Recently by The Vern

Bad Moms Blu-ray Review: Factory-made Comedy

A quick tour of how movies for a general audience are made.
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Hello, everyone, and welcome to the movie factory. I am your tour guide, The Vern, and on this journey, I will be describing how movies are made for a general audience. It's important when you make one of these features to reach the widest demographic possible. If anyone says your film was original or even daring, you will have failed as a filmmaker for this particular niche market. The movie that we are going to be exploring while in this building is the 2016 comedy Bad Moms. It was made for a budget of $20 Million and ranked in close

TCFF 2016 Review: Funeral Day

If you are selfish and only think of yourself, good things will happen to you.
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All of us deal with the notion of death in different ways. When someone close to us dies, we begin thinking about our own lives and what we can do to better ourselves. When my friend Mike died from an unexpected heart attack, I was devastated. It was at that moment our carefree, fun-loving partying days were over and our adulthood was starting. I know this is a thing that is suppose to happen when we get older. Yet, this is something I wanted to experience more in my late 40s rather than my mid 30's. As much as I

TCFF 2016 Review: The Babymoon

Pregnancy has no limits in this very fun comedy adventure.
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This was one movie I had little interest in seeing at the Twin Cities Film Fest. What could be so fascinating about watching a couple on a vacation in some sort of luxury hotel? The trailer made the husband out to be a certain kind of feminine hygiene product. While the wife behaved in a way that rhymes with the word "runt". Why would I care if some political rebels kidnapped the dude while the wife goes looking for him? The trailer had moments that made me laugh, but nothing about it made me excited to be spending two hours

TCFF 2016 Review: Lake Runs Red

A non-linear horror movie.
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College students Lauren (Kaci Wegleitner) and Melissa (Lauren Morris) are on thier way to spend a weekend with Lauren's parents at their lake house. They brought thier swim suits, they brought their shades, and they brought along some creepy guy who has been following them for the enitre trip. Who is this guy and what does he want with them? It's pretty clear that Bruce (C.J. Devaan) has no desire to hang out the lake and relax with Lauren and Melissa unless it's with their blood on him. When I saw the trailer for this, I was very impressed. It

TCFF 2016 Review: Iron Will: A Veteran's Battle with PTSD

Iron Will shatters perceptions and shows men who are going through very normal behaviors when dealing with such heavy things.
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Post Traumatic Stress Disorder or PTSD is something many people may recognize but few seldom really know. When I first heard the word, the image that popped into my head was of Apocalypse Now when Martin Sheen was in the hotel room before his mission started. Most of us associate the word as something veterans get for being in the war too long. The common stereotype I can think of, and this is a totally made up scenario, let's say you're at a family dinner and your uncle, who is a Vietnam vet, asks what everyone wants to eat. Cousin

The Unspoken Movie Review: Don't Speak

Some good acting can't save this paint-by-the-numbers horror feature.
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Sometimes when watching a horror movie, I find myself laughing at moments most people would find frightening. Is this because I'm just using this as a defense strategy because I'm actually really scared or am I just a sick person who enjoys watching people suffer? Well, that last statement could be true, but it depends on who is being punished. The real reason why I laugh is because certain situations become so ridiculous when it's supposed to be taken seriously that my natural reaction is to laugh. I want to sit down and become fully engaged in the world that

Nerve Blu-ray Review: Candid Camera 2016

The concept is fascinating, but it would have worked better in the late '90s than it does here.
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We live in an age where everyone can record anything and with a good wifi connection, be seen by everyone. There is this strange urge to post everything we do in hopes it will get more "like"s and more followers because that has become our currency today. It no longer matters how much money you make or what your career is. It's how many Facebook friends and Twitter followers you have. Why do we feel that it's important to post everything that we do? I think it's mainly because we are scared of being forgotten. We only have a short

Dead-End Drive-In Blu-ray Review: The Australian Escape From New York

This ozploitation feature could have been a spinoff in the Mad Max universe.
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It's difficult to decipher what will become a cult classic and what will end up being a major dud in this age of social-media marketing. Any film that gets released has the potential to be the next Rocky Horror Picture Show. Technically speaking, Sharknado is considered by many to be a cult favorite and I would both agree and disagree with that statement. I agree that audiences are the ones who get to choose what movies will eventually be part of this category. Where I disagree is that cult films are not instant, they just don't happen over night. Sometimes

The Bloodstained Butterfly Blu-ray Review: A Giallo Version of Zodiac

Arrow Video releases Duccio Tessari's classic giallo film in a stunning new Blu-ray edition.
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I must start off this review with a confession. The only giallo (supernatual/mystey films that were usually made in Italy) movies I have ever seen were Suspiria and this one. There was a foreign film section at the video store when I was younger. But they never had such original titles like A Suitcase for a Corpse, The Night Evelyn Came Out of the Grave ,or my favorite, Kill the Fatted Calf and Roast It. I'm not sure if they come up with the title first and then write the script, but these titles are awesome. Even the name of

