if he causes any trouble at all, but Dennis informs her that her former beau has nothing to do with it. 

Soon after they part ways for good, the biker starts to harass Dennis on the city streets. At first, the threats are harmless, such as the biker zooming by Dennis’ car in his bike to give him a jolt. Then, it gets worse as the biker carves up his car with a combat knife. When Dennis meets up with his friend, who is well aware of Dennis ending his affair that day, for lunch shortly afterward, Dennis explains how he believes that he is being harassed by Dana’s ex –flame because he found out about their relationship. Once he heads back to his car, the attacks escalate to the point where Dennis begins to fear for his life and tries to figure out how to thwart his would be assailant while keeping his secret affair buried in the process. 


Rage is a film not like many others of its kind with a great deal of time spent in prolonged road attacks. In fact, there is a great deal of action that takes place on foot which builds more tension than in any of the driving scenes. Witherspoon integrates the fact that our protagonist is actually a very flawed character and toys with the audience’s emotions. In one sense, you feel Dennis is receiving exactly what he deserves for his infidelity to a woman who has always been his main supporter in life. Yet another part of you sees that he realizes he made a human mistake and wants redemption after realizing his wrongdoings. He is not just “some guy trying to get home” like you usually see. Rather, he is a man who could end his plight in a heartbeat, but is too worried about hiding his sins to do the right thing. The real victim in all of this is not Dennis at all, but his wife who is unaware that he violated their trust, so how you feel about Dennis throughout the film is a conundrum. It is these certain aspects of the film that are what push Rage away from the pack. 

Filmed on a meager budget, Rage focuses more on story than road battles. Witherspoon acknowledges that his film is more tribute to Duel than rip-off, as evident in the scene where characters are discussing Duel in a car repair shop. That aside, his film stands on its own with an original story paying homage to Spielberg’s 1971 film. Much like Dennis, the film has its flaws but is most certainly worth a look. 


RATING:
3 out of 5 Creeper Santas








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LINKS:

OFFICIAL SITE



Sunday, February 19, 2012

WWE Elimination Chamber 2012




Welcome to another WWE PPV review, as we round third base and heading home plate for Wrestlemania in April. Taking place from the Bradley Center in Milwaukee, WI...it's the Elimination Chamber!! This PPV contains two instances of the deadliest match in the WWE, the Elimination Chamber - but don't they say that about all of them nowadays (Hell in a Cell, Money in the Bank, etc)? It will all culminate with Royal Rumble winner Sheamus picking the champion he will pursue at the grand daddy of them all. Well you came here for results and not commentary so let's head to the ring...

(disclaimer: last-minute added matches will not have any pictures or descriptions and only the results. Formatting on the fly while I am trying to watch the PPV is a pain)




      Raw Elimination Chamber Match
       Chris Jericho vs. The Miz vs. R-Truth vs. Kofi Kingston 
                                          vs. Dolph Ziggler vs. CM Punk (champ)

There is little to no shot of Punk walking away without the title unless Jericho takes the strap, which would simply continue to stage their long awaited feud for their (real main event of Wrestlemania) match at the big dance. Then Punk should win it back there. But the new booking of WWE has stopped the hot potato action and might ride Punk with the belt for the remainder of the year, so time will tell. The rest of the participants are also incredible and will put on a worthy match, but there is no reason for anyone here to win the gold besides the aforementioned combatants.

Entry Order: 
Punk - Kingston - Ziggler - Truth - Miz - Jericho

Eliminations: 
#1 - Punk eliminated Truth w/ Flying Elbow
#2 - Jericho eliminated Ziggler w/ Code Breaker
#3 - Jericho eliminated Kingston w/ Walls of Jericho
#4 - Punk eliminated Jericho by KO'ing him unconscious out of the cage with a kick

RESULT: Punk eliminated Miz w/ GTS to retain. Awesome match with greats spots in a match that was a surprise as being the opening match.



BACKSTAGE SEGMENT: Santino dresses like Rocky and attempts to eat raw eggs in lieu of his title match. Of course, he chokes.



VIDEO SEGMENT: John Cena video shows him return to his old roots and work out at a gym. Yippee. Time could've been spent better hyping the Kings of Wrestling. 




