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The Brass Teapot (2012)

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Although young married couple Alice & John are ass-deep in debt, and John works at a dead end job, they are happy as can be. Making ends meet is difficult, but Alice feels that she is just about to land the perfect job with her degree in art history. While out for a drive, they come across an antique shop, where Alice finds the most beautiful thing she had ever seen: a shiny old teapot. Since they are broke, she just nabs the thing and they drive off into the sunset. The next day she accidentally burns herself on her curling iron, and she finds out that this teapot is something special: every time she hurts herself the teapot spits out cash… hundreds in cash. John comes home later to find the house in a mess and his wife all beat to hell, but also finds thousands of dollars.  Did his sweet wife just turn into a super kinky hooker?

The pair takes turns inflicting both physical and mental pain on each other until the teapot is only kicking out fives and tens. They learn that other people’s pain will result in the teapot spitting out the large sums they were accustomed to, so they do that for a while, but eventually they want a big score, and they realize that they might need to kill someone to get that teapot jackpot. Will they let their greed get the best of them and kill another human being? What is up with the Hasidic Jews who keep robbing them? And is the teapot a thing of pure evil as the old Oriental guys who keeps following them believes?

Alex’s Thoughts: I couldn’t tell if this was going to be a drama, a comedy or a horror movie, as is sometimes the case with low budget indie movies you’ve never heard of.  So I went it blind with just a vague description of the plot.  Immediately I felt a connection with the young couple and was hooked from then on.  It was interesting how two people who initially cared nothing for money or material things, because so obsessed with those things as the movie progressed.  The scenes with the verbal abuse and revealing of some hurtful secrets was a pretty unexpected twist, and you realize that greed has these two in their grasp.  It is well shot, and I loved the actors.  I would highly recommend this one.  Alex Rates This Movie 9/10

Tim’s Thoughts: The Brass Teapot is the quintessential Indie movie. It’s quirky, weird, not marketable by major studios, and a cast of up and comers that you will be seeing a lot more of in the future. There isn’t anything I really loved about this, but it’s funny enough, and the premise is unique. It’s a smart and unusual movie, and the talented cast keeps it interesting, the side characters especially. It does have flaws, a lot of common sense questions, and some unexplored avenues that I felt would have been interesting. So without spoiling the movie I will say that while far from perfect this is a solid movie, that is different enough to almost be refreshing, almost. Definitely worth a watch if you like independent movies, and there are laughs to be had. Tim Rates This Movie: 7/10

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View the IMDB entry for this movie here.

American Mary (2012)

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The life of a medical school student is probably pretty rough: lots of assignments, clinicals and probably roughest of all: the tuition.  That’s the issue Mary is dealing with at the moment, she’s in danger of having all of her utilities shut off and close to becoming homeless. She must work extra hours at a diner in order to make ends meet, this affecting her school work.  It’s a Lose/Lose for this poor thing.  She eventually comes to that point that every student has to face: do I need to start stripping?   According to the plot: yes. Yes she does.  Her audition doesn’t go great, but the shady club owner learns of her skill with a scalpel, and offers her a quick $5k if she tortures some guy they have locked up downstairs.  Money is money, and she takes the job and realize that people are just meat and blood, and thinks she might have found a new career.  After her professor sexually assaults her, she is now sure she doesn’t want to be a doctor, and has a subject she can practice on without feeling bad.

She is introduced to one of the friend’s of the strippers at the club, a famous fashion designer, and who wants some surgery that no real doctor is willing to perform. So Mary steps up and gladly accepts her cash, and her request to remove all evidence of her client being a woman.  Things go well, and just like that, Mary is famous in the underground elective surgery community.  She is making money hand-over-fist doing tongue splittings, implants and elective amputations, and has built up quite the client base. Not everything is perfect, soon the police show up questioning her about her missing teacher, and not only that, but not everyone is excited about the surgeries being performed on their loved ones.  Can Mary keep the surgery train running, or will she meet the business end of the scalpel herself?

