Saturday, September 18, 2021

International '70s Class: The Bullet Train (1975)

 I feel the need for Speed!  Today's Film is The Bullet Train, a 1975 Film that has a similarity to a famous Film.  To be fair, it is mostly a surface similarity.  The Plot involves some bad guys who put a bomb on a Bullet Train.  If the Train goes under a certain speed, it's going to blow up.  Yes, it's Speed.  To be more accurate, Speed is this though, isn't it?  That said, this is much more of a '70s Disaster Film than anything else.  All that is missing is ugly '70s Cars getting crushed or big Stars slumming it for a quick buck.  Speaking of Stars, we get Sonny Chiba in a rare non-Action Role.  Neat.  The Film is quite long and I've got alot to talk about, so let's just go down this tunnel...

In a Cold Open, a man puts a bomb on a Bullet Train.

I guess that's what happens when you can't have guns- you go around making bombs.
I might be misinterpreting things though...
After we establish all of the random people on the Train (a Prisoner, a Pregnant Woman, other random people and a Pop Group), the Police get a call about the train.

Stupid Metric System!
This is a deep into the '70s Film, so you know all of the stuff to expect.

We see bad guys planning.
We see heroic Cops.
We see them get a call from the bad guys, but they fail to trace the call in time...
On board the train, they (naturally) keep the bomb thing a secret for as long as they can.

Tensions run high, of course, as everyone knows that something must be up.
The Police set up a drop for the payment with one of the bad guys, but things take a weird turn.

A group of Judo Students are jogging through the same Forest and end up chasing him.  Why not?

In what becomes an odd trend, the chase ends in his death before he can give up information.
Later on, they get close to another one and he throws some dynamite down, jumps at it and gets blown up.

That seems like somethings he's planned out for a while and not a spur of the moment thing, no?
To make a long story short (this is nearly 3 hours long), they manage to get a welding torch onto the train to remove the bomb.

In the meantime, they run an appeal to the Bomber to give them the information.
After the bombs are disarmed (shock twist- there were two!), the guy in charge (or so he thought) finds that it is still running.

They explain that this is just a trap for the bad guy.  He's not happy and quits.
The final bad guy tries to flee with the money, but gets spotted at the Airport.

When he tries to flee, he is killed by the Police in a negative-tinted freeze frame.  How artistic.
The End.
A good Film, if a bit long.  As mentioned, the Film clocks in at around 2 hours and 35 minutes.  If you're not fighting Thanos or saving Middle-Earth, that's a long time!  I know it's become an accepted thing in recent memory for big tent-pole Films to be this long.  That said, this Film really stretches to fill time.  The Train has about six Sub Plots worth of stuff to pad things out.  Some of it is sad- like the pregnant woman losing her kid-, while others are unintentionally-silly- like the over-dramatic Passengers.  Off the train, we have lots of stalling in the Control Room AND with the bad guys.  They spend alot more time than you might think with said bad guys.  In theory, it is fine.  In practice, I just lost interest.  Some of it I think is a regional thing, as they debate with the Leader over losing his commitment to the whole thing.  None of it is bad- it's just not that exciting.  The big moments usually pay off here, so I still recommend it if you're a fan of '70s Disaster Films.  Just go into knowing what to expect.  So it's not always going to be explosions and shooting, it's often going to be switchboards galore!

Next time, I stick with Japan for a bit longer.  I have either a Remake or a Parody to pick between.  Stay tuned...

Thursday, September 16, 2021

Tubi Thursday: Bad Channels (1992)

 It's only taken me like 10 years or so to get around to this one.  Thanks to Tubi, I can finally check this one off of my List...

A Local DJ (think a less awful Bubba the Love Sponge) is running some crazy promotions for the new Station.

The first one involves playing non-stop Polka until someone can guess the combination to a lock on these chains.
A suspicious Reporter sees through this...until she gets distracted by the sight of a UFO.

Time to for Not Lois Lane to get on the case!
Well, she's right, but she doesn't know what it is up to.

While she's looking into a man who was reportedly attacked by it, the creature goes to the Station (which was right next to) and takes over.
Now the DJ is trapped inside asking for help, but, since he has a history of publicity stunts, nobody believes him.

