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Archive for ‘Movie Reviews’

The Awkward Movie Challenge: The Lost Boys

April 28, 2011 By: Category: Greatest Hits, The Awkward Movie Challenge


According to Netflix, Mike and Jeffrey agree with each other on movies 84% of the time. In their regular feature, The Awkward Movie Challenge, they search valiantly for that sweet 16% that results in big arguments and big laughs.

Jeffrey:

Phew. Boy oh boy, did we just take a long hiatus from the movie challenge. A lot has happened since we last talked. Segretto had a baby and I finally became a man, officially, in a tribal ceremony that involved a lot of painful tweezing and embarrassing obstacle courses. Being a man is harder work than I imagined. There’s a lot of construction and swearing involved.

But now we’re back, and we’re ready to “sink our teeth” into an 80s classic, The Lost Boys. Ha ha ha, that’s a joke, because The Lost Boys is a movie about vampires, and one thing about vampires is that they like to put their teeth in things. Another thing about them is that they all look like members of Aerosmith during Aerosmith’s very bad period. These are the kinds of lessons we learn from watching The Lost Boys.

Let me get this out of the way right off the bat: I love this movie. I haven’t seen it since I was a kid, but when I was a kid, I watched it many, many times. I was not aware how many times I had watched it until I rewatched it last night. Every line of dialogue is ingrained in my brain. I know every song inside and out because my sister would listen to the soundtrack over and over again. If you know the soundtrack, actually, you already know half the movie, because it is basically a music video with occasional dialogue. And unexpected special guests!

Hi David Cross!

Hi Bill S. Preston, Esquire!

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The Awkward Movie Challenge: The Big Lebowski

July 28, 2010 By: Category: Greatest Hits, The Awkward Movie Challenge

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According to Netflix, Mike and Jeffrey agree with each other on movies 84% of the time. In their ongoing feature, The Awkward Movie Challenge, they search valiantly for that sweet 16% that results in big arguments and big laughs.

Mike:

Most of the time, I couldn’t care less about sitting outside of pop culture obsessions. I have no more desire to understand the appeal of Twilight or Lady Gaga or “American Idol” or sports than I care to understand the appeal of sticking a chopstick in ones peehole. But there are a few beloved pop items that really irk me because I don’t get them. One is Some Like It Hot, which has so much going for it—Billy Wilder and Jack Lemon and Marilyn Monroe and a reputation as the greatest comedy ever made—but never fails to bore me. Another is The Big Lebowski.

The Big Lebowski (1998) stars Jeff Bridges as Jeff Lebowski, aka: The Dude, a middle-aged hippie stoner who wants nothing more than to bowl with his crazy Vietnam Vet buddy Walter (John Goodman) but gets caught up in a scheme to deliver ransom money to the kidnappers of the wife (Tara Reid) of a millionaire (David Huddleston), also named Jeffrey Lebowski. Being that this is a movie by Joel and Ethan Coen, greed inevitably fouls the plan when Walter decides that he and The Dude should keep the ransom money for themselves. (more…)

The Awkward Movie Challenge: Showgirls

June 24, 2010 By: Category: Greatest Hits, The Awkward Movie Challenge

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According to Netflix, Mike and Jeffrey agree with each other on movies 84% of the time. In their weekly feature, The Awkward Movie Challenge, they search valiantly for that sweet 16% that results in big arguments and big laughs.

Jeffrey:

The summer before my junior year at the University of Michigan, I got a job at Record Town in the Briarwood Mall. As record stores go, it was not one. We didn’t sell records. CDs and cassettes only. And cassingles, of course. Hahaha. Cassingles!

I recognized that it was a terrible store for anyone who liked music, but nonetheless, I felt like I’d finally hit the big time. Who wouldn’t want to work in a record store? I mean, working in a cool record store that was not in a mall would have been better, let’s face it. But it was still a bit of a dream come true. There weren’t a lot of real record fans shopping at the mall, though. The Jock Jams compilations did not leave our top 20 bestseller wall in the entire two years I worked there, and that is not hyperbole.

