Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Octopus 2: River of Fear

Watched July 7, 2013

Starring: Michael Reilly Burke, Meredith Morton, Fredric Lehne, John Thaddeus.

This movie taught me that there's an exciting new career waiting in New York City; being a scuba cop! You get to regularly jump into a gross, dirty river and try to find drugs smugglers, but sometimes you stumble onto crazier things. Nick (Michael Reilly Burke) is young scuba cop who's been assigned to work with Walter (Fredric Lehne) who's about to retire from the scuba cop game. Together they think they've finally nabbed a drug smuggler, but it turns out it's the most powerful judge in town out for some night fishing. This makes the news so Nick and Walter are chastised by the chief of police, but they know that something's going on. Meanwhile there have been random dead bodies showing up on the docks. 

 This whole story takes place a few days before the 4th of July and the Mayor has a big fireworks spectacle planned, this is New York City after all. We know that it's New York by the tons of stock footage used in the movie. The Mayor sends his aid, Rachel (Meredith Morton) to check out why these scuba cops are making the waterfront seem dangerous, just when he wants lots of people to come out and celebrate independence day. Rachel finds Nick, interviews him and is drawn to his swimmer's body, or something, she just starts tagging along for no reason.

Nick is really stuck on the drug smuggler thing, so along with Walter they keep swimming around the river trying to find drugs. Instead of drugs they find a giant, killer octopus! Nick escapes from the octopus tentacles but Walter is killed. No one back at the police station believes that there is a giant octopus in the river, so Nick looks like a fool.

Meanwhile, Rachel is randomly assigned to take a group of young kids to an event in Brooklyn or Jersey, on their way back everything gets crazy. The Octopus somehow damages the tunnel that they're driving through and it begins to fill with water. Nick finds them and helps get them out of the bus they're on but it takes so long to move these kids. This is supposed to be the big tense finale, which is weird because it doesn't really have much to do with the Octopus. All the kids get out safe, then the Octopus is blown up as they watch the fireworks.

I went in with low expectations, therefore had fun watching this movie. The CGI of the octopus is done mostly in the dark of night, so it looks somewhat real. They just use a fake tentacle for the scenes with people and that stands up as well. Rachel has this extreme widow's peak that is hard to look away from. Walt and Nick look to be about 5 years apart in age, which makes it weird to think that Walter is supposed to retire really soon. In the end they catch the drug smugglers, it was the judge after all.

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

The Refrigerator

Watched June 30, 2013

Starring: Julia McNeal, Dave Simonds, Angel Caban.

I put this movie on with low expectations, mostly because inanimate objects that kill is a really difficult concept to pull off. I was so happily surprised when it turned out to be fun and weirdly enjoyable.

Eileen (Julia McNeal) and Steve (Dave Simonds) are a newlywed couple from Ohio who are headed to his new job in New York City! Before they arrive they arranged to look at an apartment in Alphabet city. They arrive and Steve manages to talk the building manager into renting it for $200, which even then is a crazy steal. Too bad the apartment contains a secret killer.

Steve starts his job as some cubicle suit, but it doesn't matter because this isn't Steve's story. Eileen is basically a housewife but she does want to be an actress. She gets a call from a friend about an open audition, she gets ready for it but can't find her keys. She goes crazy tearing everything apart and she still can't find them. After missing the audition, she finds her keys in the refrigerator. Juan (Angel Caban) the plumber stops by the apartment to see if anything needs to be fixed, since this is an old apartment building there is plenty that needs to be done. I have to say the chemistry between Eileen and Juan is instantly electric. There is no spark between Eileen and Steve even though they're the married couple.

Steve begins to have dreams about the refrigerator, inside he seems a miniature version of his boss. Eileen also has dreams about the refrigerator but she sees her crazy mother. Juan comes by another day with his assistant to fix more things in the apartment. Eileen goes to check out all that New York has to offer including weird shacks in abandoned lots and the perverts around 42nd st.

Juan leaves the apartment and his assistant is eaten by the refrigerator. Days later Eileen finds a hat in her crisper drawer. She begins to suspect that something weird is happening then her mother comes to visit her out of the blue. Apparently Eileen's mother tried to kill herself when Eileen was a little girl. They rehash this story and bond over it. Eileen goes out for cleaning supplies and Eileen's mom is eaten by the refrigerator. Eileen comes back home and knows something is wrong. I'm not sure how she figures out that it's the fridge. Steve comes home from work and Eileen wants him to get rid of the fridge. Steve goes on a rant about how important refrigerators are and with them we can have cold drinks at any time, he refuses to get rid of the fridge. That night everything goes haywire as the fridge commands Steve to give Eileen to it to eat. Eileen won't have it and she stabs Steve in the back with a kitchen knife. Juan comes in to save the day and uses a drain snake to lasso the fridge closed. This makes the fridge bring all the appliances to life and they destroy Steve. Juan and Eileen make it out of the apartment together.

