Wednesday, January 30, 2008

The Triggerman (1997)

What's the market for this kind of picture? I was hoping for a bottom of the barrell action film, something along the lines of bad Jeff Speakman or Van Damme. This is far worse. Seriously, who would watch this? Where would one even find it? I can say, quite confidently, that it never aired on Television (although, if basic cable ever produces a hardcore sex channel, this is the kind of thing that would air during the day. You know, so the kids can watch). I can't imagine any video store ever stocking this. I borrowed one of five copies in circulation from my co-worker, Steve. He bought it for a dollar.

Warning. If you ever have the opportunity to watch a film put out by 'Wildcat Pictures' just walk the other way. Or, burn out your eyes and blow out your ear drums. To listen to this would be almost as bad as watching it. I watched this thing on VHS (remember those?). It's not available on DVD. Never has been. Never will be.

Before getting into the plot, a quick note on the video quality. It's terrible. The director (and creator of 'Wildcat Pictures') Mark Gordon honed his skills as the cinematographer of such films as Alice and Viril and Crystal Force 2. By "honed his skills" I meant "jacked off" because the guy didn't learn a damned thing. This picture is amateurish in every way imaginable. The lighting is awful. The transitions between scenes are terrible. I want to say that Mark Gordon doesn't know how to direct actors, but that would imply that he actually hired, you know, actors.

Here's the plot: Disgraced FBI agent Dexter (Jonathan Aube) has left the Bureau to become a hitman. He's hired by a mob boss (some guy) to kill a rival mob boss (some fat greasy italian looking guy playing a russian). Unfortunately, Dex botches up the hit when a hooker named Layla (Diana Cuevas) shows up. The russian mob boss is taken out, but unfortunately, the nephew of the other mob boss (the one that ordered the hit) ends up in a hospital with "tubes in and out of every orifice". Now, the other mob boss wants Layla dead and orders Dex to off her. Unfortunately, Dex thought he said to get off on her. Meanwhile, Dex's crooked old partner (Corbin Timbrook) with the FBI also wants Layla dead since she's extorting an FBI-friendly senator with a sex-tape. He ALSO orders Dex to take her out, but doesn't trust him to actually do it, so he hires a government sanctioned contract killer (Ike Gingrich) to take them both out. Good hearted Dexter can't, in fact, do it. He and Layla go on the run from the mob, the FBI, and a contract killer (the likes of which the world has never seen). Dex and Layla actually spend most of the movie in a seedy hotel room where they engage in the sex act, etc.

I can see why some might confuse this with the recent No Country For Old Men. Dexter is kind of in the wrong place at the wrong time. Instead of a satchel of money, he's got a hooker named Layla. He spends some tense moments in a hotel, while a contract killer waits outside. I suppose the contract killer, named Clovis "the cleaner" Brown, would be Chigurh. He even used a tracking device, but since it was on the car, and not in Layla's bra, he had to wait until Dex and Layla came out of their room. Clovis wasn't very menacing. I would think the government could do better in finding an assassin. In one scene, while pursuing his target by car, he says to Dexter (who can't hear him because he's in another car ahead of him):

---"You may think you're getting away from me, but you ain't getting away from me."

---then, "Don't you dare go any faster or we're gonna get pulled over."

---followed by, "I got you now!"

---later, "Dammit! Where did you go?"

It's all very Chigurh-esque.

This movie has to be a joke, right? The most character development we get is Dexter sitting in a dark room and drinking tequila. When he passes out, he flashbacks to a terrific pre-title sequence where he and his former FBI partner bust up a drug deal only to steal the drugs and murder everyone, so they can sell the drugs themselves. He flashbacks to these events at least five times.

My favorite scene was a training homage between Dexter and his thirteen year old Asian friend. Dexter punches his friend's fists while blindfolded on the beach as My Tan (his actual name) says "Focus your energy" over and over. This is worse than Die You Zombie Bastards. The less said about the "score" the better. If you've ever recorded music on your casio keyboard, you could have a job with 'Wildcat Pictures'. In one scene, Dexter is searching through his apartment scored to some somber beepity beep music when, suddenly, the hard rock kicks in as he's attacked. Immediately following the fight (I'm not even going to talk about that) the hard rock stops and returns to the somber "apartment searching" beeping score.

