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Wednesday, December 24, 2014

Popcorn

Watched December 8, 2014

1991
Starring: Jill Schoelen, Tom Villard, Dee Wallace, Derek Rydall

Maggie (Jill Schoelen) a college student, has been plagued by strange dreams. She has been writing down her dreams and they're so strange she is considering turning them into a screenplay. She is a member of the film club at her college, they all get together to make a plan to raise some money for the club by having a horror movie marathon at a local theater. The theater they want to used has been closed for about 15 years, since a film culminated in several real murders and a fire. All the students get together to clean up the theater and get it ready for their marathon. While testing the reels, they find a strange short film call the Possessor, it's mostly a close up of an eyeball, but it remind Maggie of her dreams. To make their marathon a success, they set up cools stunts to have during the movie like shock seats, a giant mosquito puppet, and smell-o-vision. 

The night before the show, Maggie's mom Suzanne (Dee Wallace) goes to the closed theatre with a gun. As she approaches the marquee lights come up and the doors open for her. She goes into the theater and shoots at a shadowy figure, but the figure captures her.

The day of the show, all of the club members dress up as different characters to make the marathon really fun and it seems like it's going off well. The first movie, Skeeter is about a giant mosquito and to scare the audience they set up a model mosquito to swing through the theater.  The teacher is running the fake mosquito, but there is a mysterious figure that takes over the remote and the teacher is stabbed by the mosquito. The audience doesn't see this and the killer hides the teacher's body. The real killer then makes a mask of the teacher and pretends to be him. The next victim is a student who has been in a  relationship with the teacher, she goes to kiss him. As she pulls away, her lips rip off the costume revealing the strange mutilated face of the killer.

It turns out the killer is Toby (Tom Villard) one of the students in the film club. It turns out that Toby was a kid during the first fire and he was horribly burned, but survived. He now makes all sorts of masks to be different people. He captures Maggie and wants to finish how the first movie ended with a live murder.  He puts on the movie, the strange one they screened that reminded Maggie of her dreams, then raises the screen the audience is now captive to a real murder, but they think it's just a show. Luckily Maggie's boyfriend Mark (Derek Rydall) comes to the rescue and Toby is killed.

This movie is super fun, it cleverly takes some horror movie tropes and plays around with them in a interesting way. There is a little bit of humor, but the deaths are still gross and weird. Toby is a really strange villain with how they constructed his face to be burned but could still put masks on it. Maggie looks like Lydia Deetz, but that seemed like a popular look at the time. I really like the movies that they played during their marathon: The Stench, Skeeter and The 50 foot electrified Man.

I illustrated by favorite part, the Shock Clock that tells the time that the movies start but also squirts blood out of a heart into a goblet.

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

The Lawnmower Man II: Jobe's War

Watched November 19, 2014

1996
Starring: Matt Frewer, Patrick Bergin, Austin O'Brien, Ely Pouget

The main discussion before watching this movie was if it mattered if we had seen the first Lawnmower Man movie. I had vague memories of having seen it at some point when I was a kid but didn't remember much. We put together that the first one was about a simple lawnmower man ( not a real thing) who was approached by a scientist with a conceit that he could make the lawnmower man smarter by connecting him to a computer. The lawnmover man then gets enmeshed in the digital world and tries to take over the real world. Well, the sequel picks up somewhere where the first one left off.

The scientist, Dr. Benjamin Trace (Patrick Bergin) who created the mind digitizing chip was taken to court and lost the patent on his chip. Jobe (Matt Frewer) the simple lawnmower man wasn't destroyed int he first movie, but he lost his digital mental powers. Jonathan Walker (Kevin Conway) brings the body of Jobe back it turns outs he is fairly okay. Jonathan and his fellow researchers reconnect Jobe to the cyber sphere where he quickly starts making a world of his own. 

Peter (Austin O'Brien) is a kid who knew the lawnmower man before he lost his mind in the cyberspace. It's now the future and it looks a lot like Blade Runner. Peter is now a street urchin, who lives in an abandoned subway car with three other friends. They like to connect to the net and cruise around. The cyberspace experience is a 3D wonderland where you can fly around wherever you like. 

In the cyber space, Jobe contacts Peter and asks him to find Dr. Trace. After he lost his patent, Dr. Trace shunned technology and moved to the desert. Peter and his friends manages to figure out where Dr. Trace and they tell him about Jobe.

With each session in cyberspace, Jobe keeps getting more powerful and kills some people that try to stop him. He is stuck in his wheelchair but one way he orchestrates the deaths is by overloading computers that are controlling flights so that they crash, killing both the intended target as well as a whole place on innocent bystanders. Jobe wants Dr. Trace to finish work on the chip because this will give him the power to take over the world. Dr. Trace connects with his former student Dr. Platt (Ely Pouget) who has been working for Mr. Walker and this leads him to Jobe. Controlling the media, Jobe makes a bunch of cities riot so that everyone jacks in to connect to his world cyber power to escape their terrible reality. I guess he's trying to take over the world by making everyone tied to the digital world. Dr. Trace, Peter and his friends all go into cyberspace and destroy the digital versions of the chip as well as the real chip in the real world. This stops Jobe from taking over the world and returns him to his simple, but kind self.  

I'm currently very into  movies that deal with the visualization of the internet, I find it very fascinating. So I'm currently compiling a list of awesome cyber movies, and this one makes the Internet look pretty cool.  They put on glasses and jump into a 3D world, but they have to get permission to access it, so they can get kicked off.  In the digital world all the kids ride on cool motorcycles. There isn't much hacking involved, mostly just jumping into 3D Internet space.

I enjoyed this movie, I'll have to check out the original and see how they stand up to each other. I'm sure the first one is better, but we'll see.

Monday, November 24, 2014

Space Truckers

Watched November 12, 2014

1996
Starring: Dennis Hopper, Debi Mazar, Stephen Dorff.

Holy moly, this movie was so much more than I expected. The image on the VHS box makes it look like a serious space action movie, but it's much funnier and brighter than I expected.

John Canyon (Dennis Hopper) is a long haul space trucker with a load of pigs that he is taking to Interpork to sell. Keller (George Wendt) as the buyer from Interpork tries to gets the pigs for less than the agreed price. John won't sell, so he keeps the cargo and heads to find another job. He takes on a very strange job, supposedly it's a lot of sex dolls but the security surrounding the shipment is very high. The shipment is headed for Earth and needs to arrive on a specific date. John's pig cargo is suddenly stolen, so he's extra motivated to take on the new job. Before leaving he heads to the diner to check in with Cindy (Debi Mazar) his waitress friend. More than friends, he wants to marry her even though they have quite an age difference. While eating his diner and explaining what happening with his Interpork sale, Mike (Stephen Dorff) introduces himself to John. Out of the window they see that John's pig cargo is being stolen. A fight breaks out in the diner over the pig cargo, a window is shot creating a space vacuum that Keller is sucked into space through. John, Cindy and Mike all head to John's rig escape. Cindy wanted to come all along because her mom is back on Earth about to have an operation.

The cops keep following the crew, so they get off the space highway to escape. They run into black rock meteors that damage the ship/truck.  While stopped the ship gets super hot so Mike and Cindy take off all their clothes and make out while John goes to fix the ship. The ship is damaged near the cargo connection and the cargo is protected by lasers so Dennis can't fix it. Luckily a giant cargo ship shows up and takes them aboard. 

The group thinks that they've been rescued but they have been kidnapped. The captain of the pirate ship is half robot with a claw hand, peg leg, half a skull and one cyborg eye. He is immediately drawn to Cindy, but wants to kill John and Mike. Cindy volunteers to have sex with the Captain so he won't kill her friends. He tries to have sex with her with his robot penis even though he has a hard time getting it started. Before he can make the moves, she pulls out some of his fluid tubes and escapes. She finds John and Mike tied up and tries to free them but the robot Captain finds all of them.  The pirates try to steal the cargo, but this activates the cargo which aren't sex dolls instead they are killer cyborgs. The cyborgs kill a bunch of the pirates and in the frenzy John, Mike and Cindy escape in the rig. 

Somehow the ship got fixed, but the cargo cyborgs are still active. John and Mike put on space suits and go take care of them.  They are close enough to Earth that they head through the atmosphere which burns up the remaining cyborg killers. They all manage to make it to Earth alive in escape pods.

