Friday, December 31, 2010

Year End Fun : New Year's Evil

Let's wrap up 2010 the right way- with an obscure and terrible slasher film.  One of the many films released by Canon-Globus in the '80s, this one has a very particular niche.  Of course, this presents a problem.  Halloween is great to watch on the titular day, while Friday the 13th has a chance of the date arriving at least 3-4 times a year.  This movie is all about New Year's Eve- a holiday where people drink and set off fireworks.  Screw that- watch a slasher film!  Yeah, that didn't work.  As a result, the movie became very obscure and doesn't even have a proper DVD release that I can find.  Thanks to Netflix though, I can watch it on my computer.  The plot is about a serial killer taking people out based on a very silly premise.  I'll let you find out in due time.  Get out your random pantyhose masks for my review of...

The film begins by setting up our scenario.  Basically, it's New Year's Eve and a woman is hosting a musical show to celebrate.  The woman is wearing way too much rouge, which was I guess a look.  If French whore was a fad, I'd be shocked though.  She's uptight about the whole situation going smoothly, sending her assistant off to retrieve an item.  Unfortunately, the woman is stalked and killed by a mysterious assailant.  Since they don't know about the situation, the show must go on!  Early on, however, a caller appears and calls himself 'Evil.'  Yes, the title is not just a pun- it's a forced one.  He explains his plan: he's going to kill someone at the strike of Midnight for every time zone.  Really?  That's silly.  We don't have to wait long for the first one as he disguises himself as a doctor.  He romances a nurse while the radio plays, only to stab her to death when they announce that it's midnight.  That's cold, dude!  While this is going on, the host tries to get the cops to listen, but they blow her off.  When they find the body and the guy calls again, they finally believe him.  Oops- too late.

Our next victims are a pair of women at a party.  Our killer puts on a fake mustache and charms them with a tale of going to a party at Erik Estrada's house.  Yes, this movie is not dated at all.  He has to improvise, since he hadn't planned on taking two of them.  He lures one of them away from the car and chokes the other with a plastic bag full of marijuana.  Drugs kill!  He kills the other one by leading her to a dumpster and killing her.  The point of that: to get a trailer shot of him standing in the light of a flame.  Hurray?  He taunts the police with a call and they stumble across the bodies.  Now this shit is real!  He sets up for his next kill to take place at the third Midnight.  It's so nice of the radio to constantly announce that for him, huh?  You think that they would stop after the first two kills, but no.  God forbid logic intervene here!  His next kill: a nun.  Why?  The plan is foiled, however, as he crashes into a biker.  The gang chases him, forcing him to flee to a drive-in theater.  Incidentally, isn't it a bad idea to market around people being killed at Drive-Ins, since they were still prevalent.  I'm just saying.  At some point during all of this, the son of our host sits in a room and puts on pantyhose on his head.  I don't know why this happens.

Our killer is not good at improvising, it seems.  He drives off with a girl who was just trying to get naughty in the car, but she manages to escape when the police show up.  With that 'hour' wasted, he goes for the final one: the host.  Putting on a track suit and a George Costanza mask, he shows up to his wife.  Yeah, the movie held that plot point close to their chest, didn't they?!?  He sets her up to die by rigging an elevator to knock her out (don't ask) and tying her to the bottom.  I don't quite this method of killing, but whatever.  Why does he want to kill her?  The son got an acting part without her, but she didn't make time to talk to him.  That and he feels emasculated by her.  That's it.  The police and the others finally figure out what's going on and a gunfight ensues.  Yes, a gunfight in a slasher film- how out of place!  In the end, he gets chased up to the roof and puts his mask back on.  He does a nice swan dive in an effect that only works because you can drop a dummy off of a roof with the mask on without people noticing the difference.  In the aftermath, the son is allowed to pick up the mask.  He kills the EMT driving the ambulance and drives the mother off, setting up...a sequel, I guess.  The End.

This movie sucks!  The plot is standard slasher fare, just with holiday elements thrown in for effect.  Never mind that the 'killer calling into places' plot had been done a few times before even this one.  When did that stranger call again?  The kills are alright, but there a very few of them for this kind of movie.  Of course, this is due to the tacked-on theme of the murders.  Incidentally, does the lady from the beginning being killed not count against his theme?  Furthermore, does the biker at the drive-in count as that hour's kill?  When your silly and simple plot has holes, what does that say?  The movie is also padded to the brim with filler.  For example, we get a number of musical moments from a band on the show.  They add nothing.  There is also a bunch of random scenes like people in an asylum celebrating the holiday.  What do they add?  Unfortunately, this movie wastes a good idea with bad execution.  As one reviewer I read made note of, Canon-Globus had a great track record with action films, but a shitty one with horror films.  This is not different.

Next up, we start the new year off right with an Asylum film.  Get out your ass to Mars, people!  Stay tuned...

Mondo Anniversaries: 20th and 10th Anniversaries

It's the final countdown of 2010- get in line!

20th Anniversaries
Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Okay, I feel old, but good about this one.  I loved the show and loved the movie.  I still kind of like this one a bit.
Bride of Re-Animator: Combs and company up the ante with this freaky sequel.  A decapitated head with re-animated bat wings sewn onto it is just a sample of what this movie offers.
Captain America: This movie is famous for teaching me how to truly be disappointed.  Thanks for ruining everything, you stupid movie!
Edward Scissorhands: While I didn't love this movie at the time, I do now.  Okay, I really just like Vincent Price here- sue me!
Gremlins 2- The New Batch: Speaking of sequels, this one ups the goofiness!  An electric gremlin, a spider gremlin and Hulk Hogan breaking the Fourth Wall are just samples.
The Guyver: I'm in the minority here, but I like this film.  It's full of rubber suits and kung-fu.  That works for me!
Frankenstein Unbound: This obscure little video gem is notable for one fact- it's the last film directed by Roger Corman.  Unfortunately, this time-travel film with Raul Julia as Dr. Frankenstein isn't notable for much more.

