Saturday, September 24, 2016

Almost Heroes: Park Hie-Bong (The Host)

Even 10 years later, I still don't want to SPOIL all of this Film.  Even so, I'm going to a little...

In it, this nice old dude is trying to raise his Family when the Monster shows up and it all goes south.
In a nice Scene, we see him talk about how he didn't raise his Son well enough.  Aww.
His pathos leads to a bit where their Camper near the River is bumped by the Monster and they try to pursue it...
They get the creature right in their sights with one more bullet to take it down with.
...but his Son miscounted.  Well, crap.
He dies.
On the plus side, his tragic death drives his Family to fight even harder to kill the beast.

Sorry, Pops- you almost were the Hero.  Blame Math.

Friday, September 23, 2016

Quick Reviews: The Asylum's Hercules Reborn

After Disney and MGM had their shot, it is only fair that The Asylum does too...
In a Cold Open, a mad Hercules kills his family (mostly off-screen).

Well, at least I know which Hercules Film they're copying.  The fact that another Wrestler is here as the Lead too...
This evil General guy wants to be more militaristic, while the King wants peace.

It is yet again that mention the odd Filmography of Dylan Vox.  Asylum Films, Softcore Gay Porn and Family Films.  More power to him...but still odd.  Although Showgirls 2...
He decides to rebel, overthrowing the City with all 20 of his men (and the other 100 that are CG).
He has a thing for the Princess, who is already with our non-God Hero.  Casual Rape- more Films need that!
The Heroes in hiding find someone to help them: Hercules.  Don't worry- he's still super-strong and fit after 10 years of not fighting and binge drinking.
Can our Heroes (who dress more Roman than Greek) save the day?  To find out, watch the Film.
Needed more Space Bear.  In all seriousness, this one is almost too morose and serious.  The Film features death, torture, the murder of a child (or two), implied rape and captivity.  Yeah, I'm sure Vox would totally do that to her!  I'm not against a Film being dark, but they may have overdone it a little.  I say that for a number of reasons, but mostly because the Film's budgetary limitations make it kind of funny at times.  Greece- known for its Deserts!  Thrill at some of the group Scenes where a couple Soldiers have different Helmets for no reason (other than a shortage of Helmets).  Enjoy John Hennigan (aka Johnny Nitro/John Morrison/Johnny Mundo) doing his 'I'm angry' voice in an attempt to be taken seriously.  That's always been a problem for him, as shown by the fact that The Miz did most of the talking when they were together.  Bless him for trying...but no.  The Film does a decent job at having people do the fighting most of the time, but Hennigan works in random spins.  Thanks for that.  The Story is pretty basic, the Budget is pretty small and the Acting is...mostly not great.  Hercules Reborn is a so-so Film that doesn't really do much other than try to shock you.  On the plus side, this is the first Film where Hercules does a Standing Shoot Star Press...
An odd mix of self-serious, dark and kind of silly.  The latter is not intentional, but totally there!

Thursday, September 22, 2016

Poor Bastards of Cinema: The Doorway (2000)

Never fear- there are always random guys/girls being killed!

In The Doorway, a random guy is sent to a mysterious House to fix the power.  I love how most work vans have no markings too.
He goes down to the Basement to fix the Fuse Box.  This didn't work out in Furnace, so...
For no reason, he's confronted by...the Ghost of Christmas Past...
...and backs lightly into the Box, sending sparks flying and apparently killing him.  Ouch?
The lesson: don't do your job when it involves super-unsafe fuse boxes.

Seriously, is that how they work?!?  Also, this Ghost never appears again, so...yea.

