Sunday, July 8, 2018

Return of the Family Man - 1989

What happened to South Africa?  South Africa, in the 80's, was a upcoming film location, it seemed.  Suddenly in the 80's, flicks were popping up filmed in Australia and Canada and South Africa and more.  Google shows me some of the known South African movies recently.  District 9...yeah.  Okay.  I guess it's not that unknown of.

Well, anyways, back to the subject at hand.  Return of the Family Man is filmed in South Africa and they spend the whole movie quietly pretending it's America.  Which is pretty awesome, I might mention.  I love how, in older movies like this, they just casually pretend it's America.  Obviously trying to succeed in America by doing this, but now they'd do the opposite.  Emphasize it's South Africa in order to succeed.

Return of the Family Man has a couple of groups of people coming together at a junked out house in the semi middle of nowhere, tricked there by some resort thing they bought into.  Okay, it's original enough, I'll go with it.  Meanwhile, a bus transporting criminals is derailed when serial killer "The Family Man" kills the guards and escapes.  He begins his journey home, home ends up being the same house where the group of people is staying.

It's a simple enough story, and it works with the subject matter.  The killer is given enough screen time to be interesting, and he's well acted enough for it to not be a total mistake.  Some parts and the some of the pacing is a bit wonky, but all in all, nothing goes off the rails.  The kills are pretty decent too.  It's not super memorable, it's not out to hurt anyone, but it could have easily been worse.

Return of the Family Man was forgettable, but fine, ultimately.  Nothing much to say.  2.5 stars.

Friday, July 6, 2018

Open House - 1987

Jofer Jeff saved me again on a night where I wanted an inconsequential, by the numbers blah as fuck horror film.  And this is so damn unknown and uninteresting I can hardly find anything about it online.  So, win!

Adrienne Barbeau is in this?  Wow!  We start the movie with an extremely subpar, soft core porn type feel.  Idiotic 80's women are being murdered as they tour open houses in some vague suburban town somewhere.  Yes, that is in fact the entire plot of this movie.  It's pretty great, really.  In the meantime, there is a local radio show that's a suicide prevention Life Line type call in thing, and they're receiving occasionally weird calls from maybe the killer.

It's got some interesting deaths, it has some terrible acting, it has lots of bizarre clunky writing factors that go into it, and suffice to say it's NOT GOOD.  Pacing was weird, acting is hit and miss, the killer at the end was kind of a dumb sequence.  Yeah, I dunno.  And yeah, we're keeping a short review this time.  I gotta pay attention to Amityville 3D which is on right now.  1 star.

Thursday, July 5, 2018

Get Christie Love! - 1974

I popped this movie in about three times.  I didn't pay too much attention for any of those three times.  But that's as much as this is going to get, and I feel like I gleaned enough from it to write a pretty reliable review.  Returning to the much loved 1970's boxset here.

Get Christie Love! is a TV special based on a TV series turned movie.  This was the early 70's, and black hero and heroine films were making it big on the market with such films as Shaft, Sweet Sweetback's Badass Song, Big Bird Cage, Coffy, etc.  This was a attempt to have black people being the focus of both comedy and action, as both an experiment in progression and exploitation, but ultimately won out on the progressive side.

Sparked by this, many things jumped on the blaxploitation bandwagon, and tried to cash in on the craze.  Get Christie was a light made for TV version of a cash in.  It did what it could without being able to get a high a rating obviously.  The blaxploitation in the theaters would normally be action packed, have some nudity, and would have lotsa use of bad language.  Get Christie had to settle for less than this, and yes, it does feel that way as well.

A really likable main actress Teresa Graves plays Christie Love.  Christie is a funny, charming, charismatic young black woman working for the police department.  She's tough, good at talking the talk and walking the walk.  The series was only the second TV show to have a black female lead character, and in that way it will always be seen as progressive.  In the first ten minutes or so, a white dude assuming she is a prostitute asks Christie how much.  She says 100.  Eventually, he called her a nigger.  She replies back "nigger lover".  It would be statements like this that made fun of the racists who might discriminate against black people, while at the same time be attracted to them sexually.

