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Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Ready? Ok!(2008)



Ready? Ok! is one of those awesomely amazing endearing films like Napoleon Dynamite. It does not posses any of the sardonic biting wit that ND possessed, but the main character is one of the underdogs that you find yourself rooting for, no matter the circumstances. The story concerns 10 year old Josh, who attends a private Catholic school, and wants nothing more than to be a cheerleader. The school will not allow it because he is a boy. His single mother, while nice enough, doesn't understand Josh, and pushes him to be a wrestler, because that's "what boys do". He has no father, and his uncle whom he loves, nurses a hefty case of OCD, and can't stay in one place for very long. His grandmother loves him unconditionally, and will do anything for him. But his true friend is his neighbor Charlie, an older gay man, that teaches Josh to follow his heart no matter what people tell him that he should do. It doesn't have the ending that you would expect, although it is a happy one. I was also glad that they didn't push the "gay" angle onto Josh, although it is readily apparent that he is. I applaud the director's decision to not exploit that angle of the story, and take it out of the family element that is present throughout the film. It is available on Netflix Instant Watch right now, so take a peek at it, it will warm your heart.

Phosphorescent:Here's To Taking It Easy(2010)


To say that I worship Phosphorescent would be a massive understatement! When I heard the first record(A Hundred Times Or More), I knew that Matthew Houck was a talent to be reckoned with. Coming from a rural town in Alabama, he seemed to capture what that state looks like within his songs. For those of you not of the south, that's probably hard to understand, but if you could hear red clay roads, and kudzu growing, it'd probably sound a lot like Phosphorescent. On the early records some people thought that Matt was impersonating Will Oldham, due to his screechy delivery, never did the two sound alike to me. On the last two releases(Pride, and For Willie) his songwriting has met epic proportions, and the man Willie Nelson, said that the song Cocaine Lights was the best song he never wrote. Willie invited Matt and the rest of the band to play last years Live Aid, where they were joined on stage by Mr. Nelson and Neil Young, sounds like a career defining moment to me. I was wondering what kind of direction that they would go in after last years all cover tribute to Willie Nelson? Well the answer is.....more country, some horns, better production, and best of all....some of the best songs Matt has ever written.


Here's To Taking It Easy officially comes out on May 11th, and I wouldn't hesitate to go and pick up a copy on that very day, it's that damned good. It starts with "It's Hard To Be Humble(When Your From Alabama)" a horn-laden rocker that sounds like a lost song from The Rolling Stones "Exile On Mainstreet". Other highlights include "Heaven, Sittin Down", which is a honky-tonk barnstormer, that I can't quit listening to. "Los Angeles" is a 9 minute epic that is the sonic cousin to the aforementioned "Cocaine Lights", and is probably influenced by Kris Kristofferson. "We'll Be Here Soon" is one of those sad songs that only Matt can write, and make you feel uplifted despite the tone of the song. The only song that I don't love is the semi-experimental "Hej, Me I'm Light", and that one will probably grow on me as well. This is the first Phosphorescent record that I loved immediately, usually I have to spend a long time with them, this one is love at first listen. If you like Rolling Stones(the Country-Honk period), Willie Nelson, Kris Kristofferson, The Eagles(early period), or Gram Parsons, I don't think that you could go wrong with this record. If you don't like it, then you know you at least supported a band that are talented, and genuinely nice guys.

Friday, April 23, 2010

Mulligans(2008)


This is the first "gay" film reviewed by Vitamin Burger. I figured I would get in the practice, since I am about to start reviewing gay Horror films for Horroryearbook.com. People who know me, know that I am not very "outwardly gay", or in other words most people don't know I am gay unless I tell them. But I do see the need for Gay & Lesbian films, since we are usually so lambasted in mainstream films. It's just a shame that the average moviegoer won't give a gay film a chance, even though most of these films don't include graphic sex, just centered around gay characters. Mulligans is a pretty decent gay-drama despite it's shortcomings.


Tyler is a college-student, who along with his best friend Chase, head home to Canada for the summer, for a job at a golf course. They stay with Tyler's family, who are his parents Nathan & Stacey, and his adorable little sister Birdie(who is actually wise beyond her years). Not long after their arrival Chase tells Tyler that he is gay. Tyler tries to be supportive, but you can tell that he has a problem with the issue. Before long we see that Tyler's dad Nathan has some emerging sexual tension aimed at Chase. He tells Chase that he has always been gay, but he didn't know how to handle it, and thus married Stacey, and started a family. You actually feel sorry for Nathan, until he and Chase start messing around. They are so reckless that first Stacey catches them, and then Tyler does. Stacey is very forgiving, as she says she has known about her husband the whole time. Tyler freaks out, and will not talk to Chase anymore, and this crushes Chase. It's a very well-acted film, and keeps you interested through it's duration. It's also safe for straight folks, as there is no on screen sex, beyond kissing. Check it out if this sounds at all interesting to you.

