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Mortal Kombat : Legacy

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indexI’m a fan of Moral Kombat, indeed I was always more of a MK guy than a Street Fighter person and absolutely love the film with Robin Shoe and Christopher Lambert . With the new movie in theaters this weekend,  I wanted to also revisit some of the old stuff! We’re going to start with this Dollar Tree find.

When I pulled out the MK legacy DVD, I was shocked to see it cut into episodes. I suddenly assumed I was looking at a TV series instead of the movie I expected. Turns out these are actually about 10 minute webisodes that all collect into a sort of feature anthology. Not a terrible idea, so we’ll still treat this as a film.

Part one actually starts off very industrialized, and believe it or not it’s actually a good look for Mortal Kombat. The factory building robots, this heavy foreshadowing for things like Sektor’s head and Kano’s mask. Sonya’s there though, and I’ve got admit, I think I actually like Jeri Ryan in this role even better and I did Bridgette Wilson (the actress in the original film). She’s got a harder edge t her than Wilson, though I think I would’ve preferred her a bit younger, nevertheless Jeri Ryan still pulls off the part.  Michael Jae White as her partner Jax on the other hand, images2kind of strikes me as a bulkier Shemar Moore.

Sonya reports back in that she’s found Kano in the factory, and hearing this, Jax knows she’s gonna go off half cocked and sets off to rescue her. He’s not wrong, in the next scene we see her in a lonely hallway, chained to the ceiling with Kano coming in menacingly. Elsewhere in the factory, Jax and his team arrive in the rescue mission. It’s a good fire fight, not necessarily what you expect from Mortal Kombat but definately well choreographed action.

As the melee  continues between Jax and Kano, Sonja frees herself and we get to explore the complex. Jaxdelivers one mean roundhouse punch to Kano and we pretty much see why he wears a mask now! It ends up when A bomb explodes and we see everybody image4srecuperating how they can.

Our next is Johnny Cage, being hyped up in a sort of reality TV feature documentary. Unlike the original film, where Cage is at the height of his power, this shows him all washed up, unable to make the transition to big budget action films. It’s not his talent that’s in question, it’s his bad behavior off screen, picking fights with random people and getting into trouble with the law. I cringe a little bit when he tells is it agent “I haven’t worked since Power Rangers went off the air”. I hope this isn’t really a swipe at the green ranger Jason David Frank (a great martial artist, nice guy and regular on the con circuit). It might not be, actor Matt Mullins did in fact star in one of the Power Ranger spinoffs, Kamen rider. Either way, they’re honest in thier evaluation of film culture in 2010…The action film is dead, and you can see why he’s having a hard time…except he’s getting stabbed in the back by his agents and they’re pitching his show other people now.

Cage gets into a tussle with security and he takes them reasonably easily because, course hes Johnny Cage!  Suddenly, time stops. A mysteries man walked out of the darkness imagesoffer him a place in the tournament.

I’m reminded again that these are a bunch of separate little vignettes when we transition to the next set which is a combination of animation and live action. It’s the story of Outworld and Sho Kahn’s rise to power, with his General Baraka. But it’s really the story of Princess Kitana , Princess Mylena and Queen Sindel.

The combination of animation and live action is bizarre, jarring in places. I was wondering if they went this route because they didn’t have enough footage shot. Either _50161575_006680143-1way though the character development is marvelous, far greater than anything we’ve seen before and generally more than the subject matter deserves. They really lean into the Game of Thrones fantasy aspects and it works.

Raiden’s story fast forwards us back to the present, here on earth and see him in a mental facility. It’s a strange take on the character and continuity.

Using a taser on Raiden is probably the worst idea ever.

bfc37acfd4740383b514d6fe8612d10cUltimately, he has to transcend his human form and release the god within. Of all these segments, it’s probably the most out of place, and were I watching just a film, I would have assumed it was added to fill time rather than as a passion project for the director, Kevin Tancharoen.

It doesn’t matter that much though, because the next section is what I’ve been waiting for. Subzero and Scorpion! We get an interesting origin for our two archetypal ninjas. It feels like a snowy ninja movie, and the first time those familiar robes are unveiled, sent a shiver down my spine. It’s a well done piece of homage to the kung fu films that Mortal Kombat draws it’s inspiration from. We have ninja clans and  a dead shogun and a index2generational grudge and it’s beautiful.

Traditionally, we’ve spent more time following Sub Zero, but this time Scorpion is the star, and it’s really fascinating to explore how he became this kind of ghost, why he’s filled with vengence and why he’s back. It sets up the grudge match in the tournament perfectly.

We end the series with the robots, and interesting concepts where a particular clan has trained and brainwashed assassins for generations now turning towards cybernetics. Assasins are transitioned from humans and rebuilt into robots. It’s definitely a the index3section with the most body horror, but I do come I feel like I know a lot more about Sektor and Cyrax, and it brings the story full circle as we can see that this is what Kano’s factory was working on at the beginning.

