Saturday, March 31, 2012

Poor Bastards of Cinema: Furnace

I've already gone on the record about the confusion I have towards the 'vengeful ghost' story from J/K-Horror films.  This film is 'inspired' by them and shows the same level of random killing.

In one scene, the Janitor goes into a room to put stuff away.
Hearing a strange noise from the tiled ceiling above him, he goes to investigate.  You know, just doing his job.
While he looks, the vengeful ghost decides to just burn him to death.  Ouch.
So what was the point of this kill?  Just to add a kill to the film?  Shouldn't there be more of a reason than that?

Oh and screw you, ghost.  I'd feel bad for you if you didn't kill any random person who happens to be at the Jail!

Next up, a man is killed for Coaching.  Granted, there's more to it than that, but I'm still including it.  Stay tuned...

Thursday, March 29, 2012

Dean Cain Week: Firetrap

Get ready to burn!  Today's film is a tale about a thief, some businessmen and a big-ass fire.  It's a tale as old as time.  Actually, this low-budget affair is much akin to films like The Towering Inferno and Earthquake.  Of course, those films were made in time where Disaster Films were the norm and those films feature major stars.  This one features Lori Petty and Dean Cain.  Well, it does feature Tank Girl and Superman, possibly the only Superman crossover that doesn't exist.  Wait, maybe it does exist.  Nope.  Anyhow, this film is very much in the vain of those '70s Disaster Films, even going so far as to have every character have their own random drama.  One guy wants to form his own company, one woman has a secret relationship, etc.  Does it make the movie good?  Well, to find out, you'll have to read on...
Cain's character is a Thief who gets an assignment to take a Micro Chip.  He has his own sappy back-story involving a wife and kid that he left when he went to Prison.  Back-flip!
While a bunch of people fighting over who is trying to steal some Microchip, Cain sneaks into the building.  He accidentally pierces a gas tank, which interacts with a fire set by someone.  The best part: he never learns this information.

What was the point then?
The fire spreads, just as quickly as the bickering does.  It doesn't help that the Boss' wife and Divorce Lawyer are there too.  With such a big cast, it's only fitting that the lesser-knowns/unknowns get picked off by random fireballs.
The more well-known actors survive for a while, but don't get off easy.  Lori Petty, for example, has her character get a broken leg and mostly just whines/gets carried for the final thirty minutes of the film.
Not surprisingly, the most suspicious-looking guy is the bad guy.  To be fair, the film does throw in a second villain- who is the second-most suspicious-looking guy- to mix things up.
It all boils down- no pun intended- to a confrontation on the burning Roof.  A couple people die, while Cain manages to judo-toss the bad guy off of the Roof.
Since he didn't steal the Chip- but did allow the owner to keep it from the CIA-, Cain is still a 'good guy.'  He also was given a $1,000,000 necklace, so it wasn't a complete loss.  The End.
Burn burn burn!  This movie is not that bad, nor is it that great.  For one thing, the pacing is a bit odd.  They don't take long to get in the building...but that might be a bad thing.  They don't build up the characters in the building all that much before the fire breaks out.  Kind of hurts the drama when you start burning random people to death, you know.  I should also point out the overuse of CG explosions, which are not that pretty.  This is 2001, so it looks okay for them.  No matter year it is though, CG explosions never quite look right.  I do like the real use of fire at times, although they could disguise the blatant use of flame-retardant fluid doused all over the actors.  Not that I want films to burn actors alive...but just make it less obvious.  I should also mention that this film has a very-confusing moral code.  Cain is a bad guy for stealing stuff, but a good guy because he's doing it to pay for stuff for his family.  He's also good for helping people...although he did inadvertently let the gas loose, which made everything worse.  The Boss is a good guy for trying to preserve his company, but a bad guy for keeping the technology from the CIA after they're supposed to get it. Even that's not clear, however, since apparently the CIA hired Cain...and then arrested the guy who gave him the job.  Confused?  This movie tries to be a lot of things, but only serves to be one thing: alright.  It does get points for the schmaltzy scene NOT in a Hallmark film though...
Next up, Dean Cain jumps to the future...of 13 years from now.  Can a game of Rollerball-lite create world peace?  Stay tuned...

