Saturday, January 14, 2017

Holiday Flix: Saturday the 14th Strikes Back!

It is either now or in October!  Today's Film is Saturday the 14th Strikes Back, a 1988 Horror-Comedy that is a Sequel to a slightly-more famous Film.  That Film feature Richard Benjamin in the Lead, while this one...doesn't.  If you wanted to know how the Story of the last Film continued, you are out of luck.  Also...why the hell did you care?  In any event, this long-delayed Sequel is much more of a Sequel to House than anything else- not that the Film needed MORE Sequels!  The only connection- the same Director.  Incidentally, the man- Howard R. Cohen- is a major Corman Alumni.  He Wrote the Deathstalker Films AND the Barbarian Queen Films, plus Directing Deathstalker IV.  He's also the same guy who wrote both Vampire Hookers and many Episodes of Rainbow Brite!  The Plot of this Film sort of follows the Original, but mostly just does random nonsense.  I'd explain more, but they barely try so screw it.  Let's see how this turns out...
Our Hero suddenly addresses us one time and then switches to Narration.  Enjoy this one 4th Wall Break!
So, basically, the House from the last one is now on a crack in the ground leading to Hell or something.

Who cares about that when you can have pointless and dumb Comedy though?
The House makes all sorts of weird stuff happen (like the Dad making Sculptures out of Pudding), monsters appear (but do nothing) and lots of nonsense to happen.  Enjoy.
Instead of Jeffrey Tambor and company, here are dancing Vampire Girls.  Also Michael Berryman.
Our Hero learns that he is fated to have great powers and rule the Earth as an evil guy.  Naturally, he rejects this until it allows him to get Cheeseburgers for breakfast.
Just like the other Film, stuff finally goes down in the last Act.  Naturally, Corman burned down another Set!
The battle between the evil guy and our Hero involves lots of crappy effects and Stock Footage.  Enjoy random shots from Deathstalker, Grand Theft Auto, Deathsport and Rock & Roll High School!
He ultimately wins the day and...I guess stops being the ruler of the World?  The End.
Ugh.  Bad Comedies are the worst!  Saturday the 14th Strikes Back is just a pile of dumb sight gags and puns.  The Original wasn't exactly Mel Brooks, but it worked.  This one- far less so!  None of the Story really matters that much.  People are just in a House where weird stuff happens all the time.  It all leads up to...more stupid Comedy and Stock Footage.  What a pay-off!  I want to like these Corman cheapies (see Death Race 2050), but they don't always make them easy.  Stuff like Deathstalker and the like can be fun for being silly, but not trying to be a Comedy.  These bad Comedies just don't work!  On the plus side, I don't have to worry about offending the Director- he's been dead since 1999.  All dark kidding aside, this one just kind of sucks.  Enjoy this new Banner though...
Next up, I finally cover the Remake of a Japanese Film I did in 2014.  In my defense, I barely cared.  Stay tuned...

Friday, January 13, 2017

*Holiday* Pilot Wings: Friday the 13th- The Series

Instead of doing another Film in the Series, I might as well talk about the Show.

What do you know- I also have a Segment on TV Pilots.  What luck!
In this Pilot, some stuff goes down at an Antiques Store involving a man, a doll and Hell.
Hey look- future somebody!  Sadly, the same can not be said for the rest of this Cast...
A Man running his Store has things go crazy after a rich Couple shows up and a Girl likes an evil doll.

To make a long story (and dated effects) short, he dies and all of the stuff gets loose!
Later, two Relatives of his show up to go over the Estate.  They are split on what to do with it.
After they decide to open the Shop, the Doll from earlier ends up with Polley again.  What could go wrong?
The answer: her Step-Mom is killed and a Nanny is nearly-killed.  This all leads to the dramatic showdown between a little Girl and our Heroes...on a Merry Go Round.

They get the Doll and lock it up, setting the Series in motion.  The End.
Pretty good, but also pretty silly.  The whole thing has a pretty simple premise- a bunch of evil stuff is loose and you've gotta get it.  If it was good enough for The 13 Ghosts of Scooby-Doo, it is good enough for this!  The Pilot sets this all up pretty fluidly, so there's no complaints there.  The Acting is decent, but it definitely feels like a TV Show.  They don't try that hard, so why should I?  The fact that they started with the killer Doll story is a bit odd.  This sure beats Cathy's Curse, at least.  Kudos to young Sarah Polley for playing both cute and creepy.  She is going to have TONS of therapy to go through after this.  It is bad enough that her new life was later interrupted by a sudden Zombie Apocalypse!  In all seriousness, this Pilot does its job, gets a little silly and gives us a Radio Ghost- something I haven't seen since Pulse 3...
A pretty decent set-up for the Show.  Maybe I'll cover it again come the next Friday the 13th- in October!

