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Monday, January 30, 2012

VAMPIRE IN BROOKLYN


Vampire in Brooklyn came during a dark time in my life: Wes Craven's pre-Scream 90s output. The creator of some of my favorite horror films was in a serious funk, and while I usually argue that People Under the Stairs and New Nightmare are underappreciated, there really isn’t a lot to recommend here. But Im going to recommend stuff anyway. First of all, the supporting cast, filled with talented ringers like Mitch What’s-His-Name from X Files and Shocker.


Also, the make up and effects aren’t that bad either. While I was seriously disappointed with Eddie Murphy in this role, when his face vamped out, it went a long way toward making him less… insufferable.

Now how do we fix his accent? 

And Angela Bassett is beautiful and classy as always. Case in point: she has a beret.



Which now leads us to why this movie failed: Eddie Murphy. I have no idea if this was meant as a horror film or a comedy, and I have a distinct feeling that Eddie didn’t know either. The low points occur when he plays some side character in white face. Or Asian face. Thank God he didn’t bust out the fat suit.


The fault isn’t just at Eddie’s feet, though. All the attempts at humor fall flat, particularly the wisecracking zombie assistant who keeps losing body parts. Ugh.

WHAAAA...


I almost recommend this movie just to see how wrong-headed some of the creative decisions were. Eddie Murphy as Dracula doesn’t sound like a particularly promising idea, and the movie sinks to the level of its premise. Thank God Scream came along.

Saturday, January 28, 2012

THE BERMUDA DEPTHS


THE BERMUDA DEPTHS is a late-70s TV movie directed by one of the Rankin-Bass stopmotion guys. It is a live action horror fantasy about a mystery woman who just walks out of the ocean and all the mystical hoo-hah that entails. I do not know why this film got under my skin the way it did. The tone is a little slow and off, and the music is weird in a way that only 70s soundtracks could be. It feels like the ultimate hang-out-on-the-beach movie, with a strangely violent climax. I would not call it a good movie, but it mystified me in a way that more legitimately good movies never could. I was able to watch it all on Youtube before it was unceremoniously removed due to stupid things like copyright law. If you ever get the opportunity, check it out and get lost in the strange rhythms of this singular film.

Thursday, January 26, 2012

ALICE IN WONDERLAND


ALICE IN WONDERLAND has been adapted into so many different films, it’s hard to keep track of which version makes her a prostitute and which one makes the mad hatter a black woman. But no matter how many times people re-imagine the story to make it unnecessarily hip, the dream logic and peculiarity of the source material always gives it something to latch on to. This early silent film is no different. For a good fifteen hallucinatory minutes, Alice wanders through Wonderland and meets a few of the classic characters. What makes this adaptation so special is the ingenuity involved in using turn-of-the-century technology to create fantastical creatures.

Take the White Rabbit, for example. Hes a guy in a suit, not unlike the Donnie Darko rabbit, or that serial killer I dreamed about last Tuesday.



Then we have a scene where Alice changes sizes and finds a series of increasingly tiny doors that she will have to squeeze through. No computer technology here. Just a curtain.



And the magically disappearing, reappearing Cheshire Cat… hes a real cat sitting on a branch. Who disappears. They paid their animal starts a lot of money back then.


If the scene involves too many special effects, the filmmakers just use a title card. If only Lord of the Rings did that. The entire trilogy would have been twenty minutes long.


My favorite scene in the whole film is the end, when all of Wonderland goes insane and chases after Alice. As you can see, dozens of people are dressed like cards and chase Alice until she reawakens in a park. See? That’s all you need to make a good Alice in Wonderland. Take a note, Tim Burton.

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

CHIP AND DALE: RESCUE RANGERS: Ghost of a Chance

A while back, I discussed a Halloween episode of Chip and Dale: Rescue Rangers, that classic late-80s, early-90s staple of Disney Afternoon. Today I want to talk about its companion episode. And by companion, I mean it has absolutely nothing to do with the previous one, except a Halloween theme and a pair of crime-solving rodents. In this installment, Chip and Dale meet a ghost mouse and help him move on to the afterlife. It is a lot like an episode of Ghost Whisperer, except without Jennifer Love Hewitt, her boobs, or whispering.


Much of the run-time of this episode is spent with the main characters wandering around a big spooky castle while eyes in paintings look at them. Or look in totally different directions. Whichever.


Because this is an episode of Chip and Dale, everything can be blamed on Fat Cat, the resident baddy. (Everything except the mouse ghost and his mouse death, which has nothing to do with him.) Fat Cat is after some random treasure, by the way. He does that a lot.

The only thrills and chills of the episode come courtesy of the red-eyed cat monster that wanders the castle grounds. Note the zipper lines. Also note the button, unless he has some kind of ghost cat skin cancer.


