Saturday, February 28, 2009
Anyhow, I want to celebrate those lines that don't get enough credit. They may not be perfect, well-crafted or immensely clever. But they are funny to listen to, whether they were written for comedic effect or not. We'll start with....
War of the Planets
Basically, a whole planet is run by this crazy computer and it is killing anyone it does not like. Our heroes come in their ship to explore space and get dragged into it. They use their wealth of scientific knowledge to put an end to the monster. Okay, they actually just ask their computer. Here is the result:
If you did not get it, their computer told them to press the red button to kill the machine. Why not? Even better, they do it with a slingshot. All true.
Stay tuned for more from such films as Cyborg II and the mother of all crappy films: Starcrash!
Friday, February 27, 2009
Faceless warriors, swamp zombies and nearly-naked Destros are on the menu tonight. When you hire Lucio Fulci to make a sword-and-sandal film that is what you are going to get. For all you non-film nerds, he is an Italian director known for making serial killer films and ones in which women get ocular surgery from a zombie. Just check YouTube and that last part will make sense. In this case, Lucio made one about a thong-clad lady in an iron mask using 'Wookies' to hold down clans of cave people. After getting a cryptic vision of her death at the hands of an organ-stuffed scarecrow and his magic bow, she summons the ancient power of a wooden statue to avert that fate. It is just as insane as it sounds. The movie also has moments of severe gore- i.e. a woman being ripped in twain- amongst the usual combat and swordplay. An odd aspect of Conquest is that the protagonist is a rail-thin dork who meets a grizzled barbarian who is obviously the real hero of the picture. There is quite a long bit of movie before they really get to this though, making me wonder how much of this was changed in editing or on the set itself. Really strange magical effects are also quite resplendent in the movie, the best of which is a magic bow that appears to be made out of pure energy. Unique choreography, jazzy music and superfluous use of slow-motion are also what you get in spades here. Throw in cheesy effects and the package is complete.
Mystery in Bermuda
If I trust anyone to uncover a hidden conspiracy of global proportions, it is El Santo the luchador. This movie, available as a part of a handy two-pack, features both the legendary Mexican wrestler and his courageous comrade Blue Demon. The plot involves a bunch of scientists living at the bottom of the ocean in an apparent utopia-like society that like to weird experiments. Despite this film's similarity to a good episode of The Simpsons, it really just comes off as more weird than entertaining. The real mark against this movie is its severe lack of midgets. The companion piece- The Avenging Champions- you see had more midgets in it than a Being Tossed By People In A Fair Support Group. On the plus side, Santo is a pretty good performer and never takes off his mask. Even in a scene in which the men are hanging around a hotel pool casually reading the paper, they are in bathing suits and their masks. They just sort of accept it and you will too. You get to see weird people in jumpsuits teleport via cheap effects, which is at least good for a small laugh. Aside from the ludicrous nature of the story, it is not that exciting. It is sort of a trade-off for film buffs. On one hand, the film has El Santo, Blue Demon and Mil Mascaras. On the other, it is just not as good as the other film. If you are buying the DVD, there is no real issue, since you get both. Casual viewers will have to make the choice though: midgets or no midgets.
Sgt. Kabukiman N.Y.P.D.
The plot involves a New York Cop getting turned into a superhero after being kissed by an old Japanese man in Kabuki attire. He has to stop an evil power with the use of super-strange powers. Watch one of them in action here. See if you can spot the special effect used.
Thursday, February 26, 2009
The Return of Captain Invincible
Let me try to sum up the different genres mixed together in one sentence. The film is a superhero comedy-musical-parody with elements of drama. It's hard to see where this went wrong.
The Bull$#!* Song
A funny song that is short and concise. So concise that it only has one word in it. Just guess.
The 'Choose Your Poison' Song
It has Christopher Lee singing, which can compensate for anything.
A smart writer summarized the problem with the film quite well. I will defer to his words here: “The Return of Captain Invincible” is a two or three joke movie that doesn’t work at the length it is.
It's a shame too. It could have been great. Ah well.
