Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Bad Doggy!: Devil Dog- The Hound of Hell

Another day and another evil dog.  After the robot and the super-science dog, what's next?  If you guessed, a bad TV movie turning The Omen into a film about a devil dog, you guessed right!  By the way, who guesses something like that?  Weirdo.  Anyways, this film comes to us from the 1970s, a strange era where TV movies run amok.  This tale involves Satanists, a female dog and that military leader from the Rambo films.  On the plus side, this Richard Crenna film is not horribly-ironic to watch now in regards to its politics (see: Rambo III).  Can this film be less shitty than Rottweiler and less disappointing than Man's Best Friend.  Get out your devil painting for my review of...
The film begins with a group of people going to a breeder to buy a dog.  They eventually settle on a nice female dog used for breeding & money proves to be no issue.  They do a silly ceremony involving the dog being placed in a pentagram as the title appears.  We are next introduced to our leads, a nice couple featuring Crenna and his 'wife.'  They go home to discover that their dog was killed by a hit-and-run driver.  The film not-so-subtly hints that it was the cult's doing.  Their reason becomes clear when a mysterious fruit vendor stops by and lets Crenna's daughter have one of the devil dog's puppies.  Note to self: don't trust fruit vendors who pull up to my house for no good reason.  The family's stereotypical Latina house maid has some reservations about the dog, but they ignore.  Apparently nobody notices the fact that the dog has flashlight eyes.  One night, the family goes off to do...something, leaving the maid with the dog.  It uses it's devil powers to burn her to death.  Rather than linger on that, we jump ahead two years and see the kids...looking exactly the same.  I know two years isn't a long time in general, but these are kids nearing puberty.  Think, movie- think!  The dog is now grown-up and just as evil as ever.
Rather than linger on that, we jump ahead two years and see the kids...looking exactly the same.  I know two years isn't a long time in general, but these are kids nearing puberty.  Think, movie- think!  The dog is now grown-up and just as evil as ever.  The dog really has it out for Crenna, which is odd considering that he was suspecting nothing.  It nearly makes him chop off his hand in a lawnmower blade, but he resists.  Naturally, he tells nobody about this.  The dog slowly begins to corrupt the whole family, turning the two kids to his side first.  The mother is resistant, especially when the kids' personalities begin to change.  It doesn't help when she finds blood in their room, huh?  In an odd move, the mother gets turned pretty easily in what should be a bigger moment.  This leaves Crenna as the lone voice of wisdom in the movie.  Hey, if he could turn Rambo sane, he can do anything!  The dog, meanwhile, has his own plans.  In a freaky scene, it runs off and kills a guy thanks to it's ability to turn into a rear projection effect.  This dog is one freaky hound, let me tell you!  When Crenna goes to break the news to the kids, they don't even get bothered by it.  Cue Crenna over-acting and yelling!
Things are not getting any brighter for Crenna, especially when he discovers a freaky painting of a demon in his kids' room.  The mother is obviously not going to help at this point, so he goes to some old lady.  As Amityville 1992, Phantasm and Troll have taught us, they are experts in the occult.  She doesn't tell him a whole lot, so he goes with Plan B: going into the desert and staring at cave paintings.  Fortunately, his taxi cab driver is the great grandson of an Indian spiritualist who lives nearby.  No, really.  The guy gives him some sort of magical doohickey and he goes off to save the day.  He is warned, however, about not looking at the beast in his true form or he'll be sent to Hell.  So, God can't help you, religious figures are no use and just looking at a dog will send you to Hell?  That's a bit pessimistic, movie!  He goes to a factory building and is confronted by the dog.  The thing morphs in a decent effect, although it's not that consistent in quality.  He uses his Iron Man-style glowing palm to touch the dog and send it away.  Before that, it shows his true, silly face.  The family goes off on a vacation to put an end to their troubles.  The son asks about the fate of the other 9 devil dogs, to which the father has no answer.  Boo!
This movie is just silly.  I mean, it's a film about a demon dog.  It's not really a hound from Hell though, just a dog that is the child of a dog that was possessed.  How does that work again?  Does the possession become part of the thing's DNA or does it just jump around to one puppy at a time?  Aside from that, the movie does have some good Omen-style effects and hits all of the right cues.  Ultimately though, it's just a knock-off of a hit film from theaters.  Was this meant to be a series or something?  Did they really think that people would watch 10 different movies about demon-possessed dogs?  I think that premise would get old by about seven films.  Then again, they made six Leprechaun films...so who knows?  If you like movies about demons, puppies or films starring Richard Crenna, you'll like this one.  It throws all of its mojo into the third act, so be patient.  Demon or not, how can you not love this little guy?
Next up, September begins with a movie set in the future time of 1970.  Can Boris Karloff manage one last bit of greatness?  Stay tuned...

Lost in Translation: Predator

The French are responsible for existentialism, democracy and puff pastry.  They are also responsible for making our movies looking really weird.  Take this jungle action film for example...
That's not an action movie poster- that's a Soviet propaganda poster.  I would know, after all.  I guess they did bring him to red Mars about three years early though.

Next up, a Dustin Hoffman film is turned into something...twisted.  It's Buffalo Bill territory, people!  Stay tuned...

