Two small-time Baltimore crooks flee to Miami to hide out in a rented home in the suburbs - only, they aren't your ordinary petty thieves! No, sir! Instead, director/writer Thomas Casey has masterfully cast them as a gay couple, Paul (aka Aunt Martha) being the domineering, cross-dressing chief-boot-knocker, with Stanley as the callow, somewhat-submissive teen-hippie. Stanley (played by Wayne Crawford) is a child-like idiot (just turning nineteen) who, despite being wanted for murder, drives a colorful attention-grabbing van around (that actually has the word `door' painted on the door). And while he may indeed have a few character inconsistencies (a homosexual, coke-snorting hippie with hang-ups who knows how to deliver babies via C-section?), Paul (played beautifully by Abe Zwick in his only known role) is simply killer! He's got that over-the-top delivery that sometimes sounds ad-libbed, reminiscent of the many memorable characters of John Barrymore and Gene Wilder - mixing deadpan humor with over-enunciated words and psychotic facial expressions.
Partly to throw off the heat, Paul dons the guise of Stanley's "Aunt Martha," dressing in drag and doing the cooking and cleaning while Stanley jacks around with the Woodstock generation (drugged-out dudes in leather vests and skanky nude chicks). Extremely jealous (and tipping a hat to Hitchcock's `Psycho'), Aunt Martha then attempts to slice-and-dice any girls (referred to as whore, sluts, or bitches) trying to get in Stanley's snakeskin pants (which he never takes off throughout the film's entirety). Zwick's performance is a joy to watch and his dialogue is absolutely hilarious. He embodies elements of Vaudevillian slapstick, making even the subtle act of smoking a cigar a work of art! And the scene where Martha yells at the phone then throws darts at a poster of a girl's ass while swigging beer is priceless!
Another character, Hubert (Don Craig), shows up toward the end to make things even more baffling - he's a double-crossing heroin junkie in his 60s who once worked in a drug-store in Baltimore but, for some unknown reason, has followed our dynamic duo all the way to Miami (through the power of the Zodiac) because he has nowhere else to go (in reality, he's just another petty thief with horrible rationalization skills after some jewels). And, to make things even more bizarre, he's a junior astrologist bordering on analytical psychology.
The film drags on a little at the end (really, what's with that Caesarian section scene?) -- and should have been edited down a bit or reinforced with more crucial scenes, but director Thomas Casey has essentially (and effectively) crossed Truman Capote's `In Cold Blood' and `Psycho' with TV fare like `Bosom Buddies,' `The Odd Couple,' and `That '70s Show.' Now, he needs to turn this into a weekly series for HBO, or make a prequel that explains the whole odd arrangement. Or he could make a sequel that finds Paul surviving the gunshot wound and being released from prison thirty years later as a rehabilitated man (or so you'd think). The possibilities are endless!
`Sometimes Aunt Martha Does Dreadful Things' is easily one of the most interesting B-movies I've ever seen!
The direction, lighting, and editing are horrible, the acting is three leagues under bad, and the plot, if you can call it that, centers around different ways to get the cast naked, including scenes involving a floating Asian whorehouse boat. It's not even worth a look if you like women-in-prison films, as the nude scenes are pretty drab and unpleasant looking. To its credit, it's only 78 minutes long though, so it's not like you're sitting through `Dances With Wolves' or `Gettysburg.'
Whereas the novel focused more on character development, coming-of-age values and generational issues, the film emphasizes the notion of discipline and the breaking of rules. At every turn in the film (which, by the way, isn't long enough to cover the genius of Irving in all his aptitude), and I mean every turn, someone is breaking a rule it's almost subconsciously irksome (keep in mind, the film does center around abortion during a time when it was illegal). As a result, I don't get the same sense of resolution and clarity in the film that makes the novel so endearing.
Plus, I'm not sold on the main cast. I didn't mind Michael Caine (excellent line: "Good night, you princes of Maine -- you kings of New England!"), and though I really like both Toby Maguire and Charlize Theron, neither of them posses the magic of Irving's characters, and certainly don't create an attachment that viewers care about in the film. I might even go as far as to say they're mismatched.
Nevertheless, I give mad props to those in the supporting roles! Delroy Lindo, playing the incestuous Mr. Rose, should have gotten an Oscar nod (better yet, he should have done a comedy with Evander Holyfield as his twin brother). Likewise, Heavy D (as Peaches) and Erykah Badu (as Rose Rose) should be noted for their standout performances.
