Sunday, 14 December 2014

The Funhouse Closes It's Doors.

Hello readers,

It is with a not so heavy heart that I announce that The Funhouse is closing it's doors for good.  For 3 years now this has been my little haven of horror; a place for me to come and share my rambling about the strange and wonderful movies I've loved and loathed.  In that time I've met some great people, been interviewed over at the Mecca or horror blogs, Maynard's Horror Movie Diary and been a part of some fantastic discussions with fellow movie fans.  This blog has introduced me to some amazing people while allowing me to share my passion for macabre films.  However, after a year hiatus, I returned to pick up where I left off and it just hasn't been the same.  By no means has my passion for blogging stopped, actually it's quite the contrary.  I still plan on posting crap, nonsensical drivel about weird movies, but my new objective is to do it better and more consistently.  So, a fresh start is required...

From the ashes of The Funhouse comes Attack of the Couch Potato.  My new blog will feature much of the same as this one, but I want to improve, expand and reorganize.  I plan on taking it to the social networking spheres too.  I'll mostly be reviewing movies, but the ambition is bigger than that.  The expansion will include interviews with some film makers, bloggers and any other person willing to spare time to speak to me, as well as some rants and posts that are a little more themed and fun.  My pal over at For It Is Man's Number has inspired me to do ridiculous things like watch every Kurt Russell movie on the planet (a feat only accomplished by him), so expect similar movie missions.  In addition, I want to branch out and cover a wider array of movies.  They'll all fall under the umbrella of cool genre cinema still, but I want to cover a wider variety of my tastes.

Anyway, thanks to all who read this and stuck by my blog.  It's been a blast.  I'll hopefully see you on the other side.

Thursday, 11 December 2014

Parents (1989)

It's little gems like this from the 80's that ensures that decade will always be my favorite for horror movies.  Parents is one of the forgotten classics of that era, and in horror as a whole.  It falls into the niche of surreal, nightmarish family dramas along with the likes of Pin and Society.  Just like these movies it's eerie, strange, disturbing and hilarious to the most warped senses of humor, but what sets Parents apart is that it's all viewed through the eyes of a young boy.  He must be one of the strangest kids I've ever seen in a movie, due to the fact he lives in quiet fear of his parents, and who could blame him?  On paper they come across as the perfect All American family in the eyes of the community.  However, there's something completely off about them from the start.  Little Michael suspects his parents might be cannibals but we're not sure if its just a nightmare or surreal twisted fantasy, but what is certain is that its only a matter of time before something sinister happens.  The movie feels dreamlike throughout and is very reminiscent of David Lynch, from the cinematography to the ominous synth scores to the violent nightmarish imagery.

It really is a strange little flick, made all the more odd by the performances of Randy Quaid and Mary Beth Hurt as Michael's parents.  Randy Quaid plays an attentive patriarch constantly giving his son advice, with something sinister lurking underneath his breadwinner façade.  Mary Beth Hurt on the other hand is the perfect Stepford Wife, and just like a Stepford Wife she's very devoid of any real humanity.  The movie was marketed as a horror comedy, but there aren't really any laugh out loud moments besides the darkly humorous psychological torment of a child living in fear of his cannibal parents.  It's funny on an offbeat level and doesn't seem to take itself too seriously, but rest assured it is very much a horror film.  I laughed lots, but many others do find it disturbing.  It's an odd, disturbing, Suburban nightmare about the psychological torment of a young boy.  It plays on the worst childhood feat that your caregivers are dangerous and sprinkles it with slightly odd, quirky, black humor.   All in all, as tasty a feature as the human flesh being cooked up on screen.  Yummy.


Wednesday, 10 December 2014

Elves (1989)

Say what you want about low budget 80's horror flicks, but there's no denying the atmospheres were the best and have rarely been duplicated as effectively since.  Elves might be a silly movie about horny elf creatures looking to mate with a virgin on Christmas Eve so they can start a Nazi super race to usher in the 4th Reich, but it has a wonderfully strange eeriness throughout that would make a great double feature with the likes of Pin, Night of the Demons or Parents, as well as any Puppetmaster movie.  As crappy, camp or cheesy as 80s horror movies could be, there's no denying they had a neat little vibe.  Elves, minus atmosphere, is a wonderful crapfest with some of the worst acting and best dialogue you'll ever experience.  I knew it was going to be great when the main girls little brother got caught peeping on her and unleashed a foul mouthed tirade about her ''big fucking tits'' and how he was going to tell everyone how he saw them. They weren't the biggest, but there was definitely something to grab.  It made me want a sister to perv on.  Throw in a wheelchair riding, Nazi, inbreeding grandfather/father, a pervy Santa who wants ''oral'' and a disgraced heroic chain smoker and we have a classic on our hands.  The beauty of this movie is it's not supposed to be a comedy at all, but some of the lines are just comedy gold.  Want to see for yourself?  Here it is.

