Sunday, June 29, 2008

The Machine Girl (2008)

This is a picture that's so damned near perfect, it's almost impossible to write a review that doesn't sound like I'm jerking off. So, I'll just keep the thing as short as possible. Let me just start by saying it's about fucking time the Japanese made a movie that didn't involve some sort of spirit left behind due to a traumatic death that somehow made it evil. I'm sick of the fucking genre and the sub genre they gave birth to; i.e., their american remakes. Machine Girl is a movie that wears it's influences proudly upon its tattered sleeve; Army of Darkness, Dead Alive, several ninja movies too numerous to name. Apparently, it even features a couple of Japanese porn stars in the lead roles (and they don't get naked!). I fucking loved every second of it.

The plot is fairly simple. Ami Hyuga (porn star Asami) is a teen aged school girl forced into caring for her younger brother Yu after their parents were falsely implicated in a murder and committed suicide. Yu is like every kid that spends his free time playing videogames. He gets picked on ceaselessly. In this case, the bully is the son of a Yakuza ninja. On one unfortunate day, Yu and his buddy Takeshi are attacked in a parking garage and thrown from the roof to their deaths. Ami is too late to save him. Now, the last remnants of her family destroyed, she vows revenge. The first attempt doesn't go so well. Ami is captured by the bully's sadistic family and tortured by his mother and father. Now, minus an arm, she manages to escape and collapses by the auto repair shop run by Takeshi's parents. Nursed back to health, and with a prosthetic limb in the form of a machine gun, Ami can seek her ultimate vengeance.

This picture is insane. The villains are despicable. The Yakuza head forces a chef to cut off his own fingers after fucking up his tempura at one point. His wife chastises him for being "too soft" and makes the guy eat his fingers as well. The violence is so far over the top that it's clearly not meant to be taken seriously. The Lone Wolf & Cub series of the 70s appears to be an influence here as geysers and geysers of arterial spray flood the screen in nearly every other shot. At one point, a head is split down the middle and appears to bloom as a flower (a possible lift from Baby Cart at the River Styx). There's a fucked up scene where the Yakuza bust into the house of Ami's friend, Yoshi. The following brief exchange takes place:

Yakuza boss: Where's Ami?
Yoshi: I don't know!
Yakuza boss stabs her in the head, arterial spray, she's dead, etc.
Yakuza boss (to his henchmen): Ok, you guys can have some fun with her. It's not often you get to plug a flower before it has bloomed.
Henchmen begin to disrobe.

Uh, ok, perhaps something was lost in the translation. Anyway, fucking awesome interrogation technique man. How can I enroll in the Yakuza school of gathering information through torture?

This is a message film through and through. It's ok to kill in the name of revenge. As Asami tells her mechanic friend (I couldn't find her name in my notes, but I did learn she's another porn star) "if you can think of a good way to get revenge without killing people, let me know." Living well is a fucking awful method of revenge. Same thing goes for that old klingon proverb. Revenge is a dish best served with gobs and gobs of warm pulsating blood and viscera.

I'm not sure how Ami became such an accomplished fighter, but luckily this movie provides a brief montage to fill in some of those gaps. There's a fantastic fight scene at the garage when Ami and her new friends are attacked by a squad of high school ninjas. The battle features lots of gaping holes and blood spray (like most every battle in this film). Unfortunately for Ami, she didn't count on the families of the now slain ninjas later seeking vengeance upon her. See, it's a vicious cycle, this violence. Best kill every fucking one.

The final battle takes place at the Yakuza compound and features a grappling decapitator (aka "the flying guillotine" aka "the executioner's blade") as well as a pretty damned sexy drill bra. You read that right. The school bully that murdered Ami's brother employs a human shield of nerds at one point and justifies it by saying "a ninja does what he must to survive." The climax is brilliant (let's just say it involves something becoming electrified in nerd pee). The whole picture is brilliant. Yes, they overused what was, at times, some pretty mediocre CGI. Yeah, I watched the dubbed version which, in my opinion, served to enhance the comic book flair. It's also available in subtitles but I was too lazy to read the night I watched it. Sure, one of the characters loses a leg and replaces it with a chainsaw (wait, that's a positive). This thing is so amazing that I can't possibly continue this review. I'm spent.

