Thursday, September 30, 2010

Top Five . . . Movies About the Devil

Seeing Devil got me thinking. In the horror genre, there's a whole sub-genre about demonic possession and/or fighting with the devil. Here's my Top Five Movies About the Devil:

5. The Prophecy

I spoke briefly about this flick, but Viggo Mortensen's role as Lucifer in this movie is bone chilling. He is the epitome of the almost-charming, handsome, but completely evil version of the Devil.

4. Constantine

Constantine is based on the graphic novel series, Hellblazer. John Constantine (Keanu Reeves), along with his side-kick Chas (a pre-assclown, post-"Even Stevens" Shia LeBeouf), sends demons back to Hell. Constantine is trying to atone for a teenage suicide attempt before he dies of advanced lung cancer. Because his exorcisms are done for his own benefit, he is told, he still has a place in Hell. While helping a detective investigate her sister's apparent suicide, Constantine becomes involved in a war between angels and demons, the result of which will be the Devil's son coming to Earth.

This film is very stylishly done and Keanu Reeve's usual wooden acting serves him well in his role as the cynical, deadpan Constantine. The secondary characters are excellent (Tilda Swinton, Gavin Rossdale, and Dijmon Honsou) and LeBeouf's endearing performance provides some much needed comic relief. Peter Stormare (a Cohen brothers' regular) is excellent as a wry, taunting Lucifer. He makes a very dramatic appearance in a pure white suit with his feet dripping black, smoking tar.

Besides the stellar cast, the special effects are amazing and I highly reccommend this flick.

3. The Omen

There's something about creepy kids that makes good movies. I think it all started with The Bad Seed, but The Omen is probably the most well-known. The Omen is the basic Satan's spawn come to Earth story, but it has several things going for it. 1: A chilling soundtrack. 2: An amazing cast - Gregory Peck, Lee Remick, David Warner, and the incomparable Billie Whitelaw. 3: The creepiest kid ever: Harvey Stephens.

(Note: The Omen was recently remade as The Omen 666, and while the remake is not a bad film by any means, it doesn't quite live up to the original.)

2. The Exorcist

Of course, The Exorcist has a place on this list. It's the ultimate movie about possession and it is a very well-made film. (I especially like seeing it in the theater because the experience is definitely enhanced on the big screen.) It's also a very faithful adaptation of the book of the same name, by William Peter Blatty. The reason why it is number two, however, (besides being my opinion) is that it tends to be over-hyped, which leaves little room for other emerging films. That being said, I think every one should experience it for themselves, since it is so iconic.

1. Fallen

This film was surprisingly good. It had the potential to be a second-rate horror flick, but it is definitely one of my favorites. Much of the praise goes to Denzel Washington, who carries the film almost by himself. Unlike most possession films, there is very little violence and almost no special effects, beyond a yellow lens filter. It is the perfect possession film for the squeamish and a beautiful representation of Washington's acting prowess. (An added bonus is Elias Koteas's small role as serial killer Edgar Reese.)

Honorable Mention:

The Exorcism of Emily Rose for this terrifying scene:

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Geek of the Week: Allie Brosh

Allie Brosh is the author of the hilarious blog, "Hyperbole and a Half". Brosh is a girl after my own heart. She's funny, slightly neurotic, and amazingly good with Microsoft Paint. I am always excited when I see that she has a new post and I highly reccommend following her blog. (24,000 followers can't be wrong!)

Her picture blogs are always hilarious, but my personal favorite is a video of her "seductively" stripping for a negative commentor.

Thanks to Annette for telling me about this blog!

Saturday, September 25, 2010

Elevator of Evil

I saw the first trailer for Devil at the Scott Pilgrim premiere. As the audience was full of too cool for school hipsters, the moment producer M. Night Shyamalan's name appeared on the screen, a chorus of boos rang out. As I discussed previously, I actually like several of Shyamalan's films. I do understand the rancor, however, considering his career seems like it is in free fall, as of late.

The common misconception about Devil is that Shyamalan is the writer/director, as he is with his other films. He is actually just the producer; the film is part of his "Night Chronicles", a "Twilight Zone"-esque anthology film series that appears to be an attempt to resuscitate his flagging career. The film's writer is Brian Nelson (writer of the excellent 30 Days of Night) and it is directed by John Erick Dowdle (director of the moderately well-received Quarantine, a remake of wildly popular Spanish horror flick, REC) Shyamalan's influence is definitely present, but I think having other writers and directors tackle these films is the way to go. I can usually see his twists coming (even the "shocking" Bruce Willis is actually dead plot twist in The Sixth Sense), but this film kept me guessing until the very end. Every time I thought I had it figured out, the movie would throw me another curve ball. Both Nelson and Dowdle should be congratulated on their ability to surprise audiences.

Devil is the story of Detective Bowden, a recovering alcoholic who is called to a series of strange crime scenes in the same area. A person commits suicide by jumping through a skyscraper window and in the same building, five strangers are stuck in an elevator. One of the passengers gets hurt, and one by one the riders begin dying. It is up to Bowden to figure out who is the killer.

The film is shot in a way that complements its setting. The cinematography is slick and minimalist, and the violence is nonexistent. Everything happens off-screen. This is necessary to keep the killer's identity a secret, but also works to help build up the tension. As an audience, you can only hear scuffling and the violence is not shown until the lights flicker back on and the next victim is revealed.

