Saturday, August 31, 2013

Lazily-Titled Cover Art: Q- The Winged Serpent

You know that awkward moment when you don't know someone's name and have to try to guess?  Oftentimes, you will just pick a 'safe' answer like 'Buddy' or 'Champ.'

This is cinematic equivalent of just that...
To be fair, Quetzalcoatl *technically* qualifies as an 'American Monster.'  Plus, they do mention the real title below it in quotes.

That said...this is the best title you could come up with?  Let's play with this laziness and apply to it some other famous Horror Films...

* Night of the Living Dead is now Zombies in the Dark (great band name though- don't steal it!)
* Dracula is Blood Man.
* The Texas Chainsaw Massacre is now The Western Blade Killings.

Note to video releasing companies: try harder!

Friday, August 30, 2013

Rip-Off Cinema: Gangster World

Before J.J. Abrams gets his hands on this (topical!), let's see what some hack did in 1998.  It is time to visit Gangster World!  We've got the Director of...well, just this movie.  We've got the Writer of Mercenary (never heard of it).  We've also got the Writer of The Nutty Professor (the Animated one from 2008, mind you).  Okay, let's look at the Stars.  The lead Robot had...a small part in Abelar: Tales of An Ancient Empire, while it's main lead had a small part in Sometimes They Come Back...Again.  Hmm...this isn't working.  Let's start from the beginning.  There once was a story called Westworld and it was good.  The sequel...not so much.  The TV Show...well, the Pilot (which comes on the Blu-Ray release of Westworld) was alright, but the show only lasted one Season.  Cut to the 1990s and we have a nice, juicy rip-off to cover.  There are some things different and it ultimately plays out a bit differently, but there's no getting past what they steal.  To find out if it's worth the admission price, read on...
The film begins with the ending.  No, really.

Our hero is being interrogated in regards to what went wrong.  Gee, I wonder if he survives the movie...
Gangster World is a place where people go to let out their darker instincts and beat up thematic robots.  Ignoring the fact that the idea of 'letting out your anger to stop violence' was disproved in the 1970s, they also state that crime has been cut in half.  How?
The film shows that it can rip off more than one film.  The seemingly-evil A.I. (not HAL) creates a naked robot to fight the Guards.  Oh hi, Terminator!

You're the awkward cross of Ahnuld and Daniel Bernhardt.
The plot involves the Robot trying to catch/kill our hero, who is, in turn, trying to rescue his lady co-worker/love interest.  It's a classic example of Damsel in Distress Syndrome.  She's tough-as-nails...until the plot says that she has to be captured.
This somehow leads to the Robot and Scientist working together.  It's silly, but whatever.  This just means lots and lots of action scenes.

The problem is that they are so mindless and repetitive that I could barely enjoy them.
One highlight, however, is this bit where a Robot gets shot.  His reaction is about 5 seconds too late, which means that he 'gets shot,' stands there and then suddenly jumps back!  Glorious crap.
Oh look- a ticking clock scenario.  Going for the real unique Plot Devices, huh?
On the plus side, this ending bit reminds me of Fallout 3.  On the negative side, it reminds me of the annoying way that they forced your hand in that same ending.  Sorry, Gangster World.
Naturally, the guy who narrates the tale and shows up unharmed manages to make it out.  On top of that, the good Robot and the slutty Robot escape too.  Sequel-bait?  The End.
Last time I saw this movie, it was better.  To be fair, this is not a 100% rip-off of Westworld.  It also rips off The Terminator and 2001: A Space Odyssey too.  Pointless Trivia: Marvel Comics Character Machine Man debuted in a comic adaptation of 2001 (written by Jack Kirby).  That useless (unless you're on Jeopardy) bit of information is far more interesting than 99% of this movie though.  There's plenty of action, including bad kung-fu fights, shooting and lots more shooting.  If this film was rated based on how many rounds of ammunition they fire, it would have a 1,000,000,000 out of Ten.  Don't ask me how that works.  If you can accept that this film has nearly no original ideas, you can have a good time with it.  It's mostly the worst kind of DTV fluff though.  There's no substance, no flair and just lots of bang.  On the plus side, it has a Robot who has gained Shaft's super-power of randomly-summoning pants to wear...
Next up, a film by the man who brought us Versus and Midnight Meat Train.  If No One Lives, does that mean that I die too?  Stay tuned...

