Friday, July 31, 2015

The Perfect Host - 2010

Well another movie I wasn't going to include...not much to say here.

David Hyde Pierce (DHP) plays a psycho dude who has a criminal in his house.  At first the criminal looks in charge and DHP is just some scared guy in a suit, turns out DHP drugged the guy's wine and once he wakes up he realizes DHP is f'in crazy.  DHP sees imaginary people, has a scrapbook of people he's killed, etc.

The movie strongly relies on DHP making an utter fool of himself and I can only imagine that these people had seen or at least knew of his role in Frasier, and wanted to see him acting weird.  There is little other reason to see this movie, actually, other than to see DHP act like a buffoon, and the scene where he has sex with a figment of his imagination.  He's a decent enough actor and believable, but it pushes that crazy card a bit too far and ends up just being kind of stupid.

It wants to be a black comedy, funny in it's portrayal of an utter psycho, but instead it just comes off as a bad script.  Throughout the film it flows a little bit jerky at times, but it's not until the end when you realize that it's one of those movies where the plot is laid out in just such a way where it's like, the characters in the film must've known exactly what the other would do 10 steps ahead of them.

There's one example where the criminal John escapes DHP and grabs a sword off the wall to stab DHP with.  Turns out the sword is fake.  So DHP knew that John would go for that, versus say a kitchen knife or steak knife, fire poker, etc?  WTF.  The plot is one of those where if any one character did one single thing differently, every one else's plan wouldn't have worked out.  It's a plot of convenience.

For keeping me interested for about 10 minutes out of its 90+, I give it a star.

Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Ebirah, Horror of the Deep - 1966

More commonly known as Godzilla Versus the Sea Monster

Well, I just did like 30 seconds of research to try and find out if the Japanese suffix "ra" had any special meaning, but I couldn't find it.  I mean, I just find it slightly odd that in Japanese Godzilla is Gojira, then there's Ebirah, Mothra, Ghidorah, Hedorah, even Gamera fits the bill.  But, fuck you internet, you decided I don't get to know.  So now my loving audience doesn't get to know either.

One thing I thought early on in this movie was that it's kind of strange how they've treated Godzilla's breath weapon as this movie franchise has evolved.  In the first movie Gojira the big bad lizard uses his breath lots of times, destroying houses and tanks and people, and it's badass.  Then as time goes on he slowly uses it less and less.  In this movie, which was the 7th in the franchise, he uses it early on against Ebirah.  In fact it's the first thing he does.  Yet in later sequels, he would wait and only use his breath seemingly as a last resort.  One thing I thought of just now was that maybe in the Showa era when Godzilla was good they minimized his breath to make him appear less savage and or had a fake reason like that it was bad for humans or something.

Additionally, they wanted to build up to his breath in later installments of course.  It's like in the 98 film where the breath is not even existent, it's more like him blowing oxygen on a flame, it doesn't come from him at all.  And the breath probably is the most "unrealistic" aspect of the giant mutant dinosaur lizard thing, so they also probably didn't want to focus on it as time went on.

In this movie, Godzilla was supposed to be King Kong.  This traces back to Toho's desire to put all sorts of other monsters in their kaiju films, they wanted to use Frankenstein in Godzilla versus King Kong, they wanted to bring Kong back several times, and this was one of them.  Kong would've made more sense, especially at the part near the end of this film where Godzilla randomly attacks Mothra even though they're supposed to be friends.  I love Toho's approach there by the way.  Um, so we didn't get Kong, so should we maybe change the script since having Godzilla attack Mothra makes no sense?  Fuck it, no one will notice, just have Godzilla attack Mothra anyway.

I also love the poster:
Featuring Mothra!  Who is in the film for all of 1 minute and definitely is not bigger than Godzilla!  And who really does nothing that important anyways!  
Oh and by the way, that weird brownish thing is the main villain...

Ebirah aka the Sea Monster is a giant lobster, who is hanging out near an island being all destructive at the beginning of this film.  He is semi-friends with the island folk, who avoid him with a yellow powder that makes him go away.  He sinks some ships and generally is just a giant lobster while in the meantime some people on the island stumble across Godzilla who's knocked out under a mountain on the island.  They use a lightning rod to revive him, and when he wakes he fights Ebirah.  The two monsters are soon joined by Mothra, and the island is slowly becoming unstable.

As far as fights go, this movie is extremely minimal.  Two fights happen, both are fairly short, and Ebirah (who does NOT win, spoiler alert) barely even looks like a threat against Godzilla.  If anything this movie kind of comes across more of an adventure movie about the humans with a side plot about monsters thrown in awkwardly.

Another thing, this is my least favorite Godzilla suit.  Or one of them at least.  Mostly it's the eyes. it looks like he's always looking up.  And they're too big and goofy looking.  It was only used in two movies, some small scenes in others, but it's easy to see why it was abandoned.  After all this was also the suit that did that retarded dance in Invasion of the Astro Monster.  

This is a far from necessary Godzilla film for completionists only, not necessarily one to avoid at all costs, but don't expect a lot from it.  I'll give it 3 stars though, cause it's still entertaining, watchable, fast paced, and has a good looking lobster in it.

Tuesday, July 28, 2015

Godzilla: Final Wars - 2004

This movie review will be partially written while watching the actual movie Godzilla Final Wars.  This movie was made in 2004, and has that feeling of something that was influenced by the post-Matrix world it came out in.  Briefly all the action movies had to spice up their camera movement, martial arts action, and craziness innovative factor to try and show that what The Matrix did could easily be imitated.

Another thing this movie falls victim to is way stereotyping their characters, but in that "we did it on purpose" way.  This is when you have it for the sake of comedy and easy accessibility, it's like when in a teen movie you dress the white guy up like Shaggy from Scooby Doo, have him make weed references, and make him the "comic relief".  This movie does the spoiled kid with chocolate smeared all over his mouth, it does the pimp black guy who drives a pink Cadillac and wears fur, etc.  They aren't funny, as you can obviously guess, but merely annoying.

No wonder there wasn't a Godzilla movie for 10 years.