Mortal Kombat and example of a dollar store find that isn’t at all what I expected it to be but still a nice hidden gem. Wish I’d had this movie 20 years ago at the height of my fandom, but I’d still be content to pop this in and watch it as a prequel anytime before I dig into the classic film. I recommend. Good action and good sci fi.


Dominique is Dead

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indexDominique is dead it’s one of those movies that’s full of people that I feel like I should at least be peripherally familiar with, folks like Simon Ward and Jenny Agutter and Cliff Robertson. It starts off on the eve of dinner party, with the wealthy couple that are obviously having friction. The husband just fired the chauffeur and the wife is in a generally bad humor.

That evening, the wife, Dominique is depressed and scared and pleads with the new chauffeur driver to help her, but he’s just kind of weirded out by it and sends her back off to her room. She plays piano a lot. Her husband wakes up, and heads out to the patio to find her hung by a noose in a blue moonlight.

Watch Check; we’re nearly a full half hour into this thing! This chick better start haunting us, and quick like!

Husband comes home, lights a cigar and sits back, very satisfied. He does a quick check of the house before heading to bed and just stares at the piano. I’ve got a bad feeling about that piano.

index1The next day, a gravestone is delivered to the cemetery… It’s a gravestone with his name and the date of death is… Soon. He tracks down the manufacture, who talks about it being ordered by a woman in black, and said she was a mourning for her husband. She paid cash so there’s no trace, but when the husband comes home the piano is playing by itself and distant echoing footsteps ring out through the gloom of the house. Indeed, there is a figure and black walking through the halls, figure that disappears just as swiftly as it manifested.

Over the next day or two similar events occur, and it’s enough to send the husband after the cemetery to dig up the grave and discover whether or not his wife is truly Dead. Dead or alive, the grave is empty.
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I figure in black. In the house, outside the house, outside the office, in the street. He has a vision of his wife hanging again conservatory, but he’s convinced it’s a plan… a conspiracy to drive him mad.

Soon, the grave has a death date etched in its stone surface, and that date is tomorrow. The piano place itself as the husband rises from sleep with a gun in his hand and stocks the house, shooting at the ever present spectral figure. The bullets miss of course and the driver comes out to find out what’s wrong. Wracked with guilt, the husband admits he drove Dominique to her death, then fires the chauffeur.

Now he’s all alone.

I don’t think I will spoil the ending here, because this is a genuinely good film that I’d really like you to seek out and watch. I’ve noticed it in several places, not the least of which is YouTube.
The thing is, the movie is so understated that there are times when I could almost mistake this for a TV movie. It’s not, it’s just the way things looked in 1979 when you’re dealing with this sort of Gothic thriller, but despite the sometimes slow and sometimes flat delivery, it’s a masterful mix of classic mystery and ghostly horror. They get the mix just right, and managed to keep up a sense of dread through a lot of the movie. The trick is to get past that slow first half hour, because the last 2/3 of this film are stellar.

Cruel Will

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indexCruel Will starts with a news report at the scene of a gruesome murder before flashing us back two weeks earlier. A man sits alone in his apartment, smoking and going through bills before having a sudden heart attack. The credits roll, and I still know nothing more about where this song is going and I did when I pushed play

It turns out he’s the father of a young woman, Lily, who has just moved into a new home with her husband Paul. She’s already behind on her exams, and this is only gonna push her further back. It’s also causing a strain on her relationship, considering there was bad blood between Paul and the father. Indeed, we have a kind of bait and switch here as we focus more on paul now, who starts having visions. Visions of the white Lilly possessed, and strange things happening

Out of nowhere, a mysterious man drops off a package for Lilly, it’s a recording from her dead father promising that he’ll come back for her.

Paul thinks he’s going crazy, and gets pissed at his shrink that he won’t prescribe him anything. The doctor is convinced that it’s all in his head and that everything was OK. Nevertheless Paul finds himself sinking into madness, the more he feels as if his father-in-law to haunt him.

It doesn’t help Lily’s teacher has the hots for her and is slowly trying to move in on her. It all culminates into a violent confrontation between Paul, now fully crazy and everyone else as he siezes the urn with the father‘s ashes and runs away, plunging his entire life into an unraveled mess.
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It’s a very personal haunting, a very personal madness. I keep using both words because even by the time I hit the end of this movie, I’m not entirely certain what happened. I’m not sure if Paul was crazy, possessed perhaps, or genuinely being haunted and tormented by a ghost. Same goes true for the wife Lily. It’s not nearly as pronounced with her, for most of the film she’s just trying to cope, but once in a while we see something crack.
Ultimately though, the film is slow and that combined with it’s ambiguous nature, is a bit of a turn off for me. I’d like to have more answers at the end, and the entire movie plays like a CW show… brief moments of action punctuated by long stretches of attractive people talking about their feelings and hallways. It almost feels padded in this way, and this particular subject matter might’ve been better served in a short film that could’ve better made use of what is a thin plot. This one probably would’ve been a pass if it weren’t part of a set like this. However this sort of collection is exactly work in the midst of. A strange curated collection.


