Wednesday, April 30, 2014

5 Fantastic Short Films Available on Youtube

5 Fantastic Short Films Available on Youtube.

By: Brian Cotnoir

Do you like Movies, but find it very difficult to sit through whole film because you’re too busy or don’t have enough time?  Well Fear Not Friends, I am here with the recommendations of 5 Short Films (all under 20 minutes) that you can see and trust me when I say they are some fantastic works of cinema.  As an added bonus, you don’t even need to order them or search through Netflix because they are all available on Youtube—FOR FREE! J.  So why don’t you take some time for yourself and enjoy these 5 Fantastic Short Films Available on Youtube.

1.) Late Bloomer

     Oh how this film makes me laugh.  It’s basically like if H.P. Lovecraft wrote a book about sexual education.  The voice over actor in this film is hilarious the visuals are great, and I just love how the music builds itself up until it reaches the climax.  It is a completely unique take on the Birds and the Bees.  You simply cannot go another second without watching this film.

2.)  The Backwater Gospel

     A dark, grainy and unique animated Short film “The Backwater Gospel” tells an eerie and macabre story of an Undertaker who comes to the small town of Backwater and instills fear into the heart of all its residents.  The town is led by a Power Hungry Preacher, who tries to lead his people through these trying times, but eventually their fear and paranoia get in the way and this small desert town is doomed for destruction.

3.)  Love is All you Need?

     This is a wonderful short Independent film that was inspired by actual stories of kids who were bullied because of their sexual identity.  However, this film takes a unique twist and tells the story from the perspective of what would happen if Gays were viewed as the “Normal” family, and it was the Heterosexuals who were the minority.  In just 20 minutes they pack in a powerful message into a powerful film, and you simply must, MUST see it.

4.)  Un Chien Andalou

     This film has been around since 1928, and was co-written by artist Salvador Dali. This is made in a very early filmmaking technique called “Da Da”.  Da Da is a style of filmmaking that emerged Post World War I that has no definitive plot and lots of absurd and creative imagery.  This is one of those films that every film scholar insists that you must see at least once in your life.  I’m just grateful somebody posted it on Youtube for the masses to enjoy.

5.)  Cashback

     I saw this film in college and it immediately became one of my favorites.  It was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Short film in 2004, and 2 years later, the films writer and director, Sean Ellis, got the funding to turn it into a feature length film.  “Cashback” is one of those films that makes you feel smarter and more sophisticated just by watching it.  And you Harry Potter fans will love this:  It stars the actor who played Oliver Wood in the first two Harry Potter films, Sean Biggerstaff (on an unrelated note, I think his real name would be a great porn star name).

Saturday, April 26, 2014

Character Analysis: Moist

Character Analysis: Moist

By: Brian Cotnoir

     Oh, “Dr. Horrible’s Sing-a-long Blog”, I can’t think of any better way to spend 45 minutes than watching you and singing along to your songs.  It only made sense that I would do a Character Analysis on one of the films memorable characters.  That’s why I chose to do one on Dr. Horrible’s “Evil Moisture Buddy”, Moist!

CHARACTER: Moist from “Dr. Horribles’s Sing-a-long-Blog” (2008)

Moist is the sidekick to the evil genius Dr. Horrible.  He doesn’t create hi-tech gadgets or have any super powers.  He just sweats...a lot; hence the nickname “Moist”.  The film doesn’t give us hardly any background on Moist, but Zack Whedon gives a detailed—albeit a brief—background to the origins of Moist in Dr. Horrible and Other Horrible Stories.  According to comics, Moist was at one point a regular happy boy, who had cracked and dry skin.  When he was 6-years-old his father came home with a plutonium powered humidifier in an attempt to make his skin not so dry and cracked.  The plutonium powered humidifier worked a bit too well to the point where it altered his DNA and now he is forever in a constant state of perspiration.                         
     Eventually Moist would go on to be the Henchman to Dr. Horrible.  When we first see Moist in the film, he is bringing Dr. Horrible his mail, amongst the letters is a letter from Bad Horse; the leader of the Evil League of Evil.  Moist is more than willing to lend his abilities to make things damp or soggy to Dr. Horrible, but the Doctor informs Moist that he must go on his next mission alone.  When Doctor Horrible’s mission fails, he is informed by Bad Horse that the only way to gain entrance into the Evil League of Evil is to commit an assassination.  The Doctor asks Moist if he could ever kill a person.  Moist replies by telling him that he’s “not E.L.E. material” and that “at [his] most bad a$$ he makes people feel like they need a shower”. As loyal as Moist is to Doctor Horrible, he doesn’t look like he could harm a fly (let alone a human)  I think he’s just some loner looking for friendship and he found that friendship in a man almost as pathetic as him.


