Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Undead Pantheon: Evil

Every country needs their own zombie film. Italy has dozens (Zombi 2-5), England has a couple (28 Days Later) and even France has one (The Grapes of Death). Hell, even Australia has one (The Undead). So what happens when the great island nation of Greece made one? Find out in my review of...
To Kako (a.k.a. Evil)
The movie begins with a bunch of people in a cave digging up rocks. Faster than you can say 'let's rip-off Evil Dead II,' a P.O.V. force flies at one of the men. We cut to the man in a crowded soccer...I mean, futbol stadium. The evil power overtakes him and he bites a nearby man. A zombie plague breaks out very quickly and all hell breaks loose.
*
The movie basically sets up a bunch of random characters that will eventually meet up and fight zombies together. The problem is that almost none of them have what you would call 'personalities' or are 'likable.' We get a cab driver, a young woman and a soldier, amongst others. They start off strong by having the men leering at the lead young woman. Thanks, movie.
*
I have to point out the disparagement when it comes to the cover art of the DVD for a moment. The zombies look nowhere near as cool. Why would you do that to us, movie? I can almost forgive bad, but I can't forgive 'dishonest.' Back to the film...
*
The film has an odd habit of introducing some ideas and not really following up on them. One female lead is obsessed with getting home to save her little brother from her zombie dad. They risk life and limb to get there and...the film cuts to another location. We don't even get a good 'I'm sorry it was too late' speech. We also get a subplot involving another female lead's foot fetish. Say it with me- ewww. After surviving many attacks, she dies as a zombie licks her foot before eating it. That's lovely, movie.
*
The good stuff: this movie has some really cheesy gore effects. We get lots of splatter (the film clearly wants to be Bad Taste) and silliness. The ridiculous moment where they all stop to kung-fu fight the zombies is great. The high point is the guy punching through a zombie's chest and shaking a buddy's hand on the other side of the torso. Sadly, this is the only scene like this in the movie. After being so bad-ass, the guys go down so easy. Who can I forget the guy who gets gutted by a pole after being lightly shoved into it. Lame.
*
I won't spoil the ending to this movie. It is sort of moot, since the sequel is going to pick up right where this ends. At least, that is what the trailer tells us. Hopefully, the trailer is more trust-worthy than the DVD cover.
*
This movie is a big, steaming pile of 'Eh.' I really wanted to like this movie, but it tried so hard to dissuade me. Compared to other zombie movies, this is a sad attempt to get attention- even more so than Zombi 4. I hope that more can be done with the storyline in the sequel and, to be fair, it does look more ambitious. Maybe you guys should just stick to what you do best: being the inspiration for 6,000 bad sword-and-sandal films. Where would Steve Reeves be without you? It's not like he turned down the lead in Dr. No to be in one of those movies. Oh right, he did.
*
Let's jump back to aliens again. I hear there's a new guy out there to fight them. Sounds good. Stay tuned...

Monday, June 29, 2009

You Have Not Made This Movie...Why?

This book has been supposed to be a film nearly ten years ago. The book was bought in 1997 and has been 'in development' ever since. We dodged a bullet by Jan de Bont not being able to do it. Seriously though, why have you not made this movie?

Maybe one day we will get the majesty of this story on film. Until then, we must make due with Jaws 1-4, Shark Attack 1-3, Tintorera: Killer Shark, Mega-Shark vs. Giant Octopus, Sharks in Venice, Cruel Jaws (aka Jaws 5: Cruel Jaws), Deep Blue Sea, Open Water 1-2, Shark Hunter, Spring Break Shark Attack, Shark Swarm, Shark Attack in the Mediterranean, Megalodon, and Red Water.

Will this scene ever happen? Only time- and some millionaire producer- will tell. Stay tuned...

International 80's Trash: Rats

Bruno Mattei was not a good director. Up until his death in 2007, he was directing crap film after crap film. His last film is the classic Zombie: The Beginning. But, before he directed films like that and skin flicks for Italy, he made a classic film alongside his buddy Claudio Fragrasso. It dared to rip off two different genres at once in a hilarious mess of a film. Behold the glory and splendor of...
There is no correlation between this and Burial Ground: The Nights of Terror. That is probably obvious, but still bears mentioning. Plus, I want to plug this review again for the Final Girl site. That is all.
*
The movie begins with a long prologue explaining the backstory of the film. In 2015, the world was nearly destroyed by nuclear war. I guess five years after we make contact, two years after a giant flood, but three years before the world is overrun by terminators, all hell broke loose. People fled underground for hundreds of years and eventually started to come out again. Our heroes are a bunch of bikers who do just that. They find a house that is perfect: food, supplies and absolutely no people around. What could possibly go wrong?
*
They quickly discover a few dead bodies and the constant presence of rats. Well, it's not like there is any correlation between scavengers being around a place full of corpses. Much like Frogs, the film is obsessed with constantly showing shots of the animals wandering around. It is not really scary or effective in any way. We learn that many experiements were being done here, but we won't find out what until later. In the meantime, we get a scene of two people having sex in a sleeping bag and being mocked by their friends when they get stuck. This feels like stupid padding, but is actually really bad foreshadowing. You see, the lady gets stuck in it later as a rat his way from 'lady hole' to mouth. Ow.
*
Our 'heroes' figure out that something is up...eventually. In the meantime, they wander around the place and get picked off for a while. One guy even gets killed by a pile of falling rats. No, really. The rat leader, meanwhile, is a more interesting character. Like the leader from Frogs (the comparisons are just that easy to make), he does nothing save for look away from camera. He is a half-white, half-black rat though. Fortunately for our heroes, they find a flamethrower, the solution to all of life's problems. Somehow, the people still managed to get killed. We get the 'he's alive- let's just turn him around and OH NO, he's dead' shot about three times here as well. That really only works once, Bruo. Of course, most of them would have lived if they could have stopped bickering for five damn seconds.
*
I will spoil the *shock* ending here. If you want to be surprised, skip to the end.
*
Only two people make it, one of them, strangely enough, is the only black actor. Suck on that, the one cliche not used here! We keep getting cuts of mysterious men in Hazmat suits walking around and killing the rats in the surrounding area. This is also preceded by some weird recording of experiments on rats being discussed. Finally, our heroes are rescued. But their rescuers are mute- why? One of them pulls off this gas mask to reveal...a giant rat face! Rat people have taken over the Earth! Aargh! The End.
*
This movie is freaking ridiculous. Much like Hell of the Living Dead (how have I not done that yet?), it is stupid, amateurish and badly-written. Also like that film, it is pretty damn entertaining in an ironic way. One of my favorite effects is the rat 'swarm' that is clearly rat dolls placed on a moving track. It looks like either the candy dots on wax paper or ducks in a shooting gallery- take your pick. The downside is that the characters are almost all unlikeable. Then again, they all die- most violently- so it's a trade-off. If you like good horror, stay away. Lovers of ridiculous crap should be happy here.
*
In honor of a new reader, I bring you the best Greek zombie film ever! Also, the only one (so far). Stay tuned...

