Monday, November 30, 2015

Future Force / Future Zone - 1989 / 1990

I haven't done a dual entry in a little while here, so I thought that I might as well throw these two movies on here.  Now, I did not watch these in the "traditional" way, that is to say I watched them at a friend's house, and we chatted the whole time and only half paid attention.  But then, these movies are perfect for that type of attention span.

It should also be noted that I went into these movies unaware that they were related.  I thought at the the beginning of Future Zone that we were just watching another David Carradine movie, cause my stoner friend Matt did not mention that they were related.  He just intro-ed it as another Carradine film.  So there's that.

David Carradine had a somewhat outta-nowhere career that wasn't too much to speak of.  Pretty bland actor guy, made it somewhat big off his TV-show Kung Fu, and then was pretty quickly regulated to working in TV movies and direct to video things.  He was definitely type cast, but successful enough, and I'm sure some people might even like him a lot.  I'm not specifically pro or anti Carradine, I haven't seen enough of his stuff to judge, but these two movies certainly don't give him a big vote of confidence.

These movies are directed by amateur b-movie king David A. Prior who I did not realize had died this year.  RIP David A Prior.  His movies consisted mostly of direct to video or similar feeling movies.  I don't quite understand IMDb sometimes, because they only put on the information they're given.  But it seems like there should be a record somewhere of these movies, and the fact they probably weren't shown in theaters.  But then again, maybe somewhere in like, Texas, played the movie once, and then they're not considered direct-to-video.  I wonder how that works.

The plots are minimal.  It's the future, some indistinct year, and in the future cops are pretty rough around the edges.  They're mostly overweight, vest-wearing, greasy guys who come off as a bike gang more than police officers.  David Carradine is one of these cops.  He wears a denim vest, he protects a woman named Marion (I think) from some corrupt cops, and he has...wait for it....a stupid robotic hand weapon that helps him out.

The hand has a variety of powers, like super strength/super grip, it can shoot electricity, blah blah blah.  The best thing about it by far is that, it's the only "future" type thing in the entire fucking movie from what I could tell.  No jetpacks, no lasers, no robots...there is only robotic hands, and there is only one of them. All the baddies just have guns, it's not like David Carradine is fighting fair.

Future Zone is extremely similar.  In this one, Carradine's son from the future comes back in time to help Carradine fight some anonymous baddies, and the only real mystery behind it is who would ever have a son with David Carradine's character Tucker.  Carradine looks old, tired, overweight, and possibly on drugs for most of the two films, and everyone in supporting roles doesn't look much better.  The question of who this would appeal to came up many times for me. 

Late 80's / early 90's, rated R but only for like 2 minutes total worth of nudity throughout the 2 movies, not heavy on action or blood, just sort of a meandering story of cops vs robbers (or you know, general baddies).  I guess "action" genre, but really, it deserves a spot in the "fluff" genre that honestly needs to exist.  There is essentially no reason for these two films to exist.

Rating would have to be about 1 star each.  I think the sequel was slightly better.  But really, they suck.  Only reason to watch them would be to make fun of them.

Monday, November 23, 2015

Prototype X29A - 1992

Or it might just be called Prototype.  But the front distinctly says X29A.

Another Terminator rip off, here we goooooooooooooo.  I just couldn't quite get into this movie.  And I'm pretty sure I'm not the only one here.  Prototype X29A is not remembered, it's not cult, it's not really anything besides a low rent robot movie.  Which you know, is fine, it's just uh, not that exciting.

In this one, there's this corporation that builds robots that are attacking a resistance movement, there's Hawkins who is a disabled guy who just wants to walk again, and there's sexy woman Chandra, who I think was part of the resistance and who wants to have sex constantly.  Lots of topless girl in this movie.  Hawkins enters the corporation trying to score himself an obligation-free robot body.  Of course the robot body wants to do it's own thing and starts killing people.  Hawkins is turned against his girl Chandra, and it's the robot body with his mind versus her.

"Were the actors in this in anything else", I can practically hear you beg to know?  Oh come on dude!  You can't actually want to know.  Of course not!  Most of them have under 5 other movie titles on their IMDb pages.  The director is apparently someone who's been around, know.  The actors in this are pretty damn bad, and this movie does have a significant degree of hurt.

This is another one where it's kinda like, what else do I say here?  The robot for one does look great.  This is one where you see the robot a lot of the film, and it's good cause the costume looks nice.  It looks like the kind of thing you'd see for sale in a magazine as a kid, and it would be like $300.  Even if you did somehow get that costume, it wouldn't look half as good as the picture did and you'd be hella pissed off.

Thursday, November 19, 2015

Dolly Dearest - 1991

All things considered, Denise Crosby might just be the second most successful Star Trek TNG actor.  Of course no matter what Patrick Stewart "wins" hands down, but most of them went on to relatively unknown careers.  It's not like TNG was the last thing any of them ever did, but type-casting and lack of major followings did most of them in.  Denise Crosby was in a slew of 80's movies from Pink Panther to Pet Semetary, she got a little obscure in the 90's, but now has successfully graduated into being in some major TV shows (small parts, mind you) but I just keep seeing her name pop up in shit from X-Files to Dexter to Walking Dead.

Comparatively, the other stars of TNG have had careers, and I'm not like worried about them or anything, but it just seems like unless you were to search them out, you wouldn't see them just by watching TV.  In all honesty, in my mind's list of successful TNG actors, the next would be Michelle Forbes.  This movie also has another TNG actor in it, one episode only, but I have to think that came up on the set:  Chris Demetral who was Jean-Luc Riker / Ethan in the episode Future Imperfect.  I guess Wil Wheaton has had some major success as well.  But I'm over the TNG actor discussion now.

