Sunday, September 30, 2012

Not Patrick: Psychic Killer

Well, it's MUCH better than Patrick Still Lives.  I'll admit it- I still feel stupid about that movie.  For you newer readers, here's the short version: I thought that I had found a sequel to 1975's Patrick, but it was actually Italian Remake-sploitation.  They use the same basic premise, but make it Ten Little Indians-style about 'Patrick' killing people with silly powers like psychically-heating up a pool.  To be fair, it's so stupid that it's funny as hell!  With that bad memory, I was wary of today's movie- Psychic Killer.  Well, much to my surprise, it's not that bad.  It's not that great either, but it is much better than the previous film mentioned. A man gets psychic powers, so he decides to get revenge in roughly a 72-hour time-span.  You're new to this whole 'crime thing' for someone who was in Prison!  It's like Patrick meets The Abominable Dr. Phibes (which was made around the same time)!  To find out why this movie succeeds and fails, read on...
Our hero has a major freak-out in the intro.  What does this have to do with anything?  Nothing.  Moving on...
After having one conversation with a black inmate about being wrongfully-convicted, the man uses his voodoo powers to kill a pimp and transfers his powers to our hero in death.
He is set free when a man says that he committed the crime and...I realize that it doesn't really work that way.  It might have in the '70s, but whatever.

Back at home (which he still owns?), he learns about how his powers work.  Revenge time!
His first kill involves making a cheating psychiatrist hear voices, wander outside and...apparently snapping his neck.  If you could figure that out from just what they showed, congratulations.
Another- the Nurse that abandoned his mother- is killed when he turns the shower really hot and she crashes herself through the glass doors.  He didn't make her do that, mind you, but...murder, I guess.

What is it with Patrick films and water attacks?  There's the pool scene from Patrick, this one and the super-heated pool from Patrick Still Lives.  Weird, right?
In another kill, he takes out the dubious cop who got him arrested by making his gas pedal stay down.  Apparently the idea of just blocking the pedal with his foot never occurred to he dies.
Since our hero is obviously tied to the people killed, he's the main suspect.  This makes our Non-Trout-Cop call in his Therapist...who says that she drove 300 miles to get there.  How far away was the Prison again?

By the way, this lead to a romance angle.  Dull surprise.
The pair join forces with a guy who basically says that 'the mind can do anything.'  He's a Doctor, by the way.  Thanks, '70s.

How will they defeat this all-powerful psychic?
It's simple- they rush his comatose body to be cremated, burning him alive.  That's...dark.  The End.
Better late than never.  This film is both easy to recommend and hard to recommend.  I like to begin these summaries in a confusing manner- just to trick you into continuing to read.  This movie has some good, silly moments that make it an easy recommendation.  Whether it's the shower kill (with nudity to boot) or the guy crushed by a giant stone while singing opera into a tape recorder, this movie has some amusing moments.  On the other hand, the pacing is really weird and the story is not that great.  It's taken very seriously, which is a nice juxtaposition to the silly bits.  The ending, therefore, comes off as really dark and twisted.  It's a pretty logical conclusion, but it still comes out of nowhere tone-wise.  In summary, this is a neat, rare flick to track down if you're into that kind of thing.  As a whole, it's odd in both pacing and tone.  Sorry to drop a non-committal brick on your head like that...
Next up, a week full of Seagal films.  I'm a glutton for punishment- which is why I'm covering The Foreigner. Stay tuned...