It turns out the president wanted the cyborg shipment to use as his army, it turns out he just took over from the previous president only a week ago. The President tries to pay John off at the hospital where Debi's very youthful mom is waking up from her operation. Instead Mike throws the suitcase of money out the window, it lands on the president's car and blows him up. Mike and Cindy are now in love and John is totally into Cindy's mom who has been frozen for twenty years so she looks great.

The effects are great, lots of miniatures and weird CGI. Since I'm a sucker for bright colors, everyone has crazy costumes that I love. Cindy wears some crazy high waisted pants with a clear plastic jacket and it looks great. Much more fun than I expected, I'm glad I picked up this fun straight to video movie. 

Monday, November 17, 2014

S. Darko

Watched November 3, 2014

2009
Starring: Daveigh Chase, Briana Evigan, James Lafferty, Ed Westwick

I know we all were waiting for cult hit Donnie Darko to have a sequel. Especially since Donnie dies at the end of the movie, but time travel is involved so that open up for a lot of new stories. I'm always looking for more contemporary bad movies so I was excited to hear about S. Darko: A Donnie Darko Tale. We now get a story of Donnie's younger sister Samantha, who charmed us as a member of Sparkle Motion in the first film.

Sam (Daveigh Chase, reprising her role) is now 16 and her family was torn apart by Donnie's mysterious death. She and her friend Corey (Briana Evigan) run away and hit the road heading to California. Their car breaks down in Arizona, where they meet Randy (Ed Westwick) the local mechanic. It's a couple days before the 4th of July, 1995. Randy lets them know it will be a couple days to get the part that he needs to fix their car. The girls scrape together some money to stay at the local motel in the small town of Conejo Springs. 

Sam, like her deceased brother, is plagued by sleepwalking. She often wakes up in unpredictable locations like park benches or the middle of the road. As soon as the girls got into town, the local vet Iraq Jack was saved from being hit my a meteorite. He says that a vision told him to move from the windmill where he was sitting. There is also a child kidnapped stalking the area, as Randy's younger brother was taken only days ago. A local church burns down mysteriously, and Iraq Jack is blamed. Sam gets to know the young minister who had served some jail time but is now repentent and married to Trudy (Elizabeth Berkeley). Corey parties with the locals but Sam isn't into it, she wants to get out of town as soon as possible. 

While riding around with Randy, Corey gets in to a fight with Sam when they see her walking on the side of the road. Sam walks off as Randy's car is hit. Somehow Sam is killed but Randy and Corey are okay. Corey is devastated but she gets a chance to go back in time so that she dies instead of Sam. Now Sam is sad that Corey is dead and wants to go back, but she keeps moving forward to some extent. Iraq Jack is given the same vision of the Frank bunny mask that Donnie saw, but now Jack remakes it in metal. Sam is wooed by the local nerd Jeremy (Jackson Rathbone) who has developed a strange rash from the meteorite that almost killed Iraq Jack. While sleepwalking Sam is led to an abandoned mine which is locked up. She randomly finds the key and inside finds the dead bodies of the children that had disappeared in town. The clues lead back that is was Trudy but again Iraq Jack is blamed. Sam knows the truth but no one listens to her. That night is the 4th of July and Jeremy takes Sam up to hill for a fireworks picnic. Jeremy tries to kiss Sam, but she resists and falls down where she is impaled by a piece of the new Frank bunny mask. With Sam now dead, this kicks off a crazy meteor shower and times travels back again. We start completely over with Iraq Jack getting hit by the meteorite that he was mysteriously saved by. Corey and Sam end up Conejo Springs again but instead of any of them dying, Sam decides to take the bus home.

I loved Donnie Darko when it came out. I was living in New York and they had regular midnight showings that I would go to often. It's been a couple years since I saw it but it flows together even if all the time travel stuff isn't perfectly clear. It also has a sense of humor.  This one is just terrible, Samantha Darko doesn't have any motivation and her visions are just confusing. Plus she isn't necessarily the main character. I'm a Richard Kelly fan, I love Southland Tales so think about that. He had nothing to do with this project.

The 1995 styles are totally wrong. Sam mostly just walks around in wispy white camisoles and tiny shorts. At the beginning, Sam and Corey both look like they're headed for Coachella not Lollapalooza where they should have been going. It runs too long without a clear focus and it's already a confusing story since it involves time travel and visions of the future past. I would have preferred a feature length movie about Sparkle Motion. This movie is more art house weirdness than fun cult movie, nothing great happens, but there is magical feather if you're into that sort of thing.

Tuesday, November 4, 2014

I, Frankenstein

Watched October 20, 2014

2014
Starring: Aaron Eckhart, Yvonne Strahovski, Miranda Otto, Billy Nighy

What if Frankenstein's monster was just misunderstood and really had a soul after all? What if Gargoyles had something to do with it? What if Gargoyles were actually protectors that kept demons at bay? All these questions and more are presented in I, Frankenstein, but not thoroughly answered or made into a fun movie. 

When I saw the trailer for this movie I knew it was a bomb especially with its January release date, the month where movies go to die. I even wanted to make a special theater field trip, but it only lasted about a week and I missed the chance. My favorite bad movie period is the late '70s through the early '90s, probably because that's what was available to rent when I was a kid in the '90s, but I know that bad movie are made all the time so I'm always on the look out for a new one.

It begins with Frankenstein's monster explaining his existence, how he wasn't asked to be created so when he killed his creator's wife it was out of confusion. When Dr. Frankenstein tried to kill his creation, the creation outlasted him by being impervious to the cold. After that Frankenstein's monster kept a low profile and just slunk around the woods. In the mid 1800's he runs into some demons who try to kidnap him, but then he's saved by some Gargoyle warriors. The Gargoyle warriors take Frankenstein's monster to their Queen, Leonore and she explains the eternal battle between the Gargoyles and the demons. Leonore is curious why the demons would want to capture Frankenstein. She determines that he is a real being and gives him the name Adam. The Gargoyles recruit Adam to join their demons destroying cause but he decides to run away instead. He does take some demon bashing sticks with him though. 

Adam (Aaron Eckhart) keeps his loner status and wanders around for another hundred plus years killing the demons that he runs into. It is now modern day and Terra (Yvonne Strahovski) is a scientist who is working on reanimating a rat. She seems to be getting closer, but there is a long way to go. Her benefactor Naberius (Bill Nighy) is actually a demon who is very invested in reanimating corpses. The Gargoyles have been keeping an eye on him, but they have been losing a lot of their people in the ongoing battle. The Gargoyles have Dr. Frankenstein's diary that shows how to reanimated dead tissue. The demons kidnap Leonore and make a trade for the book. They are also trying to capture Adam this whole time. Luckily he meets up with Terra and he tries to convince her to stop her work. Adam uncovers as ridiculously large warehouse that is filled with an army of bodies waiting to be reanimated.

The Gargoyles do trade the book for the recovery of their Queen, which infuriates her. The demons are able to unlock the real secrets of reanimation and Terra is forced to perform them. This creates an army of Frankensteins that battle the Gargoyles. Most of the Gargoyles are killed but somehow Naberius and is army is destroyed. Adam heads off alone to keep battling the demons to save humanity.

There is not a bit of humor in this entire movie. There are so many terrible battle scenes that just get lost in blurs of CGI. No one seems to live in the city where this takes place except for the main characters, it's mostly filled with tons of giant warehouses. Which explains why it was the perfect breeding ground for the army of the undead. There are lots of sweeping shots of the CGI city, including the cathedral of the Gargoyles that has a million flying buttresses which reminding me of the terrible sweeping CGI shots in Dungeons & Dragons.

Since this movie posits that Frankenstein's monster is immortal it raised a lot of questions. Does he eat or go to the bathroom? How did he live 200+ years just being a demon hunter?

While I haven't actually seen an entire Underworld movie, the tone of this movie reminded me of that series. It turns out the one of the actors/co-writers on the third Underworld movie created the I, Frankenstein comic book and therefore make this movie possible. I can see where they would have loved to turn this into a new franchise but it's such a stretch. Werewolves and Vampires are things that people know about, multiple Frankenstein and Gargoyles that come to life is a totally unknown story is something that I'm not looking into exploring more.