Sunday, June 28, 2009

Zombie-A-Go-Go: Zombi 4

I always laugh a little when talking about the Zombi 'series.' In no way are any of the films connected. They have different stars, directors (since Fulci deserted Zombi 3) and no common plot threads. Even bad series' like Critters and the later Halloween films had continuity of some sort. These random films about different kinds of zombies in different locales are still interesting though. While they don't always (or seemingly-ever) make sense, the stories are unique enough to get your attention. Does this still hold true? Find out in my review of...
I just want to take a moment to comment on how stupid that title is. Of course, the movie itself merely says 'After Death,' implying pretty directly that the 'Zombi 4' part of it was added later. Big surprise.
*
The plot starts off strange and never looks back. An introductory monologue explains that a group of scientists formed an island community centered around the idea of curing all diseases. How do we end up with zombies? Find out. A Ruben-esque voodoo priest is summoning up some evil power, while a bunch of white people run to stop him. They show up armed, but he is not worried. He explains that their failure to save his son has driven him to revenge. You, sir, are no Doctor Phibes. One of the men finally snaps and fills the guy full of Uzi bullets, but it is too late. A zombie lady (who looks like the lady vampire from Blacula) leaps out of the mystical hole Mortal Kombat-style and attacks. Start running!
*
Basically, a bunch of them run around and get killed every time that they stop for no reason. One little girl escapes and is given a necklace so that when see her in the present, we know who she is. She arrives on the island as an adult with a bunch of mercenaries on vacation. Why they are together is very vague. As vague as the 'magical pull' that forces their boat there. They wander around until one of them is attacked. Despite his combat training, he barely fends off the hooded zombie and gets bitten. Naturally, after all of this, they wander into a house and look around.
*
We get a second set of protagonists, though their longevity is minimal. Basically, they wander into a cave and decide to read the Book of the Dead. No, not that one. The scientist who insisted on doing it is torn apart, as is the girl who told them not to- fair enough, movie. One guy escapes...somehow and runs off. Just to note, this guy is played by an infamous gay porn star. According to an interview with the director, he had no clue at the time. Oops.
*
This gets pretty formulaic from here-on out for the most part. They stand around until someone gets converted into a zombie and bites them. Meanwhile, the house gets surrounded by hooded zombies, but a mass of bullets slows them down. We get a side-aspect of some candles being set up that stop the zombie horde...but not the ones inside. This keeps being blown out, feeling almost like a comedy of errors. Our heroes still die in obvious ways, but one unique thing happens. Zombie with guns! All of you people who are in love with Land of the Dead's 'zombie uses gun' scene can suck it! Of course, this film does not have Asia Argento shooting zombies, so it is still inferior. This movie also ends in a really strange way that I will not even attempt to explain.
*
Is this movie good? Do you really have to ask? It is called Zombie 4: After Death! The real question is this: is it entertaining? Oddly, yes. In spite of itself, the movie is fun to laugh at and pretty well-paced. Because they barely stop to explain the plot, the film moves pretty briskly. Should it take time to explain things? Yeah, that would be nice. Logic goes out the window the second you hear that ridiculous pop song in the opening credits though. If you can accept that this movie is really dumb and makes no sense, you may have a little fun. You have zombies with machine guns- what else do you need?
*
What is worse than killer zombies? Super-intelligent rats...in the future! Stay tuned...

Saturday, June 27, 2009

International 80's Trash: Welcome to Spring Break

After that complete non sequitur, you guys probably want a more normal film review. Well, I'll give you one, although the film is anything but normal. Like many films of this time, it was an Italian co-production. Basically, they did everything, but cast a bunch of Americans in it and set it in the United States. Ha ha ha...compromise. This film, sadly, made barely a blip on the radar and has only been resurrected on DVD. So, was it worth the use of a Biblical jargon? Find out in my review of...
The film begins with a man being led to the electric chair. Ah, this must be a comedy. No, in reality, the man is a biker gang leader that was found guilty of murdering a young lady's sister. He swears that he is innocent and that he will get revenge for this. Those seem to be in contrast, don't they? Thankfully, they spare us his actual death at the chair's...um, hands. Unfortunately, it cuts right to really bad 80s music. Why are we being punished with him?!?
*
We are introduced to the setting: Hollywood, Florida. Actually, they never say, other than a bench sign. Just to note, the police cars say Manatee County on them, which is...let's just say that the two places are not even close together. The sheriff (John Saxon of...lots of shit), police commissioner and the local priest are worried about Spring Break happening right after an execution. Eh, we're used to it down here. Oh and the gang he was in charge of is still in town. I'm sure they will not cause trouble. Later that night, a hitchhiker is killed by a mysterious biker. Apparently, he has a giant Die Hard battery on the back of it. Note that this is the only comparison between this film and Die Hard.
*
More teens go down, but, in the meantime, let's meet the cast first. Our lead is a College football player who made a bad play at a big game. His buddy wants to help him get drunk and forget it, while also looking to get laid...a lot. He has more condoms than Neo had guns in the lobby scene from The Matrix. They run into a surly bar maiden who makes our annoying friend all hot and bothered. What's her problem? It's not like she's surrounded by drunken men AND her sister was murdered. Oh, those things are both true? Sucks to be her. We also get about six or seven other subplots, including a young woman who just up and decides to become a hooker to keep her room and a jerk who keeps faking his death. Yeah, that happens all the time.
*
The killings are, in a word, ridiculous. A few times the killer 'tricks' people into touching the jumpers on the back of his bike, which of course, do not effect his motort at all. One girl is actually knocked out, tied up with chains and killed with fire from a furnace. By turning it up to full, it apparently can shoot out four feet and turn the girl into a melting dummy. But who is this mysterious killer? Is it the undead biker? It is the mysterious and overly-grizzled cop? Is it the preacher who has almost no role, but keeps showing up? This mystery is more look an episode of Scooby-Doo than an Agatha Christie novel.
*
This movie is pretty damn stupid. It is directed by Umberto Lenzi (credited under a very fake American name), the man known for directed such gory films as Eaten Alive and Cannibal Ferox. This is not like those movies. The funny part is that you can see where the Italian influence comes in. As soon as the killer shows up, the Claudio Simonetti score kicks in, directly in contrast with the cheesy crap that fills the rest of it. The movie is fun and silly enough to laugh at. The creepiest part comes when the two leads end up discovering BDSM gear in John Saxon's house. Eww. You can do worse with movies of this same caliber- the Black Cobra series for one. There are four of those damn things!
*
You want more Zombi reviews? Really? If you insist. Stay tuned...

Friday, June 26, 2009

Absurdity for Kids: The Mighty Ducks

Disney loves money. They love it so much that they pimp out every single one of their properties out more than a black man in a 70s film. Nearly every major Disney film has had either a direct-to-video sequel, a television spin-off or both. Some of them- like Hercules and Aladdin- actually turned out pretty good and were faithful to the source material. Then there was this one...
For those of you who did not grow up under this reign of Disney material- highlighted by numerous live-action tripe- I will give a history lesson. The Mighty Ducks was about a selfish young man who had to teach kids to play hockey as part of community service. In the two ensuing sequels, they went as far as becoming Olympians (no, really). Eventually, one of them grew up to be on Fringe, while the Coach went on to marry a pre-crazy Paula Abdul. The name became popular enough to be turned into a real hockey team.
*
Of course, none of this prepares you for the show.
*
Instead, the show is about a team of anthropomorphic ducks from another planet who go to Earth to stop other evil ducks. Their group just happens to be called 'The Mighty Ducks' and they wear armor that resembles hockey pads. Okay, I have to ask- how the hell did this come about? Who said 'Let's name it after the film about real kids become athletes, but make it about freaking duck aliens'? What the hell?!?
*
The show is pretty straight-forward and really does not break the mold. You have the smart guy (Wildwing), the big, dumb guy (Grin), the cocky guy (Nosedive), the smart girl (Tanya) and the one who is crazy, yet never does anything threatening (Duke). The villains are pretty stock, but not embarrassingly-so. In summary, the show is non-threatening, sort of fun and pretty passable. Besides, any show that gets Tim Curry to play the villain is alright in my book.
*
Let's take another trip to the 80s to enjoy a week of drinking, partying and...Italians? Stay tuned...