I love how movies like this come out and don't even pretend they're original.  The doll coming to life thing has been done to death, it's not like this is only a rip off of Chucky.  Sure, Child's Play had come out a few years before and this was doubtless capitalizing off tat, but the doll idea dates back way before that to Twilight Zone and other sources.  So originality is not in question here.  Sorta like in Pinocchio's Revenge, this movie has that same "is it the doll or is it the little girl?" thing going on here, except it doesn't walk the line in the death scenes as we clearly see the doll doing the killing.  The only *slight* change this time 'round is that the doll is like, somehow influencing the little girl or whatever.  Oh and there's multiple dolls that are all alive and evil, although that's not as cool as it might sound.

Dolly Dearest plays out a whole lot like you'd expect for the most part, girl Jessica gets doll, doll kills a few people, Jessica seems to be conspiring with the doll.  Mom and dad are oblivious whilst Jessica's older brother Jimmy slowly catches on and then is targeted by the doll.  One of the reviews on Wikipedia (again, wtf the plot synopsis is like 7 huge paragraphs!) that I read said this film is "in the 'killer doll' subgenre of stupid horror flicks, Dolly Dearest may very well be the most moronic."  Pretty much, bro.  Me and that writer should get a beer together, or DP a drunk college girl together, or something.

The point is, if you just want a dumb doll movie with passable effects and a overdone plot line, look no further.  It's fun in that "I want to turn it off, but the remote is all the way over there..." way, and I greatly recommend drinking a few old fashioned's to help you hobble through this one.  It would make a decent midnight movie, one you and some friends could rip on, but absence of anything really hardcore happening in the film is a turn off.  It's rated R, but the violence is pretty tame really and there's no nudity and hardly any swearing.  I think it might actually be PG-13 if it came out now.  Just litter it with topless girls (hell yeah I want Denise Crosby topless) and more blood and guts, and this movie would be much better.

The actors are good, the doll is ok, and the rest is mostly phoned in, but it can still get the middle of the road rating.

Monday, November 16, 2015

Tuareg: Desert Warrior - 1984

I did a bunch (5 minutes worth) of research trying to find the book which this movie is based on while the end played out.  Because I am a firm believer that the book is usually better than the movie, and also because I bet you that's multiplied 1000 times in this case, when you have a rather boring film by Enzo G. Castellari. Taureg is based on the Spanish book translated to "The Eyes of Taureg" from award winning author, Alberto Vazquez Figueroa. He also apparently wrote the book on which late entry Brian Yuzna film Rottweiler is based.  Well, now I really have to read that book.  Too bad I can't find the damn thing in English.

Taureg starts off like it's going to be a long, dramatic adventure type movie.  You can probably judge this movie based on the first ten minutes and be completely correct about it.  Now, normally I would not advocate that.  But in this case....yeah.  I like how IMDB classifies this as action adventure. This is drama, or I don't even know.  This one evades categorization, and not in a really good way.  In the way where there is nowhere else to put a movie that's mostly dialogue, very slow, and doesn't involve anything really happening, you know?

Taureg is a nomad, a desert warrior that is actually very peaceful and just wants to do his own thing.  He's a desert worn survivalist, fit for the desert like a cactus.  When two water parched men stumble into his camp, he decides to care for them.  Turns out the Arabic rulers want the men and they demand the return of the men, shooting one of them dead and kidnapping the other.  Now Taureg goes in pursuit of the captured man.

Who knows, who cares.  It's a very "time wastey" feeling movie, it's 97 minutes where 20 or more feels like it could've cut off, and the rest needs to be structured better..  Leading man Mark Harmon is good and looks the part, but most of the time we just witness him staring emphatically at things and saying stuff that sounds very vague.

It's funny, because it gets ok reviews online and I guess if you're looking for a sort of a politically charged, dramatic take on character-isms, you might like this movie.  I wanted some Indiana Jones feeling desert warrior movie, like the name promised me with calling it fucking Desert Warrior.  But I feel like my expectation was misled and I wouldn't have even tried to see this if it was instead called like, Taureg: Desert Guy.....  Okay, there's some action in it.  In one scene Taureg gets the drop on some baddies and makes them strip nude.  In another he kills his camel so he can drink it's blood when he's been without water too long.  And then there's the end.

I feel like I missed something.  Spoilers will be present here.  Tuareg has the man he's been caring for die on him.  Then Tuareg hears that the current political leader has executed his family.  Tuareg goes to the capital, and in a insane sequence, he shoots the president of the country while the guy is doing a drive down a street.  But the president is the guy Tuareg was looking after?  The guy we saw die not ten minutes ago?  Huh?  I don't understand.

I don't know what happened in this movie, and I won't watch it again.  1 star for the camel death scene.

Mortal Kombat: Annihilation - 1997

It should be evident from the first 5 minutes of Mortal Kombat: Annihilation that it is an extremely second rate sequel. I know what you're thinking....but Grindhouse Review, Mortal Kombat (the first one) was an already second rate (third rate even??) action movie!  And it has a second rate sequel?  Dear god.  Dear god is correct, my movie watching public, and if you've seen even part of this movie, you know exactly what I mean.

