Archive for the ‘Monster Flicks’ Category

The Suckling

Sunday, April 23rd, 2006

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.

V for Vendetta

Monday, March 27th, 2006

vendetta.jpgStarring: Hugo Weaving, Natalie Portman

This movie, based on the graphic novel by Alan Moore and David Lloyd, comes off as a weird hybrid of 1984 and Zorro: The Gay Blade. Set in a futuristic, post-capitalistic Britain, where the police are brainless thugs, the Anglican Church has turned into a weird pseudo-Nazi regime, and women have been relegated back to the roles of baby factory and housewife, V (Weaving) is a former convict and disfigured byproduct of hideous experiements in genetic engineering. Freed by a prison fire, he leads his life underground, plotting flamboyant acts of terrorism against the British government in the mold of classic British anti-hero Guy Fawkes. Evey (Portman) is his unlikely sidekick, at first rescued, and later abducted and tortured by V as part of his Jedi-like quest to transform her into the perfect terrorist. But, since the government in this case is totally corrupt and evil, it’s OK to be a terrorist, right? Or something.

Once again the Wachowski brothers (who wrote the screenplay) seem hell-bent on convincing us that they are, like, so freakin’ deep, man, but I’ll admit that I found the philosophical points in this movie less irritating and obvious than in The Matrix. Some well-directed, albeit incredibly violent action scenes keep the movie humming along. V’s philosophical ramblings are at best goofy, often boring, and Portman’s acting is wooden as ever. Great production design and costuming helps to keep this movie afloat. I just wish it hadn’t taken itself quite so seriously.

If you’re willing to suspend your disbelief to the Nth degree (how exactly does V afford to clothe the entire population of Great Britain in Guy Fawkes cotumes, let alone afford the FedEx fees?) or don’t care very much about feminism (why does Evie become so enamored of V after being heinously tortured?) this can be a fun little film. But, unless you’re a huge fan of the Wachowskis I wouldn’t hesitate to wait for this one on DVD.

Alien Resurrection

Wednesday, February 22nd, 2006
Starring: Sigourney Weaver, Ron Perlman

It’s 200 years after Ellen Ripley has been killed by Aliens. Scientists have cloned her, and are now trying to breed Aliens to use for experiments.

Ripley’s clone is the first human-Alien hybrid, and she’s one mean motha’! She can knock out tough guys by hitting them with basketballs, her blood dissolves metal! Then the Aliens get loose and terrorize the ship. You know the drill. The rest of the film is mostly panic stricken people fleeing from, shooting, and being killed by drooling computer graphics. Ron Perlman co- stars as the guy who says “I’m the one with whom you do not fuck.” It makes me happy to know that humans will know how to correctly use prepositions in the future.

Dolly Dearest

Wednesday, February 22nd, 2006
Haaarghhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh!
Starring: Denise Crosby, Sam Bottoms, Rip Torn, Chris Demetral, Candace Hutson, Ed Gale

Marilyn and Eliot Read (the radiant Denise Crosby and the unfortunately named Sam Bottoms) are two rich American yuppies who move to Mexico with their two adorable offspring to buy a doll factory. This doll factory is going to be Eliot’s ticket to the big time. Unfortunately, Eliot doesn’t think to actually scope out the factory before he signs the title– uh oh! It looks like the factory is built next to a Satanic Indian Burial Mound. No wonder it was so cheap.

Doctor Karl Resnick (the redundantly named Rip Torn) is an archaeologist studying the indigenous people of the area. This particular tribe of ancient Indians worshipped a “Spirit of Evil,” i.e. Satan himself. Through their devout worshipping, they managed to conceive and deliver a child of pure evil, a baby born with the head of a goat. This particular tomb might be the burial place of this child! Of course, Dr Resnick doesn’t actually believe any of this Satanic stuff; he just wants to investigate for purely scientific reasons. He and his boy-toy Luis set off for archaeological adventure.

