Midnight FM (2010)

Ko Sun-Young is an arrogant celebrity DJ on the last two hours of her final overnight shift on a highly-rated radio station. While popular with the listeners, Sun-Young also has her detractors for being “too American” in her tastes and, instead of talking up Korean movies and K-Pop, she’s all about the music of Leonard Cohen and the movies of Martin Scorsese. So it’s no surprise Sun-Young’s decided to move to her beloved America for a groundbreaking medical treatment to cure her young daughter’s neck injury-induced mutism.

Not if her biggest fan can help it.

Watch the trailer.

Someone’s invaded Sun-Young’s home and holds her daughter and sister hostage and forces her to play a deadly question-and-answers game based on the history of her show. And every wrong answer results in a gruesome pain inflicted on her loved ones. Sun-Young is also instructed to play songs featured on past shows and to recreate the introductions verbatim-by-memory.

Now that’s a radio studio! It’s all about the technical details. That, along with great acting, cinematography, and directing and you have a ratings winner.

The best “Americanized” references to guide your viewing on Midnight FM would be Jodie Foster’s Panic Room meets Colin Ferrell’s Phone Booth—only the “room/booth” is the confines of a radio studio. Unlike most Korean thrillers that opt for extreme graphic violence, Midnight FM (Simya-ui FM in its homeland) opts for some good old fashioned, American-styled cat-and-mouse games of the film noir variety between the secret admirer and victim (thus the victim’s love of American film and music). You may also reflect back to the J-Horror hits Pulse (2001) and One Missed Call (2008), only this time the tormenting calls aren’t from the beyond.

You can rent the subtitled version of Midnight FM on Google Play, Vudu, and You Tube Movies. There’s a free version—without subtitles—on Vimeo. There’s also a four-part free version—with subtitles—on the Korean TV Facebook page.

About the Author: You can read the music and film reviews of R.D Francis on Medium and learn more about his work on Facebook.

Strange Nature: Monster Wolf (2010)

A creature of ancient legend manifests, bound to protect the ecological balance of the land as well as kill anyone that threatens it. This elusive guardian is both feared and celebrated by the locals. However, a deadly curse soon impacts them all, uniting them with the goal of recapturing the monster wolf’s spirit or facing their ultimate doom.

The film was part of Syfy’s 31 Days of Halloween 2010 and premiered on Syfy October 9, 2010.

Yeah, you know how it is for oil workers. You try to find a new place to drill, set off an explosion and unleash a wolf-like creature that kills all of your co-workers. Time to fill out an incident report!

Director Todor Chapkanov has worked second unit on big films like The Hitman’s Bodyguard and London Has Fallen. This was written by Charles Bolon, who was also behind Swamp Shark.

Robert Picardo, who played Eddie Quist in The Howling, is now ironically facing off with a werewolf in this one. This movie is in no way as good as that film, but I’m sure you already guessed that.

Mill Creek Entertainment’s Savage Nature set has this movie and three other films all about the evil side of Mother Nature. You also get a code for all four films on their MovieSPREE service. Want to see it for yourself? Then grab a copy right here.

You can also watch this on Amazon Prime.

DISCLAIMER: This movie was sent to us by Mill Creek Entertainment.

Birdemic: Shock and Terror (2010)

Written, directed, and produced by James Nguyen, this is a tale of romance and, well, software development as birds descend on humanity. He’d also direct the films Julie and JackReplice and Birdemic 2: The Resurrection. There were plans to make the third film in the series, Birdemic 3: Sea Eagle, but it only raised one percent of its goal on Indiegogo and Kickstarter.

This film cost $10,000. Before you see it, you may wonder how that was possible. After you watch it, you’ll wonder where the money went.

Rod, a Silicon Valley software salesman, and Nathalie, an aspiring fashion model, are living a charmed life. His bonus allows him to start his own business, she’s become a Victoria’s Secret model and they both are in love with each other. However, the signs of the end of the world are all around them, with unexplained wildfires and dead birds washing up on beaches.

After a night of passion, Rod and Nathalie wake up to find that their town is under attack from acid-spitting and constantly exploding eagles and vultures. Joining up with an ex-Marine named Ramsey, his girlfriend Becky and two orphans named Susan and Tony, they go from town to town battling birds.