I'm not sure what they spent the thousand dollar budget on, but I know what they didn't spend it on. The special effects. I loved the car bomb scene, everything from the superimposed explosion to the delayed reaction of the victim. This is nothing compared to the guy thrown out of the high rise, a moment it would be hard to surpass in the history of unintentional comedy.

I liked the scenes when Dexter was trying to find Layla in L.A. (oh yeah, this takes place in L.A., not that you could tell). Knowing she's a hooker, he searches L.A.'s seedy underbelly. He draws a crude picture of her butterfly tattoo, show's it to a tattoo artist who points him to the maker, a rotund strip club proprieter named Ugly Kid Joe played by "Film Star Randal Malone" (seriously, that's how he was billed). I guess things like Psychon Invaders and Creepies 2 can be passed off as "films" these days.

A note on the gangsters. One was named Franco and his buddy was named Nero. Clearly a nod to the great Franco Nero. I like that.

There's a "car chase" scene where the picture inexplicably switches to letter boxing about midway through. This "widescreen" look lasts for about a minute and then we're back to full frame. There was no intent here. The filmmakers just fucked up and didn't know how to fix it.

If The Triggerman has a redeeming quality, it's the nudity. There is some. Now, admittedly, Layla isn't the prettiest girl around. She's a skank. After knowing Dexter for a few minutes, she offers to tend his wounds, which leads to a massage ("you're so tight") which leads to a hardcore scene with all the penetration shots removed. The sex was actually convincing, sort of. Anyway, it made me wonder why they didn't just say "fuck it, we're making a porno." They would have made a lot more money. Perhaps Aube (Dex, in case you forgot) had too much integrity similar to his character when he declared his desire to leave his hitman gig because "the cost on my soul is too great."

This was a waste of time. Mine, especially. I hope you didn't read this whole thing. Mark Gordon and company manage to give the finger to the audience, the film industry (of which they are no longer a part of) and even the cruise line industry (as Dexter and Layla plan their escape from the country, Dex says "We can't leave by normal means. We're gonna have to take a ship."

Recently, Javier Bardem thanked the Coen Brothers (upon winning the SAG award) for "using all the good takes". The point being that filmmakers, in many cases, are just as important to performance as the actors themselves. If the original print of The Triggerman still exists, let's hand it over to Scorsese. See what he can do with it. Under his watch, the line "I don't give a shit about him, but I liked that vase very much" might become poetry.

To sum up:

good=the guns looked kinda real
good=Franco Nero tribute
bad=special effects
bad=video quality
bad=fight scenes
bad=Film Star Randal Malone
bad=Steve, for lending me this

Friday, January 25, 2008

Wrong Turn (2003)

The West Virginia Division of Tourism isn't going to like this. Let's be honest here. We always suspected the state was overflowing with inbred retards looking to trap and chew up outsiders. Now we know for sure. If you must drive through the state please stay on the paved roads (if their are any) and, for the love of god, don't stop at the run down gas station manned by the toothless geezer swigging Peptol Bismol.

Of course, I'm not being serious. I'm sure West Virginia is a lovely place to visit. Yeah, I'm sure there is some inbreeding going on and some of those kids might grow up looking like Rocky Dennis, only speaking an unintelligible dialect that sounds like pigs squealing as they wave their hatchets in the air like they just don't care. Name a place in the good ol' US of A where this sort of thing doesn't happen?

Wrong Turn is the story of six twenty-somethings lost in the woods and the three retarded abominations of nature that would love to have them for dinner. It's a familiar premise which, I believe, began in 1974 with the visceral classic The Texas Chainsaw Massacre. While similar in several ways to that film, Wrong Turn bears a more striking resemblence to another seminal film, Wes Craven's The Hills Have Eyes (1977). In that one, a family out on vacation in their RV were accosted by Michael Berryman and his family of mutants in the desert hills. The film featured dog and baby peril, something I'm not very fond of. Craven was able to say something about human nature when the hunted becomes the hunter. How far would we go to protect the ones we love? Also of note, the mutants were honest to god characters such as Berryman's Pluto and the little sympathetic girl, Ruby (played by Janus Blythe, who would go on to reprise her role in the sequel where she's become a vegetarian).

