Thursday, February 25, 2010

My Bloody Valentine 3-D (2009)

I really never expected to view this one again after catching its theatrical run last year. The 3-D was effectively done and used to the best of its limited potential, but I took little away from the film other than that. To be fair, I was pretty well blitzed by the time we got there so not exactly in the best state for any serious critiquing. Anyway, a friend suggested I give it a second (more sober) shot.

I still wasn't impressed. Actually started drinking about halfway through so the sober thing didn't really pan out either. For the record, 'Have a whiskey every time Tom Atkins steals a scene' is not a recommended party activity as we all know, he is incapable of not doing so. Especially when his competition is made up mainly of people whose CW show got canceled. So MBV scores a few points there for just casting the magnificent bastard. Surprisingly, the 3-D held up fairly well in the conversion to DVD, even in using the considerably more fashionable red and green lenses.

Not much else to say here. Is it weird I was more attracted to the midget innkeeper than the naked blonde running all over the place? Probably a discussion for another time.


Monday, February 22, 2010

Slumber Party Massacre (1982)

I think we can add 'better security measures at mental hospitals' to the list of things the 80s were severely lacking in. So many escaped psychopaths out there and yet the girls of Slumber Party Massacre turn the dial every time their local news tries to warn them in favor of a generic (and copyright free) guitar muzak solo on another station. Not that they seemed to be the brightest of stars seeing as early on the cattier ones insist that Valerie not be invited to the party when she is standing about three feet from them and then act surprised when she bolts from the locker room in tears. Lo and behold, we learn a short while later that she just so happens to live right next door. Cold.

Meanwhile, if anyone had bothered to listen to all those red alert radio broadcasts, psychopathic murderer Russ Thorn is loose and somewhere in the city. Worse yet, he seems to have found himself a portable power drill with a surprisingly long battery life. The problem with Old Russ, God bless him, but I just did not want to see that much of him. Way too much killer, not enough You can pretty much put me in the camp that believes it is almost always better to give us passing glances and heavily shadowed figures rather than heavily-lit old men in snazzy jean jacket/pant combos. Seriously, look at this guy.

Sure, anyone can be a little scary blood-covered and stroking his power tool, but Russ looks like the only thing he could even try to kill are those big city car dealer prices. And what's so wrong with the standard issue buttondown pajamas, slippers and slighty mangy bathrobe that all movie mental patients traipse around in? It is a bit cliched but its not like this movie was breaking any new ground anyway. He's dressed like your dad is trying to be hip.

Anyway, I will not bore you with the plot as I am sure you've got it pretty well nailed down. There were a lot of great fake outs, I will give it that. From the neighbor guy wandering around at night with a butcher knife (to kill garden slugs?) to the drill that comes through the door only to be greeted by a handywoman ("Oh, hi, just putting your peephole in."), to the party crashing boys whose pranks are straight out of the mass murderer playbook (pulling the fuses), its all gold.

As it stands, second tier slasher. (This came off sounding more negative than anticipated.)


Sunday, February 21, 2010

Bad Biology (2008)

Finally, a romantic comedy that I can get behind. Well, kind of. Romance isn't exactly the point for anyone involved here, but it will have to do and quite frankly, I find practically anything starring Renee Zellweger much more disconcerting than what we have here.

Jennifer has seven clitorises (yes, I had to look it up.) from birth which have caused her more than her share of problems over the years. Since scaring off the one man she may have loved, Jennifer has taken a more relaxed stance on her abnormality...and by that I mean she just wants to fuck which comes with its own set of additional problems as she has a penchant for accidentally killing her suitors in the throes of passion and sometimes giving birth to freak babies within hours due to her hypermetabolism associated with all those love buttons.

And then there is Batz, whose member came off with the umbilical cord and while reattached, never worked. After a series of self-administered growth hormones shot directly into his penis, Batz was able to stand at attention with the added side effect of it becoming quite monstrous (and having a mind of its own?). The penis really is grotesque. It kind of looks like if someone mixed all the Play-doh colors together and then decided to roll them up into a big, veiny mess. Not the kind of thing you would ever want to get called into a Parent-Teacher conference for, god forbid, you actually kept one of your freak babies.

