Saturday, October 10, 2015

80's Trash(?): Elvira, Mistress of the Dark

Sorry, but Svengoolie doesn't have a Movie (that I know of).  Today's Films is Elvira, Mistress of the Dark, a 1988 Vehicle for the Horror Hostess of the same name.  It was Produced by Roger Corman's New World Productions, so we are just layering on the cheesy and sleazy.  Is that a bad thing though?  The Film stars Cassandra Peterson as her own TV Identity, so she's not exactly branching out.  She is in desperate need of money to play Vegas- about 2 Decades before Britney Spears and Celine Dion!- and just may have one.  Unfortunately, it involves going to an unfriendly Town and facing off with her evil Uncle (of sorts).  I've owned this one for a long time and watched it before, but it has been ages.  Does it still stand up like Gremlins or suck like Nukie?  To find out, read on...
Elvira here is hosting her TV Show when she gets fed up with her boss- TV Producer Cliche #2- and quits.  She wants to play Vegas, but needs some dough.
Her Agent shows up with a letter explaining that she has inherited something from her never-before-seen Aunt's Estate.  She comments on how convenient the timing us.

Breaking the 4th Wall?  Why now?
She arrives in the town of Falwell (get it?), Massachussetts, where she doesn't exactly fit in.
She inherits an old house, a dog and a 'cookbook.'  Her Uncle wants it badly and she has no connection, but the dog hides it to keep this Film from being only 20 minutes long.
She has a big impact on the local kids in this Footloose-style Town.  Hey look- old Pepsi can!
She later learns the strange tale of her birth and that she is tied to some old tradition that is threatened by her obviously-evil Uncle.  Cute baby.
As you can see, things don't go well.  Even still, our heroine manages to keep going...
While being pursued by the Uncle (who wants the Book to gain ultimate power during the Full Moon), she is stopped by a gate.  This leads to arguably the most famous part of the movie...
In the End, she stops her evil Uncle and inherits HIS Estate (hurray for her Lawyer!), allowing her to play Vegas.  Huzzah!  The End.
Dumb, silly and fun.  This is not meant to be Citizen Kane.  Hell, it is not even meant to Meatballs!  This is Meatballs IV (yes, there are 4) levels of dumb and cheesy.  Even so, I can't be mad at it.  Yes, some of the jokes are dated- like naming the Town Falwell or parodying Rambo-, but that doesn't keep the Film from being fun.  Elvira/Cassandra does a good job of playing her own Character, but isn't exactly the greatest Actress here.  This walks that fine Troma-line of 'Is she just acting badly or acting badly for the joke?'  I tend to lean towards the latter here.  Everything about this screams 'silly movie' from the Acting (from everyone), the Story and the Effects.  The Computer Effects are pretty primitive by today's standards, but still effective (see above).  You know what they are supposed to represent and they aren't designed to look life-like, so all is well.  If you like Elvira and her 6,000,004 Public Domain DVD Releases, this won't disappoint.  If you go in expecting a silly Comedy and nothing more, you won't be all that disappointed either.  What is disappointing, however, is the DVD itself.  Look at this Menu...
Next, another 80s Film that definitely deserves more love.  Don't go drinking at night unless you want to find Vampires.  Stay tuned...

Wednesday, October 7, 2015

Twin Piqued: Twin Peaks- Fire Walk With Me

Is this truly the end?  Today's Film is Twin Peaks: Fire Walk With Me, the Prequel Film that Lynch demanded.  The Fans of the Show demanded to know how the Story continued after the Season 2 Finale, of course.  That immediately created a conflict here that would be hard to overcome.  Does it?  The Story tells the final days of Laura Palmer leading up to her famous death.  Well, that and a bunch of other, random stuff.  The Film was apparently around five hours long before Cuts were made, so certain people just aren't here.  In addition, new people appear- some as new Characters, some as old ones.  For better or worse, this is a David Lynch Film.  Is it a gem that bears more appreciating or the kind of arty mess that I usually give to Bob?  To find out, read on...
Two Agents we don't know (Chris Isaak and Keifer Sutherland) are sent to investigate the death of a young woman.