In this installment, humans have these mutants that have some blood from the monster Gigan.  These guys are super good fighters and whatnot, and they are going to be super useful because all the sudden monsters appear from all over the globe, destroying cities like New York, Melbourne, Paris, and of course Tokyo among others.  It's an extremely high budget, overly stylistic film directed by Ryuhei Kitamura who had directed action films Alive and Versus.  There's the good and the evil mutants, and we follow a couple of them whilst the monsters appear, then disappear, then reappear.  This is the doing of the aliens, and it turns out that the only way to stop these monsters is by un-burying Godzilla, who is in Antarctica.

There's a stereotypical beefy white soldier dude played by MMA fighter Don Frye, who I've seen fight in Pride FC and UFC.  He's a decent fighter at times, but a terrible actor in this.  Of course, he doesn't have much to work with since his lines are all straight out of a cliches book.  He is an American general or something living in Japan and a member of the military.  What I love is while he speaks in English, everyone else speaks in Japanese....So either they can understand English but not speak it, or he can understand Japanese and not speak it?  Or actually, it would have to be both!  What the fuck, who made that decision?  I've seen that problem in other stuff as well, most notably in the recent Daredevil Netflix show.

Did I mention that horrible rock band Sum 41 has a song in this movie?  And it hurts about as much as you can imagine.  When Godzilla isn't acting like Gigan and some giant spider are barely even there, he is mostly just wandering around looking cool.  It's very short on the kaiju action for the most part and the humans are the focus for the majority of the film.  The kaiju fights do however give an opportunity to see Godzilla kick some major ass of all the monsters (almost all at least) and we do get to cheer for him if that's your goal of watching a movie like this.

The CGI in the movie is generally bad, very cartoonish, and it looks like some bad cut scene from a Halo game or something.  It sort of matches the general feel of the flick, though, in the "this movie kinda sucks" feeling that is.  It's just hard to be a Godzilla fan, especially when my favorites are the 60, 70's and 80's ones, and have this movie be part of the legacy.  It feels extremely dated for being only 11 years old too.  I mean, NONE of these actors are still in stuff, the director has been forgotten to Western audience, it feels way overly stylized in the worst of ways, worse than any Matrix ripoff or sequel.  It has terrible dubbing and watching it with subtitles is pointless since you should not even attempt to take it semi-seriously.

Despite Zilla getting killed and put in his proper place, this movie still only gets 1 star, and that's only given for the occasional kaiju coolness.

Friday, July 24, 2015

Eyes Behind The Stars - 1978

There I was, in my work clothes, drunk on Hurricane High Gravity (followed by a gin and tonic, followed by a blue Hawaiian), watching this movie, and realizing, well, it wasn't that good.  Why do these things happen to me?!  I wasn't paying attention, to be honest, not in the least, but this movie truly didn't even try to keep me entertained.  It made good background noise though, I will give it that.  I also have experienced this before, but it was really strong with this movie:  the inescapable question as I watched, "what the hell movie is this?"

This is what happens when you're drunk, you own a 50 sci fi movie DVD collection, you pick a disc at random and you press play.  I had a 4 movie choice of what to watch, I picked one with a long name, instantly forgot what it was called, and spent the next 40 minutes wondering "what the hell movie did I pick?"  because I was too lazy to get up and check.

Turns out this movie was called "Eyes Behind the Stars".  Huh.  Who knew?  Also, I thought I had watched about 40 minutes of this, turns out it was closer to an hour.  That's strange, usually movies feel like more time has gone by, not less.

Anyways, it's a mystery movie of sorts, it doesn't play out like a sci fi movie - it's more just got a sci fi twist.  Also, it is sort of an adventure movie, as the main character Tony escapes from this evil group of people associated with aliens.  Oh I forgot the plot is about aliens living among humans and wiping their memory.  Yeah, that's important to know.  Also, important to know this movie was Italian (ah, Italy) and was seriously dubbed.  I mean, seriously.  So bad.  Laughable.  But in a good way.  I also have to say that the aliens in this movie were fucking fantastic.  I love things that are genuinely original, and they were definitely that.  Obscure, bizarre, these are also good descriptive words for them.

This movie wasn't what I'd expected, of course this was going back to my sci fi boxset as I somewhat eluded to earlier.  So I went in expecting fun action and sci fi, especially since this disc that the movie was on also held my fave "The Day Time Ended".  But what I got was kind of a mystery thriller, instead, not heavy on the sci fi.  For what it is it's not bad, being drunk made me extremely short attention spanned, and I was not ready for the slow build this movie has.  If I was still in my amateur phase with this blog, I'd go back and rewatch this movie like I did with Stanley, but I'm at the point where I don't give a fuuuuck, so nope, this movie won't get rewatched any time soon.

My parents are probably so proud of me.

This movie is not okay to drink to, if you're going to smoke make sure it's the relaxing kind of weed, and don't you ever think of showing this to friends late at night.  Put this on if you're patient, and have plenty of time to kill.  I don't want to go on about this movie too much, suffice to say it's just another forgettable flick, for the most part.

Revisit 3/28/17
I did rewatch this film, and man, I was just way to drunk for it, as I guessed.  Its a slow moving mystery film similar to Footsteps on the Moon, actually.  It is also quite progressive, decently paced, and a genuinely freaky film.  You're not even introduced to the main character until 17 minutes in, and by that time I had probably already decided I hated it when I was drinking.

The film has some small, minor omissions and it's not for those who want everything spelled out, that's for sure.  However, it is really bizarre, highly drugged da fuck up, and worth a viewing if you like mystery sci fi.  It's a bit long, and sometimes it tends to lag, and it has a ton of dialogue, but with some small cleaning up this coulda been a five star mystery sci fi.  Of course, it is 1978 and the pacing was average for the time.  So really, it's pretty close to perfect.  It works as a mystery, not as much a sci fi, which was why I might not have been ready for it when I was drunk.

I'll give it a retroactive 4 stars.

Wednesday, July 22, 2015

They Came From Beyond Space - 1967

There are often many, many attempts by different companies to cash in on a popular genre or movement within film.  Why, just recently we had dozens of sci fi movies making their presence known after the success of Gravity, and there's always room for one more retarded Marvel movies to come out and be exactly like the others.  So, I present to you They Came From Beyond Space (TCFBS), which when it premiered as part of a double feature, was called, "the two worst films the company ever produced".

