Posts Tagged ‘Horror’

So much to like and so much to … not.

Diablo Cody was damned if she did well and damned if she didn’t.   After the success of Juno, an Oscar and all the hipster cred a girl could ever want, Cody seemed to be either much hated or much loved by film geeks.    Any follow-up she crafted would have been heavily scrutinized, no matter what it was.   It’s a shame that Jennifer’s Body has gotten heavy flak given the fact it bombed at the box office in spectacular fashion, because it’s not terrible.   It’s also a shame that Jennifer’s Body isn’t great either.

Needy Lisnicki (Amanda Seyfried) is a geeky high schooler who has a normal life, complete with average guy boyfriend Chip.    Needy’s best friend, Jennifer Check, is the most popular girl in school.   Their unlikely friendship is the result of growing up as best friends and sticking together all their lives, to the point where they can sense things about one another.   “Sandbox love never dies,” says Needy.   They live in the town of Devil’s Kettle, a place where nothing exciting happens, and everyone and everything has horrible, sour-sounding names.  (Needy?   Really.)

One night, Jennifer wheedles and pleads with Needy to see an indie band called Low Shoulder at some dive bar.   Fronted by the scheming Nikolai (played by a fantastic Adam Brody), the band longs for mainstream success.  Due to some well-intentioned lies, the band believes Jennifer to be a virgin.   When a horrific accident befalls the bar, the band lures Jennifer to their van and sacrifices her in the woods to Satan.   The problem is Jennifer’s not a virgin and she comes back all wrong.   In fact, she comes back needing to eat people for sustenance.   Needy has to confront the demonic aspects of her best friend and the fact that Jennifer’s “evil, not just high school evil”.

Obviously, Jennifer’s Body is about female high-school relationships and how toxic and sick they can be at times.    I’ve read Cody proclaiming this is a feminist movie; I don’t think that, but it is refreshing to have two female leads and a female-centered horror story.

The style and tone of the film is remarkably similar to Heathers in a way.  Needy provides a running voice-over, much like Veronica.   Jennifer, even before she becomes a succubus from Hell is Heather McNamara.  Post-demonic transference, she’s Heather McNamara channeling the spirit of J.D.   Jennifer’s Body has the same winky black humor as Heathers.   Hell, Cody liberally seasoned the movie with so much of her whippy slang it’s hard not to compare it to Heathers, especially when it appears Cody’s angling to get in an iconic quote much like the infamous “I love my dead, gay son” moment.   With all of the parody of grief and the platitudes people spout and all of the above references, Jennifer’s Body becomes less like a homage or tipping its hat to Heathers and more like someone used it as Cliff’s Notes.

Megan Fox surprisingly is good, given that she demonstrates some measure of self-awareness and actually sells the scene in which Low Shoulder sacrifices her in the woods.    Adam Brody steals the show as an asshole wanna-be rockstar.   Cody’s got recurring characters from Juno popping up too, like J.K. Simmons as a high school teacher with a hook that prove to be fairly funny.

For the most part, Jennifer’s Body is fun; it’s not horrific, it’s not gory, but it is mostly fun with a dash of teenage self-exploration.   More than a few of Cody’s lines and signature teen-speak fall so flat it’s awkward, but most of them zing like they’re supposed to.   I still haven’t decided how I feel about the ending, which is what you would expect and not what you’d expect all at the same time.   I have problems with some of the choices the director, Karyn Kusama, made, but for the most part, I think Kusama did a fairly good job.

(Note to whoever insisted on the lesbian kiss between Fox and Amanda Seyfried:  totally unnecessary and slightly exploitative, dudes.)

I’d recommend it is a Netflix rental, that’s for sure.   There’s a couple of commentaries on the DVD but I haven’t had a chance to watch them yet.   (As a side note, I watched the extended version, however different that is from the theatrical version.)

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Let’s leave the bitching about the deviation from source material aside, shall we?

That sounds odd coming from me given my untempered rage at X-Men Origins: Wolverine and my deep longing for Deadpool to be as close to the comics as possible, but let’s face it:   Hellblazer (the comic series that Constantine was based on) was going to be changed, like it or not,  given the religious subject matter and John Constantine’s actual behavior in the comics.