I’m not trying to make you feel bad about your crappy college job. So you worked in the caf, no big deal. Someone had to refill the soft serve machines. But there is a tie-in between Showgirls and Record Town. A few months before the film came out, we received a promotional video at the store featuring 20 minutes of unrated footage from the movie. Like an extended preview kind of thing. I took it home with me because no one else in the store gave a shit about Showgirls. Because no one in America gave a shit about Showgirls. Contrary to what you may have heard in Bible class, the country did not spend 1995 in the grips of Showgirls fever. (more…)

The Awkward Movie Challenge: I Was a Teenage Werewolf

May 24, 2010 By: Category: Greatest Hits, The Awkward Movie Challenge

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According to Netflix, Mike and Jeffrey agree with each other on movies 84% of the time. In their weekly feature, The Awkward Movie Challenge, they search valiantly for that sweet 16% that results in big arguments and big laughs.

Mike:

Movie monsters have always been handy vessels for metaphor. Dracula is the embodiment of sexual terror and venereal disease. Frankenstein plays on distrust of science. Dr. Jekyll is a junkie. The Creature from the Black Lagoon symbolizes man’s inherent fear of fish. But no monster is as metaphorically ripe as the werewolf. Werewolves represent the subsumption of the ego by the id… an inarticulate, self-control devoid, hairy-palmed, snarling, drooling, havoc-by-moonlight-raising id. Sound like someone you know? No? Well then you’ve never been or spent time around a teenager. By all accounts, teenagers are pimply, violent, amoral, unhygienic creatures, and no one believed this more than the adults of the 1950s. Before that decade of pre-fab housing and six-martini lunches, teens were essentially societal nonentities. They were only bit players in both everyday life and fiction. Hell, even the fucking Bible totally skips over Jesus’s teen years. This changed in the ‘50s when things like TV-watching, comic book-reading, and record-buying made teens viable demographics to advertisers. In other words: they became actual people. But the programs they watched, the comics they read, and the records they dug convinced a good portion of adults that this once invisible minority was being pumped with a disturbing dose of rebelliousness. Adults imagined a generation of kids hopped up on the dope, filled with murderous impulses by E.C. comics, and driven to unimagined heights of sexual mania by Buddy Holly records. Teenagers became enemies every bit as formidable as Joe Commie. They were all id.

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The Monstrosity Exhibition: Lost Terrors of VHS Sleeve Cover Art

April 19, 2010 By: Category: Horror Films You'll Never See, Movie Reviews, Movies

The Monstrosity Exhibition: Lost Terrors of VHS Sleeve Cover Art
written by Clay McLeod Chapman

Black Christmas

Video World was tucked off into a topiary-barricaded alcove of the Stony Point Shopping Centre, a swift five-minute Schwinn sojourn from my front door.

No bigger than a boutique, this early-80′s video store was infinitesimal in comparison to the cancerous sprawl of the Blockbuster Video chain that had begun to malignantly metastasize its way through America’s suburban strip malls, eventually putting all the mom-and-pop operations like Video World out of business. I was fortunate enough to push through my preadolescence before the big blue-and-yellow Blockbuster awnings started cropping up all across my hometown. Walking into Video World was like immersing myself in a Betamax Shangri-La. Every last inch of wall space, from floor-to-ceiling, was lined entirely in video cassettes. At 8 years old, I had officially found my home-away-from home. Each 4 by 7-and-a-half inch VHS cassette contained a different story, just waiting to be told – and I made it my mission to watch them all. Or as many as my allowance would allow.

Hidden at the rear of the store, buried behind comedy, family, drama (but before you reached the “private room” of adult films at the very, very back) – there remained a single row of videos off-limits to children. Little boys and girls were not allowed to rent the videos from back here at the shadowy edge of the forest.

The horror section.

A kid like me couldn’t help but feel a shift in the atmosphere upon entering the aisle, suddenly surrounded by so many R-rated movies. The carpet seemed to darken, stained somehow. Even the air had a miasma of decrepit breath to it, thicker than the air in the childrens section. I knew I wasn’t supposed to be here, which only made me want to explore even more – go deeper, take just another couple steps in, see if I could make my way past the A’s, past the B’s, even the C’s, until I was utterly immersed in the aisle, enveloped in images of terror from all around.

This – this was where fear resided.

Every kind of fear you could think of, or not think of, was right here – captured on magnetic tape and sealed inside its own cardboard box – little gift-wrapped packages presented in a tableau of carnage.