Bad Doggy: Man's Best Friend

There are many good reasons to be a cat person.  They're small, usually nice and sleep 98% of the day.  Not like those big dogs who can tackle you and want to go for a walk every 5 minutes.  On top of that, there are far fewer evil cats in cinema- barring, of course, Evil Cat.  Dogs, however, are vicious killers in many films.  From thought-provoking films like White Dog to utter shit like Rottweiler, these car-chasing beasts are on a rampage!  This brings me to today's film, the ironically-named Man's Best Friend.  This 1993 film is not exactly the most famous of this genre, which is surprising.  I mean, how could the combined star power of Lance Henriksen and Ally Sheedy make be a major hit?  Plus, this is the feature film debut of Max, the world's most jumping-est, climbing-est dog.  What other film includes a credit like 'Max's Behavior By:' in it?  It is a tale of science gone awry, not to mention an interfering women leading to the death of at least a dozen people.  Get out your collection of acid pee for my review of...
The film begins with a woman contacting a news reporter (Sheedy) about some questionable operations in her company E-Max.  She sets up a meeting at 8:30 that night and returns to work.  Unfortunately for her, a P.O.V. monster breaks out of its cage and kills her, only to be stopped too late by an unseen man and his dart gun.  Meanwhile, the lady reporter is excited about the chance to break out of the 'fluff journalism' with this story.  Her excitement fades when 9pm comes and the woman doesn't show up.  Naturally, she decides to break into the facility, which proves easier than you might think.  Note to multi-million dollar companies: hire more than one guard!  They learn that vivisection is going on with many animals, including rabbits, monkeys and cats.  In the upper part of the lab, they discover tigers, panthers and...a dog.  Yes, this is Max- our villain/adorable animal for the film.  The guard shows up, but Max takes him out by knocking some barrels into the guy.  By the way, the guard is played by a character actor who will make you go 'I know that guy, but from where' for like three days.  A scientist (Henriksen) shows up, but gets knocked out of the way by the women and the dog.  The trio escape, leading the man to go to the police.  Fun fact: the fat, jaded cop is played by Robert Costanzo, who is also the voice of Detective Harvey Bullock on Batman: The Animated Series.  Good to see that you've been type-cast, buddy!  Lance explains that the dog is a million-dollar experiment and belongs to him, which makes the cops apathetic.
Ally's boyfriend is upset by her bringing the dog home, but eventually learns to deal with it.  Well, except for the part where Max keeps him from getting laid.  In the neighborhood, Max is allowed to run around and we learn that this is a bad thing.  You see, Lance did genetic engineering on him, putting the DNA of animals such as the owl, the chameleon, the panther and the tiger.  Naturally, all of this tampering has made the animal unbalanced and the drugs keeping him sane are wearing off.  This proves true when he is allowed to chase a cat & he manages to climb up a tree (panther DNA) and swallow the cat whole!  Okay, I guess he has snake DNA too!  The kids that see this, of course, tell nobody.  How many lives would you save if you weren't idiots?  As a bonus, the dog breaks into the house of a neighbor and rapes it's female dog!  Besides being freaky, they play 'Puppy Love' over it.  Were you trying to make a rape scene (animal or not) funny?  I really don't get it!  Lance, meanwhile, is getting more incensed with the cops for not helping him enough.  To make matters worse for him, they begin to look into the death of the woman from the first scene.  While that's going on, Max kills a mailman.  Ha ha- it's funny because he died!
As the third act comes along, things don't get any more nice.  Ally's boyfriend is really upset with the dog, after it caused him to nearly have a car accident and because it ate his bird!  To get back at it, he poisons some meat and tries to feed it to the dog- but he's too smart for that.  Lance finally finds the news station and pressures the camerawoman for information about our heroine.  The police finally wise up too and bring in the cavalry.  Unfortunately, this dog can out-run cop cars and leap over a blockade thanks to a badly-input digital effect.  Some dog catchers try to get the dog, but it locks the garage door on them & uses his chameleon powers to kill them Predator-style.  No, really.  Oh yeah, the boyfriend gets killed after the dog sprays his face with acid pee.  Apparently he's part Xenomorph too!  Lance grabs our heroine and her new puppy while the cops are away (why exactly?) and drives to the E-Max facility.  The dog gives them pursuit, however, and causes them to have a cliche, spinning car crash.  All of them walk out barely harmed and Max chases our heroine into the building.  After a long, tense scene it...licks her face.  Unfortunately, Lance shows up with a shotgun, having apparently abandoned any attempt to recapture the beast.  It tackles him, but he also gets a shot off and kills it.  The puppy validates it's existence in the film by accidentally electrocuting Lance.  In the Epilogue (I'm learning), the female dog has puppies, one of which is a dead-ringer for Max.  Nobody notices that, huh?
This movie could have been great, but falls flat more often than not.  The plot is a good one, having science gone awry and a killer animal.  However, logic is stretched to an extreme degree to make any of this work.  Can you really take just enough DNA from an animal to give another one a single trait that it has?  Furthermore, can this actually be done without killing the animal?  I mean, i'm no scientist, but I find this pretty implausible.  Older movies such as Ghost of Frankenstein actually addresses ideas like this with more logic! Aside from that, the movie does have some good kills and action in it.  I liked the attention to detail put into some of these, even if I didn't exactly find it all that logical.  The use of a real dog is a nice touch, although it also makes some things awkward.  As bad as Max could be, does anyone really want to see it get shot to death?  If you like these killer animal films, you can do far worse.  If you've seen Day of the Animals or, quite frankly, any William Girdler films, you'll know what I mean.  It could have been a lot better, but it works.  How do you feel about it, Lance Henriksen?
Next up, we get one more bad doggie for August.  This one is so bad that even dares to rip-off The Omen!  Stay tuned...

A General Note or Two

* My schedule has kind of turned to crap recently.  This is almost entirely due to my job getting a lot more hectic with the back-to-school season.  Sadly, this site doesn't pay me enough to not work an actual job...yet.

* Man's Best Friend and Devil Dog: The Hound from Hell will be up today.  In addition, Lost in Translation will be too.

* To simplify things, I'm cancelling the review of Frightmare- at least for now.  It's really not that interesting.  I may come back to it though.

* In addition, a technical issue is keeping me from getting my usual screenshots.  This is going to affect at least the first week or so of September's reviews.  Speaking of which...

* As you may have seen, September is going to be almost entirely random.  For those that prefer the eclectic selections to my dissections of entire series' like Trancers or Subspecies, you're in luck.  This is due to October being a very regimented month.  It's still going to be all about the weird and bizarre, just with the set themes.

* For all of you that didn't notice my schedule delays of the last week, just ignore this.  :-)

Monday, August 30, 2010

VHS For the Win: Junior

With the wave of horror films doing so well on the video market, everyone and their mother tried their hand.  Some of them taunted their rivals however.  This may have been to their detriment though...
Here's...a generic image.  Yeah, this isn't terrible (although the pun tag-line is), but it does nothing new.  Oh you have a chainsaw?  Let me know when you bring in some hookers with them and we'll talk!

