Saturday, December 20, 2014

Zoned Out: The Star

As we near Christmas, let's continue to look at how they celebrated the Holidays in 1985 while in...
In this tale, we see some space travelers finding a burned out Planet.  However, the secret behind this Planet is...festive?
Before we begin, it is important to note the person behind the genesis of this Story.
So, anyways, these guys are leading a ship through the Galaxy.  As they approach a burned out Planet, they discuss...Religion?  Weird.
They go to a bunker beneath the Planet's surface and investigate what is inside.

They find evidence of a great and advanced Civilization.  They had mastered Science and the Arts, making their disappearance pretty sad.
After a while, the two men return to the Ship.  One of them seems sad after looking at the readings on the Ship.  Why?
As it turns out, the Star that destroyed the Planet's surface when it burned out was...the Star that the 3 Wise Men followed.

They discuss how good things can come from bad circumstances and how all things work out.  Merry Space-mas.  The End.
Tis the Season?  This one isn't bad, but it is...odd.  I guess I can't talk bad about an Arthur C. Clarke Story, can I?  It is an interesting premise- granted.  Mixing pure Science-Fiction and the tale of Jesus' birth is also kind of interesting.  Ultimately though, it was just...alright.  The Acting is fine.  The Effects are fine.  The Message isn't even bad either.  There's just something off here that I can't put my finger on.  Stuck between the two upbeat Christmas Segments in the Episode, this feels really weird.  It comes off as something that thinks it is super deep, but isn't so much.  Something was just lost in the execution, I think.  On the plus side, you can still enjoy the simple things during the Holidays: making jokes about funny names in Credits...
Next week, the final part of the 1985 Christmas Episode.  Will this Remake of a Classic Zone Tale prove that this Show is good now?

Friday, December 19, 2014

Immediate Response: The Hobbit- The Battle of the 5 Armies

My Friday night was free and someone wanted to go see a movie.  It was this or 'Batman as Moses' so I choose this...
I know that some people are going to be critical of my take on the Film after what I've said about the previous Films.  That's fine.

Let's see what happens...

The Good
* The Film delivers on big moments of Action.  Our packed house had no complaints.
* Alot of great names are in this Film, including new people like Billy Connolly.
* As the closer for another Series (as it were), it gives you plenty of finality and closure.
* There are no bad performances here.  The big moments are done as well as the little moments.
* For the most part, the CG effects are good and unique.

Alright, now we get to the rest...

The Bad
* I'm sorry, but Peter Jackson needs another Editor.  Some Scenes run too long, while others don't need to be there.
* For a Story that in total runs over 8 Hours, do we need a Flashback and a Dream Sequence?
* As some have said before, the Film does all of this build-up to...the guy we already knew.  What they give us is not inherently bad- it's just unnecessary.
* For a Film Trilogy that is too long, the goofy Side Character is not necessary.  Speaking of which, where the hell is the closure to the Plot of The Mayor of Laketown?
* just ridiculous here.  There is a line set by the original Trilogy of how crazy things can get...and he just back-flips over it.  I won't SPOIL them, but know that he is officially Spider-Man.

Here's the thing: I can pick this thing apart for little things if I wanted to.  Here's a quick one: Bilbo is Writing his Biography in the first Film, but ends this Film staring at the Ring with no Biography in sight.  Did he finish some time that we didn't see?  Oh and I guess he knew about the parts where only Gandalf was, because...reasons.

Ultimately though, this was not a bad Film.  None of them really were.  I watch alot of shit and this isn't.

For me, the whole thing is just too long and doesn't feel as necessary since we get the main Story already (years ago).  If you're a fan of the Films, this shouldn't disappoint.  If you 'just don't get it,' this won't do much to change your minds.

Was I too mean?  Leave a Comment if you think so (or just feel like it).

Thursday, December 18, 2014

Poor Bastards of Cinema: It's Alive (1973) {Part 2}

Another Poor Bastard from this Film about a killer baby with teeth and claws (the good one).

In the beginning, the parents-to-be leave their son with their friendly neighbor.  After all, it can take over 24 hours to deliver the baby at times.
When things go awry (you know, the Doctors being killed and the mutant baby getting free), they decide to shelter their son in the short-term from this.