This movie was a difficult one, and I don't mean difficult to watch or difficult to rate.  I just mean it felt unsure of what it was trying to be from 10 or so minutes in.  First of all, it looks okay, despite the fact it was extremely low budget.  However, that might be because it reuses sets and props from a Doctor Who movie that was also made this same year.  So, if you are a fan of the old Doctor Who movies and TV shows, there's some trivia.  

TCFBY begins with some meteors that appear to be infecting people somehow.  At first the influence is simply thought to be a disease, called the crimson plague, however it's vicitms seem to be portraying odd behavior.  We follow Robert Hutton as Dr. Curtis Temple, a man who has a metal plate in his skull, and is thus unaffected by the meteors influence.  His fiancee, however, is affected, and soon she goes into isolation, to the point of keeping armed guards and an electric fence around her property (which is where the meteors are).  Temple breaks into the compound to try and figure out what's going on, but he's not going to like what he finds...

TCFBY is relatively simple, it's not hard to watch by any means, yet it still felt like a chore to get through.  I don't know if I could say exactly why, but it's yet another one of these movies I'm inevitably going to give 1-2 stars and ramble on about pacing, which again, was a problem here.  Anyone else feel like we're stuck in a time loop?  The pacing does suck though, to be honest.  I just feel like, if you reach that point in a movie where you look away, casually interested in the dirt under your fingernails, or in what the internet might have to offer you, the movie is not doing it's job.  

Mostly it's build.  Hell, the dude doesn't even break into the compound until well around the hour mark.  Being 85 minutes long that doesn't leave a lot of time for things to happen.  He breaks in, and that's when it does finally get "good".  I'm obviously using the word good in a relative term here.  It's not like, 2001 A Space Odyssey good or anything.  More like, "Hey, I don't want to turn this shit off and break my computer" type good.  There's all sorts of weird ass random elevator scenes, cool vaults, and you get to watch some 8-5 business-man looking dude in a tan jacket walking around pretending he's interested in random shit.  That's the relative "good" you get here.

The movie is instantly forgettable, indescribably inane, and torturous.  I don't recommend it unless you really, really like guys in tan jackets.  That's an extremely small demographic (I hope).

Sunday, July 19, 2015

Death Machine - 1994

Ah, the future.  The future is going to be cool.  I for one am really looking forward to the distant year of 2003, when we'll have killer machines, man-machine hybrids, and awesome industrial warehouses everywhere.  Yes, the future looks bright in Death Machine, which is in no way related to the other Death Machines movie I rated a bit ago.

Death Machine is a near perfect bad movie.  Near perfect because it's not, but oh man is it a bad movie.  Not only is it bad, it was directed by the guy who basically made Sean Connery stop acting in films, Stephen Norrington would later go on to direct The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen, which was of course Connery's last role.  Norrington came from a history of special and creature effects on such successful films as Alien, and this movie is a first hand demonstration of why skill in one area (effects) does not always translate to another area (writing and directing).

This movie is bad in many, many ways. First of all, the characters.  If you're going to homage other film makers, at least be KIND OF smart about it.  It takes us out of the film if it's painfully obvious what you're going for.  So the characters here are Jack Dante (director Joe Dante homage), Scott Ridley (Ridley Scott homage) Sam Raimi (Sam Raimi homage), John Carpenter (figure that one out for yourself).  Yeah, brilliant.  There's also a rather nonsensical Street Fighter reference near the end that hurt to hear.

I was watching it and thinking, though it was bad, I miss the type of films where the whole thing took place in some industrial looking warehouse.  Like, they had one building in which to shoot, and so by adding some tubes, wires, fog and lights, they make it look like this bizarre futuristic building, and the whole thing is shot there.  There's other movies where they just take place in some random warehouse somewhere.  I love that shit, and I regret that movies these days are too ambitious to bring back the 90's aesthetic of filming in some weird-ass warehouse somewhere.  That shit was awesome, and it looks great.  Especially when there's like, randomly blasting fire, giant industrial metal doors, a freezer room, or some dark dank that shit is awesome.

Okay, the plot is a who cares thing; it's your basic follow the main girl as she uncovers the fact the company she works for has been creating machines, and man-machine hybrids.  They're evil of course, run by Brad Dourif in a typically insane performance.  There's a lot of setup going into the pretty simple you-know-exactly-how-this-movie-goes plotline, and it could have used some editing, but basically its man vs machine and all sorts of fights and chases in the industrial warehouse ensue.

Rachel Weisz was also in a microscopic role.  Nice.

This movie was fun, but also not that great and took too long to get through.  I checked at least three times to see how much was left, watching it on Amazon instant play.  I couldn't tell you exactly where it went wrong, but the pacing is very slow, and there's just a lot of unnecessary dialogue and build to something that ultimately we knew was going to happen ten minutes into the film.  The acting is inconsistent, sometimes okay and sometimes horrible.  The effects are okay but extremely 90's and dated, the stop motion animation in parts is done in way too jerky of a fashion.

All in all, it's fun but not THAT fun, it'd be okay to put on if you like bad action movies or maybe Terminator rip-offs, but I don't generally recommend it.  I'll give it 2.5 stars though, cause at least it didn't have that horrible stink of a bad bad movie all over it.

Friday, July 17, 2015

Demon Seed - 1982

Demon Seed, eh?  Demon Seed.  And no, I'm not in fact reviewing the 1977 film with Julie Christie.  This is the other Demon Seed, this one's alternate titles are Demon Rage and Satan's Mistress.  Yeah, that's the movie.  I added this to my Amazon Instant queue because the poster looked cool and the plot was about a woman having sex with a ghost.  Sounded okay enough to me to warrant a watch.  After all, I've seen movies that had absolutely nothing going for them:  no cool poster, no sex, nothing at all.

What I'm trying to say is that I just decided to see it, and walk you through a little bit of how I decide these things.  Free is always better, cool artwork is good, sex and nudity are good, actual actors are always a good sign.  I make this sound a little complex but it's not.  When you're a fan of movies there is nothing that you need to make you watch.  You watch cause it's what you do.

Demon Seed played out like a sort of mystery-thriller with a supernatural twist, and I at one point had to think while I was watching it, what were they going for with this film?  I earlier talked about in my review of Unforgettable, how in the 90's the genre of the sex-thriller became pretty popular, and I would argue that this film is a logical precursor to that genre.  It has a little bit of 70's charm and was influenced by the success of other supernatural stories, so that makes it different, but for most of the movie it's a sex thriller with a drama and even romance twist.

