Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Forbidden World (1982, Allan Holzman)


Continuing on with Shout! Factory's exquisite new releases of Roger Corman's Cult Classics, we have a film that I had actually never heard of until its announced release.  The film's poster/DVD cover actually made me think it was one of those 50s Sci Fi/ B movies.  When I found out it was an 80s Sci Fi/ B movie, I was sold.  I knew it would be chock full of what Corman's films are known for - low budget sets, a little T & A, some blood & gore and a whole lot of over acting.  Just the way I like it!  Shout! Factory's DVD release comes with the original theatrical cut of the film as well as an uncut version, under the title Mutant (plus a whole slew of Criterion-worthy bonus features).  This review is for the uncut Mutant version.

Mike Colby (Jesse Vint) and his robot pal Sam 104 (who looks eerily reminiscent of a Stormtrooper) are sent to the planet Xarbia to help out with a scientific experiment gone wrong.  The small group of scientists on Xarbia created something called Subject 20, which ended up killing all of the test animals in their lab.  When Colby arrives on Xarbia, Subject 20 has coccooned itself and begins mutating.  As expected, Project 20 escapes the confines of its holding tank and begins killing the crew members one by one.  Colby, in between seducing (or being seduced by) the research facility's two women, has to find a way to destroy the project, despite the scientists' pleas to keep it alive for some mysterious reason.

Forbidden World (or Mutant, whichever) is a wonderful, silly, sleazy, gory thrill-ride.  The film's short running time allows for rapid pacing and despite a miniscule budget, recycling of sets (particularly James Cameron's Galaxy of Terror set) and a talented crew of upcoming FX artists managed to create a neat little sci-fi/horror shocker.  Jesse Vint is adequate as Mike Colby, though I must commend his character's sly ways with women.  What other character (besides maybe James Bond) could go from bedding one female crew member to having a naked steam bath with another (before being rudely interupted by the alien, what nerve!).  The rest of the actors range from ok to over the top, though the women (June Chadwick from the 80s TV series V and Dawn Dunlap from one of my favorite movies of all time, Night Shift) are both very sexable (love the random shower/hair brushing scene between the two).  The alien designs are kind of silly but the ooey, gooey deaths of the crew members are well done and pretty nasty.  Some scenes are reminiscent to Alien (one is almost identical) but the film still works as an original, fun piece of B movie goodness.

RATING:  8/10

Monday, July 26, 2010

Galaxy of Terror (1981, Bruce D. Clark)



Shout! Factory does it again with a double dose of Roger Corman 80's Sci Fi Horror Action classics.  Just released this past week are Galaxy of Terror and Forbidden World (aka Mutant - review coming soon).  Galaxy of Terror I had heard of a few times over the years but it was very hard to find so I never got a chance to see it...until now.  I love 80s Sci-Fi films so that alone would make me see this film, but what really got me to make it a priority is the cast.  I mean what other 80s Sci Fi film brings together Freddy Krueger, Captain Spaulding from House of 1000 Corpses and Joanie Cunningham from Happy Days? 

A crew has been assembled to take the Quest, a space ship led by Captain Trantor (Grace Zabriskie) - who appears to have a slight case of post-traumatic stress disorder, on a rescue mission to the planet Morganthus.  Among the crew is Alluma (Erin Moran) who has special psychic powers, 2nd in command Baelon (Zalman King) who butts heads with our hero Cabren (Edward Albert), an easy going, likable crew member.  Then there is Quuhod (Sid Haig) the strong and silent crewman, Ranger (Robert Englund), assistant to the technical officer Dameia (Taaffe O'Connell).  When they get to Morganthus, they find the crew they are rescuing dead.  As they further explore and search for answers, each of the crew are picked off one by one by an alien lifeforce that feeds off their fears.

Galaxy of Terror was a cheesy, low budget sci-fi film produced by Roger Corman that works very well, despite it's weaknesses (mainly budget).  Many of the props (courtesy of set dresser Bill Paxton), scenery (production design by James Cameron) and special effects are rudimentary but actually turned out pretty decently.  The acting is not that great but the cast is a one of a kind ensemble of some of the most varied names in the entertainment business.  Zalman King (Trip with the Teacher/Blue Sunshine) does a great job as Baelon and Edward Albert (song of Green Acres' Eddie Albert) also excels as Cabren.  Robert Englund (Freddy Krueger, duh) shows some decent acting skills while Sid Haig's (House of 1000 Corpses) presence makes any movie worthwhile for me.  No review of this film would be complete without a mention of the Giant Worm Rape but I'll let you see that to believe it.  Overall, the film was exactly what I was hoping it would be, a fun, silly, gory, exploitation sci-fi flick sure to satisfy any B Movie fan.

RATING:  7/10

Sunday, July 25, 2010

Rhinestone (1984, Bob Clark)



As I emerge from my mostly dormant state and start up the reviews, I thought I'd pick one that may surprise most of my followers.  I assure you though, in B Movie Heaven there is a space reserved for Rhinestone.  Though not necessarily a B Movie, considering its $28 million budget, you won't see this on any of AFI's top movie lists.  Any film starring Sylvester Stallone and Dolly Parton, directed by Bob (Black Christmas/Christmas Story/Porky's/Children Shouldn't Play with Dead Things) Clark deserves to be seen by fans of bad movies.  The reason this film came to my attention was when a friend (Jon Snodgrass from the awesome band Drag the River ) asked if I could find a copy of the Rhinestone soundtrack and send it to him.  I ended up listening to the soundtrack myself and hearing Sylvester Stallone singing country was...well....exactly what you'd expect it to sound like.  Of course I instantly had to see the film.

