Archive for the ‘The Supernatural’ Category

Kaboom

Tuesday, August 13th, 2013

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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.

Mary Poppins

Wednesday, February 22nd, 2006
Starring: Julie Andrews, Dick Van Dyke, Karen Dotrice, Matthew Garber

“It’s that Poppins woman again, isn’t it?!” Yes, Mary Poppins is the short-tempered, ugly-hat-wearing, magical nanny that everybody loves. Upon watching this movie for, probably, the twentieth time, I ask myself the question: Is Mary Poppins some sort of supernatural entity, like maybe an Angel or a Fairy, or is she merely an alien? Let’s weigh the evidence:

Mary has all of the physical trappings of a normal human being, although the excessively Victorian way in which she dresses (or I should say, the campy sixties’ version of the Victorian way blah blah blah) would hide any abnormalities around the torso area. Like say, green skin, lack of belly button, stuff like that. Mary also has some sort of anti-gravitational power that allows her to slide up the railings on staircases, which might point to some sort of long-distance space-flight enabling technology. Oh, except she doesn’t have a space ship, merely a magic umbrella (that talks.)

Mary never changes her outfit, which implies that she doesn’t sweat, or get dirty in any other way, and she also has some sort of Jedi-like mind control power which she uses (with smirky delight) on Mr. Banks, the staunch patriarch whom she works for.

Anyway, Mary’s mind power thing obviously works on Matthew Garber (the little boy, who stars alongside Karen Dotrice in all three of her Disney flicks) because he has this goofy, mesmerized look on his face throughout the whole movie. It’s almost, but not quite, as dopey as the look on his face in The Gnome Mobile, except that he basically had no lines in that movie, so there wasn’t a lot for him to do.

Mary’s handbag is also bigger on the inside than on the outside, which is kind of like Dr. Who, and in one scene, she sings to a robotic bird that’s perched on her finger. So she’s definitely in the high-technology realm. Although, Mary’s sidekick Bert (the friendly chimney-sweep) is definitely a bit of a fairy, so it’s likely that there’s some connection there. Maybe I should read the book that this movie was based on. It might give me further insight.

Anyway, I figure just about everyone alive has seen this movie. The plot is fairly predicable, so I won’t go into details here. Mary Shows up one day to rescue to bored kids whose parents have no time for them. Mary guilt-trips the parents into spending time with their kids, and then everyone is happy, blah blah blah. Along the way, there’s lots of singing, dancing, and blue screen.

If you haven’t seen this movie, well you just don’t know from Disney, boy.

This movie has just about every gratuitous Disney trick in the book. There’s dancing cartoon penguins, interminable musical numbers, weird flouncy costumes in irritating colors… the whole nine. I would heartily recommend this film. It’s not the sort of cheese that I could sit around a make fun of, yet is is highly cheesy. I also have the soundtrack to this movie on vinyl, which can really kill the mood at cocktail parties.

The Rage: Carrie II

Wednesday, February 22nd, 2006
Starring: Emily Bergl, Jesse Ryan, Amy Irving

What can I say? I thought the slasher type horror film genre was dead! It’s not, it’s just mutated a little bit. In this film, there was only one gory death scene, and it occurs near the end. It’s worthy of your worst Friday the 13th annoying anxiety dream, though (I won’t say nightmare, because it’s really not that scary). Anyway, this is the story of Carrie’s (you saw that film, right?) half-sister, Rachel (Bergl.) Her mother is in a loony bin, and she’s being raised by a mean foster family who is only in it for the money they get for her upkeep. Rachel is your typical angst-ridden outcast teenager with one exception- she’s telekinetic. That is, she can cause harpoons to fly through glass doors and emasculate boorish high school jocks without even lifting a finger- the stuff most teens just dream about!

Amy Irving returns in this film as Sue Snell, Carrie’s high school peer, all grown up and a guidance counselor now. As Rachel’s counselor, she wants to help her by sending her to a place where she can learn to use her powers for good instead of evil (i.e. trashing her high school prom, which at my high school would have been a public service venture!) She also presents the opportunity to see many flashbacks of the original Carrie movie. She explains it all to Rachel as they visit the ruins of the former Carrie-Ravaged high school. It’s been 23 years since the fateful Carrie I event…you’d think they would have cleaned up the charred mess by now. You’d think.