This movie stars two ex-James Bond girls, Britt Ekland from The Man with the Golden Gun, and Lana Wood from Diamonds are Forever.  I've long maintained that even though Bond girls are well known, and there a few exceptions to this rule, most of them don't have much of a career after that, or at least aren't known for other roles.  They are here showing off their best assets, and it's not their acting, but rather their large chests.  Yes, this movie does have plenty of nudity, and it's pretty common in the beginning, especially with Lana Wood.

You see, the plot as I said involves ghost sex.  This woman in a fizzled out relationship is getting fucked by a ghost.  She seems to go through this with no particular concern, and the movie just starts out with this happening, leaving us to wonder if this ghost sex had been happening for a while or if the time we saw was the first.  Either way she likes the sex, but is freaked out by it understandably.  Soon enough she's hiding out from her husband, going away to her bedroom while there's guests over, etc, all to let the ghost do her.

The ghost is visible to her, sometimes, he's a weird looking foreign dude that we don't know much about.  At some point he gains a real form and interacts with peeps, but mostly he just lingers in corners and looks all ghosty.  The movie kind of goes from there, and because that's not thrilling or interesting enough eventually it goes into some sort of possession and a standard convoluted, cluttered ending that I'm not really sure made sense.  But you know, that was kind of expected.

It's obviously not that high budget, and looking on imdb I see it was actually filmed in 1978.  It feels more like the 70's so that makes sense, plus the girls don't look like it's been over 10 years since they were in Bond.  The movie is mostly forgettable, keeps you interested enough, but doesn't fit the midnight movie, cult movie, drinking movie criteria.  In fact, it's almost good enough to just watch sober, except the end is a bit too much, and the movie can get pretty slow.  I think at 98 minutes, easily 10-15 of that could've been trimmed.

Overall, it's good enough.  2.5 stars.

Tuesday, July 14, 2015

Devil Girl From Mars - 1954

Back to the 50's I go with this little excursion into space fear, Devil Girl From Mars.  This movie is going to get a kind of short review, again, not that much to say about it.

This movie is based on a play, and it shows.  To me that's not a bad thing, minimalism in set and setting is something that doesn't bother me.  There's right and there's wrong ways to do movies based on plays, and I think this movie did it right:  stay true to the minimalism, stay minimal on the special effects, work with what you would've had in a play.

There's about 3 settings maybe - the house, the spaceship, and the outside.  It has a minimal cast of characters, it's mostly dialogue, not a lot of effect or action.  In other words, it sounds pretty boring; and sure some parts are, but generally if it's been performed in front of a live audience they know how to keep the audience watching.  That's the problem with some movies, they don't think about how this would look to a live audience.  You could not have the killer blindly walking around, driving around, etc - those scenes can be useful but a lot of time are filler and unnecessary.

The devil girl arrives, she is an alien from Mars, and Mars has had some great war.  In the war, it was males versus females, females won, killing all the males.  So now the devil girl has to come to Earth to steal some men away and take them back to Mars.  What an original idea.  Maybe they should've just realized like, "hey wait, we can't kill ALL the Martian men....let's take some hostage, or at least extract their semen before killing them".  Whatever.

Devil girl arrives and to demonstrate her power she "turns invisible" (seen off screen of course).  She also produces a death/disintegration gun that destroys anything it fires it.  Then later, she also has a stereotypical slow moving boxy robot that has a head that acts as a gun as well.  Oh and she can also hypnotize people, as if she needed more power.  Yet with all those powers she is incredibly stupid, and oddly nice to the humans.  Despite their trying to stop her she gives them multiple chances again and again, she never hurts one of them, and actually, asking for just a few men to go bone thousands of Martian women each....uh, why is she a devil girl again??!

The plot is pretty dumb, the acting is over the top by most involved, and we've seen this type of movie before.  I don't know why some of these 50's and 60's movies wanted to deal with sexuality in this way.  Were they trying to warn of perversions, playing out men's fantasies, or was it just a weird era in mankind?  I don't know.  The way it comes off though is kind of like a commentary on women's rights and their need of men, that would make sense given the era in which it came out.  But I wonder if it's plotline would've even been considered "controversial" at the time because it states so bluntly that women need men, and that women put it mildly, unintelligent.

So of course the devil girl woman is deceived by a man, killed, and the movie ends like nothing ever happened, and we're left with only a vague idea and memory of another semi-bland but thankfully short 50's movie.  Necessary viewing it is not, fun it is, and fast paced as well.  At 77 minutes it's the right length, and the fact it was a play and dialogue heavy is not really a big problem.  It's genuinely kind of interesting and neat, and a cool historical piece if nothing else.

I don't know what to rate it, so I guess it gets 3 stars.

Night Shadows - 1984

Also known as Mutant.

I had an awesome day the other day.  Work was a breeze, went by fast, then I came home, had good sex with the wife, bought a different and tasty dinner, watched the rest of Jupiter Ascending (I'd give it 3 stars for trying) and the wife went to sleep.  Then I cracked a King Cobra 40, and chose a film directed by John "Bud" Cardos, the guy behind the phenomenal The Day Time Ended - my first choice was Dan Dohler, but I didn't wanna see the other movies of his.

It was a set clear contender for "best day ever" except this movie was just so boring.  I mean, it's not like this ruined my day, I just wanted it to be so much better.  Mutant / Night Shadows is one of those movies where, clocking in at 99 minutes, it felt like a good 20 minutes could've been cut off.  It's a long slow build to the last 30 minutes, which was spectacular, but you just gotta stick with it.

Night Shadows did surprise me though.  Incompetent pacing aside, the movie had good actors, good effects, a tight and realistic script, and a lot going for it.  I was genuinely surprised by a few of the plot turns, including a death that comes at about the 30 minute mark.  It helped that going in I did not know which actor was Wings Hauser, so I did not know who the main character was.  I think if you don't know, don't look it up - this is a rare case where the main character is not who you think it will be as indicated by the first 20 minutes.  I think so, anyway.