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Alien(s) Ant Farm: Xtro III

It is almost bittersweet to finish up this series. We have reached the end- there is no more. What will we do without bad 80s alien movies to talk about? What's that? There are two Guyver films. Well...it's a start. In the meantime, let's finish up this bunch of stinkers with my review of...
The film begins curiously enough with a trip to the past- the 1950s, to be exact. We get bad attempts at faking archival footage via overdone film scratches and use of black and white film. I'm totally convinced, movie! We get a kid talking about a UFO crash video he has, only for him to recant it in front of military personnel. So, in summary, if you have never ever heard of alien crash conspiracies, the movie wants to fill you in.
*
The story jumps ahead to the present day...of 1995. A group of soldiers are hanging out in a bar and drinking. Is there not a war going on or anything, guys? Their bickering is interrupted...eventually. A major shows up and recruits them for a mission to a mysterious island. En route, we get *sigh* more bickering and 'character-building.' Give us a damn alien already!
*
We get a bit more build-up on the group and the island itself before anything interesting happens. Finally, the alien shows up. He...looks pretty good at times, but pretty half-assed at others. In other words, it looks good until it moves. It has a couple interesting quirks to it. First off, it blatantly uses the 'Predator' effect. Secondly, it likes to put people up in giant webs. Um...why? A couple of them get killed, in spite of the warning by the crazy guy who lives on the island.
*
The answer for the alien's rage is made clear via some more 'old' footage. We get a long and detailed scene of a captured alien having little baby aliens taken out of him/her. They look way too much like Cabbage Patch Kids though, to be honest. More killing and bad effects take place. Eventually, military boss guy shows up and more killings take place. This gives us two bad effects shots. First, the guy is 'thrown' across the room and hits a wall. Not only does the stone wall bounce on impact, the wires are visible. Later, when the alien 'pops up' and kills the guy with his tongue, all drama is killed. Why? We can see clearly that the alien is just a bust with two cables sticking into him (one of them blue) to create the 'tongue attack.' Really, movie? Nearly everyone dies, the alien flees and nobody believes the survivor. Oddly, the film plays this up as a happy ending. Hurray?
*
This movie is pretty dumb. On the plus side, it has neither mutant clowns or Jan-Michael Vincent. It is still bad though. The movie takes a bit to really get going, but is sort of fun when it does. The effects range from stupid to amusing. The alien occasionally looks good, although people like me can distinguish real blinking from 'puppet blinking.' Less jaded people may actually be able to deal with the stupidity and forgive this movie for its ambitiousness. Do I think that Xtro 3 is redeemable though? No.
*
How do you turn a popular kid's movie into a show? This is how not to do it. Stay tuned...

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Absurdity for Kids: Pom Poko

Disney has a long history of buying up other films to buffer their own catalog. Sometimes it works out great- the series of Miyazaki films such as Spirited Away, etc. Of course, they have also stolen movies- such as The Lion King. Amongst all of these works, one film was released here and, let's just say it got a little attention for its content. Is the film as bad as they say or is it much ado about nothing? Find out in my review of...
I honestly was not that bothered by the movie, even going into the movie looking for the 'controversial stuff.' Of course, I sat through Cannibal Holocaust, so not much fazes me. You may be different.
*
The movie is about a clan of Tanuki. For those of you who don't know, Tanuki are an integral part of Japanese culture. They are shape-shifting animals that resemble raccoons. For all of those idiots who go 'How come Raccoon Cap Mario turns into a statue' can all go to hell. It's not a Raccoon Cap! Other than that nerdy aside, this is important plot information.
*
The plot spans many seasons but has one integral theme: humans are assholes. The humans are constantly trying to build houses over the creatures' land. The beasts, naturally, have only one option: mess with the humans. They either wreck their equipment, scare them or allow them to die in accidents. This just feels like a kid's film, huh?
*
Here is the big controversy about the movie: the Tanuki have visible balls. There- I said it. Much like naked Dr. Manhattan in Watchmen, it is not accentuated for effect or highlighted at all. Well, there is the scene where one of them turns their balls into a bridge. First off, ow! Second, major ow! For all of you that may get bothered by this, I choose to let this ancient artwork speak for me.*
The movie gets pretty weird. The Tanuki spend lots of time integrating with humans, drinking energy drinks to deal with the physical strain of it. At one point, they try to scare the humans away with a giant show of transformation. This comes in the form of a parade of giant creatures. Somehow, a giant parade of floats tends to please the humans instead. Ah well, at least dozens of you did not die because of this plan. Oh, you did? Well, good job.
*
This movie is just plain odd. Not everything translates well into English from Japanese. Of course, that goes the other way as well. I don't think that they really get Rambo or Die Hard. People trapped in a building? That's daily life for them. Is this a good movie for kids? Well, maybe for older ones who want to see something unique. The story is a bit lazily paced and in love with the setting for most kids, I think. Now, if the kid likes Watership Down, that may be another story.
*
You want to know how the alien saga ends? You're sad, but I'll appease you. Stay tuned...

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Forgotten Sequels: The Texas Chainsaw Massacre 2

What happens to a movie that is stuck in the middle? Sometimes, it becomes a catalyst a la Aliens or Bride of Frankenstein. Other times, they disappear completely like Beware! The Blob or The Hills Have Eyes, Part II. In this case, today's movie is the only real sequel in the entire series. Somehow, it has become completely lost amongst the seas of remakes and re-imaginings. Is there a reason why? Find out in my review of...
The film begins with a bit of narration that is definitely not by John Laroquette. Basically, it says that the cops came to the house after the girl escaped, but found nothing. The crime went unsolved and un-filed for many years. Apparently though, the people have popped up every once in a while and this is one of those times. Wow, that sure is convenient.
*
They set up the location as Dallas during the big week before a game. So, basically, the town is full of drunken idiots. Get ready for some killing! Our first one takes place with a pair of idiotic drunks who are driving around and calling a radio show. Evidently, the station has no way to hang up on them, which is important for later. A mysterious car catches up to them and attacks them. The buzz of a chainsaw cutting their hood sobers up the young men quickly. They shoot at one of the men...only to find that it was a trick. It's...confusing. Here is the summary: they die.
*
The police show up in the morning and investigate the scene. An out-of-town sheriff shows up as well and we quickly learn that his daughter is the one who survived the first movie. The local cops don't like the fact that he wants to 'kill the buzz' and say that there is 'severe danger in the area.' Meanwhile, the radio host has kept the tape of the killing and decides to play it on the air. The narrative takes the time to show us a local chili contest in the same hotel that the sheriff is staying in. I wonder if this aside has anything to do with the overall story?
*
We don't have to wait long to find out the answer. The winner takes a call on his giant '80s car phone and goes back to town. He sicks Leatherface and a freaky guy named Chop-Top to kill her. As the host runs away, the only other worker at the station shows up and gets beaten down. This is where we get the first problem with the movie: many scenes just run too long. Given the alleged level of content-cutting related to this movie, maybe this was done for padding. Whatever the reason, we don't need five minutes of the woman screaming as the door is eventually cut apart.
*
The movie gets really weird from here on out. Leatherface gets a hard-on for the host, Dennis Hopper buys some chainsaws and the host's buddy gets cut up. The girl gets captured and forced to wear her friend's face. Gee, where did you get that idea from, Rob Zombie? She escapes, but gets caught again. Thanks, movie. 'Stretch' spends some time at the family dinner table with grandpa and the clan. Oddly, she is not happy. Meanwhile, Hopper is running around and cutting all the support beams to the tunnel they are in. Apparently, you can cut down 90% of them with no adverse effect. I won't spoil the ending for you, save for saying that it is oddly inconclusive. It is not badly done, just sort of sudden and vague.
*
Is the movie good? Well, yes and no. If you like completely oddball films with no semblance of sanity, this is your movie. However, the tone is a bit erratic, jumping from fear to fright to fear again. This is one of the more subtler examples of 'The Evil Dead' effect that overtook cinema in the late 1980s. That brings up another problem with the movie: it is too late. By the time this movie came out, the original had been all but forgotten. The advent of the Laser Disc and DVD markets brought it back, but they came after this movie. Of course, nothing tops Blood Feast 2, which came out nearly 40 years after the first one. Way to get to work, H.G. Lewis.
*
Want to psychologically-torture your kids? Here are some more options. Stay tuned...