Wrong Turn clearly can't measure up to that picture, but it does ok on its own, at least until the mutants show up (about ten minutes or so). Desmond Harrington (Rescue Me) plays Chris Flynn, a prospective doctor having a really bad day. Flynn, trying to get to Raleigh for an interview, makes the mistake of getting directions from the toothless gas station attendant. Out in the middle of nowhere, he crashes his car into an SUV, already immobilized by one of those mutant barbed wire road traps. In the SUV are five friends and, with the exception of Eliza Dushku (as Jessie) and Jeremy Sisto (as Scott) are completely forgettable. In particular, I liked Sisto (May) who comes across as a vastly more intelligent Kevin Dillon. Now with two immobile vehicles, four of them (Chris, Jessie, Scott, and Scott's fiance) decide to walk back to the gas station while two young pot smoking lovers stay with the vehicles. All we needed was for a character named Big Daddy to be burned in effigy and we'd have ourselves a fucking remake.

Anyway, the young couple left by the cars like to smoke cigarrettes, smoke pot, and she likes to smoke something else if you know what I mean. We can only guess what happens to them.

The rest of the film is a cat and mouse game between the three mutant retard brothers and the four remaining yuppies. There were a couple nice set pieces along the way. I liked the scene in the mutant shack. You've seen it before, I'm sure. Victims walk into home, find a bunch of car keys, etc. Girl goes to pee. Finds a blood filled tub with a hand sticking out. Mutants come home, so everyone has to hide because the back door is blocked off. It's a mandatory scene, like the one at the gas station, in this kind of picture. There's a terrific sequence in a burning watch tower, previously used to scout for forest fires, long abandoned. So, that's two things I liked. Three if you count Sisto's performance, except when he compared their plight to "that movie Deliverence".

What I didn't like were the three retarded inbred brothers, Three-Finger, Saw-Tooth, and One-Eye. At least, these are the names they were given in the credits. The only one I could tell apart from the others was the little guy who laughed and giggled his way through the whole thing. These things weren't characters. They spoke, but not in english. There were no women around, so I wondered how their kind persisted. They were simply animals, but not even the good kind. Mutant animals. How the fuck did they survive for so long? There's a scene where the non-retards stumble upon a car graveyard. These fuckers have been robbing and eating people for years. They're the only people that live within miles of that particular road where everyone seems to be disappearing. Apparently, the area is patrolled by Roscoe Picotraine and his bumbling deputies, Enis and Cletus.

For the most part, the movie is played straight which is a good thing. Stan Winston produced, so that's another good thing I think. The woods here played a similar role as the woods in his great Pumpkinhead. The gore was actually fairly restrained. We see a hatchet to the mouth, a couple arrows to the back, and one arrow to the eye. Okay, so there were a few scenes of dismemberment back at the old homestead, but mutants gotta eat too.

Do you remember the X-Files episode called "home"? The one about the three inbred brothers living in farm country with their mutant mother/wife living under the floorboards? Wrong Turn is a longer version of that episode only it takes place in hill country and there's no legless woman living under the floorboards. Again, where are the mutant women in this picture?

If you feel the need to watch a picture from the "killer mutant family" genre, let me suggest The Hills Have Eyes remake. It's shocking. It's scary. It's brutal. The characterizations are pretty terrific. Also, Jupiter and Pluto and company have a legitimate excuse for looking like the kid from Mask. They didn't fuck their sister/mother/daughter. No. Their home was irradiated back in the early 1950s as the government conducted Nuclear bomb testing in Nevada. WE made them that way. Inbreeding is SO passe.

Saturday, January 19, 2008

Undead Or Alive (2007)

Damn, these guys beat me to the punch. I've been kicking the idea of a zombie western around for a while now. My picture would center around your standard "old west" town infected by your run of the mill outer space zombie plague. It would feature typical characters from western lore; saloon keeper, whores, lawmen, a preacher, a doctor, etc. In addition, it would also feature two legends of the west, Pat Garrett and Billy the Kid. Finally, we'd learn how their story really comes to an end. I've already pictured the final confrontation between Garrett and zombie Billy, scored to Dylan's "Knockin on Heaven's Door" (likely covered by some unknown band). It would have been glorious and, I must add, played COMPLETELY straight. Perhaps, after a few years have passed, and the taste from Undead Or Alive has been warshed away, I might git back to it.