Night Shadows is the typical plot of a couple dudes rollin in on a small town, and taking up with some local weirdos.  Turns out the town has an infection going around and just about anyone could secretly be a mutant.  Hold on, wait.  Wings Hauser....deadly infection....anyone could be infected...homicidal crazies....that's the exact same plot AND star as Nightmare at Noon!  Is that a remake?  I don't know.  But since both these films are kind of unknown, it probably doesn't matter anyway.  Who cares, in other words.

The premise was sound, the build up slow but in the end the movie was good.  It's kind of a classic "take the good with the bad" scenario here I suppose.  But honestly, the movie is worth it, you just gotta wait.  It doesn't help that because of the script we know what's going on way before the main character, so watching him slowly uncover it feels incredibly tedious.

Not much else to say except that I loved the ending as well, and the general rating I formulated in my head was higher than expected.  I give it points for being riffable, drinkable and smoke-able as well.
In the end, 3.5 stars.

Monday, July 13, 2015

Cool as Ice - 1991

Run screaming.  Run away now, run screaming, please.  Why didn't you do it?  Dude, you're an asshole.

Who the fuck decides what the cult movies are?  Can I meet someone who decides these things and ask them why this movie, Cold as Ice, isn't getting shown at the midnight movies, why this isn't on the list of "best cult movies ever?"  Sure, I'm not like a Vanilla Ice fan, I mean no one is right?  But seriously, this movie has every single fucking ingredient required to make a cult film.  And yes, I've heard of some people calling it "cult" or "classic".  But this movie is not given enough cred.

First of all, it's Vanilla Ice.  I mean, for real.  The guy looks soooooooo fucking stupid.  He looks like every single horrible 90's and 80's cliche and bad fashion taste rolled into one incredibly overdone package.  Say what you will about puffy hair and neon coloring, at least those fashions were definitive of the 80's and lasted for most of them.  But what Vanilla Ice took on, the fashions, were extremely temporary.  They were indicative of maybe one brief, brief moment in the early 90's and that is IT.  He wears ridiculous, obnoxious, pajama looking, brightly colored, way over the top pants and a huge, puffy, over detailed and horrid looking just about every scene.  His jacket has all sorts of retarded sayings on it too, from single words to phrases like his signature phrase "yep yep".  Oh god.  This movie is so fucking awesome.

By far the best part of this movie is it's amazing budget, cinematography, set design, props department, and look.  And no, I am not joking about a single fucking one of those things.  This obviously was kind of like one long music video, and is looks the part.  Amazing sets, gorgeous crisp cinematography, camera work, etc.  Great forced perspective shots, crisp and beautiful color work, themes, etc....any other subject and this would've won an academy award for it's work effort.

The movie is quotable, fast paced, and so easy to laugh at it's almost too funny.  Vanilla Ice is certainly mockable, ridiculous, poser-looking, etc for anyone to get a huge kick out of watching him be a fucking idiot, and ANYONE will have a fantastic time watching this.  This movie really, really deserves to be mentioned in the same breath as every bad movie from The Room to Plan 9 From Outer Space.  It is THAT bad.  Which is why I give it a glorious 5 stars.

Super Mario Bros - 1993

I'm going to step out on a limb here and say this one might be the most "well known" bad movie I'll have reviewed yet.  I mean sure, Ed Wood is hella well known and I reviewed his best known film, Plan 9 From Outer Space, but unless you actively search that out and watch it, you don't know it.  I say this movie is more popular cause at least (at the time of my writing this) a lot of people grew up with this movie, remember it, and find it as incomprehensible as I do.

The real problem with this movie is not that it's nothing like the game, the problem is that it's completely awful no matter how you look at it.  It walks that interesting line between kid and adult movie (which was weird cause the original Nintendo was definitely not aimed at adults...) and it has some remnants of times when kids films were dark and/or weird, but where that normally makes a film better in this case it makes it worse.

First complaint is some minor things: number one the names?!  They gave both the guys the last name Mario, so that it's Mario Mario and Luigi Mario?  What the fuck where they thinking?  It's not funny, clever, interesting, unique, kid friendly.  It makes no sense and makes actual fans of the characters feel stupid.  Like, why did I like these guys?  Number two the goombas.  There are a plethora of weird monsters in this film, most not from the game, and that's okay.  But you take something that was 1) iconic, and 2) would've looked cool depicted on the screen, and then you change everything about it?  Why couldn't we have had short weird looking dinosaur goombas?  Instead they had to make them giant?  With tiny heads?  You took the two things that made a goomba, short and big head, and then you made the opposite.

The list could go on for this whole page, this is just a sampling.  The major flaws in this movie are the apparent overweight, useless stars, the look and hair of Dennis Hopper as Koopa, the whole thing they did with the Italian stereotypes, the lack of charm or wit, and the level of intelligence it aims at.  You can ask, "yeah, well how would you have made it better?"  Well, I wouldn't have.  Not everything should be made into a fucking movie.  This is a clear case of that.  There was no need to try and take a very simple idea and make some ridiculous movie out of it.  However, I was thinking while watching it that I wonder, since being a nerd is so popular right now, if they'll ever try to do it again.  They'd probably do it animated this time though.  And I bet somehow, it won't be any better.

And that's the flip side, the silver lining to this movie.  What was intentionally supposed to be childish fun is fantastic to watch with friends, with beer, with drugs, with riffing, with intolerance and hatred...this movie will bring every critical argument out of you as you search your life for meaning in comparison to the bizarre reality of this film.  One cannot justify one's existence in a world where this film exists, so watching it is an extreme dive into surrealism.

It's just that this movie feels far too weird.  It obviously had a large budget, tons of time and talent that went to work on it, and (at points) some potential for entertainment.  They got the pacing done adequately well, they got some real actors and some (sometimes) decent what the FUCK!?  What went wrong??!  It's just confusing, weird, hard to watch, easy to get lost in the silliness of it's damn near perfect.

I guess one should play the game first.  That will just give you a better appreciation for the source material.  Get on the fucking internet and watch some guy playing it at least, and don't watch someone really good, watch some random ass video of some 10 year old who is medium good at it, at best.  Cause this is the best example of how they got from A to things can get lost in people interpret different things....yeah, all those.

Thursday, July 9, 2015

Rana: The Legend of Shadow Lake - 1981

Also known as "Croaked: Frog Monster from Hell"

Two Troma movies almost in a row, what am I thinking?!  Well, I'm not really thinking, and this was perhaps a mistake, but whatever dude.  It was worth it.  I watched the big chunk of this one at work, so I just got paid by the hour to watch Troma.  Yeah dude.