So this is apparently due to Kyle McLaughlan not wanting to be in a bigger role.  Alright then.
Furthering confusing things, Not Cooper and Sutherland investigate the death in a Town *like* Twin Peaks, but not really.  Hurray?
After Not Cooper vanishes, real Cooper appears in a trippy Scene with the Red Room, Young Not David Lynch and...David Bowie?!?

I don't know what the hell this has to do with anything ,but it was nice to see the trippy stuff again.  Hi again, Miguel Ferrer!
After all that, we get the Story of Laura Palmer's final days.  Oh good- the point!

We see stuff that we heard about- her cocaine problem, her relationship with the weird shut-in guy, etc.- but not much that is actually new or surprising.
We do see some more explicit stuff showing how BOB was controlling Leland and you know that I loves me some Killer BOB.
After some more randomness (including a Cameo by Heather Graham), we see the final events leading to the death of Laura Palmer.  As it all goes down, she has a meaningful Scene with Log Lady.
We see all of the freaky stuff in the Cabin that led up to her death.  One issue: not enough Red.
In a bit that bothers some (even people in the Cast!), we see very explicitly (and darkly) how a possessed Leland killed Laura.  There's no levity here, folks!
In what some claim is a clue explaining Cooper's fate after the Season 2 Finale, we see him with Laura in the Red Room- alongside an Angel!.

This is right after she died though, so...I'm not sure I buy it/get it.  The End.
Confusing, weird and kind of interesting.  This is definitely weirder than the Show, which is saying alot!  This gets really weird because it makes you think of the Show, but acts more like a standard David Lynch Film.  Remember, he didn't Write and Direct a good chunk of the Episodes of the Show.  One thing to note is that, as mentioned, Lynch shot a good 4-5 Hours of Footage and cut it down to about 2.  Would the missing Scenes have made for a more coherent- though obviously longer- narrative?  Maybe.  It is still a David Lynch Film though, folks!  So much in the early part is just weird for the sake of being weird.  For example, this woman below meets the Agents at the Airport and does some sort of weird Interpretive Dance bit.  Why?  It is so that they would know what to expect in the Town they are going to.  No, that clearly couldn't have been done with a briefing and, you know words!  Don't be silly.  In the rest of the thing, we get all sorts of dark, dark stuff.  With such a diverse set of Stories, the Film is very disjointed.  It isn't bad, but I definitely understand what some of the complaints were about.  It is very strange and abstract.  I'd say more, but the One-Armed Man would say mean things about me like he does on the Interview Feature on the DVD.  If you liked the Show, this is for you.  It is just quite a bit different in many ways, so you may not like it as much.  Right, Red Lady?
Next up, I go back to cover some Horror-themed stuff that has eluded Reviewing.  First up, a Horror Host has a super-cheesy 80s Film.  Stay tuned...

Tuesday, October 6, 2015

Recent Flix: Hard Ride to Hell

Since I haven't been in a Cannibal mood lately, here's some DTV Crap!  Today's Film is Hard Ride to Hell, a Movie that sounded like a major rip-off, but was mostly-unique.  It still wasn't really all that good, but it was different.  Yea?  This not-so-notable Film is about a Satanic Cult, some Bikers and Miguel Ferrer- all at once!  This won't be the only Film with Miguel Ferrer this week- probably a first.  On first reading, the Plot seems to be *exactly* like Race with Devil.  Thankfully, it isn't so transparent (in that non-Emmy-winning way).  On the plus side, since so few of you know/have seen this one, nobody is going to get mad at me for making fun of it.  To find out if this is truly evil or just some Goth kid, read on...
In a color-corrected opening, an old man and his grandson are confronted by a demonic lady, who is stopped by a Biker (Ferrer).

He rides a Horse though, so...confusing.
Some unstated time later, a group of random people are riding through the desert in an RV.  They see a bloody wreck and don't report it since...reasons.
The group- which includes the Token Black Friend- run across this random Salesman, who is sure to not be important later.
That night, Token Black Friend wanders off and sees a Satanic Cult led by Ferrer.  They kill some ladies before fate decides that he must be chased.
As the Film turns away from being a rip-off, our heroes are caught by the gang and one is killed.  Time for back-story?
We finally get some when the Story brings us to a Priest- the now-old-kid from the intro- who tells us everything.  Holy Black Cobra, Batman!