Wednesday, September 21, 2016

Moviestopped: The Doorway (2000)

Which Horror Film on the same Disc featuring a dead Actor I liked would come first?  The answer is today's Film- The Doorway.  This Horror Film from 2000 comes with another Film- Knocking on Death's Door- featuring David Carradine.  On the plus side, this Title is less creepy in hindsight.  I picked this one first since, well, the Disc was 2-sided and I didn't feel like flipping it over.  Fate works in mysterious ways.  Plus I'm lazy.  In any event, this Story involves four College Students who end up boarding at a mysterious House instead of a Dorm.  Why?  Money- that's why!  Naturally, something spooky starts to happen and they have to figure out why before it is too late.  Of note, the Cast features Roy Scheider.  Taking nothing away from how great the guy was as an Actor, this was a point where he was less, let's go with, picky about his projects.  How else do you explain appearing in Dracula II, Dracula III and The Peacekeeper.  He's also part of a strangely-specific group of Actors who's last work was on a Seth MacFarlane Show.  Considering the diversity of people- including Dennis Farina and Ricardo Montalban- how weird is that?!?  You don't care about weird things that only I notice- you care about the Film.  Is it good?  To find out, read on...
4 'teens' end up at a beat-up old Mansion in the Irish part of New England.  They'll get paid $10k and get free room and board...as long as they fix it up.

Hope they don't mind the dead body in the Cellar.
After a quick montage, one of them reads the legend of the House, which is conveniently in a Book on site.

The gist of it: a bunch of obvious Stock Footage explains that there were once Satanists there.
Sure enough, crazy stuff starts to happen like faces in mirrors, ghosts posing dolls in sex poses (really!) and this lady showing up to be freaky.
Nearly 40 minutes in, we finally meet the guy with before-the-Title-billing.  He plays a Professor who's Assistant is related to the Family that once owned the House.  What are the odds?!?
He agrees to help them look for any phenomenon (and to be the best Actor).  Sure enough, she shows up again...
They find her body and think that this reveal will make her soul rest- you know, like in The Haunting.

Not so much, as she just pops up and kills Scheider's Character, putting an end to his 20 minute run.
They burn the body- since bones are super-flammable!- and go to the Authorities.  While they're gone, a guy dies (see a future Poor Bastards of Cinema induction).
The Cop is killed (off-screen) and it is revealed that one of them is possessed, proceeding to choke his girlfriend with his giant tongue.  Haven't seen that in a while.
After a battle with the possessed guy, the Cenobite-things that keep appearing and the Witch, the Psychic Assistant (who also plays the Witch) seals the Portal by jumping into it with the Medallion that sealed it.

I have several questions about how that works, but whatever.  The End.
I've certainly seen worse, but I've also seen better.  The Story is pretty simple, the Acting is pretty basic and the whole thing feels pretty cheap.  For example, the Ghost Witch Lady floats in one Scene, but never in a full shot.  You see the feet hovering above the ground in a tight shot and you see her back from behind in a different, tight shot.  You get enough of a sense that she's floating...but it is pretty cheap-looking.  Another example- after the bit where they kill Scheider's Character, his body falls away and they never show him above the chest area.  You couldn't afford to make a fake body, I guess.  That said, they do some nice Practical Effects (since CG was still way expensive in 2000) that mostly-work.  They certainly brighten up the otherwise dull Film.  The whole thing is just so simple and stock.  The few times they do something really different, it is mostly just odd.  Why is the Actor obsessed with W.C. Fields?  It doesn't amount to anything, so...why?  All in all, the Film has some good moments (especially with Scheider), but is mostly predictable and bland.  As a bonus, it makes sure to let you know that our Final Girl and Boy DON'T get a happy (or logical) ending...
Up next, the other Film on the Disc.  More spectral stuff, more Direct-to-Video and another dead Actor.  Stay tuned..

