Arrow Video The Lukas Moodysson Collection: Mammoth (2009)

Leo (Gael García Bernaland) and Ellen (Michelle Williams) are, from the outside, a success. He’s created a website that has made them rich while she dedicates her life to saving lives as an emergency surgeron. Their daughter Jackie (Sophie Nyweide) is being raised mostly by their nanny Gloria (Marife Necesito) while they all lead their lives away from their New York City apartment.

Gloria is a mother herself, with her children in the Philippines raised by her mother while she makes money for them in the U.S. And as he works in Bangkok, Leo spends time with a sex worker named Cookie (Run Srinikornchot) who is also hiding that she is a mother.

The moral of this movie has been debated. Is it that women who don’t remain home often lead tragic lives? Or is it, as Moodysson says, about how women of very different social backgrounds have a struggle between work and making time for their children?

The mammoth of the title comes up as one of Leo’s co-workers gives him the gift of a $3,000 pen made from mammoth ivory, the once large and majestic beast reduced to a piece of a writing implement that will be used to sign contracts that just need his signature and not any form of thought to become rich and yet that money solves none of his ennui or the sense that his child is being supported and raised by someone who is a stranger.

The limited edition The Lukas Moodysson Collection from Arrow includes high definition blu rays of seven films, as well as interviews with Moodysson and other cast and crew, moderated by film programmer Sarah Lutton. There’s also a two hundred page featuring new writing by Peter Walsh, excerpts from the original press kits for each film, interviews with and directors’ statements from Moodysson and essays on his films from a 2014 special issue of the Nordic culture journal Scandinavica by C. Claire Thomson, Helga H. Lúthersdóttir, Elina Nilsson, Scott MacKenzie and Anna Westerståhl Stenport and Kjerstin Moody.

Extras include interviews with Lukas Moodysson, line producer Malte Forssell and Gael Garcia Bernal, as well as a trailer and image gallery.

You can get this set from MVD.

AMANDO DE OSSORIO WEEK: Graveyard of the Dead (2009)

Also known as Erotic Nights of the Blind Dead and El Retorno de los Templarios, this shot on video homage to the work of Amando de Ossorio can’t live up to the master but it tries with more screams and more sleaze than even he would try. I mean, the main story is about Miranda being assaulted by her father — in lurid detail, mind you — and her brother Jorge trying to rescue her and failing. Then, the Blind Dead, who once killed witches and were in turn killed by villagers, rise and attempt to destroy her as well. It takes hours and hours to get there, even slower than the slowest of de Ossorio’s slow motion.

Director Vick Campbell also made Black Roses Symphony and The Gravedigger. I’ve also heard that this is British — by way of saying he’s Polish — director Roman Nowicki. Or maybe he’s Vick Gomez. If this was a better movie, I’d delve into who or what he is, but I honestly struggled to get through this and I absolutely love the Blind Dead.

Eurohorror works because it’s trash but also it has some strange level of class to it. I can’t really explain. Sure, there is whipping and nudity and depravity but there’s also the look of things being shot on film and having some actual erotic charge to them. You need more than just to linger on the Templars, as well. You need a reason for them to be there. This is formless.

American Pie Presents: The Book of Love (2009)

This was Sherman Hemsley’s last movie and not his worst — Ghost Fever may be one of the worst movies I’ve ever watched and just drink in how bad that must make it — and also the sixth American Pie film.

It starts with Rob Shearson (Bug Hall, who was Alfalfa in the modern Little Rascals) masturbating with a sandwich, his dog eating it and him finishing in his mutt’s mouth. If you thought, “That having sex with a pie thing was racy,” bad news. He’s also in love with Heidi (Beth Behrs, who went on to be in 2 Broke Girls) who is ready to give it up to just about any guy, so you know, why not Rob?

His friends Nathan Kevin M. Horton) and Lube (Brandon Hardesty) are also virgins, bringing this back to the storyline of the original American Pie. This also has the Book of Love from that movie, which was originally written by Noah Levenstein (Eugene Levy).

I kind of like what they were going for in this, putting Curtis Armstrong in the cast as a teacher, Rosanna Arquette as Rob’s mom and even finding a role for Jim Wynorski. Hey — let him direct one of these! It also goes all in with a moose sodomizing someone, vacuum cleaner masturbation and an old sex worker dying mid-fellatio. This goes for it.