Soon after moving in, The Read’s daughter Jessica (Candace “Baby Jane” Hutson) starts acting strangely. Why is she spending so much time with her Dolly? Dolly (voiced over by Ed Gale) is Jessica’s only friend, and they’re inseparable. Conveniently enough, there’s a creepy child-size dollhouse in the backyard, where Dolly and Jessica can go to be alone. What are they doing back there? Listening to Ani DiFranco records and exploring their sexuality? Quietly drawing pictures of goat-headed babies in their coloring books? Jessica’s nanny Camilla knows that something is up– she’s a devout Catholic, and she can feel an evil presence in the house…

Meanwhile, Jessica’s big brother Jimmy (the pharmaceutically named Chris Demetral) won’t leave the ancient burial mound alone– he’s convinced there’s something in there. Dr Resnick doesn’t really want him hanging around, but he can’t get rid of him. And after all, Jimmy is skinny enough to crawl through the ancient passageway and unlock the door of the inner tomb…

Soon, Camilla is found dead in the cellar and strange things start to happen. Marilyn is convinced that something is wrong with the child, but no one will believe her. Who could possibly separate such a sweet child from her beloved Dolly? Finally, in desperation, Marilyn goes to Camilla’s sister the nun for advice. Yes, the nun agrees, Jessica is definitely possessed by the spirit of the Great Lord of Darkness aka Baalzebub. But there’s nothing that she can do about it now. “Listen!” screams Marilyn, “I am not losing my daughter to some goddamn nine-hundred-year-old goat head!”

It turns out that Dolly isn’t the only one possessed by Satan around here– in fact, all the dolls in the factory have turned into murderous, evil creatures bent on destruction and terror! They already did a number on Hector, the night watchman, felling him fatally with a single stab wound to the thigh. Hector collapses in a fit of nipple-pinching agony (this part was really, really weird.) Now Eliot and Dr Resnick go to the factory to see what can be done, but the Dollies are waiting for them with murderous intent. They tie Eliot to a bit of clothesline and try to dump him in the plastic-mixing vat. What can possibly save him now? Will a series of cinematic explosions rid the world of this ancient evil?

OK… maybe I’m not evil enough to fully understand the motives of the Dark One, but if you were Satan, and you’d possessed a doll factory, wouldn’t you wait until the dolls were shipped all over the world before commencing your reign of terror? I mean, what good is one little village in Mexico when there are F.A.O. Schwartz stores all over the world? Just a thought.

All in all, though, this was a fine example of slasher-pic cheese. I love the way that Dolly ends all her sentences with a hoarse growl, e.g. “Oh, goody! We’re going for a ride! Harrrghhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh!” And Denise Crosby’s portrayal of a plucky mom who thinks her child is possessed by Satan is right on the money. Maybe she should consider doing made-for-TV dramas. I can see it now: “Not Without My Crucifix: The True Story of Baby Jessica.” Somebody call Lifetime Television!

The Eternal

Wednesday, February 22nd, 2006
Starring: Alison Elliot, Jared Smith, Christopher Walken

Guess what? for once, even though he gets his head chopped off early on in the film, Christopher Walken does not play a bad guy!! At least I don’t think he was all bad. He was kind of creepy and sinister, but not actually bad.

Nora (Elliott) is an alcoholic in poor health living with her young son and Jeff, her similarly alcoholic husband (Smith) in a big city in the USA. She used to be Irish, you can tell because she occasionally lapses into an Irishoid accent. The family doctor tells her that she has to stop drinking, or her health will continue to deteriorate. So, she decided to take the family to Ireland to begin her life of a teetotaler.

Nora’s grandmother and uncle live in Ireland still, in a big ancestral mansion complete with huge portraits on the walls and velvet drapey things around. (I won’t even go into the historical inaccuracy of all this right now). Nora lasts about 2 hours without a drink and subsequently crashes the car on the way to the mansion. The family meets Alice (a traditionally Irish name!), a little girl whom her uncle (Walken) has adopted. Alice is really a good actress! She was one of the highlights of this movie, but unfortunately I can’t remember what her real name was, and I can’t find it anywhere.

Nora’s Uncle takes Nora down to the basement to meet his mummy (that’s mummy as in dead person) soon after their arrival. She’s a “druid witch” who hurled herself into the sea after getting knocked up by some guy who didn’t love her. How he knows this, I’m not sure, since this whole incident took place over 2000 years ago, and she’s been buried in a bog all this time. I guess Nora’s Uncle was just a really good expert archaeologist. Too bad, because the mummy soon comes to life and saws Uncle’s head off with a scalpel.

Anyway, because the mummy is a “druid witch” she’s not completely dead. She’s slowly transferring her soul into Nora’s body. Nora has to die in order for her to complete the transformation. In the meantime, she’s assumed an appearance identical to Nora’s. This gets really confusing if you normally wear glasses, but lose them and watch this movie anyway, like I did.

People get knocked unconscious in just about every scene in this film. Poor Jeff! He gets knocked out in about 5 scenes in a row various people and objects! People also bleed a lot in this movie. There’s also a guy who is in the IRA, who doesn’t figure much into the plot. His main function is to occasionally bleed. We all know that all Irish guys between the ages of 14 and 40 are in the IRA, or drunks, or boxers, (or perhaps all 3) so I guess it’s only right to have one in this film.