You're welcome.

Really makes you think hose pesky Nazi's were really up to...

Guardians of the Galaxy (2014)

If you haven't heard of Guardians of the Galaxy this year then you've been living under a rock.  It's been everywhere, and as a result has become somewhat of a pop culture phenomenon with massive franchise potential.  It's been embraced by average cinema goers and cult film fanatics, fanboys and families, ferrets and grandmothers alike.  Everyone and their mother seems to have embraced this movie.  It's been a critical and financial success worldwide, the same as the majority of the Marvel movies.  So what makes this different than your average superhero movie?  Why is this huge summer blockbuster being covered on this crappy horror blog a few posts above John Waters trashy opus Pink Flamingos?  I've never been one to review big budget, Hollywood blockbusters on here despite being a fan of a lot of them.  Well my reason for reviewing this is simply because I've fallen in love with this movie like I have every other James Gunn feature.  He's one of my heroes and a director I follow passionately.  I'm not just a fan of his work, I'm a fan of the person.  He's a good humored, funny, passionate film fan with a deep appreciation for cinema, from the Scorcese classics to the Troma toilet movies where he made his start in the industry, having penned Troma's take on Shakespeare, Tromeo and Juliet, which can only be described as an unheralded masterpiece of film.  I don't watch a lot of the Marvel movies these days as I don't find them all that appealing.  If I do watch them it's because I'm at the theatre and my friends want to go see them.  I've enjoyed them for what they are, but they haven't excited me.  So how did I feel about one of my heroes signing on to make Guardians of the Galaxy instead of another dark comedy I'd become accustomed to and loved?  Well to be honest I was looking forward to it.  I knew a James Gunn blockbuster would still be entertaining, even if it was to be another standard throwaway superhero flick.  What I didn't expect was the magical adventure that made me feel like the mesmerised child who just watched Star Wars for the first time.  For the 2 hour duration of this feature I was a 5 years old again completely immersed in adventure so much I felt a part of it.  Not only has James Gunn made the greatest space adventure of all time, he's also conjured up magic that's going to live in the hearts of millions worldwide for generations to come, much like the classics by Spielberg and Lucas.  Not only has James Gunn established himself as one of the finest working directors in the world today, he just so happens to have gained a foothold on a path that will potentially lead him to legendary universal status like the directors just mentioned, and just like them, he'll capture the hearts of many, who like me, have a romantic attachment to cinema.  All across the world right now are children lost in their own imaginations daydreaming of space voyage and adventure, and James Gunn has stumbled on to the franchise that should indulge the fantasies of those who spend moments of their day with their heads in the stars.

I loved this, as you can probably tell, but what made it so special is that it's still very much a James Gunn movie.  His strange sense of humor hasn't been compromised at all.  It might not be dark and twisted like Super or a disgusting body horror like Slither, but his stamp is visible in every scene.  There's cameos by Greg Henry, Nathan Fillion, Rob Zombie and Lloyd Kauffman once again and there's a substantial supporting role for the great Michael Rooker.  It should give my fellow geeks a huge thrill to see these actors strut their stuff in the biggest movie of the year.  Personally I loved seeing Gunn's band of misfits light up the blockbuster of the summer.  Other than Bradley Cooper and Vin Diesel, the cast doesn't have big box office names at all, and Vin Diesel's character Groot repeats the same 3 words the entire movie.  Chris Pratt, mostly known for his work on the excellent Parks & Recreation, did not go into this as a star name, but he's came out of it primed for the big time.  Benecio Del Toro has a small role as The Collector which made me happy as I feel he's one of the best actors on the planet who is criminally forgotten by the mainstream.  Gunn has embraced his roots as a B movie genre film maker by casting his type of actors, and the results have been incredible, especially the hilarious star making performance of Dave Batista.  As a wrestling fan I can assure you he wasn't that good at anything in WWE, but James Gunn has managed to bring out one of the funniest performances in recent memory from the big brute.

