Tuesday, March 31, 2009
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
Sunday, March 29, 2009
Saturday, March 28, 2009
Friday, March 27, 2009
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.
Thursday, March 26, 2009
Wednesday, March 25, 2009
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
Monday, March 23, 2009
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...
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
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.
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
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.
Friday, March 20, 2009
Thursday, March 19, 2009
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...
*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:
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.
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...
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
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
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:
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
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.
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.
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
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...
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!
Friday, March 13, 2009
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...
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.
Thursday, March 12, 2009
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...
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
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.
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
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...
The deaths only get dumber and the victims even more so. Stay tuned...
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...
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?
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.
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!
Saturday, March 7, 2009
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...
If you qualify for all or one of those, you are in luck. Today's film to highlight is...
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...
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.
Friday, March 6, 2009
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.