Monday, May 31, 2010

World War Fake: Warbirds

What better way to show my love for the military than by showing a crappy film involving their depiction?  Okay, there are a lot of ways, but I'm going with this one!  In 2008, some guy decided that there was a combination that people never fully-utilized: WWII films and dinosaur films.  Naturally, this guy was insane, but managed to get funding to make his dream come true and got one of the 'stars' of Charmed to be in it.  I should note that it took four people to write this movie in two sets of two.  One of those four people is John Terlesky, the man who played the lead in Deathstalker II, as well as directing the film Judgment Day.  That is also a film with an odd mix: end of the world disaster film and blaxploitation action film.  The most notable thing about this movie is that it is set in WWII, but based on the biggest pile of bullshit imaginable.  I say this as a man who has also seen S.S. Doomtrooper.  Celebrate our troops as they play no part in my review of...
The film begins with a group of Japanese men digging entrenchments on an island in the Pacific.  This is one of the few aspects of the movie that nails the setting right, so let's enjoy it!  While doing so, they blow open a cave and are attacked by some mysterious, CG creatures.  We awkwardly cut to a group of ships flying across the ocean.  In the first part of the movie that makes me cry 'bullshit,' we are introduced to our heroines: an all-female fighter pilot group.  Really, movie?!?  You think that I'm just going to buy that, when we barely let women drive trucks in the modern military, let alone tanks or submarines?  Anyhow, they are given a new mission and a new commander played by Brian Krause.  His mission is secret, his male crew (what is this- The Brady Bunch?!?) is unknown and his cargo is more mysterious than the contents of 'the box' in Seven.  Before you ask, let me tell you that it's not Captain America.  I can't be that lucky, huh?  Their trip is interrupted by a very big storm and some mysterious things flying around.  In the chaos, a bolt from the ship's hull breaks off and kills one of the women. Wow, that was extremely-random!  They end up crashing down on an island.  Guess who else is there...
After a bit of wandering around and posturing by Krause, our heroes run into the Japanese soldiers camped out on the island.  They get into a Mexican-Japanese-American stand-off before they are interrupted by a very-obviously CG dinosaur.  Despite the DVD cover promising me a dinsoaur with a T-Rex head, these are just silly-looking pterodactyls.  You couldn't have given me anything better, huh?  At least The Asylum would have given me a T-Rex- half of their movies have them in it!  A lot of gunfire manages to scare the thing off, a fact helped by their pistols have obscenely-large muzzle flashes.  The group does not agree to work together, however, and the soldiers hold the Japanese people prisoner.  Of course, the creatures are still out there and are not going anywhere.  Fortunately for our heroes, the things take their sweet time attacking again, rather than, you know, pushing their advantage.  The attack goes just as well the second time, proving that our heroes are not exactly that competent when it comes to handling dinosaur attacks.  Dammit- were you sleeping during basic training?!?  Eventually, they realize that they have to work with the Japanese & plan an attack using their vessels, as well as their foes.'  Right before the trip, the cute and naive woman kisses one of the soldiers and pretty much signals her death with a flare!  Sure enough, her plane is destroyed in battle- cliches! 
Things go from bad to worse as another attempt to take out the creatures goes badly, ending with another soldier dead.  To make things worse, our two heroes (Krause and the female captain) get separated during the attempt.  When the remaining girls regroup, they are held prisoner by the Japanese prisoners.  The woman won't put down her gun, which seems to be a dumb idea until Krause reappears and kills them.  With that over with, our heroines push the man until he tells him the truth about their cargo.  Reason to Cry Bullshit #53: the plane is carrying the A-Bomb.  No, I'm not joking.  Krause makes a big speech about how the bomb is going to kill a lot of people, but he's okay with it.  After some stalling, the two lower-ranking women go out in the remaining Japanese Zeros, while our two leads go out in the bomber.  Their plan works pretty well, although the dinosaurs apparently figure out one of their strategies and kill one of the women.  The other one seems to crash, causing our heroine to try and go back for her.  One of the dinosaurs puts his head through the cargo bay door and manages to bite Krause's arm off.  Dying, he opens the doors, drops his CG body out and blows up the island with the A-Bomb.  The other woman apparently survives as the movie reaches a happy ending.
This movie is really, really bad.  The whole premise is just stupid.  I mean, a group of non-existent women fighter pilots battling dinosaurs- do I have to say anymore?  What could save this stupid movie?  How about some good acting?  Nope, it's not here.  Krause tries to bring some bravado to the role, but this is pretty transparent.  How about some good action?  Eh, not so much.  You get some silly shots of people firing guns at off-screen monsters.  The fighter pilot bits are purely CG and you never once feel any human drama in it.  It's like watching people play a flight simulator game...from 1992.  Only one thing can save this: the special effects.  Yeah, you had to know by now that this does not look like good CG.  There are some nice textures on the things in close-up shots, but the wide-angle bits are so blatantly-CG.  Hey guys, try putting shadows on the things to make them look a little more like they actually exist.  Seriously, how does a movie from 2008 and released on DVD have special effects that look like they belong in an ad for a D-grade technical school?!?  Why do we put up with this crap?  Oh yeah, because it's funny as hell.  On a side note, as bad as this movie is, it's still better than trying to re-watch War Wolves.  If you want pain, it's that movie!
Up next, Series Month kicks off strong with the Killer Tomatoes quadrilogy.  Will the first set us up for a strong finish or stumble at the gate?  Stay tuned...

Forgotten Toons: Mighty Mouse- The New Adventures

This one's been long overdue, so let's not waste any more time here.
In 1987, Ralph Bakshi produced this modern (at the time) update of the classic Mighty Mouse cartoon.  It's...well, extremely weird.  This is due in part to the creative input of John Kricfalusi, known to most of you as 'that guy that made Ren & Stimpy.  Yeah, he worked on a mainstream kid's show.

The show is notable for including certain things and dramatically-excising others.  For example, Mighty Mouse is not operatic when he talks, but he is when he does his famous line- 'Here I come to save the day...'  I gues this was done to make it seem all the more strange- it does.

The show included a whole cast of bizarre characters...

* Bat-Bat was a Bat superhero who dressed up in a Batman garb.  His sidekick was a fly.  Why not?
* Petey Pate was a cat who became a villain because people made fun of his bald spot.  Okay...
* The Cow is an evil bovine who strikes back at the dairy industry.  That...makes sense.