Next up, a movie tries to exploit a female pop singer's name for success.  Given that it's in this segment and not in a review, guess how well that worked.  Stay tuned...

900th Post Special!!!: Dhoom (Taxi) 2

Happy almost a major milestone, everybody!  With 899 posts out of the way, I can only think of what is to come.  Another month of insanity, all of the craziness that October brings and, of course, the holiday season.  To jar me back to the present, here is a weird action movie that literally stops its plot for 5-10 minute musical numbers.  For all of my long-time fans, you'll recall how I celebrated 800 posts with a film called Dhoom.  This was another in a long line of rip-off films to come out of Bollywood aka India's Hollywood.  It was a rip-off of Taxi, a French film that also has an American remake starring Jimmy Fallon.  You could also argue that Rush Hour 3 is a partial rip-off, due to it being set in France and featuring Yvan Attal as a French taxi cab driver craving some action.  So what does this film bring that's new to the table?  Well, to begin with, we have a new villain and a new motive: elaborate jewel thievery.  The whole thing throws logic out the window more than most films do, not even counting all of the musical numbers and the 'sexy basketball' scene.  More importantly, will this one also find a way to rip-off The Matrix Reloaded?  Get out your magnetic gloves for my review of...
The movie begins with a man in drag dressed as the Queen of England.  Okay, you get points for finally giving me a chance to write that sentence!  Anyhow, she's riding on a train through Namibia (why not?) when a man parachutes out of a train.  He manages to glide his way onto the vehicle,- which seems improbable- switches places with the Queen and steals the crown.  In the silly action scene that follows, he blocks bullets with a snowboard, rides behind the train (while dodging bullets) and ultimately rides off...with no clear exit.  Immediately following this, we see the same person dancing and singing in the opening credit number- jarring much?  In Mumbai, our comic relief character is brokering a drug deal after pointlessly-riding onto a boat with his bike.  It turns sour and he must be rescued by our hero Jai...who shoots out of the water on a jet ski while also shooting!!!  Their action scene is interrupted by Jai's pregnant wife calling him in a gag that's so cliche that it makes my head hurt.  By the way, enjoy the first of your three scenes, honey.  We are then introduced to a new heroine: a tough lady cop.  She's in town to find 'A,' the mysterious thief from before.  This makes no sense when she explains that they know nothing about 'A.'  Why are you here then?  As it turns out, Jai knows everything about 'A,' having figured out the obtuse pattern to his crimes.  I'd explain it, but that would ruin the fun.  As it turns out, 'A' is in town to rob some artifact, thus making an 'A' on the map with his crimes...provided you cooperate.
'A' decides to steal a diamond, which is one of two artifacts he could steal.  Naturally, dorky, comedy-relief guy is at the real site, while the competent ones are at another site.  'A' manages to steal the diamond and escape by doing these actions...
* Breaking into the museum bathroom and coating himself in pancake make-up.
* Disguising himself as a statue in the museum (since nobody can see in three dimensions here) and sending out some robots via a control board designed to look like a slate.
* Driving his little car across some lines, up a conveniently-placed divot in the base and uses a rover-style arm to steal the diamond (which has no pressure alarm, I guess).
* Activating a hologram projector on the wall to make another diamond appear in the holder.
* Somehow escaping, getting past the other guards and quick-changing into the disguise of an old man.
* When cornered, setting off an acid-spraying tube on the sewer grate, which melts in time for him to drop.
* Shooting out of the sewers about 40 seconds later in BMX gear and outrunning a motorcycle and a helicopter.
* Disappearing into a crowd, since he happened to wear the shirt of a festival taking place in town.
Since things are going bad, Jai hires a lady thief to befriend and later betray 'A.'  Yes, it's the same plot, but with a chick.  Things get serious between the two however, after the aforementioned 'sexy basketball' scene.  She expresses her doubt about the plan while meeting Jai in a theater showing the Pixar film Cars- no, really.  After an intermission (yes, really), the film moves to Rio De Janeiro, where 'A' has taken the woman to work with him.  Their bond becomes love, however, after some really hammy scenes and some cliff-diving.  In the film's other plot, Jai and his buddy are also in Rio.  Their sub-plot, however, is comedic, as they end up staying with the wife's sister, who just happens to be a Hindi girl who lives in Rio- how convenient!  All of this is a lead-up to the next big heist: that of the first coins ever made.  The pair disguise themselves as two midget performers playing the part of the 7 Dwarfs.  'A' unleashes some spiders to disrupt the visiting kids, allowing them to shuffle out on their knees during the chaos.  What no super laser generator or something?  Jai learns that the woman betrayed him- by not betraying the thief- and goes after the pair.  The long chase goes from helicopter vs. bike to two bikes vs. two bikes.  Jai and 'A' have a fist-fight that looks like a Rock 'Em Sock 'Em Robot battle, save for one bit where 'A' does a full standing back-flip from an uppercut!  The girl is caught by the comedy relief guy (off-camera) and 'A' not-so-subtly asks her to shoot him.  She does and he falls off of the cliff.  Naturally, Jai lets the thief and murderer go since she's all alone.  The End. 
Nope, just kidding.  We actually get an Epilogue set 6 months later in the Fiji Islands.  'A' is not dead (they don't really say how) and working in a diner with the woman.  Jai shows up in dramatic fashion and explains that he let her go to eventually find 'A.'  'A' gives up all the data of his crimes and where he hid all the loot- I guess he sold none of it, huh?- so Jai lets them live in peace there.  Why?  "Because this is a love story."  Yes, that's the real reason he gives.  The *real* End.
This movie is just pure ridiculousness!  The movie is about two and half hours long, but only about 90 or so when you cut out the dance numbers.  They actually go from a serious discussion scene between Jai and 'A' to a ten-minute dance number with the thief and some random dancers.  Hell, they waste another ten minutes on a song-and-dance number with the comedy relief character showing how he plans to romance the lady cop.  Speaking of which, her role serves nothing.  She doesn't figure out 'A's' plans, doesn't catch him and gets hurt during the third robbery, leading to her never appearing in the film again.  It's like the movie could only support one serious female role at a time, so, when they introduce the lady thief, she has to go!  The film does not rip-off The Matrix Reloaded this time, but they do get damn close to ripping off Mission Impossible 2 with a motorcycle duel.  Their bigger target is the Ocean's 11-13 films, given the heist scenarios and ludicrous gadgets involved.  Of course, given the Rio local and the focus on beach babes, it's got a little of Blame it on Rio in there too!  The action, plot and acting is just plain ridiculous.  'A' has the Riddick factor here- meaning he knows everything that can happen during his robberies and has a counter-measure already in place.  Logic does not exist in this world of Dhoom 2, so don't look for it.  That said, fans of foreign weirdness and ludicrous action can have some fun here.  For all you Netflix users, it's on Instant Viewing right now.
Next up, I go back to the subject of angry dogs for a film starring Lance Henriksen.  Yes, I expect good things from the star of The Mangler 2 and Alone in the Dark 2.  Stay tuned...