I'm gonna use the term "classic" here loosely when I say Mortal Kombat 1 is a an action classic.  A video game movie that was made in the early 90's, right at the peak of the video game's popularity, and right when the first video game movies were being made.  We'll refer to this as the "8 bit age" of video game movies.  They were still being made for kids too, or with them in mind, so even with a bloody video game like Mortal Kombat, this had to be a very mild PG-13 so that kids could persuade their parents to take them, or go see it themselves if they were old enough.  Side note: I worked at a movie theater, but it wasn't like a kid-movie showing one.  I have no idea how you'd check to see if a kid was over 13 or not.  Especially if you're working at a theater when you are young, so you're not like familiar enough to know or estimate....  What are you supposed to do?  They don't have ID!  All kids look hella young to me.  Are you just supposed to guess?  I never encountered a situation where kids would come in without their parents, so I have to assume that in theaters all over the place, tons of 11, 12, even 10 years old's could have probably snuck into movies like this.  I wish I had.

Okay, back on track.  Mortal Kombat, silly as it is, is one of the only video game movies that really looks, feels, and sounds like the game.  It uses the exact characters, allegiances, languages, finishing moves, etc.  They did a great job showing exactly what the game was like.  I think if I'd never played the game, I'd well know what to expect from the movie.  The only major discrepancy would probably be the lack of a "life bar" in the upper corner of the screen, not mashing the controller life fuck, and doing the same move like 8 times in a row cause it's the only one you knew how to do.

The second rate sequel qualities are all over the place in this.  First of all, in the first 5 minutes, we see that out of a cast of 7 major characters, 2 of the actors returned.  NICE.  It's really apparent too, they should have just got a whole new cast at that point and kind of done something like a warped dimension thing, to explain what happened.  Don't just assume we won't notice!  The actors in both movies are pretty second rate, with a few exceptions, and this movie got the bulk of the bad actors.  Also, this movie features even more of that glorious mid 90's CGI that you just gotta love!

This movie feels to me like the kind of thing you'd see as a kid, say when you're 14, and you'd think it was okay.  Then, later on in life you'd show it to someone else, remembering it as a pretty decent movie, and the whole movie you'd sit there, totally embarrassed, praying the movie would just end.  It's the definition of 90's trash, and it has the silly look and feel of every movie you might know from that era which was stupid, weird, bizarre, cartoonish, cheap, badly made, full of cliches...oh man, it's just glorious.

At first I really, really felt like turning it off and not even watching it.  But then I reached the plateau, the chi, if you will.  Accept it for what it is.  It's the 90's and this movie is chock full of it.  Dial your brain down to "dumbest" level, sit back with bong in hand, and feel like some early teenage kid again as you watch ridiculous dudes in costumes say outlandish things to one another.  This movie feels like every weird memory I have from childhood.  Especially those memories of movies.  I saw Mortal Kombat 1 when I was a kid, I think I was like my early teens, like 13 perhaps.  Mind you, this was in 1999 since I was a 86 baby.  So the movie was already 4 years old.  But dude, I fucking loved it.  The games had been an establishment since 1992, I had been playing them at least 5 years on and off (I didn't have any gaming consoles, so just at friends houses sometimes) and this movie defined video game movies for me.  

I bet you that Super Mario Bros has the same kind of fans - the people that saw it when the video game was new(ish) and they were young, and they absolutely loved it.  I didn't see the movie until I was like 17, and at that age I just laughed at it.  Around that age I was convinced I had really immaculate, profound taste in movies and I would never "lower" myself to view movies like Super Mario Bros.  The thing I really like about Mario and Mortal Kombat is the entire world they create.  It's not the same as animated movies, because animated you expect it.  It's part of the package deal.  But those old movies, where the sets are real and not green screen, where they actually built all these weird ass looking set pieces and then filled it with fire and smoke and bricks and dust and all....and then the characters would appear.  If you were a gamer you'd know them, but if you weren't (or like me, just a part time gamer) in my opinion it was better.  It created a mystery:  who the fuck is that guy?  I remember being amazed when I saw Goro for the first time in MK1, and when I saw Cyrax and Motaro in Annihilation. 

It seems to me that modern movies are too grounded in realism.  That or they dumb it down, they child it up by adding bright colors and soft edges to everything.  I dunno.  I really liked the dark, weird, budgeted movies from the 90's a lot more than any of the shit that's coming out now.

I liked this, I would give MK1 like 4 stars, this gets a star lower for being less entertaining, less story and more crummy effect, but damn, it does wrap you up in it's world, and if you're in the mood, this movie is great.  3 stars.

To think this fucker was what we got as replacement for Goro.  What a joke.

A quick word about my ratings here. When I give a movie like this 3 stars, I am not saying it's better than a movie that got 2.5. Case in point: this versus The House on Sorority Row. The two movies are not comparable. I think one of the reason critics get busted and given a hard time is that people compare just the rating without looking at what it's being compared TO. That is equally or more important than the rating. This movie can't be compared to Sorority Row, they aren't the same era, genre, style, etc. This is only in comparison to other lame action flicks, and more importantly, those of the same era. When it domes down to it, the rating is only within the realm of a particular movie. The ratings cannot ever be compared. But if you do compare them, it's not like you would ever compare this to like, Full Metal Jacket (most random movie I could think of). 80's war movie versus late nineties action that is based on a video game?! This should only really be compared to the first Mortal Kombat film, and maybe like, Street Fighter. 
The point is, don't ever assume that when one movie gets rated higher than another, that the higher rated movie is better in the traditional "this movie versus that movie" way. That is by no means what I mean when I rate these movies.

Thursday, November 12, 2015

The House on Sorority Row - 1983

I never know what to say in the opening paragraph here.  I need like a standard introduction.  That's why I like the movies with alternate titles, but I don't count those unless they're readily apparent, usually by having inconsistency with what the internet calls it and what the film calls it.  Also, there's the whole "other language" thing where titles didn't translate.  This film is apparently also known as "House of Evil" and "Seven Sisters" but nothing I saw or noticed on the film would give it that title.