I would definitely recommend this episode as an example of what Chip and Dale has to offer: a simple, child friendly mystery interspersed with action, one-lines, and pratfalls. The mouse guillotine is just a bonus.

SPOILER ALERT: they do not get beheaded.

Sunday, January 22, 2012

THE POWER WITHIN


1995
Directed by Art Camacho
Written by Jacobsen Hart and Scott McAboy

WHA’ HAPPENED?
A kid learns to harness his power within (trademark pending) by totally relying on a magic, butt-kicking ring. It would be like a weight-lifter learning to harness his inner strength through steroids.


Big chunks of this movie were filmed at Universal Studios, which was always more interesting than it was boring. It was still a little boring, though, especially the long stretches of time when you watch nameless people ride the rides and enjoy the hell out of them.

BLOOD AND GUTS:
None to speak of. Just a short teenage boy beating people up while everyone looks at him with their mouths agape. I have the sinking feeling this was written by a 12-year-old in crutches.


RANDOM THOUGHTS:
This is a very dumb, low-budget endeavor, but the preteen nerd in all will undoubtedly find him- or herself cheering on the protagonist as he beats up random people. It is the simple things in life.

Half of the budget.

OK. IS IT GAY?
Nope. Not at all. But it does feature a main character from the Fox hit Glee.
Coach Bieste.

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

LEPRECHAUN: BACK 2 THA HOOD


MYTHOLOGY: No magic flute. Not a lot of crazy powers. Just gold, near-invincibility, and super-strength (for his size anyway). This is a stripped down Leprechaun, and I appreciated the change from the last film.

Also, we get a little explanation about the other leprechauns. Apparently, this guy is the last of his kind. Which is for the best, apparently.

BEST DEATH SCENE: Someone gets stabbed by a bong. Bong water turns red with blood. How come no other movie has thought of this before?

VERDICT: This is perhaps the most inept movie in the series, and it’s no surprise that they stopped with this one, but holy crap is it more fun than the previous installment. It adds some necessary physical comedy (pot-related, of course), and the main characters actually have some real-world issues besides “I want to be a rapper, maybe.” I think this installment definitely gets a bad rap. But it’s soundtrack is filled with bad rap, so I guess it’s fitting.

Monday, January 16, 2012

BEING HUMAN

Tonight is the season premiere of the American version of Being Human, the Syfy channel show that offers the steadiest stream of supernatural beefcake. (Sorry, Warehouse 13.) From the previews, it looks like the werewolf and the vampire get to do a lot of angsty craziness as usual, whereas the ghost is still mopey.

I am particularly excited to see the return of Sam Huntington as Josh, our resident werewolf-slash-puppy-dog. I mean, look at those eyes:


I have been a fan of this guy since his role as Mimi-siku in the Tim Allen-vehicle Jungle 2 Jungle. (The 90s was a simpler time.) And while I have since grown out of my love for that movie, the same cannot be said for Sam, who has been a great screen presence in movies like Not Another Teen Movie, Superman Returns, and the woefully underappreciated Dylan Dog: Dead of Night.

So show your appreciation and check out the premiere of Being Human. At the very least, you will get some TV-friendly werewolf violence.

Seriously. Can we just Photoshop that ghost out of there...

Sunday, January 15, 2012

LEPRECHAUN IN THE HOOD


MYTHOLOGY: The magic necklace that turns the Leprechaun into stone is back. (Last seen in part 3.) The Leprechaun now has a magic flute. He is also stronger than in previous installments, controlling people’s minds and making their hearts explode.

WORST DEATH SCENE: Anything involving the transsexual character is mean-spirited and depressing. Not cool, Leprechaun. Not cool.

BEST SONG: This movie ends on a serious high note as the surprisingly victorious title character raps. Lep in the hood come to do no good! It’s not exactly Tupac, but whatever.

VERDICT: My least favorite installment in the series. I didn’t enjoy watching this movie, even if individual scenes are fun and clever. The acting was passible, and the Coolio cameo was the most random thing to ever happen in this series, but the trouble-making, anarchic vibe of the previous installments in mostly lacking.

Then again, the rap number…

Friday, January 13, 2012

LEPRECHAUN 4: IN SPACE


MYTHOLOGY: The Leprechaun is a space creature now. He can transport his soul through urine. By this point in the series, they aren’t even trying for consistency anymore.

BEST DEATH SCENE: The Leprechaun popping out of the guy’s crotch was at least unusual. And the assistant getting his head into a pizza was as Looney Tunes as you could get.

VERDICT: This movie is exactly what you’d expect from the title. It is stupid and nonsensical and proud of it. Like the others, this one is fun almost all the way through. My main gripe is that the climax involves a completely unnecessary mutant spider. Why? We don’t need the extra complication. A space-leprechaun is crazy enough.

