Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Fun Facts: Bela Lugosi

Given that I am a giant nerd, I thought that I should share some fun tid-bits of information with you. Just to slowly turn you into what I have become. Think of this like a knowledge cocoon. Wait! Don't do that! That's just weird.

Anyhow, today's factoids relate to one man: Bela Lugosi

*Bela got famous in America for doing the stage version of Dracula. He was cast in Tod Browning's film after their original lead became unavailable. How? He died.

*Bela got the role instead of Lon Chaney Sr. on account of said death. Ironically, who would star in 'Son of Dracula?' Lon Chaney Jr. That's planned continuity right there, people!

*Two of the famous horror mannerisms come from Bela's movies.
1)The 'Dracula walking with cape in front of face' cliche: it was inspired by the 1931 Dracula film, but really got used a lot in Plan 9 From Outer Space, due to the blatant use of a fill-in for Bela...on account of death.
2)The Frankenstein shamble: while the monster always walked like a drunk, it became moreso in 'Frankenstein Meets the Wolfman.' Why? Because in 'Ghost of Frankenstein,' Ygor switched his brain with the beast's. Their blood type was not compatible, rendering him blind. All dialogue that would explain this was cut.

*Bela died a pennyless man whose only friend was a hack named Ed Wood. Wait! That's not funny at all. My bad.

*Bela only plaid Count Dracula twice on film. Once was in the iconic horror film and the other...was in 'Abbott & Costello Meet Frankenstein.' No, really.

*After having his dialogue cut because of his thick Hungarian accent in 'Frankenstein Meets the Wolfman,' Bela would later go on to play Mr. Wong in 'The Mysterious Mr. Wong' and Dr. Mirakle in 'Murders in the Rue Morgue.'

That's enough for now. More fun facts and strange actors to come. Stay tuned...

Monday, March 30, 2009

WTF Japan?!?: Battle Royale

This is the last one, so enjoy it while you can. I mean, sure it's going to be a regular update in the future, but...it's still important. Dammit. Today's film combines Japan's two favorite things: children and murder. That's all I really need to say, isn't it. I bring you...
The title gives you the idea that this will be a fun, bombastic adventure. It most definitely is not. It is not a walk in the park, but it is by no means fun. Don't let the Godzilla-style title screen fool you.
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Japan's economy in crisis and the children are rebelling. The people in charge come up with a great plan to solve this. To instill fear and respect, they randomly pick one class of students, send them to an island and make them hunt the most dangerous game- man.
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The kids are given a set of collars that will blow up if they go into hot spots- the bad kind, not the wi-fi ones- or fail to kill each other in three days. Needless to say, a lot of people get killed. Some of them are hesitant, while others take to murder like flies to honey.
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Almost all of the nice kids are killed, while a pair of ringers do a lot of killing. One of them is said to join the BR program for his love of killing. What a nice guy. On top of that, their former teacher is the Saw-like leader of the murder weekend. He does it because they were mean to him. The actor playing him is scary in the way he never emotes at all, choosing to play the role with a deadly sense of calm. Wait, did I just praise a guy for not acting in a movie?
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They try to give you a semblance of a happy ending, with one couple surviving and even killing their oppressors. Hur-ray? All of your friends have died violent deaths at each other's hands, but at least you are together. Jerks.
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This movie is just plain odd. It is very un-subtle in its commentary on society (despite everyone touting this fact) and very direct in its murders. A pair of girls are killed by a crazed students with an Uzi when they call for peace. What is the message of this movie? It's okay for people to kill each other as long as you don't? I don't get it, movie. Then again, maybe I just don't want to.
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Back to some non-Japanese films for a while. They will still be strange though, so don't worry. Stay tuned...

Sunday, March 29, 2009

WTF Japan?!?: The Glamorous Life of Sachiko Hanai

After all this time, crazy stuff continues to boggle my mind. This film is no exception. I was expecting a lot of weird, but it still managed to shock me. This is...
I must preface the review by stating that this was my first Pink film. This was a while before "Assault! Jack the Ripper." Still, it is backflipping-Beowulf crazy!
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A secret terrorist group is doing a business deal in a Japanese diner late at night. I guess there aren't any abandoned factories nearby. After a long night on the job, our eponymous hooker enters the establishment. A dispute arises and a shootout follows. In the process, Sachiko is shot in the center of her forehead. The end.
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No, I'm just kidding. She lives somehow and ends up with the desired object as well. Sachiko begins to go through some changes as a result of this, the most notable is a dramatic increase in her intelligence. This does not stop her from having sex with a lot of random men, it just changes the reasons for it. You can't keep a good whore down.
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Let's get to the really crazy stuff now. The object that these men killed each other over is a cloned copy of George W. Bush's trigger finger. It also red, white and blue. Just go with me, people. Throughout the film, she has numerous hallucinations involving our last President as a result. The 'high point' of the movie is where she uses her control over the digit to...um...take care of business. It is weird, trippy and slightly macabre.
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It is hard to recommend this movie to anyone with dignity, common sense or a strong sense of logic. Honestly, if the film had been more about satire and less about sex, I would easily recommend it to you. Whenever you think that creativity is gone out of cinema, stuff like this comes along. Whether it is a good or bad thing is up to you.
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One more to go. How can I end this series on a high note? Two words: Battle Royale. Stay tuned...

Saturday, March 28, 2009

WTF Japan?!?: 964 Pinocchio

Leave it to Japan to mess with a classic children's fairy tale. Of course, as we learn when we get older, there is some twisted elements to them. These guys just amp those up and make you feel even more awkward. Please enjoy...
964 Pinocchio
You're scared already, aren't you? Well, be afraid-be very afraid. Since I do so much writing already, I'm going to bow briefly to Wikipedia here...
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"Released in 1991, 964 Pinocchio Japanese Cyberpunk film is filmmaker Shozin Fukui's big cyberpunk anthem. It deals with the theme of brain-modified sex slaves as well as mental breakdowns in a hallucinogenic thrill ride."
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Yeah, this is real. Much like the animated version of 'Titanic', we almost wish it wasn't. No amount of wishing will work this time, kids. In fairness, it is not the first time that Pinocchio has been sent to the future or been made creepy. Even so, this is another level. More Wikipedia, since I don't want to stain my hands any more.
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"Pinocchio 964 is a memory-wiped sex slave who is thrown out by his owners for failure to maintain an erection. It is unclear in what ways he has been modified beyond having no memory and being unable to communicate."
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Even I'm a little speechless. Take note of this historical event for the one time it will happen. Lesbian schoolgirls fighting zombies or anthropomorphic businessmen are nothing, but this...wow. The idea of this alone haunts my dreams a little. Even the brave writers at Wikipedia are afraid to say too much about it. After two paragraphs of plot, we get this...
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"After that, it gets weird."
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Gee, thanks for the information guys. So yeah, this is a strange movie that even I barely want to touch with 3,000,000,000-foot pole. Yeah, that was a little Freudian there. It should be noted that the director of this film worked on Tetsuo: The Iron Man as part of the crew and followed this film up a few years later with, seriously, Rubber's Lover. Yeah, I'm going to pass, thank you.
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More Japanese insanity to come. How can I top this? Two words: cloned finger. Stay tuned...

