Tuesday, October 31, 2017

Texas Chainsaw 3D

The Texas Chainsaw Massacre family of movies is a mess from a story perspective. The series was rebooted by Michael Bay's Platinum Dunes in 2003. While I'm a big fan of the reboot, the series was then rebooted with 2013's Texas Chainsaw 3D. Several key aspects of the characters from the Chainsaw franchise has been changed again...but for the better?

Texas Chainsaw 3D is actually a sequel to the original 1974 movie, basically ignoring the original TCM sequels. The beginning of the movie opens up with the local sheriff at the home of the Sawyers asking them to turn over none other than Leatherface himself. Sally Hardesty escapes Leatherface in the original movie and obviously alerts the local authorities...hence the sheriff being at the home to make the arrest. Just then many of the townsfolk of Newt, Texas show up ready to lynch the whole family. It doesn't take long before chaos ensues, gunfire is traded and the Sawyer home is burned to the ground. It is believed that the entire Sawyer clan died in the fire, but one of the locals finds Loretta Sawyer, and her child, Edith Rose Sawyer. The mother is killed and the baby is taken and raised as their own.

Fast forward years later and Edith Rose Sawyer (played by Alexandra Daddario) is now all grown up and goes by the name Heather that her adopted family gives her. She receives a letter in the mail from her late grandmother, Verna Carson. She was not privy to knowing she was adopted. She learns not only of her being adopted, but of the inheritance she was left in Newt, Texas. She packs up the van with her boyfriend Ryan (played by Trey Songz), best friend Nikki (Tania Raymonde) and her boyfriend and hit the road.

During this trip they come across a hitchhiker. Like in the original and the 2003 reboot, they pick up the hitchhiker and take them with them. The inheritance turns out to be Verna's home. It appears to be a an elaborate older home and oddly untouched after all of these years. There are sheets over some of the furniture, but the house seems to be very clean for a house that has sat empty for that long.

Up until this point the movie was pretty boring, but as they leave the hitchhiker alone in the house as they go into town for supplies (who does that? leave a stranger in their new home alone?) the action starts to pick up. The hitchhiker eventually finds Leatherface in the basement (or does Leatherface find him?) and from here on out it's on. 

It takes awhile for Heather to find out that her relatives are crazy murderers, but eventually finds out through old police files while she seeks refuge from being chased by Leatherface. This is the turn in the story that myself and a lot of fans didn't care for. The sheriff kidnaps Heather and takes her to the local slaughter house to lure out Leatherface. He intends on killing the last of the Sawyers, but as Leatherface spices a family tattoo on her chest, he lets her go. Heather now basically goes over to the dark side herself and fights alongside her cousin. Yeah, I didn't see that coming either.

In the letter from her grandmother, Verna tells Heather/Edith that as long as she takes care of Leatherface, he'll take care of her. It seems that Edith has finally found the family she's been longing for and decides to take up residence in the house.

There are a lot of things I don't like about this movie, yet I still find it more fascinating than Tobe Hooper's 1986 sequel. The 3D effects are just a part of the time the movie was released and not necessary. The sudden attitude change you see the main character, Heather/Edith take when she is released by Leatherface is crazy. Most of the movie she is being chased by this maniac and now all the sudden she wants to fight along side him? Despite the sudden fork in the road the movie takes, its still a fun watch. I thought Alexandra's performance was pretty good, yet I'm not too sure how I feel anout Dan Yeager's Leatherface. He'd have to be well in his 60's during this movie, yet he's more mobile than you think he could be. 

Mariluyn Burns (Sally Hardesty) and Gunnar Hanson (Leatherface) from the original 1974 movie, both have small roles. Sally plays Verna and Gunnar plays a new Saywer family member, Boss Sawyer.

Texas Chainsaw 3D isn't great, but it's not as bad as some of the fans and critics make it out to be. I believe it was planned to make another movie exploring more about Heather / Edith and Leatherface, but ultimately that never came to fruition. A prequel to the original 1974 movie, Leatherface, was released earlier this year (2017), but at the time of this post I've yet to watch it.