Deadly Spawn. Faces of Death. Def-Con 4. Xtro. The Stepfather. The Driller Killer. The Stuff. Texas Chainsaw Massacre II. I Spit On Your Grave. The Dead Pit. Black Roses. Headless Eyes. Magic. Black Christmas. He Knows You’re Alone. Class of Nuke ‘Em High. Cellar Dweller. Mother’s Day. The Prowler.

So go ahead, kid – I dare you. Slip a video off the shelf.

Pick any horror film and take the cassette into your hand. Rub your finger over the cardboard cover with its softened edges. Feel how fuzzy and worn the corners are?

Now look at the cover.

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The Awkward Movie Challenge: Troll 2

March 30, 2010 By: Category: Greatest Hits, The Awkward Movie Challenge

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According to Netflix, Mike and Jeffrey agree with each other on movies 84% of the time. In their weekly feature, The Awkward Movie Challenge, they search valiantly for that sweet 16% that results in big arguments and big laughs.

Mike:

13 year olds don’t have the most discerning taste. After waddling home from Junior High, I vegetated in front of pretty much anything that happened to be on HBO. This means I watched movies like Howard the Duck, The Wraith, Jumping Jack Flash, Regarding Henry, and Troll more times than any human being ever needs to (i.e.: more times than never). Yet, as undeveloped as my tastes were, and as devotedly as I watched and re-watched and re-re-watched these movies, I could still recognize that they were, well, crappy. Really crappy. Take John Carl Buechler’s Troll (1986), which cashed in on the Gremlins craze that included other mini-monster movies like Munchies, Ghoulies, and Look Who’s Talking. Here was a movie about a girl named Wendy who is bitten by a little beastie, which then uses a magical ring to possess her and turn the family apartment into a woodland freak show of singing, havoc-raising trolls. Clearly, not a brilliant premise, but there was also the piss-poor troll puppets, a strangely disturbing sequence in which Wendy’s dad rocks out to Blue Cheer’s “Summertime Blues”, and the presence of Sonny Bono. (more…)

The Awkward Movie Challenge: Oscar Picks

March 05, 2010 By: Category: Movie Reviews, The Awkward Movie Challenge

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According to Netflix, Mike and Jeffrey agree with each other on movies 84% of the time. In their ongoing feature, The Awkward Movie Challenge, they search valiantly for that sweet 16% that results in big arguments and big laughs. This week, they take a break from their usual shenanigans to help you win big money in your Oscar pools.

Jeffrey:

True fact: I have never missed an Oscar ceremony. Oh, I’m sure there were a few years before I came of thinking age that it wasn’t high on my priority list, but as long as I’ve loved movies, the Academy Awards has been appointment viewing. I was watching when Sally Field said, “You like me, you really like me!” I was there when Rob Lowe performed his infamous duet with Snow White. (Well, not there, but you know what I mean.) I’ve sat through Whoopi Goldberg, Steve Martin, David Letterman, Chris Rock, lots and lots of Billy Crystal, and more horrendous musical numbers than I can count.

I was a little bit of a late bloomer; I didn’t start to become cynical about what the Oscars represent until I was, oh, 32 or so. I mean, I recognize that in any given year, there are always great films that go completely unrecognized by the Academy. But of all the major entertainment awards, the Oscars are still the most consistent in recognizing works and performances of actual artistic merit. The Emmys are hit-or-miss, and any award show that gives prizes to Two and a Half Men is automatically disqualified from relevance. The Golden Globes are an also-ran. Winning a Grammy is practically an insult. And the Tonys? Please. As if Denis O’ Hare in Take Me Out could even hold a candle to Thomas Jefferson Byrd in Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom. You might as well give a Tony to Tom Wopat!