Alex’s Thoughts: I hadn’t heard much about this movie, and I wasn’t sure what it was about other than the two sentences Netflix provided.  I had every intention of having to shut this off two minutes in because it was going to be terrible.  I found myself watching the entire thing intently, except for the surgery scenes, which gross me out and am very much a squeamish lady over. I didn’t think it was great, but I kept watching purely on the fact that it was better than I expected, and sometimes that all you need.  I did think that a medical student doing advanced surgeries such as limp replacements was a little far fetched, but I can live with that stuff.  All in all, I think was entertaining, albeit sort of gross with the surgery stuff, but that isn’t an issue with some horror fans. I would compare this to Audition or a movie like that, though not nearly as good.  Alex Rates This Movie 6/10.

Tim’s Thoughts: This movie perfectly encapsulates the body modification community, all shock with no substance. It’s not a bad movie, it’s very watchable, but there’s not much payoff, and the ending is pretty disappointing. Sometimes the movies I am hardest on are the one’s with the most potential, and like those, lots of potential, but fails to live up to the little expectations I had. I will watch more movies involving these people, there is talent here, but until then they have some evolving to do. Tim Rates This Movie 5/10

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View the IMDB entry for this movie here.

The Bay (2012)

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It’s been four years since the horrific 4th of July innocent in a small Maryland fishing town, when hundreds of people died under mysterious circumstances.  Up until now the government has done a good job keeping everything quiet, but someone wants the truth to get out.  This shadowy figure has found one of the lone survivors of that day who saw everything go down, a female reporter who was doing her first assignment as an intern, and she has agreed to be interviewed via Skype.  The movie then switches between her cameraman’s footage from that day, other cameras that were found and security footage to tell the tale, with her narration over the footage to keep it going where needed.

The whole outbreak started a few weeks earlier with some marine biologists noticing an abundance if dead fish. Turns out they were killed by parasites in the water, which isn’t really a big deal, it happens all the time.  But these parasites were much larger than normal, it is almost although they mutated in some way.  It couldn’t be due to the runoff from the local chicken farms that use excessive amounts of steroids in their chicken feed?  Yes. Yes it is. Soon the ‘roided up parasites begin breeding exponentially and the larvae make it into the town’s drinking water supply, where they grown inside the townsfolk and eat them from the inside out.

Alex’s Thoughts:  I wasn’t too sure about this movie after sitting through it for the first half hour.  There is a lot of buildup to the outbreak, and it takes a little too long to get there, but once it does, it hits hard and fast.  You sort of get lost in the fallout as people are dropping left and right and/or bleeding out of their faces.  Once you finish, you realize that it has been sort of preachy the entire time about genetically enhanced livestock and pollution, but the gore and viscera more than make up for that being shoved in your face.  It has a few jump scares here and there for the horror fans, and is a pretty good watch. Alex Rates This Movie 7/10

Tim’s Thoughts: I am never swimming again. At least not anytime soon, in a natural body of water. While this movie clearly has an agenda, it’s not all that different than the  old Godzilla movies talking about radiation, and nuclear power being the reason he pops out and stomps Tokyo to dust. So that caveat aside, I think this is an excellent horror movie. Found footage without the shaky cam, and showing you plenty without showing you too much. Unlike Alex, I thought the pacing was excellent, and I was rapt almost immediately. The various accounts are interwoven perfectly, and the suspense (especially because you already know why it’s happening) is sickening. I cringed every time they showed someone doing ANYTHING with water. Effective and entertaining, you can’t ask much more from a movie, especially a horror movie. I won’t even knock it’s preachiness, what classic science fiction movie isn’t a thinly veiled morality tale? Sometimes that’s what makes them great. Tim Rates This Movie 10/10

the bay

View the IMDB entry for this movie here.

Go Find My Tinfoil Hat!

Room 237 (2013)

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Most movie fans are familiar with the Stanley Kubrick film The Shining, based on the Stephen King novel of the same name; and many consider it to be one of the greatest horror movies of all time.  What you may not know is that there is a small percentage of the population who believe that this movie is more than just a movie, and is filled with a much deeper message.  There are nine different theories explored in this documentary, and they are as diverse as the enthusiasts who present them.  Some of the theories presented are out there… like, way out there; and all are based in visual clues, some of which only appear for a few seconds in one scene. Here are some examples:

Throughout the Overlook Hotel there are pictures of Indians, so therefore this movie is about the plight of the Native Americans.