Friday, March 27, 2009

WTF Japan?!?: Godzilla vs. Hedorah

Even giant, fire-breathing lizards can be weird as hell. That came out wrong. Today's film is...

Godzilla vs. Hedorah
There are a couple things to get out of the way now. First off, this is from the 'Godzilla: Savior of mankind' era in Toho. The giant monster is friendly-ish to humans and only fights monsters to protect us. He's sort of like Mothra, only less gay. I kid. Second, this movie is full of experimental imagery and film-making. You have been warned.

The movie begins with a cartoon. Say it with me once and forever: WHAAA?!? Yeah, it begins with a cartoon narrated by a kid, talking about how much we pollute. Frankly, my dear, I don't give a hoot. This all leads us to our big monster- Hedorah.

He's one ugly 'mutha.' He starts off small, but grows into a big, Cthulu-looking weirdo. But it gets weirder. He has three forms: a swimming form, a land-mass form (shown above) and a flying form. Yeah, you read that. Just pretend that it makes sense and move on.
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The plot is, well, pretty simple. The monster Hedorah is loose and destroying civilization because it is upset. The irony, of course, being that he attacks waste sites even though he would not exist without them in the first place. Wow, existential thought in a Godzilla movie. Who knew?
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Many quirky things happen in this movie. One scene involves a bunch of young drunks in a bar. They are dancing around to disco music while one of them is tripping. He pictures them all with giant fish heads. This is followed by Hedorah unleashing his toxic slime into the place a la "The Blob." Incidentally, there are quite a few violent deaths in the movie from this substance. Combine that with the cartoons and child character in the lead and you have one confused movie.
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Let's get this out of the way. You all just want to see this moment. I can't blame you. Take it away, clip.
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The bottom line: this movie is just strange. Godzilla saves people? A sludge monster morphs into a jet? The monster has two 'balls' ripped out of it that are not its eyes? Why the hell not? Just throw it all in there movie. It's not like we will stop watching.
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More Japanese insanity to come. Stay tuned...

Thursday, March 26, 2009

WTF Japan?!?: Assault! Jack the Ripper

Who doesn't love sex and violence? We all do. That is why we all love movies like...
First off, this is a Japanese film, so no British doctor-turned-crazed-killer makes an appearance. We do get a male killer with a similar method of murder though, so it is not all false promises.
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It all begins with a man and a woman driving in the rain. One of them is sort of bitchy and the other is pretty weak-willed. They pick up a crazy lady who proceeds to rip off her top and cover her torso in cake frosting. No, seriously. She gets even stranger when she cuts her arm and whips out a set of razor blades. They kick her out, but she won't take the hint. In the process of trying to ditch her, they accidentally run her over.
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After ditching the body, the two proceed to have wild sex. They hook up the next night, but the passion is gone. The girl figures out the problem pretty quickly- they need to kill again. By the way, this scene features a horrible-and unpaid- endorsement for Coca-Cola.
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The violence escalates very quickly and the guy gets really into the killing. But, he begins to stray. No, he does not feel remorse, silly. Instead, he begins to kill people on his own and not follow up the death by screwing her. That son of a bitch! Long story short- he kills a lot more people and then her.
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This movie is all about two things: subtlety and sex. This is summed up best by a later bit of dialog from the crazy girlfriend. She says "It's been ten days. It has been ten days since we f#$!ed!" It truly has.
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The movie is mostly about sex, which is a bit off-putting. Not to mention the whole story about rampant rape and murder. This is part of the Violent Pink movement from Japan which is...curious and odd. More on that later.
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Coming up next: Making a jet out of crap. Stay tuned...

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Escaping the Blast- Angela Bassett

It's one thing to escape starring in a bad sequel. It is another thing to escape the blast of a bad fourquel. Our subject today managed to do just that...
Angela Bassett
While not the biggest name in Hollywood, she is a multi-award nominee. She has a Golden Globe and has even been nominated for an Oscar. But that didn't happen yet.

As an unknown, she had a whole run of guest spots on shows including Spencer for Hire, The Cosby Show and Alien Nation. This led to her big role in Kindergarten Cop...as a Stewardess. Swing and a miss.

Her first lead role comes in 1991's...
She plays the 'tough as nails' pilot of the salvage ship that ends up with the pod full of critters. Thankfully for her, she is one of the three survivors.
In the next couple of years, she appeared in numerous TV shows- like The Flash- and a couple little films like Boyz in the Hood, Malcom X and Waiting to Exhale. Good save, honey.
In 1993, she portrayed Tina Turner in What's Love Got to Do With It? and got her Golden Globe and Oscar nomination.
To this day, she works pretty regularly in solid, supporting roles. Though, to me, she will always be that sassy space pilot who won't take no crap from any animatronic puppet!
More survivors coming. Stay tuned...

WTF Japan?!?: Executive Koala

How do you follow up topless schoolgirls fighting zombies in between incestual make-out sessions? With cute animals. I bring you...
This is another one that simply blows my mind. Like a lot of these movies, it is just hard to get what the point of it was. Maybe it is just simpler to say that there was none.

A Koala man is an ad executive in a major company. I lost you already, didn't I? Try to stay with me, people. Our hero is troubled by his past, so much so that he has trouble with his new girlfriend and his shrink. His previous girlfriend, you see, was murdered. One detective believes that the mammal did it. Did he?

Let's get this part out of the way now. There are three animal people in the movie. Just three. The lead, his boss and a shop owner. Everyone else is a normal person. At only point does a human react strangely to all of this. Moving on...

The whole thing builds and builds towards the idea that the Koala did do it. They even show it happening. Oh wait, that was a scene from a movie shoot about the murder. Never mind. After some hypnotic regression, the Koala feels that he did do it and confesses. Plus, he kills his rabbit boss and therapist.

Through a very elaborate and confusing bit of exposition, we learn that a previously-seen Korean businessman was actually, wait for it, the ex-boyfriend of his dead fiancee. Evidently, she sent him a letter about how the Koala beat her. Is that true? Well, yes and no. I'll explain.

He did beat her, but he did it for a good reason. Her descendants, you see, were hunters of koalas over a hundred years ago. As a koala, his ancestral memories made him attack her. She faked her own death as part of a very elaborate revenge scheme alongside her Korean ex. They are both killed by our hero in the fight, but come back. How? By using the secret 'Resurrection' technique, duh! They eventually all make peace as the sun comes up. Say it with me: Huh?

As much as I can make jokes about this movie, it was never boring. It was weird as hell, but something was always happening. That should count for something, I suppose. If this movie sounds interesting to you, you can watch it in its entirety on YouTube...until someone wakes up and pulls it.

Coming up: sex robots, ass-blades and pet detectives. Stay tuned...