All this aside, is it a great movie?  Hm.  Meh.  It's okay.  There's nothing "wrong" with it per say.  It's averagely interesting.  It's got a drug trade, it's got some action scenes, it's got a few chuckles.  It was probably better in the 70's.  It's pretty much what you expect from a 70's TV show.  It was successful as a show, but was soon canceled as Teresa Graves quit acting.

I would not recommend it unless your primary interest is the blaxploitation and 70's type films.  I give it 2 stars.

Friday, June 22, 2018

Friday the 13th Part 3 - 1982

Getting home last night, I was again confronted with the recent phenomenon of desiring to watch a classic slasher.  I wanted the whole shebang.  I wanted death count, masked killer, the look and feel and essence of the 80's, and I specifically wanted it in the form of a Friday the 13th movie.

A while back on this blog, I randomly watched and reviewed Friday the 13th Part VI and Jason Goes to Hell and the Friday reboot.  I also did watch Jason takes Manhattan, which I did not review.  Some of these I watched because I simply hadn't seen them in a long time.  Some I watched because I had never seen them before at all.  Yes, dear reader, I had never seen Manhattan or Hell before the last few years.  I know.  Crucify me.

Friday the 13th Part 3 was the first to gimmick the franchise.  In this one, it was filmed in 3D and also it way ups the stakes in showing that Jason is un-killable and will survive just about anything you can do to him.  It invented the now classic look to Jason as well.  It joins him with the hockey mask and the machete, whereas in previous Friday part 2, he had a bag over his head and used a large variety of weapons.

Part 3 isn't as bad as one might think.  It's plot certainly is bad though, and HOW many times have we fucking seen this?!  Recite it with me here:  Several Friends Go Out To The Woods To a Remote House / Camping Trip.  Ugggggghhhghghghghghg.  I GET IT.

To continue my brief breakdown of horror I started in Iced I was thinking about masks a lot as I watched this.  I think I can take a shot at exactly why killers wear masks and why we're afraid of them.  We are all afraid of the instincts within us.  We're afraid of the animal impulse, the desire for blood or for vengeance, to overpower someone with rape or death or control.  We know from history we're entirely capable.  Humans having been acting in animistic ways towards other humans for years.  And a mask is symbolic of someone making the choice to abandon their humanity.  Whatever mask it is, it's inhuman.  It's embracive of the instinct, it's embracing the animal, the desire we have within all of us.  Especially in movies like this and in Halloween where, as soon as the mask is partially removed, the killer stops everything and struggles to get it back on.  Masks are essential for them to survive.  To keep on being who they are.  Because to show their face is to admit their humanity.  So for the love of fucking god, in the next goddamn Star Wars film, have Kylo Ren put his goddamn mask back on!

The deaths are plenty and they are done well.  Creative to standard, there's plenty of them, and most of them are spread out within the last 40 minutes of the film.  Jason has a lot of screen time, and for a few parts of the film we actually follow him instead of the dumb blond or the hunky beefcake he's going to kill.  The characters are all averagely annoying, not very well written, and the dialogue is either non-existent or terrible.  There is supposed to be nudity, but the YouTube video I watched had it blurred out...?  The fuck?

So that's your "Horror Movie Breakdown" there, rating the normal things one would look for in a horror film.  It has mostly successes though, things in the "plus column" so it stands out as above average.  The 3D effects that would have been used, I didn't get to witness since I'm watching it in 2D, but let me sum it up in one word:  Gimmicky.  Unnecessary.  Stupid.  Okay, more that one word, but all three do apply.

Still though, it's a fun sequel, I can see why they made another, and it helped define Jason for years as the killer we picture when we hear Friday the 13th.  3.5 stars...?  Hmmm....  4 stars.