There is a prominent maze in this movie, which doesn’t appear in the book, so this must be Kubrick’s homage to the Greek myth of Theseus and the Minotaur.

There are several scenes with people walking, writing or speaking backwards, so that can only mean that you have to watch the movie backwards.  This leads to a new interpretation of the movie.

Danny is wearing an Apollo 11 sweater at one point, so this can only mean that this is Kubrick’s way to tell the world that he filmed the faked moon landing.

Finally, the number 42 seems to be pretty predominant throughout the film. According to one person, this refers to 1942, the years the Nazis began the holocaust. So… there is that too.

Alex’s Thoughts:  I love The Shining. Love it.  There is all sorts of symbolism in this thing, and I’m sure there are still things that I have not picked up on yet.  But personally, I can’t come up with a single running theme in this movie, as there is just too much crazy going on.  I know Stanley Kubrick was a certified genius, so I’m sure this movie is about something, and there are probably specific reasons he diverged from King’s book, but I can’t quite nail them down.  I guess that is the sign of a good movie, in that it keeps you thinking about it, even thirty years after its release.  As a documentary goes, this is by far the best out there, but if you like The Shining, Room 237 will hold your attention and make to want to watch the source material again!  And as far as the theories, based on that fact that I am writing this, I can’t really judge other peoples opinions. Alex Rates This Movie 6/10

Tim’s Thoughts: The Shining is an iconic film, obviously, and there is a ton of bizarre imagery throughout the entire film, and yes, Kubrick was such a control freak that it’s hard to take any of it as coincidence. That being said, this film, while entertaining gives too much credence to too many theories. It’s more interesting to focus on one or two. Instead we range from a few credible ideas, all the way to the most ridiculous theories you can imagine. The director undercuts the entire film with one line that I will paraphrase: It doesn’t matter if Kubrick meant for this movie to mean anything, people are going to attach their own ideas, and meanings. To me that instantly cheapens all of the ideas for what this movie could possibly stand for. With that rationale I could insist that this is Kubrick’s elaborate and desperate attempt to get his wife to make him 42 ice cream sandwiches. After all, 42 is predominately featured, and Halloran did offer Danny ice cream. It’s that silly. All of those gripes aside, I enjoyed most of this, and I think that fans of Kubrick, or the Shining should check it out. Just be ready to sift through the nutjobs.  Tim Rates This Movie 7/10

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View the IMDB entry for this movie here.

View the IMDB entry for this movie here.

V/H/S 2 (2013)

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This movie opens with pretty much the same scenario as the previous one: people huddled around a bank of static filled televisions with a stack of video tapes just waiting to be watched.  This time around it is a pair of private investigators at the home of a missing college student.  They check out his video blog and see that he was watching these tapes before he disappeared, so let’s make some popcorn and watch 3 or 4 of these together shall we

PHASE I CLINICAL TRIALS – These held-held camera point of view movies try to find something to use instead of just a shaky camera, in this case it is an artificial eye that gives the wearer the ability to see again, but also conveniently records the images.  Not long after getting the implant, a man goes all Sixth Sense and starts seeing all these dead people in his house.  They don’t do anything, just sort of stand and stare.  The next morning a girl he recognized from the doctor’s office shows up and tells him the same thing is happening to her with her cochlear implant: hearing these dead folks talk all the time.  She tells him to ignore them and they can’t her them, but how do you ignore a house full of corpses?

A RIDE IN THE PARK – A guy is going for a quick mountain bike ride through the woods, straps his Go Pro on his helmet and he’s off!  Dude is tearing up the trails… big time, until he comes upon a chick looking pretty beat up and asking for help.  There isn’t much the guy can do for her and she dies right away, but since this is a horror flick and she is covered in bites, you know she going to come back as a zombie; and gives him a little love bite.  We are then shown a first-person perspective of a living person’s change into a zombie, and it isn’t pretty.  Now we have the first ZOMBIE CAM as he hunts along with other zombies; and all hell breaks loose as they encounter a little girl’s birthday party at a nearby park.