I'm sorry if I made this thing sound terrible. It's not. Really. Ball cancer is terrible. Undead Or Alive is just not what I wanted out of the first Zombie Western. First of all, it stars Chris Kattan (Corky Romano). It's pedigree isn't all bad I suppose. The writer and director, Glasgo Phillips, was a staff writer on South Park. Navi Rawat (as Sue the Apache) was in Feast. Brian Posehn (The Sarah Silverman Show) gives the film's best performance. Too bad he was a zombie the entire running time. The opening credits were nice, ripping off The Good, The Bad, and the Ugly by being shot off the screen. Too bad Morricone didn't provide the music, which was consistently bad in this thing. It ranged from early 90s adult contemporary (think Richard Marx) to cow-punk (think Meat Puppets, but only if they sucked).

I'm beginning to hate opening crawls, especially in comedy/horror films. This things got a doozy. It goes on and on about Geronimo who as "the most legendary defender of Native American Sovereignty" put a curse on all white people before he died. This was known as "white man's curse". The crawl is interrupted once, with the line "don't worry. the point where you have to read is almost over." It's gets funnier when, later in the film, zombies are referred to as "Geronimos" or, even better, "Geronimonsters". Of course they wouldn't be zombies, since they didn't exist yet.

The pre-title sequence, was my favorite scene since it involved my favorite character, Ben (Posehn). He's already a geronimonster at this point, but his family just think he's drunk. Again. Stumbling around, kicking at a chicken just like he always does until he bites the chicken's head off (which of course, drops to the ground and runs around. headless. haha).

The main players are Luke Bud (Corky Romano) and outlaw James Denton (Desperate Housewives) as Elmer. They're introduced to each other after sharing a jail cell. In the adjacent cell is Ben, taken in for sucking out his families brains through a straw. The Sheriff is the evil type played by Matt Besser (Upright Citizen's Brigade). He's provided some choice lines such as "say another word and I'm gonna shoot that jaw off your face. Then I'm gonna take a shit in your chin hole." Clearly, my second favorite character. His deputy is fittingly named Cletus and of course falls asleep when he's supposed to be watching the prisoners. Jailbreak ensues. Luke and Elmer make off with some money. Cletus and the Sherriff are bitten by Ben. In a funny scene, Ben is hanged for his crimes and we get to see what happens when you lynch a zombie (sort of). The Sheriff forms a posse to go after Luke and Elmer. That Posse soon becomes a zombie posse. Yada Yada Yada.

It may be a zombie-ridden Old West, but we've still seen most of this before. Navi Rawat then shows up as Geronimo's niece Sue and joins forces with Luke and Elmer. While I thought she was fun in Feast, she was out of her league in this one. She just didn't seem that into it. Nor did she show us her tits. In fact, the only tits we see in the whole danged thing are gernonimonster tits. Still, Rawat's appearence, does lead to a few funny exchanges between Luke and Elmer:

Luke: Do you think she likes me?
Elmer: I don't know. You never can tell with an indian.
Luke: Heck, I can't even tell with real people.

One thing I give the picture credit for is not going all CGI on their effects. As far as I could tell, with the exception of the headless chicken, everything was practical. Real makeup. Real decapitated heads. Well, not REAL heads, but real dummy heads. There's an amusing scene when our heroes herd a bunch of zombies like cattle. I liked the bond between Luke and his horse, Frisky. He even has a locket with both of their pictures, facing one another. Predictably, Frisky doesn't make it through the entire picture. Tragic scene, undercut by Elmer later, inadvertantly, using Frisky's leg to pack a cannon.

I'll be honest here. This thing reminded me of Almost Heroes. Remember that compulsively watchable film starring Chris Farley and Matthew Perry as explorers competing with Lewis & Clark? This has a similar tone and look. Which is to say, not really funny and pretty poorly shot. Yet, I still can't stop watching. If I'm flipping channels and come across Almost Heroes, I'm leaving that thing on until the end or at least the next commercial. The only difference is that this picture's got zombies and Chris Kattan, instead of Farley. And, I guess Denton instead of Perry. Also, Rawat instead of that other girl.

