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Reefer Madness (1936)

Reefer Madness (1936)

The motion picture you are about to witness may startle you. It would not have been possible, otherwise, to sufficiently emphasize the frightful toll of the new drug menace which is destroying the youth of America in alarmingly increasing numbers. Marihuana is that drug - a violent narcotic - an unspeakable scourge - The Real Public Enemy Number One! Its first effect is sudden violent, uncontrollable laughter, then come dangerous hallucinations - space expands - time slows down, almost stands still... fixed ideas come next, conjuring up monstrous extravagances - followed by emotional disturbances, the total inability to direct thoughts, the loss of all power to resist physical emotions... leading finally to acts of shocking violence... ending often in incurable insanity. In picturing its soul- destroying effects no attempt was made to equivocate. The scenes and incidents, while fictionized for the purposes of this story, are based upon actual research into the results of Marihuana addiction. If their stark reality will make you think, will make you aware that something must be done to wipe out this ghastly menace, then the picture will not have failed in its purpose... Because the dread Marihuana may be reaching forth next for your son or daughter... or yours... or YOURS!

At its time, Reefer Madness was probably one of (if not the) most controversial movie ever to be released. The movie follows the events that unfold in one apartment, where a group of people gather together to smoke reefer, and how with time it all gets out of control... it's about marijuana, the menace to society, the public enemy #1, but fast forward to modern time and these threat levels will probably seem drastically exaggerated, and dopily portrayed, too.

It's an old movie yes, which is definitely reflected in the lack of motion between scenes, the strange way the people talked (get with the times right?), the tenser style of acting and cliche way to portray certain events, not to mention the take on the topic itself, but at the same time it does feature some pretty creative angles to capture darker scenes, and hallucinations, falls out windows, etc... it bugs me a bit that the characters portrayed all showcase an unjustified form of insanity as soon as they smoke just a little bit of that reefer, but I watched this more to have watched the classic it is, not so much to experience something authentic by modern standard, and as such I took the time to appreciate the filmography, and choreography, that made it what it was: an unconventional and for it's time highly creative film.

Keep in mind that this movie is eighty years old at this point! That's old. Filming capabilities were limited then, so if you do give this one a shot you'd better appreciate it for what it was: a work of art. Or for a laugh.

If you have a hard time doing either maybe best watch something a bit more modern, like the musical 2005 incarnation with the same name that seems to parody the elements of old rather than try to portray the threat in as serious a way as they do here. It doesn't work as well now, but I'm trying to imagine what it must've been like to watch this back when it was all new.

Maybe a documentary would've stood the test of time better, since the introductory scene where they show what types of devices drugs have been smuggled in was maybe the most interesting part. They show the drugs too. It's a small but interesting glimpse into how they handled the poisons of their time, though claiming this to be a bigger threat than all of the highly addictive synthetic variants of the time, like heroine... well, I'm glad this propaganda didn't work as well as it was meant to. I'm glad we've grown to new heights of cultural integrity and know-how since the thirties.

Yet maybe reefer was a whole different kind of drug back in the old days too. Stronger? More potent? Maybe people reacted to it differently then, than they do today? It'd be interesting to know if the research of old is entirely disapproved at this point, or if some change actually occurred somewhere along the line.

I watched both the colorized and the original version of this btw, and they're both interesting in their own way. I'd say go for color if you can, as they have an interesting way of coloring the smoke, and work on the hallucinations a bit more than the original. A different shade of a classic; a little bit closer to reality, I reckon. Curious how they do that in the next one.

Overall a good watch.

 rated 3/5: not bad

Never Back Down 2 - The Beatdown (2011)

Never Back Down 2 - The Beatdown (2011)

Michael Jai White! Both directed by and in a large role representing. Anything with that guy's great, though compared to the first... for a while I was thinking it'd pretty much just be the same thing again but with an updated cast.

It proved me wrong. They took the fights to the next level here. It's sped up a bit noticeably sometimes, but the choreography overall is off the charts, with pop punk rock music blasting while they bash each other down.

The cast btw: Dean Geyer, Alex Meraz, Todd Duffee and Scottie Epstein make up the most of them, and one of them is actually a real MMA fighter in this one! Guess who? The guy who only ever (so far) starred in just this one movie. Evan Peters from the last one is back too, and Jillian Murray is the main girl now. I miss some of the old cast though.

It's an uplifting fight movie just like the last, with a bit more serious tone, and they're out of school this time too. Whole new world. Wonder where they'll bring it after this.

With a little less messy character introductions, cliche beginnings and reusing the Beatdown title I'd probably go high five here. But it's a heavy, solid:

 rated 4/5: fo shizzle

...turns out I'd already seen and reviewed the final bit of the trilogy, but I'll give it another shot was well and give it a new write-up here.