Monday, June 22, 2009

Forgotten Sequels: Beware! The Blob

This film nearly got reviewed a while back as part of the 'Good Sons' series of forgotten sequels (alongside Son of Kong, etc.) Here's the thing though: the real title is not Son of Blob. Despite its popularity under that title- thanks to Grandpa Al's Midnight Movies- the title is actually the one you will see above and below. This film was made by Larry Hagman (of Dallas fame) in 1972, putting it almost evenly between 1958's The Blob and 1988's The Blob. It has been overshadowed by them for too long. Read my review of...
That title really grabs you, doesn't it? I just wanted to say that.
The film begins with- I swear to God- an opening credit sequence overlaid with a kitten running through a field. It is so adorably out-of-place. The film proper begins with an oil pipeline worker returning home from Alaska with a sample of the titular monster. Not understanding how the Alaskan snow is colder than his refrigerator, the man allows the beast to get free. Good call.
The plot of this movie is disjointed, to say the least. Once the original trio are killed, the monster ambles around town, running into residents. They include...
-A group of bums, one of whom is Burgess Meredith.
-A boy scout troupe lead by Dick Van Patten.
-A barber and a hippie client (don't ask).
-A farm full of chickens.
-A Shriner in his bathtub.
The movie climaxes with the monster attacking a roller skating rink. Well, this is 1972. The cops and our two heroes are perplexed with how to stop the monster. Fortunately, they discover a way to turn on the rink's freezing mechanism. Of course! This is only possible after the male lead swings across the ceiling on a rope to build up tension. Finally, the monster goes down. The celebration is cut short as some of it heats up. The End?
This movie is stupid and silly. There- I said it. One Netflix reviewer described it as a series of 'black-out plays' from the Upright Citizen's Brigade. Basically, a scene is set up, takes place for a couple of minutes and the monster shows up, causing the film to fade to black. The movie is purely good for camp value, as opposed to the quality of the original or the gore factor of the remake. It is a bit more understandable how it has become so forgotten now, isn't it? The best it got was a re-release in 1982 after the 'Who Shot JR' story became huge and a 2000 DVD release. That seems fair, right?
How can everyone know a series' remakes and not its actual sequels? Find out here. Stay tuned...

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Pornedy: Flesh Gordon II

Expectations are still a dangerous thing. Even when set low, they can take you down like a well-trained UFC fighter on crack. Such was the case with today's review. While the original was not without its own sort of charm, it was not a 'good' movie. So I was not expecting much with the sequel that was crapped out over ten years later. Boy, I should have aimed a little lower still. Find out how low in my review of...
I will preface the review by stating that the little I could stand had lots of nudity. If, for some reason, that offends you, look elsewhere immediately. Everyone else will get there soon enough.
*
The film begins promisingly enough with Flesh and two buxom ladies on a ship. They are attacked by a stop-motion alien. The fight goes very quickly and manages to work in some nudity. It is as superfluous as the intricate stitching on a bustier. Yeah, it's there, but who is really paying attention to that aspect? It stops to reveal that this is a set. Yeah, Flesh is apparently a movie star...in a different movie inside this movie. That is way too complex for a movie like this. Tone it down, guys. That's better.
*
The film truly begins when Flesh is knocked out and kidnapped by three busty woman in super tiny cheerleader's outfits. They fly off in a ship with the words 'Let's Screw' on the side. Real classy, movie. Of course, you've already seen the giant monkey that pees off of a building, so it's all downhill from here. Dr. Jerkoff (that's still stupid) and Dale fly off to rescue him in their ship. Incidentally, Dale's ship looks like a pair of breasts, while Flesh's ship is still a giant dick. I just thought that you should know that.
*
Dale and Doctor I'm-not-going-to-say-it try to catch up, but get caught in an ass-teroid belt. No, I did not misspell that. Our heroes must- I kid you not- get past the farting rocks or die in a massive explosion. As much as this pains me to write, the pair must fire a series of plugs and fly away. I'd say that this kills any dignity I had left, but I've already seen the first Flesh Gordon movie. They escape and go to catch Flesh.
*
I'll spare you most of the plot and give you a synopsis.
-An evil villain used a ray gun to make the men on the Cheerleaders' planet impotent.
-They want to harness Flesh's virility (did the star write this script?) to save their planet.
-The villain and his fat, fat wife try to stop them.
-Somewhere during this, we get turd monsters (what is this- Dogma?).
*
You know what? If this movie does not care, then I don't. I will freely admit that I fell asleep watching this movie and chose to just accept fate's wishes. Do yourself a favor and watch something less terrible. How about Meatballs 2? That at least has a less crappy alien in it. It's still not good though.
*
Have you forgotten about more sequels? I sure haven't and you won't either. It's going to get sticky though. Stay tuned...

A Rare Find: Superman III

They say that thrift stores are for poor people and those that like plaid jackets. Well, that is somewhat true. In spite of that, I present you with one of the rare treasures that they hide.Just drink in the beauty of it. The novelization of the film that helped bring down a juggernaut franchise. Is it better than the film? Only time and my morbid curiosity will tell.

And yes, I did pay $1.50 for that. My dignity has no price!

Actual update to come soon. Stay tuned...