10th Anniversaries
X-Men: All of you people who hated Jonah Hex have this movie to blame!  The film made the comic book license a golden ticket, even if people debate the merit of it's sequels.
American Psycho: If you want to see what film made Bale into the star he is today, look not further.  This violent and absurd film shocked viewers, but solidified it's star in pop culture.
Battle Royale: While I think that the film is overrated, so many others don't.  For making people in their early-teens kill each other with a crossbow, the film is at least notable!
Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon: This is the film that made America rediscover Chinese cinema.  This poetic action film set the bar too high for people other than Jet Li though.
Highlander- Endgame: The deluge of disappointing Highlander sequels ended here for a while.  For trying to mix the film and TV series, they get points for moxie, but lose a million points for actual quality.
Scary Movie: This film set us up a series of dreadful comedies like Date Movie and Meet the Spartans.  As a bonus, it's a parody of a film that pretended to be a satire already!
Ready to Rumble: As a burgeoning fan of wrestling, this movie hurt!  WCW proved that the end was near with this badly-written film that insulted their own fans while also boring them.  Touche!

That's it for this year.  See you in the magical world of 2011!

Thursday, December 30, 2010

Year End Fun : Terror Train

Jamie Lee Curtis was a busy lady in the '80s.  Thanks to a working relationship with John Carpenter and a hit film or two under her belt, she had a lot of offers.  Obviously, her most famous film is going to be Halloween.  Less people realize that she was in Prom Night, but it's still a pretty common fact.  What's even less common is the she also starred in a third, major slasher film: Terror Train.  Yes, this film exists too.  I remember this film from just over one year ago when it made one of the early versions of the segment that would become Lost in Translation.  For you newer readers, check it out here.  The film is about a bunch of med students being stuck on a train with a killer.  Oh, that explains the terror.  Make note that this plot is fairly-similar to a film that would show up a year later.  Get out your Uncle Sam outfit for my review of...
The film begins at a college campus where the students are having a party by the campfire.  As part of some initiation into a sorority, one of the newbies is sent up to get laid.  Damn your horrific hazing!  Seriously though, this is obviously a set-up and it involves Jamie Lee Curtis.  They set up the guy to meet her, only to lay down next to a cadaver.  He spins around in the drapes and screams as we cut to the title card.  We jump ahead about three years to our heroes now as Seniors and...looking the same.  I'm not expecting a lot here, but do something different!  Anyhow, Curtis is still kind of mad at the ring leader for that stunt we saw in the beginning.  Her outrage feels odd here, as it seems that she was holding it for years and only now brought it up.  It's been so damn long, but this has never occurred to her.  As a bonus, wait until the Third Act to see this logic really fail!  The group is going on a train to celebrate the dawn of the new year.  No, I don't know why.  Skipping past some character back-story that amounts to nothing but filler, the group all goes on board.  Unfortunately, they don't realize that a killer has slipped on board and is disguised as one of their friends.  By the way, it's also a costume party- right.
Once the set-up has been put in place, we get a lot of character back-story.  Well, that and magic.  Who's on hand to dispense the parlor tricks?  Why it's David freaking Copperfield!  Yes, he starred in one movie- this one.  He does some simple tricks and they look good, but this is a movie- who's to say how they edited it?  More importantly, the killer has found and taken out another member of the people involved in the prank- a black guy dressed up like a Sleestak.  Words fail me, gentlemen.  We get some back-story establishing that the relationship between Curtis and her boyfriend is strained due to his friendship with the man behind the prank.  Again- this feels like something fresh, not something that's been lingering for three years!  Eventually, the conductor stumbles across the body of the 'Sleestak' guy and tells his co-worker.  He doesn't tell the passengers good reason.  The other guy eventually checks out the scene, only to discover a lack of blood and the guy in the suit being alive.  How did he do that?  Where is the other body?  If you want answers to either questions, look at a different movie!  Now our killer is dressed like a lizard, so the real fun can begin.

After the death of Curtis' boyfriend- the stabbing apparently happened off-screen- and the girlfriend of the ring leader, the conductor finally stops the train.  It's there that Curtis explains something that should have come up in the last three years: the guy they tricked went crazy and killed someone!  Yeah, that's relevant information, you bitch!  The ring leader and Curtis go back into the train & figure out that the killer is the magician.  Damn you, Copperfield- first the Statue of Liberty and now this!  Being the prick that he is, the ring leader locks Curtis out of the room when he thinks the killer is coming.  It turns out to be the Conductor and the killer takes out the ring leader.  Back outside, Curtis explains that she knows who the killer is and needs to see the Conductor. were just with him!  They get the train moving again and guard Curtis in her room- which fails.  She gets chased around while the others look for the man.  She eventually stabs the killer in the eye, which feels awfully-similar to another Jamie Lee Curtis film.  Ultimately, she tosses the killer off.  The End.
No, just kidding.  Instead of that logical ending, we get a continued one.  Curtis wanders around for no reason and discovers the truth about the killer's identity.  It wasn't Copperfield- drat!- but was actually his Assistant, who was dressed in drag and disguised.  So nobody noticed the blond in the cocktail dress wandering around?  Oh yeah- the eye wound is not there either.  Anyhow, the Conductor arrives to shovel the man to death Day of Defeat-style.  The End...for real.
This decent.  The plot is simple enough, but gets bogged down a bit.  Curtis' character knows that the guy went crazy and knows that he has a grudge against them, but never feels like sharing that information for three years!  I know, I know- I can't get past that.  Seriously though, the drama only works because of this plot contrivance, so it's important.  Getting past that, the film's other plot contrivances bother me.  How does the killer sneak the bodies out?  Where does he hide them?  Who is the magician, if he's not the killer?  Nobody figured out that it was a dude the whole time, not even the magician himself?  If you can ignore that stuff, it's a slasher film built more around suspense than gore, a sign of when it was made.  I can't tell you how this ranks in regards to Prom Night, as I haven't seen either version.  I can tell you that it's not as awesome as Prom Night II though, if that helps.  The film is good for what it is, even if I can't get past a couple major hurdles.  You have until Midnight to watch this for free on Netflix, so get to it.
Next up, our final Year End review is also a slasher film.  This one is also obscure and contrived-sounding- hurray.  Stay tuned...