P.S. If anyone wonders why I'm only doing four reviews this week, it's because I also did this one for my friend's Birthday: Postal.  Give him some Traffic, folks!

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Dean Cain Week: Militia

Dean Cain Week starts off with a bang!  Actually, it's a film by Jim Wynorski, but that's close enough.  Oddly enough, Jim was just starting to really do soft-core 'Skinemax' material around this time- 2000- and is actually credited here as 'Jim Andrews.'  Yes, use your real name for the pseudo-porn and your fake one for the mainstream stuff!  Today's film is Militia, a movie featuring Cain and Jennifer Beals battling, well, an evil Militia.  Seems logical.  As you'll learn, there is one part about this movie that is, well, off.  To find out what that is and why I care about it more than the actual movie, read on...
Beals and Cain are part of a team working for the ATF.  This opening scene is tense, but ultimately pointless. It is just there to set up the fact that Militia groups think that the government is out to get them.  You're a bit late, given that WACO happened in 1993...
In the next scene, we jump cut to two years later and...what the hell?!?
This whole scene blatantly uses Stock Footage from Terminator 2: Judgement Day.  The best part- it totally mixes.  I mean, check out the building that they're entering...
...and then look at the building from the T:2 footage.  It's not much to ask that you just shoot in a building that is NOT covered in red bricks, is it?  I pass at least four of them on my way to work every day!
Add in some confusing Editing too, why don't you?  In T:2 footage, the Cops burst in the building through the Lobby.  Mind you, there are only two guys in the building with M16s.
Moments later, the villains sneak, the back using the second elevator to have different entry doors than exit doors.  Oh yeah, their two, tiny bombs make this explosion.

Should I bother doing the rest of the film after this?  Nah.  The End.
Even if I did review the whole film, my opinion wouldn't change all that much.  Wynorski is a master of making cheesy, B-Movies.  Unfortunately, this film is just too dry for his flourish.  This is the guy who makes magic items that are actually just doorknobs (Deathstalker II).  This is a man who made a scene of a woman being killed by stock footage from Night of the Living Dead (976-Evil II).  This is the man that would later make Cleavagefield!  No, I never get tired of talking about how that movie exists.  My point is that he's best served when just going over-the-top and silly.  This film is not about that.  It's about drama and pointless action filler.  Cain goes face-to-face with a Militia Leader/Radio Show Host (not to be confused with Glenn Beck).  It's all about who's right and who's wrong.  Has the government gone too far?  Has the Militia group gone too far?  That's all well and good, but you're the guy who made Chopping Mall.  The film is not bad, but it's just not what you hope for when you watch a Jim Wynorski film.  Maybe that explain the pseudonym better.  Let's just agree that the film is kind of 'meh,' shall we?
Next up, Dean Cain gets trapped in a burning building full of C-List character actors.  Let's mix this more complicated, shall we?  Stay tuned...

Monday, March 26, 2012

VHS For The Win: Ghosthouse

As I mentioned in the Teaser, this obscure film has gotten a semi-official re-release in the form of a Rifftrax VOD release.  Let's see if the VHS box was a selling point for the film...
Well, it appears that the house is actually a ghost.  I guess that qualifies as honesty in marketing.

Next up, if you want to kill someone, you want to kill someone.  Might as well use a real silly manner.  Stay tuned...