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

WTF Japan?!?: Attack Girls' Swim Team vs. The Undead

Japan is a weird place. We all know this to be true.
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Their movies are simply bizarre and mind-boggling at times. I could probably spend the rest of my life doing daily updates on their strange contributions to cinema. Let's start with a week and work from there. Today, I bring you...
Yeah, let's get right to the crazy stuff, huh? That's what I thought. This movie is about a group of high school students, zombies and sadistic teachers- a logical combination. Oh wait, no it's not.
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The plot is pretty simple...for about ten minutes. That is when it gets really f-ing complicated. A new young lady transfers to a High School as a mysterious virus is being spread. This turns the students and teachers into killer zombies. Oddly, they maintain their brain functions, albeit to a warped degree. It's more of a Resident Evil 4 zombie virus than a Resident Evil 3 zombie virus. Anyhow, the girls swim team is immune due to, wait for it, the chlorine in the water they practice in. All that burning of my eyes does pay off eventually!
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In all of the build-up to this, we get a sub-plot involving Aki and another girl. They casually chat in the shower- like we all do- and discover that they have matching birthmarks. We later learn that they are sisters, separated at birth. Immediately following this revelation, they have an approximately ten-minute long sex scene. Feel free to stop and ponder that. Also note that this takes right after a chase scene.
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The killing ensues, including a scene where a slutty teacher cuts all of a man's toes off and one with a flame-spitting teacher, and it sure is bloody. Not in that scary way though. It is really in more of that 'Troma' sort of way- silly, fake and dumb. Combined with the cheap 'handy-cam look,' these scenes are just odd.
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The plot gets thicker and in a damn hurry. The new girl was kidnapped by a mad scientist, repeatedly raped and trained to be an assassin. She fled and, evidently, the man followed her to kill her. But, we learn in the end that her 'sister' was actually another agent of the scientist. This is revealed after our heroine kills the man. But he is not dead. Okay, he is dead. But, he has a twin brother who immediately kills the other girl. Why? Good question. Our girl overcomes the odds and kills the other evil scientist. Hurray!
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Oh wait, the girl dies in the end while doing laps. Why? Because the sedative they used on her earlier has a warning label not to do strenuous activity for 8 hours after dosage. Oops. The End.
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This movie just mind-bogglingly weird. In addition, it is filled to the brim with fake blood and even faker boobs. Yes, I know that 'faker' is not a real word, but you would use it too in this case. The stars are both busty models who cannot act their way out of a paper bag. Check out the trailer here if you want. Just a note- there are topless women in the trailer. That is good/bad.
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More Asian oddities to come. Stay tuned...

Monday, March 23, 2009

Really, movie?!?: Sirens

Movies are often rife with stupid or way too convenient moments. What happens when a movie is only those stupid moments though? This is the case today in...

Sirens

The movie, in a short summary, is about evil, monster hookers. Before you rush off to rent it, hear me out. This movie sucks. It sucks long, hard and in the most conveniently-lazy way possible.

First off, this is not a real movie. It is a short film. Clocking in at roughly 35 minutes, it is shorter than Hulk vs. Wolverine, one of TWO movie released on a single disc by Marvel and aimed at kids. Any random episode of Law & Order is longer (42 minutes). In a way, this is a blessing.

Second, there is no nudity. Well, one guy is nearly naked, which is actually worse than just teasing the male population of the world. It's like making a film about strippers and having no nudity from the ladies. I'm looking at you, Closer and Sin City.

This is the plot. A trio of businessmen are celebrating the raises they got from firing half of the crew. They hire some hookers based on the suggestion of a lady cop (don't ask). Meanwhile, the lady goes to see her Iraq War veteran friend at his job as a restaraunt host. He is fired by his boss, who just happens to be one of the three businessmen. It only gets worse.

Two of the men leave their friend behind with the hookers (no explanation is given) and head home. One of them runs into a pair of women in the hallway and goes home with them. The other is pulled over by, wait for it, the lady cop from earlier. That's convenient.

The lady hookers tie up the businessman for some 'fun.' This leads him to being eaten. Big surprise. The lady cop arrives downstairs, bringing the other businessman with her. He is going along with her, despite not breaking the law earlier and despite her being off-duty. Smart guy. As it turns out, the lady is one of the evil monster hookers as well. They explain that the third businessman was eaten after the others left. That's convenient.

That is lazy and stupid screenwriting there. You take a seven or eight person cast and make them all meet in some 'cosmic coincidence.' I tell you what, movie. Let's not meet up again, no matter how ironic it may be.

More stupid writing on the way. Stay tuned...

Sunday, March 22, 2009

Random Humor: Galaxina

Movies will sometimes use solid, structured humor. Oftentimes, they will instead stick to randomly throwing out whatever they think will work. Such is the case today.

Galaxina

This movie is just weird for so many reasons. It stars a Playboy playmate, but doesn't really have any nudity. It is about space travel, but is much more about mocking the idea. The lead is a sex robot who is only implied to have sex with people.

There is a lot to love about the movie though. It is silly, whimsical and makes no bones about it. It has aliens that worship a motorcycle and pray to the God 'Harley Davidson.' One guy gets his space pod opened by a pet and is forcibly aged during the 25 year hibernation sleep. He spends the rest of the movie doing a bad, old man voice while his face is covered by a giant gray beard.

The best running joke involves the film's McGuffin: the Blue Star (AAAHHHHHAAAHHH). You see, every time someone says the name of the item...which is the Blue Star (AAHHHAAAHHH), the musical cue shoots up. The real joke is that we are not the only ones that hear it. The people in the film hear it as well and react to it. One time it doesn't, which angers the cast and forces them to say it again to correct the error. Good stuff.

Want more randomness? Stay tuned...

Saturday, March 21, 2009

4th and Goal: Omen- The Awakening

Almost done. I can make it! I can make it!
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This movie is just really bad, but you must be warned. It has come from the belly of the beast and will eat alive lesser critics. It is the horror and tragedy that is...
Omen 4: The Awakening
First things first- this movie gets everything wrong. For one thing, they dropped the word 'The' from the title. Why? Good question. I guess they figured that one 'The' was just too many. I know these seems like a pointless argument in semantics. That's because it is.
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The movie itself is a lot like "Jaws 4"...I mean, "Jaws: The Revenge." It tries to copy parts of the original, it changes the gender of its lead and it just outright sucks. This movie also adds a good supporting actor in hopes of covering up for the lead. In this case, it is Jim Byrnes aka 'Joe' from "Highlander: The Series." He plays a hippie that uses his New Age mindset to help battle the Anti-Christ.
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The evil child in this film is a girl...although it isn't really. For most of the movie, you are meant to believe that she is Damien's illegitimate child. As it turns out, a doctor implanted Damien's seed into the child in the womb, allowing a second kid to be inborn in her. Say it with me: WHAAAA????
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The worst part about the movie is how pretty good actors are actually in it. The mother is the doctor from "V," Don S. Davis- of "Stargate" fame- plays a role and character actor Michael Lerner is in it too. On top of that, the ending is depressing. Despite the third film ending with Damien's death and the apparent return of Christ to bring about the Rapture, all is normal again here. Sure, that makes sense.
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Someone even made a TV pilot to keep this franchise afloat. It apparently takes the "Friday the 13th: Part 7" route and has the Anti-Christ as a floating spirit that possesses people. Yeah, nobody bought it. This saves me the trouble of reviewing that too.
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This ends the Fourquel series...for now. Stay tuned...

