Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Russell Crows: The Curse of King Tut('s Tomb)

Because Russell Mulcahy loves Egypt.  Seriously, this is the second Egypt-themed movie from Mulcahy- the first being Russell Mulcahy's Tale of the Mummy.  That's not even counting The Scorpion King 2, the prequel to a prequel to The Mummy Returns, which is itself a sequel to The Mummy.  See how I did that?  Aside from the title confusion (why add the Tomb part for the DVD description?), this movie's plot is simple...in theory.  Two men are competing to find King Tut's Tomb, but for different reasons.  One of them wants to share the treasures with the world, while the other wants to rule the world- of course.  How does it help?  You see, there's a really silly back-story involving a magic piece of rock, Set taking over the Earth and King Tut getting Hawkman wings.  No, really.  I should mention that this is actually a TV mini-series (times weren't always good for Russell) and, as such, I have to gloss over quite a bit.  You can deal with it, I'm sure. To find out how a film can have an awesome opening, a cliche middle and an awesome ending, read on...
In a seven to ten minute exposition dump, our hero (Casper Van Dien) explains that King Tut fought demons led by Set.  The Gods gave him super powers, including these kick-ass wings!
Set is one bad mofo, even if he looks like that monster from The Golden Child.  He gets locked away alongside Tut- body, what body?!?- and waits for a magical tablet to be reunited for him to come back...
After that, you can say good-bye to any awesome stuff for about 100 minutes and say hello to Casper Van Dien...playing Indiana Jones...in the time of Young Indiana Jones.  Confused?
This evil dude is part of a cabal of rich people that seek to rule the Earth in various ways.  His way- the tablet, of which he has three out of the four pieces.  This means war!
Malcolm McDowell has the most important billing here- last- but only shows up for a handful of scenes.  His role- sitting in a chair and talking...before he eventually dies.
Our heroes eventually open Tut's Tomb by the end of Part 1 and film themselves looking around  Nice touch with the old-school film, but it just kind of randomly occurs the one time.  Weird.
All of this is a build-up to the villain using the tablet to give himself power.  Doesn't it open the portal for Set?  Apparently not this time as it just gives him powers like the ability to create CG fireballs to kill McDowell.
In the last fifteen minutes, the movie gets pretty crazy.  They go through the portal and end up in the weird Limbo-style dimension.  Set is there and wants 'One More Match.'  Get in there, Tut- it's for the title!
Tut and Set have another match-up...for about two minutes.  For a God, Set 'goes out like a bitch.'  We get a Status Quo Ante ending undoing all of the deaths in the film, as well as freeing up our leads to end up together.  The End.
Well, some of it is interesting.  The plot of this movie is good, but it is definitely stretched to fill out about two hours.  That was pretty unnecessary.  The fact that the movie spends half of the run-time just getting the Tomb open should tell you a whole lot.  On top of that, even with a lot of extra time, a lot of stuff is still never quite explained.  How does that super Greek lock work?  Why do they gloss over so much time when lingering on other moments?  How does this cabal work in secret for so many years without ever being seen?  The film is not bad, but it is pretty sub-par at times.  Van Dien and company lack the acting ability to really keep this thing going properly throughout.  Good actors can sustain a run-time this long.  Van Dien is pretty much here for his looks and his attempt to have as much swagger as Harrison Ford.  He doesn't.  If you're willing to forgive the movie for being a cheap, silly mess, you can have a good time though.  I've seen far worse films than this.  Take us away, Random Giant Snake...
Up next, I finally get to review a film that has eluded me for years.  Here, piggy piggy piggy.  Stay tuned...

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Lost in Translation: Barbarella

This bizarre production is notable for Jane Fonda's nudity, that freaky organ and giving us the name 'Duran Duran.'  Speaking of bizarre...
To be fair, this is probably the closest poster-to-film comparison.  That said, it still tells you nothing about the film, other than the fact that Jane Fonda does Yoga over the moon.

Kudos for putting the real title in the background too!

Next up, one of my favorite camp classics gets a random poster.  Imperial Battleship- halt the release of this poster!  Stay tuned...

Monday, November 28, 2011

Russell Crows: Ricochet (1991)

Is one scene worth seeing a whole film?  Today's film is one of the early works by a man who has made a career out of just doing whatever.  The man- Russell Mulcahy.  His Resume is full of random films, including two Highlander films, a Jules Verne adaptation and a Resident Evil sequel.  The only things you can really pick up are that he likes Christopher Lambert (Highlander 1-2, Resurrection) and he likes the desert (Razorback, Tale of the Mummy, Resident Evil: Extinction, The Curse of King Tut's Tomb, The Scorpion King 2).  Other than that, it's random crap like 3: The Dale Earnhardt Story, The Shadow and even MTV's Teen Wolf show!  Pick something!  I mention all of this because the first film in Russell Mulcahy 'Week' is a 1991 Made-For-HBO film starring John Lithgow and Denzel Washington.  It's essentially Cape Fear, but with some little tweaks throughout.  It has one really, really silly scene that happens in the middle of it to boot.  To find out what more this film has to offer, read on...
 
