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August 29, 2010

Movie Review: Black Dynamite (2010)

by Corby Kennard

Who's the Black Super Dick who's a hit with all the chicks? Well, it might have been Shaft at one time, but there's a new contender for the throne - Black Dynamite.

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If you've never seen a blacksploitation film, here's a short primer. In 1971, Melvin Van Peebles wrote, directed, and starred in a film called Sweet Sweetback's Badasssss (yes, five s') Song. It was filled with sex, drugs, pimps, and numerous jabs at "The Man" who'd been "keeping the brother down". When this became a hit in the black communities, tons of new films were churned out to capitalize on this momentum. Shaft, Dolemite and Coffy were some of the biggest hits, but there were tons more that covered every genre, like chop-socky flicks (Black Belt Jones), horror (Blacula), and even westerns (The Black Bounty Hunter originally known as Boss Nigger).

Versus: Jerry Lee vs. Hooch

Versus is designed to compare two or more similar movies or characters in order to determine who or what is the best version. I break it down by category and score each one on a scale of 1 - 5. The highest total score in the end wins. Even I don't know who will win until it's over. This is my game played by my rules. If you don't like it, tough noogies.

Jerry Lee vs. Hooch

Ah, the 80s. They brought us Ronald Reagan, the AIDS virus and more buddy cop movies than you can think of. Hell, there was even one starring Jay Leno and Pat Morita. Throughout the decade, filmmakers attempted to exhaust every possible combination of partners imaginable. There was the white guy / black guy combo, the black guy / two white guys combo and even the white guy / alien combo. Just when they thought they ran out of ideas, 1989 brought us the white guy / dog combo. In fact, they loved the idea so much, they did it twice. I figure that we've seen plenty of cops, so this time around I'm just focusing on the canine counterparts.

Buy K-9 and Turner and Hooch on DVD

August 27, 2010

Movie Review: Dark House (2009)

by Heather Henshaw

Dark House is actually a refreshing new horror film. This movie starts off with blood covered child toys, so you can only imagine where it will go from there! Janet was the head of the house. She fed, clothed, preached, and beat the children that she took care of. One night, the kids decide "no more," so Claire decides to lead the kids down to the boiler room, and that's where they burn their bibles. Janet walks in and sees this; she loses her sanity and kills all the kids but one. This movie takes us on a ride of how a girl faces her fears years after a brutal massacre happened where she lived. She and some classmates go to become actors in a haunted house. Yes, the haunted house is the very place the massacre had taken place many years ago. Claire hopes to remember what happened those many years ago when her seven friends were brutally slaughtered by Janet Darrode.

Buy Dark House on DVD

The thing about this film that makes it refreshing is that it is based on holographs gone crazy. This haunted house goes haywire, and Janet wants revenge on Claire for what she did those many years ago. The monsters are pretty awesome. It has everything from bloodthirsty zombies, an axe wielding maniac happy clown, and heck; you even have your bible thumper in this movie! One by one, the students face these holograms. Who will live, and who will die? You just have to watch this movie to find out! I also want to warn you that two scenes in this movie are not for the faint hearted. They have to do with children being beaten and a very intense sound effect of children being murdered. So if you are weak hearted or squeamish do not watch this film! If you are ok with it, then sit back and enjoy Dark House! Other than that, I think it was worth the 85 minutes of my life.

August 26, 2010

Book Review: The Bad Guys Won by Jeff Pearlman (2005)

by Al Neal

The Year 1986, the moment; Bill Buckner's error in Game six of the 1986 World Series which created one of baseball's greatest comeback dynasties. By allowing that softly grounded ball off the bat of Mookie Wilson, bounce and skip between his legs as it rolled straight down the first base line. He made it clear that the curse of the "Bambino" would continue to devastate Boston Red Sox baseball.

The Bad Guys Won by Jeff Pearlman is a testament to one of the greatest seasons in baseball for the New York Mets. I read this book for two reasons: 1. I am a Mets fan and 2. I love all things baseball. I usually never read chronicles of baseballs turbulent past, but when I found this book alone in an endless sea of Yankee and Red Sox literature I thought, "Why not, I'll give it a chance." From the first page of the introduction to the last page of the epilogue I was kept on the edge of my seat. Pearlman does a fantastic job in showing us all the ups and downs faced by this club. The personal sacrifices, inner demons, and personality clashes of all the Mets players of the 86' season; as well as how other teams utterly despised them for their straight up, in your face, New York brand of Cockiness.