Monday, October 27, 2014

Traxx

Watched October 13, 2014

1988
Starring: Shadoe Stevens, Priscilla Barnes, Willard E. Pugh

When I first read the summary on the back of the VHS box I wasn't sure what to think of this movie. It describes Traxx, a disgruntled cop turned mercenary who just does wants to make cookies. I was pleasantly surprised at how this movie takes everything to the max and injects a lot of weird humor into a strange story.

Traxx (Shadoe Stevens) is a cop who gets fed up with the criminals he's catching just ending up back on the street to commit more crimes. He starts taking jobs around the world as a mercenary where he can just kill everyone. He does this for a while but is still dissatisfied, he really wants to start a cookie bakery. He finds a little shack outside of Hadleyville, Texas to begin working on his cookie recipes. Too bad he's a terrible baker, he doesn't know how to put anything together, and he doesn't seem to know how to use an existing recipe. He is evicted from his place and starts looking for work. 

Hadleyville is in the middle of a crime wave, there is rampant prostitution, muggings and drug use is off the charts. The local sheriff has heard of Traxx and hires him to clean up the town. By clean up the town, he gets to shoot anyone he sees committing a crime. Traxx goes on his own spree of gunning down anyone who looks remotely suspicious. He meets Deeter (Willard E. Pugh) running away from some thugs. Deeter teams up with Traxx, so he can get his protection. Traxx is currently homeless since he was kicked out of his rental house so they end up camping near a lake. Traxx continues to try new cookie recipes over the camp stove, but he doesn't seem to get any better.

Traxx is doing a good job cleaning up the town, but the main crime boss Aldo Palucci (Robert Davi) doesn't like it. Aldo gathers his group of crime lords and they decide to hire the Guzik brothers, who are known for their ability to go crazy and take down any enemy, to destroy Traxx.  The Guziks come up from Mexico and the first thing they do is kidnap a whole little league team. They tie the team to their car and head downtown. Luckily, Traxx is ready to take them down in tons of explosions. After the Guziks are taken out, Aldo comes to find Traxx at his camp spot. Trax had just whipped up a batch of Chile Con Cookies, he offers one to Aldo who accepts it. Aldo heads back to his car, rips a big chili cookie fart, then lights his cigar which causes his whole car to explode.

With Aldo out of the picture, the downtown celebrates and throws a big carnival. Traxx has opened his cookie shop, Snaxx by Traxx featuring Puppy Spirals that look like dog shit. I don't know if his cookies are any better, but they townspeople are so grateful they eat them anyway.

There are so many explosions, it's out of control. There is also a great cleaning up the town dance montage. Traxx is a very odd character, it's almost a black comedy because he kills so many people. When they break up the Stud Club, which is a whorehouse not a gay bar, they find a daycare room where there is a nanny taking care of all the working prostitutes kids. It was super fun and crazy, with lots of ridiculous action. A great movie that doesn't take itself seriously which is the only way to enjoy the insanity.

Sunday, October 12, 2014

Dungeons and Dragons

Watched September 29, 2014

2000
Starring: Jeremy Irons, Justin Whalin, Marlon Wayans, Zoe McLlelan

This was my second viewing of this movie as I wanted to give it a chance in a group setting even though my memory of it is terrible. We didn't plan ahead very well so it was a trial getting the movie on the fly, but once we did get it streaming it was still very bad. I have never played Dungeons and Dragons, but I'm aware of how it plays and I enjoy fantasy so when I originally saw it I thought it could be fun, but I was wrong.

The kingdom is ruled by Empress Savina (Thora Birch) who realizes that the caste system of mages and everyone else is unfair, so she wants to bring equality to her empire. Profion (Jeremy Irons) is a powerful mage who wants to rule the kingdom and believes he can do if he can control the powerful red dragons. The empress has a scepter that controls the gold dragons and that's how she maintains power over the land. 

Ridley (Justin Whalin) and Snails (Marlon Wayans) are bumbling thieves who break into the mage school to find some good things to sell. While they are there the head librarian Mage (Tomas Havrlik) is being threatened by Damodar (Bruce Payne) who is the muscle for Profion. The Mage's student Marina (Zoe McLellan) investigates what the thieves are doing and binds them just as the Mage is killed by Damodar. Luckily the scroll that Damodar was looking for was whisked into Marina's hands. Marina escapes with the thieves. The fall on a piles of rags that turns out the be a dwarf, Azmath (Robert Miano) who tags along on their quest. 

On the scroll are the instructions on how to find the special red dragon scepter. Somewhere here Marina explains what needs to happen to Ridley and Snails and they join the quest. They have many obstacles to face on their way. Ridley has to go through a dungeon of traps to retrieve the dragon's eye and special gem. All the while they are being chases by Damodar. The empress in the meantime is appealing to the imperial senate about her wishes to do away with the caste system. Profion is enraged at this and tries to turn them to his side.

At a castle ruin, there is a showdown with Damodar and Snails is killed. Ridley is also stabbed but is saved by some spells. There is also an elf lady that joins the group for awhile. Ultimately the red dragon scepter is found but it ends up in Profion hands. The Empress still had her gold dragon scepter but it's not enough. Luckily Marina and Ridley show up and help the empress get the red dragon scepter and Profion is destroyed.

I pretty much hated everyone. My favorite part of the movie was this cool accordion lantern that Ridley used to explore a cave. They use CGI for everything and it looks terrible. This was rough time in CGI when they figured it looked great so let's use it all the time, well it doesn't hold up and everything looks fake and it takes you out of the movie. I can't believe they killed Snails, who I enjoyed looking at compared to Ridley's horrible smirk in every scene. Jeremy Irons is taking it to the max but that still doesn't save it. I love Thora Birch and her outfits are cool and weird but that's not enough to save this.  It's just such a mess that even to make fun of it is painful and sad.

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

John Carpenter's Vampires

Watched September 14, 2014

1998
Starring: James Woods, Daniel Baldwin, Sheryl Lee.

I was excited when Jen brought this over buried in a stack of VHS as I had wanted to watch it for awhile. I'm not sure why exactly, but I do enjoy John Carpenter and I like most vampire movies. Perhaps I knew that it was filmed in New Mexico, my home state; specifically in and around Santa Fe where I grew up. Anyway we gave it a go and unfortunately I wasn't very impressed.

In broad daylight, a group of men are driving down a desert road in a heavily armored truck. They stop at the one building and begin to set up their tools. It unfolds that this is vampire den, and this is a group of vampire hunters. Led by Jack Crow (James Woods) the men break into the house. It appears empty until they start opening closet doors, then they are attacked by the vampires. They have tons of arrows, guns and stakes which seems like it should be enough to kill these vampires, but these guys take all the precautions. Once the vampire has been thoroughly attacked, they run an arrow through it that is attached to a rope that is attached to one of the trucks. They drag the vampire into the sunlight, where it explodes in fireworks then burns, finally completely destroyed. They do this to all the vampires in the house, collecting the skulls as trophies. Jack is a little concerned when they don't find the master vampire though.

That night they all celebrate at a local motel, there are hookers and booze and the vampire hunters are having a grand time. One of the hookers, Katrina (Sheryl Lee) makes the moves on Jack, but he's not that interested. She heads to her room where she is attacked by the master vampire Valek (Thomas Ian Griffith) and he bites her in the vagina. Valek then heads to the party room where he kills all of the vampire hunters and hookers except for Jack and Tony (Daniel Montoya). On their way out, Katrina is wandering dazed in the parking lot. They grab her because they know she has been bitten and has a link to Valek that they can exploit.

Tony gets a hotel room and is instructed by Jack to watch over Katrina as she slowly turns into a vampire. Jack heads to the local church to get some information, something is weird with Valek. He gets a strange answer from the cardinal and is instructed that Father Adam Guiteau (Tim Guinee) with help him find the master vampire. Jack is very suspicious of Father Adam who he calls Padre, so he beats him up. Eventually Padre spills the beans about Valek. Valek is the first vampire and he was created when a exorcism wasn't completed which destroyed the human body but left the demon part to walk the earth. Valek is looking for a special cross that will finish the exorcism and give him the power to be in the sunlight.

