Wednesday, October 31, 2018

Awesomely Shitty Movies: House of Frankenstein (1944)

Welcome to another Frankenstein-themed installment of Awesomely Shitty Movies, here at Enuffa.com!  If you haven't been following this series and want to catch up, make sure you start at the beginning with our take on the original Frankenstein!  Or jump in from our previous installment, Frankenstein Meets the Wolf Man!


Well we're six movies into the Universal Frankenstein series.  After two genuinely good films and one admirable near-miss, the studio morphed these films into cheap monster exploitation fare, culminating in the first-ever crossover movie with Frankenstein Meets The Wolf Man.  That movie was such a hit the studio decided that more = better, and they added Dracula to the mix for the followup, House of Frankenstein.  And to sweeten the deal they included a new hunchback character and a wacked-out scientist just so the posters could include five "monster" characters.  It was the 1940s equivalent of The Avengers or Justice League, with all the in-house freaks in one movie.

Set thirty years after Frankenstein Meets The Wolf Man, the story this time centers around Dr. Niemann, an evil scientist, and his hunchbacked assistant Daniel who escape from prison and decide to get revenge on all the men who put them there.  To that end Niemann steals and revives Dracula's corpse and then makes his way to Frankenstein's castle where he resurrects the Frankenstein monster and Larry Talbot, who were washed away at the end of FMTWM.  Niemann promises his assistant and Talbot that he'll transplant their brains into better bodies but all hell breaks loose as usual. 

But was it any good?  Ummmm, nope.  Still, on a stupid fun level there's some enjoyment to be had with House of Frankenstein.  So let's take a look, shall we?



The Awesome


Boris Karloff

Karloff made his return to the Universal Frankenstein films here, but instead of reprising the role that made him famous, he plays the main character of the mad scientist.  His presence lent the film a bit of much-needed credibility and it was fun to see him in such a different role from that of the monster.  If this movie has nothing else going for it (and it's close), at least it has Karloff.

Look it's Frankenstein and Dracula together....sort of.




Visuals

Like Frankenstein Meets the Wolf Man, House has some lovely black & white cinematography and well-designed expressionistic sets.  This entire series made great use of scenery, lightning and cinematography (Ghost of Frankenstein excepted - that movie looks like garbage), so even amidst the hammy acting and nonsensical plotting at least there's always something nice to look at.  One set I particularly loved was the ice cavern.

Super cool set


Monday, October 29, 2018

WWE Evolution: Best Main Roster PPV of 2018?

The "first ever" all-women's PPV is in the history books, and WWE managed one of their best main roster PPVs of the year.  Of the seven matches, all of them were at least entertaining, and a few stood out, particularly one match that has to rank high on the list of main roster matches of 2018.  This had the feel of an NXT special and the matches were all pretty different from each other.  WWE needs to make this an annual thing but also should model more of their main roster shows on this one.


Things kicked off with Lita & Trish Stratus vs. Mickie James & Alicia Fox (subbing for the injured Alexa Bliss).  Given the substitution it was obvious who'd be winning this, but these four worked hard to keep everyone invested, and the crowd ate up everything they did.  Lita and Trish both looked good considering how long it had been since they worked a match.  Mickie was excellent as always, and Alicia sold well, though she missed a pin breakup at one point which looked awkward.  The match went eleven minutes and ended with Trish hitting Stratusfaction followed by Lita's moonsault on both opponents for the win.  Solid, fun opener.  **1/2

Up next was the battle royal, which shockingly turned out to be really well-structured and one of WWE's best battle royals in years.  There was a good mix of current and older talent, everyone got at least a moment or two to shine, the legends were mostly eliminated in the first half, and the crowd was electric throughout.  The match started off with the IIconics talkin' trash to the rest of the field only for everyone to gang up and toss them at the bell.  From there it was a pretty logically worked battle royal, with big spots sprinkled in to keep it from getting monotonous.  It boiled down to Nia Jax, Tamina, Asuka and Ember Moon.  Ember ejected Asuka, marking the first time she'd ever gotten the better of her old NXT rival, then Nia threw out Tamina.  While Ember and Nia struggled near the ropes, Zelina Vega emerged from under the ring and tried to eliminate them both, but to no avail.  Nia pressed Zelina over her head and threw her to the outside on top of Tamina, then proceeded to make short work of Ember to win the match.  The crowd clearly wanted Ember to win this, but they still popped when Nia got the duke.  Very good battle royal.  ***


The Mae Young Classic finals was a really well-worked, stiff match that unfortunately wasn't given enough time to make it a classic.  Toni Storm (who WWE better push to the moon because she has IT) and Io Shirai hit each other with plenty of high octane offense.  Shirai hit a moonsault off the top to the floor, Storm hit a German suplex on the apron, Shirai kicked out of Storm's Tiger bomb, went for another moonsault but met nothing but knees, and fell to a second Tiger bomb.  Storm then celebrated with Triple H, Stephanie and Sara Del Ray.  This was very good and showcased both women well, but needed another five minutes to reach **** territory.  Still I'm looking forward to seeing more of these two in NXT.  Both are excellent.  ***1/2



Friday, October 26, 2018

WWE Evolution Preview & Predictions

Editor's Note: Before I get into this Sunday's PPV, a few words about Roman Reigns.  As everyone knows, Roman is on indefinite hiatus due to a relapse of the leukemia he's been battling for eleven years, and I just want to express how hopeful I am that he's able to conquer this disease as quickly and painlessly as possible.  #KickLeukemiasAss

Now onto business...