He's just like Orson Welles...in this one exact detail alone.
It uses the Radio Station to target women who listen to it, give them bizarre fantasies (basically mini-Music Videos) and then abduct them.

If you're wondering why it needs the second to last part, I'm going with 'Charles Band said so.'
Will they succeed in collecting their targets (aka the only women in the Film)?  Will a common, household product save the day?  Will the Soundtrack make me not fear the Reaper?

To find out, stream the Film now.
A fun, if confusing Film.  Is this a Film?  Is this a pretense to string together a bunch of Music Videos?  Yes and yes.  The basic Plot here is simple enough.  Aliens are bad and want to kidnap ladies.  If you need to know why, too bad.  If you need any real motivation, again, too bad.  This isn't one of those Films that is worried about why things happen.  I mean, why does the Alien need to hypnotize the women through a full musical performance to teleport her into the jar?  Does it need the time to charge up?  Why is the Alien grabbing these women?  Dunno.  The reason to watch this Film is for the weird, dated feel of it.  The Music Video parts are fun bits of fluff.  None of the Songs are mind-blowing, but they are enjoyable.  The 2nd one has a 'Smells Like Teen Spirit' vibe to it.  The Video came out in late 1991 and this came out in mid-1992, so...coincidence?  The one for the Nurse is especially-notable, since it features a full-face Clown Mask that is reminiscent of Conan O'Brien.  Outside of those numbers, the Film is pretty meh though.  The Leads aren't that engaging to me, so I was just kind of waiting for the good parts.  The Special Effects- sparse as they are- hold up pretty well.  All in all, Bad Channels is a decent time-waster that shows what Full Moon could do before it was just Puppet Master and Clip Show DVDs.  Of course, it does also lead to this actual waste of time...

Next week, another long-forgotten addition to my Queue.  I'd tell you more...but I don't even know.

Wednesday, September 15, 2021

New Streaming: What If...The Avengers' Big Week Turned Bad

 After a short delay, let's return to the SPOILER-free Recap of this neat little Series.

This time, we see a cross-Film story gone wrong...

The Premise
In this tale, we cross between a bunch of Films that apparently take place in a tight timeline- 1 week.

In it, we see Fury trying to recruit/cure Tony Stark (from Iron Man 2).

However, this time is different- he dies!
More strange events occur that interrupt the normal flow of events...
The Execution

We see things go wrong and see how SHIELD (mostly Fury) try to recover and roll with it.

Said wrong things continue to compile, leading to different new events that aren't good for the Timeline.
Is it a Big Change?

Very much yes!

* Tony Stark dies during Iron Man 2.  Who wants a DVD Cut of it with this now?
* Thor's story also hits a big snag (to say the least).
* His tragedy brings out a different attack on Earth from Loki.
* Edward Norton's Hulk is now Mark Ruffalo.  That's more a 'F**k you, Norton' though.
* Another off-screen death is what puts things in motion, so obviously another Marvel Film can't play out right AT ALL.

This one is definitely a bit dark, but really embraces the What If...? feel for me.  One change- no SPOILERS- puts someone/some people in motion as bad guys.  They basically f**k up everything for everyone.  Since this is a one-and-done, they can just go all out.  I will say that there are still some unanswered questions for me here, mostly regarding one person's absence.  I could just be unclear on the wonky timeline though and it's just a 'me' issue.  The Art Style gets to go crazy here as we see lots of recognizable Characters and Scenes.  If you can embrace the 'early Disney' style, it's alot of fun here.  Getting *most* of the key players here to voice their Characters here is nice.  We also get a bit more Coulson, which is great!  As a whole, we're getting a nice mix of Stories and Tones here too.  This bad week for the MCU was thankfully not ruining my week.  Wow- I feel like you're all staring at me after this forced and awkward wordplay...

Next time, a newer Marvel standout gets their chance to mess things up.  Will he make a Supreme nightmare for us all?  See you then...

Monday, September 13, 2021

Quick Review: Willy's Wonderland (2021)

 After all the insanity we've lived through in real life, we might as well enjoy some fictional insanity.

If you're looking for insanity, may I introduce you to Nicolas Cage...

A man- Cage- has his car ruined after running through a spike trap and is offered a devil's bargain.