Rana was just distributed by them, they didn't make it.  In fact, this was directed by cult director Bill Rebane who did such wonderful films as Monster a-Go Go and The Giant Spider Invasion.  If you are not a MST3K person, honestly you don't know what you're doing with your life.  You should not be reading about cult movies if you don't watch MST3K.  That's like, criteria.  So they riffed those movies, that's what I'm trying to say here.

Coincidentally, a woman who lives in my apartment building is also named Rana.

Rana / Croaked starts with some lame backwoods retards in a cabin, the girl trades sex for backstory.  You know, back before I ever had sex I used to think that was unrealistic.  But since I've been married, I've literally had my wife trade clothes or whatever for sex.  I buy her something nice, I get laid.  It's even like, planned out that way, it's not just a reward.  It's a very clear barter.  Maybe my relationship is fucked, who knows.  But I'm just saying, she wants to know his backstory, he wants dat ass.  So, she gives him dat ass in trade for backstory.

His backstory is when he was a kid, and there were some killings at a rural community.  In connection with these killings there are mysterious bubbles coming out of a lake, an eerie feeling felt by everyone, and strange frogs that are acting weird and confrontational. That and the local crazy hillbilly claims there's something going on and that people need to be scared.  Hm.

This movie was cheap, sure.  Bad, yes.  So bad it's good, yes.  It's close, it walks the line between just bad and so bad it's good .  I couldn't decide whether it was done with the intention or not, that was hard to judge in this case.  One thing is for sure, that this movie would not be enjoyable to everyone.  The music is good, the acting is ok, and it did have some minor surprising moments.

The main problem with this movie is the pacing.  Far too long between each kill, waaaaay too much unnecessary dialogue.  The monster sometimes looked okay, and sometimes looked way too awful to be taken seriously.  Those things combined with the fact the movie was cheaply all adds up to the classic bad movie experience, except this one was just so fucking slow.

Croaked being a bad movie was not that surprising, I can't say I expected a lot.  It'd be good to drink or smoke to, it'd be good to put on and then get distracted by something else for a while and only look up at the interesting parts.  The child actor in it was pretty good and a strong character.  I like to see movies where children are put through reckless endangerment, and that happens a lot. Also, he is made to look strong even compared to adults, which was cool.

For trying, walking a thin line, and keeping me slightly interested I guess it gets 2 stars.

Wednesday, July 8, 2015

Hero and the Terror - 1988

We're entering into that weird area again, where I doubt if my reviews are really worthy of writing.  I'm telling you, it's hard to write movie reviews and keep up the drinking when you've got a wife and a job (plus I briefly held 2 jobs for a little bit there).  I've just not had that much free time, been skipping my exercise and diet too.  In summary, I suck, and I'm kind of glad no one reads my blog.

Hero and the Terror is a movie I saw on TV about 10 years ago when I lived in a different town.  It was a different world then, blah blah, but I was the same person.  Being the same, I had a passing interest in Chuck Norris because I am a big fan of Jean Claude Van Damme and Bruce Lee.  I was feeling like if I liked martial arts and all, I was doing a mis-service by not watching anything by Chuck Norris or Steven Seagal.  So I saw this movie was on AMC or something, and I recorded and watched it.

Now I'm going to say right here that I've had these experiences before.  The experience where you see a movie and then later you watch it again and it's just not as good.  It's not like I remembered thinking Hero and Terror was great or anything, but I definitely thought it was alright.  Because it has one major difference between it and several other action movies:  it has a plot, and that plot incorporates horror film elements.

Well, maybe not horror, but suspense or thriller.  So I remembered it as "that action movie that kind of had horror parts" and then when it came on Netflix instant view, I saw it again.  This movie has a 0% on Rotten Tomatoes, and even though I don't understand how their rating works, I guess that's bad.  It just seems backwards.  If it's 0% rotten, doesn't that mean it's good?  It's not rotten?  Yeah, whatever bro.

Hero and Terror is a movie thing about a hero cop (Norris) who stopped some terror killer (other guy) and then is plagued by memories of it for super long.  He's all whiny and depressed, but moving on with his life and banging his psychiatrist (isn't that like, a huge conflict of interest?)  Then, in the most ridiculous way of escaping prison, the terror escapes.  At first no one is sure if the kills that happen then after are the terror or not.  Norris's cop guy is kinda sure, "has a feeling" but doesn't wanna give in to paranoia.

Yadda yadda yadda, things go on, there's filler, and you know how it ends without me telling you.  One cool thing, they filmed at the Wiltern Theater in Los Angeles.  I used to live within walking distance of that theater, and I once went there to see some lame stand up comedy show with my ex girlfriend.  It was lame.  I didn't get laid for it, either.

What I'm getting at here, and haven't said yet, is that the horror element I grossly over exaggerated in my mind.  Sure, there's some suspense, and there's not much action.  All the kills were all done in a very un-horror way, and I really had over-done the amount of tension and whatever in this flick.  It's more a drama, and less a horror.  But it deserves points for trying, 1.5 points to be precise.

Tuesday, July 7, 2015

Stuff Stephanie in the Incinerator - 1990

Well, here's what I wish would be a first and last time I ever watch a movie like this:  a movie where, literally, no one involved has done anything else.  Actors, director, etc.  This movie was the first and last for everyone involved.  That's a bad sign right there.  But, I decided to watch it, convinced somehow that the great name of the movie would somehow make up for it.  It didn't.

Stuff Stephanie in the Incinerator (SSITI) is the story of some rich people who, to get their kicks or whatever, decide to play these long drawn out games of death, intrigue, mystery, and stuff.  The movie begins in the midst of one of these, and it's like a classic wife is the betrayer type game, and then it ends with someone being tortured and all this stuff, and then "Roberta" takes off her wig to reveal it's a man.  Cut to the characters the next day discussing how great the game went.

SSITI then goes through the normal story, character A is leading the games, characters B and C think the games are going too far, they start to have an affair, and they wanna stop character A.  A won't give up, the game turns deadly, and things go all wacky.  B and C suffer some set backs and apparent double crossing, and then spoiler warning (but you won't see this movie anyways) it was all an elaborate game, another elaborate game, and the movie ends with no surprises whatsoever.