Alongside his Basketball-Double, Denzel plays 'hoops' with Ice-T and a comic.  He's on his way to becoming a big-time cop, but he needs a big break...
Conveniently enough, Lithgow's character pulls off a hit job right next to A FAIR where our hero is doing security.  Through a bit of undressing and deception (don't ask), he stops Lithgow and gets famous, thanks to a man filming him.  Career transition!
In Prison, Lithgow is paired up in a cell with...Jesse Ventura.  He ain't got time to...ow shit, he just got his ass beat!
About thirty minutes in, we get a sword fight between Ventura and Lithgow, including them wearing phone books as armor.  That's...random, but this is by the guy who made Highlander!

Oh yeah, something like this never happens again.  RANDOM!
After escaping from jail far too easily (who lets prisoners hold power tools within 20 feet of a Judge?!?) and faking his death (because nobody does DNA tests in 1991), he begins an elaborate revenge scheme.

First up, framing his friend as a child molester and faking his suicide, even leaving a note.  Somehow, they match his hand-writing, because logic doesn't exist in this world!
He eventually kidnaps Denzel and frames him as being crazy & dopes him up on drugs.  You can test him for marks and even tell by the angle of the needle if he injected himself, but we need to have a plot here!
Through more plot contrivance, he makes Denzel look more and more irrational.  To be fair, Denzel makes this way too easy.  To be critical, Lithgow has the omniscience of Vin Diesel in The Chronicles of Riddick!
After hitting 'bottom,' Denzel reunites with Ice-T, now a drug dealer, to set up his own, convoluted plan.  First step, fake his suicide to draw Lithgow out.
 The movie's climax takes place on a radio tower, since the solution to a man seamlessly-ruining your life step-by-step is just impaling him on a spike.

Thankfully, Denzel is, well, Denzel and everyone apparently believes his story about the framing.  No, really.  The End.
Mind the plot holes!  The plot of this movie is certainly interesting in theory.  The problem: they already made this movie...twice.  It's Cape Fear!  Given the timing, it's safe to assume that this movie was HBO's answer to the remake with De Niro.  Is it comparable?  No, not really.  Even changing out a Lawyer for a Cop and modifying the revenge scheme, the movie just feels redundant.  On top of that, the gray area of the Lawyer character- him being corrupt- is gone here.  Subtext- who needs that?!?  My big problem is that the revenge scheme hinges upon people accepting facts at face value, never checking evidence and jumping to conclusions.  If they did any investigation, the plan would fall apart.  If they gave anyone the benefit of the doubt, this plot would fail.  If they would simply believe Denzel after years of honest servitude, this would be a short movie!  I would love to give this movie the benefit of the doubt and maybe forgive some of it's offenses, but I decided to just act like people in this movie.  Guilty!  Even Jesse Ventura thinks that this is silly...
F

VHS For The Win: The Power

He-Man, your time is up!  You used to be hoarding this, but now it's available for all of us...on video cassette...
What the hell is this movie about?  I don't know, but I'm damn curious to find out.  That's one way to sell video tapes!

Next up, a movie about a city in fear of a killer.  When you see the guy, you'll know why!  Stay tuned...