Kill Baby Kill!

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indexAs Kill Baby Kill starts, I have no idea what’s going on, a young woman running out of a gothic environment and somebody getting skewered while we get little girl laughing in the background… Even if this wasn’t a bava film, I’d pretty much be on board from this point.

A doctor arrives in a desolate patch of Italian wilderness, surrounded by gorgeous ruins. In the distance people carry the coffin to its final destination as a doctor finds the local pub to meet up with the local inspector so he can perform the duties of coroner.

It’s a superstitious village, and the inspector suspects a murder, but the investigation is going to be an uphill battle.

And autopsy determines that a coin had been inserted into the dead girls heart, it follows local legend about those who die vilently. Still, it doesn’t actually help them figure out whether it’s murder or suicide.

On his way home, the doctor is attacked by two gravediggers who object to the exclamation. The assult is stopped by a mysterious woman who vanishes as suddenly she appeared, leaving the doctor weary and broken to stumble into the inn he is staying at.

Elsewhere, the mysterious woman performs a rite on a young girl, lashing her so death will not touch her. She declares to the doctor that the entire town is under a curse. It index1certainly looks like it, with the foggy ruins, and atmospheric cemeteries. She directs him to the third household to discover his answers.

The house is old and sprawling in empty, covered by cobwebs. He finds a cranky old woman who demands he leave, as well as a ghostly child and bouncing balls floating in the halls. Meanwhile, his assistant is haunted by nightmares and visitations of a creepy doll. Across the street, the bell tolls in the abandoned Church and the assistant is convinced that the devil is here. They’re all bad portends, because the curse of the town is anyone who sees the dead little girl is the next to die, if they’re not buried immediately, the rise like a zombie.

Very much a “kill the outsider” kind of film, as a town is being supernaturally punished for it’s one hidden secret, much like Children of the Corn or the Wicker Man. There’s an undertone of dread and black magic that pervades and feeds right into the highly atmospheric visual style that Mario Bava infuses the film with. It’s worth a watch if for no other reason than just to lose yourself in the lush visuals, and immerse yourself in this dark ghost story.

The Devil’s Partner

boxevilindexIt might be easy to mistake the Devil’s Partner for a redneck, hillbilly film. You got an old mountain man bringing out a sheep in the wilderness, but then we get a good look at the arcane document that he is writing in its blood and see a hand reach over to help him and my faith in the occult thriller is restored.

Our credits go over a bus on the road headed to the flats, and a lone passenger getting off in a rumled suit to pop in to the local café. He’s way out of place in the small town restaurant. And he announces he’s looking for his uncle, the place clears out And the cops show up.

They suspect foul play in his death, he wasn’t very liked in the community.
As our hero Nick inspects the spell written on the floor, the dog mauls the local mechanic Dave, coincidentally opening up a job for Nick so he can stay in town. He takes employment at local garage, catching the eye of the girl who runs the local restaurant. The real horror here though, is that he’s wearing a bowtie in the shop! Also he’s picking up the local drunk for more arcane rituals. He gets trampled by a rabid horse.

It’s really not good to be an animal in this movie.

index2After discovering the body of the dead drunk,the local sheriff pops over to the shack Nick has been staying in, discovers the spell written underneath the rug, while his Yorkie sidekick digs up a goat bone on the side of the building. The sheriff starts to think there’s more going on here than meets the eye, and contrives a way to trick Nick into revealing himself.

Despite being a B feature from 1961, The Devil’s Partner is actually a pretty solid flick. It would be perfect horror host fodder, and I’d be completely content to stick around at a drive-in to watch this after the main feature. It’s flooding around YouTube and has popped up in several collections, it might just be worth your time.


19 Doors

boxevilindex19 Doors starts off with a screen writer meeting with her producer. He’s found her a location for thier next film, an old rooming house above his friends local bar, and it’s perfect for a horror movie. It’s a good efficient preamble and leads into some unique looking credits. Not too flashy not over the top, not the same animation I’ve seen a hundred times befre. That leaves me with a good feeling about this movie despite the shot-on-video resolution.

After scouting a location, the writer locks herself up in a hotel room, and it’s spooky enough to drive her out of her room to go explore some of the rest of the place. She starts to have visions of the place’s brothel history. Ghostly children wander up here and that’s around the time she breaks out the Oujia board.

She brings up a cop, she brings up a priest, but the visions keep coming every time she’s alone, and when the priest comes to bless the building, black cloaked entities command him to leave. The priest suggests about time the writer move out.. before the haunting turns into a possession
The thing about 19 doors  is that it’s just so flat. They try with the lighting, but overcompensate, creating, instead of mood, just a harsh contrast. The music is canned, and none of the scares actually frighten and it just fails to be affective. Good story, with some good ideas, good gags, good characters. I bet this was a great script. However the resulting film is just so bland that instead of creeping you out, it ends up just being boring. Sadly, this one’s not worth your time.

