Sunday, May 31, 2015

May Monster Madness: Bug (1975) {Re-Post}

***While I was too late to get to a new Bug Film for May Monster Madness, I can at least Update and Repost a Review that barely anyone saw***
People often forget just how many films are actually adaptations of books. For example, Who Framed Roger Rabbit is based on a dark Book called Who Censored Roger Rabbit?  A Dumb Movie like First Blood (cool as it is) is based on a book by the same name.  In the 1970s, there were a series of silly book-to-film adaptations though- Night of the Lepus being a stand-out.  The closest thing we have come lately is Meg, a film that has been 'in-development' since 1997.  Good luck with that.  Mind you, Zoo is going to be a Mini-Series now, so...all bets may be off.  Some odd Studio adapted a strange short story titled- really- 'The Hephaestus Bug' and made today's Film...
I am putting the year on here so nobody gets it confused with that Movie of the same name where Ashley Judd does drugs and freaks out in a hotel.  Alright?
The movie begins by introducing a nice, small town that is Christian and completely non-threatening.  After enough time setting up that and are random supporting characters, an earthquake occurs. It shakes up all the people in Church, but everyone is alright. Little do they know that something more dangerous has occurred though!  Later that night, a cat stumbles upon a cockroach, or so it thinks.  The Bug does an unseen action and causes the cat to light on fire!  Jesus, movie, stop picking on the cats!  First Beware! The Blob and now this!  What did they ever do to you?!? Eventually, some people become victims of the bugs as well, the high point of which is a truck explosion.
As luck would have it, this town has an Entomologist on staff, who serves as a High School Biology teacher.  He goes to great lengths to study the creatures, becoming more and more secluded from his friends and family.  Hell, even his wife gets put on the back burner (no pun intended) in favor of the bugs. The real joy of this film is just watching how his character progresses into insanity. To be honest, everything is just window-dressing. He is the star of the movie and the bugs are the supporting actors.  The bugs are a bit more believable than The Tingler (another William Castle production) most of the time, although the real bugs used help disguise the effect. Never once do they logically explain how the bugs shoot flames either. Oh, they certainly try!  They do about as well as most 70s films do to explain pseudo-science.
As the film progresses, it manages to get crazier and crazier. The lead puts together a super-private lab designed to study these amazing creatures in great detail. Other than his sanity, there are no consequences. Oh, except for the bit where one bug lights his wife's hair on fire. As a bonus, this takes place in the same kitchen set used for The Brady Bunch show. Don't worry, the film has more than just flame-throwing bugs.  As time goes by, the bugs strive to break free.  The climax of this involves a group of them escaping their confinement and forming words on the wall.  How are they this smart?  Does it have anything to do with our scientist friend forcibly mating what he thinks are the smartest ones?  They never say.  The finale is a bit lazy, unfortunately, as the bugs kill the scientist and get sucked back into the ground by another earthquake.  Can you say Deus Ex Machina, kids?
The movie is honestly pretty good, even if it barely explains any of its own science.  The film has its own sort of charm and is honestly a very good Character Study.  I realize how silly the Movie's Plot is (which is why it is here), but I honestly like this movie.  Unfortunately, the DVD presentation is, how can I say it nicely, minimalistic.  No Trailers, Commentary or anything.  You want the Movie- here it is.  That's it!  I should also note that this movie is directed by Jeannot Szwarc, the man behind such 'Classics' as Santa Claus: The MovieJaws 2 and Supergirl. It is still good though- I just felt like mentioning that.  If you like 70s horror, check this one out.  I'm not a liar liar, hair of fire...

International Screener Flix: Der Samurai

Es gefällt mir.?  Okay, that's enough German for me.  There's more than enough of that in the actual Film I'm reviewing as a Screener.  Today's Film is Der Samurai, a nice little tale about a small village and a crazy person with a sword.  Good times.  In this town/village, life seems to be good.  So what happens when a crazy person starts going all psycho?  Nothing good.  For all my non-German Region-based Readers, you won't recognize any of the names in the Credits.  While that hurts the Film Marquee-wise, it does give you a blank slate to take this all in.  Good trade-off, I suppose.  As it is a Screener, I'll be very careful about SPOILERS.  To find out more about this German import that won't give you a safe and reliable ride, read on...
In a rural community, a young Cop- our Lead- is dealing with their local Wolf problem by feeding it outside of Town.

Side-note: I'm 2-for-2 on Screeners now with a Wolf playing a key role in the Story!
As the Station closes for the night, he notices a mysterious package.  He takes it home and later gets a call from a strange person asking for the box.
In the face of all the 'why would you do that?!?' you can muster, he meets up with the person that night to give them their package.

The person turns out to be a crazy transexual (or they just like to wear a dress) and the package contains a Samurai Sword!  Crap.
Without his gun (since the town is so small that they only keep one in the Station), he has to figure out a way to stop this dangerous psycho before people in town die.  Can he?