Thursday, August 29, 2013

Poor Bastards of Cinema: No One Lives (Part 1)

For once, I'm going to beat Maynard to a WWE Films review.  Keep your eye out for Ryuhei Kitamura's No One Lives shortly.  In the meantime, some PBoC...

Early on, our villains are robbing some rich people's house.  What could go wrong?
Well, right one cue, the people show up back at their house.  Why they drive up when they see robbers and don't just pull back behind the gate is anyone's guess.
The Robbers see them and try to decide how to handle the situation.  Don't worry- one of them has an answer...
Just murder the people, of course!  Why not?!?
In the grand scheme of things, there is some follow-up on this scene.  It just sets up the one guy as being 'The Crazy One' of the group.

Other than that, this scene is not important and these people are not given names.  Hurray for pointless murder (which should be the film's tagline).

Next up, some more random killing from No One Lives.  This is the film that keeps on giving.  Stay tuned...

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

What Scares Me (May Surprise You)

As a wannabe Film Critic and geek, I've seen it all.

* Cannibals cooking up Hikers.
* Cannibals raping and butchering Film Crews.
* Serial Killers' Ghosts killing Film Crews.
* Giant Animals/Dinosaurs killing hundreds of people.
* Mega-Sharks attacking planes for no good reason.

So what scares me?

It's not blood.
It's not creepy killers.
It's not monsters.
Those eyes!  Those freaky, scary eyes.

Seriously, Meg Foster is not even trying to be scary, but...just look.
I have NOTHING against Meg Foster as a Person or an Actress.  It's just...those cold, eerie eyes.  They haunt me.

What scares you?  Is it is as silly as me?  I'd love to know what you have to say.

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Misleading Cover Art: Q- The Winged Serpent

I love Q.  It's a fun, pulp thriller that just makes me have a good time.

That said, the European Poster has a few problems...
Yeah, that's not what the creature looks like at all.  It's cool, but not accurate.

Apparently they made the Poster without having gotten a copy of the film.  Good planning, Studio!

Millennial Crap: They Crawl

Bugs, my god.  Today's film is They Crawl, yet another film I discovered under dubious circumstances.  Given how I found out about it, there was no way that I was going to love it.  What's the story?  Well, this DTV film is made up of lots of Stock Footage.  Yes, this 2002 film uses Stock Footage dating back to the mid-1980s!  No, really.  There's an actual film here, but it's hard to look past the cheapness.  Said plot involves killer cockroaches, a possible Cult and lots of re-used explosions.  It features one major Star on the precipice between the lowest point of his career and his revival.  To find out how silly this gets, which footage is stolen and who is sad enough to appear in this mess, read on...
In the Intro, a man seems to get possessed by something and starts driving his bus erratically.

Three things to note here:
1. Their footage (the Driver) barely blends with the Stock Footage (everything else).
2. They actually use shots of BOTH Buses, leading to 'his bus' changing name several times.
3. This is from Red Heat.  Really- You stole from that movie?
A mysterious Hacker and Drug Addict is attacked in his Apartment.  He's blown up, leading to Stock Footage #2.

If it looks familiar, it's from Rush Hour.  Well, at least we're in the 1990's now.  Yea?
Our lead is this guy, who is the brother of the guy just killed.  His performance is very lackadaisical and he mostly just looks like this.

Since this plot- which involves controlled cockroaches- is so unimportant, let's cover some of the odd casting bits.
Jack Deth is here playing an Exterminator.  He barely does anything and gets killed by CG bugs.  Darn.
The big star: a barely-coherent Mickey Rourke.  He basically has one scene where he acts suspicious and then runs off (where it's mostly his double anyhow).  Thanks for coming.  I'll see you when in better films in a few years.
Our other lead is a lady Detective in the LAPD.  She investigates the mysterious deaths and its ties to a cult.  When they get close, they send a unit to find a source.

This leads to Stock Footage #3: the exploding house from Last Action Hero.  Sure, why not?
It all leads up to our heroes confronting the villains, who plan to sell their controlled-cockroaches like military weapons.  Oh and they pretty much act like Bond villains here.  Oy vey.
With the main villains dead, we get some decent CG as, well, this thing comes about.  Just take it in.
In a truly-silly finale, they crash a moving truck into the creature, causing a giant explosion.  This is Stock Footage #4: Chain Reaction's city-destroying explosion (edited down).

