V for Vendetta

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.

Welcome Back

March 23rd, 2006
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This is the archives of the Movie Guide of the Damned (MGOTD) that my friend Scooter and I ran from about 1998 – 2001. We spent a lot of our time back then renting movies for the sole purpose of making fun of them, and we figured that there should be a website for people like us. This was the site that kept me up all night, sometimes when I should have been working on college stuff, and basically taught me everything I needed to know to work in the biz for the past five years. So, for that I’m pretty grateful. We might write some new reviews here if the mood strikes us.

You can also see parts of the site at archive.org.

Enjoy!

Sleeping With The Enemy

February 22nd, 2006
Starring: Julia Roberts, Patrick Bergin, Kevin Anderson

This movie made me realize the magic of bad cinema. If it weren’t for this film, I probably would not be the cynical obnoxious person I am today regarding the Silver Screen! There are so many things wrong with this film that it’s completely effortless to sit back and make fun of it. You just sit there with a look of bewilderment, thinking “How could someone be that stupid?”

Laura (Julia Roberts) marries Martin (Bergin), a guy whom she later discovers is an obsessive-compulsive psycho freak. He reprimands her for hanging towels unevenly on the towel rack. He flips out if the canned food isn’t arranged neatly according to height in the cupboards. He holds her prisoner in a Cape Cod beach house that looks like it was donated by the Conran’s Habitat catalogue. And she didn’t notice any of this strangeness when she married him. Apparently, a perfectly nice dashing handsome rogue turned into a psycho upon returning from his honeymoon. Ok. If you can believe that, we’ll go onto the rest of the film.

Laura eventually escapes from Martin. She fakes her own death by drowning.(she supposedly can’t swim, but has been taking swimming lessons in secret), why does her swimming instructor call her husband at work to offer condolences? Wouldn’t any normal stranger just send a card? This tips him off to the fact that she may not be dead… he hunts her down… He finds her blind mother (who is about 80. She’s probably not 30 yet. So she was born when her mom was 50+? I suppose it could happen) whom she is desperately trying to protect…

Meanwhile, Laura has begun a new life in a charming little town in the pacific northwest. Her next door neighbor is a drama professor (Anderson) who has the hots for her, even though she’s mean to him and generally exudes high-maintainence neuroses. I always thought that men didn’t like this sort of whiny needy behavior. I guess I was wrong. Anyway, after a gratuitous hat- trying on scene, Laura and her new beau become more attached. Unfortunately, by this time, Martin has tracked Laura down. Luckily he loads his gun with exactly 4 bullets, so everyone can live happily ever after.

If you’ve ever thought of hiding your wedding ring so your psycho husband can’t find it in the toilet (without bothering to flush), then this is the movie for you! Plus, some video stores have a special free rental about the making of this movie. Such a bargain!

Mountain Family Robinson

February 22nd, 2006
Children believin’ that Christmas is comin’, right in the middle of Spring!
Starring: Robert Logan, Susan Damante-Shaw, Heather Rattray, Ham Larsen

Oh, have you ever heard of such a wonderful, crazy thing?!?!

Ah, yes, the haunting Mountain Family Robinson theme song. I can hear it even now. In fact, I’ll probably carry it with me to the grave. Imagine a slightly truncated version of the Brady Bunch rafting along in the Rocky Mountain Wilderness. Now throw in a bumbling, comical bear and a mysteriously levitating eagle and you have heartwarming family fun! The Mountain Family Robinson are the wholesome, nature-loving 1970’s family who manage to wear bellbottoms and iron their hair flat even in the middle of the wilderness!

The Mountain Family Robinson live high in the Rockies in a cabin built on their deceased Uncle’s Land. The government gave a him a plot of land to live on, in exchange for his services mining for gold. Yes, that’s right: he was a Miner Forty-Niner. I didn’t actually think that people still pan for gold in this day and age, but then again who am I to judge? Anyway, just as the Mountain Family get themselves set up, a big helicopter arrives and some governmental dude gets out and tells them to leave. (Mr. Robinson probably should have read “Black Helicopters over America” before taking his children out into the wilderness.) The Family’s only hope is to pan up some gold, and quick! If they can scratch up some kind of valuable mineral, the government will let them keep their mining claim.