Actor Simon Helberg
Moist is played by actor Simon Helberg, who is known more popularly as the actor who plays Howard Wolowitz on “The Big Bang Theory”.  Helberg does a very good job with the role.  Unlike, Howard from “The Big Bang Theory” who is more of a comic relief loser character, he plays Moist as more of a sad sympathetic loser character.  To me it didn’t feel like he just playing a revamped version of Wolowitz, Moist felt like a separate character he was playing.  I like how he gave Moist a nasally pitch when he speaks.  He’s not even in the film that much and he leaves quite the impact.  There aren’t any characters in films, television, comics, etc. who are as unique and as great as Moist.


     I definitely feel that Moist is similar to Dougie aka General Disarray from “South Park”.  Both Moist and General Disarray are “henchman” to a loser villain character bent on destroying/ taking over the world and they constantly fail.  Both characters suffer from low-self esteem and I’d even say could both be considered “loners” because they are the only people who would possibly want to associate themselves or with people like Doctor Horrible and Professor Chaos.  Which makes sense because Doctor Horrible and Professor Chaos seem to need Moist and General Disarray as much they need them.  

General Disarray (L) and Professor Chaos (R) from "South Park"

     When Doctor Horrible is accepted into the Evil League of Evil, Moist continues to follow him as his loyal henchman.  We see a brief scene of them robbing bank, and the last we see of Moist there is a girl flirting with him at Dr. Horrible’s Lair.  So it appears that be being associated with Dr. Horrible, Moist has gained some “Bad Boy” credit and he uses those credentials to pick up women.

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

5 Problems I have with "Night of the Cobra Woman"

5 Problems I have with “Night of the Cobra Woman”

By: A. Aleister Sirrat

Hello Friends, Sirrat in the Hat here.  Well, it’s been far too long since I’ve posted a 1970’s exploitation film review so here I am to make it up.  “Night of the Cobra Woman” is a film set in the Philippines that features the story of a woman named Lena who is bitten by a Cobra named Movina.  Instead of killing her with a venomous bite, Movina’s bite gives Lena power and the ability to never age.  But Lena can’t keep her secret hidden forever, and when two American’s wander into her woods, could put her and Movina in danger.  I’ll be perfectly honest this film has a ton of flaws and here are 5 Problems I had with “Night of the Cobra Woman”.

1.) Who the hell is supposed to be the focus of this film?

There are three main characters in the film.  Lena, the Cobra woman, Joanna, the UNICEF worker, and Duff her boyfriend, and yet the film does not take time to focus or develop any of them.  At the beginning of the film it seems like it’s going to be about Lena, then towards the middle it seems like it’s going to be about Joanna, and then for some reason or another they give a large portion of the plot to Duff.  Okay the actress playing Joanna can’t act.  She’s the type of actress who has to an-nun-ci-ate ev-ery sing-le syl-lab-ble of di-a-logue.  Oh and she stammers her lines throughout the film too (really, you couldn’t re-do those scenes?).  The actor playing Duff sounds like he had a full frontal lobotomy and that wouldn’t be so bad, if he didn’t have so many d@mn lines in the film.  Seriously, he has like the 2nd most lines in the film.  Lastly, there’s Lena.  Lena is probably the only character in the film that gives a competent performance, but it’s not enough to save this film

2.) Sloppily edited

     So the version of this film I watched courtesy of Netflix, had the runtime of the film listed at 76 minutes long.  I’ve found it on other sites, that say it’s run time is 85  minutes long, so most likely the version I saw had some parts that were missing, which would explain why the story seemed to jump around a lot, but that’s not all.  The music in “Night of the Cobra Woman” also goes out at points.  You’ll be watching the film, and then the music will be playing in the background, then it’ll be gone for 15-seconds only to start back up again.   The audio quality is some of the worst I’ve ever heard in a film.  It’s just not good at all.