The show was actually a pretty big hit, but ran into controversy.  You see, there's a part in one episode where Mighty Mouse inhales some bits of a crushed flower.  This was interpreted as M.M. snorting cocaine!  The fact that Bakshi was considered by many to be a 'pornographer' due to Fritz the Cat did not help.  Here's the 'incriminating frame...'
I don't really see it, but whatever.  Parental Groups had too much free time in the '80s, as shown by the Silent Night, Deadly Night debacle and the whole issue of censorship in music.

The show's legacy has outlived it's two-season run on television by being the early springboard for people like Kricfalusi, as well as Bruce Timm (Batman: The Animated Series), Rich Moore (Futurama), Jim Reardon (Tiny Toon Adventures), Tom Minton (Animaniacs) and others.  It's loose, parodic formula was an example of what would come with such shows as Tiny Toon Adventures, Animaniacs and Freakazoid.  The show is often credited alongside Who Framed Roger Rabbit? as bringing in a movement of openly-silly cartoons as well.  The show is bizarre, self-referrential and kooky.  If you're a fan of Kricfalusi, it's a good example to see what was to come.

Next up, a Kids WB show that was hated by its audience and it's writers.  How did a show featuring three cartoon icons of their day get so much hate?  Stay tuned...

VHS For The Win: Michael Jackson's Ghosts

Certain performers have been known for being eccentric & most of them ended up with a movie.  It's just a shame that some of them are this...
Yeah, that's a little awkward to look at now, huh?  It's just a good thing that they made it plural, huh?

Side note: a film with a freaky box cover like this is rated PG.  Really?

Next up, a movie with a silly title, bizarre cover and weird monster- all in one package.  Stay tuned...

Sunday, May 30, 2010

R.I.P. Overload: Frank, Billy, Arnold, Stephen, Robert, Art

I really hate doing R.I.P. posts.  Do I really need to explain why?  I mean, it's depressing to write about death.  However, I feel even worse when I choose to ignore it here...
Frank Frazetta was a great illustrator whose works include countless spreads, album covers (especially Molly Hatchet) and, of course, the classic Fire & Ice.
Dennis Hopper was a crazy and eccentric actor who managed to put all of that onto the screen  Best described as 'America's Klaus Kinski,' the man starred in dozens of films and directed many as well.
Gary Coleman was an '80s icon whose work will easily overshadow his personal problems.  How many of us can say that they ran for Governor of California and appeared in Postal 2?
Stephen Perry was the writer of the Thundercats cartoon.  This is a show that really played a big role in my childhood, alongside He-Man and Silverhawks.  To have his death happen in my home-state makes it all the more poignant.
Robert Serling was the brother of Twilight Zone creator Rod Serling.  His most famous work is as a newspaper writer.  Living long past his brother, he made the most out of his 92-year life.
Art Linkletter was a tv icon and appeared in numerous classic shows.  Even if you don't know his work off-hand, you have to know that name!

Like I said, I would love if I didn't have to do these.  I just want to write funny stuff and make people laugh.  That's life, I guess.

Rare Flix: 3 Dev Adam!

The Turkish are known for many things, but making quality films is not one of them.  Way back in the early days of the site (all 400ish days ago), I wrote about a Mondo Macabro release known as Tarkan vs. The Vikings.  That was one of my first forays into Turkish Pop Cinema, but it was not my last.  I also survived the debacle that was Turkish Exorcist aka Seytan.  This is, of course, not to be confused with the shitty French film called Sheitan.  If you didn't watch the very interesting documentary of the film movement in Turkey, here's what you need to know.  In the 1970s and '80s, action and pop fare became popular in the country.  It was a massive up-surge of productions that ranged from silly to shitty.  Many of these films have gained a cult following in the states, including Turkish Star Wars, Turkish Rambo (thanks, Ed) and others.  This film has gotten famous due to some internet exposure, despite a good printing not existing.  To make a long story short, a good majority of the films were burned for the silver nitrate in the film stock when the boom ended.  Did a beauty survive the event or should it have been mined as well?  Find out in my pop-tastic review of...
The film begins right away with a woman buried up to her neck in sand at the beach.  A crazed criminal is torturing her for information and finally decides to kill her by activating a boat propeller in her face.  That man: Spider-Man.  Despite that Sal Buscema drawing on the international poster, this guy looks like he's wearing a Halloween costume and has his giant eye-brows sticking out of his mask.  He's still better than WCW's Arachna-Man though.  The man's crazy murder/thieving spree drives the international authorities to call in two heroes to save the day: Captain America and El Santo.  Who's in charge of that department exactly?  You couldn't have picked more random characters if you tried!  I guess Matter-Eater Lad and David Arquette were busy!  Anyhow, these men try to get to the bottom of the man's devious plans.  How do they do that?  By getting in fight scenes with the killer and/or his henchman.  Within fifteen minutes, 'Captain America' has gotten in costume and fought 'The Spider.'  If you thought that the fight scenes in the Dolemite films were'd be right.  These ones are equally-silly though and merit their own attention.  After the female agent is captured, Captain America busts through a wall in Kool-Aid Man fashion and does a silly fight routine with a hanging rope.  The high-point for me, however, is when he does a crappy version of Rey Mysterio's 619 around a giant tombstone!  Sacrilegious much?
To call this movie's story 'a plot' would be very generous.  Basically, 'The Spider' does some fiendish things, our hero's look for him and the movie struggles to keep focus.  For example, the movie shows our villain killing women and taking some statues that are apparently worth millions.  One of the women is in the shower when he shows up and he chokes with a phone cord.  Of course, there's no nudity here.  Instead of focusing on that plot, we get the man in charge of the good guys' mission going to a club and seeing an exotic dancer.  The club is important for the plot later, but the five minutes of her dancing are not.  We do get some more great Spider moments though, including the famous bit where he ties up a guy and has hungry rats crawl down a tube towards his eyes, killing him when they reach them.  Creative- yes.  Logical- not so much.  The fight scenes are equally-ridiculous.  One of them has Santo fighting a bunch of karate guys as he's escaping a gym owned by The Spider.  Why are they there?  They came in late to practice- duh!  Fun fact: the real El Santo was incredibly-secretive about his face, even going so far as to get buried with his mask on!  This 'El Santo' spends maybe 1/4 of his scenes with his mask on.  His wrestling is silly, looking more like that guy doing wresting from the end of Road Trip than a famous Luchador.
As the film heads into its final act, things don't get much more sane.  The Spider keeps eluding capture, forcing our heroes to try even harder.  While trying to find his boat, mask-less Santo fights some guys on the beach.  They eventually figure out that the bad guys' thugs are centered around the club and hatch a stupid plan.  They start fighting his henchmen to get The Spider's girlfriend's attention.  The high-point for me is Santo's light fireman's carry slam (which doesn't even dent the table), getting a guy's arm stuck in a chair and awkwardly-power-bombing (read: setting) him on the same table...which still doesn't break.  Anyhow, they 'get caught,' but it's all a set-up to get to The Spider.  They break free and Santo battles the thugs, leaving mask-less Cap to fight The Spider.  They have a long silly fight and The Spider falls to his death...only to appear again somewhere else.  Huh?  This happens again, this time with The Spider crushed by a forklift.  He's around again, this time getting crushed in an industrial press.  The final time seems to finish him off.  Before you try to figure out how this works, bear in mind that the filmmakers show Santo spotting a dead Spider in the press while the last one is still around.  Either way, the day is saved and the movie ends...with a silly joke involving a kid wearing a Spider mask.  Ha ha- lame!
This movie is...well, I don't know how to describe it properly.  There is almost no plot and a good 60-70% of the film is set aside for long fight scenes.  Most of the film reminds me of watching one of those old serials like Batman & Robin- where they fight the evil Japanese J. Caroll Naish- or Captain Marvel.  Mind you, those were made in the '40s.  I guess they succeeded if that's what they were going for there.  The problem here is that very few prints of the film exist due to the previously-mentioned crash and burning of prints.  The one I viewed looks like your worst VHS tape...if you stuck it in a bath...and dried it with a flamethrower.  It also has burned in subtitles, which I usually complain about, but these ones are in English and actually make this watchable.  The whole thing is as ridiculous and the description would lead you to believe.  Behold such wonders as Captain America's bullet-deflecting shirt!  Gaze at El Santo beating one thug up by swinging the leg of another thug at him!  Thrill as you watch Cap awkwardly kick people while hanging from a rope, never really connecting once!  Seriously, this thing is a must watch for all you people who love ridiculous shit.  With that in mind, here's the link:
Next up, I celebrate Memorial Day with a film about a non-existent military group fighting a made-up threat.  God Bless America! Stay tuned...