It's the show WWE threw together to make us all forget they're scheduled to perform before an oppressive regime a week later, WWE Evolution!


Look, I'm very happy they decided to do an all-women's PPV.  I really am.  And I hate to look at this cynically, but the timing of this show is simply too convenient to ignore that their primary motivator for it was almost certainly damage control.  The Saudi government won't allow female wrestlers to perform in their country, or even go along for the trip, so WWE said "Hey look over here everyone, we're actually progressive!"

Strangely, as of now the tickets for Crown Jewel haven't even been put on sale yet due to the controversy surrounding the Khashoggi murder, and as far as I'm concerned that show needs to be moved to a different location.  It's just a really terrible look for this company to proceed as planned.

Anyway, WWE's first-ever all-women's show is this Sunday, and looks pretty solid.  There are some very promising undercard matches, including bouts for the NXT Women's Title and the UK Women's Title, plus the Mae Young Classic finals and some star cameos from yesteryear.  Plus the main event, while not terribly exciting on paper, has produced some strong promo work from Ronda Rousey, the one area she was really lacking.  In many ways this show could be a lot more fun than most of WWE's offerings lately.  Hopefully it's a success so WWE doesn't just skip it next year when they aren't trying to compensate for a PR disaster.  So let's get to it....

***Big shakeup last month with Super Show-Down, as Dan and I are now tied for the lead with 66% (55/83), Dave's in third with 63% (52/83), and Landon's in last with 61% (51/83).***





Sasha Banks, Bayley & Natalya vs. The Riott Squad


Remember when they teased a Sasha-Bayley feud for months only to not deliver one?  Fuckin' idiots.  Anyway this match has plenty of good talent and should be reasonably entertaining.  It is however one of many examples of WWE taking female stars and making them look like "just one of the girls."  Sasha and Bayley are two prime victims of the awful parity booking WWE's been stuck on for years.

Justin: Ruby beat Sasha on Monday so I'll go with Team Sasha here.
Dan: RIOT
Landon: Team Natalya
Dave: Sure, Sasha.





Women's Battle Royal


I'm so fucking pissed about how badly they've ruined Asuka since WrestleMania.  She was the first-ever Women's Royal Rumble winner and went into 'Mania looking like a major star, someone they were possibly grooming to face Ronda next year.  And then Vince got a hold of her and booked her into oblivion, jobbing her out to Carmella (who has since become a jobber herself).  God I hate that man.  So yeah, she's stuck in this battle royal along with everyone else they had no ideas for.  Oh by the way, the field looks like this:

Tamina, Billie Kay, Peyton Royce, Ember Moon, Alicia Fox, Nia Jax, Dana Brooke, Asuka, Mandy Rose, Sonya Deville, Carmella, Lana, Naomi, Torrie Wilson, Michelle McCool, Alundra Blayze, Ivory, Kelly Kelly, Maria Kanellis, Molly Holly and Zelina Vega

Right away you can probably narrow this down to four potential winners: Ember Moon, Nia Jax, Asuka, and an outside pick like Torrie Wilson.  My heart says Asuka but Vince sucks, so it'll probably be someone else.

Justin: Nia is probably the favorite
Dan: Asuka
Landon: Her cousin has Leukemia now. Nia wins it for fuck's sake. Not doing that would be like turning Dean the night his friend announces he has to walk away.
Dave: God I have no idea.  Nia.





Lita & Trish Stratus vs. Alexa Bliss & Mickie James


The buildup to this has been atrocious.  Trish used to be a decent promo before the days of tightly scripted garbage, but she can't make this stuff work (Who can??).  Alexa is a question mark since she suffered a concussion at a house show last weekend, but as of now they still have her slated for this match.  This'll be your classic current stars vs. old stars match.  I just hope Lita doesn't try another moonsault - she's gonna kill herself one of these days.

Justin: Alexa & Mickie
Dan: The old-timers get my shorts moving again and take the win.
Landon: Lita & Trish
Dave: Gotta give it to the regulars.



Thursday, October 25, 2018

George Romero's Living Dead Trilogy: Dawn of the Dead (1978)

Welcome to Part 2 of our retrospective on George Romero's Living Dead trilogy.  Check out Part 1 HERE...


With Night of the Living Dead, George Romero and his collaborators stumbled onto an unexpected cult hit, and while it sadly didn't make any of them rich (Due to an unfortunate copyright snafu the film fell into public domain where it remains to this day), they now had careers as filmmakers.  George directed four feature films after NOTLD with little box office success before returning to the genre that put him on the map.