Sunday, September 18, 2016

Moviestopped: Night Tide (1961)

Who hasn't been in this situation?  Today's Film is Night Tide, a 1961 Film that has apparently been restored AFTER my Copy was made.  Oops.  In any event, the Story involves a Navy guy meeting a mysterious woman at the Pier and falling for her.  After being kind of creepy (not helped by the fact that he's Dennis Hopper), they fall in love.  However, some weird reveal about the woman may put a damper on the whole thing.  So yes, this is young Dennis Hopper.  Oddly, he's playing the whole thing pretty sedate and subtle.  This must be before all of the drugs that he freely admitted to taking throughout the 60s and 70s.  This one is apparently a pretty rare one, but is it a good one?  To find out, read on...
Hopper here is on Shore Leave from the Navy, so he naturally goes to the Pier to leer.
He finds this lady and constantly makes moves towards her, despite constant rejection.
Naturally, this leads to romance!  When did we invent Anti-Stalking Laws?

It is now time to exposition dump, although they at least make it semi-conversational.
A Cop shows up conveniently to set up the reveal that our Heroine has two missing boyfriend that they think she killed.
Hopper follows this mysterious lady, but it doesn't get resolved.  Since this is 'Arty,' it is not a waste of time...
He finally learns from the guy who runs the Mermaid Show that our Heroine is a part of that she's a Mermaid...for real.  That's heavy man!
In spite of his best efforts, he can't stop her from leaving as the Full Moon approaches to join her friends...
...only for it to (possibly) turn out that she was just CONVINCED that she was on by the old guy.  Either way, she's dead.
In the aftermath, he takes all of the blame for the murders so Hopper is free.  There are unanswered questions still, but...The End.
It is good, but kind of vague.  To be fair, that's what it is going for.  The Film comes on the same Disc with Carnival of Souls, so that should tell you alot.  For those who are keeping track, this Disc means that I now own FIVE copies of Souls!  I'm sure that somebody has me beat, but not many.  In any event. Night Tide has that weird, dreamy thing going for it that mostly works.  If you don't think of this as part of Monsterfest (like the DVD says), it is alot more forgivable.  There are glimpses of something more overt in the Film, but only to tease you.  This Film is more about Hopper and the lady interacting, which does warm on you.  Hopper is super-creepy at first, but tones it down as the Film goes on.  Is anything weird that happens in the Film real?  Was the old man lying?  That's up to you to decide, which is something that definitely isn't done too often these days.  There is a difference between being intentionally-vague and being mysterious.  If you can connect with the Film, you'll probably appreciate it.  As for me, I'll be more interested in who gave the name Chaino to a Black Bongo Player!
Next up, a pair of Films conveniently on one Disc.  Do I go with Carradine or Scheider?  Stay tuned...

Saturday, September 17, 2016

5 Questions Raised by 'Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Out of the Shadows'

After seeing this on Video (as I haven't seen a Turtles Film in Theaters since Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles 3), I have questions...
1. Why would anyone believe this?: No, not the giant, anthropomorphic Turtles thing- that just makes sense!

No, I mean the idea that people just accepted that Vern, some unknown Reporter, took down the Shredder...a Villain that they didn't know existed until that day.  Yes, it makes for 'Comedy' that he's so full of himself as a 'Hero,' but it just makes no damn sense.

2. Where did this Krang stuff come from?: This is probably a more minor thing, but hear me out.

So nothing in the previous Film hinted at Aliens or anything more Sci-Fi than the Shredder suit and some vague toxin.  Now, all of a sudden, Aliens invade and all sorts of crazy stuff is on the table.

Take a cue from Marvel.  The Tesseract is introduced in Captain America: The First Avenger and then explained with the Aliens in The Avengers.  They didn't, for example, just suddenly have Aliens invade in Iron Man 2!

3. How much do these Turtles actually weigh?: This is probably only me, but fine.

Bay's Turtles are like 7 feet tall piles of muscle.  They must way like four-hundred pounds, right?

In this Film, they flip like it's nothing, sit on structures like they are nothing and, my favorite, crawl through Vents in a Police Station.  How big are those damn vents?!?  How sturdy must they be?

4. The Mutagen works how exactly?!?: In Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles II: The Secret of the Ooze, a Scientist (David Warner!) makes new Mutants by exposing Animals to the same mutagen as our Heroes.

