Friday, September 30, 2016

Moviestopped: Innocent Blood (1992)

Thank you, Moviestop.  Today's Film is Innocent Blood, a 1992 Horror Comedy from John Landis.  How have I not done this already?  To be honest, the amount of John Landis stuff I've done here is pretty low, all things considered.  Of course, I have seen him play a Radio Show Producer (twice!) and a Judge in other Films, so it's not like I've missed him.  Sure is a good thing that his Son is writing a bunch of sub-par Films to keep me busy.  In this Film, a lady Vampire gets caught up in a conflict with some Mobsters and the FBI.  When in doubt, kick some ass!  The Film is chock full of notable Actors including Anthony LaPaglia, Robert Loggia and Chazz Palminteri.  It even features 'Paulie Walnuts'- no joke.  It is good to know that he's been typecast for so long.  The Film also features the scariest guy named Kim- Kim Coates from Sons of Anarchy.  What other Film features Don Rickles and French Beauty Anne Parilaud?  This one is all about crazy effects, blood and humor.  To find out how it all plays out, read on...
In the City (which seems to be Los Angeles, but isn't), a Vampire yearns for new, guilty prey.
She finds it in some Mobsters, starting with Palminteri.  I sure love this Effect!
She makes sure to shoot her first victim after biting him, but fate intercedes with her second victim (Loggia).
He wakes up and escapes from the Morgue, now as a Vampire.  Naturally, he seeks a worse Monster to team up with: his Lawyer!
In case you didn't know this was about Vampires, here's Bela Lugosi.  This is how he has an IMDB Credit 36 years after his death.
He bites and converts his Lawyer, leading to a weird bit of Comedy where he turns in the Hospital and goes for a Nurse, only for her to open the blinds and kill him (after lots of melting and charring).

Oh hi, Linnea Quigley!
He starts turning his men, planning to take over the entire organized crime racket as Vampires.  As long as you don't have to do shit in the day, I guess...
The Vampire and the FBI Agent (LaPaglia) must team up (in more ways than one!) to stop this Mobster Vampire Family.
After plenty of shooting and a Poor Bastards of Cinema induction to come, they burn him up and shoot him.  In the aftermath, the Vampire decides to stay with our Hero.  Aw.
Good Vampire fun.  What did you expect from John Landis?  Aside from the misfire of An American Werewolf in Paris, he's been pretty damn solid for Decades now.  This Film is no exception.  The Story takes some basic ideas- Vampires, Mobsters, a Crime War- and mixes them all together in a fun way.  You have good guys (like the FBI), bad guys (like the Mobsters) and one party interfering with them all (the Vampire).  To her credit, she's not especially-evil- she's just a Vampire.  The Humans tend to do worse things in the Film than she does.  I will note that the Film plays a bit fast and loose with some Vampire Rules- what else is new?  It is odd that Vampires can be killed by being shot in the head.  For all of the little stuff that they change for the worse (or convenient), they do other things quite well.  The bit where Rickles' body breaks up like firewood is still quite convincing-looking almost 25 years later.  The Film mixes Comedy and Horror pretty well, so it is good in that regard.  All in all, Innocent Blood is a somewhat-overlooked Film that stands up as one of Landis' best.  To save Review space, here are all of the Cameos below...
Next up, I get in the October spirit with a Film about Clowns.  Will it be frightful or frightfully bad?  Stay tuned...

Wednesday, September 28, 2016

Netflix and Thrill: Stranger Things (Part 1)

Before I start talking about this Show, let me get this right...
I've waited long enough to start watching/discussing the biggest thing on Netflix that isn't Women in Prison.  It is Stranger Things, a curious love letter to 1980s Cinema that has lit up Social Media.  Since some people (like myself) are still late to this whole thing, I will avoid as many SPOILERS as possible.