Constantine begins with the suicide of Isabel, a troubled young woman who believes she can see angels and demons.   Her twin sister Angela is a detective who is convinced her devoutly Catholic sister could never contemplate an act that would sentence Isabel to a lifetime in hell.   Angela tracks down a reluctant John Constantine, a bitter exorcist who loathes the hand that life dealt him.   It’s only when Constantine gets an inkling of what’s really at stake that he jumps into action.

I don’t find Constantine to be guilty at all; I really enjoy it, for what it’s worth.   (I went to see it in the theater by myself, which is a rare happening given that I hate seeing movies by myself.)   My annoying and not at all charming bias for Keanu Reeves may be showing, but he didn’t do a half-bad job at playing a world-weary, cancer-stricken jerk with a capacity for redemption.    Rachel Weisz does a fairly good job given the fact save for a scene where she comes back from a short jaunt to hell, but who’s counting?    And Shia LaBeouf pops up as an annoying assistant to Constantine, pre-Transformers.   Shit, Gavin Rossdale – Mr. Stefani and frontman of Bush, who I was fond of in my junior high days – makes an appearance as a villain.   Who would have thought, huh?

Constantine does ascribe a very Catholic view of things to its universe.   The special effects aren’t wonderful, but they’re not terrible either; the story’s fairly bland at times but hey, you get Peter Stormare as the Devil!  (It’s worth it to watch just for Stormare’s appearance.  No lie.)

If we’re chalking it up to guilty pleasures, I’d say that Keanu Reeves’ performance is enjoyable in an unironic way, which makes it difficult for some people to admit.    I’d say that it’s fun while being ridiculous; that Tilda Swinton is made of awesome and was perfect casting as an androgynous angel is a good pleasure point, if you will.   The twisty-looking plot isn’t all that twisty; if you sat through a couple of Catholic masses and a few episodes of Murder, She Wrote you’ll see the ending coming but the cast makes it fun while you’re waiting for the climax.

All in all, a nice escapist movie for a rainy weekend, I think.

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Guys, it’s going to take a lot to beat this one for the worst.

I want you to imagine in your head a couple of things, first. Let the sweet sounds of nature – the trees blowing in the breeze, a couple of happy crickets chirping away in the background – and I want you to remember that and overlay those sounds with this image:


Yeah, yeah, keep those happy nature sounds in your head. I’m creating a visual and auditory picture in your head not unlike Bob Ross – we’re getting to the happy little trees part of this painting soon enough.

Now I want you to imagine the sounds of coffee being percolated with someone vomiting overlayed with what I had earlier, and then the striking image of someone cutting themselves open with a straight razor.

It was at that point that I thought to myself, “I have reached some point of no return. This is…I don’t even know how to describe this.”

That is the first ten minutes of Begotten. There’s no dialogue, only ambient noise and percolating vomit sounds; there’s no plot (Scott e-mailed me an explanation, but I feel this “movie” is better without one). And the whole movie looks like this:


There are three characters that run around with bags on their heads or strangely grabbing themselves in odd places. The entire movie should be turned into one of those LOLCAT macros with “WTF” running at the bottom of every cell.

To put it into perspective: Watching Begotten feels like at any moment you are going to receive a phone call or an e-mail warning you that you now have a week to live before some sopping wet spider lady comes out of your television to feast upon your soul. It really does. It’s kind of soul-crushing in a sense, because I suppose if you really put some thought into it (and believe me, people, I did not want to really put anything into this one) someone intended this to be lofty, avant-garde kind of film that made a statement.

Obviously, this person had no clue that this film telegraphs the message: “AWFUL, STOP. MAKES NO SENSE, STOP. I HAVE LOST ALL MY INNOCENCE AND WISH TO BE PUT OUT OF MY MISERY, STOP. PLEASE MAKE IT STOP, STOP.”

As far as I can tell, in the Worst Movies Ever derby, everyone else is eating Begotten’s dust. And if you really don’t believe me, well, you can mentally scar yourself for free here on Google Video.

I may never be the same, guys.

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It took me FOUR TRIES to get through this testament to stupidity.


Dear God.