Romero got the idea while visiting the Monroeville Mall, owned by a friend of his.  The facility had a secluded suite of rooms, fully stocked with food and water, which his friend claimed could sustain a person for months in the event of a nuclear attack.  "Hmm, what about a zombie attack?" George replied.  From this simple premise sprang the narrative seedling for his next project, which would go down as the Citizen Kane of zombie films, Dawn of the Dead.

I gotta see this place

Romero's second foray into the zombie genre picks up some time after the events of NOTLD, when the entire country is now swarming with the risen dead, private residences have been declared illegal, the emergency networks have taken over all broadcasting, and society as a whole is just about to completely break down.  Four survivors, two from a Pittsburgh TV station and two from a local SWAT force, escape in a traffic 'copter and set up shop at the Monroeville Mall.  As the outside world crumbles, our protagonists find themselves in a shopper's paradise, the entire plaza at their disposal.

As with NOTLD, Romero peppered Dawn with underlying social commentary befitting the era of its release, in this case 1970s American obsession with consumerism and the futility in trying to find happiness in material goods.  And while not as purely terrifying as its predecessor, Dawn of the Dead was a rollicking, action-horror film with moments of humor and a ton of over-the-top gore.  Where Night was filmed in expressionist black & white, Dawn depicted these grisly events in bright, garish colors, using the mall's ample lighting to save time and money during the down n' dirty shoot (The vast majority of the scenes were filmed overnight while the mall was closed, thus time and availability were limited).

Wednesday, October 24, 2018

Cinema Showdown: Dracula 1979 vs. Bram Stoker's Dracula 1992

It's been a long time since I published one of these, but welcome to another installment of Cinema Showdown, here at Enuffa.com, where I compare and contrast two films of similar subject matter and pick which one I like better, and you all must agree with me....


Today I'll be discussing two of my favorite film versions of Bram Stoker's timeless novel Dracula.  It's been a long time since Hollywood gave us a serious adaptation of this story - everything since 1992 has been either satirical or a pointless reinvention of the wheel - and it's the two most recent high-quality versions I'm here to talk about.

1979 saw the release of three Dracula films - a Werner Herzog-helmed Nosferatu remake/homage (an excellent film in its own right), a modern-day spoof called Love at First Bite (starring a hilarious George Hamilton), and on the heels of a massively successful revival of the Broadway play on which it was based, a remake of Universal Studios' 1931 production of Dracula.  As they'd done in the 30s (after the sudden death of their first choice Lon Chaney), Universal cast the star of the Broadway production - in 1931 it was Bela Lugosi, in 1979 it was Frank Langella.  Reimagined as an extravagant, atmospheric horror-romance, this new version of Dracula was critically well-received but underwhelmed at the box office (no doubt hampered by the George Hamilton comedy released only a few months earlier).  It was perhaps even further removed from the novel than its 1930s counterpart, removing most of the first act and changing some characters around.  Still the Langella Dracula is a pretty excellent update of the Lugosi classic, with a more explicit emphasis on the sensuality of vampirism, and a romantic, minimalist portrayal of the immortal Count.  My wife affectionately refers to this version as Disco Dracula due to Frank's very 70s hairstyle.  This moniker is actually very fitting since John Badham had previously directed Saturday Night Fever....

Thirteen years later Francis Ford Coppola decided to take the story back to its turn-of-the-century literary roots, presenting Bram Stoker's Dracula as an honest-to-goodness faithful adaptation.  All the major characters were restored, the film followed the book's narrative structure (including diary entries in voiceover), and Dracula's extensive supernatural powers were better explored.  Sure, they crammed in a romance where the novel did not, but overall the 1992 version is one of the closest to the novel to date.  What sets this film apart from other interpretations though is its surrealist, operatic style.  The visuals were unlike anything since the 1920s Expressionist period, while many of the performances could easily be classified as "scenery chewing."  Carried largely by Gary Oldman's star making lead performance, Bram Stoker's Dracula was a strong worldwide hit, grossing over $215 million on a $40 million budget (or $473 million in today's dollars).

But which version is superior?  I enjoy both films immensely, for different reasons.  Let's take a closer look and break these films down, shall we?



Cast

Dracula: Frank Langella vs. Gary Oldman


A Dracula movie of course will largely stand or fall based on the quality of the titular performance, and both films are on very solid ground in this category.  Langella and Oldman each delivered one of the greatest and most memorable portrayals of the immortal Count, in very different ways.

Langella's turn is understated, relying on smoldering sex appeal and a soft-spoken menace.  He also skipped the Romanian accent (an odd choice given Drac's nationality, but somehow it works) and refused any sort of vampiric makeup or fangs, telling the filmmakers, "There are fifty other movies where Dracula looks like that, we're doing something different."  Instead of a typically monstrous vampire, Langella embodies the Count as a stoic, romantic lead who exhibits no wasted motion, luring his victims to their demise with an almost feline charm.  And of course those hypnotic, ever-dancing eyes....