I liked a scene when Elmer got into an argument with Sue about white people and their contributions to Native American culture. "Before (white people) got here you was just a bunch of savages in diapers dragging your shit around with sticks and blankets." You know, I never thought about it like that. It made me completely forget Bury My Heart At Wounded Knee.

Conveniently, Sue is periodically remembering various aspects of her Uncle Gernoimo's curse. First, Gernonimonsters can track by scent. Later, she remembers that they never give up on their prey. Later still, she recalls a cure. You have to eat the living flesh of the medicine man who made the curse, but that doesn't help because he's long dead. Or, is there another way around this problem? The movie provides this answer in a wicked twist, an ACTUAL laugh inducing moment. Can you figure it out?

Undead or Alive is a diversion. I'll leave it at that. It caused me to laugh out loud maybe three of four times, which is more than I can say about most films. Towards the end, when death seems iminent and Corky turns to Sue and says "I want to have your half breed babies" I blew some soda out of my nose. It's almost worth it for that scene alone. The final scene, is a touching one, when we go back to my favorite character, Ben. He has reunited himself with his family not by being decapitated (which is the only way to stop a Gernonimonster) but by digging them up and setting them free.

Seriously, I'm all zombied out. How am I going to muster the energy to see Romero's Diary of the Dead? This is nothing more than a low rent Return of the Living Dead, minus the apocalyptic ending. Even the zombies, sorry Geronimonsters, talk in this one. Had it been played straight I might have enjoyed it more. I wonder what Geronimo would say if he saw this?

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

In The Name Of The King: A Dungeon Siege Tale (2008)

And you guys thought Uwe Boll sucked. Here we have the picture with the longest title in his filmography that I will simply call Dungeon Siege from this point on. The last time I mentioned Boll, I nearly had my head torn asunder simply for saying "he is not the worst filmmaker in the world." Finally, I actually have HARD evidence!

Dungeon Siege! Or, In The Name Of The Return Of The King. Let's go with King for short. Since this is a Uwe Boll film, we know the source is a video game. In this case, it's one I'm not sure I'm familiar with. In the land of Eph, forces of evil are gathering their armies to march on the forces of good, led by King Burt Reynolds. Within the realm lies a quaint little farmhouse. It's here where the story gains its focus. In the farmhouse lives a man named Farmer (Jason Statham) who, we learn, also IS a farmer. This is not just some crazy coincidence for Farmer tells us "I believe a man should be named for what he is" or perhaps that was just Norick (Ron Perlman) putting words in his mouth again. Farmer lives on a tiny beet farm with his lovely wife Solona (Claire Forlani) and inquisitive young son Zeph (Colin Ford). Applying Farmer's philosophy to their names, we can only assume that Solona means "money pit", while Zeph is another word for "sword implanted in face". I'm just kidding about the "money pit" line. Solona is actually a good wife, who pulls her own weight by taking their wares into town to hock at the market. It's a beautiful set up where All is right within the kingdom of Eph.

EXCEPT at the castle, the surrounding vista of which is established in a shot stolen, I mean borrowed, from the Return of the King vault, where an evilish wizard named Galleon, played with immeasurable wackiness by Ray Liotta, has snuck into the bed chambers of the princess Muriella (Leelee Sobieski) for a late night screw. The head of the castle, some might refer to him as the King, is regally played by the one, the only Burt Reynolds. His heir is the wicked Duke Fallon (Matthew Lillard) who uses words such as "bequeeth" and "behoove" and "bestill" and never met flying spittle he didn't like. It's an extraordinary performance. These opening scenes, the "big picture" scenes as I refer to them (because they deal with the important people in Eph, the royalty) also introduce us to a good wizard named Gimli (after apparently having the fat sucked out of him) played by John Rhys-Davies (Sliders).

Back to the little picture, Farmer's wife and son have reached the village with their turnips. A band of krugs attack. You may be wondering what a krug is? Remember the Uruk-hai? Not really the same thing. The krug's are just a bunch of dudes wearing rubber masks. Boll wisely never holds a shot on their face for long. See, he's getting better. Anyway, they attack and kill most of the village.