All in all, this is one of the cheesiest new releases on Hollywood Video’s shelves. It’s perfect to pick on, yet I thoroughly enjoyed it too. There are Druid prophesies, haunted mansions, the mysterious grandmother kept prisoner… I didn’t really understand a lot of it, but that’s OK. Why were the shelves full of tranquilizers? I don’t really get it. Oh well. Be sure to wear your glasses for the last scene, though. There’s a whole lotta shape-shifting going on, and I was confused.

Cube

Wednesday, February 22nd, 2006
Starring: Nicole deBoer, Nicky Guadagni, David Hewlett, Maurice Dean Wint

Our story opens with a guy waking up in a strange room… He opens a hatch and goes into another room just like the one he was in… then he gets sliced up like a hard-boiled egg in one of those wire egg slicers, and in a fit of bad computer graphics turns into a bunch of little chunks. I had a hard time deciding what category to put this film in. It defies category. Or, rather, it’s so vague it can fit into just about any category.

It starts out with your basic disaster film formula. A motley crew of Canadians are dumped without rhyme or reason into a large structure that looks like it could have been built by Rubik after he was assimilated by the Borg. It is a collection of rooms, identical except for they are different colors. I think the main reason the rooms are different colors is so that it looks like the filmmakers didn’t have to built just one set.

Anyway, we have the basic disaster film characters: the whiny girl who panics a lot, the guy who takes charge, the silent cynical one, the pessimistic guy who spreads panic, and the good doctor. Later on we learn, through minimal plot development, that one Canadian is a policeman, another, an escape artist (but he gets his face eaten off by acid early on), one is a mathematician, and another designed the outer shell of the cube. Later on they are joined by whom everyone thinks is your average retard, but he turns out to be an idiot savant who saves the day. Unfortunately, there’s no real disaster to put this movie on the level with, say, The Towering Inferno.

Some of the rooms are booby-trapped, but Math Girl discovers that the rooms are numbered in a certain way. Only the rooms that are labeled with prime numbers are booby trapped. Sounds like a math nightmare, right? It gets worse. The math starts out sounding relatively plausible, but then goes off into concepts my 500-on- the-math-portion-of-the-SAT- achieving brain can’t comprehend. However, I do know that a number that ends in 5 can never be prime (except for 5), a fact that takes Math Girl several seconds of hardcore brain-wracking to figure out.

I was tempted to label this film a futuristic dystopia, but one of the main points is that it’s taking place today. Yes, even today mild-mannered Canadians can be snatched from their beds and dumped into a big cubical math camp. Of course many bumper stickers have reminded me that The Future Is Now, so maybe this could be futuristic dystopia after all.

Cube is not really a ‘monsters- human and otherwise’ film , because there are no real tangible monsters. I gathered that Cube was supposed to be a psychological thriller, owing to the fact that no enemy is visible. The threat is perceived, and the Canadians turn on each other. The scary part of this movie is supposed to be that there is no real threat.. Who built the cube? “Like Scaramanga- from The Man With the Golden Gun, some rich psycho” is one suggestion. Doctor Lady says “Only the government could have built something this ugly…”

But the scary thing is there is no big conspiracy going on. Whoever built this made a big mistake- each part was designed by a different person who didn’t know what anyone else was doing. The result was a big accident, or rather, “It’s a headless blunder operating under the illusion of a master plan.” So why kidnap innocent people and dump them into the big accident in nothing but underwear and army jackets with their names stenciled on the pockets? “Because they had to do something with it.” Was the answer. I didn’t buy it. Whatever.

One of the most annoying things about this movie is that the characters are constantly chewing on the buttons from their jackets. They do this to stimulate their salivary glands so they don’t dehydrate. As a result, they are always chewing, and the buttons make little clicking sounds against their teeth when they talk. This is really distracting. The buttons come in handy, however, when Math Girl has to figure math problems,. She scratches them out with the button against the metal wall. These must be no ordinary plastic buttons! They can scratch metal as if they were as sharp as nails!

This film has plenty of speeches on morality, pep speeches, as well as other speeches (another convincing argument to place it firmly within the Disaster category). However, the dialogue is totally cheesy, the characters undergo rapid personality transplants, and the plot has many little holes in it, thus meriting it many a Swiss cheese. Did I mention the irritating music? It was a loop of a woman whispering over ethereally synthesized music with what sounded like teeth chattering in the background. Basically, stick Enya in a freezer with a Casio and you’ll come out with this soundtrack. But all in all, this was a very nice cheesy low budget flick!