Basically it's a revisit to my slasher genre, made in 1983 just in time to capitalize on the surge of slashers coming out.  Not the first nor the last to place it at a school, also not the first to do it in a sorority, and also not the first to have female nudity.  Let's start adding up the other cliches here, shall we?

In this installment of "girls die because _______" (fill in the blank), the girls accidentally kill their cruel school teacher and control freak Dorothy.  They do it in a pretty insane fashion too, they're going to pull this really elaborate prank with a real loaded gun, one girl points it at her, pretends to shoot one of her friends, and makes her get into a pool.  Then they shoot at her and miss on purpose, at which point they all start laughing.  Then she climbs out of the pool, hits the girl with her cane, and the gun goes off again, shooting Dorothy dead.  What the fuck?!

Why would you have real bullets in the gun?  Why would you have bullets at all, wouldn't it work the same to point an empty gun at her, she doesn't know?  And why pretend to shoot one of your friends?  Yes, at the time being it makes sense, the girl who got shot was protesting the punishment of Dorothy, but wouldn't it have been equally believable to just, you know, point a fucking gun at Dorothy and not have that whole scene happen?  It's so stupid!

That scene alone probably gives this movie it's cult following, besides the fact this is 80's horror that follows all the rules.  Anyways, the "ghost" of Dorothy comes back and sometimes it looks like she's killing people, sometimes it looks like someone else is killing people.  I would think they weren't sure how they were going to end it, from everything online I read, the production wasn't exactly straight and easy step by step, and I think they just had to work with what they had a lot of the time.  But in general you have scared girls left and right, some decent deaths, and a genuinely weird ending.

How does it stack up to the other classics?  Well, it's not even close for me.  This had no innovation really, it's just by the numbers.  The deaths were ok, but nothing too special.  I think I'd take just about any other even SORT of well known movie over this.  I'd say, in terms of originality, characters, deaths, and general fun factor, Memorial Day Massacre wins hands down.  Obviously, The Forest would probably still lose.  And, I haven't really reviewed many slashes on here.  Which, for me is strange cause I love them.  I have been thinking of rewatching The Texas Chainsaw Massacre recently.  I might.

So, I guess it gets like 2 stars or something.  It just wasn't that good, people.  Nothing new brought to the table, and it wasn't even fun to watch.  Maybe with some die hard horror slasher fans, it'll be better.  Or some beer in you.  I dunno.

The Robot vs. the Aztec Mummy - 1959

I'm feeling a little too lazy to dig into my past reviews to discover if this is my first Spanish language film dubbed into English.  Nothing springs to mind.  I was going to review a Santo movie a while back, I might have even finished it I really don't remember.  Anyhow, the point is that I haven't really touched the whole genre of "what the fuck was going on in Mexico in the 50's-70's?"  Yeah, that's a genre, deal with it.

It's a lot like a bizarre offshot of the superhero genre.  In Mexico, which was technologically behind America, but not by far, the entertainment of choice was wrestling.  Luchadore shows were very popular, kind of like going to the circus or going to the zoo...but cheaper, less of a "big deal" and since it was just sweaty men involved in the shows, you could obviously have more shows, and do them anywhere.  The stars of the wrestling world were elevated to almost superhuman status in the eyes of the common man, and they were among the first stars to be brought into movies to further their popularity.  I realize that what I've been describing so far is a lot more of the Santo type of movie, and this movie isn't really about, let's get to this film.

Robot vs Mummy is a dialogue heavy, slow moving film.  It's made from an era where, as established by directors like Corman, the film was mostly scenes of people talking about what happened instead of actually seeing what happened.  The film begins in such a fashion.  A bunch of smartly dressed men stand around, using unrealistic sounding phrases to discuss at great length what happened a while ago, which is in this case recapping what happened in the movies set before this, which was 1957's The Aztec Mummy and sequel, The Curse of the Aztec Mummy.

They recap the story of the mummy being risen, getting vengeance, and then being trapped again in his tomb.  The mummy is raised again in this film when evil Dr. Krupp takes the mummy's breastplate and scepter (I think the second item was a scepter anyways).  Dr. Krupp knows that the mummy's gonna come collect, so he decides to build a redonkulous looking robot to defeat the mummy.
In this scene, roughly 2 minutes before the end of the film, mummy and robot have their final duel.

The main issue at work here, and the reason why this is among the bottom 100 on IMDb is because the fight between these two doesn't take place until like 6 minutes before the end of the movie.  We don't even see the robot until like the 55 minute mark practically.  I did actually check, at the run time of the movie, when we saw the robot, but I was drinking too much whiskey and I don't remember.  Anyways, I kinda liked it in that low rent, extremely bizarre alternate reality feel.  It feels like a strange nightmare or some warped dimension we enter when we me it feels that way anyway.  

I dunno, I feel oddly positive about it.  2.5 stars.

Tuesday, November 10, 2015

The Sadist - 1963

Also known as Profile of Terror and Sweet Baby Charlie.

Sometimes (usually) it's the films you don't expect to be interesting that turn out to be.  Such as case in point I had high expectations for Slithis, and low expectations for this movie, The Sadist.  Based on the murder spree of Charles Starkweather, this movie was one of the first movies to base it's plot around a real life killer.  Psycho was partly inspired by Ed Gein's murders, however this film was closer to the subject of it's inspiration, and made only 3 years after Psycho.