Farmer and his sidekick Norick run into town and kill as many as they can. Boll has obviously improved on his action scenes as well. Instead of slow-motion matrixy riffs, he just let's Statham do his kung-fu thing while circling the camera around him really fast. I felt a little ill, but I chalked that up to being hungover. Victory is achieved by Farmer and his allies, but at a tremendous cost. In an homage to Jason Vorhees, poor Zeph lives up to his name ("sword implanted in face") after seemingly sprinting across the entire country while an evil krug (mind controlled by the dastardly Galleon) mosies along after him. Solona was captured and if the krug are as evil as they seem, likely raped, tortured, murdered, and impaled upon a stake. Farmer and his brother in law, in a touchingly whimsical scene, bury Zeph. The slapstick ensues as they race to see whose side is filled in first. The audience loved this part because they laughed and laughter is good. Then, Farmer, his brother in law Bastion (played by a different Will Sanderson then the one from Blade Runner), and Norick enter the haunted Cedric Forest, where they encounter Ents and the like, in hopes of rescuing Solana.

At this point, the excitement was too much and I had to go empty my bladder. When I came back, someone was in my seat, so I took one in the back.

Apparently, I missed a whole hell of a lot! Farmer, looking much different, is now in 1898 Texas, digging in some mineshaft. He strikes oil, by accident and, before we know what's happening, has his own company and later, after a tragic accident, another son. What the fuck is going on here? When did Boll get so arty? Fifteen minutes passed without a single word of dialogue. Apparently, Farmer entered some time vortex in Cedric Forest and Norick and Bastian were both likely Krug-ified. Farmer even changed his name to Plainview, I guess because he now speaks plainly. Most likely, it's because the only thing he can see are vast empty plains.

Something happened to the score as well. It went from being heavy handed and, to put it kindly, laughable to being tense, brilliant, and scary. Boll usually does his own scores and I can say with great confidence that this one is Oscar worthy.

Years pass and eventually Plainview, having renamed himself Driller, and his son go to Little Boston, California on a hot oil tip. The community of Little Boston grows under his watch, but not without a conflict between Driller and the preacher, Eli. I was a little confused because Eli's brother Paul was the one that gave Driller the "tip" and they were played by the same person. There was a hint of recognition in Driller when he first meets Eli, but the issue is quickly dropped. Until Eli, in one of his frequent fits of rage, wails on his father for allowing Paul to bring this stanger, this oil driller named Driller, to their town. At this point, I realized they weren't the same character. Or, if this was all taking place in Driller's mind, does it really matter?

Statham is unrecognizable at this point as Driller. He also gives, by far, his best kung fu-less performance. His character hates everyone, most of all himself. He embraces H.W. at first, clearly as a means of promoting his business, but also as a replacement for Zeph. Unfortunately, that's something H.W. can never live up to, especially after an accident leaves him deaf and all Driller can think to do is send him away. This is not the same turnip farmer we knew and loved earlier in the film, pre time-vortex. Eventually, a man comes to Little Boston claiming to be Driller's brother named Henry. How Driller, a man who has been in this Universe all of ten years, could have a brother is beyond me, but he falls for it. The end of their relationship is hauntingly tragic and sends Driller into a spiral he will never fully recover from.

The central conflict is between Driller and Eli, the preacher. Eli needs money for his church and basically extorts it from Driller. Driller beats Eli to a pulp. Eli humiliates Driller in front of his congregation. The war wages on and on for many ageless years. What's in that Little Boston water, anyway?

How the fuck did Boll accomplish this? It's Citizen Cane by way of Stanley Kubrick. Driller, driven to madness by wealth, drink, and the memory of the family he left behind in the magical kingdom of Eph sits in his vast mansion, surrounded by "yes" men. He rejects his son, whom he now looks at as a competitor, for one last time. Eli stops by to visit and the audience is treated to a scene no one knew Boll had in him, a brilliant, humorously dark take on the Cane mythos, a scene which ends with Driller saying "I'm finished". And then the audience laughed. Again.

I theorize that the events of the latter part of the film took place in Farmer's head. After finding his wife dead somewhere in Cedric forest, he retreated into his own mind where he spent his remaining days trying to live the good life. In this case, he failed miserably.