The explosion is WAY too big for the guy to lightly jog away from, but why expect logic after a giant cockroach made out of other cockroaches.  The End.
It would be fitting to just re-use a summary paragraph here.  Of course, that would make me just as bad as them, so let's be better.  The film's plot is barely there and is just not good.  The only surprises are, well, there are none.  I take that back, actually.  I didn't see the Coroner- who's a Character Actor- being evil.  Granted- I really stopped caring about halfway through, so it is mostly my fault there.  Other than that, it's very 'paint by numbers.'  Nothing all that exciting or surprising happens.  If you didn't know about the Stock Footage beforehand, you might just get a feeling of Deja Vu.  I'm still amazed that this movie got made and released this way.  They licensed the footage, so it doesn't *seem* to be illegal.  The question is this: was it really cheaper to buy the footage?  It couldn't have been, could it?  If you want a cheesy film to watch, this one is pretty good.  There are far more interesting pieces of crap to watch though.  This movie kind of falls into that awkward middle-ground of crap.  Take us away, film that doesn't credit its Red Heat footage...
Next up, a movie that looks, sounds and smells familiar.  When in doubt, just blatantly rip off a classic!  Stay tuned...

Saturday, August 24, 2013

There Should Be Only One: Fortress 2- Re-Entry

It usually takes more than one sequel to go to Space.  Today's film is Fortress 2: Re-Entry, featuring the return of Lambert.  Unfortunately, he's the only one returning.  Most of the Cast was killed off, so it's understandable in that respect.  However, the people that could have returned- Director Stuart Gordon and Loryn Locklin as Mrs. Brennick- are not here.  I miss one of them more.  The story takes place several vague years after the original Fortress.  I say vague years because the film says that 7 years has gone by, yet Lambert's new-born son is 10 years old.  I guess it's like the reverse of how kids never age on Cartoons- see perpetually-young Bart Simpson.  Naturally, this is going to end with Lambert in Prison again, leading the film to try to raise the stakes.  How do they do it?  To find out, read on...
Over in...Canada, I guess, Lambert and his family are asked to go on a mission.  He says 'no.'

Unfortunately, he didn't realize that the Sequel had started, so shit goes down still.
Their Cabin is attacked by Men-Tel, so Lambert make a distraction for his wife- no longer the same Actress- and son to escape...for now.

Actually, they spend the whole film running.  Score one point for not being exactly the same (in this regard).
The new Fortress is different- it's in Space!

Minus 20 points for the prisoners somehow being unaware that they are in Space at first.  How do you not notice being strapped into a Space Shuttle?!?
Another new thing is that Pam Grier is here.  She does almost nothing until the Finale, in which they awkwardly-force her into it.  Kudos for taking the view screens from Spaceballs too.
The film hits a lot of the same notes as the original though.  They generally aren't clever twists on them- they're just the same scenes.  Joy.
Likewise, Lambert is thrown into Solitary and punished.  He doesn't lose his memory this time, which is a small plus.  It's still same old, same old though.
The 'Lambert fights a Prisoner' bit takes place later and they actually up the ante by having it be against Dog-Welder.

Seriously, do a Google search on 'Dog-Welder.'  You won't be disappointed.
Hey look, a newly-made close friend is killed right before the Climax.  That's unique for the series, right?

That said, the finale has some good moments.  Lots of action and explosions.
In the End, Lambert returns to Canada (or Bulgaria) to his wife and son, who were never caught.