It has apparently been like 60 years since the Intro.  Thanks for the total lack of Time Card, Movie!
Hey look- that guy from before is now the Main Hero!  What a twist!
Since I'm not a total dick, I won't SPOIL the whole Film.

Hey look- Katharine Isabelle!  You were good in Ginger Snaps and....Ginger Snaps.
Will Miguel Ferrer and his bad-in-close-up eye scar win the day or will good triumph?  The End.
Damn, this one is pretty lame.  It all sounds great, right?  Satanic Bikers chase random people and try to give birth to the Anti-Christ.  What is the deal with Satanic Bikers, by the way?  Is it just that we generally dislike Bikers (see South Park) and think that they must be evil?  This Film also reminds me of how disappointing Werewolves on Wheels (also with Satanic Bikers) was.  Where was I?  Oh right.  That's a key issue with this Film- it is so forgettable.  They try at times.  It has Nudity, random violence, human sacrifice and Nudity.  Even so, I just...just didn't care.  You might.  Here are boobs censored in a funny way...
Next up, I finally get done with Twin Peaks like everyone else did.  23 years later, am I going to be as mean as those dicks at Cannes?

Saturday, October 3, 2015

Quick Reviews: Turbo Kid

This one comes with all sorts of hype and I was really sold on the idea.  I hope that it lives up to it all.  This is...
In a bleak future, one young man tries to survive by scavenging and holding onto things he loved as a kid.
Unfortunately, life is really tough in the Wasteland and people die every day.

Seriously, there is A LOT of death in this Movie.  It is bloody as hell!
A cruel Warlord who calls himself Zeus (Michael Ironside) controls the nearby land and has a pretty dark way of keeping the resources flowing.
When our hero finally finds someone to love again in the Wasteland, he must become Turbo Kid (or at least the closest iteration he can) to save her!
Even with some help, can Turbo Kid be the hero that he needs to be to stop the Road Warrior-esque threat of Zeus and his evil men?
Or is he just plain doomed?  Well, you can probably guess...but you probably still won't see everything coming.  No SPOILERs.  The End.
What a good surprise!  Like many Films from the Indy Circuit, this one came with alot of hype.  Naturally, I was hoping for the best, but expecting the worst.  Such is the danger of these Films.  Thankfully, this crazy Film totally lived up to it all!  The Plot and Setting, while not wholly-original, are very fun and satisfying.  You don't need a complex set-up to explain why it is the Wasteland- not after 30 years of Mad Max clones anyways.  The Story here is nice and simple- Villain bad, heroes good.  There is more to it, but the simple heart of it is such.  There are plenty of nice twists and turns along the way that I obviously won't give away too.  The big thing for and against the Film is the ridiculous level of violence here.  Why it works: it is ridiculously-over-the-top and eye-catching.  Why it may not work for everyone: it is ridiculously-over-the-top.  Did I mention that it is ridiculous?  It is best described as 'Riki-Oh in the Wasteland' and is easily the goriest thing I've seen this year since the good parts of Zombieworld.  If you love crazy stuff like me, you're going to totally love this one.  While it borrows from many other Films (and is an expansion of a 2011 Short Film), it makes its own crazy mark.  Speaking of borrowing things, I can't help but see a connection between the look of the Villain and another one.  Ironically, this Film is about how Water is scarce, while the other has the opposite problem...
Easily one of the most fun, crazy and original Films I've seen this year.  Good, good stuff.

Friday, October 2, 2015

Twin Piqued: Top Ten Best and/or Craziest Moments

After complaining about all of the little things on the Show, let's take a look at what I liked best...or at least what I found to be the craziest...
1. The First Red Room Scene: While I was digging the early Episodes (see #10), seeing the first Red Room Scene sealed the deal.