SAFE HAVEN – A documentary crew meets up with a controversial cult leader, and they ask for his permission to come to his compound so he can set the record straight about all the crazy stuff the public thinks is going on out there, but mostly they just want to see what this kook is up to.  He reluctantly agrees, and it turns out the public might have legitimate concerns, as this leader wants to purify all he followers by putting his greasy wang in them.  They picked a good day to come over, as it turns out today in the rapture!  As the crew is filming, the Jonestown flavored Kool-Aid is passed out and consumed by the women and children, and all of the men put a bullet in their own heads.  So it turns out this nut job was right since a huge demonic goat shows up and starts killing everyone!

SLUMBER PARTY ALIEN ABDUCTION – We see mom and dad pulling away for a weekend away from the kids, and seconds later the kid’s friends start to show up for a party weekend.  Things are going well, with plenty of fun being had and pranks being pulled.  The big sister puts a mini camera on the family terrier to catch her bother touching himself in his special place, and everyone had a good laugh. It’s then that they hear a loud noise followed by bright lights around the house.  The lights go out, and all of a sudden the house is full of aliens!? That’s right kids, it’s abduction time!  The kids and their little dog spend the next ten minutes running around with nothing but a strobe light to see by.  If you don’t end up having a seizure, you get to see the aliens catch these kids, where we’re sure they will have something stuck up their butts within the hour.

Alex’s Thoughts: I really liked the first V/H/S. It was low budget, but full of imaginative stories by small time indy directors.  I was excited to see a larger budget sequel with big time horror movie directors was in the works.  I think I hyped myself up too much, because I was sort of disappointed.  This isn’t to say that V/H/S 2 isn’t good, and doesn’t have some great moments because it does.  I guess I was just expecting for bang for buck.  The highlights for me were A Ride on the Park, with the exception of the ending, and Safe haven, which was gust so good due to it’s shear strangeness.  The other two I didn’t like quite as much. For one, watching an alien abduction happen from a dog’s POV with no lighting except for a strobe is enough to make almost anyone queasy, but there isn’ enough of a payoff for all of that nausea.  The robot eye story wasn’t bad, but I didn’t connect with the actors, as their sense of dread just didn’t come through for me.  I would say that if you like the first one and horror movie anthologies, you will enjoy this.  Alex Rates This Movie 8/10

Tim’s Thoughts: Unlike Alex I was not disappointed with VHS 2 at all. It suffers from only one weak story (Slumber Party) and the wraparound story is much better this time. I really found the first story creepy, and the zombie bike ride was a lot of fun. Like a lot of horror movies the Safe Haven story went on about 1 minute too long, and could have ended stronger, instead it just gets silly. Not having much hope for this I came in skeptical, and left impressed. Unlike last time, I am looking forward to what they come up with next. Plus some of the anthology horror movies are the best, i.e. Creepshow. Tim Rates This Movie 8/10

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View the IMDB entry for this movie here.

Silent Hill: Revelation (2012)

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The town of Silent Hill is like any other small berg in America: a regal main street, family owned businesses and a portal to a hellish alternate dimension that opens every night.  Oh, and don’t forget that constant fog and falling ash that we all love about our small towns.   Young Heather was born is this awful place, but was taken away by her father Harry (Sean Bean); and ever since then she has been having nightmare about the town wanting her back… which it does.  So far, moving from town to town and changing their names has kept the townspeople from tracking them down, but that is all about to change now that her new boyfriend (Kit Harrington) is revealed to actually be from Silent Hill.

Although he swears that he only wants to help Heather, her new beau has unwittingly gotten her father captured by the townsfolk in an effort to lure her back to Silent Hill.  Of course their plan works, as she travels back to Hellville to find her daddy.  As night falls, the buildings seem to crumble and rot before her eyes as the monsters and whatnot come out to wreak havoc.  She encounters horrific creatures that would enjoying nothing more than to eat her or chop her into bits, and must escape them and find her dad before the town takes her back.

Alex’s Thoughts:   I have never played any of the Silent Hill games or seen the first movie, and would therefore not consider myself to be a fan of the series, but that didn’t keep me from enjoying this one.  I was in the mood for a horror flick and found this on Netflix, and expected to be disappointed, but for once I was surprised.  It isn’t great or anything, but the effects are good and most of the creatures are all practical make-up, which I appreciate.  It also helped that I am a huge Game of Thrones fan, so having Eddard Stark and Jon Snow on the screen together in something else was fun for me.  And yes, Sean Bean dies a horrific death, although it is only in a dream, but he keeps he streak of dying in his roles alive (pun intended).  Fans of the series seem to have different opinions on this movie, but as a casual viewer and fan or the horror genre, I would recommend it, as it is something different from all the haunting and possession flicks that have been forced on us lately.  Alex Rates This Movie 7.5/10

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View the IMDB entry for this movie here,

Back to School!