McCabe plays a life-and-death game with Frank Connor (played by Andy Garcia), a San Francisco police officer forced to go to `desperate measures' to find a compliant bone marrow donor for his dying son. McCabe, as it turns out, is the boy's perfect DNA match. When offered the genuine opportunity to help, McCabe reflects, `After all these years of being locked up, I'm finally given the opportunity to kill again.'' Beautiful!
Connor haphazardly convinces his superiors to transport McCabe to a hospital, but the killer instead stages a resourceful escape, going on a destructive killing spree. It's a bit contrived (blueprints of the building from the Internet, broken joints in his hand, anesthesia-prevention, etc), but all accounted for. Under any other circumstances Garcia's character would shoot McCabe on sight, but in his current predicament, he tries to keep McCabe alive (if McCabe dies, his marrow is useless and the boy dies).
As you can see, "Desperate Measures" isn't just about the pursuit of a psycho - the movie toys with the idea of morality and virtue, then tosses in a lot of antagonism to get the point across. Still, it lacks a bit in presenting McCabe and Connor as the same person - each desperate with the capability to overcome and survive despite the chaos. Had they done that, I might've recommended this film a little more.
Bruckheimer, with his late partner Don Simpson, engineered flicks like "Beverly Hills Cop," "Top Gun," "Days of Thunder" and "The Rock" "Con Air" is more of the same; a film that feels more like an arcade-game than a work of art. It's junk-food cinema for the Nintendo generation.
The star of the show, Nicolas Cage's ex-Army Ranger Cameron Poe, is finally getting out of lock-up after eight years to see his family; imprisoned for defending his pregnant wife in a bar fight and killing a hooligan (personally, froma legal standpoint, I don't see how he could have gotten sent up river, but hey, this is Hollywood). So, for God-knows-what-reason, he's sent aboard a C-123K plane in the Air Transport division of the U.S. Marshal's Service, a carrier that transporting some of the nation's most dangerous felons across the country to a new super-maximum security facility. But guess what -- Poe suddenly finds himself mixed up in a carefully detailed skyjacking masterminded by Cyrus "The Virus" Grissom (played unequivocally by Malkovich). And, as you might guess, Poe becomes a reluctant hero, fighting to thwart Cyrus and his band of "lifers" from massacring everyone on board as the damaged plane careens toward disaster on the famed Las Vegas strip. The criminal superstars are probably the best part of the film: there's Malkovich (awesome in every role he's played), black militant Nathan `Diamond Dog' Jones (Ving Rhames), Johnny 23 (Danny Trejo) and Garland Greene (Steve Buscemi), a serial killer who arrives on board encased in custom-made restraints patterned after Hannibal Lecter's in "The Silence of the Lambs."
The film's most riveting scene comes when Buscemi, the soft-spoken serial-killer, has tea with a little girl who's likely to become his next victim the little girl and he instead sing `He's Got the Whole World In His Hands.' Other than that, and a few other scenes, the movie is basically a procession of swift set-ups, oddball characters, spiked colloquy and action sequences. If you like bright lights, loud noises, guns and explosions don't miss this one!
I liked this film a lot - like the `Evil Dead' films and `The Return of the Aliens: The Deadly Spawn,' this is pioneering film-making that must be seen to be believed. From the opening sequence where the credits are rolling (a nice parade of mechanical images moving around mysteriously) to the rather abrupt start, this is a film that keeps things interesting! In the beginning, a man running from an explosion (Edward Connell playing David Fielding) is hit by a phantom car. He later winds up in a psychiatric ward as a psychotic vegetable of sorts, staring at his cross for countless hours. He's visited by a newsman named Sloan (James Phillips looking like Bruno Sammartino), who hears the original tape of Connell's affirmations.
Now, note the familiarities here. His story recounts the day he and three friends cross a strangely recognizable bridge, hoping to meet up with a professor named Doctor Waterman who's holed up in an almost inaccessible cabin. The professor has gotten his hands on a 1,000 year old book written in many different languages that he calls 'The Bible of Evil,' which makes reference to the Dead Sea Scrolls, the Persian Gulf, the Lord's Prayer written backwards, the forces of good and evil, demonology, the natural methodology of symbols, and demon resurrection. The doctor has, as expected, become as amateur demonologist and tried a few of the experiments for the manifestation of certain creatures. His notes, found in the book itself, claim that his knowledge was premature and that he was unable to control what he created. When Dave reads the doctor's notes, the scene is uncannily similar to a another from some other film that involves a doctor's notes on a tape-recorder. Later, we see Dr. Waterman possessed by something as he runs through the woods. Oddly enough, there's also reference to a spiraling vortex and a fluctuating dimension where we see a medieval castle and an evil flying stop-motion demon - hmmmn. In addition, several of the cast-members get possessed, and Jim Hudson (played by WKRP's Frank Bonner) even gets an evil doppleganger (can you say `Evil Ash'?). And, at one point, Dave yells, `Into the woods,' which automatically brings Raimi's `Within the Woods' to mind in a weird de-ja-vu sense when you actually hear it said. Nevertheless, `Evil Dead 2' is still a much better film and tons more entertaining, but this is a nice reference point for any fan of the Raimi movies. Purchase this at any cost!