Old School TV: One Step Beyond- The Riddle

Before The Twilight Zone (by about a Year), there was this Anthology Drama based on 'real Science' like ESP and Past Lives.  Let's take...
Our Narrator appears on a Train to introduce 'The Riddle,' a tale of a Vacation gone awry...
On a Train through India, their peaceful trip is interrupted by a mysterious old man, who's appearance makes the Husband get super-mad for no reason!
In spite of what he was told by a Policeman, he still freaks out when he sees the same man leave the train.  He exits quickly and is found unconscious, assumed to have fainted due to the heat.
After seeing a convenient Sculpture of a Lady's face, he sneaks out that night and tracks down the man...again.
Said man is expecting danger and has a gun, shooting our Hero.  He dies off-camera.
In the aftermath, the Policeman posits a theory.  You see, our Lead's Birthday is the same day that some guy who was in a blood feud with the (now old) man from earlier.

Of course, he was reincarnated, but only get triggered (literally!) when he saw the guy.  Why not?
So what was the Riddle?  In spite of the Episode's somewhat incidental name, it is an interesting one.  As covered before, early TV was a landscape for strange, new ideas.  Almost all TV Shows were live back then!  It was all brand new, making the fact that this is still PRE-Twilight Zone pretty notable.  As for the Story itself, it is based in pseudo-science of the day- not that some don't still believe it today.  The whole thing is certainly a bit odd and the Story hinges upon it.  On top of that, it is random chance/fate/the universe aligning to even bring this guy to India to trigger the follow-up event.  That's what you get for planning Vacations, Ladies!  For all you know, your Husband/Fiance is a reincarnated spirit of some guy who wants to kill someone else.  You just don't know!  There are some obvious issues of the time here to note.  For one thing, while they have more than a few locations, they put many things off-camera.  Ultimately, it is an interesting piece of TV History and introduction for me to the next 5 Episodes.  The other thing, of course, is the fact that this guy is clearly not Indian...
I'll be back for another Episode.  Stay tuned for more TV History!

Thursday, January 12, 2017

Creepy Rigatoni: Channel Zero- Episode 2

Well, the Pilot sold me enough to keep going.  You've got competition, Golden Years!

I still don't know what Creepypasta really is, but screw it!
After the disappearance is solved, a new crime happens- off-screen stabbing.

I like that you can't show a kid stabbing a kid, can show a freaky tooth demon with one of the kids.  Standards!
Speaking of kids, here's a dead kid body!
"Oh hi, creature that haunts my dreams, how are you?  Really?  I'm sorry to hear that.

While I have you, maybe stop haunting the guy from Parks & Recreation."
As questions about our Lead's sanity and the whole Candle Cove thing, more creepy stuff happens.
A big reveal comes that will change the Series forever!  Admittedly, it is a 6 Episode Series.

On top of that, this Lad appears to be feeding the tooth creature.  What will happen next?!?
More strange, creepy stuff.  Channel Zero had a strange and interesting opening.  I was worried that it would drop the ball right away, but so far so good.  To be fair, this is apparently only a 6-Episode Mini-Series, so there is less room/need for filler.  Everything that worked last time- creepy Characters, moody Setting, good Acting- is still here.  You get even more creepiness as the Tooth Child shows up a few times to really accentuate his creepy nature.  You learn more about the people and situation, making the Story more fleshed out.  The big reveal is not really a shock, but it will certainly affect the Story.  Here's hoping that it keeps pace.  Now when will I get this guy as a  Funko Pop for my shelf...
I'll be back for at least one more time to this freaky Town.  Will it continue to keep me interested?

Wednesday, January 11, 2017

Quick Reviews: Roger Corman's Death Race 2050

In case you confused it with Jean Luc Godard's Death Race 2050, I guess.  My first 2017 Film!
After a few Decades or so, Roger Corman decided to Remake Death Race 2000.  Here's Malcolm McDowell- joy.
In place of all of the Characters but Frankenstein, we get new ones.  One of them is now a Female Rapper, while Matilda the Hun is now 'Tammy the Terrorist.

She's White, Religious and crazy, so....laugh, I guess.
In place of Machine Gun Joe, we get Dolph Ziggler.
Frankenstein is still a Cyborg and still a Hero.  He also resembles the lost Member of Demolition.
With a Death Race across the new United States (enlarge the picture for details) and the same Story as before, who will live and who will die?
Will the Resistance win this time?  They are led by Witchblade (deep cut!) and look like Fury Road Extras, so maybe.

To find out, watch the Film.  The End.
Well, it is certainly better than Death Racers!  This one is about as subtle as a cannon firing a neon-painted clown.  Corman and company don't go for nuance here.  The good part- this is mostly a Remake of a silly, but solid Film.  The bad part- it is mostly a Remake.  As noted, the Characters are changed and some of the Plot is different.  It is not 100% the same Film- granted.  It hits all of the same beats though, so there is not much in the way of surprises for older/more familiar viewers.  Good change- the literal Hand Grenade is gone.  The Film is chock full of more subtle updates- like a Racer being a Self-Driving Car and the Race being viewed through VR- and they help the experience.  Some of the Actors are just hard to replace- mostly Don Steele as the Announcer.  I will say that Manu Bennett does a good job of not just playing Carradine playing Frankenstein here.  His version is full of more apathy and self-doubt, not planning to kill the President right from the start.  His journey from Racer to Hero is a pretty solid one, so kudos to him for making it work.  All in all, Death Race 2050 is a good, silly Film.  It was clearly not made for a fortune, but Corman is the master of making this work.  I'll leave you with one of the Film's many *wacky* Title Cards
If you don't know Death Race 2000, this is a pretty fresh and silly experience.  If you do, it is mostly a bloody and silly rehash.