Aided by their trusty sidekick, Boomer, and his ursa-phobic mule, the family set out to pan the streams around their cabin. But along the way they encounter flash floods, wildcats, kleptomaniacal blackbirds, cake-eating skunks, leaky roofs and irritating musical numbers. Will their wholesomeness protect them from Nature’s fury?

There are some very interesting points to outdoor living that I was unaware of. For instance, a garden plot of only a couple square meters will feed a family of four, plus one bear and one dog, for an entire winter. Also, nighttime in the mountains looks a lot like daytime, only darker (watch the film and you’ll see what I mean.) And the most important lesson of all: wild animals will automatically follow any flute-bearing child in the wilderness. (Squirrels are especially fond of flute music.)

But to every close-knit, isolationist family, some tragedy must come. Watch with horror as Boomer and Mr. Robinson become trapped in an unstable mine shaft. Gasp with anxiety as the government dude’s helicopter crashes. Will the Family remember their Christian values and help out those in need?

And the music. Oh, the beautiful music…

Alien Resurrection

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.

Anaconda

February 22nd, 2006
Starring: Ice Cube, Jennifer Lopez, Eric Stoltz

Yawn. A group of people is sailing through Florida, oops, I mean, the Amazon jungle to find a lost tribe to make a documentary about. The people include Ice Cube (the tough guy from LA), Jennifer Lopez (the t&a), Kari Wuhrer (the girl who screams), Eric Stoltz (the smart guy who is incapacitated due to an impromptu tracheotomy), Owen Wilson (the blond guy who’s gonna die any second), and Jon Voight (the snobby English guy who plays golf). That’s about all you need to know about the characters in this film.

While travelling down the river, they meet an ex-priest who now devotes his life to finding snakes and selling them to zoos. He tricks them all into trying to capture a live anaconda- a snake of giant bad computer graphics proportion who eats its victims and then pukes them up so he can go kill more. This guy, due to the music that’s played whenever he’s around, turns out to be the Bad Guy. He goes nuts and becomes a man obsessed with capturing the snake, and killing the documentary crew.

The best part of the film comes when the snake eats the Bad Guy, and then barfs him up whole so he can go after Jennifer Lopez. Bad Guy’s partially digested corpse winks at her. Yum. Avoid this movie at all costs, unless you like gazing at Jennifer Lopez’s cleavage and butt.

Android

February 22nd, 2006

WARNING! WARNING! BAD FILM APPROACHING!

You may be tempted to rent this movie, but don’t. We did, because of the hi-tec cover art. Yet this movie had absolutely no redeeming qualities whatsoever. It’s chock-full of unknown actors, and stars a young android who lives alone in deep space with his maker, whose name I forget.

Eventually (after many dull and boring scenes) they get hijacked by space bandits and many poorly orchestrated fight scenes ensue. Finally we learn that the android’s maker is himself an android– surprise! You’ve been warned.

Armageddon

February 22nd, 2006
Starring: Bruce Willis

I thought this would be another run-of-the-mill Forces of Nature Blowing Up NYC movie, but alas, it was not. After NY was blown up, the only other explosion was when Paris was destroyed. Oh well.

Armageddon was another sappy predictable about the near destruction of the world. Most of it looked like a giant Sprint commercial- lots of ethnically dressed people all listening to radios in fields and by Taj Mahal-like structures. The US citizens were represented by children who looked like they just stepped out of a 1950s Disney science film playing on dusty midwestern streets.

At least I’ve discovered my new calling in life- I want to be the person who decides how much time is left in movies. In this one, time was always running out. I can picture the committee deciding on the screenplay- “I think there should be 3.5 minutes left before the asteroid blows up.” “No, I think 7 minutes would make the audience feel more of a sense of hope” “You’re wrong. 2.9 minutes would drive home the concept of pathos” Look for me in the next major big budget Hollywood disaster movie credits!

