Tag: movie marathon

The Boston Horror Marathon: Dusk to Dawn, Pt I

Well, maybe you’ve noticed that it is nearing Halloween time. This means the Boston Horror ‘Thon is on at the historic Somerville Theatre! It’s 12 straight hours of horror movie goodness, running from dusk to dawn last weekend. This was my first time, and it was exhausting, but really fun! And nothing compared to the 24-hour Sci-Fi Marathon. The theme was vampires, and the line-up featured three I’d seen and three new ones, which was nice. There was also a burlesque show with ladies hell of taking off their garments, and a sort of lame costume contest. And all hosted by this awesome guy. Things learned: Vampires love lesbianism and boobs and sucky noises. They don’t like regular food (which was news to me). Animals hate vampires. Sometimes vampires are not like full vampires? Just almost-vampires?

Anyway, I’ll break it down for you with some short reviews of the films I saw, sticking to just the first three for now. Read on.

1. Bakjwi (Thirst) (2009) Maybe you will remember Park Chan-wook’s latest film from my obsession with it a few weeks ago. After the second viewing, I’m still pretty obsessed. Song Kang-ho plays a Catholic priest who has an accidental vampire blood transfusion and must drink blood to keep a deadly illness from consuming him. He finds himself giving in to new desires and vices more and more as his will lessens, and he brings down with him a put-upon, vengeful young woman married to his childhood friend. It’s captivating, intense, visually stunning, and heartbreaking. One of my favorite films of the year, easily. 5/5

2. Near Dark (1987) I’ve been meaning to get into Kathryn Bigelow’s movies (I’ve only seen Point Break and it was years ago), and Near Dark is definitely a good start. A young Adrian Pasdar stars as over-confident stud Caleb, who tries to seduce a new girl in town only to have her turn him into a vampire. He falls into her crowd of rowdy killers (which includes Bill Paxton) but tries to resist his new bloodthirsty nature, while his father and sister track him down. It’s a pretty cool time, with fun characters and a good dose of violence. There’s a weird half-assed solution to the ending that kind of bothered me, and the love interest lady is super lame and missing a personality, but otherwise I dug it. 4/5

3. Låt den rätte komma in (Let the Right One In) (2008) I remember this being offered as an intelligent, hauntingly beautiful alternative to Twilight when it came out, but unfortunately it didn’t really have as much impact. Focusing on the relationship between a 12-year-old boy and his seemingly young vampiric neighbor, this film is a memorable, raw look at first love, childhood bullying, spontaneous combustion, and the trauma of being a vampire. It’s lovely, really. 4.5/5

Part II in the next post!

The 2009 Boston Science-Fiction Marathon, Pt III

Now we’re getting into the wee-er hours of the morning, so these remarks might be less coherent than those so eloquently laid down in parts One and Two of the 24-hour movie marathon.

9. Thrusting a curly-haired and quite young Jeff Goldblum in front of me was definitely enough to keep me awake for Invasion of the Body Snatchers (1978). Public health inspector Matthew Bennell (Donald Sutherland) and his coworker Brooke (Elizabeth Driscoll) uncover an alien invasion quickly devouring San Francisco through fast-growing seed pods that replicate humans as they sleep. They recruit Matthew’s friend Jack (Jeff Goldblum) and his wife Nancy (Veronica Cartwright) as they run around the city fighting to stay awake. Matthew seeks the help of friend and noted psychiatrist Dr Kibner (Leonard Nimoy) but really there’s no one they can trust. They try to find a way to escape or fight the epidemic, denying their own likely demise. I’ve seen the original but I don’t remember it very well, so I can’t really speak to this as a remake. I haven’t read the book, either. I liked the performances very much and found it engaging overall, though it did drag a bit at parts. And Jeff Goldblum wasn’t in it enough. Fabulous ending, though. Now I understand all those Donald Sutherland avatars. 4/5

10. Killer Klowns From Outer Space (1988): I tried to nap during this one on a couch in the lobby. It was hard to actually sleep what with the snoring old dude next to me and various other factors. I heard a kickin’ theme song and several rounds of laughter. The story involves aliens that look like clowns invading earth.

11. Transformers (2007) was there to wake us all up with its incredible loudness. Evil mutating robots arrive on earth and start stealing top-secret information from the US government. Some good ones arrive too and turn into automobiles. Both groups are after Sam Witwicky (Shia LaBeouf) because he has his explorer grandfather’s eyeglasses which hold the key to the powerful Allspark. Now it’s a battle between the government, the army, the ruthless Deceptacons, and the Autobots with Sam and his whiny girlfriend Mikaela (Megan Fox ugh). I was getting breakfast for most of the final battle. Transformers is exciting and has very good effects. I remember really liking it the first time I saw it, but that wanes each time I rewatch it. Shia LaBeouf is the best part, with great comedic timing. I wasn’t into the show or toys so I never really cared if it was true to the source material. It doesn’t try to be too serious or too expository- it knows what it is and has lots of explosions. 3/5

