Rebound (2014)


It starts out with Claire just staring mindlessly at the TV.  She is clearly a little hefty, but based on later shots, she is seems to have been de-glammed even more for these shots — like an overweight Chloe from 24.

She is intermittently flashing back to a sepia afternoon when she caught her husband having some delight with another woman rode her boyfriend cowgirl style.

The camera slowly zooms in on the other woman’s face so intensely, and the way she refuses to avert her gaze or be embarrassed at being busted, it leads you to think there are going to be some fangs-a-poppin’ soon.  In fact, through-out the credits we continue to see them humping — is Claire still watching?  Why does the woman frequently look directly at the camera?  Is Claire still there?  No, so it is just baffling.

rebound03After a gratuitous, yet welcome cry, demurely naked in the shower, she tells her best friend she is moving home to Chicago.  Her friend thinks the move is irrational and says, “When Steve and I broke up, I lost like 20 pounds.”  Suddenly this breakup sounds very rational for Claire to me.

On her way to Chicago, a 3-day drive, she pulls into an Interstate Rest Stop which is as disgusting as an Interstate Rest Stop (although not as bad as Rest Stop). It is plenty disturbing with a crazy woman sitting on the filthy floor, and disgusting stalls. As soon Claire finds one tolerable enough to take a seat in, the crazy woman bangs on the door screaming, “Got any toilet paper?”  That’s enough for Claire to hold it in for a few more miles, but later realizes she has lost her phone in the rest room — so that is trope is taken care of.

If the day can’t get any worse, her car gets a flat tire (maybe) and she coasts to the side of the road.  She opens the trunk and unloads the 3 boxes that she apparently brought into this relationship.  Then she opens the hood.  So it’s not clear what is wrong with the car. She does, however, take this opportunity to pee shielded by the car — standing up, I might add.

She flags down a car, and we learn that the car just stalled.  Creepy guy Gus[1] stops and she accepts a ride with him to town for a hotel and mechanic.  Gus at least gets her to Eddie’s Garage without killing her, so that’s good.

While Eddie is towing her car back, she falls asleep and this time flashes back to catching her boyfriend cheating again.  This time, he is on top of the woman — how the hell long did she watch? Or are these just obsessive little hallucinations she’s having?  Maybe that’s why the other woman always has a bra on.

Her timing belt is shot and will cost $600 to fix.  She reluctantly but blatantly offers herself to Eddie in exchange for a discount, but he graciously offers to not charge for Labor or the Tow — so, what a swell guy.  Their paths cross again in the local bar where the mechanic, the bartender and every customer is somehow menacing. Especially the one who slipped the rufie into her drink while she was making a call at the last pay-phone in America.

rebound08She wakes up in the garage gagged and tied to a chair.  When she won’t answer a few simple questions, he takes a Zippo to her fingers.  He unties her hands and hands her a knife.  He tells her to pretend her leg is her cheating husband, and STAB herself — and that if she doesn’t do a sufficient job, he’ll stab the other one. So there’s a chance this guy might be crazy.

He makes her wipe all the make-up off her face.  Then he cuts her hair.  After she dips her fingers in acid to remove the nail polish, she pretends to like him and appreciate his beauty tips, fearing a waxing is next.

rebound11She does seduce him into untying her, and her plan is working out pretty well until an ill-timed visit by the gruff but lovable Gus, just checking up on the girl he helped earlier. Things don’t go so well for Gus, but Claire has time to grab a mallet and start pounding away at Eddie.  What happens next is an interesting twist on a couple of horror tropes, worthy of not being spoiled.

My expectations started out very low as Ashley James did not seem to be much of an actress.  I think part of this was due to the constantly underestimated importance of sound recording in a movie.  Also, over the past year, I’ve noticed a lot of actresses that are mediocre in simple dialogue scenes, but can really bring it when the action and emotions ramp up.

rebound12As writer-director, Megan Freels pretty much gets the blame or credit for everything — this is her joint. Story-wise, it was nothing original, but did take an unusual turn at the end which I appreciated.  It was effectively scored with nice track that followed her, but did not get insane when the action did — and no stingers!

The casting also worked, especially with Ashley James as a woman who was not classically beautiful and had a few extra pounds, but also was pretty enough to think 3 years ago maybe she had a shot in Hollywood.  Some of the local folk were a little over-the-top, but who doesn’t love creepy small-town folk suspicious of a new single woman passing through.

