Kaboom

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The Netflix synopsis for this movie promised a “lovelorn college student” who “spends his night lusting after his straight roommate.” That sounds titillating! I thought to myself. Well… it was. Smith (Dekker) and his friends at an unnamed liberal arts school (which is apparently UC San Diego) have lots of hawtt bisexual sex until of them turns out to be possessed or something. Oh and there’s a conspiracy theory, a mysterious cult, and one of them is the “chosen” one… and there are nuclear bombs. But most of this is only addressed in the final 15 minutes of the film. There’s just so much shagging to attend to first! Who has time for the apocalypse?

This movie was produced in 2010… yet I found myself wondering why all the music and the actors’ outfits seemed so… 1990s. The answer is: Gregg Araki, the visionary who gave us The Doom Generation and Nowhere, both masterpieces of the jaded, drug-fueled 90s. But, nihilism, shoegazer rock and 60s floral prints don’t scan anymore; Kids These Days are into banjo music, artisanal pickling and viral Vimeo videos of their engagement proposals. This film’s characters were so firmly rooted in the past, I half-expected them to show up in big pants, waving glowsticks around their heads and sucking on pacifiers.

Subtract the sex scenes (they are many, and they are indeed hot) and you’re left with a hastily-constructed apocalypse that climaxes prematurely.

This Must Be The Place

Sean Penn is Cheyenne, the improbably heterosexual love child of Robert Smith and Boy George. He lives in a luxurious bungalow on a surprisingly modest cul-de-sac in suburban Dublin, Ireland. In his spare time—when he’s not delivering odd bits of wisdom in a halting, childlike voice—he hangs out at the mall with his best friend Mary, an embittered teenage punk, and has sex with his wife Jane, played by Lesbian Frances McDormand In A Tracksuit.

But something is wrong! Cheyenne’s life is incomplete. You see, Cheyenne is not a Real Artist. He’s simply a pop idol, someone who made a lot of money in the 80s, retired early, and discovered that his life felt empty. So, it’s now Cheyenne’s mission in life to fix everyone else’s problems. Mary’s being courted by a dweeb with with bad teeth and a nametag, and Cheyenne must convince her to quell her natural instinct to avoid so that they can fall in love and fulfill their destiny together. There’s also the question of the parents of a teenage boy who committed suicide in response to one of Cheyenne’s songs, who hate Cheyenne despite his well-intentioned visits to their son’s grave. Also, Cheyenne’s estranged and departed father, while interned at Auschwitz during WWII, was tortured at the hands of an escaped Nazi war criminal who Cheyenne must now hunt down somewhere in the Midwest of the United States. Oh, and Mary’s brother is missing, and her mother sits around all day chain-smoking with a haunted look on her face…

To be honest I had some trouble following all of these subplots. But, fear not, because in the end all will be revealed or something! Sean Penn makes Cheyenne—a character whose main strength seems to be a certain stony composure in the face of a script that can’t stop trying—into a genuinely likeable character. And the soundtrack, which consists almost exclusively of multiple sappy neofolk covers of the same Talking Heads song, will delight those who weren’t around to hear the original. The cinematography is thoughtful and elegant. Just don’t ask too many questions about what’s actually going on.

 

Cloverfield

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A movie with this much hype is almost destined to be awful, so in this respect, Cloverfield didn’t disappoint that much. The whole premise was kind of an interesting idea– a monster movie told in real-time filmed completely by the people experiencing the movie. However, “real time” can be a bitch, complete with the camera dropping, and multiple shoutings of “OH SHIT!” in every scene. It’s a cool idea, but do we really need to set the story up by having 1/2 hour of the characters having a party and talking about their personal lives and stuff? I wanted every single one of those annoying yuppies to get eaten by Godzilla after seeing about 5 minutes of them.

What’s most annoying about this movie is that it’s basically a love story. Underlying the motive of the main character is to save the chick he loves who is trapped in her apartment and other sappy shit. Come on, when I want to see Manhattan get destroyed by a Brooklyn-Bridge-eating reptile or alien or whatever, I don’t want to have to stop to think about how Love May Conquer All. oh yeah, also, the cast members who get injured along the way seem to make miraculous recoveries a lot. That’s the Second Most Annoying Thing in Cloverfield. When I want to see hipster 20-somethings getting mauled by giant spiders and crashing in helicopters, I don’t want to see them running away from danger at top speeds in the next scene.

What I do want is to find out what kind of camera they had, because it had a spotlight, night-vision, a battery that lasts at least 7 hours, can withstand being dropped multiple times, being in a helicopter crash, nearly being eaten by a giant monster, an explosion, and being buried in rubble. I am so buying stock in whatever company made that!

Frontier

FrontierI can’t resist the $1.99 DVD bin as hard as I try. I especially can’t resist a movie that is filmed entirely in a made-up language (“Bulbovian”) and *SUBTITLED IN ESPERANTO* (yes, you heard that correctly). This movie seemed like a dream come true!

This is the tale of two soldiers from Bulbovia, an imaginary Eastern Euopean country that has sent men out to civilize uncharted territory. At least I think that’s what’s going on; the font on the subtitles was really hard to read. Anyway, the soldiers tramp around through the handicapped-inaccessible forest (one dude is in a wheelchair) collecting bug samples and arguing about which species will get named after whom. After hearing the “forest speak” to him, the wheelchair-bound soldier can suddenly walk, and that’s when this film moves from “some guys with a video camera having fun in the woods” to “experimental.” (note: “Experimental” means: no-budget, but occasionally trying to be meaningful and/or artsy)

This movie doesn’t really have a plot to speak of, but it is supposedly based on a surrealist novel called Froktog by Mulnar Typsthat; at least every review of this film mentions that. However, the only thing I can find on this book are references to it through this movie. So… I did some anagrams of “Mulnar Typsthat” thinking that it sounded totally like an anagram of something and came up with “Nasal spurt myth” and “Strut Thy Napalm.” If you re-arrange “Froktog Mulnar Typsthat” altogether, you get “Prank Tart Lofty Mugshot” and “Mostly to prank truth, fag” and “try to fathom slut prank, G” Ah-HAH!