Saturday, May 29, 2010

Blockbuster Trash: The Haunting of Winchester House

I don't expect much from movies made by The Asylum.  Is it any wonder?  I mean, just look at the films I've reviewed of there's so far.  Monster was an even worse version of Cloverfield that never showed you the monster and played with the video feed like a kid with a Hot Wheels car.  Sherlock Holmes (2010) miscast everyone and gave us a plot involving Holmes' brother Mycroft attacking England with a robot dragon- need I say more?  Death Racers is a film starring The Insane Clown Posse and features almost no vehicular mayhem at all.  I can only take one more of them this month, so why not a movie that's a knock-off of a film that I didn't care about in the first place?  A Haunting in Conneticut was part of a trend of Haunting/posession films that include The Haunting of Molly Hartley, Blackwater Valley Exorcism and more.  Naturally, The Asylum hopped on that bandwagon and tried to make some scratch.  What's different here?  Well, they chose to steal the real legend from a real place- the Winchester Mystery House.  This historical landmark is actually a tourist attraction, a fact I know because I've been there.  Nobody lives there, but why let logic stop a good...or bad story?  Find out the truth in my review of...
The film begins with a UPS driver delivering a package to the titular house.  When is this?  Well, the lady has an iPod, so it can't be that old.  Speaking of Apple, her device acts up as she approaches the house and drops off the package.  She speaks to the lady inside, who has a minor freak-out, tells her to flee while she can and shuts the door.  The woman exits as the owner tries to mark a circle on the living room floor, before being pulled out the window.  We time-jump to our heroes, a family clearly mourning some sort of loss.  I say it's a 'time-jump,' although the film never bothers to say how long.  Given that the owner was killed by a ghost, I can't picture it being that recent!  Regardless, the family leaves behind a bunch of baby clothes and items, so you can figure out what happened.  In a rare touch of subtlety in an Asylum film, they don't really harp on the point.  Score one for you, although I think it will be the only point you get!  They drive up a hill towards the house when another car suddenly shoots down the path, narrowly avoiding them.  They curse the people in the other car and keep going.  The family reaches a chained-up path, which makes me really wonder where the hell those other people came from!  None of the keys they have for it work, so they approach the place on foor.  Well, the move is already off to a great start!
In the house, our family is happy about how spacious the whole thing is.  Of course, before I go any further, I have to address the film's elephant in the room: the CG house.  For exterior shots, they insert a CG model of the real Winchester House....badly.  It looks fake, out of place and doesn't even match for scale.  This eye-sore doesn't show up much, but it's still stupid as shit.  Anyhow, the daughter picks a lovely room with a broken window and wallpaper designed to look like bookcases.  For some reason, they never address this, making me wonder if it was supposed to really look like a bookcase.  After this, things don't go well as the daughter sees a ghost girl and the couple is interrupted by a mysterious black man.  Hey, the guy from The Shining is moving up in the world!  He introduces him, tries to make himself at home and leaves.  That was kind of random, although the movie implies that it was part of something bigger.  The daughter ends up stuck in the basement when the door shuts itself and she has to be rescued.  The family is visited by more ghosts and random apparitions.  By random, I sure as hell mean random.  They are visited by ghosts of the former family that lived there, including a deaf guy who's supposed to be menacing...I think, an old lady with crazy eyes (see above) and the little girl.  On top of that, they are visited by the ghosts of people that were killed by Winchesters.  Not to nitpick your film, but there would be hundreds of them if that were the case!  Oh yeah, some cops show up and get killed for no reason too.
As the movie goes into its third act, it becomes more reliant on randomness and jump scares.  The old lady shows up some more around the time that the daughter goes missing.  They try to call the police, but only static comes through.  Fortunately, their friendly, neighborhood black man whose an expert in the paranormal comes to the rescue.  He helps them fond off some ghosts thanks to a trinket with the hair of some lady who could touch ghosts in it.  Don't look at me- I didn't write this.  He goes to set-up the same circle used in the first scene, but gets chucked into the wall and dies.  In a silly effect, his ghost exits his body, looks at it and falls over.  This happens again when our heroes go outside and see the dead cops too.  I would be remiss in not mentioning the part where the old lady ghost tries to pull our hero into some sort of CG hell.  They run around for a while, experience more of the weird symptoms and run into the deaf ghost.  Eventually, they figure it all out.  As a kid, the little girl hid in a box, but got trapped in it unwittingly by the deaf man.  By freeing his ghost, the curse was lifted.  Reunited, our heroes go to leave the house, but the wife discovers the truth about them.  Are you ready?  They were dead the whole time after their car crashed, which is supposed to explain the static/white noise effect when they called the cops, why the black guy didn't touch them and why the lock didn't work.  After a silly monologue from the black guy (which they don't hear), the woman doesn't tell the family the truth so they can live together.  Um, what?!?  The End.
This movie sucks in all of the ways that most Asylum films do.  The acting is bad, the production values are awful and the script is just stupid.  The movie rips off several films here, including The Haunting (finding the dead girl's body to stop the curse), The Legend of Hell House (the house's curse), The Sixth Sense (the ending) and even The Others (also the ending).  That's just the tip of the iceberg though.  The green screen effects are bad, especially for a reason I haven't addressed yet.  You see, this movie was made to be shown in both 2-D and 3-D.  The result is that in my 2-D version, the images are projected at a forced perspective and look like shit.  When they're in a real environment, it's practically night and day when compared to the green screen.  In addition, so much of this movie was shot in a dark, unlit house to cover up their bad make-up effects.  Some of it looks decent, but so much doesn't.  For example, they do a close-up on one dead cop, which makes the false neck covering even more obvious.  How about the deaf ghost being really pale on his face, but not his neck?  Ultimately, this whole thing proves to just be pointless and dumb.  Why were they haunted by ghosts when they were ghosts?  Aargh- my brain hurts!
Next up, a Turkish movie that defies all logic and common sense.  If you want to see a Mexican wrestler team up with an American icon against a Marvel hero, this is for you!  Stay tuned...