My only very minor criticism of Ms. Freels — girl loves her close-ups.  It seems like I was constantly noticing that the camera was pushed in so close that the tops of heads were lopped off (and not in the good way).

But if that is the only thing I can complain about, it’s a success.   Well-produced, well-performed proof that you can make a simple but effective movie on the cheap. I was never once bored.


  • Title Analysis: At first I didn’t get it, but ultimately, I connected the multiple meanings.  Nice touch.
  • It always bothers me that people on screen almost never sweat when being tortured.  I don’t know why that would necessarily occur, but it seems like it would happen.  Also, characters are usually way too blase when a limb is chopped off.
  • Megan Freels is the grand-daughter of Elmore Leonard.  The only thing I ever read of his is Fire in the Hole, a collection of short stories which I remember being very good.  Of course, him being universally revered, who gives a shit what I think?
  • [1] Creepy Guy being defined as a guy who doesn’t look like George Clooney or Brad Pitt, yet has the audacity to speak to a woman out of his league.

Alfred Hitchcock Presents – The Return of the Hero (03/02/58)

The scene:  Wartime France.  Hitchcock’s opening and closing remarks are very subdued this week due to the gravity of the story.  This isn’t ordinary Americans being killed after all, it’s . . . well, more on that later.

Gendarme, stop that man -- he has no baguette!

Gendarme, stop that man — he has no baguette!

Cafe owner Leon is forcing his daughter into a marriage with the butcher.  Therese has her eye on the salami of a soldier named Sgt. Andre, though, and is heartbroken by his discharge; I mean, that he as been discharged.

Andre’s friend Marcel is telling a barfly how he saved Andre’s life.  He tells her Andre is rich and engaged to a baroness.

Andre is much more humble and honest, telling Therese that a few kisses in the dark meant nothing, that a soldier needs a girl, it was never going to last past Marseilles.  She tells him she wants to be with him anyway, to look after him.  He brutally says he  wants to get back to his family.

ahpreturnofthehero02Meanwhile Marcel is still talking up Andre to the barfly — how he has a yacht, has a winning racehorse. One of the disbelievers at the bar calls Andre’s mother to verify Marcel’s stories.  Andre takes the phone and tells his mother — now seen in an evening gown at a glamorous party — that he will be home in 2 days.

BTW, the Countess is played by Iphigenie Castiglioni; I wonder if that is the same Iphigenie Castiglioni that was in Hitchcock’s Rear Window?

He says he invited a friend to come home with him.  He assures them all that he is fine, but his friend has lost a leg in the war.  His family, the snooty society folk are aghast! The friend has not had time to get a prosthetic leg, so he will have to walk on crutches or — avert your eyes, ladies — a wheelchair!

His fiancee says, “That’s terrible!  To bring a cripple in here.  He won’t fit in.”  Well, we really can’t judge her until we measure the doors.

Andre’s mother sympathetically is only thinking of his poor friend.  She says he is welcome, but “don’t you think it will be a little awkward?  He won’t be able to ride, or swim, or dance — he will be so out of it!”

When Andre says the man saved his life, his mother promises the best life for him . . . just so it’s not too close to the family.  They will be happy to send him to Switzerland to recuperate, but “don’t bring him home!  Not Now!  It would be so depressing having such an unfortunate boy around.”

ahpreturnofthehero04After the call, he tells Marcel that he can’t take him home with him now, because he is not going home.  He tells Therese to marry the butcher and lead a long and happy life. He then hobbles out on crutches, revealing that it is actually him who has lost a leg, and he was testing his family’s reaction.  Therese runs after him, and will probably catch him . . . what with having two legs.

Alfred says at the end that he will dispense with his usual gallows humor as this show has no desire to make light of men who have suffered as a result of war.  Hopefully next week he can have us rolling in the aisles again with tales of murdered Americans.

ahpreturnofthehero05This episode was OK, but another missed opportunity.  Marcel was seen walking around, so we know he is doing OK.  There are tell-tale crutches prominently displayed leaning against the bar in several scenes. And the accents made it an effort to listen to the dialogue.


  • AHP Deathwatch:  Susan Kohner is still with us.
  • Sir Alfred is correct, there is nothing funny about wounded soldiers.  But it did remind me of the classic sketch by Dudley Moore and Peter Cook.
  • This idea has apparently become an urban legend even showing up in Snopes, but its roots go back even further.

Phantoms (1998)

We open with a scene reminiscent of The Shining — a small car on a winding road through the mountains.  Only without the ominous music and awesome cinematography.  On the other hand, the car contains 2 hot babes, neither of whom are Shelly Duvall.  So call it a draw at this point.