Like any good surrealist movie, things just kind of happen. I’ll just mention some of them: there’s a duel with plucked, uncooked chickens, Sasquatch and what looks like Jesus wearing a Greek theater mask frolic about in meadows, the formerly-handicapped guy (played by Wiley Wiggins, who has an awesome name) starts licking the leaves on the trees and eating the twigs, there’s a guy who wakes up with bugs crawling out of his mouth and finds an abandoned machine shop, Sasquatch and Jesus throw eggs at everyone…

In the end, I actually enjoyed this bizarre piece of filmmaking– it at least had a sense of humor about itself, and I’m totally a sucker for made-up languages.

The Octagon

The best thing about this movie is the title– the Octagon. Doesn’t that sound ominous? It’s like the Pentagon, only with more sides. On the poster, the first “O” in “octagon” actually is an octagon. Isn’t that clever?

For some reason, I thought this was going to be a sci-fi movie. Maybe I was just too excited by the picture on the video that shows Chuck Norris with his body filled in with a celestial theme. Maybe it was just wishful thinking. Anyway, this is a good-old fashioned action movie, only with a lot of talking compared to action. Much of the talking takes place in Scott (Chuck Norris), our protagonist’s head. It seems that he was trained in martial arts, was in some war, and has recurring echoing voices that try to further the plot along.

Now Scott’s left his old life behind and is… uh, I’m not sure what. He’s just militant about not going back to his old life. Meanwhile, everyone in the movie has a horrendous hairdo, including Chuck with his trademark feathered mullet, his friend A.J. with his poofy hyper-feathered David Hasselhoff-esque ‘fro, the South African dude with the poorly dyed blond bowl cut, and the Bad Guy, whose Asian Halloween wig from Spencer Gifts mullety thing is beyond description.

Central to the plot is the action. We discover that everyone Scott comes into contact with is being menaced by (inner voice talking): NINJAS… NINJAS … ninjas … ninjas. It turns out that Scott’s adopted Asian brother is running a summer-camp for training ninjas! Unfortunately, Scott’s had a feud with his brother for decades, as shown in many flashbacks, and is now his “lifelong enemy.” Scott now has a dilemma– can he kill his own brother? In all the flashbacks we see, Scott’s brother is a major dick. If my brother was that big of an asshole, I would have smacked him long ago. Anyway, Scott travels to the ninja camp, which we now discover is the Octagon in the last 15 minutes of the movie as the camera dwells on an aerial view of the compound, which indeed has 8 sides (the word “octagon” or any reference to any polyhedron is nowhere in the dialog).

There is sporadic martial arts action, throughout the film, but the ninjas don’t seem to be trained very well; Scott half-heartedly bitch-slaps them and they’re down. This film also contains a very half-hearted car chase ending in nothing being crashed, on fire, or even slightly dented. The bad guys have the good guys blocked in for a moment, then the good guys drive away while the bad guys are all like, “oopsie, we lost them!” There are also numerous attempts at humor, most of which are completely random and have no bearing on the plot. For example, Scott wants to sign up with a mercenary employer and wanders into the wrong room– one with square dance classes going on. Oops! Hilarity almost ensues! There is some sex, in the form of seeing 1/2 a nekkid booby for about 1.5 seconds, but that, plus the use of the word “shit” twice, was enough to get this cinematic gem rated R.

The main reason to watch this is because of the fact that when a white person dies, he does it very loudly and very slowly. One little blow dart to the chest can make someone dramatically thrash around while yelping in pain for several seconds. Also, watching the pussy ninjas getting picked off one by one while Chuck barely breaks a bare-chested sweat (he has to take his shirt off for some reason or another in pretty much every scene) and looks bored throughout most of the film. However, this film is very relevant today with all its talk of terrorism, funding terrorists, mercenaries, and the fur coat business. We learn an important lesson: if you want to fight terrorism, learn to speak “Slope” or “Ay-rab.”

300

300 bare-chested, sweat-glisteningly muscular men go up against incredible odds to fight the Persian army, wearing nothing but capes and leather undies. 300 follows in the tradition of great cinematic historical epics like Ben-Hur, by having you realize that in ancient times, dudes were all totally gay. How did the human race survive? The only dudes who seemed to like chicks were either hideously deformed and/or traitors… you’d think we’d be a race of hunchbacked, warty-faced turncoats by now.

OK, aside from the homoerotic overtones, this movie was about kicking serious ass. Blood, limbs, guts, unidentifieable body pieces flew around like confetti in most of the scenes, except when King Leonides, our protagonist, is giving speeches about freedom. For a race of people bred to be warriors (they are taking from their homes at a young age so they can prance around in diapers and learn how to handle big swords), this intangible concept is more than worth a lot of heaving and thrusting of large spears. Lest you think 300 people getting their asses kicked by Persians is an act that puts the ‘dumb’ in ‘freedom,’ history tells us that this heroic act paved the way for multiple gay discoes the Greek army to mobilize and kick those pesky Persians out once and for all. If it weren’t for them, we’d all be speaking Persian now… instead of Greek… or something.