Arch Hall Jr gives a very strange performance as Charles Tibbs, a thrill seeking rebel teenager.  He appears out of nowhere after three people on their way to a baseball game break down and pull into a gas station way out int he middle of nowhere.  They are unable to find anyone who works there, something seems amiss, and then Charles and his girlfriend cohort Judy pop out of nowhere, Charles brandishing a Colt .45 (also, the official drink of this movie, I decided just now).

The great part of this movie is the believe-ability of it. Arch Hall Jr is just a little bit too over the top to be taken 100% seriously, but you can tell he really put a lot into the performance.  He also looks really crazy, he spends a lot of the movie scrunching up his face, with his hair waving all over, slightly crouched down and leaning forward....his character has a lot of physical attributes that make him look almost barbaric, as I'm sure was the intention.  

The tension in the movie is kept pretty high the whole time.  The characters in it act realistically, which was nice too.  They seem to think along the same line that I did earlier; he's barbaric, and that means not especially smart.  So they are always trying to outsmart him, and at every turn he's showing them he's smarter than they think, that he's actually a very cold, calculating, cunning person.   There's a fantastic sequence when he takes aim and shoots out a car tire, then a window, as his captives stare on in silence, his display of firing prowess shocking them all.

There's other scenes like this as well.  They did a really good job of having the dialogue form in such a way where we know what's going on, and it makes sense the way things happen, how the captives try and out-think him and he catches on to them.  Then, all of the sudden, he takes one of them, puts the man on his knees, and executes him with a single shot to the head.  It's a very real, absolutely riveting sequence.  We were told he was a killer, but his childish and wacky outside self made us think he was all talk....another time when he knows what we expect from him, he knows we underestimate him, and so he demonstrates his power.

Minimalism is again at work here.  5 actors, 1 of which is killed as I said, a lonely, abandoned car lot as the setting, filmed in real time, mostly dialogue, there is the potential for so much creativity here.  It's incredibly lifelike, the actors all did really good job with a very human sounding script.  As the two survivors square off against a truly sadistic gunman and his equally evil girlfriend, we as the audience end up wondering how they will ever escape.

Spoilers here.  The end I almost immediately hated.  Arch Hall kills two policemen that showed up, he kills his girlfriend on accident, and he kills one of the two hostages.  Now it's only the girl hostage and him (yeah, sorry, I don't fucking remember their names).  He chases her around, and randomly falls through some old boards into a pit that has a bunch of snakes in it.  As she watches from afar, he is attacked by the venomous snakes.  It just seems so out of place, and like a WTF thing to happen.  But then, I liked it.  It's so brutally real, in a way.  If she was to get the gun and kill him, if randomly like 8 cops gunned him down, it would feel like Hollywood.  But here they are, some ancient gas station, probably there used to be a whole town here, there very well could be some old buildings around with snake infested hideaways.  The more I thought about it, the more I thought it was perfect.

Again, the small details.  As things are wrapping up we hear on the car radio the play by play of the baseball game the three hostages were originally going to see.  The announcer describes the perfect weather for the game and tells us the Dodgers hit a home run as the movie fades away....

I really don't know how to rate it though.  I want to give it 5 stars, honestly.  But I'm well aware those kinds of ratings have to really be held for movies that deserve it.  I'm not someone who just hands those ratings out.  So, I'll give it 4.5.  This movie is just simply put, amazing.  I highly recommend it.  A very good, heartfelt portrayal of the evil of mankind.

Spawn of the Slithis - 1978

I totally forgot I saw this movie.  I also went into it wanting it to be really good Z grade trash and I have to admit it didn't quite scratch that itch.  This was a little while back, like 4 days or so ago that I saw this one.  This is one that actually has a fun story.

A long time ago, producers used to invent fun and original ways to get people to come see the movie.  In the 50's when the monster movie was exploding, producers invented all sorts of movie gimmicks to get audiences talking about their flicks.  William Castle of Castle films was also known to go above and beyond absurd in making these gimmicks.  Commonly, movies would offer you insurance if you died during the film, money if you could PROVE that the monster didn't exist, and more.  Here are some awesome gimmicks!  Anyways, this was obviously not a idea that would stick around forever, and most of these played out well before the 80's.  Spawn of the Slithis is known to have been a late subscriber to the gimmick idea, offering up....a "Slithis Survival Kit"!

Now, isn't that just awesome?  You can join a fan club, you can ward off the Slithis should it attack your neighborhood....  Aw man.  I searched long and hard to find a scanned copy of that thing online.  I want to join the fan club, do you think that address is still right?  And do you think they still get people sending these things in?  I love it.

Slithis is about a toxic monster that's created by a leak of nuclear fluids.  It goes around murdering the townsfolk who happen to be around it's little river home (usually these are homeless or hippies).  Police are on the trail pretty soon, and this movie follows every regimented idea about how police track down a weird toxic monster.

The Slithis itself varies from shot to shot.  It's clear they reuse one specific shot time and time again:
This shot.

In the faraway shots, the monster looks different, which was vaguely confusing.  Also, note how different the monster looks from the one on the Survival Kit.  It's mostly the mouth, I guess it does look somewhat similar.  Also, what the fuck city is in the back ground on the Survival Kit?  A weird dome building with two rows of lights?

It's definitely a classic 1970's horror monster movie, one I already want to see again.  For purposes of the review, I found it slow paced and yawn inducing, but it still gets 3.5 stars, damnit.

Monday, November 9, 2015

John Carpenter's Vampires - 1998

I dunno, the cover of the movie say's John Carpenter's, but IMDb and Wikipedia just say "Vampires" so I guess I might have the title wrong, but I'm going to leave it so that if anyone accidentally stumbles into my blog (thus becoming my first real reader) they know what Vampires movie I'm reviewing.