Their friendly neighbor has no problem with this.  He goes the extra mile for them.
Eventually, they return to Town (he took the kid out to his Cabin for a few days) and the son can't stand waiting.  He runs home, followed by the neighbor.

They both enter through the Basement (for some reason), but only he is attacked by the baby monster!
The dad finds his friend dead and...well, that sucks.
So, to sum up, this guy goes out of his way to help his fellow Neighbor.  His reward: being killed by their kid.

The lesson: don't help people who live near you.  It never ends well.

Until next time, keep being random people that may or may not die in Horror Films.

Rare TV Anthology Flix: Quicksilver Highway

Is it at least better than Generation X?  Today's Film is Quicksilver Highway, a Made-for-TV Film from 1997.  It sure feels like a Backdoor Pilot, but I can't find any proof of that.  This Film is a compilation of a Stephen King tale and a Clive Barker one.  After so many Films, were there any good tales from either left at this point?  Well, yes and no.  In one Story, a man learns that an impromptu gift can be more important than you realize.  In the second Story, a man learns that a hand is a terrible thing to waste.  Wrapping both tales up is Christopher Lloyd, dressed up in a mix of his make-up from The Addams Family (sans the fat suit) and Annie.  Topical!  The way it plays out is a bit odd, but I'll get to that shortly.  Is this an overlooked gem or something that shouldn't have made its way out of the '90s?  To find out, read on...
In the opening, a man and his new Bride are stranded on the Highway.  He goes for help, while she stays behind...and gets company.

He offers to tell her a Tale while they wait for the man to return...
In this King tale, a man stops on a long drive home.  He is given a pair of chattering teeth with feet from a roadside Store as a gift for his son's birthday that night.
He picks up a Hitchhiker on the way back, but things turn badly.  The van ends up flipping and he is trapped with the armed man.

Surprisingly, the teeth come to his aid, killing the man and dragging him away.  A year later, he returns to the Store and regains them.
As the Story ends, a noise is heard outside.  A man has hit a person walking down the road: the new husband.

He ends up being dragged away by the teeth as the segment ends.
Once that is over, we get the commercial fade (can't remove that for DVD?), we get the 2nd Story- now with Matt Frewer.  He's a petty thief hiding out from the Cops, so he gets a Story.

See why I think this was a Pilot?  We get one Story, it ends and a second unrelated Story begins. It feels like 2 Episodes glued together.
In this Clive Barker tale, a man finds that his hands seem to be acting up.  They lead him to act odd in Surgery (with Cameos by John Landis and Barker) and even kill his wife when he gets home!
As it turns out, there is a revolution brewing with...our hands.  This is serious, huh?

You did write Book of Blood, right?  I'm just curious.  The hands stop...for now.
After the tale, Frewer leaves and his hands push him towards a Cop, who arrests him.  The End.
I'm a bit confused by this one.  I don't necessarily mind Horror Films/Stories that are light-hearted, but this might go a bit too far.  The Stories are just plain silly!  I guess I'm not used to these sorts of Anthologies *only* having the light-hearted tales.  It is usually Scary Story, Weird Story, Scary Story (or something like that).  I'm also not used to one of these only having two Stories.  That's odd to more than just me, right?  The way the Stories are introduced is a bit odd too.  The Framing Device is just Lloyd talking to two different people at two different times and places altogether.  These are usually 'People in a Room Telling Stories' or 'Stories Being Shown to Someone.'  As I said before, this feels like 2 Episodes of a Show (proposed or otherwise) slapped together.  Imagine two Tales from the Crypt Episodes slapped together to fill 90 minutes and you have how this feels.  The Performances are good all around, so I have no complaints there.  The idea that the Characters in the Stories are someone from the Framing Device is a nice conceit.  The person is being told a Story, so they self-identify (or picture their Spouse, like in the first one).  Honestly, I think that this might have worked with a more cohesive Narrative and a third Tale.  It would have provided a bridge (hopefully) and made things feel more balanced.  As it is, Quicksilver Highway is not bad, but it is not great.  Hey look- Hand Squirrels!
Next up, I handle a Film made by someone I know through the Blogging Circles.  Is it Morbid to like the movie or not?  Stay tuned...

