800 Posts! Thank you!

Hey everyone,

for those of you that have been readers for awhile, you’ll know I like to celebrate the little moments, and I had one a few days ago when I published my review for Hobbs & Shaw. That review ended up being the 800th post for this site! It’s rather fitting because many of the Fast & Furious reviews I have written have been among the most popular reviews on the site!

I cannot thank you faithful and maybe first-time readers for tuning in, reading and contributing to the discussion. This has morphed from a hobby to a passion to a daily requirement for sanity, and it’s because of the kind words of so many of you that have helped with that.

All that being said, I’m going to leave a list of the most popular reviews and posts on the site since it started. Feel free to peruse and gander at your choosing.

 

  1. Turbo Charged Prelude (2003)
  2. Poltergeist (1982)
  3. Star Wars: Episode IV – A New Hope (1977)
  4. Frankenstein (1994)
  5. Leprechaun (1993)
  6. 2 Fast 2 Furious (2003)
  7. The Thing (1982)
  8. Zootopia (2016)
  9. The Fast and the Furious (2001)
  10. The Fly (1986)

Here’s hoping Hobbs & Shaw ends up on this this. Three of the Fast & Furious films have ended up on the most-read list, including a short film prequel to the second film. It always strikes me at how many people have looked at the Leprechaun posts I have done. It seems year-round that that post gets views and I don’t understand it, to be perfectly honest.

So there you have it. Thanks again for reading, even if only once. I truly appreciate all of you readers and I only ask that you help like, comment, subscribe and share to keep independent content creators like myself going. All film is truly subjective, so if you’ve never interacted on the site, I urge you to do so. If you loved a movie I hated, let me know your opinion, and if you hated something I really love, I want to know why. That’s part of what makes this part of movie fandom so special. Thanks again!

 

-Kyle A. Goethe

[31 Days of Horror Part V: A New Beginning] Day 26 [Happy 15th Birthday!] Open Water (2003)

Director: Chris Kentis

Cast: Blanchard Ryan, Daniel Travis, Saul Stein

Screenplay: Chris Kentis

79 mins. Rated R for language and some nudity.

 

Open Water is based on true events, but that doesn’t really make it good.

Daniel (Daniel Travis, Thank You For Smoking, Last Time Forever) and Susan (Blanchard Ryan, Beerfest, Good Bones) are a couple looking to get away from the stress of daily life. While scuba-diving deep in the open water, they are accidentally left behind. Now, they are forced to fend for themselves in the dangerous ocean water, fending off infection, exhaustion, and sharks.

Open Water is, I’m sorry to say, one of the most boring exercises in film. I can understand the idea of a bottle episode in the middle of the open ocean, but neither of our lead characters is compelling enough to carry the film. The inciting incident is derivative, the characters are given no obstacles to overcome, and they have nothing to do but complain and scream. The film comes to an abrupt end without any real catharsis and really, no ending worth talking about.

Open Water doesn’t work. The film isn’t exciting nor fun. It doesn’t feature anything of real merit. It’s just bad. Real bad.

 

1/5

-Kyle A. Goethe

[31 Days of Horror Part V: A New Beginning] Day 20 [Happy 40th Birthday!] Attack of the Killer Tomatoes (1978)

Director: John DeBello

Cast: David Miller, George Wilson, Sharon Taylor, Costa Dillon

Screenplay: John DeBello, Costa Dillon, Stephen Peace

83 mins. Rated PG.

 

Attack of the Killer Tomatoes! Attack of the Killer Tomatoes! Yeah, I can’t get the theme song out of my head.

Randomly, and seemingly without consequence, tomatoes have come to life and are attacking humans everywhere. They make screechy attack sounds as they group up to take humans down once and for all. The President has put together a team to combat the tomato menace led by Mason Dixon (David Miller, That Was Then…This is Now, Speak of the Devil). As the tomatoes and the humans mount for an all-out war, it’s up to Mason and his team to stop them by any means necessary.

I tried to nail down the best description of this film, but it is a rather loose plot. The paper-thin story is an excuse to zany and wacky jokes. From the pop song “Puberty Love” that plays throughout to a discussion of between generals about getting a medal in a three-legged sack race, Attack of the Killer Tomatoes is a more ridiculous precursor to better satires to come like Airplane! and The Naked Gun. Some of the jokes land, some do not, and director John DeBello (Black Dawn, Happy Hour) appears to be just throwing goofs at the wall to see what sticks. I think he finds more success than expected simply by the sheer amount of jokes used.