12. I have to admit I was nodding off through big chunks of I Married a Monster From Outer Space (1958), because, despite its awesome title, it is pretty boring. The night before he gets married to Marge (Gloria Talbott), Bill Farrell (Tom Tryon) is taken over by an alien. Flash forward a year later and Marge is pretty depressed about how weird and unfeeling her husband is, as well as the fact that she can’t get pregnant. She sees him meeting with other aliens and realizes it’s a doppelgänger. Other Bill explains that his planet was destroyed and only males were able to escape, so they’re trying to impregnate earth women to perpetuate their species. Ruh roh. Marge tries to warn everyone and some other stuff happens. I think I would have been more into this movie if I hadn’t been so sleepy. It’s an interesting, low-key take on the old alien-takeover-through-body-doubles premise. But as it stands in my hazy memory I have to say 3/5.

13. I was pretty excited for Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan (1982), despite the fact that I have never seen any Star Trek of any kind ever (whatever… Star Wars). Again, I was quite sleepy, but for the most part was quite engaged though much of it went over my head (I was awake but not focusing entirely well). Admiral Kirk (William Shatner) is suffering a midlife crisis when he’s invited to lead a training mission on the USS Enterprise with bff Captain Spock (Leonard Nimoy). Meanwhile some other guys accidentally set Kirk’s sworn enemy Khan (Ricardo Montalban) free from his exile on an isolated planet. Now Khan is out for revenge on Kirk with the use of the powerful Genesis device. It’s a fun movie that doesn’t require much prior Star Trek knowledge, but it did seem overly complex (maybe it would have been easier to understand if I was better informed). I dug William Shatner of course, and Montalban was excellent and impressively chested. Good effects and good times. 4/5

Well that’s it. 24 hours of science fiction, bested.

The 2009 Boston Science-Fiction Marathon, Pt II

After Logan’s Run, it was totally time for some food. Unfortunately McDonald’s was about the only fast option. While munching on burgers and a tasty parfait, I took in the next few films of Boston’s 24-hour science fiction marathon. (Read Part One.)

5. Alongside the “Aliens Attack” theme, the marathon also honored Michael Crichton (who passed away in November) by screening Runaway (1984). It’s the future, robots are everywhere, and Tom Selleck stars as Sgt Jack Ramsay, who specializes in robot-related crimes and has an intense fear of heights (prepare for several moments reminiscent of Vertigo), as well as being a single parent. Karen Thompson (Cynthia Rhodes) is his pretty new partner. Together they uncover a conspiracy involving the evil Dr Charles Luther (Gene Simmons- yes, that Gene Simmons), who has been tampering with domestic robots and turning them into ruthless killing machines, while persistently maintaining a dastardly glare. Ramsay enlists Jackie Rogers (Kirstie Alley) to help find Luther, but in the end it turns into a personal death-defying, high-heights battle between the two men. This movie is awesome. I mean, come on. The synopsis alone is enough. Pure, robotic, mustachioed, futuristic fun. 4.5/5

6. Alien Raiders (2008) is a new film that unfortunately will be straight to DVD. Almost the entirety of its action takes place within a large grocery store which has been taken over by a group of supposed thieves. Led by Aaron Ritter (Carlos Bernard), they kill a few of the shoppers- including a cop- and let several others go, while two of their own are killed in the initial struggle. They stuff the bodies in the meat locker and the hostages left are subjected to a special test, meant to sniff out a certain disease (aka alien infestation) that they’ve tracked to the store. This test is fairly menacing and painful, and the hostages make various attempts to escape their fates. There are a lot of setbacks and deaths, police interference, and then a big alien monster attacks everyone! It’s a really entertaining, well-done movie. My main issue is that the “surprise” ending is pretty foreseeable, but it’s still a fun way to end it. Plus, Ben Rock, the director, was there for a Q & A and he was really cool. 4/5

7. During The Thing From Another World (1951), I was starting to get a little sleepy, but I still really enjoyed it. While stationed at the North Pole, a bunch of scientists and military-types encounter a mysterious metal craft buried in the ice. They find an alien creature frozen inside and take it back to their base, guarding it to keep from thawing. Dr Carrington (Robert Cornthwaite) thinks it’s a super-intelligent higher being that can impart wisdoms to humanity, while Captain Patrick Hendry (Kenneth Tobey) is all “we can’t do anything until ‘Washington’ tells us to”. Of course the creature thaws accidentally and starts terrorizing the inhabitants of the small base, who must use every resource available to stop it. I dug the arctic setting of the story, and the writing was tight, building up a good amount of tension. I was annoyed by the “science vs military” thing, with Carrington portrayed as cold-hearted and impractical, and Hendry as heroic and commanding, but I think that’s more an indicator of its time. 4/5

8. Another movie I was really excited for was Repo Man (1984), which was really weird but really fun. Emilio Estevez is Otto, a recently unemployed punk who gets roped into being a repo man by Bud (Harry Dean Stanton). In learning the ropes of car repossession, he runs into an attractive UFO conspiracy theorist, rival repo men, lots of violence, his friends’ crime sprees, and a much-sought-after 1964 Chevy Malibu with mysterious forces in its trunk. I dug the surreal, wacky world Alex Cox created. Lots of ambiguities and silly characters, like a more punk rock Gilliam film. I didn’t like Otto that much though- he was a jerk and sort of annoying. It was hard for me to really care what happened to him. I also thought the story was a little too all-over-the-place, as if the alien element was an afterthought when it could have been a more exciting part of the plot. Still very good, just not quite as good as I had expected. 4/5

All right, kids, I’ll have the final part of the Boston Sci-Fi Marathon coverage next time!