John Carpenter is known for many groundbreaking films, his catchy and awesome original soundtracks, and atmosphere.  So, this movie had a lot of build going into it for me.  Needless to say I am a giant fan of Halloween, Escape from New York, The Thing, They Live, Big Trouble in Little China, etc.  His movies often display a kooky weird society, or a slight twist on something that's normal, and that's always fun to see.  His horror movies broke rules, established new genres, helped define special effects, and are legendary.  So, once again, a lot of build.

I saw this for the first time when I was in my mid teenage years, and I remember thinking how disappointing it was.  I think I only saw it once, and then I just ignored it and didn't see a single movie of his since then.  Luckily, I didn't miss much since his next film was Ghosts of Mars, but let's not even get near that flick yet.

More build leading into Vampires?  Sure, pile it on!  Starring James Woods, who I love, also starring Daniel Baldwin, Maximilian Schell, and Sheryl Lee from Twin Peaks.  AHHHG!  Dream cast!  Except Daniel Baldwin, but you know, whatever.  I'll prepare a noose in case the Daniel Baldwin fans track me down and want to hang me.

I dunno, why didn't this movie "do it" for me?  1) the characters were not especially developed, likable, or even memorable.  2) the villain, while cool, didn't have a real story, wasn't shown much, and his vampire powers weren't front and center enough. 3)  the weapons and the destruction of the vampires came off as very undeveloped, the humans didn't seem like a realistic defense against the vampires. 4) the action was very repetitive....I could go on.  The movie was very hollow.  It would dawdle along, something would happen, it would dawdle along, repeat.

I dunno.

You know, I've been all over the place with movies.  I was just researching the life of Weng Weng, the midget Filipino from such films as "For Y'ur Height Only".  I remember seeing that with my wife (girlfriend at the time) years ago and wondering just what in the world it was.  Now there's a documentary about him.  I remember seeing Troll 2 not because it was the "Best Worst Movie" but because it was the sequel to Troll, and supposedly had a sequel to it, Contamination .7
I guess my point is, movies are something which to me are something entirely "part of life".  There is no "life" without movies involved.  I fucking love movies.  I'm just saying.

Road House - 1989

Patrick Swayze was shirtless, practicing tai chi or yoga or some shit in a grassy yard, he was oiled down and shiny, and he was wearing drawstring white pants.  It was at that point in this movie that I told my wife, "Rifftrax did a mockery of this movie."  She was not surprised.  Something about that scene made me remember.  I could've checked that first, hell, I should've just intrinsically known that, but that scene in particular made that memory spring to mind.

Road House has gone from, in recent years, a fairly awful 80's fighting flick in the style of Over the Top and others like that, to a cult classic, must see, extremely well known comedy film.  Swayze's action roles, especially if you count Point Break, are becoming legendary these days, and it's really about time.  I had been laughing at Point Break since the late 90's, wtf happened recently that made people realize this shit is comic gold?

Road House is the classic story of a man who's brought into a rough and tumble town to set a local bar straight.  He's hired in the first part of the film, brought to this shithole town, and he's put in charge of bar security.  This is his trade, it's his thing.  He's a mystery man, tall dark and handsome, and soon gets involved with the daughter of local crime boss Brad (played by Jackie Treehorn from the Big Lebowski!)  Patrick Swayze and Jackie Treehorn trade tit for tat, kill for kill, and in the meantime Swayze poses shirtless a whole lot.  Somehow, I stayed sober for this movie.

Road House is for me one of those that, well, I get it, but it's not like Point Break or plenty of other shit shows that deserve the cult name.  Road House plays a lot like every other extremely stylized 80's movie.  I'd take Bloodsport over this movie every day, and I think a lot of it lays in the perception of the hero.  For me, Swayze character just isn't as likable.  Sure, he's Swayze, but he's too stylized and made inhuman for me.  I know, I'm complaining about Road House, wtf is wrong with me?

It's like in Birdman though, he doesn't relate to us, and even though they give him a back story, the question of why isn't answered to my satisfaction (why is he a bouncer, being the question).  He also is thrown this half cocked story about accidentally killing a guy at some point?  But then later single handedly kills like 10 guys, so what's the big fucking deal?

Also, I've only seen it a handful of times, but the script and deliveries don't make for any truly memorable lines.  So it's not quotable in my mind....

The music, clothes, the style, it's all there and you'll love it if you smoke, drink, watch with friends, or just, hang out and view.

A solid 3 stars from me, higher from other people though.

Zombie - 1979

And, here we go with the ultimate in zombie films, this is my kind of marathon of zombie films I have going now.  Side note, how cool would it be to live on a boat?  Boats are fucking awesome.  I want to live on a boat.

In Zombie, a group of people go to an island (they filmed in the Dominican Republic) and there a voodoo curse raises the dead, and they must be killed again.  The group of people, Anne, Peter, Brian and Susan, all scrape by to survive, as slowly we learn about how the voodoo curse works, and then as they discover the island where they are is actually an ancient graveyard, and all at once everyone thought dead long ago is coming back....

This movie invented the modern zombie that we see depicted in most ways.  Sure, Night of the Living Dead did it first, but this movie brought the horror, the gore, the legend, out into focus.  Shooting zombies in the head?  This movie.  Zombie's being rotten, disgusting, putrid, stretching out their arms, biting you?  This movie.  This movie was really the zombie movie to pack it all in and serve it up with modern tastes.  And it did it with awesome music, too.