Sunday, August 29, 2010

Forgotten Toons: Star Trek- The Animated Series

Bloggers Log: Star Date 08292010-XYX.  I got a DVD in the mail from Netflix that contained the first few episodes of a nearly-forgotten piece of television history.  The series known as Star Trek ran for three seasons before a certain overlord company felt that it cost too much and didn't make enough money.  In the wake of an angry rebellion by rabid fanatics of the series, they gave them a sort of peace treaty: Star Trek- The Animated Series: The Animated Adventures of Gene Roddenbery's Star Trek.  My second-in-command Spock would note that this title is highly-illogical, as the point made by the first part of the series' title is repeated for no good reason in the second.  Regardless, I felt that it was worth a further look...
Upon further inspection, this treaty appears to be exactly what its recipients were requesting.  Sure, they did not get to see my predecessor's super-realistic toupee or girdle in action, but they did get to hear all of the crew.  For some reason, however, only the top three or four of them are actually billed in the opening credits.  I guess an inability to pronounce the letter 'V' properly gets you post-episode billing in the credits.  This work was made by a company called Filmation and seems to fit their usual style.  Some out-dated process called 'roto-scoping' was used to make the animation seem more fluid and life-like.  Another benefit is that the space battles and aliens look more realistic, due to the different medium's level of freedom.  A good call on their part.  How do the stories do?
What I was able to view of the show before Klingons attacked was good.  Despite being in the Federation, I find many of their actions to be stodgy and a bit awkward.  Ignoring that, however, this form of drawn-novella delivers good acting, fun stories and it manages to touch upon the earlier exploits of the crew.  You like the Tribbles?  They're back.  You want to see kid Spock in something that's not full of blinding lens flares?  You got it.  You want Klingons and all of their ilk?  Done.  If you are amused or entertained by the historical documents telling the live-action exploits of the Enterprise crew, you'll like this.  It doesn't break new ground or re-define animation itself, but it will make peace in the galaxy- at least for about twenty to twenty-two minutes at a time.
-Signing out.
Next up, I take a look at a classic point-and-click game turned short-lived animated series.  This should be twisted.  Stay tuned...

Witchcrap: Witches of the Caribbean

What can I say about a movie with this title?  I mean, every joke writes itself.  I mean, do you expect a serious film here?  Instead of trying to cover that, I'll speak on the director: David DeCoteau.  He got his start doing Full Moon films- including a couple Puppet Master films- before venturing into other works.  Many of them, well, are quite gay.  I don't mean that in the slang way either- they really are!  He's made a series of gay-themed Edgar Allen Poe films, including The Raven, House of Usher and The Pit and the Pendulum.  The hilarious part is that Wikipedia says that "many have questioned DeCoteau's sexual orientation, however, the truth remains to be seen."  Yes, clearly!  This leads us back to this film, a movie centered around an all-female cast.  The plot sounded really dumb, but, at least it might feature some H.L.A. to distract me from that.  Of course, I was wrong.  I guess I'm just stuck with a plot involving 'teens' dealing with past-life regression and some of them becoming witches- hurray?  Get out your heart-sized box for my review of...
Our story begins with a a Michael Phelps-looking guy swimming in a pool...next to the ocean before he hears a voice.  Naturally, he wanders around for a few moments looking for the source of it.  This is probably obvious to anyone, but I should note that the guy never puts on a shirt.  How to get ahead in Hollywood, Step #6: Be a buff guy who knows David DeCoteau.  After some padding and just general nothing, he walks into the empty hotel and gets his heart ripped out by a witch.  Okay, I'm awake now!  The film proper begins with a sepia-toned flashback to a woman being burned at the stake on a beach.  I hope you like this scene, because it gets more time on screen than about half of the film's supporting actors!  After that, we meet our cast.  They're...all people I don't recognize in the slightest.  I guess the six years since the film was made has not been too grand for you, huh?  The group includes our dull lead actress, a sultry blonde, a slightly-less sultry blonde, a brunette, a nerdy guy and a guy that DeCoteau only hired for his looks.  They were brought there by a redheaded woman who wants to help them with 'their problems.'  Apparently, most of them- but especially our heroine and the sultry blonde- share the same dream.  What effect does this have on their personal lives?  Well, the movie never says, but it must be important enough to fly them halfway across the world to fix it!  After some character set-up, the group wanders around.  We establish a few things: our heroine is almost always in a bikini (plus), the buff guy never talks much (plus) and the nerdy guy likes our heroine (meh).  As far as actual plot set-up, it's obvious that the sultry blonde is a witch, but the movie has not actually acknowledged that yet.
Our cast gets a little bit smaller when the brunette gets killed after wandering off to go bird-watching.  That truly is the world's deadliest hobby!  This all involves the same hooded witch that it is totally-not-the-sultry blonde.  As time goes by, they sort of gloss over her disappearance, as well as the Phelps guy from the beginning.  How important are you guys exactly?  Furthermore, we continue to get shown the flashback/dream in sepia tones.  The whole point is that they show you more each time- I get that.  However, they continue to play the same parts over and over again until I want to get into my car, drive to an airport, fly to wherever DeCoteau lives, punch him in the face and say 'Stop padding your damn movie, you hack!'  Anyways, the sultry blonde and the slightly-less sultry blonde try to bring our heroine into their group for some sort of activity.  Eventually, she relents when it involves lots of drinking.  Out on the beach, they form a circle and make their own coven.  By the way, how much of our heroine laughing do you think is scripted and how much do you think is just her actual reaction?  They do a silly ceremony involving lights shooting out of a box the blonde brought, which makes them all appear in the pool...at the hotel.  They tease some H.L.A. between the sultry blonde and our heroine, but it's about as tentative as the woman from Wishmaster 4.  Apparently that was all a vision and now they're part of a group.  Translation: they dress in black and rip-off The Craft.
Apparently having the group dress in black and use dark lipstick means that they're evil.  Mind you, the sultry blonde (I refuse to use their names here) is actually evil, but you don't really know that for sure until she kills the buff guy.  Why?  Well, all will be revealed soon enough.  Since I'm not the movie, I won't waste your time and will, instead, cut to the chase.  Basically, our heroes are all descendants of people in the flashback/shared dream.  The heroine is the descendant of the witch, so she is going to be used as a vessel for the dead witch's old heart, which contains all of her power.  The reason for killing all of the people earlier was to steal their heart and, thus, make them the witch's slave.  I'm sorry, but are you a witch or a witch doctor?!?  Because, you know, they're not the same thing!!!  Fortunately, the psychiatrist is the descendant of the witch killer from the flashback/shared dream and is there as a vessel to stop the ceremony.  By putting the witch's heart and a pure amulet together, the nerdy kid saves the day in a silly effects shot that I wish I could find my screen capture of.  When that ends, all but our heroes forget about the experience.  By the way, the people who got their hearts ripped out are fine.  How does that work exactly?  The End.
This movie sucks.  It's not entertaining, it's not clever and it's not well-paced.  The whole story is about forty-five minutes worth of material padded out to an hour and twenty minutes.  Besides the around ten times they show you the flashback/shared dream, we get a music video/montage of scenes from earlier.  In fact, one of the scenes in the segment actually took place less than five minutes before the damn thing started!  This movie could have been good, it could have been goofy or it could have at least had hot chicks making out.  The latter wouldn't have made it a good movie, but it would have been very distracting.  Sadly, I was left with just a dull movie full of a few silly effects and the promise of something good.
Next up, I celebrate 900 posts of sheer randomness with the sequel to the film from my 800th post.  I hope you like singing, dancing and robbery.  Stay tuned...