 
Divas Championship
                                 Tamina Snuka vs. Beth Phoenix (champ)

Tamina has been a breath of fresh air for the stale Divas division and being a Snuka helps an awful lot as well. Too bad she is just keeping the seat warm for the inevitable Kharma against Phoenix contest at 'Mania, which will be a must-see. Here's to hoping that Tamina looks strong in her defeat so she can be a credible threat to Kharma when she is through with Phoenix. And hey...where has Kelly Kelly been?

RESULT: Phoenix retains with the Glam Slam in a shockingly fun Divas match. Yes, Tamina looked real strong in this women's match that had some real deal wrestling go down.



BACKSTAGE SEGMENT: Santino continues the Rocky knock-off by "Cobra-ing" a hanging bologna in a meat locker...insert your own joke there.



IN-RING SEGMENT: Senior VP of Talent Relations and Interim GM of Raw, John Laurinaitis has a huge announcement...but as he chastises Smackdown GM Teddy Long, he is interrupted by a returning Alberto Del Rio! Del Rio thinks Johnny Boy should be permanent GM on Raw and on Smackdown. Then, Mark Henry heads to the ring, who agrees that Long has to go. The hits in this segment keep on coming..."Captain Charisma" Christian returns and concurs that Long should get the boot. David Otunga takes a group photo of this new "Team Laurinaitis".




 
 SmackDown Elimination Chamber Match
                     Great Khali vs. Big Show vs. Santino vs. Wade Barrett vs. 
                                      Cody Rhodes vs. Daniel Bryan (champ)

That's not a typo...I typed Santino Marella. Randy Orton's legitimate concussion injury (yes he's hurt again) and Mark Henry still on the mend leads to Santino as the replacement after winning a battle royal on this week's SmackDown. Hmmm. Khali contains the worst wrestling talent of all WWE Superstars, yet the white hot "Funkasaurus" Brodus Clay has been sidelined to work on his ring skills. Hmmm. Unless the WWE pulls a fast one, Bryan should weasel his away out of the match still the champ with Sheamus, and possibly a returning Orton seeking (kayfabe) revenge against Bryan, against the submission specialist at Wrestlemania...where he will probably drop the title. But three PPV championship wins is not too bad for the kid who was a glorified jobber before his MITB cash in at Survivor Series.

Entry Order: 
Show - Barrett - Rhodes - Marella - Khali - Bryan

Eliminations: 
#1 - Show eliminated Khali w/ a Spear
#2 - Rhodes eliminated Show after Barrett hits an elbow drop
#3 -Santino eliminated a celebrating Rhodes w/ a roll-up
#4 -Santino eliminated Barrett after Bryan hit him w/ a flying elbow
 
RESULT: Bryan retains with a tap out from Marella after the Lebell Lock. This match was easily the weaker of the two EC matches. At one point chanting "Boring!", the crowd caught on fire for Marella at the end, leading to a chorus of boos for Bryan. Afterwards, Sheamus came to the ring and destroyed Bryan...driving the point home that he will face Bryan at Wrestlemania.



BACKSTAGE SEGMENT: Hornswoggle is eating cheese and Natalya breaks wind. Justin Gabriel says hello to 'Swoggle, who gets harassed by Vicki Guerrero and Jack Swagger. Teddy Long breaks them up before Swagger mentions that Long should give up his GM duties. Long responds by creating an impromptu U.S. Title Match...



 U.S. Championship Match
    Justin Gabriel vs. Jack Swagger (champ)

Ok...so that's where Swagger's been? An impromptu match for the title thanks to Long, playa.

RESULT: Swagger retains by making Gabriel submit to the Ankle Lock. Too bad our bonus mach was useless filler. Both tried hard, but the crowd fell asleep. 



VIDEO SEGMENT: The ridiculously embarassment that was last Monday's ending to Raw with Flyin' Zach Ryder and the kiss between Cena and Eve. It gets worse every time you watch it.




 
Ambulance Match...our main event??!!
John Cena vs. Kane
                                
The Cena-Kane saga continues to drag along (George Lucas is threatening to sue for the storyline) after this past week's embarrassing ending. After seeing Eve hook up with Cena, the heartbroken Ryder was pushed off the top of the stage by Kane in a nasty stunt bump. Two things that this angle seems to be leading up to is Eve turning heel and Cena finding his dark side so he appears to have a chance in defeating Rock at Wrestlemania...perhaps turning heel in the process. And somehow, Ryder and his heat got dragged into this mess so hopefully this is the finale so we can see the Woo Woo Woo kid back in action soon.