Monday, June 23, 2008

Havoc (2005)

It was recently brought to my attention that, lately, I've become a little too infatuated with certain parts of the female anatomy. I'd prefer to not turn off any of my audience but, it's right there in this blog's tagline: "Also boobies." Still, point taken. I'll try to limit my obsession. I'll probably only talk about them once a month or so. This is upsetting on several levels because Havoc stars the sublime Anne Hathaway and, guess what? She shows them. I guess I can't talk about her glorious breasts which are, quite frankly, perfection personified. She shows them twice. There's even a great shot of her ass cleavage. Oh man, is this fucking disheartening. Jesus christ people, this is probably the only movie Ms. Hathaway will ever star in that actually qualifies for this blog. Unless she starts appearing in schlock involving aliens, mutated wildlife, killer fire bugs, post apocalyptic worlds, or satanic hippies this is likely it. Fuck, all I want to talk about are her perky little nipples which are clearly her own (since they're in the same shot as her gorgeous face). I'm pretty sure they didn't go the Megan Fox route and allow her to wear pasties so they can CG on some nipples at a later date. Fuck that bullshit. These are the real deal, but I can't even mention the god damned things in this review. Shit man.

At this point, you're probably wondering why Havoc would even qualify for a write up? It's fucking abysmal, that's why. It's the story of some high schoolers living in Pacific Palisades who are completely infatuated with gangland culture. These kids are white and spoiled. There's a word for them, but I'm not sure I can say it without offending anyone in my audience that might be one.* The "kids" are played by Anne Hathaway (Allison), Bijou Phillips (Emily), Joseph Gordon-Levitt (Sam) and Matt O'Leary (Eric). During one night of partying, they decide to travel to East LA in their luxury SUV and score some good shit. The deal doesn't go particularly well when Freddy Rodriguez (Hector) takes advantage of their naievte and sells them less than they paid for. Eric stands up to him and ends up pissing himself. Allison and Emily, on the other hand, are completely turned on and seek to gain access into Hector's world. This shit happens all the time.

I don't know, maybe this shit does happen all the time, but certainly not within the phony crash-esque world created by Stephen Gaghan. Gaghan is the writer of this film as well as the more well known Traffic. He also was the writer and director of Syriana. Syriana and Traffic, while far from perfect, are clearly the better pictures. Gaghan is interested in clashing cultures but he really did a fucking shitty job of showing that here. This is like that episode of "Beverly Hills 90210" when their culture clashed with "Melrose Place". Remember the one where Kelly nearly banged Jake? This is like that one. I cannot believe that this is a real portrayal of Latino culture. Everyone's a god damned stereotype. They drink from 40s, wear bandanas, and "go to 16th street". 16th street, in case you're not familiar, is a game where a girl rolls a die. Depending on what number comes up, that's how many guys she has to have sex with. Hathaway rolls a one. Of course Bijou rolls a number slightly more than one (has Phillips ever been cast as anything other than a slutty broad?). Why do people still cast her in their pictures? She's not that attractive although, believe me, I'd do her. She debuted in a film about ten years ago (Black and White) with an identical subject to Havoc and, where she also played a high schooler. Unfortunately, for her, in Havoc she looks like she's about 38. To top it all off, she can't act. I guess it helps to have famous parents. I did like her reaction to rolling a three with the die: "That's cool, I can handle three. It's just sex."

Hathaway acquits herself ok, although she does have several painful scenes most of which involve her singing "black" songs. There's a scene with her and Bijou on the bed that's completely homoerotic (the good kind) that ends with Hathaway telling poor Bijou "I don't think I could go down on you." The one scene that worked for me involved the two in their car trying to smoke crack and doing a very bang up job at it. Trust me, I don't know how to smoke crack. Still, I'm pretty sure it's not supposed to fly out the window. I also dont think it's very cool to say "crack is whack" while doing it. Joseph Gordon-Levitt is a terrific young actor. Check out his work in Brick and The Lookout. He's terrible in this thing. He's relegated to mumbling in a faux spanish accent; a rich, young white kid trying to be hispanic. By far, the most shallow performance in the picture. Also, his haircut sucks. Michael Biehn, usually amazing, is completely wasted as Hathaway's father. Why bother putting him in this mess?

