Thursday, August 30, 2012

100 Movies That Make Me Love Film: 66. Best Worst Movie

This past October I did a review of 31 Horror movies. The longest article was easily my coverage of Troll 2. I love this movie, despite all it’s faults. It’s a terrible movie, awful. But it’s one of those rare bad movies that is so awful, but so sincere that it crosses the line from bad into wonderful. 

Much like the recent Birdemic: Shock and Terror, Troll 2 is a film where absolutely nothing is done correctly. Cameras are poorly placed, editing is bad, acting is terrible and the writing is even worse. If you thought you were the only fan of this terrible movie, you are not alone. Best Worst Movie is a beautiful documentary about a rapid fan base for a bad movie, but it’s so much more than that.

What makes this documentary so special (and one of only two including Young@Heart to make the top 100 list) is the actors from Troll 2. Yes part of this documentary is about the fanbase, but the star of the movie is the original cast (specifically George Hardy).

George Hardy comes off as a great guy. He loves his fans, his friends and his family. I was priviilaged enough to talk to him on the first episode of my podcast The Saint Mort Show

The documentary is a tale of redemption. You see this everyday people who dreamed of growing up to be a star when they were young. Sadly the first film on their resume is Troll 2 and their career seemed over. Now 17+ years later they discover they have a fan base. Watching these actors realize that they are loved and important to a group of people is a magical effect.

The actors from Troll 2 are as weird and bizarre as the character they play in the original film. Some of them are batshit crazy while other’s are super down to earth and friendly. It’s an incredible character study and transformation. I can not recommend this enough.

Matt Kelly can also be found hosting The Saint Mort Show, Co-hosting the Reddit Horror Club Podcast, Writing for Geekscape,Tweeting and running Dollar Monday Promotions.


Tuesday, August 28, 2012

100 Albums That Make Me Love Music: 66. Cat Stevens: Tea for the Tillerman

The first time I heard of Cat Stevens was from a “Songs of the 70’s” commercial which played the first 10 seconds of the chorus to Wild World. The song seemed catchy but forgettable to me. When I started high school and joined the TV studio the head of the Studio Mr. Finn always talked about how Cat Stevens was one of his favorite musicians. So when I found my dad’s cassette of Cat Stevens Greatest Hits I gave it a listen and feel in love with his soothing voice. 

I’d listen to that cassette constantly (specifically Father & Son), but I never went out to pick up his albums. The greatest hits cassette was good enough for me. That is until I was a senior and Mr. Finn showed me Harold & Maude. I immediately fell in love with the movie and more importantly the music.

I started picking up various Cat Stevens records but the best was Tea For the Tillerman, an album that has been voted one of the greatest albums of all time by MULTIPLE music magazines and websites. And with good reason...

Tea for the Tillerman contains some of Cat Stevens biggest hits (specifically Father & Son, Wild World and Where do the Children Play?) as well as the most heartwarming songs as well. 

My personal favorite track is Miles From Nowhere. The soft song has always had a profound effect on me whenever I hear it. The titular closing track is also a long time favorite of mine. 

If you’re not a Cat Stevens fan, this is the perfect album to start with anyway.

Matt Kelly can also be found hosting The Saint Mort Show, Co-hosting the Reddit Horror Club Podcast, Writing for Geekscape,Tweeting and running Dollar Monday Promotions.

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Thursday, August 23, 2012

100 Movies That Make Me Love Film: 67. Dazed and Confused

There are a few movies that are now cliche’ college dorm poster requirements. Scarface is a big one, Boondock Saints is another, however one of the more popular ones is Dazed and Confused... specifically the weird Smiley face.

I remember hearing the soundtrack for years before I actually saw the movie, and it’s a great soundtrack. I was always familiar with the VHS case but it really didn’t make me immediately interested in the film. It was around the time that I discovered Clerks that I started seeking out films of a similar “all in one day” vibe. I assume it was a student that recommended this particular film but I’m glad they did.

Not much happens in the movie (like many other Richard Linklater films) as far as plotlines go. The film follows a group of students on the last day of school, specifically the Juniors turned Seniors hazing the 8th graders turned Freshmen.Eventually the hazing turns into drinking, smoking joints and listening to rock’n’roll around the town. 

That’s literally the whole movie. There’s no major character developments, assholes remain assholes, a few relationships blossom but in general it’s just a snapshot of someone’s day. 

The Film has the bragging rights of casting many future superstars including Ben Affleck, Milla Jovovich, Parker Posey and Matthew McConaughey. The film has a few memorable quotes and moments but mostly it’s just how much it stinks of Nostalgia. Films like this are Linklater at his best.