What is going on?  Why is there a little person?  Why is he dressed in a red leisure suit?  Cryptic clues mean what exactly?

2. Maddy's Death Scene: Kudos to Mr. Lynch for Directing this one to perfection.

We finally learn that Killer Bob (more on him later) was controlling Leland Palmer and now he's being driven to kill his niece Madeline (aka Maddy).  In a crazy Scene, he chases, torments and kills her.  The key- Lynch shot the whole thing 3x.

One was with Leland doing the actions, another was with BOB doing them and a third was Ben Horne doing them- the latter only used to help keep the secret secure before the Episode aired.  Good stuff.
3. David Lynch- Actor: This one is kind of a cheat, but who cares?

Lynch himself appeared in a handful of Episodes as Gordon Cole, a colleague of Cooper's.  His whole thing was that he was mostly-deaf and tended to project WAY too loud.  Unless you've seen it, it is truly hard to explain why it is so funny.  They expounded upon it later by having him clear the room to talk to Cooper in private...and have his lines be audible down the Hall.  Wah wah.

4. Killer BOB: This guy is just trippy as all hell.

Appearing intermittently in the early Episodes and then vanishing until the last few, Killer BOB is just plain freaky.  Everything about the guy was unsettling and bizarre.  He's a great creation for the Show and I hope he returns with the Show.

If I have to pick one moment to nail down, I'd go with his first appearance.
5. The Season 1 Finale: I spoke about this one at length (as a full Review), so I'll be brief here.

What this one did so well was to put everyone and everything in danger somehow.  They made sure that you'd want to see the Show come back.  It worked, although only one time- sadly.

6. Ray Wise- Dancer: A manic Leland Palmer (Ray Wise) dances in a trippy way with Ben Horne and his brother- both very confused.  What is not to love? 
7. Cooper's 'Art of Investigation' Scene: How do you explain this?

Cooper takes Hawk, Andy and Harry out to the Woods with a blackboard, some rocks and some bottles.  To find out who the mysterious 'J' in the clues is, he says a name and then throws a rock at a bottle.  If he hits it, the name must be important.

Make sense?  No- of course not!
8. Nadine's Amnesia Story: Another I've talked about before, so I'll be brief.

To recap, Nadine purposely ODed on some Pills to get Ed's attention and went into a Coma.  She woke up later with no memory of the last decade or so.  A side-effect: she now has super-adrenaline strength.  Yeah, it makes no sense.  Big whoop- wanna fight about it?

9. The Poor Bird: I nearly forgot about this one.

Near the end of Season 1, the gang had a clue: a Mynah Bird.  While they are away, someone actually shoots and kills the bird!  Holy crap!  You can't kill children (unless they are 17) and you certainly can't kill birds- except here.
10. The Last Red Room Scene: While we didn't get a million answers here, this one bit is great.

As what amounts to the payoff for the whole Show (due to cancellation), we get a host of trippy visuals.  Dead Leland returns.  Dead Laura screams like a psycho.  Random Jazz Singer (not Roy Scheider).  Killer BOB is back!  Flames from the head!  Lots of laughing and yelling!

This is why I love the Show.  Do you blame me?

I hope the Prequel Film is good, but we'll see next...

Thursday, October 1, 2015

Immediate Response: Rifftrax Live!- Miami Connection

Since I partially-helped fund it, I had to go see the latest Rifftrax Live.  This one was all new for me...
The Good
* The 'Movie Facts' before the Show were as great as always.
* The Short- Measuring Man- was ridiculous as all get out.  It is Coronet, so no shock.
* As always, the random banter between the Rifftrax guys is funny and natural.
* Miami Connection is a gloriously-bad and silly Film.  It was Edited by someone who appears to have never seen a Film before!
* Seriously- the Music, the Acting, the Story- all ridiculous.  So, so bad!

The Bad
* Am I the only one who thinks they missed an Albert DeSalvo joke with the whole 'Measuring Man' Short?  Probably.
* For some, Miami Connection may be a bit too bad.  They're lightweights, admittedly.
* How did Kevin mess up a line, but Bill didn't?  You're letting me down, Bill!

