31 August 2008

OLR: The Attic Expeditions (2000)

Kind of a mish-mash of every "is this real?" / "it was just a dream" movies I've ever seen. (6/10)

d. Jeremy Kasten

[thanks, Bill Shatner]

OLR: Ghost Rider (2007)

A flaming skeleton riding a motorcycle is such an unbeatable cool image, the rest of the movie can't help but be disappointing when the Rider goes away. (6/10)

d. Mark Steven Johnson

30 August 2008

Toxie's Triple Terror-o-rama-thon Ends

So ends the Toxie's Triple Terror-o-rama-thon. It wasn't a bad trip:

In exchange for sitting through horrendous cinematic experiences like The Newlydeads and Video Demons Do Psychotown, I was introduced to bad movie masterpieces like Nightmare Weekend and Space Zombie Bingo!!! I'll take that trade.

TTT: Nightfall (1995)

This isn't a bad movie. That is, this isn't a bad-bad movie or a good-bad movie. It's relatively well-shot, lit, edited, acted and mic'd. I spotted no boom shadows; I was able to hear all of the dialogue; when the story shifted from Seattle to Salt Lake City, I was impressed when the license plates on the cars in the background changed. The story isn't great, but it follows a logical path from start to finish. What we got here, invading seven box sets full of truly bad movies, is a truly mediocre movie.

It tells the tale of an FBI agent tracking a serial killer. Turns out this killer he's been tracking for a decade is actually a vampire. A couple of dead partners later and he shoves a broken piece of picket fence through the vamp's chest. Cut to: a shot of one of the dead partners as a vampire and The End. Basically, it's the type of direct-to-video stuff you'd find playing on Cinemax at 2 a.m. It's alright for a distraction after a night of drinking beer, but it's never going to be anyone's favorite vampire movie (either in straight sense or in a bad movie ironic sense).

d. Kevin DeLullo

TTT: Space Zombie Bingo!!! (1993)

This one's unique in the TTT collection: an intentionally bad movie. SZB is a homage / parody of Plan 9 from Outer Space, Robot Monster and other schlock from the '50s. Zombies from outer space, wearing welder's helmets and flippers, invade the world. When throwing nuclear bombs at them doesn't work, it falls to Major Kent Bendover to save us.

Making a bad movie on purpose is a hard thing to do well. Often, the humor will fall flat or you'll get tired of the wink-wink-we're-making-cheeze attitude. Though there's a lot of cheezy humor (a character named General Herpes Simplex) and wink-winking in this one (the narrator constantly mentions he's in a movie), SZB is hilarious without getting tiresome. I think the key is that everyone in the movie understands exactly what kind of movie they're making and takes it seriously. It's kind of in the ZAZ style, but maybe even sillier and more nonsensical. The General's interview scenes pretty much sums up what this movie's all about:

I can't wait to trick people into watching this with me.

d. George Ormrod

OLR: 4: Rise of the Silver Surfer (2007)

It's kind of hard to take a planet-eating entity seriously when the rest of the movie is so light and fluffy. (6/10)

d. Tim Story

29 August 2008

Guest OLR: Stalker (1979)

Another slow-moving philosophical discourse that appears to change the utterly gorgeous environment that surrounds it, but it's not nearly as hypnotic or interesting and I could honestly go another ten years before attempting a second viewing. (5/10)

d. Andrei Tarkofsky

28 August 2008

OLR: Fantastic Four (2005)

I feel lucky never to have read a single issue of the comic, as I was pleasantly entertained. (7/10)

d. Tim Story

Guest OLR: Solyaris (1972)

A film that plagues my dreams, throws my entire rating system out of whack, and makes the remake seem a whole lot worse upon reflection. (8/10)

d. Andrei Tarkofsky

27 August 2008

TTT: Dead Dudes in the House (1988)

This is one of those "time remaining" bad movies. The only distraction I had from this mind-numbing movie was to continually push the display button on the remote to see how many more minutes of torture I had left. The movie spends its hour and a half following six friends who are trying to fix up an old house (and, contrary to the title, there are two dudettes included). Upon arriving, the first thing one character does is smash a gravestone in the front yard with a pipe. This being a horror movie, you can sense that this was a huge mistake. Long-story-short, the ghost of the old lady that lived there manages to off every single one of the kids, plus two more than wander in latter. Helpfully, any kids that dies immediately comes back to life and helps her kill more kids.