Rare Flix: Class of 1999

If someone made a sequel to a film that nobody saw, does it make a sound?  That's the question raised by today's film, the sequel to a film called Class of 1984.  That film was made in 1982...which is kind of silly.  The movie is about a teacher trying to deal with a school full of gangs and violence.  Naturally, they decided to make a sequel...8 years later...and not title it like a sequel.  Fun fact: Terminator was made in 1984.  Class of 1999 features a trio of teachers trying to tame a school full of gangs and violence.  I suppose you're wondering why I brought up Terminator a moment ago, huh?  Well, the teachers are robots.  Yeah, you read that right.  The man that made Commando, Firestarter and Showdown in Little Tokyo made a movie about killer robot teachers.  The worst part: a lot of notable actors appear in this movie, including Malcolm McDowell, Pam Grier, Stacy Keach and Patrick Kilpatrick.  Okay, maybe not that last one so much.  I happen to have a soft spot for the bad guy from Scanner Cop II- sue me.  While I battle your litigation attempts, check out my review of...
The film begins with a long monologue explaining the school violence rose and rose in America.  Apparently they didn't do a good job in Class of 1984, huh?  This escalated in 1997 and the cities surrounding schools- including Seattle, Miami and New York- became war-zones.  You know, I was in school in 1997 and I don't remember that at all!  This leads to a crazy scientist (Stacy Keach with a rat tail and snake-eye contacts) to try out a new program.  He introduces three teachers (Kilpatrick, Grier and It's Alive's John P. Ryan) who are robots that are going to be able to deal with the students.  The Principal (McDowell) goes along with this for the publicity and hopes for success.  We are introduced to our hero, a young man just getting out of juvenile prison.  He spends the whole movie brooding, being angry and talking like Christian Slater- fun.  He is met by his brother (Near Dark's Joshua Miller) and his fellow gang members.  Fun fact: Billy Drago's son appears as one of the gang members.  Surprisingly, he plays a dangerous and crazy guy- it must be genetic!  The guy goes back to school, but only after pointlessly-antagonizing a rival gang.  At school, the three teachers run into student conflict.  Grier beats up some gang members until they quiet down, while Ryan spanks two of them.  Spanked by a robot- that's something new!
As the story continues, the operators of the robots begin to question how safe they are.  This becomes especially notable when Kilpatrick beats up our hero, only to be confronted by his drugged-out friend with a gun.  The man kills the kid, which is glossed over.  The next day, another kid shows up to class high and Ryan forces him to O.D.  Keach's scientist ignores all of this and allows them to keep going, despite some protests from both our hero and McDowell.  During all of this, our hero gets a budding romance done with the one teen not dressed like one of The Warriors, but she turns out to be McDowell's daughter.  By the way, she has no accent- sigh.  After seeing Ryan palm his friend's crucifix, he convinces her to go with him and look for it at the teacher's house.  They discover that all three teachers live in one apartment, have no furnishings and a cabinet full of WD-40.  Naturally, the teachers show up and nearly catch them, although this does set-up a chase scene.  The highly-advanced robots chase our hero and never once comment on the fact that he dropped the girl off.  He manages to get them to crash, but that doesn't stop them.  They enact a complicated plan to get the two gangs to kill each other off.  This involves killing our heroes' brother and blaming it on the gang.  No, not the creepy kid!
A showdown between the two gangs ends in a lot of dead kids, thanks to both themselves and the robots going 'commando' on them.  Ryan even kills a guy by pulling him through a hole in the wall and splitting him in half!  Eventually, McDowell confronts Keach and tells him to pull the robots out of his they kill him.  Grier kidnaps the daughter and sets up a trap at the school.  Unfortunately for her, it's figured out in about ten seconds and our hero gets the gangs to join forces.  It's a good thing to, since the robots sport weapon arms, including a flamethrower hand for Grier, a drill hand for Ryan and Kilpatrick's RPG hand.  After a lot of 'let's get, let's run away,' our heroes eventually pick off the robots.  Ryan gets his head blown out & Grier gets blown up by a combination of gas and her flames.  Kilpatrick is lured outside and run over by the school bus.  After wandering around, Keach corners our heroes and nearly kills them.  Unfortunately for him, Kilpatrick's robot is not dead, finds time to rip off a shot from Terminator and punches a hole in Keach's chest.  Our heroes struggle against him, but eventually run him through with a forklift and pull his head off with a chain.  Where did the kid learn to drive a forklift?  Good question.  The bad guys are all dead though.  The End.
This movie honestly had potential, but is just kind of silly.  So much of the film is hinged upon things that are just too ludicrous to believe.  Robots put in schools to control gangs.  Stacy Keach's freaky, unexplained appearance.  A gang of teens armed with automatic weapons.  Let's ignore the fact that this movie takes place in the future of 11 years ago too, I guess.  The acting is pretty bad from the kids, but the teachers are pretty entertaining.  Keach is...well, odd and McDowell is just pretty bland here.  He shows minor outrage, but can't seem to muster up the energy level to raise his voice or anything.  You couldn't pay him enough money to yell, huh?  The worst performance is the lead teen actor, who talks like a bad impression of Christian Slater.  The whole thing is just ridiculous and kind of annoying.  The special effects are silly, especially in the third act.  Who would equip a robot with a boring drill and hand claw?  The silliest one involves Kilpatrick coming up from the wreckage of the bus.  The whole thing is a blatant rip-off of the full robot reveal from Terminator, but looks much worse.  That film was made in 1984, but this one looks worse...despite being made six years later.  In spite of how silly this whole thing turned out, someone made a sequel: Class of 1999 II: The Substitute.  I sure have high hopes.
Up next, I cover one last film from The Asylum.  This one is about a haunted house...that's actually a tourist attraction.  Stay tuned...