As entertaining as huge blockbusters can be, most of them lack heart.  Guardians of the Galaxy has heart in abundance.  The band of misfits we follow throughout their journey are characters we fall in love with and care about greatly.  It's a team of heroes with their own unique identities, untraditional and a little odd.  The Avengers they are not, and that's what makes them so endearing.  Throughout the movie we witness these petty criminal outsiders come together to form a heart warming friendship as they save the universe from the evil Ronan The Accusor, played by the amazing Lee Pace, whose facial expressions alone are worth the price of the DVD, or effort to illegally stream.  There's a lot of humor in this movie and it wears it on its sleeve, but there's also a few emotional moments that bring on the weepies.  The opening scene is actually quite heartbreaking.  It's nice to see an action packed sci-fi adventure in 2014 with well established characters, laughs aplenty humor and emotional depth.  I can't recommend this enough.  Pick it up now and share it with your current or future children.  This is one for the ages.


Tuesday, 9 December 2014

Blue Ruin (2013)

2014 has been a great year for movies in my opinion, and what's made it so great for me especially is independent films.  There's great independent films every year and as film fans we can always rely on them to give us an alternative to the often creatively constrained and low risk studio features.  Independent films are where many of us genre fans turn for no-holds barred experimental cinema.  However, sometimes independent movies are amazing because of their simplicity   Such is the case with Blue Ruin, which takes the common theme of revenge and executes it to a high standard, with the end results being one of, if not the best, movie of 2014.  A throwback thriller in the vein of the Coen Brothers, and like the movies of the aforementioned comparison, its an offbeat film where the protagonist is far from suited to the violent events he has entangled himself in.  It's a simple story of revenge, made engrossing with the constantly moving story progression, tangible tension throughout and a few touches of black comedy that will have you laughing at the most unexpected moments (if you're a sicko).

Blue Ruin is the second full-length independent between director Jeremy Saulnier and actor Macon Blair.  Their previous movie Murder Party (2007) is forgotten, but nonetheless hilarious splatter comedy, which won some awards at horror film festivals.  If you like a bloody good laugh then Murder Party is one that I'd recommend.  It doesn't take itself seriously at all, but it does show that Saulnier is a diverse talent.  Murder Party is intentionally silly, but genuinely funny.  Blue Ruin, not without its dark humor, is a more serious affair, and a different beast entirely.  Comparisons to the Coen brothers are rife, but warranted, and that should not take anything away from Saulnier's modern masterpiece.  It's an American gothic noir with impressive visuals, oddball characters, deadpan humor and mid-western setting, so naturally Blood Simple, Fargo and No Country For Old Men will spring to mind.  It wouldn't be out of place in a Coen Brothers filmography, but that's not to say it isn't 100% Saulnier's vision and his own unique stamp on cinema, because it very much is.  However, the Coens' have such a rich tapestry for characters and Dwight would fit in nicely with their family.

Blue Ruin immediately draws the viewer in with Dwight, our hero as such, looking shaggy, stealing bath water and living out of his car.  Nothing is known about him, but it's apparent that he has a story to tell and the viewer is sucked in.  It doesn't take long for the blood shed to begin thereafter.  Unlike many other revenge thrillers, this isn't an action packed kill frenzy.  Action takes a back seat to slow moving character portrayal and the unravelling of a story about a scared man, out of his depth, trying to right the wrongs done to his family.  He is by no means the bad ass action hero we're accustomed to, and that's what makes this film so incredible.  He's just an awkward, everyday guy who has no clue what he's doing.  This gives the movie a sense of realism missing in most revenge flicks and most regular guys watching this will probably think they'd go about a situation like this of their own the same way.  In summary, Dwight is no Machete.  He's not even Kevin Bacon in Death Sentence.  He may be the most unlikeliest assassin in cinema history since Dustin Hoffman in Straw Dogs.

In addition to the performance of Macon Blair, which is nothing short of exceptional, and the engaging story, the visuals on display make this movie impressive.  Set against a West Virginia backdrop, this adds to Dwight's isolation and overall tension throughout, which at times is so strong that it becomes almost a horror movie.  There's one scene in particular in the first half where Dwight is alone in his sisters house awaiting assailants to come for him.  It's very chilling and uncomfortable viewing.  There's a couple of scenes like that which I found very effective.  The violence is strong when it happens.  The film does not shy away from the bloodshed when it deems it necessary and fellow gore hounds will get a kick from the kills.  It really is such a complete piece.

Overall, I consider this a must see for any fans of thrillers.  It has everything a thriller should have.  2014 has been a great year for throwbacks to the Coen classics and Blue Ruin would make an excellent double feature with No Country, Fargo and Blood Simple, as well as Jim Mickle's Cold In July, which is another impressive homage to the thrillers of the 80's and one I plan on reviewing at a later date.  Blue Ruin is deserving of the plaudits being sent its way and I really urge you all to pick it up.