Using Katrina as the link to Valek, they start driving around waiting for her to get a picture of where he has been. They find out that he has several other vampires with him and he has found the cross.  They make it to an old jail during the day and they know that the vampires are hiding in there. Jack, Tony and Padre begin their assault on the jail to kill the vampires, they manage to destroy a couple but Jack is captured by nightfall. Padre manages to hide and Tony had driven off with Katrina, but then Katrina bites him.

Now that it's dark the vampires tie Jack to a pyre, as they need the blood of a crusader to complete the ritual. The Cardinal shows up, it turns out he was on the side of the vampires all along. Luckily Padre was hiding and he shoots the Cardinal before the exorcism can be completed. Tony, even though he's been bitten shows up and saves Jack from being burned. Jack kills Valek as the sun is coming up. Tony is now a vampire, but Jack gives him two days head start since before Jack will come and murder him. Jack and Katrina head off together. It seems like Padre and Jack will keep killing vampires.

There are a lot of montages in this movie, pretty much every action scene is a montage. There is a party montage, multiple vampire death montages, it makes the action very strange. James Woods's character is super weird. When he first beats up Padre he asks him if it give him wood. Then it becomes a running joke, it's really weird and not funny.


When the vampires are exposed to the sun they explode in epic fireworks before they burn, which is pretty cool. I'm pretty sure they hired Sheryl Lee based on her Laura Palmer freak out scenes, when Laura lets the bad demon part of her show. I say this because she only has a couple of lines, she mostly has pained looks on her face as she is becoming a full vampire. I read after the fact that John Carpenter was mostly interested in this movie as a western, not a much focused on the horror aspects. The horror is fine, the western dynamic is there but it's so strange. James Woods just mostly seems like a dick, not an admirable hero. So overall, it was fine but it did nothing for me personally, even though I thoroughly enjoyed the setting and pointing out landmarks that I knew in New Mexico.

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Johnny Mnemonic

Watched August 31, 2014

1995
Starring: Keanu Reeves, Dina Meyer, Udo Kier, Dolph Lundgren

This movie falls into a similar category as Blade in my memory, I know that I have watched it before but I don't remember much about the movie and specifically to this one I recall it being pretty bad. This came out in 1995 which was right in the middle of my Entertainment Weekly reading days so I would read about just about any mainstream movie that came out and I remember that this was was anticipated but got terrible reviews. Surprisingly, my husband Alec wanted to watch this movie, he hates horror but seems to have some soft spot for '90s action/sci-fi movies.

In the future, there is an insane amount of crawl text. The future is a dystopia where corporations control everything. A virus NAS (and rapper) is ravaging the world and there is no cure. A rebel group, the Lo-Teks are fighting against the corporations. The internet connects everything, but the information is tracked so you can't share secrets. The work around for this are human information traffickers who have a portion of their memory removed and replace with digital memory.

Johnny Mnemonic (Keanu Reeves) is one such information courier. When her got the digital device implanted in his head, he sacrificed some memories of his childhood. He goes to his dealer Ralfi (Udo Kier) to negotiate getting the device removed. The surgery is very expensive, so Ralfi says that Johnny needs to do one more job. In Beijing, Johnny meets with his clients, they want to transport three times his capacity. He doesn't let them know that he can't safely hold the data as he wants the job so he can get out of the business. They load him with the data, it's transferred in such a way that he can't see what it is. It's locked with a visual code, that is three random images printed on a piece of paper. The images are faxed to the intended recipient, but it's interrupted when the corporate Yakuza show up and murder everyone. Somehow Johnny manages to escapes with one of the images since the fax didn't go through.

Johnny heads to the Newark, New Jersey where the information was to be delivered. When he is scanned at the airport, they recognize his implant as a dyslexia aid. He contacts Ralfi again to figure out what to do with the data, it turns out the Ralfi has been hired by the Yakuza to get the information that Johnny carries. Ralfi tries to get Johnny to the Yakuza but escapes with help from Jane (Dina Meyer). Johnny is having data leak problems because he has overwhelmed his capacity. Jane takes him to Spider (Henry Rollins) as street doctor. Spider taps into Johnny's brain, he says he can remove the implant but it will erase the data which is important. Spider lets them know that the data was intended for the Lo-Teks anyway.  The Corporation which has been revealed to be Pharakom, a giant pharmaceutical concern and they want the data, but so does the Yakuza. Spider is killed but before he dies he tells Johnny and Jane that Jones can help them. They find J-Bone (Ice-T) who helps them get to Jones. 

Jones is a dolphin. Yeah, let that sink in for a minute. Jones is a former Naval officer dolphin who now lives in a tiny tank hooked up to the internet. Jones helps Johnny connect to the net and get the information out. It turns out that the information as cure for NAS. The corporation didn't want it out because it was more profitable for them to treat the disease than cure it. The Lo-Teks release the information, then J-Bone, Johnny and Jane see the Pharmakom tower burst into flames.

A little research went along way to find out the first time director, Robert Longo was a well known artist and a friend of William Gibson who wrote the short story the film is based on. It shows that Robert Longo wasn't prepared to direct a big budget action movie. According to wikipedia, Longo and Gibson originally wanted to make a low budget short film. The story itself is neat, the dolphin part is pretty crazy though. The dialogue is terrible and the action scenes don't come together very well. 

One of the Yakuza has an awesome laser cutter that extends from him finger. I love when the internet is visualized as a cool interactive digital landscape, but it does date the movie terribly. There is also a super cool tower of TV's to show what is happening digitally. There is a lot of cool stuff in the movie, but it's still terrible. The romantic subplot with Johnny and Jane is so awkward and forced, when they kiss it doesn't make any sense.

Thursday, September 11, 2014

Terrible Movie Nights #3 Zine out now!

I finished the third issue of the Terrible Movie Nights zine, it's now available for sale in the store.


There are 21 different movie reviews/synopsis, including one for Halloween: Trick or Treat which I have never posted online. The interior is black and white and I previously experimented with just printing out the watercolors in grayscale but that didn't look very good. So instead I take the line art from my illustrations and put a digital tone on it and it looks much better. Check it out today!

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

The Visitor

Watched August 11, 2013

1979
Starring: Joanne Nail, John Huston, Lance Hendrikson, Paige Conner

A man is walking in a strange, other worldly place, it appears to be a barren desert but the sky is a psychedelic mix of colors like a lava lamp. He sees a figure in the distance, as he gets closer the figure reveals the face of a young girl. 

Next we see a strange yellow haired man talking to a group of bald kids. He is telling them a story about an alien battle. Jerzy (John Huston) approaches the group and tells the yellow haired man that there is another special child that had been born. He will do is best to find the child and get her to their side.

At a basketball game we meet Barbara Collins (Joanne Nail) and her boyfriend Raymond (Lance Hendrikson) who happens to own the team. At the last second of the game when a player is about to dunk the ball, the ball explodes. Barbara's daughter Katy (Paige Conner) had been wandering around the stadium and seems to be the cause of the basketball explosion.

Raymond is a successful businessman and he goes to a meeting with a group of powerful men. They want to know how Raymond is doing in securing Barbara. The group wants Katy's powers and since she is a child they first have to gain the trust of the mother.

It is Katy's birthday and a group of parents are there to celebrate. She gets a strange gift that she opens where no one can see. Inside is a gun, Katy throws the box down but the gun is thrown out and it fires, hitting Barbara in the spine. Barbara is now paralyzed from the waist down and needs to use a wheelchair. No one saw what happened with the gun, but it seems that Katy may have made the gun go off so that her mother would have to spend more time at home with her.

Now that Barbara is in a wheelchair she hires Jane (Shelley Winters) to be the housekeeper. Jane also knows about Katy's powers and the fight that is going on over who can control her. Raymond takes Barbara to a fancy dinner and says something inappropriate so that Barbara breaks off their relationship. Jerzy shows up and says that he is coming from the babysitting service, he spends some time with Katy to assess her powers and if she has chosen the side of good or evil.

The group of men who were controlling Raymond wanted him to impregnate Barbara so that they could have another child with powers. But when he blew it they took it under their own hands, one night while driving with Katy, Barbara's car stalled out. Then a strange truck showed up and some men grabbed her and impregnated her. Katy seemed to want a little brother so she didn't do anything about it. Barbara knows she is pregnant so she goes to her ex husband who happens to be a doctor. 