Mondo Anniversaries: 30th and 25th Anniversaries (plus a note)

This was another banner year for cinema.  Here are a few reasons why...

30th Anniversaries
Airplane!: This film still holds up in my book.  It's slapstick comedy at it's finest, with word-play not seen again until more recent shows like Futurama and American Dad.
The Blues Brothers: Another comedy classic and a must-see for anyone who has missed it.  The album is great too.
The Empire Strikes Back: Do I even need to explain this?  It's the best Star Wars film- bar non.
Flash Gordon!: Awesome effects, a silly plot and a soundtrack by Queen make this a cult-classic.  It has at least two different DVD releases, so you have no excuse!  See it!
Prom Night/Friday the 13th/The Fog: A trio of horror classics all came out this year.  Two of them inspired a few sequels, while all of them got a remake in recent years.
Inferno: Dario Argento's final work with Mario Bava is a triumph of style over substance.  I still don't 'get' the plot, but it is pretty.
The Pumaman: This piece of Eurotrash got famous thanks to MST3K.  Lopsided flying, punching Aztecs and Donald Pleasance make this a hoot- even though it's not a comedy!
The Gods Must Be Crazy: Slapstick comedy and social commentary were never mixed as well as they were here.  Have they ever been since?  That's up for debate, my friends.
Superman II: While we had to wait over 20 years to see this movie done right, the first real appearance of Zod and Superman facing a true set of rivals make this a classic still.  Kneel!

That's going to be hard to top.  Let's see what we've got from 1985...

25th Anniversaries
Back to the Future: This film goes 88 miles an hour and established a film that everyone knew would hold up for decades.  Good call, huh?
Rambo- First Blood, Part II/Rocky IV: Sly had a busy year, putting out two sequels.  One is certainly higher in quality, while the other one made Dolph Lundgren a star.
Day of the Dead: A lot of people debate whether this movie lived up to it's lofty goals.  Regardless, it has a place in history for introducing us to Captain Rhodes.
Gymkata: This anti-classic has a silly plot, bad action and some seriously '80s fashion.  Even the selling point of the movie barely makes an appearance.
Fright Night: Vampires and Roddy McDowall make this film great.  Often overlooked by many in comparison to other horror films, it deserves more notoriety than it has.
Phenomena: Dario Argento shows up again in my favorite film that he has ever made.  The soundtrack, the gore effects and the plot make this a classic.
Return of the Living Dead/Re-Animator: Two zombie cult classics made their debut this year.  Both are known for their comedic value, crazy effects and plots that led to a series of sequels.  No remakes yet though.
Ghoulies: Charles Band helped make his mark in the film industry with this film about killer hand puppets.  This one also led to a series of sequels and, subsequently, Full Moon Studios.
American Ninja: Michael Dudikoff and Steve James made their mark in this very '80s films.  If you want to see the prototype for the genre, this is a great- and fun- place to start.

***One quick note- I'm not going a Best of 2010 list.  For two reasons: 1)The site Anniversary is in February and 2) The site doesn't focus on new releases.  A Best and Worst of Mondo Bizarro- Year Two List(s) will show up then***

Next up, we wrap up this annual series with a look at films celebrating their 20th and 10th Anniversaries.  This is going to make us feel old, right?  Stay tuned...

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Delayed Reviews: Sex Medusa

I love this title!  I hate this movie, but I love the title.  Seriously, this movie is a disappointment for all the reasons that you would not think of.  To put it simply, this movie is boring!  I know- I was shocked too!  This 2001 film was rented by me a long while ago for one reason: it exists.  Sadly, its existence was so offensive to me that I didn't review it.  I guess I can't sit on this one any longer though.  The plot involves snakes in the sewer, a naked woman and a man afraid of cats.  Interesting trio, huh?  Despite what you might think, almost none of this is actually interesting.  Want to see why?  Get out your CG snakes for my review of...
Basically, Chinese versions of the HAZMAT guys from Hell of the Living Dead go around the sewer burning up snake eggs.  Why?  Why the hell not, I say?!?  A snake escapes from it's egg and into the streets, where it subsequently morphs into a naked woman.  Okay, you lost me there.  She ends up meeting a sad man who is sitting on a lot of money.  Why is he sad?  Apparently, his wife went out on an errand one night and died in a car wreck.  This was caused by a cat crossing the road, causing her to swerve.  So, naturally, he's afraid of cats.  No, really.  She brings the man happiness by simply being around him.  Sure, the sex totally helps.  After all the silliness built up though, the movie just kind of meanders at this point.  Go for broke or go home!