Never Back Down (2008)

Never Back Down (2008)

A frustrated and conflicted teenager arrives at a new high school to discover an underground fight club and meet a classmate who begins to coerce him into fighting.

It's a typical story. Teenage boy has a troubled youth, moves to a new town, starts at a new school, meets a girl, runs in on an arranged fight, gets set up by the girl and looses to her violent boyfriend.

The girl feels bad and says sorry, but he can't forgive her so he and Max start training at a gym run by Jean Roqua (Djimon Hounsou). Add in some uplifting pop music, intense training sessions, contemplations, complicated relations and one big showdown aaand there you have it.

And it's good! It has both pace and punch, not to mention personality. It's the first and foremost of the franchise, and most certainly why they made the rest of them.

Sean Faris and Cam Gigandet are good adversaries, Evan Peters a good sidekick, and there's Amber Heard again - the girl I'm starting to rec... no wait, that's a different girl. Was thinking of Maika Monroe.

I've seen the movie before, I realized when it started, and I thought that'd make me want to skim but... this just isn't one of those movies. It keeps the pace. You don't want to miss a second, not the action nor the relation stuff. And it all works out! The story may be basic but it's a solid movie by all measures. Good fights and... well, it's not just the fights. Good watch.

 rated 4/5: fo shizzle

Breaking In (2018)

Breaking In (2018)

A mother and her two children drive out to her dad's vacation home to clean it up before the estate is sold.

He's dead.

It'd seem like a pretty normal scenario if it wasn't for the fact that we saw how he died at the start of the movie, and it wasn't from natural causes.

Their getting to the house goes alright, but once they're all settled in a few bad guys show up. The kids get locked in the house with them, the mother outside, and it all turns into a cat and mouse game of who gets who, who's capable of hurting the other the most, and what everyone really wants, so the other side can use that against them.

There's a lot of running, and hiding, and scenes which are almost more horror than thriller, but I feel like somewhere along the line they lose their shit. They stop making sense. The devious criminals no longer make the best decisions, the mother keeps pushing forward more by will than skill, and the kids are there in the sidelines... and of course, all this takes place at night so there's plenty of darkness (not as visually appealing).

It kept me on my toes, so you know it was pretty suspenseful, but it could have held a better red thread, and reasons, and a better mapped-out layout as they all make their way through the house. It's like a maze. And this is a one-location movie after all so the location's a pretty important part. I'd like to give this a four but... more like a three? Yeah. I think so.

Also, just an observation: seems there's more and more movies lately with black people as the protagonists, and white guys as the others. Guess the tides are turning; racial neutrality's going with the times!

 rated 3/5: not bad

Hush (1998)

Hush (1998)

Turns out the old movie with the same name wasn't anything like the new one at all! It does start in a similar way, with a couple in a car, but that's about as far as the similarities go. They're always on good terms too, and though they do start to separate during the duration of the movie they never draw apart entirely...

It's about a girl, who meets a boy, who then go to live with his mother on their home farm... only to find out that the mother's hiding some old skeletons in the closet, manipulating her surrounding and creating an atmosphere like... well, you'll see.

It's atmospheric. The scenery's rich too, like the old days. Good actors, good scenery and a good ending (take that as you may). It's a solid thriller all the way through.

 rated 4/5: fo shizzle

Hush (2008)

Hush (2008)

A guy and a girl are riding down the highway one dark, rainy night, when the guy catches a glimpse of a naked girl in a cage in a truck in front of them. But he's not sure. They call the police but can't see the plate, and it all runs into the sand a bit; other relationship drama takes over.

Then they stop at a gas station, the guy goes to the bathroom, the girl disappears... and now is when it starts getting grimy. She doesn't come back, but he sees the truck in the parking lot just as it starts to drive away, and in the surveillance room a third party makes themselves known...

He chases after her first by hunch and soon by enforced conviction, and though there's not much high speed action (none, actually), it keeps the intensity high all the way. He steals cars, and sneaks, and snoops around, and finally chases the kidnapper to his final destination...

The atmosphere's the best part. It's heavy, lucid and frantic. The characters act out their desperation well, and though some of the close calls fall to cliche (the bad guy's looking under the truck, looking further under the truck... finally looking under the truck for real, and suddenly the good guy's managed to make it to the front of the truck), the tension really keeps you glued in. It's uncomfortable from start to finish, and that's something you can't say about most of these movies these days. Just wait for the twist too. The twist? There's plenty of them.

I should mention this all takes plane in the UK, it seems. Makes for a refreshingly bleak kind of setting for a thriller doesn't it. Solid work.

It appears this movie came out 10 years after a movie with the same name btw. Bout to watch that one next! Maybe they're related...

 rated 4/5: fo shizzle

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