Sunday, March 25, 2012

Lance Henriksen Week: Pistol Whipped

You couldn't have just skipped being in a Seagal film, Lance?  I know you're a 'working actor' and all, but you should have some standards.  Of course, you have appeared in three Sasquatch films, which is about the same number as the guy who actually made the Boggy Creek films!  Having covered enough Seagal films in recent times, I don't need to get into full detail for this, do I?  Seagal likes shooting, awkard fight scenes in which he occasionally appears and sending his Russian stunt-double to do menial things like running or walking into doors.  All of that stuff happens here for the most part.  It doesn't appear that his usual stunt-double is on-board, but I may just missed his name in the Credits.  I'm probably the only guy who actually check the Seagal films for his name too.  This movie's plot involves Seagal having a dark past and atoning for it, killing people.  Justice!  Seriously, this movie has more gray area than the entire Moon!  To find out more, read on...
Just like we'd see with Born to Raise Hell, the film begins In Media Res with a shoot-out in a Cemetery.  I'm having Excessive Force 2: Force on Force flashbacks all of a sudden!
In the Present, Seagal is a former cop with a drinking and gambling problem.  Of course, we never actually see him drink or do anything all that mean- by Seagal standards.  Until Death you are not, movie! 

Just to note: we're ignoring Seagal's actual vice here, huh?  Just checking.
Lance Henriksen is here as 'The Old Man.'  Seriously.  Anyhow, he hires Seagal to kill some random criminals in exchange for paying off his gambling debts.  Since he owes over a million dollars- no, really- he'll have to kill a small country! 
Seagal's character has a young daughter and a broken marriage.  These scenes of you and the girl totally mesh with that last scene where you straight up shot that guy in the head!
As it turns out, his wife's new lover is a guy he worked with on the force.  That's...both convenient and a little creepy.  Couldn't you just screw the mailman or something?!?
Who can Seagal trust when Henriksen's henchman is a jerk and the lady that he hit on was actually working for them?  Maybe he can trust the guy banging his ex-wife.  I mean, it's not like he just killed a Priest or...oh. 
The whole thing comes to a head at the Funeral for the Priest aka Seagal's friend.  Some of you may say that it's inappropriate to have a gunfight in a Cemetery.  I look at the positive: it saves on the transportation costs for the bodies.
At the end of the multi-tiered action scene (since one alone is just silly), our hero shoots the bad guy- the guy boning his ex-wife, which sure is convenient- and burns his body in a Hearse, but only after confirming that he wanted to be buried.

In the official ending, Seagal continues to work for Henriksen.  In the Original Ending, he doesn't.  Go figure.  The End.
On the plus side, Lance was barely in this movie.  Where do I begin?  The plot is paper-thin, provided you can ignore all of the window-dressing.  Is the drama with his ex-wife and daughter important?  No, not really. Is the romantic sub-plot turned allegiance to the group sub-plot all that important?  Again, no.  It does give us another- thankfully, it's only implied- scene of Seagal having sex with good-looking women.  If you think I'm exaggerating about how conceited and self-centered Seagal seems to be, consider how many films DON'T have a scene like this.  Whether it's his barely-established-girlfriend from Into the Sun or the lady from Belly of the Beast, these scenes are in nearly every one!  As far as Lance goes, he's good here.  He plays a shadowy figure with vague alliances and projects the ability that you can't trust him very well.  As I said though, he's barely in the film.  The 'heavy-lifting' is left to his henchman, a character who does a decent job.  I would have liked more Lance in the film, even as much as I'm happy that he's barely dragged down by a Seagal film.  The biggest problem is that it's hard to root for any of these characters.  Overall, it's a sub-par action film with a few good moments of Lance Henriksen.  That's better than some other Seagal films, I guess.  Take us away, Seagal's double...walking on a roof...
Next up, I begin a week of Dean Cain films.  First up, a film by Jim Wynorski, but featuring footage from James Cameron.  Stay tuned...