Like I said, no one went on to anything else, and that's the most predictable thing about this movie.  The actors are all definitely not good, they are trying really hard which makes it a little worse for me, and it's just painful to watch.  The pacing in the movie also sucks.  It feels overly long, extremely low budget, and it feels impossible to take it seriously.

The worst part about it?  Not only does no one ever get stuffed into an incinerator, no one ever even tries to stuff someone, talks about stuffing someone, or looks at an incinerator.  There's no fucking incinerator in the movie AT ALL.  How the fuck does that make sense?!

Maybe, maybe with a few beers and some good comedians you could rip this to a whole new level and make it fun's probably not worth it.  Your efforts would be better spent on a more enjoyable movie.  I give this one zero stars.

Monday, July 6, 2015

Independence Day - 1996

Said it before, will say it again, I write about whatever I want.   Bittttttches.   I love this movie.  Independence Day feels gloriously 90's.  The 90's were an awesome time to be seeing movies, and an awesome time to be a kid.  I remember watching this, maybe not in theaters, but when it came out on VHS.  I was 9 or 10 at the time, and everyone at my elementary school was talking about this movie.  The quote of the year was "Hello boys, I'm baaaaaaaack" and if you didn't get it you weren't cool.  Of course for me, I got it, but still wasn't cool - but that's a different blog.

I miss feeling like movies are special.  I miss feeling like movies are something that everybody will love.  When these big summer movies come out now they're normally just so bad that they're not momentous.  I watched the new movie San Andreas yesterday at the theater, and it was just so bland.  It's all bad CGI, it's characters are undeveloped, over-makeup-ed, and desperately fake's just got no heart, no soul, and no like-ability to it.

Movies like ID4 had a huge emphasis on the characters.  Sure, they weren't like the most developed ever and followed some typical roles, but they were human, they were made to be imperfect.  One thing which I used to see and don't any more is the presence of realistic looking actors.  I hate how, in movies that come out now, everyone has to look so fuckin tough and/or beautiful.  Every man has his trademark 5:00 shadow, a ripped 6-pack chest, and a head of hair so thick you could stand on it.  Every girl has grade A tits, a flat stomach, and looks like a total bitch.

I miss actors like Jeff Goldblum and Bill Pullman.  Both are really good looking men, but they weren't the Hollywood look that is escalating now.  I just feel like Hollywood is invading us with unreal looking stars, and it makes them harder to relate to, for me.  No one looks real.  In the new Avengers movies, there isn't a single character who looks real to me.  I know that Hollywood has been pushing the strong and beautiful all along, but they used to let real actors act, and they used to not care as much about things like origin and body type.

I guess I feel like someone like Arnold Schwarzenegger wouldn't get a chance to be a major film star now.  People would gripe about his accent and he wouldn't get cast in a movie where he plays a robot.  "Why would a robot have an Austrian accent?" would make the producers back their money behind a more acceptable American star.  Back in the 80's and 90's, I just don't think there was the big money pressure.  People made movies to make money, just like now, but they also were allowed more creativity, weren't pressured to make as much money.  It wasn't like every single movie HAD to be #1 at the box office.

I dunno.  It's hard to quantify.  I just love Independence Day.  With 2 sequels coming, I'm sure it'll get ruined just like Star Trek and the upcoming Star Wars, but you know, fuck it.  The original is a fucking classic.  Not quite a movie review per say, but you don't need a plot and scene analysis.  If you haven't seen this movie, something is wrong with you.  Go see it.

Grizzly - 1976

"Jaws with claws" as the poster and the tagline read, this was a brief excursion into animal attack movies started by Jaws a couple years earlier. And Jaws set the bar pretty high for animal attack films. Grizzly is directed by William Girdler, who directed some great 70's films and then died in a helicopter crash. Tragic really, as a lot of his films showed promise or at least innovation. I think he probably would've gone on to be quite successful if he didn't die so young.

Grizzly is the classic story of a towering 18 foot grizzly who gets a taste for human flesh and starts rampaging all throughout the woods. It's got everything you'd expect from a movie like this: the tough cop good guy who is out to stop the monster, the blinded politician who either doesn't care about the threat or is too worried about bad publicity to follow the orders of the tough cop, and plenty of guys in bell bottoms running around getting bloodied up by the beast. It's medium paced, poorly edited, but followed through with getting some real bears and some genuinely cool moments.

I love animal attack movies. Especially when they were real animals instead of retarded CG things that look ridiculous. Girdler's other animal attack movie, Day of the Animals, is in my opinion way better then this one, but this movie is pretty entertaining as well.  Animal attack movies are just a lot of fun to me, you get the classic horror things, but you also don't get to have the killer ruined by a bad story line or bad acting or dialogue. So many times the killer could've been more menacing if only the film hadn't shown the killer doing stupid things or saying stupid things. Animal attack movies circumvent that with inhuman killers.

Plus in the older films like this, you couldn't show the bear that much since the animal needed a trainer and was relatively uncontrollable. You can almost feel the genuine fear of the actors and the film crew at the sight of some huge fucking grizzly roaring in your face. I feel fuckin freaked when I see a real bear attacking a real guy and knowing that even if that's his trainer right there, shit does go wrong and accidents happen. It's pretty impressive to see these sorts of scenes take place.

The pacing was kind of slow and there are plenty of times in the movie when it just feels like filler. The kills are usually not shown in detail, and when they are they're pretty lame. But it's worth it for the use of the real bear, for the acting which is pretty good, and for the ultimate payoff. The last 5 minutes are really, really cool.

This movie is bound to be eventually lost in time, it's pretty forgettable and all. Jaws will probably survive for quite a while longer as films like this just disappear into the sands of time. It's a shame, but it's also just the way of things. This director would go on to direct the equally good and freaky film The Manitou, which feels very similar in tone and pacing. Makes a lot of sense they were done by the same dude. This is a worthy entrance into the animal attack movies I've seen, not as good as Prophecy or Day of the Animals, but better than half of those bad shark movies and way better than some bullshit film like Stanley.

I give it a standard 2.5 stars.

