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Discuss this week's Joe Loves Crappy Movies here!

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Love crappy movies but are too ashamed to admit it? Are you a big Rob Schneider fan but you're tired of being burned? Not sure if you want to waste your money on the same old movie? That's why you have Joe.

Joe Loves Crappy Movies is by Joseph Dunn. Joe willingly goes to see the very worst that Hollywood has to offer. Whenever a crappy movie comes out Joe will be there to see it, make fun of it, and actually review it. Nothing is safe, and nothing is sacred. From the big budget action disasters to the low brow fart based comedies, to anything starring Martin Lawrence? Joe will tear it apart.

With each entry you'll get not only a comic poking fun at the movie, but also a detailed review. Joe's not educated in film or cinematography or acting, he's just a guy that draws comics and likes movies. So if you're looking for the everyman perspective and a little joke in comic form... you're in the right place.

1408

Starring: John Cusack, Samuel L. Jackson, Mary McCormack, Jasmine Jessica Anthony

Directed by: Mikael Håfström

Dimension Films - Official Site of the Movie

Discuss 1408 on the boards!

1408 is an accident waiting to happen. This story about a man’s search for paranormal activity, that leads him to a mysterious room where every occupant dies within an hour of arriving, is just a big series of variables that have to all line up perfectly in order for the big picture to work. Because the majority of the film takes place in one room with one person, the movie can turn from “nice concept” to “nice time to take a nap” in the blink of an eye. The script has to be right, the star has to be right, the direction, the cinematography, the big surprise ending… it’s all gotta be right. In the wrong hands, this movie dies. In the wrong hands, this movie might as well check in to room 1408.

Mike Enslin’s (John Cusack) life has never been the same since he lost his little girl. The once promising author has been reduced to writing Haunted Hotel Guides that both provide an income as well as help him in his search to communicate with the daughter he so desperately needs to make peace with. This search has gone unanswered until he receives a postcard telling him to check into room 1408 at the Dolphin Hotel.

Despite a warning that those who check in never check out, from the awesome-as-usual Samuel L. Jackson who plays the Dolphin’s manager, Enslin manages to book the room. Though the scene is 5 minutes of solid exposition, it’s very possibly the most entertaining sequence in the film. Both of these guys are so good and even better opposite each other. It’s a real treat to watch them playfully battle back and forth. As Enslin enters the room and begins his review, things appear normal enough. He even mocks the deathly reputation of the room by shrugging his shoulders and exclaiming, “This is it?” But within minutes the room mocks him right back with incidents escalating in both danger and oddity. Very quickly, things get pretty weird.

Of course things get weird, this is a Stephen King adaptation. 1408, originally a short story in the collection Everything’s Eventual, is the latest in a long line of King adaptations. In fact, he is perhaps the most adapted author in film (except maybe Shakespeare or Jesus), usually with mixed results. Shawshank, Misery, Stand By Me, Creepshow… all wonderful. Cat’s Eye, Dreamcatcher and Maximum Overdrive … not so much. Ok, I admit, I like Maximum Overdrive a little, but mostly because of the giant Green Goblin head on the truck. And of course the soda machine that attacks children. But I digress… Either way, with King, the good outweigh the bad. The man really has a remarkable streak.

1408 is one of the good. It took a team of three screenwriters to adapt such a challenging premise, but the movie holds the tension and unique vision with perfect touches of humor and humanity that we associated with King’s work. Its slow burning pressure will keep you on edge, and the attention to detail like crying babies next door and the interesting characters in the hotel lobby, both with payoffs as the film develops, reinforces how solid the structure of the story is. None of the reveals are hammer-to-the-head obvious, but there are enough well placed clues within the set-up to make the movie’s story more than the series of terrifying events it appears to be on the surface.

In fact, you’ll never know what’s coming next. That was something that I actually found somewhat frustrating. Within this room and the character’s own personal hell, anything can happen. Once you realize that out, it’s impossible to figure out how things will develop and how things will resolve. This is of course the mark of an excellent story, but as anxious as I was to see what happened next, I couldn’t help but be distracted that it could have been anything. Angry vultures flying through the windows –that’s his personal hell. Scary clown throwing puppies at him from across the room – that’s his personal hell. Stay Puff Marshmallow man King-Konging him up the side of the building – personal hell. The movie was limited only by the authors’ imagination and can you picture how far that would have gone if they were all high? He could have been attacked by a giant piece of cake. It would have been a very different movie, but it could have happen.