Friday, September 28, 2012

Moon Over Miami: Tourist Trap

I was all pumped until I read the name 'Charles Band' in the Credits.  To be fair, I do recall seeing it on the Full Moon website...but it only occurred to me after the fact.  Today's movie is Tourist Trap, the official nickname of South of the Border.  I sure hope that those exist in other places then Florida, otherwise this is a very vague joke.  The story, in hindsight, is very much a Full Moon affair.  About the only thing missing from it is Phil Fondacara!  Hell, even Ted Nicolau (Director of the Subspecies films) is on board, albeit as the film's Editor.  The film is about a group of *young people* who end up at a dangerous 'Tourist Trap' which ends up being much more literal than they could have guessed!  Leave it to Full Moon to make the obvious jokes- sure makes it easier for me.  Notable mentions in the cast include Tanya Roberts- famous model and Sheena: Queen of the Jungle- and Chuck Connors, a long-time Cowboy actor.  If you didn't watch Westerns or Western shows, you'd recognize him from other films in the '70s and '80s including Soylent Green and Airplane II: The Sequel.  He's a big enough star to get above-the-title billing here to boot!  As I teased earlier, the plot gets really weird, but is a bit of a slow-burn kind of film.  It's a slow film in general, quite frankly.  To find out just how weird this obscure film gets, read on...
Our heroes are really just asking to die.  They drive around like '70s hipsters on an abandoned road to save time.  Oh and they give up on the 'let's find our missing friend' bit really quick.

I mean, he's already dead, but they don't know that!
Chuck Connors is here as a Farmer that's totally not the killer.  Hey movie- it's a mystery film if there's, you know, a mystery!
To the film's credit, this is kind of creepy.  It does also foreshadow Band's obsession with dolls/mannequins that would lead to good films (Dolls), meh films (Puppet Master 4-5) and just plain bad films (Doll Graveyard).
I should both like and hate this film for stealing the 'display your dead wife in lights' bit from The Abominable Dr. Phibes.  They do a decent job with it, so I can't be too mad.  Don't mess with a classic though!
This girl exists just to be killed by the villain.  More on that in a future Poor Bastards of Cinema induction though.

It would be nice if they had actually set her up though, rather than just saying 'she is also die.'
Big shock: the only person who could be the killer is actually the killer.  The Killer Must Kill Again was more subtle than you!

The actual shocker is that Tanya Roberts does barely anything here but stay captured and pout.  Sorry- we couldn't pay her enough to actually be important!
Oddly, the capture/kill segments are mostly over by the 45 minute mark, leaving this film plenty of time to breath.

Mind you, all they really do with it is have Connors talk in voices, use his telekinetic powers and stare at our heroine.  I did mention that he has telekinetic powers, right?  Well, he does!!!
In the end, our heroine is completely crazy, having killed Connors, and drives off with her friends' mannequins.  Looks like a nice music video...if you're a crazy person.  The End.
Silly premise, but mostly a nothing film.  There are good parts about the movie.  For one, it is heavy on atmosphere.  It does use this to compensate for much on-screen action/gore/etc though.  For example, Roberts knocks down the killer- yeah, right!-, but gets captured after a bunch of mannequins slowly fall against her.  Move, you idiot!  After that, she pretty much just pouts and stays tied up kneeling on the floor.  Just to note: her legs are not tied or anything- she just doesn't feel like getting up, I guess!  The big make or break for this movie is the villain's telekinetic powers.  They don't really explain any of this, nor do they explain much of what makes him crazy.  It's a Catch-22 situation, you see.  Those powers helped drive him crazy...but that hardly explains anything.  I can accept crazy ideas and premises in shows/movies- if you explain them.  That said, many great films get away with not explaining anything (see Night of the Living Dead's non-explanation why there are suddenly zombies), but this is not quite one of them.  I do like that this Full Moon film is not going for bad laughs or silly gore.  Even so, I was not all that interested by what actually happened.  I'm sure that I'm not in the majority amongst internet critics on that, but there you go.  Take us away, implied but not actual nudity (dammit!)...
Next up, the third and first film in the not-real Patrick trilogy.  Will the original film be the best or just make no sense.  Stay tuned...