Outside of the downright wacky, nothing in this film really works. The acting is absolutely atrocious, the writing is bland, and the lack of anything real for story just bored me to death. Attack of the Killer Tomatoes seems on the surface to be ripe for weird, comedic, and horrific action set pieces. And then, there aren’t any good action scenes. Nothing really works. That’s the cardinal difference between this and better satires. Films like Airplane! and Young Frankenstein have good stories and likable characters. Attack of the Killer Tomatoes is missing key storytelling elements.

Attack of the Killer Tomatoes is, thankfully, short enough to get one good viewing out of. Get some friends and beers and you might just get a laugh or two. Lower your expectations…significantly, and you may just find some fun in there.

 

2/5

-Kyle A. Goethe

[31 Days of Horror Part V: A New Beginning] Day 14 – [Happy 30th Birthday!] Pumpkinhead (1988)

Director: Stan Winston

Cast: Lance Henriksen, John DiAquino, Kerry Remsen, Jeff East

Screenplay: Mark Patrick Carducci, Gary Gerani

86 mins. Rated R.

 

Pumpkinhead felt like it was going to be a bigger thing. It felt like a franchise starter, and yet, the first sequel was more shoehorned in, and we didn’t get any other films until the SciFi Network released two sequels in the mid-aughts. Now, the franchise lays dormant, a mistake to be sure, even if the first film, which celebrates 30 years since its release today, has some issues to be sure.

When Ed Harley (Lance Henriksen, Hard Target, Mom and Dad) experiences a horrific personal loss due to an accident involving some teenagers on vacation, his anger and rage fuel him to search out a supposed witch in the forest by his shop. When Harley begs her for vengeance, the witch helps him call forth Pumpkinhead, a boogeyman of sorts who goes after the teenagers one by one.

First-time feature director Stan Winston (A Gnome Named Gnorm), known for his special effects work, capably directs this film with some nice cinematography and editing to hold it all together. One area where Winston fails is with pulling strong performances from most of his cast. Lance Henriksen is an exception here, and with his strong dedication to his character (he actually got fake dentures and designed the look of Ed Harley), he stands out here as a broken man looking for vengeance, and then, eventually redemption.

No, where acting fails is with these teenagers. I refuse to believe that anyone would hang out with Joel (John DiAquino, No Way Out, The 60 Yard Line) in public. This character, even before the reveal that he is a criminal, is just all-around an awful human being, and very out of place with the rest of the teens. The other performances from our teenage biker gang just do not work.

There’s some issues with pacing here, as it takes half the film to really get going. Once it does, it moves along quite nicely, but it just trudges along the first half. Editing saves it here as the film is a tight 86 minutes, but I feel like it can only do so much.

The visual look of the film is quite impressive. I felt while watching that I was a part of the world that Winston puts before the camera. The design and visual flair of the cinematography is quite special, and I cannot fail to mention the extremely unnerving titular creature, a demon personifying vengeance. The creature really helps expand the lore of the film quite nicely.

Pumpkinhead is flawed but still worthy of a nice trick-or-treat Halloween experience. The film is easily accessible and aided by some nice technical work. If you can get past some of the cringe-worthy acting, I think you can have a lot of fun here. Henriksen leads the pack here with an emotionally resonant performance that’s well worth your time.

 

3/5

-Kyle A. Goethe

600 Posts! A Very Special Thank You!

Hey everyone, there are more of you reading this now than there were four years ago when I started this whole thing, and yesterday, Lady Bird became my 600th post here. I can’t believe it. I’ve been writing here for some time and I can’t thank you readers enough for all that you have contributed through kind words, thoughtful discussion, and interesting insight. I wouldn’t be here without you!

Here’s a look back at the most popular reviews or pieces that we’ve been a part of here.

  1. Turbo Charged Prelude (2003)
  2. Poltergeist (1982)
  3. Star Wars: Episode IV – A New Hope (1977)
  4. Frankenstein (1994)
  5. 2 Fast 2 Furious (2003)
  6. Leprechaun (1993)
  7. The Thing (1982)
  8. Santa Claws (2014)
  9. The Fast and the Furious (2001)
  10. Bad Boys (1995)

It’s still a little crazy that the most-looked at review on this site is for a short film prequel to 2 Fast 2 Furious, but to each his own.

And now, for one more thing. There is nothing I would love more than for your continued contribution to the discussion. All film is subjective, after all, and I started this site to start those discussions. If you agree with me on a certain film, speak out, let me know what you love about it. If you disagree, let me know your opinion.

If you have anything you’d like to see in the future, please feel free to contact us here at almightygoatmanreviews@gmail.com. We would love to hear from you.