Gary Oldman's performance couldn't be more different from its 1979 counterpart.  Oldman, like everything else in the Coppola film, is operatic in his portrayal.  This Count is bombastic, charismatic, fully "old world," and depending on the scene either violently carnal or grotesquely terrifying.  He shapeshifts no fewer than half a dozen times throughout the film (as in the novel where he appears as an old man, a less old man, a bat, a wolf, an army of rats, and mist), and Oldman's fearsome theatrics shine through the layers of prosthetic makeup.  This is the film that made me fall in love with Gary Oldman's acting.

But who's better?  It's really up to your personal tastes and what you expect out of the character.  Langella goes for romance and a minimalistic sense of evil.  Oldman swings for the fences to make the Count an otherworldly demon.  Personally I like my Dracula to be a true, unearthly monster, and I think Oldman's larger-than-life version is much closer to what Bram Stoker probably envisioned.  Plus it's still one of my all-time favorite film performances.

Point: 1992



Tuesday, October 23, 2018

George Romero's Living Dead Trilogy: Night of the Living Dead (1968)

Since it's Halloween season and this film is 50 years old now, I thought I'd go back and rewatch the legendary Living Dead trilogy, wherein the humble, gentlemanly indie filmmaker George Romero created one of the most disturbing film series of all time.  An aspiring, self-taught director with a background in commercial work, Romero and his associates decided in 1967 to make a feature film, choosing the horror genre for its marketability on a small budget, and a whole new subgenre was born. 


The result of course was Night of the Living Dead, a bloodcurdling guerrilla-style picture about seven survivors holed up in an old farmhouse during a zombie outbreak.  At a time when audiences were conditioned to expect cheeseball horror and sci-fi movies that were playfully scary but ultimately toothless, Night of the Living Dead was truly a shock to the system.  Here was a stark, brutal nightmare of a film depicting in gory detail people and zombies being shot, bludgeoned, stabbed, and eating human entrails, where none of the heroes make it out alive.  The overall tone is so bleak and upsetting I can't imagine how 1968 audiences took it.  NOTLD became a major hit on the midnight movie circuit, eventually grossing over $30 million worldwide on a $114,000 budget.

Romero also unintentionally pulled off a coup by casting an African-American as the film's lead.  Duane Jones, an experienced theater actor, gave the best audition for a role originally written as a white character, thus lending the narrative a poignant layer of political subtext.  The film's tragic finale, where Ben is mistaken for a zombie and shot, before being dragged out of the house and burned by the redneck law enforcement posse, now paralleled the racial tensions and unrest of the Civil Rights era.  The choice to depict the aftermath in grainy still photos echoes violent newspaper clippings of the time, making it that much more upsetting.

Romero's use of light and shadow is superb

Other cast standouts include 23-year-old Judith O'Dea as the hysterically frightened Barbra and producers (and real-life married couple) Karl Hardman and Marilyn Eastman as the antagonistic Harry Cooper and his anxious wife Helen.  Given the non-professional status of most of the actors, the performances are by and large quite effective.

Friday, October 19, 2018

Awesomely Shitty Movies: Alien Resurrection

Welcome to another edition of Awesomely Shitty Movies, here at Enuffa.com!

Since I examined the gorgeously shot suckfest that was Alien 3 last week, I thought I'd move on to its sequel, 1997's Alien Resurrection.


As I mentioned last time, the third Alien film was a massive disappointment for me, as I'd been led to believe (through no fault of my own, mind you - d'ya need to see that teaser again?) that we'd get a true continuation of Aliens, wherein there'd be some sort of battle between xenomorphs and humans taking place on Earth.  Instead we got a languid, uninspired retread of the first movie, with one alien killing off humans in a confined location, Ten Little Indians-style.  Then Ripley dies.  I hated it.  I hated it all.  The franchise that should really have ended after two films got a completely unnecessary, tacked-on third installment just so Ripley could be killed off.

Fast-forward five years, and suddenly the series was resurrected (I see what they did there...), with a Ripley clone having been created 200 years after her death, on a military/scientific vessel that has begun experimenting with the aliens.  As part of the breeding process the scientists on board have illegally purchased cryo-frozen humans for use as hosts.  A mercenary ship arrives, delivering said hosts, but before long the aliens escape captivity and all hell breaks loose.  That's about all there is to the plot of this film, though I guess that's about twice as long as the premise of the third film.

My hope going into this was that it would really be something different and maybe even right the ship.  We'd finally see something in line with my expectations for Alien 3, or so I thought.  As it turned out Resurrection was just as poorly received as 3 (if not moreso), and the possibility of ever seeing another truly good Alien film again was all but gone.

Still, Resurrection did have some intriguing elements, some amusing horror-action, and plenty of gooey xenomorphs.  Let's take a closer look at this awesomely shitty movie....

(Note: I think if I were making a fourth film around this time I'd have simply revealed at the outset that Alien 3 was a dream, and have Ripley wake up from cryosleep to find Newt and Hicks still slumbering in their pods.  Then the story would adhere closer to the original Alien III script, where the xenos end up on Earth and the company actually intends on exploiting them for their Weapons division.  But that's just me.)