Meanwhile, Rachel and a high school jock fall in love. It looks like there might be a happy ending after all… but no, this is a “horror” film, so we have to have the Big Chopping Scene in the end where the mean stuck up high school kids spend a great deal of effort to humiliate her, and then everyone dies. Alas, just when we thought perhaps the ending will be happy–maybe the misfortune that plagued Carrie will skip over Rachel! No, that wouldn’t fit the formula. Instead, Rachel wigs out, causing her tattoo of a rose to grow a thorny vine all around her body, in a bizarre cheese-laden symbolic manner. The very end confused me. Is it supposed to be a good thing that Rachel’s ghost is hanging around the former high school jock’s college dorm? Or are we just getting ready for Carrie III: Beyond the Grave?

Freaky Friday

Wednesday, February 22nd, 2006
Starring: Jodie Foster, Barbara Harris

It’s hard to make fun of Jodie Foster, even when she’s playing a 35 year old housewife trapped in the body of a thirteen year old. She’s just too good! That having been said, Freaky Friday is another gem of cheesy brilliance from the think tank that gave us The Watcher in the Woods and Escape to Witch Mountain.

Annabel Andrews and her mom, the aptly named Mrs. Andrews (that’s how she’s listed in the credits– I think her name was Ellen) start off as seemingly innocuous members of a typically homogenous white suburban family. After graphically illustrating how tough it is to be a kid, how tough it is to be a mom, etc. Annabel and Mrs. Andrews find themselves wishing they could “be you for a day–” simultaneously. Their wish is granted when the audience starts seeing double and ghost images of the two merge on the screen.

Now “Annabel” (who is really her mom) and “Mrs. Andrews” get to have all sorts of fun impersonating each other. Mrs. Andrews discovers the horrors of jr. high (by becoming a geek who’s no good at field hockey but knows all about the Korean conflict) while Annabel burns dinner, breaks the washing machine, wrecks the car, and botches other housewifely tasks. Annabel (as her mother) also interacts with the movie’s token love interest, Boris, the painfully ectomorphic neighbor boy.

I don’t think I’ve ever seen anyone smoke cigarettes in a Disney flick before. That was sort of thrilling. Disney also dabbles in a little feminist sentiment as Annabel and Mrs. Andrews come to the conclusion that Mr. Andrews is an overbearing chauvinist pig who makes them sing and dance in the interests of his big advertising account. But just when you’re all geared up for divorce, custody arrangements, child support payments, and the silent threat of alcoholism– everybody gets happy again.

Freaky Friday is probably a little too self-consciously wacky to really pick on, but it’s great if you (like me) read the book when you were thirteen. It’s also great fun to watch Disney recycle the same seven or eight tired 70’s pseudo-stars in yet another film. This film also stars the remarkable Sparky Marcus as Annabel’s little brother, Ape Face. The fantastic Sparky Marcus also starred in Sigmund and the Sea Monsters and had a cameo on the Bob Newhart Show. Actually, he’s not really that remarkable, but I think he has a killer name.

Thinner

Wednesday, February 22nd, 2006
Starring: Robert John Burke, Joe Montegna

This was basically a 2 hour episode from “Tales from the Darkside,” but how could you resist a movie from cheesemeister Stephen King? It’s the tale of Billy (Burke), a rather portly lawyer who defends mafia guys. While getting a blow-job from his cheating wife, he acidentally runs over and kills a “gypsy” with his Yuppiemobile. His judge and police friends help cover-up the incident and he gets away scot-free. Or does he?

The gypsy’s father, (Michael Constantine, in a very bad make-up job) puts a curse on him with one word: “thinner.” Then for Billy comes every teenage girl’s dream- Billy begins to lose weight at an alarming rate. Because he’s so chubby, at first he’s relieved. He can eat all the food he wants and not gain a pound. Billy’s wife has been keeping track of his weight for some time now, since she put him on a diet of lumpy purplish breakfast shakes. All of Billy’s gains and losses are recorded in his wife’s laptop, in a spreadsheet and fed into a little line graph that shows his daily weight curve. Wow! Richard Simmons should get into the software business!

But Billy’s not the only one affected by this curse. Billy’s judge friend’s psoriasis goes haywire, causing him to look like a lizard. He eventually kills himself, much to the relief of his wife. Billy’s policeman friend, who testified that Billy wasn’t drunk, gets serious bleeding wart-like growths all over his body and ends up shooting himself.