Sorry- no SPOILERS.  The End (for me).
Thanks for the oddness, Germany.  Due to a number of reasons, it took me awhile to start watching this one and get into it.  I'm glad that I gave it a chance, since it certainly does a number of things right.  The Atmosphere and Setting are nice and authentic.  The Acting is good, if never quite great.  The Story has some original notes to it and doesn't really feel derivative.  What I will say is that I didn't necessarily buy into the sub-text the Movie was representing and some of their random, arty choices didn't do too much for me.  It is another release by Artsploitation Films (at least here it is), so I'm not too surprised.  All in all, it is a good Film.  It make some interesting choices for better and interesting choices for worse, but ultimately does at least prove to be interesting.  Not to give anyone the wrong idea, but don't the leads in this Film and the last German Film I did (Tattoo) like kind of similar (plus both are Cops)?  It's not just me, right?
Next up, I'll start out the next Round of Project Terrible.  Do I go for the horrible Foreign Film first or ease into it?  Stay tuned...

Saturday, May 30, 2015

Twin Piqued: Lonely Souls

It gets super-crazy this Saturday in the lovely town of...
In this Episode, a big truth is revealed and all sorts of weird stuff goes down...
Important Moment
- Leo is still mostly-comatose, but his random exclamations lead James to find a cassette tape hidden in a boot heel!
- While Lynch leaves (aw!), the others take the 1-Armed Man to the Hotel.  He checks some people to no avail, but freaks out when Ben Horne approaches.
- The shut-in guy has killed himself by the time Hawk arrives, but the Police find Laura's Secret Diary and begin to check it out.

- Audrey gets the truth from her Dad and then turns on him, leading Cooper and Truman to arrest him.

- The night of his arrest, the mysterious Japanese Man goes to Pete and reveals himself to be...Catherine!

- Log Lady leads Cooper and Truman to the local Bar where a Singer performs.  During her song, the Giant reveals himself again to Cooper.  Why?
Well, Leland turns out to be Evil Bob's host and kills Maddy!  Sorry again, Sheryl Lee.
There are two Themes here.  The major one is Reflections.  Cases in point...

- Maddy plans to leave Town to be her own person and stop being Laura's 'reflection.'
- Leland's reveal comes when we see Evil Bob in the mirror.
- Instead of showing us the sign for the Bang Bang Bar, Lynch gives us its reflection in a puddle.
The lesser Theme is the Spotlight.  The final Scene with Bob/Leland is shot with an eerie spotlight over him/them at all times.  A similar thing happens when the Giant appears to Cooper.  Coincidence?
Weird Moment(s)
This is a close one, although...I think I can make the call.

The reveal of Catherine as the Japanese Businessman is weird, but a bigger Plot Point overall.  So the real winner is...

The Scene where Ed and Nadine go to the Diner.  He has to cover for her age-related psychosis with Norma.  When she orders a Chocolate Shake, she starts to grip it and...boom goes the glass!
Wow.  This is the kind of Episode that you wait for.  Twin Peaks makes you wait for the big moments, but it totally pays off!  I kind of knew about Leland, but it was still cool to see the reveal.  He plays the Scene quite well- kudos, Ray Wise.  Apparently to keep the secret, Lynch shot the Murder Scene a third time with Ben Horne as the Killer.  That's the kind of commitment to hiding SPOILERS that we need these days.  Now I can tell you almost half of the Plot of some movies like Suicide Squad before they are even done shooting!  I digress.  This Episode has the right amount of Humor, craziness and suspense for me.  It all builds up to the big moment that totally leaves you wanting more.  You don't know how hard it is for me to NOT binge-watch this Show!  I can't wait to see how this crazy Show continues to deliver.  Furthermore, will we ever get follow-up on the Plot Point of Aliens talking about Cooper?!?  In closing, let's return to that Episode of Darkwing Duck which manages to transpose Nadine and Norma into one person...
Next up, in the wake of a killing, what else could happen?  More importantly, will Lurch be of actual help?  Stay tuned...