Friday, March 20, 2009

4th and Goal: Critters 4

We're just over halfway through. Must...survive...movies.
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Another series had been pushing its luck by trying to keep going. They had changed the setting three times and needed something fresh. When in doubt, go into space! This is the case with today's film...
This title should tell you all you need to know, huh? Well, it is actually better than it sounds. Anyone who really likes sci-fi and cannot handle sub-par acting may not agree. That is certainly reasonable. But still, screw you anyways.
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The film starts off with the dorky hero of the first three films- he has Robert Englund Syndrome, I guess- getting stuck in a pod with the last two of the Critters. He gets frozen in hibernation for over fifty years. Holy Futurama, Batman! This is where he stays until the pod is opened. I wonder where this is going.Oh, right. Meanwhile, the pod is found by the crew of a salvage spaceship. The crew consists of a lecherous Captain, the black lady navigator, a drug addict, a questionable science expert and a kid. Yeah, a kid. Well, he's about 15, but still...really? I should mention that nobody on the ship are related to him. So he's on the ship...why?
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They call in a company, who is very happy to get the pod back. The tiny crew goes to a space station, which is oddly unmanned. They wander around while waiting for the boss to come. The captain has the good idea to open the pod. Yeah, he dies. The deaths come intermittently throughout, though the small cast plays against the idea of a big body count.
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All of this builds up to a strange third act. The boss comes back, complete with a group of guards right out of 'Fallout 3.' The scientist decides to yell at the evil businessman. Yeah, he dies. Our nice heroes trick the guards into being killed by the beasts. Hurray for moral ambiguity! All the monsters die and the villain dies too. The film ends with the kid, the un-frozen schmuck and the lady flying off to safety...until the idiot hits the controls. So they're dead now? I don't get it.
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This definitely could have been worse. Then again, so can Stage 2 Diabetes. I cannot wholeheartedly recommend the movie in all good conscience. Fortunately, I don't have one. Rent away, suckas!
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One more to go & it involves a demon. Who could it be? Oh, I don't know. Could it be...SATAN. Stay tuned...

Thursday, March 19, 2009

The Clone Wars (The Exorcist)- Abby aka The Black Exorcist)

There's another one. Good Lord! I mean, Good Pazzuzu.

Today's film is a scarcity because of both it's age and a lawsuit. Curious? Too bad, you've read this far already. This is...
What is different:
*The lady is older and black.
*The whole cast is black.
*The priest is played by William Marshall aka 'Blacula'
*It is set in Kentucky.
What is the same:
*Everything else

This is truly separate, but equal film making. Well, actually it is nowhere near equal. This movie sucks really bad. To give you a comparison, William Friedkin also made "The French Connection" and "The Sorcerer." Meanwhile, William Girdler is known as the guy who made "Grizzly" and "The Manitou." Famous film about car chases and crime or the movie about a woman who has a tumor that grows into an Indian. Choices, choices, choices.

There really is no point to this movie. It's not like "Blacula" which has its own back-story and is not just a black version of "Dracula." Hell, even "Blackenstein"- as terrible as it is- has its own story and is a unique entity. This more like "Queen Kong," which simply switches the male roles with female and vice versa.

Any film that was actually marketed as "The Black Exorcist" does not bear any more attention. While there are more of these, it would require me to actually watch them. No thanks.

Stay tuned...

Interweb Cinema: The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari

Let's take a break from the sequels and possessed girls, shall we?

Last time on Interweb, I talked about how public-domain is our friend. This is yet another example of this. The film is a classic, albeit a freaky one. It is the story of a man, a sleeping man and a city of insanity. It is...
Simply put, I love this movie. The whole thing challenges the mind, body and soul to accept what you see or risk going insane. Insanity is a strong theme in the movie, from beginning to end. Said ending is actually controversial, since it added a noticeable tweak to the story's original ending.

The movie is a bit a man who goes to visit the fair with his girlfriend. There they meet Dr. Caligari and his somnambulist friend. For the layman, a 'somnambulist' is a sleepwalker, albeit in an extreme form. The show involves the Doc having the slumbering man answer his questions. Entertainment was a bit different back then, huh?

Right after this, people are being killed in town. Our hero suspects the sleeping man, but the cops don't buy it. He is hard-pressed to find evidence, although he is very vigilant in it. If you think this is a mystery tale, you will be sorely mistaken. It is more a tale of proving facts that we, the audience, already know.

The thing about "Caligari" is the set-design. It is so bizarre and expressive. Imagine people walking around in a monochrome German painting. Doors are upside down, while others are intentionally painted over. My favorite part is the chase down a street that looks more like an asylum's slip-and-slide. You really have to watch this to believe it.

Many people are hesitant to watch silent movies. To them I say: get over it. You can't hate an entire time span of a film-making because nobody actually talks. Yes, the wait for people to read the dialog cards is longer than we need. With "Caligari," the title cards are written in a font that looks like the craziest one you can find in Word. Get over your set concerns and enjoy this great film.

You like witches and re-enactments? You will love the next film then. Stay tuned...

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

4th and Goal: Highlander 4: Endgame

Another fourthquel already? If you insist.
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While the characters in this series can live forever, the longevity of the films is questionable. Without further ado, I bring you:
Highlander 4: Endgame
First off, let me address the obvious. While this is the fourth movie, it is often just called as 'Highlander: Endgame.' There are a couple of reasons for this. For one thing, people are wary to refers to movies as numeric sequels. Second, the series is so convoluted that the film connections are tenuous at best. In "Highlander," Connor McCleod becomes the last immortal and gains 'the prize.' In the sequel, it is the future and he has the prize, but gives it up. In the third film, it is the past and he loses the prize. I'm confused.
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This film is even more confusing because it ties into the television series. The series, you see, took the continuity of the film and warped it. Instead of one immortal, there are now thousands. Connor does not have the prize, but is friends with a clansman named Duncan. A little known fact is that the TV show pilot initially began as "Highlander 4," but was sold to television instead. So, the attempt to make "Highlander 4" eventually gave us..."Highlander 4." Amazing.
*
Oh, you actually want to know about the movie itself? Basically, an immortal's father was killed 600ish years ago and he has held a grudge since then. Since he is a slow planner, he is only now taking his shot. He kills Connor's friends and finally tries to actually, you know, kill him. His hired guns- including famed kung-fu master Donnie Yen- battle Duncan, but he manages to escape.
*
The film relies on re-shot flashbacks and new ones (consider that for a moment- new flashbacks) to pad the film and build up all the character interaction. The actual scenes in the present tend to rehash story aspects from the TV show for neophytes (i.e. me) or contain fight scenes. The latter are not bad, but they are rarely great. The whole thing builds up the villain Kell as nearly unstoppable so that our two heroes might fight until only one is standing. The final battle is pretty good, though there is an overabundance of sparks and a reliance on one move built up in a flashback.
*
While the movie does not suck, it is just not that great either. It is too bogged down in back-story for newcomers and too reliant on rehashing for all but the most forgiving on series fans. When the actual story begins, it is a very complex setup to a simple revenge scheme that builds up to one fight. Say it with me: whatever.
*
More movies to come. Demon children, space a-holes and evil doctors. Stay tuned...

The Clone Wars (The Exorcist)- Exorcism

Another day, another rip of William Friedkin's classic. Hurray.

Today's film is more subtle in its titling: Exorcism.