Barbara comes back to her house and is attacked by Katy's bird. Katy then shows up and pushes Barbara through a fish tank. Raymond arrives and puts a noose around Barbara's neck and puts her on the staircase elevator and is about to slowly choke her to death. Then a ton of birds arrive and attack Raymond. They kill him and destroy the house. It's not seen who survives.

Back at the yellow haired man's cult we see Jerzy bring a new child in and it's Katy with a shaved head. I think we are meant to assume that she is now on the side of good but it's unknown. It guess Barbara died in the bird attack.

I was definitely confused for a lot of the movie, especially relating to who was on what side and what it had to do with aliens. I'm not sure if Katy was an alien or not. I really like Joanne Nail since she was in Switchblade Sisters so it was great to see her but terrible to see her constantly beat up. Katy was not too annoying even though her allegiance seemed like it could have gone either way. Lance Hendrikson's character Raymond is stabbed by the most fake looking bird I've seen in awhile, which is strange because they used real birds for the rest of the movie. Katy wears some of the strangest hairstyles I've seen on a kids, lots of weird braids and pigtails. Overall I would say it was confusing but enjoyable.

Monday, August 18, 2014

Cellar Dweller

Watched August 4, 2013

1988
Starring: Debrah Mullowney, Brian Robbins, Yvonne De Carlo

In the 1950s, a cartoonist is working in his basement studio on a comic. He is referencing a satanic book, and is drawing the description of the demon from the book. Quickly he realizes that his drawings are coming to life and the demon is real! A woman appears from the pages of his comic and the cartoonist watches the demon destroy the woman, then the demon comes after the cartoonist.

Jump to modern day 1980s, the cartoonist's house has been turned into an artists retreat. Whitney (Debrah Mullowney) is a cartoonist who has been admitted to the retreat, even though the head of the house looks down on cartooning as not a real art. Whitney runs into Amanda (Pamela Bellwood) who is a rival from college. Amanda does conceptual video art and still has a grudge with Whitney. The cellar is off limits, but one night Whitney is compelled to go down there. She intantly loves it and asks Mrs. Briggs (Yvonne de Carlo) is she can move her studio down there. Mrs. Briggs reluctantly agrees and Whitney gets to cleaning up the very dirty cellar. Quickly she moves some dust around, adds some flowers and her new studio is ready to go.

Whitney is inspired to draw a demon that she has never drawn before. Amanda secretly films her and sets up a video that frames Whitney as plagiarizing her artwork. While Amanda is editing the film together she is eaten by a the demon. Lisa (Miranda Wilson) is a performance artist and she shares a piece with dolls and stabbing balloons. Quickly Whitney is taken over with drawing the demon, and her comics keep happening. She quickly realizes that she is drawing murders and she has to stop the demon. All the artist are either killed by the demon or drawn into his dimension. The demon begins to create his own comics, so Whitney doesn't know what to do. She spills some white out and the demon is stopped. Then she grabs all the comics and burns them. This destroys the demons, but she also had drawings of all the other artists at the colony and she kills them too. 

Whitney freehand inks her comics, which is pretty impressive. She really grinds that ink on the page. I like movies about cartooning because my husband is a cartoonist as well as many of my friend and they always try to make it seem more glamorous than it really is. I really liked Lisa's terrible dance performance art piece. Phillip also does terrible minimalist art. I like it as a simple and fun horror concept with my favorite type of people, weirdo artists.

Monday, August 11, 2014

My Demon Lover

Watched July 28, 2014

1987
Starring: Scott Valentine, Michelle Little, Gina Gallego, Robert Trebor

We were all a little wary when this made its way to the front of the queue, as the demon based romantic comedy is hard to pull off. But I figured that a guy that turns into a demon whenever he is turned on has got to be at least a little fun.

We first meet Kaz (Scott Valentine) as he is busking in a New York subway car playing his saxophone terribly. He looks as sounds crazy so everyone is trying to get away from him. He gets near a busty lady and transforms into his demon version.

Denny (Michelle Little) is walking home from grocery shopping when she sees a bunch of guys putting her TV and blender into their van. It turns out that her boyfriend is stealing all her stuff, he tells her off and steps on her pie before driving away. Denny's friend Sonia (Gina Gallego) comes over to comfort her and it is established that Denny has a history of dating deadbeat guys. Denny wants to change this pattern. While eating at a local health food cafe, Kaz jumps out of a pile of trash bags and tries to eat Denny's burger. She takes pity on him and lets him take a bite of her burger, but he spits it out onto her skirt, because it's not meat it's a veggie and fruit burger. Denny takes of for her apartment, but Kaz follows her. She is really trying to stick to her plan of not dating any more losers, but something about Kaz just gets to her. Maybe it's how dirty and crazy he is. He tells her he doesn't have a place to stay so she allows him to sleep on her couch.

The next day they make a pact to be friends and there is a montage of them doing all sorts of friend activities around New York. It doesn't take Denny that long to want to go further with their friendship, but while making out Kaz reveals his demon self. He tells her the story of when he was a teenager he was making out with a Gypsy's daughter, when the gypsy walked in and cursed him. She cursed him with a petrotsky demon. That means whenever he is aroused it opens the gate for a demon to take him over, so he can't really enjoy sex.

Meanwhile there is a maniac that keeps attacking women in the street. It seems like it might be Kaz when he takes his demon form, since he doesn't always remember what he did as a demon. Sonia runs an occult store and is a little psychic and she gets a vision that Kaz is the killer so she tries to take him out. Sonia happened to be coming from a singles bar where so often goes, while running out she grabs Phil, the local loser who can't seem to get a date. It is quickly revealed that Phil is the killer that has been attacking ladies, he grabs Denny and takes her to Belvedere Castle in Central Park. He needs to kill her to reveal his demon, or something like that. Kaz is fast on the trail, but the castle is barricaded. Sonia makes out with Kaz to reveal a demon that has tiny wings so he can save Denny. Kaz and Phil have a big fight over the castle, ultimately Phil is destroyed and Kaz takes a hit that rids him of his demons. Denny and Kaz head back to her apartment to have some demon free sex.

"Let's go take a shower, Fruit Burger" is what Kaz says to Denny once he is rid of his demons.

Denny wears some great late '80s outfits but my favorite by far was pink tights, yellow socks, sneakers, mini skirt black with bright fish, bone earrings, shirt/jacket with Scottie dogs and a fire hydrant. When Kaz turns into a demon in front of Denny and changes, she fights those demons. One of them is a old lady, when Denny punches her in the face the old demons head explodes with mustard goo. I really liked that when Kaz's condition was explained to a new person, they instantly said "oh a petrotsky demon," like it was a totally common thing. Horror comedy rarely works for me, but this was pretty goofy and fun.


Sunday, August 3, 2014

Alien Intruder

Watched July 21, 2014

1993
Starring: Maxwell Caulfield, Billy Dee Williams, Tracy Scoggins.

The action kicks off right away with a laser gun fight on a space ship. Every man is for himself as there doesn't seem to be a right or wrong side. The main guy destroys the controls of the ship, then a mysterious raven haired woman appears which prompts the guy to commit suicide.

Jump to a maximum security prison, where Nick (Maxwell Caulfield) is incarcerated. Commander Skyler (Billy Dee Williams) is assembling a crew of promising inmates to be the crew on a mission to recover the ship from the first scene. He doesn't tell them this, instead he just tells them if the mission goes well they'll be rewarded with their freedom. Before they head out they all choose a virtual reality story to experience during their off time, by story I mean sexy lady.

They are headed for the mysterious sector G, Commander Skyler doesn't give them much information, he just wants them to keep the ship headed there. It doesn't matter much because they spent most of their time in their virtual reality scenarios.  Nick's fantasy involves him working out on an empty beach, once he goes to the beach house a naked lady waits for him, but he is distracted from that naked lady by a raven haired dream intruder, but she's super hot. Another member of the crew in in a Casablanca type black and white fantasy, where he is running a club, the singer of his club is the same raven haired lady, except she is in a terrible blond wig. The third crew member's VR fantasy is that he is a 1950s biker and he runs into the same lady at a gas station. The last fantasy is in the 1880s wild west, his woman is shot by the raven haired lady, she must be some sort of Alien intruder. Commander Skyler sees the woman, who he calls Ariel in his computer screen, and she is the force that is guiding him to sector G.