Some real drama arrives as a relative wants the guy's money.  The plan is simple: scare him to death.  If only he was scared of some common, household animal!  There's also the mystery of our heroine's origin, which is mostly relegated to scenes of awkward banter and comedy bits.  Raise your hand if you care.  Okay, lower them now, you sarcastic jerks.  Ultimately, the plan works and our hero is killed via a heart attack.  When the girlfriend/monster finds out the truth, she turns into a CG model and becomes...the silliest monster ever.  I waited 80 minutes for this shit?!?!?  The End.

This movie sucks!  The plot is barely there and maudlin.  Seriously, who puts that plot with this title?!?  You hear the title and think 'exploitation.'  Instead, you get emotions, padding and stupidity.  The movie just drags from about ten minutes in to at least an hour later.  When stuff finally happens, it involves really stupid visuals.  Why does the snake turn into a woman and then...a woman in a wig with a CG tongue?  It could have at least turned into a bad CG model a la 1999's Beowulf.  No, that would just be silly!  The whole movie builds to this event and it's stupid as hell.  I can't stress that fact enough.  The movie has a silly title, but fails to live up to, well, any expectations you might have.  Unless you were expecting something random a la Blood Freak or Wild Zero, you'll be let down a lot.  Take a good laugh at the title and move on.  I sure wish that I had!
Up next, we wrap up the year 2010 with two films about the end of the year.  First up, that other other slasher film with Jamie Lee Curtis.  Stay tuned...

Mondo Anniversaries: The Films of 1960 and 1970

To close out the year, let's take a look at films celebrating Anniversaries this year.

50th Anniversaries
Psycho: Do I even need to explain why this is a classic?  No?  Good.
Sunrise at Campabello: My mother loves this movie, so I include it here.  That's enough, really.
Ocean's Eleven (Original): One of the most famous heist films to a general audience and a film that inspired a remake series.
Spartacus: Another classic and an example of how diverse Kubrick's film library can be.
Peeping Tom: One of the first films of it's time to be so controversial, despite it being so damn good.
House of Usher/Last Woman on Earth/The Little Shop of Horrors: Corman was busy this year, huh?
Black Sunday: Mario Bava.  'Nuff said.

40th Anniversaries
MASH: Who knew that Vietnam could be funny?  Seriously though, this film is a classic and inspired the show of the same name- also a classic.
Love Story: While I don't care for this movie, a lot of people do.  Love means never having to say you're sorry, after all.
Hercules in New York: The Governor of California got his start here in a film where he was hired for his looks alone and dubbed in, despite speaking his lines in English!
And Soon the Darkness...: Ironically, this rare gem celebrates it's Anniversary in the same year that the remake is released.  Sure, that film was made in 2008, but I'm sure it was worth the wait...
Beneath the Planet of the Apes: While I hate this movie for it's retreading nature and silly ending, it leads up to the film I love most in the series.  See you in the next year's Anniversary list, good Planet of the Apes sequel!
Patton: George C. Scott is so good that he didn't even want his Oscar for this.  That's not the reason, but it is a funnier one.  It's another classic.

Next up, the films with 30th and 25th Anniversaries.  Now we're getting to the ones that I was actually alive for!  Stay tuned...

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Delayed Reviews: Shadow Fury

Who doesn't love ninjas?  I sure as hell do!  Today's review is a ninja film from 2002 that never really quite made an impact.  Mind you, there is one thing to note about it for a certain age group, but I'll get to that in a bit.  This is what you need to know: ninjas, cloning and Pat Morita.  As far as why this didn't get reviewed when I watched it several months back, it was just a case of bad timing.  Unlike today, I didn't fill my Instant Queue with films that I was planning to review anyways.  As such, we just watched a movie...because.  With my schedule already in place, this movie just fell to the wayside.  Well, let's not skip it any longer!  Get out your serial killer DNA for my review of...
The film is set in the future and centers around a private detective being hired for a job.  That job: take out a crazy scientist.  That scientist turns out to be Pat Morita wearing an Einstein wig.  Stop reminding me of Puppet Master vs. The Demonic Toys!  Unfortunately, they don't tell our hero the whole story.  The scientist has been cloning ninjas!  That's a fact that you shouldn't keep from him!  The battle goes...pretty badly and he gets wounded.  He ends up getting treated for his injuries, but is told that he may not live a lot longer.  Meanwhile, the scientist sends out the ninja to take out another target.  As silly as the plot is, the action scenes are silly fun.  Eventually, however, his ninja killer begins to question his job and role here.  This leads to the death of Morita (in the film, not real life- duh!) and the ninja fleeing into society.  Naturally, he runs right into a hooker with a heart of gold.  Those bitches are everywhere!
While our ninja friend is off learning about life from a hooker and beating up pimps in broad daylight, the head of the corporation that hired Morita proves to be the real villain.  Yeah, that's lazy writing for you.  He has created a new, more powerful clone to finish off the escaped ninja.  He gets out his collection of Evil Person DNA, which includes Jack the Ripper!  Besides the silliness of ripping off the origin of Serpentor, why do you have that and how do you know who he is?!?  Anyways, the thing people remember about this movie- Taylor Lautner.  Yes, a young Lautner is here for a brief bit as the cloned super-ninja in kid form.  The adult form fights the ninja in another fun fight before the ninja explodes!  Don't worry- he gets better.  After being a ninja in the first three forms, the final super-ninja is...a bald MMA fighter dressed like Stryker from 'Mortal Kombat.'  No, really.  This fight is also good, mostly because the two talented guys fight while the detective stays out of it.  In other words: it's Rush Hour, not Rush Hour 2.  The ninja dies and our hero lives, providing us a semi-happy ending of sorts.  The End.
This stupid, but fun.  The plot is silly and contrived, trying to mix sci-fi, action and noir.  Who thinks of shit like that?  The private detective character feels awkwardly-inserted into a ninja film.  Who invited a wannabe-Roddy Piper anyways?  The real star of the film is the over-the-top action scenes.  Quite frankly, they're the only thing worth noting about the movie.  It's a good example of how wire-work can still be used in a more recent era.  It's a bit of a throwback now, since CG work has taken over the market.  The bottom line: the movie is silly, but fun to watch if you like exaggerated action.  It's still on Instant Viewing, so give it a look.  Plus, Pat Morita is and always will be awesome.  Take it away, silliest picture of him that I could find...
Next up, I finally cover a movie that managed to bore the hell out of me.  I mention that because the movie has one of the most provocative titles this side of actual porno parody films.  Stay tuned...