Lots of other weird stuff here too: 1) Susan is almost raped by Asmodeus (Satan as a park-ranger), who apes Billy Idol's sneer in a very weird scene. Luckily, her crucifix (y'know, the one that swings down by her near-perfect ass throughout the film) saves her. 2) The Ray Harryhausen-like stop-motion animation, created by future Oscar-winner Dennis Muren (of later `Star Wars' fame), is amazing! Everything from his Cthulhu-looking octopus, to his flying demon, to his 30 foot Aztec Gorilla with the furry forearms, to his big aborigine/caveman are spectacular! 3) The group of students is the most matter-of-factly group of kids since Scooby-Doo and the gang. They're not a bit scared when they hear maniacal laughing from a dark cave and see weird prehistoric footprints. Instead, they make torches and investigate! 4) Ed Begley Jr was an assistant cameraman on this film, and he ended up doing voices on `Scooby-Doo.' 5) There's a wonderful cameo from legendary sci-fi author Fritz Leiber in a small role. Leiber once wrote a short-story in 1950 called `The Enchanted Forest'). 6) Satan is a park-ranger!
Pop (Billy M. Greene) tells Maria the story of Johnnie's lowly life, as if it were one of Hilaire Belloc's `Cautionary Tales for Children,' against a backdrop of real, unadorned people in their real, drab existence. Director Matt Cimber, in his debut feature film, illustrates the ruthlessness and dreariness of life and how it gleefully pulverizes people who never had a chance. It's not a satirical film, just a bleak soul-shriveler of the cruelest kind. Throughout, Mansfield conceals a depth of softness and vulnerability, hinting that there's always a hopefulness hidden under her sobs and disappointment. The feel-good film of the year this isn't (Mansfield even died before the movie was completed)! But, if you're looking for a quiet tale about human nature and want to see how the majority of American people feel, definitely watch this one!
First off, the story is pretty bad, dragged down by even worse sound effects. In the city of Dunwich (think H.P. Lovecraft), built right on the original ruins of Salem, we see a Catholic priest, Father Thomas (Fabrizio Jovine), hang himself (an obvious reference to Fulci's hatred for the Catholic Church). For some reason, which we're told though the melodramatics of Madame Teresa (played by Adelaide Aste), who speaks way too matter-of-factly about the portal to Hell and closing the gates, evil was apparently unleashed when Father Thomas hung himself (I wonder what the outcome of molestation of little boys is?). And while I'm on the subject of melodrama, Luca Venantini (who plays Emily's little brother, John-John), is by far the worst child-actor I've ever seen! And as `Sandra,' Swedish actress Janet Ågren's hysterics are so over-the-top you just want to cuff her! At one point she's painting a black rhino, which caused me to think back to `James & The Giant Peach,' where James' parents are abducted by a huge black rhino. no dice here! Just bad, bad acting.
As far as the rest of the cast goes, Carlo De Mejo (playing Gerry the psychologist and looking like Elliott Gould with a beard) is pretty good, as is the wiseguy journalist -- part Kolchak, part smart-ass Norm McDonald, part Peter O'Toole - portrayed by Christopher George (who could have used the Duke's help in this film!). On the other hand, Martin Sorrentino plays a hard-talkin' black sergeant who quickly disappears after the film gets going (thank God). and then there's Bob! All the characters in the film think the twitchy Ed Gein-like character (played by Giovanni Lombardo Radice) is the killer. We first meet him in a ramshackle country house with his blow-up doll, but if you're a "Twin Peaks" fan, his whole insubstantial palindrome moniker will bring Frank Silva's `Killer Bob' character to mind. Plus, he's wearing a UAW jacket throughout the entire film (a statement from Fulci?).