That pretty much leaves us with Freddie Rodriguez, another great young actor (see Harsh Times also from 2005) just playing a type. Other than selling drugs, pistol whipping over priviledged white jack asses, and banging white chicks there's nothing to his character. Actually, Not one character in this piece of shit has more than one personality trait. Sure, Hathaway reveals that "we're just bored teenagers" but not one of her actions are justified by the script. Spoiler: She plays "16th street" but decides not to go through with it at the last minute. She forces Bijou to leave as well (not quite in time to stop Bijou from comsumating the game). Bijou, in humiliation, goes to the cops and accuses the Latinos of gang raping her. Hathaway rats her out as a liar. This is kind of a gray area. It wasn't rape, I guess, but those guys (as portrayed in this film) are still scum bags. In Bijou's defense, she was pretty hammered. Still, this leads to a funny scene when the Latinos travel to Pacific Pallisades to shut Bijou up. Only, they get lost and end up heading back to East LA with their tails between their legs.

In closing, Hathaway is allowed to star in a piece of shit every now and then. Even, if that piece of shit is borderline racist. Hector, at one point, says "Fuckin' white people!". Oh, and the Latinos don't come off very well either. All the men do is gang bang and party while their pregnant wives stay at home with their many kids. I guess Gaghan got better in his scriptwriting. I don't know, maybe the director (Barbara Kopple....a woman!) fucked it up. It's interesting that Mandy Moore was originally cast in the Hathaway role. That film would have been completely unwatchable. No fucking way would we have seen her you know whats.

*can I say "wigger"?

Thursday, June 19, 2008

Funeral Home (1980)

I recently made the single greatest purchase of my life (ok, slight exaggeration) when I picked up the "Chilling Classics 50 Movie Pack" from Best Buy for a mere twenty bucks. That's 40 cents a picture, and several with the promise of tits and ass. The inclusion of Peter Jackson's Bad Taste was enough to seal the deal for me. Well, I've made my way through five of the pictures thus far. Out of these five, Bad Taste is the only good one. Although, The Demon is well worth one's time since the last twenty minutes consist of our lovely young heroine running around her house (naked!) as she eludes a killer. Lots of seventies style coifing in that one, if you know what I mean.

I also decided to check out this little movie called Funeral Home. Since it was released in 1980 and rated R, I counted on this picture for two things: boobs and gore. Zero out of two is, well, pretty fucking bad. This thing is the story of Heather (Lesleh Donaldson) who travels to a small rural community to help her granny (Kay Hawtrey) convert her old funeral home into a "tourist home" (aka bed and breakfast). Heather's a pretty young thing with what I'm sure are pretty supple breasts (unfortunately, the director forgot to film them or any, for that matter). Anyway, this is your typical small town with a library, a pub, reckless teens, and a quarry (for diving and disposing of bodies in). Granny has been in need of some help ever since her husband, Mr. Chalmers ("Chalmers the embalmer") disappeared. Guests begin arriving, Heather paints a boat, whisperings are heard in the padlocked celler, Heather falls in love with local boy, Cops investigate missing persons, and Billy (the caretaker/undertaker) acts mighty weird (i.e. retarded, hence a suspect).

The first thing I noticed is that the score is actually professionally done. With an actual orchestra. Kudos to Jerry Fielding. It's not a great score, but it wasn't completely obtrusive either. Mildly competent, I'd say. The next thing I noticed, almost an hour later, is that nothing is happening. Oh sure, Heather talks to granny about what happened to granpa ("He just up and disappeared one day"). She develops a relationship with Ricky (local boy) even though he informs her that her precious gramps was nothing but a "drunk and a cheat". The local cop investigates a missing real estate developer whose porsche is hilariously found underneath a hay bail. Upon informing his supervisor that this makes "six missing persons reports in the last two years" he's told to "quit makin like the FBI". Being from a small town, I can tell you that they captured the attitude flawlessly! Um, yeah. My favorite characters were Mr. & Mrs Browning, two guests of the Inn. Actually, we learn that Mrs. Browning is not Mrs. Browning at all, but a rampant sinner (mistress) which doesn't sit well at all with the puritanical granny Chalmers. Is it a coincidence that the Brownings wake up the next day to find themselves drowned at the bottom of the quarry?