That all sound fine but, sadly, there's a whole lot of nothing in-between the fun of the killings. There are minutes upon minutes of people trying to open doors. Literally, there's a ten minute scene at the beginning of the movie where the characters try to open a door in the house (the old lady having magically trapped them in there). Not long after that, some of the kids get trapped in a room... and spend minutes banging on the door trying to get out. And, as is obligatory in a horror movie, there is time spent with kids pushing against a door, trying to keep a monster out. Lots and lots of door action. If you like doors, you'll love this movie.

Even worse, only a few of the deaths are worth watching. The window with with broken glass that chews a guy in half (really chews: up and down many times) was the highlight. Unfortunately, it also killed the film's only interesting character, the jerk who broke the tombstone. Many of the other deaths are off-screen or just not fun. Bottom line: there just isn't enough good stuff here to justify the bad stuff.

aka The Dead Come Home
aka The House on Tombstone Hill
aka The Road
d. James Riffel

OLR: Man-Thing (2005)

Man-Thing and the Sheriff clean up the corrupt company town, except it's just a little bit less cheezy than that sounds. (6/10)

d. Brett Leonard

25 August 2008

TTT: Horror of the Hungry Humongous Hungan (1991)

Perhaps Troma's cruelest bait-and-switch to date. Not only does the movie have an exaggerated title promising an enormous monster with an empty belly, the picture and tagline on the video intensify the deception:

Wow! A giant monster with huge fangs eats bikini-clad ladies? Sign me up! Not so fast. No giant monster. No one in a bikini. No fangs. No one gets eaten. In fact, here's the monster and here's the character that wears the least amount of clothing:

Yes, yes it does. It does look like someone's grandma attacking that skinny guy.

But, I'm being too hard on the movie. Getting purchased by Troma was a fluke, I'm betting. This is one of those flicks shot on super 8 by a group of friends in a small town. Think Coven from American Movie. It has truly horrible acting, lighting, camera work, SFX, editing, etc, etc. Pretty much what you'd expect from some teenage/twenty-something filmmakers from Hershey, Pennsylvania. But, somehow, some way, they also managed to get Jack "I Crap Bigger Than You" Palance to read a 3-minute opening narration for them. Maybe he was a relative of someone? Owed one of their parents money? I dunno. It was probably enough for Troma to bite: "we've got a Jack Palance movie!"

I admire their accomplishment, even if I didn't enjoy watching most of it. So, I'll do 'em a solid. The film isn't in the IMDb yet, so I just submitted the movie to the admins (all 73 actors included). Can't wait to see this in Palance's credits.

P.S. Cry Wolf is the best rock and roll band in the history of the world!

aka The Hungan
d. Randall DiNinni

24 August 2008

TTT: Fertilize the Blaspheming Bombshell (1989)

Gotta be one of Troma's more extreme re-titlings. Though, believe it or not, this is taken from the movie. The head of the satanic cult declares that he's going to "fertilize this blaspheming slut" after capturing the main character. He also goes on to talk about his "hard-on of sin." And then he proceeds to remove the main character's pants shortly before she stabs him with his own sacrificial knife. This results in her escape, where she spends the next half hour running around the desert in her panties stabbing the crap out of every Satan worshiper she runs into. Part way through her murder spree she, of course, pauses to bathe in a waterfall.

All of this makes the movie sound far, far cooler than it really is. In practice, the above is less than a third of the film. The rest is the rather dull investigation of the main character into her twin sister's disappearance in Middle-of-Nowhere, Nevada coupled with some of the worst night shooting I've ever seen. Movie lights are expensive to rent, I get it.

aka Mark of the Beast
aka Triangle of Death
d. Jeff Hathcock

TTT: Stuff Stephanie in the Incinerator (1987)

Another low-key movie that Troma hyper-titled in order to trick people into buying it. No, sorry, no one gets stuffed in an incinerator (and no one is truly named Stephanie in the picture). Instead, we get kind of The Game ten years before The Game existed. During the first half hour of the movie, we're tricked into thinking this is an odd film about a twisted old lady who kidnaps an airplane mechanic in order to watch him have sex with a women she keeps trapped in her house. There's a daring escape and near-use of an iron maiden before we find out that everyone we've been watching are actors doing a sort of private performance for the mechanic, who's really an eccentric millionaire.