The Belko Experiment

The Belko Experiment is one of those movies that I remember seeing advertised on TV, but as quickly as the movie came into theatres I forgot about it just as quick. That is until I saw it at my local Redbox. 

A few weekends ago I promised my girls they could pick a movie out so while I was standing there helping them, I saw this movie was in stock and wouldn't you know Redbox threw a 50 cent off coupon at me upon renting the kids movie.

I purposefully didn't look up much about the movie prior to watching it. I wanted to be surprised. I couldn't remember much from the original trailer that was aired on TV so all I had to go by was the movie poster and it's tag line, "Office Space Meets Battle Royale".

There isn't a lot of backstory on who the Belko Company is, other they than are a company that stands to supposedly make this world a better place. The movie takes place in Bogota, Columbia where 80 Americans are working in a Belko highrise. It appears to be your typical day at the office until a mysterious voice comes over the building's intercome insisting that everybody plays along in a deadly and twisted game.

I wasn't familiar with many of the actors/actresses outside of John C. McGinley, Michael Rooker, Sean Gunn and Tony Goldwyn. The story was written by James Gun (Slither, Guardians of the Galaxy) so I knew the movie at least had that going for it. One of the movie's main characters is Mike Milch, played by John Gallagher Jr. I kinda compared him to John Krasinki's The Office character, Him Halpert. He puts forth a pretty good effort in the movie and you can't but help root for him as many of his co-workers go over to the "darkside" when the stakes of the game (or experiment if you will) takes a turn.

If you work in a highrise or in an office type envirnoment then you may act differently to this movie than others that can't relate to the setting. Parts of the movie are a little disturbing at times and you do stay on the edge of your seat during most of the movie. The violence can be graphic at times and blood does splatter. Not overly gory however.

Overall I really enjoyed this movie. It didn't seem to follow the traditional horror / thriller / suspense movie mold. I like the idea behind the story and the fact that we don't get much info on the Belko company just piqued my curiousity that much more...especially after witnesses the area. If you're looking for something just a little different that most modern horror / thrillers, give The Belko Experiment a try.

Monday, October 23, 2017

Transformers Prime - Beast Hunters: Huffer

Hasbro continued the Transformers Prime story and toy line with Beast Hunters. While many of the core characters got upgraded toys, Hasbro also gave us new toys of non-show characters, such as Huffer.

Huffer is part of the Commander Class, the larger of the two sizes that were under the Cyberverse umbrella. It's the closest to the old Basic size class as we've been given in quite some time.

The Huffer toy itself is a retool/repaint of a fellow Beast Hunters Commander Class toy, Trailcutter. I've always liked the Huffer character so this was an easy buy. 

The character has the familar orange and blue colors those of us from the G1 days will remember, but there really isn't much else about this form of Huffer that harkens back to his original days. The figure itself is a fun little toy. It sports a good range of articulation all around and the paint apps are pretty good. 

The drawbacks of the toy is the mold itself. There is a lot of kibble hanging off the bottom of his arms, the front of the truck (including the plow) just sits on the back of the robot. To me this takes something away form the overlook in robot mode. Then there is his gun. The bright blue gun reminds me of something a mid 90's GI Joe figure would've came with. While it's not spring loaded, the missile does shoot (surprisingly pretty far) when you press the back of the missile while inside the gun.

Huffer's truck mode looks like something out of a Mad Max movie. Gone is the traditional tractor trailer cab, replaced with a armored truck with guns, blades and a plow. I guess I get the two gun barrels mounted on the front of the truck and even the big plow, but the silver blades (or are they fins?) on the corners of the truck's cab? What purpose do they serve?

I almost get an Energon Landquake vibe looking at Huffer in his truck mode. While I don't love the alt mode, I've definately seen far worse over the years. I can't really recommend the figure, but it's not horrible either. Should come pretty cheap on the secondary market should you wish to pick it up for the first time.

Thursday, October 19, 2017

GI Joe Combat Heroes: Snake Eyes w/ Timber (SDCC Exclusive)

Launched at the San Diego Comic Con (SDCC) in 2008, these small PVC figures were aimed at a younger demographic. To accompany this line, Hasbro also had launched a similiar series of toys for Transformers (Robot Heroes) and Star Wars (Galactic Heroes).