Dolly Parton plays Jake, a country singer at Rhinestone, a NYC hillbilly bar who regrets her 3 year contract with horny slimeball manager Freddie Ugo (played by Ron Leibman).  Basically she is stuck singing for him with no chance of moving up in her career.  Until she makes a bet with Ugo that she can pick any person off the street and turn them into a country singer.  In comes Nick Martinelli, a NY Cabbie with a big mouth and zero talent.  Desperate to win the bet, Jake brings Nick back home to Tennessee where she tries to mold him into a country star.  Besides the fact Nick is about as country as...well...Sylvester Stallone and an ex-boyfriend (Tim Thomerson) trying to get Jake back, she doesn't give up.

Is Rhinestone a great movie?  Yes and no.  The story is so stupid and far-fetched and the performances are hammy and over the top.  At the same time, the film is actually a delightful watch with a fun story that doesn't take itself too seriously (how could it?).  Despite the fact that Sylvester Stallone not only sings, but sings country, the music fits the movie perfectly and is tolerable even for those who hate country.  Dolly Parton is lovable as the film's lead and seeing Tim (Trancers/Fade to Black) Thomerson as Parton's ex is pretty awesome too.  Overall, I loved this film.

RATING:  8/10

Saturday, July 17, 2010

Second Quarter Review 2010

For those of you who follow the blog, you may have noticed a severe lack of output recently.  Have no fear that the blog is still active, I'm still watching way too many movies and plan to keep reviewing.  Expect some really weird and awesome reviews coming very soon.  Also I wanted to extend my many thanks for all of the screeners and other free stuff I have received.  If I have not reviewed your film yet, don't worry.  I haven't forgotten. 

For now, here is my quarterly review of the films I watched from April to June.

4/1
Cat's Eye

4/2
Clash of the Titans (original)

4/3
Zombie 3

4/5
Last Temptation of Christ

4/6
Cutthroats 9

4/8
Trauma (Argento)

4/10
Mother's Day

4/12
White Heat

4/14
American Pie
Kiss of Death

4/16
American Pie 2

4/17
American Wedding

4/21
Manhunter
Waxwork

4/24
Cannibal Ferox

4/25
Last Cannibal World (aka Jungle Holocaust)

4/27
Beyond the darkness
Eaten Alive (Umberto Lenzi)

4/28
Intruder

4/30
Crimewave

5/1
City of the Living Dead

5/2
Hell of the Living Dead

5/3
They Live

5/4
Gamera

5/5
Big Trouble in Little China

5/6
Prince of Darkness

5/7
Night of the Demons

5/8
Brain Damage

5/9
Starman

5/10
Crazy Heart

5/11
Anthrax Oidivnikufesin

5/12
Summer of Fear

5/24
I Need That Record!

5/26
Death Race 2000

5/28
Eaten Alive (Tobe Hooper)

5/30
Blue Velvet

6/2
True Romance

6/4
Birdemic

6/6
Stone

6/7
Mad Dog Morgan

6/9
The Silencers

6/10
Antichrist (Lars von Trier)
The Wrecking Crew
The Ambushers
Murderers' Row

6/11
Agent 077 Mission Bloody Mary
Our Man Flint

6/12
In Like Flint

6/13
Espionage in Tangiers

6/14
From the Orient with Fury

6/16
Man from Hong Kong

6/17
Ipcress File

6/19
Bad Biology

6/20
Funeral in Berlin

6/23
Streets of Fire

6/24
The Proposal
Troll 2

6/26
Ride the High Country

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

The French Connection (1971, William Friedkin)


Why have I never seen The French Connection before?  Good question.  It is considered a classic.  One of the most praised action films of all time.  A first rate cast.  A director responsible for several films I've enjoyed (The Exorcist and Cruising being my favorites).  Did I forget anything? This was definitely one of those classic "I should see that eventually" film.  Well I picked up a copy at my local library (I think this is the third time I've taken it out) and the right before it was due back I figured "what the hell?"  I'll give it a shot.

Jimmy "Popeye" Doyle (Gene Hackman) and his partner Buddy Russo (Roy Scheider) are hard-assed New York cops who would rather stay up all night staking out a suspect than sleep (regardless of how much booze they've had to drink).  Between busting dealers, they stumble upon Sal Boca (Tony Lo Bianco), a shop owner who they suspect to be in on a big drug deal.  The Feds get involved and the duo end up embroiled in an international drug ring, led by Alain Charnier (Fernando Rey), who will stop at nothing to make sure the deal goes as planned.

To say The French Connection is a classic action film isn't doing it justice.  It is a frenetic, gripping, funny, smart action film with great performances and some of the best chase scenes ever filmed.  Hackman owns as the tough, booze-guzzling cop with the stick-to-itiveness of a piece of fly paper.  Scheider is right up there with Hackman as his reluctant yet dedicated partner.  I really can't think of one thing I didn't like about this film.  William Friedkin's direction puts you right in the middle of the action and doesn't let you catch your breath until the end credits begin to roll.  Should there be another person on Earth who has never seen The French Connection, I can't urge you enough to check it out.

RATING:  10/10