The 2009 Boston Science-Fiction Marathon, Pt I

24 hours of straight science-fiction, hell yes. That is what happens at the historic Somerville Theatre every President’s Weekend. This was my first time at the so-called “‘Thon” and it was pretty rad. The theme was “Aliens Attack!” and 13 films were shown. I sat through them all except one. Lots of trailers and shorts were placed between them, which I really dug. Now, watching so many movies in a short period of time means it all sort of runs together, so I’m not going to give like 12 in-depth posts dedicated to each individual film. Instead you’ll get short reviews based on what I can remember/decipher from the sleepiness-induced hallucinations.

1. First up was Alien Trespass (2009), which hasn’t actually been released yet. It’s a very well-done send up of 50’s alien invasion movies. Eric McCormack plays Ted Lewis, a happily married astronomer who is perpetually smoking a pipe. His body is taken over by Urp, a recently-crashed alien who must stop the replicating, man-eating creatures that followed him to earth. He enlists the aid of Tammy (Jenni Baird), a surprisingly capable waitress, to defeat the imminent invasion. The story also follows Lewis’ wife, some curious teenagers, and the inept police department (one of whom is played by Robert Patrick aka T-1000). It’s very funny, with some great sight gags, allusions, and misunderstandings. Definitely one of my favourite movies shown at the marathon. It gets a limited release on April 3. 4.5/5

2. Then came It Came From Outer Space 3-D (1953), which I’ve wanted to see for a while ever since resolving to watch every movie referenced in the opening song to Rocky Horror. It was pretty good, but I hated the 3-D thing. It was with those old school red/blue cellophane deals, and it hurt my head to wear over my regular glasses. The 3-D wasn’t used particularly well in the film, either, but there were some times I thought I might be hit by falling debris. Based on a Ray Bradbury story and directed by Jack Arnold, it follows John Putnam and Ellen Fields as they investigate a supposed meteor crash and several ensuing missing persons cases. Putnam discovers that aliens have landed and are trying to inconspicuously repair their ship by taking on the appearances of various townspeople. They’re willing to be peaceful, unless someone tries to interfere. A good premise, but a little slow-moving. 3.5/5

3. Chrysalis (2008) is the only movie I really didn’t like, and most of the audience agreed. Taking place in an ambiguously chaotic, military-regime future and also based on a Bradbury story, it details the events of a botanical research facility with only three residents. When Smith (Glen Vaughan) suddenly sinks into a coma and begins to form a moss-like cocoon around his body, Dr Rockwell (Darren Kendrick) is called in to find a cure. They all stand around watching for a few days and at some point military people come. Rockwell thinks he’ll wake up to be some sort of savior, while Hartley (John Klemantaski), the head of research, thinks he’ll become a monster and constantly tries to kill him. The movie was really slow moving and overall pretty dull. I think it would have been more interesting as a short film, or they could have expanded upon the events of the outside world, which seemed to be experiencing some sort of epidemic and lots of rioting. It’s labeled as being in “post-production” on imdb, so maybe they’re still tweaking it. I just don’t think this story warranted a full-length movie. It looked pretty good though, considering this (presumably) had a very small budget, as a first-time directing/writing/acting situation for several main players. 2/5

4. One of the movies I was most excited for was Logan’s Run (1976), which overall I really enjoyed, but found way too lengthy. Based on the book of the same name, it chronicles the trials of Logan 5 (Michael York) as he discovers his seemingly utopian world is decidedly sinister. Everyone (on earth? in America? it is unclear) resides in a technologically advanced, hedonistic city that is completely walled off from the outside. Its residents are all quite young (and for the most part, quite white) because when they hit 30, they sacrifice themselves to be “reborn” to maintain equilibrium. No one knows what old age is, and no one really understands actual death. Logan is a “Sandman”, hunting down any who try to run away from the city when their time comes. He is charged with finding Sanctuary, the alleged safe haven for escaped runners, and enlists Jessica (Jenny Agutter) for her connections to the underground rebels to help him find it. As he learns more about the inner workings of the system, Logan desires to actually run away. But even if he and Jessica make it, they may find the outside to be much different than they expected. It’s a well-done dystopian tale that manages to be consistently engaging despite its length, though it does drag at the end. I haven’t read the book so maybe the filmmakers just wanted to keep as much of the original tale as possible. Visually it was grandiose and imaginative, except some of the female fashions were revealing to the point of making me nervous. 4.5/5

That’s it for now. You’ll discover the following four films next time!