Honestly, no real complaints here.  Great Show!

See the Replay on October 6th if you missed it!

Twin Piqued: Top 10 Worst/Most Disappointing Moments (and Bonus)

Before I wrap the Show up completely with Fire Walk With Me, it seems fitting to cover the Show's High and Low Points.

Since I'm sure the Best Moments is going to be less controversial, let's do this one first...
1. The 'Little Nicky' Story: What was this one all about exactly?  Over the course of a few Episodes, Deputy Andy and Dick fought by proxy over Lucy by way of Nicky.  As it progressed, they started to think that the kid was sort of evil...or something.

This was kind of a weird diversion...until it just stopped.  In a melodramatic tsunami, they learned that none of what they thought was true and that they should feel bad for thinking it.  Oh, alright.  At least we got a Molly Shannon cameo out of it.
2. Good-bye, Duchovny: I suppose you can chock some of this up to hindsight.  In Season 2, a DEA Agent played by David Duchovny showed up and he...was now a 'she.'  I can't pretend to have planned covering these Episodes while the whole Caitlyn Jenner thing was going on, but I'll take it.

As interesting as Duchovny's Character was, they stopped appearing after a few Episodes with not much of a good-bye.  What a disappointment.  Please come back for the new Show!
3. Soap Opera Peaks: I harped on this enough in my Episode Reviews, so I'll be brief.

The Story with James outside of Twin Peaks was silly, over-the-top and not so good.  It just wouldn't end!

4. Off-Camera Suicide: Kind of a sudden end to this Story and a little bit of a cheat.

In one Arc, Donna and James discovered Laura Palmer's Secret Diary (sold in Book Stores!).  They try to take it back from the crazy shut-in who had it.  He confronts them angrily when he catches them (with Maddy)...but he apparently committed suicide after they got away...between Episodes.  What?!?
5. Misleading Cliffhanger(s): This is a minor gripe, but notable on a Show this good.

A few times, they would give you some big moment as a cliffhanger and then do little with it afterwards.  The best example: the mysterious woman working for Eckhardt.  She snuck into a grieving Truman's room as one Episode ended...and then just tried to kill him (which failed) when the next Episode began.

The thing is that they don't really explain her actions well at all in the aftermath, so...misleading.

6. Sorry, Ronette: It's all about Laura.

Remember the other girl who was with Laura when she was killed?  No?  I thought not.

The poor girl doesn't get much attention in the Show, so...sorry.
7. Oh, so you shot Cooper then?: This one does get a pay-off, but it is pretty minor.

At the end of Season 1, Cooper was shot.  About 2/3 of the way through Season 2, we learn that Josie did it.  We learn in it in a pretty roundabout way (Gun Shot Residue on a Dress, I think) and she dies in the same Episode.  Kind of a lame pay-off, Mr. Lynch.

8. Ben Horne's Big Reveal: I guess you can blame the lack of Season 3 on this one (a little).

After turning good, we learned some cryptic stuff about Ben Horne's connection to the Hayward Family.  Secret Meetings and cryptic messages galore.  The pay-off: a confrontation in the Season 2 (and Show) Finale and no clear answers.

Oh...alright then.

9. What is the deal with the Alien Message?: I harped on this one alot in the Episode Reviews, so I'll be brief here too.

Cooper's name appearing in some messages from Outer Space- what?!?  They turn out to be coming from the Woods instead?  Oh.  Hmm....alright.

10. The Japanese Angle: This one is just confusing.

So Josie returns with some Japanese guy who beats up Hank once.  Later, an older Japanese guy shows up to buy Ghostwood in place of Catherine.  Later, we learn 'the truth' about the first guy...but it is coming from Josie, who has been lying alot.  Eventually this all goes away when we learn that the older Japanese guy is a disguised Josie...and somehow Eckhardt (who's not Japanese) was involved Andrew Packard.

This is all just a confusing and somewhat-unnecessary part of an overall good story.

So those were my minor gripes, complaints and nitpicking about an otherwise excellent Show.  With that out of the way, I can move on to the good stuff.

But first...
R.I.P. Catherine Coulson