If you want it fixed, you need to spend the night at Freddy's...I mean, Willy's Wonderland.
The defunct Kid's Restaurant/Playhouse is full of animatronic wonders that were seemingly-designed to haunt kid's nightmares.

As it turns out, your fear of them is warranted.
Due to reasons I won't SPOIL (it's a bonkers explanation), the creatures live and want to kill anyone.

I guess if there's no kids, a man who's spent millions on buying Comic Books and Dinosaur Bones will suffice.
When new people show up (in an attempt to destroy the place), can he keep them safe?

Does he even care?  

To find out, see the Film on Digital/On-Demand.
A sometimes fun Film that manages to deliver the crazy.  The premise is crazy.  The execution is usually quite good.  You get Cage being weird.  For some reason, he never talks.  Ever.  If you want an explanation, you don't get one.  I'm kind of disappointed that we don't get one.  Is he missing his tongue?  What's up?!?  You do get an explanation for everything else- as crazy as it may be- so this part stands out to me.  Getting past that, the Film delivers some big, silly moments with the fights between Cage and the creatures.  They sure are polite to fight him one at a time and to take breaks.  They do make a META joke about it in the Film- indirect, mind you- so I guess it's all good.  The only problem is that Cage never quite lets you root for him on a deeper level.  When people are in danger, he's not exactly rushing out to rescue them.  So the problem here is that the rest of the Cast is basically there to fill out the Kill Count for the Film.  They aren't all that interesting.  They just take up space until they die.  For every inspired moment or two, there's just them being pretty dumb.  If you can take the good with the bad, you'll have enough good time with Willy's Wonderland.  Just give in and embrace the insanity...

A freaky feature that sometimes delivers on its wacky premise.  The rest of the time- kind of uninspired.  Oh well.

Sunday, September 12, 2021

'90s Trash?: The Faculty (1998)

 Are you ready for some '90s?!?  This is The Faculty, a 1998 Film that seems to have been Cast with a Dart Board.  The Plot involves Teachers in a School turning into strange monsters.  Can a Breakfast Club-style group save the day?  If you want an idea of how '90s it is, it was based on a Script by Kevin Williamson.  Literally just reading that name makes me want to turn on some Nirvana and do some Head Banging.  My neck says 'no' to that though.  Anyhow, this Film sure has alot of people in it together that you might not expect.  Robert Patrick and Jon Stewart- sure.  Piper Laurie and Salma Hayek- yep.  Famke Jansen and Elijah Wood- why not?!?  There's also a Harry Knowles Cameo, but I don't know if people talk about him these days.  There's also Danny Masterson in a small Role, who is a definite no-no.  This is a Robert Rodriquez Film, but it does feel a bit different than his more personal fare.  It was *supposed* to be a Williamson-Directed Film, but he did something else instead.  Do you remember this from your childhood/adulthood?  Does it stand up still?  Does it work for people that weren't alive in 1998?  To find out, read on... 

In Ohio, a Coach is super-angry.  This is his normal behavior, which I guess was okay in 1998?
That night, he's attacked by...something and then acts different.  How so?

Well, he tries to kill the Principal, for one.

He gets help from another Teacher (Laurie) and they proceed to try and infect the rest of The Faculty...
On Campus, one of the misfit kids (Wood) finds a strange creature in a puddle.  He shows it to the Science Teacher (Stewart) and it bites him.

Oh well- that won't lead to anything.
Him and another Student (Jordana Brewster) see them attack and convert Hayek, but when the Police are called, the evidence is missing.

Also don't get used to seeing Hayek anymore, as she's a non-factor in this Movie from hereon out.  Bye!
The Crew- which consists of Nerdy Wood, 'Lesbian' DuVall, Dealer Hartnett, Former Jock Hatosy, Popular Brewster and New Student Harris.

They see the evidence first hand when they are confronted by Stewart.
They barely fend him off before stabbing him in the eye.

The pen is actually full of drugs that Hartnett makes, which seems to be the key to stopping them.
They figure out that the drug dries you out, which can take out the water-based alien parasites.

We get an 'inspired' Scene of them all testing each other, which leads to one of them revealing that they had been infected for quite a while!
The climax involves them trying to stop the Alien Queen (since it will then kill the rest of the aliens...for some reason).