 

Thanks,

-Kyle A. Goethe

 

 

For more Almighty Goatman,

[31 Days of Horror: The Final Chapter] Day 14 – [Happy 10th Birthday!] Paranormal Activity (2007)

Director: Oren Peli

Cast: Katie Featherston, Micah Sloat, Mark Friedrichs

Screenplay: Oren Peli

86 mins. Rated R for language.

 

Ah, Paranormal Activity, the franchise that killed Saw. I’m over it. I’m so over it.

The original Paranormal Activity has a fairly straightforward plot: A couple, Katie (Katie Featherston, Psychic Experiment, TV’s Solace for the Unloved) and Micah (Micah Sloat, The Death and Return of Superman) get a video camera to document the eerie happenings at their home. The strange activity seems to be centered around Katie, and Micah, having only just hearing about it, decides to attempt to capture it on film. What follows is a found-footage collection of the three weeks the camera is on.

The frights in Paranormal Activity are interesting, unusual, and a little intense at times. Director Oren Peli (Area 51) shot the film in 10 days using a script that was essentially a guided outline and created the characters alongside Featherston and Sloat to create as much realism as possible. Katie is depressed and sad as the movie shows the horrors she has experienced most of her life while Micah is kind of an asshole as he fails to see the toll inflicted on someone he supposedly loves. Neither performance is particularly exemplary but they are serviceable enough.

Credit should be given to Paramount Pictures and director Steven Spielberg for shepherding the film to release, as well as the horror fans who requested it in their homes. Paramount went all in on the finished product, opting to show the finished film without title cards or any credits in fact, playing up to the gimmick, and Steven Spielberg suggested a more marketable ending that this writer actually prefers to the original, if only slightly.

Overall, Paranormal Activity would be a good starting off point for horror fans. It is creepy but not altogether scary, and its thrills do not rely heavily on gore or dread but more a fun atmospheric ambiance. In fact, this is a film that is better outside of the theater, so gather some friends, turn the lights off, and enjoy!

 

3.5/5

-Kyle A. Goethe

 

 

For my review of Christopher Landon’s Paranormal Activity: The Marked Ones, click here.

 

 

For more Almighty Goatman,

[Happy 35th Birthday!] Fast Times at Ridgemont High (1982)

Director: Amy Heckerling

Cast: Sean Penn, Jennifer Jason Leigh, Judge Reinhold, Phoebe Cates, Brian Backer, Robert Romanus, Ray Walston

Screenplay: Cameron Crowe

90 mins. Rated R.

 

Fast Times at Ridgemont High had an interesting genesis. Screenwriter Cameron Crowe (TV’s Roadies, Almost Famous) actually went undercover at a high school for some time and fictionalized a book out of it. He later adapted that book to be the film we are discussing today. It goes further than that, too. There’s even a Fast Times television series that I’m trying to get my hands on for my own twisted curiosity. The show is apparently terrible but I have my reasons…

Fast Times at Ridgemont High is one of the earliest slice-of-life films in the high school setting, or at least one of the most well-known and reputable ones. There are several characters intersecting at its core, most memorably Jeff Spicoli (Sean Penn, Mystic River, The Angry Birds Movie), a stoner who finds himself at odds with teacher Mr. Hand (Ray Walston, TV’s My Favorite Martian, The Sting), who expects the highest respect from his students. Then there’s the Hamiltons, brother Brad (Judge Reinhold, Beverly Hills Cop, Dr. Dolittle: Million Dollar Mutts) and sister Stacy (Jennifer Jason Leigh, The Hateful Eight, Morgan). Brad is about to finish his high school career as a blip and he just can’t seem to get a win. Stacy is exploring her sexuality with anyone she comes across but can’t seem to understand the different between sex and love. She is pined for by Mark “Rat” Ratner (Brian Backer, The Burning, Loser) who gets all his romantic advice from the slimy Mark Damone (Robert Romanus, The Runaways, American Pie presents The Book of Love) who may just be getting a kick out of watching Rat fail.

Fast Times is an engaging and funny take on high school relationships of all kinds, and director Amy Heckerling (Look Who’s Talking, Vamps) spends equal time developing strong characters and seemingly important moments in the fleeting high school experience.

The strongest and most enjoyable performance is Sean Penn’s Spicoli. Penn is virtually unrecognizable in his portrayal of the over-the-top stoner but there is an energy to his performance that made me remember all the people I knew in my adolescence that were Spicolis in their own way. He isn’t out of place, but he is the epitome of all the youths who didn’t think out their plans after high school, the ones that stayed in the moment, in the now, for better or worse.