The Abominable Dr. Phibes
As part of his complex revenge scheme against the 9 Doctors who killed his wife, - no, they are not Time Lords!- Phibes has an ingenious kill coming. Sticking with the theme of Biblical Plagues, he kills this man in the method of Livestock. How? Just watch.
Thanks to badmovies.org for the clip and Robert Fuest for making this awesome movie.
Wednesday, February 25, 2009
Combining the dullness of male gymnastics with the subpar acting skills of a martial arts actor is a brilliant idea. Provided, of course, your goal is to make a dumb and very dated film that looks unprofessional on most levels. As Presidential banner-makers say, 'Mission accomplished.' As a film, Gymkata just screams 'the 80s.' Ironically, it makes me wish it was the early 80s, because I would not have enough cognitive ability to actually watch the film. There are certainly worse films you can watch out there- Albert Pyun does love to work after all- but there are also better ones. There are even better action films of the cheesy variety out there. Why does the movie stand out in anyway then? It takes itself very seriously, which is certainly not the easiest thing to do. Nobody in the movie is really that talented, but they believe in what they are doing…damn it. Besides, it is hard to forget a movie that has a fight scene centered on the use of a pommel horse. If the bulk of the movie was centered around that kind of action, as any bit of common sense would suggest, it would be easy to recommend as a gimmicky-film. It does not. All the other elements are there- introduction, training montage, perfunctory back story and fully-realized conflict- so the film is a complete piece of work.
"Hey, how are you doing? By the way, your dad was a spy and you need to invade a foreign country to save him. You like cupcakes?" This is the extent of the level of plot build-up we get in Gymkata pretty much. In a flash, our young Olympian goes from being a mild-mannered…young Olympian to government agent who uses his Olympic training to survive an extreme form of 'American Gladiators.' Of course, because he is so horribly out of shape and paunchy- what with his 4% body fat- he has to go through a bit of training. It must be tough to adjust to a life of strict diet and training that consumes your life to that degree. During his training, he meets a girl, who we are supposed to believe that he is interested in. Oh and she is the Princess of Parmistan, the amusingly-named, fictitious country of the film's setting. I love how they mixed a topping for spaghetti with our then-ally Afghanistan. The training he undergoes involves such everyday tasks as walking on his hands up a set of stairs. It is like Rocky, except stupid. No, I do not mean Rocky IV.
Nothing says 'Welcome to our country' like wannabe-ninjas chucking spears at you. It is not long after arriving in Parmistan…wow, that really is such a dumb name…that our hero gets involved in his first fight scene. The movie earlier espoused the idea of Gymkata, mixing his years of training with his ability to do a bad spin kick. Sadly, the full potential of this ridiculous style is only realized a few times in the film. This is a film just screaming for a remake or sequel, if only to have a good bit of fun with it. Our hero rescues the Princess from terrorists only to need to be saved by the S.I.A. (Special Intelligence Agency). By all means, build up our hero by having him need to be rescued this early in the film. He is later knocked out- seriously, movie- and awakens in the palace with the other participants of 'The Game.' A lack of HHH notwithstanding, this game is not the most dangerous one, though it is kind of funny. That counts for something. All this to get a satellite launched; okay, then.
Any game that involves ninjas as flag-wavers is great in my book. After all this build-up, The Game is…well, odd. As mentioned earlier, this contest is like some bizarre version of the show 'American Gladiators' or 'Ninja Warrior.' The competitors go running through a jungle and pass through a serious of landmarks. These points of interest are marked by ninjas who stand around with large yellow flags in their hands. Apparently, a simple sign or two would not be sufficient. Along the way, non-flag-waving throw spears and shoot arrows at them, something that is sorely lacking from 'Ninja Warrior,' although you do get the Nerf cannon from 'Gladiators' which seems nearly as effective. In the test run, none of the prisoners put into the test survive. I like our hero's odds. After a show of manliness from the biggest tough guy in Parmistan- who is also appointed to be the Princess' fiancée, - The Game begins proper the next day. He is given a rival named Thorg and both of them join a group of 'red shirts' in the contest. Of course, a precious few of the competitors can make it through the vicious gauntlet, one of whom is our hero. Clearly, handstand training pays off…finally.
