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I Am Legend (DVD)

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I Am Legend DVD review (click for larger imageReviewed by Uncle Creepy

Starring Will Smith, Alice Braga, Dash Mihok

Directed by Francis Lawrence

Distributed by Warner Home Video


Will Smith starring in I Am Legend?!? Richard Matheson’s I Am Legend?!? As soon as the news broke, shock waves coursed through the veins of fans of the book. There was everything from outrage to intrigue regarding this happening. Would Smith “Hell Nawwww” his way through one of the darkest horror tales ever told? Thankfully the answer turned out to be no, thanks in part to director Francis Lawrence, who opted to make a true character study instead of a bombastic Michael Bay blockbuster. As for Smith … I can easily say this was the performance of his career.

For those unacquainted with the storyline, it goes something like this: Dr. Robert Neville (Smith) thinks he’s the last man on Earth. You see, he’s proved to be immune to a deadly virus that has basically killed the planet and turned its remaining human residents into blood-hungry vampire-like creatures. Still, Neville doesn’t give up hope. He couldn’t really be the last one, could he? Every day he drives around a deserted Manhattan island looking for any signs of survivors, while broadcasting on the radio when he can, hoping that someone will get the message. Much to his surprise someone does answer the call. Someone who brings news of possibly more survivors along with them. Can they survive the onslaught of deadly mutants to see if the story checks out? That’s your basic plot, and the first thing you’ll notice about it is that it bears little resemblance to the Matheson classic. Let me be clear … this is not a faithful adaptation, but it turns out to be quite an experience for at least most of the ride.

I Am Legend DVD review (click for larger imageThe first two thirds of I Am Legend is great despite the decision to use CGI creatures who look like they were left over from The Mummy movies instead of actors in prosthetics. Once you’re over the way the creatures look, it’s near impossible to take your eyes off the screen. Will Smith just sucks you right in. The man truly is box office money-in-the-bank, and this movie is a prime example of why. The range he shows as an actor is just incredible. But then it happens … other people join the cast, and the movie nearly crashes into a wall. The third act is barely satisfying in any way. After a powerful opening things start taking a turn for the cliché as soon as the film’s two other main characters are introduced. I left the theatre wondering how something so good nearly went so very wrong.

Luckily for us, if you dole out the extra cash to get the two-disc edition of I Am Legend, you’ll get a second cut of the film with a completely different ending that — while not great — is much more serviceable. In fact, even though it’s a tad upbeat, it made the film feel a bit more complete. Since we’re not sticking to the source material anyway, why not, right? No sin here.

In terms of other bits of bonus material, I have to admit I’m a little confused by this package. Sure we get two cuts of the movie, but beyond that the extras are a bit on the sparse side. Well, sort of. Let me explain.

I Am Legend DVD review (click for larger imageOn Disc One you’ll find two things, the first being four animated comics entitled Death as a Gift, Isolation, Sacrificing the Few for the Many, and Shelter. Clocking in at about twenty minutes combined, these shorts are an absolute home run. Each tells the story of what was happening throughout the world as the virus spread. The best part? A great deal of gore and mayhem is strewn throughout the tales. There should be an entire DVD out of just this stuff. Really cool! Other than the comics, though, all we get is a link to the website for DVD-Rom users to access supplements like a material databank that chronicles the making of the movie, etc. Why these weren’t just included on the disc is nothing short of puzzling. Simply put, if you don’t have DVD-Rom capability, then in terms of extras, you’re pretty much out of luck.

Disc Two houses the alternate cut of the flick along with a special downloadable version of I Am Legend that you can rip to your computers or laptops. That’s it. Kind of weird, no?

In a recent interview on the DVD for the first cinema version of Matheson’s masterpiece, The Last Man on Earth (review here), Richard wondered why studios keep buying the rights to his book yet never bring his story to the screen. We’re right there with ya, man. Maybe one day. In any event — even though this is I Am Legend basically in name only, it’s still a solid film that’s more than worth your time.

Special Features

  • Four animated comics entitled Death as a Gift, Isolation, Sacrificing the Few for the Many, and Shelter
  • Weblink to DVD-Rom extras
  • Downloadable version of the film

    Film:

    3 1/2 out of 5

    Special Features:

    3 out of 5

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    Inside (Remake) Review – Is It as Brutal as the Original?