Friday, May 28, 2010

Impossibly-Cool Cover Art: Evil Ed

There's something to be said about leaving a little mystery.  I mean, why watch the whole thing when I've seen the best part on the box itself?  On a related note...
Wow, a stupid effect on the poster itself.  It sure saves me the time of watching your movie.

Seriously though, this is eye-catching, even if it is pretty stupid.

Next up, a foreign piece of copyright infringement that has to be seen to be believed.  Stay tuned...

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Rare Flix: Maximum Overdrive

There's a reason that novelists don't usually become directors.  As Alan Moore will tell you if you can dig him out of his bunker, the printed word is a completely different medium than the visual one.  Most of them just don't have the initiative or skills to do it.  Michael Crichton is pretty much the exception that proves the rule, since he made about a dozen films and one of them was Westworld.  One of the most adapted-to-screen writers of all time is Stephen King, but how many films did he direct?  One.  He decided to make a full-length adaptation of one of his short stories called 'Trucks.'  Why?  According to an interview from 2002, he was "coked out of my mind all through it's production..."  Needless to say, this film is a weird, violent mess.  On the plus side, it's entire soundtrack is done by AC/DC which kicks serious ass.  How does the movie fare?  Find out in my review of...
The film begins with a silly explanation for the plot.  Apparently, 'a comet is passing by the Earth and has the Earth stuck in its tail until we pass it.'  Yes, according to the movie, Earth is moving through space and comets stand still.  Since I've already lost Stephen Hawking, we can get to the silly humor.  The credits sequence shows a bunch of technology wreaking havoc.  Our director has a cameo as a man that uses an ATM, only to have it insult him.  Feh, you were better as a drunken idiot watching jousting in Knightriders.  The technical anarchy continues as a bridge control goes crazy and tosses people off.  If you're getting a Happening vibe here, you should just get used to it.  The story tries to focus on a set group of characters in one location: a gas station.  I guess we couldn't get a place that smelled like something other than diesel, huh?  Our hero is Emilio Estevez, playing a gritty loner with a heart of gold.  Yeah, he played that a lot.  He has a tough-time with the owner before the whole thing goes down and things don't get better later.  Some truckers show up to fill up their vehicles, but hang around when the technological revolt hits them.  The gas pump fails, but it's all just a trick to get him to look at an idiot.  The trucks finally revolt and smash up the place, leaving our heroes huddled inside.
Unfortunately, the movie has all of the focus of a coked-up author making his first film.  We get a Little League team stopping for soda, only to have the machine kill a bunch of them with flying cans.  The poor coach gets a Riki-Oh style hole in his skill.  Some more kids die, including one kid who flips his bike for no reason and gets steamrolled.  We also get a newlywed couple who get tormented by a truck and random technology.  Fun fact: the annoying wife is played by Yeardley Smith, the voice of Lisa on The Simpsons.  Not so fun fact: she's annoying as hell!  Seriously, you can't listen to her voice and imagine that she now gets paid $400,000 an episode to use that thing!  Eventually, all of our stories coincide as the kid ends up at the gas station, as do the couple.  The trucks surround the place, but run into some resistance from the owner (Pat Tingle).  He pulls out a rocket launcher and blows up two of the cars.  For some reason, he just leaves after doing this.  Um, there's like three left- finish the job.  Hey Stephen, I know this had to have been hard for you at the time, but focus!
Our heroes sense of safety is short-lived, but they make the most of it.  Our hero and heroine even have some off-camera sex, leading to a line that could only be written by a master author: 'You even make love like a hero.'  Eventually, more vehicle show up, including a military car with a mounted machine gun on it.  After killing a few people that are dumb enough to stand up during a hail of gunfire, it sends a Morse Code message out.  The humans follow its message and appease the vehicles by 'feeding' them with gasoline.  During all of this, they plan their escape.  Eventually, our hero drops a grenade on the gun-cart and runs.  All of the survivors book it through a sewer tunnel and make it to a boat.  They head off towards an island that apparently has a rule that doesn't allow cars there.  On the way, of course, they run into some resistance.  The baseball-playing kid blows away a lighted sign saying 'Humans are here!' with a machine gun.  One jerk tries to take the ring off of a dead woman in a car and gets run over by the Green Goblin truck.  Moments later, Estevez blows it up with a rocket launcher.  They work so well...but you keep taking your time using them, why?  In the text epilogue, we learn that a UFO was blown up by a Russian spy satellite and that things returned to normal in six days.  Um, why didn't you show that first part, movie?!?  The End.
This movie is loud, boisterous and...well, dumb.  Don't get me wrong- you can have a lot of fun with this movie.  It has dark humor, big explosions and crazy kill scenes.  The acting is pretty bad across the board, but what do you expect from a movie's whose first-time director was mainlining blow the whole time?  Much like those poor guys in Troll 2, not having a good director to give you input is a recipe for disaster.  Fortunately, everyone is playing such broad characters that you can just ignore it.  The car stunts are the real star of the show here as they deliver big.  Just imagine a modern remake of this and how many CG cars they would throw at you!  Ultimately though, this film has no real substance to it...much like The Happening.  It's just a serious of ridiculous events that are centered around a ludicrous premise and uninteresting characters.  Unlike that film, they at least deliver on the kill effects.  If you can turn your brain off and you love AC/DC, check this thing out.  It's hard to find these days...but that's no real big loss.
Up next, a film about the future that takes place 11 years ago?  That sounds like my kind of movie.  Stay tuned...