It ends wonderfully with a scene of Eileen and Juan as a couple and they are about to compete in a flamenco competition, it was established earlier that while Juan is a plumber his real passion is flamenco dancing.

All the extras are awesome characters. At the end when Juan and Eileen are running out of the building one of the neighbors in the building is a man in a bathrobe with a puppet on his hand. There is a lot of product placement (my guess is uncompensated) for Aunt Jemima pancake mix, Rolling Rock beer (in cans!) and more. I thought this movie was great, I'm really happy I own it and I look forward to sharing it with more people.

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Curse III: Blood Sacrifice

Watched June 23, 2013

Starring: Christopher Lee, Jenilee Harrison, Andre Jacobs, Henry Cele.

No, I haven't seen either Curse I or II, but I doubt the knowledge of those movies would have made Curse 3: Blood Sacrifice any better.

The year is 1950, Geoff Armstrong (Andre Jacobs) and his wife Elizabeth (Jenilee Harrison) are white, sugar cane farmers in Africa. Elizabeth is newly pregnant and a truly horrible lady. Elizabeth's sister is visiting with her husband/boyfriend. Elizabeth and her sister take a drive around the neighborhood when they come across a tribe in the middle of a ritual sacrifice. The tribe is about to sacrifice a goat when Elizabeth and her sister take the goat away because they don't want to see a goat killed. This pointless act is what sets off the chain of events that drive the "plot" of this movie. The tribe was sacrificing the goat as an appeal to help a sick or dying boy. Since the goat wasn't sacrificed it unleashed an angry demon. 

Elizabeth sings a song when she is upset that goes " America, America, America.." repeated over and over to help calm herself down. There are a million songs about America that are in the public domain so I don't get why they couldn't give her a real song to sing.

Elizabeth's sister heads to the beach with her husband/boyfriend. They are getting it on in a tent when the demon comes to kill them. While this is happening Elizabeth goes to visit her English neighbors, an old lady and her granddaughter. She brings them some chocolate chip cookies that they refer to as " chock-lit chip cookies from America." They say this so many times it makes me think that the cookies must be poison.

A big storm comes, and in the cover of darkness the demon begins to stalk Elizabeth. She comes home from visiting the neighbors to find her husband dead in the pantry. The foreman that works for Geoff shows up and tries to warn her about the demon, but Elizabeth puts it together that the foreman must have killed him. Not much later the foreman turns up dead, so she was wrong. The only person that I wanted the demon to kill was Elizabeth because there is nothing that made me empathetic to her plight.

Elizabeth runs to her English neighbors for help and she proceeds to burn down their field and barn trying to kill the demon. But it does work and she destroys the demon.

The demon is a pretty cool crocodile/swamp thing creature. None of the deaths are that great. Not a fun movie, I would skip this one if I could go back in time.

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Star Time

Watched June 17, 2013

Starring: Michael St. Gerard, John P. Ryan, Maureen Teefy.

Rough stuff. The back of the box reveals the twist ending, which sucks because it's the only thing this movie has going for it. At the same time, if I hadn't read the synopsis I would have had even less of a clue to what's supposed to be happening in this movie. It's a terrible art house drama that is slow and difficult to watch, IMDB says it's a horror movie, but I think it barely fits in that genre.

We meet Henry (Michael St. Gerard) as he's walking onto the roof of a building where he plans on jumping off to commit suicide. While on the building, a strange older man, Sam Bones (John P. Ryan) shows up and talks him down off the ledge. Sam Bones becomes a mentor to Henry. I guess Henry became suicidal when his favorite TV show was cancelled; it was a Leave It To Beaver style black and white family show. Sam convinces Henry that now it's his time to shine and become a TV star. From Sam's viewpoint, the best way to get on TV is to become a serial killer. Henry obviously has a lot of problems, we see flashbacks of his meetings with his social worker, Wendy (Maureen Teefy). These sessions don't seem to help Henry much, he gives in to Sam Bones pressure to kill people pretty easily. 

Henry puts on a crazy baby face mask, grabs an ax and starts his killing spree. He kills a bunch of people and does make it on TV. I don't think that it helps him with his problems at all. He continues to see Wendy but I don't think she really is helping him work through his problems either. She also doesn't put it together that he's the serial killer that's been on the news. There are all these strange flashes on multiple TV screens with naked ladies telling Henry that they'll be his once he kills. The best part of the movie for me, were the fake commercials, including one for donuts that come in a handy single serving box.