As for the cinematic form… what can I say? The movie was visually very nice, the art direction simple, bold, and invoked a nice amount of Frank Miller’s graphic novel… but things like plot, character development, clever dialog, etc. are not necessary when you show this many elephants getting gutted and soldiers’ limbs and heads being amputated in graphic detail. It got so I was getting annoyed at the so-called ‘story’, like when they’d stop fighting to talk about what was going on. MORE ASS-KICKING! I heard myself yell.

Basically, see this movie if you are into:
1. gayness
2. ass-kicking
3. see 1 & 2

Xerxes, looking fabulous

Yo Yo Girl Cop

You’re probably thinking that this movie is a hip cry at a female officer, like “Yo, yo girl cop!” but it is not. It is exactly what it looks like– the cinematic portrayal of a teenaged girl recruited by the police, whose only weapon is a yo-yo. Granted the yo-yo can produce metal spikes when needed, but nonetheless it is still … a yo-yo. This film is apparently based on an 80s Japanese TV series, and it stars the Japanese teen idol Aya Matsuura, making it roughly analagous to, say Charlie’s Angels: the movie.

Our story opens with a teenage street urchin known only as ‘K’ being held in a jail in NYC. A police officer with a comically-exaggerated limp explains that there is a website called Enola Gay that all the kids are into that teaches them everything from how to kill themselves from how to build bombs with the stuff that you find in your school’s chemistry lab. Recently, an ominous countdown to an unnamed event showed up on the site… and it’s now K’s duty to find out what it is. Coincidentally, K’s mom is being held in another jail and her trial is in 3 days. Mom will magically get out of jail if K can pose as a high school student and get to the bottom of things.

The Limpy Guy is head of the Department of Underage Agents, and it’s his duty to train and recruit nubile young girls to infiltrate high schools around Japan to find out what the sinister underworld of teenagerdom is like. The last agent he recruited ended up strapping a bomb to herself and setting it off. K, now with the new code name of Asamiya Saki, is her new replacement. Thus K is shipped to Japan and given one weapon: a deadly yo-yo which somehow manages to be concealed in a slick leather holster around her thigh, though her schoolgirl uniform is nearly impossibly-short. Of course, she isn’t taught how to use the yo-yo, which results in a couple of comic relief scenes where she smacks herself in the head while trying to use it to deliver justice.

While in school, K uncovers all the regular stuff that goes on in high schools, including popular kids who bully loner girls and teachers who turn a blind eye to it. Bullying eventually leads these kids to the Enola Gay website, where they learn the fine art of strapping empty coke bottles full of what looks like grape ginger ale to themselves and blowing themselves up. But what is the big countdown for? Here’s where I got a little shaky on the plot due to my TV being so old that the tube has shifted below the frame thus obscuring subtitles. Though I was watching the film in “English dub” mode, I couldn’t see the translation of anything that was on the students’ computer screens, which might have been central to the plot.

Meanwhile, A badass dude at school has been going around slickly giving iPod Nanos to girls. There are suitcases full of money involved, and other intrigue points. The movie culminates in an epic battle between K and her school rival in an abandoned warehouse. The two girls have somehow managed to quickly shed their school uniforms for a leather cat suit that repels bullets (but not samurai sword blades), and a blinged-out Judas Priest-esque leather outfit. There they duke it out stylishly with their killer yo-yos, yelling such fiendishly diabolical lines as “you are going to die. RIGHT NOW!” and “I’ve had enough of this SHITTY SITUATION!”

Why did the Limpy Guy go all the way to NYC to find K to do what millions of other Japanese schoolgirls could have done? You’ll find out in the end, which is moderately heartwarming as everything wraps up nicely. K menacing the world with her killer yo-yo

The Terror of Tinytown

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Made in 1938, this is a pretty standard western musical… except that it features an entirely midget cast (except a few characters who I swear were just kids made up to look like small adults). Is this a dwarf-sploitation film of epic proportions? Or is it a landmark in dwarf equality, where Little People before were only relegated to movie roles of munchkins, Santa’s elves, king’s servant (every king seems to have a midget who brings him wine), and leprechauns? Perhaps neither, or maybe a little of both.

If it weren’t for the fact that the entire cast was under 4 foot 7 (is that the legal height requirement? I can’t remember), this would be a pretty standard western. you have Good Guys who wear white, Bad Guys who wear black, Damsels in Distress, lynch mobs, musical numbers, barbershop quartets featuring penguins… wait, did I say penguin? Yes, for some unknown reason, during the big barbershop quartet number, the camera zooms in on a penguin. The penguin is not shown before or after that one scene in the film. WTF?

The penguin is not the only thing in this movie that makes you say a hearty “what the f was that?”, though. There’s some comedy relief in the form of a German chef, who amusingly tries to catch and cook a duck, for example. Also, the entire town of Tinytown is built to little person scale… except for a few things that provide comic relief, such as the saloon doors (the town citizens walk under them), the hitching posts for the shetland ponies that everyone rides, and of course, hilariously, the beer mugs.

However, when you think about it, someone had to build an entire set to a smaller scale. I realized this during a stagecoach chase scene (every western requires one, this movie is no different)– they even built a very small stagecoach, presumably just for this movie! I guess in those days there was no shortage (ha ha, I just made a joke worthy of this movie!) of cheap illegal immigrant labor, but still, kind of impressive.

Perhaps the filmmakers had to do something with this hackneyed plot, poor script, and clichéd score… I know, maybe nobody will notice how bad it is if we throw in a few cheesy puns and make it entirely with underemployed munchkins from The Wizard of Oz! All in all, this is a jaw-droppingly amusing movie. The novelty alone makes it well worth the rental fee. Or, since it’s so old the copyright expired, you can ususally buy it for about $3.00 (comes as a double feature with the Reefer madness rip off movie Marihuana and some Betty Boop cartoons!).beer mug

Orca

Starring Richard Harris, Charlotte Rampling and Bo Derek in her film debut!