Darkman

Wednesday, February 22nd, 2006
Starring: Liam Neeson, Frances McDormand, Larry Drake

I watched this movie and was a bit confused. On the one hand, it was so incredibly cheesy it was amazing. No movie made in the 90s could be this un-self-consciously cheesy! So I thought to myself, “It must be a joke. It’s a parody.” I’m still not sure. The dialogue was just so bad in places. For example, the Bad guy has just revealed himself to Julie, the eponymous character’s girlfriend. She says “Well, if you’re not going to kill me… I have things to do.” And leaves, with a flounce. The last line of the movie was pretty bad too. Unfortunately I was too busy chuckling to remember it.

There were some sequences that were so cheesy, it made me think this was supposed to be in the style of a 1950s sci-fi B movie. For example, When Payton Westlake (Neeson), the protagonist, undergoes a surgical procedure that causes his adrenaline to rush out of control, we see the inside of his brain in flowing bright colors. Images and people flash by. The whole thing is just so cliche it has to be a joke, right?

Unfortunately, if it were supposed to be tongue in cheek, it was lost. This movie was too unbelievably corny to be a work of great irony. Here’s the basic plot: Payton and Julie are a happy couple. Julie finds a document she’s not supposed to find, exposing corruption in her workplace. She leaves it at Payton’s lab, where he’s working on growing fake skin to use in surgical procedures. Robert Durant, The bad guy (played by Larry Drake who I most remember as Benny the retarded guy on LA Law) and his evil henchmen come to Payton’s studio, dunk his face in acid (laboratories always have big steaming vats of red acid sitting around uncovered), kill his lab tech, and then blow the place up.

Luckily the explosion catapults a flaming Payton into the lake that’s conveniently across the road. He washes up on the shore, is found, and has an experimental surgical procedure. The procedure involves severing some nerves so he can no longer feel any pain at all. Unfortunately, a side effect is that it causes him to growl and grunt monosyllables instead of speak in sentences. It also causes his adrenal glands to go haywire so he has superhuman strength and his emotions are out of control.

Payton sets up a makeshift lab in an abandoned factory building that, luckily, the power company had neglected to shut the power off in, and continues to work on his fake skin project. The big problem is that the fake skin turns to mush after 99 minutes, unless it is in complete darkness. However, this allows Payton 99 minutes of revenge at a time as he makes fake faces of the bad guys and messes up their evil plans by impersonating them.

Watch for the last scene when there is a big showdown on the structure of an unfinished skyscraper. I mean, how hard is it to knock someone off a 6 inch wide steel beam with the wind blowing? It’s also amusing to see the bad guys randomly blowing up the police and innocent bystanders during the big helicopter chase.

Liam Neeson was great, as a always, and he got to let his cheesy side hang out. Frances McDormand is really good too, although she too plays a cheeseball character. Both actors add finesse and elan to their cheese. With actors of this quality, even cheesy movies such as this become Brie, rather than your basic Swiss. Magnifique. However, run screaming if someone suggests you watch “Darkman II: The Return of Durant” or “Darkman III: Die, Darkman, Die.”

End of Days

Wednesday, February 22nd, 2006
Starring: Arnold Schwarzenegger, Gabriel Byrne, Robin Tunney

The plot is simple: Arnold Schwarzenegger, a disgruntled alcoholic former cop, saves the world from a Satanic prophesy by wielding large weapons. What more can I say? The cheese is laid on thick in this high predictability factor action thriller. Lots of stuff blows up, and there is lots of blood. There are a couple of priceless Moments of Cheese. Here they are, in order of decreasing cheesiness:

1. Satan jumps into Gabriel Byrnes’s body and compliments a passing punk on his “Satan Rules” T-shirt.

2. Satan offers Arnold his dead wife and daughter back in exchange for information that will speed along the end of the word. The following dialogue ensues: Satan: What is it that you want? Arnold: I want you to GO TO HELLLLL!

3. We discover that in dreams, symbols often appear mixed up or backwards, thus “666” actually means “999” as in…1999!! *gasp!*

4. A former priest is found dead (crucified to the ceiling of his hospital room, actually), with words carved into his body. “Christ in New York?” the investigators try to read… no, wait! The main character’s name is Christine York! Ah, the levels of cheese movie makers will stoop to!