Thursday, September 27, 2012

Ponytail Pain: Urban Justice

Are you serious, Seagal?  Today's film is Urban Justice and...just think about that for a second.  A film called Urban Justice...starring Steven Seagal.  Shouldn't this be featuring Mario Van Peebles, Coolio or Ice Cube? Was there anyone else more qualified for this?  Not even taking into account Seagal's laziness, growing waistline and whiteness, he's an Akido Expert who went to Japan to get famous.  Does anything about that scream 'Urban' to you?  Regardless, this is a real movie from 2007, so I'm going to review it.  The plot involves Seagal tracking down his son's killer.  Is it the corrupt cop?  Is it the gang of thugs?  Is it Eddie Griffin?  Yes, he's in this movie too.  What's next- Danny Trejo?  Oh, he is in this movie...kind of.  This movie is a weird mess, but I'll get through it for you.  To find out how 'urban' Seagal can be, read on...
This is Seagal's son.  Short of being Chuck Norris' girlfriend, there is no quicker route to death.  As a bonus, he really really loves his wife.
Yeah, he dies.

Holy shit though- that's a lot of blood!  How is that even possible?!?!?
Seagal shows up and is sad, despite sharing zero scenes with his 'son.'  Gee, maybe if you didn't hire such a bitter ass to be your star, you could have shot scenes like that.

Speaking of which, I could swear that this same funeral footage is in Pistol Whipped.  That or these Seagal films are so generic that they just blend together.
Seagal goes right to the Police- in what appears to be the same Station from Whipped as well- and just asserts his authority as, you guessed it, a Secret Agent.  THINK OF A NEW CHARACTER!!!
Oh and that shadow thing- it still doesn't work like you think it does.  Kudos for trying though.
Danny Trejo is in this movie.  His role- being a guy who says that he didn't kill Seagal's son.

Seriously, that's it.  Don't worry though, they replay part of this scene later, so it's like he has two scenes!
Eddie Griffin is a 'gangsta.'  He works with the corrupt cop, but doesn't really do much else.  I'd say that he's underutilized...but he's Eddie Griffin.
The final battle between Seagal and the corrupt cop- which also happened in Whipped...I'm just saying- is shot in the dark.  Wow- that's a new low for you, Seagal.

Max Havoc- you have been topped!
After killing the Cop, Seagal lets Eddie Griffin live, since he didn't kill his son.  You know, he did kill a bunch of other people and...oh, never mind.  The End.
Even in the 'hood, Seagal films are crap.  What are the good parts?  Seeing people beat up is always fun.  That's pretty much it.  The bad parts- there are a lot more of those.  Seagal's character is just kind of an asshole, save for maybe two scenes.  In one scene, he sends his sympathies to the widow of his son.  Mind you, he does this over the phone and it never comes up again, but it should count.  In the other, he saves his snitch from random white thugs.  The thing is that scene has no context and he really has no motivation for doing any of this, save for his selfish ones.  So, in summary, his character is awful.  The action scenes are pretty bad, consisting of one-sided beat-downs or quick shoot-outs.  Seagal never ever has a real rival in his films and this doesn't change here.  The action is, as noted before, is shot in so much darkness that it is hard to enjoy.  Even the revenge beat-down is barely visible, taking all of the teeth out of it.  The only action scene that's fun(ny) to watch is when the thugs attack his apartment.  They keep popping in through the same door and keep getting shot.  It's bad First-Person Shooter logic...but in real life!  This movie has some funny moments, but it is so dark (literally and figuratively) that it ruins the whole thing.  Take us away, super-duper shadows...
Next up, a film that I was interested in...until I realized that it was a Full Moon film.  All of a sudden, I knew that I was in for something strange!  Stay tuned...

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

WTF China?!?: Armageddon (1999)

No Bruce Willis in sight.  On the plus side, there's no Ben Affleck in sight either!  Today's film is Armageddon, a Chinese import film that was supposed to be covered earlier.  Well, it wasn't.  It does qualify for this week too, so that's where we are.  The film is about the end of the world as we know it and I feel...bored.  What's wrong with this movie?  I'll get into that in a bit, but first, let me tell you what it's about.  Basically, a bunch of scientists die in dramatic fashion and the governments of the world investigate it.  What is the big secret behind these attacks?  It's sillier than you could probably imagine.  The problem with the movie is that it's really boring.  To find out how such a great premise crashes and burns so dramatically, read on...
A bunch of scientists are seemingly-attacked.  How do they die?  Well...
It's Spontaneous Human Combustion!  Apparently this guy drank a lot of Gasoline in the morning too.
So what's the problem?  Well, this dramatic stuff makes up the first ten minutes of so.  After that...

