Every Wednesday and Friday
This is a movie that I have very fond memories of. It is not the Gladiator movie you normally think of, but rather a low budget DTV boxing movie starring Cuba Gooding Jr. and Brian Dennehy and I adore it.
My friend Mike got this on VHS back in the day, it was a strange copy – a screened for the video store to watch and decide if they wanted to carry it. every now and then you’ll see a warning about this not being for distribution come up on the screen.
From IMDB :
Tommy Riley has moved with his dad to Chicago from a ‘nice place’. He keeps to himself, goes to school. However, after a street fight he is noticed and quickly falls into the world of illegal underground boxing – where punches can kill.
This really doesn’t do the movie justice.
There’s really a great deal of drama happening here, with Gooding boxing to support his family, and a friendship developing between the two main character – something Dennehy will not allow to happen.
Just as important to this film is the soundtrack. In an era where every film had a meaningless soundtrack of songs “inspired from the film” this had a great 90’s soundtrack album with every song in the movie. I can not emphasize how great this record is…Mike went out and immediately got a copy (which I promptly copied. Man, I wish I had a copy of this on CD or mp3 instead of cassette…)
Mike doesn’t have a VCR anymore so the tape is now in my possession and I suspect I’ll always love it. I’m not sure if this ever got a DVD release, but I know you can watch it on the pay Youtube channel for just two dollars and it’s well worth it!
Doing a strange marathon this weekend. I started with 11-11-11. mostly because I’d just heard an interview with the director Darren Lynn Bousman and I really wanted to see exactly what the film he described looked like. He talks about it being far better before the studio cut it, and I suppose that’s possible, but I’m not sure. You can see where some of the creatures effects had issues, and quite frankly, the demonic figures at the end are too well lit and poorly conceived. It’s irrelevant. That’s not actually the movie(s) I want to talk about.
The Asylum is a film company that has built their business around the “mockbuster”. Cheap knockoffs of high profile films and 11-11-11 was one of their targets. Around the same time it was in the theatres they came out with 11/11/11. Seriously, that was the difference in the titles. a “/” instead of a “-“. was curious as to whether or not they even tried to emulate the film so I puled it up on Netflix. They had the entire series…though curiously enough they didn’t have 11-11-11.
11/11/11 is a straight off Omen clone. It actually could stand on it’s own, it’s compentantly enough made, though the acting is a little wooden. The up side is if they are going to plagerize, it’s going to be from the best. We have a new family moving into a new house, just as their son is about to turn 11 on 11/11/11. If he sees that birthday he’ll become the antichrist. We have impalement on a fence and a nanny controlled by a cult that wants the Devil to come into the boy. No representitives of the Church is really the main thing that seperates this from the Omen. Still it’s a pleasantly average film, a step up for the Asylum. A pity that it’s a rip off in every way, as that kind of taints it.
Next up is 12/12/12. This one is a very different film and that’s a strange choice. There is obviously a DTV franchise being created here with a definite design language to the artwork on the packaging but no cohesive identity in the movies themselves. It’s a very different movie with Tarantino levels of F-Bombing and as much nudity as they can cram in (I’m fairly certain the lead actresses were chosen primarily for their more exhibitionist qualities) both things that 11/11/11 largely avoided in favor of trying to tell a better story. We start off with a bang though, with a cult overseeing a woman to impregnate her and later her demonic baby being born. I found myself wondering if this one would be a knock off of “It’s Alive” like 11 was an Omen remake, but other than the monster being a baby, there’s not much similarity. It’s power seems mostly hypnotic, making people do horrible things to themselves. That’s not clear right away either, it takes far too long for me to get that.
The first kill is a great one, taking place at the birth with the doctors being strangled by the umbilical cord…though it looks more like an intestine. It’s kind of ruined by the flashes of the failed vaginal birth though….quite frankly even I don’t want to see that. When both of my daughters were born I was there, holding my wife’s hand and looking into her eyes, and making quite sure I didn’t glance anywhere near down south. ugh. The birth is eventually accomplished caesarian and that IS a great image “it’s almost like it’s trying to get out….”.
There’s a lot to like about this film. The cultists here evoke the feel of old Hammer films and the gore is nicely done. But again the acting is wooden and the film feels rushed. It’s another one of those 14 day shoots, or at least it feels like that. One more week would help this movie immensely. You can see there’s not time to light properly, no time to rehearse or really build chemistry and I really wish there was, because there’s a good horror film in here somewhere. I think Full Moon would have gotten this right, with better colors, tones and heart.
The biggest problem here if course is the baby itself. It’s mostly the third act. Until then it’s seems in glimpses, ashen gray features, evil eyes. Occasionally though it’s just a baby doll lying there and the actors don’t know how to handle it to make it look like it’s alive. A lot of POV shots and all of it makes you really want to see what that baby looks like.
Well, in the third act we do. In spades. It’s in full light and moving around, but it looks like hard plastic, not soft rubber. There’s not belief in it’s movements. They just don’t seem to know how to puppet this thing and the static face only makes that a worse problem. I’ve seen better demonic baby dolls at Cinema Wasteland and I’m honestly tempted to grab one and redo those scenes myself, just to show them how it’s done. A moveable face draped in shadow with evil fx eyes, it could be done in a day or two ( and that includes the opticals). It’s almost as if they are determined to make bad films the way they hamstring themselves like this.
Finally there is 13/13/13. The idea is that because of leap year, we eventually accumulate an extra month and by some arcane calculation the day this film takes place in is actually 13/13/13. On this day everyone goes crazy and anarchy ensues(much like “The Purge”). The only ones not affected are people born on Leap year. Again, we start off with a bang, a great scare and aseriously disturbing bit of gore, but a mere five or ten minuets into the film, it’s just unwatchable.
The cover is a lie. Yes, there is an adolescent girl in it, slightly older than the one on the cover, and the film ISN’T about her. she appears on one scene only and it’s just another set piece to display the crazy. There’s no story here. It’s all just about filming violent crazy scenes. We spend a bout a third of it at a hospital which is wonderfully creepy and atmospheric. The violence occasionally gets to squirm inducing levels of transgressive cinema, but there really is NO story. It’s just the camera drifting from one set piece to the next, a great disappointment from a series that the producers just don’t care about. Best to skip this one and read todays new Violent Blue instead.
No posts today, just a reminder, don’t forget what happened today. Even such a short time as a decade seems to have blunted a lot of our memories.