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    Starring Rachel Nichols Laura Harring

    Directed by Miguel Ángel Vivas


    While the directing duo of the cringe-inducing and original 2007 French grand guignol thriller Inside have gone on to refurbishments of their own—Julien Maury and Alexandre Bustillo recently helmed a retread of Leatherface’s origin story—their flick now has an American stamp on it with the release of the remake, also titled Inside.

    A cheerless Christmas eve sets the stage for heavily-pregnant widow Sarah’s (Rachel Nichols) oncoming ordeal. It’s a frigid and snowy night. She’s got a huge house to herself, following the accidental and violent death of her husband. She wants to sell the home that was meant to hold a family, to forget the nascent memories it once held. But she’s got to ride it out until the baby is born. While Sarah is lonesome, she won’t be alone. She’s got her genial gay neighbor nearby, and her mum is going to come and stay with her for a few days. Oh, and there will be an unexpected visitor too.

    When a shadowy, seemingly stranded stranger (Laura Harring) knocks on the door pleading to be let inside, Sarah instinctively balks. She even calls the cops. But the woman leaves and all seems well. Crisis averted. Sarah puts the housekeys in the mailbox outside for Mom, and goes to bed. Big mistake.

    Mystery Lady shows up at Sarah’s bedside armed with chloroform, an IV bag, and a case full of sharp-and-pointies (sorry, ’07 fans… those implements do not include a pair of scissors). The horror unfolds and the expected yet lively game of gory cat-and-mouse ensues. Then the tete-a-tete becomes a body-count chiller featuring one shocking moment after another.

    Nichols is fantastic in the role, giving it her all. When the original Inside came out eleven years ago, she was starring in another French-helmed horror, P2—also set on Christmas eve—and she stole the show. She does the same here but with a less-intense adversary. Harring’s killer character, unlike her European counterpart, has a lot to say—which takes away from her initially mysterious manner as the minutes tick off. Still, the girl-on-girl action is a welcome change from the usual gender dynamic one sees in these things. Both deserve kudos for their performances.

    While Inside isn’t a died-in-the-wool “Hollywood” remake (Miguel Ángel Vivas directs, while [REC] co-creator Jaume Balagueró wrote it) it feels like one. For those who’ve seen the original, there will be mild disappointment (which turns to major letdown at the very end). However, Inside is still a serviceable thriller that’s well-acted, beautifully shot, and effectively scored. Folks coming in fresh, and casual horror fans, will more than likely enjoy it.

    • Inside (Remake)
    3.0

    Summary

    Inside is a serviceable thriller that’s well-acted, beautifully shot, and effectively scored. Folks coming in fresh, and casual horror fans, will more than likely enjoy it. For those who’ve seen the original, there will be mild disappointment (which turns to major letdown at the very end).

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    User Rating 1.67 (3 votes)
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    What If Tina Fey Wrote Jennifer’s Body? My Friend’s Exorcism Book Review

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    “Rummaging in one of his duffel bags, [the exorcist] pulled out and athletic cup and slid it down the front of his pants. ‘First place they go for,’ he explained. He then adjusted himself and picked up a well-worn Bible. ‘Let’s do the Lord’s work.'”

    It was about a year ago now (it seems) that I first saw the cover of “My Best Friend’s Exorcism.” If you haven’t seen it for yourself in all of its glory, make sure to click the image over to the right for a more in-depth look. Awesome, right? Got to love all the VHS details such as the “Horror” and “Be Kind Rewind” stickers. Classic. Utter classic.

    Now I’m fully aware that one should not judge a book by its cover. Literally. But still the moment I saw this work of delicious art crop up in the inbox I had to read the book asap. Well, it turns out asap was about a year later, but all the same, I’ve now had a peek at the inside of the book as well as the outside. Does the content inside match the content outside?

    Let’s find out…

    For those who might not know, “My Best Friend’s Exorcism” (henceforth referred to as MBFE) tells the tale of two best friends named Abby and Grethen. One night the two, and a few of there other friends, drop a bit of acid for the first time. While the drug never kicks in (no worries, there’s no lame twist-ending to be had here) poor Gretchen still wanders off into the woods and gets possessed like a motherf*cker in some creepy abandoned building. From there, things go from bad to worse until an unlikely exorcist is called in and things go off the wicked walls in all the best ways possible.