Considering this 2 things: a basic Teaser for those who don't know what the Show is & proof that I'm cool...
4 Kids in a small Town are living their wacky lives, despite being 'different' and 'unpopular.'
On the outskirts of Town, a mysterious Government Lab is doing some shady work led by Matthew 'We Clearly Wanted Christopher Walken' Modine.
One night, two things escape from the Lab- Eleven and a creature of unknown origin.

When young Will goes missing, his friends search for him, while his Mom finds solace in...the lights?
With the help of Eleven/Elle, the boys try to find their friend.  Will her mysterious past help them?

As far as Mom goes, she sure isn't giving up.  Heaven help anyone who tries to stop her from doing everything she can to find Will.

I'll see you in Part 2!
Good stuff.  Were you expecting me to diss this Show?  Considering how much I love 1980s Films, I'm clearly the target audience.  This one did not let me down.  The Acting is good, the Writing is good and the whole thing is just chock full of Atmosphere.  As everyone and their Mother has noted, the Child Actors here really deliver in a big way.  They just feel real and natural- good stuff.  The Adult Actors are certainly good too.  Winona Ryder shows us how good she can really be when she's given a good Script.  Whatever you do though, don't make that 2nd Beetlejuice Film- thanks.  The big thing the Show does well is giving you mystery.  I have gone into this Show as blind as humanly-possible, so the whole thing is unfolding for me.  Another thing they do well is actually giving you a payoff when it matters.  Every reveal so far has been good, so I just hope that they can keep it up.  I'll leave you with a shot of the Show's true Hero- Barb.
Considering all the hype the Show has gotten, it had alot to live up to.  It delivers, keeping me hooked for the second half of this Show.

Tuesday, September 27, 2016

Moviestopped: Knocking on Death's Door

Less awkward than anticipated at least!  Today's Film is Knocking on Death's Door, the 2nd Film in the set of Corman 'Produced' Ghost Films.  At this point, his name was just on the checks, so lets not hold this against him.  The Plot involves a young Couple moving into a Haunted House to find out its secrets.  It is your typical stuff- moving objects, weird voices and things in the mirror.  Things get more dramatic as the Couple's personal life continues to interfere.  Is the kindly Doctor up to anything?  It is David Carradine, so guess.  This is all pretty standard stuff, but I'll try to spread this out to full-length.  Come for the Ghosts, stay for the bickering.  To see how this turns out, read on...
In a dark opening, 2 Cops check on a missing lady, see her dead and...
This pretty lazy effect.  It kills one of the Cops with the Axe he left lying around leading to...a 20 year time jump.
Our Heroes have just gotten married, which is the perfect time for their Professor/Boss to...give them an assignment?

No, really.
They proceed to buy (what?!?) the murder House from the beginning to study it from the inside for g-g-g-ghosts.
When things get physical with one of the Ghosts, they see the local Doctor- Carradine.  He sure is nice and totally not the bad guy.
The new-Wife tries to communicate with the Ghost, although there is a mix of reactions, implying multiple Ghosts.
Skipping past all of the bitching and the 'Wife used to screw the Professor' filler, we learn that a kid was killed in this House by his Dad.  Guess who that is.
He tries to kill our Heroine (who is pregnant BTW), but she lives.  In typical fashion, the Ghost shows up to make him crash his car.
Now that the Ghost has killed his Dad (making him a Ghost too, right?), it can finally find peace in Heaven with Mom (or something).  Hurray for revenge.  The End.
Sometimes dead is better.  Wrong franchise, I know.  In any event, this one is...just kind of there.  The core part of the Story- the weird stuff happening with the Ghost in the House- isn't bad.  The Actors just don't have much to work with.  Their basic motivation: bicker.  They argue ALOT in this Film.  I wish that they could have done almost anything else, as it really pulled me out of the Film.  I just didn't care much about them after a while, which is kind of important for a Film like this.  With this problem, the Film just kind of dragged on for me.  There are good moments throughout, but good luck keeping your interest.  On the plus side, Carradine doesn't appear for 20 minutes and die in this Film.  Knocking on Death's Door is that bad mix of generic Presentation, bad Filler and only so-so Acting throughout.  Take us away, Extra who may or may not be a Child Molester...
Next up, more Moviestop salvage work.  This time, it is a Film I've actually meant to get around to for years.  Stay tuned...