SPOILER: It wraps up with Henry trying to help Wendy escape from Sam Bones, only to figure out that Sam Bones is a figment of Henry's imagination. Henry is pushed off the roof of Wendy's apartment building but is still somewhat alive at the end. The ambulance arrives as Wendy, a witness, runs away. The last scene is Henry in a gurney by the ambulance but everyone is gone? As the credits roll, a crazy free jazz song about star time plays.

There is a lot of nonsensical dialogue between Henry and Sam, maybe that's supposed to be a tip off that Sam Bones is just a figment of Henry's imagination. This movie does contain a fair amount of naked ladies show on the TV screens that entice Henry to kill, but it's mostly just creepy. Henry does kill a lot of people, but they're all strangers and you don't see much of the murders.  His social worker is completely inept, but she is played by the director's wife, so it was a labor of love. This crazy movie was nominated for the 1992 Sundance Film Festival Grand Jury Prize, what!? 

Wednesday, July 3, 2013

Cherry 2000

Watched June 8, 2013

Starring: Melanie Griffith, David Andrews, Ben Johnson, Marshall Bell.

I watched this right after Escape from L.A. and there are several similarities that make the pairing make sense even if the movies themselves don't. They are both futuristic dystopias with a western theme. This one has the added features of romance and robots that are lacking in Escape from L.A. Also Escape from L.A. takes place completely at night while Cherry 2000 mostly takes place in the bright desert daytime.

Sam Treadwell (David Andrews) happily works at a recycling factory and comes home to his perfect wife, Cherry 2000 (Pamela Gidley). She's perfect because she's a robot. She makes him a hamburger dinner, washes his dishes, has sex with him and listens to him complain about his day. They make out on the kitchen floor as the washing machine showers them with sudsy bubbles. The water is too much for Cherry, it causes her to malfunction and she shuts down completely. Sam is distraught and takes her to the local robot repairman, unfortunately the water damage is too extensive and Cherry cannot be fixed. The Cherry 2000 is a rare robot model and very difficult to replace. Sam has his specific Cherry's memory chip on a micro CD ( it looks identical to the micro CD technology used in Escape from L.A.) Sam cannot image replacing Cherry with a different robot model. His work friends take him to a bar to try to have sex with real women. The bar is super awesome futuristic with crazy hair and make up. Hooking up in the future is extra technical where contracts are signed before anything happens. Sam has been out of the scene with his robot for so long that he doesn't have any paperwork about his abilities so all the real women shun him. He decides he has to get a new Cherry 2000, but that requires leaving Anaheim for the lawless wasteland of Nevada.

Sam heads out the wild west wastes of Nevada where he tries to hire a Tracker who will get his robot for him. All the guys at the saloon laugh at him when he says he wants a Cherry 2000, but he is told to find E. Johnson. E. Johnson turns out to be Melanie Griffith, Sam balks at hiring a woman but no one else will take the job. They drive off together to get the job done. This is where it gets pretty crazy but still formulaic. I barely believe that Melanie Griffith could use a gun or track down anything but she is still charming.  They drive into the wastelands where trackers are banned, so they are constantly shot at. They have to cross a river at one point and they do so by getting a magnetic crane to pick up their car. Then the car is dropped down a drainage pipe, all while being both shot at and shooting people themselves. E. Johnson pretends to be tough, but there is some instant chemistry with Sam, even though he's a city weenie who's in love with a robot.

They are constantly getting captured then escaping and being shot at by a lot of people but never hit. The abandoned robot factory is in Las Vegas, which has been covered by sand dunes. I don't really understand why the desert is off limits but still protected by this guy Bill (Marshall Bell) and his cronies. They get into the factory and find a Cherry 2000 model, Sam activates her with his specific wife micro CD. They try to escape in the plane that got them there, but it's now too heavy with three people. E. Johnson volunteers to hop out as her job was getting Sam his robo-wife, so she's technically done.  At the last minute, Sam realizes that a real woman is so much better than a robot, so he dumps out Cherry and picks up E. Johnson. They fly off into the sunset together. Cherry 2000 is left to rust in the desert, but finds Bill's girlfriend who offers her a sandwich that she doesn't understand.

I'm not sure if I would have cast Melanie Griffith in an action role, but she manages to pull it off fairly well. The plot is minimal so you know what will happen by the end, but they definitely fill every possible minute with crazy action even if it is nonsense. There are some intentional jokes along the way, so you're not supposed to take it too seriously. I would recommend it just for the bar scenes because everyone is dressed so awesomely.