Nothing can keep a good man down, even several life-threatening injuries. During a fight with Cabot, Thorg is shot with an arrow through the heart. This happens because our hero ducks out of the way and lets him be wounded. USA! USA! The tiny acrobat escapes into the Village of the Crazies- the actual name- where his seemingly-immortal enemy has returned! They do battle again, this time in a room full of pitchfork-wielding villagers. Ever the tough guy, our hero runs away, yet again leaving Thorg to be killed by someone else's work. Hurray?!? He is rescued by his dad, who, like everyone in this movie, is shot in the back. This leads up to the final fight between Cabot and Zamir, his romantic and political rival. After a long ass-kicking, our hero pulls out a random and absurd Gymkata move. He does about six flips, lands on the guy's shoulders and locks his legs around the guy's neck. The man's neck being made of straw, it snaps very easily. The villain is killed, the girl is free to marry this clearly-not-gay man and, best of all, and a satellite has been launched over Parmistan as part of the Star Wars program. I mean, the Missile Defense Program, and not the program to make some sort of 'Death Star' to destroy our rivals. That is still tied up in Congress…for now.
I wish this movie was more fun that it really is. The film is considered to be a minor cult classic now a la Attack of the Killer Tomatoes or Alligator. The difference is that those two movies are not big piles of wasted potential. Instead of choosing to go for the gusto and be creative, the producers instead chose to go the standard route and be a bit boring. I know that you are immediately hooked by the title of Gymkata and think "fun." I hate to be a buzz kill, but this is more like Deathstalker III than Deathstalker II. One stand out moment exists in the film, but this is near the end. Amidst fighting the town of cannibals and ass-less uniform wearing priests, Cabot discovers a pommel horse in the town square. He does a whole routine involving kicks and flips around the inexplicably-placed object. Had there been ninety minutes of this, I would be recommending this with the same gusto I use for Riki-Oh or Duel to the Death. As it stands right now, this is not even close.
Top Twelve Dumbest Movie Victims
12. Shark Attack 3: This one belongs in the 'I should have been paying attention' category. In the midst of a giant shark attack, - surprising, I know- our villain decides to flee the scene in his jet ski. He looks back at the scene and laughs, before turning around and seeing his imminent death. Another shark, you see, has popped up and has its mouth wide open for him. He goes right in, apparently dying at some point. This one really needs to be seen.
11. Island of Death: If someone is trying to kill you, do not stop running. Towards the end of his killing spree, our antagonist spies on a woman showering and decides to make her the next victim. He chases for a while before a small mob spots him in the act. He exits the apartment, but not before stabbing the sickle into the door in anger. Of course, the woman decides to rest her head against it, relieved that she is safe. Should you relax when he has just left the room a second ago? Maybe you should be less stupid. She sort of had it coming, really
10. Subterano: When common sense fails you, death is soon to come. In the midst of a live-action video game of life-and-death, the 'guy who knows the rules' finds a 'save point.' To save the game, you must stick your head in a floating orb. Sigh. Yeah, so he gets his head cut off. It is like he wanted to die or something. If you want to live, start acting smarter people. In a place where innocuous things will kill you, something like this should stand out.
9. Final Exam: You would expect better from adults, but you would be wrong. Near the end, the Coach comes to the rescue our heroine from the nameless killer. He comes armed with his bow and arrow- for a hunting trip- and shoots up at the man in the tower. The killer catches his arrow in front of his chest, so, naturally, the Coach comes running at him unarmed. He gets stabbed with his own arrow. After a display of skill like that, why would you want to fight someone like that, whether they were armed or not? Someone catching an arrow you shot is sort of like a rattlesnake warning you to keep your distance.
8. Friday the 13th, Part 5: He is dumb even compared on the level of other slasher movie victims. While on a company retreat, he is out with a bunch of middle-management yuppies paintballing in the woods. Jason appears, so he does the only natural thing: shoot him with his paintball gun. It is astounding that someone would even think that it was a good idea for more than a split second. A quick death tells you why that was a bad call…not that it wasn't incredibly obvious.