The movie is pretty much the same thing as "The Exorcist." Well, there are a couple differences.
-Replace this guy with this guy.
-The whole 'possession' thing is more direct. The young lady was involved in the occult and got possessed. She is not quite the innocent victim.
-The makeup effects are not nearly as scary. She looks more like a zombie.
-There is a whole side-story about how she got possessed. It is more of a distraction than anything.
-They have people get their head twisted around, but it turns out to be a pair of murders by an evil employee. This is not the most original character. Plus, he looks like Mr. Clean

Honestly, I was hoping for a lot more from this movie. The Satanic cult stuff is interesting, but ultimately, just filler. In a way, the film apes The Exorcist too much. As much as people love that movie, the whole first half is pretty dull. This is done to set up the story and contrast the big, shocking finale. This movie does not have that. It has a fairly lame finale, honestly. More importantly, it is just not that funny, scary or full of the usual Naschy bravado. It really feels like cheap, contract work. That's sad.

Coming up next: a rip-off from *gasp* America. Stay tuned...

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

4th and Goal: Leprechaun 4- In Space

You know when a series gets bad? Any film series that goes four parts is clearly going to be in trouble. Every good idea they have has been drained out and pureed for all that it is worth. That is when they start to get...weird. Ironically, I have four examples of this. Let's start off with a timely one...
This movie is just all kinds of strange. In previous films, the eponymous villain has chased a girl that unknowingly stole a gold coin of his, chased down a girl to marry her as part of some ancient ceremony and gone to Las Vegas. Now, as the title implies, he is in space. Why? Good question. The simple answer is: because he wants to be.
*
The plot involves the imp kidnapping a space princess in order to make her marry him. Why? Because he wants to be a King, of course. She is naturally horrified, but changes her tune when she is promised lots of gold. Say it with me: what a bitch! The plan goes awry when the cavalry comes to save her. Oh, the irony.
*
They take her on her ship and her ability to regrow limbs draws the attention of their crazy, scientist boss. Meanwhile, the evil beast is killing the space marines one-by-one in pursuit of his lady. It all builds up to the third act where lots of crap happens at once. The scientist is turned into a giant spider-alien, the leprechaun grows huge and the ship is set to self-destruct. In the middle of all that, the male lead takes his shirt off and the busty blond loses her pants.
*
"Leprechaun 4" is a bizarre, bizarre movie. The monster has the power of 'deus ex machina,' which makes me question how lazy the writer was. You want the marine boss to dress in drag and sing? The leprechaun can make it happen. Want two different shots of the Leprechaun exploding? He can regenerate. That sure is convenient, huh? The film is also full of tons of references, songs and half-assed jokes. It thinks that it is funny and clever, but we all know better. However, the ridiculous plot and bad writing can be funny in its own way.
*
If you have standards, you will not particularly like the film. If you want to see an evil Leprechaun sing 'Danny Boy' while hunting down a space marine, this is your movie. You can do worse. I mean, have you seen "Leprechaun in the Hood?" My point exactly.
*
More fourquels to come including fur balls....in space. Stay tuned...

The Clone Wars (The Exorcist)- Seytan

Nations of the world- stop sending us your crappy movies. That is all.

William Friedkin's classic film "The Exorcist" was very popular in its day and has since inspired three- or four, technically- sequels. But, before all of those actual follow-ups came out, everyone and their mother ripped it off. Today's film is one of those:
This film comes to us from the land of Turkey. In the 70s and 80s, they had a booming film industry. As a great documentary by Mondo Macabro (no relation) showed, this died when the economy crashed and most of the films were burned down for the silver the film strips consisted of. Unfortunately, this came too late to stop this movie.

A young girl gets possessed by a demon and her family is not sure how to fix her. They try several ways, but nothing goes too well. They get desperate and, stop me if you have heard this before, call in a priest! They copy every single interesting part of the original "Exorcist" and do it badly. This whole affair is so bad that even the guy doing the subtitle work has given up.

Do anything else other than watching this movie. Hell, read the damn book or something.

Thanks to this site for the pictures, btw.

There are still more of these to come. Stay tuned...

Monday, March 16, 2009

Interweb Cinema: Starcrash

Do you like movies but hate getting off of your ass to go get them? Well, you are in luck, my morbidly obese friend. The internet is a great place to watch movies without the hassle of inputting discs or spending money.

The key thing to understand about this series is a simple phrase: Public Domain. What that boils down to is the idea that nobody owns this movie anymore and you don't have to pay to see it. The Supreme Court ruled that once something enters the P.D., it cannot be removed. This is good for us.

We are starting off strong with a classic film: Starcrash

This movie is just wall-to-wall craziness. Where to begin? The movie stars a young pastor-turned-actor, an Italian starlet, 'Mr. Clean' and David "Knight Rider" Hasselhoff. That should really be enough for most people.

The film involves two space criminals being sent out to rescue the Emperor's son from an alien planet, while an evil Count tries to catch him and use him as leverage. They traverse alien worlds, meet amazons and battle stop-motion dolls. Anyone who has read past posts will recognize it as the movie where the Emperor stops the flow of time to save the day. That is only the tip of the iceberg.

More coming down the pike, including sleepwalkers, witch documentaries and midget spies. Stay tuned...

Note (11/1): I'm pretty sure that this link is dead now. If another is discovered, I will edit this.

Great Monsters of Cinema?: Cloverfield

Not all creatures are made the same. I mean, some are made of foam, some of clay and others out of computer pixels. Aside from that, not every monster is, you know, good. Today's example is from a famous film made last year:
Cloverfield
I personally do not like this movie for lots of reasons. I will not go into all of that here. I'll save that for one of my other concept pieces- How to Kill A Concept: Cloverfield.

Here I will simply discuss the monster. Aside from it's ability to constantly disappear from the shot- despite being 30+ feet tall, it just looks...odd. See for yourself.

What the hell is that? Did Cthulu and Godzilla have some sort of freaky baby that was born premature or something? This is is also the most full-frame shot of the monster in the whole movie too.

Here's one of the other famous scenes. Look at the detail - this being a fan edit with slow mo and high-def- and see whatever the hell this is supposed to be.

I don't know what to say. It is just so bizarre and haphazard. Maybe you should not have a dozen people or so make one creature. More importantly, you should not make the 'Blair Witch' version of 'Godzilla.' Just think about how that sounds out loud for a second. Really.

Stay tuned...

Decade of the Lizard: Godzilla- Final Wars

Godzilla: Final Wars

Why have two monsters when you can have fifteen or sixteen? In yet another reset, Godzilla has been trapped in ice by the Earth Defense Force in 2004. Now in 2020, the Earth is hit by the dual threats of an approaching asteroid and giant monsters sprouting up like wildfires. Thankfully, help has come in the form of the Xilians, who save the Prime Minister from an explosion. He shows up, spouting the ideals of the aliens, although he has also stopped blinking and cannot recognize his dog. The humans expose the secret, but are immediately attacked by the overwhelming force of Zilla, King Caesar, Kumonga, Rodan, Kamacuras, Eborah and Hedorah. On top of that, they have also freed Gigan from forced hibernation. Plus, most of the mutants on the EDF- they have mutants, by the way- have also been controlled, due to some pseudo-science involving them having alien genes just like the monsters. This leads to the only solution: free Godzilla! He, along with the remaining EDF forces and Mothra, kick lots of rubber monster ass. This forces the Xilians to bring out their biggest guns: Mecha-Gigan and Kaiser Ghidorah.