Yes, it’s moments like these that make our jobs (or rather our geeky past times) worthwhile! All of these moments occur on what will arguably be the cheesiest day in history– December 31st 1999. On that day Satan will come to earth to do the wild thing with Christine York (Robin Tunney) between 11:30 and midnight on December 31st 1999 (eastern standard time). Thus he will bring about the “End Of Days.”

Enter Christine. Christine is a local Manhattan woman prone to visions and anxiety disorders, who just happened to be born during the “eye of God” phase of the moon. Because of this, she has a birthmark shaped like a Black Sabbath album cover on her arm, and the doctors in the hospital where she was born forced her to drink the blood of a live rattlesnake when she was a few minutes old. It was all prophesized before, that’s why a bunch of priests wearing Sacred Heart necklaces from Dollar Depot are trying to kill Christine. By killing Christine, they will stop Satan from gettin’ booty from her, and thus keep the world going for a little while longer (until of course Sen. John McCain gets elected president of the US, when we’ll find out the true meaning of the term “End of Days”).

Meanwhile, Satan (Gabriel Byrne) takes over the bodies of all sorts of dead people, turning them into one big chanting mass of evil. But hey, it’s the end of the 1990s. It’s not exactly the end of the millennium, as any geek worth his price in RAM will tell you, but it’s close enough for a party. Every Times Square-bound party animal can pass for an undead minion of Satan on New Year’s Eve. Even Christine’s own step mother is in on the Satanic conspiracy, as she’s been waiting since Christine was born for this moment (that qualifies her as a ‘Mean Caregiver’ for the Mean Mother category). As everyone prepares for Satan’s ritual wedding and consummation with Christine (they even have a skimpy black dress in just her size waiting for her), in bursts Arnold, ready to save the day (and the world). He discovers that bullets and missiles only delay Satan a little bit, but in typical Arnold fashion, he continues to use them anyway.

This film is a must for anyone afflicted with millennium hysteria, or for anyone who loves a good cheesy romp through the subway systems in NYC. I’ll bet you never knew that people get the stigmata and are crucified on a daily basis down there, did you?

Godzilla

Wednesday, February 22nd, 2006

Everyone the world over can revel at the sight of NYC being destroyed. When I lived in Ireland, people who had never stepped foot in North America would joke with me about how dirty NYC is, and how nasty its inhabitants are. So this film is sure to be a winner with them.

We see just about every major landmark (save for the Statue of Liberty, but we’ll leave that to all of the other big disaster films that have ever come out) be destroyed either by our giant lizard friend, or by our Armed Forces, who can bomb a Sudanese factory from thousands of miles away, but can’t seem to hit a 200 foot lizard from 20 feet away. Godzilla manages to outsmart the army and the navy long enough to populate Madison Square Gardens with lots of baby Godzillae…hmmm, a sequel?

There are a couple of subplots involving the French secret service and a romance between the two main characters. This movie proves that not even Godzilla can catch a cab on Broadway!

The Incredible Shrinking Woman

Wednesday, February 22nd, 2006
Starring: Lily Tomlin

Also known as “Hjälp, Jag Krympar!” (Help, I’m Shrinking!) in Sweden, this was one of my favorite movies when I was a kid, largely because, when Lily Tomlin gets tiny enough, she gets to live in the Barbie dream house and snuggle up with Ken.

We watch Lily become a victim of the industrial toxins found in the household products that her husband advertises, which cause her diminishing stature (get the picture?) Lily drops a few dress sizes, loses her wedding ring, and walks around in platform shoes that would make Baby Spice jealous, giving rise to many corny and preposterous sight gags. Then comes the aforementioned fling with Ken.

Lily tangles with some household appliances and escapes scientific scrutiny before the movie’s ironically twisty ending. Oh, and she also gets to play a staunchy feminist neighbor, who pickets for the rights of shrinking women everywhere. You’ll laugh at, as well as laugh with this movie, as you ask yourself the question: “Were special effects really that terrible in 1981?”

Lifeforce

Wednesday, February 22nd, 2006
Starring: Patrick Stewart

Some vampire aliens come to Earth and impersonate humans, eventually taking over the dreariest, most badly lit gothic parts of London. Watching Captain Picard projectile vomit most of the blood in his body is the main attraction of this film. The giant eyeball looking at the unsuspecting Planet Earth on the video box is cool too.

Blade

Wednesday, February 22nd, 2006
Starring: Wesley Snipes, Stephen Dorff, Kris Kristofferson, N’Bushe Wright

Rule of Cheesy Movies #2: Anything containing a vampire is sure to contain much cheese. (rule #1 is anything containing vampyres is sure to be a winner.) Blade delivers on this front! Wesley Snipes stars as eponymous character, whose mom was bitten by a vampire during pregnancy and subsequently died. But she didn’t die in vain! Blade is here (his mom really named him Hank, but he thought Blade soundeed more menacing,) the half-human/half-vampire hybrid! He has all the best characteristics of both species! To avenge his mother’s untimely demise, Blade has devoted his life to vampire slaying.