Matt Kelly can also be found hosting The Saint Mort Show, Co-hosting the Reddit Horror Club Podcast, Writing for Geekscape,Tweeting and running Dollar Monday Promotions.

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Tuesday, August 21, 2012

100 Albums That Make Me Love Music: 67. Green Day - Insomniac

There’s a magical moment when you realize there exists music outside of what your parents listen to. For me it was in the summer of 1995 when my cousin played me Green Day: Dookie and The Offspring: Smash. Not only did those albums introduce me to punk music but furthermore it showed me there existed a world outside of Bruce Springsteen and Meat Loaf.

Dookie became my favorite album at the time and I couldn’t stop listening to it, when Green Day announced their next album was coming out I could not wait. I remember the video premiere of Geek Stink Breath and seeing them perform Stuck With Me live at the VMAs. Two of the things I realized immediately was that (a) It wasn’t nearly as catchy as Dookie and (b) it was a lot faster and more aggressive.

I enjoyed the album, but I didn’t love it. That wouldn’t happen for a few years later. I didn’t understand it. I guess it’s wrong to say I didn’t love it... I listened to the cassette non-stop, I learned the words to most of the songs... but it just sounded so different. I was a bigger fan of Nimrod when that came out a few years later.

A few years later I saw a VH1 Behind the Music on Green Day, they explained that this was their “punk album”. After Dookie came out many of the fans from the Lookout! Records days called them sellouts and claimed they were no longer punk. This was a response attempting to be fast, angry, and non-commercial. And they succeeded (mostly), except for Brain Stew this album doesn’t have nearly as many ‘massive hits’ as their later records had.

Listening to the album at 26 is leaps and bounds different then listening to it at 10. Now I can hear the frustration, I can hear the hurt and the pain. Songs like Armatage Shanks, No Pride and 86 all are packed with angry snarky hatred at their critics. However the best song on the album is Stuart and the Ave, the song that should have been their biggest hit. Why this was never released as a single I won’t know (I assume it has something to do with the phrase ‘now it’s all fucked up’ appearing multiple times in the song), it’s the catchiest song not just on the album, but possible in the bands entire career.

The band gets a lot of flack over the years for their new music (American Idiot, 21st Century Breakdown) but I’m not one of those people. The band matured, I find those albums to be more honest than if Billie Joe was still writing about the stuff he wrote about on Kerplunk! and Dookie. That doesn’t mean I don’t wish they’d make more music like this.

Matt Kelly can also be found hosting The Saint Mort Show, Co-hosting the Reddit Horror Club Podcast, Writing for Geekscape,Tweeting and running Dollar Monday Promotions.

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Thursday, August 16, 2012

100 Movies That Make Me Love Film: 68. Rules of Attraction

I remember seeing the trailer for this movie at the beginning of Donnie Darko.  It was so bizarre and told you so little about the movie that my girlfriend at the time and I went out the next weekend and rented it.

This was my first experience with a movie based on a Bret Easton Ellis novel (and still my favorite adaptation). The film follows a bizarre love triangle between three college kids. Sean falls in love with Lauren, who used to date Paul, who’s now gay and in love with Sean. 

What I loved about this movie was how intensely dark the humor is which is nothing new in the world of Ellis obviously. Things like drug overdoses, drug abuse, attempted murder and rape are looked at with such a blank faced lack of concern that it goes from disturbing and shocking into hilarious.

It’s also incredible to factor in that James Van Der Beek was still a teenage heart-throb when he chose this role of Sean Bateman. A womanizing, drug dealer who is in general a terrible human being (also the brother of Patrick Bateman of American Psycho). 

One of my favorite elements of this film was the editing and soundtrack. The music gives the film an 80’s vibe (the time period the book took place in) while still clearly being modern time. Meanwhile the editing is constantly rewinding and fast forwarding sequence for us to see what multiple characters are doing at any given point.

If you want to check out a surreal and sadly underrated drug/sex/college dark comedy, this is that genre at it’s finest.

Matt Kelly can also be found hosting The Saint Mort Show, Co-hosting the Reddit Horror Club Podcast, Writing for Geekscape,Tweeting and running Dollar Monday Promotions.

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Tuesday, August 14, 2012

100 Albums That Make Me Love Music: 68. System of a Down: Toxicity

In 2000 my cousin went to OzzFest. A Week or so later he put on the self-titled debut of System of a Down and said ‘This band is going to be huge soon’. How right he was. A few months later Toxicity came out and became both the most bizarre heavy metal album ever as well as one of the most accessible heavy metal albums (an impressive feat in it’s own right).