Oceans Eight

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I recently caught Ocean‘s Eight on cable, and I have some thoughts.

It’s been years since I saw it… I caught it when it was originally in the theater, and just wasn’t impressed. It’s not that it was terrible, it’s just that it wasn’t great. I do think that it suffers from the whole “doing a girl version of this film”, conceit that was already getting played out when this premiered. But I think there’s more to it than just that.

I enjoy a lot of the supporting characters. Awkwafina is actually fairly good here. It shows that she’s best when you give her a script. In her own show, she pushes the obnoxiousness so far that she becomes unlikable. This script knows exactly what to do with her, and rains her in just enough that it’s quirky without going over the edge to ugly.

I’m a huge fan of Rihanna in this film. She comes off real harsh at first, and then you just fall in love with her. This woman is channeling the style and bohemian grace of Lisa Bonet, and by the end of the film she was very possibly my favorite character. Likewise, Helen Bonham Carter has A fun quirky role here that she actually gets to sink her teeth into. I love that they’re acknowledging age, but still giving her so much vitality. The 80s Madonna look that she’s got going on just adds to everything in her performance, and she knows when to be attentive, want to be awkward, and want to run with the scene. It’s a brilliant performance, and great to see her outside of Tim Burton‘s world.

For my money though, one of the most interesting transformations here is Anne Hathaway. I’ve enjoyed Hathaway in a lot of her roles growing up, all the way back to the Princess Diaries. At times she gets too much credit, and at other times not enough. It’s been a weird career, and someone really needs to feed the poor girl a sandwich. In between movies she frequently seems very pale into thin. Watching her in this self-centered, almost oblivious role is interesting. It almost feels like this is the culmination of her character from the Devil wears Prada. As if this is who she could’ve ultimately become had she stayed in Miranda Priestly‘s thrall, and it’s a fascinating mixture of high society with touches of girl Next door frankness. It’s a genuinely good role for Hathaway, and one of the better things that I’ve seen her do since the Devil wears Prada.

On the other hand we have Mindy Kaling and Sarah Paulson who are both really just doing their thing, blandly through the whole film. They’re good actresses, but they both feel like they’re not sure why they’re here. They each have one moment, one purpose, and then sleepwalk through the rest of the film.

They’re not the only ones sleepwalking, Sandra Bullock also doesn’t quite seem to understand how to play a role like this. She’s the lead, she’s the star, but at the same time she’s playing a bit of a villain. Bullock is excellent at what she does, but what she does is the relatable female lead… And this is more of an aloof role where she doesn’t seem entirely comfortable. As a result, she wanders through the movie, aimless and unsure.

The core of the Ocean films, has always been the easy back-and-forth between George Clooney and Brad Pitt. They try and replicate this with Bullock and Cate Blanchett, but Bullocks not sure what to do here, and Blanchett is simply not up for the task. She’s tough as nails and hard as diamond, with a handsome beauty that seems out of place in this role. The two are never convincing in the buddy comedy trope and every time that they’re on screen together, I find myself waiting for something else to happen… Eager to get to the next scene.

The disappointing thing here, is that this is a good idea. It’s a good concept with an A-list cast, but at the same time it’s trying very hard to be in Ocean’s Eleven movie. I think that ultimately does it a disservice. I love that they address why they’re creating a team of female con artists… “Men get noticed, and women don’t.” Whether you agree with that statement or not, with that one line I am ready to buy into the conceit and I am totally on board. It makes sense and it liberates it from the unintentionally sexist attempts at predominantly female casts like Ghostbusters or Supergirl. Nevertheless, shoehorning this in with clumsy cameos by Elliott Gould’s  Reuben and Shabo Qin’s Yen feels almost as forced as the scenes taking place at Danny Oceans grave. It also kicks the story off with a real drag, knowing that Ocean is dead… and so is the series. After all, these sort of sidequels never have a chance to become franchises themselves… especially when they’re as gimmicky as this. No, I think Ocean’s Eight would’ve been better served as an original story. And that’s really why it fails to satisfy for me.

On the other hand, it’s certainly better than ocean’s 12!


Hack!

Movie bannerindexFormer Wonder Years star (and current Hallmark/Lifetime movie darling) Danica McKellar stars in Hack as a bookworm who just kind of fades in to the background of her local college. It makes her perfect as an envoy for a pair of psychopathic fans who use her to lure a class of film students out of their private island under the guise of  an extra credit project. Once there, the film students, who are all pretty much horror stereotypes are slaughtered one by one until we come up to an ending that will leave you shaking your head.

In a lot of ways, hack is a very meta film. However it doesn’t wear it’s heart on its sleeve, and it still manages to take it self seriously enough that you never feel like it’s about to develop into parody… though it skirts the edge and comes danger close a few times.

In the end, Hack is a great celebration of horror tropes and more than a little bit of bloody fun.