Several scenes are shot and framed like a slasher film. I guess that's the classification, albeit a tepid slasher film, since the body count didn't even manage to exceed four. Even worse, all but one of the kills were completely bloodless and two victims were killed at once as their car was pushed into the quarry. This actually had the look and feel of a TV movie (the lack of blood and breasts didn't help deter this assumption). A black cat screeches its way through the entire picture but serves only to terrify Heather and, I'm sure, smell up the set. There's a twist at the end that's incredibly obvious. Normally, I hate when reviews even mention a twist because that, in itself, is a huge spoiler. Still, this twist is painfully obvious especially if you've ever seen Psycho. In fact, that's the main problem with this picture besides the lousy acting, lighting, lack of effective kills, lack of tension or suspense, no tits, etc, etc. Too many scenes were ripped right out of Psycho that it becomes distracting; car being extracted from the quarry, granny's sillhouette behind a curtain, epilogue explaining a certain, um, someone's (*cough* granny *cough*) mental illness. So, here's your fucking spoiler! Obviously, granny walked in on Mr. Chalmers screwing some hussy, killed them both and took on a part of his personality. Now she gets to have conversations with herself, kill a bunch of people (a pathetic 4. 5 if you count the off screen killing of the real estate developer), be institutionalized and, later, declared sane. Then she returns to the "tourist home" and takes in Meg Tilly as a boarder. They go on to develop a beautifully lesbian state approved relationship. God help Ms. Tilly if she strays.

A couple of final notes:
  • In flashbacks we learn that Mr. Chalmers was truly a drunken old coot that got off on terrifying children, over imbibing, and banging ladies that were not his wife. So, it's hilarious when granny starts bickering with him at the end. She should have kicked the old bastard to the curb long ago.
  • Also, I was relieved to learn that Mittens the cat was not injured during the filming of this picture. Afterwards, however, the poor thing walked in front of himself, was then hit by a truck, scraped up with a shovel, and tossed in the quarry.

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Blind Fury (1989)

First of all, a word about the poster (above). I don't like it. Way too much emphasis on the humor. Oh sure, the movie has plenty of humor (it's about a blind guy for fuck's sake), but the story, at its core, is deadly serious. I mean, yeah, sure there are scenes where Rutger Hauer, as blind swordsman Nick Parker, is fed a rock and told it's candy. Of course there's a scene where he drives a speeding van through Reno and another scene where the dealer tries to cheat him at the roulette table. Actually, several scenes are chock full of blind humor. Still, that poster is way too 80s for me. I require something a little more iconic for a film where a kid's mom (the blind looking Meg Foster) is murdered in the first ten minutes and so Nick Parker takes it upon himself to blindly transport the brat from Miami to Reno and reunite him with his father, who just happens to be Hauer's pal from vietnam. All the while, eluding hit man Randall "Tex" Cobb! No way is this a comedy.

This is one of Hauer's best roles. As Nick Parker, he's funny, good with a sword, and also blind. Convincingly blind. I think they gave him the contacts that Meg Foster wears. I hate when they make a movie about a blind guy and just hide his eyes behind sunglasses. This is one of the only pictures I can think of that actually starts off with a training montage. Parker is injured in Vietnam by an explosion that leaves him scarred and blinded. He's rescued by some friendly villagers who, besides nursing him back to health, teach him the way of the sword. Before we can say "Zatoichi" he's quartering four small airborne mellons in an instant. I didn't realize villagers in Vietnam War-era Nam were this accomodating. I loved how, instead of teaching the blind white foreign guy to work the fields or mend their straw huts, they teach him to become deadly proficient with a blade. It made me wonder if the villagers were blind as well. Cut to "20 years later" and Nick is back from the war, spending some quality time in a Miami dive bar. A few hooligans come up to him as he's eating his burrito with the friendly suggestion that he pour some hot sauce (i.e. the whole bottle) on it..."not bad. A little too mild for me. How about something a little more macho?" Then he "accidentaly" beats the shit out of them with his cane, issuing an apology with every thump.

In 'Nam, Parker served with a fellow named Deveraux (Terry O'Quinn aka John Locke of "Lost") and he decides to seek him out. Unbeknownst to him, Deveraux is currently being forced to produce a new drug out in Reno by some Mob Kingpin named MacCready (Noble Willingham). MacCready, for insurance purposes, sends his #1 guy Slag (Cobb) to kidnap Deveraux's wife and son. Unfortunately, for them, they arrive at the same time as Parker and a pretty great fight scene is the result. A couple lopped off limbs, some naughty words, and one dead Meg Foster later and Parker is off to Reno with young Billy (Brandon Call) to seek out the boy's father.