Awww, look at Shamu. He’s such a sweetie, licking little kids and jumping out of the water to smack basketballs hanging from ropes! Why do they call them “killer whales,” when they’re so darn cute? Captain Nolan (Richard Harris), an inexplicably Irish fisherman living in Canada gets to learn exactly why this is. In the wild, Shamu is a vicious, sadistic, cold, calculating killer.

Even though Rachel (Rampling), the Killer Whale expert who lectures at a local university warns him not to, Nolan decides he wants to catch an orca and sell it to an aquarium. Used to dealing in sharks, Nolan has no idea what he’s in for, and therefore needs Rachel and her stock footage to clue him in on the David Attenborough-esque details of killer whale life.

This comes in especially handy when while attempting to capture an orca, he accidentally kills a mommy and her unborn baby.

During the Wild Kingdom portion of the movie we learn that Orcas are monogamous and mate for life, they are really really smart, and they never forget a face. This last thing is the key to the rest of the movie, as Shamu hunts down Nolan and his crew, trying to chomp them.

Watch some hot Orca-on-wharf action as the pissed-off daddy orca rams the pylons that pretty much hold an entire town together! Somehow, knocking down some boathouses and wharves in the town where Captain nolan is staying Shamu manages to set fire to an entire town! You heard me. One whale. A whole town.

This is an obvious Jaws rip-off, but it’s much classier, and gorier in some parts. Jaws doesn’t get to eat entire towns, now does he? It’s worth it alone for the gratuitous use of Irish Fisherman sweaters.

“A Year Full of Kick-Ass Movie Pitches”

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PATTON OSWALT TALENT SHOWCASE
“A Year Full of Kick-Ass Movie Pitches”

Snakes on a Plane

snakes_200.jpgI’ve HAD IT with these MOTHERFUCKIN’ SNAKES on this MOTHERFUCKIN’ PLANE!

It was an experience. It was an atmospheric happening. It was more than simply a movie; it was a collective adventure in cinematic exploration. The barriers between artist and viewer were smashed to a pulp from the moment we entered the theater, as the audience chanted “SNAKES! SNAKES! SNAKES!” over the pre-movie ads for washed up tv shows now running on TBS. The lights dimmed, people cheered. Previews for lame movies dragged on and on, prompting the snake-lovers to hiss, snake-like. When Samuel L.’s name appeared in the titles, joyous hissing, shouting of “SNAKES!” thundrous applause echoed through the cineplex. People cheered at everything cheer-worthy, even when the co-star pulled out a can of Red Bull someone yelled “YEAH PRODUCT PLACEMENT!” and everyone laughed and cheered. At the point in the movie where the snake containment door is counting down to when the snakes are released on the plane, the audience shouted “4… 3… 2… 1… SNAAAAAAAKES!!!” and the cheers were deafening. …And this was all waaaaaaay before Sam even got to his famous line.
The movie itself bucked most disaster movie traditions– there was no smack-worthy hysterical bitch, the old sage person was pretty funny in addition to being heroic and wise, and minimal ethnic people died, if any. It was disastrous, and yet almost parodied the genre, but without havint to resort to guitar-playing nuns and old lady Jive Translators. It was action-packed without being a soulless instant-gratification Stuff Blowing Up movie.

For the unforgettable imagery, there were gratuitous shots of nekkid boobies being attacked by snakes, a snake-on-wang induced death, snakes eating peoples’ eyes out, and even a WARNING: SPOILER small dog became a boa constrictor snack. Basically, a cinematic apex has been reached: this movie has everything. Snakes on a Plane managed to combine the most amusing, tense, and interesting formulas from both slasher movies and disaster flicks– it made you tense wondering who was going to die next (you were pretty much rooting for everyone). However, just when you were pondering the futility of humanity, and thinking about the beauty of simple survival, snakes would jump out and start maiming people and the blood would being to spatter. People don’t usually die Freddy Krueger style in disaster flicks, probably because filmmakers want to be sympathetic to the people in peril (except the obvious baddies who you know will die). Hey, the marrying of two cinematic traditions works for me!snakesoncrack.jpeg

This movie will totally be the next Rocky Horror Picture Show. People already showed up to this one with stuffed snakes, ready to cheer, boo and of course hiss at opportune moments. Coming to a small college auditorium nowhere near you in 20 years– Snakes on a Plane – the Total experience. Forget the wax lips– airline hostess costumes and leis are where it’s at for the reptilian cult of the future! Take note, future Newbury Comics merchandise buyers.

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Miracle Dogs Too

Your heartstrings begin to be tugged at right from the very first scene of this movie, when the Mom (Janine Turner, of Northern Exposure fame), the Snotty Older Sister (Casey Evans) and the protagonist are in a car, leaving their hometown. The protagonist (Zack, played by Dustin Hunter Evans) mournfully sets the scene when he asks, “Mom, are we moving because you and dad got divorced?”Cut then to a couple of Hooligans, Francis and Leo (Jonathon Trent and the amazing Jaleel White, who looks about 40 now). They are homeless kids roaming the country causing trouble. They steal a car and find a couple of dogs in the back in a cage. Of couse the Bad Kid (not Urkel, of course) wants to kill them, so he sends the Good Kid (Urkel) to dispatch the pooches, and of course, being Good, Urkel can’t kill them.

Zack of course finds the dogs, and your heartstrings are tugged at a little more when you find that he can’t keep the dogs because his Bratty Sister is afraid of dogs. When she was little, she was bit by a dog, and thus has a barely noticeable scar on her eyelid which causes her to wear sunglasses all the time as she snottily dismisses the attention lavished upon her by the jocky neighbor. Zack is forced to hide the dogs, which calls for a bit of hilarity as well as more of the cockles of your heart being warmed.
At this point, your heartstrings are practically snapping as your heart is in danger of popping out of your chest.  Zack learns that the dogs heal people when he randomly walks into a doctor’s office one day and all the people in the waiting room are miraculously cured of their sniffles and coughs.