Don't give me that look, Cena. The fans are the ones who are forced to watch this horrible angle!





RESULT: Cena slammed Kane into the Ambulance after he gave him the AA off the top of the vehicle. I just made it sound way more exciting then what it was. It actually felt drawn out and didn't solve anything. Ok so Cena won. How does Ryder or Eve or Kane play into this? The bad news kiddies is that this does not appear to be the end of this dark side crap. It felt like 2011 all over again with Cena's music playing as the PPV comes to an end.




You again, huh?

FINAL VERDICT:

I will never understand why Vince has more than six PPVs a year and the EC PPV so close to Wrestlemania. It takes the shine off the Royal Rumble winner, which hurts the importance of that PPV greatly. If anything, the EC would be the best PPV to have before Summer Slam, since they ditched the Money in the Bank PPV in July...their best PPV of last year. Hmmm.

The title match to start the show was exciting and really helped kick off the festivities, albeit a bit surprising opener since this one was technically hyped as the card's main event. The Divas match was pretty good and felt meaningful and it was nice to see Henry, Christian and ADR returning to action. However, the Smackdown EC match should have led off the show and the Ambulance Match should not have been the main event...especially since it was lame.

 Therefore, I am going to have to score it in halves. First half gets a B+ but the second half sucked the momentum away. This one suffered from the "too many PPVs too close together syndrome AKA filler PPV" syndrome and was certainly not helped by the dead Milwaukee crowd either. Meh, I guess I would've been bored if I was there too. Hope you all saved your pennies for 'Mania and Vince, please cut down the PPVs. Please.


What did you think of the Elimination Chamber? Would love to hear your honest thoughts in the Comments section below!




Eastbound and Down Season Three Begins Tonight!





Everyone's favorite morally corrupt former professional baseball player Kenny Powers (Danny McBride) is back for another season of hilarity of Eastbound and Down. Kenny returns from South of the Border and into Myrtle Beach for another shot at returning to the pros. It all begins tonight at 10pm ET on HBO! 

Take a look at the trailer below and make sure not to miss season three's premiere tonight...








Thursday, February 16, 2012

Retro Review: Youngblood (1986)



 Directed by Peter Markle; United Artists/The Giber-Peters Company


Before the millennium, minor league hockey was a no holds barred sport. There were no interference calls, specialized padding or rules that would protect goaltenders. It was a whole other beast where the referees missed many calls because they were either senile or more likely to turn a blind eye on penalizing certain players for illegal tactics because they were scared for their own well being. Youngblood is a film that captures the gritty lifestyle of the old school Canadian minor leagues where many players simply played to hurt as many opponents as possible and the other minority consisted of talented, respectful individuals with dreams of making it to the National Hockey League.

Dean Youngblood (Rob Lowe) is an ultra fast scoring machine who decides to leave his father’s farm in upstate NY and head to the Great White North for a try out with the Hamilton Mustangs. The Mustangs have one open spot for their upcoming playoff series against the Thunder Bay Bombers and it is roster a spot that Youngblood hopes to fill. During his try out, he shows off his impressive maneuvers, blinding speed and ability to score goals at will, but he also exposes his one major weakness – he does not play a good physical game. This becomes evident when another front runner for the vacant spot, Carl Racki (George Finn), opens his eye up with an illegal cross check followed with a one punch knockout blow. Luckily, Coach Murray Chadwick (Ed Lauter) needs speed and goals for his squad and gives the nod to Youngblood, making the mean-spirited goon Racki even angrier vowing to make him pay for cutting him.

After some bouts of rookie hazing, Youngblood begins a romantic relationship with the rink's zamboni driver Jessie (Cynthia Gibb), who also happens to be Coach Chadwick’s daughter. Of course this immediately lands him on the bench even after he scores a goal on his first shift and turns the momentum against the Bombers in game one of their playoff matchup. He also develops a strong bond with Mustangs team captain, Derek Sutton (Patrick Swayze), who is actually a caring teammate underneath his class clown persona. After taking Youngblood under his wing, Sutton truthfully explains to Dean that the childhood dreams of playing hockey are just an illusion in the grand scheme of things. They are pawns in the business, not game, of hockey. Sutton is an excellent talent who knows he can be the number one pick in the pro draft and that he just has to make it through the rest of this series before getting his big payday. 