You know what?   I’m pulling a Letterman and just chucking my notecards at the proverbial camera, here.   Plot?   Plot doesn’t matter here!   All that matters is sex.   Sex, sex and more sex.   And given the people talking about sex and having sex, you may never want to have sex again.   You may never want to THINK about sex again.  I certainly contemplated checking myself into a convent.  And if I have to see one more horror movie that involves teens traveling to the woods to have sex and drink, I refuse to be held responsible for my actions.   Say it with me now:  played out.

Sex and death, that’s pretty much it.  Never mind the funny witticisms that the characters spout at every turn which sound like they were written by a mescaline tripping monkey with a frontal lobe injury; never mind the embarrassing “special effects” and actors who look like they could go on to star in an infomercial after the raging success of Adam and Evil.   Don’t bother attempting to figure out what’s going on, since half the movie’s too dark to see in the first damn place.

Isn’t there some point when we can intervene?   Isn’t there some point when we can reach out to people who supply the folks who made this movie with film, cameras, lights, etc. to say, “Dude.   Take one for the team, and just don’t sell them shit anymore.”   Can’t we blacklist these people?   These are people who thought this was a GOOD IDEA.   These are people who thought what they made was awesome; I’m sure they celebrated with a high-five and a “Cool, dude!”.   This is WRONG.   You’re telling me that some people can’t get movies made – awesome, deserving movies – and this piece of crap EVEN EXISTS?

I feel bitter.   I feel wronged.   I feel like we should go get everyone who starred and had a “creative” role in this project and make them wear scarlet letters forever.   Or perhaps scarlet movie posters.   This…thing…they have foisted upon the public is a crime.

I’m not sure if it’s the parade of terrible, horrifying atrocities that are running through my mailbox at the moment or if Adam & Evil is wholly deserving of my wrath but GOD.  PEOPLE.   I AM SO TIRED OF WATCHING PEOPLE GO OUT IN THE WOODS AND GET KILLED.

Come up with a better idea.   Execute that idea much better than you’re intending to make it in the first place.   And if you can’t do that, execute the damn project like Marie Antoinette.

Jesus, I need a lie-down and an aspirin.

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It’s hard for me to hate on Nic Cage.

Seriously, I have a lot of love for the man.   I think it stems from the fact that Cage wasn’t going to settle for a merely mediocre film career; goddammit, if he was going to be bad, he was going to be the worst of the very worst.   He would make movies like Bangkok Dangerous and Next sheerly for the awful factor because he already got his damn Academy Award, so why not excel in the other direction?   (This, at least, is what I tell myself when I curl up with a Nicolas Cage movie on a Saturday night.)

There is something intangible, something nominally endearing about Cage that I just can’t shake.  Even when he’s at his worst, I just kind of shake my head.  “Oh, Nicolas,” I mentally say and I carry on.  Any other actor would cause a disgusting stream of invective to exit my mouth, but not Cage.   Oh, no.   And why, I’ve never really become quite certain.   Cage just makes bad movies, and I just watch them and giggle, and we both carry on like things are right in the world.

You know.

So The Wicker Man is no exception.   I know I should be RIGHTEOUSLY INDIGNANT that they remade this one.  The original was uber-cool and featured bad-ass Christopher Lee, so remaking it – the sense it does not make.   But this is Nicolas Cage World and we don’t ask questions there, because the answers we would get in Nicolas Cage World make little to no sense.

The movie itself is somewhat faithful to the original; man gets on this creepy island, searching for a lost little girl and at the end discovers he’s intended for a ritual sacrifice because the island’s inhabitants follow some old-school pagan religion.   Did I spoil you?   Oops.   Oh, well.


It’s hard for me to lump this in the same category as Ax ‘Em or Midnight Skater simply because this movie brings horrible, disgusting, unintentional hilarity at every turn.  And thanks to YouTube, you can see them all compiled here:


I’d say the only thing that kind of disturbs me about this version of The Wicker Man is the change made to make the society a “Celtic pagan” community where women are the utter psychos, rather than an island of women and men.   It makes my feminist-ire bone tickle in a funny way, to tell you the truth.

Cage is a fount of hysterics.   He’s a master of awful cinema.   And so, while I admit The Wicker Man is truly horrific, while it’s nothing like the original, while it is nothing like what it set out to be…I laughed far more than I have at other straight-up comedies.