Crimes of Passion Blu-ray Review: The Double Life of a Working Girl

Ken Russell's controversial sexual thriller gets a new life in this Arrow re-release.
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The name Ken Russell usually doesn't get mentioned along the ranks of other stylized filmmakers like Kubrick, Cronenberg, Anderson, and Lynch, yet his somewhat trippy-looking films have been an influence for many fellow film buffs so that when you watch one of his movies you start to think you've seen the shots used before but don't remember where. The prolific director has made such films as The Who's Tommy (musical), Altered States (sci-fi/horror), and The Music Lovers (comedy/drama). His 1984 feature Crimes of Passion can fit into many subgenres. It's an erotic drama, a tense psycho sexual thriller, and also

RiffTrax Live: MST3K Reunion Review: A Complete Blast

Watching educational videos has never been this fun.
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While watching movies in Brooklyn Park, Minnesota, with my friends, we would occasionally crack a few jokes at the screen if a character did something that we thought was incredibly stupid. This worked really well whenever we watched a horror movie, because people were always doing something dumb in one of those flicks. Especially the ones we watched in the '90s. None of us could have imagined that just a few suburbs over in the city of Hopkins, talented people would take the task of making fun of bad movies and turn it into an art form. Mystery Science Theater

Book Review: The Nice Guys: The Official Movie Novelization by Charles Ardai

Enjoyable adaptation of the crime comedy that gives readers a new slant on the movie.
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I know it may be difficult for some of you to understand, but there was a time when home entertainment wasn't on demand. When a movie left theaters, the only way you could watch something at home is when TV stations would air them. This would result in the film being edited for content or time. Think about it, there was no Internet so you couldn’t stream anything. There wasn’t even any DVDs, Blu-rays or VHS for that matter. The only way people were able to enjoy their favorite movies at their leisure was through novelizations. When done right, the

The Damned: Don't You Wish That We Were Dead Movie Review: Behind the Punk Music

This movie should have more rocking and less talking.
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When you hear the words "punk music," the first names that pop up are usually The Sex Pistols, The Clash, or The Ramones. In recent years, there were bands like My Chemical Romance, Good Charlotte, and Fall Out Boy joining the ranks. I’m sorry, but it’s hard to consider these bands as punk. There are way better bands that don’t get any exposure but should, groups like Catbath, Fuzzy Machete, Rapedoor, Breed, and TsuShiMaMiRe. One band that helped start the punk movement and the one that recorded the very first album was The Dammed. However, they never got much credit

Hired To Kill Blu-ray Review: The A-Team's Project Runway

An awesome action movie premise suffers from lack of any real interesting characters.
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There is a podcast I listen to called The Lair of the Unwanted that focuses on B movies and cult films. Between segments, hosts Jason Soto and Scott Nolahn create fake trailers. One of them featured fashion consultant Tim Gunn as a trained mercenary hired to take out the terrorists. It’s a very clever few minutes of audio which you can hear on their episode for Gamera 3. The basic plot for Hired to Kill sounds like a fake trailer itself. A mercenary posing as a famous fashion designer goes to a South America with an army of women soldiers

The Stuff Blu-ray Review: Once Is More Than Enough

A creature feature that would work much better today than it would back in 1985.
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When I was a kid, there was a new type of desert that had everyone talking. It was called TCBY (aka the country’s best yogurt) and I remember there being centers all around the midwest. Okay, maybe not the entire midwest but there was more than one restaurant in Brooklyn Park, Minnesota, which is where I grew up. Everyone flocked to this place to try this yogurt and I remember it being very good. I also recall one night as I was eating some of it before bedtime. My dad told me about this movie he’s seen called The Stuff

MSPIFF 2016 Review: Alena

A stylish thriller that combines both Let The Right One In and Carrie.
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Bullying is one of those issues the media and the public have been ranting about in the last few years. Now that’s not to say there should not be any discussion on the subject. I just think this whole thing gets very little results. Not everyone is going to like you and no group meet-ups or tweet outs is going to change that. When you are faced with a bully, there are a few options. You can either stand up to them or you can run away. Another choice is to do what our main character does and just let

The Lady in the Van Blu-ray Review: Impound This Vehicle

Maggie Smith as a one-note character is the only good thing in this very droll comedy.
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When watching a movie, there are some things that are good to reveal about a character right away and some things that should be left toward the third act. How would we respond as viewers, if for example in the movie Psycho, Norman Bates was seen wearing his mother’s clothing and then we cut to the moment when he first meets Marion. It would feel a bit out of place and that is how I felt when I watched this movie. At the very start, we see an elderly lady driving away from one of the most backwards cops ever

MSPIFF 2016 Review: Here Comes The Videofreex

A very interesting portrait of a group that made an impact in our lives but have never been recognized for it until now.
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Now that everyone can post all sorts of videos on the internet today, it’s easy to take the technology we use for granted. Anyone with a cell phone can now be considered a journalist. They just have to be at the right place at the right time or the wrong time depending on what the occasion is. I remember when the beating of Rodney King first aired and how it sparked a revolution/riot. People were talking and debating about that tape for a long time. In my mind, I thought that this was the first time independent video got into