Boll might win an Oscar. Keep it up Uwe.

Wednesday, January 2, 2008

5 Pieces Of Trash I Should Have Left By The Side Of The Road 2007

Here are five pictures from 2007 not really worth anyones time. Well, they were actually worth mine, but certainly not yours. The bottom five!

5. Ghost Rider

I really wish I had started this blog a year ago because Neil Labute's remake of Wicker Man would have easily made the top spot on this list. If you haven't seen it yet, I advise you to do so immediately. It's the perfect bad movie. Nicholas Cage gives a performance for the ages that truly MUST be seen by everyone. If you look up "unintentional comedy" in the dictionary, you will see a picture of Cage as Edward Malus (the character brilliantly originated by Edward Woodward in the 1973 original).

The following is ACTUAL dialogue Cage gets to say in that one:

"Killing me won't bring back your fucking honey!. " (Cage is referring to bee honey. Not some vengeance-seeker's honey that Cage drunkenly ran over in Leaving Las Vegas, or something)

"Oh no! Not the bees! Ahhhhhh.....they're in my eyes! my eyes!" (while being forced to wear a Bee helmet.)

"Arrgghhhhh...My legs! My legs!" (while having his legs broken)

Trust me. This was the perfect storm for bad movies.

And so, I'm saddened to let you know that Ghost Rider was unable to attain such heights. It left me feeling merely "blah". Oh sure, Cage is awful (what ever happened to the Cage of Raising Arizona, Wild at Heart, Peggy Sue Got Married?). For the most part, the special effects are a little TOO cartoonish. I dug Peter Fonda as Mephistopheles, but then Wes Bentley had to show up as his son and ruin things. Sam Elliot was moderately interesting as the Caretaker who showed Johnny Blaze (Cage) the ropes. By the way, Cage is much too old to be playing a character named Johnny Blaze. Still, the movie pissed me off and struggled to keep my attention. It was ALL special effects, signifying NOTHING. I hardly laughed at all either. It's no Wicker Man (2007), that's for sure.

4. Transformers
Do you see that shot directly above? The one of Megan Fox's cleavage? By far, the best shot of the picture. I'm being completely serious. I should really stop trying to expect anything halfway decent from Michael Bay. This movie was too fucking busy and besides that, I just didn't care. Aside from the cleavage above, the other part I liked was hearing Peter Cullen's voice as Optimus Prime. That was enough to give me a minor geek-gasm. John Turturro hams it up (out of nowhere) as the men-in-blackish Agent Simmons. He was awful. After watching Shia LeBeouf in this, I'm now worried that he is going to ruin Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull. I'm pretty sure Bernie Mac shows up in a hysterical cameo that elicited some forced laughter out of the crowd. Really, Michael Bay? What was up with all the attempts at humor? The scene where Prime and his auto-bots have to hide (in plain view!) in Shia's backyard from his parents (including "comedian" Kevin Dunn) was, I guess, funny. The intent was there anyway. I didn't laugh, but I heard a chuckle a few rows over. I have several more complaints, but I'll just leave it at this. I couldn't tell several of the transformers apart. I mean, I thought Megatron was supposed to be a gun? So, why is he a fucking plane in this? Just like Starscream. To my eyes, they looked identical. Ok, another complaint. When a certain auto-bot dies, and the audience was supposed to feel sad, I didn't even notice.

In lighter news, Josh Duhamel, who plays a U.S. soldier, just got engaged to Fergie (Black Eyed Peas). So, I guess it's not all bad.

3. Primeval
One of the two characters above dies in this film. Can you guess which one? If not, then you just haven't seen too many horror pictures, my friend.

This movie sucks. Sucks real bad. Remember those trailers? The ones that billed this thing as a "serial killer" film. A killer that has claimed over 300 lives in the African bush? I was initially intrigued. The bush has its very own Jack the Ripper? By definition, a serial killer ("a PERSON who attacks and kills victims one by one in a series of incidents") has to be human, right? Well, this fucking trailer was an ignominious bait and switch. It's about a fucking CROCODILE. Unless it was an enormous bush man, dressed in a crocodile suit all the while somehow evading his own demise at the maws of various other river monsters, this whole fucking tag was a god damn sham! So, I hated this picture almost instantly. After the opening credits rolled, I hated it even more.