For the case of GI Joe, the Combat Series was short lived, only lasting about a year total. There were several classic Joe characters in series 1 and series 2, but ultimately the line would focus on the Rise of Cobra movie characters in late 2009 before the line was ended.

Snake Eyes and Timber got the series kicked off at the 2008 SDCC. The Snake Eyes figure would later be repainted and released in the regular Combat Heroes series, while the Timber included here is an exclusive mold. Timber would later receive a new mold, holding Snake Eyes sword in his mouth.

Too bad the weapons aren't removeable because I think Snake Eyes would look better if he wasn't holding that large sword. Love the design thought and the paint choice is fantastic. Looks much better than the widely released version.

If you want to track down this set, it can be widely had for less than $10 in most cases on eBay.

Saturday, October 14, 2017

The Babysitter (2017)

Too lazy to head to the nearest Redbox to look for a new horror movie, I fired up Netflix and began to browse their selection. The Babysitter wasn't listed in the Horror category, but in Comedy. Netflix lists the movie as comedy/dark comedy. While it does have some humor, the gore alone should have puts it in the horror genre.

Just released on 10/13/17, The Babysitter is a story about a 12 year old boy, Cole (Judah Lewis), and his babysitter, Bee (Samara Weaving). Cole is your typical 12 year old kid, just trying to fit in. Bullied at school and in his own neighborhood, Bee comes to his defense. It's not made know how old Bee is, but I'm guessing early 20's? Cole's best friend, Melanie, who lives just down the street teases Cole of what babysitters do after the kid goes to sleep...fooling around. Cole doesn't believe her, but says he really doesn't know what Bee does after he goes to sleep.

When his parents go out of town for an evening, Cole decides to wake up to see just what Bee does. Later that evening he spies from upstairs on Bee and her friends who come over play a game of spin the bottle. Earlier, you see Bee befriend a nerdy looking guy (Samuel) at the local convience store. This guy is at Cole's house with the others. The spin the bottle game turns into truth or dare and Bee is dared by her friend Max to kiss everyone in the room. After she makes her way around the circle she kisses Samuel. During the kiss she pulls out two daggers from behind her back and stabs them into Samuel's head. This is the beginning of the messy parts for all the gorehounds out there.

Needing a sample of Cole's blood as well for the human sacrifice Bee and her cult are preparing, Cole has to hurry back to bed and pretend he's asleep. Bee stays in his room after they have gotten the sample they needed, only to see that Cole's escape plan doesn't quite work out as planned...passing out.

From here on out it's basically cat and mouse. Cole is the mouse and the other cult members are the cat. Chaos (and gore) ensues as Cole is chased all over his house, yard and the near by neighbor's house (Melanie, his friend). I don't want to spoil anymore of the movie than I've already done, go watch it yourself. 

I enjoyed the movie even though it's obviously not aimed at my demographic. You really know nothing about Bee's friends, the cult members...they just show up after he goes to bed. To think they could kill a a guy in Cole's living room is kinda absurded, the clean up that would be involved with the parents coming home the next morning. You do learn that Bee as a young girl wanted everything and she made a deal with the devil. She brings an old book with her that describes how to handle the sacrifice, but again there isn't much back story here at all.

I'm not a fan of the supernatural horror genre that seems to be so popular these days. I grew up on suspense, thriller, slasher type movies so that's why I ended up choosing The Babysitter. I've seen better, but I have to say I enjoyed the movie from beginning to end. Made me think back to the days I had a babysitter...but she didn't look like Bee!

Thursday, October 12, 2017

GI Joe 30th Anniversary: Cobra Techno-Viper

2011's Cobra Techno-Viper really caught my eye. As a part of the 30th Anniversary series, this was a figure that I had originally never made any attention to. There are a ton of specialized Vipers in Cobra's ranks and I never quite knew what the Techno-Vipers role was. Were they armored IT specialists? I never recalled seeing them in combat much in the old animated television show.