Saturday, March 24, 2012

Lance Henriksen Week: Sasquatch Mountain

I was really worried that this was just going to be the same movie...again.  Thankfully, it's not.  Unfortunately, it's not that great of a movie all the same.  The plot involves a Sasquatch on a Mountain, not to be confused with the last film which sort of had the same thing.  Never mind that they're really just walking around in the Woods...which might be near a Mountain, I guess.  There is no silly Deus Ex Machina here, for good or bad. In its place, a dozen characters with different motivations and scenes mostly taking place apart from each other.  At one point, we have one group chasing the other, while a third person is off ahead of them and a fourth takes place somewhere else entirely.  In spite of that, it still has major plot scenes The plot of the film involves, as I said, a bunch of people running around in the Woods...with a Sasquatch occasionally appearing to spice things up.  Thankfully, we aren't force fed 800 P.O.V. shots this time.  In spite of that, I'm mixed on this movie.  To find out why this movie actually has a different title than even the Menu, read on...
In the Intro, Lance's wife- who seems a bit young for him, but whatever- is out on the road filming him fix the car when a Bigfoot runs by...and she gets run over by a car.  Time jump!
12 Years Later, a bunch of bank robbers strike the town.  Coincidentally, this random woman gets the tape from the Intro and crashes into their car.

After they flee into the Woods, the Sheriff- Ron Howard's dad Rance- calls in an old friend: Jack Deth!
In between scenes of the different groups walking and the scenes of Lance and his daughter- where was she in the intro, given that she's an adult now?!?-, the Bigfoot wanders around.  He'll get to killing people in time, don't worry. 
That's better!  Admittedly, this looks more like the Bigfoot is doing something else to that guy.  There are movies about that...but this isn't one them.  Thank God!
Lance is honestly the best part of this movie, although he doesn't have much to do.  Oh yeah, he explains that he found out about the bank robbery in  Yeah, don't show that scene or anything, movie!
A long stretch of the movie is just the whole *remaining* cast sitting around in a Cabin, having separate 'Character Moments' together.  None of these are bad, but they do distract from the whole 'killer monster in the Woods' plot.  That's all I'm saying. 
The finale comes down to the trio of Henriksen, Howard and Thomerson- who was apparently not dead after all.  The C-Movie Kill Crew in action, baby!
Oh, never mind.  The Sasquatch dies from a combination of its gunshot wounds gathered throughout the film.  Our heroes...well, do nothing.

In the Epilogue, our heroine moves on with her life and more Sasquatches cry out.  The End.
Seriously, do something about the damn lighting!  The most persistent problem with the movie is the nearly-constant use of natural lighting.  That's fine for some scenes, but they're shooting in the damn Woods!  I appreciate the authenticity of it, mind you.  I appreciate that it's cheaper to get permits to shoot in the Woods than to build sets.  All of that aside, this movie is horribly-lit!  Ambient light is constantly coming in from through the trees, making the film look washed out.  There's no excuse for this!  The Polonia Brothers were smart enough to shoot indoors most of the time.  All of that aside, the movie has some good acting, some good character moments and has a decent plot.  I just wish that one part of it wasn't so distracting that it made any good parts hard to ignore.  Take us away, monkey mask...
Next up, the finale of Lance Henriksen Week takes us into Seagal territory.  Who will show up more- Henriksen or Seagal's double?  Stay tuned...

Friday, March 23, 2012

R.I.P. Robert Fuest

It's hard enough writing these, especially when it's a Director/Producer/Star that I absolutely adore.  It's even harder when nobody can quite agree on whether the guy is dead or not!

A fellow reviewer mentioned his death in a post and Wikipedia has been updated as such.  However, IMDB is either too lazy to report it or just doesn't believe the news!

I'm sad to report the death of Robert Fuest.  He was a talented Writer (going uncredited for Dr. Phibes rewrites apparently) and Director.
While he's most famous for the Dr. Phibes films- both classics IMO-, he did do other work.  And Soon The Darkness was a very under-rated Thriller that got a Remake a few years ago.

Oddly- and thankfully- the Phibes films haven't joined it...yet.

I say without a hint of sarcasm that The Abominable Dr. Phibes is my favorite movie of all-time.  I'll spend the rest of my life touting its awesomeness probably.  From the bizarre killings, to the lavish set design and even to that sweet Clockwork Band, this movie is pure win!