Monday, June 18, 2018

Blood Frenzy - 1987

We have been down this road before.  This is the tried and true "porn director makes a real movie" trope.  I wonder if porn directors are still trying this nowadays?  This was one of  13 projects listed for director Hal Freeman for 1987, check the whole list here:

 1987Best of Caught from Behind (Video) 
 1987Earthquake Survival (Documentary) 
 1987Erotic Dreams (Video) 
 1987Loose Morals 
 1987Love Notes (Video) 
 1987Star Cuts 61: Keisha (Video short) 
 1987The Million Dollar Screw (Video) 
 1987Blood Frenzy 

Now, IMDb does state that Earthquake Survival is an hour long "how to survive" documentary hosted by Shelley Duvall, but aside from that we have quite a bit of porn. Was he trying to branch out? Who knows.

Blood Frenzy plays out and follows the cliched name it has.  It is a horror slasher, sort of continuing my recent line of horror slashers.  The Prey and Iced and hopefully more are coming soon, as I need a dramatic tone shift from the 70's boxset every once in a while.  

YouTube users go through and create entire playlists of terrible slashers.  I'm watching a bunch from this user Jofer Jeff and pretty much just watching anything that I haven't seen before, which is most of them.  I also watched The Night Brings Charlie, Silent Madness, and I watched 1992's Winterbeast, still contemplating if Winterbeast should have a review.  I'll settle for a mini review here:  Terribly awesome, so bad it's fantastic with terrible effects and acting, great Ray Harryhausen type claymation, awesome monsters, great cult night weed smoky movie with nonsensical plot.  4 stars.

Blood Frenzy was similar in the way that it's terribly acted, minimal, filmed in the desert with a small cast.  They're supposedly all mental patients and thus get asked to act, which was a mistake cause most of them cannot.  The kills are average, the pacing is okay, the scare factor is zilch, and nothing really interesting happens the whole movie.  When the best part of your entire movie is the hint and beginning of a lesbian sex scene...yeah your movie sucks.

It's fun though, it could be worse, and it has the cheesiness factor that you can enjoy for drinking and watching with buddies.  I give it a B movie 2 stars.

Friday, June 15, 2018

Mr. Sycamore - 1975

Returning from a bit of a break, I watched Mr. Sycamore last night.  This is the movie on the boxset which I would have to say I was the most excited about.  I remember leafing through the boxset's booklet early on when I got the set, reading through the different movies synopsis.

Mr. Sycamore, I was going to try to find the exact wording and I couldn't, had a very short synopsis.  It basically said that the main character John became obsessed with the idea of becoming a tree, so he goes into his backyard and "plants himself" and awaits the metamorphosis.

And yeah, that is what happens.  No, it's not all that happens though.  In fact, I had a eerie feeling pretty early on, because by minute 20 or so, John has already made up his mind and he was already in the backyard.  It was then I knew, some dumb crap will probably happen to throw all this shit for a loop, cause otherwise this movie would barely make 30 minutes.

And it does.  I will say, this movie never went full on bad, but it has many unnecessary and extraneous moments.  There's a whole bit of "comedy" about the mental hospital coming for John with a straight jacket.  There's a "groovy" surreal bit where he watches a woman ride a horse.  But most interestingly, and perhaps even well done, was a bit of a deep dive into the relationship between John and his wife Jane, who generic names aside, have what appears to be a very deep and loving relationship.  We can see the true depth of feelings Jane has for John as he gets more and more into the tree idea, which would obviously point to marital problems.

This being 1975, I was genuinely curious to see how this movie would end.  A big part of me suspected he would actually turn into a tree.  After all, the movie had already stepped into surreal territory once, and obviously it wasn't going to end with the main character going to the hospital, killing himself, or waking up.  Spoiler warning, in the end John does turn into a tree.  His wife comes and touches his leaves.  Pan out.  Credits.  Okay...?