August 23, 2010

Movie Review: Brainjacked (2010)

by Jeff Dolniak

When watching genre films, like most filmgoers, I yearn for something fresh… a film that isn't quite like the dozens of indie and mainstream movies I spend ninety to one-hundred minutes of my lifetime viewing. Recently the new sci-fi horror film Brainjacked came into my possession and I couldn't be more pleased with what I had viewed. The story takes place in the near future, where young Tristan (Chris Jackson) is having unbearable headaches. Excedrin is not going to help this guy at all, it's that bad.

Buy Brainjacked on DVD

Along with his pounding noggin, he has to deal with the constant physical abuse of his slime-ball dad. There's really not much Tristan can do, but get the hell out of there. Enter Dr. Karas (Rod Grant), to ease Tristan's pains…with a nice giant drill to the head. In that drill, Dr. Karen has what is called a trepanation; sort of a wonder-drug that cures the monstrous migraines. It works to help Tristan but it also allows Dr. Karen to take command of his mind.

August 22, 2010

Movie Review: The Expendables (2010)

by Corby Kennard

 The Expendables (DVD, 2010) BRAND NEWOn a filthy street in Iraq, a HumVee is blasted by an IED, injuring four soldiers and killing a fifth, burning him beyond all recognition.

During a building sweep, a young man is shot in the back of the head, knocking him to the stairs underneath him. It takes four men to get him down the stairs, slipping in his blood on the way.

Buy The Expendables DVD/Blu-ray/Digital Combo

An entire abandoned factory is destroyed rather than letting it fall into the Army's hands, taking away not just a forward post, but the home of a displaced family who built a ramshackle home on the property.

No, these aren't scenes from The Expendables, they are real-life examples of what happened to, and is probably still happening to, soldiers in the Iraqi war. They are detailed in the new book "The Good Soldiers" by Pulitzer-Prize winning journalist David Finkle. It's a sobering look at the kids who were sent to the region in 2007 as part of the Surge that was supposed to end the war.

August 21, 2010

Book Review: Lenin by Robert Service

by Al Neal

Lenin by Robert Service is an academic biography covering the life and events surrounding Vladimir Ulyanov; better known as Vladimir Lenin, father of the Russian workers revolution. The book begins with the opening chapters focusing mainly on Lenin's family lineage from both his father and mothers sides. This was in my opinion critical, because it revealed to the reader a few unknown facts about Lenin's background covered up by the Soviet government as to forever make him an infallible working class hero. Among things revealed were Lenin's ties to the Jewish community on his mother's side, which makes perfect sense in the context that later in life he worked very closely with the Jewish working class. It also gives us a glimpse at how Lenin came to be brought up in a semi-wealthy environment, thanks to his father's governmental position in education. It should also be mentioned that after the author's introduction, he gives us a complete listing of all the known Ulyanov family members, along with a short list of the variations of names, and nicknames that Lenin had over the years.

August 19, 2010

Movie Review: The Pacifier (2005)

by David Hayes

So... we all know that I've watched some really, really bad movies before. Even reviewed them for the Cheese right here. I'm not sure I can admit this, but I didn't make it all the way through Vin Diesel's The Pacifier. I tried. Oh Lord, I tried! I'm missing about 30 minutes or so in the middle, but, if the rest of the film is any indication, I didn't miss much. Oddly, though, that hunky slab of man flesh, Vin Diesel, did leave an impression on me. Don't know what it is, 'cause I'm fairly straight, but that not-quite Barry White voice and the doughy, almost a professional wrestler physique made some cinematic magic. Not enough magic to keep me awake, but magic nontheless.