The Awesome


Something Different

After the dull, lazy retread that was Alien 3, it was nice to see the franchise go in a different direction with this film.  Ripley is back, but as a clone of the original character, and with a bit of xenomorph DNA which gives her some superhuman abilities.  It's corny, it's a bit comic booky, but hey, at least they tried something new with this film.  Setting it 200 years after Alien 3 also adds an element of the dystopian future, where the infrastructure is breaking down and mercenaries like the Betty crew have become commonplace.




Sigourno-morph

Sigourney Weaver clearly has a lot of fun with this new incarnation of Ripley, getting a chance to show off her newfound skills but also to convey the conflict arising from her longtime arch-nemesis now being a part of her.  This creature that has ruined her life is now ingrained in her biology.  A smarter, more thoughtful script would've done a lot more with this, but it's a start.  That theme comes into play later in the film when the alien queen seems to treat her almost as a loved one and the alien/human hybrid regards her as its mother.  Joss Whedon's script introduces some novel concepts for this franchise, and it's refreshing to see that at least. 

Oh, Ripley 8 will fuck you ups....




Thursday, October 18, 2018

Awesomely Shitty Movies: Dead Poets Society

Welcome to another edition of Awesomely Shitty Movies, here at Enuffa.com!  It's time once again for me to cut open a beloved classic and tell you all why it's not as good as everyone seems to think it is.


Today's example is the critically-acclaimed, Oscar-winning 1989 film Dead Poets Society, starring Robin Williams as an anti-establishment teacher at a prestigious prep school, who forms a close bond with his students and encourages them to be forward-thinking dream followers.  His unconventional teaching style comes into question and soon has repercussions quite at odds with the school's cookie-cutter approach to education.

This film was a big hit and built on Robin Williams' Good Morning Vietnam success as a serious (albeit slightly comedic) actor.  It would be his second consecutive role to earn him a Best Actor nod.

So why do I consider DPS an Awesomely Shitty Movie you ask?  Well let's take a closer look....



The Awesome


Robin Williams

Dead Poets Society was the second mainstream film to showcase Robin Williams' considerable dramatic chops.  Generally known for his manic, zany comedy antics, Williams mostly delivers a nuanced, understated performance as the benign, free-spirited Literature professor, and we believe it when the students become inspired by him.  The scene where he coaxes a spontaneous, evocative poem out of the cripplingly shy Todd Anderson is genuinely touching, while his emotional breakdown after Neil's death is a briefly heartbreaking moment.  Aside from a few moments where he veered way too far into typical Robin Williams territory, this was a fine performance that elevated Williams as an Oscar-caliber actor.

Stop making me cry, Mork!

Wednesday, October 17, 2018

Mass Music Review #2: Dinosaur, Jr.

Our newest contributor Christopher Gillespie is back with another look at an influential Massachusetts band - this week it's Dinosaur Jr.!


Traditionally considered to be the best of Dinosaur Jr.’s albums, 1987’s You’re Living All Over Me was much more successful than the band’s first album, 1985’s Dinosaur, and is also considered much more influential than their initial outing. You’re Living All Over Me, much like Signals, Calls, and Marches proved to be an album with great importance in the alternative and indie rock scene in both America and Europe. My Bloody Valentine’s Kevin Shields mentioned the album as an influence for their EP You Made Me Realize which was released during the beginnings of the shoegaze genre, and the album is said to have influenced ever-popular American grunge band Nirvana.

The band from left to right: Murph, Lou Barlow, and J Mascis

Tuesday, October 16, 2018

Awesomely Shitty Movies: Gojira, or As You Know Him, Godzilla

Welcome to another installment of Awesomely Shitty Movies, here at Enuffa.com, where I dissect a beloved piece of cinematic work, nitpick its drawbacks, and generally ruin it for everyone.


Today I'll be talking about one of the most famous monster movies of all time, one that gave us an absolutely iconic giant monster whose fame and marketability are nearly unparalleled.  I'm talking about the 1954 Japanese film Gojira (or Godzilla as us dumbass Americans renamed him).  Inspired by the US B-movie The Beast from 20,000 Fathoms, Gojira is an atomic age parable about a gigantic lizard monster that emerges from the ocean and decimates Japan.  Made at a time when the country was still dealing with the aftermath of World War II, Gojira is rife with subtext about nuclear devastation and its consequences; despite its B-movie subject matter the film's tone is deadly serious and its concepts lofty.  Gojira was an enormous hit and spawned literally dozens of sequels, reboots and imitations.  But how is it as a film?  Well like so many horror movies it has its pros and cons.  Let's take a look at both, shall we?




The Awesome


Creature Design

The monster design by Teizo Toshimitsu, Akira Watanabe and Eiji Tsuburaya is simply one of the most iconic and instantly recognizable in film history.  Regardless of the technological limitations and the clunkiness of the suit itself, the combination of T-Rex, Iguanadon and Stegasaurus made for such a cool-looking giant monster it's hard to take your eyes off him.  Couple that with his ability to shoot radioactive beams from his mouth like an atomic age dragon, and you've got an absolutely BOSS movie monster.  Godzilla is up there with Frankenstein's monster, Superman and Mickey Mouse in terms of pop culture iconography, inspiring cartoons, comics, and some of the best-looking Japanese toys you'll ever see.