I was thinking about how old this movie was while I watched it, and for perhaps the first time ever I had a moment where I realized, this movie is only 7 years older than me.  I was born in 1986, and I am 29 now.  Sure, I am not that old.  But I consider a movie from 1979 to be really old.  That's fucking weird dude.  To think that this movie, with it's distinctly old look to it, the actors with 70's hair, etc, is not even that much older than me.  I guess that's what getting older it like.  Damn, man.

This movie did actually age very well.  They didn't litter the costumes with 70's era clothes, there are no bell bottoms on guys or anything.  Mostly people look very normal, and the lack of a modern setting (the island is supposed to be mostly uninhabited) makes there be a natural lack of buildings and technology - time stamps if you will.  Much like my first review Killdozer, the isolation in the setting makes the film not feel as old as it is.

All things considered, in 1979 movies were experiencing a surge of reality and a lot of those movies are now classics.  Star Trek, Alien, Apocalypse Now, Mad Max, Nosferatu, Moonraker, Phantasm, Caligula, The Brood, the list could go on.  That was a tremendous year in movies, and this one belongs right there beside those classics.  I just got this idea to see a bunch of movies that were released in 1986 and see how aged they feel.  That could make me feel really old.

Zombie had an awesome setting, a great idea, cool music, decent actors, a sense of minimalism that I always appreciate, and good special effects.  This movie revolutionized the disgusting zombie we think of and expect when we see shows like The Walking Dead.  The poster for this movie makes this apparent,

I wouldn't be broadcasting this photo if it wasn't meaningful, in this case you can look at that and I'll tell you:  the makeup here is not a special one off effect.  Most the zombies look that awesome.  And then they attack your fucking face.  This movie kicks ass.

Thursday, November 5, 2015

Barracuda - 1978


So maybe I've been more link happy.  What of it?  I actually hate that song too, and I didn't even think of it once before I started this review.  The song is just that style of rock I hate, like the "Hungry Like the Wolf" Duran Duran song.  I just don't like it!  I dunno bro, it's not my jam.

This movie might take the prize for "most anti-climactic movie ever" to some people.  First of all, the pacing sucks.  It's slow, the kills are not well done, the editing makes them just float by, and the atmosphere of the movie is non-existent.  Also, the killer fish, the barracudas, are not intimidating to the eye.  I actually had several times where I questioned:  are these the killer fish, or are we still waiting for the real killer to show up?  Partly that's because the kills suck, partly that's editing, but mostly just because the fish themselves look lame.

That might be "realistic" but it doesn't translate well here.  Also, the apparent ripoff feel of Jaws is heavy here, and the originality is near non-existent.  The funny thing about this movie too is that on Amazon Prime it was listed as Barracuda AKA The Lucifer Project, yet nothing else online refers to it as The Lucifer Project.

So your plot is the whole government conspiracy thing.  Someone is putting this toxin in the water, the toxin makes you always feel hungry, plus it ups your aggression and what have you.  That's all bad bad bad, and the fish are killing other fish, and then they're killing humans.  The underwater scenes are pretty cool and easily the highlight of the film, your standard monster cam takes care of most of the hunting and killing scenes, but when it's just the majesty of the ocean, a single scuba diver, etc, it's actually really neat.

This is really just another bad killer fish movie, and I don't know what else there is to dwell on there.  So let's skip to the end, spoiler warning here.  Another movie where in the end the main heroes, protagonists, die!  WTF?!  I'm not saying it's bad.  It's just so unexpected.  They finally link the aggression in the barracuda to this company, a cop and a science guy are leading the investigation....  They infiltrate the base of operations and get in a gun fight with two baddies. The reinforcement cops arrive just in time, baddies throw down guns, etc.  Then a nod from the baddies to the reinforcement cops, the cops turn their guns to the heroes and fire.  So I guess they were trying to say that since the government was in on this, they got to all the cops too.

Okay, great?

This movie wasn't that bad, but it certainly doesn't deserve any spot on the midnight movies, cult movies, movies to be watched in general lists.  Maybe if you're high enough, maybe.  I was drinking some Chinese beer during, and it did nothing for my enjoyment of it.

Day of the Dead - 1985

Originally intended to be the "Gone with the Wind" of horror movies, but scaled back a bit later on, one has to wonder what the Gone version was gonna be like and how it would'a played out.  Because this movie is epic, it's huge, and it's damn good.  So to think it might've been better, that's pretty insane.

George Romero was granted the rights to do the sequels to Night of the Living Dead, for an explanation see my review of Return of the Living Dead.  He just had to change the name a bit, so hence we had Dawn of the Dead in 1978 (he just dropped the word Living) and then this movie, Day of the Dead.  As you may be aware, there are plenty of others and remakes, but the original two are just Dawn of and Day of.

The movie starts with a scene of several people looking for survivors out in the city.  This is presumably a while after the zombie apocalypse, and after they leave without finding anyone, we learn they have searched hundreds of miles for any such survivors.  Back at their base of operations, an underground facility somewhere, there is a military presence of about 6 guys, and a scientist presence of 2.  The scientists are Dr Logan is a crazed old man and the leader of the scientists, the other is Dr Sarah, who is also the films leading protagonist.  This movie follows in the recent-at-the-time trend of making the lead a strong female character, a trend made popular by Halloween and Alien.

All these guys are in this underground facility, tensions and frustrations are running high, conflicts between the scientists and military are rampant, and now there is a new military lead in control.  This guy, Rhodes, is completely hellbent on putting everyone under his control, and wants to leave the compound and move to somewhere else.  The scientists want to continue their research, trying to figure out how to stop the spread of the zombies, and also if reversing the process is possible.  Anyways, the conflicts and plot goes on from there.