This was directed by John Putch, who was Sean Brody in Jaws 3D and David H. Steinberg, who also wrote Kindergarten Cop 2.

American Pie Presents: The Book of Love gets back to what makes these movies work, like featuring the hangout Dog Years and having sweetness along with the gross jokes. If you look closely at the signatures in the book in the movie, you can see the autographs of Jim Levenstein, Kevin Myers, Chris Ostreicher, Steve Stiffler, Dwight Stiffler, Matt Stiffler and Eric Stiffler.

PITTSBURGH MADE: Homecoming (2009)

Directed by Morgan J. Freeman (American Psycho 2) and written by Katie L. Fetting, Jake Goldberger and Frank Hannah, this Pittsburgh-filmed movie features scenes at Shady Side Academy, North Allegheny High School, a community center in Midway and a farm in Bell Township. It starts strong with Mischa Barton driving and crying and just running right through someone.

She plays Shelby, who has just inherited a bowling alley when her mother dies and can barely pay for it. Her old boyfriend Mike (Matt Long) is coming home as they’re retiring his jersey and he’s brought his new girlfriend Elizabeth (Jessica Stroup) with him but as far as Shelby cares, Mike still loves her. Yet Shelby pulls that move where she befriends her enemy and starts to lead her down some dark — and drunken — paths.

That’s when this movie goes back to the beginning and we learn that Shelby has cosplayed Misery, using a car to do the damage, and has taken Elizabeth captive inside her house. Well, she does double Misery by slicing her Achille’s tendons to pieces later. This would be kind of fun if the movie leaned into the obsessive ex genre and make it over the top and fun, but it never gets there or goes there.

Homecoming is smart enough for a Pittsburgh-shot film to use Bingo O’Malley but doesn’t get the area at all, as at one point, Shelby pours Mike an iced tea. He’d just have a carton or jug of Turners if this was a legitimate Pittsburgh movie that truly understands the liquid landscape of our town.

PITTSBURGH MADE: Survival of the Dead (2009)

The last film in the Living Dead series and the final film George Romero would make before he died in 2017, Survival of the Dead is a movie I’ve avoided for some time. He told Bloody Disgusting, “…the idea was to make a film about war or entities that don’t die, conflicts, disagreements that people can’t resolve, whether it’s Ireland or the Middle East or the Senate…that was the idea. And then I decided that was the best way to depict it. And then I had this other idea about an island would be a logical place for people to go, an idea I sort of played with in some of the other films. So I said OK, the best way to tell this story I think is to have a protagonist go to the island only to find out that it’s in the middle of basically a war that won’t die, between these two old guys. And the moment that came together I remembered The Big Country. And I’m always looking for something different sort of stylistically with these films so that they’re not the same which makes it more interesting for us as filmmakers. All the people on the set, production design, DP, good friends of mine, we sort of work as a big family. So we all sat down and I made everyone watch the big country. And then my thought was “Hey why don’t we go full on with this, go widescreen, not mute the colors, really try to make it look like William Wyler”. So that was something we did as a fun exercise to give it a different taste.”

Filmed in Canada instead of Pittsburgh — yes, this is something that I will always call out — this is the story of Plum Island, Delaware, a place that has always been home to the feud between the O’Flynns and the Muldoons. The rise of zombies has added something new to their war: the O’Flynns are trying to wipe out the living dead while the Muldoons leave their loved ones chained up and waiting for a cure that they believe will soon be invented. It also has the Nation Guard Soldiers from Diary of the Dead getting involved and, as always, an ending that takes out most of the cast.

Alan Van Sprang’s Sargeant “Nicotine” Crockett character is the first Romero character to make two movies, unless you count Tom Savini’s Blades showing up as a human in Dawn and a zombie in Land. You may also connect the unnamed cop Joe Pilato plays in Dawn with Captain Rhodes in Day.

Before he died, Romero was working on Twilight of the Dead, a movie that would be about zombies from Land of the Dead in a world where they are the top of the food chain. Supposedly, it’s still going to get made. There was also another movie called Road of the Dead that had been talked about.

I want this movie to be bigger than it is. I want it to say things that it cannot. I want more and realize that I am being greedy.