The Hospital

Movie bannerindexAs a general rule, I like Jim O’Rear, he’s creepy and off kilter and a generaly fun guy. When I got this copy of The Hospital I was really hoping for a creepy haunted hospital story. The cover gives me a similar vibe as what I get from films like Grave Encounters or Autopsy, and I was really hoping for more of that.

It’s a similar set up, we’ve got a hospital in the middle of nowhere that has a bad reputation and a team of paranormal investigators go to check it out. There’s no ghosts at this place though, however there are a couple of psychopaths that have taken up residency there and One by one pick up the paranormal investigators, murdering and raping them.

It’s a solid enough premise, but unfortunately, rape is one of my triggers… I don’t dig films like I Spit on Your Grave or Thriller. That immediately invalidates this one for me, especially since it’s so prominent and frequent, rape over gore is never a appetizing formula for me. Skip this one and it’s sequel The Hospital 2.


Taffin

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imagesI’m having a kind of hard time placing Taffin, trying to figure out what kind of film this is. If you were to look at the cover, it’s designed to look like a Bond film, a spy epic… But the truth is this isn’t even an action film.

Pierce Bronson is Taffin, A professional strong arm who collects debts and general ne’er-do-well, the black sheep of a small Irish town.

When a large company brings in a crew to erect a chemical plant, Taffin is convinced to help oppose them, first convincing them to reroute the road access from the town soccer field through an empty field, then ultimately fighting back against the construction of the plant itself as the companies brutal enforcers attempt to wipe out any opposition.
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It’s equal parts drama and detective story, there’s thriller aspects and action aspects all set against the backdrop of the small Irish village. It feels like a PBS film… With more swearing. It’s quite good, although extremely 80s in its execution. But if you’re browsing, it’s a great time capsule of his bad boy period.


Underground Entertainment : The Movie

Movie banner indexI never actually got to see Underground Entertainment when it was still in his incarnation as a television show, which makes me incredibly glad that Underground Entertainment : the movie exists.

This documentary chronicles the exploits of a couple of lunatic actor and filmmakers as they make a crazy B-movie based cable show, complete with clips and cameos. It shows how they managed to get exposure in the convention scene but most of all it’s just a marvelous slice of life. It captures that era of the 90s in genre and reminds me a lot of what it was like to live in that period.

Early days for Jim O’Rear, but you can tell this is someone who loves the genre and loves being a part of it and much of this show was his love letter to all things B-movie and psychotronic.

If you’re a fan of documentaries or of the underground horror scene in the 90s, this is one of those movies that you’re going to just sink right into and feel right at home. I know I did, that’s why It’s a high recommend.


The Tailor of Panama

Movie bannerindexThe Tailor of Panama much wants to exploit the James Bond image of Pierce Brosnan. We open at MI6 where Brosnan, a disgraced agent is being retired to Panama.

I do wish these credits weren’t in comic sans. There’s some great names here, Jamie Lee Curtis, Geoffrey Rush, even Jon Pilato… But all that expensive talent looks cheap when written up in Comic Sans! Geoffrey Rush is the titular Tailor of Panama, married to Curtis and very much the subject of Brosnan’s attentions. Rush is actually an old con who learned tailoring in prison and fled to Panama start a new life. Unfortunately he’s in debt and all this knowledge makes him prime material for Brosnan to be able to leverage. It’s actually a really fun role for Rush, a nervous gentleman, in thrall to Brosnan’s bully, as he helps us make connections into the intrigue of the area imagessurrounding a back channel sale of the Panama canal.

Brosnan’s got an interesting character this time around, he feels like a grizzled old New York detective, smoking and blunt, but it’s really Geoffrey Rush’s movie. He gives a fascinating preformance, and even though I’ve seen him in such different and varying roles before, I never doubt him.

The entire plot keeps you on your toes, wondering what is real and what is not, culminating in and clever ending that totally manages to satisfy. Despite being a little on the long side, the film is still a good recommend, but pick a night that you are committed to watching this – it’s not background noise or for casual viewing.


Slaughter

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indexSlaughter starts out with cringe inducing country music and flashes of a girl tied by her hands and feet, being drug somewhere… We know don’t where.

My first reaction is “is this another redneck cannibal movie? Because I feel like I just saw this in the other box set”

We cut to a couple of young women driving into the city, so I’m hoping  that it’s not exactly a backwoods Hillbilly horror.

Our ingenue is starting over a new apartment, running away from an abusive relationship – she almost immediately makes new friend in the city invites round to her country home. The farm turns into a convenient hiding place when the ex-boyfriend tracked her down.

The new roommate and friend is little bit of a party girl and man eater. But dire things happen to her hookups. Pigs At the farm are hungry. We only get glimpses of the farms patriarch – father and daughter don’t get along, and our ingenue is a bit of an interloper. The situation feels almost as dangerous as the one she is leaving. Dangerous secrets lay hidden behind metal doors in the barn, building she is forbidden to enter, but that she cannot resist.