The best thing about vampire movies is seeing which vampire myths the screenwriters adhere to. For example, in this one, running water and crosses don’t do much to the vampire race. However, garlic is very powerful. So powerful, in fact, Blade must shoot himself up periodically with garlic powder to keep himself from slipping completely into the realm of vampires.

Enter the subplot. Blade gets a girlfriend, who just so happens to be an immunologist. She’s been bitten by a vampire, so she doesn’t have much time to invent a better anti-vampire vaccine! She and Abraham Whistler (Kristofferson,) Blade’s trusty sidekick, work hard in Blade’s warehouse/laboratory/arsenal to find one in time.

All of the conspiracy theories are wrong! The government isn’t trying to hide aliens from the public! The government is actually run by a Board of Vampires. Isn’t it nice to know that your tax dollars are going towards the vampire cause? Most of the cool nightclubs in NYC are also vampire-run. When the evil vampire Deacon Frost discovered Blade, he tries to capture him, because only the blood of a hybrid can bring about the second coming of La Miagra, the Blood God (part of a triumvirate including La Niagra, the Tourist God and La Viagra, um, insert your own bit of hilarity here.)

The second coming of the vampire god can only come about in an elaborately staged made-for-videogame ritual that takes place in a secret temple the vampires have been building just for this event. Wow, this is a vampire movie at its finest. It gets away from the usual Count Dracula schtick. Gone are the capes and bad make-up jobs. Enter the sleek dark underworld of Cool Vampires. They hang out in exclusive discoes and wear funky shades. If you’re a big Kris Kristofferson fan, this is one not to be missed. Watch out for Blade 2 coming out in 2000.

Dracula Rising

Wednesday, February 22nd, 2006
Starring: Christopher Atkins, Stacey Travis, Doug Wert

Did you ever wonder what happened to the boy from the Blue Lagoon? Well here he is, a couple of dacades later, as Dracula. Our story opens at the art gallery opening of Theresa, a lonely art restorer. Suddenly, a mysterious pasty-faced Rumanian who introdeces himself as Vlad appears. Sparks fly, and he offers Theresa a job restoring a portrait of a creepy-looking guy in an abandoned monestary in Transylvania. Does Theresa hesitate to embark upon this rather odd career move? Of course not! Off she goes to Transylvania. We can tell she’s in another country from the gratutous shots of taxis with the word “TAKSI” written on them.

Theresa starts having strange flashbacks of the monestary as it stood several hundred years ago. She sees a woman who looks strangely like herself being burned at the stake. What’s going on? Does it have something to do with the eerie portrait of Vlad the Impaler that she’s restoring?

Enter Alec (Wert,) a bad vampire who’s trying to mess things up for Vlad and Theresa. You see, Vlad chose the immortality and low melanin levels over mortality, so he could avenge the wrongful death of Theresa, his love of a few centuries ago who was wrongfully burned as a witch. The modern-day Theresa is a re-incarnation of her, and Alec thinks she should be turned into a vampire. Vlad loved her so much he wants her to stay human after all, and die a regular death.

Meanwhile, Theresa senses something is up and goes prowling around the monestary to see what’s going on. She wakes up on a bed with a cross drawn on her chest in blood. This forces her to run around helplessly in the labyrinthine tunnel of corridors beneath the monestary encountering vampires who look like bad last-minute Hallowe’en lawn decorations.

This movie ranks so high on the Cheese scale I have to recommend it to everybody, whether they are a vampire afficianado or not! It’s especially worth it to see Vlad’s leering Vampiric expression in every scene. Watch the film, you’ll know what I’m talking about. If you have time to see only one vampire movie in your lifetime, let it be Dracula Rising.

Evolver

Wednesday, February 22nd, 2006

Kyle seems like your average teenage nerd. His parents are divorced, he spends all of his time in front of his computer, he seems like the perfect candidate for the trial test of Evolver. Evolver is a virtual reality game that Kyle is an expert at. In the virtual reality version, Kyle gone into a Tron-like universe and shoots at brightly colored guys who look like skinny Teletubbies. However, the Evolver company has something new up their sleeve- a real live evolver game. They have developed an oversized Go-Bot that will ‘evolve’ at each new level in which it is defeated… it will develop new strategies and new weaponry to defeat the enemy.