Pieces of their fantasies begin to appear during their waking lives. The Casablanca fantasy guy hears the song that the woman was singing as his dream club in the ship and freaks out. They make into sector G and find the ship that the first action scene took place on. I'm not sure if they're there to recover anything as they discover that everyone is dead. Ariel appears and pits all the men against each other, recreating the same scene from the beginning. But Nick is stronger than that, he doesn't want to bend to her will. After escaping in a little ship, he thinks he safe, but Ariel is there with him as the Alien Intruder.

This movie barely makes sense but it was still a lot of fun. It kicks of with a laser gun fight right away which is great. All the VR fantasy scenes are pretty silly but enjoyable. It's amazing how entertained I was without much information about why they were heading to sector G or why sector G was dangerous in the first place. I also don't know what the alien Ariel wants, is it just to kill everybody through seduction? There is plenty of T&A in this movie and it easily could have drifted into erotica territory but they keep it movie with the real laser action.

Monday, July 21, 2014

Relentless

Watched July 14, 2014

1989
Starring: Leo Rossi, Robert Loggia, Judd Nelson, Meg Foster.

New York police officer Sam Dietz (Leo Rossi) has just gotten a promotion to detective but it comes with relocating to Los Angeles. At his new station, he is partnered with old pro Bill Malloy ( Robert Loggia) and their first case is investigating a man who was murdered in his bathroom. 

At the same time Buck Taylor (Judd Nelson) just got a letter from the police department that he failed the psychological part of his application to join the force. He is obviously maladjusted so this is just the thing that pushes him over the edge. He grabs the phone book, picks a number and decides to murder that person. 

Sam jumps in to trying to figure out who killed the guy in the shower, but his partner is reigning him in a bit. Buck continues to pick random people out of the phone book to murder. He is very careful about his kills, wearing gloves and leaving minimal evidence. But he does leave a note written on the page of the phone book that he used to find his victim. 

Buck has flashbacks to his childhood, it turns out that his father was a well respected cop. It also turns out that his dad was a total nutjob who abused Buck and trained him to be a police officer from the age of 5. What was when he taught him to shoot a gun and was disappointed that his wasn't an instant marksman. He also would make Buck do obstacle courses while shooting at him, so there is no surprise that Buck turned into a serial killer.

Sam puts several people to work doing file searches to find clues to who the murder could be, all the while Buck keeps killing. It turns out that the first man who was killed came into the police station to report a death threat call, but the cops didn't do anything about it. Sam keeps putting the clues together and figures out that Buck is the main suspect, but this as Buck finds Sam's wife and kid and takes them hostage. Sam shoots Buck multiple times and that ends the serial killings.

Judd Nelson is pretty creepy as a serial killer, but this movie is just pretty standard. Meg Foster plays Sam's wife and she has the craziest see through eyes, it is destracting from her fine performance as a concerned wife. Judd Nelson also wears these pretty crazy '50s outfits that in 1989 were probably terrible but are pretty hip today. His murder outfit is super crazy though,  an all black outfit of mock turtleneck with cut off cuffs and waistband and high waisted jeans.

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

The Devil's Daughter

Watched July 7, 2014

1991
Starring: Kelly Curtis, Herbert Lom, Michel Adatte

This movie's Italian title is La setta or The Sect which makes a lot more sense because it's about a sect of devil worshippers; the devil's daughter isn't involved in any way that I comprehended.

South California 1970
A bunch of hippies are hanging out in the desert. A Jesus like figure comes out of nowhere and tells them his name is Damon (Tomas Arana). They invite him to share their meal with them and he acts like a total weirdo. Once the hippies all fall asleep, Damon summons his motorcycle buddies and they murder everyone.

Frankfurt 1991
A woman is walking home, she runs into a family man and she is suddenly scared for her life. Once she gets to the safety of her home, he's there and he rips out her heart. On the subway, a pickpocket tries to to steal the necklace that is the murder's pocket but it's tangled up in the heart. The police catch him and he commits suicide with their gun.

Meanwhile, a very old man gets the special sign that something is going to happen. He frees his caged bird, drops his keys in the river and boards a bus carrying only a weird box.  The bus stops to take a break and everyone gets off the bus. The old man Moebius (Herbert Lom) wanders into the street just as Miriam (Kelly Curtis) almost runs him over with her car. Luckily she didn't hit him but she feels really guilty so she takes him home to her moldy shack so he can rest. She has an adorable white rabbit who hops around her apartment. As they sleep the old man creeps into her room and puts a bug up her nose. When she wakes up, checks on Moebius and he looks as if he's had a stroke. She goes to get her doctor friend but instead finds another doctor Frank (Michel Adatte) who comes with her to help Moebius. Once they get back to the house Moebius is dead and the place is a mess. The coroner takes Moebius away. Miriam is so confused to what is happening. Instead of going back to bed she follows her rabbit into the basement that she didn't know existed. It leads into a bigger room that is a huge well room. Before Moebius died he threw a mysterious bag into the water supply. 

Miriam begins to have strange visions. She works at an elementary school and she has a weird run in where she thought she saw a parent but when the child was actually supposed to be picked up the parents was gone. When she took the little girl home she saw that the mother did large illustrations of the bug that was put up her nose. 

Finally all her visions come true as the sect bring Moebius back to life by giving him a new face. The bug laid eggs in Miriams neck and their stork god rapes her while it eats the bugs from her neck. She quickly gives birth in the well in her basement to a normal looking baby. The sect gives her the choice to raise the baby if she wants to. She is unsure but at the last minute decides to raise the baby. She takes her baby and runs into a burning car and they are both burned. Firefighters come and hose off everything and it looks as if there is now way that Miriam survived. The firefighters hose off all the ash and Miriam is still alive but her baby is dead. She sees a stork fly by and thanks if for saving her but it's unknown if it was her baby or the stork creature that saved her.

There is a strong Rosemary's baby vibe in this one since Miriam is kept in the dark about why the sect has been keeping any eye on her since she was born. I'm not sure why she's the chosen one but I'm pretty into her decision at the end. There is a lot of weird imagery with the bug going up her nose and the contaminated water. When the satanist rip off the face of  the lady to give life back to Moebius it's pretty crazy. Another weird case of dubbing in that they the words line up but it still seems like they redid it, but it is an Italian production that takes place in Germany.  Written by Dario Argento it stands up to the weirdness that is expected of him.

Monday, July 7, 2014

Mindkiller

Watched June 23, 2014

1987
Starring: Joe McDonald, Wade Kelley, Shirley Ross, Kevin Hart

The only thing I could I remember from my first viewing of Mind Killer several years ago was Swingles, the super awesomely named singles bar. This was yet another VHS that I unloaded on Jen when I moved across the country and it came around again so we could decide whether it's a keeper or not. I also remember this movie being really poorly lit, but on a second watch I determined I first saw it when my TV was dying and was making every movie appear very dark.

Warren (Joe McDonald) works in the research materials section of a library located deep in the basement. He is obsessed with meeting women but has a hard time with it. He watched a movie entitled How to Pick up Women and tries to learn some time tested techniques. He takes his new moves to Swingles, his local singles bar. Warren's roommate Brad (Kevin Hart) is a more confident guy and has no problem taking home ladies of his choosing. This only make Warren more frustrated.

A new researcher, Sandy (Shirley Ross) is hired at the library and Warren is instantly in love. Unfortunately, Sandy has a policy of not dating co-workers. While pulling some old research papers Warren finds a very interesting case study of a man who developed telepathic powers. Warren stays up all night reading the paper and once finished feels like he has unlocked the power of his mind.  Warren can both manipulated machines and people. He seduces the women of his choice at Swingles, but he still longs for Sandy. He begins to manipulate Sandy and they go out together, but even with Warren's power Sandy knows that something is wrong. Warren invited Sandy over for dinner with Brad along as well. Even with his new found telepathic powers Warren is still really inept with social skills, but he has become a much better cook. Brad and Sandy really hit it off with genuine affection even though Warren is convinced that Sandy likes him. 

Warren's other co-worker Larry (Wade Kelley) reads the research paper and soon is using the powers himself, but he researches it further and finds out what happened to the author of the paper. It turns out that the paper was written by a local scientist who used to live with his mother. His mother is still in the area so Larry goes to talk to her. She has gone crazy because she saw what the power did to her son and how it ultimately killer her son. Larry tries to get to Warren to tell him the danger of using the power but it's too late. The power has already mutated Warren's brain and turned him into a monster. Monster Warren only wants Sandy for himself so he tries to kill her, luckily Larry has it figured out and saves the day.