Tuesday, January 10, 2017

Streaming Standard: Pacific Heat

Yes, it is dumb.

It is real dumb.
Even so, I kind of recommend it, albeit with some very important caveats.

Pacific Heat is an Australian Animated Comedy now on Netflix.  I had never heard of it until it showed up.

It is basically someone trying to make Archer and/or Moonbeam City.  One is something to try and achieve, while the other...less so.

The good parts- the bits where it is just so endearingly stupid.
The bad parts- the other 80% of it (give or take).

The Show is basically so-so Improv.  They only have a few ideas, but they are generally kind of funny.  After a while, you do realize just how shallow it is.

Pacific Heat is the Animated equivalent to watching those Videos of Kids falling off of their skateboards.

There's also a recurring thing with Asian Characters look super-stereotypical (of the 1940s).  Is it Racist?  Is it lazy Animation?  I'm not necessarily-offended, but...I feel like I should be concerned a little bit...
If it gets a second Season, will it be better?  Who knows?

In any event, you can stream it, so...well, the standard is lower.  Then again, there is Luke Cage...
Yes, I'm still watching it.  It is just a slow burn kind of Show.  Don't judge me!

Saturday, January 7, 2017

Cronenbergian: The Brood

Shockingly, this is not for the faint of heart.  Today's Film is The Brood, a 1979 Film from David Cronenberg.  If you know him, you know what to expect.  The Film is chock full of Psychological anguish and Body Horror.  This is not one of his more celebrated works, coming out before his big success with The Fly.  Even so, this is definitely the kind of Movie that made him the famous Director he is.  The Film Stars Oliver Reed and...Art Hindle.  Yes, him again.  To explain, I had no idea who he was back when I did the The Clone Master for Project Terrible, a failed Pilot Starring...Art Hindle.  The same Year, I ended up doing the Film Offspring.  Later on, I discovered that he was also in Monster Brawl and Black Christmas...and Invasion of the Body Snatchers (1973).  It has been 2 years or so since a Film with him, so let's hope he brings me luck.  The Story involves a strange Psychologist (Reed) who is doing experiments on Hindle's wife.  Around this time, people in her life keep getting killed.  What is her connection?  The answer is sure to be weird!  To find out how this all plays out...
Reed is seen doing some very intense Psychotherapy with this guy.  Naturally, he has an audience.

Woo!  Deal with that Oedipal Complex!  Woo!
Hindle's ex-Wife is part of the group and he's mad because their Daughter has mysterious bruises.
The woman is going through some weird psychological issues, but thankfully still finds time to feather that hair.  You have to prioritize, people!
Out of nowhere, her Mother is attacked by a strange figure while babysitting the Daughter, who sees the killer and walks away.
Said killer shows up again to kill her Father (in town for the Funeral).  It turns out to be...the killer from Don't Look Now?  Or is it Alice Sweet Alice?
These are actually bizarre, asexual creations of a mysterious origin.  What the hell are they?
Before they can find out, another victim is claimed- a Teacher mistaken for Hindle's lover.
He eventually teams up with Reed (who sees all of the deaths and finally wakes up) and confronts his ex-wife.  It turns out that her rage/anger is manifesting in the form of the freaky, asexual child-things that obey her psychic will.

Of course, it is so obvious!
While Reed dies, Hindle and the Daughter survive when the ex-wife is killed.  In the aftermath, the Daughter has similar marks to the Mother.  Dun dun no Sequel.  The End.
Classic, creepy Cronenberg.  This one is a bit of a slow burn, but does pay off well.  The underlying tension of the Characters is built up nicely until you get the first kill.  From there, it escalates more noticeably.  Going into this Film blind, you probably won't exactly connect the dots.  If your first thought is 'Of course, this lady must be manifesting her rage as mutant children,' I'm really worried!  This is the kind of creepy stuff that he sure loved to do though.  The Acting here ranges from subdued to a bit over-the-top.  Reed manages to be creepy and controlling, while Hindle shows good indignancy.  The whole thing is played pretty straight until you get to the climax and find out the truth.  Seeing her 'give birth' to the creepy thing and clean it (see below) sure was a good pay-off.  A gross one, admittedly, but this is Cronenberg.  All in all, The Brood doesn't exactly mesh up with Science, but is a fairly-dry-but-rewarding 70s Thriller with a crazy climax.  If you like Cronenberg, you're already there.  Now clean your monster before you put it away...
Next up, a Remake of a Japanese Film already covered here.  Is Apartment Shopping any safer in America?  Stay tuned...