Saturday, August 28, 2010

Double VHS For the Win: Fatal Games

It's rare when I can find two pieces of silly artwork on the same film.  It's even odder when I can find one on a film so obscure.  Let's start out with the more melodramatic one...
Would it be in bad taste to do a Munich joke here?  Probably, so I'll just get around it by asking this question and letting you fill in the rest.  Joke #2: Oh my God, Kurt Angle is down! 

Now, for the second one...
Okay, I'll ask this: why does the film have two different tag-lines for two different VHS releases?  On the plus side, this one gives us the ending to CBS celebrity sporting specials that everyone wanted! 

Two odd posters for one film = gold.

Bad Doggy!: Rottweiler

If nothing else, Brian Yuzna films are good for a laugh.  I don't mean that necessarily in a negative way either, as some of his films- like Bride of Re-Animator and Return of the Living Dead Part III- have some actual humor in them.  So, with that in mind, imagine my shock when I watched Rottweiler, a bleak film in every sense of the word.  This film offers you no hope, no love and no salvation.  Life sucks, Paul Naschy rapes your girlfriend and you die.  That's pretty much it, really.  Mind you, being a bleak film is not always bad.  Obviously Cannibal Holocaust does not have the most up-lifting themes or messages in it, but I really like that movie.  Unfortunately, this film tries to get too clever for its own good, serving up a confusing narrative that only really makes sense at the end.  Even then, however, it's still a bit confusing.  So we've got a bleak film without a plot that really makes sense.  Can the gore effects, action and character development make up for that?  Get out your smelly cowboy boots for my review of...
Our tale begins with our hero being dragged into a prison beaten and bruised.  He's taunted by an unseen warden and threatened by a scary dog.  While waiting to be put away, a scorpion walks onto another prisoner and bites him.  In the ensuing chaos, our hero and a prisoner he is chained to escape into the woods. They don't make it that far before the titular dog rips the 'Red Shirt' to pieces, but our hero escapes when his arm comes off.  It takes a bit away from your sadness when you snap the arm at the bone to get the cuffs off, dude!  He escapes out into...the desert, since there is no clear land orientation in this movie.  He makes it a long way before a helicopter shows up.  He climbed about three different mountains in the time it took you to mount a helicopter together and go check the area?  He's either really fast or you all suck!  He manages to allude detection in a bush that barely covers him- one point for my second theory- and stops in a cave for the night.  He has a dream/flashback to how he got into prison.  Him and a lady were on a boat full of illegal immigrants going into the country.  The film's version of ICE/INS show up and the pair flee onto land.  They end up following someone else into a prison where they're greeted by Paul Naschy?!?  Damn it- you're here?!? Our hero explains that they were playing a game called 'Infiltration'- never explained- and the Warden takes her off for some fun.  His exposition-style dream is broken up by capture from a guard and the killer dog though.
Taking adversity very well, our hero/convict manages to trick the dog and grab the guard's gun from him.  He wounds the animal (thanks, movie) and kills the man.  He also makes sure to steal the man's cowboy boots, since he's lack in footwear at the moment.  After some wandering around, he ends up in a den full of Mexican drug dealers, who take him in once they realize that he's a prisoner that killed a police officer.  They eat and drink, but our hero's sleep is interrupted by more dreams/flashbacks.  As it turns out, our hero is a complete dick and gets mad at his girlfriend for getting raped.  Personally, if I had a girlfriend raped by Paul Naschy, I would have been both upset and a little star-struck.  Of course, I'd be a bit creeped out if it happened now (R.I.P.).  Anyhow, the man wakes up the next day without boots, since the men took it.  Oddly, they didn't take his gun.  That's kind of poor planning on your part, especially if he wakes up mad!  This proves to be a moot point, however, as the man in his boots is killed by the dog that has now come back to life/re-booted.  Don't ask me to explain how any of that worked.  Furthermore, don't ask me to explain what the hell the point of having the scorpion from earlier keep showing up either.  For no reason, he picks a fight with the dog at a river when it shows up again.  This leaves him running naked through the land- hurray?
Despite not having a linear plot to speak of, the movie keeps insisting that it does!  He ends up at a house owned by a widow and her daughter.  Naturally, the naked man who shows up is mistrusted...until the woman has sex with him.  Unfortunately, the dog arrives and puts an end to that bizarre scene.  He ultimately kills the woman before our hero spirits the kid away.  It chases them to the highway and onto a truck, leading to more kills.  For an innocent man, this guy is causing a lot of death!  He escapes into a city, leaving the kid with some people, in order to find his missing girlfriend.  He runs afoul of a prostitute in one of a true 'red herring,' while the dog kills more people.  Our hero eventually gets back to the prison he was originally caught at and remembers the truth.  In a bit of rage, he inadvertently-killed the woman.  He has another battle with the dog and confronts Warden Naschy.  He's kind of a dick, so our hero causes his helicopter to crash and explode.  Unfortunately, the dog is still alive and emerges from the fire in a lawsuit-worthy rip-off of The Terminator (hence the alternate title in Korea).  He awkwardly battles the obviously-CG dog skeleton before he apparently dies at some point.  The movie just time-jumps and shows his skeleton, so I'm left guessing.  So yeah, everyone is dead and or maimed- save for that damn scorpion!  The End.
This movie is a giant waste of potential.  A good man-vs-beast tale is ruined with a bad lead, bad writing and confusing plot.  Seriously, what was the point of showing it in non-linear order?  There are times when that is actually important or helpful- not here.  The reason, unfortunately, is because our hero has to completely forget that he is a total douche-bag and let his lady be killed.  If they had said that from the beginning, there would be zero reason to care.  Speaking of care, there was not a lot of it put into explaining anything.  Why is there a robot dog?  Why did it bleed when it was shot?  How come it works fine as just a charred exoskeleton?  More importantly, the movie just made me feel disconnected due all of the aforementioned things, leaving me with plenty of time to ponder these sorts of questions.  When I have time during your film to question your plot-holes, you've done something wrong!  I wish that I could recommend this to you, but it's a badly-written film with a good premise.  Maybe some other Phillipino director will come along and do it better.  The bar is set nice and low, Man's Best Friend and Devil Dog.
Next up, my first David Decoteau film is reviewed.  This one involves women, witches...and heart in a box?  Stay tuned...
video
*Just for you, Carl*