PITTSBURGH MADE: My Bloody Valentine 3D (2009)

Ah, Pennsylvania’s once amazing filming tax credits, which brought a remake of a Canadian slasher to the City of Bridges — well, Kittanning, Bethel, Tarentum, Oakmont, Oakdale and the North Hills — and was smart enough to hire two of our local favorites, stage actor Bingo O’Malley and Tom Atkins, who I don’t need to talk up but I will every chance I get.

Shot in 4K on digital cameras and made for 3D, this movie may have high tech origins but it has low tech old school slasher aims. Directed by Patrick Lussier (Drive Angry, Trick) and written by Todd Farmer (Jason X) and Zane Smith, it follows the original movie and begins on Valentine’s Day, a horrific day for the town of Harmony.

I just want to say — Farmer wrote the scene where the trucker has sex with Irene (Betsy Rue) and she runs through the parking lot naked. He also got himself cast in the part as that trucker. As a writer, I just want to tell you that there can be power in words.

An explosion at the mine leaves only Harry Warden still alive, but he had to murder the others to conserve oxygen. The son of the mine’s owner, Tom Hanniger (Jensen Ackles) forgot to vent the methane lines that caused the collapse and takes the blame. A year later, Warden awakes from a coma and starts killing all over again, starting with the patients and staff at the hospital, always leaving their hearts in boxes of chocolate.

While all this is happening, Tom, his girlfriend Sarah (Jaime King), Axel (Kerr Smith) and Irene are partying in the mine, which is a bad idea at any time and even worse when you think about all the people who died there and Warden being out and killing. He appears in miner gear and attacks them before Sheriff Burke (Atkins) shoots him. Warden goes deeper into the mind as Tom is shellshocked by what he’s gone through. He leaves town for a decade.

When he comes back to sell the mine, he finds that Axel is the sheriff and now married to Sarah. Things go bad as soon as Tom gets there, as the Miner appears — is it Warden? — and kills Irene and starts building its body count. Ben Foley (Kevin Tighe) and Burke know that it couldn’t be. After all, they killed and buried him, except that now the grave is empty.

Is the killer Axel? Or is it Tom, who has spent seven years in a psychiatric ward? Well, getting there means seeing body parts spray all over the screen in increasingly grisly kills. There’s even a tease of a sequel, which one imagines would have been made in Eastern Europe. Whatever — I ended up enjoying this way more than I thought I would. It probably helps that it was made here, right?

PITTSBURGH MADE: Adventureland (2009)

I love Pittsburgh to the point that even talking about it makes me tear up a bit. Rick Sebak’s voice makes my soul weep. And yet I hate Kennywood. Maybe it’s because I dislike waiting in lines. Perhaps it’s because my parents didn’t have the money to take us there. It could also because they got rid of Garfield’s ride and I’ll never forgive them.

Director and writer Greg Mottola grew up around Adventureland in Farmingdale, New York, but he went to Carnegie Mellon in Pittsburgh, where he probably went to Kennywood and realized that it’d be a filmable place to set his movie in which James Brennan (Jesse Eisenberg), a recent graduate from Oberlin, has to work at instead of. going to Europe the summer after graduating. There, he meets and falls for Em Lewin (Kristen Stewart), an art history major who teaches him more than he probably learned in college as he spends the hot summer days working in the carny games booths on the midway.

There’s some good casting choices here, like having Kristen Wiig and Bill Hader as the husband and wife owners, Ryan Reynolds as the too old to be sleeping with college kids maintenance man and Wendie Malick as James’ mom.

For some reason, Lou Reed is idolized in this movie. Now, I wasn’t around Kennywood in 1987, but I know that in my hometown, the original choice — Neil Young — is way more Pittsburgh. And outside of the folks that listened to WXXP, hardly anyone in tahn would be listening to Big Star, Hüsker Dü, The New York Dolls and The Jesus and Mary Chain, but hey — it’s a movie.

Beyond being filmed at Kennywood, other scenes were filmed in McCandless, Beaver County and Moon Township around the airport, including the Stardust Lounge.

2022 Scarecrow Psychotronic Challenge Day 31: The Proposal (2009)

31. RETIREMENT PARTY: Watch any movie with a character named Kevin in it. Bonus points if it has a badass movie dog.

I mean, this is not a Halloween movie but the Scarecrow Challenge has asked for a movie with a Kevin in it and a dog and I didn’t want to watch Balto and to be honest, my wife has made me watch this movie at least once a week since I’ve known her.