Saturday, September 24, 2016

Almost Heroes: Park Hie-Bong (The Host)

Even 10 years later, I still don't want to SPOIL all of this Film.  Even so, I'm going to a little...

In it, this nice old dude is trying to raise his Family when the Monster shows up and it all goes south.
In a nice Scene, we see him talk about how he didn't raise his Son well enough.  Aww.
His pathos leads to a bit where their Camper near the River is bumped by the Monster and they try to pursue it...
They get the creature right in their sights with one more bullet to take it down with.
...but his Son miscounted.  Well, crap.
He dies.
On the plus side, his tragic death drives his Family to fight even harder to kill the beast.

Sorry, Pops- you almost were the Hero.  Blame Math.

Friday, September 23, 2016

Quick Reviews: The Asylum's Hercules Reborn

After Disney and MGM had their shot, it is only fair that The Asylum does too...
In a Cold Open, a mad Hercules kills his family (mostly off-screen).

Well, at least I know which Hercules Film they're copying.  The fact that another Wrestler is here as the Lead too...
This evil General guy wants to be more militaristic, while the King wants peace.

It is yet again that mention the odd Filmography of Dylan Vox.  Asylum Films, Softcore Gay Porn and Family Films.  More power to him...but still odd.  Although Showgirls 2...
He decides to rebel, overthrowing the City with all 20 of his men (and the other 100 that are CG).
He has a thing for the Princess, who is already with our non-God Hero.  Casual Rape- more Films need that!
The Heroes in hiding find someone to help them: Hercules.  Don't worry- he's still super-strong and fit after 10 years of not fighting and binge drinking.
Can our Heroes (who dress more Roman than Greek) save the day?  To find out, watch the Film.
Needed more Space Bear.  In all seriousness, this one is almost too morose and serious.  The Film features death, torture, the murder of a child (or two), implied rape and captivity.  Yeah, I'm sure Vox would totally do that to her!  I'm not against a Film being dark, but they may have overdone it a little.  I say that for a number of reasons, but mostly because the Film's budgetary limitations make it kind of funny at times.  Greece- known for its Deserts!  Thrill at some of the group Scenes where a couple Soldiers have different Helmets for no reason (other than a shortage of Helmets).  Enjoy John Hennigan (aka Johnny Nitro/John Morrison/Johnny Mundo) doing his 'I'm angry' voice in an attempt to be taken seriously.  That's always been a problem for him, as shown by the fact that The Miz did most of the talking when they were together.  Bless him for trying...but no.  The Film does a decent job at having people do the fighting most of the time, but Hennigan works in random spins.  Thanks for that.  The Story is pretty basic, the Budget is pretty small and the Acting is...mostly not great.  Hercules Reborn is a so-so Film that doesn't really do much other than try to shock you.  On the plus side, this is the first Film where Hercules does a Standing Shoot Star Press...
An odd mix of self-serious, dark and kind of silly.  The latter is not intentional, but totally there!

Thursday, September 22, 2016

Poor Bastards of Cinema: The Doorway (2000)

Never fear- there are always random guys/girls being killed!

In The Doorway, a random guy is sent to a mysterious House to fix the power.  I love how most work vans have no markings too.
He goes down to the Basement to fix the Fuse Box.  This didn't work out in Furnace, so...
For no reason, he's confronted by...the Ghost of Christmas Past...
...and backs lightly into the Box, sending sparks flying and apparently killing him.  Ouch?
The lesson: don't do your job when it involves super-unsafe fuse boxes.