Finally, Rod and Nathalie make their way to a small beach, where our hero battles the birds one more time until doves show up to drive them off. It turns out that the birds want to have peace and decide to give humanity a second chance to fix the environment.

It’d help if the birds weren’t all the same bird, just endlessly and lifelessly rotating in space, oblivious to reality. Then again, no moment of this film feels rooted in the world that we live in.

During filming, Nguyen instructed Whitney Moore (Nathalie) not to socialize with her costar Alan Bagh (Rod) after filming. He also shot without permits and the crew was often kicked out of locations while in the middle of scenes. Nguyen would often flip out at people while filming, which led to Moore telling him not to yell and him refusing to talk to her or direct her for three weeks.

To promote the finished movie, Nguyen took the movie to Sundance, handing out flyers from a van that was covered with stuffed birds and a paper sign that read BIDEMIC.COM (yes, he spelled the name of his own movie incorrectly) and WHY DID THE EAGLES AND VULTURES ATTACKED before premiering the movie at a bar. This caught the eye of Severin Films, who distributed the film. You can grab a copy at their site, while you’re at it.

Tippi Hedren — from the original version of The Birds — appears in the film, but only on a TV via footage from Nguyen’s Julie and Jack.

This is an absolutely ridiculous film and as such, I love it. It’s pretty amazing that one man’s vision — of birds attacking the world as inspired by Hitchcock and Al Gore — went this far.

If you want to watch this, its on Tubi and Amazon Prime. It helps to watch it with Rifftrax help, though. You can also find that streaming for free on Tubi and Amazon Prime.

Houses of Hell: Mask Maker (2010)

A lucky couple hits the jackpot when they purchase a 19th-century plantation home for way less than it’s worth. Determined to get rich quick, they invite their friends up for the weekend to celebrate, but of course, the former residents of the house haven’t left yet. Whoops! Looks like everyone is about to fight for their lives!

Shorter and more to the point: A young and deformed boy witnesses his mother’s death, which ensures that for the rest of his life, he will come back to take revenge on anyone who dares enter his property.

This movie follows the tried and true method of having actors like Terry Kiser (Bernie Lomax!), Michael Berryman (Pluto!) and Treat Williams (umm, Xander Drax?) who draw the eye of those who recognize their names or love horror films, then carry the action with younger people.

Originally made as Maskerade, this has what you’re looking for, if what you’re looking for would be thirty-year-old actors playing college students who are all getting killed with an ax. I mean, sometimes, I am looking for that.

This is one of four movies on Mill Creek Entertainment’s Houses of Hell set. It’s an affordable way to get some scares that you may not have seen otherwise. Plus, you get a free code to save these movies digitally on Mill Creek’s MovieSPREE! site. For more information, check out their site.

This movie is also on Amazon Prime.

DISCLAIMER: This was sent to us by Mill Creek Entertainment.

The Expendables (2010)

Writer David Callaham submitted the first draft of an action film called Barrow to Warner Brothers, revising it several times until it caught the attention of Sylvester Stallone, who used it as a starting point for this ensemble film. Or maybe not — as Nu Image and Millennium Films filed a lawsuit against Callaham and the Writers Guild of America West in 2013 for “fraud, unjust enrichment and declaratory relief over a flawed and misinformed Guild arbitration that gave Callaham undeserved writing credit” for The Expendables series of films.

Regardless, he’s gone on to great success, writing films like DoomHorsemen, 2014’s GodzillaAnt-Man and the upcoming Zombieland: Double TapWonder Woman 1984 and Marvel’s Shang-Chi. And The Expendables films have become big money makers. Hollywood is crazy sometimes, right?

The Expendables are an elite group of mercs who are made up of some of the biggest action stars of the last few decades. Led by Barney Ross (Stallone), they are bladed weapons expert Lee Christmas (Jason Statham), hand-to-hand fighter Yin Yang (Jet Li), one-time mathematics genius and now burned out combat vet Gunner Jensen (Dolph Lundgren), weapons specialist Hale Caesar (originally this role was for Wesley Snipes, but it ended up going to Terry Crews) and demolitions expert Toll Road (MMA fighter Randy Couture).