This kid, Billy, is a fucking little brat. He introduces himself to Parker with a middle finger and later, upon boarding a bus, tells him "I got the window seat, you don't need it." Along the way, they encounter mercenaries, more "Tex" Cobb, and several rednecks trying to impede their progress. Parker even cuts a dragonfly in half to impress some yahoos. It all culminates with a few fun encounters in Reno, followed by an epic battle atop Winterhaven, aka "Donner Pass". Actually, the end disappointed the shit out of me. Well, not really the end (as a whole), so much as the final battle. When I first saw this movie, upon release, it was because of Sho Kosugi not Rutger Hauer. Kosugi is that great martial artist you may remember from Enter the Ninja, Revenge of the Ninja, Ninja III: The Domination, Pray for Death and, of course, Nine Deaths of the Ninja. Ok, so the guy was type cast throughout his brief movie career. As a ninja. Still, you can't have him billed in a movie and then show up at the end with no lines (other than the requisite ninja yell) and wearing a fucking suit! Put him in god damned ninja garb, that's all I fucking ask. And, for fuck's sake...please, for the love of Christ, do not give him a humiliating death in an electrified hot tub. They fucked it up. The finale of this thing left a mildly putrid taste in my mouth. At least Cobb got to go out like a man. I don't think Philip Noyce likes ninjas, or even knows what one is.

Oh yeah, almost forgot, this thing is directed by Philip Noyce. Noyce is known for directing one of my favorite Billy Zane movies of all time (Dead Calm) before moving on to bigger and better things; this thing, the best Jack Ryan movie, and the worst, Sliver, along with Rabbit Proof Fence, and The Quiet American. I'm just kidding, this "thing" isn't really a thing. It's actually a picture (or, dare I say, a film) and a pretty good one at that. There are certainly worse ways to spend 90 minutes. You want to know how I knew this was a good one? I can't even remember if there were any tits or not. I want to say yes, towards the end (there are always tits in Reno, right?), but I'm not sure. That's a sign of a good picture (not the lack of tits, mind you, but the lack of remembering if they're were some in the picture. Too fucking involved with the story, I guess). Another sign of a good picture? Some great lines. Like, when one of the bad guys comments on a machine gunned Gondola (long story) at the end: "That things got more holes than my daddy's rubber." Or, when Parker is billed as a "walking advertisement for hiring the handicapped" by the smarmy Willingham. Or, when Parker slices off a guy's eyebrows and follows that up with "I also do circumcision".

This is a fun one. See it for the fights and the blind humor (it's ok, because Hauer isn't really blind see. Or, should that be the other way around?). Yeah, I know, there's a little kid in this one which usually leads to some, unfortunately, tender moments like "i'm sorry your ma was shot, boy" or "my tear ducts were blown off in Nam so I can't fucking cry. Whaddaya want from me?. Scram fucker. Woulda been better off if yer dad were blown up in Nam too. Little fucking brat. Grab me another brew, will ya???" (backhands kid).

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Omega Doom (1996)

"Once upon a time there were humans and robots and the great world war..."

Why are all the Internet troll's kicking shit on Uwe Boll when we've had Albert Pyun to kick shit on for the last quarter century? This guy, for some inexplicable reason, doesn't even get mentioned in the same breath. Pyun is the filmatic genius behind such films as The Sword and the Sorcerer, the Van Damme epic Cyborg, Captain America, Kickboxer 2 & 4!!, the Nemesis quadrilogy, and many, many more! His body of work truly does make Boll look like Martin Scorsese or, perhaps, someone like Brian Trenchard-Smith. Simply put, Pyun is a legend. Although, in defense of internet trolls everywhere, Pyun began releasing pictures into theatres long before the world wide web revolution took hold. Boll's first theatrical release was well after the inception. By that time, Pyun had been firmly entrenched within the "who gives a fuck" world of direct to video, a world whose border Boll dances upon with his leaden feet (don't worry, he'll be there shortly). Pyun deserves better. With a little luck, he too could have been challenging his critics to a boxing match. Perhaps, we'd think of him as the loveably inept madman, the same way we (I?) think of Boll today. Sigh.