Regardless of this, Hasbro produced yet another great looking Cobra figure. I believe this is the 3rd version of this character, but this time the purple worn is a little more muted than the much more vibrant purple used in the A Real American Hero series. I love all of the detailing on the backpack and how it also is used for actual storage for his accessories. His Claw and Hammer accessories are of course removeable. There is also a neon green/yellow pylon included that has tabs on the base that lets you connect multiple pylons. I've seen some great diorama pictures on line where people have used multiple of these. Great figure, highly recommended.

Monday, October 9, 2017

Transformers Galaxy Force: Gasket Police Type

There are times I go a little import crazy and buy more of Takara's version of a series of Transformers than just going down to my local Target or Walmart and buying the Hasbro toy. Galaxy Force, or Cybertron, was one of those series where I imported more than I bought domestically. Looking back I can't recall any specific reason, so I'll just chalk it up to the better paint apps and the inclusion of tech spec trading cards!

In 2008, Toys 'R Us stores in Japan had a promo where if you spent 4,000 yen on select Transformers product, you got this exclusive toy. Limited to 20 (or 25) per store, I knew this guy would be hard for me to acquire. I believe I ended up grabbing mine via a Yahoo! Japan auction.

As far as I can tell, this is the same mold as the regular (red) issue of Gasket (Ransack in the Cybertron series), only done up in a black/white police design. 

The motorcycle's windshield, tires and guns have all been cast in a smokey translucent plastic as opposed to the normal solid black. This gives the toy a really nice overall look. The word 'police' has been added to the windshield. I'm told the Japanese characters on the side also translate to the word police as well.

I've always liked this mold, especially the alt mode. Transforming motorcycles have been hit and miss across the span of Transformers (sorry Wreck-Gar), so to find a cycle that didn't suck is an accomplishment in my book. I love the stretch design of the bike, almost reminds me of a light cycle from the movie TRON. I love the fact that the tires are wide enough that the cycle can stand on it's own without having to use a kickstand for added support.

The gimmick of the toy is unchanged too. Inside the Planet Speedia Force Chip into the rear of the seat and the guns spring backwards. This gives Gasket some offensive firepower behind him when the Cybertrons/Autobots are giving him chase.

While I do think Gasket's cycle mode is the better of his two forms, his robot mode isn't bad. He has wide shoulders, a slim build and his feet look like high heels...I'm really surprised this mold wasn't used as a fembot. Like most modern Transformers, Gasket is well articulated and can pull off some great poses. Too bad the guy behind the camera sucks at getting those dynamic poses!

This mold would be later used as Ransack GTS in the Cybertron series and again as the excellent 2006 Botcon exclusive, Rattrap. There was a time I owned every version of this mold. Yes, I like this mold that much. Today this is the only version I have. I couldn't part with it when I was thinning out my non-G1 TFs. Finding him on the secondary market could prove tough. At the time of this post I could only find one on eBay, sealed for $75. If you want to just experience this mold, track down one of the Hasbro versions.

Saturday, October 7, 2017

Transformers G1: Japanese Micromaster Candy Set #03 (1996)

While I've never thought of myself of an all knowing Transformers fan, there isn't much that I haven't seen or don't at least know something about. This piece however I know very little of. Produced by Takara in 1996 (?!) this small set contains one of the Micromaster Rescue Patrol figures and a cardboard puzzle piece that appears to create a "city" once fully assembled.

eBay seller intergalactic_space_bunny, better known as Alex Bickmore currently has one of these sets available for sale. His listing mentioned these original came with some sort of candy. While I have no reason not to believe him, I don't know it that is 100% correct. It would seem to make sense however because I've seen other similar toys packaged in this manner that had a piece of gum or hard candy.

At first I thought these were blind packaged, but that thought was quickly dispelled according to the graphic on the side of the box.

The figure itself is still sealed in it's original bag. From what I can tell it doesn't seem to differ at all from the U.S. version of the toy that I own, so I never bothered to open it. Appropriately the cardboard puzzle piece has a picture of a burning building on it.

I would really like to get more background on this release at some point and find out more information. Being released in the mid 90's only adds to the overall mystery of this piece. I wish I could remember where I purchased mine, but it's been so long I have no idea. As a fan of the Micromasters however, it's a nice little unique conversation piece that I still have in my collection today.