In the end, I wasn't sure exactly if I liked this or not.  I will categorize it as something that if you watch it when you're young it would probably stick with you.  It reminds me a bit of all the bizarre weird shit I saw on the other boxset.  The movie with the whale song dude.  The weird movie with the aliens.  Alien Prey.  By the way it's been a full year since I finished Sci Fi Invasion and reviewed it!  My god time flies.

Maybe this movie could have actually been on that set...?  It felt thematically similar wherein it has an interesting premise, but for some reason it's hard to follow, and it leaves you with a general feeling of "wait...what?"  It has an ambiguity about it and I won't lie, it's an ambiguity I am growing to really appreciate.  For some reason, these movies have stayed with me.  I guess it's the perfect amount of bizarre feel, unanswered questions, strange but likable characters, and at times parts of the film that were actually quite good.  The acting, the way the characters interact, it's actually really good in a lot of these films.  It feels heartfelt.

This movie was based on a play, which again points to things I normally enjoy.  Dialogue is cryptic yet refreshing, enigmatically pushing forward.  I don't want to sound like I'm hyping this movie too much though, cause it certainly was a bit boring and very difficult to love.  But I did like it, and I do give it 3.5 stars.  Which seems awfully high, but who cares.

Thursday, May 31, 2018

The Driver's Seat - 1974

Some actors get a reputation outside of cinema, which affects how they're seen in the public eye, the movies they're cast in, and much more.  This phenomena is not particularly something I care about.  I have always been of the opinion that an actor is an actor.  What they do in their private life doesn't fucking matter.  It has no effect at all on how they act.

I love Daniel Day Lewis.  I tell this to my buddy.  "Dude, Daniel Day Lewis is an asshole," he says.  First of all, how would you know that?  Have you met him?  "Apparently on set Daniel Day Lewis was a major dick to XYZ actor or actress and director."  Obviously if this was Weinstein level bad I'd give a fuck.  But just "being an asshole?"  Who gives a fuck?!  First of all, who knows why he was doing that.  Maybe the actor had it coming.  Second of all, it DOESN'T FUCKING MATTER.  Did it effect Lewis's performance?  Fuck no it didn't, the dude is amazing.

Elizabeth Taylor is an actress like this.  Married like 8 times, bout to fits of weirdness and intensity, she garnered quite a reputation outside of cinemas.  She's a gay icon.  She's controversial.  She has all sorts of legends and cult followings.  Do I give a shit?  Fuck no.  But movies like The Driver's Seat get reputed as legendary because she is acting weird in it, and thus it gets some giant cult following.  Well, okay.  Giant-ish following.  It's not super known.

People do agree with me in their online reviews that this movie induces a general sense of "what the hell?"  It played at Cannes and garnered similar reviews.  It's a movie with an electric feel to it, something you want to watch, but cannot comprehend, and don't know how to interpret.  I watched it with equal parts interest and disgust, love and hate, boredom and intrigue.

Elizabeth Taylor stars as Lise, an eclectic and bizarre, enraged and unexplained character.  She is prone to extremely weird dialogue and actions, doing seemingly incomprehensible things at random.  In the beginning she buys a shirt, then later flips out when she learns it is stain free.  This is by far not out of character for her the way she's written.  This movie was an exercise in having bizarre things for Lise to say and do with nothing to explain or restrain her.

Driver's Seat feels like it was made purely to capitalize on the weirdness factor, which means it's a precursor to the self aware.  Also it was definitely going for the "experimental film" thing.  It even has Andy Warhol in it, in a small role.  Eventually, things do get explained a bit, but not to the point where they make sense.  Just to the point where someone couldn't get mad and say the movie had no plot.

It's not a great film.  It has it's moments of comedy and weirdness and sexuality that shine through, but overall, it just feels like a garbled mess, and it does feel exploitative.  Oh, and surprise surprise, this was a return to the 70's boxset!  I actually went back to it, like a druggie with a bad habit.  I think others would like it way more than I did, but I will still give it 2.5 stars
Two guesses where two of the stars come from.