Seriously, is that how they work?!?  Also, this Ghost never appears again, so...yea.

Wednesday, September 21, 2016

Moviestopped: The Doorway (2000)

Which Horror Film on the same Disc featuring a dead Actor I liked would come first?  The answer is today's Film- The Doorway.  This Horror Film from 2000 comes with another Film- Knocking on Death's Door- featuring David Carradine.  On the plus side, this Title is less creepy in hindsight.  I picked this one first since, well, the Disc was 2-sided and I didn't feel like flipping it over.  Fate works in mysterious ways.  Plus I'm lazy.  In any event, this Story involves four College Students who end up boarding at a mysterious House instead of a Dorm.  Why?  Money- that's why!  Naturally, something spooky starts to happen and they have to figure out why before it is too late.  Of note, the Cast features Roy Scheider.  Taking nothing away from how great the guy was as an Actor, this was a point where he was less, let's go with, picky about his projects.  How else do you explain appearing in Dracula II, Dracula III and The Peacekeeper.  He's also part of a strangely-specific group of Actors who's last work was on a Seth MacFarlane Show.  Considering the diversity of people- including Dennis Farina and Ricardo Montalban- how weird is that?!?  You don't care about weird things that only I notice- you care about the Film.  Is it good?  To find out, read on...
4 'teens' end up at a beat-up old Mansion in the Irish part of New England.  They'll get paid $10k and get free room and long as they fix it up.

Hope they don't mind the dead body in the Cellar.
After a quick montage, one of them reads the legend of the House, which is conveniently in a Book on site.

The gist of it: a bunch of obvious Stock Footage explains that there were once Satanists there.
Sure enough, crazy stuff starts to happen like faces in mirrors, ghosts posing dolls in sex poses (really!) and this lady showing up to be freaky.
Nearly 40 minutes in, we finally meet the guy with before-the-Title-billing.  He plays a Professor who's Assistant is related to the Family that once owned the House.  What are the odds?!?
He agrees to help them look for any phenomenon (and to be the best Actor).  Sure enough, she shows up again...
They find her body and think that this reveal will make her soul rest- you know, like in The Haunting.

Not so much, as she just pops up and kills Scheider's Character, putting an end to his 20 minute run.
They burn the body- since bones are super-flammable!- and go to the Authorities.  While they're gone, a guy dies (see a future Poor Bastards of Cinema induction).
The Cop is killed (off-screen) and it is revealed that one of them is possessed, proceeding to choke his girlfriend with his giant tongue.  Haven't seen that in a while.
After a battle with the possessed guy, the Cenobite-things that keep appearing and the Witch, the Psychic Assistant (who also plays the Witch) seals the Portal by jumping into it with the Medallion that sealed it.

I have several questions about how that works, but whatever.  The End.
I've certainly seen worse, but I've also seen better.  The Story is pretty simple, the Acting is pretty basic and the whole thing feels pretty cheap.  For example, the Ghost Witch Lady floats in one Scene, but never in a full shot.  You see the feet hovering above the ground in a tight shot and you see her back from behind in a different, tight shot.  You get enough of a sense that she's floating...but it is pretty cheap-looking.  Another example- after the bit where they kill Scheider's Character, his body falls away and they never show him above the chest area.  You couldn't afford to make a fake body, I guess.  That said, they do some nice Practical Effects (since CG was still way expensive in 2000) that mostly-work.  They certainly brighten up the otherwise dull Film.  The whole thing is just so simple and stock.  The few times they do something really different, it is mostly just odd.  Why is the Actor obsessed with W.C. Fields?  It doesn't amount to anything, so...why?  All in all, the Film has some good moments (especially with Scheider), but is mostly predictable and bland.  As a bonus, it makes sure to let you know that our Final Girl and Boy DON'T get a happy (or logical) ending...
Up next, the other Film on the Disc.  More spectral stuff, more Direct-to-Video and another dead Actor.  Stay tuned..