The brain monster effects are pretty cool and gross. Warren is definitely an unattractive and awkward guy so I could see him using his power for evil and letting it get the best of him. Larry uses his power to seduce a woman by listening to coyote howls. His fascination with coyotes doesn't seem to play out or add to the plot. Better than I remember it but it's still pretty weird. Swingles stands up to the test of time as a cool place to meet people, just be careful if you see a spilled glass right itself.

Friday, June 27, 2014

Slaughter High

Watched June 22, 2014

1986
Starring: Caroline Munro, Simon Scuddamore, Carmine Iannaccone, Donna Yeager

Marty (Simon Scuddamore) is relentlessly picked on by the popular kids at his high school. He finally thinks things are turning his way when Carol (Caroline Munro) leads him into the girl's locker room with the implication that they'll be having sex. She pushes him into a shower stall and prompts him to undress. Once he's disrobed she opens the curtain to reveal all her friends are there with video equipment, lights and a spear to poke his genitals with. Marty is mortified, but they won't let him go with just the embarassment of being nude in front of a bunch of jerks. They grab him, drag him across the floor, then give him repeated swirlies until the coach barges in.  All the bullies get gym based detention and blame Marty for this. Even though, based on this prank they're psychopaths, so they continue have it in for Marty. They give Marty a joint for his troubles which he goes to smoke in the chemistry lab, but it's a trick joint that makes him vomit. Skip (Carmine Iannaccone) the leader of the popular jerks puts some powder into the mix in the chemistry lab while Marty is throwing up in the bathroom. When Marty comes back to the lab, his conconction is overflowing and ignites the bunsen burner. He tries to put it out but the lab erupts in flames, Marty flails around and knocks some acid in his face. The whole lab catches fire, Marty is horribly disfigured but survives. 

Ten years later, we meet the same gang of bullies as they arrive at their old high school for the reunion. The school appears to be abandoned but that doesn't deter this group. They break into the school, convinced that the reunion is happening. After wandering around they find the old janitor, now groundskeeper who informs that the school has been closed for 5 years and it about to be demolished in the next month. The janitor lets them hang out and heads on his way when he is murdered by the mysterious killer for no reason. He happens to be black and had nothing to do with Marty's bullying, he actually got the coach when Marty was being attacked in the bathroom. For the first death it doesn't make any sense.

The group finds the party room, which is decorated with a big welcome back banner along with all their old lockers in it and, of course, lots of alcohol. Within their lockers, they each find items that mysteriously disappeared when they were in high school, but who cares, let's party! They start drinking and having a great time. One guys shotguns a beer, instantly feel terrible, then his stomach bursts open and he dies. Thus begins the terror of Marty's revenge. One of the ladies got some blood on her face from the guy's stomach exploding, so she goes to the girl's locker room where there is a bathtub. She takes a bath, but the water coming out of the spout turns to acid blood and burns her alive. The whole school gets locked down, with the windows covered in electrified wire so everyone is stuck in this horrible murder school. Marty hunts down each former bully and kills them. There are some good deaths and a lot of chasing scenes.

Then we find out why this film was originally called April Fool's Day. Marty wakes up from his revenge dream to be in the recovery wing of a mental hospital. He is still horribly scarred but we aren't sure it his revenge fantasy was ever real. But he wakes up and attacks his doctor with a syringe anyway.

I'm pretty sure I got to see the unrated version because Whoa! I wasn't ready for the amount of full frontal male nudity that occurs during the first 10 minutes. It's really intense to think that while these guys were holding Marty in the toilet they basically were looking at his butt hole. I didn't like the movie April Fool's Day because all the murders turned out the be tricks and it makes me like this movie a little less if the murders were just dreams. Right now all I remember about April Fool's Day is that they ate a bunch of boiled hot dogs. 

Marty's bullies are really terrible people, they weren't playing pranks on him they were trying to rip him apart emotionally and tear him down physically too. All these high schoolers look about 40 and the actress that played Carol was 37 when she made the movie and it shows, so that takes away from feeling remotely serious. Still some shockers which makes it worth and you do get to see all these terrible people die.

Saturday, June 14, 2014

Dracula's Widow

Watched June 5, 2014

1988
Starring: Sylvia Kristel, Lenny von Dohlen, Rachel Jones, Josef Sommer

The Hollywood House of Wax is preparing for a very authentic Dracula exhibit containing artifacts that have been shipped straight from Romania. The proprietor Raymond (Lenny von Dohlen) expected only five crates in the shipment but received six, which is puzzling but he accepts them all anyway. The House of Wax consists mostly of brutal murder scenes so it's no surprise that a graphic vampire exhibit would be a big hit. As you would expect of any wax museum creator and curator, Raymond is pretty strange. After opening all the crates he goes to watch his own 16 mm print of Nosferatu in his sparsely furnished living room. As he is mesmerized by the film, two robbers break into the museum looking for valuable objects to steal. One of the robbers goofs around with a wax figure and begins to burn its face only to turn around to see his co-conspirator being attacked by a woman, so he hightails it out of there. As Raymond watches the film he is approached by Vanessa (Sylvia Kristel) she wants to know where her Dracula is. Raymond is confused by the whole situation, so she bites Raymond and puts him under her control.

The surviving robber goes to the police with his strange story.  Detective Lannon (Josef Sommer) takes the case and begins to investigate. On the same night of the robber's story a man was found bitten and mutilated in a nearby park. Detective Lannon and his partner are on the case.

Vanessa still wants to know where her husband Dracula is, Raymond tells her that he was killed by Van Helsing over a hundred years ago. Obsessed with finding her husband and getting back to Romania she starts searching for clues to where he could be. She has a strange hold on Raymond and she makes him drive her around. They find a building with a pentagram on it and go check it out. It looks like a potential gay orgy, with a bunch of beefy dudes hanging out, but they're are actually satanists about to engage in a ritual. Vanessa in invited to participate and as it gets going, she attacks and kills everyone while Raymond watches. 

Detective Lannon gets around to questioning Raymond, who acts very suspiciously. Lannon doesn't have enough to pin it all on him yet, but Raymond is still his main suspect for these grisly murders.  Raymond isn't completely under Vanessa's control, he has enough free will to give a cross necklace to his girlfriend Jenny (Rachel Jones) so she is protected from Vanessa. This really makes Vanessa mad.

Meanwhile, the descendant of Van Helsing, an old man named Helsing (Stefan Schnabel) gets word that Dracula's widow is going around town murdering and mutilating. He is too old to chase her really, but he explains to Raymond how to really destroy a vampire.

Raymond is arrested as the prime suspect for the murders and taken in for questioning. He tells them about Vanessa but they don't believe him. He gets injured and on the way to the hospital Vanessa attacks them as a bat. Just as Vanessa is about to attack Jenny, Raymond shakes off the spell enough to stab Vanessa in the heart. 

I was surprised by the graphic mutilations since I'm used just a bite on the neck making a kill. Vanessa bit then mutilated all her victims. It starts with a lot of flashy neon signs so if you're prone to seizures watch out for the beginning. When Raymond popped up and I realized it's the same actor who plays the shut-in Harold Smith on Twin Peaks I was on board, since I love Twin Peaks. Every scene where Detective Lannon is back in his office there is no paperwork or anything on his desk, he made me think he wasn't doing anything. There is a crazy use of dramatic red lighting when Vanessa is using her glamour power or about to kill. Overall I enjoyed it, it was a slight variation on the classic vampire story with some gross deaths and weird drama.

Thursday, June 5, 2014

Scarecrows

Watched May 22, 2014

1988
Starring: Ted Vernon, Michael Simms, Richard Vidan, Victoria Christian

It begins with a dramatic slow zoom to the face of a scarecrow, as the camera gets closer it seems as if the scarecrow will come to life. That doesn't happen and it rightly sums up the action that will unfold in the movie. Jump to nighttime, in a cargo plane four men and one women have taken a father and his teenage daughter hostage. The father is flying the plane and it's vaguely explained that the hijackers are also robbers who've stolen 3 million dollars from somewhere and they're trying to get the plane to Mexico to escape. One of the robbers is a traitor, he throws the money out of the plane, jumps out with a parachute and throws an activated grenade back in the plane. With the some quick thinking the robbers get the grenade out of the plane but are pissed that their colleague has stolen the money that they stole. 