The Mom is director of a nursing home that is staffed by the nazi-esque Nurse Bleaker (Lesley Ann Warren) who doesn’t let the residents have any fun. Heartwarmingness comes in the form of a seemingly grumpy old sea captain (Charles Durning) whom Zack befriends, as well as a studly young doctor whom Mom (more than) befriends. Captain Pete agrees to watch the dogs for Zack, and of course the dogs get loose and heal all the old people, who end up having a big wild and crazy(yet heartwarming) dance party in one of the common rooms.

All the subplots intersect eventually and everyone learns a valuable moral lesson about the nature of being good with vaguely Christian overtones as the viewer’s heart is now so warm it resembles the sacrifice scene from Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom. This movie is actually fairly dangerous. Although there is no sex, no bad words (unless you count “darn”), no violence of any sort, it causes heart damage. I think the American Heart Association put this movie out to keep them in business with all of the heartstring tugging and warming that goes on. I don’t think it could be any more heartwarming, in fact.

Basically: avoid this movie at all costs.miracledogs.jpg

The Omen (remake)

omen-3.jpgWhy do people re-make movies? Sometimes it is to further explore topics in the original, or to expound on missing elements. Sometimes they re-make them to turn an abstract foreign film into something Americans can understand. Sometimes they just do it because they can. I have a sneaking suspicion that The Omen got re-made because this year boasts the only 6/6/06 until the next millennium, and somebody had to commercially exploit that fact!

Basically, the re-make was pretty much like the original as I remember it. I love Liev Schreiber. Let me just say that he is always awesome in movies, this one included. Julia Stiles was slightly less stilted and wooden than usual, and Mia Farrow was properly creepy as the nanny of Satan, although she totally doesn’t look strong enough to wield a sledgehammer, even with Lucifer’s help. The kid who played Damien has a great sullen, eye-narrowing evil look of mistrust that I’m sure he can use to irritate his parents for the rest of his life. The cast seemed great, so what was wrong with this movie?

Truthfully, I’m not sure. I enjoyed it, but the whole time I had this nagging feeling that it sucked. Maybe I’m naturally distrustful of remakes. Maybe I just thought it was kind of pointless to remake a movie when you don’t add anything to it. Maybe I wanted something less commercial and more heartfelt to usher in what was supposed to be Armageddon on that Tuesday, June 6th. I *wanted* to be scared shitless. Instead, I get the some updated info on the End of Days in the form of a PowerPoint presentation given to the Pope, complete with pictures of 9/11 (raining fire), hurricane Katrina (floods), the Challenger blowing up (star falling from the sky) etc. It wasn’t scary at all– it was just the kind of thing that every kid starts digging up in Jr. high when he starts listening to inordinate amounts of KISS and Black Sabbath.

Alas, this movie will not give me nightmares. Quite the contrary, Liev Schrieber is pretty dreamy in this as the Loving Husband and Dutiful Dad. Do you really think he would stab his own kid in the heart with a rusty metal dagger, even if the kid makes all the gorillas at the zoo freak out? I don’t, but Mr. Schreiber actually makes his sudden change of heart about the whole thing believable. I mean, with pollution, corruption, war, inequality and everything else in the world that sucks, sometimes you just want to believe that it will be a pre-ordained force beyond our control that will wipe out the earth. I wish I could have been convinced as well.Omen.jpg

Frogs

frogs.JPGI’ll bet you never thought frogs were evil, did you? Well think again!

This tale centers around a creepily rich dysfunctional family gathered together for the grumpywheelchair-bound patriarch’s (played by Ray Milland, whose legend lives on in crossword puzzles) birthday in his Louisiana plantation house on an island. It’s an idyllic location, the house is surrounded by trees covered with Spanish moss, and the woods are populated with both boa constrictors AND rattlesnakes! Who knew they could live side by side in the bayou?

The over-zealously boating grandson accidentally knocks over the canoe of Pickett Smith (Sam Elliott), a nature photographer who is documenting the pollution on the bayou. Smith gets invited to Grumpy Grandpa’s 4th of July/birthday party, and unwittingly gets enmeshed in the attack of the killer… things that aren’t frogs.

All throughout the movie, in between scenes you see ominous pictures of frogs. The music growls menacingly as we see these creatures of doom fearlessly hopping along. However, although the island is overrun with frogs, frogs don’t actually inflict any harm on anyone; they just hop around menacingly. However, we do get to see stock-footage of other creatures who inhabit the island looking scary and pissed off. For example, there are these gecko-things that keep pouting for the camera, but do very little.

However, people keep dying (non frog-related deaths). Tyrannically Grouchy Grandpa refuses to let any of his family leave the island, but they attempt to anyway. Of course, they die.

Here’s the rundown of how they die:

Michael (the cousin) – accidentally shoots himself in the leg. While he’s lying on the ground, stock footage of tarantulas cover him with evil Spanish moss until he dies.

Kenneth (the other guy) – is in the greenhouse when some geckos knock bottles marked “POISON” off the shelf. The bottles break, giving off dry ice. Of course Kenneth goes to investigate, sniffing the gas, and is asphyxiated.

Iris (the Grandma) stumbles through the scrubby woods in search of butterflies, which she collects. After a lengthy sequence in which she gets entangled in all sorts of vines, falls into a puddle and gets covered with giant leeches, sees 10 different species of snakes lurking around causing her to scream, she finally gets bitten by a snake and instantly and anti-climactically dies.