Thursday, July 2, 2015

Surf Nazis Must Die - 1987

Have I done anything Troma yet?  I'm too neglectful right now to check, but my gut feeling says yes. Okay, I'll check.  Having just now checked, I don't know still.  Troma is/was a production and distribution company led by Lloyd Kaufman who was behind those Toxic Avenger films.  Side note, apparently he was also in a bit part in the first Rocky movie.  Huh.  Who knew?  That'd be a good "degrees of Kevin Bacon" thing to remember right there.

Anyways, bottom of the barrel doesn't describe some of these movies his company was involved in.  Sure, sometimes they could get away with their awfulness by being "comedy" films, like the sort of comedy where people make visual gags and penis jokes.  Not funny, in other words.  Whatever.  The point is, some of the movies are trying to be funny, some are trying to be scary, some are just plain bad ideas all around.

Surf Nazis Must Die is the latter in that breakdown, it is just an all around bad idea, bad movie.  It doesn't really try to be funny, or if it does it's just such an undeveloped type of humor that even if it was funny to begin with, it would kill the comic potential with it's delivery.  The plot's about as loose as they come, some local gang is trying to control the beach, and they dress up like and take the names of Nazis.  Yeeeeeeeeep.

Okay, so it's not all bad.  It's just that really nothing happens in this movie.  Like, seriously, the movie is 83 minutes long and a good 81 minutes of that is filler.  Footage of people surfing, the gang walking around and acting vaguely tough, some's not like killing you to watch it, but it is still bland as fuck filler.  There's very little that happens in this movie.  I honestly don't even remember most of the middle part.  But basically, the gang kills this black guy and then his mother is out for revenge.  That's the plot.

For the first part of the film we follow "Smeg", a Surf Nazi-junior type guy.  He lives with his mom, and there are some minor funny interactions there, but mostly it's dulls-ville o'rama.  Man, it really feels like I have used that exact description before for something else.  I wonder what it was.  I'm not the most creative typist in the world.  I wonder for example how many times I've put the word "anyways" in this blog.  I try to stay away from it, but look at the second paragraph of this review.

The film is instantly forgettable, boring, and cheaply made.  Nothing happens, as I said earlier, also.  There's not really any blood, there's a little nudity, and there's "bad language" but you know this movie honestly felt PG in it's display of itself.  It doesn't feel offensive at all.  In fact, I kinda got lost in the surfers and it made me really want to try surfing more than anything else.

For nothing as bad as say, a movie where I'll turn it off, for not making me want to die, and probably some higher like-ability rating had I been drunk/high, I'll give it a full 1 star.

Wednesday, July 1, 2015

The Babadook - 2014

This was not going to be an entry, believe me.  I kind of want to go back and delete some of my old entries, for movies that "don't count" but I also am always thinking, it doesn't matter anyways.  But there's that part of me that thinks, "what if people actually do start reading my website, and they wonder wtf is up with me reviewing Nightcrawler on a website called Grindhouse Review?"  Look, simpleton, this website abides by no rules.  It just is.  The exception is not the rule.  Just cause I review some non-Grindhouse movies does not mean I don't get to name my site that.  Besides how boring would this be if I only reviewed the same fuckin 100 something movies every other cult, grindhouse, B horror, etc blog is reviewing??

You can see a review of Rocky Horror on just about every single website ever.  Fuck, that shit's been talked about in the Wall Street Journal.  C'mon.  I wanted to be on the outskirts.  You know, the fucking Lone Gunman.  Like in X-Files.  How cool would it be to actually be in a group like that??  Some brilliant dudes on the outskirts, fighting the government, friends with the I love that fuckin show.  BTW, new X-Files are coming, in case you live under a rock.

The Babadook is a film that will surely become a "cult classic".  This must be placed in quotations because new films cannot become cult for at least ten to twenty years.  They have to survive the test of time.  But I do actually think this one will.  Now, I don't want to say it's the best film ever and give it some giant ringing endorsement, but this movie does deserve praise.

The best thing about horror, as I've said again and again, is the fear of the unknown.  That as well as atmosphere.  Get the unknown, the atmosphere, and then the music and acting, and your film will work.  This film has all of that done expertly.  It's not going to redefine horror as it is, but it takes a fairly simple idea, runs with it, and does it well.  In a world where horror films are escalating their shock value, the blood and guts and "jump" factor, this one dares to take horror back to it's creepy beginnings, where just being weird was enough, and you don't GET to jump.  Rather, you have to imagine, and let your mind scare you more than anything else.

Like nudity, it's what you don't see.  People like lingerie for a reason.  Sure, I like a good ol' naked chick too, but I'd much rather see a slinky striptease.  People know that, as quoted by Jackie Treehorn in The Big Lebowski "The brain is the biggest erogenous zone", well I argue it's the same with horror, except instead of erogenous, uh, scariest??  Well yeah, it was a far way to go to make that quote work.

The Babadook took a genre I hate, kids in horror movies, and made it good.  Like I said it's simple.  Mother and child are isolated.  Enter the threat, this time in form of a bizarre children's book titled "The Babadook" that one day is just on the kid's shelf like all the others.  It's off kilter story and drawings are too dark, they scare the mother and she decides not to read the rest.  After reading the book, the child starts acting strangely, is actively scared all the time, and says he is seeing the Babadook.  The mother of course thinks the child is just a dick, and throws out the book.  But there is no stopping The Babadook.

The movie moves along mostly as expected, the only differing twist would be the bizarre ending.  I understand these type of ideas are generally hard to end, they either have to defeat the monster or die.  But in defeating said monster, usually there is a confrontation.  In that there is closure, and this film I think wanted to avoid that.  So the ending is a bit weird and I didn't exactly like it, but I understand why it ended the way it did.  The film does what I love which is to leave things not quite right, and kinda say fuck you to it's audience.

The Babadook itself relies mostly on the sound for it's scares.  Okay, sure there are some vision effects too, but the trailer and the movie are heavily based on the sounds of the creature itself and the music.  The music in the movie is awesome.  The score is creepy, interesting, dynamic, and unique.  The sounds of the Babadook, however, are dumb.  Like when you do a "croaky frog" voice, it's lame.  But I guess unique, and apparently people online found it scary, so whatevs.

All in all, for being a good horror film, and being unique, I wanted to give it 4 stars.  I feel like, in retrospect, it might only deserve 3, but I'll go with my first thought.  Also, the kid actor in the film was really good.  One of the best I've ever seen actually.