Posted in Movies with tags , , , , on 12/10/2011 by Chris

At the very start of Rocky III, it was clear this series was headed in a slightly different direction. It begins with a montage of Rocky – now the heavyweight champ – pummeling his opponents left and right, while a plethora of various headlines and magazine clippings sweep across the screen. Rocky is now a superstar, no longer bumming around the streets and gyms of Philly, and shit, he hardly even looks the same. Stallone was also prepping for his debut as Rambo when he did Rocky III, and it saw him pack on the muscles while dropping dangerously low in body fat. (According to Stallone in his book Sly Moves, a typical day of shooting Rocky III also consisted of running several miles, swimming and weightlifting, all the while getting by on as little as a single can of tuna and multiple cups of coffee.) But the most glaring change is in Rocky’s personality; in an early scene where he bails Paulie out of jail, we’re introduced to the new Rocky: a stiff, articulate man wrapped in an expensive suit, and now living in a mansion. Rocky likes driving his son around in a golf cart, and trains for fights in a hotel ballroom while spectators eat finger foods and pose for pictures with him. Rocky III may be known most for introducing Mr. T and “Eye of the Tiger,” but to me it’s the movie where Rocky acts like a douche.

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Posted in Movies with tags , , on 12/05/2011 by Chris

Rocky II doesn’t tend to get a whole lot of love from casual Rocky fans. Most of the attention goes to the original (which is a classic) and parts III and IV (which are flashy and entertaining). Not helping its case is the fact that it’s mostly an extension/rehash of the original; Rocky retires after taking a beating from Apollo, marries Adrian, then tries to settle into a legitimate lifestyle after spending all of the money he earned from the fight. Meanwhile, Apollo’s ego is bruised when the press question whether he really earned that victory over Rocky, and bullies the “Italian Stallion” into a rematch. Much of Rocky II is mundane – literally the first hour and change is devoted to showing Rocky foolishly spend away his money, and trying but failing to capitalize on his temporary fame by doing product endorsements. Because he doesn’t want to go back to being a strong-arm for local loan shark Gazzo (he gives brother-in-law Paulie the gig instead), Rocky takes a job at the same meat plant where Paulie used to work, and eventually ends up working as sort of a janitor at Mickey’s gym.

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Posted in Movies with tags , , on 12/01/2011 by Chris

Around this time back in 2006, MGM released (or re-released) a box set of all five Rocky movies, to piggy-back/cash in on the release of Rocky Balboa. I promptly picked it up and watched all five – precisely one each night, after which my first priority was hitting the theater. Every year since, I find myself re-watching at least a couple of the movies (Rocky II and V tend to get passed over the most), but when possible I try to watch all six between Thanksgiving and Christmas.

The way I see it, the Rocky series always had a strong connection to the holiday season. Why that is I’m not really sure, but for some reason every movie (except Rocky III) seems to take place at least partially over the holidays. In Rocky, his first date with Adrian is on Thanksgiving, and his fight with Apollo is on New Year’s Day. Rocky II‘s big fight is on Thanksgiving, and in Rocky IV he fights Ivan Drago in Russia on Christmas. As for Rocky V and Rocky Balboa, they both partially occur over the holidays as well. In addition, every movie with the exception of parts II and III were released to theaters in either November or December, and you can usually find them on TV in these months more than any other time of year.

Above all else, Rocky is the ultimate feel-good movie – the classic underdog story that virtually anyone can get behind. And like some of the best holiday movies, there’s an inherent level of corniness to it that’s somehow more acceptable and even a little infectious during this time of year. So crack a few eggs into a glass (or just crack open a beer) and get some Rocky going this year:

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Posted in Movies with tags , , , , , on 10/24/2011 by Chris

Ghostbusters II tends to take a lot more flack than it really deserves. It may pale in comparison to the first one, but let’s face it – any sequel would. One valid criticism is that too much of it is a retread of the original; after triumphantly saving New York, we find our heroes have been put out of business, now relegated to hosting birthday parties and cheap cable TV shows. People still accuse them of being frauds, which is sort of inexplicable considering all the shit that went down. Furthermore, we find that Bill Murray and Sigourney Weaver’s characters did not end up together as we were made to think. Everyone’s on an uphill climb once again, as if writers Dan Aykroyd & Harold Ramis had no other ideas for continuing the story. Regardless, GB II is a lot of fun, so much so that I can’t see why some fans have chosen to ignore it. Take the sticks out of your asses, people.  3.5/5

  • Slam one down every time poor Winston gets a line of dialogue.

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Posted in Movies with tags , , , , , , on 10/19/2011 by Chris

House on Haunted Hill (1999)

In 1999, movie producers Joel Silver and Robert Zemeckis started up Dark Castle Entertainment, a production company (initially) intended to remake the ’50s and ’60s horror films of William Castle. Their first Castle remake was House on Haunted Hill. It didn’t fare too well at the box office, at least in comparison to Jan de Bont’s The Haunting, 1999’s other haunted house flick, which beat it to theaters and subsequently left a rancid taste in people’s mouths. House on Haunted Hill, however, is the superior movie. It’s trash, for sure, but entertaining trash. Geoffrey Rush hams it up, channeling Vincent Price by way of James Woods, and he practically makes the movie. The rest of the cast is filled out by a young Taye Diggs and a pre-X-Men Famke Janssen, with Peter Gallagher and Ali Larter in the mix as well. Perhaps most randomly, SNL‘s Chris Kattan shows up as the neurotic young owner who inherited the “house”, and perhaps most amazingly, he’s not entirely annoying. The most pleasant surprise about this movie is that it actually manages to be pretty creepy on occasion. The best parts (aside from practically any scene with Rush) involve the ghosts of the sanitarium’s lunatic doctor and his staff fucking up people’s party plans, and some of the eerie visual effects take a cue from Jacob’s Ladder. However like so many other horror titles that build up a considerable amount of the viewer’s good will, it all turns to shit in the end, collapsing in spectacular fashion as the “evil” manifests itself as a giant CGI shit-cloud that looks created by fucking MS Paint. It’s not quite enough to ruin the good time that came before it, but it’s close.  3/5

  • Take a drink every time Geoffrey Rush and Famke Janssen hurl sarcastic insults at each other.

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Posted in Movies with tags , , , , , , on 10/10/2011 by Chris

Oh shit, it’s that time of year again! You know the drill – 31 horror movies in 31 days. As usual there’s no specific theme…just whatever I can drudge up from On Demand, plus a few choice rentals and hopefully a couple of trips to the theater. (Unfortunately due to the cock smugglers over at Netflix, their vast and weird selection of horror movies available for streaming will not be in the pool this year.)

New to the challenge this year will be a mini drinking game to go along with each movie, because horror movies and drinking go together like Children of the Corn sequels and bargain bins.

Let the games begin!

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Posted in Movies with tags , , , , , , , , , on 10/01/2011 by Chris

(This isn't me)

While October will primarily be occupied with the return of my Halloween Horror Movie Challenge, I figured I’d lead in to it with something similar in tone. Without further ado, here’s 10 movie villains who scared the piss outta me as a kid. And by “kid”, I mean ages 5-26:

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