Of course, the thing tried to get political on us (involving Warlord imposed Genocide (as if there is any other kind?) in Burundi). Actually, for a good chunk of time, the picture even forgets about the 25 foot Crocodile devouring residents as if they were popcorn. The crocodile (nicknamed Gustave, I think) doesn't really participate in any memorable kills. Orlando Jones (pictured above) provides some funny moments when he's running from certain death towards the end. In this case, death was absolutely certain (unlike most "certain death" in films these days). He lasted a lot longer than I thought he would though. Still, civil rights can only carry one so far.

2. The Hills Have Eyes 2 (Not a remake)

The funniest movie moment of the year occurred during my viewing of this "film". Unfortunately, it happened once the end credits appeared and the person sitting in the very back put his middle finger in front of the projecter, thereby projecting it on the big screen for all to see. Everyone got a good chuckle out of that one. The second funniest moment of the year came courtesy of the feature length commentary provided by the two teen-aged girls sitting in the back who at one point said "that bitch should get an abortion" during one of the mutant rape scenes. I wish their ongoing dialogue had been recorded because it really should be on the DVD.

Other than the environment in which I saw this thing ("the ghetto commons"), there really were no redeeming features. It begins like Aliens, only the fodder here are national guardsmen (and women) running routine training exercises in the Nevada desert. The first scene is pretty repulsive as a captive woman gives birth to a mutant child and then has her face smashed in. That's the high point of the film (middle finger and girlz commentary notwithstanding).

I was disappointed because the first remake is a terrific horror film, full of interesting characters, tense situations, and shocking brutality. Why didn't they just remake the first sequel and include the flash-backing dog and the reformed cannibal child? Wes Craven wrote this with his son Jonathan. I never thought I'd say this: Fuck you Wes! And, your son too.

1. Halloween remake
It pains me to write this because I really wanted to like this one. Rob Zombie has a good eye. Even if House of 1000 Corpses and The Devil's Rejects kinda suck, they're still visually interesting. Hell, The Devil's Rejects even manages to entertain for its entire running time. It's just too bad that Zombie had to pick an iconic horror film to remake because, guess what? He shit all over this one. If you don't believe me, check out my earlier review.

First of all, the casting is all wrong. From the behemoth, unstoppable WWE (or is it WCW) star Tyler Mane to the incredible overacting of William Forsythe. The actor playing young Michael Myers (Daeg Faerch) was pretty bad as well. I hope the kid didn't know what he was pretending to do when he tied up his sleeping step-dad and then slit his throat. If he had an inkling, poor Faerch might already be in Smith's Grove. It's pretty sad when Sheri Moon Zombie, playing Mrs. Myers, gives the best performance and it's not even really close. I hate, hate, hated the cartoonish white trash origins of Michael Myers depicted here. What the hell were they doing living in a nice, pleasant town like Haddonfield anyway? Far too much time was given to MM's early years, although I was moved slightly by Sheri Moon during the attempts of Dr. Loomis (Malcolm "You'd think he'd be good, wouldn't you?" McDowell) to rehabilitate Michael. And no, that slight movement was not in my pants.

So many plot holes. How did Michael go from small, unassuming Faerch to giant, steroid-infested Mane? I'm pretty sure they don't allow institutionalized homicidal maniacs to pound the weights? How does Michael know that Laurie Strode is his sister? All he has to go by is a picture of her as an infant. I mean, she was adopted into a nice, loving family. When did he find the time to do the research? If you remember correctly from the original, we don't really find out that Laurie is his sister until the 2nd film. Maybe Michael took a film history class at Smith's Grove? Who knows. Having said all that, the film lacks any kind of suspense, tension, etc. My favorite characters were Big Joe Grizzly (Ken Foree), who was almost a match for Michael, and the indispensible Danny Trejo (as Smith's Grove orderly, Ismael Cruz) who Michael dispatched like a little bitch (especially cruel considering Ismael was nice to "little Mikey" all those years). These two characters, the only ones I liked, had a combined screentime of two and a half minutes. Zombie? Stop writing your own shit.