Tuesday, September 23, 2014

John Carpenter's Vampires

Watched September 14, 2014

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

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!