Truth be told, though, I kind of wanted the romance and this is where my problem with Bad Biology lies. We do get inklings from both Batz and Jennifer that they would like the normalized, white picket lifestyle and while I don't know if it had to go that far, the conclusion to this story is unsatisfying. Jennifer gets it in her head that God itself wants to fuck her while Batz must learn to cope with the fact that junkies will leave you for a fix in a heartbeat. When they do finally all come together, it's all about the dick.

Where's the love?

Nevertheless, it is quite funny in the way only Henenlotter seems to be able to produce and seriously, Frank, no more of this Kubrick auteur nonsense, we need another movie out of you before the next decade.


Friday, February 19, 2010

Eliminators (1986)

Quick Synopsis: Mandroid, a half-man, half-robot, escapes from his creator's compound when he learns of his scheduled termination. He tracks down a woman who developed the robo-technology that allows him to still exist and takes her back to the compound to exact revenge. Also, a ninja fights time-traveling Cro-Magnon men.

So this must be what schizophrenia feels like or at least is a reason as to why parents are so quick to put their children on ADHD drugs these days. We really don't need any more Eliminator-esque scripts floating around.

Mandroid is in actuality John Doe, a lost fighter pilot who was found half-dead by a James Bond villain and transformed into his conflicted self in order to steal treasures from Ancient Rome. Throughout the film, several characters express disbelief that a Mandroid can exist, yet no one questions the fact that time travel is easily accessible...just saying. But then, Reeves (the evil-doer) arbitrarily decides he has no further use for Mandroid and orders his destruction. With the assistance of a sympathetic scientist, Mandroid escapes in his "mobile unit." This occurs early on and unfortunately acts as the highlight to the film. The mobile unit is basically just tank treads that the Mandroid screws himself into and manipulates by leaning forward. Basically, a more cumbersome Segway if the point was to make simple travel needlessly difficult.

Mandroid then travels an unknown distance to find a female scientist who created the technology that now inhabits half of his body. She does fix a few malfunctioning circuits on him, but then joins his crusade to go back the way he just came to take over Reeves for no reason at all. Perhaps she just needed a vacation as the compound is in the not all that exotic locale of Mexico. Might I mention that there aren't a whole lot of Mexicans in Mexico, at least according to Eliminators. They somehow fit in a cartoon character Frenchman with a thin mustache and thick as molasses accent, but yeah, like one Mexican in the whole country.

The middle section of the film almost completely abandons the sci-fi aspects that were set up from the beginning in favor of a treasure hunt action plot complete with poor man's Indiana Jones, known here as Harry Fontana. They meet a ninja also looking for Reeves who is the son of the scientist that helped Mandroid escape. They are captured by Neanderthals that I guess came through the time portal somehow (never explained). Reeves turns himself into a Roman Warrior with lasers and kicks everyone's ass(es) before jumping time to go rule in Rome. I am not sure I have ever seen a film where the villain is not hurt in the least during the final battle. Mandroid dies to save the lives of the others and surprisingly (or maybe not so considering how dull he really was) none of them mourn him for even a second. Instead they go and smash the time travel mechanism and send Reeves millions of years back to when the Earth was but a hot mess...and that's it.

It started so strongly. I am seriously considering starting work now on a Mandroid with mobile unit Halloween costume, but then just went from one random scene to another with little action and fewer laughs. So it goes.


Wednesday, February 17, 2010

The Brain (1988)

The town of Meadowlake? Field? Something? is besieged with a series of violent crimes/suicides. Meanwhile, the most popular television program around town is a locally produced self-help show ingeniously titled Independent Thinking starring Dr. Anthony Blake. It doesn't seem like there should be a connection there unless of course there's a giant alien brain swimming in brine that feeds itself through mind control behind the whole set up...but then I'm getting ahead of myself.

Enter James, a high school Senior whose penchant for sodium-based pranks has met the ire of his principal. There is actually a warning that runs during the end credits about not performing his stunt at home for the sake of public safety (I'll have to update this post once I try it). Anyway, it is decided his anti-social leanings can only be corrected by Blake, or as his mother argues, "He wouldn't be on TV if he wasn't good," and so he is sent to see him. This is where The Brain attempts to eat James' mind or something, but apparently some people are resistant to its charms and just end up hallucinating. This accounts for all the recent violent acts around town. Damn murderous hippies.