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

VHS For the Win: Fireback

I don't care if I ever see this Film, because the original Box Art is just...

Well, it is just so damn manly!

See for yourself...
How the hell does that gun work?  What the hell does it fire?  How much would that thing weigh?

You know what- screw all that!  I just want to see that thing in real-life!

Can you imagine the look on the face of those ISIS/ISIL guys if we started using these things?!?


Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Animation (World) Domination: War of the Worlds- Goliath

On the plus side, it is not 3 Hours long and made for like $10,000.  Is my bar that low now?  Instead of discussing the slowly-lowering curve of quality I use to judge Films, let's talk about this Film.  This is War of the Worlds: Goliath (in 3-D, for some)!  This is an Animated Film from 2012 that seeks to follow-up on the Classic tale.  I've only seen this done twice- once on TV and once by The Asylum.  Neither of them was great, but they weren't complete losses.  The former is worth noting more later, as well.  In this Film, the Earth is recuperating from the damage in the previous Invasion and have taken on a Steampunk vibe.  Why not?  When the Martians return (so we'll have a Story), can the Earth unite to take out stronger weapons with their own, all the while knowing that their previous trump card (human germs) are no longer an option?  The Cast is notable for including many Alumni from Highlander: The Series.  Kind of odd, right?  With high-definition and Animation & a unique Story, this can't fail...right?  To find out (without SPOILERS), read on...
The Martians are back and they are not coming in peace!
The World has formed a tentative alliance to combat the threat and made new robot-walker things called Goliaths to battle them.  The silly hats help too.
The Secretary of War- Teddy Roosevelt (voiced by Jim Byrnes) - is helping to keep the alliance together and pushing for victory!
The core of the attack force (not to be confused with the Seagal Film) is these five guys.  Voice Actors of the group include Adrian Paul (doing an Irish accent) and Peter Wingfield.

Furthering the Highlander connections, the people behind this Film all worked on Highlander: The Search for Vengeance (also with Jim Byrnes).
Our Lead has a problem though: he's still traumatized by the death of his Parents in the initial Invasion.  Well, at least for one Scene he is.
The only way to fight fire is with fire (or water)!  They use technology based on the remnants left in the original Invasion (like Heat Rays) to even the odds.
Will their awkward tank-walker things be enough to save the Earth?
Or will the Martians succeed on their second try (now with Purell)?  To find out, watch the Movie.  The End.
It is not bad, but it is not great either.  The Film's strength is in the Animation.  It looks nice (if stylized) and moves well.  I'm not a huge fan of the kind-of-Anime, kind-of-not Style here though.  It is still nice enough and sure to please anyone interested in it.  The problem is the Story.  The Characters are alright, but nothing more.  The overall Story is just nothing special.  There are good moments, but there are also silly one.  Case in point: a man comes in and says that Archduke Franz Ferdinand has been assassinated and the World will now go to War (with each other).  However, our Hero just makes an impassioned Speech and everyone decides to not leave and fight.  Wow, that was easy!  If you're looking for any real depth, it is not here.  If you just want some light, vibrant Animation, this will serve your purpose.  This is just kind of shallow- that's all.  It's alright.  Nothing more.It does, however, serve as Adrian Paul's return to a War of the Worlds project after 20 years!
Next up, a rare Horror Film that was made for TV.  Can Doc Brown spin two obscure Tales into a winning Film?  Stay tuned...

Monday, December 15, 2014

Hilariously-Misleading Cover Art: Mitchell

As one of the most popular MST3K Episodes ever, the Film Mitchell is pretty well-known in some circles.

It may surprise many of you then to to see how over-the-top the Poster was!

Wait- you're not joking?!?

You're really selling Mitchell as an intense, thrill ride of an Action Film?  O-kay.  Considering that this Film still rests comfortably in the IMDB Bottom 100, I'd say that this *may* not have worked too well.