7. Satanic Rites of Dracula: Sadly, this is one of two Christopher Lee appearances here. In the big fight with Van Helsing, the Count is sent running from the sight of a cross. He flees through his thorn bushes, but gets tangled up in them. Two things to note: thorns hurt him here (due to the whole 'crown of thorns' thing) and he had them planted at his house. He is mortally wounded before his arch enemy finishes the job. If he comes back, he will kill his gardener! That's just for starts, anyways.
6. Versus: Overconfidence is logical if it is based on anything. After a long period of build-up in regards to the man's questionable qualifications, the policeman comes face to face with the escaped convict. The only problem is that said convict is wielding his big, anti-tank cannon. The man attempts to show off and do a 'Matrix' dodge, only he throws his back out and gets blown up. He is left as a pile of puzzle pieces. Do not show off or this will happen to you, kids. The more you know…
5. Crimson Rivers 2: When in doubt, listen to Jean Reno. At the climax of this French film you will never see, Christopher Lee holds Reno and partner hostage underground in the Maginot Line to find hidden gold. He is warned that blowing the ceiling will cause the river to pour in. He ignores this and does so anyways. Who wants to guess what happen? There is a sad look on his face as the place fills up and he commits suicide to avoid drowning. If only you could find out whose fault that was, huh? Get back to me on that.
4. Cloverfield: These people are quite possibly the dumbest ever. First, they run towards a 100-ft plus monster to get to the subway tunnel. Then they cross through a dark tunnel filled with off-shoots of the previous monster. Lastly, they go all the way into a building, climb up to the roof and climb across to a second building, which is lying perched precariously against the other one. The scary part- almost all of them survive this. Only an inexplicable monster attack or two and a bombing of NYC's Central Park actually kill them. Who has luck like that and still gets killed?
3. The Toxic Avenger: Anyone who engages in a fist fight with a mutant is already off to a bad start. In the midst of a restaurant robbery, the eponymous hero decides to stand up for the victims. The robber is disarmed figuratively before he is disarmed literally by an attempted judo flip by the Avenger. He does not notice this, however, until he looks down and sees the severed limb. He freaks out- naturally- and is taken down by a swing of his loose arm from our hero. How do you not feel that exactly?
2. Godzilla vs. King Ghidorah: Sometimes your memories can horribly mislead you. A corporate executive is convinced that Godzilla is there to save Tokyo from King Ghidorah. This is because his unit in WWII was saved by a dinosaur that eventually became the beast. Amidst the fight, he tries to reason with his 'friend' as it passes by his building. After a brief moment of shared emotion between the two, he is blasted into vapor by his 'buddy.' With friends like that, you don't need any enemies!
1. Dreamcatcher: Having a small obsession is one thing if it does not cause your death. Our hero is stuck in a cabin with a freaky alien monster. He has the door barricaded, but he has lost his toothpick. He desperately attempts to hold the door while reaching back for the tiny piece of wood. He fails. He is killed because he dropped his toothpick? This is the best that the duo of Stephen King and Lawrence Kasdan could come up with. Of course, those of us who saw the whole thing did not set our expectations high. A group of psychic kids join forces later in life to stop aliens. Are you for real?
Tuesday, February 24, 2009
Long, tracking shots: Dario is the master of doing these without being boring. It's hard to explain why these work so well. Simply put, they keep you looking until- BAM! -the killer strikes. Good uses are the 'dog scene' in Suspiria and this one. Watch from 1:35 on and see.
Bloody, bloody deaths: This man knows how to kill people. He loves to show murders, even past the point that most people may like. He challenges you to go past your comfort zones and not look away. This will give you an idea...
So that's just a taste of what to expect from an Argento film. The key thing to understand is that in a good Argento film, you never know what to expect.
It's hard to imagine that this comes to you from a giant monster film from the 1980s. Really.