Buy  The Pacifier on DVD

So, in lieu of writing about the movie, I composed a poem dedicated to The Pacifier himself, Vin Diesel. Ahem. It is called, "Vin Diesel, in The Pacifier and any other film role except Private Ryan, is an Erudite Stone," and it goes a little something like this:

August 17, 2010

Interview: Writer/Composer Darren Smith

by Heather Henshaw

I had the privilege to interview Mr. Darren Smith who is a co-creator, writer, composer and the band leader of the cult classic film Repo the Genetic Opera. Yes a cult classic film that is an opera! This film has had many struggles and made its way to the top and is not stopping for anyone. A Goth opera filled with hearts being torn out; face stealing rapist and much more! He covers it all with us in this interview and we find out what he thinks of Repo Men the Repo rip-off! So sit back and enjoy this interview with the fearless bandleader!

Buy Repo! The Genetic Opera on DVD and Blu-ray and get the Soundtrack

Game Review: Spider-Man: Web of Shadows (2008)

by Zack Anderson

Okay, okay. It's got repetitive combat, weak voice acting and the game world changes irrevocably as you progress. I've heard all the complaints and it took me a while to play this game, but I'm glad I finally did.
I've been a Spider-Gamer since number 2, so I loves me a good swing through NYC. Web of Shadows has that in spades. The web-zip has never been easier, and the aerial evade move makes Spidey almost fly.

I admit that the mission structure can be a bit repetitive, (you save the day by beating up everybody) but the fighting itself is varied enough that if you're creative you can end up pulling off some amazing moves. Comparing the combat to earlier games, Web of Shadows actually comes out on top in my view.

August 15, 2010

Versus: Batman vs. Batman vs. Batman

Versus is designed to compare two or more similar movies or characters in order to determine who or what is the best version. I break it down by category and score each one on a scale of 1 - 5. The highest total score in the end wins. Even I don't know who will win until it's over. This is my game played by my rules. If you don't like it, tough noogies.

Batman has taken on a few incarnations on the big and small screens. He started out in theaters in short serials that you might have seen on cable or the Internet somewhere. These were fun, but not what people remember. Most of us can look back and break Batman's film history into three distinctive segments. After recently watching the feature starring Adam West, I started to dissect things, and this is what I found.

August 14, 2010

Movie Review: Magical Kanan Volume 1

by David Hayes

A terrible evil has been set loose on the city of Meihous. Evil Seeds have begun planting themselves in people and, in turn, creating demons. The Seeds, originally from the magical land of Ever Green, wreak havoc on the populace. The Queen of Ever Green sends two warriors to battle this evil, preventing the Seeds from spreading even further.

Buy Magical Kanan Volume 1 on DVD

One of these warriors takes on the form of Natsuki, a good looking young man. He is paired with a human girl, Chihaya and they form a magical bond. Of course, this is hentai, so the bond is a sexual one. Whenever Natsuki and Chihaya engage in any kind of sexual situation, they grow stronger magically and are better equipped to fight the Seed People (tentacle-laden plant demons). Natsuki, being from Ever Green, can transform into a pink, egg-shaped bunny for no apparent reason.

Movie Review: The Uninvited (2009)

by Hollis Jay

As I sat watching The Uninvited, one question kept crawling through my mind: Why do we, as Americas, have to remake every good movie we find and turn it into such crap? We consistently do it, especially with horror movies. Are we that hard up for new ideas? And even if we can't stop ourselves from remaking these movies-why do we have to mutilate them beyond recognition?

Buy The Uninvited [Blu-ray] or DVD

The Uninvited starts off with an uneven pace. We are not sure if Anna is officially crazy or just a girl that needs to be saved. Frankly, I found myself not caring. Her pouty lips, profoundly pasty skin, and wide eyes do nothing to help her acting. Therefore, we do not become engaged in her character and as an outcome we are not scared with her or for her.

Book Review: The Uninvited: The True Story of the Union Screaming House by Steven A. LaChance

by Hollis Jay

Throughout The Uninvited: The True Story of the Union Screaming House, I kept wondering when the book that was thinking about burning in my backyard was going to become scary. Yes, Steven A. LaChance is a new author to the field and yes, he is writing a novel based on supposedly real life events. But, his work is dull and dry. It does not speak of true life or of the experiences brought on a haunted house. All in all, it lacks in the element of entertainment and realism. It's almost as if LaChance doesn't know where to begin and where to end. I wonder if he ever sat down and wrote out an outline for his novel.