Saturday, June 20, 2009

Bi-Polar Cinema: Invisible Target

Those of us in America may not be aware that cop movies have become very popular in the Asian market in the last several years. Every country gets one (Italy's famous for its one in the 70s featuring Franco Nero) and China has been under the spell. This also relates to the major success of New Police Story. Benny Chan directed this new film featuring Nicholas Tse (Jackie's young partner) and Jackie's son Jaycee. How does it fare? Find out in my review of...
The film's narrative is a curious one, setting up three disparate characters who are all wronged by the same group. It is not a setup you see that often in American cinema.
*
Our first hero is a police officer who loses someone close to him. A heavily-armed group calling themselves the 'Ronin Gang'- no date for their love of car chases- attacks an armored car carrying $100 million dollars. Hey guys, maybe you should split up the deliveries a bit! I guess it's not as bad as England mixing all of their gold together into one giant bar and delivering it by train in Danger: Diabolik. Anyhow, in the ensuing fight, the nearby jewelry store is blown up, killing the policeman's fiancee. This sure isn't funny so far.
*
Our next hero is angered by a second attack by the same gang. Evidently, the $100 million went pretty quick. They have another shoot-out, leading to the death of numerous detectives. Rather than resorting to months of drinking, the squad leader also vows revenge. Around the same time, a rookie cop is suspended. Why? His brother is supposed to be undercover in a gang, but has not reported back in months. Which gang? The Ronin Gang. He too vows revenge! Ven-detta!
*
The Ronin gang comes back to town...because we would not have a movie without it. A couple of our heroes confront them and try to take them down. To say that it does not go according to plan would be to say that Waterloo was a bit one-sided. The lead villain demonstrates an amazing bit of wire-fu and actually catches a bullet. He beats up one of our heroes and makes him swallow it. Damn! The film follows up this awesome scene with...
*
...him in the hospital undergoing painful rehabilitation. Dammit movie! You were almost fun.
*
I will not spoil the ending to the movie since it is so recent (2007). It ends with roughly a twenty minute fight scene involving the three lead villains and the three lead heroes. There is lot of broken glass, bruised bodies and one guy who ends up looking like a bad-ass. The final fight is between all three heroes and the lead villain. They even spend most of the time getting their asses kicked. It even ends on a bit more of a sour note than you might think.
*
So, is the movie good? Yes and No. The movie is well-written, produced and generally well-acted. However, it feels a bit too long (clocking in at two hours and ten minutes). This is a trap that a lot of recent Asian cinema seems to have fallen into. As a counterpart, there is the trend of American horror films that can barely meet their 90 minute run times (*cough*FridayThe13th*cough*). If you can accept this movie as an overly-long action film that is a bit stark at times, you may just enjoy it. If you like your action simpler and more fun, look elsewhere.
*
What's worse than a bad 80s sex comedy? This movie. Stay tuned...

Friday, June 19, 2009

A Couple Notes

I have a couple Odds and Ends to bring up.

First off, I am attempting to get a bit more exposure by posting some blog reviews on a site called www.thatguywiththeglasses.com So far, I have posted two of them: a reprint of "SARS Wars" and one new review: "Blackenstein."

So far, they have confirmed hits of around 50 or 60. For most people, that's nothing. But, for me, it's a good start.

This doesn't mean that I am going to be abandoning my update schedule. It just means that if I have enough energy for something extra, I will post there too.

My tentative plans are to either post my review of "The Dark" or "The Giant Claw" there. So, if you wonder where those reviews are, look no further.

This works out well for all of us and it's a step that I recommend to anyone who wants a little more 'viewership.' I always post a link to this page and, by proxy, a link to all of those who are set to follow me.

The other thing is more minor. I will be viewing "Xtro 3" shortly and finishing up that series, but probably jumping right to "The Guyver" films. I'm also two films away from a full "Trancers" review series. Stay tuned...

Bi-Polar Cinema: New Police Story

I love Jackie Chan for all the right reasons: I love kung-fu and comedy. The man is, at times, a human crash-test dummy. He has allegedly broken every bone in his body at one time. Why? He does it all for us- the movie audience. Every once in a while, Jackie feels like doing something different. While I applaud that sometimes (considering the man has about 100 Wu Xia films set in feudal China), the results are mixed. For example, this movie...
There is a bit of confusion as to what number this film is in the series. You have Police Story 1 and 2- good so far. Then you have Supercop, which is sometimes called Police Story 3: Supercop. Then we have the sequel (or sidequel): Supercop 2. While Chan does have a cameo in the movie (a really forced one at that), the real star is Michelle Yeoh, his co-star in the original film. So is this new movie Police Story 3, 4 or 5? Now you see why they just said 'Screw it! We'll call it 'New Police Story' instead."
*
The film quickly begins with hostage negotiation. Chan and his crack crew show up to save the day. Unfortunately, the guy also has a grenade, making the situation all the more difficult. Through a bit of teamwork, the group manages to take out the man with no loss of life and dump the bomb into the sewers, giving us our first taste of CG explosions to come. Unfortunately, a new group of young criminals are there and take out a whole bunch of regular policemen. Time to get the good cops in.
*
To be fair, the movie actually started in the present day with a drunken, sad Chan. Everything you see here is a flashback. Gee, I wonder if the bust goes well? Our hero makes a public statement of victory before they go to the villain's hide-out. Everything goes really bad when they split up, most of Chan's crew falling victim to death traps that are a mix of Saw and Rube Goldberg devices. This all happens because their radios don't work, apparently meaning that cops can't think on their own at all. Chan is left alive, but fails to save his men. Cue the drinking!
*
The film introduces our actual supporting cast, including a young lady cop, Chan's fiancee and a young cop that is his new partner. Oddly, the man dresses like David Tennant (of Dr. Who fame) for no good reason. He tries to pull Chan out of his funk and to catch the bad guys. It takes a while, but he manages to do so. Time for Round Two...and three...and four. These guys don't go down easy.
*
In a couple asides, the movie feels the need to give us elaborate back-story on the gang's leader. He is apparently the son of a cop who is not nice. I guess that is enough to make you a cop-killer. Thanks, movie.
*
Here is the good news: you get a lot of the old Chan stunts. They are not cut short and never disappoint. One fight takes place in a Leggo Store, which is huge! We also get some good one-on-one fights and some classic Chan comedy. In this department, the movie is great. The drama is just...well, it feels odd here. It is not badly-written, acted or directed at all. It just feels weird in this movie.
*
If you can accept that this movie is about 60% drama and 40% Jackie Chan film, you can have a good time. The film is well-written, acted and produced. This feels like a classic Chan film when it tries to stay fun. The drama is a bit ham-handed, but otherwise solid. Everyone has a back-story and it is explained nicely. The whole bit with Chan's new partner is addressed in a pretty subtle way in the end. If you can excuse the 'overly Superman-esque' villains and the occasional plot-hole, it is a good rental.
*
We've seen how Jackie can handle a melodrama. How does his oldest son fare? Stay tuned...

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Pornedy: Please, Don't Eat My Mother

Is The Little Shop of Horrors a good movie? It's alright. It is certainly quirky. If the movie is not spectacular and was not a hit, why is everyone so 'inspired' by it? You have remakes (the 1986 musical and film) and numerous references in films (Waxwork). Oh and you have this piece of crap entitled...
You just know not to expect much with a title like that, don't you? So did I. This managed to even be worse than my low expectations though. It is some sort of gift.
*
The plot revolves around a 40 year old virgin who is not funny and is annoying. Your position is still safe, Carrell. He lives at home with his annoying mother and lives a thankless life. What can bring joy to his life? Before you say anything like a woman, a spine or some balls, I will tell you the answer: a plant. Of course, his mother is still annoying and he has no life. Well, it's a start.
*
This proves to be no ordinary plant. It is actually a bad prop...err, I mean, a talking plant. It talks with all the realism of a Ninja Turtle. If you take the time to just picture a fat lady standing just out of frame with a megaphone, you will at least get some laughs out of this. Meanwhile, the plant's appetite grows, starting out with flies and going up to dogs. All the while, Henry goes along with this, because, as we have established, he has no spine. Not that I would fight too much with the giant plant.
*
Now the really bad part. The movie is about 60% soft-core porn. Most of this is done in about three or four scenes of couples having sex. These run longer than a reading of War and Peace by a barely-literate 3-year old. Every single one of them feels longer than the entire Lord of the Rings trilogy- the full cut. On top of that, they are barely tied to the plot by way of having our lead peeping on them. Feel free to take a lunch break or two during these boring ass scenes.
*
I'll save you the trouble of renting this movie by telling you one thing: nothing funny happens. There are numerous scenes of people being eaten by the monster, but it is NEVER shown. For example, the cop shows up and, one jump cut later, he is naked and in the plant's mouth. Huh? The last lady is pretty hot, but that is about it. Do yourself a favor and watch ANY other version of this story. It is not funny, it is not titillating and it hurts to watch. The DVD extra of the guy from Something Awful picking out film cans was more entertaining!
*
Let's take a walk on the bi-polar side. I'm sad now. Stay tuned...

