Thursday, September 29, 2016

Heavy Metal - 1981

Here's a movie I totally fucking forgot about.  I saw this movie back when I was a young dude, shortly after I got introduced to adult-y animated things back in the late 90's.  You know you're cool if you can say "back in the 90's"  just, you know BTW.  FYI.  I ate a weed muffin this morning, so I'm a little impartial right not.

Heavy Metal is an oddball out there.  Every once in a while I'll see a movie like this and I'll wonder, how did they make this in the time frame they did? 1981, it seems like that was not especially a time for adult animated films.  Okay, so there'd been some before, and Ralph Bakshi was at this point "on the map" with his R rated animated films.  But I still am surprised when I see that this is 1981.  It feels way too progressive and crazy for that time.

This was an obvious precursor to the MTV generation, the Beavis and Butthead culture of the 90's.  Heavy Metal feels way more like a product of the 90's counter-culture destruction people saw as Generation Y.  Heavy Metal was clearly one of those films that is actually really progressive and defining, and I didn't realize that when I was a kid.  Watching it again was a pretty eye opening experience.

I haven't reviewed any animated films on this blog yet, and that's cause they are pretty few and far between to find ones that aren't hugely well known.  Of course, Heavy Metal is hugely well known.  The film is a cult classic, an adult animated but super fun action packed comedy with both offensive and childish humor.  It's the type of film they don't make anymore, something that's rated R but still appeals to kids, like how they used to make R rated movie toys for kids.

The movie itself is a series of short subjects.  They more or less revolve around a glowing green ball which has the power to vaporize people who touch it.  Sometimes, though, the ball will instead influence a person directly or indirectly, and give them power.  8 different stories are presented, in different lengths in the film.  I'm not really going to do a complete breakdown at all, but generally some are pretty cool, and some are just small ideas that don't seem to be much of anything.

There's not a too lot of other things like this, and given that it's hard to market an adult oriented animated film, I'm not that surprised.  However, there should be more of these.  They're really cool, and so interesting to watch.  They're definitely more for younger adults than me, this is perfect for the time when I originally saw it, 16 or so.  But at that age you get lost in the killer soundtrack, animated violence and nudity, you don't really pay attention to the plots  (or I at least didn't).

It seems it should have a bigger following these days, but then again there's far too many other things for this to be like, shown at the local indie theater and all.  But it's great and deserves 4 stars.

Friday, September 23, 2016

Virus - 1999

I called the first death in 1999's Virus.  I love movies like this.  This is the kind of movie where based on dialogue, and how much screen time a character gets, you can tell who will die, which parts are important, etc.  I called the guy that was gonna die because he was alone, his screen time was minimal, and if he died it was gonna take a while for anyone to notice.

Why doesn't the bad guy ever kill anyone important first?  Of course, you have movies where the heroes die and movie like Executive Decision that kill a known actor, but why don't movies have like, the airplane pilot die first?  You know, they do these things out of convenience.  Of course the fucking cook dies first.  It's a horror movie, you don't need a cook/hot dumb blonde/guy who's a druggie.  You do need the strong virgin, the airline pilot, and the older dude who will eventually die (but not till later).

I also love how often charaters in movies like this stay in a location because "(X Character) is still in there".  It's the "what about (Y Character)?"  and basically just throw a random name into the blank there.  Some dude/some chick dies and the group doesn't know it, so they don't leave and they don't take action because they don't know where that person is.  How many times can we possibly see this?  Now, I'm not calling it unrealistic.  I'm just saying that it ALWAYS fucking happens.  Case in point here.

I also love how robots can usually be killed by shooting them in the head.  Now, you know what, I'll fucking be the first to say that humans have a huge weakness in the head.  Cut off one very obvious part, the entire thing dies.  Why would a robot follow that design?  Plus, since it obviously doesn't need a body full of organs and lungs and shit, couldn't it distribute the head parts in the body, or make backups, or whatever?  I have seen so many movies wherein the robot dies via a head destroyed.

