Sunday, December 28, 2008
So I was reading this book called Fiasco: A History of Hollywood's Iconic Flops and one of the films it discussed was Battlefield Earth. Something I had never seen before and never really wanted to. I remember when it came out and seeing John Travolta dressed up in that ridiculous Rastafari alien costume and just thinking how amazing it was that anyone would make this film, let alone a huge star like John Travolta. After reading what a suckfest it was, something intrigued me. It's like when you hear that someone puked outside and you can't help but run out and look at it, though you know it will make you nauseous.
Battlefield Earth takes place in the year 3000. The aliens from the planet Psychlos have taken over Earth, leaving mankind an endagered species. The only survivors must hide from the aliens in primitive caves. One of the humans, Jonnie "Goodboy" Tyler - aka "Ratbrain" (Barry Pepper) decides he needs to find a better life, even if it means leaving his love behind. He is soon captured by the Psychlos, led by John Travolta's annoyingly unfunny Terl (way too close to "Turd" to be a coincidence) and his sidekick Ker (Oscar winner Forest Whitaker). While imprisoned, Jonnie learns of Terl's plans to double cross his fellow Psychlos and leads the other humans in a revolt to take back their planet and destroy the aliens.
This movie is embarrassing, stupid and unintentionally funny. The first half of the film was like a test to see how bad a Hollywood movie could be. I'll proudly admit though that I couldn't help but get hypnotised by it and really engrossed in what was going to happen. This movie was really bad, though I actually found it enjoyable.
Whew, what a relief. Silent Night Deadly Night 4 was actually a good movie! Fortunately many of the same crew members and actors returned for part 5, though the story and characters are unrelated.
Continuing on with part 4, Silent Night Deadly Night 5: The Toy Maker is a wholly original story that has nothing to do with the previous films in the series. A little boy named Derek receives a mysterious Christmas present and witnesses it come to life and kill his father. Derek becomes mute and scared of toys, so his mother takes him to their old friend, the Toy Maker named Joe Petto (Mickey Rooney) and his son Pino (get it, like Gepetto and Pinocchio) to pick out a special toy. Without any luck they leave, but we soon find out that something is going on with Joe Petto's toys when one of them comes to life and kills someone else. Is Joe or his peculiar son Pino to blame for the Holiday slaughter or could it be the mysterious Noah who seems to be following Derek and his mother?
Silent Night Deadly Night 5 is on par with part 4. A neat little story that comes together well when the story unfolds and the pieces of the puzzle start falling into place. Some more great special effects from Screaming Mad George and it's fun seeing Mickey Rooney as The Toy Maker. Still not really a Silent Night Deadly Night film other than the name but still well worth a watch around the Holiday season.
Tuesday, December 23, 2008
If you've read my reviews for Silent Night Deadly Night parts 2 and 3, you're probably wondering why I am torturing myself with the remaining sequels in the Christmas horror franchise. Certainly if parts 2 and 3 are abysmal, part 4 and 5 must be even worse, right?
Silent Night Deadly Night 4: Initiation breaks away from the story of Billy and Ricky Caldwell of the first 3. This time, an aspiring newpaper reporter named Kim (Neith Hunter) is striving to find the right story to get her big break. After a flaming body mysteriously falls from the roof of a building, Kim starts investigating the strange occurrence, which leads her to Fima (Maud Adams), an eccentric bookstore owner who lives in the same building that the death occurred. Kim soon gets tangled up in Fima's mysterious cult who is trying to make Kim their new queen.
Definitely an improvement over parts 2 and 3, Initiation is actually an original and fun horror film with lots of weirdness and slimy special effects (courtesy of Screaming Mad George). There are tons of bugs and other insect-like creepy crawly things sure to make you start itching yourself. The weird story and characters are also fun. Overall, a decent film that probably shouldn't even be a part of this series (especially after the previous two pretty much destroyed the franchise).
Monday, December 22, 2008
Part 2 was bad. Painful even. I figured the producers realized their errors and decided to make right. Hell, they got the brilliant Bill Moseley (Chop Top from Texas Chainsaw Massacre part 2) and Monte Hellman (director of Two-Lane Blacktop). Did they succeed?