Sunday, December 14, 2014

Quick Reviews: MoH- The Black Cat

It only makes sense to feature more of these that I actually own, right?  Yeah, thought so.
In this Episode, Stuart Gordon veers away from Lovecraft to instead give us Poe, although his favorite Actor is still here.
Jeffrey Combs is playing Poe (better than John Cusack) and he's just trying to make a buck.  Why?
Well, his world-famous love Lenore is sick and he needs to write more successfully to keep her well.
What Poe needs is a brand new tale of Terror to rival his works like 'The Raven.'  His Poetry- while well-respected now- is just not making him money.  Can he come up with one?
I wouldn't SPOIL this one too much.  I mean, look at how Poe reacts when I even say the word 'SPOILER' here...
I will say that his drinking habit/addiction does not do him any favors here.
Oh and that this happens.  No other SPOILERS.  Honest.  The End.
A Cult Favorite of mine.  While all the other Master of Horror Episodes I own are in bundles, this one is solo.  It is that good.  Gordon and company do a great job of immersing you in the Time Period without overdoing it.  You feel for Poe living in this time where his genius is not appreciated properly.  You feel for him just trying to make a living to save his love.  The Story is great, playing off of Poe's real-life and his Stories.  The real winner here is Jeffrey Combs, who completely disappears into the role.  You *believe* that he is Poe.  He plays him for all of his strengths (passion, intelligence) and weaknesses (drinking, desperation).  Knowing History, you know that this can't end all too happy.  Even so, you really root for him to make it through this.  Much like Poe's actual life, the bleakness of his existence is balanced out by Lenore.  She is a light, however dwindling, in this rough world.  You see why Poe does what he does to keep her alive.  As things go awry, you feel for both of them.  Can it all be worked out?  You sure hope so.  Seeing Stuart Gordon do Poe makes me want to see him do more of it and I'm not sure that he has.  If anyone in Hollywood reads this, let the man do some more Poe!  Hell, bring Jeffrey Combs on board again and I'm really sold.  If you haven't seen this MoH Episode yet, do it already!  Here's real Poe to send you off...
While it is not the most complex of the Masters of Horror Tales, it is still one of my favorites.  If you ever read this Mr. Combs, you were DAMN good here.

Saturday, December 13, 2014

Zoned Out: But Can She Type?

After a week of Holiday preparation, let's see how they do Christmas in...
This is the first Segment of their 1985 Christmas Episode.  In it, Pam Dawber- from Mork & Mindy- doesn't like her Job, but finds a strange solution...
Dawber is a Secretary who has to miss the Christmas Party- which everyone loves- to finish up paper work.  Oh, the humanity!
She uses the Copier to make some paperwork for her Boss, but an errant press of a button changes things!
She attends the Party, only to discover that everyone treats her as a Celebrity since she's a Secretary!
You know who really loves Secretaries?  Commander Riker!

He may be #2, but he's #1 in your heart- admit it!
At the Party, she also gets a ridiculous job offer involving a full wardrobe and an apartment in Paris!
 She has an angry message on her Answering Machine when she gets home.  It turns out the Copy Machine sent her to an alternate dimension (don't ask).

This sure has taught her alot.  She will use this information to...just go back there again to stay.
Off to her dream world.  Reality can kiss her ass!  The End.
A bit of silly fun from The Twilight Zone.  This one is certainly not meant to be taken seriously.  Right?  It must be.  A Copy Machine sends you to an Alternate Dimension?  If that was the case, I would have left *years* ago and been married to Scarlett Johansen!  Sorry, this Dimension.  As ridiculous as it is, the Segment is short and does play out well.  The reaction at the Party to her announcing that she's a Secretary is cute.  The lady who's jealous of her because she's 'just a supermodel' is fun.  I also like just how over-the-top her job in the new Dimension is to.  They are going to fly her to work and live in Paris (first class, of course) and will give her a brand new wardrobe due to it being such short notice.  Unless this is an elaborate set-up for another Taken tale, it is way too good to *ever* be true.  That's the point, of course.  This is a fun, frivolous fantasy of a woman getting her ultimate wish on Christmas.  I like it.  With Frakes' appearance, this make the 1980's Twilight Zone revival now the Show with the *second-most* Cast Members from Star Trek: The Next Generation...
Next up, a Sci-Fi Tale about a Planet ruined by a burned out Star.  What does this have to do with Christmas though?  Stay tuned...