Lost in Translation: The Hunger

Vampires are a simple lot: they kill people and drink their blood for sustenance.  Some films make this more complicated- just because they can.  Take the critically-acclaimed, cult film called The Hunger...
This is your brain.  This is your brain on metaphorical art films!  What is the point of the teeth being rainbow-colored though?

Up next, we take an entire month of LiT to cover the films of Stanley Kubrick.  It's a good thing that he's already dead or this would totally kill him!  Stay tuned...

Monday, December 27, 2010

Delayed Reviews: (Thai) Vengeance

See- everyone does this shit!  In 2008, Thailand was still in its big cinematic boom.  Sure, they still make them now, but it's not the same.  In that year, they made a film called Vengeance.  Yeah, that's the name.  It's so...lazy.  Is this all they could come up with?  The plot involves cops, robbers and a magical forest full of monsters.  Yes, giant monsters in a Thai film that's not Garuda.  I'm surprised too.  Why is this one a Delayed Review though?  Well, to be honest, it came out on a day with SIX new releases, three of which I saw.  One of them happened to be Brian Loves You, a film that begged to mocked.  This was when I didn't have a schedule and pretty much reviewed whatever I thought of at the time.  This led to the movie being bumped back to, well, now.  Was it worth revisiting?  Get out your book on slow-mo knife-throwing for my review of...
The film begins in the jungle.  Get used to that location, people!  Two men and a kid are running away, presumably to find the point of all this.  Oh yeah, they also have a magical amulet with them too.  One of them gets left behind and the kid screams, bringing us to the credits.  A lot of time has gone by apparently and some robbers are on the run.  These aren't your nice, Trapped in Paradise-style robbers either.  A group of cops are after them, leading to a tense stand-off and some shooting.  So far it's all pretty generic.  You could at least throw in an elephant like Mercury Man did!  Eventually, the thieves flee into the jungle, although they are warned that it is haunted.  The police follow, but take up a priest's offer to stay the night before their trip.
All of this is a pretense to get some character back-story, but I really don't feel like telling it to you.  Right when things start to be settling down, the robbers show up at the temple, take the necklace from the priest (is he the man grown up?) and flee.  Oh yeah, they kill the priest too.  This leads to a jungle chase and lots of meandering.  Our heroes meet up with some women in the jungle, but they aren't too friendly.  They do a quick turn, however, when they find out why the people are here.  Both groups get caught by the villains, however, despite their being no reason to surrender.  More of you had guns than they did, but whatever!  The tense showdown is broken up by...a CG lizard attack.  No, really.  A few of them are taken out by the adorable killers, but they ultimately rally.  One silly scene involves one of the jungle girls taking out two leaping lizards in slow-motion with knife tosses.  During this, our hero is awkwardly-staring at the camera.  After the group flees, they stumble across a giant, CG snake.  Ruh roh.
After some more violence and running, our heroes end up further in the woods.  They actually manage to kill the snake by luring it out into the open and cutting it's head off with a knife- in one swing!  I have a few questions about how that worked!  The people make it to a nearby village for safety, but you know that won't last.  As it turns out, the woods are haunted and so are the people there.  They turn into freaky monsters that actually get less interesting when they turn into CG.  The zombie-like versions- keep them!  All of this has led up to giant monsters fighting in the dark- hurray.  In the aftermath, our hero tries to use the amulet to go back in time (it's power, apparently) and stop all of these events from happening.  He's told that it won't work, but he does it anyway.  He kills the guy in the flashback part and returns to the village to find...the other person was right.  Everyone else is still dead.  The End.
This movie kind of sucks.  The plot has promise, but can't seem to decide what movie it wants to be.  The crime element is interesting, as is the 'monsters in a jungle' plot.  Unfortunately, the two simply do not mesh together in any coherent manner.  The criminals have no connection to the woods, nor do the cops.  If you're going to do a plot like this, have a reason!  The action scenes are pretty good and the CG work is decent.  None of it's terrible or anything, but it still has that 'CG look' to it.  I can't place why, but it doesn't quite feel real to me.  That's just more fuel for the 'use practical effects over CG' argument, I guess.  One odd thing is that the movie has none of the martial arts or stunts that you would expect from a Thai film.  No, I'm not a racist that thinks that every person in Thailand knows Muay Thai or some crap like that.  It's just that those are 99% of the market they put out!  Other Thai films like Dynamite Warrior mix fantasy and martial arts, but this one doesn't.  Like the teaser said, this is basically the Thai equivalent of a Syfy Channel Original Movie.  If you're into that, check this out.
Next up, an Instant Viewing movie that proved to be interesting at the time, but never got reviewed.  Ninjas, an evil corporation and, as a bonus, Pat Morita show up here.  Stay tuned...