In case you have not figured out, this film was written as a climax for the series a la "Destroy All Monsters." Ticket sales had been declining during this series, so Toho gave this one their biggest budget ever: $19.5 million. An important thing to note is that Godzilla serves as a third act story changer in this one, as opposed to being a consistent threat throughout. Older fans and purist may be bothered by the larger focus on humans, mutants and aliens. Ryuhei Kitamura, director of "Versus", did this film, so, of course there is a kung-fu fight and a motorcycle battle. When the King of all Monsters does show up, it is a great sight. One great thing for purists, however, is all of the monsters that do show up. You want the sea monster from "Godzilla vs. The Sea Monster? " You got it. You want the mantis monsters from "Son of Godzilla? " You get that too. The only monsters left out are the new ones from the Heisei Era (1985-1995) like Biollante and Destoroyah. This is a great film for those who can accept the story and style changes related to the director. The worst thing I can say about the film is that it is almost too overwhelming. Oh, to have such problems!

That's it for the Millenium films. More good stuff coming soon though. Stay tuned...

Saturday, March 14, 2009

Decade of the Lizard: Godzilla- Tokyo S.O.S.

Godzilla: Tokyo S.O.S.

Never has a movie subtitle been more fitting than it is here. Godzilla is back, as well as Mechagodzilla and Mothra. He is back to destroy the city because, as the twin fairies explain, the scientists used the old Godzilla's bones as the guts of Mechagodzilla, also known as Kiryu. The humans, as usual, do not heed the warning and Mothra pays the price. He/she does his/her best against the atomic-blasting monster, but cannot seem to put a stop to his destruction. Fortunately or unfortunately, they restore Kiryu to full-power to battle the monster yet again. The fight is loud, explosive and climactic. It appears to be turning against them until a brand new weapon is finally put to use.

As mentioned earlier, this is the only actual sequel to a Millennium Godzilla film. The other films are more akin to 'Final Fantasy' sequels than movie ones, utilizing similar ideas as previous works, but, ultimately being related solely by title. Characters are carried over in this film, as well as new ones getting a chance to shine. The human aspect of the plot involves the military, people talking to the famous fairies and more sublimated romance that has carried over from the last film. The effects and fight scenes are good, showing experience learned from the last film. Since it is built so tightly around the previous film, it should only be watched in accompaniment with Godzilla X Mechagodzilla. Like other films, a neat little homage or two is given to previous films. In this case, it is the dead body of the Kamoeba from Space Amoeba that floats up on the shore, as well as other actors from other films in cameo roles. This is another good film that any fan of modern Kaiju should see.

One more to go. Stay tuned...

Everything is better with Robots!: Bill & Ted's Bogus Journey

Have you made a surprisingly-successful film about two airhead kids who use time-travel to do their homework? You have? Wow, what are the odds? So now that you are being pressured to make a sequel, what do you do?

Add robots, of course!

"Bill and Ted's Bogus Journey" is a weird movie. Basically, a bad guy wants to stop our heroes from winning the Battle of the Bands before the Wyld Stallyns can be the most awesome band ever and control history. All logical so far.

But then he goes crazy and reveals that his plan involves robot versions of the duo. Now you've lost all sense of sanity, movie! Watch as the robots wreak havoc: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=r79EksC6QjA

As if that was not enough, the climax of the film involves good Bill and Ted making good robot doubles of themselves. They do it with the help of some aliens that they meet in Heaven. Yes, I really did just write that. To make matters worse, they look a mix of a 'Predator,' a Bigfoot and Karl Malden.

At least, this series ended here and did not get, oh, a cartoon show or something. Oh the humanity!

Stay tuned...

Friday, March 13, 2009

Decade of the Lizard: Godzilla X Mechagodzilla

Godzilla X Mechagodzilla

It is hard for a big, green lizard to make friends when he only shows up to break everything. After years of wrecked cities, the Japanese decide to build their own monster to kick this one's ass. They discover the bones of the original Godzilla- from "Gojira"- and build a robot suit around it. They explain that- in a bit of movie pseudo science- a robot with humanoid components works much more efficiently than one with just circuits. Sort of a 'screw you' to the three previous versions of Mechagodzilla, which were either purely robotic or controlled by operators.

They build the thing just in time to battle the real deal, though something goes wrong in the fight. Godzilla's roar awakens the 'primal spirit' from the skeleton, causing the defender to go haywire and smash more than the scaly version. Naturally, the people protest billions of their own dollars being used to destroy their city. They fix this, however, and gear up for a rematch in a few days. The battle is epic in scale and makes use of the creation's biggest weapon: a giant, freeze ray. The action is big, explosive and fun. Mechagodzilla moves and looks better than in previous films, as one should expect from a modern update to the character.

There is, as usual, some human plot stuff going on with the female pilot, a widowed scientist and a match-making kid. Man, that cliche has even reached across the globe to Japan! The story is as important as ever, so feel free to ignore anything that is not happening on the sound stage. Real nerdy fans- i.e. the internet- will point out that Godzilla's skeleton was destroyed by the weapon too. Good for you. A real quirky part of the movie involves a cameo by a famous Japanese baseball player. Why? It's because, his 'official' name is Hideki 'Godzilla' Matsui, duh. That makes perfect sense! This one was good enough to get an actual sequel, making it the only one in the Millennium series to get the honor. That should tell you something.

Thanks to numerous sites for the pictures. All of them are visible in the hyperlink headings. Check them out.

More kaiju to come. Stay tuned...

Interesting note

You know, as weird as the name I chose is, it has actually been used before. Seriously.

1. The Ramones' 12th album was titled 'Mondo Bizarro' back in 1992. Of course, I was about 10 years old and was a bit too young to follow the Ramones...not that I do now either.2. 'Mondo Bizarro' is also the name of a film from 1966, which was spun off from the popular and polarizing 'Mondo Cane.' What is Mondo? I'll go in depth on that in the future.

3. Mondo is also a Generation X character. Fortunately, being a Marvel hero, there is no chance that he will be a Bizarro. Though, in all honesty, if he ever was, he would be Bizarro Mondo anyways.

Just remember, as weird as I am, someone else came up with this name and sold a movie around it. If anything qualifies as 'Mondo Bizarro' to me, that is it.

Stay tuned...

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Repeat Offenders: Sarah Douglas

Evil often comes in very innocuous names. Such is the case with today's offender. Her's is a name that you may not recognize, but a face that you will.
Yes, she played the female villain from "Superman II." A good movie, but not as great as the original thanks to some studio intervention. More on that in Death of a Series: Superman.Her next big film was Conan the Destroyer. Another good film, albeit more flawed than its classic predecessor. It does not go up much from here.
This was followed up with The Return of Swamp Thing. I, personally, like this movie for it's tongue in cheek style and pulpy fun, but it is certainly not a 'good' movie.Next came Beastmaster 2: Through the Portal of Time. Most people know this as the 'what the hell happened to Marc Singer's face' movie.
As if that was not enough, she appeared next in Puppet Master 3: Toulon's Revenge. Do I even need to comment? I did not think so.

Inexplicably, she ended up in Meatballs 4. Since I have no pictures of it without boobs in them, you don't get any.
Next, you have Return of the Living Dead: Part 3. While not as bad as most on this list, it is still not good.

She followed that with Mirror Mirror 2: Raven Dance. Never heard of the original or this? Me neither. But, it does exist.

