Friday, May 13, 2011

Worth Mentioning - The Movie Got to Her

We watch several movies a week. Every Friday, we'll talk a little about some of the movies we watched that we felt were Worth Mentioning.

This week, Cody talks '80s horror, a big budget blockbuster, and charity, while Jay visits Twin Peaks.


A car parked in an isolated, wooded locale. A young couple inside the car, making out. The girl hears something outside and sends the guy out to investigate. A stretch of silence is broken by a rhythmic tapping on the car. Scared, the girl gets out to investigate and finds the corpse of her lover hanging upside down from a tree, the tapping sound coming from a ring on his finger swinging against one of the windows.... He Knows You're Alone begins with a cinematic presentation of this popular urban legend, but then we see that this is playing out on screen in a movie theatre, it's just been a movie-within-a-movie. Sitting in the audience is a frightened young woman, who unfortunately discovers that there's a real life killer in the theatre with her.

We soon find out that the young woman was a bride-to-be, and Detective Len Gamble thinks he knows who the killer is. Years earlier, the detective's fiancee was killed on their wedding day by a jilted ex, who escaped and went on to target other brides-to-be throughout the years. Now he's back in action and Len has another chance to catch him.

Amy's wedding is two weeks away and she's very conflicted. She's not sure she really wants to marry her fiance, or anyone for that matter. Her morgue attendant ex-boyfriend still hangs around, desperate to get back together with her, and he may be a better match for her after all... And now Amy has caught the attention of the serial killer.

Taking its cues from Halloween (1978), He Knows You're Alone is a slow-building slasher with a low bodycount, emphasizing the stalking over the kills. Some shots and moments even seem to be straight out of Halloween as the killer follows Amy through two days of her life. There's a lot of time spent on character and Amy's interactions with the people in her life, especially her two best friends and her ex. (Her fiance has gone off with his friends for extended bachelor party shenanigans.) The suspense scenes are pretty good, and things build up to a great climactic sequence in a morgue.

The cast is really good, featuring Caitlin O'Heaney (who would go on to be English teacher Miss Farmer in Three O'Clock High seven years later), Don Scardino, James Rebhorn, Paul Gleason, Dana Barron (the Vacation series' first Audrey), and the film debut of a little-known actor named Tom Hanks, who I think went on to some success. Hanks has a very small role and, according to the filmmakers, was originally meant to have a death scene, but they liked him so much that they decided to left him live.

Given the date, I figured this was a good day to feature a slasher movie. Making this one even more appropriate is the fact that the guy in the opening movie-within-a-movie is played by Russell Todd, who would play amorous prankster Scott in Friday the 13th Part 2 the following year and end up in the same position he does in this movie: hanged upside down and killed.

FAST FIVE (2011)

They're sort of guilty pleasures for me, but I do greatly enjoy the Fast & Furious franchise. I'm a big fan of Kathryn Bigelow's 1991 film Point Break (R.I.P. Swayzdog), so the first The Fast and the Furious hooked me immediately by being almost a carbon copy of that film, with car races and other vehicular action in place of the earlier movie's surfing and skydiving. They even share a similar ending with the same final shot, though the mood is more hopeful in TFATF.

The fifth film in the series (fourth chronologically, since this and the fourth film are prequels to the third film, Tokyo Drift... confused?) is one of the best of the bunch and reunites many familiar faces from the previous films while adding a new element in the form of Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson. Johnson is awesome in the movie, playing a badass federal agent who leads a team to Rio to track down Vin Diesel and Paul Walker's likeable outlaw characters.

This is supposed to be a transitional film in the franchise, taking it further out of gearhead territory and making it more a series of heist films, but cars do feature heavily in the heist that is attempted (bust a vault containing a drug lord's $100 million stash out of a police station), and the action is still primarily vehicular. I was very entertained by it, and while it's the longest Fast & Furious film by more than 20 minutes, I didn't feel the extra time at all.


Woodchipper Massacre isn't the backwoods gorefest that the title may bring to mind. Instead, it's sort of a shot-on-video predecessor to Don't Tell Mom the Babysitter's Dead (1991). As in that film, a group of youthful siblings find themselves being cared for by an insufferable babysitter, in this case an elderly aunt, who ends up dying on the job. After their Aunt Tess takes an accidental stabbing to the stomach, the three kids (Denice Edeal, Tom Casiello, and writer/director Jon McBride) have to figure out how to handle the situation. They figure the best thing to do is to feed her body into the woodchipper and try to go on with their lives. Further problems arise when their creepy criminal cousin Kim, Tess's son, shows up.

McBride took a goofy, sitcomy approach to the material, making it like an episode of The Brady Bunch that just happens to have bodies getting mulched in it. The acting is intentionally over-the-top, theatrical and loud, the actors playing to the back row. It's definitely not a movie for everyone, but I find its silliness and cheap '80s VHS quality enjoyably charming.

It also has a great tagline: "How much flesh would a woodchipper chip if a woodchipper could chip flesh?"

In follow-up to a subject from last week's article, I thought it was worth mentioning that another celebrity has donated to the Alabama relief effort: Kevin Smith auctioned off one of his personal "Puck U" jerseys yesterday, on his newly-launched SModcast Internet Radio, which streams SModcast network podcasts twenty-four hours a day. The jersey went for $1500, with the proceeds going to United Way of West Alabama. Kevin usually puts in the same amount from his own pocket in charity situations, so there could be up to $3000 going to the state.

Jay's mention:

TWIN PEAKS (1990-1991)
Creators: David Lynch & Mark Frost
Starring: Kyle Maclachlan, Michael Ontkean, Sherilyn Fenn, and Michael Horse

When David Lynch comes up it's only a matter of time until Twin Peaks joins the conversation. I saw that the show was on Netflix Instant Streaming and decided to give it a watch. Having burned through the first season in only a few days and already making my way through season 2, I have to say that I really love this show. If you never got a chance to watch it then you should sign up for Netflix and give it a watch.

The story centers around the small town of Twin Peaks. When high school homecoming queen Laura Palmer is murdered, an eccentric FBI agent (Kyle MacLachlan) shows up in town in order to get to the bottom of the case. The entire show is quirky, to say the least, and I truly enjoy most of it. Kyle MacLachlan as agent Dale Cooper is terrific and one of the most likeable characters that I've ever seen. He has quickly become my favorite character in the history of... well... anything. That's a hell of a statement for something I've only been watching a few days now, but the character is so easy to like and root for that it's hard not to consider him one of the best characters ever. I also love the bonds between the characters, mostly Agent Cooper and the Sheriff of Twin Peaks, Harry S. Truman (Michael Ontkean.) The show is full of so many oddball subplots and twists that I find myself not so concerned with who killed Laura Palmer, instead just sitting back and enjoying the humor and charm that every new episode brings.

A special mention goes out to two of my other favorite characters, Deputies Hawk (Michael Horse) and Andy (Harry Goaz.) They are always fun to watch and bring a lot of interesting aspects to the show as well. I could go on some more about the delightful characters that can be found in Twin Peaks, as so far I've only mentioned the police officers and an FBI Agent, but I digress.

I'm sure I'll write about this show some more on the blog as I finish it up and move along to the movie, Twin Peaks: Fire Walk With Me so I'll end my write up here for now.

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