Tuesday, July 5, 2022

Al's Birthday Review: Teenagers Battle the Thing

Bob here. It's Al's birthday again. 
Let's get this over with.

Teenagers Battle the Thing, made in 1958, is a film that would have been perfectly acceptable if it in fact invented the Monster Attack Horror genre. It...did not, so it's not acceptable. What it is is a 59 minute, 29 second film that can't bother to to get its butt in gear and have a plot until about halfway through its run time, and...doesn't really pick up from there.

Heck, it's 6 minutes and 7 seconds until the first character other than a narrator actually speaks. That's more than a tenth of the movie.

It isn't until 25:45 that we get our first shot (other than a very brief clip in the intro set millions of years before the movie's actual plot) of what will eventually be our monster in the general vicinity of our main characters. That's close to halfway through!

This is like if you were watching Captain America: The First Avenger and they only happened to mention that World War II was going on at the hour mark. 
Or if you were watching Thor and the entire first half of the movie was just following the science team slowly taking readings and stuff and talking about Norse history for a full hour, without any sign of thunder god hijinks.

Some movies use a slow burn...with this one, the fire actually went out and no one ever bothered to go check up on it.

The plot...allegedly...is that a high school history or archaeology class went with an archaeologist (who rather resembles Jim Crockett Promotions wrestler Johnny Weaver - I should at least get an ad for Let's Go to the Ring! out of this - on a dig, where they uncovered a sealed tomb, unsealed it (of course), and took a mummy, which came to life and went on a killing spree (of all of one person) until they boldly battled it to the death.

That's...pretty much the entire film, right there. There's nothing deeper than that. 
No characters get any deeper characterization than "teenager" or "teacher" or "archaeologist" or, far too late for the movie to introduce new characters, "sheriff." 
There are no subplots. There are no extra touches. 
There is no personal development, not for a single character.  Heck, there's not even some kind of ham-handed moral lesson.

No, what there are instead is a nearly endless series of shots of people slowly walking around. Teenagers Battle the Thing wants you to watch every...single...step of every...single...journey. 

Apparently, the concept of "editing" did not develop until at least 1959.

Get used to walking shots, folks. Lots of walking shots.

The worst offender is probably the mountain climb leading up to the discovery of the tomb, where not only do we see a simply offensive number of shots of people slowly shuffling their way up cliffs, but they make sure to highlight that they're going to get a climbing rope and proceed to not use the dang thing at all, even on slopes that look quite steep where a rope probably would've been a good idea, until they just happen to find an ancient sealed tomb that they, to be clear, had no idea was there and they finally use the rope. What, was it just a rope that granted +3 to Climbing Skill just for holding it?

..but don't worry, once they get the mummy from the tomb and it revives, the Story doesn't pick up at all!  Instead, we're treated to endless discussions of who will go get soda from the store, every step of a walk from the car to the shed as the teacher shows the sheriff where they stored the mummy that escaped, and every single person hopping over a tiny gap in a grove like its the escape from The Mines of Moria.

When we finally see the monster, it's...not worth the wait.

It's not that interesting stuff doesn't happen in the plot, mind. It's just that it mostly happens off camera.
 We do see the monster break into a house and attack a woman (though we cut away as soon as that actually starts), but we only find out later from the Sheriff that apparently someone shot at the creature later that night. 
Weird line in that part, by the way - the Sheriff notes that the shooter must have hit the creature, because there's blood at the creature's camp in the grove, but then says he must've missed because his hunting rifle would've stopped anything on a hit.

The teacher and the archaeologist warn the town (off camera), and, having decided based on slim evidence that the cop's revolver won't hurt the monster, decide to use a fire trap to kill the creature. 

The cop gives the teacher his gun because the teacher, going into the woods, will need it more. Yes, the same gun we've just established is likely useless.

By the way, the cop ends up being attacked by the creature. Maybe bring more than one (apparently useless) gun on a monster hunt? Possibly?

At precisely 58 minutes, 26 seconds of a 59 minute, 29 second film - so almost exactly one minute from the end - teenagers do indeed battle the thing, as they assist their teacher by splashing gas on the thing and setting it on fire with a flare. 

Arrrgh! Why am I invulnerable to bullets but easily defeated by technology that was readily available in the time in which I originally lived but for some reason never killed me then?

...and then the movie just ends.

So...yeah. It's not quite false advertising, but still, Teenagers Battle the Thing really gives a mistaken impression of the bulk of the movie. It's more like...

Or maybe...

Yeah. Someone bothered to colorize this thing, add about a half hour more of pretty much unrelated filler, and release it under another title, which is entirely more work than it deserved. 

Worth noting that in no way is this creature Bigfoot, but I definitely did feel cursed watching this, so the title's half right.