There is a greater story about abuse here that’s hidden in the background – it’s terrible and really pushes this more towards the “message movie” style than the allegory I think it’s meant to be. You can see by the torture porn in the third act and the mild twist at the end that this really wants to be a horror film… or at least a different kind of film than what it is.

The third act drags – that’s saying something considering there’s so much action, but they’re trying to go to many different directions at once and a good chunk of this probably should’ve happened in the second act leaving the very most frightening parts for the finale.

The uneven tone in Slaughter makes me unlikely to revisit this film, but it’s not bad. There is a good story in here somewhere, but I think needed to be better thought out.


Death Wish introduction

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7f_deathwishoriginalvsremake00I remember catching a lot of these on UHF channel 43 during a lot of nights when I was about jr. high age. My reaction was “It’s the Punisher!”. Maybe the Punisher in plainclothes. The 70’s look probably turned me off a bit and I wasn’t completely sold on Bronson as an action star (Give me a break. I was a kid). I remember kind of liking them, but not being particularly obsessed.

Because I remember them fondly, but not fervently, I wasn’t bothered when the remake was announced. Quite frankly, it’s been a LONG time since we had any Death Wish. Bronson is dead and these were never high art to begin with. Being one step above the grindhouse fare, Eli Roth sounded like a good choice and all around it seems like it’s time for me to dive into this series again, moreover it’s time for me to exlore the source material. I’m interested in what I’ll find and I think I’ll start off with the remake so I can go in unbiased. See you soon!

 


Black Eagle

forgotten bannerMV5BMjA1MDUyMzkyNF5BMl5BanBnXkFtZTcwNzE3NTEyMQ@@._V1_SY317_CR6,0,214,317_AL_It’s always weird to see VanDamme as the bad guy. Even in the Expendables, it just didn’t feal quite right that he was the villian.

I encountered the trailer for this film in front of another movie I was watching and was intrigued enough to seek it out (after all, isn’t that what trailers are for?).

Here’s what IMDB has to say about it:

One of the US Air Force’s most modern tactical aircraft, an F-100 with a new laser guidance system, crashes into the sea near Malta – a region where the Soviet forces are highly present, too. The CIA immediately sends out their best secret agent, Ken Tami, to salvage the system before it falls into enemy hands. To ensure his loyalty, they bring his two young sons to a nearby hotel on the island. Ken Tami’s tough opponent is KGB agent Andrei.

Okay, seriously, even this is too much description for this film. There’s really no plot here, just oone fight scene after another, painted against a backdrop that must have seemed timly at the moment, but now dates the film and locks it in a specific period.

It’s not a bad film, just a brainless one. If you’re in the mood for high kicks and have to complete you Van Damme collection, check it out.

 


Spies, Lies, and Naked Thighs

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51VkxSLZ8CLI’ve always been a huge Night Court fan. IT was enough of an influence that I followed Harry Anderson over to Dave’s World, and sought out his early appearances, particuarly on Cheers.

I discovered this movie on the rack at a Dollar store and had never heard of it. But still, Harry Anderson and Ed Begly jr, directed by the guy who did the Mupper Movie, I’m in.

a short synopsis from IMBD;

In this spoof of spy films, Alan, a U.N. translator, and his kindergarten teacher wife, Beverly, get roped into helping foil a presidential assassination plot by an unlikely G-man-who just so happens to look like Alan’s old college buddy, Freddie. But before “Freddie” can finger the real hired-gun-a cold-hearted killer with a penchant for using kitchen tools to do the deed-he, Alan, and Beverly must first rule out some strange and unusual suspects!

How did this go wrong?

I think the fundamental disappointment here is that Harry is out of his element. Anderson is funniest with his particular type of schtick. It dosen’t have to involve magic, but he does had a specific brand of humor and this isn’t it, it feels like they tried too hard to shoehorn him into a role he wasn’t right for.

To be fair, Begly gives an uninspired preformance as well so Anderson has nothing to really play off of, but the entire thing just feels flat and drags on too long.

With only a couple of cute set pieces, this one is actually a pass. You can find the best bits on Youtube, but even that may be too much trouble…


Outland

forgotten bannerThere’s this fascinating period in Connery’s career where he was doing all sorts of interesting off beat movies to break away from his James Bond persona.

Imdb’s plot synopsis : In the distant future, a police marshal stationed at a remote mining colony on the Jupiter moon of Io uncovers a drug-smuggling conspiracy, and gets no help from the populace when he later finds himself marked for murder.

This one was another video rental store staple, but really I’d love to see this on the big screen. The effects are surprisingly good, riding the coattails of the Star Wars boom while still keeping some depth. It’s hard to create real intrigue in Sci-Fi, the technology frequently takes center stage and robs the plot of time and development, but not here. this is much more a story about people, and it feels like one of those films that could only have been made in the 80’s

I love this, and if you can get your hands on it, this movie is definitely a buy.