Also, I love dialogue that's so threadbare that you know when they say something that it was written specifically for us as the audience.  Like when in this movie, they say, "oh look, incendiary grenades" it's so glaringly obvious that those grenades are gonna come back later.  Again, not calling it bad.  It'd be worse if randomly like 55 minutes in they found the grenades exactly when they needed them.  We'd call that stupid.  But I just love noticing that.  You insert one line of dialogue somewhere, and then you can get away with anything!  Remember that 3 second scene 38 minutes ago where they found the grenades?  Well shit, let's get those grenades back!!!

I've gotten to this point and I barely even feel like putting a plot summary here, so here's like 2 sentences.  Jamie Lee Curtis and Donald Sutherland star in this movie where they find an abandoned Russian ship in the ocean and decide to board it and salvage it cause they think they'll be paid.  Onboard, they discover the ship's empty, and then phantom things start happening, and oh shit it turns out a bunch of machines are alive and starting to kill all the humans.

The effects and the pacing of this were pretty good.  Scratch that.  Effects were fucking awesome, pacing was okay.  They obviously had a good team to assemble the machines, and that's great cause it's the crux of the plot.  I don't care how bad your movie is, it can't be too terrible when your villain looks this fuckin cool:
But other than this, it's pretty low-rent average sci fi action, with not a lot to say that's unique...but then again, it doesn't have to be.  This isn't like, gonna be anyone's favorite film, but hey for what it is, it works.  I give it a solid 3 star rating.

Thursday, September 22, 2016

Pigs - 1972

I just finished the movie Pigs from 1972.  This is gonna be a real short review.

Ultimately, this movie was watchable, but not something I'm gonna think about for more than a day(ish) or dwell on.  This was another semi-bottom-of-the-barrel Troma distributed cannon fodder thriller/horror film.  I read online that director Marc Lawrence put a mortgage on his house to get this movie made, as it ran out of money.  I have to wonder if this made enough back to justify that.

Mr. Zambrini is a restaurant owner that lives there also, and has a bunch of pigs out back.  His voice-over at one point tells us that the pigs accidentally tasted human flesh at one point, and now they crave it and won't eat anything else.  Since Zambrimi depends on the pigs, he keeps finding people to kill and feed to his pigs.  It's an excuse to have pigs eating people, basically.

Zambrini runs into homicidal girl-on-the-run Lynn Webster.  We gather that whenever the weird "Daddy's little girl" song plays she slips into some sort of homicidal alternate persona, and she kills someone pretty soon, which Zambrini sees and kinda realizes they're two of the same.  Zambrini and Lynn dodge the persistent questions by the police as well as Lynn's shady past.  Meanwhile, a couple pesky neighbor ladies sense something is wrong.

It's okay, it's not as unprofessionally done as you might imagine.  The characters are likable and they do an adequate job keeping the pace going.  There was no real nudity, killing scenes, hell there might not have even been any bad language, which might make this like, a hard PG rating in all honesty.  It played out like any 70's movie that was low budget, essentially.  Not a lot to write about here.  The pigs don't really get much screen time, so most of the movie is eccentric Zambrini and Lynn, just, you know, doing whatever.

I'll give it 2 stars.

Wednesday, September 14, 2016

Demons 5: The Devil's Veil - 1989

I will eventually finish off this series of films, I swear to you!  I'm not like, surprised I haven't finished it yet or anything.  The series is, to put it bluntly, not really that great, and kind of annoying even at times.  That description actually fits this entry of it perfectly.  It's not super great, but still mildly entertaining.

Released as La Maschera del Demonio (The Mask of the Demon) and directed by Lamberto Bava, it's clear to see how this got linked with the Demons series.  It's the same director and even has the word demon in the title.  It's not as far a stretch as The Ogre, The Black Cat, or The Sect.  Speaking of The Sect, holy shit it's been over a year since I saw any inclusion of this series.  That's crazy man.  I seriously thought I'd watched one of them this year.