Lost and Found: Necromania

The Story
In 1971, Ed Wood was in the very low-point of his career.  As I've discussed before, his lack of success in mainstream films drove him to work on porn films.  Yes, he even appeared in a couple.  If you recall my review of One Million AC/DC, they were not exactly pleasant.  This film involves a couple going to a lady necromancer to find a cure for the man's E.D.  Yeah, the less said the better.  I should note that Criswell appears in it somewhere and Vampira was going to be in it, but declined.  Some Wood alumni do have common sense!  In the ensuing years, the few prints of the film disappeared.
Was it Discovered?
Yes, but it's not that simple.  In the mid-80s, a very edited print was found by Something Weird Video.  That's not the end of it though.  Another less-edited copy was found at a garage sale in 1992.  How does that happen exactly?  Did little Stevie's mom finally make him throw out his 35mm print of a porn film?  Anyhow, the most complete cut was found in 2001, allowing a company called Fleshbot Films to release it on DVD in 2005. 
It's a piece of history.  That's pretty much it.  Mind you, Wood's filmography has a major cult following- even his utter shit- so talk of this film is always notable.  As a piece of film history though, it's just freaky.
Next up, a long-lost French film shows up in the craziest of places.  Stay tuned...

WTF Germany?!?: Scratch

My short history with German killer rat films has been tumultuous.  I bet that's the first time you've heard that sentence before, huh?  Last month, my plan was to watch the two films: Revenge of the Rats and today's film.  As the month was approaching it's close, this film was not becoming available, continuing to stay at Short Wait status on Netflix.  I had to think on my feet for a bit and make it all work out.  Nearly a month later, you're being graced with the sequel.  For those who didn't read it, a brash commando unit has to stop an invasion of killer rats.  In the end, the day was saved, but one rat was left with a nest & seemed to vow least, as well as a CG rat can.  In this film, that sequel-bait is ignored and rats show up somewhere else.  Don't you just love lazy writing?  I have to address one thing briefly here: Netflix's confusion.  Revenge is listed as being made in 2006, while this film is listed as being made in 2001!  Either the Germans invented time travel, wasted it on this and forgot about OR Netflix needs a new editor.  Anyhow, this film could be the Black Plague or just a cheese-eater.  Find out in my review of...
The movie begins in typical serial killer fashion by giving us a pointless kill scene.  It involves a woman in her house that's randomly outside of the village.  It would at least make things more interesting if you explained why she was there, movie.  Was she a witch?  Anyhow, she ignores her dog and dies when rats fall from the roof and into her bath.  Pointless nudity- check.  Pointless death- check.  Victim who can't simply climb out of a tub- big check!  Let's ignore that for a while and reintroduce our hero from the first film.  He wakes up late and uses his police power to borrow a helicopter, stop traffic and get his daughter-in-law onto a bus for her trip to camp.  You're really testing the famous leniency and patience of the German military, you know!  After that, he heads out to a small village for a trip.  By the way, say good-bye to the little girl, save for one scene in the finale.  Our story cuts to a bunch of men in military outfits and shooting each other.  As it turns out, this is a company retreat and it's led by our gun-toting hero from the first film and his buddy.  They leave, but not before making a very off-color joke.  When the man complains about how embarrassing the executives are, his buddy counters by saying 'you did what we've been trying to do for 60 years- make people not scared of the Germans.'  Ouch.  Anyways, they drive out to the same town and meet up with our hero.  The reason for their trip: their other buddy is getting married.
Their friend is the Mayor of this tiny village and could not be happier to get married.  His bachelor party is disrupted by a call up to the house from Scene 1, since the dog has gone crazy and it apparently used to be his.  Um, just have him be called because he's the Mayor, movie- this just seems silly!  They have to kill the dog, but are more disturbed by the idea of rats.  They talk to a scientist who explains that he's not seen anything.  In the next scene, we find out that he was lying and is actually a scientist who's been working on a way to kill rats.  Why hide this?  Who knows?  His assistant lost some of the test subjects and tried to hide this face.  The man runs off to catch his old rats & never to be seen alive again.  Our heroes find some proof of the rats, but our gun-toting friend finds time for something else.  He runs across a tiny woman who calls him out, leading to him explaining that he sees guns as a replacement for women, not his own phallus.  How is that different exactly?  She sticks around for no reason, which will come in handy later.  Our heroes finally figure out that the rats are real when they attack the groom-to-be.  They figure that the rats will be at the Knackery (a building where dead bodies are mass-cremated) and they're..right.  Our heroes try to escape the CG swarm, but our main hero dies.  That's right- they kill him off.
Our remaining heroes try to get over this random and sudden loss, but don't do that well.  The gun-toting guy (now the lead hero by default) tries to figure out the scientist's random notes by...well, staring at them.  Even he realizes how dumb this is, but just keeps going.  He gets upset with the whole situation and just blows up the Knackery with a rocket launcher.  I'd complain about this randomness, but it's just too awesome.  When the sun goes down, the rats attack the village.  Thankfully, our gun-toting hero and his non-girlfriend are there to save a young couple and a weird army veteran.  Eventually, they figure out what is going on.  The rats were genetically-engineered to die when the temperature drops low enough, which causes them to attack when it does.  Their plan is simple: making one place warm, lure the rats in and blow it up.  Naturally, the trigger doesn't work when everything is in place.  Our gun-toting hero goes down, fixes the wires and tosses a grenade into the room.  He manages to outrun the flooding water and save the day.  After the funeral, the wife of our good, dead hero lets him have the man's car & he drives off with his now-girlfriend.  The End.
This movie is...about the same as the first one. The plot is silly, the acting is stiff and the effects are not that good.  I should point out that the movie is only available with a dubbed audio track, so my comments on the acting could be negligible.  I say that, of course, with the assumed knowledge that it still probably sucks.  The plot is interesting in theory, but just comes across as silly.  So many of the ideas are just pointlessly-silly.  Did it really have to be the guy's old dog?  Did we really need the couple to get together after that scene?  Did we really need that monologue in the first place?  I have to address the biggest part though: the special effects.  Their CG rats always look like CG rats and are never once convincing.  This is especially true when you get to see real rats move around.  In many ways, it's as jarring as seeing the bit from 2012 where our heroes are trapped in real water, after seeing 90 minutes of nothing but CG water.  Plus, why would you kill your main hero like that?  I could see doing it in the opening scene a la Nightmare on Elm Street/Halloween to set up the idea of 'nobody is safe.'  Doing it right at the hour mark just reeks of pure silliness.  Good-bye, guy who looked like the host of Dinner: Impossible- your stiff acting will be missed.  Unless you really like Germany, rats and bad writing, you can skip this one.
Up next, Stephen King's only book-to-film adaptation he directed is up to bat.  Is he Michael Crichton from Westworld or from Runaway.