Several reviews of the film have complained about the lack of "true" scares and the simplistic message. However, if you view the movie in the context of its predecessors (sci-fi anthology series like "Twilight Zone" and "The Outer Limits"), it makes a brilliant homage. The point of those shows wasn't to terrify their audiences, it was to teach them a lesson while creating an uneasy, paranoid feeling at the same time. Devil does this beautifully. Even the plot is reminiscent of old anthology shows, because it takes a plausible premise (5 people stuck in an elevator) and throws in a supernatural element (one of them may or may not be the Devil). And shows like "Twilight Zone" always had a simplistic moral. They were cautionary tales with a sci-fi twist, and in case you missed the message, Rod Serling was there to tell you exactly what it was.

That being said, I found the ending of Devil very unnerving. In fact, it has PG-13 rating, but I would consider it a "hard" PG-13. (Also known as "No non-existent 13 year old of mine is watching that movie!")

Devil is a solid film, and I look forward to seeing the next "Night Chronicles" installment. I highly reccommend horror fans (and those who love "Twilight Zone") see it in the theater, but other viewers should wait until it hits stores and Netflix before checking it out. I think that the darkened theater element definitely heightens the scare, but for those who don't like horror (or the dark), watch it with the lights on in the safety of your living room.

Monday, September 20, 2010

I'm Going to Get All Sentimental For a Second

Amidst all the time spent lamenting the things we don't have, we rarely take time to celebrate all the great things we do have. I'm thankful for so many things, but the one thing I am reminded of every day is my relationship with Kris.

Not many people find the person they're supposed to be with, but I was lucky enough to do it on the first try. Kris and I don't usually follow the traditional path; instead we make our own path. It's not always easy, but we definitely have fun along the way. For me, as corny as it sounds, this Subaru commerical says it all:

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Geek of the Week: Rivers Cuomo

Rivers Cuomo is the front man for the uber-geeky band Weezer (one of my personal favorites). The current lineup consists of Scott Shriner (bass), Patrick Wilson (drums), Brian Bell (guitar), and Cuomo on lead vocals. The band's name derives from Cuomo's childhood nickname, given to him by his father.

Cuomo is a vegetarian and favors customized Warmoth Stratocasters. He is famous for being fan-friendly - chatting on the Weezer message boards as "Ace", inviting fans to play on stage with the band, and allowing fans to appear in music videos ("Beverly Hills, "Troublemaker", etc.). He is married to Kyoko Ito and the couple have a three year old daughter, Mia. Cuomo is a huge soccer fan - he supports the LA Galaxy here in the US, he is an avid Premier League watcher (favorite English team is Sheffeld Wednesday), and his favorite American player is Landon Donovan.

Cuomo playing in a charity soccer game in Toronto.

Weezer just released their eighth album, Hurley, on September 14th.

Here is my favorite Weezer video. Behold:

Rivers Cuomo
Playing Soccer

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

News and Upcoming Events

So, remember him? He is also a geek, and since he is way more into computers and video games than I am, I've decided to have him guest post once in awhile. He will be doing tech and video game reviews, and as a bonus, we will have an "Ask the IT Guy" feature, where he will answer whatever computer questions you may have. Just post your question in the comments section of the most recent post and he will post the answer!

On the toy front: Awhile back, I got a cute little Alice in Wonderland plush doll and then, just a few weeks ago, we found a Green Lantern one at Borders that was almost identical. Turns out, these little guys are made by Funko (famous for pop culture bobbleheads) and Entertainment Earth has a bunch of them! They have everything from Lord of the Rings to Universal monsters to Wizard of Oz, along with tons of Star Wars bobbleheads. My personal favorite is this guy (available for pre-order and expected to arrive in October):

Finally, October is quickly approaching and as a horror movie fan, this is an exciting time for me. New horror flicks are already being released in theaters and, as always, AMC will have their Fearfest towards the end of the month. And, drum roll please . . . this year, we will be having our own "Geek Fright Fest"! I will post a horror movie review each day in the month of October. The reviews will be fairly in depth, but I will refrain from divulging major spoilers. I will include the MPAA rating as well as a "Fright" scale. Suggestions are highly appreciated, so if you have a favorite scary movie (or a horror flick you've been wanting to see), post it in the comments and more than likely, you'll see it reviewed! Our Fright Fest will culminate with a review of the "Walking Dead" premiere on October 31st.

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Geek of the Week: Kris Carson

This week's "Geek of the Week" is Kris Carson, my wonderful husband. Kris's 27th birthday is this week (wish him a happy one here) and I am so lucky to have him!

Kris works in IT at a bank and loves Star Wars. He can usually be found on our couch playing WOW on his laptop or FIFA on the XBox.

Happy Birthday, sweetie!

Friday, September 10, 2010

Geek of the Week: Awesome Mystery Couple

Our "Geek of the Week" is the mystery couple who had this kick-ass wedding cake. My hat is off to you, mystery couple. If I could do my wedding all over again, I would totally steal this from you (and not even feel bad about it).

Saturday, September 4, 2010

Two Zed-Word Videos

It must be a new month, because it's my weekend off. To celebrate, here are two zombie videos for your viewing pleasure . . .

First, Jonathan Coulton (lyricist of the uber-popular "Still Alive" from the videogame, Portal) sings a plaintive request for a little help from a friend:

And, if you like kitties and you love zombies, this video is for you. (Thanks to my friend Beck for posting this on Facebook):