It switches to focusing on this Scientist- who's related to the dead ones- who is wracked with guilt over his girlfriend's death.  Cue 8,001 flashback scenes!
As a bonus, the next forty-odd minutes are made up of those scenes and stuff like this...
Yes, they derail all of the momentum set up by the intro with the worst pacing shift that I've ever seen!  Wake me in an hour!
Sparing you a lot of time and tedium, they find out that the man behind the attacks is this white guy.  Damn you, Not Eric Stoltz!
Here's the twist: he's God.  No, really.

In the End, he tests out heroes and decides to not destroy.  I'm too bored to even explain how this makes sense.  The End.
Every day, movies find new ways to disappoint me.  Would you guess that a film about scientists being killed via Spontaneous Combustion could be this boring?  All I can figure is that they wanted to make this film about a man mourning his dead girlfriend and interacting with his friend, but had to spice it up to sell the movie.  If so, what a terrible idea!  If not, what the hell was the point of this movie?  They took a cool idea and bogged it down with boring, boring material.  If you can't sleep and happen to have a copy of this lying around, you're in luck.  Otherwise, skip this film or just leave it in your queue for 9 months like I did.  Take us away, giant Mario 64 game...
Next up, Steven Seagal returns for another round of thrashing.  Can he take down evil drug lord...Eddie Griffin?  Stay tuned...

Saturday, September 22, 2012

Rare Forgotten Sequels Flix: Cleopatra Jones and the Casino of Gold

No Amityville 5 this week.  I'll get around to it- don't worry.

I could probably just make shit up and you wouldn't know the difference.  Today's film is Cleopatra Jones an the Casino of Gold.  Pop quiz: who is Cleopatra Jones?  Seriously, do you know?  Well, she's a Blaxploitation character who got two films...and that's it.  The first one- Cleopatra Jones.  What can I say- people weren't that creative with names in the '70s!  She's one of many women that got a film back in the day, be it Coffy or TNT Jackson.  Yeah, I watch that shit.  So what differentiates Cleopatra from the rest?  Well, she dresses in funny outfits and does fake Karate.  That's basically it.  In her second adventure, she goes to China and battles an evil drug lord to rescue her friends/fellow Agents.  To see whether this is an obscure gem or more like that thing your cat buries, read on...
These two 'soul brothers' go to China to make an Opium deal.  In an odd twist, they bring a briefcase full of bills that were cut in half.  That's...interesting.
A shoot-out occurs and they end up in the clutches of a rival Drug Dealer.  Will she keep them alive?
Leave it to Cleopatra Jones (in silly outfit #1) and...Norman Fell to get on the case.  That's certainly a unique pair, I'll give them that.
Here's a shocker: the villain in this Blaxploitation film is White.  I'd call it Racist...but we are sort of evil all of the time.  Points for you, Genre.
In lieu of explaining this thread-bare plot, I'd rather show the silly outfits that Cleopatra wears throughout the film.  You're not missing much.
I mean...what is this outfit?  Aren't you a spy?  Granted- you fit in about as well as Iman in China Town, but you could try a little!
Big shock- Cleopatra beats the white lady in a kung-fu fight.  Enjoy this silly kick that misses by a Chinese Country Mile.  The End.
It's exactly what you think it is.  To be fair, I expected Cleopatra Jones and the Casino of Gold to be a silly, action-adventure.  It is exactly that.  I can't imagine that there was going to be any more than that.  There is not.  On the plus side, I was not disappointed.  On the negative side, there's literally nothing else to talk about.  Funny outfit, fight scene, fight scene.  Take me away, awkward smile.
Up next, a week of random films from my Queue (that I keep neglecting).  First up, a film about the end of the World...and my patience.  Stay tuned...