Ricky (this time played by Bill Moseley) is back. This time, he has been in a coma since the shootout at the end of part 2 and he wears a plexiglass bubble on the top of his head, exposing his brain. A blind woman named Laura, who is being treated for nightmares at the same hospital as Ricky, finds that she has psychic connections to him, seeing his murders before they happen. Sure enough, Ricky comes out of his coma and goes on a killing spree, with Laura his main target.
Well, unfortunately this film sucks too. I was so excited about finding an old used VHS copy of this at a thrift store for $2.00 that I could hardly wait to watch it. Part 3, 4 and 5 have never been released in the US on dvd and part 2 is out of print (it was on the flipside of the original Anchor Bay release of part 1). Anyway, the film is just another silly late 80s horror film with nothing going for it. Moseley speaks about 10 words in the whole movie and the rest of the cast are forgettable (unfortunately some of the hair styles are not!) Even Monte Hellman can't save this film from being worthless. The plot is stupid, the characters are just there and the killings are pretty unimaginative. Oh well, maybe they'll eventually get it right.
It's that time of year again, as you can tell by my most recent reviews. Time for mistletoe, yule logs and fruitcake. For many, it's a joyous time to spend with friends and family, exchanging gifts and good cheer. But for some it's a time to punish those who have been "NAUGHTY".
When little Billy and his parents visit Grandpa in the looney bin, Grandpa tells Billy that Santa punishes those who have been bad. On the way home, Billy sees his parents murdered by a guy dressed up as Santa. Billy then goes to live at an orphanage, where the nuns are constantly punishing Billy for his bad behavior. When Billy is old enough to work, he is given a job at a toy store around Christmas. After being forced to be the store's Santa, Billy snaps and starts "punishing" those he thinks are NAUGHTY.
The controversial Silent Night Deadly Night pushes many boundaries of good taste and stops at nothing to shock viewers. Seeing someone dressed as Santa chopping people left and right with an axe is just plain wrong. The film takes itself very seriously, which just adds to the level of sleeze. With that being said, I love this movie. It is a classic Holiday slasher and goes beyond most viewers expectations.
Ok, why does Halloween get all the attention when it comes to slasher films? I mean, yeah it's a classic of the genre and one of the first but when you think about it, not only did Black Christmas come out 4 years earlier, it also took place around a holiday. I don't really remember what made me rent this when I was about 16 (it was probably after seeing Silent Night Deadly Night) but when I did, I instantly fell in love with it. I remember making my friends watch it too.
Black Christmas takes place at a sorority house right before Christmas break. After receiving obscene phone calls, one of the girls goes missing. Then, the other girls all start disappearing too. After one of the girls, Jess (Olivia Hussey), calls the police about the obscene phone calls, they realize that the calls and the disappearances may be connected.
Black Christmas is one of the scariest, creepiest and best horror films out there. It has been called the first slasher film (unless you count Psycho) and after watching so many other slashers, you can instantly tell where so many of the cliches of such films originated from. The opening scene to When a Stranger Calls even shamelessly rips off an entire key scene from Black Christmas. Another funny thing about this film is how director Bob Clark went on to make one of the most iconic Christmas films of all time, A Christmas Story. Though A Christmas Story is filled with dark humor, it couldn't be more different than Black Christmas. I would definitely suggest this film for any fans of Christmas/Holiday-themed horror films. The last half hour will definitely keep you on the edge of your seat.
Sunday, December 21, 2008
Harry Stadling (Brandon Maggart) gets a little crazy around the holidays. His house is covered wall to wall in Christmas decorations and toys. He checks on the kids in his neighborhood to see if they have been good or bad. This year, something triggers a memory from Harry's childhood involving Santa Claus (actually Harry's father in a Santa costume) doing naughty things to Harry's mother. Harry decides that he will become Santa and show the world that good deeds will be rewarded and naughty people will be punished.
I love Christmas. Always have and (hopefully) always will. Not everyone feels the same way about Christmas though. I'm sure you've heard of Seasonal Depression or even the expression "Bah Humbug". Well some folks take their hatred of the holiday season to the extreme - as seen in this here film.