The thrill of this movie is seeing who shows up next, like Mickey Rourke as Tool, the team’s friends, as well as Barney’s rival Trench Mauser (Arnold Schwarzenegger) and CIA boss Mr. Church (Bruce Willis). The mission in this film involves overthrowing a corrupt general who has an army of his own mercs led by Dan Paine (“Stone Cold” Steve Austin) and support from his own ex-CIA agent James Munroe (Eric Roberts).

This is also all about men coming to grips with their feelings, like the overly angry Jensen leaving the team and having to win them back to his side, Christmas losing his girlfriend (Charisma Carpenter) and winning her back, the toll of combat on a man and Barney trying to deal with the losses he’s had to endure as the leader of the team. But it’s also about fistfights and things blowing up real good.

Stallone went through hell making this film, suffering fourteen injuries like breaking a tooth, rupturing his ankle and a hairline fracture in his neck that required the surgical insertion of a metal plate. He also had bronchitis and shingles to top it all off. He also found the time to direct the film despite the multitude of injuries he was going through.

The Expendables was a movie that Hollywood may have thought no one was looking for, but action fans were crazing the kind of movie that has a body count of 188. It succeeded at the box office, making $275 million worldwide on an $80 million dollar budget. Of course, sequels would soon be in the offering and the ensemble cast would be greatly expanded. In my opinion, they could make one of these movies every single weekend and I’d show up for them.

Sci-Fi High: The Movie Musical (2010)

Paul Andolina is back to share a musical with us. He’s always a welcome guest on our site. If you like his stuff, check out his site Wrestling with Film

Sci-Fi High: The Movie Musical is a science fiction themed musical set in 1957. It is directed by Dan Bellusci and Steve Dispensa who also wrote the music and star in the movie as two of the main characters Billy Dever and Eddie Cassavette.

Fairheights High is in the midst of preparations for a Sadie Hawkins and Billy and Eddie are without dates. It is centered around the goings on during the week of the dance, with the girls preparing for the dance by looking for dates, making signs, and gathering talent to perform. There is a real jerk of a dude, named Brandon Bishop, who is the star forward of the Fairheights Redmen basketball team. He is always giving Billy, Eddie, and their friend Sigmund a hard time.

There is also a professor Vadin, who is absolutely obsessed with plants. He gives a strange plant to Billy for good luck but Billy loses it. Strange things start happening around the school and Billy is leaking a green fluid.

When the dance comes around Billy sings as the main attraction but something in the halls is attacking the dance attendees!

The movie features some fun songs but the audio is a bit jumbled at times and hard to make out. I enjoyed the movie and its goofiness which I found endearing. It’s set in the 50’s and although the film has a small budget they get the feel somewhat right.

If you’re a super fan of musicals and have to see every musical you can find you should check this out. I do feel that it won’t be everyone’s cup of tea though as it’s not a super high budget musical. If you wish more movies had killer plants and 50’s musical numbers then you’re going to love this one.

Machete (2010)

Machete first appeared as a character in Robert Rodriguez’s kid-friendly Spy Kids films, then came back as a fake trailer in the Grindhouse movie.

The origins of the character come from when Rodriguez worked with Danny Trejo on the film Desperado, thinking, “This guy should be like the Mexican Jean-Claude Van Damme or Charles Bronson, putting out a movie every year and his name should be Machete.” He was inspired by the films of John Woo, wanting to make a movie in their spirit that would be for a Latino audience.

Machete Cortez (Trejo) was once a Mexican Federal but his partner and wife were killed when he was betrayed to former cop and current drug cartel leader Rogelio Torrez (Steven Seagal).

Now, he’s an immigrant to the U.S., barely scraping by doing yard work. Michael Booth (Jeff Fahey) pays him to shoot Texas State Senator John McLaughlin (Robert De Niro), which is an easy job to take because the politician is anti-Mexican, sending many immigrants back to Mexico and collaborating with Von Jackson (Don Johnson) and his militia of border patrol ruffians.

Booth offers Machete $150,000 — and makes threats on his life if he doesn’t do the job — so our hero takes the assignment. However, he’s been set up again and barely escapes with his life.

The rest of the film concerns Machete’s bloody revenge and dealings with all manner of characters, from Immigration Agent Sartana Rivera (Jessica Alba) to underground leader Luz (Michelle Rodriguez), his brother Padre (Cheech Marin) and even Booth’s wife and daughter (Lindsay Lohan). Tom Savini even shows up as Osiris Amanpour (Tom Savini), a hitman who has an infomercial.