Return to Horror High (1987)

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Several years back, Crippen High School was the scene of a grisly mass murder.  A scumbag B-movie producer wants to capitalize on the somewhat still fresh story by shooting a horror movie in that same high school, even though the murderer has yet to be captured.  If you don’t spend the majority of your day drooling into a bucket, you can probably see where this is going: people are going to die.  The police detectives at the scene of this brand new new crime scene, along with the few survivors of the attack help to narrate the story; which goes a little something like this: The actors and crew begin getting killed off one-by-one, but their disappearance doesn’t raise much of an alarm, as low budget movie employees apparently go missing all the time.  Also, this new movie used so much fake blood and fake body parts that it didn’t seem abnormal for whole rooms to be covered in gore and viscera, so that didn’t  to trigger any alarms either.

80’s movie stereotypes continue to be killed at an alarming rate, with the cheesy one-lines and obligatory ditsy girls’ exposed breasts filling in the parts between the murders. It progresses pretty much down a set of rails ending up exactly how you would expect a real life low budget 80’s horror movie to end. Also of note; it’s George Clooney’s first movie, and he is the first to die, so if this teaches us anything it’s this: be the first one to die in a crappy horror flick and you might end up a millionaire!  Or maybe you might be prostituting yourself for meth like that chick from Critters! Either way it’s a win win!

Alex’s Thoughts:  This was one of those I always wanted to see because that skeleton cheerleader on the VHS box looked so cool every time I went to the video store as a kid.  I sort of knew what to expect (low budget 80’s gore flick), and I shouldn’t have expected anything out of this, but there was a skeleton cheerleader on the box for crying out loud!  Come on man! Is that too much to ask for?  All I got were lame murder scenes, often just shown in silhouette, and actresses in their mid-to-late 30’s trying to pull off high school students.  It was just a whole pile of sad really.  I liked how the story was presented, but the acting wasn’t there and the overall story fell flat.  This is one to avoid, unless they remake it with skeleton cheerleaders!  Alex Rates This Movie 3/10

View The IMDB Entry For This Movie Here

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My Awkward Sexual Adventure (2012)

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Mild-mannered account, and general schmuck, Jordan is just about as boring as a person can be.  He takes crap from his co-workers and his bitch of a girlfriend, who falls asleep every time they have sex.  Jordan has been in love with Rachel since third grade, and she’s finally given him a chance, but he is way too boring and average for a wildcat like her. She breaks up with him as he is proposing right before their vacation to the big city of Montreal.  Jordan just thinks they need some time apart and waits for her to join him on his trip.  Of course she doesn’t show, and he goes to drown his sorrows at the local gentleman’s club, where he befriends a kindly stripper named Julia.

Julia is in a bit of a bind herself; she’s broke and wants to quit grinding on strangers, and open a restaurant.  Jordan offers her help with her finances in exchange for sex lessons, so he can win back Rachel.   Things progress awkwardly as you would imagine, and as befits a romantic comedy, the two opposites begin to have feeling for each other.  Once successfully trained in the art of making whoopee, Jordan goes back to Rachel, who has been slutting it up big time while he was away, but has also been missing him.  She agrees to marry him and all seems to be going well, until Jordan realizes that he really loves Julia, and he returns to her in typical movie-like fashion.