He's just fuckin' badass-lookin'....



Political Commentary

Gojira was made less than ten years after the bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, and Japan was still reeling from that devastation.  Thus the monster is a metaphor for nuclear holocaust, released from his underwater lair as the result of American H-bomb testing and wreaking devastation and death on the entire country.  The film is rife with themes of mankind meddling with technology they aren't equipped or evolved enough to handle.  Even Serizawa's oxygen destroyer draws parallels with the H-bomb - he's stumbled onto a terrible discovery and won't tell anyone about it until he can find a use for it that benefits humanity, fearing it will be used for destructive ends (I'm not sure what said use would even be, but that's a discussion for later).  Then there's Professor Yamane, who wants Godzilla kept alive so his resistance to radiation can be studied.  This film contains much more symbolism and subtext than is required of a monster movie, so that's a plus.



Acting

By the same token, the acting in this film is quite solid, better than a film like this necessarily needs.  Akira Takarada as Captain Ogata, Momoko Kochi as his love interest Emiko, Akihiko Hirata as the tortured genius Serizawa, and Takashi Shimura as Dr. Yamane all turn in capable performances that rise above the B-movie material and lend themselves to the human drama, making this more than just a kaiju movie.

We're talkin' about solid professionals.

Friday, October 12, 2018

Cinema Showdown: Superman Returns vs. Man of Steel

Originally published in 2015...
Welcome to another edition of Cinema Showdown, here at Enuffa.com, where I'll take two movies that are either based on the same source material, present the same story, or just share many similarities, and see which one stacks up better.


Today I'll be talking about the two most recent cinematic takes on the beloved character of Superman: 2006's Superman Returns, directed by Bryan Singer, and 2013's Man of Steel, from Zack Snyder.


Superman is generally credited with launching the superhero genre of comic books, and is an internationally recognized, mythic embodiment of heroism.  The sole survivor of a doomed alien race, Superman arrived on Earth as a baby and was adopted by simple farmers.  As he grew into manhood he discovered his super powers and eventually came to understand and accept the inherent responsibility that came with them, embarking on a lifelong crusade to rid the world of evil and protect the people of his adopted home.

These themes were captured beautifully in Richard Donner's 1978 epic Superman: The Movie.  While far from perfect and frought with production challenges and creative issues, Superman conveyed a sense of wonder and lighthearted optimism in bringing to life this virtuous character, introducing him to a whole generation of filmgoers and creating the superhero movie as we know it.  After three sequels the franchise eventually fizzled, and for nearly twenty years every attempt at a cinematic rebirth for The Man of Tomorrow was aborted prior to production.

Then in 2006 Bryan Singer released Superman Returns, which was presented as a direct sequel to Superman II (1981).  Retroactively nullifying the largely-reviled Superman III and IV, Returns takes place five years after II, whereupon Superman has, well, returned to Earth after a mysterious five-year absence and found that the world didn't necessarily miss him.  At the same time Lex Luthor has been released from prison (largely due to Kal-El being unavailable to testify against him) and hatched a new plan to take over the world using crystals from the Fortress of Solitude.  The plot of this film was eerily similar to that of the 1978 original (Luthor attempts to change the Earth's landscape to create his own priceless real estate, almost certainly at the expense of millions of lives), and while a few of the performances were well-received, the film was a box office disappointment.  Its planned sequel was scrapped, and it was back to the drawing board for The Big Blue Boy Scout.

Thursday, October 11, 2018

Awesomely Shitty Movies: The Lost Boys

Welcome back to Enuffa.com for another edition of Awesomely Shitty Movies!  

Today we'll be examining the brazenly tawdry late-80s time capsule known as The Lost Boys.  Before the Twilight movies forever ruined the vampire genre Joel Schumacher gave us teenage vampire garbage we could really sink our teeth into.  Teeth, get it??  Cuz vampires like to bite people?  With their teeth? 

Buckle up and set the DeLorean for 1987, the heyday of such screen legends as Corey Haim, Corey Feldman (what's with all the Coreys??), Jason Patric, Jami Gertz, and the one teen heartthrob from this era whose career escaped more or less unscathed, Kiefer Sutherland.




Originally The Lost Boys was to be a Peter Pan-inspired film about pre-adolescent vampires, stemming from the idea that Peter could fly and never grew old (Kiefer's character was originally called Peter, while the protagonist brothers were Michael and John, later to be Michael and Sam).  However when Schumacher came on board he decided teenage characters would be much more marketable/sexier.

The resulting film is delightfully "late-80s," from the costumes, to the heavy metal-influenced fashion sense of the teenage characters, to the awesomely dated soundtrack, to the southern California setting.  It's a quintessential 80s summer movie.  And it's fantastically dumb.