The Avengers

February 22nd, 2006
Starring: Uma Thurman, Ralph Fiennes

This is one Baby Boomer nostalgia tv show that sort of made the jump to moviedom fairly OK. I admit I found this movie really amusing at times. I was never a huge fan of the original series, however, so I probably missed a lot. Uma Thurman actually fakes an English accent pretty well. The understated wittiness was funny up until it started getting irritating, and the plot was occasionally interesting. However, the plot ended up getting in the way of what the main point of the film was-to poke fun at the original tv series. This was a noble effort, I guess.

The Bad Seed

February 22nd, 2006
Starring: Nancy Kelly, Patricia McCormack

This is perhaps the grandpappy of all Possessed Kid flicks. Little Rhoda Penmark is a classic sociopath whose only goal in life is to win the kindergarten penmanship award. When the award is given to another child, she embarks upon a spree of killing set to the tune of Au Claire de la Lune. The pigtails fly as Rhoda systematically bumps off anyone who even looks at her funny, while her mother wrings her hands and assumes various expressions of sullen disbelief.

This is one of the movies that kicked off our whole cheese obsession. Anyone unmoved by Patricia McCormack’s performance as the perkily evil Rhoda is completely without emotion, or a healthy sense of irony. And, unlike many cheap horror films of its time, the plot is fast-paced enough to keep your attention.

“Oh, mommy, you’re such a dear sweet mommy.” The amateur dramatics, combined with empty, badly lit studio sets and high-contrast black and white stock make this film very creepy indeed.

Barbarella

February 22nd, 2006
Starring: Jane Fonda

Barbarella is a lovely little romp through the sexist world of Outer Space. Jane Fonda plays Barbarella, a space-age superheroine whose many talents include undressing in zero-gravity. Her mission is to find the rogue scientist Duran Duran and return him to Planet Earth. Along the way she encounters an army of fanged dolls, a black tyrant, a lake of liquid evil called the Matmos, and Dildano, an impotent counter-terrorist. I could go on and on about this movie’s many cheesy touches, such as Barbarella’s fur-lined spaceship, but you should probably just go out and see for yourself.

Basic Instinct

February 22nd, 2006
Starring: Sharon Stone, Michael Douglas

Boobs. Boobs. Boobs. That’s the main point of this movie. Boobs and blood. Somebody is going around killing people. Who is it? It’s pretty obvious, but I won’t ruin the suspense. Sharon Stone stars as the key suspect, who bares her boobs, has sex with people and makes out with women. Michael Douglas stars as the cop who gets suspended even though he’s obsessed with a murder case. He gets to have sex with people a lot as well. This is definitely a movie to pass up if you don’t like the sight of breasts.

Beastmaster

February 22nd, 2006

A boy is branded with a mysterious mark at birth, and a toothless evil guy with skulls as hair ornaments spend a lot of time trying to kill him. He grows up and talks to animals, and befriends Kiri, an escaped slave girl (Tanya Roberts). Kris’ claim to fame is that she wears skimpy leather things and kills bad guys with her lethal hair combs. Together they battle fleshy monsters whose hugs turn people into green-slime oozing piles of bones. This film also features a great feline of undetermined species (I think it’s a tiger painted black to look like a panther) and a pair of ferrets who provide comic relief as well as a convenient plot device.

Beneath the Planet of the Apes

February 22nd, 2006

If you only see one Planet of the Apes movie this year, let it be this one. Captain Taylor, Cornelius, Zira, and all your hairy friends are back in a rip- rollicking romp across the surface of fortieth-century Earth. Everything is peachy until they discover– whoops!– a subterranean race of prehistoric humans who enshrine and worship the atomic bomb. Just wait till they sing their “bomb” hymn!

Brigadoon

February 22nd, 2006

This film is worth it just to see 17th century Scottish people prancing around in plaid tights. There’s a great scene involving a bagpiper rumble (although the pipes sound strangely like the woodwind section of a major orchestra…) The songs are delightfully cheesy, second in cheese only to the extremely low-tech sets.

In Aberdeen I used to know
A lass livin’ there and her name was Jo
And every night at ten
I would meet her in the glen.

But now I’ll not meet her again
Especially not in the glen at ten
For now across the green
I’ll go home with Bonnie Jean!