Lisa and Jennifer Pailey  drive into Jennifer’s home of Snowfield for Lisa to get some relaxation from the big city.  Jennifer, who has a medical practice there, says the town is seasonal, going form 4000 to 400 during the year.  The town seems deserted, though.  When they get to Jennifer’s house, her mother is dead on the floor.  And the phone is dead on the desk.

When the car won’t start, they walk the four blocks to the police station.  They find dead bodies there also, sadly not due to capital punishment.  They arm up and become even hotter.  They wander into a bakery where there are more dead people, but grizzlier — severed hands still rolling dough, and severed heads in the oven (OK, those were clearly suicides).  The good news is they find three living police officers there; the bad news is two of them are Liev Schreiber[1] and Ben Affleck.

Image 013While investigating a hotel, the third cop.who might as well have been wearing a red shirt rushes outside at the sound of a screech.  The others rush outside when he screeches, but all that is left is his gun spinning in the street.  Soon Liev is killed also by what appears to be a giant moth.

Peter O’Toole is brought into the picture as a reporter for one of those sleazy tabloids — you, know the ones that have 100% more credibility than the New York Times because of the NYT’s seething hatred and bias against anyone who doesn’t agree with their clustered, shrinking little band of followers.

It is about this time that I repeatedly fell asleep, was awakened by gunfire, then fell right back to sleep about 5 times until the credits rolled.  And I don’t really feel compelled to give it another try.

Image 009The beginning with Rose McGowan and Joanna Going was fine.  In fact the whole movie could have been them and it would have been better.  Ben Affleck has proven repeatedly that he is great behind the camera.  Who, for the love of God keeps putting him in front of the camera?  It’s got to be ego.  I didn’t see Steven Spielberg fighting no shark.

I never did entirely figure out his role here.  He is the sheriff of this, admittedly, small town at the age of 26.  Seems that he had time to go to college, get a law degree (I assume standards haven’t been lowered for that yet), get booted from the Secret Service and end up in Snowfield.  The picture might have benefited from having someone with a little more gravitas in the role. And not sporting that goofy coat and hat.

An officer with more experience might also have made firing Liev Schreiber one of his priorities.  They let this borderline mentally challenged resentful insubordinate deputy carry a gun?  He is such a drooling idiot before the attacks, that afterward, when I suppose he was possessed during one of my naps. there is no appreciable difference.

To be completely unfair, the intermittent portions I saw of the last half did not engage me at all.  The most telling assessment:  There is no Phantoms II.


  • [1] Schreiber is a good actor, just not who I’m looking for to protect me in a disaster.
  • If Jennifer was making a living as a doctor in a  town of 400 people, there must have been something wrong before the killer moths showed up and killed people and their sweaters.

Night Gallery – Finnegan’s Flight (12/03/72)

Pete Tuttle is standing in the yard as Finnegan (Burgess Meredith) enters.  Well, yard is charitable as there is no grass to be seen.  It is a prison yard enclosed by concrete walls.  No pool, no tennis courts, so you can be sure there are no politicians here.

Finnegan approaches the wall and looks at the guard atop it.  He asks for permission to leave.  Even though he says “please”, he is understandably denied, and begins pounding the concrete walls with his fists until they are bloody and broken.

He wakes up in the infirmary with the prison shrink.  He has been a model prisoner for his extended stay — current 30 years for murder, and before that a string of lesser crimes. Nowadays he mostly says please and thank you and follows orders, gets three meals a day, clean sheets and free health care.  Although haircuts do not seem to offered.

The doctor asks why he smashed his hands, and he says, “Do you know Pete Tuttle? Just between us, Doc, that’s the only time I care about living. ngfinnegansflight09 When Pete Tuttle makes me feel I’m something.”  This is getting a little uncomfortable, but he continues that Pete Tuttle has the ability to make him feel that he is somewhere else, outside the prison.

The shrink calls Tuttle into his office and learns that on the outside he was a professional hypnotist.  Apparently it didn’t work on the judge, because he is in the jug too, doing 5 years for a B&E.  He says Finnegan is the perfect subject for hypnotism — a guy locked up forever longing to get out.  Why Tuttle felt the best way to assist him was to give him the suggestion that “his fists were made of pig iron” is not clear.  How about, “You are the best laundry truck driver in the world.”