Wednesday, May 27, 2015

Sons of Kong?: Bela Lugosi Meets A Brooklyn Gorilla (1952)

Thank Space Jesus this is over!  At long last, I am done with the Sons of Kong Set.  Who's stupid idea was it to do all 10 of these?  Oh, right.  Naturally, I'm going out with arguably the worst one in the whole group.  The Film- Bela Lugosi Meets A Brooklyn Gorilla.  I don't really need to spell this one out, do I?  No?  Well, tough shit!  I looked this crap up and you're going to read it.  The Director- William Beaudine.  Yes, the Director of Jesse James Meets Frankenstein's Daughter and Billy the Kid vs. Dracula.  Crap.  The Stars- Duke Mitchell and Sammy Petrillo.  I'll actually forgive you for not knowing those names.  These guys basically stole Dean Martin and Jerry Lewis' routine- while they were still doing it!  Fun Fact: Mitchell had an Uncredited Role in a Martin & Lewis Film in the same year that this one came out!  The Film also features Bela Lugosi (who's not actually Credited outside of the Title), white Natives and, yes, that same damn Monkey Suit!  Ugh.  The only way that this could be worse if Mantan Moreland was in this.  He's not.  You probably thought that I was going to say that he was for some sort of ironic effect, right?  Wrong!  To see how this Set ends with (an unfunny) bang, read on...
After a random batch of Animal Stock Footage, we learn that two Comedians were found in the Jungles of...Made-Up Land with White 'Natives.'  They turn out to be Mitchell and Petrillo (playing themselves).
They each end up with a lady, although the one who likes Petrillo is fat.  As such, she deserves no love!  How dare she?!?
They end up working with a local Scientist (Bela) who uses them for random work.  He's not evil!
Petrillo continues to mug and mug as...yeah, this Movie has barely any Plot...Moving on...
In a bit they stole from an Abbott & Costello Film, Mitchell is turned into an Ape.  Mug, damn you!
At a Tribal Gathering, Bela goes to shoot the Ape-Mitchell (Trademark!), but Sammy takes the shot.
Sadly, he's not dead!  He was just having a dream and a stomach ache.  Yea- more Story theft!  They do their Act again and the Film (and their Comedy Career) ends.
Bad.  Bad bad BAD.  Just...just really bad.  That's all there is to it.  It isn't funny.  It isn't exciting.  It isn't scary.  It just sucks.  My God, it sucks.  This is apparently the only Film containing the pair of Mitchell and Petrillo doing their schtick.  Oh darn.  I feel bad for Bela here.  We all know that he didn't have much time left at the time this one was Shot.  Is this the best you could give him?  Sorry, Bela.  Seriously, avoid this one at all costs.  If you won't take my word for it, let's see what Martin & Lewis thought of this one...
Up next, some more Screener action.  With so many out there, who knows what I'll do next.  Stay tuned...

Top 12 Interesting Facts About Vincent Price Films

In honor of the Birthday of Vincent Price​, here are 12 Interesting Facts about him/his Films...

1. His career progression can be seen in one Story- The Tower of London.  He appears in 2 Versions of the Film and goes up a level of Cast Importance between them (1939 and 1962).

2. Price did work with the legendary James Whale...but in Green Hell.  He would go on to mock the Film- alot!
3. Vincent Price does interact with Abbott and Costello, as he appears in a Voice Cameo at the end of Abbott and Costello Meet Frankenstein (reprising his Invisible Man role).

4. Speaking of which, the Character of 'Invisibo' on Freakazoid sounds like Price as an homage to him playing an 'Invisible Man' in The Invisible Man Returns.

5. Price played 'Joseph Smith' in a Biopic of 'Brigham Young' in 1944!
6. No huge secret, but Price's most iconic Horror Film (House of Wax) is a Remake.  Still a better Remake than the Paris Hilton Film though...

7. Why was Return of the Fly Film in Black-and-White while the first was in Color?  It was just cheaper- that's why!

8. While famous for his Poe Films, Price did play 'Charles Dexter Ward' in a loose adaptation of a Lovecraft Film called The Haunted Palace.  As a bonus, they even credit the Story as belonging to Poe!
9. While he never played 'Dracula' on Film, Price did play him (sort of) on F-Troop!
10. No secret, but isn't it funny that Price's last Wife was the woman he kills with a Hairdryer in Theater of Blood?  Horror love right there, folks.

11. Price shares a birthday with Christopher Lee and (off by a day) Peter Cushing.  The trio appeared together in a couple of Films, but only one where they really interact all the much- House of Long Shadows.
12. In fitting fashion, Price's last work of Poe's would take place on Tiny Toon Adventures!  Good stuff.

Happy Birthday, Mr. Price.  I hope that you and Poe are making them all shiver up in Heaven right now.

Tuesday, May 26, 2015

Sons of Kong?: Bride of the Gorilla (1951)

Were you trying to get all experimental on me?  Today's Film is Bride of the Gorilla, the second-to-last Film in the Set (if viewed in Chronological Order, that is).  After so many of these Films, do I get something new?  Well, yes.  Is it actually good though?  Well, no.  This Film has some notable Cast Members, but a slightly-lazy Plot and some iffy execution.  It tells the Story of a Worker who kills his Boss and then marries up 'the food chain.'  His crimes come with a Gypsy-related curse, however, and hijinks ensue.  If that last part sounds like The Wolfman, then you can blame the Director- he also made that Universal Film!  On top of that, Lon Chaney Jr is here too!  Supposedly he was nearly given the Lead, which would have just made the comparison all the more hard to ignore.  Instead of him, you won't believe who the actual Lead is.  To find out (quickly), this one mystery (and others), read on...
This guy doesn't like being treated as a lower-class person just because he works on the Plantation.  He's...Perry Mason?!?