You’ve always wanted to see what happens when a 1950’s sporting gentleman falls for a 1650’s Highland lass! Awa’ wi’ ye tae the video store!

The Cassandra Crossing

February 22nd, 2006
Starring: Richard Harris, OJ Simpson, Sophia Loren

A train is speeding towards the famed Cassandra Crossing. This is the train trestle that people won’t live under for fear of its imminent collapse. This is the last bridge that many concentration camp victims saw in their lives. This is the bridge that we see in many 2 second close-ups of its rusting beams and creaking stock footage. So why is the train speeding towards it? The filmmakers thought perhaps it would speed up the plot. They were wrong.

So now enter a guy in an Aran sweater, who has just introduced the “Mnemonic Plague” (it helps you remember where you left your car keys) to the train. Although he may look like just another harmless Clancy Brother, the Swedish Terrorist enjoys touching and sneezing upon every baby and child he meets, thus infecting the entire train. The Plague causes welts and sweating, and eventually a quick, albeit painful death at the hands of the make-up artists.

It’s now up to OJ Simpson (the undercover priest) and Richard Harris to get the cake out of the rain and stop the train! Will they make it? Who’s at the heart of this international conspiracy? This is a disaster flick and spy movie all rolled into one!

Charly

February 22nd, 2006

Haven’t you always wanted to see Boston from a retard’s point of view? Charly is a “retardate” who gets an operation that makes him smarter. Upon becoming smarter, he joins a biker gang and smokes pot and has a psychedelic experience with bad special effects. Then he comes to his senses, and becomes a genius, and falls in love with his teacher, which results in a happy love sequence involving more bad special effects.

Based upon the novel “Flowers for Algernon,” which I loved as an 8th grader, this film doesn’t live up to its depressing potential. The ending is a bit different, much happier. The thing that made the book so great was its depressing ending! Anyway, this film is good if you like cheesy special effects, and a dark vision of the future.

City of Angels

February 22nd, 2006
Starring: Nicholas Cage, Meg Ryan

This is another movie that is specially formulated to make you cry every 5 minutes or so. It’s about a bunch of angels, who live in a library, and one of them (Nicholas Cage) falls in love with a mortal (Meg Ryan). Um, you cry some more and then they do some heart wrenching things and talk about life in ways you never realized before. We learn a great deal about taking life for granted. We also learn the most important lesson of all- don’t ride a bicycle with your eyes closed.

Con Air

February 22nd, 2006
Starring: Nicholas Cage, John Malkovich, Colm Meaney, John Cusack

What happens when a bunch of convicted criminals hijack the plane they’re being transferred on? Lots of people get shot, and a lot of stuff blows up. People are forced to use catchy one-line threats such as “put… the… bunny… in… the… box!” before shooting other people.

Nicholas Cage plays the guy who saves the day (but not after crashing the plane into downtown Las Vegas, causing half of the known universe to explode). This movie should simply have been called “Stuff Blowing Up.” John Malkovich co-stars as- guess what? A psycho killer! No way! Did I mention that there are lots of explosions? A truly great one for those who love action/adventure cheese involving bad plot devices and Chief O’Brien. John Cusack plays a good guy who wears Birkenstocks. Don’t miss the gratuitous scene where the psycho cross dresser rocks out to Lynard Skynard. It’s a bonding moment for all the convicted criminals.

Clash of the Titans

February 22nd, 2006
Starring: Sir Laurence Olivier, Claire Bloom

Sir Laurence Olivier is in his most powerful role to date: as the Mighty Zeus himself! Watch as he and the rest of the gods of Olympus smite people and entire cities! Meanwhile Perseus, our hero, goes around killing and dismembering all sorts of mythological beasts, rescuing the princess, and making the world safe for Athenian democracy.

Featuring Bubo, the Olympian made robot owl and innovative, yet outdated special effects by stop-motion wizard Ray Harryhausen. With a pantheon of famous actors as well, such as Ursula Andress as Aphrodite, Burgess Meredith as the Old Guy, Claire Bloom as Hera, and Harry Hamlin as Perseus.