Her husband is looking for her, and gets pulled into a pit filled with what looks like tar by an alligator. He is then left there covered in black sludge while the alligator looks smug.

Clint (the guy living forever in the shadow of his grandfather) ends up in the water and is pulled under by some unknown creature. We assume it’s a snake.

Clint’s wife runs to rescue him and is munched by a snapping turtle.

See any pattern here? These deaths are all connected by one factor: None of them are actually caused by frogs. In beween killings, frogs hop around threateningly, and occasionally triumphantly hop on the corpses, but they are essentially benign creatures…

Until it’s time for the increasingly mean, nasty grandpa to kick off. Left alone on the island after stubbornly refusing to leave, the frogs begin breaking the windows… the last scene is him falling out of his wheelchair… then his body is hopped upon by evil frogs. So… frogs caused him to have a heart attack. Is that the best they could do? They should have called this movie “Anything But Frogs” or “The Frogs Hopped On” or perhaps “Frogs Would Have Killed People, Really, If Frogs Were Dangerous.” But no. “Frogs” it is.

Oh yeah, like in all good movies, there’s a moral. I think the moral is: be nice to animals, and don’t pollute, or frogs will annoy you to death.

Yor, Hunter From the Future

yor.jpgOK OK, I realize that it’s cheating to watch this sort of movie and review it on a cheesy movie website. I mean, finding the cheesiness in Yor, Hunter From the Future is kind of like shooting sleeping elephants at the zoo–you don’t need very good aim. We here at Cinebad strive to find the corny and cheesy in every movie, not just those low-budget fantasy flicks whose dialog could have been penned by the old Chinese guy who works at the liquor store down the street from me who is partially deaf and speaks no English.

Anyway, this movie touches upon “deep” topics, such as nuclear annihilation. You don’t realize this until the very end, but the message is there. Nuclear holocasuts are bad. Don’t let yourselves blow each other up, kids! Otherwise, you’ll be forced to live in stone-age level nomadic bands, wearing nothing but butt-reavealing animal skins, bad wigs, and battling dinosaurs all day.

Yor (played by Reb Brown) is our protagonist. He looks like a really built Dana Carvey, complete with his blond, unkempt wig from Wayne’s World. He is the mighty hunter (though he’s not technically from the future, but whatever. Details!) who goes around accidentally getting each tribe of people annihilated by accident. He’s actually trying to help them, but in the battle, he ends up running away with his chick and her father, leaving the rest of the tribe to be swept away by rivers, eaten by dinosaurs, killed by laser blasts or whatever. Sometimes he just kicks their asses.

You see, Yor is on a quest for self-discovery. For as long as he can remember, he’s been wearing this medallion made of who-knows-what. In fact, people he meets are always asking him what it’s made of, and his answer is always a wistful “I wish I knew.” It looks a lot like a jumbo piece of gelt that one would win in a particularly high-stakes game of dreydel, but I don’t think society has evolved so far as to have invented dreydels quite yet on this planet.

Along the way, Yor and his posse keep getting attacked by these guys from the bad tribe. They dress in black furs and paint their faces purple. They also grunt a lot. However, Yor still manages to elude them (plus a couple of dinosaurs) and find the secret island that was once ruled by his people…

I won’t spoil the ending, but let’s just say it ‘s an epic battle of Good vs. an Evil guy who constantly spouts lengthy soliloquies to his robot army (he’s trying to breed the “Master Race” which is part genetically modified human and part robot). Note to guy: robots don’t have feelings, and probably don’t care about your trials and tribulations, and how hard it is being Overlord (that’s really his name).

Even though this movie has absolutely no cinematically redeeming qualities (although one of the guys from the Island of the Aryans is kinda cute), it is definitely fun to watch. if you’re looking for things to round out your “worst movie ever made, yet in a fun way” collection– this one is a must.

Masters of the Universe

Dolph Lundgren has always been one of the world’s greatest and most underrated actors. Here he gets to show his tender side as He-Man, battling Skeletor, and saving the kingdom of Eternia.

Along the way, he brings a scantilly-clad Teela, her dad, Gwildor the dwarf (they didn’t have the budget for that flying ghost thing in the cartoons, just Billy Barty–RIP). Their quest is to find the Cosmic Key, a glowing contraption that harmonizes the universe with its dulcet casio-tones.
The band of Eternians tracks the Cosmic Key to earth, where they meet Julie (Courtenay Cox, in between her acting debut in a Bruce Springsteen video and “Friends”) and Kevin (the future Tom Paris of Star Trek: Voyager). Hilarity and adventure ensue as Skeletor and his band of scary action-figures badly translated into real-live characters pursue them. There is even a poignant moment or two when Skeletor uses Julie’s weakness–her love of her parents who died in a plane crash– to get to her to betray her new oddly-clothed extra terrestrial friends.

The best moment is near the end, when Skeletor, clad in his Spencer-Gifts quality skeleton mask eloquently and dramatically delivers his Shakesperean last soliloquy:

People of Eternia! I stand before the Great Eye of the galaxy. Chosen by destiny by the powers of Greyskull! This inevitable moment will transpire before your eyes, even as He-Man himself bears witness to it. Now. I, Skeletor, am Master of the Universe! YES! Yes… I feel it, the power… fills me. Yes, I feel the universe within me! I am… I am a part of the cosmos! The power flows… Flows through me! Of what consequence are you now? This planet, these people. They are NOTHING to me! The universe is power! Real, unstoppable POWER! and I am that force! I am that power! KNEEL BEFORE YOUR MASTER! Fool! you are no longer my EQUAL! I am more than man! MORE THAN LIFE! I… am… a… GOD! Now. You… will… KNEEEEEL! KNEEEEL!