Until The Light Takes Us(2008)


Words cannot express how excited I was to see this documentary. From the first rumblings I heard about it, I was obsessed about seeing it. I am a huge fan of Black Metal, and from what I had heard this was finally an intelligent look at the genre. Filmmakers Aaron Aites and Audrey Ewell moved to Norway for two years and got to know the members of the bands, before shooting the film. Words cannot express how disappointed I was after finally seeing it.


It centers around the controversy that happened in Norway in the early 90's around the Black Metal scene(church burnings, murder, suicide, etc.). There are, in my opinion, several major problems with this documentary. Firstly, if you know nothing about the genre, or controversy, the film does nothing to explain it. Most of the accents are so strong, that when they explain something, you can't really tell what they are saying. Secondly, there is no narration at all, just long interviews, they seriously needed some sort of narration to break up the monotony. Same goes with the music, there are no performances at all in the film. Kind of strange since it's a documentary about music. There is a soundtrack, but from what I could tell, about 60% of it consisted of techno/ambient music like Boards Of Canada, a serious mistake in the eyes of metalheads. Lastly, the interviews are so long, they seem to go on forever. It literally felt as though this film is 9 hours long!


I was left very distraught after viewing this! The filmmakers could have done so much better. They shot on location, and actually had interviews from Varg Vikernes(in prison) and Fenriz from Darkthrone in it, which is a major coup, considering how elusive these two are. If you are a fan of the genre and know all of the stories already, you might get a little enjoyment out of this. If you are new to the genre, and are looking for some enlightenment of the genre from the film, look elsewhere.

Kill Theory(2009)


#7 in the After Dark Horrorfest 2010 reviews. There's not much to say about this film. I didn't hate it or love it. Mediocre all the way around, nothing stands out, and I barely remember what happened. A group of college kids go on the usual vacation, and an unseen villain forces them to start killing each other of ala Saw. I am so tired of these kinds of horror films, I yearn for the days of good old fashioned killer in the woods films, hell at least those are entertaining! It does star Taryn Manning, who I always find entertaining, because of her awesome lisp. If you don't mind those killers, then you could do worse than this film. It's definitely not the best of the bunch(that honor still belongs to ZMD, and Hidden), but I still have to see The Final.

Saturday, April 17, 2010

Train(2008)



Easiest review ever:

HOSTEL On a A Train.

You Decide.

Friday, April 16, 2010

The Graves(2009)


Here we are at review number 6 in the After Dark Horrorfest, and I am starting to kick myself for ever taking on this challenge! The Graves isn't the worst film in the fest, but is so mediocre that I barely remember anything about it, and I only watched it last night. Everything is by the numbers, nothing stands out, I can't justify any reason for seeing this.

2 sisters go into the desert to see the World's Largest Thermometer(????), and end up lost in the town of Unity. They are told that they are a long way from their destination, but should check out the local Skull City mines instead. They tell them that it's a haunted ghost town. It starts out like a rip off of any 80's slasher movie, but we notice that when people are killed something comes out the ground and sucks their soul away. The "killer" is killed off early in the movie, and Bill Mosely shows up to take his place. His performance is a repeat of every character he has ever done before. Too many plot points are introduced, and none of them are fleshed out. It also features Tony Todd( I should have known better), and singer of the Heavy Metal band Lamb Of God, Randy Blythe, whose performance is so laughable, I can't believe he held a straight face. Stay away from this unless you are a sadist, like myself.

Thursday, April 15, 2010

R.I.P Peter Steele


Peter Steele, frontman of Gothic Metal pioneers Type O Negative died yesterday of apparent heart failure, he was 48 years old. What a sad day for Metal, rest in peace brother.

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Lake Mungo(2008)


Here we are at the 5th review of this years After Dark Horror Fest, and things aren't looking better. So far, I have only liked 2 out of the 5 films that I have seen. Lake Mungo is not a bad movie, it's just NOT a Horror film! More than anything, it reminded me of an hour and half episode of Unsolved Mysteries. I am wondering if they just didn't have enough films to release, and just rushed this one out to meet the quota.