Saturday, November 26, 2011

Werewolf Week: War Wolves

Either make an art film or make a werewolf movie!  You could argue that many good Directors- i.e. John Landis, Joe Dante- can mix in other aspects like humor and satire into a werewolf movie with success.  However, crappy Directors- i.e. Michael Worth- cannot.  Today's film is War Wolves, a movie I watched nearly a year or so ago and gave up on.  Why?  Well, it's pretty damn boring, especially when you consider it's a film about soldiers turned into werewolves who are hunted by former soldiers.  Worth- who also stars- manages to suck all of the energy out of this idea, but tries to cover it with artsy crap.  I'll get into more of that later, but I'd rather talk about the 'stars' of the film.  No doubt to help funding, the movie features a bunch of C-List actors who at one point were quite famous.  Adrienne Barbeau, John Saxon, Martin Kove, Art LaFleur and Tim Thomerson are all here, albeit in fairly-small roles.  Their appearances here are usually the best parts of the film, although it's not saying much.  To see why it took me two tries to endure this movie, read on...
To really sink things in, this movie begins with a quote from the Bible.  There's nothing wrong with the quote, but it's used in such a pretentious way here!
After a little 'get to know them' filler, the group of soldiers go into a village and get attacked by Werewolves.  Did I say Werewolves?  They're basically just Rage-Virus Zombies, but I guess that's close enough for the movie.
In one of her few scenes, Barbeau plays a Counselor helping our hero/Director deal with his PTSD.  The fact that he's slowly turning into a Lycanthrope doesn't help.  Oh yeah, she is obsessed with conspiracy theories, aliens and Bigfoot.  Sigh.
Our hero ends up in the sights of two former soldiers (Thomerson and Saxon) who are trying to stop all of the people turned that day.  They're missing the pack of three female Werewolves, but let's focus all of our screen time on the Director instead!
In the scene that really killed me, one of the lady Werewolves is run over and her body taken to a bar.  She's naked, but the film never gives you the slightest glimpse of her, even when she's killing everyone along with her pack.  Why make this scene then?!?
We get a Trancers reunion of sort when Art LaFleur shows up as one of the people in the support group.  Him and Tim share only one quick scene together, rendering his whole part- entirely-pointless.
All of this- eventually- builds up to a finale of sorts back at the Church where the counseling group meets.  Thanks, TV Movie budget!  Speaking of which...
Yeah, these make-up jobs are hysterical!  Why can't they be in the movie more often?  Because you might actually enjoy it- duh!
In The End, a bunch of people die and our hero embraces his animal side...or something.  All I know is that John Saxon narrates while they show us two Wolves leave across the desert.  Hurray?  Boo?  The End.
Wake me up when someone transforms!  The plot of this movie is one that should work.  As you may have inferred from my intro, it does not.  The movie put me to sleep at least twice.  Who needs Ambien when you have...a Werewolf movie?  How surprising is that?!?  This movie features no real Werewolf action, terrible pacing and just continuous bouts of randomness.  For example, Tim's character is always making Lists- what a weirdo- and making small-talk with people.  Throw in the bizarre scenes of the counseling group, Barbeau's conspiracy theories and you've got some weird-ass shit.  The thing is that none of these things are really funny, no matter how insistent they are.  This all serves to fill up time that could be used for real action and character development.  This movie is just dull and pointless.  Is there a message?  Maybe, but good luck digging it out. Is there any actual transformation?  No.  For all my complaints about Howling V's lack of on-screen action, we at least got flashes of a full suit.  This movie- a bunch of people with silly noses on.  What a shame!
Up next, November comes to an end with a three-part look at the works of Russell Mulcahy.  First up, an HBO version of Cape Fear, only with gaping plot holes, Jesse Ventura and, of course, sword-fighting.  Stay tuned...

Friday, November 25, 2011

Poor Bastards of Cinema: The Adventures of Ford Fairlane

Animal cruelty is not funny.  Coincidentally, neither is The Adventures of Ford Fairlane.

As part of the 'everything goes wrong' part that comes in the Second Act of a film screenplay, Ford loses everything he owns.  That includes his pet Koala, a gift from INXS...
This act of violence is so despicable that even the idiot character of the film- no, not Clay- finds this disturbing.
As if that wasn't bad enough, it's revealed that the Koala didn't die.  That may sound good, but it ends up on a cruise with Clay.  Oh, the humanity!
This poor, puppet animal can't catch a break!  Why can't you leave dead, puppet animals alone?!?

Next up, a group of reporters push too hard for a story and pay the price.  They bring their inexplicable girlfriends along for the ride, just to raise the body count.  Stay tuned...

A Real Turkey: Undead or Alive

It's the most zombified time of the year!  I won't get into any Romero-style political satire here.  Instead, I'll use this as a flimsy pretense to review my Thanksgiving film, which itself has a flimsy pretense for being such.  Since I won't touch the most obvious Thanksgiving horror film out there- just because it really wants people like me to- I'm stuck thinking outside the box.  You guys should come out here sometimes- the breeze is lovely.  I've made it a habit of reviewing films that relate to Indians on Thanksgiving, since, well, why not?  Mind you, the track record has not been that great, be it Pocahauntus or Scalps.  Could this year be the one to turn it around?  Not freaking likely, but let's find out!  The film is all about a bunch of zombies running around and decent comedians trying to find stuff to do.  Amidst all of that, one of the most amazing black holes of comedy: Chris Kattan.  Yeah, I hate him.  Will he bring the movie down like an anchor?  Probably, but let's find out together...
In the opening scene, we are TOLD about how Geronimo was cornered by the U.S. military and put a curse on the white man, before killing himself.  We aren't SHOWN that, however, proving what kind of budget we are working with.
They also toss in a stupid joke about how much narration they're tossing out in text.  Are you laughing?
The plot involves Geronimo's curse spreading via one man being infected by...wait, what infected him?  Oh yeah- THEY NEVER SAY!