Having said that, this year I am less interested in seeing who wins than I have ever been before. As everyone who knows anything about anything knows, this year there are 10 best picture nominees instead of 5. Why? I don’t know. Every year there are at least two films that don’t have a chance in hell; this year there are 8. My favorite of the nominees — A Serious Man — doesn’t stand a chance. I quite liked Inglorious Bastards , Up in the Air, and An Education, but none of them are going to get it, either. The race to watch is between The Hurt Locker and Avatar. My views on Avatar are pretty well known to anyone who reads this website (no one reads this website), and I thought The Hurt Locker was well-made but ultimately unengaging. (more…)

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The Awkward Movie Challenge: ‘Suite 208 Does David Lynch’

February 18, 2010 By: Category: Greatest Hits, Movie Reviews, The Awkward Movie Challenge

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According to Netflix, Mike and Jeffrey agree with each other on movies 84% of the time. In their weekly feature, The Awkward Movie Challenge, they search valiantly for that sweet 16% that results in big arguments and big laughs.

Jeffrey Dinsmore is one of those people I’ve always expected big things from and from whom I’ve always expected big things. As a novelist, he has written one of the funniest books of the ‘00s, a metaphysical sci-fi detective story called Johnny Astronaut. Well, he claims he wrote it. The author credit on the cover reads “Rory Carmichael”, but I am told there is some question regarding whether or not this person actually exists. I personally choose to believe he doesn’t, if only because he has never been photographed alongside Jeffrey. I’m told that photos of Carmichael by himself are fairly scarce too.

As a biographer, Dinsmore co-wrote I, an Actress: The Autobiography of Karen Jamey, the memoirs of a movie star who has not aged well. I am told Karen Jamey, like Carmichael, may only exist in Jeffrey’s head. I saw a movie the other night and thought I saw Karen Jamey’s name in the credits, but a visit to imdb revealed that the last name of the actress is actually “Janney”. And her first name is actually “Allison”. The movie was American Beauty. Like Karen Jamey, it has not aged well either.

Jamey… Janney… Jamey… Janney

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The Awkward Movie Challenge: The Lawnmower Man

February 01, 2010 By: Category: Greatest Hits, Movie Reviews, The Awkward Movie Challenge

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According to Netflix, Mike and Jeffrey agree with each other on movies 84% of the time. In their weekly feature, The Awkward Movie Challenge, they search valiantly for that sweet 16% that results in big arguments and big laughs.

Jeffrey:
The first two “adult” books I read when I was a kid were Judy Blume’s Wifey and Stephen King’s short-story collection Night Shift. I’m probably not the only child of the 70’s whose life was permanently changed in an icky way by Wifey. My parents should really have been locked up for keeping that book in the living room instead of hiding it away in their bedroom bookshelf with their Anaïs Nin books. Although I guess it wouldn’t have made much of a difference, since I read the Anaïs Nin books, too. Many, many times.

Night Shift didn’t make me feel icky in the same way that Wifey did, but it did introduce me to the thrill of being terrified. I would read my favorite stories over and over again, astounded that one writer could create so many goose-pimple-inducing scenarios. I’m sure much of it would come across as silly today—I haven’t read it since I was a kid—but at the time, Night Shift was as scary as scary could get. (more…)

Horror Films You’ll Never See: Carriers

January 13, 2010 By: Category: Horror Films You'll Never See, Movie Reviews

Carriers (2009)
Written and directed by Alex and David Pastor
Trailer: http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0806203/

Probably one of the principle arguments for Paramount dumping the virus road-trip horror film Carriers onto DVD just before Christmas was to capitalize on the newfound fame of leading man Chris Pine, the rejuvenated Captain Kirk of JJ Abrams’ Star Trek reboot. Carriers had less impact in theatres than a common house cold upon its initial release. To be honest – there really wasn’t much of a release to speak of. The film didn’t even play in New York where I’d patiently been anticipating its arrival. Sadly, the film quickly sniffled into obscurity – until fate beamed up and cast Pine as Shatner’s heir to the command chair. It wasn’t until I myself was on a plane coming home from Dubai with fourteen hours to kill that I discovered the film on my roster of in-flight movies and decided to give it a shot. Not like there were many other horror movies to pick and choose from in economy class. This Abercombie & Fitch teen-ensemble shocker was it.

My argument to you for actually watching this film, however – isn’t going to be Pine.

It’s Christopher Meloni.

That’s right. You heard me. Christopher Meloni. As in – Law and Order: Special Victims Unit’s Christopher Meloni. Lantern-jawed, eggplant-foreheaded, switched-at-birth-with-that-other-character-actor-Elias-Koteas Christopher Meloni. (more…)