Wednesday, October 4, 2017

Dashbots: Police Car

During the 1980's there were a lot of companies trying to cash in on the popularity if transforming robots. While I'm unable to find much info on the Dashbots series, I do know they were made in the early 80's by a Hong Kong company called Upright Toys.

These seem to heavily borrow designs from Bandai's Machine Robo, whether that is intentional or not is up for debate. There are only a few different varieties of these out there and finding one in good condition can be a challenge. I lucked out in recent months and found this unnamed police car.

Made of die-cast metal, these little cars have some heft to them. Slightly larger than a standard HotWheels car, Dashbots get their name from the friction motor inside the vehicle. Pull it back and let it go and it'll race across the floor.

Usually the paint on these are badly chipped, but this one is beautiful. It's a bright blue and still has a nice shine to it. Even the large sticker on the good of the car is still intact and in good shape. Note the chrome on the light bar and on the read of the car. For a toy from 1985 (?) I have to say the design and craftmanship is in pretty impressive.

The robot mode however may not be anything to write home about. It's got a very basic design. Stand up the car, pull back on the rear portion of the car to form the legs. Pull out the car doors to form the arms. There isn't any articulation in robot mode outside of the arms. You can rotate these a full 360 degrees, but that is it. 

I found these to be very interesting toys and I've love to learn a little more about them. I'd be up to adding another to my collection, however as I mentioned earlier finding one in good condition can be a real challenge. On the secondary market these seem to run $20-$40 a piece, depending on the overall condition.

Monday, October 2, 2017

Jeepers Creepers 3

The long awaited 3rd installment of the Jeepers Creepers series finally made it's way to movie theatres...for one night only on 09/26/17. My older brother informed me of the screening and asked if I'd like to go. It's been ages since I've watched either of the two previous movies, but I'm always down for a good horror movie, especially if it doesn't fall under the supernatural genre.

I remember hearing that this movie was basically in "developmental hell" for several years. I wasn't sure this movie was ever going to be made if I'm being honest. In fact, the the movie's overall story has been changed at least once since the script was originally written.

Jeepers Creepers 3 takes part between the first and second movie, however originally it was to take place 23 years after the second movie. From what I've been able to gather, the movie was originally subtitled Cathedral. Trish Jenner, Darry's sister from the first movie, is now a mother of a teenage son anmed Darry, after her brother she lost 23 years ago. Trish has a reoccuring nightmare where her son suffers the same fate as her brother did, killed by the Creeper. Determined to prevent his from happening, Trish, who is now a rich and powerful woman, sets out on a final quest with Jack Taggart Sr. and Jr. to end the Creeper's reign of terror once and for all.

After watching the movie, I almost wished this story was the one they went with. Jeepers Creepers 3 wasn't bad, but for me it really didn't help advance the story. I still had a lot of questions about who the Creeper is and where he came from.

Now it wasn't all bad. While you can tell the budget was lower than the previous two movies, it was nice getting to see the Creeper out in the daylight as much as he was shown. His armored truck also played a big role in the movie, even more so than in the original. It was cool seeing all of his weapons and other surprises his truck had inside.

The other good part was that the original actor portrayed the Creeper yet again. The make up was very nice looking and some of the special effects were good. It wasn't an overall gory movie as many of the kills were done off camera, "Hitchcock" style. I was fine with that as I don't always have to see the brutal kill for it to have the same effect. In fact, I'd rather not see the kill and rather see the aftermath if the budget retrains the on screen kill from looking authentic.

I'm told Jeepers Creepers 3 will make it's way back to theatres for one night in October, so if you missed your chance in September you may want to head on over to Fathom Event's site and check to see if it'll be playing in your area. In my opinion it's not better than the first movie, but I've also seen far worse movies. I will say that it really makes me want to go back and watch the second movie now.

It's time for more Halloween Horror Movie Reviews!

For several years now I've been reviewing a few horror movies during the month of October...just in time for Halloween. While I won't be doing a movie a day as I've done in the past, my goal is to share my opinion movies I've watched. May be on cable TV, may be from a Red Box rental or a Netflix movie. None the less, I'm ready to go. If you want to get caught up w/ movies I've reviewed in the past, you can check out the archive HERE or via the link on the side bar.