VHS For The Win: Back in Action (with Billy Blanks)

Before you make it big, you have to do some crap.  That's when you run into a former-wrestler and join forces to go...
Is this a 'Who has the most ridiculous pose' contest?  You know, there is a giant explosion behind you.  Maybe you should work on that!

Next up, an action movie featuring two good things on the screen.  Unfortunately, they're not the actors!  Stay tuned...

Sunday, December 26, 2010

Delayed Reviews: Once Upon A Girl

Cartoon porn- what else is there to say?  I rented this movie about two years ago and, for the life of me, I can't imagine why.  Like most Something Weird DVD releases, the movie was freaky as hell.  Not in the same way as Alice in Acidland orMonster at Camp Sunshine, mind you, but still weird.  This is what you need to know: Don Jurwich wanted to make a dirty movie.  In order to do that, he got a bunch of ex-Disney animators and the guy who played 'Otis' on The Andy Griffith Show.  I'd really love to see how he got from Point A to Point B, honestly!  For those of you who don't know who Jurwich is (join the club!), he was a Producer on numerous animated shows/films.  A quick Wikipedia search shows his name on such projects as G.I. JoeHong Kong Phooey and Richie Rich.  Just note that he did work on some of these projects- most notably G.I. Joe- after working on this movie.  You can make porn cartoons and just jump back into regular ones?  Weird!  So why did I not review this film before?  Well, it's porn.  It's hard to write about something that's just porn, let alone show screen captures.  Throw in the fact that the site was still very young, so I didn't want to risk it.  Now- I don't care one way or another.  Get out your obviously-fake geese for my review of...
The film begins in a nice, small town wrought with controversy.  What could cause such a fuss?  Why it's the trial of Mother Goose, of course.  I'll let that one sink in for a minute.  Ready to continue?  Okay.  Ms. Goose is on trail for indecency, on account of her telling naughty stories all around town.  They bring her into the courtroom and she is...a man in drag.  Yeah, 'Otis' plays 'Mother Goose' here.  It's funny, apparently.  To defend 'herself,' 'she' tells some of her tales.  How would that help in, screw it!
 The animation is kind of like Disney film, but about sex.  We see the tale of Cinderella- only with sex.  It's what it sounds like.
The real 'meat' (pun fully intended) of the story is Jack & the Beanstalk  Jack humps a tree while a frog sits on his head.  I'd ask the logic of this, I need to?
 Jack's frog falls into a nearby woman's dress, which apparently creates a sensation that she likes.  Try to get this face out of your mind now, bitches!
 He climbs up the titular stalk and runs into more 'sexy' situations.  First, the talking harp is a lady, so they make whoopie.  He meets up with the giant's wife next, who uses him for 'downtown fun.'  The husband comes home, requiring him to hide.  Guess where he hides- I dare you!  Eventually, the guy figures out that our hero is there- do you have to ask how?- and they have a laugh.  Good for you.
Jack has a good laugh remembering all of this.  Well, that and one other reaction...
Part of my soul just died.  Here's what killed the rest of it.
Lastly, we get a pretty odd Snow White story.  It all ends with her attending a wedding in the nude and an orgy breaks out.  Back in court, a similar thing happens.  Mother Goose is let off...because, well, logic died a long time ago.  The End.
This movie sucks- even in recollection!  The plot is an excuse to show a bunch of dirty cartoons.  Aside from that stupidity, it's not even funny.  A guy in a dress- that's all you've got?  The cartoons themselves are not good.  The voice-acting is bad, the animation is iffy and they don't even commit to the real sex.  It's like I want to see a Rated X cartoon with realistic sex or anything, but that's clearly what they were going for.  They actually end up with cartoons that have enough sex to be dirty, but not enough sex to really satisfy their point. Never mind that so many of them are full of freaky stuff like Jack making out with the talking harp.  If that works for you, more power to you!  As for me, the movie was just 'icky.'  I'm no prude, but I'm also not into this.  Like most Something Weird films, I get why they felt the need to release it, but I also don't care to see it more than once.
Next up, a Thai action film that also features giant, CG monsters.  Yeah, they can make Syfy Channel films too.  Stay tuned...

Saturday, December 25, 2010

Holiday Death: Elves!