Meanwhile, the Bombers sign Racki, who shows that he can also score goals as well as he can bang people around. Racki's new dedication to stick it to the Mustangs for picking Youngblood over him becomes more than evident when he critically injures Sutton. In the game of hockey, the golden rule is that if someone purposely takes out your teammate, then it's your job to take the offender out. Youngblood shows his fear of getting physical once again and does not retaliate, simply watching Racki skate off the ice with an ear-to-ear grin on his face.

Youngblood quits the team, leaves his girlfriend behind and heads back to the farm much to the disappointment of his older brother Kelly (Jim Youngs). Kelly also had the aspiration and talent of playing pro hockey until an undisclosed injury to his eye took away his chance. Unlike Youngblood, Kelly is a bruiser who is not afraid to throw blows with the best of them, and is hoping that he can teach his little brother how to stand up for himself. Time is of the essence because without Youngblood and Sutton, as well as a suspension to their star defenseman Huey Hewitt (Peter Faussett), the Bombers tie the series with a win and are looking to knock the Mustangs out of the playoffs in the final playoff series matchup. Will the rookie Youngblood finally step up to help his team on the scoreboard as well as a win a David vs. Goliath slugfest against Racki to avenge Sutton?


This is a film follows the standard clichés of many 80’s films that were filmed before and after it. Lowe’s character is a fish out of water and must overcome the odds by beating the heck out of someone he would have no chance against in real life. This could easily be a Karate Kid or No Retreat, No Surrender clone that takes place in Canada. Nowadays, one can pass this off as a paint-by-numbers flick, but remember that this was released in 1986…and that paint-by-numbers formula was hot at the time. While this movie is as predictable as the sun rising tomorrow, that does not make it any less fun to watch. It is never boring and gets right into the mix almost immediately. The hockey action is exciting and believable thanks to appearances and consultation from current NHL’ers at that time, the late Peter Zezel and Steve Thomas. Youngblood’s dad Blane was also portrayed by Eric Nesterenko, a NHL for almost 20 years, who is listed with a consultant credit as well.

 
There are some aspects that are too far-fetched, such as Youngblood seemingly on the farm for a week in which only one playoff game was held, when that series would have been over in reality given that time span. He also turns into Sugar Ray Leonard on skates. Even though he has the physique to look like a slender speedster on the ice, Lowe’s looks are way too pretty for a hockey player, especially back then. Sidney Crosby and Wayne Gretzky look like Mike Tyson compared with his face that looks like he belongs on the cover of GQ. Still, those are the complaints of a sports geek when one must remember they are watching a movie not real life hockey.

The casting choice of Lowe, who looks like a doppelganger of The Vampire Diaries’ Ian Somerhalder, is actually a rather good choice. Sure he is an 80’s name actor but he also accurately portrays an awkward, scared young boy in a man’s world and is able to do so with very few lines of dialogue. Lowe rarely speaks throughout the film, usually settling for boyish smiles and facial expressions of fear. It seems that he also did a lot of his own action in the ice hockey scenes as well. Same goes for Swayze, who has a professional background in figure skating…and who doesn’t love and miss seeing Swayze on screen? His acting talent totally sells a monologue about not being smart enough to be a lawyer or doctor but only can be a hockey player in life to the point of being truly moving.  

If you like Point Break, then consider this the second winning combination of Patrick Swayze and Keanu Reeves, who has a small role as a member of the Mustangs. Youngblood contains lots of hockey hair, more 80’s clichés than you can count, lots of action, and a great amount of gore. If you have not seen this underrated little flick yet, make sure to get it on your radar soon and take a trip back to 1986 for cheesy 80's fun!

And of this picture doesn't make you want to watch it, I don't know what will...





RATING:
4 out of 5 Rackis












TRAILER:




Monday, February 13, 2012

TOTALLY YOU-TUBULAR: "Jules sings The Moment"



Do you have a favorite band that you always wanted to perform with? Well, SAFETYSUIT is arguably one of my wife Jules’ favorite bands and she had her day in the sun to recently perform vocals while the band played at 12th & Porter in Nasvhille during their launch party. Long story short, the lead singer played five songs and almost collapsed on stage. He had been fighting a stomach virus all day and tried to rough it out as to not disappoint the fans, but the illness finally made him succumb. The band refused to cancel the show and asked the fans to sing while they played the instruments. You can read all about this incident by clicking this link. During the song “The Moment”, the lead singer of the band Chasing Change, coming in like a backup quarterback to save the day, reached the second verse and did not know all of the words. He saw my wife in the front row and put the mic up to her face to help him out. And Jules ripped it out, not even breaking stride, while her favorite band jammed the instruments in the background. How many people can say they rocked out live, if just for a “Moment” (pun!) with their favorite group? Well, Jules can and now we can all relive the experience over and over again, thanks to ValerieMIZE! After you check out the video, check out their YouTube page by clicking here.