In this Film, they get some purple stuff from Krang and expose two guys to it.  This makes them a giant Rhino-man and a Warthog-man.  How, you ask?  Well...

According to Baxter Stockman, we Humans all have a dormant Animal Gene inside of us that the stuff unlocks.

I'll give you a moment to face palm.

5. Are these the dumbest aliens ever?: The Kraang show up after eons and their plan is to bring their ship into our dimension.  The only catch- they need this one object to complete the job.  Sure hope nobody steals it.

So yes, the villain is defeated by one object being taken just away from it.  No failsafes?  No backup?

For a giant brain, you are made of stupid.

Almost Heroes: Donald (2006's The Host)

As a quick sidebar, it saddens me to have to label WHICH Film called The Host I'm talking about, especially since the other one is so bad.

When a Monster suddenly appears near a Gathering of people, most run from it.  Some run to it!
This man- Donald- and our Hero try to rescue some people trapped inside an RV.
When the creature runs off after another victim, Donald tries to save the day by...throwing a tile.

A for Effort...but an S for Silly.
The pair keep working together to try and save more victims.
Our Hero manages to fall under a nearby truck and survive, while our Almost Hero...
...gets eaten.  Ouch.
On the plus side, you being eaten means that it will be less full for others...I guess.
Sorry, Donald- you were heroic...just not successful.

Thanks alot, Pollution.

Friday, September 16, 2016

5 Questions Raised by 'X-Men: Apocalypse'

After seeing this one on Video (and not in Theaters, which is rare for an X-Men Film), I have some questions...
1. Professor X Did What?!?: We learn in this Film that Xavier erased all memories of himself and the X-Men from Moira MAcTaggert after X-Men: First Class.  WHAT?

Is this an Homage to all of the Comic Book Retcons involving Xavier?  Otherwise, it just feels like a strange and out-of-nowhere reveal for drama's sake.

2. What exactly can Apocalypse do?: Built into the Plot is the idea that Apocalypse goes from body-to-body and always takes more abilities each time.  In the course of the Film, he displays...

- Mind Control                
- Super Strength                                  
- Force Field Generation
- Mass Teleportation        
- Vague Ability to Increase Powers    
- Super Senses
- Matter Manipulation      
- Regenerative Healing

Could you explain all of these or do his powers just appear as the Plot demands it?

3. What is the range of most of these powers?: The Film is chock full of people using powers to various degrees that don't quite sync up all the time.

Quicksilver is fast enough to do the Mansion Rescue bit, but still caught off-guard by a guy pulling a trigger.  Magneto shows the ability to pull metal/mineral apart at the base level, but resorts to just throwing debris in the final Scene.  Cyclops' blasts seem to be both heated (burning walls), concussive force (breaking up objects) and he later uses them to melt steel beams (which jet fuel can't do).

I'm not even going to get into Psylocke cutting a car in half with the combo of her psy-blade and katana sword...

4. What exactly did Mystique do for Wolverine?  This is kind of an important one and it goes to how well continuity is treated.

So she replaces Stryker in 1973 and oversees Wolverine's prone body being taken away.  The implication is that she'll stop him from being put in the Weapon X program.  So...

Why is Wolverine in the same program run by Stryker in 1983?!?  Did she just drop him off, rendering that tease pointless?  Did Wolverine just get captured again, rendering that tease moot.

On a related note, she didn't kill Stryker?  Why?  She's had 2 opportunities and was only discouraged the first time by Havok.  Way to drop the ball, Lawrence!

5. What was the point in casting Oscar Isaac?: Seriously, you see his actual face/body for about 2 minutes and all of his Dialog was done in Post-Production/ADR.

Instead, he's there in make-up that makes him look like Ivan Ooze most of the time for no reason.

This added nothing, other than casting a guy with alot of buzz.  Good job, Fox.