You need a big star to carry a movie like 1408 alone for an hour, and I think John Cusack is a brave choice. He’s dipped his toe into paranormal thrillers, quite successfully in my opinion, with another hotel freak out, Identity, but for the most part he’s made his career as the unlikely romantic. Still, he’s made off-type choices before in films like Con Air and Being John Malkovich and been equally as impressive. I was excited about his return to the supernatural, but the difference between Identity and 1408 is that he had Ray Liotta and 6 other people to bounce dialogue off of in that. In 1408 it’s all Cusack, all the time and with a less capable performer the pacing, development, and general interest would jump right out the window with the rooms last victim.

For me It doesn’t hurt that I’m a die-hard Cusack fan, but I suspect that folks previously unimpressed or unexposed to his charms will still be able to appreciate the level of his performance here. He does wear a series of ridiculous hats though, and in one of the opening scenes he goes surfing. Chicago’s favorite son on a surfboard? Yeah right. On the plus side – he’s totally bringing back Hawaiian shirts.

The movie is beautifully shot. Director Mikael Håfström (Derailed) has a masterful eye for suspense combining unique angles and long pans that help to create an authentic feeling of claustrophobic entrapment. The movie says so much from the way it’s filmed and it elevates every other aspect of the production. I suspect that the inventiveness of camera work can be attributed in part to necessity of variety in shooting the same location in as many different ways as possible. When you’re stuck in the same room for 3 months you get pretty creative with where you point the camera.

2-hours is a long time to be stuck in the same situation but a sharp script, a talented storyteller in its director, and a star that’s a lot of fun to watch, resulted in a horror movie that was worth the risk. For everything 1408 had going against it they proved that good casting and an inventive script can make your limitations your most powerful tool. 1408 may not be the sharpest, smartest, or even scariest movie of the year, but in a summer of movies were supposed to see, it’s nice to know we’ve got a few viable options. Plus… Cusack!

Rating: 7 out of 10 - Horror as a whole seems to be on the outs these days as the summer blockbusters have laid waste to movies like Hostel Part 2 and Vacancy, but I do hope that King’s name will be enough to draw out the crowds for 1408. It’s unlikely as one huge crowd-pleasing movie after another is released every 7 days for the next 3 months, but you never know. Every now and then people like to be freaked out, and that’s a lot more appealing to sit through when someone like Cusack is there to guide you through it.

Truthfully, his career could use the boost, and I hope it gets him a lot of attention because I would love to see him back on the A-list when his next film Grace is Gone, about a man who’s wife died in the Iraq War, hits theatres in the fall. It premiered at Sundance to rave reviews and the higher his star is flying when it comes out, the more likely audiences will be to give it a chance.

You know what I love? Being scared constantly. Ok, I don’t but if you do, this might be a good set to pick up. I rarely purchase horror DVD’s but if they put together a nice collection I might not be able to resist. Personally ’d love to see some more insight on Håfström’s process during the filmmaking. He’s only 2 films deep into his American cinema career, but I’ve been impressed by his efforts in both. He has a unique perspective and a good handle on sprawling, complex stories. If the DVD offers a commentary and a few featurettes on the subject then I’m sure I’ll be spending some more time in 1408 very soon.

The Shining - Ok, the obvious choice here is Stanley Kubrick's The Shining. It’s another hotel-based ghost story adapted from one of King’s books. A terrifying tale of a man out of time forced to confront past daemons in a… blah blah blah…

Look. The Shining is a great film, and if you haven’t seen it you should, and I could go on and on about the similar ghostly tidbits and horrific visions linking the two films but the truth is… I can’t get Die Hard outta my brain! On Tuesday I picked up the 4-disk collection, largely because it came with a free ticket to see Live Free Or Die Hard, but also because the price was right and it’s just one of those movies that all guys should own.

I popped in the original classic yesterday afternoon and was just reminded scene after scene how incredible it really is. Not just as a ruthlessly entertaining action movie but just as a complete and compelling story. Everything that happens, including the first lines of the film (Take of your shoes and make fists in the carpet with your toes) is a set-up to some fantastic moment of heroism for the character to face later in the film (barefoot glass walking).

Entertainment Weekly recently named it the greatest action movie of all time, and while I typically take that magazine’s reviews with a grain of salt, it’s difficult to argue with them on this. John McClane wasn’t even supposed to be there that day, but I’m sure as hell glad he showed up and made one of the best movies of my lifetime.

1408’s official web site is a little dry, but it does link to a nice little cross promotion Dimension Films set up with Hotels.com where they direct you towards some of the most acclaimed haunted houses, hotels, and bed and breakfasts’ across the country. Some people are really into the history and mystery that come with the ghost stories of these old houses. Personally you couldn’t make me stay overnight at one of those places even if Cusack were there.

Nothing to report today. But if you’re bored check out the latest shocking turn in today’s Turtle vs. Bunny. Permanent injuries are always a good time.

Live Journal/Myspace/Rotten Tomatoes/Buzz Comix/Top Web Comics/Comics on the Ipod/The Webcomics List/Online Comics/Wikipedia/Comixpedia/JLCM Map!