Got any cool videos you want me to play on The Man-Cave? Send them my way by contacting me at etmcrules@yahoo.com. You have a better chance for them to air here than on Tosh.0, ha!!

And Happy Valentine's Day Jules!!!



Wednesday, February 8, 2012

I Am Number Four (2011)



 Directed By D.J. Caruso; Dreamworks

This is a film that ended up on many websites' worst films list of 2011, even as far as reaching the number one overall spot. Based on the book by the same title, I Am Number Four was panned by critics and those unfamiliar with its literary origins. There were comparisons made to Twilight (the producers are to blame for that one), a swiss cheese plot and shots taken at the unoriginality within the story, which is even found in many great cinematic works nowadays. Even the "Number Two" joke (which is actually pretty funny!) makes the film an easier target to attack. At the end of the day, was director D.J. Caruso’s screen adaptation really that horrible?

The Mogadorians are alien bounty hunters from a distant planet whose main purpose for existence is to execute the planet’s Nine beings, who each maintain unique and extraordinary powers once they come of age, as they continue to invade and conquer planet after planet. To protect these Nine from being slaughtered, they are hidden away on Earth, each protected by a warrior who acts as a mentor and guardian while keeping the Mogadorians off their tail. Since the Mogadorians must kill the Nine in numerical order, the warriors also do their best to keep them hidden away or blend into society as a normal human being without bringing any unwanted attention their way. This is a double-edged sword because while they are stronger together, they must remain separated in order to be more easily hidden as their powers maximize.


The film opens with the Mogadorians disposing of Number Three, then begin their efforts to identify and dispose of Number Four next. When Number Four (Alex Pettyfer) and his warrior Henri (Timothy Olyphant) learn of Three’s demise, Henri uproots their operation from sunny Florida to quaint Paradise, Ohio, where he has some business to finish. With Four's new identity as John Smith, he enrolls in the local high school so that he can attempt to live a somewhat normal life. There he befriends the local geek Sam (Callan McAuliffe), who believes his father was abducted by extraterrestrials, and falls for beautiful shutterbug Sarah (Dianna Agron). The latter relationship endangers blowing his cover since she used to date the popular local quarterback, who begins to make John’s life hell once he learns she is crushing on the new guy.

Making his new transition into the school even more difficult happens when his super strength and telekinesis-like abilities begin to mature. Henri explains to John that he must learn to harness and perfect these gifts using while keeping his true identity a secret. To do that, he will need to master these abilities if he has any hopes of fending off the Mogadorians. John and Henri are also constantly fighting against the new age of social media, where a recently leaked video exposes John's identity and sends the Mogadorians to Paradise unbeknownst to our heroes. There is also a mysterious blonde (Teresa Palmer) tracking John as well and it is uncertain if she is friend or foe. Once John knows that his pursuers have him cornered, he must decide whether to flee or finally put up a fight since their next planet to overtake is Earth. Not only he does he have a passion for his new home world, but his passion for Dianna has also grown to the point where he cannot stand to be apart from her.

Never once did the love angle feel gag-inducing like Twilight and the overall film was rather gender-neutral. It was also nowhere near some of the horrible films that reached cinemas in 2011. The plot was maybe not the most original, but it was still an interesting sci-fi story contained in a rather intricately developed universe with acting that was more than passable. People cited a confused plot due to the back story being explained in quick exposition from Henri to keep the film moving, but was probably explained in more detail in the book. Sure there were some times where the emphasis was on the love story between John and Dianna, but John learning to use his powers, his relationship with Henri and the Mogadorians tracking him down dominated the running time. Easily the best part of the film is the last 25-30 minutes jammed with non-stop action and a SFX smorgasbord that probably encompassed 75% of the budget. 