So now James is seeing all kinds of craziness. His girlfriend tries to help him by finally giving it up (she earlier stated that she was "saving herself for college" whatever that means) and his buddy, well all he really accomplishes is getting literally eaten by the brain. In fact, eventually everyone turns on James when The Brain does his mind control thing through the TV airwaves (not sure why it didn't just focus on this method in the first place) and the program is about to somehow go national despite the fact that Bob Ross had better production values. The Brain must be stopped!

Of course, James does indeed stop it by way of a sodium bomb (and it all comes together). Now, one might ask why a psychological research institute would store mass quantities of a highly combustible element in its boiler room, to which I would reply "Well, sir (or madam), clearly you know nothing of medical science and all the marvelous breakthroughs that have been accomplished by blowing stuff up."

Not one of the truly great awful movies of the decade, but a decent little diversion all the same.


Sunday, February 14, 2010

The Mutilator (1985)

Quick Synopsis: Son accidentally kills his mother and is hunted with his friends by his psychotic father seeking retribution years later.

I bet Ed Jr. wishes he had just gotten his dear old Dad a tie for his birthday like everybody else. But no, instead he decided he would clean Big Ed's rifles for him and ended up plugging Mom in the back (not to mention getting blood all over the cake). Big Ed then goes on a decade-long bender until his son is college-aged and therefore old enough to face the consequences. To be fair, Dad really should be held at least partially to blame for storing a loaded rifle in an unlocked cabinet, but I digress...

So Big Ed tells his son to come to his beach house and lock it up for the winter and he brings along his girl and their friends for a long weekend. Upon arriving, we are treated to some rampant foreshadowing including a car that has trouble starting, a discussion about there being little police presence during the off-season and Big Ed's battleaxe not hanging on the wall like it usually is (and yes, its as ridiculous looking as it sounds). Ed Jr. also regales his buddies with stories of his dad's big game hunting adventures and someone finds a framed picture of the corpse of a man that Big Ed "accidentally" ran over with his boat. That's right, he framed it. Nothing weird about that.

Of course, we get into pretty standard slasher movie fare from this point on. The kids split up and some will go looking for others and girls will suddenly be deathly afraid even though they haven't seen anything bad yet, the virgin survives, etc. We get some of the worst death acting I think I've ever seen (the boat motor kill) and a giant fishhook in a very uncomfortable place. And I don't really know why, but I thought it was hilarious that Big Ed wore Nikes...but again, I digress.

A forgotten slasher that provides some inventive kill scenes and little else. Good enough for me.


Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Jennifer's Body (2009)

So, I went to high school with Diablo Cody. We had mutual friends which is how I now know this fact as one of them relayed this information recently. Upon hearing her real name, my response was something along the lines of "that wallflower goth chick?" (which appears to still be half-right). Now, I share this not out of some misplaced sense of a brush with celebrity, but rather because it provides me the unique opportunity to state explicitly that nobody in our high school talked like that. Nobody anywhere talks like that. Of course, by 'that' I mean Cody's blend of lazy pop culture references coupled with wholly unoriginal slang culled from a thousand unrelated sources. This is not to suggest that movies cannot create their own alternate realities, and as an extension, modes of communication. Heathers (1989) is a perfect example of a teenage set world where the language used is original, irreverent and cutting. What Cody does vastly pales in comparison...and makes me want to punch kittens. I like kittens.

Anyway, I made it almost 35 minutes before shutting Jennifer's Body off.

Note to self: You do not need to see every horror-related film.

Tuesday, February 09, 2010

Pin: A Plastic Nightmare (1988)

Quick Synopsis: Father communicates with his children by way of a life-size medical dummy. Upon his death, his son retains an uncomfortable relationship with the doll.

This one is quite the creeper. It opens to a picturesque American family who are admittedly wound a bit tight. Mother keeps the house as if it were a musuem to Colonialism and tells the children to keep certain friends out as they look "dirty and diseased" while Father comes across as devoid of emotion as the med school learning tool (Pin) he uses to teach his children everything, including the birds and the bees ("Leon, remove the cloth from Pin's lap.") We get a few snapshots of their lives as the children grow until both parents are killed in a car wreck, with Pin in the backseat.