MSPIFF 2016 Review: Norman Lear: Just Another Version Of You

The creator of television's greatest hits is the focus in this great documentary.
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Before I explain anything about Norman Lear or this documentary, I feel that It’s important to give a quick, little lesson on early TV programs. Most of the sitcoms that were made in the early '50s were ones that did not reflect society but were ones a lot of people thought society wanted to be. Shows like Ozzie and Harriet and Leave it To Beaver showed a very idealistic way the moral majority viewed the American family. Most of the problems involved simple things like the boss coming over for dinner and little Jimmy cheating on a test. All that

Rage of Honor Blu-ray Review: Sho and Kill

An enjoyable, albeit very predictable, martial arts action movie.
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Late one night, I decided to pop in this Blu-ray. I knew nothing about this movie except that ninjas were somehow involved. When the menu screen appeared, I was introduced to a very cheesy, but perfect '80s theme song. Oh, how thrilled I was to know that the same track would be used for the opening credits. During the credits, we are shown a party on a boat where people are getting high and dancing around. It looks like a lot of fun, but soon a police officer by the name Shiro Tanaka (our main protagonist and star of this

Tokyo ESP: The Complete Series Blu-ray Review: Battle of The Minds

Psychics battle each other in this anime series where the villains are just as compelling as its heroes.
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Tokyo ESP is an anime series based on the manga created by Hajime Sagawa. It begins when a group of people with psychic abilities aka ESPers take control of a government building and begin killing people. They demand that all of humanity begin to worship them otherwise a lot more people are going to get hurt. There are rumors that there is still hope. The one called "The White Girl" will save them all. Meanwhile, high-school student Rinka Urushiba wakes up to discover that she can move between solid objects. In trying to understand her new powers, she meets several

Hangman (2015) Blu-ray Review: Watching Home Movies

A cry baby stalks the blandest family in this found-footage feature.
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Unlike a lot of people I know, I don’t mind the found-footage genre. The first Paranormal Activity and Man Bites Dog uses it really well. I have yet to see Unfriended, but have heard good things about it. When used right, these films can make you feel like you’re experiencing these events, firsthand. When used incorrectly, you just feel like you’re just watching some boring home movie. Hangman falls into the latter category. Here is the main concept. A masked man with no real motives breaks into a home while a family is away on vacation. While there, he sets

Intruders (2015) DVD Review: This Generation's Wait Until Dark

If you think this is going to be just another home-invasion story, please come on in.
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The home-invasion genre is one that can be enjoyable with gems like Funny Games or Panic Room. But it can also become very old very fast with titles like The Purge or The Strangers. Lately, there have been some rather good ones that have taken this concept and have done new and exciting things with it. You’re Next is one that most horror fans will recommend, but the one that has also gotten a lot of praise but not really discussed much is The Intruders. I must make a statement before I begin this review. It’s really best to go

The Martian Movie Review: Lost in Space

Director Ridley Scott and writer Drew Goddard show us a crowd pleasing blockbuster.
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Of all the nominees for Best Picture at the 2016 Academy Awards; The Martian is the only one that most everyone has seen. Yes, even more than Mad Max Fury Road. That one is indeed a movie lovers’ wet dream. But, most general audiences could care less about an apocalyptic road trip However, this one about an astronaut who gets left behind on Mars is the movie that everyone and their grandma has seen. From the trailers released you would just think that it was just like any other movie where someone gets stranded like Castaway or 127 hours. Either

Heaven Knows What Movie Review: Step into the Shoes of a Former Heroin Addict

Arielle Holmes gives a frightening and cathartic performance based on her personal memoirs.
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Remember the old saying, ”You can never truly know a person until you walk a mile in their shoes”? Well, I walked around for a few hours in this movie's lead character’s shoes and I still don’t have a better understanding now then when I first started. I did learn that drug users go through a lot of work just to get their fix. To be fair, I got the same idea from other movies such as, Requiem for a Dream, Trainspotting, and Panic in Needle Park. What makes Heaven Knows What stand out from all those is the realism

Howard the Duck Movie Review: It's Not as Bad as You Think

A look back at one of Marvel Comics' first big-screen adaptations.
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As I’m sure most of you already know. Movies have and will always be one of those forms of entertainment that we will have different opinions on. What you think is the best movie ever, will have someone out there disagreeing. That may not be the case with today’s selection. Howard The Duck has a 14% rating on Rotten Tomatoes and was nominated for seven Golden Raspberry Awards. It’s been regarded as one of the worst movies ever made, but is it that bad? 2001: A Space Odyssey also got bad reviews when it first opened and that movie is

It Follows Movie Review: A Horror Movie to Think About

Our own mortality is the most scariest creature of all.
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It Follows has the most terrifying premise when you stop to really think about it. Many people will mock and laugh at the concept of a girl who is slowly being hunted by an ominous being after having sex. Yet, this is the same concept used in countless other horror movies. What happens to most kids when they have sex in these kinds of films? They end up getting killed by some guy in a mask swinging a machete. Now what if you take this same concept of being stalked by a thing whose sole purpose is to kill you,

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