As you can see, it's easier said than done!
Wood manages to stop the Queen using his best ability- the ability to run away!

In the aftermath, nobody believes their claims (since the truly-dead Teachers are missing and the aliens dissolved), but everyone has hooked up.

Cue the '90s Cover Song and we're out.
A fun, if not-so-original tale.  The Film wears its obvious references on its sleeve.  Characters discuss how this situation is like The Invasion of the Body SnatchersHelping me connect things, DuVall also says that the Book is a rip-off of Heinlen's 'The Puppet Masters.'  Is it?  The latter came first, but are they 100% similar?  In any event, we also get the aforementioned Testing Scene from The Thing to boot.  Given how many Cover Songs are on the Soundtrack, lack of true originality is not on the Menu.  That said, you can still enjoy the attempts to ground this crazy tale of teens using drugs to kill alien parasites.  All of the Characters get an arc.  That probably goes to the original Writers (credited for the Story) and was no doubt punched up by Williamson.  The Acting won't blow you away, but everyone does a good job.  DuVall has a fairly-ironic role here as she's playing a straight girl pretending to be a lesbian to keep boys at bay.  In real life, she's actually a lesbian (having come out in 2016), so that's a weird coincidence, no?  The Film uses a good amount of Practical Effects, which is good.  The CGI isn't terrible, but some effects aren't great by modern standards.  For the time, they probably looked damn cool though.  If you don't expect something completely-unique, but rather a riff on familiar ideas, The Faculty can be fun.  The first part is a bit slow in the build-up though, so bear that in mind.  If you remember it vaguely, give it a rewatch.  It's important to see all of the little things, unlike our Heroes, who somehow miss this happening right in front of them!

Next up, I get back on track covering that Train Film that a technical issue stopped.  Time to run it again!  Stay tuned...

Thursday, September 9, 2021

Tubi Thursday: The Lift (1983)

 Are you afraid of Stairs?
Do Elevators act as your Sanctuary for those large, jagged objects?

If so, don't watch this Dutch Horror Film...

In a fancy Building, people go up and down in the Elevator.

What could go wrong?
Oh right- the Elevator is killing people.

Just sometimes though.

What- like you don't take a break between your murders?
An Elevator Inspector is killed in as the incidents occur, but nobody seems to put into thought into what is happening besides him.

It's basically one of those Guy Gets Too Close to a Story Arcs...but with a killer Elevator.
A Reporter is also on the case, leading to a Dramatic Subplot where the Wife thinks that he's having an affair.  He tells her that she's wrong...but never tries explaining it in depth.

Oh well- enjoy that divorce.
Eventually (after a few more deaths), he finally breaks into the Building, avoids the danger of being in the Elevator (making everyone else look kind of dumb) and discovers the secret of it.

It's...
Alive.

Kind of.

A random friend of the Reporter tells a bizarre story about microchips made from living tissue that began to self-replicate.

So, naturally, that's literally what was going on.
How convenient!
He seemingly-defeats it when the guy behind it shows up.

The Elevator has One Last Gasp and kills him...so our Heroes just kind of leave.

If you want to know how they explain this, too bad- the Film is over.
A silly-sounding Film that treats things very seriously.  Does it work?  I mean, I'm still joking about the whole Killer Elevator things, so 'no.'  The idea that an innocuous device like an Elevator can kill you is a plausible one.  They don't have it make evil faces or talk.  I guess you can argue that it could happen.  That said, the explanation of why all of the kills happening is just plain silly.  Living microchips- why not question it?  The way we get the explanation- a guy in the 3rd Act just exposition dumping the idea- is also kind of silly.  On top of that, they just randomly show us the 2 guys behind it all going 'I feel bad about this' and then one of them just showing up (to be killed).  Why do it organically and let people solve the mystery when we can just say it at the end like everyone should have known it?  Ugh.  The Elevator kill Scenes (and the tease bits) are pretty good.  Sadly, they don't make up nearly enough of the Film to make things work.  I can only hope that Mr. Maas did a better job with the 2001 Remake (which apparently exists).  Just remember that THIS is not that Remake...

Next week, another Film on the Service that was added at some point in the last year.  I don't even remember adding half of these, so it's a fun surprise for both of us!