99% of Pyun's films involve robots of some sort fighting various other forms of robots. Omega Doom is no exception. Not a single human in sight. Well, except for the prologue (great world war) during which we're introduced to Omega Doom (Rutger Hauer), a cyborg with one prime directive ("must kill all humans"). Amidst an atmoshphere drenched in blood red tones, we see our hero, Omega, battling against mankind's final stand. He is close to victory. Ooops, a shot to the back of his head fries his memory and alter's his directive. His new prime directive: Wander a ruined apocalyptic (thankfully, man-free) earth helping underdog robots fend off the bully robots. This is my kind of future.

Omega wanders into "old europe town" during the middle of a clash between the "roms" and "the droids". Both sides are looking for a "buried treasure" (i.e. a cache of guns). Not sure why highly intelligent and, apparently, evolving robots can't produce their own weapons (and also ignoring the aspect that they already have fucking lasers!) but that's besides the point. Omega serves as sort of a Yojimbo (or "man with no name") or even a John Smith (Last Man Standing) type character. Feel out both sides, find potential love interest, play them against each other, step in at last moment and claim victory. Typical bullshit. The droids are, I guess, the friendliest of the two factions. They dress like punk rockers, look exactly like humans, and walk so awkwardly that we can hear their gears grinding (I'm being serious here. Trust me, it's hysterical). At first, it seems like their leader is Marko (run of mill psychopath), but later it's revealed to be, gasp, a broad (named Zed, no less). The Roms dress as if the only movie they've ever been able to upload into their memory is The Matrix, which would make Pyun some kind of prophet. They're led by Blackheart (Tina Cote), although it was almost impossible to tell them apart (Call me a Rom-ist, if you will, but they all look the same).

Um, yeah, so this is pretty much a piece of "avoid at all costs" shit. Not even a sleepwalking Rutger Hauer can save this one from the robot landfill. Why the fuck is everything so damned serious in this thing? Where's the fucking comic relief? And don't even think of giving me head! I'm talking about the character, not the sexual act (although, if there are any easy model-ish type dames reading this blog (or Anne Hathaway) feel free to email your number and I'll take it into consideration). Head is a droid played by Norbert Weisser. He's the jokester who is always losing his head. First, Marko is kicking it around (droids love soccer). Omega reattaches it only to have it blown off again later. The effects of his bodiless head are amazingly bad, even for a low budget DTV production. I can see the fucking mirror! I'd like to recall some of his lines for you, but I neglected to write them down (and imdb didn't even bother with the "memorable quotes" section for this picture). Great character.

The end of this film was mainly just talking. And talking. And more fucking talking. Pseudo-philosophical mumbo jumbo. One character tells an "evil" Rom to "enjoy my murder if it makes you feel better about your life". The Rom's reply: "I never enjoyed the killing" and then she took off her sunglasses and actually started to fucking cry. We hear about how the world's changing (Yes, that's went from being populated by humans trying to kill each other to being populated by robots doing the same damned thing). I did like Omega's line to "evil" Rom who tells him all she can do is follow her program. "You're program stinks". Best line of the picture, which should tell you something about the picture.

The final fight is vintage Uwe Boll (except, done by Pyun a decade earlier) with plenty of slo-mo and techno music. The threat of an impending human attack looms over the entire picture. Thankfully, it never comes. I'm not sure I would have survived the extended runtime. The leader of the droids, Zed, has a great death scene that lasts for a fucking week! The movie concludes with Hauer walking away whilst some offscreen narrator-like bozo recites a Dylan Thomas poem. Some bullshit about lovers lost while love is not. And then they all died or something. I think that's how it goes. Why is this Thomas guy so revered? On top of being boring, this thing is also pretentious. And, not one god damned robot titty. Not even Boll would stoop to that level.

Stay tuned for the second review from my Rutger Hauer double feature. Two movies on one disc! How could I fucking not watch them both? Don't worry, the second picture is better.