It’s all rather ridiculous, but that’s a lot of the fun of this movie. How often do you see a movie where the hero uses a man’s entrails as a rope to climb down a building? They could make a thousand of these movies and I’d probably watch every single one of them.

Tucker and Dale vs. Evil (2010)

This movie had two requests, one from James Greening and another from my cousin, Alexis Vardoulis. I’d been wanting to watch this for a long time, so I’m excited that these requests came in for more horror comedy movies, as they’re getting me to watch some movies I wouldn’t normally get to. Actually, that’s the whole reason I do this site — to learn more about movies and share them with others. Thanks James and Alexis!

Tucker and Dale vs. Evil plays with the conventions of the slasher and redneck film to great comedic effect. It’s written and directed by Eli Craig, who started as an actor (he’s in The Rage: Carrie 2) before creating this movie.

Allison (Katrina Bowden, Cerie from TV’s 30 Rock), Chad, Chloe, Chuck, Jason, Naomi, Todd, Mitch and Mike are on their way to a camping weekend in West Virginia. While buying beer at a gas station, they meet Tucker and Dale (Alan Tudyk from Firefly and Tyler Labine from TV’s Reaper), two well-meaning rednecks who have just achieved a major life goal by buying a vacation home.

Tucker tries to talk to Allison, but he’s awkward and ends up frightening everyone. Obviously, they’ve already judged everyone they’re going to meet in the country. On the way to their cabin, Tucker and Dale are pulled over by the sheriff, who warns them about how dangerous the woods are.

While the college kids are in the woods, Chad tells them all about the Memorial Day Massacre, an attack by hillbillies that happened twenty years ago. Following the slasher movie conventions, the kids ho skinny dipping but instead of being killed, Allison slips and hits her head. As Tucker and Dale are fishing nearby, they see this and save her life. But to everyone else, it looks like they kidnapped her.

Everything from here on out is all about perceptions and misunderstandings. Only Allison is able to see Tucker and Dale for what they are, truly nice guys who just live somewhere different than them. Of course, these kids are morons and they end up impaling themselves on trees and getting themselves killed, which only puts more blame on our heroes.

It turns out that Chad’s mother was the lone survivor of the Memorial Day Massacre, which means that when he goes crazy, he sees killing Tucker and Dale as the perfect revenge. And because Allison earlier turned down his advances, he thinks that her being friends with the duo is a form of Stockholm Syndrome. Even worse, it turns out that all the clippings in the house and the sawmill reveal that Chad’s father — and not any hillbillies — was the actual murderer behind those killings twenty years ago. 

Will Tucker and Allison survive and go out on a date? Will Dale ever bowl again after Chad cuts off his fingers? Or will Chad kill off everyone? These questions will all be answered when you watch Tucker and Dale vs. Evil.

I really enjoyed this movie. It doesn’t take anything seriously and is more fun the more you love the movies that inspired it. There have been discussions of a sequel, which I would love to see.

You can watch it on Shudder.

The A-Team (2010)

“In 1972, a crack commando unit was sent to prison by a military court for a crime they didn’t commit. These men promptly escaped from a maximum security stockade to the Los Angeles underground. Today, still wanted by the government, they survive as soldiers of fortune. If you have a problem, if no one else can help, and if you can find them, maybe you can hire… the A-Team.”

Joe Carnahan was behind Smokin’ Aces and wrote the remake of Death Wish. Here, he’s remaking the 1980’s TV series that was created by Frank Lupo and Stephen J. Cannell.

The film begins by showing how the team was formed. John “Hannibal” Smith (Liam Neeson, taking on George Peppard’s role) is captured by renegade General Javier Tuco, but he escapes and rescues Templeton “Face” Peck (Bradley Cooper, playing Dirk Benedict’s part). They then enlist B.A. Baracus (UFC fighter Quinton Jackson, taking over for Mr. T) and escape in a helicopter courtesy of the certifiably insane “Howling Mad” Murdock (Sharto Copley, here for Dwight Schultz). The incident cements their friendship and puts a fear of flying into Airborne Ranger B.A.