All told...this was far from the worst thing that Al's made me watch for his birthday, and at least it was short, but...this is barely a movie. 
It's more like 30 minutes of Intro to Archaeology, followed by about 29 and a half minutes of the very basic outline of a horror film that no one bothered to develop any further before deciding, "Yeah, we're done with classwork for the day and I've got my dad's old, beaten up werewolf costume from Halloween 20 years ago, let's go ahead and shoot that."

Definitely, definitely, definitely do not watch this without the aid of the fine folks at Rifftrax

Happy Birthday, Al.

Friday, July 1, 2022

New Streaming: Obi-Wan Kenobi- Episode 5

 As the Limited Series nears its end, what more do they have up their sleeves?

Let's see what kind of Jedi Mind Trick they can pull on people dealing with Star Wars Fatigue...

A siege takes place on a Planet as the Empire forces and The Path have a stand-off.

During the build-up, we see flashbacks- is Vader having them or is it Obi-Wan?- with the pair training and Kenobi explaining his Padawan's one weakness.

Keep out of that uncanny valley, guys.
Our Heroes are running out of time to find a back way out of the situation.

I love you, but you're also reminding of The Last Jedi...so be careful.
Reva is leading the charge and, yes, they confirm the Fan Theory about her.

Can she be reached though?
Is she really evil?
Does she have her own motives?

To find out, stream the Episode now.
Another strong Episode that nearly brings things to a close.  The Story continues to grow in scale and also get more personal.  It's easy to do one, but fail at the other.  You can make it a tale of revenge, but it falls flat.  You can make it a grand space battle, but nobody cares about anyone.

In this case, everything begins to come to a head nicely.  The Characters all end up in the right place for maximum dramatic effect- what are the odds?!?

Kenobi's journey from former-Hero to current-Hero is a nice one,  Reva, likewise, gains dimensions as you learn more about her.  She's more than just a new Big Bad.

With only one Episode left to go- no SPOILERS, Internet!-, can they stick the landing?  I guess we'll have to wait and see.

Next time, the final Episode.  It's the end, so...please don't suck.  See you then...

Thursday, June 30, 2022

Tubi Thursday: Yeti- The Giant of the 20th Century (1977)

 After skipping it last week for time issues, I'm ready for a giant monster.

It's a King Kong rip-offs from the King of Rip-Offs from the '70s and '80s- Italy.  Continuare a leggere...

As some Icebergs melt- sure glad that stopped, right?!?-, a Yeti is found in the Ice.

A rich guy melts the ice- in laughably-fake effects- and they discover just how big he is.

Well, in this Scene.  He varies in height throughout the Film.
In some silly bit of Science, they put him in a big old cage, fly up to mountain level and then thaw him out in mid-air.

Shockingly, this only gives us the tease of a disaster- it's averted.

Now they decide to show it to the World.
It's Not King Kong, so you know how this goes.

The chaos ends when the Yeti falls for the Daughter and Grandson of the Rich Guy.

To this lady's credit, I thought she was a teenager (which made me creeped out by a romance with her and Tony Kendall- who was in his 40s), but she was an Adult.

The Yeti think that she's his Wife and the kid is their kid...and I'm back to being creeped out.
The Yeti is calmed out and we get brief bits joking about the Marketing of a creature like this.  Meta...maybe?

They bring the Yeti to ANOTHER big, public event and he freaks out again.

In order to make you think that this is NOT a King Kong rip-off, this big Ape (Man) climbs DOWN a skyscraper instead of up one.  Totally different!!!!
His rampage goes on for a bit, until the woman finds him again.  

They somehow HIDE in Toronto (why not?) and it all takes a weird turn.

Off-screen, the Yeti gets sick (it's not explained) and we learn that Tony Kendal (aka the guy from Return of the Evil Dead) is scheming to blame the Yeti for the death of the Lead Scientist (which his men did) and then let him die.
The Yeti recovers- quite easily- and kills the bad guys.  This gets the Police on his case...as opposed to the TWO PREVIOUS RAMPAGES.

Will he kill Kendal?
Will he survive?

To find out, stream this silly Film.  It's pretty enjoyable.
A dumb, pretty derivative Film.  It's Dino De Laurentiis' King Kong.  It's nothing but a fairly-cheap copy.  It's why I find it funny when they parody the Marketing of that Film.  I mean...you exist because it exists.


The Film is full of dumb, silly moments.  It's got a good suit, but it relies on close-ups.  If you needed 827 close-ups of this guy in a furry wig (which is fabulous!), you get them.  The rear projection effects are...bad.  They do very few Kaiju shots of him smashing up cars or buildings.  

They also give you those 'big hands' shots with the Cast, which continues to look silly.  2005's King Kong managed to do this right.  I guess they learned after 40 years.

