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The Hollars (Blu-ray)
You saw that thing a couple of weeks ago about the "neural karaoke" artificial intelligence that wrote its own Christmas song, right? Computer scientists at the University of Toronto subjected their A.I. to dozens of hours of music and lyrics, sprinkled in a little holiday cheer, and the next thing you know, you're listening to this guy. After sitting through The Hollars, I'm wondering if screenwriter Jim Strouse has been developing some of that same tech on his own. Feed in the screenplays for Junebug, Elizabethtown, Winter Passing, Garden State, and Strouse's own Lonesome Jim, twirl the gawhirl and release the gafleeze, and beep boop boop, out comes The Hollars.

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John Hollar (John Krasinski) is the type of guy who'd rather not try than run the risk of failure. That's why he has a dead-end, wholly unsatisfying job at some sort of publisher but refuses to show them the graphic novel he's been toiling away on for ages. It's why he's never gotten around to proposing to his girlfriend Rebecca (Anna Kendrick); nevermind the fact that she's eight months pregnant with his child. Not only adrift in his current life in New York, John has also wholly disconnected from the one he left behind in some sleepy, nameless little town in Ohio. That comes to an abrupt end when his mother Sally (Margo Martindale) collapses in her bathroom. John's barely had a chance to step into her hospital room when he's blindsided by the news of his mother's softball-sized brain tumor. A craniotomy is scheduled for the end of the week, which should be just enough time for John to revisit with his deeply dysfunctional family...to learn a little something about life and love in the proudest, most shamelessly derivative, most Sundance Movie: The Movie tradition.

The Hollars is about the crossroads in...[read the entire Blu-ray review of The Hollars]


Creepshow 2 (Blu-ray)
The biggest headache about reviewing Creepshow 2 is that I'm continually reminded that I'd rather be writing about the original movie instead. It's not exactly a hot take to label Creepshow as horror cinema's all-time greatest anthology. In a sub-subgenre littered with so many failures, Creepshow is the only one I've ever come across in which every segment is a stone-cold classic (yes, even "The Lonesome Death of Jordy Verrill"; if you argue otherwise, you're wrong). From its brilliant cast to its cacklingly dark sense of humor to its outstanding effects work to its dynamic, '50s horror comic-inspired visuals, Creepshow is a lifelong favorite.

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1987's Creepshow 2, meanwhile, is...errr, not. Despite being culled from another set of Stephen King stories and George A. Romero returning to contribute the screenplay, it's a step down in every conceivable way. The visuals aren't nearly as stylish, having little interest in harkening back to EC's horror comics other than as a framing device. It lacks that sort of fiercely over-the-top verve. None of the stories are all that memorable; in fact, two of them were rejected from the original film. John Harrison's exceptional score makes way for what sounds like library music you'd hear on an '80s network TV police drama. Creepshow 2's star power is low-wattage by comparison, not that the lackluster material gives them all that much to sink their teeth into. I mean, think back to the most iconic imagery from the original Creepshow. Now look at this sequel, where you're saddled with a cigar store wooden Indian, an oversized garbage bag floating in a lake, and a hitchhiker sopping with blood and chanting a catchphrase.

Okay, sure, I'm probably being unduly harsh. I dug Creepshow 2 when I first watched it years ago, and I clearly...[read the entire Blu-ray review of Creepshow 2]


C.H.U.D II: Bud The C.H.U.D. (Blu-ray)
The tagline reads "they're not staying down there anymore!" How can you call yourself a Cannibalistic Humanoid Underground Dweller without the whole 'Underground Dweller' part of the deal? I guess that'd technically make Bud a C.H., but that doesn't exactly roll off the tongue that same way.

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I'm getting ahead of myself, though. Let's talk plot! The military's C.H.U.D. warfare program is on ice. No, really; the last C.H.U.D. off the assembly line -- you can call him Bud (Gerrit Graham) -- is quite literally in cold storage. Turns out the military brass isn't all that keen on funding an army of flesh-eating ghouls, but Colonel Masters (Robert Vaughn) figures that undead super-soldiers are just an idea before its time. He has Bud frozen like a TV dinner, and he'll defrost the guy when the project is inevitably reactivated someday down the road.

The only thing is...oh, no! Courtesy of some madcap '80s-style sitcom hijinks, Steve (Head of the Class' Brian Robbins) and Kevin (Bill Calvert) have inadvertently sent a cadaver sailing down the highway. Their hard-ass professor is gonna expel 'em for sure when he finds out. Wait, though! Any corpse is as good as another, right? They know just where to find a replacement too: their friendly, neighborhood Disease Control Center! Professor Whateverhisnameis will be none the wiser too.

So, yeah, they've snatched a C.H.U.D. They're C.H.U.D.nappers. As far as they know, though, he's just another cadaver. It's just that a bubble bath and some ill-advised fidgeting with a hair dryer later, Bud's up and at 'em again, and golly, does he have an appetite! One chomp from Bud and you're looking at another C.H.U.D. And another. And another. And another. Before you know it, the sleepy little town of Woodhaven is up...[read the entire Blu-ray review of C.H.U.D II: Bud The C.H.U.D.]


More reviews...

Stuff I've Watched Recently

  • 1/16: Bend It Like Beckham (Blu-ray)
  • 1/15: Night and the City (Blu-ray)
  • 1/9: Pride and Prejudice (2005) (Blu-ray)
  • 1/8: Father of the Bride, Part II (Blu-ray)
  • 1/8: Night Train to Munich (The Criterion Collection) (Blu-ray)
  • 1/7: Pride and Prejudice (1940) (DVD)
  • 1/3: Cat People (The Criterion Collection) (Blu-ray)
  • 1/2: Father of the Bride (1991) (Blu-ray)
  • 12/28: The Secret Life of Pets (Blu-ray)
  • 12/28: Jack Frost (Limited Edition) (Blu-ray)
  • 12/20: The Three Worlds of Gulliver (Blu-ray)
  • 12/19: Suicide Squad (4K Ultra HD + Blu-ray + Digital HD) (Blu-ray)
  • 12/18: When Harry Met Sally (DVD)
  • 12/17: Peter Pan (Three-Disc Diamond Edition: Blu-ray/DVD + Digital Copy) (Blu-ray)
  • 12/17: The Nightmare Before Christmas + Digital Copy (Blu-ray)
More of my boring video log...
 
Movies I've Acquired Recently

  • 1/17: Train to Busan (Blu-ray)
  • 12/27: Night and the City (Blu-ray)
  • 12/27: Gilda (The Criterion Collection) (Blu-ray)
  • 12/26: Cat People (The Criterion Collection) (Blu-ray)
  • 12/26: Night Train to Munich (The Criterion Collection) (Blu-ray)
  • 12/25: Leprechaun The Complete Movie Collection (Blu-ray)
  • 12/13: Suicide Squad (4K Ultra HD + Blu-ray + Digital HD) (Blu-ray)
  • 11/30: The Three Worlds of Gulliver (Blu-ray)
  • 11/28: iZombie: The Complete First Season (Blu-ray)
  • 11/28: To Have and Have Not (1944) (Blu-ray)
  • 11/28: Dark Passage (Blu-ray)
  • 11/28: Hannibal - Season 3 (Blu-ray)
  • 11/27: Lights Out (Blu-ray + Digital HD) (Blu-ray)
  • 11/26: Deathrow Gameshow (Blu-ray)
  • 11/25: Jack Frost (Limited Edition) (Blu-ray)
More stuff I've bought or been sent to review...


 
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