On the ground, the turncoat robber cuts free of his parachute that got caught in a tree. He is in a field that has a lot of scarecrows. He still has his walkie talkie headset on so that all the other robbers can communicate with him, they keep talking to him but he doesn't respond. He finds an abandoned house, luckily he has night vision goggles that lead him there. In the house he finds a strange taxidermy crow and an old framed photo of three men. On the wall a flyswatter mysteriously turns into a key, the key to the truck outside. He gets the truck started and begins driving around looking for the money. Out of nowhere the truck stalls and he checks under the hood, but there's no engine in there! What is going on? That's when he is attacked and killed by a scarecrow. After this guys is killed the generator starts that turns on all the lights in the old farmhouse.

The rest of the robbers demand that they land the plane to get their money back. Once landed they take the teen daughter as hostage but demand the dad to stay in the plane. Luckily, they all have lots of guns and night vision goggles to make their way through the field. They find the same house that the traitor robber found and they poke around and scare each other. They start looking around the field, but the scarecrows have magical powers. They find the traitor's parachute and it looks like he's tangled up in it. They got to get it out of the tree but once they cut it free it's just a bag of blood. The scarecrows manage to separate everyone as they look for the money which is now scattered all over the field. The scarecrows kill everyone except for the teenage girl and cigar smoking robber. They make it back to the plane, as Kellie's dad is already dead. Kellie gets the plane in the air but then her zombie dad tries to kill cigar robber. Cigar robber grabs a grenade, blowing up Kellie's zombie dad and cigar robber. There is a voice over at the end the explains that Kellie flew all night until she got to San Diego, she landed the plane but was in shock and couldn't explain what happened to the hijackers and her dad.

I didn't have many expectations but it looked like it could be a fun movie. Instead it was really slow and strange where the same shots are used over and over again. The scarecrows were creepy but I didn't understand why they wanted to kill everyone, were the robbers trespassing? Did they need human blood to run their farm?  They didn't seem like vampires or anything, they just wanted to kill. Some of the deaths were pretty cool, but there were surrounded by super slow scenes of night vision. Plus the set up was very vague, I had to read the box several times to remind myself what these people were doing. They didn't introduce the character names well but instead they all did have some specific characteristic that helped tell them apart like Cigar guy, Harmonica guy, The lady robber, etc.

Thursday, May 29, 2014

Powerforce

aka Shen tan guang tou mei
Watched May 15, 2014

1982
Starring: Bruce Baron, Mandy Moore, James Barnett, Frances Fong

A year ago, a royal family was killed in a plane crash. Now the remaining member, Princess Rawleen (Mandy Moore) is about to ascend to the throne. The Princess goes to visit some good friends in China on the way back home to be crowned. She spends the night there while supposedly under the projection of her security team. While taking a bath, she is kidnapped by some ninjas.

Her security teams hires Jack Sargeant (Bruce Baron) to rescue the princess. But he can't do it alone, he first needs to meet up with Dragonforce, an elite team of fighters. Just to find Dragonforce he has to follow an insane series of steps, including fighting two guys in a dancing dragon puppet, a lady with a flute, and a guy on some floating logs. Once he has proven himself he is brought to the leader of Dragonforce Tan Lung ( Bruce Li) who shows Jack why he is leader with some excellent stick fight skills.

With the team assembled they begin the search for the kidnapped princess. In a castle they have a run in with some ninjas and Jack is hit with a poisoned throwing star. They taking him to a floating hospital, which is just a boat, and he is treated with a cobra that sucks out the poison. 

Meanwhile we see the Princess, she was kidnapped by General Marushka (James Barnett) who wants to use her as the puppet so he can be the real ruler of her country. In the ritual to gain control over the princesses mind, she sits naked while they shave her head. They paint ancient symbols all over her naked body, then they use acupuncture needles to gain control over her. 

After some goofy scenes involving members of the Dragonforce trying to get closer to General Marushka's men they find the princess and save her. There is lots of crazy action scenes including some orange clad sunshine ninjas. The dubbing is confusing since it does seem like the words line up with the movements of their mouths but doesn't quite fit. Once I looked up the movie on IMBD I realized it was made for a cantonese speaking audience to the audio track was recorded separately. Jack's has a super fit fighting body but his teeth are really gross, so it's rough when he opens his mouth. The music is really over the top, when things are supposed to be light they throw in a really goofy track. There is a scene where Dragonforce fights another group of training ninjas and a guy gets thrown though a ring of knives and doesn't make it out the other side. If you like action this movie delivers.

Friday, May 23, 2014

Blade

Watched April 29, 2014

1998
Starring: Wesley Snipes, Kris Kristofferson, Stephen Dorff,  N'Bushe Wright

A preview for Blade popped up at the beginning of a movie we watched a couple of weeks ago, which prompted Jen to picked up a VHS copy when she was looking for other action movies. I definitely saw this when it came out in 1998 but I didn't remember many of the details and I was happily surprised at all the crazy things that happened.

A couple moves past hanging slabs of meat to the entrance of a club. Once inside the rave, the guy is stared down by all the revelers, something must be wrong with him. Everyone is wearing white and he is wearing colors. The guy gets into the party, then the sprinklers pop on and start spewing blood, the dancers love it but he is distraught.  Something must be wrong here, the guy realizes he must not be with his kind as all other ravers descend on him. Blade (Wesley Snipes) shows up and starts destroying the vampires. As soon as he hits them with his sword they vaporize. Blade runs into a vampire he knows Quinn (Donal Logue) who he sets on fire. All the other vampires are either killed by Blade or run away. By the time the cops show up it's just the one non vampire guy left huddled in fear.

In a flashback, we see that Blade's mom gave birth to him right after she was bitten by a vampire, he survived but was made half vampire. Since he was a vampire he grew super fast while trying to make it on the streets, ultimately he was taken in by Whistler (Kris Kistofferson)  and together they work together to destroy the vampires of New York City. Blade takes a serum to control his blood thirst and since he's only half vampire he can be outside during the day.

Deacon Frost (Stephen Dorff) is a feisty vampire who approaches the vampire council with a crazy idea. The vampire council is like the mafia, they have some set rules that they follow to be able to feed on humans but not arouse suspicion. Deacon wants the vampires to rule over the humans as the superior beings. He's been using a computer to try to decode the ancient vampire scrolls. He think that stored within them is the instructions to resurrect an ancient blood god. The vampire council doesn't want to shake things up so they dismiss Deacon's idea.

After the blood rave, Quinn's charred body was taken to the morgue. Karen (N'Bushe Wright) is a hematologist who tests his blood to help determine cause of death. Quinn comes back to life and bites Karen's co-worker (and ex-boyfriend!) but she manages to escape because Blade shows up. After throwing Karen out of a window onto another building, Blade takes her back to the hideout where Whistler is making new vampire destruction gadgets. Karen is super freaked out as Blade doesn't explain anything, but luckily Whistler is there to set her straight on the vampires.

Blade and Karen infiltrate the computer room where the ancient scrolls are being decoded. There they find an morbidly obese pile of vampire who is just sitting around farting, I can't tell what the purpose of that gross vampire is. Blade gets an idea of what Deacon is trying to do with the scrolls. Ultimately Deacon decides that he needs the half vampire body of Blade to host the resurrected blood god. Deacon kidnaps Blade along with all the vampire council to play parts in the ceremony. All the old vampires are set into the chamber in specific spots. Blade is tied up and bled, his blood begins the ritual. Luckily Karen is there to help Blade escape but not before Deacon is filled with the blood god spirit. Blade fights Deacon and cuts him in half, but super strong Deacon's blood grabs the two halves of his body and pulls them together. Ultimately a neat blood bomb concept developed by Karen destroys Deacon.

The late '90s CGI doesn't completely hold up but they used it to do such ridiculous things that I didn't mind. Blade has barely any lines and is pretty much a robot but delivers on the action front. I was really glad that there wasn't a love story between Blade and Karen because it wouldn't have made any sense. I was blown away when Deacon's blood held him together, it was nuts. It was great and I want to watch the two sequels.