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Mondo Dictionary: Syfy Opening

Syfy Opening: a scene of pointless death and/or violence that is designed to showcase the title creature/event in the opening.

Why do they do this?  Because most of these films are too low-budget to feature the monster/disaster effects for more than a couple minutes at a time.  As a result, they give you one good part in the beginning...followed by nothing for at least thirty minutes in. 

Examples
* Rock Monster features a pointless scene of the creature forming and killing someone.
* Sabretooth features some hikers getting killed by the mosnter.  Hurray.
* Cyclops features the creature stomping into frame, killing two guys and leaving.

Combs Away: Hammerhead

As we near the end of this month's look at the works of Jeffrey Combs, we come to a more recent film.  In 2005, he appeared as the villain in this piece of low-budget schlock.  Also starring William Forsythe, this film tells the tale of a scientist who goes mad with loss and tries to create a race of shark/human hybrids.  Of course, why didn't I think of that?!?  The whole thing feels like a modern-day B-Movie.  Is that a good thing or a bad thing though?  Can Combs' mere presence elevate this movie into something great?  Get out your nitrogen spray for my review of...
The film begins with a pointless scene where the shark creature attacks a couple as they go swimming.  It really serves no purpose.  In fact, it doesn't even really qualify as a Syfy Opening (definition pending) since it doesn't show the creature.  Hell, if you like monster footage, this movie tells you right away that you're going to see very little!  In a boardroom, a business tycoon talks about a big, bio-tech venture that he's working on.  It involves the work of a disgraced scientist (Combs), so a group of people need to go see him on his island.  Note to movie characters: scientists that live on islands in the middle of nowhere are always up to no good!  See Moreau, Doctor.  The group includes the CEO, the lady scientist/Final Girl, the tough guy (a paunchy Forsythe), the bimbo and a young couple.  Gee, I wonder which ones of you are designed to be turned into chum later.  They get to the island and all seems well.  Of course, they didn't see the part before where Combs explained his crazy, master plan in some old-school narration, nor did they see him inject a lady with some weird toxin and send her out to be shark-food.  As it turns out, he's trying to create more than one shark-person, but the process is proving difficult.  After a dinner and some cryptic words, things turn bad...
Our heroes finally learn the truth about what's going on and end up in a room slowly filling with water.  Fortunately for them, one of the guards dropped his gun in the room, so they can use it to blow out the fan on the wall.  Yes, this prison cell is placed right against the outside of the building and has a very easy escape route.  So much for planning and foresight, huh Jeffrey?!?  They try to escape, but realize that their boat is being guarded by Combs' men.  Further compounding things is the fact that the CEO's satellite phone doesn't work.  Yes, those phones that work anywhere don't work here.  As it turns out, they do- just only when you up on a hill.  Sigh.  Anyhow, the creature is sent out after them, although the thing is not exactly discriminating.  Hell, it spends half of the movie just killing Combs' own men!  Things get even worse when they make a run for the boat, but it ends up being blown up.  Don't worry- Forsythe survives.  Back on land, our heroes decide to go for higher ground to call for help.  After some in-fighting, however, the CEO and the bimbo end up splitting from the group.  During a chase, the guy leaves her to be killed by the monster...only to get caught himself.  Fortunately or unfortunately, the monster catches up again and kills the guards.  He manages to drive off, since this monster is not exactly good at its job.
After some shooting and some shark action- shot in close-up style and more spastically edited than in Batman Begins- the group is whittled down in numbers a bit.  Forsythe and our 'Final Girl/Woman' end up sneaking into the lab and finding out about the monster.  It turns out to be Combs' mostly-dead son- ew.  As a bonus, they find out that it has a weakness to nitrogen (they explain, but I won't bother).  They rejoin with the CEO and attempt to steal a helicopter.  After nearly ten minutes of shooting and explosions, they get caught again.  What was the point of all that then?!?  The CEO is made into shark bait, while the woman is set-up as a mate for the shark/man- double ew.  Forsythe brings an army's worth of guns in, however, and makes it to the lab.  He wounds Combs and makes short work of the shark/man with a spray gun full of some sort of nitrogen solution.  To make a long story short, it's head blows up!  Combs makes one more play for power, but gets shot.  In a scene right out of Blade 2, our heroes blow up/shoot all of the equipment and test subjects before leaving triumphantly.  We do get the 'sequel-bait' ending...which has led nowhere in the last 5 years.
This movie is not really good.  Don't get me wrong- it had potential.  The idea of Jeffrey Combs as a mad scientist is obvious, but effective.  Seriously, make a film where he's the innocent guy and someone else is the madman for once!  Unfortunately, the budget is what lets this thing down.  The shark-monster suit looks good, but you never see it standing still for more than 3 seconds.  It's not like a lot of the more recent Syfy films where you see the thing in full-frame (albeit with shit CG).  This one attacks in quick, bloody scenes that leave you wanting more.  The ending is a bit anticlimactic to say the least, with the paunchy guy making short work of everything in his path.  I know that Forsythe is your second biggest star here, but you could have not made him the 'macho male' lead.  Here's a thought: make him the CEO character or something.  I wish I could recommend this one more, but I can't.  It's a case of ideas not being up to execution.  If they ever do make a sequel to this movie, it might be able to live up what the film promises.  Then again, it probably won't.
Up next, Brian Yuzna's third film of the month comes in the form of a man vs. dog film.  Unfortunately, this dog has metal teeth!  Stay tuned...