August 13, 2010

Book Review: Atomic Diplomacy: Hiroshima and the Potsdam by Gar Alperovitz (1994)

by Lane Smith

In the book Atomic Diplomacy, Gar Alperovitz offers an in-depth look at the diplomatic strategy used by President Truman from March 1945 through August 1945 and the impact the successful testing of the atomic bomb in New Mexico had on it. Alperovitz incorporates a great variety of sources into his argument and steadily builds a case against the necessity of the use of atomic weapons. The use of the bomb, however, was not the focus of Atomic Diplomacy. Alperovitz, at the time of publishing (1965), strives to examine the measurable impact the possession of the bomb had on Truman's strategy when dealing with the Soviet Union and how this diplomatic strategy set the stage for the Cold War.

Alperovitz begins his analysis of Truman's diplomatic strategy with a look into the president's first discussion with Russian diplomat Vyacheslav Molotov over the issues concerning the government of Poland. Alperovitz sets the stage for his book with this conference because he feels it best illustrates Truman's diplomacy prior to the knowledge of a successful nuclear bomb test. Despite not having the trump card of a functioning nuclear arsenal, Truman took a much more aggressive stance when negotiating with the Soviets than his predecessor, Roosevelt. This aggressive stance that resulted in a fruitless conference with Molotov actually resulted in the 'strategy of delay' that Alperovitz attributes to the Americans in the time period between Germany's surrender and the development of the bomb. The strategy of delay, according to Alperovitz, consisted of a conscious effort by Truman and other American diplomats to delay any final decisions on the power balance in Europe until the United States had the bargaining chip of being the sole possessor of atomic weaponry. Alperovitz also argues that it was important to the United States to delay any progress made in Europe so that Russia remained focused on that area. This was because the United States preferred being the sole power in the Pacific War to take Japan's surrender. Alperovitz believes this was delay was also an intentional effort to keep Russian troops out of Manchuria and allow Stalin to have that important area under Soviet control.

Interview: Actor Joel D. Wynkoop

by Heather Henshaw

Joel D. Wynkoop. The name alone instills fear... or laughter, depending on who you're speaking to. A comedic actor firmly established in independent horror, we were fortunate enough to speak to Joel about his career. Spanning over two decades and filled with a variety of the most cutting edge independent genre film credits, Joel has worked, mainly, in the horror field with some of the genre's top names (like Marcus Koch and Tim Ritter) and has appeared in films that have, legitimately, reached cult status. He has appeared in ROT, Truth or Dare, Killing Spree and was the titular character in Dirty Cop, No Donut and it doesn't appear as if Joel D. Wynkoop will slow down any time soon!

HH: First off Joel, thank you for taking the time to do this interview for me and Cinema Head Cheese.

JOEL: Heather you are very welcome. Thank you for taking an interest in me. My thanks to Cinema Head Cheese as well.

Game Review: Red Dead Redemption (2010)

by Zack Anderson

Rockstar makes some of the best games in the world. Grand Theft Auto, Midnight Club, Max Payne; they even made ping-pong compelling! The San Diego developer got their feet wet in the western genre with 2004's Red Dead Revolver, but they really dove into the deep end with this year's Red Dead Redemption.

Set in an enormous open world with terrain varying from snow-capped mountains to wind-swept desert, RDR is a masterpiece of frontier gaming. You are John Marston, a former outlaw who has been "coerced" by the Feds into tracking down his old criminal buddies and bringing them to justice. It's a good frame to hang the plot on, and the many characters you meet throughout the region each bring their own flavor and situation.

Movie Review: Incest Death Squad 2 (2010)

by Jeff Dolniak

When I think of the lovely state of Wisconsin, three names come to mind: Ed Gein, Jeffrey Dahmer and director Cory J. Udler. Sorry folks, no Brett Favre here. He's just not as interesting as any of the three maniacs mentioned above. My focus in this film review won't be on Ed and JD but mid-west-sploitation micro-budget indie sleaze specialist, Cory J. Udler and his new film INCEST DEATH SQUAD 2.

The original INCEST DEATH SQUAD was an enjoyable ride, as you got to follow the exploits of Amber and Jeb Wayne, two siblings whom are "very" close. It's more funny than anything. INCEST DEATH SQUAD 2, while having some comical moments, INCEST DEATH SQUAD 2 is a much darker, nastier experience. Neither film is loaded with gore but part 2 has some especially unsettling scenes of face slicing and necrophilia that caught this sleaze fiend by surprise. The pace of the film is also very good compared to the first film. We essentially get a constant barrage of action and mayhem as Jeb, Amber and Aaron impose their will on innocent folk for the lord.