Now Billy’s on a mission. Billy’s latest client, mafia guy Richie Ginelli (Joe Montegna)’s Italian mother has some old-world wisdom on the subject of gypsy curses. She maintains that only the gypsy who cursed him can take it off. Thus Billy, now gaunt and weak, goes in search of the gypsy, to get him to remove the curse. He inlists the help of Richie, who opens a can of whoop-ass on the gypsys’ butts.

The old gypsy finally decides to take the curse off of Billy, by stabbing him in the hand, and making him bleed into a strawberry pie. He instructs Billy to feed the pie to someone, and then the curse will be on that person. Billy brings home a “surprise” to his wife, who’s been cheating on him with his best friend. She eats a piece before bed, and the next morning she looks like something out of a Jr High health class film about anorexia. Unfortunately, Billy’s sarcastic teenage daughter also finds the pie delicious… Billy is overcome with grief, but before he can bring the punishment upon himself by finishing off the pie, his best friend shows up looking for his wife…

This film is perfect to show at your OA meeting, or to your friends with eating disorders. Other than that, it’s fairly bland, the special effects are not that exciting, and it’s totally predictable. In other words, a perfect candidate for this site!

Pet Sematary

Wednesday, February 22nd, 2006
Starring: Denise Crosby, Fred Gwynne, Dale Midkiff

This movie wasn’t actually about a pet sematary, which I found sort of annoying. I pictured zombie cats and goldfish coming back to attack people, but what I got was much worse. No, I never read the book, and no, I never plan to. In fact, I’ve never read any of Stephen King’s books, but I keep thinking maybe I should. I know people from the lowliest trailer dwellers to the snobbiest Ivy League nerds who worship the books of this Cheesemeister, and I was almost tempted to fork over the $8.00 library fine I owe to see what the mystique was.

I didn’t bother. After seeing Pet Sematary, the mystique was lost. Denise Crosby’s hair is pleasantly monotone in this cheese fest of fondue-swimming-pool proportions. It begins as the happy Creed family move to a sleepy little New England house, which for some reason has Spanish moss growing around it. There is a mysterious path leading into the woods, and Jud (Fred Gwynne, aka Herman Munster,) the friendly elderly neighbor, eventually shows them what’s down there- the Pet Sematary. Why is it spelled wrong? Who knows? It doesn’t figure into the plot much anyway. We do find out that the road between Jud’s and the Creeds’ houses is very, very busy. The same big tanker truck whizzes by at all hours of the night. The Pet Sematary is for the roadkill victims of the trucks.

Ellie, the whiny little girl has a cat named Church, (short for Winston Churchill) that she loves. Eventually, poor Church ends up a road pizza on Jud’s lawn. Jud shows Louis, the Dad (Dale Midkiff) an Indian burial ground, beyond the Pet Sematary, which Victor, the Bloody Ghost warned him not to go to. Victor is a road accident victim that Louis tried to save. Being dead, and therefore an expert on all things pertaining to the supernatural, he shows up a lot and warns people of danger. Anyway, Jud and Louis bury Church, and the next day…poof! He’s back! But he isn’t the same little kitty. He’s much meaner.

Gage, the Creeds’ toddler son, gets the same treatment when he, too, is flattened by a truck. Now, Gage was the 171st most popular boy’s name in America in 1998, and it’s all due to this movie. Why anyone would want to name a baby after a reanimated dead kid is beyond me, but anyway… Gage isn’t the same adorable toddler when resurrected. He enjoys the taste of flesh and has a lot of fun with daddy’s scalpel. He runs around brandishing the scalpel with an evil scowl- it’s priceless.

Anyway, Louis thinks Gage went bad because he was dead too long before he was resurrected. Rachel (his wife) has only been dead a few minutes, will she be the same again? What do you think? Will she kick butt all over her dead sister whom she never liked? That figures into the plot. When she was a little girl, Rachel’s sister Zelda (actually played by Andrew Hubatsek?!?) was dying of Bad Special Effects, oops I mean, spinal meningitis. She died while Rachel was left alone with her. But the sad thing was, Rachel wanted her to die. Because of this small subplot, Zelda is going to come back from the dead to get even.