My last gripe centers around the film's inaccuracies, the sets, and the fluky coincidences. For starters, there's a character named Mary (played by Catriona MacColl, but resembling Elizabeth Hurley a bit), who starts out as a fourth-rate cleric of some sort with one initial vision that peters out and gets buried alive. But, the film actually shows an embalming scene at one point (some old woman), which makes me wonder how Mary could have been buried alive - 1) she obviously wasn't embalmed for some reason, or 2) she's the most kind-hearted, jovial, down-to-earth zombie the world's ever seen! Outside of that, Junie's Lounge (the local watering-hole) is damn depressing, and it looks like the catacombs were filmed in the same dimly lit cavern used in `Galaxy of Terror' and Sybil Danning's `The Phantom Empire' (this film is on par with both on 'em). Oh, and while you're down there, why not utter, `Hey look, here's that just-in-case-crowbar we need as we wander around aimlessly in the catacombs!'
If you want to see something like this, minus the gore with better character development and trippier sequences, check out John Gilling's 1966 Hammer film, `Plague of Zombies,' which I think this film lifts a little from.
Well, most of the death-scenes are pretty lame (a few electrocutions/catch-on-fire scenes and a nasty spill or two) and the plot is lamer than a 'Scooby-Doo' mystery that even Shaggy would figure out without the rest of the gang based on the two or three clues lying around (no tricks here). Also, the house is pretty creepy, though director Gus Trikonis never makes much use of it, and the character interaction flat-out sucks. Likewise, the music is really gay (and I don't mean that in a homosexual way, more of a `Thorn Birds' way), and there's a reprehensible scene where a kid is climbing down a wet piece of rubber-insulated cable in a thunderstorm five stories above the ground - sorry, there's just no way in Hell he could do it without gloves on!
It's not a bad run-of-the-mill haunted-house story, but it might have worked better in more creative hands. This is a case where the marketing campaign and poster-art worked better than the film.
I enjoy this film because it's gritty and real, shot in 16mm over weekends only, filled with the normalcy of everyday life - people prepare breakfast and lunch, they feed the cat, they worry about tests, they talk about plaster giraffes. The director gives us a glimpse into a normal middle-class family with a penchant for hard-work and education, then shows us how they and a surrounding circle of people react (based on their backgrounds). For example, the brainy older brother wants to dissect one of the alien brood; the uncle wants to help his nephew by psychoanalyzing him a little; the younger, imaginative brother wants to defeat the entire pack as a horror-film defender; the little old ladies fight back dynamically - hell, aliens are nothing next to the Depression-era vermin they might have faced! Simply put, this is top-notch amateur acting with a dose of actuality! By film's end, you feel at home in their house, despite the nastiness!
That said, almost all of the actors here are great! `Boring' Uncle Herb (played by John Schmerling) must be where the character of Dr. Frazier Crane (Kelsey Grammar) came from, 'cause he's on the money! Other MVPs include Ethel Michelson as the progressive Aunt Millie, and Judith Mayes as her off-the-wall new-age mother, Bunny. And, unlike the array of idiot characters you get in most horror flicks, these characters seem pretty smart, especially Charlie (played by Charles George Hildebrandt), who comes to breakfast reading a copy of `Famous Monsters') and his scientist brother Pete (Michael Robert Coleman). I like the way director Douglas McKeown juxtaposes their two disciplines (outlooks on life - left brain, right brain) against one another. in the end, science and imagination triumph together in sheer MacGyver genius!
This is an independent film, much like `Evil Dead I/II,' with the same tongue-in-cheek approach, plenty of point-of-view shots, the same good editing (though certainly not as tight), and loads of staggeringly elaborate alien and gore effects (that would make Tom Savini proud). The adult alien is much like Audrey, the blood thirsty plant from `The Little Shop of Horrors,' but has thousands of teeth and an almost-leering grin, while the offspring are part piranha, part mealworm, part eel, part phallus - they like look like something you'd see in a Gwar stageshow or film. None ever seem like puppets! Like Raimi's film, this one has an energy and spirit that surpass the gore-and-horror paint-by-numbers. In fact, while McKeown (with screenwriters Ted Bohus and John Dods) isn't as effective as Raimi in the humor department here, he brings a much deeper social and truth-seeking criticism to the table. He pokes fun at vegetarians amidst man-eating aliens and ends the film in a 'black humor' finale.
A charming film, `Deadly Spawn' overcame some serious distribution problems (imagine that) and eventually grossed something like $320,000 in one weekend (?). Made for less than $20,000, it's since gone on to make several million dollars (wonder who got the dough?). Hooray for the little man!
I liked Jerry Goldsmith's experimental electronica, and Steiger's costume in `The Long Rain' sequence. Playing a futuristic space-colonel, he looks like The Beast Rabban from Dune in his apocalyptic rippled-rubber suit!