    Now, to review. First of all, let it be know that MBFE is more of a teen romance (between two friends) than a straight tale of terror. Think of it as “What if Tina Fey wrote Jennifer’s Body?” and that will give you a good hint at what the book holds in store for you. Not that that’s a bad thing. Still, you should be aware that the first 2/3 of the book is almost exclusively teenagers not getting along, bitch about losing touch, who is sleeping with who, and yada, yada, yada for pages on end. Dramarama for days. Mostly.

    That said, not only is the teen drama bearable (and truthfully quite sweet in spots), Hendrix keeps the horror in the spotlight just enough that I never lost faith the book was heading somewhere truly balls to the wall. And it does. Oh, boy does it. From the time the unholy shite hits the fan in the last third, to the time the last word is read, the book is filled with horror moments that will make even the most jaded fright-fiction fan gag, grimace, or stand up and cheer!

    You just have to get through all the angst first…

    But speaking of angst, let me get a bit of extremely personal business out of the way real quick. Can I trust you with this info? Sure I can. MBFE made is cry like a baby. Not kidding. There have been very few times in my life that I have literally burst out crying. I’ve had some sad shite happen in my days, and I have seen some sad-ass movies, but nothing has made me cry out of the f*cking blue like MBFE. I’m not going to go into details about the final 10 pages of the book, but it tore my poor horror-heart a new one. It was bad. Like snot and hyperventilating type shite. Again, not kidding. Thank the lord I wasn’t in public is all I can say. I would have arrested and thrown in the booby-hatch.

    MBFE goes along like a slightly horror-centric version of Mean Girls and Heathers for most of its page count. If you’re a straight horror fan, you’ll be at odds with whether you should bother finishing it or not. You will. Trust me. But listen to me now and know that once our heroine goes into the dark, dank bedroom of the school’s resident bitch to find out why she hasn’t been in school the past few days/weeks, the horror hits like holy hell. And it only gets worse (RE: better) from there.

    In the end, MBFE is a book ever horror fan should own – if only for the cover. I dug the hell out of the book (eventually) and I’m sure the majority of you guys will too. But even for those hard-hearts out there that just can’t stand to read about things like uncompromising love, and hellfire-forged friendship, you still need to own the book. You still owe it to yourself to give it a try. If you don’t care for it, that’s cool, just display in on your bookshelf in all it’s VHS glory. It will make you look cool.

    • My Best Friend's Exorcism - Book Review
    3.5

    Summary

    Grady Hendrix’s “My Best Friend’s Exorcism” is a killer mixture of Mean Girls, Heathers, and The Exorcist. Just think of it as “What if Tina Fey wrote Jennifer’s Body” and you’ll have a good indication of what lies in store for you within the amazing VHS-inspired cover art.

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    Knock Knock Review – This Throwback To The VHS Era Packs A Fun Punch

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    Starring Kerry Tartack, Sisi Berry, Chuk Hell

    Directed by Toby Canto


    I remember the glory days of my youth back in the early to mid-80’s, renting every friggin horror flick on VHS and keeping the cassettes well past the return dates, eventually blacklisting my name from damn near all of the movie shops in my hometown. For the sole reason of wanting to hop back in the time-machine, I’ll never turn down the opportunity to check out a film that promises to ship you back to the days of all of that cheesy-neon attire and overblown hairdos.

    Director Toby Canto was generous enough to offer his latest film up onto the sacrificial stone, and it’s called Knock Knock – about a WAY past his prime pugilist named Sam (Tartack) who is unwillingly thrust into a throwdown with a bloodsucker who happens to reside in the same apartment – damn noisy neighbors! His only birthday wish is to spend his 60th go-round safely hold up in his domicile, away from pesky residents alike. Well, that plan goes to shit when his kooky neighbor (Berry) comes by and pitches the idea of throwing hands with the newest tenant: a real creature of the night (Lucas Ayoub).

    Sam initially nixes the idea wholeheartedly, but when more of his quirky neighbors show up to his place to substantiate the vampiric-claims, Sam finds himself lacing up the leather for one more round…or two, depending on if he can still take a beating. Filled with more than a handful of goofy instances, this near-hour presentation won’t blow the doors off of the horror/com vehicle, but should more than suffice in the short-term until the next spooky-laugher comes slithering out of its hole.

    • Film
    3.0

    Summary

    Historians alike, this movie’s for those who want a reminder of how loopy those VHS days were, and the best part is you don’t have to rewind a freakin’ thing.

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