He insists on jumping from character to character every day of his life and forces his wife to take part. She's getting sick of of the never-ending charade and reaches her wits' end when he describes their first date as just another performance. Along with another actor, she plans to kill her husband and inherit his wealth. The husband finds out, chases the scheming pair around his secret passage-filled house, and all three of them end up dead. Except not. In reality, everyone is an eccentric millionaire putting on a performance for each other.

It's probably worthless to watch again – knowing everything is just an act – but it was fun the first time around.

aka In Deadly Heat
d. Don Nardo

23 August 2008

OLR: Beowulf (2007)

There's something off-putting about watching CGI mannequins and unnecessarily fancy virtual camera moves knowing this story could've been done 300-style with real actors. (7/10)

d. Robert Zemeckis

21 August 2008

TTT: Video Demons Do Psychotown (1989)

This is a bad movie from the subgenre of "so bad, we need to go bananas with a cool title." Not only are there no demons -- video, audio or otherwise -- in the movie, the town is actually filled with psychics, not psychos. Feeling ripped off due to a title that over-promises is never a great way to good into a film (a great way to get a few extra purchases, sure, I understand).

This one's about as fun as waiting in line. It's about a couple of college students who need to make a video for a final project for a class. They try to interview people in a town known for being filled with psychics, stumble on a covered-up murder, blah, blah. Almost nothing of interest happens during the thankfully short 80-some minutes. Even the gratuitous sex scenes (three of them!), crazy local guy and the psychic/shopkeep lady who doesn't take any shit and fail to make this remotely worth watching.

aka Bloodbath in Psycho Town
d. Alessandro De Gaetano & Michael A. DeGaetano

20 August 2008

TTT: Death by Dialogue (1988)

A movie script possessed by an evil spirit magically adds more pages to itself which results in people dying according to the story it writes. That's as good a way to generate horror movie deaths as any other. And it has Kincaid from the Elm Street movies in it, which is neat.

Weird movie, though. Not in the "surreal scenes strung together that make no sense" sense. It's odd in that it's made up of long stretches of boring, ineptly shot sequences punctuated briefly and infrequently by very well done special effects scenes. It's like 99% of their energy went into creating the 5 or so minutes-worth of special effects in the movie and the rest was "point the camera at the actors and go take a nap."

Embarrassingly, even though the word "dialogue" is in the title, you couldn't hear much of it due to the poor audio. You could hear the rock music soundtrack just fine, though. There was a half-attempt at making this a rock-n-roll horror movie, but they didn't take it far enough. A ghost rock band makes one appearance -- and memorably crushes a guy's head with a guitar -- but they never show up after that. Rock 'n' Roll Nightmare or Hard Rock Zombies, this ain't.

d. Thomas Dewier

19 August 2008

Guest OLR: Tropic Thunder (2008)

Meets (and quite possibly breaches) Hot Fuzz's level of genre parody. (7/10)

d. Ben Stiller

17 August 2008

OLR: Mystery Science Theater 3000: "Outlaw" (1993)

Bad acting, scantily-clad women and robots cracking jokes ain't a bad way to spend 90 minutes. (8/10)

d. John "Bud" Cardos & Trace Beaulieu

OLR: The Simpsons Movie (2007)

Appropriately big-screen epic and funny (having long ago stopped watching the show, I wonder if the epiphany scene from the film served as a much-needed reset to Homer's ever-worsening dumb/asshole personality from the show's later years?). (7/10)

d. David Silverman

OLR: Country Cuzzins (1970)

Quite possibly the least sexy softcore ever put to film. (3/10)

d. Bethel Buckalew

12 August 2008

Guest OLR: Brand Upon the Brain! (2006)

Weird, frenetic memories of the director fused with New York performance art and German Expressionism. (7/10)

d. Guy Maddin

10 August 2008

OLR: The Happiness of the Katakuris (2001)

The film following the wonderfully surreal opening couldn't help but be dull in comparison. (5/10)

d. Takashi Miike

OLR: Dirty Rotten Scoundrels (1988)

Cute, but not quite clever or funny. (6/10)

d. Frank Oz

07 August 2008

TTT: Epitaph (1987)

I was dreading having to watch another Joseph Merhi film immediately after the cinematic tragedy that was The Newlydeads. So, going into this film with the absolute lowest of expectations, I was surprised to find it not so bad. It has a decent The Stepfather vibe to it. In this one, the daughter's natural mother is the psychopath who can't seem to stop herself from killing everyone around her. Mom is, in fact, the best part of the movie. She's played surprisingly subtly -- considering she's a bipolar serial killer -- by Delores Nascar. The first person she kills on screen is a house painter she tried and failed to seduce. After stabbing him repeatedly, as he's dying against a wall, she gives him a quick slap across the face. I loved that little touch.