Q: The Winged Serpent
This film is about a giant Aztec God flying around New York City and eating random tourists. Who cares about that crap though? Instead, the movie focuses quite a bit on Michael Moriarty's manic criminal who stumbles upon it's nest. Here we get to see him entertaining...nobody in a bar...in the middle of the afternoon.
Seriously, there are lots of monster moments in the film. I just happen to love this clip a lot.
Monday, February 23, 2009
This is for all of those 'Chuck Norris Facts.' If you mess with him, he will bust your balls like he did to this retarded (it's in the plot, people) redneck in "Breaker, Breaker."
Incidentally, this movie is interesting and cheap. My friends and I picked up it for about $5 at Wal-Mart. By this point, it's probably down to $2.
Basically, Chuck's brother is kidnapped by a super 'tourist trap' town and he goes in to rescue him. A whole convoy of trucks run over the Mayor while our hero fights the sheriff amidst random footage of a horse running around.
I don't get either.
Sunday, February 22, 2009
But, aside from these famous moments, it has brought us some really curious ones. That is what I want to focus on here. This should be the first of many lessons in 'who the hell thought up this crazy thing' on the big screen.
At this point, the fight is not going Carradine's way, so he must utilize his secret weapon: the Hand. This miracle of series is super strong and works on a very unique remote control. Enough build-up, let's watch...
Yeah. That's good stuff right there.
Stay tuned next time for crazy swords, questionable bombs and...a horse?
Saturday, February 21, 2009
Warriors of the Wasteland
The secondary hero of the film- Fred Williamson- is an archer with a very unique set of weaponry. His arrows are explosive-tipped and he puts them to a good use. He blows the crap out of dozens of cult members. The effects used are often laughable. Through the miracle of slow-motion replay, enjoy the cheapness.
Mm mm...that gives a whole new meaning to 'losing your head.' Sorry for the pun. Not really.
Stay tuned for more...
Obscure For A Reason
Do you ever wonder why someone like me reviews a movie and you have never heard of it? I sure do. This is why...
MOST OF THEM SUCK!
There are some real gems out there like "Ricky-Oh" and "Duel to the Death," but may are just bad! Here are a couple cases for you in what may end up being a recurring segment.
1. The Gardener: I just saw this the other day, so the soil is still fresh here. Joe Dallesandro- of "Flesh for Frankenstein" and "Trash" fame- stars as a mysterious, buff gardener who is hired by a rich yuppie lady. He does a great job, but the husband gets jealous. Eventually, the woman begins to look into the man's past and find some questionable things. After her friend is killed by loosely-hanging foliage, she confronts him and burns his body down after it sort of turns into a tree. NOTHING happens for 83 minutes. We get a cheap kill scene at the beginning and nothing for another 70+ minutes. The payoff is not worth it. Don't let a good DVD menu and presentation fool you.
2. Wild Zero: This all the makings of a great film and no results to show for it. As a zombie plague breaks out in the Japanese boonies, the band Wolf- featuring Drum Wolf, Guitar Wolf and Bass Wolf- come into town. They play second-fiddle to the young hero and his conflicted relationship with his lady pal. The lady, it seems, is actually a man. He actually has a hard time making up his mind. Eventually, the group battles the aliens behind the outbreak and the day is saved. This movie tries to get by solely on characters' posturing and posing, but fails. The band does nothing but look around and comb their hair. There is a pay-off in the end, but it is too little, too late. Despite what you may think, just don't bother here.
That's just a taste. More coming down the pipe, people!
Friday, February 20, 2009
5. Dead Alive: Peter Jackson knows two things: hobbits and dismemberment. In this film, people are torn or cut to shreds like crazy! The zombies here do not let decapitation or the like slow down their desire to kill. He actually ups the ante by having an evil set of disembodied organs! It desperately chokes are hero with some of the entrails in an absurd act of attrition. Like all of Jackson's early works, this demands a sequel!