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

THE COTTAGE


STATS:
2008
Directed by Paul Andrew Williams
Written by Paul Andrew Williams
Starring Andy Serkis, Reece Shearsmith and Jennifer Ellison

Gollum.

A crime drama turns into a comedy which turns into a straight up slasher film. Half the fun of this movie is watching the plot go in random directions, so I won't give anything away. But I would just say that it definitely satisfies as a horror movie by the end. And it has a final scene that is brilliant.

"That’s chlorophyll for you."

ISN’T THAT SPECIAL?
There is nothing special about this movie. I have no idea how I heard about it. It was probably just recommended to me by the internet robots working behind the scenes at Netflix. Either way, I had no expectations going in, and was shocked by pretty much everything that happened.

Emma Bunton, aka Baby Spice, aka a British person

BLOOD AND GUTS:
Plenty of gore scenes, some funny, some really really nasty. But whenever a knife or bear trap comes out, it hurts the characters in ways that you don't see coming. Like this scene, where the main character slowly puts his face closer and closer to the keyhole. Just try to guess what happens...


Seriously. Guess. I'll wait.

Nope. That is incorrect.

SHIRTS AND SKINS:
No nudity to speak of. This film is strictly about the slapstick violence.

And sexual chemistry

RANDOM THOUGHTS:
Some people might have heard about this film because of the cameo by Pinhead himself, looking particularly less Gothic. In that case, great. He is a fine actor. If that piques your interest enough to rent the movie, go for it. But don't expect him to do anything pivotal to the plot. It's sort of like that Robert Englund cameo at the beginning of Hatchet.


FINAL THOUGHTS:
This movie was a joy to watch, start to finish, possibly because it starts going in one direction and makes at least three hilarious and gruesome left turns throughout its quick, breezy run-time. Thank you, Netfix robots, for turning me on to such a fun movie, and for also telling me absolutely nothing about what happens. That makes the journey even more special.

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

LEPRECHAUN 3


MYTHOLOGY: Leprechaun bites will give you Leprechaun magic. A necklace can turn the Leprechaun into a statue. Leprechauns are all about dirty limericks, apparently.

BEST DEATH SCENE: The magician getting sawed in half. That’s as old as they come, but seriously… so, so good. The topless television robot lady was good too.

VERDICT: The funniest out of the entire franchise. Coming from someone who has been to the Vegas strip several times, this film’s depiction of Las Vegas is almost 100% BS, but so what? The jokes are dirty, the main character is dorky-cute, and the murder scenes are consistently insane.

Sunday, January 8, 2012

LEPRECHAUN 2


MYTHOLOGY: Doesn’t like certain kinds of metal. Obsessed with finding a wife. Really, really old.

BEST MAKE-OUT SCENE: The leprechaun licks his new wife on the face. That’s how Irishmen say hello. Best tongue scene since Freddy Krueger in Nightmare 1.

VERDICT: I frequently skip over this one in my re-viewing habits, but it’s just as funny, goofy, and scary as the first one. Warwick Davis seems to be having the time of his life, even if the other actors are uniformly awful.

The LA setting is actually an improvement over the single barn from part one, expanding the scope of the story and making everything feel more important somehow. (Sort of like the change in epic-ness from Critters 1 to Critters 2 or Alien to Aliens.)

The Leprechaun-finding-a-wife storyline was cheesy fun, but I’m glad they dropped it for future installments. I’d rather not think about the mechanics of that situation.

Thursday, January 5, 2012

LEPRECHAUN (Part One)


MYTHOLOGY: Comes from Ireland. Doesn’t like four leaf clovers. His magic is tied to his gold. Obsessed with making shoes.

BEST DEATH SCENE: Jumping on the pawn shop owner with a pogo stick. Great product placement, too.

VERDICT: This movie will always have a soft spot in my heart. It hasn’t aged well over time, particularly Jennifer Aniston’s Valley Girl schtick and basically everything that comes out of her mouth. But the movie still rides a very fine line between horror and cheese that still works. It never forgets that it’s trying to be a fun, scary ride.

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

LEPRECHAUN!


I decided to start this year off right. Since I have a few days off to spend lazing around and basking in the glow of holy-crap-it's-already-2012, I thought I would spend the first few days of the Mayan death-year watching one of my favorite horror franchises back-to-back: LEPRECHAUN!

Now, I know I've talked about several of these films before (particularly the last few sequels that frankly were not my favorites), but I wanted to take a look at the franchise as a whole and try to see what new insights I can draw from movies I've seen dozens of times before. Will I change my tune? Probably. I switch my opinions on these movies faster than Warwick Davis can jump on a pogo stick. So join me for the next few days as we relive the exploits of everyone's favorite mini-killer, Chucky! I mean, Leprechaun!