Suggesting (or maybe “suggesting”) to the shrink that Finnegan is so amazingly responsive to hypnosis, that there might be a book in it, the shrink has the guards bring Finnegan down to his office. Tuttle puts him under in a few seconds.  Pouring a cup of water from a cooler, he tells Finnegan that the water is boiling hot and commands him to put his fingers in it.  The power of his suggestion, or the receptiveness of Finnegan’s mind is so strong that blisters appear on his fingers.

ngfinnegansflight10It is an impressive display of hypnosis, but couldn’t Tuttle come up with demonstrations that didn’t end up mangling Finnegan’s hands every time?

The next time, Tuttle gives a more gentle suggestion that Finnegan is in an airplane.  We see Finnegan pretending to hold the controls and even making an airplane noise.  The warden comes in — bizarrely seeming to have been costumed for a WWII Nazi role — and doesn’t like what is going on.

Finnegan begins coughing and laughing.  Imagining himself in the jet, he has induced hypoxia — a lack of oxygen — in himself.  Did he imagine the Jet had no canopy?  Well, it was mentioned earlier in the episode that jets were invented after his incarceration, so I’m willing to give that a pass.  His face begins to blister as he were 50,000 feet up, almost in a vacuum.

ngfinnegansflight11Tuttle suggests to Finnegan to bring the plane down, but Tuttle must have also trained the 9/11 hijackers — he got Finnegan in the air, but can’t teach him how to land.  Finnegan is terrified, imagining himself in a dive.  His hair is even being blown back by his imagination, so maybe he does think jets are open-cockpit like bi-planes.

His perception of being in a jet is so strong, that as he “crashes”, the hospital ward explodes in flames even though — just as at the Pentagon on 9/11 — there were no airplane parts. [1]  Coincidence?

Pretty good episode of what I suspect is not an original concept.  But Burgess Meredith elevated every episode he was in . . . just not above ground-level in this one.


  • Twilight Zone Legacy:  Burgess Meredith appeared in 4 episodes.
  • Aired 4 years before Meredith was in Rocky.
  • [1] Of course an airplane hit the Pentagon — shut up.

Zombeavers (2014)

Zombeavers gets off to a very funny and unexpected start with hazmat haulers Bill Burr (Joseph) and John Mayer (Luke). After a funny conversation about Joseph dating a guy (but just for a week), then them discussing being banned from friend’s bathroom, Joseph runs into a deer, dislodging a barrel of chemical waste.

After fun, well-constructed, almost James Bondian credits which track the progress of the barrel downstream like a Bass, Saul Bass  It arrives at the home of the titular beavers.  It’s worth saying again, titular beavers.

zombeavers07Three hot girls are off to a cabin in the woods with no boys, no texting, and no tops (well, that’s more anticipation on my part).  If the movie maintains its pace and humor, this will be the Citizen Kane of horror/comedy.

zombeavers14There are so many good lines that it is pointless to to even discuss them.  This is easily the best horror comedy since Tucker & Dale, and even surpasses that benchmark. Whereas the T&D was mostly situational comedy or satires of horror tropes, Zombeavers ups the ante with a lot of very funny dialogue, a nice Jaws homage and even goofy throwaway shots (the skinny 14 year old kid with the “#1 Dad” hat?  WTH?). Even the standard wacky neighbor is genuinely wacky and hilarious.

Sadly, their 3 boyfriends show up.  They do come in handy when the first zombeaver shows up hiding in the bathroom, however.  Not being brainiacs, they decide to take a swim in the lake the next day with predictable results.  They swim out to a raft and we get a scene that is a beautiful balance actual horror, comedy, creativity and sexiness.  The bit with the dog is Oscar-worthy.

zombeavers21And the zombeavers are smart — I can’t even spoil how smart they are.  I expected the 3rd act to run out of steam, but it just never stops — twists, fire, whack-a-mole, it just goes on and on.

zombeavers23This is just great.  It even wraps up with some funny outtakes and a swinging Frank Sinatra / Tony Bennett style swinging ode to Zombeavers.  When the artists put this much effort into something that really could have been a VOD release in lesser hands, I really appreciate it.

Rating:  A


  • Title Analysis:  Really, there was no other option; it’s the reason the film was made. But you can’t put the emphasis on “zombie” or you’re left with “vers.  If you stress the “beavers” (of which we saw none, well of a certain kind), you’re left with “zom.”
  • In the last shot, we are visually set up for what I hope is a sequel by the same crew entitled Zombees.
  • Yeah, what’s the deal with this?zombeavers08