Anyhow, Kattan and TV Star James Denton are cowboys who end up on the wrong side of the law...
The Sheriff- UCB member Matt Besser- gets bitten by his Deputy, who was bitten by the man from the beginning.  In the film's only interesting idea, he forms...
...a zombie posse!  It's cool, but they do nothing with it.  They also don't explain how these zombies can still talk and fire guns.
It all comes down to a showdown at a Fort, which is pretty damn empty.  When your film has the cast size of a Homemade zombie film, you may want to rethink things.
I won't SPOIL the whole course of events, but it all ends with our heroes riding off into the sunset together...with a zombie following them.  Sorry, Hot Indian Lady.  The End.
The brains...are long gone.  The plot of this movie could have been great.  It's not.  If they had really played with the idea of an Indian curse creating zombies, I might have liked this.  As it is, it's a bad buddy film...but with zombies.  The problem: these are barely zombies at all.  They look like zombies and bite people, but also talk, use weapons and still act like themselves.  What is the point of that?  Oh, you cast a bunch of comedians and didn't want them to stop making jokes.  Here's a thought: don't make them zombies!  As a bonus, the film breaks all of the rules of zombie films, even the 'shoot them in the head' trope from Night of the Living Dead.  Here's another thing: this movie has a lot of gore.  Not more than you would usually expect from a zombie film, but a lot more than you would expect from a comedy version of one.  Way to read the audience!  It all makes sense when you realize that Director Glasgow Phillips has only done one movie- this one- and his only other work of note is on South Park...as a Staff Writer.  That sounds about right.  The less said about this movie, the better.
Next up, I end Werewolf Week with a film that I gave up on a year ago.  Can Tim Thomerson save this boring mess?  Stay tuned...

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Werewolf Week: Big Bad Wolf

I ain't afraid of no wolves!  Today's film is an obscure horror film from 2006, a sentence I probably use quite often.  This one, however, surprises me with its lack of fame.  I don't expect it to be a huge film, but I would think that more people on the Internet would be talking about it.  The film takes the basic idea of a killer werewolf, but gives the creature traits that are not often seen in them.  Quite simply, it's a talking werewolf...that's a complete asshole.  It's Werewolf Freddy Kreuger, folks!  Seriously, how is this not some sort of cult classic, at least!  The film has no real stars to speak of, although it does star one lady from Dead Man's Hand and one of the guys from Flight of the Living Dead.  Yea?  To find out just what this film has to offer and how it embraces the gimmick, read on...
In a pre-Credits scene, a group of men are killed by an unseen monster.  One man survives, leading up to the actual film...
In a plot right out of Pumpkinhead 2 and a dozen other films, a group of 'kids' goes out to the woods.  They are going to spend the weekend at the stepdad's cabin, since he won't be there.
About twenty-odd minutes into the film, a werewolf attacks the cabin and starts killing everyone.  Hand lady gets killed while topless (something that movie was missing), while the other slutty girl gets raped by the werewolf.  Bestiality?
In a weird plot turn, our two remaining heroes spend the rest of the movie investigating the case of who the werewolf was.  Gee, I wonder if it is the guy that it obviously is?  On the plus side, it's not Frank Whaley.
Is a sub-plot with a bunch of teen reporters hounding our heroes important?  No.  Is it just a case of me setting up a future Poor Bastards of Cinema- you bet your ass it is!
The uncle of our hero tries to get the information to prove that the stepfather is a werewolf.  How does it go?  Judge for yourself...
The finale of the film takes place at the Cabin, since this movie loves to recycle sets.  They manage to work in a silly 'I love you, but we're friends' plot too, just to reach 90 minutes.  Thanks for that.
The werewolf- who's totally not the stepdad- manages to survive the Cabin being burned down just to have one last hurrah.  Well, that and to set up a sequel...that will probably never happen.  You win some, you lose some.  The End.
Big bad...decent film.  The plot of this movie could certainly be good.  The problem is that the mystery is not, well, a mystery.  I guess that can work if the film just acts like it's a fact that you should know.  Instead, they play it up for at least half of the film's run-time.  That aside, the gore is quite good and the film uses a lot of practical effects.  I liked the werewolf suit, even when it got all burned up and looked like the guy from Howling VI.  I could have done without the cheesy 'speed power' that the character randomly got that one time though.  If you like gore, freaky scenarios and a plot full of disposable meat shields, you'll like this film.  It misses a lot of little things that make it actually good, but it's fun for the right audience.  If you ever wanted to see a wise-cracking werewolf rape some lady, this is probably the only film for you!  Take us away, other case of pointless nudity...
Next up, I celebrate Thanksgiving with a film loosely involving the Old West, Geronimo and 'Mango' from SNL.  No, I'm still not doing Thankskilling!