And for all you Cage haters?  The ending scenes are worth it for you.   Watching Cage’s bones get shattered and then, presumably, watching him burn to death will more than satisfy your vengeful bloodlust for movies like Guarding Tess and Con Air.

If you’re renting the DVD, be aware; the filmmakers did away with the original ending and tacked on an “alternate ending”.  I spent my final viewing experience pissed off because you have no option to view the original theatrical ending like you do on most DVDs.  Why am I pissed?   Because apparently I missed thirty or so seconds of James Franco, who was in the original theatrical ending.  NOW THAT would’ve made The Wicker Man infinitely better, because James Franco is hot and I am nothing if not terrifically shallow.

Oh, Nicolas.  What WON’T you do?

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Finland’s a pretty cool country. It’s the home of Santa Claus (no! REALLY!) and guys like Teemu Selanne. Finland first popped up on my radar mainly because my favorite hockey team was jokingly nicknamed “Helsinki South” for the staggering amount of Finns on the team’s roster and the club, to its credit, played up the Finnish connection – the team even went so far as to play a game with fans called “Finnish or Gibberish”, where a Finnish player would be pre-recorded babbling in Finnish or…well, gibberish, and the lucky fan selected would have to guess correctly in order to win a neat, neat prize.

Needless to say, everything piped my way was fun and happy about Finns. They really are a polite bunch of people, at least in my limited interaction with them (one Finnish player actually drew me a picture and autographed it for Christmas at my friends’ request) and so when I heard there was a hardcore horror flick coming out of Finland, my first initial reaction was something of “Huh? Whaaa? No, really?”

Sauna is directed by Antti-Jussi Annila and it looks like it’s going to be as cool as hell. No way, you say? YES WAY!

I can’t think of anything that stands out as more Finnish than a sauna (Finland has something like five million people and three million saunas, so you just think about that one for a second), so it seems appropriate that Annila would direct a Finnish horror movie about … a sauna.   Twitch has a great summary of the film and a fantastic review up here, if you’re interested.

More than anything, I think this is a movie that will silently slip under the radar here in America at least, which is a shame; by all accounts and by all reviews it’s an excellent film that deserves some viewing time from folks, and it will probably slide by unnoticed not only because it’s foreign, but because it’s from a lesser-known foreign nation.

Official site is here.

IMDB page is here.

Twitch, which has infinitely awesome coverage on Sauna, has archives and archives of stuff on the movie here.

In short, the movie looks like it’s something I will really adore, and if you’re anything like me, you just might as well.

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I have never been a fan of werewolf movies.

Movies like The Howling and An American Werewolf In London did little for me, even though I acknowledge the greatness of both.    There’s something distinctly not terrifying about vampires and werewolves to me and I don’t know why.

Dog Soldiers didn’t scare me, but I did enjoy it very much.    It’s not a complex story; a group of soldiers is conducting a training exercise in the Scottish Highlands when they stumble upon a special-ops group headed by a dark and sinister man that’s come under attack by werewolves.   After being somehow rescued by an errant female passerby, the remaining soldiers manage to hole up in an abandoned farmhouse deep in the middle of nowhere, making one last stand against the werewolves.

The most famous faces in the cast are Sean Pertwee and Kevin McKidd.  Poor Sean Pertwee.  I always, always forget Sean Pertwee, even though I genuinely like him in the movies he’s been in and can recognize his name on a DVD box and associate it with good things.   I even had to Google image search him, the poor fellow.   Mr. Pertwee, you have my apologies.

Kevin McKidd I vaguely remember as Tommy from Trainspotting and to his credit, he’s nothing like I remembered.

I think the best thing about Dog Soldiers and what will divide people on the movie most is the lack of CGI.  There’s something to be said for having lifelike action going on without computers having to animate every last frame, and while the werewolves can come off as plastic or cheesy sometimes, they do seem a formidable, realistic set of foes to have.

The biggest credit goes to Neil Marshall, the director, who I have to say turned something that plot-wise, would have otherwise been a fairly unremarkable film.   This movie is, if memory serves me correctly, pretty bland on the structure in every way, shape and form.  Soldiers go out into the forest for a training exercise and muck around; a second convoy is attacked and the soldiers themselves are attacked; they are picked up by a lady in an SUV and haul ass to a local farmhouse, where they put up an excellent fight, but each member is picked off, one by one; a third-act twist comes into play and we get the finale of the film.  There is nothing new, inventive or anything that hasn’t been predictably well-tread in the basic form and function of the movie.