At first, Evolver is a lot of fun. Even Kyle’s little sister gets in on the action. Kyle’s best friend Zach discovers that Evolver is also useful to spy and record the goings-on in the girls’ locker room. But things begin to change (of course)… Kyle hacks into Evolver’s programming and discovers that he’s part of a project called S.W.O.R.D. And then the school bully is found dead… could Evolver have something to do with it?

Anyway, you get the picture. S.W.O.R.D. stands for Strategic War Oriented Robotic Device or something like that, and was originally designed as a weapon (his original line-up of weapons included a “napalm-fired grenade launcher”-just think about that a minute!). Unfortunately, even Evolver’s (Or Evol as he’s called for short) creator couldn’t stop him! Evolver is on a rampage! Determined to kill Kyle (aka “enemy Number One”) this robot goes around spouting one-liners like “NO! Game NOT Over!” and “it’s a knife, jerk-off!” before he loads his ammunition claws up with steak knives.

Be careful that Evolver doesn’t start watching television! He gets ideas about holding hostages, and learns swear words. This is why they started rating tv shows! Do you think Evolver would have evolved differently had he been watching “Leave it to Beaver” re- runs?

There’s a mighty show-down in the end, proving that it will take more than making a computer play Tic-Tac-Toe to crash it in the 90s. Even after having been defeated at Round 4, and being beaten with a baseball bat, Evolver continues to evolve. And in the end, after the robot had exploded and is lying in little flaming chunks all over Kyle’s sister’s bedroom floor (which has amazing flame- retardant properties), his glowing bicycle reflector, I mean, “eye” focuses on Kyle and the words “Kill Not Confirmed… ” appear… Ooh! Scary! A sequel, perhaps?

This is a delightfully cheesy tale of technology gone nuts. I thought this genre ended with the 80s. Part Tron, part War Games, this cheesy teen romance is sure to please! John DeLancie (Q on Star Trek) stars as Evolver’s Creator… Evolver! Alpha one-one- eight Delete! Delete!

The Eighteenth Angel

Wednesday, February 22nd, 2006
Starring: Christopher McDonald, Rachel Leigh Cook

The Etruscans predicted that Satan would return to Earth sometime in this century. In fact, they even built a very sinister clock to mark the time until he arrives. When the clock reaches 666 o’clock- watch out! Some monks will have to sacrifice 18 corpses with human faces sewn onto them so he can take human form! Of course, the faces that the monks sew onto the corpses have to be beautiful, so what better way to lure beautiful women to their dooms than pose as modeling agents? Christopher McDonald goes all over the world in search of comely lasses and then brings them to his villa in northern Italy, and then– you guessed it. Satan bait one and all.

Enter Lucy, an American teenager who’s wanted to be a model all of her life. Her mother, an art restorer, is vehemently opposed to this career move. So what does Lucy do when her mother inexplicably hurls herself out a window during an interview with Satanic monks? She runs off to Italy with a strange guy who starts taking pictures of her on a school field trip. Now, if you were in a museum, and some strange beret-clad guy started snapping pictures of you, what would you do? I’ll bet you would do what Lucy did– start pouting and posing for the camera.

Lucy’s dad gets a job in the same town in Italy where Lucy is “modeling,” so he gets to watch over her. Why is that creepy wife of the photographer making a latex mask of her face? Why does Lucy’s beloved cat keep dragging home screeching Hell-beasts? Something strange is going on! And then people start getting attacked by demonic housecats, and all Hell breaks loose, if you’ll excuse the pun.

It’s all being run by a bunch of monks who like to stand in a circle and chant “Say, Say, Say!” while pounding their chests. Yes, they’re all big Michael Jackson fans– or are Michael Jackson and Paul McCartney really Servants of the Dark One? After all, “Say, Say Say” is really Italian for 666!

OK, so it’s now 666 O’clock, I’ll skip over the subplot about cloning, because I really didn’t get it anyway. I’ll skip the bit about the faces of dead people being buried with latex replicas, so the monks could steal their real faces- I didn’t quite get that either. We’re back at 666 O’clock- which body will Lucifer choose to inhabit? Will it be Lucy? No way! This was meant to be a creepy horror-type film, with cats jumping out at opportune moments and strategically placed lightning bolts. The scariest thing, though, was that the end was left wide open for a sequel.

Mimic

Wednesday, February 22nd, 2006
Starring: Mira Sorvino

What? Monsters loose in NYC’s subway system? Anyone who’s gotten off at 42nd St. could tell you that!