I kind of love fan theories and seeing other peoples take on movies like this that are fairly well known.  This movie is a true cult classic, a well known zombie film, and by a legendary director, etc.  So I was just reading on IMDb some fan theories concerning why the movie plays out the way it does, and a lot of them make a good amount of sense.  One theory is that despite how Rhodes appears in the film, he actually has a lot of motivation to send him off the way he does, and he may not be the true "bad guy" that the film makes him out to be.  This fan theory was pretty well thought out.  If you didn't want to read that, basically he has reasons to act the way he does.

The great parts of this movie are plentiful:  the music is freaking awesome.  Number one reason I saw this movie recently was because this music was put high on the list of inspirations behind the latest Boards of Canada album, and I fucking love Boards of Canada.  And it's true, the music is genius: 80's, John Carpenter inspired, minimal, creepy, awesome, etc. Listen!  I'm not like a giant soundtrack guy, but it's near perfect, I'd say.  The acting, again, solid.  The lead actress hasn't been in much, but was great in this.  The other actors are all good too.  They did a good job of making several of the characters memorable, yet still having disposable people in the flick.

The effects are good too.  Sure, not great.  By some other movies standards, a lot of the zombie makeup is pretty lame, barely existent, etc.  But some of the zombies look fucking awesome.  It's kind of a mixed bag.  But nothing horrible.  One thing this movie series does do which makes it stand out among the other zombie movies is to make the zombies capable of learning.  It's slow in this one, but in later Romero movies, it would of course be a plot point.  That plot point tends to make this movie get some guff.  Whatever, it's the small things that set these different zombie movies apart.  At least they were thoughtful re-imaginings, twists, instead of doing the same thing time and time again.

In the end, this is a very good follow up to Dawn of the Dead, and a great zombie movie.  If you haven't seen it in a while, it's a great way to scratch that zombie itch of yours.

Monday, November 2, 2015

Vengeance of the Zombies - 1973

The literate translation of the title in Spanish is "the rebellion of the dead", and this is movie where I find myself disagreeing with the critics.  Not that this is the first or last time or whatever.  I guess this is looked at as semi-classic so bad it's good in the eyes of many people, and for me this was "so bad it's....eeehhhhhh."  That's the sound of you as you gradually lose interest, get distracted, and eventually just find your eyes and your mind wandering away from the film going on.

The problems here are heard to define, so let's start with the plot:  a voodoo priest raises girls from the dead and they kill people for him.  Paul Naschy, a real actor, plays the voodoo priest dude and also wrote the movie, which is kinda interesting.  This movie was made in Spain and dubbed into English, and I think he mighta done his own dubbing.  I watched this on Amazon, and the quality sucked.  Maybe I might've liked it better had the quality been better?  It is possible.

Anyways, the girls are mildly hot at times, but the one that takes the crown is Romy, who plays Elvira, but not the mistress of the dark.  She is apparently a well known Spanish actress, but I'd never heard of her or seen her other movies.  She gets a lot of screen time and it's apparent that a lot of this movie's fan base is there because of her.  Is she hot?  Sure!  We see her nice tits once too.  But this was not like a legend-making film or performance or anything, so I just shrug at the fans.

Basically it's very color by numbers, the women kill people, voodoo guy skulks around, Romy gets hunted, yawn.  The effects, acting, look, feel, atmosphere, it's all very dated.  This movie did not age well, and again I have to say I've seen older movies that feel way more intense than this one.

Well, that's all.  1.5 stars.

Brain of Blood - 1971

I watched this under the title of "The Oozing Skull" and it's also known as "The Undying Brain" and "The Creature's Revenge".  Enough titles already?

Immediately I had the experience with this movie where I felt like this was made (almost certainly) with a comic intent.  It's just different in the feel, in the atmosphere, in the aesthetic.  Yeah, I dunno, it may not have been intentional, but it felt to me like it was at least a percentage tongue in cheek.  In that 70's way wherein it still wants to be horror movie, it just is kinda aware that well, it sucks, and it's not going to succeed in that classic sort of way.

Maybe it's the plot.  Because not only has it been done before many times, I've fucking reviewed this exact same plot with the film "The Head"!  How many times can you do the plot of "I'm removing guy X's brain and putting it into body Y"?  I mean seriously?!  And how many times do they put that brain into a body that's an animal, that's some huge lumbering guy, that's deformed, that's grotesque....It's never like, put into someone normal.  I am beginning to wonder if normal people even exist in movies anymore.

In this installation of "brain goes into X body", the brain gets put into some lumbering hulk of a dude with a burned face.  A flashback at one point tells us that this guy got his face burned when two thugs decided to pour battery acid onto his face.  It gave me this whole internal dialogue about what would actually happen should you get battery acid on you, and according to google image search that shit will indeed fuck you up.  The makeup though is horrible.  It's like someone used a glue stick to glue this weird paper thing onto the guy's face, and sometimes the paper sort of peels off, or looks wonky.
sorry for the quality here....

On Tuesday of last week, I got back from a 8 day vacation, came to work, and around 9:30 in the morning I went and bought a "work beer".  It was just that kind of a day.  So I downed a 16 ounce can of beer at work and watched this flick, and it was just about as awesome as it sounds.  This movie did feel like an almost comedy, and that was also helped by what of the following (quiz portion of the review):
1) A midget with a vaguely foreign sounding name
2) A woman chained up in the basement
3) Bland kills
4) All of the above

If you guessed 4, All of the above, you are correct!  Not only have you watched movies like this before, you may even know this blog!  It's like I said, this movie has been done so many times before.

Despite all that, the movie was about as entertaining as it could be, and with the right atmosphere, you'll like it.  Maybe.  3 stars.