The ending twist isn’t a shock.  If you’ve watched one horror movie with a twist, then you will see this one coming a mile away.   I found myself picking up on it and then easing myself into the mentality of “Lord, this is gonna suck”.   I’m not really sure where credit goes that it doesn’t suck, other than Neil Marshall.    Your attention is kept all throughout the movie, even at the somewhat weak parts, and the ending is as satisfying an ending you can wish for.    This is the movie that Neil Marshall used to land The Descent, which I personally feel is a far stronger film than this, but hey – Dog Soldiers is a great starting point, as far as they go.

Miscellaneous bits on Dog Soldiers:

  • Watching Kevin McKidd stuff Sean Pertwee’s guts back inside him was potentially one of the awesomest things I have seen in cinema ever.
  • Watching Sean Pertwee look at his own intestines and squeal “Sausages!” is…brilliant.
  • If there are indeed Scottish soldiers running about that look like Kevin McKidd, I am moving to the Middle of Nowhere, Scotland, UK, effective immediately.   Damn.   Ladies, ladies, ladies:  if you want some unadulterated, totally shameless eye candy in a horror movie, this one is a good one to watch.
  • In one scene, a character mentions that the nearest town is “four hours away”.   Not to go all Ignorant American on you, but does it take you four hours to drive anywhere in Scotland?   I mean, ANYWHERE?  Scotland doesn’t seem small, but it seems to me to not be excessively large, either.
  • Werewolves are hideous and apparently, bipedal.
  • Note to self:   Never buy big farmhouse in the middle of the Scottish Highlands that is surrounded by trees, trees and more trees.   Unless, of course, Kevin McKidd is living with you and bringing his army gear along.
  • Neil Marshall has now made two movies that I’ve enjoyed, so the next, Neil, I’ll see no questions asked.   Welcome to the exclusive club of People Whose Movies Caitlin Will Watch Without Asking Questions.   Congratulations, your official club card is in the mail.

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I don’t care what it takes to see this movie.


Who’s with me?

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Having reminisced fondly with a friend about this just the other day, I figured I’d write it down for posterity and all.

I like to give bad news first, so let’s start with the worst movie screening of my life.

I was in high school and Star Wars:  Episode II was opening.    On a dull Friday night, three friends and I trooped down to our favorite cineplex a few miles away to take in the utter travesty that is Attack of the Clones.   We had entrusted the ticket buying to a friend, who we’ll call Jennie, for argument’s sake, who dutifully bought the last four tickets in a particular showing.   “Wow!” said one friend, “That’s packed!”

“Well, it’s a Star Wars movie,” said another, shrugging his shoulders.

Jennie had virtually no idea of what the hell all this was about:   She had never even seen Star Wars.   At all.

The last thing I remember clearly before the adrenaline pumping into my heart full-force from sheer and utter terror was walking into the line they had set up for the theater and realizing that someone, somewhere had made a massive mistake.

We were the only folks not dressed up.

I’ve gone to many a movie showing – Rocky Horror, various Harry Potter films, and other Star Wars screenings where anywhere from 15 to 75% of the audience was in costume.   But we were the only people that did not look like this:

The gaggle of men in front of us were dressed up as Jedis, so I vaguely remember someone striking up a conversation with them and finding out that we had managed to get the last four tickets to what was the Official Star Wars Convention showing for the Star Wars convention that had rolled into town.

No big deal, right?

Except I start seeing these guys in ILM shirts walking past the line and just cutting into the theater!   NOT FAIR!   I remember there being discussion amongst us about who those jokers were and how they got to pick the best seats first until something happened that I can only describe as a mass StarWargasm.   Peter Mayhew walked by, followed by the dude who was in the R2D2 costume during the first three movies.   And the little kid that played Jango Fett in the new movies.   (Hell if I know, I’m not terrifically fond of Star Wars in the first place.)