3.) No good sleaze

Skin shedding is not sexy!
     There is no good sleaze in this film, and that’s very disappointing for a film made in 1972.  There are only a few brief topless scenes, and that’s about it.  I was expecting so much more from a film with a title like “Night of the Cobra Woman”.  What’s even more confusing is the parts of the film where Lena has to have sex with a man in order to stop herself from aging (or turning into a snake?)  She looks absolutely horrid, with blemishes all over her body ,and scaly skin that she’s shedding everywhere, and all she has to do is look at a man and he wants to have sex with her?  What are these bloaks stupid or something or are they just closing their eyes and shoving their junk into her underground.  It’s more disgusting than sexy, if you ask me. I guess they were going for a “she has hypnotizing glare like a cobra” thing, but I don’t think they used it properly in the film.

4.) I kept wishing that the Lena in this film was Lina Romay

     Oh every time they said the name Lena in this film, I kept thinking about Lina Romany from “Female Vampire”.  Oh, how I have been spoiled by Lina Romay’s curvaceous body, perfect skin, and dark brown eyes.  Every woman I see in an exploitation film just seems like common rubbish when compared to Lina Romay.  I mean actress Marlene Clark, who plays Lena in “Night of the Cobra Woman”, certainly is not ugly, but yeah...she’s definitely no Lina Romay. L

Sorry, Marlene but my heart belongs to Lina

5.) For a Film called “Night of the Cobra Woman” it takes almost entirely during the day time.

     Yeah, this part made absolutely no sense to me.  The film is called “Night of the Cobra Woman” and yet 95% of the film takes place during the day.  It’s not even like the films story takes place in one day; it takes place across multiple days (possibly even weeks).  So why is it called “Night of the Cobra Woman” when it takes place in more than one day and it’s set almost entirely during the day!  I think the more appropriate and truthful title for this film would’ve been “Sunny Days of the Cobra Woman”.

     So there are 5 Problems I have with “Night of the Cobra Woman”.  I don’t really think I could recommend this film to anyone, it’s just not that good.  Be sure to check out some of my other reviews below and if there’s a 70’s exploitation film you’d like me to check out and review please let me know in the comment section.  Take care now.

                             Sirrat in the Hat \m/

Monday, April 14, 2014

Character Analysis: Aaron Stampler

Character Analysis: Aaron Stampler

By: Brian Cotnoir

CHARACTER: Aaron Luke Stampler from “Primal Fear” (1996)

Aaron Luke Stampler from "Primal Fear"
Aaron Stampler was a young simple boy with a severe stutter that was born in the small town of Cold Creek, Kentucky.  When he was 18-years-old he left home and ended up as a beggar on the streets of Chicago.  It was there Aaron was spotted by Archbishop Rushman, a prominent figure in the City, and was invited to stay at the Savior House.  Even though Aaron was past the maximum allowed age of the Savior House, the Archbishop allowed Aaron to stay and even had him singing in the boys’ chorus.  One day the Archbishop was brutally murdered in his private residence and Aaron is found fleeing the scene covered in the Archbishop’s blood.  The press dubs Aaron as “The Butcher Boy of St. [Michael’s] and it seems like an open and shut case of cold-blooded murder, but Aaron denies that he was the person who killed the Archbishop; he claims he was there when the Archbishop was being murdered, but that someone else did it, and that he “lost the time”.     
Meet Roy
Transforming into Roy
    Aaron reveals to his attorney, Martin Vail, and a psychiatrist that he is prone to blackouts.  It is when Aaron “loses the time” that he wakes up not knowing where he is or how he got there.  It is during one of his video recorded therapy sessions that Aaron becomes very stressed and appears to become a different person.  The psychiatrist believes that Aaron may have Dissociative Identity Disorder (or multiple personalities) a diagnosis that his attorney initially scoffs off, but when Aaron attacks Mr. Vail in the holding cell, he sees Aaron’s true colors.  It here that we are introduced to Roy; a separate personality of Aaron that is his polar opposite.  Where Aaron is quiet, kindhearted, na├»ve, and has a pitiful stutter, Roy is loud, vulgar, and violent (with no stutter).  Roy informs Mr. Vail that it was he who killed the Archbishop because Aaron was too afraid to do it himself.  Roy also helps inform Mr. Vail that the Archbishop was sexually abusing Aaron.  Now, the motive has been established, but can Aaron really be held accountable for something done by a “separate personality”? The rules for pleading guilty by Insanity derive from “M’Naughten’s Rule”:

To establish defense on ground of insanity, it must be proved that at the time committing the act the party accused was laboring under such a defect of reason from disease of the mind as not to know what the nature and quality of the act he was doing.  Or if he did know, that he did not know what he was doing was wrong” (Encyclopedia of Serial Killers Vol. 2 P. 125).

     Aaron’s psychiatrist suggest that his separate personality was brought on by years of abuse: physical abuse at the hands of his father and sexual abuse brought on by Archbishop Rushman.  When Aaron is placed in a stressful situation, is when he switches from Aaron to Roy.  This would totally vouch the validity for not guilty by reason of insanity.   


Actor Edward Norton
The role of Aaron was played by actor Edward Norton.  “Primal Fear” was the first film Norton ever appeared in and he absolutely thrived in this role; he won a Golden Globe for Best Actor in a Supporting Role and even received an Oscar Nomination for Best Supporting Actor.  That’s quite an achievement for your first film role.  What’s even more interesting is how Norton landed the role of Aaron Stampler.  When Norton read for the role of Stampler in his audition he spoke with a severe stutter on purpose.  In the novel in which the film was inspired by Aaron had no stutter.  When the woman running the audition told him that would be enough, he purposely grabbed her and began to act aggressive like Roy.  She was legitimately scared by Norton, and believed her life was in danger.  That is one hell of a way to earn a movie role.


     Aaron was originally a character from William Diehl’s novel “Primal Fear”.  His character is pretty typical for a trial film: he’s the “innocent boy that everyone says is a guilty”.  He’s like a more adult version of the kid on trial for murder in “12 Angry Men”.


Oooh That Smirk!
While in court, Martin Vail puts Aaron on the stand in hopes that he can get Roy to appear. He fails to get Aaron to become Roy, but Janet Venable—the Prosecutor in the trial—manages to get Roy to come out and he attacks her.  Aaron is found not guilty by reason of insanity and sentenced to be sent to a Mental Hospital.  It is after a brief meeting with Mr. Vail, in the holding cell that Aaron reveals that he was faking having a multiple personality the whole time.  Aaron reveals that he murdered the Archbishop and his ex-girlfriend, and that he made up Aaron’s soft-spoken, stuttering personality to fool everyone.     The man who convinced everyone that they were taking advantage of him (his father, the Archbishop, and Mr. Vail), was actually taking advantage of everyone else.  He was not actually a mentally ill person; he was a sociopath with a desire to kill

Aaron, you deceitful little scamp you

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

The Top 5 Best Educators in TV & Movies

The 5 Best Educators in TV & Movies

By: A. Aleister Sirrat

     Hello all, Sirrat in the Hat is back and ready for action.  I am a Teacher.  I love getting to mold young minds.  I like to think that I’m a pretty decent teacher, and that I am able to reach the mind of my students.  I really do have a great job, so this week I have decided to make a list of the Top 5 Best Educators in TV & Movies.  These character’s aren’t limited to just teacher roles, they can be Principals, Guidance Counselors, Substitute Teachers, or anyone involved in the education of young minds.  So please enjoy this list and let me know who are your favorite educators in TV or Movies?

5.) Atticus Murphy Jr, from “Todd & the Book of Pure Evil

Don’t let the sweater vest and porn star moustache, fool you: Atticus Murphy Jr. is a total bad a$$.  For those who’ve never heard of “Todd & the Book of Pure Evil”, it was a Canadian TV series that I would describe as “Buffy the Vampire Slayer for Guys”.  He is the Guidance Counselor at Crowley High School in the fictional Canadian town of Crowley Heights, but at night he is the Hooded Leader of the a Group of Satanists whose sole mission in life is to find the “Book of Pure Evil” so that he can become the “Pure Evil One”.  What’s great about Atticus is that throughout the whole series he was constantly switching allegiances.  In some episodes he was an ally to Todd and his friends, other episodes he was their enemy, in early episodes he was an minion, and in some episodes he was neutral, but no matter what, he was always awesome.  Don’t you wish you’re High School Guidance Counselor would have talked to you about Satan?