Tragically, Fuest's potentially-prolific Directing career was marred by the critical and financial response to The Devil's Rain.  Given the quality of previous works, I can't blame Robert for this movie.  Maybe that's wrong of me, but I can live with it!

You'll be missed, Robert.  The lasting image of you riding up to Heaven in your Organ-powered Elevator will be with me always.

P.S. Seriously, if you $%#! with the Dr. Phibes films, I'll kill you with a giant vice, Hollywood!

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Lance Henriksen Week: Sasquatch

This is what I was expecting!  Today's film is Sasquatch.  Just let that sink in for a second.  When the name of the movie is that on-the-nose, what kind of hope is there?  I suppose they get points for honesty.  Mind you, there's also a film called Suburban Sasquatch, but I'm not giving that movie any points.  This film, however, gets some points for a completely silly Deus Ex Machina that is just damn hilarious.  Lance is the star here, although he is surrounded by a giant cast.  Given the subject matter, you'd be expecting them to basically be cannon fodder for the monster.  You'd be...mostly-wrong.  To find out if the movie can match up to Abominable, read on...
In the Intro, a plane crashes in the Woods.  The lone survivor is targeted by a Bigfoot.  Check out this monster P.O.V. footage...
The search is called off...after some vague amount of time that happens during the Credits.  Looks like it's time for dad to come looking.
Lance Henriksen is the head of a major bio-tech company.  He hires a bunch of people to help him find his daughter...and something else.
The people are being watched in the Woods.  Oh, did you establish the monster already?  This is completely pointless- and better done in Abominable?  Okay.
The Sasquatch continues to stalk the people.  Note how the creature's P.O.V. vision is different now.  That makes sense.
Eventually, the group finds the device that Henriksen was after...and not his daughter.  The device can scan you...and bring up your entire medical history in seconds.  No, really.

This guy gets drunk and killed.  There's no other way to follow up this device than that.  Anti-Stealth Radar Detector.
In a plot point that will show up in the other Lance Henriksen Meets The Sasquatches film tomorrow, he sees a video of his dead daughter and is sad now.  He's more motivated to kill the creature though.
This Sasquatch is actually kind of cool-looking.  I have no idea why he is bald though.  Skunk Apes truly are like us...I mean, other people.

As it turns out, the Sasquatch is after them because they have the Bullshit MacGuffin Device.  Why?  Because the plane crash landed on his kid/wife/someone.  This all ties together seamlessly!
Even though he could kill the creature, Lance destroys the device, keeping us from having a device that could save countless lives.  Make sure to appease the Sasquatch...dick.  The End.
You know that horror films are about killing people right?  My first problem with this movie is the pacing.  We get some suspense at the beginning, but that's followed by a long section of just 'getting to know' the cast.  They are not necessarily bad characters, but these moments should not feel forced.  It's like the 'Make people introduce themselves' scenes in films like Blood Monkey- they're just bad.  My second problem is how they pace the kills.  For one thing, there's not a lot of them.  I'm all about not killing pointless side characters- see Poor Bastards of Cinema- but is there a reason to put nearly 10 people together out in the Woods if you aren't going to kill most of them.  They take out a bunch of them, but mostly at the End.  By that point, it's hard to care.  Lance, however, is good in this role.  He's done this character before, but he does it well.  While I disagree with his character's motivations in the finale, he does a good job of conveying them.  I still can't get past the fact that he has the medical equivalent of the Philosopher's Stone in his hands, but destroys it to make the sad Sasquatch happy.  I should also mention that him and the others sell out the one guy who mentions the Sasquatch (in Post Credits text crawl), leading him to look crazy.  Jerks.  Overall, this movie has good ideas, but is more interested in doing character studies.  I'll pass, thank you.  Take us away, pointlessly-spinning shot of a woman undressing...
Next up, the final film in the Lance Henriksen vs. Sasquatch trilogy.  Tim Thomerson and Lance Henriksen go out into the Woods...and bore me to tears.  Stay tuned...