Both Leon and his sister Ursula are in high school by this point and while Leon initially comes across as the more stable of the two (notwithstanding his Hitler Youth haircut), it is but a matter of time before he too is speaking through Pin.

Further details will remain scarce as I would prefer not to give much else away. This movie really does has it all in terms of skin crawlers. We get the full spectrum of the sexual repression rainbow from "lonely nurse" to "abortion: family style" and others I didn't come up with monikers for. There is also a running incestuousness between the siblings that culminates with Leon reading his poetry to Ursula and her boyfriend about his protaganist's desire to rape his sister. As well, Pin is just plain unnerving, even when it is motionless. I will leave it up to your own interpretations as to if Pin ever actually moves on his own.

Taut, well-executed, and when it needs to be, completely insane. It's been a weak year thus far in terms of quality, but Pin is definitely near the top.


Thursday, February 04, 2010

The Offspring (aka From a Whisper to a Scream) (1987)

"The history of Oldfield is written in blood on pages of human skin."

There are but a handful of people that could pull off a line like that, Vincent Price being one, so I suppose credit should go to the casting director as he is our narrator for this anthology of horror. Oldfield, Tennessee has a rather macabre history, we are told, and as the resident slightly off-kilter librarian, Price knows all of the stories and is more than obliging when a reporter comes to visit. I will admit this seemed like a bit of an arbitrary location choice for the epicenter of evil, but then I, too, live in the Bible belt so I guess I shouldn't be too surprised.

The opening tale is the strongest and follows a lonely older gentlemen who has spent most of his adult life caring for his sister (including bathing her which nobody needed to see). Even his fantasies are turning on him as his dream girl with whom he works with keeps showing up in some stage of decomposition. He does finally convince her to come out for dinner at BJ's Family Restaurant (insert first date joke here), but things don't quite work out. He does get some action the following night, but only because she's not exactly in any state to fight back. Some months later, a little bundle of joy bursts out of the ground seeking vengeance for its incubation six feet deep. Add this to my list of reasons to never have children.

Unfortunately, the remaining stories are of varied degrees of mediocrity. A small time hood in the 1950's learns a valuable lesson about messing with an undead voodoo priest, a carnival glasseater gives new meaning to the phrase "love will tear us apart," and Civil War orphans take their revenge on any soldiers who unwittingly come their way. There are inspired moments in each, such as the twist on pin the tail on the donkey that the children engage in, but all come off as rushed and too similar to any number of other short horror stories. The middle story could have been easily excised in favor of fleshing out the other two. There is also a bookend tale involving Price that isn't really worth noting.

I love a good anthology. Too bad this wasn't one.


Wednesday, February 03, 2010

Ghoulies 2 (1987)

Ahhh, yes...the toilet monsters. One of many fond childhood memories involving roaming the horror aisle at the local video store is that great cover art. Yet somehow it took until last night to finally sit down and actually watch a Ghoulies, the second one to be precise.

Who would have thought you would actually need to see the original beforehand? I can only assume that the priest carrying a sack of monsters while being chased by red cloaked children(?) had something to do with it seeing as we never see them again after the first few minutes. The priest drops the ghoulies in a conveniently placed open canister of toxic waste, but they rise back up unaffected and hitch a ride with a travelling carnival to start a new adventure.

They end up developing a following while hiding out in the carnival's spook house which brings some much needed influx of cash to the proprietors though raises a question about the intention of ghoulies. They set out to savagely kill some people, but then are quite the little showmen for others. At the same time, I wonder why anyone would be drawn to the antics of ugly, rubbery creatures, but then it is the 1980's and these are the same people that voted for Reagan twice so...anyway, we eventually learn that only magic can hurt them, but as with all these movies, incantations performed by the uninitiated just tend to lead to bigger problems. In this case, a giant Fishboy that eats the other ones but then needs to be sent back to hell itself though he is disposed of easily enough (which was kind of a cop out, but whatever).

I did really like the variations of ghoulies. Aside from Fishboy, there was Upright Alligator, Hairless Rat and my personal favorite, Down Syndrome Mogwai. As well, the mix of comedy with far more brutality than expected works for the most part. Evil is always better when it has a sense of humor.