In my mind, the best way to celebrate this holiday is with a shitty and obscure movie.  As such, here is a movie that was last released on the video market in 1994.  No DVD release, huh?  Incidentally, the film was made in 1989 and released on video in 1990.  So it didn't even have much time to make an impact, huh?  So what is Elves about?  Well, the story involves a young woman, a monster and Nazis.  Yes, Nazis.  The 'big star' on hand is Dan Haggerty.  For those of you under 40, Haggerty was Grizzly Adams in a famous TV show.  If you only know him from this movie, he's that guy that smokes all the time.  There's no sugar-coating this movie, so let's just dive right in.  Get out your stabbing jewels for my review of...
The film begins with three girls going out to the woods.  They do an 'anti-Christmas' ceremony.  The point of all this is to have the Final Girl get cut on her hand, the blood dripping into a hole.  This lets loose the titular monster.  Yes, monster in the singular sense.  Let's get this disappointment out of the way: there is only one Elf here.  They use the word 'Elves' a lot here, but there's still only one.  Got it?  Good.  We see the girl at home with her bitchy mother and her old grandfather.  That's pretty much all there is to say about that.  At the mall where the girls work, we see a bearded man (Haggerty) looking for work, but getting rejected.  Hey look, Jerk Boss- how original.  Meanwhile, the monster from the woods is loose and...just kind of wandering around.  Yeah, the movie coasts early on.  Haggerty's troubles get worse as he's booted from his trailer and ends up sleeping in the mall.  After another scene with the bitchy mom, the girl is back at work and gets hit on by a dirty guy playing Santa.  He is finally kicked out, only to get stabbed to death by the Elf.  It's target- his groin.  He'd be a Poor Bastard of Cinema, but they actually set this one up.  Don't worry- there's still plenty of movie.  Incidentally, watch for the P.O.V. footage of the thing chasing the Santa guy in broad daylight through the mall.  Is this a mall for the blind?
The next night, our heroine and her friends stay in the mall after hours and call some guys to hang out with them- for sex.  It's good to see that you have your priorities straight!  We get a ridiculous series of events that involve people taping a door (to keep it from locking), un-taping it and back again.  The point of that is what exactly?  In the film's B-Plot, some evil Nazi guys talk to the grandfather and they apparently want our heroine.  Why?  No clue yet, but I can be sure that it will end up being silly.  The guys end up at the door, only to be killed off-screen by the Nazis.  This leads to a dramatic chase/shoot-out involving the girls, Haggerty and the Nazis.  The dumbest girl of the group is shot in an elevator, while the second one is killed by the Elf.  Yeah, it shows up here too...for some reason.  The thing pops up in a Santa hat and slowly chases her with a knife.  Despite it stabbing her in the hand, she can't stand up.  Did I miss something in Biology?  In the end, the Nazis and Elf flee when the police arrive.  The mall owner's concern: the bad press.  Not the actual deaths or anything- just the bad press they would bring.  Want to know about the Elf?  Okay, but be ready to laugh.
Haggerty goes on a long series of investigative searches, smoking all the while.  Eventually, he learns that the Nazis created Elves as the proprietors of the new master race.  Not Aryans, mind you- Elves.  Our heroine is a pure virgin, so she's the target of the Elf- for sex.  Say it with me now- Eww!  Our heroine finds out some bad truths on her own too.  Her grandfather is actually her father too.  Now you're throwing in Incest too?  Joy.  While our heroine and Haggerty are away, the mom goes for a bath.  Obvious Body Double Number One climbs in before being killed by the Elf (see above) who drops in a toaster.  Obvious Body Double Number Two flashes her fake breasts before she dies.  The Nazis show up after stopping to shoot Grandpa/Dad, but get killed off pretty easily.  All of this leads up to a showdown between the Elf and our heroine.  She...just kind of stands there, while the thing...just sort of stands there too.  She eventually pulls out that red gem from earlier and stabs...the hole in the ground where the Elf came from and sparks shoot out.  All is well, save for the ending shot of a fetus.  Sequel-bait?  The End.
This movie sucks!  The plot is stupid and manages to muck up a simple thing.  You want a weird monster- that's fine.  You want a story of weird, Nazi experiments- fine.  You want them both, plus family drama and Dan Haggerty- no deal!  This is not hard to do, people!  On top of that, the title is a total lie.  They talk about Elves- even trying to link them to the Bible, of all things- but there's only ever one in the film.  You can't say the phrase 'holy shit- death rays' in a comedy about teenagers and just make that the title!  Of course, they only have one monster because their budget is so damn small.  Then again, if they hadn't paid for Dan's cigarettes, they would have another $2 million!  Their tiny puppet barely works and never moves in a shot.  They show a third of it, use P.O.V. shots or have it stand still.  That weird fly monster from The Fly II- it moved.  The silly thing from Xtro II- it moved.  Hell, Canada made a film about a giant, alien brain & that thing floated around constantly!  The bottom line- this movie is rare, but not worth it.  It's good for some laughs, but not as much as you'd think.  A horror film called Elves should be a gold mine!  This film is mostly just an empty river basin!
Next up, we close up the year with some Delayed Reviews.  First up, that movie with porn, an Andy Griffith Show actor and the guy who helped make Scooby-Doo.  Stay tuned...