August 11, 2010

Cinematic Hell: Blood Feast (1963)

by Hal Astell

Director: Herschell Gordon Lewis

Stars: Thomas Wood, Mal Arnold and Connie Mason

Buy Blood Feast on DVD

The tagline on the poster cries, 'Nothing so appalling in the annals of horror!' but unfortunately it was referencing to the quality of this 1963 shocker rather than its contents. The film's director, exploitation maestro Herschell Gordon Lewis, likened it to a Walt Whitman poem: 'It's no good,' he said, 'but it's the first,' and he's right. While Japanese films like 1960's Jigoku may technically predate it, this is the original gore movie, arguably the most influential horror film since the days of the classic Universal monster movies. Details vary depending on the reports but it was shot in around a week on a budget of less than $25,000 and became an instant hit at drive-ins across America, grossing over $4m for Lewis and his business partner, legendary exploitation producer David Friedman. Given that it's truly inept on every front, why was it so massively popular? The answer is simple: it delivered exactly what it promised, unlike anything that went before it.

August 10, 2010

Movie Review: Green Lantern: First Flight (2009)

by Corby Kennard

Green Lantern: First Flight is the DC Universe's newest animated feature. It puts Green Lantern, a character whose time to shine has definitely come, front and center in an epic adventure across the universe. Accompanied by various members of the Green Lantern Corp, the newest lantern, Hal Jordan, has to stop a rogue Hero-turned-Villain before he destroys the Corps and enslaves the universe. It's big, loud, explosive, and action packed; everything one would expect from a superhero movie in general, and a Green Lantern movie in particular, which is why it's that much worse that the final product is mildly disappointing.

Buy Green Lantern: First Flight on DVD or Blu-ray

To be fair, the film does more things right than wrong. GL's origin story is greatly abbreviated into a five minute segment before the credits even roll. Superhero origins are generally the same: Alien falls to Earth/Fish out of water - Superman, Martian Manhunter, Aquaman, Wonder Woman; Parents killed by criminals/Are criminals - Batman, Robin, Jericho, Raven; Bestowed power by alien/accident - Spider-man, Green Lantern, Flash; Parents are heroes - Black Canary, Huntress. The only people who don't understand that hero origins can be summed up in a few words aren't going to be buying this movie, and the director, Lauren Montgomery, understood this. Unfortunately we don't get much character development about Hal Jordan before he is given the ring, but we know what we need to: i.e. He's a test pilot, an alien Green Lantern named Abin Sur crashes on Earth, his ring finds Hal and brings him to the injured Green Lantern, Abin Sur dies, and Hal is given the mantle. Perfect, concise, and easily flows into the title sequence.

August 9, 2010

Book Review: Among the Dead Cities by A.C. Grayling (2007)

by Lane Smith

In the book Among the Dead Cities, philosopher A.C. Grayling examines the morality of area-bombing in World War II, focusing on Britain's Bomber Command and the United States Army Air Forces (USAAF). A philosophy professor at the University of London, Grayling encourages his audience to consider the merit of the bombing campaigns in what can be described as a 'philosophical vacuum'. He urges readers not to compare or justify the actions of the Allied bombing against the atrocities committed by the Axis Powers, but to look at the bombing campaign alone.

August 8, 2010

Movie Review: Office Outbreak (2008)

by Hollis Jay

After I watched Office Outbreak, I was overwhelmed by a series of emotional responses. My first being laughter. I felt myself regaled by the sarcastic and underlining remarks towards reality television, but I also felt as if I was being attacked by some of the worst actors in history. There is no smooth line in plot, and no real sense of relationship created between the characters. In essence, we-as an audience-neither care about the outcome nor do we care who survives. There is no fear and no element of surprise. The injuries that our characters endure are neither imaginative nor do they even attempt at looking realistic. I mean I understand that this is at best a "B" movie, but within the realms of "B" movies this one only works downward toward an "F".

Buy Office Outbreak on DVD