The story is about a 16 year old girl Alice, who drowns during a family picnic. Shortly after her death, Alice starts showing up in various photographs and videos shot by friends and neighbors. We find out that her older brother has faked these, and never really explains why. Then things take a more sinister turn when they find a videotape of Alice having sex with a neighbor couple. This aspect of the film reminds me more of Laura Palmer's tribulations in Twin Peaks. Clues lead the family to Lake Mungo, where Alice went on a school trip the year before. She buried a bag of her possessions, including her cell phone. The video footage captured on the cell phone, is very eerie, but comes a little to late in the film, to be a big payoff. Like I said, it's not a horror film, but if you like things like Unsolved Mysteries or Cold Case Files, you could do a lot worse than this Australian film.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Skjult(aka Hidden)(2009)


Here we have my 4th installment of the After Dark Horrorfest 2010 reviews, and things are finally looking up again. After Dread and The Reeds, I was ready to quit on my reviewing of these films. Good thing I watched Hidden next, and have had my faith restored. Hidden is a Norwegian film, and I was very much looking forward to it, after the Nord's brought forth Dead Snow last year. The film is subtitled, and no option for English dialogue, but you shouldn't let this deter you from seeing this film. It is a very beautiful, atmospheric, dark, and open ended film, that's open to several interpretations.


The story follows Kai Koss(KK) a little boy who abused, mistreated, and locked in the basement by his evil old Mother. One night he breaks out of his underground prison and escapes. He runs through the thick forests, and onto a highway in front of a semi-truck, to avoid hitting the boy, the truck swerves and hits a parked car on the side of the road. The car is holding a man and a woman, while their young son was peeing on the side of the road, witnesses this whole accident. KK sees the young boy(Peter) take off into the woods, and is never seen again. Cut to 19 years later, and KK returns home, when his evil Mother dies, to take care of the details. Coincidentally, some murders of local kids start happening when he gets there as well, and the locals are convinced it's KK. KK however, has seen a mysterious man wandering about his abandoned house, and through the forests. Has Peter really been surviving out in these woods all these years? Was he held captive by KK's evil mother? Is KK really the killer, and just imagining Peter? There are lots of questions that you can only solve by seeing Hidden. This film is recommended whole heartedly, and has many good scares, and keeps you interested throughout it's running time. My favorite so far of this years ADHF.

Monday, April 12, 2010

Re:Remakes


For God's sake.......LEAVE THE CLASSICS ALONE!!

The Reeds(2009)


This is my 3rd review in the 2010 After Dark Horrorfest series. This one will be short and (un)sweet, because this movie was so bad! That really pains me to say, because I looked forward to this one the most out of this year's batch. The title, the poster, all of it seems to be calling to me, and I knew this was gonna be a hell of a horror movie. Well, ADHF suckered me again, this movie blows! It has one of the best settings I have ever seen in a genre film. Fields of reeds in the middle of a remote lake in the English Countryside, what else could you ask for? Some cohesion, some plot, and some decent scares.....that's what.


A group of friends go on a trip to the aforementioned location, and get stranded, and start getting picked off one by one. Had they played this like a straight-forward slasher, this would have been great. But instead, they introduce at least 3 different plot lines into the story, and never explain or resolve any of them. You have a group of wild children acting strange and chasing things. You have a possession/alien story going on, and you also have some form of time travelling going on.....and NONE of this is explained. Steer clear of this stinker at all cost!

Thursday, April 8, 2010

Xasthur-Portal Of Sorrow(2010)


By now most people know that this will be the last Xasthur record ever. A lot of people may find this a blessing, but I bet they wouldn't uphold that opinion after hearing Portal Of Sorrow. This is by far the best and most atmospheric music that Scott Connor has ever captured on tape. Which to me, makes his departure from the Black Metal scene all the more saddening. But you know what they say, it's better to go out with a bang than a dying whimper.

Much has been made of the fact that Scott used indie rock chanteuse Marissa Nadler on this record. I bet any of the people complaining about that fact, never once stopped to pick up one of Miss Nadler's Cd's to investigate? If they had, they would have known that she is a perfect fit in this project. She adds a David Lynch/Twin Peaks vibe to the already dreamlike atmosphere. This record is very far from a straightforward Black Metal record, although it does have some of those elements. This is one of the most varied things that I have heard since Dodheimsgard's 666 International, or Ulver's sprawling William Blake record. Don't mistake that for meaning that Xasthur have techno elements now, I was referring only to varied nature of the record. People who have hated the later works are encouraged to pick this record up, you just might change your mind. The vocals are more or less buried in the mix, as always, except for Marissa Nadler's which scream through the haze, like a seraphim from hell. Scott's vocals, when present are more in the vein of the early, mournful style, which is a very welcome return. It's a great record, and it's sad that it will be the last, I wish that Scott would just continue in this magnificent new direction, and don't worry about scene politics. He assures us, he will continue to make music, just not Metal music.