Natasha Pavlovich also puts in a nice performance as the abused daughter. Her screaming and crying are actually so realistic-sounding, it's borderline disturbing.

There is a lot of slow time in the middle of the film. We watch the daughter adjust to a new high school, Mom hanging out with a neighbor, and more than a few family arguments around the breakfast table (frustratingly shot with no coverage, so we're forced to see them from one angle only). I suppose the slow middle section functions as sort of a tension-builder: when is Mom going to snap next? When she does, it is a lot of fun. I don't think I've actually ever seen the "hungry rat chews through a human body to escape flames" gag in a movie before.

aka Mommy's Epitaph
d. Joseph Merhi

06 August 2008

TTT: The Newlydeads (1988)

Few things are worse in a bad movie than when the runtime is too short to count as feature-length and the director has no idea what to do. In this case, the filmmakers decided to create five characters that had absolutely no connection to the plot and shoot scene after "comedic" scene with them. While the main characters are running around fighting a ghost-transvestite-zombie, we're constantly checking in on a drunk, Catholic priest (original!); a septuagenarian, deaf couple; and a dope-smoking punk couple. Worse, since the scenes were obviously filmed separately from the main movie, you know there's no hope of any of these annoying characters getting killed by the g-t-z. It's tedious knowing you're in the middle of scene that has no purpose other than padding. It's been a while since I've been this close to turning off a movie without finishing it (and I always finish movies).

Other than desperately trying to complete a feature-length flick, I think the filmmakers' other main goal was to get middle-aged star Jimmy Williams to kiss transvestite star Scott Kaske as many times as possible (NTTAWWT). Amusing to watch the first couple of times, sure, but after a while, it's safe to assume than any female Jimmy Williams' character encounters is really the g-t-z in disguise and you're left just watching in idiot fall for the same gag over and over.

d. Joseph Merhi

03 August 2008

OLR: Insomnia (2002)

I was surpised to find this to be a practice run for one of the ideas in The Dark Knight. (7/10)

d. Christopher Nolan

02 August 2008

OLR: Stargate: Continuum (2008)

Like the far-too-short cameos from long-dead characters, the movie plot breezes by far faster than I'd have liked. (7/10)

d. Martin Wood

[9 months to watch 14 seasons-worth of shows plus 3 movies]

[RIP Don S. Davis]

TTT: Evil Clutch (1988)

Not unlike Nightmare Weekend, this is one of those schizo bad movies. This one's a Fulci-esque flick from Italy. I don't know why, but Italians seem to make more crazy horror movies than any other country on the planet. Maybe it's just a cultural difference? Maybe insane Italian horror movies actually make perfect sense to the natives?

In Evil Clutch, an American woman vacationing in Venice falls in love with a local and decides to go on trip to the Alps with him. They run into a woman who says she was attacked -- but she's really a vampire/witch/something -- and they give her a ride into town. There they meet a crazy guy on a motorcycle who speaks using a electrolarynx. They hike into the mountains and run into both of these people again up there. And there's a zombie chasing them for some reason. And spilling cocaine into a bucket of ooze really makes the ooze happy. And the zombie uses a fishing pole to catch a person. And the titular "evil clutch" is -- I shit you not -- a giant claw that comes out of the vampire/witch's crotch to rip the wieners off of men. Here, here it is:

I've also never see a zombie with such an entertaining personality as the one in this movie. He's one of those fast zombies -- which are not an invention of 28 Days Later or the Dawn remake -- and he's just so into his job of chasing and killing living people, you can't help but cheer for the guy.

It had a slow start, but it turns into great fun by the end.

aka Il Bosco
aka Horror Queen
d. Andreas Marfori

01 August 2008

Guest OLR: Dark City: Director's Cut (1998)

Mostly minor tweaks that don't add too much to the film outside of reminding me that it is still amazing. (8/10)

d. Alex Proyas