For some reason despite it’s Prog-Rock style time signatures and tempo changes the album is full of catchy poppy hooks. Singles like Chop Suey, Toxicity and Aerials all have a sing-along quality to them that you rarely find in Metal as aggressive as SOAD.

The opening track Prison Song is a great introduction to the music that would come later in SOAD’s career. Extremely political, goofy and containing plenty duel vocal pieces. All of these elements would later appear on the Hypnotize/Mesmerize albums.

On the flip-side of the coin you’ve got songs like Bounce that are just packed with a weird goofiness. Sandwiched between a song about suicide and a song with an enviromentalist message is a song about riding a pogo stick.

There’s not a single boring or uninteresting moment on the album. It almost feels wrong to call it a heavy metal record as it lowers some people’s expectations. Regardless this is one of the rare Heavy Metal appearances on this list.

Matt Kelly can also be found hosting The Saint Mort Show, Co-hosting the Reddit Horror Club Podcast, Writing for Geekscape,Tweeting and running Dollar Monday Promotions.

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Thursday, August 9, 2012

100 Movies That Make Me Love Film: 69. The Sandlot

I do not remember the first time I saw The Sandlot; in fact I don’t even have any specific memories related to The Sandlot short of just watching it A LOT throughout the summer. This has always struck me as ironic though, much like movies like Pagemaster and Never-ending story who are movies with the message that kids watch too many movies instead of reading. I always feel like this movie is supposed to create a feeling of nostalgia for summers with your friends… ironically most of my summer was filled with watching The Sandlot. It’s a vicious cycle.

The film is narrated by Scott Smalls as he reminisces about his first summer living in LA back in 1962. As he struggles to make friends he follows a group of neighborhood boys walk to a small field they call the Sandlot and play an improvised game never keeping score, just playing to play. Smalls is extremely reluctant to join in the game fearing his inexperience will only lead to embarrassment. After failing to catch or throw a ball, his fears are met and he leaves teary-eyed. However Smalls is pursued by Benny (the best player in the neighborhood) and he convinces Smalls that anyone can play baseball, even him! Through Benny, Smalls is able to gain the respect of the other players and becomes a part of the team.

Smalls soon learns that the group of kids avoids hitting homeruns based on a fear of the giant man-eating dog “The Beast” the lives just over the fence. One day, Benny hits the ball so hard it tears apart the seams causing the ball falls to pieces. Everyone complains that the game is over because they can’t afford a new ball, but Smalls suggests that they use his stepfather’s baseball. Smalls grabs his dad’s prized possession, a signed ball by Babe Ruth (not being familiar with who that is). Smalls immediately hits a home run and when he tells the boys who signed the ball they inform him that it’s irreplaceable. They quickly start trying to come up with ways to get the ball back.

After countless (5) failed attempts, Smalls prepares to accept his fate but at the same time Benny has an enlightening dream featuring Babe Ruth just telling him to go get the ball himself. Benny puts on his PF Flyers, jumps the fence, steals the ball and jumps back over the fence. However the Beast breaks his lease and starts to chase Benny all throughout the town. Benny avoids the dog but suddenly the fence falls on The Beast. Smalls feels responsible for the dog’s injuries and helps lift the fence of the Beast (who is not a large man-eating dog but instead just a big dog named Hercules) and takes the dog to its owner Mr. Mertle (James Earl Jones) a blind former Yankee and friend of Babe Ruth. When he hears about the Babe Ruth ball he offers his help and gives Smalls a ball signed by Murderer’s Row (some of the best Yankee hitters in the late 1920s) as long as Smalls and Benny come and talk baseball with him once a week.

Smalls’ stepfather while mad at Smalls, loves the new ball and eventually they get over their differences. The films jumps to the future where Smalls is a radio commentator for the LA Dodgers and Benny is not the team’s star player. Benny steals home and gives a thumbs-up to his friend in the press box.

I was being a little fictitious in the beginning about me spending my whole summer indoors watching The Sandlot. I did go out occasionally, it was rarely to play baseball though. We’d mostly play games like kick the can, Volleyball and an occasional home run derby. Those summer games are what make this movie reliable. Regardless of what sports you played or things you did, everyone had that group of neighborhood friends that your friendship was based almost entirely around these games. The people who I played Kicked the Can with, that was as far as our friendship ever extended. We only contacted each other to play that game and never did anything else.