Margaret Tate (Sandra Bullock) is the Canadian executive editor-in-chief of a New York book publishing company that everyone hates and she’s fine with that. No one hates her more than her assistant Andrew Paxton (Ryan Reynolds), who gets most of her abuse. Her boss — Michael Nouri! — tells her that her visa renewal application has been denied due to visa term violation and she faces deportation back to Canada, losing her job and her life in New York City.

So why not marry Andrew? Why not go back to his hometown of Sitka, Alaska, a place where his father (Craig T. Nelson) is the businessman who pretty much owns the town? Then there’s his mom (Mary Steenburgen, who I think was contractually obligated to be an attractive mother in every 2000s movie) and grandmother (Betty White, who this movie seems to be made for). Also an ex-girlfriend (Malin Akerman) and Oscar Nunez as Ramone, who works every job in town, including waiter, shopkeeper,  minister and male stripper. Things work out fine because this is a romantic comedy from 2009.

As for Kevin the dog, he’s a White Eskimo puppy played by four dogs, Flurry, Sitka, Nanu and Winter, who were also in Hotel for Dogs. He almost gets taken by an eagle, which is pretty scary when you think about it, because he’s way bigger than my dog and man, I don’t want to explain to my wife that Cubby got taken by an eagle, particularly after how many times she made me watch this.


18. A Death March Horror Film (a group of people go on a trip and slowly get killed one by one, but keep moving).

I had no idea what to expect out of this movie. The poster gave me The Town That Dreaded Sundown vibes and that’s never a bad thing. Yet for some reason, I just never watched this. Director and writer Christopher Smith really shoots for a high bar on this one and I was astounded that it came together so well. I barely want to discuss what happens — I mean, I have to, that’s what this site is all about — because as quickly as you figure out what’s going to happen next, the movie’s smart script pulls the rug out.

Jess (Melissa George) is a single mother who is invited to take an ocean cruise with her friend Greg (Michael Dorman) and his closest comrades Sally (Rachael Carpaini), Downey (Henry Nixon), Heather (Emma Lung) and Victor (Liam Hemsworth). A sudden storm flips their boat and Heather is lost at sea and the survivors make their way onto an abandoned ocean liner that somehow still has fresh food — Death Ship? — called the Aeolus, which is the name of three mythical characters that have been confused even by experts. That — and the nature of the number three — will be very important for what happens in this movie. Yes, it’s a triangle.

I’m really astounded by how well this came together and how dark it gets. I really thought it was just going to be a slasher on a cruise ship and I can’t even tell you how happy I am that I gave this adventurous movie a chance.


MILL CREEK DVD RELEASE: Through the Decades: 2000s Collection: State of Play (2009)

Based on the BBC show, State of Play is the story of Congressman Stephen Collins (Ben Affleck), who believes that his mistress Sonia Baker didn’t kill herself, and reporter Cal McAffrey (Russell Crowe), who get caught up in the conspiracy of murder that follows.

The true villain? PointCorp who has a monopoly on government surveillance and defense contracts/ They’ve used the Patriot Act to privatize American security and now look to get even richer from mercenary activities in the Middle East and even within our country.

Cal ends up conflicted, as he holds stories about his friend’s romantic dalliances, all while other papers make money from them, angering his editor Cameron Lynne (Helen Mirren). It’s also suggested that Collins’ wife Anne (Robin Wright) was part of a love triangle between the two friends.

There’s an interesting conceit in this movie, as all of the many tentacles of this conspiracy are revealed: if you do great things in your life, is it morally acceptable if you had one major failing?

Originally, this movie would have reunited Fight Club stars Brad Pitt and Edward Norton. Schedules conflicted and that’s how we got Affleck and Crowe. I think it’s funny that Crowe is playing a character from East Liberty and is even referred to as a yinzer in the script.

The Mill Creek Through the Decades: 2000s Collection has some great movies for a great price like Nurse BettyOne Night at McCool’sSpy GameThe Emperor’s ClubThe Shape of Things21 GramsBaby MamaThe Hitcher and Cry Wolf. You can order it from Deep Discount.