Tuesday, September 13, 2016

Rare TV Flix: The Revenge of the Stepford Wives

I only did this for the Director.  Even though I never got to meet Robert Fuest before his death in 2012, I always felt for the guy.  He made 2 of my favorite Films ever- The Abominable Dr. Phibes, Dr. Phibes Rises Again-, but then got screwed over by the Hollywood System.  One big flop- The Devil's Rain- and his Career would never recover.  That leads into today's Film- 1980's The Revenge of the Stepford Wives, a TV Sequel to the iconic Film.  If you don't remember it (or the 2004 Remake), this is the basic Plot- a small town in Connecticut has started turning their Wives into robot slaves that only want to serve them in the House.  Nice, homely stuff.  Five years later, we get a Sequel set...10 years later (for some reason).  If you think that this time jump matters, it doesn't.  Now a Reporter comes to Town and gets stuck in the midst of the continued craziness.  As noted, the Director is Fuest and the Cast has some notable names.  Sharon Gless is the Reporter, while Don Johnson plays a Cop who gets caught up in all of this.  This one, like all of the Sequels, fudges the details a bit.  Is it worth trying to track down (despite the lack of quality copies)?  To find out, read on...
If you're wondering about that Title, my Version apparently has the German VHS Title and burned-in...Dutch Subtitles?

Anyhow, a guy in Stepford wants out, so they let him...get driven off of a cliff and die.
A Reporter- Gless- drives into Town right after (literally driving past the Cop who caused the wreck) and wants to know about the Town, due to its 0% turnover rate for Housing and nearly 0% crime rate.
The men in Town are wary of this, of course, as they are mind-controlling their wives.  How?
With Pills, of course!

No, they're not Robots anymore.  Did the time-jump between Films make this change?
Our Heroine meets up with a potential new Wife (the future voice of Marge Simpson) and her Husband (the future voice of Lt. Falcon).
He somewhat reluctantly agrees to have his wife- who is messy and opinionated- converted in exchange for a new life in Stepford and a Job.
She is now programmed to serve and not question, as the treatment is said to suppress all instincts but to serve the man.  If the Pills are taken too often or not enough, things go wrong.
Gless tries to help her new friend, but finds out that it is easier said then done.

She finally manages, thanks to information that the head of Stepford exposited conveniently earlier.
Gless' escape attempt is initially stopped, but she ultimately does so with the Cop/Wife pair (who work things out).

As for the Wives, they get their 'revenge' when they are tricked into taking too many pills, making them go violent and kill the Leader.  The End.
Pretty good stuff, but nothing mind-blowing.  Right off the bat, you have two issues to confront: familiarity and Plot Changes.  On one hand, this one feels very familiar to its more famous predecessor.  I'm not sure how many different ways you can approach this Plot, mind you, so I'm giving it a little bit of  pass.  As for the changes, well, there are no Robots.  This allows them to give Kavner a happy end, since she wasn't killed and replaced by a Robot.  To be fair, the mind-control without full replacement thing makes it feel less like Invasion of the Body Snatchers.   What the Film does right is make the whole Setting feel unnatural and too serene.  The performances by the Wives are quite fun here, ranging from silly to a little scary.  The Film doesn't shy away from the core issue to tackle: patriarchy run amok.  Does wanting your Wife to be subservient make you a bad person?  Probably, at least if you go too far with it.  Wanting to be happy and content- logical.  Making someone abandon their whole self to make yourself happy- insane.  Could people really go this far if the technology allowed them?  Regardless of how you feel about all that, this one is actually...kind of good.  It doesn't make any big changes or do anything super-remarkable.  There are some nice touches (like Gless' arrival), good shots (Gless backing up towards a potential attacker) and it pretty much works.  It would be nice to see this on something better than a VHS Rip from overseas...although a Blu-Ray wouldn't have this little bit at the end...
Next up, I go back to some older stuff as I continue to sort through my Moviestop purchases.  Something smells fishy.  Stay tuned...