The Awesome

The Cast

This movie's got a pretty great cast, all perfectly suited to their roles.  Corey Haim, while never ascending to the heights of great acting, was exactly right for the main character of Sam.  Sam is the audience's guide through the story, usually in way over his head and scared shitless the whole time.  Jason Patric as his older brother Michael is the character with the real arc (he goes from brooding, sullen prettyboy to brooding, sullen vampire), and he's the one whose relationship with the villains sets things in motion.  Dianne Wiest is excellent as always, as their mother Lucy.  Corey Feldman, whose childhood work was actually pretty underrated, is hilarious as the aspiring vampire killer Edgar Frog. 

Corey, Corey, and that other guy.

And of course the showstopper is Kiefer Sutherland as David, the leader of the vampire gang.  Sutherland was fresh off his breakout performance as teenage deliquent Ace Merrill in Stand By Me, and his performance here is similar, but with the volume turned way up.  In The Lost Boys he's a total badass motherfucker who repeatedly toys with the protagonists and kills rival gang members without remorse.  Great villain.

The Strange and Infuriating Case of Enuffa.com vs. Facebook

UPDATE: Facebook is at it again, blocking my URL entirely as something that violates their Community Standards, even though it's already been found NOT to.  This social network is fucking broken.



It's no secret these days that Facebook is a hot, steaming mess.  Public opinion of the social media juggernaut is not exactly glowing, amid the Cambridge Analytica scandal and Mark Zuckerberg's subsequent appearance in front of Congress.  Their so-called Community Standards were a mystery wrapped in an enigma until today when they finally decided to release them after fourteen-or-so years.

But even with this new transparency, Facebook is still wreaking havoc: inexplicably blocked URLs, arbitrarily restricted user accounts, annoying ad placements cluttering up everyone's feeds, etc.  It's safe to say The Social Network's priorities seem to be way out of whack.

The following is my own personal experience with Facebook, as relates to this website.

I started Enuffa.com in early 2014 as simply a way to organize and share the goofy wrestling and movie-related thoughts swirling in my brain most of the time.  I'd write and publish an article and share in my own FB feed, just for shits and giggles, figuring my friends and family might get a kick out of it.  Through Blogger I was able to keep track of how much traffic each post got, and as I went along I noticed my hits were slowly but surely increasing.  I began to look for ways to expedite the site's growth and discovered Facebook groups and pages (along with Twitter and Google+), sharing relevant posts in certain groups; wrestling posts in wrestling groups, movie posts in movie groups, etc.  Pretty harmless, right?

Fast-forward three-and-a-half years, and Enuffa.com was getting exponentially more traffic than it had originally.  We'd gone from a paltry 5700 hits in 2014 to over 250,000 in 2017, aided by some of my colleagues and their additional content (for example Dan Moore's highly successful Dive Bars of America series) that brought a more diverse audience to the table.  Things were going along swimmingly and we were frequently getting over a thousand hits a day (small potatoes in the grand scheme of things, but the ball was rolling along nicely).

Tuesday, October 9, 2018

Why Shawn Michaels Returning to the Ring in 2018 is Absurd....

Image result for shawn michaels 2018

Shawn Michaels is my favorite wrestler of all time.  This has been the case for nearly twenty years, even before he made his miraculous 2002-2010 comeback.  For my money no other wrestler has stolen as many shows or pushed the performance envelope like Shawn Michaels has (though Okada and Omega may eclipse him when all is said and done).  And as a huge, longtime Shawn Michaels fan, it pains me to say that his returning to in-ring action, in 2018, at the age of 53, is ri-goddamn-diculous.

Michaels has been away from the ring for eight-and-a-half years now.  He looks and carries himself like an old man.  His fellow retiree The Undertaker looks equally run down.  Aside from a giant paycheck, why on this planet would Shawn and Taker cheapen their respective retirements and their legendary series of matches with an old timers' tour?  One would assume this DX vs. Brothers of Destruction match signed for Saudi Arabia is a one-time deal, but there are rumors that it's building to a Shawn vs. Taker singles match down the road.  Again, their pair of WrestleMania matches nearly a decade ago are heralded as all-time masterpieces.  Why the fuck would we want to see them even attempt to equal those two matches nine years later, at a combined age of 106?

The Vince McMahon of 1998 would laugh mercilessly at the desperately out-of-touch old man he's become. 

In 1996 the WWF included, as part of the WrestleMania 12 pre-show, a segment called the Geriatric Match, pitting parodies of Hulk Hogan and Randy Savage against each other.  It was literally a stereotypical "old person fight," with the "Huckster" needing a walker to stay upright, and both men eventually passing out from exhaustion after doing basically nothing.  To view these segments you'd think the real Hogan and Savage were in their 60s at this point.  Nope.  42 and 43 respectively.  Combined age, 85.  1990s Vince McMahon ruthlessly made fun of the age of two former employees, both of whom were in their early 40s.  Yet 2018 Vince McMahon has no problem headlining a PPV with a 27-minute match between a 53-year-old and a 49-year-old.  90s Vince may have been a passive-aggressive asshole (and let's be honest, his 2018 counterpart is too), but at least that guy understood that for the most part wrestling is far more exciting when it's built around young stars in their 20s and 30s.  I'm not saying Vince should be lampooning anyone past the age of 40, but two dudes who peaked during the Dubya Administration have no business main eventing a PPV in 2018.  In no decently run wrestling company should the two top champions be lower on the card than a bunch of 50-year-olds.