Safehouse

forgotten bannerMV5BMTc1ODY2MDIzNl5BMl5BanBnXkFtZTcwMjA3MDgxMQ@@._V1_SY317_CR5,0,214,317_AL_One of the things that really appeals to me about this movie is the rental store visibility. This was one of those movies that was on the shelf at every video rental store in the 90’s, in an attempt to capitalize on the popularity of Patrick Stewart, which was at it’s peak.

From IMDB: A psychological thriller; Mace Sowell, an ex-intelligence operative and whose past government activities catches up with him, faces his own mortality, in the shape of the onset of Alzheimer’s disease. Holding the electronic key to secret information which implicates a Presidential front-runner, Mace struggles for his life while battling the debilitating effects of the disease.

Despite over the top preformances, it manages to draw you in frequently and there’s mroe than a few times you wonders if He’s just a paranoid or if someone is truly trying to get him.

It’s greatest downfall is the twist a the end which feels tacked on, and it’s lack of rewatchability (ironically, this played repeatedly on Showtime….). There’s a reason this was a rental title.

If you haven’t seen it, give it a try. If you have, check out this compilation which is about all you need to remember it!


Rat Race

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Ever play seven degrees of Kevin Bacon? Or just plain seven degrees of seperation? The idea is everyone in Hollywood is seperated by seven people or less.

This movie is your secret weapon for that game.

Seriously, look at the cast list here; Seth Green, Whoopie Goldberg, Breckin Meyer, Cuba Gooding Jr, Jon Lovitz, Kathy Najimy, John Cleese, Rowan Atkinson, Wayne Knight…yeah I know a lot of these are second string, but that’s what makes this film so brilliant. Everyone gets something to do, everyone gets a chance to shine, it’s a true ensemble piece, and if you’ve never appreciated one of these actors before, this film will shed new light on thier talent.

From Imdb; Donald P. Sinclair has placed six separate gold coins in different slot machines in his casino. The lucky six who find these coins discover an opportunity of a lifetime: The chance to own $2 million. With the money locked up in a locker in New Mexico, these six contestants must now race each other, to be the first to the cash. There are no rules in place and everything that could possibly happen, does. Behind the scenes, Sinclair’s associates are placing their bets.

A good description, and a perfect setting to play to each comedians strengths while crafting a cohesive story. I laugh through this entire movie every time.

For some reaon, it failed to find an audience so you can still pick this up cheap, and I highly recommend that you do.


alyas batman en robin

fff

untitledI wanted to do two of these this month so I could squeeze this post in before the years end. This is just a bizarre film for me, it’s the Filipino Batman.

It’s obviously based on the 60’s show, but it was made in 1991 to try and ride the coattails of the Burton movie…except someone didn’t get the memo that Batman wasn’t supposed to be funny anymore….

Check it out if you’re a fan of the Adam West Batman. The villains in particular are really well done in that same goofy way.

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Superargo

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I thought I knew what I was in for one Superargo came up. I mean I’ve seen Santo movies and I’m not that unfamiliar with the Luchadores,  but this was something altogether different.  Perhaps it’s the Italian sensibility, because Superargo is very much more a superhero then most of the traditional Mexican wrestlers out there, with psychic powers that we see him training and honing throughout the course of the movie.

The action is actually quite passable really, the whole thing feels a lot like a cross between the Luchadore films and the Adam West Batman television show. it’s still campy and silly but it always takes itself seriously never falling into intentional wackiness.

The Costume is surprisingly not bad as well, it’s kind of reminiscent of the robin costume when they changed it into black-and-red,with a spectacular cowl that merges into a kind of black leather mask in a huge gold belt buckle. As silly that sounds it works. It’s hard to get through though, it’s really was exactly the sort of thing that you’d expect to see on Saturday afternoons with your local movie host and I think that’s really where it belongs, at conventions at retro TV festivals things like that. I do recommend it, just know what you get into.


Love and bullets

forgotten bannerlove_and_bullets_poster_01Love and bullets starts off with beautiful vistas stunning landscapes and sweet music that makes it feel like a lifetime film. I’m not sure what to think of that, and Switzerland seems an odd setting for Charles Bronson movie, fortunately we switch right towards Charles Bronson going in to look at corpse and I think we’re back on track.
Love and bullets is really the epitome of Charles Bronson film. He’s playing a cop he’s using guns and protecting a gangsters moll from the assassins that the gangsters sent after her to keep her from testifying. Bronson is very much playing Bronson and looks extremely good at 57 years of age here.
When the blonde bombshell is forced to remove her wig and make-up it really is a stunning difference. We sometimes forget just how big a difference that makes in an image, and how manufactured so many of actresses are. Her line when presenting herself to Charles Bronson is priceless “Yeah I should’ve known you’d like this. you’re used to looking at dead people.”
The film is very Bronson and very 70s. It reminds me a lot of the kind of movies they used toplay late at night on channel 43. Perfect thing to watch while you’re doing something else.