This entry starts out pretty well.  You have a group of friends skiing somewhere in the mountains, and there's an earthquake which opens a pit in the snow.  All the friends accidentally fall in there, where they're trapped and hot chick Sabina hurts her knee.  Distracted by trying to escape, they barely even notice the weird block of ice that looks like it has something trapped in it.  They bust it open, find a mask attached to a body, swipe the mask, and that's when shit gets wacky.  They discover an underground church, find a old blind priest, and uncover something about a witch. David is the one that grabbed the mask, and soon it seems he and Sabina are the only normal ones as their friends start to turn evil.

There is an adequate pace, and for the first 45 minutes I was genuinely thinking this one was pretty good.  It's not like it loses it's steam, it's just that it starts to get really repetitive, and it feels like the script took a major nosedive in the second half.  David and Sabina are two of the most annoyingly written characters.  It's so painfully obvious Sabina is evil, and yet David doesn't see it, and in the meantime he's given nothing worthwhile to do.  Also the evil friends never go full evil, they're dabbling around mildly evil, but not bad enough to warrant them being threats of any real kind.  It gets old, and starts to feel really worn through.

However, production value and even acting were decent.  It's the script, the idea, that gets old.  It feels like they're stalling for time, really.  Once we know/think Sabina is going to be evil too, it takes about 40 minutes for that to happen.  The priest character disappears, people keep turning from evil to good, and people keep having illusions.  After a while, it's hard to keep track of what's actually happening with the plot given all these things, and at some point you will decide you don't care, guaranteed.

As a movie it's okay.  Plenty of nudity including some kinky shit, and plenty of practical effects.  However, it's not that great and you may find yourself wondering what's going on like I did.  Some plot points seem promising and simply never go anywhere.  At one point, the priest has two of the people trapped in these wood stirrups, he's stuffing snow in their mouths while praying...I would've loved to see that scene go somewhere.  It never does.  Like many things, eventually it stops being shown and we're left to assume the guys escaped?

I give it 2.5 stars for being watchable, but not in a "fun" way.

Monday, September 12, 2016

Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas - 1998

This is going to live on as the most rare entry into this blog.  I am gonna guarantee that now, although it's possible it could be matched in all realistic notions.  The reasoning is this:  as of Tuesday last week or so, I finished the book Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas by Hunter S. Thompson, and then on Sunday (yesterday) I watched the movie.  So this is one where the book was fresh in my mind and then I immediately watched the movie.

Now, technically, I also did this with Apocalypse Now, however I read the book after watching it, and I of course didn't review that movie for this blog.

The book should get a one paragraph detailing here first.  Written as both a celebration of and look back on the death of the dream of the 60's, Hunter S. Thompson spins a story of two out of place druggies binge-ing it up and stumbling through Las Vegas.  It's sentimental, hilarious, thought-provoking, and altogether too rare in it's form as both a criticism and an adoring love-letter to the simpler times, to politics, and the entire American system.  Thompson doesn't come off as someone who loves or hates, simply someone who observes, who sees the trends.  Although he'd be classified as part of the revolution, he more sounds like someone riding the wave, instead of someone who helped to make the wave.  It's surprisingly beautiful, and at times makes one wish they'd gone through his life experiences.

The movie is a tad "harsher" for lack of a better word.  It's interesting, and there's only a few examples of exactly how this is the case.  First of all, the Samoan attorney who has no name in the book, and in the movie is called Dr. Gonzo, seems a lot less dangerous in the book.  Okay, maybe not a "lot less" dangerous, but more of a lovable character.  The person in the movie would not only be a legit jailed criminal, but someone that no one would ever want to be around.  Could be the real guy the character was based on was more like the movie, I have no idea.  But I just really liked his character in the book and not so much in the movie.

Raoul Duke, the main character of both the book and the movie, is an almost mimic of how he was written to how he is performed.  That's one thing that stands out.  Johnny Depp pulled that role off, and I'd be hard pressed to wonder if this is his best performance.  Sometimes both him and Dr. Gonzo come off like too much, and I wonder if they are overacting, but one thing is that this is a Terry Gilliam film, and it's supposed to be overdone.