4.)  John Keating from “Dead Poets Society

John Keating was the kind of teacher you always hoped you’d get in High School.  He was fun, he was different, he encouraged you to think, and to seize the day.  He was a new type of teacher, with different ideas that went “against the norm”, and thought the schools restrictions on the boys education was ridiculous. He also encouraged his students to take risks, always pursue knowledge, and to live life.  Unfortunately, for many of us we never got the chance to have a teacher like Mr. Keating, which is quite sad.  What student wouldn’t want a teacher who makes the subject matter come to life and is passionate about their job and what they teach?

3.) Professor Terguson from “Back to School

I think everyone has had a History Teacher like Professor Terguson.  When we are first introduced to him he seems like a calm, well-educated College Professor, but if you have a different interpretation of the War in Vietnam than him, then he will verbally berate you in front of the class and tell you why all the reasons you are wrong.  It’s not really touched upon that much in the film, but Professor Terguson does mention (or scream, I should say) to his class that he was a Vietnam Vet, so perhaps he is suffering from some Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder(?)  I don’t know I’m not a medical professional; I only pretend to be one on Tuesdays.  Professor Terguson is played by Comedian Sam Kinison, who was very popular in the 1980’s for his angry screaming comedy.  He is absolutely hilarious in this role.

2.)  Freddie Shoop from “Summer School

Yay, Mark Harmon!
“Summer School” is the story of a High School Gym Teacher who gets forced into being the Substitute Remedial English teacher for a Summer School class on the first day of Summer.  The Principal promises Mr. Shoop that if he takes the job, he will receive Tenure at the school.  Mr. Shoop has no interest in teaching the class (not to mention he’s not even qualified to teach the class), and the students refuse to do any work, so what do they do instead?  Why goof off of course, they go to the beach, they go to an amusement park, they enjoy summer the way it’s supposed to be enjoyed.  This all comes back to bite Mr. Shoop and the students right in a$$, when he is informed by the Principal that the students must past the Standardized English test at the end of the Summer or he will not receive his tenure.  What follows next is a montage of Mr. Shoop and the students working really hard to cram a summers worth of knowledge into a 2-week span, and at the end of all of that...most of the kids still failed the test.  I have to give “Summer School” some credit, they did not go for the Happy Hollywood B.S. ending, but it still ends on a happy point.  Also, be sure to check out Das Film Junkie’s review on the film below.

1.) Mister Feeny from “Boy Meets World

Nineties kids; can I get an Amen on this one?  Has there been any teacher who’s left as profound an impact on all of us as Mr. George Feeny from the Television sitcom “Boy Meets World”?  I don’t think there has been.  Mr. Feeny was the Teacher and Next Door Neighbor to the shows main character, Corey Matthews.  Through, out the series Mr. Feeny was always around to give helpful advice to Corey, his siblings, and friends.  He followed them all from 6th grade all the way to their college years where he served as Teacher, Principal, Professor, Mentor, and Friend.  He is the perfect teacher and I think everyone wishes they would’ve had a teacher like him in their life. 

Friday, April 4, 2014

Character Analysis: The Mayor of Halloween Town

Character Analysis: The Mayor of Halloween Town

By: Brian Cotnoir

Few films have left as big of an impact as Tim Burton’s “The Nightmare Before Christmas”.  Since its release in 1993 it has garnered a cult following worldwide and its story, characters, and songs are known and loved by practically everyone.  Just like “The Rocky Horror Picture Show”, this is one of those films that has more memorable and likable characters than you can count, so once again I asked my friends who they thought I should write a Character Analysis on.  I was fully expecting to get an overwhelming amount of requests for Jack Skellington, Sally, or Oogie Boogie, but much to my surprise my friends began suggesting I do one of the secondary characters from the film.  Then the next problem was I had no repeat requests until 2 days after I asked them for their opinions.  The Mayor of Halloween Town, one by a single vote that broke a 5-way about close Election results, right?