It was like a throng of geeks exploded into furious rapture, oohing and ahhing at the sight of a seven foot man who could pass for Death himself followed by a gentle looking little person and then collectively swooning into each other’s arms as Jango Fett kid passed by, climaxing in a glorious typhoon of united geekery and nerdom.

It was, essentially, the most odd thing I had ever seen.

After the StarWargasm had passed, the geeks began to outgeek each other.   Now, look:   I’m the first to profess my geekery at any stage of the game.   I’m a girl who would much rather watch Predator for the 8,000th time than any Julia Roberts movie.   I’m a girl who when she found out they were auctioning off the velociraptors used in the Jurassic Park movie prayed to God that $60+ K would fall in her lap so she could buy a velociraptor, put it on wheels and take it every where with her.   But this….this was something new, strange, and completely unparalleled in my world-view.

People began opening crates (yes, crates) of toys collected over decades, carefully mounted to fold out into a complete special display that would fold inwards when closed into a protective egg-crate foam inside.   I saw people dressed up as Twileks, Jedis, Stormtroopers, you name it:   they were there.

We got a lot of weird looks.

Eventually they started letting us into the theater and our small group of friends glanced nervously at one another.    A small group of guys who looked like they were accountants by day, Jedis by night, shuffled into the row in front of us.    They struck up quiet conversation amongst each other but quickly butted into ours, joking endlessly about Yoda for some reason.   I kept my head down until:

“Weren’t you at the Babylon Five convention?”

One, lone Accountant cum Jedi Extraordinaire had turned around, his finger pointed, accusing me of something.   I had no idea what he was talking about.

“Excuse me?”

“You were AT the Babylon Five convention.”

“I … don’t think so.   I don’t even know what Babylon Five is.”

After five minutes of arguing, said Jedi reseated himself comfortably, mumbling discontentedly to himself about how I totally was at that convention and he had totally given me his phone number and I had never called him.

Terrified now, I slunk into my seat, only to be horror-stricken at Jennie’s outburst.

Jennie, for the record, is a funny lady.   I haven’t seen or heard from her in years but I remember vaguely the two guys we were with and myself giving her patently clear instructions:   If you don’t know about something, ask us after the movie.   If you don’t understand, want clarification, or generally are ignorant of Star Wars in general, ask us later.   The feeding frenzy I could imagine at Jennie naively asking a Stormtrooper what they were dressed up as could not serve anyone well.

It was one of those horrifying moments where everything seems to slow down, time stands still and you turn red at the mere memory of it.   I can still hear her question echoing through that theater:   “What’s a Jedi?”

It was like chumming for sharks; quickly, the nerdiest of the nerds encircled her, rapturously prosletyzing about The Force and the Skywalkers and the Empire versus the Rebellion; the great love story of Han Solo and Princess Leia and the triumph of GOOD OVER EVIL, and oh by the way…would Jennie like to come to their convention?

Then their shifty focus turned to us, imploring us, pleading with us, telling us we needed to come to their convention:  it was a bargain price of only $100+ dollars and we’d be happily welcomed as new recruits to the fold.

If I hadn’t been primarily sure that they would’ve dragged me, kicking, screaming and crying back into the theater, I would’ve run screaming from the theater.  I’ve had better luck kicking Jehovah’s Witnesses off my lawn.

I don’t remember much of the movie.  I do remember a lot of zealous screaming and fist-pumping.   I do remember Mr. Babylon Five voicing his displeasure at me not having called him on my way out of the theater.   And I distinctly do remember pulling the covers over my head in bed that night, afraid that bearded, glasses-wearing Jedis were going to come popping out from under my bed, handing me religious tracts on the powers of the Force and how I could use it for good.

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This is the new poster for the My Bloody Valentine remake as found on EVERY SITE ON THE INTERNET, oh my god.   (I found it via Cinematical).

I’m torn here:   I like the throwback to cheesy movie posters of old.    On the other hand, this poster just screams “THIS MOVIE SUCKS”.   Nothing says date movie like a 3-D ride to hell, huh?   Not if it’s anything like the original.  I might not be grabbing onto the It’s Pat!  lookalike sitting randomly next to me in the theater for anything, given what I have to go on here.   Unless, of course, there’s neckerchiefs involvedthen I might scream in terror and hide my eyes on some poor stranger’s shoulder.

What say you?

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