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Tuesday, Sep 11, 2012
Does your favorite vacation oasis contain a deep, dark, disturbing secret? According to these ten titles, there's more to a cabin than calm and relaxation...

Horror movies have certain cliches that must be met in order to appease the eager fan. Sometimes it’s a spooky castle on the edge of a forbidding cliff. In other instances, it’s a manor with a mysterious past. And then there is the rural American version of same—the cabin. Call it a cottage or a chalet, a bungalow or a hut, but this woodland oasis is often the setting for some sensational spook show fireworks…and it makes perfect sense. The location is isolated, the setting far away from the maddening crowds of civilization. Also, such secluded rendezvous often hide horrific secrets and scandal. So it makes sense that a family or collection of college kids would be best served not taking up that Craigslist ad for a “wonderful vacation lodge in the mountains/hills/woods/etc.”


A perfect example of this concept comes as one of 2012’s very best, the brilliant Joss Whedon/Drew Goddard deconstruction of macabre mandates, The Cabin in the Woods (currently a Digital Download, but available on On Demand, DVD, and Blu-ray come 18 September). For all intents and purposes, the place in question is like any other fright film locale. It’s dark. It’s disturbing. And it contains a collection of diabolical talismans in its cobwebbed and creepy basement. Once brought to life, all bets are off as the film takes off in directions both predictable and so original it boggles the brain. This got us thinking - what are some other great “Cabin” horror films (always aware of using the genre tag cautiously). The resulting list of 10 take us to settings both suspenseful and supernatural.


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Wednesday, Sep 5, 2012
For this particular popcorn season, here are the choices for the best, and worst, of the chaotic commercial cavalcade.

So far, it’s been a pretty lackluster year. The highs are so high, and the lows so bottomless, that the middling, mediocre center has been particularly problematic. Imagine eating a three course meal, where the dessert was fantastic, the appetizer awful, and the main course merely serviceable, and you get the idea. Naturally, this makes rummaging through the wreckage of any celluloid season that much more maddening. On one hand, the pros stand out significantly. So do the cons. But how do you handle those in the middle. Does something like ParaNorman, perhaps the best family film of the year, earn a place, merely because it’s better than the rest of the kid flick claptrap out there? Does a long simmering horror show like [REC]3 deserve acknowledgment, even though it’s been released around the world for months?


It’s always hard, but we’ll give it a shot anyway. Granted, before we go forward, it’s important to state that we couldn’t see everything the Cineplex had to offer. We skipped a couple anklebiter epics—Madagascar 3, Ice Age 4—since, in our opinion, they are remnants of franchises well past their prime. We skipped other examples of the genre as well as (The Odd Life of Timothy Green, The Oogieloves) basically on a lack of interest. On the other hand, there are many honorable mentions to take into consideration, such as Pixar’s pleasant Brave, as well as some few would champion (Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter and That’s My Boy, anyone???) as well as the usual compendium of outright mediocrity. So, when 2012 is written, these will be the films we think people will remember, both in a very good and a very bad way… and here’s hoping the rest of the year can save us from such seesaw aesthetics. 


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Tuesday, Sep 4, 2012
Be it providing the ingredients for a successful summer movie "recipe" or by opening new ways to roll out blockbusters, here are the top five "definitive" years for summer movies.

Labor Day usually marks the “official” end of the summer movie season, but for all purposes, you can put a fork in 2012’s season. This crop of summer movies was bookended with two monster hits (The Avengers and The Dark Knight Rises) and filled with a bunch of films that defined average. We didn’t have a glorious failure like Battlefield Earth, nor did we have any that would bring repeat viewers back into theaters like The Sixth Sense.


So, as a viewer, I can’t help but look at 2012’s season with disappointment. Yes, The Avengers was a summer movie for the ages, but when you start singing the praises Men in Black III solely because it wasn’t the failure people thought it’d be, you know your season wasn’t top-tier. Probably the best movie to reflect 2012’s summer movie season was Pixar’s Brave. It won’t go down as Pixar’s worst, but it’s a long way from their best.


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Tuesday, Aug 28, 2012
While his brother got the all the buzz, Tony Scott made some of the most interesting films of the '80s and '90s. Here's our listing of his telling Top Ten.

With his suicide on 19 August of 2012, Hollywood and the world of film lost one of its most influential and frustrating filmmakers. Tony Scott, brother to fellow artist Ridley Scott, got his start as his older sibling did - in the world of commercials. After art school, he ended up working for for the family business. For years, he helped guide the RSA, the brothers’ company, creating memorable ads and watching the bottom line while Ridley went on to titanic Tinseltown success. Before long, Tony had joined the fray, parlaying decent notices for The Hunger (and a jet-themed commercial for SAAB) into a chance to helm Top Gun. While he wasn’t convinced of the project’s viability, he took the reins anyway. The rest is early ‘80s legend. Gun became a megahit, and suddenly Tony was the Scott in the brightest beams of the spotlight.


It would become a complicated career. With any spec script at his disposal, Scott made the odd decision to direct Beverly Hills Cop II (for friends and Gun guys Simpson and Bruckheimer). He then tackled another Cruise concern (Days of Thunder) before bombing with the Kevin Costner led romance, Revenge. Thanks to a young industry upstart, however, Scott would regain his footing and become a frequent A-lister. Indeed, Quentin Tarantino’s True Romance would be, what many consider, the quintessential example of the man’s work. Before his death, he had nearly 17 features under his belt. As a result, we’ve decided to break down his oeuvre into a telling 10 best. While his efforts weren’t always great, there were consistently interesting. Too bad he choose leave us before he could fully expand his cinematic horizons.


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Tuesday, Aug 21, 2012
From a lack of food to too many people, sci-fi loves to discuss dystopias. Here are 10 terrifying examples of such frightening future shocks.

Science fiction and fantasy has always thrived on the “what if”. From the earliest days of the genre, writers and filmmakers found inventive ways to view the future. As a result, there have been thoughtful and positive portrayals of technology helping mankind as well as dark, distressing tales of science/species run amok. Thanks to Hollywood and its way with vision, some of the first movies ever traded on these tenets. Georges Méliès gave us out first trip to the moon while Fritz Lang found a metropolis that functioned as a metaphor for man’s place within the social machine. There’s have been planets overrun by robots and societies stuck in human sacrifice, worlds where aliens and human share an uneasy coexistence and governments who’ve reduced war to an athletic/video game competition. In each case, a cautionary approach is taken with the material. The moral warns us of allowing our ambitions to go unchecked and unfocused.


The result has been some of the best, most thought provoking entertainments of all time. In recognition of our number eight choice on the list (now out on Blu-ray and DVD), we’ve decided to run through our own personal top ten—examples of dystopias that defy easy description and yet get their pragmatic/philosophical points across with ease. There’s a caveat, however, an exterior concern if you will. Since many of these films rely on the secrets within their society to forward their message, we are going to be spoiling quite a few. There’s a big fat SPOILER ALERT is in place, just as a precaution. If you don’t want to know what ‘soylent green’ really is, or if the reason behind the dark city’s noir nightmare, check out the movie before moving on. Otherwise, enjoy these glimpses of what could be and why it will happen. They may not be predicting the actual path we will take as hiding present truths in glossy, high tech possibilities. In either case, it’s never a truly pretty picture:


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