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Impossibly-Cool Cover Art: Great White Death

Jaws was a hit movie and many rip-offs followed.  Oddly, some films had an original take on the subject, but still did stuff like this...
Could you be less subtle here?  You took the Jaws poster, inverted the perspective and made it even more illogical.  Hell, you just took the lady from The Deep's poster too, didn't you?

FYI: This is apparently a documentary on shark attacks NARRATED by Glenn Ford, not starring him.  Go figure.

Next up, Joe D'Amato takes his crack at ripping off a Peter Benchley tale.  This should be fun.  Stay tuned...

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Delayed Reviews: Communion (1989)

Phillippe Mora is back again with a totally-true story that cannot be authenticated.  Ah, good times.  This film is based on the book of the same name by Whitley Strieber.  While the name may not be 'household,' you will probably know two of his works: Wolfen and The Hunger.  Yeah, that's more familiar.  After a drop-off in popularity after the latter book, he was apparently visited by 'Visitors' in 1985.  This led him to right this book, followed by two others about the subject.  What a coincidence- a science-fiction writer is visited by aliens after a four year drought in work!  While his claims may be dubious, this did not stop Phillippe Mora from adapting into a film four years later though.  To that end, he got Christopher Walken to play the lead role- genius!  The whole film hinges upon a series of crazy scenes involving 'the Visitors.'  If you don't buy it, you won't buy the movie.  Did I buy it?  Get out your cheap, rubber masks for my review of...
The film begins with Christopher Walken being, well, weird.  He sits around his apartment in weird hats, masks and attire while trying to write.  In fact, he doesn't wear pants for a good portion of the beginning.  Thanks for that, movie.  He has writer's block and can't get another novel out, no matter how hard he tries.  With his wife and son, he goes out on a camping trip, accompanied by the family's close friends.  One night, weird lights and sounds show up and bother everyone.  In the morning, the other couple want to leave, causing the group to all drive back.  The movie continues not explaining anything for a while until we learn that Whitley/Walken is becoming unbalanced.  Okay, more unbalanced.  It culminates in a Halloween party where he sees a kid in a costume and totally freaks out.  This is interesting, but not worth watching thirty minutes of filler.  Finally, the man begins to face the demons that surround him.  As it turns out, it all relates to that one night...
The only real interesting part of the movie is the 'Visitor' abduction scene, so let me just focus on it.  It's weird and dreamlike, featuring alien puppets, weird masks and toys- yes, toys.  It's not traumatic like Fire in the Sky- it's just freaking weird!  I mean, Walken is naked (they never show anything) and talking about how they're going to anally-probe him.  It's...something to be seen.  The scene runs for a few minutes and really makes the movie.  After this, he tries to confront the event, going through hypnotherapy, group therapy and some general yelling at people.  When you start to see aliens in your cabin and nearly shoot your wife, you should probably seek help.  Unfortunately, the whole thing just sort of peters out with the man accepting that the thing happening and deciding to write a book.  The End.
This movie is...well, very weird.  A good portion of the film is just about the man being strange with his family.  You don't really see the crazy alien stuff until about an hour in.  You get hints of it before hand, mind you, but nothing in full.  Thankfully, this is all tolerable due to Walken playing the lead role here.  Seriously, I would not have bothered with this film had it starred just about anyone else (except for Jeffrey Combs).  As I said, the alien scene is really the only thing to watch the film for.  To Mora's credit, he builds up to it for a while, learning a lesson that Cronenberg taught us with Scanners.  That said, you should know what to expect here: a dull movie that is built around something really insane.  If you're looking for a balanced movie, you should not look here.  Mind you, if you expect a balanced movie from Phillippe Mora, you should just give up.  Need I remind you that he did a movie about were-supials that are spiritual-descendants of the Tasmanian Tiger?!?  If you can wait it out, you can have fun here.  Of course, the good stuff is probably on YouTube already.  That or you can just watch this: http://thatguywiththeglasses.com/videolinks/thatguywiththeglasses/nostalgia-critic/19427-top-11-christ-walken
Next up, Jeffrey Combs stars in a movie about a killer shark-person.  Need I say anymore?  Stay tuned...