Too bad this one won’t spawn a sequel thanks to poor reviews because it seemed to be heading towards an epic film series with the best yet to come. And who doesn’t like looking  at Teresa Palmer? I bet her mirror is happy every day. If you liked this film and want to know what happens after the conclusion’s cliffhanger, go read the book or you will more than likely never get any closure.   

Let this be a lesson to future film makers and production: Never, EEEVVVEEERRR, market your film as the “Twilight for Men”. That is about as a good of an idea as swimming in a lake with piranha. You will be torn apart before you make it in neck-deep. I Am Number Four deserved an extremely better and more accurate marketing strategy than that. 


RATING:
3.5 out of 5 Creeper Santas









TRAILER:



Monday, February 6, 2012

Cropsey (2009)




Barbara Brancaccio and Joshua Zeman are two documentary filmmakers who attempt to find a real life boogeyman behind Cropsey, the urban legend character from scary campfire stories they heard as children. Their quest begins on Staten Island at Willowbrook Mental Instituion, a place with a dark past filled with the mistreatment of the patients before its closure. Soon after, their research directs them to the startling story of former custodian Andre Rand.

In 1987, Rand was arrested for the kidnapping of a little girl with Downs Syndrome and then charged with at least five more missing persons cases during the course of the 1970's during his incarceration. No concrete evidence was presented to justify him as the guilty perpertrator, but it seemed as though the area's citizens needed to end their witch hunt and begin the healing process. Unfortunately for Rand, he became the scapegoat of this whole situation, yet he still declares his innocence from his jail cell to this very day. Ties to a satanic cult and other weird avenues are also explored by the film makers during the 84-minute running time.


We are never given an opportunity to actually hear from Rand in an interview or otherwise. Only circumstantial evidence was used the judge, jury and executioner during his trial. Rand and his child snatching past are truly creepy and his physical appearance is that of a disturbed individual or a flat out "weirdo", but nothing definitive is offered as hard proof of his guilt. In the eyes of the law, he could very equally be as guilty as he is not guilty.

While it may resemble programming you'd find on TruTV or an installment of Dateline, it is a very interesting tale, although a but upsetting as well due to the circumstances and end result. Brancaccio and Zeman get major points for intertwining a legendary tale into reality, something that is a huge differentiator against the endless sea of straight forward documentary films out there.

If you thought that this Cropsey would refer to Cropsy, the lead villain of the 80's slasher The Burning, sorry to disappoint you. But this film released through Breaking Glass Pictures is certainly worth a watch.


RATING:
3 out of 5 Creeper Santas









TRAILER:



VITAL LINKAGE: 

Official Site


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Friday, February 3, 2012

WWE Debuts Their Webisodes This Week!





With their network launch date pushed back to November later this year, the WWE has entered a partnership with YouTube to air nine company-produced webisodes that started airing this past Wednesday on their WWEFanNation channel. This new, original programming will feature aspects WWE Superstars in an element outside of the squared circle and the confines of current storylines.

These new webisodes include: WWE Presents, Download, Santino’s Foreign Exchange, Outside the Ring, Are You Serious, WWE Inbox, Superstar Toyz, Backstage Fallout, and Z! True Long Island Story. The latter, which has been the outlet for Zack Ryder’s claim to stardom, will now be produced by the WWE and air on Fridays moving forward. 


Download is hosted by Dolph Ziggler and follows the format of shows like Tosh.0 and AMV, airing clips from the internet of people doing hilariously silly activites. Inbox has superstars answering questions about themselves, such as their favorite restaurants and perks of being a WWE star. Outside the Ring features superstars in their real life environments, beginning this week with The Usos and their authentic Samoan cooking. Santino’s Foreign Exchange features Santino Marella in a comedic “man on the street" format, interviewing both fans and WWE stars. Are You Serious, Superstar Toyz, Backstage Fallout, WWE Presents, and Z! True Long Island Story have not yet aired as of this writing, so their content cannot be commented on. Z! is mentioned as "not being seen yet" because there is a fear that the show will not be the usual entertaining Ryder series now that WWE is producing them and will probably make drastic changes to the content, co-stars and format. Here's to hoping that they do not fix what is far from broken. 

The webisodes that have already debuted are pretty goofy and not as entertaining as originally hoped, with the exception of Foreign Exchange, but granted this is the first week of WWE treading in the waters of a new venture. You may feel otherwise, so check out their YouTube channel and see for yourself at WWEFanNation.