Oh and I guess this is the End, since he helped Grier- the head of Men-Tel- escape too.  Alright then.  The End.
It's a shame that this isn't better.  In the movie's defense, they do try some interesting things.  The problem is that there just isn't enough of this.  It's mostly Fortress...again.  On top of that, the simple, straight-forward plotting has been replaced with lots of ancillary stuff that goes nowhere.  The film's lone female prisoner (of note) has a thing for Lambert, but that disappears two scenes later.  One Guard is helped out by Lambert and befriends him...just so he can die in the finale.  Pathos- gotta love it!  The few good and unique ideas really do stand in the shadows of the rehashed ones.  Look- I get it.  You're a sequel.  With that said, even crappy film sequels did some major changes.  Leprechaun 2 changes the setting, character goal and overall feel.  Amityville 4 was set in a different house, featured new (albeit silly) powers and an evil lamp.  Hell, even Corpse Grinders II is about aliens and shit.  Instead, you get mostly the same film, silly retcons (the new Warden was the originally Prison designer...apparently) and new characters that come out of nowhere.  Remember the military resistance group trying to stop Men-Tel?  No?  They were never mentioned before and just suddenly appear for this story.  The film is not without merit and you'd probably like it a lot more if you only saw this one.  I can't imagine why you'd just watch Fortress 2, but whatever.  I'll just end by paraphrasing Highlander: there should be only one!
Next up, a film about killer cockroaches in Los Angeles.  Why is it that all I can focus on is the Stock Footage then?  Stay tuned...

Friday, August 23, 2013

Totally-Awesome Cover Art: Croczilla

If you read the review from yesterday, you'll know that Croczilla/The Million-Dollar Crocodile is not very good.  However, one of the posters for it is...
Excluding the perspective issues- shouldn't the tale be hitting their boat?-, this is awesome.  It makes you think of a film like Rogue and Black Water.

See- I don't always have to say bad things about Black Water!  It's still boring, but...oops.

Thursday, August 22, 2013

#4 With Giant Animal: Croczilla

I would just stick to films about people flipping and kicking, China.  Not to offend the country that will one day control us, but I have to talk about Croczilla.  The first person to actually lash out is the U.S. Distributor of the film.  The movie was actually called The Million-Dollar Crocodile (translated into English, of course).  Why the change?  Well, it makes it sound like a schlocky film a la Mega-Shark vs. Giant Octopus or Sharknado.  It's not.  There actually is a film that it is like: Chawz.  Other than the film being Korean and about a giant Boar, it's mostly the same.  The plot involves a giant Crocodile (never explained) who runs amok in a small Chinese Village and has a ragtag crew out to get him.  The original title has to do with how it swallowed a bunch of money, since I guess it's worth death to get some Euros.  The film is a not-well-translated mess of a Monster Film and a Comedy.  To see the strange, end result of this, read on...
Oh and the poster's tagline is a giant lie: it never goes to Japan.  Ever.

Anyhow, we see in a flashback that this guy raised a CG Crocodile.  It's a lot easier than raising a real one, as it requires no food or sleep.
20 years later, it's gigantic.  How this is in an abandoned Zoo and not touring the country is anyone's guess.  Oh and Grandfather of the Year right here.
In Plot 2 of 8, this woman exposits that she worked for years to save up money to move with this guy.  When she finds that he's not been faithful, he dumps her on the side of the road.  Classy.
Plot 3 of 8 involves the local Cop- who's son is the one from earlier- who is called into investigate a crime.  What crime?
It is the worst crime: the theft of money.  It happens when the Crocodile eats the lady's purse (since it's Crocodile skin...ew) and the money inside.

You're a terrible predator.
After that, a good 80% of the movie is made up of people arguing, silly sight gags and more random 'comedy.'  Let's just hit the high notes...
The Croc Farmers decide to chase the creature to get the money.  You'd trust these guys, right?
Will the never-once-called-this Croczilla take out this bunch of losers and rule Japan like that Fortune Teller told it?
The fate of all of China rests on these two guys' shoulders.  You do the Math.  The End.
I wish I was laughing.  The film is not what it is being sold as.  It's a Comedy that is not exactly funny.  It's much less of a Creature Feature than it promises to be.  That said, there are some good Special Effects.  The money was well-spent when it comes to the titular Croczilla.  It's just a shame that there's not a good movie to really go with it.  If you like the insistent and wacky, you may have some fun with this.  This is less of a review and more of a warning.  If you see Croczilla on Streaming (via Netflix) and think 'This is looks like a fun Creature Feature,' think otherwise.  It's not completely without merit...but it's not even close to what it's sold as.  Let's see how the original Poster manages to be almost as silly as the American one...
Next up, we return to the world of Fortress.  With only Lambert on-board, it's time to go to Space.  Stay tuned...