I think what bothers me the most is that Shawn refused a WrestleMania program with AJ Styles because he didn't want to crap all over his retirement.  But a throwaway tag team match where the four men involved total 206 years of age is fine?  AJ could've used the rub from working with a performer as accomplished as Michaels; a match like that would've fully legitimized AJ as a WWE headliner (fortunately AJ has since managed to do that on his own).  What does this tag team match accomplish, aside from all four guys getting to shower in corrupt Saudi money?

And for fuck's sake, the De-Generation X gimmick absolutely does not work when both members are old enough to have grandchildren.  Stop it. 


     
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Thursday, October 4, 2018

WWE Super Show-Down Preview & Predictions

Why is the word "showdown" hyphenated?  Oh, are they doing a thing because it's in Australia?  Like it's a "super-show" down under?  Shouldn't the hyphen be between "super" and "show" then?  Christ, WWE, get your shit together.


Anyway, it's yet another PPV event in a way overloaded calendar, except this will likely be a glorified house show, much like the Saudi show was in April (and like the next Saudi show will be).  A bunch of matches, some interesting, some not.  What's disturbing is how much time they've spent hyping this Triple H-Undertaker match.  Two guys with a combined age of 102 are supposed to even touch what they did six-and-a-half years ago?  Get real.  And it's all leading to the in-ring return of Shawn Michaels in a month, in a meaningless old timers tag team match.  Chrissake...

Anyway, let's get to these picks; there are ten of these goddamn matches and I only care about five of them.

***The standings haven't moved since last month.  Dan leads with 66%, Dave and I are tied with 63%, and Landon's in the caboose with 57.5%.  With ten matches there's room for a shakeup.***



WWE Cruiserweight Championship: Cedric Alexander vs. Buddy Murphy


I couldn't point out either of these guys in a lineup and I don't think I've even seen a Buddy Murphy match in my life.  WWE needs to figure out a reason for anyone to care about this division.

Justin: Buddy's from Australia so I'll pick him for the hometown win.
Dan: Sure
Landon: Murphy
Dave: Really, Buddy Murphy?  Jesus.  Sure, Buddy.





Asuka & Naomi vs. The Iiconics


Remember when Asuka was a star?  Good times.  Now she's literally one of the girls.  This company couldn't get someone over if they spent four years building them up and headlined four consecutive WrestleManias with them.  I'm not sure I'll ever forgive how badly they fucked over Asuka.

Justin: Who gives a shit?  Iiconics get a cheap win I guess.
Dan: Iiconics
Landon: Iiconics
Dave: No clue.  Asuka/Naomi.





John Cena & Bobby Lashley vs. Kevin Owens & Elias


Remember when Kevin Owens was a star?  Good times.  Oh wait, I already did that bit.  Owens went from being RAW's top heel for a while to being Elias's sidekick.  Fuck this company.  And fuck this match.

Justin: Cena & Lashley
Dan: Yup
Landon: Cena and Lashley
Dave: Cena & Lashley


Wednesday, October 3, 2018

NJPW King of Pro-Wrestling 2018 Preview & Predictions

Phew, another NJPW show is upon us.  I need a rest.


Anyway, this Monday is New Japan's biggest show of the season traditionally, King of Pro-Wrestling.  Oddly the company decided to hold off on announcing ANY matches for this thing until Fighting Spirit Unleashed was over, thus only giving themselves eight days to hype/sell out this show in a 10,000-seat venue.  Not the route I would've taken, but what do I know?

KOPW is less stacked than I could wish; the four big matches all look great, but the undercard is your standard multi-man tag fare.

So let's get after it...



IWGP Jr. Heavyweight Tag Team Championship: El Desperado & Yoshinobu Kanemaru vs. Jushin Thunder Liger & Tiger Mask

I don't know what happened to this division.  The Bucks leave and it goes straight to hell.  Why Sho & Yoh aren't having a dominant title run right now or at least persistently chasing the champs is beyond me.  So it's the Jr. Suzuki-Gun guys against the two old dudes.  I mean, it'll be entertaining but kind of a fluff match.

Justin: SZGN retains
Landon: Where did this match come from? I haven't been paying too much attention recently, was there build to this? As much as I'd like to see Tiger Mask in a defender's position again, Despy and Kanemaru retain.




Great Bash Heel vs. Juice Robinson & Toa Henare

Not much going on here.  Juice just dropped the US Title so he could use a win.

Justin: Juice & Toa
Landon: I still have no clue why Juice lost the title. The amazing win against Jay White was the most momentum Juice had in his career, but the G1 did more damage than help I think, and losing the belt was a cold stop in my eyes. I guess Juice and Henare win here?