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Alien(s) Ant Farm: Xtro II

Let me address your first question right away. This is not classified under 'WTF Britain?!?' because it is a Canadian production. Basically, the breakdown is this: the director somehow retained the title rights, but not the story rights. 80s lawyers were quirky, I guess. So, he sold the idea of making another movie to a Canadian production company. So if you were looking for a real sequel to Xtro, you are...well, you are a weirdo. This is...
Xtro II: The Second Encounter
An important thing to note about this movie from the start is that it is really trying to be the iconic film Aliens. This was a common trend in the late 80s and, let's face it, it has never ended. It was just more blatant back then. This is something that I will cover in-depth at a later date.
*
The film begins with a really long helicopter shot throughout the credits and ends up at a secret military base. Despite them having as many pipes as Space Mutiny, this is not in the future. A bunch of scientists are working on inter-dimensional travel. They are doing a new test today to coincide with the Secretary of Defense paying a visit. The experiment goes horribly wrong as the inter-dimensional astronauts are seemingly lost. This immediately brings us to the biggest plot hole of the movie.
*
They establish early-on that this is the second time that this experiment has been done. The first time was in Texas and ended with one astronaut survivor and a blown-up base. So, of course, they do this again. Of course! I know governments can be stupid, but this is ridiculous. I suspect that there is a deeper reason for this though. By establishing that this is the second attempt, they are implying that this is a real sequel...albeit to a film that doesn't exist. It's real predecessor is about an alien kid killing people with a mutant clown. If only...
*
One survivor comes back just in time for the other lone survivor (from the last experiment) to be sent in to help. Unfortunately, his acting is just really, really bad. Jan Michael Vincent's performance is more wooden than Pinnochio's dick. Oh and he's our lead. Kill me now, alien!
*
The plot boils down to this: running around, shooting at nothing and death. Everything else is just window dressing. One really funny part is when they bust out the giant robot-arm gun from Aliens. Make your copying less subtle, movie! Ironically, that guy dies first. That and the woman who suffers the alien bursting out of her chest, only to later be found as a burnt-out husk are the standouts. Plus, you get a plan that involves one soldier (Krychek from The X-Files) and the frail scientist (really) hand-climbing up elevator cables to blast an exit. Shockingly, they both die. That alien refuses to go down.
*
In defense of the movie, the alien looks menacing at times. He also looks amazingly similar to the giant fly monster from The Fly II. Is that a good thing or a bad thing? If you like the 80s model of giant monster that barely moves (see the Cyclops alien from Contamination), then it is a good thing. If you like good effects, it is not. At least he gets blown apart and everyone lives happily ever after. Or do they? The last shot is the possessed/evil computer saying something scary. Wait...what?!? The End.
*
This movie sucks... but in a very funny way. The alien is silly and oddly indestructible, even when it is shown as a flaming corpse. The acting and effects are, well, bad. They are at a good level of silly that you can laugh at them without crying...at least, not much. The film really tries to be Aliens, but ends up more like Alien Contamination. 80s VHS title release jokes never get old!
*
What goes better than porn with killer plants? Actually, most things do. Too late for this movie. Stay tuned...

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Shockumentary: Good-Bye, Uncle Tom

I feel the need to preface the entire review by saying that I pretty much agree with nothing that this movie says. When you read what this movie has to say, you will understand my discretion.

In the wake of Mondo Cane, the Mondo sub-genre was born. You had a ton of imitators (including the makers of Mondo Bizarro) and a slew of follow-up films by the men who started it. Their latter films- including Africa Addio and Women of the World- were met with controversy related to their impartiality and just how real the events were. Naturally, they followed this up by making a fake documentary about very real events. It was called...
There is pretty much no getting past that title, is there? I don't blame you. It is what kept me from renting this film for months. Am I glad that I did? Well, I would answer with an emphatic 'yes...and no.' It's as emphatic as I am going to get.
*
The begins darkly enough in the wake of Martin Luther King Jr.'s death. Thanks, movie. It then gives you the dark side of the Black Power movement and its statements. Are you ready for the other side? Tough shit- you ain't getting them here! Therein lies the biggest problem of the movie: representation. More on that later.
*
A little bit later (though longer than it should be), the film finally introduces the most controversial element of it: time-travel. Yes, you read that right. It also gives us the title screen a good 20 minutes in. The bulk of the film is done in a faux documentary style. The idea is that when we are in the Antebellum times, the camera(s) are the eyes of Italian documentarians who are visiting (ha ha real clever). Unfortunately, the movie can't agree on a format. We get numerous shots from behind cells or from really awkward angles that would not be a place where a person would go. We also get time jumps back to the present (of 1971). This is like Lost, only a lot more racist and annoying.
*
The movie is very long (the cut I watched was 136 minutes), so I will give you a bullet point representation of the film's narrative.
-Black people are put on a boat, mutilated and sent to a camp to be 'cleaned.'
-Black people are used as slaves/sex objects/breeding machines/cattle.
-White people are all self-righteous assholes who think that black people are animals.
-All white preachers in the South think that slavery was ordered by God.
-All white men want to have sex with black women and not their wives.
-All white women don't give a shit about their slaves and/or abuse them.
-Oh yeah, black slaves never talk. Ever!
*
Just picture that for two hours, throw in some random nudity (male/female and adults/children) and horrible, horrible dialog and you have the movie. They throw in horrible imagery (the little girl leading the naked black boy being one of the worst) and expect you to go 'whoa, it's so profound.' Here is the other big problem: they just make shit up. All the time. Did Andrew Jackson hunt runaway slaves? No. Did French nuns keep slaves? No. Was there a black whorehouse run by a half-black midget called 'The General?' I seriously doubt it. So why put it in the movie and taint any good narrative/sense of reality that you had? Because you're a bunch of idiots. At least now you realize how bad the movie is (according to a 2003 documentary about the pair of directors).
*
P.S. I'm not picture-linking much here because there is almost nothing I can use. Unless you want to see naked black boys painted silver, you are going to have to do without.
*
Let's cover something less controversial. How about aliens killing Canadians? Works for me! Stay tuned...

Random (and Pointless) Aside

I listen to a lot of weird music: Maximum the Hormone, Hammerfall and the like. I've gotten more into Heavy Metal as of late. One band that has intrigued me as of late is Megadeth. The name just screams 'I'm fucking metal' doesn't it? A particular song has gotten my ire for a really strange reason. The song is called, innocently enough, "Psychotron."

This is the part that gets me. It is from the chorus.

'Part organic...
...and bionic...
Not a cyborg,'

Giving them a chance at creative license aside, this makes no sense. How can you be part organic and part bionic and NOT be a cyborg. All evidence points to this being wrong.

Is it too much to ask for rock songs' lyrics to make sense? Even songs about robotic killing machines should have some logic.

To be fair, this is from the same band that brought us this grammatical gem.

'The answer to your question is...
Welcome to tomorrow!'

That feels better.

P.S. A real post is coming. It's going to be a doozy. Stay tuned...