Sara was also in the TV movie sequel to The Stepford Wives entitled The Stepford Husbands. Fortunately, that was the end of...oh right, that one.
Her last sequel is an Chained Heat 3: Hell Mountain. In fairness, this is a fake sequel to the W.I.P. film. However, she still plays the sultry warden in a film called Hell Mountain.

At this point, I should also mention that she was in the epic fail Quest of the Delta Knights. I'm a dick like that. This is the opposite of 'Escaping the Blast,' since she jumped right into it. Doh!

More offenders to come. Stay tuned...

Decade of the Lizard: Godzilla, Mothra and King Ghidorah- Giant Monsters All-Out Attack

Godzilla, Mothra and King Ghidorah: Giant Monsters All-Out Attack

Monster smashing has never felt so visceral and real as it does in this movie. In 2004, Godzilla returns after fifty years of hibernation to wreak havoc. A crazy old man, a female reporter and a General try to convince people that the only way to save the day is to assist the Guardian Monsters of Earth protect us. People are a bit skeptical, even going as far as to call Baragon by the name of 'Godzilla' several times and once as 'red Godzilla.' The burrowing, dog monster is not alone in his fight, joined by Mothra and King Ghidorah in defense of Japan.

Godzilla, however, is not an easy fight, smashing and stomping his way to seeming victory at nearly every occasion. A giant battle takes place near Tokyo involving the big moth and the three-headed dragon against the King of all Monsters, with some attempted assistance from the military. A human shows just how effective he can be when he goes up close to do some damage of his own. The monster destruction is really good, showing humans in the same frame as the monsters on most occasions. People are crushed, blasted and tossed around like rag dolls. One moment involves a girl in the hospital who breathes a sigh of relief when Godzilla passes by her, only to see his giant tail smash her anyways. This film shows how the American film should have been, even one-upping them with the foot stomping scenes that were used in the ads.

The special effects hold up really well, which is a good sign of where the money went. There is a good amount of human stuff in the film too, so those who do not care for just monster-mashing will be entertained too. Another fun fact: Baragon has not appeared in a film before this since Destroy All Monsters, only previously appearing in Frankenstein Conquers the World. After being cut from films many times- including the original Godzilla vs. Mechagodzilla- he gets to shine, although he is the only monster not named in the title. Despite that, this is explosively fun.

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Great Moments in Special Effects: The Killing of Satan

This is a film that dared to make all of their effects look like Hanna-Barbera works. I should also mention that this is a horror-action film...and a foreign one at that. It's title dares you to watch it. It is...
The Killing of Satan

You want to go out and see it already, don't you?

The film is about a man who returns home from prison and discovers that his hometown is in turmoil. A group of gang members that worship Satan himself are tormenting the town with their supernatural powers. When they kidnap his daughter, him and a friend go on the attack. Our hero learns that he can call upon God for powers, which comes in handy when he has to fight Big Red himself.

This is from late in the film when our hero has a cartoon showdown with an evil cultist, Mano-a-Mano.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yzV1fGYTxO4&feature=related

This clip is from when the gang attacks the town. They put their powers to use to punish one guy who makes them mad.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5i_5LP3qKt0&feature=related

Seriously, this movie is a hilarious. You can find more of the film on YouTube as well, including the climactic battle against old Stitch himself. Want more?

Stay tuned...

Decade of the Lizard: Godzilla vs. Megaguirus

Godzilla vs. Megaguirus

The only person who hates bugs more than Michael Ironside is Godzilla. Since this is another reboot, we get a batch of new history. Godzilla has come back to Japan every time a nuclear power plant has been built from 1954 on, putting an end to that alternate energy source. Now in modern times, he has come back again, leading the military to look into new, crazy options to off him. They come up with a gun that fires black-hole generating energy. Why didn't I think of that?!? The first test goes surprisingly well, although a bug flies into the anomaly left in the wake. It comes back as numerous, larger bugs which mess up the city in the wake of a Godzilla-related flood. While the government prepares a second use of the weapon- called the Dimension Tide- against the lizard, the bugs form into one humongous beast: Megaguirus!

It simultaneously attacks Godzilla and messes up the military's weapons by means of its high-frequency output. The beast also proves that its greatest strength is the ability to steal energy from the King of all Monsters via its unique tail-like protrusion. The tide begins to turn against the big bug, however, and the military is once again prepped to attack. There is a human subplot involving a government computer whiz, a tough female officer and a corrupt politician. The effects are very good, save for in one key moment. Right in the middle of Megaguirus' introduction, his strings are very visible. They are also visible a moment later in mid-flight, even the ones making him fly forward. After that, they are a no-show, but the damage is done.

Godzilla, however, is still a badass, complete with red highlights on his back spikes. While this film is still lacking any of the famous foes, it is a solid film. If you want them, just watch the next movie for all your giant moth and three-headed dragon needs. Stay tuned...

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

List Breakdown: Dumbest Movie Victims #1

You know, sometimes people have it coming. This is especially true in movies, where people's intellect automatically drops about 100 points. Here we will cover some of the worst of the worst. We start off strong with Troma's classic:

The Toxic Avenger

Anyone who engages in a fist-fight with a mutant is just off to a bad start. Interrupting a restaurant robbery, our eponymous hero fights the baddies. He engages in fisticuffs with one of the men and attempts a judo flip. Instead, he accidentally rips the guy's arm off! There is a pause and the robber has not noticed the injury. It is only when he looks down and sees his limb in the mutant's hand that he figures it out and screams in pain. What follows is the best punch ever!

See it for yourself...

video

The deaths only get dumber and the victims even more so. Stay tuned...

Decade of the Lizard: Godzilla 2000

Godzilla 2000

Godzilla is back for a new century, but things have not changed all that much. The big green guy is running loose and having fun until a giant stone shows up to make him mad. The object eventually turns into a space ship and messes with the human's technology. Finally, it achieves the final transformed state: giant, flipping monster. I bet that shocked you, huh? Since this film was released in 1999, the effects are far better than you would expect if you only watched these films in the 1970s. Godzilla's look is sleeker and angrier & his blast is much more awesome-looking than in the older films.

The villain- Orga- is also a drastic change of pace compared to Mothra or Gamera. Since he is an alien mutated from Godzilla's cells- which it absorbed earlier- it looks like an odd mix of alien, lizard and plant. He is not to be confused with Biollante, who is a mix of Godzilla and plant.

You have to notice the subtleties in Toho films, you know. Most of the effects hold up pretty well, though the CG is noticeable a bit in the ship's transformation sequence and the underwater Godzilla parts. There is a human plot as well, involving scientists who chase the big guy around like storm chasers and, of course, the military reaction to giant monsters stomping around. Much like in a porno, the humans are only there to make it look like a film and not just the show 'Kaiju Big Battle.' It is a good entry for fans, although it does not have any of the big supporting characters like Mechagodzilla or Mothra. Don't worry though, they're coming. Stay tuned...