After eight years of successful missions, CIA Special Activities Division operative Lynch (Patrick Wilson) assigns the team to recover U.S. Treasury plates and a million in cash from an armored Baghdad convoy. Hannibal’s CO General Morrison (Gerald McRaney!) grudgingly allows them to go on the mission while Faces ex-girlfriend Defense Criminal Investigative Service Capt. Charissa Sosa (Jessica Biel) is against the mission.

The whole thing is a set-up, as the Black Forest private security troops blow up General Morrison, removing the team’s only alibi for conducting maneuvers in enemy territory. They’re all dishonorably discharged and sent to separate ten-year prison terms.

Of course, Hannibal has a plan. That means working with Lynch again and getting his team back together while Sosa — who was dropped down to Lieutenant as a result of their previous adventure — is in hot pursuit.

There’s plenty of twists, double-crosses, heavy machine gun fire, an escape in a flying tank and so much more here. Original cast members Benedict and Schultz show up as a fellow prisoner and a neurologist. I liked Benedict’s quick role, but he said, “You’ll miss me if you blink. I kind of regret doing it because it’s a non-part. They wanted to be able to say, ‘Oh yeah, the original cast are in it,’ but we’re not. It is three seconds. It’s kind of insulting.”

There is one cool part where the science fiction roles of both Benedict and Schultz are referenced in the movie at the psychiatric hospital, as you can see the names Reginald Barclay and G.F. Starbuck listed. Plus, the other actor’s name is Thomas Banacek, who is a nod to the George Peppard detective series.

The movie didn’t make enough for a sequel, but it’s not bad. It helps a lot if you’ve seen the original movie. It kind of lost me by the end, but the opening made me think this was going to be way better than it ended up being.

BASTARD PUPS OF JAWS: Piranha 3D (2010)

Alexandre Aja may have announced his horror career with High Tension, but he’s really been known for his remakes of classic films, like directing The Hills Have Eyes and writing and producing Maniac. Here, he presents a much more satiric take on undersea terror, along with a cast game for pure silliness at times.

It all starts with Richard Dreyfuss playing a fisherman named Matt Boyd, but we all know that it’s Matt Hooper, particularly because he’s listening to the song “Show Me the Way to Go Home,” which he sang with Quint and Brody in Jaws. Dreyfuss did this cameo for a large salary, which he promptly donated to charity. Regardless, he’s only here to get ripped apart by piranha.

Jake Forester is kinda sorta the hero of this whole endeavor, crushing on his old friend Kelly and dealing with her boyfriend and his jerk pals. To make money that summer, Jake is working for porn director Derrick Jones (Jerry O’Connell), who is looking for spots to shoot his latest film with his star actresses, Danni Arslow and Crystal Shephard (legit porn star Riley Steele), and cameraman Andrew Cunningham (Paul Scheer of the podcast How Did This Get Made?). He leaves his little brother and sister behind and takes his crush Kelly onto the porn boat The Barracuda.

Meanwhile, Jake’s mom Julie (Elisabeth Shue, somehow roped into this gory mess) is searching for the missing Boyd along with Deputy Fallon (Ving Rhames). When they discover his body, they consider closing the lake, but much like every single movie that I’ve ever seen about killer fish, the prospect of tourism dollars keeps everything open despite the danger.

Meanwhile, Julie and a team of seismologists led by Novak (Adam Scott) to discover buried prehistoric lake filled with piranha eggs. They capture one alive — despite big losses — and take it to pet store owner Carl Goodman (Christopher Lloyd!) who was once a marine biologist. He tells them that this species is incredibly aggressive and has already grown cannibalistic.

Our heroes try to warn everyone, but of course, people just want to jet ski and have sex in the water, which means that every single person must be devoured by mini-fish with big teeth. Nearly everyone on The Barracuda is killed before Jake reaches his mother for help. Only Jake, Kelly and the kids survive, using the porn director’s corpse as bait and as is customary, blowing up something real good to kill off the killer fish.

Just when it seems like the coast is clear — literally — Goodman calls to tell them that these are only the babies. Novak wonders where the parents are just in time for one to eat him.

Chuck Russell (The BlobA Nightmare on Elm Street 3: The Dream Warriors) was originally slated to direct this and I would have loved to have seen his vision. That said, this is a fun and fast-moving affair. And when it comes to awesome directors, Aja was planning on having the directors of the last two Piranha films, Joe Dante and James Cameron play boat captains, but Cameron was too busy.