Monday, June 15, 2009

Thai Dynamite: Garuda

Japan is really famous for its giant monsters. The likes of Baragon, Hedorah and Megalon are all instantly recognizable. Oh yeah, they also made Godzilla. Anyhow, I want to talk about something most people don't know: they are not alone! Aside from some really sub-par attempts at the genre by the West, it has been all theirs. This little Thai import could grow to be another big name in the industry if given the exposure. He is...
To note, the film is based on an actual legend/lore in Buddhism. It is loosely based on it, since the old legend did not include armed commandos.
*
We get a long CG intro to the idea of Garuda. Basically, the beast was extremely powerful and had power-struggle issues with every deity. Finally, they joined forces and locked up the beast in a prison of nature. I'm sure that he will stay there forever.
*
The film proper begins with a Thai archaeologist discovering a mysterious artifact before a cave-in occurs. We jump ahead several years and introduce his daughter, who is in the family business. The film introduces an odd plot element to us: xenophobia. The Thai officials do not put any stock in our heroine because she is half-French and half-Thai. Did you expect racial discomfort in a monster movie? Me either.
*
The movie gets claustrophobic when the setting changes to a building tunnel. In the search for more antiquities, the local government gets involved and a strike team takes over the site. Unfortunately for them, Garuda wakes up from a very long nap and is a bit grouchy. He is also growing physically larger by the minute as his power grows. We're going to need a bigger tunnel!
*
Eventually, the beast gets loose and flies around the city. Guess who tries to kill him. Is it the military? You betcha! As if the cliches have not been properly mined, the beast gets on the roof of a building and screams out a challenge. Way to be creative. Eventually, the whole thing boils down a mass of special effects and the film's less-than-subtle McGuffin. The monster is killed and peace is restored. But can you really kill a God? All signs point to 'yes,' since no sequel has been made in the nearly five years since this film's release.
*
This film is entertaining, but not as memorable as it should be. This was Thailand's big chance to uproot Godzilla's place in history, having released it the same year as the beast's so-called swan song Godzilla: Final Wars. Is the writing the best thing since sliced bread? No. Is the special effects work super-duper? Again, no. It has satisfactory most of the time and only has a few flashes of high-quality. That said: will you have a good time? Yes. Better luck next time, guys.
*
Let's take a short break from the frivolity for something serious. Unfortunately, the directors did not quite get the memo. Stay tuned...

Sunday, June 14, 2009

Rip-Off Theater: Doctor Mordrid

Have you ever wanted to do something but simply waited too long? What did you do? In the case of Charles Band and Full Moon Studios, they just made shit up. Intrigued? Read on to my review of...
Okay, here is what you need to know. Band had purchased the rights to produce a film based on Marvel's Doctor Strange. The project stagnated for unknown reasons and the rights transferred back to Marvel. Band, never deterred, said 'Fuck that, we've got Jeffrey Combs. Let's make a movie anyways!"
*
The film revolves around our titular hero, who lives in a TARDIS-esque apartment that is larger on the inside than the outside. He also has one of those giant monitoring centers that is right out of The Super Friends or Birdman. Her runs into a nice young woman in his apartment building who is intrigued by his distance and lack of interest in her. Who wouldn't be?
*
Problems are lingering about. A mysterious prison in another dimension is attacked. Its 'bear'-like guard is dispatched and the lone prisoner escapes. Boy, is he ugly! We learn in a bit of back-story that both him and our hero were trained together in the mystic arts. Sure, why not? Naturally, the villain turned to the bad magic and was locked up later by Mordrid. What does he want now? To kill Doctor West!
*
The battle between Mordrid and his rival is full of special effects. Well, okay, it is full of special effects as far as Full Moon can muster. He throws his costume on and goes to work. The big battle involves our two leads, the female co-star and a stop-motion dinosaur. Do I really need to tell you how this ends?
*
This movie is fun, but very forgettable. I watched the film this year and needed to refresh myself on the plot. The idea that it used to be about Doctor Strange is really evident. On the plus side, Combs is in it, so it's not all bad. On the negative side, their stop-motion effects feel right out of 1933's King Kong. You should really aim higher, guys! I'll do you a solid though: here is the movie. You're welcome.
*
Do you think Japan has the lock on giant monster movies? Think again. Stay tuned...

Saturday, June 13, 2009

Rip-Off Theater: Welcome to the Jungle

Since the dawn of the film era, people have been ripping off other people's work. It goes back as far as Nosferatu, which is an official/unlicensed version of Bram Stoker's Dracula. Two years later, Universal released Tod Browning film. Imagine how many people thought that this was the rip-off. With that out of the way, let's jump right into...
For those of you who are not familiar, Cannibal Holocaust is a polarizing film that deconstructed an entire genre. Admittedly, it was the 'Jungle Peril' genre, which was never the greatest. The film was a major success in its short run (2 Million dollars in 1982 dollars in 3 days) before the director was put on trial for killing the stars of the film. When they showed up, all charges were dropped. Ever since that movie, people have stolen ideas from it: The Last Broadcast, Blair Witch and Cloverfield, to name a few. None have stolen this blatantly though.
*
The film begins with our group of four characters meeting up. One couple is going to New Zealand on a crazy mission to make a documentary. They join up with the other couple because of their knowledge of the land and willingness to work cheap. We quickly learn that there is a dramatic difference between the two. Our lead couple is hard-working and diligent, while the other one is...um...not. This won't end up badly, right?
*
The group ends up with some hits and misses on their journey. They nearly get shot up at the border because the jerk guy is...well, himself. This means that they have to go by foot instead of using their car. Their hopes are raised when they find a village that provides a clue to their query. This is lowered a bit later when hiking takes a lot longer, due to the dumb-ass couple staying up late and waking up hungover. Why am I stuck watching movies where people bicker all the time? Can't anyone get along?!?
*
I might as well tell you why they are out there. Basically, they are looking for the lost Rockefeller son, who disappeared in the late 60s. Why they think he is alive after over forty years is beyond me. That's just crazy talk.
*
After about forty minutes of fighting and complaining, the dumb-ass couple take the raft, most of the supplies and the camera. The narrative goes to follow them for awhile- hurray? A bit down the river, they run afoul of natives along the river bank. Naturally, the guy waves his gun at them and shouts. Yeah, good call. We have to deal with a whole long bit of 'let's delay the inevitable' before the duo is finally shot to death with arrows. Movie over?
*
The narrative flips to the good couple, who, naturally had a second camera hidden. Why couldn't we be done with the stupid 'camera P.O.V.' crap?!? I'll ignore the whole thing with 'where did they hide the camera' just this once. So they follow the path of the dumb-ass couple and run afoul of the same natives. They play it straight and, get this, don't get shot full of arrows. They eventually find an actual gore shot or two. First, they find the lady naked and strung out. Finally, the Unrated DVD part comes into play. Later, they find the guy who is oddly alive. Of course, he has his arms and legs cut off- trade off! They put him out of his misery, yet they keep the film going. Where is your sympathy for me?!?
*
I won't spoil the ending for you. Sufficed to say, if you make it that far, you will at least be a little amused by how stupid it is. It is also really obvious.
*
This film is really, really bad. You have to suffer through about an hour of fighting and yelling before ANYTHING happens. It is not worth your time and it was not worth mine. Give it time and the gore clips will end up on YouTube or something. Better yet, just watch Cannibal Holocaust. It will challenge your mindset, conventions and fears. This film just challenges your patience.
*
Another rip-off coming. How about a Marvel character done by Albert Band. Stay tuned...