This film is full of bad special effects, cheesy acting and just overall badness. You’ll be really annoyed at the little girl, especially, who has whining down to a science. I actually found myself rooting for the homicidal Gage, who goes after the bland caricatures of his parents. Don’t miss Steve himself in a cameo appearance as a preacher. Nope, Stephen is actually a worse actor than the little girl. At least the little girl has some oomph!

The Haunting

Wednesday, February 22nd, 2006
Starring: Liam Neeson, Lili Taylor, Catherine Zeta-Jones, Owen Wilson

In this film, Liam Neeson plays Dr. David Marrow, a scientist investigating reactions to fear. He brings 3 people to Hill House, a creepy, gothic mansion, to test his theories. They think they’re there to participate in a study of insomnia. The result is basically a Scooby-Doo episode with a lot of neat-o special effects. The house turns out to be haunted, and people get scared by ghosts and run around yelling and screaming a lot. Where are the Scooby Snacks?

The film focuses on Nell (Taylor,) a woman who has taken care of her ailing mother for the past 11 years. I love Lili Taylor. I think she’s one of the coolest actresses out there, and one of the best things about this movie is that she doesn’t scream. She yells. Even when she is being attacked by her giant gothic bed, she doesn’t shriek in the manner of most victimized females of film.

Anyway, during the course of the film, Nell discovers that her great, great grandmother was the wife of the guy who’s haunting the house. In a fit of cheesiness, Nell even calls him “Grandpa” as she yells at him in the final showdown, before she banishes his spirit to Hell. This was the scene of the film that was the most cheese- laden. Don’t miss the Christ imagery!

OK, so the plot of this film was kind of tired. However, I really enjoyed it! The acting was good, and the special effects were really awesome! I usually don’t go to movies just to be impressed by the special effects. However, the effects and all the scenery in general were pretty amazing. I want to move to Hill House. Never mind the fact that, even though it was built 130 years ago, it has perfectly installed electric lighting (though the lightbulb was invented a mere 120 years ago this year). The sets of the house were so amazing the house itself should actually have been billed as the star!

I used to blame the fact that I get confused easily in movies on a general lowering of standards on the part of the movie industry. Why are so many movies confusing? Am I just dense? Maybe you can explain how the wife of the guy who’s haunting the house could be the great, great grandmother of Nell, our protagonist (trivia question of the day: in what other movie did Liam Neeson star opposite a character named Nell?) when she never had any children who lived, and then committed suicide at an early age?

“Some houses are born bad,” is this movie’s tagline. My house is much badder than Hill House! OK, Hill House is pretty scary, but after a night in the trailer I rent, you’d be screaming for your life to leave as well. Oh, the answer to the trivia question is: Liam Neeson played opposite a character named Nell in “Nell.”

The Three Lives of Thomasina

Wednesday, February 22nd, 2006
Starring: Karen Dotrice, Matthew Garber, Patrick McGoohan

Have you ever wondered where Scottish cats go when they die? This movie provides answers to all of your feline afterlife questions. I won’t give the secret away, but it involves giant statues and glittering showers of gold sparkles. Besides probing into the life and death of cats, this film is a heartwarming tale of a little girl’s love for her big orange cat. It takes place in a small village in Scotland, where little Mary’s father, the local vet, goes around euthanizing the villagers’ pets. Things change when he gives the same treatment to Mary’s beloved Thomasina. There’s a singing witch involved, as well as a circus, and a bagpiping boy. Oh, and yes, the movie ends with a wedding. This is high on my list of favorite movies set in Scotland, right after Trainspotting, Breaking the Waves, and Brigadoon.

The Watcher in the Woods

Wednesday, February 22nd, 2006
Starring: Lynn-Holly Johnson, Bette Davis, Kyle Richards

Little Karen has slipped into another dimension again! Now it’s up to an American family who has just moved to a scary old mansion in England to bring her back. Starring Lynn-Holly Johnson, of Ice Castles fame as our protagonist, and Bette Davis as the creepy old lady next door. Also starring Kyle Richards (You know, Jonathan Garvey’s daughter on Little House on the Prairie!) as the sister who keeps seeing Karen in fun-house mirrors. She also gets to mutter cryptic clues (such as “Hardly ever happens…hardly ever happens…”) which are sent straight from the Other Side. Watch out for the gratuitous dirt-bike racing scene.