4. Evil Dead II: You just know that this had to be here somewhere. After blowing away a Deadite, Ash is attacked by her flying head in a vicious attack. It latches on like a dog to it's favorite chew toy. This makes a lasting impact, because it infects his hand which, in turn, has to be removed. You know what that made room for- the chainsaw! Without the work of this evil head, we would not truly have the Ash that we know and love.
3. The Thing: When John Carpenter remakes a movie, he goes for all the gusto! The new monster is an alien that takes over human bodies. After the famous 'who is the monster' scene, it emerges and gets mutilated to all to hell. It shows tenacity by sprouting little legs on the disembodied head and begins to flee. Unfortunately, the monster has the same weakness as White Martians- fire. What's next- an alien being that is killed by water? How dumb would that be.
2. Duel to the Death: If you are lucky enough to have seen this movie, you will know why it is here. One of our two heroes is battling his enemy and making short work of him. Off goes an arm! Off goes the side of his body! Bam! His head is cut off and flies onto a tree branch. Unfazed by this, the head delivers a monologue of vengeance before exploding! Holy crap, how did that happen?!? Don't question it- just go with it.
1. Re-Animator: How do you top all of that? By making a disembodied head with staying power. Dr. West's boss/rival is dismembered by a zombie, but his head is saved. Brought back to life with the mysterious goo, he plans a revenge scheme. Like in "TBTWD," he can psychically communicate with the other undead. He does this in the first AND second film, outlasting any other head on this list. Not even mentioning his love of sex as just a head, this man is a freaking winner!
More crazy lists to come.
12. They Saved Hitler's Brain: They should not have bothered. It is not until late in the film, which is odd when you consider the title, that the thing makes an appearance. Of course, you could just watch the DVD menu where it is on a constant loop. A really, really annoying loop that is far too loud. Also to note, they saved his entire head and not just the brain. This titular error will be seen later as well. Old Adolf does nothing in the film, save for be moved from one jar to another. It sort of makes you wonder why they saved it, since they have no plans for it. Now you know why you have never heard of this movie.
11. Mars Attacks: Tim Burton shows up on here quite a bit. In this fun, but highly-flawed film, the aliens from the eponymous planet commit many experiments on humans. They take two humans- Remington Steele and Patty Green- and a dog & decide to play 52 pick-up The lady's head ends up on the dog's body, which does nothing to satiate the man's attraction. Only in a Burton film- thank God. You also get a case of inverted decapitation. That's when the body is destroyed and only the head remains. There- you just learned something.
10. Sleepy Hollow: A story about severed heads somehow ends up on this list. Whether you go with the original animate film from 1949 or the 1999 live-action film, it is a solid choice. Any film where you get Christopher Walken's shark-toothed face is a winner. As the killer goes about decapitating everyone, only a wannabe-detective who faints more than a 1950's science-fiction starlet can stop him. Yeah, a lot of people die. If you ever wanted to see the Principal from "Ferris Bueller's Day Off" get killed, this is your movie.
9. The Brain that Wouldn't Die: If I ever get my head cut off, don't keep me in a jar, please. A scientist does just that to his wife's head after a car accident. This leaves her sullen, angry and talking a bit like Christian Bale's Batman. As a bonus, she can psychically communicate with a mutant that her hubby keeps in a locked room. Since this is a 1950's film, it all ends in the lab burning up and everyone dying. Hurray for cliches!
8. The Adventures of Baron Munchausen: Leave it to Robin Williams to ham it up in a Terry Gilliam film. As a giant resident of the Moon, he has found a way to separate his head from his body and survive. He does this to escape the lusty nature of his body, which pretty much is always humping his wife. The man holds the Baron and friends hostage in a giant bird cage, a plot device that would later prove to be a bit ironic. Think about it.
7. Return to Oz: There are many creepy collections- like your Barbie doll collections, people- but nothing is this bad. The evil witch Mombi keeps a collection of living, human heads in her castle to switch out as she pleases. The moment when one of the sets of eyes opens up as Dorothy reaches for a potion will scar kids of the 80s for years. Now just imagine a whole museum dedicated to this. What kind of cartoon show would feature that?
Part 2 is coming soon. Stay tuned...