Friday, June 12, 2009

House Party: Amityville Dollhouse

While this is not the last film (counting the remake and any likely direct-to-video sequels), it is the last of the original series. Quite frankly, do you think I want to wade my way through all the crap they put out with that name on it? Okay, probably, but not right now. Let's just dive right into the last film of the series entitled...
Before I begin, I feel the need to once again address the stupid way that they extended this series. You are no longer in the house anymore, but every random object from it can affect you. First, why are there so many? The place was blown up! Secondly, why would people keep buying them? Ahhhh, that feels better. On to the crap film.
*
The film begins by introducing us to another family. This one is a bit different though, since it a split family. Unlike the Brady Bunch, however, this one is not a happy one. The dad has a young daughter and an older, jock son, while the wife has a science geek. Ha ha ha- he knows stuff. The kids don't get along, while the parents just want to have sex. This will be another pleasant family experience, huh?
*
Our first source of tribulation involves the young girl's birthday and the subsequent party. A prank is set up by the older boy involving a fake spider. The kid- who looks slightly more normal than the one from Burial Ground- freaks out and hits the older boy. But wait, this is a horror film. Where is the horror? That comes in the form of the titular dollhouse. In a 'wacky twist of fate,' the dad accidentally runs over the bike he was going to give the girl. To cover, he gives her a mysterious dollhouse that simply appeared in the garage. There is trusting and then there is 'idiot in a horror film.' Guess which one this is.
*
As usual, crazy shit starts to happen. The young kid's rat turns giant (only shown by partial model) and tries to eat the girl. The mother starts to have weird fantasies about the older boy (not her kid) that are reminiscent of that old Diet Coke commercial. In addition to all of that, the dead dad/former-spouse of the wife shows up as a zombie and talks to the younger kid. At first, this is a really good make-up job. Then, after a minute, you realize that the teeth never move. He just sort of bobs his head to talk like the apes in Planet of the Apes.
*
In addition to all of the family strife/scares, we also get a subplot with an older hippie couple. They try to save the day with their use of 'natural medicine.' Yes, we get the dumb people with crystals and beads from Omen IV, just with actual abilities. The whole thing builds up to a crescendo where the youngest kid gets tossed in the fireplace...and ends up in the Amityville dimension...or something. Dad and hippie guy go in, only to be confronted with demons right out of Jim Henson's The Storyteller. Hippie dad dies, other people escape and the house burns down. This makes it the second time in only three Amityville movies I've seen in which they destroy the house in some way. Creative!
*
This movie is bad, but better than It's About Time. I don't really know how much I can recommend this one. It has its 'so weird that they are funny' moments, but is just as obsessed with family bickering as the latter film. A very forgiving horror fan can pick out the parts they like, I suppose. If you are an Amityville completist, you have already seen worse.
*
What's better than a good movie? The same movie...only worse. Stay tuned...

Thursday, June 11, 2009

House Party: Amityville 1992

Counting the remake, there are 9 Amityville films, five of which do not even feature people being in the actual house. Why so many? Scholars will ask this question for eons and, perhaps, may solve it one day. The odds are that we will solve such questions as "Why does God kill puppies?" and "Why did they make Halloween III?" will be answered first. Until that time, let us delve into the film that is...
One thing to note is that the DVD tries to cover up the anachronistic nature of its title. In the 'definitely note edited' title sequence, it reads like this....
Amityville ___
It's About Time
*
Anyhow, the film sets up its really odd plot in quick order. A man is moving into a new suburban residence with his two kids. His female assistant is helping him out, but the situation is not all that happy. Simply put: the guy is a complete jerk. The lady wants to leave, but something puts a stop to that...
*
Dog Attack! A seemingly-nice dog chases down our lead and gnaws at his leg like it is made out of Snausages. In the film's first real gore scene, he knocks the dog's eye out in the process of defending himself. When the family tries to confront the dog's owner, the animal is completely fine. Whaaaaat?!?
*
The film gets really hard to follow at this point. It is basically made up of weird hallucinations and 'scares.' The problem is that every one of these scenes end with the character being in a normal room again with no sign of the weirdness. So...did it happen or not? The film's non-committal nature when it comes to the gore and such is unsettling. Should I be scared or annoyed? Make up your damn mind!
*
I have managed to go this far without mentioning that the whole film is a giant pun. You see, the craziness is related to an antique clock that came from the Amittyville house. Yeah, that's really how they kept the film going. The previous film was a mirror...apparently not realizing that emulating The Boogeyman is not a good idea. I just thought that you should know.
*
I am going to spoil the ending for you...if anyone really cares.
*
After numerous weird things, including the famous death by truck ornament, the girl molesting herself (don't ask) and the guy sunk into the black ooze from Star Trek: The Next Generation, everything resets. Yeah, you read that right. The family, having memories of what happened, quickly smashes the clock before it is put in. A happy ending? Well, it is for me. The damn thing is over!
*
When you leave a horror film confused and annoyed, it is not a good thing. This is like Izo, only without a scene of Mother Earth being raped. You can do much, much better than this movie. On top of that, it is does not have any major funny scenes to laugh at. It just hurts. Let's move on.
*
There is one final film in the original series. Let's hope it's somewhat better. Stay tuned...

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

In Your Face!: Amityville 3-D

Two questions: first, does this title inspire any confidence? Second, how many people are actually aware of just how many of these films people made? Even with the third film, I am barely touching the tip of the iceberg. I'll get to some of those in due time. Is there anything special about this movie aside from the 3-D aspect. Read and find out in my review of...
The film begins with a couple having a seance for their dead son. The whole thing turns pretty weird, hitting all the notes: glowing lights, flickering power and possessed voice. But, there is one problem: it is all fake. Even more fake than everything else in the movie, that is. Our 'couple' it seems is actually a pair of ghost/myth de-bunkers. Take that, plot of The Reaping! This film needs something to ruin all the fun though.
*
Like another 3-D horror film, the film bogs itself down with family melodrama. Basically, the lead and his wife are split-up and always fighting over their teenage daughter. The dad buys up the famed Amityville house against her wishes. Her friend (Meg Ryan) is trying to push her to loosen up and have some fun. This will certainly end well.
*
The non-family plot breaks down like this: people show up to the house or leave the house, somethings scares/kills them and people react. Highlights include the guy who is killed by flies (no, really) and the woman who is impaled by a metal beam through a window...and then explodes into flames. Even using 3-D in this scene does not allow it to make sense. Did she go through spontaneous combustion at the same time? Why the hell did that happen?
*
There are some interesting things to note. One thing is that they allow killings to happen outside of the house. Unfortunately, this is done by way of...fly angels of death. Yeah, I don't get it either. They also dare to kill off a main character before the third act that you would not expect. But they do not show it- at all. Good job, movie!
*
In case you had not noticed, I have not said much about the 3-D effects. Like Parasite, the effects are nearly non-existent here. Why did you put it in the title if you don't want to use it? I mean, why would you...holy shit, they are making up for it now! The finale involves at least a dozen effects, as well as wire effects, falling objects and more dry ice than a Def Leppard concert. Way to overcompensate, guys! It all ends in a surprisingly bleak manner and in a way that makes it appear to be the last film. Yeah...that was as successful as Friday the 13th: Part Four- The Final Chapter. Final my ass!
*
This movie is honestly not that terrible. It has some serious faults (seriously, why did they kill this character off-camera) that hamper it. They take some risks (leaving the house), but there is not enough pay-off. It tends to raise more questions than it answers. Seriously, how does the house kill you miles away or affect elevators? I should not have enough time to stop and think about questions like this. If you wanted to see a good 3-d horror film, you obviously had a long wait ahead of you. Next.
*
I should probably stop talking about the Amityville films. Then again, I am nuts. Stay tuned...