Friday, December 24, 2010

Holiday Death: The Flaming Lips- Christmas on Mars

Change of plans- this one comes first.  Why give away the Main Event before the Lead-In, after all?
Rock bands go together with science-fiction films as well as giant apes do with New York City.  I suppose someone had to do it though.  Given the history of The Flaming Lips and their music, I guess they were a given.  How can you make a song like Yoshimi Battles the Pink Robots, Part 1 and not make a sci-fi movie?  Unfortunately, they did just that.  The result: a bad, low-budget version of 2001: A Space Odyssey.  Yeah, I said it!  They took the drama out of a drama & awkwardly shoe-horned in a Christmas theme.  Close your eyes and cover your ears, indy music fans- this one is going to hurt!  Get out your belly tube for my review of...
The film begins, space.  That's pretty much it for nearly ten minutes.  Congratulations, The Nude Vampire- this movie also takes 7 minutes before we get any dialog.  Narration?  Nope.  Eventually, we get...a guy wandering around a dimly-shit ship.  By the way, the movie is also in black-and-white.  That is, of course, unless it feels like it shouldn't be for random moments.  Logic- screw that!
 More walking around and banal dialog.  Yep.  People with teeth that shouldn't be in close-ups.  Yep.  Astronauts wander around for a bit too, while one guy who's supposed to be the Santa for the party goes crazy.  Why?  Just because, I guess.
 Is there an actual plot yet?  Nope.  I guess constantly introducing pairs of random characters counts as a plot.  Right?  Nope.  Hey look- color.  Oh wait- it's gone.  Apparently something breaks on the ship and that's bad.
Finally, a plot arrives in the form of an alien showing up.  He walks up to the ship just as the crazy guy in the Santa suit runs out of the airlock to his death.  The crew's reaction: just kind of staring at him for a bit and moving on.
The alien proves to be pivotal.  Nope.  Scratch that.  He just takes the place of the old Santa guy.  This is important because...some reason.  Random color shot of the singer/alien.  Thanks.  That accomplished nothing, but thanks.
After some freaky imagery (including a dream where people have a vagina for a head), the Christmas celebration consisting of our hero, the alien and Fred Armisen (the SNL guy) goes off without a hitch.  Oh yeah, the random piece of equipment is fixed, so Christmas is a happy time.  The alien kind of just leaves.  The End.
This movie sucks!  The plot is...barely there.  The stupid movie barely has any actual plot to it.  Some thing breaks, the party happens and the alien leaves.  I hope that can sustain you for 90 minutes.  The movie is just too pretentious for it's own good.  Case in point: the lead singer plays the alien and never talks.  Ha ha- it's funny because you normally do the vocals!  The acting is...well, the cast is mostly made up of the band.  You get Fred Armisen and Adam Goldberg in it for a bit, but that's about it.  The movie is entirely black-and-white, which I could deal with if it was done for the right reason.  Why was it done?  To hide the film's minuscule budget!  Check out the parts where the alien shows up in color if you don't believe me.  The worst part of the whole thing: it took 7 years to put together.  Yes, this is because of them touring and recording- I know.  Even so, all the time spent over that 7 year period could have been better spent.  For example, you could have not wasted my time!
Next up, the update I promised yesterday.  It's totally happening this time.  Stay tuned...

1,100th Post Special!!!!: Gridlock (1996)

Consider this the one present you can open up on Christmas Eve.  Thanks for sticking with me!
For this slightly-big anniversary, I bring you an obscure most notable for its casting.  Never heard of Gridlock?  Join the club!  This Made-For-TV film was made in 1996 and got the cheapest DVD release imaginable.  Okay, that's not entirely true- it does have a Menu screen.  Sure, it just says 'Play' and 'Chapters,' but it counts...dammit!  So why is it being featured here?  The cast- pure and simple.  This movie stars two titans of the film industry (especially the action genre): David Haselhoff and Cathy Ireland.  Before you run off to buy the movie, read the review.  I know it will be hard, but hold yourself back.  Get out your silent helicopters for my review of...
The film begins with Hasselhoff breaking up a hostage situation, defying his boss along the way.  Seen it.  The result of this is that he's pulled off-duty in the Helicopter Squad and placed behind a desk.  Incidentally, what exactly is the point of the Squad, since they don't monitor traffic or anything.  You just need a B-Movie Actor to be able to land anywhere?  He goes home, only to have a fight with his girlfriend (Ireland).  This is *attempting* to be dramatic and all, but this is also their first scene together.  There is no drama without context, guys!  He goes into work the next day and meets up with his boss, who's also his dad.  That's...amazingly-convenient.
Speaking of convenient, Ireland is a tour guide at the Federal Reserve Building.  I wonder where this is going?  The movie also shows when it was made by having the gang refer to themselves only as numbers.  Gee, that's not like Resevoir Dogs at all!  Through an elaborate series of silly events, they manage to break in and take out all the security.  Outside, they set off a series of badly-CGed-in bombs on the major bridges near NYC.  Too soon?  Hasselhoff defies orders and goes to see his lady, only to see her run onto the roof before being caught.  He tries to call in for help, but his boss (the guy from before) blows him off.  Time to go in alone, 'Hoff!
Immediately upon entering, he is nearly caught by a guy and runs away.  My hero.  He's doing this from the same guy who was beaten up by Ireland earlier, allowing her to escape.  That's sad, 'Hoff!  He escapes via a stunt they stole from Jackie Chan's Who Am I? and goes back in at the ground level.  I'm amazed at how pointless that was- thank you.  Despite not knowing the way, he runs into Ireland, leading to an accidental karate fight between the two.  Good job, obvious stunt-men.  They pretty much just wander around, occasionally being shot at and/or running.  I just love holding patterns- don't you?
Finally, the movie reaches it's climax as Ireland is captured and we get some dramatic running/shooting.  The villains escape the building via a hole in the wall that connects to the Highway.  I don't know- just go with it!  In a Deus Ex Machine, Hasselhoff teams up with his recently-fired dad and a friend to fly a helicopter in pursuit.  He manages to pull off the back of the truck with the helicopter's magnet and punches out the old man who is our new villain.  Yeah, they kill off the original villain for no clear reason at around the hour mark or so.  As it turns out, a businessman set the whole thing up.  In addition, the jerk boss was also in on it, providing a reason for him to be an asshole this whole time.  Oh yeah, the hostage situation reignites the love between 'Hoff and Ireland.  Thank God!  The End.
This movie sucks- but you had to know that!  The plot is...well, Die Hard.  It's not Christmas and 'Hoff is not Willis, but the point is still clear.  The movie does so little to disguise this fact too, even having dramatic scenes built around the group's hacker getting past the automated locks.  Yeah, you're fooling nobody.  The acting is...well, the movie stars 'Hoff and Ireland.  Do I even need to explain why they suck?  They can't act, fight or even look all that effective at running.  The poor guys who plays the villainous henchmen have to pull the real weight.  Of course, they're not really all that good either.  It's a sub-par, Made-For-TV action film.  If it were to feature two different actors, I wouldn't care.  Enjoy this brief bit of notoriety, Gridlock- it won't last.  See you in another 100 posts.