Lost in Translation: Alligator 2

Horror sequels are either really easy to market or really hard.  On one hand, you can build on audience that's already there.  On the other hand, you're dealing with an audience that thinks they've seen it all.  This leads to silly exaggeration in poster art like this one out of France...
Good God, that's silly!  That thing is so enormous, yet they can't see, hear or smell it.  Are you all dense?  The best part about this: it's a strange version of this American one...
Next up, France takes another shot at a movie poster.  This time: it's a Schwarzenegger classic involving the jungle.  Stay tuned...

Monday, August 23, 2010

Forgotten Sequels: Child's Play 3

Chucky has never become the horror icon that he was clearly meant to be.  Don't get me wrong- he's been popular.  With five films under his tiny belt, the little guy does outrank The Wishmaster and Candyman.  Plus, he got into a wrestling feud with Rick Steiner.  No, really.  However, his 'career' has been intermittent at best. In the 1980s, he had a trilogy of films that did well enough.  After a seven year gap, the character finally got another film...and it was weird.  This led to the fifth and final (so far) film...six years later.  Not the best luck for everyone's favorite killer doll.  Suck it, Leech Woman!  So, out of all the films, why would I choose Part 3 to talk about?  Well, you see, this film was the turning point.  It was the character's last chance to make it big and hang with Jason, Michael Meyers and Freddy.  The result?  Well, there was a seven year gap between sequels, so you figure it out.  The tale jumps ahead several years, now with the child protagonist being a teenager in a military school.  At the same time, the Good Guys Factory is re-opened and the dolls are put back into production.  This brings back Chucky and his great voice for one last shot at getting a human body.  Will it work?  Get out your clippers for my review of...
The film begins with the mostly-melted body of Chucky being thrown into the vat that makes the dolls.  After the credits, we are treated to a meeting of the executive board of the company that makes the Good Guy Dolls.  They explain the plot of the last two films to the audience.  You know, it's only been three years since the first movie- we know the gist of it.  The group agrees to re-release the dolls on the market- ruh roh.  That night, the CEO hangs out at his office- I guess the Coke Party was cancelled- and gets killed by Chucky.  This part highlights the main problem of the film- Chucky is a doll!  The thing is tiny and needs to spend about five minutes setting up minor injuries to allow him to take the full-grown man down.  After this, the doll hacks into the company's computer and finds out where the child was sent.  Really?  That's in the computer systems of the company?!?  Military school is not fun for our hero as the barber there is 'The Scorpio Killer' aka the man that invented the Trancers in the future/past.  By the way, way to cast a notable character actor is a stupid, pointless part, movie!  To make a long scene short, our hero learns that the Good Guy Doll is back on the market and, therefore, Chucky is free again.
At the school, our young hero befriends a butch girl, a nerdy kid and a young, black kid.  Despite how much he looks like him, he is not the kid from Role Models!  This kid actually has about three credits (counting this), so don't expect much here.  By the way, if it turns out the kid died or something, I totally feel like a dick in advance.  Life is not easy for our hero though, since most of the people appear to be out to get him.  To make things even worse, Chucky sends himself to the school...somehow...to do the ritual to put his soul into the teen's body.  The package gets discovered by the younger kid, however, and he decides to play with it himself.  Thinking on his feet, the villainous piece of plastic decides to take this kid as a vessel instead.  His plan gets interrupted by the school's headmaster, however, making the doll bide his time.  In the B-Plot, our hero is getting the hots for the butch girl, but still has problems fitting in with military protocol.  When he sees the headmaster taking the doll to the dumpster, he freaks out a bit and gets in trouble.  Speaking of trouble. Chucky tricks the garbage collector and kills him, somehow escaping before the people arrive.  You're fast for a doll.
Things devolve quickly as Chucky kills the headmaster, all the while befriending the kid as part of his scheme. It only gets worse, however, as the doll gets discovered by the nerdy kid while killing Cobra's hard-ass lieutenant.  In spite of that, the 'war games' go on as the students split up into two teams.  Chucky tries to use this as a chance to get the boy, but the kid finally figures out the truth.  Note to children: dolls that sound like Brad Dourif are always evil!  The doll plays the teams against each other and, just for fun, switches their paintball ammo out with real bullets.  Hm, I don't think guns that fire paintballs can also fire bullets, but, whatever.  After the nerdy kid sacrifices himself, Chucky chases the kid to a nearby fair.  They put on fairs within walking distance of military academies, huh?  They end up in a haunted house- after Chucky kills a guy off-camera- and our remaining heroes have a shoot-out with the doll.  Yes, they have a shoot-out with a doll that contains the soul of a serial killer- why not?!?  After all is said and done, our hero kills Chucky by shooting him and making him fall into a giant fan.  Good- stay dead...for seven years.
This movie is really not that good.  Don't get me wrong- it has some good moments.  The story is a bit forced, having to write-out the mother character and explain how the kid ended up where he is.  Apparently, Don Mancini was forced to work on this script before Child's Play 2  was even released.  That actually explains a lot, doesn't it?  The acting is alright, although the kid actor has the range of a shattered yard stick.  Seriously, I hope that kid just retired or something.  The real actors in the film- i.e. Andrew Robinson- do a good job, but never get enough to do.  On top of that, the movie has some plot-holes.  For one, the discovery of the barber's body would bring an end to the 'war games' scenario.  Secondly, the students are trained to check their ammo, making the 'surprise- they're bullets' reveal impossible.  Never mind trying to picture Chucky loading up their guns for them.  So much of this movie is just filler, the sign of a series trying to fish for any ideas.  This thing feels like some guy trying to scrape the remaining bits of Mayo out of a jar with a knife!  There are some good moments here and Brad Dourif makes the most of it.  As a whole though, it's a weak way to end the trilogy.  On the plus side, he doesn't have sex with Jennifer Tilly here.
Next up, Delayed Reviews brings the second Phillippe Mora film of the month.  This one involves Christopher Walken and aliens- no, that's not redundant!  Stay tuned...