Friday, June 6, 2008

Society (1989)

Also known as Beverly Hills 90210: The Shunting. Well, it's not even close. This is by far the best of all Steve picks, sure to never be topped. It's got everything one could ask for in a picture; nudity, gore, weird special effects, vapid teenagers, and a scene where one character sticks his arm up another character's ass so that his hand comes out his mouth. Amazing. The magnum opus of director Brian Yuzna (Bride of Re-Animator, Beyond Re-Animator, Beneath Still Waters, etc). It's also Yuzna's first movie behind the lens. Previously, he made his name as a producer of one of Moving Picture Trashes favorites, The Re-Animator. He should have stopped while he was ahead.

Billy Warlock (Baywatch) stars as Billy Whitney, a Beverly Hills teen who seemingly has it all. A loving family, a bitchy girlfriend, a sweet mullet, a starring role on his high school basketball team, and a hot sister that he can spy on while she's showering (wait, should her breasts be on the same side as her ass?), changing...or even shunting. If it seems too good to be true, that's because it is. Just below the surface are some sinister goings on. Billy, during one of his frequent trips to the psychiatrist, senses it as well: "I feel like something's gonna happen". He begins hallucinating; worms in his apple, sister showering with her upper body facing the wrong way, hot broad with a short skirt sitting spread eagled in the front row while he debates the requisite nerd for the position of student body president. Fantastic debate, by the way. Billy claims that dress codes suck while the nerd says "you're just using your athletic ability to get the votes of this moronic audience". The nerd has my vote.

Speaking of Billy's athletic ability. Are you fucking kidding me?? The kids 5'2" in high heels. Yet, here he is, the star of the basketball team. Unless he's turning into a werewolf at the half and going Teen Wolf on us, I just don't see it. He's no fucking Brandon Walsh, that's for sure. Anyway, while Billy is cleaning house at the debate, he's missing his sister, Jenny's "coming out" party. Thankfully, the local peeping tom, David provides him a tape of the preceedings. On the tape, we hear her father say to Jenny (his daughter!!!) "first we dine, then copulation. First someone your own age, then your mother and me....and then the host". Uh huh. So, that's how they do the sweet sixteen in Beverly Hills. What follows are some pretty weird sex noises. I wasn't sure where the movie was going at this point, but I couldn't turn it off.

The movie is a mystery of sorts, with Billy teaming up with local skank Clarissa to find out what's going on in town. Clarissa delivers the best line of the picture when she asks Billy "how do you like your tea? Cream? Sugar? Or, do you want me to pee in it?" Girl after my own fucking perverted heart. Clarissa's mom agreed and coughed up a hair ball. This one just builds and builds and builds to a rousing climax. Billy confronts his parents who tell him he'll "make a great contribution to society". People disappear. David, the peeping tom, dies in a car accident. Was it an accident? Did he die? Will he be shunted?

Ok, the movie makes a bit of a statement about upscale society and fitting in, etc. Who gives a shit? I guess I just care about the tits and various scenes of inserting body parts into various other body parts. Is the town overrun by these shunters? What the fucks a shunter anyway? There's a terrific party at the end where a character known as "the judge" is introduced. "The judge" likes to suck on a fat stoagie and shunt the shit out of his guests. So, I guess you'd like to know what shunting is? According to webster it's "the act of fornicating by merging multiple bodies into one large liquid motherfucking gooey ball". Let me tell you, it's sexy as shit. The effects in this thing are disgustingly amazing. We've got heads where asses should be...and asses where heads should be. Breasts still look as good on one's back as they do on their chest, let me tell you. The judge gets to tell Billy, "The rich have always sucked off low class shit like you". His later line "and now we'll get to the bottom of this" leads directly into the picture's nastiest scene.

I can't recommend this one enough. I watched it on VHS, but it's available on DVD as well. At some point, I'll be making a purchase. Perhaps in a 2-pack with Spontaneous Combustion. If you like your visual effects raw, gooey, and involving an orgy of writhing bodies merging on the floor this one's for you. Also, there's a great shot of camel toe on the beach. Sold!

Monday, June 2, 2008

A Nightmare On Elm Street 2: Freddy's Revenge (1985)

Freddy Kreuger is so gay in this picture that I had to check the credits to make sure Clive Barker didn't pen the screenplay. Not that there would be anything wrong with that. There's plenty of room in the world for a gay Freddy Kreuger. At least as much room as there would be for a straight pinhead. It doesn't help that Freddy's chosen victim is an effeminate teen named Jesse (Mark Patton) who is constantly waking up from his nightmares screaming like a little girl. Also, there's a scene where Jesse follows his gym teacher into an S&M club. Not that there's anything wrong with that. Also, I don't mean to imply that S&M is, in any way, necessarily gay.