Decade of the Lizard: Introduction

Nothing good ever really goes away; this applies to Godzilla. Forty-five years after the original Gojira, the King of All Monsters made his return in a brand new film. Some say that it was made in response to the 1998 film Godzilla by Roland Emmerich, which took liberties with the character. Essentially, we made a film about a giant lizard that breaks the two rules of the character: He breathes fire and He is invincible. The big guy just yells & is killed by missile fire. This, of course, is a re-use of the King Kong ending from 1933. So, essentially, we took the character, stole our own ending and attached a marketable name to it. This did not sit well with Toho. So, five years after the last Heisei Era film, a new film was released. This acted as its own unique entity, tying only into the continuity of Gojira. This became the formula, bringing the monster back and making new stories around him that exist in some sort of pocket dimension. Some characters aside from Godzilla appear in numerous ones (i.e. Mothra), which makes the disconnected nature feel even stranger. Ironically, the one film that inspires a direct sequel- Godzilla against Mechagodzilla- did very well, although the actual sequel underperformed. You cannot wholly blame the lack of explosive success on the films themselves though. Instead, it is from a slow change in the fan base itself looking for different things. As Wikipedia notes, it was outperformed in Japan by Howl's Moving Castle and The Incredibles. Do not worry, Kaiju fans, the series will return sometime in the next four or five years. Until then, you will just have to make do with the twenty-eight other films in the series. Aw, poor babies.

Are you ready for the reviews?

Stay tuned…

Escaping the Blast- Jeffrey Donovan

Have you ever seen a guy in a really bad movie and thought 'he'll never work again, will he?'

A lot of the time, you are right. Take, for example, Jesse James Meets Frankenstein's Daughter. According to movie buff Joe Bob Briggs, it was the last film of nearly all of the cast, save for maybe two. But that's not always the case...

In today's segment, we cover a horrific sequel and one guy who has managed to live through it. That sequel: Book of Shadows: Blair Witch 2

Right away, you know this movie is going to be bad. A big budget remake of a film famous for making the most of its low budget? Sign me up, mister. More importantly, it is a sequel to a film in which NOTHING HAPPENS. What do you follow that up with, more nothing? One guy stands out amongst the group. See if he looks familiar...
Don't recognize him too well? You will.
*
Cut to modern times and a new hit show on USA. It's about a spy who gets forcibly retired and puts his job skills to a new use. The star is this guy...
Yes, one and the same. Out of the four stars of the movie, he's the only one to go on to good work. Hurray for partial success in a different medium, Jeffrey!
*
Stay tuned...

Saturday, March 7, 2009

Repeat Offenders: Reb Brown

When you watch crap all the time, a lot of the same people just keep popping up. You begin to wonder why. Then you realize that it is because they just suck. At that point, you laugh at them. Here is one such example...
Reb Brown
Even the guy's name is kind of dumb. What the hell is 'Reb' anyways? Is it like 'Rev' if you have a lisp? Anyhow...

This man has a litany of bad movies to his credit. He started off with this gem, where he turned my favorite comic book character into, well, this...
He followed that up with his own barbarian movie a la Conan or Krull. This one is called Yor, Hunter from the Future. It is as dumb as it sounds. He also wears this...
We also cannot forget that he is in one really bad sequel- The Howling II: Your Sister is a Werewolf. This is probably the highest point of his career, which is as sad as it sounds...The name should be more clear now though. He was in Space Mutiny, a bad film that dared to steal special-effects from 'Battlestar Galactica." Of course, most of us will recognize the film this way...

Musical Moments in Film: Happiness of the Katakuris

Do you like singing? Do you like zombies? Do you like Japanese people?

If you qualify for all or one of those, you are in luck. Today's film to highlight is...
The Happiness of the Katakuris
This quirky film is by Takashi Miike, the man behind "Izo" and "Ichi the Killer." Here's the thing though: it's actually a pleasant movie. It has what you would call dark elements to the plot, but, ultimately, the whole thing is designed to be in the spirit of an old musical.

Essentially, this family owns a bed and breakfast out in the woods of Japan. They get no business, what with being miles from anywhere. Finally, they get their first customer, but things go bad- he dies. This happens two more times. The family has to bury the bodies, since their only source of income is people coming there. This leads us to the mid-movie musical number linked here...

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9F6yKmWujCw&feature=related

The film is strange, quirky and a third word for bizarre. It is surprisingly upbeat, funny and charming. Again, when you consider that the director did a film in which someone literally rapes Mother Earth previously, that is saying a lot. It is definitely not for everyone, but some people will absolutely love it.

Stay tuned...

Friday, March 6, 2009

Death of a Series- ‘Jaws’ (Part 3)

Jaws: The Revenge

Revenge is a dish best served cold, which was also the audience reaction to this film. Following Jaws II, Mrs. Brody has seen her two sons grow up, but, sadly, lost her husband due to a heart attack. Things turn bad when her youngest son is killed by a shark in what appears to be a sort of trap. This makes her believe that her family is cursed- she blames the heart attack on the shark somehow- so she goes to the Bahamas to see her eldest son, now a marine biologist. The beast follows her, apparently being able to thrive in both fresh and salt water. Once in the island region, our heroine meets a charming, young man named Hoagie, played by Michael Caine. The cycle of attacks soon moves there as well, with a friend of the son's girlfriend killed on a boat. This drives Mrs. Brody to go out to sea, convinced that she should finish off the beast herself. Hoagie, the son and his friend Alex (Peebles!) fly out to stop her, but their sea plane is attacked when they land. All of them survive the attack, however, and get on the boat with our heroine. Hoagie even emerges from the wreckage completely dry. This builds to the climactic face-off between woman- in boat- and shark. If you are must watch any part of this movie- poor soul- at least choose to watch this part. So many bizarre and stupid things happen in the span of a few minutes. A shark roars, a shark is impaled by the barely-sharp plank of wood, a giant shark turns into a tiny one in a puddle of water & a shark explodes. While I won't recommend this movie to anyone, this part is funny. At the same time, however, it also tries to mirror its finale to that of Jaws. The film got one holdover star because she was the wife of a studio executive that released the film and wanted to be top-billing on a poster. This is an affront to good cinema, with its implausible story, bad acting and terrible pacing. They wisely chose to end the series here. Little did they know that it was too late.

So how does a series go so bad, so quickly? Changing directors is never a good thing. Jaws is a great film, but no others are. Is that solely due to Spielberg's absence? No. Second, watch how stars flee from your series like rats on a sinking ship. Dreyfuss, while not killed off, only appears in the first film. By the third film, Scheider and Gary were replaced with young actors Quaid and Thompson. Gary did return in the fourth film, but they wrote out Scheider. It is similar to how Linda Hamilton's character died of 'cancer' in the interim between T2 and T3. Another film series to look at for comparison is Tremors. With every successive film, a star or two chose not to appear, to the point where only the guy from "Family Ties" was left to carry the franchise. Let's also not forget how the quality of writing got diffused as well. The first film is a mostly-direct adaptation of the Benchley novel. After that, the series was constructed around brand new stories. You see how that ended up. Some film series can go off-material and survive- see the Bond and Bourne films. Another thing that helps put the nail in a franchise coffin is experimentation. The third film changed the setting, cast and dimensionality. The response to this was bad box office and awkwardness regarding its place in continuity. Key things are ignored from three- particularly in regards to what jobs the two sons have- and even the studio referred to Jaws: The Revenge as the climax of the 'Jaws trilogy' in a press release. Do not mess with the cast, writing or setting just because you want a new film out really quickly. This is what happens, Hollywood.