Joe – The creator of the strip who has embraced giving crappy movies the chance they deserve. Like the majority of the cast he’s obsessed with boobs.

First Appearance - The Introduction

Yeo – Yeo is Joe’s wife and often the voice of reason in the strip. Having her act rational allows the rest of the cast to embrace being in a comic strip which primarily involves randomly punching people, interacting with fictional characters and talking about boobs. Yeo is smart, beautiful and way too good for Joe. Don’t tip her off.

First Appearance - Fever Pitch

Irv – Joe’s movie-going sidekick who’s always down for watching Jason Statham crescent moon kick some thug through a plate glass window and getting some drinks before after and during a Vin Diesel movie. Like the majority of the cast he’s obsessed with boobs.

First Appearance - Ong-Bak: The Thai Warrior

Agent 337 George Jones – A government Agent that took over for Joe after he was bad-mouthing President Bush in the V for Vendetta strip. George ran the show for over a month bring a much needed sense of patriotism and justice to both the strips and reviews. He eventually got too attached to his work, empathizing with Joe’s plight to give crappy movies a fair shake. In a way he came to love crappy movies as well and was pushed out of the position. He spiraled out of control and ended up in prison. His adventures will be told in the limited series JLCM Presents: 337 Locked Up which is set to début Christmas of 09.

First Appearance - V for Vendetta

Other Notable Appearances: Stay Alive, Ice age 2, Larry the Cable Guy: Health Inspector, Slither, Here Comes Guest week, Let’s Go To Prison

Leonidas – The former king of Sparta who has traveled into the future and is having trouble coping with the modern times. Yelling loudly and kicking people into giant holes doesn’t really work the same way it did in the olden days. As time as gone by he’s adjusted but it’s a safe bet that he’s always one bad message away from throwing a spear through someone.

First Appearance - 300

Other Notable Appearances: Four Brothers, Strip# 300, The Golden Compass, Rambo, Untraceable, The Ladies of Max Paybe

Palpatine – Former Senator, Emperor of the Galactic Empire, Sith Lord... He shows up in the Joe Loves Crappy movies galaxy on occasion to let people know that they’re being stupid. No one’s really sure how he shows up in this universe but chances are it breaks all kinds of copywrite laws.

First Appearance - Episode III: The Dark Side

Other Notable Appearances: Four Brothers, Night Watch, Saw 3, Are We Done Yet

Slow Billy – Billy is a sweet kid but he’s not the sharpest tool in the shed. If you’re watching him for the day be prepared to explain to him the plot of the movie or how popcorn works or, not so much where babies come from, but what babies are. He’s a complete moron.

First Appearance - Four Brothers

Other Notable Appearances: The Chronicles of Narnia, The Da Vinci Code, Vantage Point, Journey to the Center of the Earth

Kyle the Movie Snob – Be careful what fun facts about movies you tell your friends at a friendly gathering or in line for the latest blockbuster, because if you’re even slightly wrong, Kyle will be more than happy to let you know. He usually gets what’s coming to him though. Poor guy has cracked three ribs since joining the JLCM cast.

First Appearance - Ultraviolet

Other Notable Appearances: 16 Blocks, Pirates of the Caribbean: At World’s End, Transformers, Journey to the Center of the Earth

Jean-Luc Picard – Another lawsuit waiting to happen is Jean Luc Picard who, towards the end of the strip’s first year, became the go-to background character. If there was ever a seat to fill or a random person to place wandering around in the background, nine times out of ten it was Picard. While Picard has crossed paths with Irv he and Joe have never met. Perhaps they will some day but for now just can an eye on the background.

First Appearance - The Producers

Other Notable Appearances: I’m not telling you, that’s no fun. It’ like Where’s Waldo – go find him!

Ice Cream Sandwich – Delicious and… deadly? Usually when you see someone eating an Ice Cream sandwich, someone else is experiencing a substantial amount of pain. Still, how nice is an ice cream sandwich on a hot summer day?

First Appearance - Saw IV

Other Notable Appearances: Bee Movie, Run Fatboy Run, Saw V

pimptour
@pimptour
@SCORPDLM @joedunn721 Did I say days? I meant weeks (months?). Sorry about that but they're available in the store... https://t.co/yw3fNlT8PK
26 Sep 2022
Joe Dunn
@joedunn721
@dernjg hahaha! You say that now but when I need you, baby... you're never there.
07 Oct 2022
Irv Fabor
@irvfabor
When your away from a spot where you built a rapport with the bartender and you're away for three weeks and once yo... https://t.co/VpJqiTWoZV
16 Sep 2022
Kevin Gleason
@retail_rage
@joedunn721 Unbelievable how many steps back we are taking.
23 Jul 2022