Yeti is a bit too long.  It's a bit repetitive.  It makes a weird tonal choice to make Kendal evil, especially to the degree that he's like that.  It's weird to randomly kill the dog...and then undo it.

That said, it is a pretty funny Film for all of the wrong reasons.  Just don't look at his, well, Giant of the 20th Century in this pose.
A silly and dumb Film for so many reasons.  It's a rip-off of a bad Remake.  What more could you ask for in a Bad Movie?

Saturday, June 25, 2022

New Streaming: Ms. Marvel- Episode 2

 After Kamala's life changes forever, where does she go from here?

Let's find out on...

After learning that she now has powers, Kamala must learn to control them.

Hey, even Rocky had a montage (montage!).
Her and her friends, meanwhile, try to keep their lives moving like normal.

High School is hard enough when you can't help but shoot glowing purple crystals from your hands, after all.
In a nice bit for representation, you see Kamala and Nakia at a Prayer Service.  The latter also intends to run to represent the women there.

Would a Film have time for this?  Probably not.
Kamala goes to a party and meets a handsome Senior who likes what she likes and likes her.

There's nothing like a little bit of tension before the climax.

To see how it all turns out, stream the Episode now.
Another fun Episode that moves things in the right direction.  It's a simple thing to do in theory, but many Shows can't master it.

Kamala learns new things about herself and her powers.  Her friends grow with her too.  We learn more about the mystery lying beneath the surface of the Plot.  New Characters enter to create their own problems and solutions.

What the Show also continues to do is to represent and speak to groups that aren't normally-targeted in the Marketing for Shows/Films like this.  Even when I'm not part of those groups, I can still appreciate how this is done.

Ms. Marvel continues to be a fun, interesting Show that focuses on people that normally get focused on.  I really want to see where this goes, even if this guy is giving me some real Edward in Twilight vibes...

Next time, new revelations are, well, revealed.  Look- they're better with words than me sometimes, alright.  See you then...

Thursday, June 23, 2022

Tubi Thursday: Something Scary (2016)

 Back when I was new to Tubi, I watched all of these Episodes.
This was later a Podcast that adapted Stories from real legends, Creepypasta and other sources.

It was...

With Hostess Sapphire Sandalo, the Episodes are a compilation of the various Shorts with limited/stylized animation.

To give you a sampler, you get Stories that allege to be real, like the horror of the Torture House in New Orleans.

Freaky stuff there.
You also get various tales that usually involve Children and strange creatures.

They range from TV scares- like Candle Cove- to a Wendigo and to even one of my favorites- Mr. Widemouth.

He just wants you to have fun...and die.
Another gem involves the widely-spread story about a Japanese Spirit that is 8 Feet Tall.

One thing the Show does is simplify and consolidate some information in the tales, usually for the better.

This one, for instance, as a last section in the original Story that is so silly that it affects the rest of the tale...so they cut it.
It's hard to talk about the Show without going too deep into some of the tales, which would ruin them.

That said, I'll give you one good Ending shot to let you know how these can be...
A fun bit of scary never hurt anyone, did it?  I don't think so.

The Stories range from outright scary to creepy to just plain weird.  They don't all end in death.  Alot of them end in 'you got lucky that X didn't do Y.'  It's certainly not tame, in case that last picture didn't dissuade you of that notion.

As a series of Shorts, it can be inconsistent in tone, other than the general 'scary' vibe.  That can be good or bad depending on your point of view.

You want 4 Ghost Stories in a row- it's bad.
You want 4 strange tales in a row- it's good.

After going through these a few years ago, I keep finding myself going back.  They did some good stuff, like getting me into Candle Cove in time for Channel Zero.  It's not complex animation.  It's not all the greatest stories.  And yes, they did get in on the Krampus craze.
If you're a fan of weird, scary and sometimes very unsettling, check these out.  They're bite-sized, so enjoy a few...or eat the whole bag in one go.

Tuesday, June 21, 2022

New Streaming: Obi-Wan Kenobi- Episode 4

 Ah yes, the Show that people either love OR love to hate.

I guess you can't be 'in the middle' on Star Wars these days.

Let's see who's angered/pleased with this Episode of...

Safely away from danger (for now), Obi-Wan is barely-recovered before he needs to go on a mission.

Rushing into a fight sure ended well for Luke in Empire.  Give him a hand!

Also you can check Holograms off of your Star Wars Bingo Card now.
The base he breaks into is very secure and very dangerous.

He had to swim (for the first time since Episode 1) to get in!

Can he avoid detection?
While he's looking for who he has to rescue in said Base, he comes across something very disturbing.

It's either a Sith thing or it is the comments that Racists are sending the Black Woman who plays the Villain.