Don't Open till Christmas is about a sad sack who hates Christmas. He hates it so much in fact that he feels the need to kill anyone he sees dressed up as Santa Claus. On his trail is Inspector Harris (played by director Edmund Purdom), who suspects the killer to be the money-hungry boyfriend of one of the victims' daughters. Also on the Santa Killer's trail is Sergeant Powell, who suspects Inspector Harris may be linked to the murders, thanks to a tip from a suspicious reporter. In the meantime, Santas are being burnt, speared and (in a cringe worthy scene) castrated. Oh the horror.
Don't Open till Christmas is a decent slasher that has enough surprises and Santa slayings to make it worthwhile. Some of the camerawork, sound and editing are a little jumpy and its definitely not the best Christmas horror film out there, but it's worth a watch if you're in the mood for some anti-holiday cheer.
Monday, December 15, 2008
So out of the blue I get this email from someone named Brain Leake asking if I would review his company Dire Wit Films' new movie. Hellz Yeah! Finally someone is sending me a movie to review. It came today and I swore I felt just like a young (and slightly skinnier) Ebert must have felt when he received his first screener. I looked it up online and apparently it has played at a few theaters and will be released on dvd next year.
Isle of the Damned follows private detective Jack Steele and his adopted son Billy on a search to find the lost treasure of Marco Polo. They hire a group of pirates to bring them to the island where the treasure is supposedly hidden, which turns out to be an island of cannibals. They soon discover there are other inhabitants on the island, one of which knows where the treasure is.
Isle of the Damned is a hilarious spoof of the 70's Cannibal films (many of which I have reviewed already). The best thing about it though is that it has all the disgusting cannibalism, torture, dismemberment, castration and whatnot that made those films classics..and a whole lot more. There are lots of fake mustaches, bad dubbing, pirates, cheesy music and some very uncomfortable (and hilarious) homo-eroticism. I really hope this film gains the cult classic status that it so desperately deserves. It's very rare that you see a spoof actually improve on the genre it is making fun of. I hope I receive more screeners in the future but something tells me few will live up to Isle of the Damned.
Saturday, December 13, 2008
Here we have another late 70's/early 80's Sci-Fi film, The Black Hole, which was the first Disney film to be rated PG, the first film ever to have a digitally recorded soundtrack (courtesy of the great John Barry) and to feature the longest computer graphics sequence ever at the time. Most Sci-Fi fans would laugh at this film compared to today's CGI spoogefests, but to me, this is the shit.
Monday, December 8, 2008
Monday, December 1, 2008
Spaghetti westerns. I'll be honest, I couldn't care less about Spaghetti westerns or westerns in general until recently. It was Django (who's director Sergio Corbucci is also the director of this film). The only real reason I took a chance on Django was because it was considered somewhat of a classic and because I was rabid to see more films with Franco Nero. I really enjoyed it and started seeking out other SWs that I may like. Django Kill...If You Live Shoot, Run Man Run, Companeros and Four of the Apocalypse, to name just a few. Oh yeah, and........
Il Grande Silenzio, or The Great Silence, is not like your average western. You can tell right away when the opening credits show a cowboy riding a horse through a snow covered landscape. Wait, it snows in the west? We soon find out that the story takes place in Snowhill, Utah (fitting name). A group of bounty killers roam the town, hunting bandits in exchange for money. The head bounty killer is Loco (Klaus Kinski) who shows no mercy towards these bandits, dragging them on his horse with a bullwhip or shooting at the blink of an eye. A mute outlaw named Silence also comes to town. Silence hires himself out as protection to the outlaws to kill the bounty killers (does that make him a bounty killer killer?). Anyway, it is up to the viewer to determine if the cold blooded and ruthless bounty hunters being paid by the sheriff are the heroes and the vengeful Silence, who is out for justice and being paid by the outlaws is the villain or vice versa.
The Great Silence is a true gem. It is a strange movie, but very rewarding. There are so many surprises in this movie. Why Silence became silent. The love scene between Silence and the African-American widow of one of the dead bandits killed by Loco. And last but not least, one of the most shocking and unexpected endings in movie history. Klaus Kinski is great, as usual. Jean-Louis Trintignant shows so much emotion for a man who doesn't talk, proving his talent. The direction and stark cinematography is also great, it almost gives the film a black and white feel. Go see this friggin' movie.