CHARACTER: The Mayor of Halloween town from “The Nightmare Before Christmas” (1993)

The Mayor of Halloween Town
The Mayor of Halloween Town (or Mayor, as most of the residents refer to him as) is the Mayor of the fictional Halloween Town.  He has a distinctive appearance; he’s short, portly, with a giant cone-shaped head.  He has two faces, one face that’s flesh colored and always smiling, and the other is a pale colored with a melancholy expression.  His outward appearance varies depending on what mood he is in.  The fact that he is able to switch his moods at the drop of a hat suggests that he may be suffering from some type of bipolar disorder or possibly suffering from Manic Depression.  When he is happy he is a man who is passionate about his job and loves the town he represents and he does everything he can to appease its residents. When he sad, he’s very dreary, and you hear a sense of hopelessness in his voice. When something doesn’t go the way he had hoped or planned he plunges into a deep sorrow and begins to act like the world is over. You also get the sense that the two separate faces could imply that he is paranoid (and a bit anal retentive).  I mean the day after Halloween, he’s on Jack’s doorstep because “the next Halloween is only 364 Days a away”.  I mean, for crying out loud give the man a break he still has plenty of time before he needs to start planning for next Halloween.                                         
    Even though he is the Mayor of Halloween Town he doesn’t appear to be the person in charge.  The Mayor is very loyal and at times appears to be subservient to Jack Skellington aka The Pumpkin King, which I believe is more of a nickname rather than an actual Title.  Seriously, what other Mayor’s do you know of that would let of its residents dictate all that goes on in town?  It appears that The Mayor gives Jack so much freedom in Halloween Town in order to find favoritism with Jack and inter the Town’s residents as well.


The Mayor of Halloween Town is voiced by actor Glenn Shadix.  Shadix had two distinctive voices for The Mayor.  He speaks with a deep authoritative baritone when he is happy and singing and when he is sad he has a mildly high-pitched sorrowful whine that almost sounds like he’s crying as he talks.  I think Shadix’s voice for The Mayor of Halloween Town sounds similar to Thurl Ravenscroft’s voice from “How the Grinch Stole Christmas” (1957).  This was the second time that Shadix has appeared in one of Tim Burton’s projects.  Before supplying the voice of The Mayor in “The Nightmare Before Christmas”, Shadix played Otho Fenlock in Tim Burton’s “Beetlejuice”.  Tragically, Glenn Shadix died in 2010 from blunt trauma after he fell at his condominium in Birmingham, Alabama.


If re-elected I promise you all....NOTHING!
When I first saw The Mayor of Halloween Town’s two faces, I initially thought that he was supposed to a take-on the Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde character, but they actually have very little in common.  The Mayor’s personalities are just happy and sad as opposed to Jekyll & Hyde which are Nice & Mean.  Upon further research I did on The Mayor’s character I discovered he inspired by actual politicians.  The Mayor’s two faces are a play-on of the expression “Two-faced Politicians”.  That’s really clever actually.  However, I think they could’ve done so much more with this character.  I think with a few changes to the story they very easily could’ve made the Mayor the villain to the story.                                                    
    Like my idea would be to make this “two-faced politician” similar to Jekyll & Hyde, and the happy bright face could represent him pretending that he likes Jack, and his other face could secretly hate that Jack is always upstaging him and is more well liked than him, and he could use Jack’s desire to takeover Christmas as a ploy to try to get Jack out of Halloween Town forever.  That’s just a thought I had.


Look at picture i drew for you, Jack.  Do you like it?
After believing that Jack was blown up by the Humans for ruining Christmas, The Mayor sank into a deep depression claiming he knew that the Christmas was  bad idea the whole time.  When he was informed by Lock, Shock, and Barrel that Jack is alive and being held captive—along with Sally and Santa Clause—by the Boogey Man.  The Mayor rushes to save them and arrives with Lock, Shock, and Barrel right after Jack vanquishes The Boogey Man.  The Mayor helps free the three captives and drives them back to town for a triumphant welcome home.  As Santa Clause departs Halloween Town, it begins to snow there for the first time ever, and as soon as the Mayor catches a snowflake on his tongue he is overwhelmed with delight.  If I had to guess where he is now, I’d bet you he’s still The Mayor of Halloween Town.