Either way, yikes!
Can he escape a Base with Sith (and possibly worse!) in it?

Will he live to fight another day?
Can I pretend that he might die, even though I know he doesn't do so until A New Hope?

To find out, stream the Episode.
A good Episode that brings you to some new, crazy dangers.  I'm glad that we're off of Desert Planets, at least for a little while.  I enjoy the AC, even if it is on an Inquisitor Base.

McGregor does a good job playing a brave, but flustered Obi-Wan.  He obviously has plenty of practice in the role.  On this Show, things are quite a bit different though, of course.  He really stepped up here, which is nice.

Everyone does their part well, from the girl playing a brave young Leia to the Actress playing a sneaky and cruel Reva.  Even the half-CG voice of Darth Vader delivers.

Just remember this as well- sometimes a guy is just doing his job.  Is this guy really evil?  Probably not.  Will he get blown up by Rebels and will they then cheer about it?  You betcha.

Next time, an escape is only as good as its follow-up.  Did they really get away or will the danger follow them home?  See you then...

Monday, June 20, 2022

'00s Trash: Fungicide (2002)

 A Film is only as good as the sum of its parts.  So what do we have here?

No Money.  Bad Acting.  A dumb Story.  Even dumber F/X.
Oh boy.

This is Fungicide, a 2002 Film by the man behind Suburban Sasquatch.  Oh boy.

The Film is about giant, killer Mushrooms.  I wish I had some to make this more tolerable.  Thankfully, Rifftrax helped.

Let's just get this one over with...

A Mad Scientist is making...something in his Parent's Basement.  Said Parents are, of course, the Director's Parents.  No, really.

They worry about him (in their one Scene) and sign him up for a Relaxation Weekend in the Woods.
Joining him is a motley crew of random characters.

A Pro-Wrestler.  A Real Estate Agent.  A Soldier in a Reality Show (who appears later).

The Wrestler, by the way, is relaxing to help him deal with his problem- Spontaneous Combustion.  He's taking pills for that...
The Scientist shows up and spills his ONE BEAKER OF FORMULA by the door.

It ends up on some Mushrooms- why not?- and he doesn't tell anyone.

Why did this shot require changing the Aspect Ratio?  *shrugs*
This formula made the mushrooms grow...and also get teeth...and the desire to eat human flesh.

So what was the formula supposed to do to 'help mankind' exactly?!?
After a bit of bollocks that I'm glossing over (including the Host pointing out a caterpillar that's not on-screen), it and the other Mushrooms start killing the random people around the House.

I can mine some Poor Bastards of Cinema out of this, can't I?

If you thought that the VFX couldn't get worse than the Hand Puppet Mushroom, you'd...be sadly-wrong.
The Mushroom Army is growing and...boy, do they look bad.

I mean...why are they all different colors and patterns?!?
The 'Lead' Mushrooms are guys in drapes with a mushroom 'head' on top...so kind of phallic.  I'm not sure if that's intentional or just a 'happy accident' in this case.

He can also summon the CGI Mushrooms, which explode into CG Glass Particles when shot...or hit...or slashed...or slammed.

Also the tiny puppet ones are still around, as are even smaller stationary ones.

Confused, yet?!?
It all comes to a head with a big battle on the lawn.  It'd be funny if, you know, it didn't suck so much.
The fungi are stopped by the Wrestler letting himself blow up (really!) and then our remaining Heroes blowing up a barrel of Balsamic Vinegar (which they pronounce as Balsam-ic)...which is in the basement of the B&B.

In the aftermath, they write a totally real Book and sign copies in a totally-real Book Store...until the Scientist shows up to Sequel Bait...I guess.

The (merciful) end.
This is bad.  This is really bad.  You know that though, right?

I only watched this Film due to it being riffed by Rifftrax, which is not a good start.  I'm glad I didn't watch it on its own.  It's one of those Bad Movies that is partly-trying to be bad and stupid.

In case you don't know, if the Director is in on the joke, it's not funny.  It's usually quite painful.

The main Monsters are a guy in a drape with an umbrella covering him and a hand puppet.  That's still not the worst puppet, of course.  The CGI ones were going to be bad, but they're confusingly-bad too.

Seriously, why are they all different colors?  Why do they explode?  Why did they think that the CG glass shattering effect was the best one?  WHY?!?!?

As a 10 minute Short Film- skipping all of the Filler that gets it to just over an hour-, it could be dumb fun.  It's why people remember the Coat Hanger Scene in Birdemic, but gloss over the 40 minute Romance part.

Just make that Film or, dare I say it, try to make a good Film that you could afford.  Also don't reuse an Actor in successive shots and think that people won't notice.

Next time, I go from a dumb story to a True story.  Will this '80s Film hold up?  Stay tuned...