Movie Review – Chris Ranson on The Surrogate (2013)

The SurrogateTitle: The Surrogate (2013)
Director: Doug Campbell
Runtime: 89 minutes

As The Surrogate DVD booted up, I got scared. The previews, and the company’s logo, are roughly VHS quality, and it lowered my expectations for the film greatly. What kind of movie was I getting myself into? The cover art screams The Cradle Will Rock, and let’s be honest, it’s almost the same plot, just a little crazier. Add in The Crush to the mix, and you’ll have a rough idea of what The Surrogate is all about.

Jacob Kelly is a famous author who now teaches college courses. His wife is unable to bear children, and her final embryo is all that’s left, so it’s now or never to find a surrogate to carry their baby. They find an amazing girl named Remy, but one of Jacob’s students has other plans and wants to be the surrogate mother because she is madly in love with Jacob. Continue reading

Movie Review – Chris Ranson on The Bunnyman Massacre (2014)

The Bunnyman MassacreTitle: The Bunnyman Massacre (2014)
Director: Carl Lindbergh
Runtime: 104 minutes

I was stoked when I found out that I was going to review a film about a killer in a bunny costume. This sounded absurd, and I do love the absurd, but I was worried because I never saw the first film. Thankfully, I can say that you can easily follow The Bunnyman Massacre without watching the original, Bunnyman (2011).

The Bunnyman Massacre opens with a school bus picking a girl up who’s waiting at the bus stop. Her dead body falls over, and a man in a giant bunny costume shows up with a chainsaw and shotgun. He blasts the driver, climbs into the bus and starts to slaughter the kids as they try and get out of the emergency exit door. Welcome to The Bunnyman Massacre. With that kind of setup, one can only expect some more morbid shit to follow.

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Movie Review – Chris Ranson on Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (2014)

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles 2014Title: Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (2014)
Director: Jonathan Liebesman
Runtime: 101 minutes

Some of you may have checked out my series review of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles films. If you didn’t, I am a huge fan of the Turtles. Dating back to when I was a kid, the Turtles were always my favorite toys to collect and cartoon to watch. Heck, I still have all of the original toys from the cartoon and the movie.

When word came out about this new Turtles film I was worried. Not because Michael Bay’s Platinum Dune company was producing it – they also did the Texas Chainsaw Massacre remake from 2003 which I loved – but because of the rumors of the alien origins rather than the ooze that the comics, cartoon, and previous films have used. Continue reading

Cinefessions Series Review – Chris Ranson on the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Series

A Cinefessions Series Review is a periodic column that sees one more writers watching and reviewing an entire film series. Cinefessions considers any film franchise that has two or more films a series, and thus available for review in this column. This is an excellent way to get a quick look at an entire collection of films in one column. Today, Chris puts on those rose-colored glasses and visits a childhood favorite in the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles series.

To say that I’m excited for the brand new Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles film would be an understatement. I grew up on the old school cartoon, and still own all of the original figures, even that elusive April O’Neil figure. It’s to the point where any time my brother sees any TMNT meme online he instantly tags me in it. So to prepare for this new film – which I admit looks completely awesome – I’ve decided to re-watch the entire series in order, and including the TMNT animated film, which is considered the fourth film by the fans.

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (1990, dir. Steve Barron)

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles 1991


I remember getting the VHS of this and watching it over and over. I knew every line and loved the film to death. It’s been a good seven years or so since I’ve seen it, and I just picked up the trilogy on Blu-ray, so I was stoked to revisit this.

I just can’t fathom how my young brain handled so much downtime in a TMNT film. This one moves slowly, mainly when at the farmhouse. And now that I think about it, I may have fast-forwarded through that section a lot as a kid. Continue reading

Movie Review – Ashe Collins on Guardians of the Galaxy (2014)

Guardians of the GalaxyTitle: Guardians of the Galaxy (2014)
Director: James Gunn
Runtime: 121 minutes