Alex’s Thoughts: Although you know exactly what’s going to happen 10 minutes in, and this storyline has been done many times before, this movie was still able to keep my attention.  The acting was unexpectedly good, and I really found myself pulling for old Jordan… the lovable putz that he is.  There wasn’t anything mind-blowing or that original with this; it’s just a fun movie that doesn’t require too much thought, and you can just sit back with a date and enjoy.  There is something for both the guys and gals in this flick, and I think most people would enjoy it. Alex Rates This Movie 7/10

View The IMDB Entry for This Movie Here

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Escape From L.A. (1996)

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In the sequel to 1981’s Escape for New York, we find our antihero Snake Plissken (Kurt Russell)  trying to escape from yet another post-apocalyptic mega city, this time it’s the City of Angles.  LA has become a penal colony after an earthquake turned it into an island, and is now only inhabited by the dregs of society.  Gun-for-hire Snake, winds up getting shipped off there after being captured by the Feds, but they have a deal for him: find a doomsday weapon that the president’s rebel daughter stole and we might give you the antidote to the deadly virus we just injected you with.  With no other choice he travels to the island in search of the weapon, now in the hands or the terrorist Cuervo Jones.

It isn’t going to be as easy as just going up to the guy and asking nicely, he is going to have to perform some off the wall and highly impractical feats to even get near the guy.  Snake will have to surf a 100 foot wave, escape from a group of plastic surgery addicts, shoot some hoops for his life and also hang-glide from Hollywood to Disneyland.  Once the mission is a success, he’s a little peeved at how the government used him (again), and decides to use the super-weapon against them.

Alex’s Thoughts:  What this movie lacks in quality it make up for in sheer awfulness. Wait… no… that’s sounds about right.  While John Carpenter’s previous movie was sort of charming and inventive it in’s own low-budget way, this one copies the exact same premise but without any of the charm, it’s just bad, and seems like it was just a cash grab flick.   While I do like Kurt Russell, he didn’t look to be giving it his best, and seemed like his best physical acting days were behind him.  With awful dialog, poorly choreographed fight scenes and low-rate special effects, it is easy to forget about this movie.  Its one redeeming quality is that it has Bruce Campbell in what could have been a great role as the Surgeon General of Beverly Hills, but it was totally underutilized.  If you need a good escape flick, you might want to check out Lockout instead.  Alex Rates This Movie 3/10.

Tim’s Thoughts: Oh, I want to like this so badly, every few years I will even go back to give it another shot, but it’s soooooo awful. There is nothing good about this, nothing at all. It’s a waste of time, and a sign that Carpenter’s good years were way behind him. I don’t know what else to say other than that the effects are so terrible that I can barely sit through it. MST3K would destroy this, and then like Pod People or Mitchell it could become a favorite. Until that happens, avoid this dumpster fire at all costs. Tim Rates This Movie 1/10

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View the IMDB entry for this movie here.

The ABC’s of Death (2012)

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It’s probably hard enough to make an anthology-type movie with just four or five directors, but The ABC’s of Death has TWENTY-SIX, one for each letter of the alphabet.  As the name implies, each three to four minute segment features a person (or people) getting killed, with the cause of death starting with that respective letter.  We certainly can’t review each one, but with entries like ‘D is for Dogfight’ and ‘Q is for Quack’, there is something for most horror fans.  The stories are presented in a wide variety of styles from serious artsy entries to humorous animations, and everything in-between. Each director had $5,000 and free reign to do whatever they wanted as long as the scene featured their letter and opened and closed on a red background.   With directors from around the world, all twenty-six stories are unique and vary a lot based on the director’s country of origin. And yes… F is for Fart!

Alex’s Thoughts: It’s hard to rate this movie, as there are so many different segments.  As a whole I thought it was a good effort, and while not all of the segments were good; if I didn’t like a particular one, I only had to sit through it for a few minutes.  The biggest gripe I have is that the version on Netflix that I watched didn’t have sub-titles, and with only a handful of the stories in English, I feel like I missed out on what was being presented.  A less, but equally annoying, aspect was the constant fade to and from a red background or object at the beginning and end of each segment.  After seeing that eight times I was already fed up with it, but no, I had to see it 18 more times.  I am a fan of different directing styles and short stories, so this was the perfect  format for me, even if I did only like/ understand only about half of the segments.  Alex rates This Movie: 7/10

Tim’s Thoughts: Conceptually this is an amazing idea, but I really felt the execution was lacking. Only one or two of these are watchable, while the rest are either too ambitious, silly or just plain stupid. I respect the effort, but would much rather have only 5 or 6 stories, with less crap, and just a tiny bit more time to develop. An interesting exercise in cinema, and nothing else. Tim Rates This Movie 4/10

ABCsOfDeath

View the IMDB entry for this movie here.

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