It brought tears to my eyes. Actually, this whole movie did.

Poseidon

That people had learned their lesson and not named a ship The Poseidon. Besides, aren’t ships supposed to be given girls’ names?

Don’t get your hopes up– this is not the made-for-TV remake of The Poseidon Adventure that starred Steve Guttenberg, Rutger Hauer, C. Thomas Howell, and that chick who was Dr. Corday on E.R. I was really excited about that one, but alas, missed it when it aired– perhaps someday people will find it in their heart to put it out on DVD.

Poseidon is the new new remake of The Poseidon Adventure (and possibly Beyond the Poseidon Adventure) that stars Kurt Russell and Richard Dreyfuss. Unlike it’s made-for-tv predecessor, this one didn’t feature terrorists blowing anything up. This version sticks pretty close to the original Poseidon Adventure’s plot line– a rogue wave smacks a cruise liner and before anyone can develop a character or a decent back-story, all hell breaks loose!

This film is in the true spirit of Irwin Allen. Irwin would be proud. Directed by Wolfgang “Das Boot” Petersen, (also responsible for Troy and Enemy Mine) it is the story of 8 Empty Symbols representing different strata of the human condition who are forced to put their differences aside and work together to survive without uttering any swear words.

There’s the Rich but Down-Home ex firefighter turned mayor of NYC (Russell), the overprotective father of a daughter whose main function is to supply some boobs and pout a lot while Daddy disapproves of her spending so much time with her boyfriend. There’s The Boyfriend who is just… well… another guy. He gets his legs pinned under some falling scaffolding that takes the massive strength of 3 people and a lever to extract, yet he barely even limps afterwards. There’s the Nice Young Mom and her young son Conor. The mom spends a lot of time screaming “CONNNNNNNNNORRRRR!” And the son has some “so cute because they sound mature” lines, as well as getting to scream “MOMMMMMMMYYYYYYY!!!!” a lot. There’s a middle aged gay guy who’s about to commit suicide when the wave hits (Dreyfuss), and causes him to find new meaning in life by saving the ass of the hot Latina stowaway chick numerous times (she supplies more boobs and an amusingly obvious underwear shot). who am I forgetting? Oh yeah, the “badass” loner guy. He’s a loner, and a badass. There are also the requisite minor disposable characters who we meet long enough to maybe feel slightly chagrined when they meet their tragic demises.

Unfortunately, although there was plenty of screaming and freaking out, nobody got slapped, in true Irwin Allen tradition. Oh well. Basically, this movie WAS AWESOME! We all know that I love cheesy disaster flicks. The cheesier, and the bigger the budget, the better. This one didn’t scrimp in either category, either. The big budget supplied mangled corpses in nearly every scene, and lots and lots of stuff impressively blowing up. The cheese was supplied by the ragtag band of survivors who had to perform many scary and dangerous tricks to cross gaping precipices, waterlogged airways, narrow tunnels, and fire-filled halls. Though they cry a lot and almost lose hope, only 4 of them end up dying (and two were only minor characters).

Disaster movies are awesome, because you always know *someone* is gonna die. In this movie, it is never completely obvious who is about to kick off. You think, “well, they wouldn’t kill the kid, right?” or WOULD THEY? “They wouldn’t kill the hero, right?” OR WOULD THEY? “They wouldn’t dare off the hot chick…” WOULD THEY!? It will leave you guessing, right until the characters exhale their last breaths.

If you are a fan of movies with brilliant, witty dialogue, fascinating character development, unexpected plot twists and philosophical undertones… stay far away from your local cineplex. However, if you enjoy stuff blowing up and watching people almost drown a lot, head to your nearest movie theater!

The Suckling

the SucklingA girl (Rebecca) gets knocked up by her boyfriend. She wants to give the baby up for adoption, but somehow her boyfriend, a blond jocky-looking guy in a fabulously yellow sweater, has convinced her to just “go inside and see what it’s like” to an abortion clinic.

This is no ordinary abortion clinic, mind you. It’s housed in a ramshackle victorian house in “Brooklyn,” surrounded by scraggly trees and brush. The abortion clinic happens to be a side business for Big Mama, who also runs a whorehouse in the building. Against Rebecca’s wishes, Big Mama takes the scared Rebecca into the back room, drugs her, and aborts the fetus with a rusty coathanger. She gives the fetus to her assistant, a slightly-retarded Jamaican girl, who promptly flushes it down the toilet.

From here, we see the bloody fetus’ journey down the pipes into the oddly steaming depths of the sewer system. It lies there under a drain that happens to be the outlet for large barrels marked TOXIC WASTE! As the TOXIC WASTE! drips down, we see the fetus twitch, and ingest more. It grows bigger, and bigger…

Meanwhile, back at the house of ill repute one of the ho’s accidentally kill a client. Things heat up when Axel, the Beefy Guy (I’m not sure what part he plays in the bordello, maybe the cashier, since he’s the one you pay), starts throwing his weight around, and we are introduced to his fiery temper. Rebecca wakes up and wants to leave… But the door won’t open.

The Abortion has crawled back up through the sewer pipes and is attacking people! It’s surrounded the house in this gooey membrane, so nobody can escape, and it’s now 7-feet-tall!

Mayhem ensues as various characters die grisly deaths, attempt to break through to the outside of the house, kill the abortion, and turn on each other.

The best part of this movie is that it’s supposedly based on a true story!

The disclaimer at the beginning of the movie enlightens us:

on April 1, 1973, a crime occurred unequalled in “all of Brooklyn’s modern history.” Twelve people were found dead inside a house of prostitution that doubled as an illegal abortion clinic. The one survivor was a young woman who told a tale so fantastic that she was immediately committed to a mental asylum. Experts researched the case for years, without finding an explanation. Only the brave filmmakers believe the poor young woman’s tale to be true.