I honestly know next to nothing about this portion of the Marvel comic universe. I’m more into X-Men and have a vague idea about the Avengers and Spider-Man. I have seen them head off and deal with different space issues before, but that was nothing like this at all.  Guardians of the Galaxy manages to not only deliver great characters, but it also develops each member of the main ensemble, plus actual villain development, lots of action, some amazing effects, and then tops it all off with tongue-in-cheek humor that lets you know this is a much lighter take on the material than we’ve seen in the past in the Marvel Cinematic Universe while still tying into it for the long term. The pacing is good, the selection of older pop music is great along with the actual score for the film, and it makes the whole experience of going to the movies fun (even if my local theater was doing its best to ruin it for everyone who didn’t pay for the 3D ticket). Continue reading

Movie Review – Ashe Collins on Mold! (2012)

Mold!Title: Mold! (2012)
Director: Neil Meschino
Runtime: 86 minutes

I expected Mold! to be something kind of serious; the cover makes it look that way, even with the blurb on the back and comparisons they make. The inside cover has what I’m guessing should have been on the outside of the box in the first place, as the artwork places it firmly in the realm of Troma, and other ‘80s direct-to-video (DTV) horror productions. With that in mind, to say that I was going into this film with mixed expectations is putting it mildly. As a satire or throwback film to those ‘80s DTV B-movie horror flicks, it works exceptionally well. If the cover has you expecting anything else, though, you’ll be extremely disappointed.

Mold! is set in 1984 when the war on drugs is getting underway. We’re in a top-secret facility where the government is looking to use some organic means to wipe out the plants that cocaine is harvested from. As a result, our scientists have developed a mold that will eat any vegetation quickly. The problem is that the mold likes water. It thrives on it, spreading quickly and growing out of control when exposed to it, so much so that they have to wear suits to protect themselves from it. Thanks to a traitor among the scientists at a demonstration of the mold’s capabilities, the mold is no longer just going after plants, but spreads to humans as well. Being that we’re essentially 70% water I’m not sure why anyone wouldn’t make that leap. Continue reading

A Lifetime of Film: Ashe’s Top Ten from 1989

A Lifetime of Film covers one specific year of a Cinefessions’ writers existence, from birth to now, and goes over their top ten films from that year. It stems from a meme on Letterboxd, and is simply being expanded upon here. This week, Ashe covers 1989.

1989 was one of those years. Blockbusters were my thing, and have been ever since, honestly. I’m kind of a sucker for the big explosions and a rolling storyline with snappy characters. While I would have been twelve years old for the release of the bulk of these, many were snuck later, or one of my parental units just didn’t care if I saw it or not. My honorable mentions from the year include Pet Semetary, Tango & Cash, Lethal Weapon 2, Road House, Say Anything…, Ghostbusters II, Dead Calm, Leviathan, Lean On Me, The Phantom of the Opera, UHF, and Venus Wars. Ghostbusters II, while funny, is sequel fodder that never really lived up to the first film. I did really like the Phantom of the Opera with Robert Englund in the lead role. And no, that’s not the musical. Dead Calm was, and still is, a fantastic thriller. Billy Zane is incredibly underrated. And Venus Wars has some stunning visuals to go along with a powerful story about a war torn space colony.  So what are my top ten?

Field of Dreams10. Field of Dreams (Phil Alden Robinson)
Let me get this out of the way: I hate baseball. It’s slow; it’s boring. I don’t care about the statistics, and could never be bothered, even when I was forced to play in little league, to learn to play. But, having said that, I love this movie. Field of Dreams and The Natural are two of my favorite baseball films, probably because they’re less about baseball and more about peoples lives in and around the game, and their passion for it. Kevin Costner and James Earl Jones are great in the film, and I even like Ray Liotta who’s always hit and miss for me. I used to have this on VHS of all things. Good times.

9. Steel Magnolias (Herbert Ross)
My initial reasons for watching this movie were Daryl Hannah and Julia Roberts. I loved them when I was growing up. Aside from that, it’s a great drama piece centered around an interesting cast of characters who are just trying to live their lives in a little southern town. Tom Skerrit always cracks me up in this and Shirley MacLaine, Olympia Dukakis, and Sally Field all deliver stellar performances. I honestly think this was the film that got me to spread out away from just action, fantasy and sci-fi and see what else was out there. Continue reading