Jennifer Jason Leigh’s Stacy Hamilton is another relatable character in that, in high school, everyone was looking to get laid as a personal status symbol. It’s weird to think of it that way but so many do, and this conceit seems to feed into itself as more high school comedies surfaced over the years. In her comparisons with friend Linda (Phoebe Cates, Gremlins 2: The New Batch, Drop Dead Fred), Stacy is seen in a sad light, rarely rising to the level of self-acceptance she so wants.

If there’s a faulty character in the bunch, it’s Brad, who shares a number of great moments in the film (and yes, I’m including the scene with Phoebe Cates Moving in Stereo), but overall, his character just doesn’t really go anywhere. I feel like I get what the attempt was, but it wasn’t entirely successful.

Thankfully, the strong writing of Cameron Crowe really impacts this film and peppers quotable and memorable moments throughout that have allowed Fast Times to endure the test of time. I feel like this is a film about high school that stays with you long after high school, and it also feels accessible even for youths that didn’t grow up in the era of its release. It’s a film that feels good to watch, and it’s one that says that yes, we’ve all been there. It has fun with its loose premise and is completely re-watchable. If you haven’t seen Fast Times at Ridgemont High, now is the time to give it a go.

 

4.5/5

-Kyle A. Goethe

 

 

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500 Posts! Thank you!

 

Wow, I can’t believe it’s been 500 posts since I started this thing three years ago! Thank you so much to everyone that has been a constant reader or even those of you that are new! I wouldn’t be here without you!

Here’s a look back at the most popular reviews since this whole thing started.

 

  1. Turbo Charged Prelude (2003)
  2. Poltergeist (1982)
  3. Star Wars: Episode IV – A New Hope (1977)
  4. Frankenstein (1994)
  5. 2 Fast 2 Furious (2003)
  6. Leprechaun (1993)
  7. The Rocky Horror Picture Show (1975)
  8. The Fast and the Furious (2001)
  9. Horror Express (1972)
  10. Kubo and the Two Strings (2016)

 

You keep reading and I’ll keep writing…

-Kyle A. Goethe

[31 Days of Horror 3] Day 26 – [Happy 15th Birthday!] Thir13en Ghosts (2001)

thir13enghosts2001a

Director: Steve Beck

Cast: Tony Shalhoub, Shannon Elizabeth, Embeth Davidtz, Matthew Lillard, Alec Roberts, Rah Digga, F. Murray Abraham

Screenplay: Neal Marshall Stevens, Richard D’Ovidio

91 mins. Rated R for horror violence/gore, nudity, and some language.

 

Dark Castle Entertainment was formed in 1999 by the legendary producers Joel Silver, Robert Zemeckis,  and Gilbert Adler. It’s initial inception began with the goal of remaking William Castles’ horror films from the 1950s and 1960s. It only made two such remakes before the idea shifted to original films and non-Castle remakes. This is the second William Castle remake. Thir13en Ghosts.

thir13enghosts2001c

Arthur Kriticos (Tony Shalhoub, TV’s Monk, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Out of the Shadows) has just inherited a large estate from his recently dead Uncle Cyrus (F. Murray Abraham, TV’s Homeland, The Grand Budapest Hotel), but the home, a gargantuan glass house with strange and unusual writing along the walls, is already occupied with twelve terrifying spirits, ghosts of those who have died under painful and unresolved circumstances. As Arthur and his family attempt to navigate the labyrinthine home, he is aided by Dennis Rafkin (Matthew Lillard, TV’s The Bridge, Scooby-Doo), a psychic who assisted Cyrus in hunting down the twelve ghosts. Cyrus’ legend speaks of a thirteenth ghost that Rafkin is unaware of, and now, the house is taking over and the puzzle is waiting to be solved.

Thir13en Ghosts has one absolutely fatal flaw. The film just isn’t all that scary. The mythology is interesting. The production design is crazy but effective and unique. The film is unforgettable for the atmosphere, but it just isn’t scary. Not at all.

The performances are fine from Shalhoub and Abraham, and Lillard is memorable. The film does hold a distinction for being the first American wide-release film sporting three Arab-Americans as the leads, which is nice. Director Steve Beck (Ghost Ship) is serviceable, and I loved learning more about the different ghosts. I think there is a lot of story to tell here, but the audience never got to see.

thir13enghosts2001b

I love when remakes take a different path than the original, and Thir13en Ghosts is definitely more ambitious than most remakes, but audiences need to be scared at a scary movie, and Thir13en Ghosts is just more interesting than it is engaging or exciting. Genre fans can get away if the movie is cool but not exactly scary, but general audiences need more than that.

 

2.5/5

-Kyle A. Goethe

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