While I'm on that topic. I think the whole book versus movie argument is pretty stupid.  One can admire the wording, the flow of sentences and the brilliance of a mind while reading a book.  In a movie, even one like this with a narration, there is just no opportunity to do so.  Instead, one has in trade the ability to admire production value, cinematography, score, and acting.  It's not anywhere near an "even trade" and sometimes the movie / the book will of course be "better".  I'm not starting this paragraph to tell you which I think is better, I'm trying to explain why I don't think in those terms.

The movie is astonishingly well shot, and the sets and production value is sky high.  When watching Gilliam films, the details are a movie buffs dessert.  His films look fucking fantastic.  Highly detailed set pieces, obvious attention to detail, Gilliam and Baz Luhrmann are two directors who are known for fantastic production value.  The cinematography is also top notch.  Acting is good, as already stated, with a lot of well known people in minor roles.

I think the only thing that makes the book "better" in my opinion is it's stark contrast of setting Duke and the Attorney apart from everyone else.  In the movie, there is a perpetual oddness to a lot of the side characters as well.  They say things, do things, they look weird, etc.  You could say it's part of the drug visions the characters experience, but it makes them seem a little "less weird" than they do in the book.  So yeah.  I dunno about that.

Another good thing bout the movie.  I'd say it's aged extremely well.  It is supposed to take place in 1971, and it looks the part.  Thus there aren't a lot of aging factors to it, especially since star Johnny Depp and Benicio Del Toro aren't looking "their best".  Depp went full male pattern baldness for his character, while Del Toro gained 40 pounds.  Thus, it does not look 1998.  It looks great still, not almost 20 years old.

Tuesday, September 6, 2016

Street Trash - 1987

Not my usual foray, I decided to get into the stuff that's been sitting on my watch list for who knows how long.  I got exposed to this film from some online review of it.  Through clever editing and talking the film up they made it looks like a regular effects-packed 80's romp through low budget trash, and naturally I then added it to the queue.

I'm not gonna take a shit on this movie like that made it sound, this movie was fun.  But it is also overly long, which killed a little bit of the momentum and fun.  Maybe I watched the directors extended cut or something though cause IMDB says 91 minutes, but what I watched was almost two hours.  Anyways, some of the minor character stuff that wasn't great or some of the small plot parts could've been cut (and probably was) to make this a bit more fast paced, but I won't sweat the small stuff.

This is an entry into the wonderful genre of body horror.  Body horror is when dis-figuration comes through in the film, oftentimes leading to death, though not always.  The plot is based around some low-class booze that some store owner finds and decides to sell for $1 a bottle.  No information is uncovered about this booze, called Viper.  Viper causes immediate death though, and in grotesque body destroying ways.

Usually the people who drink Viper start to melt...Their fingers and toes rotting away in yellow or purple puss, their torso collapsing, etc.  It's all done with overblown but truly awesome looking effects, and one almost wishes there was more death in this simply because they did such a great job with it all.

To  further embrace their body horror, the movie also decided to dial everything else to 11.  The language, the characters, the dirt and slime on everything, the nudity, it's all there.  In a modern version of this, they'd probably do a bit more nudity and ridiculous racism and CGI, but this was the 80's when shit was still balanced and the plot was actually given time.  Not only the plot, but characters are given plenty of time in this one, and that's awesome.

Main character Fred is a likable hobo.  He just wants to drink, hang out, bum food and money from people, and get his rocks off like any bro.  He navigates the dangerous jungle of the other hobos, corrupt cops, shop vendors with a sadistic streak to them, and horny but dangerous girls who you might not wanna get on the bad side of.  There's also an evil hobo whose name I don't remember, and there's a whole supporting cast that are more than just some guys you see once or twice.

I liked it, and I think repeat viewings is perhaps necessary for a film like this.  This is one to remember, to show others and then you can notice the smaller stuff that maybe passed over your head the first time.  For that, 3.5 stars.