As a kid, I always preferred this one to the original. What was I thinking?? I didn't really remember all the homoerotic content or, more likely, I simply didn't understand it at the time. It didn't register. What I did remember were the three magnificent set pieces (a little more on those later) that make this, otherwise piece of crap, worth watching. A few years after the events of the original film, a new family (The Walshes) move into the house on Elm Street once occupied by Nancy (Heather Langenkamp) and company. Jesse stays in Nancy's old room and finds her diary which details her encounters with Freddy Kreuger, the infamous burnt to a crisp child murderer. Freddy starts communicating with Jesse and asks if he would mind killing for him. Jesse says no, so Freddy just plants his seed inside him instead (i.e. he can just possess him whenever he feels like it, apparently). Finally, he doesn't have to wait for "his children" to fall asleep to slaughter them. Jesse can do it for him. Based on the mythology of the first movie, this makes very little sense, but I guess it doesn't have to. It is a shitty horror movie after all. Except for Clu Gulager as Jesse's dad. He's still cool.

The director of this picture is the underrated Jack Sholder (The Hidden). To me, it doesn't really matter that Craven had nothing to do with the script since for every The Hills Have Eyes and the original Nightmare there's also a Hills Have Eyes 2 and a Vampire in Brooklyn. Unfortunately, the guy they got to write this sequel, David Chaskin wrote absolutely nothing else of note. It shows. The story is awful. I think he, or more likely someone else, came up with three good set pieces and then Chaskin connected the dots. This is, by far, the least scary of all the Nightmares. Not one god damned ounce of tension. Robert Englund, as Freddy, is a non factor. He has a few lines here and there, but was a lot scarier in the first one where he rarely talked at all. My favorite character was Marshall Bell (Starship Troopers) as Coach Schneider, who, after being caught by Jesse in an S&M club takes him back to the gym, forces him to run laps, and then tells him to "hit the showers" (all while dressed in his leather club outfit!).

The movie opens in spectacular fashion when Jesse is riding the school bus home (set piece #1). Instead of making the stop at his home, the driver floors it and takes the kids off road and into the desert where after finally stopping, the ground crumbles around the bus leaving them balanced upon a precipice (a scene later echoed in the brilliant South Park episode called "City on the Edge of Forever"). It's clear that besides working in a power plant during his life, Kreuger was also a pretty accomplished school bus driver (easy access to children). He's still got it and I enjoyed the quick cut to him working that stick.

The second set piece involves Jesse's best friend, Grady (Robert Rusler) keeping an eye on Jesse in case Freddy decides to take him over again. The plan being that Grady will prevent Jesse from killing anyone. Of course, they lack a contingency plan for what happens if Freddy possesses Jesse and decides to make Grady his victim. The moment when Freddy slices his way out of Jesse's body is as good as any scene in the series. It's hard to tell if this occurs in Grady's dream or in reality, since moments after Grady is dead, Jesse is staring at Freddy in the mirror as Grady's parents attempt to break down the door. Finally (3rd set piece), Freddy makes an uninvited appearence at a late night pool party, but drops the ball when he neglects to boil "his children" as they swim.

Unfortunately, the rest of this picture (all 80 minutes or so) is garbage. Clu Gulager's (Jesse's dad, remember) motivation for staying in the house (after his son is driven insane, things randomly catch on fire, the average temperature is 97 degrees, previous murders from the first film, and so on) is that he got a great deal on the place. That's it. Fuck the well being of his family, he's got shutters to paint. Jesse is clearly on drugs (actually, he does chug coca-cola while popping speed to stay awake, not that it matters because I think Freddy can jump into his body regardless). Jesse, himself, is a whiny little bitch although his girlfriend is a cute fire bush, so there is that. Kudos to Jesse. Way to live a lie, buddy. The dream sequences, what little there are, lack any of the nonsensical tension of the first picture. Still, the film's main failing lies in the portrayal of Freddy Kreuger who exudes almost no menace when he tells his possessee, "I need you Jesse". Kreuger, let me direct you to the co-dependancy section at your local bookstore, you fucking pussy.