Beyond that, in the beginning of the movie after Smalls fails to properly through a baseball, the boys all begin to laugh at him. He walks away with tears in his eyes and says “My life is over”. I think everyone can relate to that feeling of rejection. 

Relatability is key to this movie. Much like Stand by Me this movie depicts the childhood innocence so incredibly well that this movie has a place in most kid’s hearts. The brilliance of the movies innocence can be found in the little things like the children’s legend of The Beast or the actual size of the dog vs. the boy’s perspective of it. The most interesting element is when the dog (towering taller than a house) jumps up and eats a ball in one bite. 

I do have a distinct memory of a specific moment in The Sandlot. Every year of college I went to an event at Penn State called “THON”. THON was a 48 hour event in which different Penn State students pledge to stay awake and standing in the school Gymnasium throughout the entire weekend to raise money for kids with cancer. Throughout the event bands perform, there’s a DJ, they do live skits and they play inspirational movie clips throughout the weekend. My first year there I remember getting a teary-eyed when they played the Babe Ruth speech from The Sandlot. So I’ll leave you with this:

“Remember Kid, there’s heroes & there’s legends. Heroes get remembered but legends never die. Follow your heart kid, and you’ll never go wrong.”

Matt Kelly can also be found hosting The Saint Mort Show, Co-hosting the Reddit Horror Club Podcast, Writing for Geekscape,Tweeting and running Dollar Monday Promotions.

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Tuesday, August 7, 2012

100 Albums That Make Me Love Music: 69. Goldfinger

I have to check my info a little, but I’m pretty sure Goldfinger was the band that introduced me to Ska music (nope... probably No Doubt). I was watching The Box and suddenly Here in my Bedroom came on. Being a fan of punk music I quickly fell in love with the song and it’s catchiness.

When I went out and bought the album I loved half of it and felt indifferent towards others. It wasn’t until a few years later that I started to appreciate songs like Anything, Nothing to Prove, Mind’s Eye and Anxiety (which is now my favorite song on the album). It was through this album that I started to dig deeper for more ska bands. I was obsessed with songs like King For a Day and Pictures

A few months later bands like Mighty Mighty Bosstones and Reel Big Fish helped lead to the Ska Explosion of the mid-90’s. Now ska is basically dead in the public eye but bands like Less Than Jake, Streetlight Manifesto and Five Iron Frenzy still have a devoted fanbase. 

The record became a favorite among me and my neighbor/friend Jay. We listened to it all throughout the summer of 1996 (even the songs at the time I hated). We discussed about how weird the last 30 seconds of the song Anything is (where two guys discuss touching each other’s dicks).

In just 40 minutes this self-titled masterpiece just explodes and never stops. It was extra helpful during my short-lived move to Los Angeles, because everytime I got annoyed I’d sing City With Two Faces (aka Fuck LA). 

The best song on the record though is either Anxiety or Mable (the second single which should have been WAY bigger). If you are a fan of 90’s punk/ska and you haven’t heard this... you need to make a major change to your CD collection and add this among it.

Matt Kelly can also be found hosting The Saint Mort Show, Co-hosting the Reddit Horror Club Podcast, Writing for Geekscape,Tweeting and running Dollar Monday Promotions.

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Thursday, August 2, 2012

100 Movies That Make Me Love Film: 70. Duck Soup

My original interest in Duck Soup came from my Junior year of high school when my film teacher showed us the AFI - 100 Greatest Comedies TV special to show us a wide variety of comedy films.  This film seemed absolutely brilliant. Then my first semester of college my film teacher shows us the closing war sequence of the film and it absolutely killed me.
I had just signed up for Netflix and this was the second film I got through it (between Tromeo and Juliet and Pink Flamingos). It’s a short film but it’s a masterpiece, it’s been long considered the Marx Brothers’ best film (which I agree or at least would rank it along with Horse Feathers).
It’s difficult to explain a Marx Brothers’ plotline as the films typically play like sketch comedy. The films are always more about slapstick/vaudeville sketches than a cohesive plotline. Groucho plays Rufus T Firefly the new leader of Freedonia, within a few days of being leader immediately launches the country into a revolutionary war with the neighboring Sylvania.
The film is herald for its final war sequence which ends in a pie fight sequence and my favorite gag the now infamous Mirror gag seen below.

This is the film the lead me into the wonderful world of the Marx Brothers. They are my favorite of the golden age of comedy, most people my age don’t give them the chance they truly deserve.

Matt Kelly can also be found hosting The Saint Mort Show, Co-hosting the Reddit Horror Club Podcast, Writing for Geekscape,Tweeting and running Dollar Monday Promotions.