Oh well, at least it isn't Steve Martin.
He's having an affair with the Owner's young Wife, which doesn't sit well with the man (obviously).
The pair have a confrontation, which leads to the Owner dying at the hands of...a non-poisonous Constrictor Snake.  Silly lack of Science.
The Sheriff- Lon Chaney Jr- investigates the case, but finds no evidence of guilt.  Meanwhile, a Gypsy makes a curse...
We interrupt this Story to show you Stock Footage of a sarcastic Leopard...
Burr acts strange and thinks that something is happening to him.  Meanwhile, a mysterious Creature keeps being spotted in the nearby Jungle.
After alot of build-up (and with five minutes left!), the Gorilla finally shows up!  He escapes with the woman, but is shot.
The Gorilla is Burr!  Well, that or he just thinks he was a Gorilla.  It doesn't explain his clothes being torn, but...TWIST!  Maybe!  The End.
What an odd one.  I guess it might seem weird for me to complain about a Film that tries to be different, right?  Well, tough crap.  This one...just didn't work for me.  I get that the Director and Writer were trying to be more vague and experimental.  The problem is that they don't make an interesting enough Film.  It isn't at all awful- it just isn't interesting.  Seeing Burr and Chaney in a Film together is interesting to a certain extent.  As a bonus, a young Tim Conway appears too!  The big problem is that there is no Gorilla sighting until the very end, save for glimpses of the paws.  I get that it is part of the Film's ambiguous ending...but it still kind of sucks.  In lieu of silly stuff like the Ape Suit (still the same one, it seems!), you get exceptionally-grainy Stock Footage of Animals reacting to something just off-camera.  Oh, you tease!  In the End, this one has some good ideas behind it, but just fails in the execution.  If you want more proof, check out this massive hit!
Next up, I wrap up the Sons of Kong set (Thank, Xenu!).  It doesn't go out with a bang, but with some rip-off Actors.  Stay tuned...

Monday, May 25, 2015

Holiday Flix: Roughnecks (Starship Troopers Chronicles)- The Pluto Incident

Here's a blast from the recent past.  Before they were making CG Films for the DVD Market, the folks behind Starship Troopers made...a Cartoon Show?  Yeah, weird choice.  After a Mortal Kombat Cartoon (Kartoon?), I guess anything goes.  Roughnecks was the continuation of the Story before we got either Direct-to-DVD Live-Action Sequel or the CG one, we got this.  This was an ambitious Show from the sound of it.  They wanted to do Eight 5-Episode Stories to tell a new Story in the same Universe.  Why not continue the Story though?  Dunno.  The whole thing didn't quite work out and has ended up in the hands of Mill Creek Entertainment.  That's not good.  Regardless, let's take a look at the first Story...
In this one, they go to Pluto to fight some bugs.  This is supposed to set everything all up...
We get the 'I'm doing my part.  Are you doing your's?' bit,  These are ugly, CG Characters.
I know you're not supposed to 'judge a Book by its Cover,' but...I mean, this General looks like that Old Man Puppet that Jeff Dunham uses.

How can I focus on the Plot with these kind of Visuals?
In spite of that, we get a decent enough Story involving the Roughnecks battling the Bugs, but the Action is just so censored and sedate...but then we get a Female Trooper talking about how killing bugs 'gets your juices flowing.'

The Bugs are game, but the Troopers are just too damn tough.  Need I say anymore?  The End.
An ugly-looking, but decently-written Show.  Before anyone calls me some sort of snob, I defy you to NOT be distracted by this jerky and weird-looking CG.  It is must have just looked good at the time.  Aside from the just the technical aspects, the Characters look like vacant-eyed weirdos.  The Character Design is just as much at fault- if not more- as the actual CG is here.  It like watching animated dolls!  Another thing to note is that the Action is so censored here, especially compared to the Movie.  I get it- you're not making an R-Rated Cartoon.  Even so, could you make it look less obvious?  The attempt at any Political Humor or Satire is also gone here.  While I don't consider the Film to be a Satire, many do.  I *kind of* get their point, but I just don't agree.  With this one, they will be/have been disappointed in that regard.  Whether or not you think they were trying to be funny, the first Film is kind of funny for many different reasons (mostly bad).  This Show has none of that.  It is just weird-looking doll people shooting bugs.  It's alright.  What do you think, newer CG Troopers?
Next up, I continue to cover the so-called Sons of Kong.  Now that we're into the 1950s, will things improve?  Stay tuned...