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Slasher Crap: The Greenskeeper

There's only one reason to see this movie.  It's not the premise, which is basically just a rehash of The Burning.  It's not the script's strength, because that is more Steve Rogers pre-serum than it is Steve Rogers post-serum.  It's certainly not due to the notoriety of the people behind the film, since I've never heard of these people before.  What's the reason: it's star attraction.  Like many horror films, they try to cover for all of their weaknesses with a notable name in the cast.  Who did they get?  John Rocker.  Before you non-sports fans try to Google him, let me just tell you who he is.  He's a former baseball player that got famous for unleashing a racist tirade against New York City.  Needless to say, attacking the city that houses at least 60% of our stand-up comedians can't end well.  After a ton of controversy, he changed teams a few times, retired, came out of retirement, appeared on Pros vs. Joes & went back into retirement.  At the height of the controversy, he was cast in this crappy horror film.  Will it live up to the 'high standard' of Blood Harvest?  Find out in my review of...
Our film begins with a weird sequence involving a young man walking through a daydream.  We're not supposed to sure of that at first, but it's pretty damn obvious.  Throughout the film, our hero will have weird visions/dreams, seeing stuff like a man burning alive or a burnt body crawling out of a lake.  Since it takes them well over an hour to explain this, it just comes off as annoying.  Our hero is a pasty guy who wants to be a writer, but has no money and works as a greenskeeper.  In spite of that, he has a hot, but bitchy girlfriend.  What- you don't like spending the night at his house full of stoners?  I think you're just being picky, honey.  As it turns out, he only has the job because his mother married a rich guy who owns a country club.  There's more to the story as there is some sort of tragic story with his father.  Is this related to the dreams?  Who knows?  Besides the two people, we are introduced to a ton of people who practically have 'I'm going to be killed' written on their foreheads.  They're drunken idiots who are annoying as hell and just grate on you.  It really makes you wish that they would die a lot sooner than they actually do.  Speaking of dying, some random douche-bag gets killed by a man in a greenskeeper outfit.  Wow, I barely even knew him.
The owner of the club covers up the crime, but this is a plot point that will not exactly fit with the eventual plot reveal.  The annoying part of our cast decide to throw a party, but their location falls through.  What can a bunch of idiots think up on a short notice?  Throwing the party at night on the grounds, of course!  To do this, they have to convince our hero to go along with it, since he has the keys to the building.  Before that comes to fruition, we have a couple of random plots to deal with.  First, we have the senior greenskeeper who is made out to be a possible suspect in the killings.  Other than that, he says weird lines and sits around.  We also get an awkward birthday party for our hero where he is almost given the club ownership.  The mother is also his drunken mother, who is pretty much just a punchline and a plot point.  In addition to all of that, we have our hero flirting with an Hispanic woman who works at the club.  All of the neophyte club people hate the idea, but he doesn't care.  Back in the plot, our hero agrees to host the party and invites the girl he likes.  Gee, this won't all end in some sort of murder spree, right?
The drunken, partying idiots run around, dive in the pool and just generally act like asses.  Eventually, they all split up, setting our killer on his spree.  This bottom heavy plot features nearly all of the action in the last forty minutes.  The tennis instructor gets shot with nails (from the ball launcher) and the girl with him is impaled on a door knob...somehow.  One pair has sex on a random patch of AstroTurf and get killed by the device used to punch holes in the gold course.  The swim coach is drowned and has his throat cut as well.  Lastly, the final pair is killed after sex by impalement (the guy) and having some shears thrown into their back (the girl).  Around this time, our hero has left and misses all of the action.  Is he the killer?  You really think so?!?  The Hispanic girl shows up later and comes across all of the bodies in the order that they were killed.  Thank you, horror cliche dating back to Friday the 13th!  Eventually, the greenskeeper chases and kidnaps our heroine.  She runs to our hero's hands and the pair are saved by...the old man.  Well, not quite.  He gives a ridiculous and long explanation for everything that happened.  The greenskeeper was our hero's dad and he was burned by the man.  All of the killings were done by him and not the dad.  After this, our heroes manage to launch a lawnmower blade at him and kill him.  The pair's make-out session is broken up by the dad's blood spraying on them.  Ha ha?
This movie sucks for a lot of reasons.  Is this a horror comedy?  No, not really.  It acts like it at times, but nobody ever cracks a joke.  It's either a really shitty parody or one so clever that it never reveals its hand.  As I said earlier, all of the action is at the end, which makes the first two acts painful.  The acting is universally-bad, the writing is terrible and nothing is all that interesting.  In spite of having THREE people as the Producers/Directors, this movie is extremely-amateurish.  Let's discuss the real meat though: Rocker's role.  Well, simply put, he does jack shit.  He has three flashback scenes which are splice throughout the movie and later played whole.  The rest of the time he is supposed to be the big menacing character...who's always wearing a mask.  Here's the kicker: he has a stunt double!  You hire a pro-athlete to be your heavy and he can't do his own stunts.  He also never utters a single line, although a lot of heavies are silent.  This whole thing has more holes in it than the course itself.  Why did the old man kill the douche-bag in the early scene?  All it led to was him hiding the crime, making him looks suspicious.  His logic of killing everyone- including our hero- and blaming it on the supposed killer makes some sense, but not that.  This movie is so bad that they show a parody horror film about a killer milk man in it.  You know what?  I'd rather watch that one!
Next up, I finally get to review the sequel to Revenge of the Rats.  Will it be better than the original? Stay tuned...