**WARNIING SPOILER!!*** The ending is pretty spectacular. Rebecca is lying on the floor trying to escape from the giant Abortion, who has already killed everyone else in the house. Seeing her, it recognizes her as its mommy, turns into a little play-doh creature, and zooms back up into her womb. The police then arrive and take Rebecca to a psych ward. Far from having its work be done, the abortion still gets its last movie hurrah when it kills some psycho ward orderlies who are trying to rape Rebecca.

Pretty much everything movies ever have to offer is contained in this movie– there’s the heartwarming mother and child reunion, lots of senseless bloodshed, ho’s arguing with johns, some slapstick in the form of a S&M scene… all wrapped up in a nice low-budget package.

Scenes to watch out for:

- after she performs the abortion, Big Mama cleans off her medical tool – a coathanger– bends it back into shape, and then hangs her lab coat on it (pausing to wipe a little leftover blood off the coat).
-The lovely squeaking sound as one ho inserts a giant dildo into the john’s butt, and the sound of a cork popping as she pulls it out.

Split

Don’t let the lack of budget fool you– this movie is sort of deep. It’s a commentary on technology and the nature of humankind. well, sort of. It follows the trials of Starker, a guy on the run from two guys in  darkened office who follow his course around an unnamed city on their 80/88, which has remarkable graphics for it being 1989. I think the guys in the office are controlling humankind, and Starker has figured out a way to evade them. He has a drug, which he is going to put in the water supply, which will make people see what’s really going on. However, the freedom is making him paranoid and unstable, and causes him to do things like snort Sweet & Low in a diner, and change his clothes a lot.
There’s also a subplot about the Head Bad Guy, whose body is falling apart, and he must be kept hanging in this giant mechanical contraption. He needs to transplant his being (i.e, thoughts, personality, memories etc.) into a new body in order so he can go on living and expounding on the nature of live and reality in long speeches.
There are some cool details in the movie–for example, Instead of trenchcoat-clad Men In Black figures, the governing entity’s henchman are robotic guys with pompadours and pastel blazers who drive around in a 1960s convertible. There’s a funny, yet slightly creepy artist whom Starker discusses art with, who gets to have a weird dream sequence on a beach with nekkid chicks.
All in all, this movie has some interesting moments, but definitely ranks high in the cheese category.

Rant on Stuff by the Head Bad Guy

Flightplan

flightplan.jpg

Jodie Foster is the least sexy person on the planet. It’s a role she plays well; possibly even better now that she had some surgery or something that makes her face permanently grimace a la the Joker. Maybe it’s just her normal sour expression; she’s very good at being dour and businesslike. Normally, I am totally behind any chick who gets to be in movies and not bare her boobs or cleavage once. However, Jodie Foster has always gotten on my nerves for some reason. I think the last movie I liked her in was Freaky Friday.

Ms. Foster plays Kyle, a woman who was living in Germany with her husband and daughter. Her husband inexplicably jumped off a roof, and now his distrought widow is taking their daughter Julia along with his corpse back to the USA.
Conveniently, Kyle is an airplane engine designer, and just happened to have built the engines that are flying the super-duper double-decker jumbo jet that she, Julia, Julia’s touchingly one-armed teddy bear, and a host of random stereotypical characters are flying in. Once aboard the plane, Kyle and Julia change to some empty seats at the back of the plane, where they can stretch out better. When Kyle awakens from her nap… her daughter is GONE!

Frantically, Kyle searches the plane for her, enlisting the help of reluctant flight attendants and even the captain. This is where she starts flipping her shit and you just want to smack her, as does the rest of the flight crew.This is where the movie gets good– it becomes both a disaster film AND a made-for-Lifetime-Channel ovaries-in-peril flick of the “OH GOD, WHERE’S MY BABY!!?!” variety. Watch as Kyle goes more and more nuts looking for her daughter. She even goes so far as to accost some Arab-looking guys whom she claimed were spying on her back in Germany.

The more Kyle flips out, the more information we get from the flight attendants as their exchanged eyerolls turn to concern for their safety from this freaky woman: that nobody was assigned to her daughter’s seat. Nobody with her daughter’s name was on the passenger roster. Then it is revealed… her daughter died in the hospital with her husband; he dragged her with him when he jumped.

Or *did* she? This is where the plot thickens a lot. I won’t ruin it for you, but gallons of cheese drips off of the screen from here on out. Of course there’s a bad guy who confesses his entire plot to her along the way to enlighten the audience (do bad guys really spew monologues at their enemies in times of peril letting them know how they pulled off the heinous deeds they did? If so, why don’t we just carry around more video cameras to tape a confession?). The predictably lame dialog and cheesily sarcastic bad guy only serve to add more cheese to this Jodie Foster fondue.

This movie could have been good. It was vaguely hitchcockian at times, even. I think it was a combination of Kyle’s massive freaking out and the unbelievableness of the badguy and his inside henchman that made this flick too cheesy for words. To be fair, the Bad Guy did get some lame-yet-good sarcastic bad guy lines, like “Hey! Your husband didn’t jump off that roof! He flew!” Jodie also gets some Schwarzeneggerian one-liners like when she discovers the requisite bomb on the plane and detonation device, the Bad Guy says, “What are you going to do? Blow us both up? ” to which she eloquently replies, “No, just you.”

To sum up, this movie will fill a portion of that hole in your heart that hasn’t been satisfied since Passenger 57 (this hole will be completely filled with the forthcoming Snakes On A Plane, out this summer). If you like cheesy disaster movies, and acting so understated it’s overdone (as Jodie Foster has perfected), this may be the one for you.