Anyway, a plague is killing all of NY’s children. The plague is carried by cockroaches. A Scientist (played by Mira Sorvino) has genetically engineered a cross between a roach and a termite that will wipe out the killer cockroaches. Unfortunately, it mutates into giant flesh eating creatures that look vaguely like humans. It takes a little Polish idiot savant kid who plays the spoons to help Mira Sorvino save the day.

This movie is scientifically formulated to be suspenseful, but you know exactly who’s going to die and when. It’s fun for those nerds who enjoy poking at scientific thrillers.

Virus

Wednesday, February 22nd, 2006
Starring: Jamie Lee Curtis, Donald Sutherland, one of those Baldwins

A Russian communications ship is in the middle of the ocean communicating with the Mir Space Station. Suddenly, something attacks the space station and blows everything up on earth and in space. What was that? Cut to a small tugboat staffed by an international crew led by an Ahab-esque megalomaniacal captain (Sutherland), and Kit, the moral, independent navigator (Curtis.) During the eye of a typhoon, they come upon the abandoned Soviet ship and Captain Everton decides to claim salvage rights. He and Steve, another crew member (Baldwin), get to parry all sorts of rules of maritime law between them at this point, debating the legality of running into an oddly abandoned multi-million dollar ship in the middle of the sea and just claiming it. In an accent that I think was supposed to be Irish, Captain Everton gets more and more insane and greedy as he thinks about all of his potential riches.

However, Virus transcends the barriers of a mere greedy-person-trying-to-keep-all-the-money-at-all-costs flick, it also functions as a disaster movie (the impending typhoon) and a monster/sci-fi movie. The sci-fi element was by far the cheesiest. The sci-fi element takes over when we discover that an alien force has beamed itself aboard the Russian ship and taken control of the mainframes. from there, it took control of the “state of the art robotic lab” that just happened to be on board, and started building robots. Not content with mere robots, the alien force started killing off Russian crew members to turn them into more robots. It’s definitely cool in a Borg-like sort of way when the alien-possessed robots start attaching robotic limbs to the corpses. The most advanced robot has 6 arms, and the only visible human part remaining is its teeth. After all, human teeth are much more effective than, say, metal spikes or other robotic devices they could have built.

The crew members decide that the best way to solve their differences and come to a mutually beneficial arrangement, is to try to communicate with the aliens through a computer terminal. Luckily, the Russian ship’s mainframes contained useful information on how to speak, read, and write in English, allowing the Alien Force is able to tell the crew members to basically bugger-off, because they’re about to be turned into spare parts factories anyway. Ooh- the irony!! The aliens consider the humans to be a “virus!” The Captain, in his ever-fluctuating accent, tries to form an alliance with the aliens by typing “Everton is the dominant life form,” thinking it will earn the aliens’ respect. It doesn’t, as is fairly predictable. Donald Sutherland makes a mighty good alien- possessed half robotic corpse, though!

The end, like all good monster flicks, is left wide open for a sequel, which is usually the scariest part. When will we have to subject ourselves to Virus II? And we know we will, because of the pleasantly high cheese factor!

The Relic

Wednesday, February 22nd, 2006

This movie opens in the jungles of South America. A tribe of jungle people is performing some kind of dimly lit ritual… A white man screams in pain… cut to a shipyard… Then for the next ten minutes or so you have absolutely no idea what’s going on.

But pretty soon you learn that something is loose in Chicago’s Natural History museum! It decapitates people and dogs and eats their hypothalamuses! Towards the end, we see that it’s a giant shapeless puppet with big teeth that drools a lot. It was much scarier being an unknown entity. It looks a lot like Sweetums from the Muppet Show with fangs.

Anyway, there are lots of tense moments in this film, with yowling cats jumping for maximum scaring affect. Just about every plot device is used in this film, yet it’s so cheesy it works! And, this beast sounds exactly like the cleaning woman with asthma. Don’t be fooled!

Toxic Spawn

Wednesday, February 22nd, 2006

The box says this movie will “bring my worst nightmares to the screen.” I won’t argue with that! Yet another low-budget shocker that has the plot of sci-fi horror but the look and feel of soft core porn. Perhaps this is due in part to the excellent soundtrack, composed and performed by “The Gremlin.” Although there’s nothing terribly original about this plot (glowing melons descend to Earth and explode into maneating alien bacteria– again) the stunningly silly visuals, exotic locations, exciting dialogue, and aviator sunglasses will be more than enough to fill your evening with amusement. Another high-quality Canadian production from Lettuce Entertain You Inc.