Lost in Translation: House of 1,000 Corpses

Japan doesn't always seem to 'get' American movies.  As if that wasn't obvious already, check out their poster for Rob Zombie's big film debut...
Hey Japan, in case you read this, let me set something straight for you: not every poster should be a random collage!  Seriously, you guys do that one a lot.

Up next, Japan attempts to market a Don Coscarelli classic.  How will they do?  Stay tuned...

Monday, May 24, 2010

Slasher Crap: Ice Cream Man

At face value, there's nothing really notable about this movie.  Made in 1995, this film is another slasher film with a quirky lead and almost nothing else of note.  However, there are a couple subtle things to note here.  First off, the movie was directed by Paul Norman, the pseudonym of Norman Apstein- a man whose career is 99.9% porn.  Seriously, this guy made this movie as a 'straight' film, but has 121 other credits that include stuff like Stick It In The Rear, Intercourse with a Vampire & the Edward Penishands trilogy (yes, there are at least three).  Secondly, the film was co-written by Sven Davison and David Dobkin.  The first has one writing credit to his name, while Dobkin has gone on to direct Shanghai Knights, Wedding Crashers and Fred Claus.  Yeah- he started here!  Lastly- and most importantly-, the film stars my aunt (Andrea Evans) as a slutty housewife.  The only actor in my family line is a soap opera actress who tried to break into mainstream cinema.  The result: a very minor role in A Low Down Dirty Shame and an uncredited role in a film called The Opposite Sex and How to Live with Them.  Will my family live this movie down or will it raise us up?  Find out in my review of...
The film begins in the past with an ice cream man being gunned down in a drive-by shooting from the mob.  How do we know it's the past?  Because this part is in black-and-white, silly!  In the present day, the young man who witnessed the death has grown up to be Clint Howard- you poor bastard!  He has grown up to become an ice cream man himself, proving that no job has any sort of screening process.  As if we didn't know that he was the bad guy, his truck is full of bugs and body parts.  Yeah, apparently he's one of those independent ones who has no sort of boss or inspections.  We are introduced to a group of kids that are going to be our protagonists.  They're all pretty stock, including the small kid, the spunky girl and the fat kid.  Fun fact: their 'fat kid' is a normal-sized kid wearing what's clearly a pillow under his shirt.  The neighborhood is full of characters, including the girl's father, who's played by David Warner.  You never did get over everyone thinking they really killed you in The Omen, did you?  He plays a preacher, but ultimately adds nothing to the story.  In his first scene, we also see a janitor of some sort with a sharp stick.  He's killed off-screen by Howard and his stick is found later as proof.  Wow, you were pointless too.
Eventually, the titular villain captures one of the kids.  The 'fat' kid sees this happen and tells the police.  They go to Howard's abode and smash up his building full of ice cream supplies and equipment.  They leave when they find nothing...because they never check his truck.  Seriously, why don't they check his truck?  The kid had to have said 'he took the kid into his truck,' but they still don't look.  Oh yeah, the cops are played by Jan-Michael Vincent and Lee Majors II.  I know what you're wondering and 'yes, this is the biggest thing that Lee ever did.'  Well, aside from an obligatory role in all of the Six-Million Dollar Man/Bionic Woman crossovers- big surprise.  In spite of not finding anything, they suspect Clint of something and have him followed at all times.  Hello, lawsuit against the city!  As it turns out, he's actually kept the kid alive and has him locked away in the building that the police already searched.  The kid comes down with Stockholm's Syndrome very quickly it seems & he never tries to escape.  The kids take matters into their own hands and try to find evidence of the murders.  They take pictures of the inside of his truck, but that plot point won't be important until later.  After being propositioned by the slutty housewife (my aunt) earlier, he kills her beau and kills her.  Oh well, at least you got to go out with a silly effects shot...
Things don't go well for anyone involved, but especially for the town's random inhabitants.  The brother of the 'fat' kid confronts him about using his film for the pictures, since they have shots of him and his girlfriend having sex.  The point of this: to toss in some nudity.  Well, at least it wasn't my aunt!  The older brother is a wannabe cop and goes with the kid to catch the killer.  As it turns out, his 'I've got the gun- the badge will come later' plan fails and he gets killed alongside his lady.  The kids run around in fear as the villain uses the decapitated heads of the tailing policemen from earlier as puppets.  We get more chasing and stalking until the captured kid finally comes to his senses and aids his friends.  On the police side of the story, they find out about Howard's time in an asylum and visit it, only to discover that the patients are actually more sane than the doctors!  They casually-escape a riot and rush to the villain's lair.  Despite both of them being twice Clint's size, they accomplish nothing.  In the end, the captured kid rips off Friday the 13th: Part Four, knocks Howard into an ice cream mixer and the day is saved.  In the Epilogue, however, we learn that the kid is now insane, giving us a sequel bait ending that never got followed up on.
This is a very bad movie.  Don't get me wrong- it's pretty harmless and stupid.  The story is incredibly-stock and the only creativity has gone into some of the effects shots.  Most of the kills are either dull or are done off-screen.  Hell, my aunt only gets to do her best Jamie Lee Curtis scream before her throat is cut (I guess) in an off-screen shot.  All we get is the 'blood hitting the killer's face' scene to signify death- lame.  If you're going to kill one of my relatives, at least do it right!  The movie's pacing is a bit off, because it chose to do all of the 'flashbacks to Howard's treatment' scenes at random points in the movie.  You can't throw that in during the credits or anything?  The effect of this is to constantly stop what little plot the movie has going to make these bizarre scenes have room.  Do we need all of them?  No.  Just a hint to any future filmmakers that hire Clint Howard- one look at his face tells me that he's probably crazy.  If you feel the need to give me several scenes explaining why he's like that- just stop.  If you like shitty movies, this has a ton of those cliched conventions to laugh at.  It also has a cadre of actors that should/used to be able to do better, which is just icing on the cake.  For strong-willed fans of stupid cinema, this is a good viewing.
Next up, can you be a horror comedy without telling a single joke?  Tomorrow's crap film tries to answer that question.  Stay tuned...