Cyborg cop 2

forgotten bannerMOV_5399be15_b Cyborg cop two, seriously?

Who looked at the movie cyborg cop, and decided maybe that thing really needs a sequel! Now to be fair it wouldn’t surprise me if these films were shot back to back, and the robotic lab set up again using that same bare black stage with some rented tech pieces kind of points towards that.

From IMDB : A fancy, loner cop loses his partner to a crazed terrorist during a hostage rescue. He settles for the terrorist going to Death Row in jail. What Jack doesn’t know is that the terrorist will be taken and turned into a cyborg for the “Anti-Terrorist Group”. When the Cyborg “Spartacus” wakes up accidentally, he kills the scientists and their guests, then goes to set things up for a Cyborg Empire. Only Jack and a few friends know how to stop him.  

It’s not actually that bad and will be, certainly a step up from CyberCop and that’s a big surprise. The action is actually a bit better. Fights are really well choreographed and the pace doesn’t lag, it passes the watch test without me ever feeling bored, something that I can’t say about the first film. We start off with a great set piece – bad guys versus good guys guns blazing and I watch the cop from the previous film arriving to take them all out with high kick and some leather jacket martial arts. The bad guy from this opening scene will become our villain for the film, but yeah, this one wants to be a little bit more terminator that it does universal soldier. The costumes haven’t gotten any better, in fact they’re a little worse. We saw the same rubbery cyborg suits but the design…who decided to put a front grill on the abs? and these guys are wearing these army clothes that would make Rambo cringe saying “okay guys is just a little bit too much!”.  We see way more of the cyborgs here though, and the fact is they seem to be trying to do more with the concept of adding attachments and cameras and flamethrowers and fun stuff like that.61889094

It’s still great fun film and still very much a time for the early 90s . I found it on YouTube and that’s a great place to watch it. if you see it in the bargain bins at buybacks or record exchange definitely Grab it. As action films go, it’s not a bad one. May be fun to watch back to back with the first…by the way, you know there is one more of these don’t you?


Shredder Orpheus

forgotten bannerMV5BMjE1OTE3MTUyOV5BMl5BanBnXkFtZTgwOTc0Mzc0MTE@._V1_SX214_AL_I really wanted like Shredder Orpheus, man I really wanted to like this. I first encountered this film while watching a compilation of film previews. The trailer and indeed the poster look like it’s going to be an interesting 90s teen film, like hackers or Pump up the volume. That with a near future dystopia, much like
Max Headroom and that’s what I was expecting. Skater town, set in the future, more than anything. I expected the whole story Orpheus thing to be kind of secondary, a mere framework .

What I got was something very different. This is very much a music video kind of film. The skating almost seems tagged on…if I didn’t know better I’d say the script went to a couple revisions and at some point towards the end somebody said “You know what? My kids say this skateboard thing at school is really popular! why don’t we slip skating into this movie?”.  It really is just slapped in there. You could pull out all the skateboard shots and we really wouldn’t lose anything. It’s all second unit stuff and compilations and inserts.

The only element that doesn’t seem like an afterthought is the fact that Orpheus uses a hqdefault7special skateboard to enter the building at the very end, but even those sequences are very standalone.

Then there’s the random Basketball bits…basketball doesn’t feature too heavily in it but also feels slipped in to make a marketable product.

Let’s see what IMDB has to say :Skateboarder named Orpheus and friends go to Hell to stop television signals that are brainwashing America.

Hmmm. That’s not really helpful at all is it?

The Orpheus story here is not subtle. It’s blunt and flat out told and doesn’t translate well into this context. It’s just so heavy-handed and so clumsily crafted that it makes it unenjoyable. 27918_Sep2013_ctek_ImageSuites_shredderorpheus_613x463The other big flaw here is the production. This looks like it was shot on tape and then edited between two VCRs. It’s just really bad. I don’t mind production quality sometimes – it works really well a lot of horror films, but this is not a horror film, this is sci-fi. This is a prestige piece… sci-fi derivative based on mythology with a conscience and some sort of sci-fi message… and sadly the poor production values really distracts from all of it dragging you down to a sad level.

Like I said earlier, that this is more a music film, more of a rock opera and we get several performances from Orpheus.
I’m a little disappointed he doesn’t play guitar. I tend to think that a good wailing guitar solo would have lent more credibility to the production than what we actually get –  some weird harp electric thingy. It’s hard to describe. It’s kind of like he’s holding a picture frame with a white background and it makes special effects distortion and sounds  with soundwaves you can visibly see.

I found this to be a real disappointment, and like I said I really really wanted to like this. Done in May 1990it felt too much like a 70s experimental art film, and that’s just not what I wanted.

perhaps I would like this better if I rewatchd it and after a while  I think this will be due for that,where I know what I’m getting into…

It’s rough to find but if you run into it at the salvation army or an old video tapes store it may be worth picking up, but beware. This is not a great film it’s really only for the bravest souls who love the trashiest of films.