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Oh, and I like to work out.
The Forbidden Dimensions (2013)
A loving homage to bad '80s sci-fi
Forbidden Dimensions is a loving, accomplished (if not entirely period-accurate) homage to '80s straight-to-video science-fiction post-apocalyptic time-traveling rubber-mask monster movies.
Story? Let me give it a shot. Jack Slade is an S.E.K.a "solar eclipse kid"who finds himself jumping back and forth in timefrom 1998 to 2035 and back again. He works for the Kronos Corporation, which in 1998 creates a "wavelength generator" that brings aliens into our dimension. The maniacal Dr. Schector then uses alien tissue to, um, do some stuff, thereby destroying the world. As the last surviving S.E.K., it's up to Jack to find some chick named Khadija in 2035 and stop Kronos and Schector (who looks and sounds like he's fronting an '80s metal band) in 1998. I think. It's weird in spades right from the get-go, and things get even more confusing near the end. I would have preferred a slightly more linear story with less jumping around. But whatever.
Overly ambitious? Well, define "overly." I am a big supporter of independent filmmaking and I understand how hard it is to even get a movie made, so I will let an indie get away with a lot of things I'd criticize a big-budget movie for. FD is either unintentionally bad or lovingly bad. I prefer to think it's lovingly bad. Do not take this movie seriously. It is what it is, and it knows it. As such, there's no such thing as a goof. Post-2010 cars in 1998? Crew walking around in the background? It's all good.
FD displays all the trappings of a bad '80s movie: shots that last much longer than they should, bordering on indulgent; overly expository, on-the-nose dialog ("I have to save the future!"); actors taking extra time with movements to be sure the camera is seeing it. The dialog is not just unsubtle, but often it seems like characters are having two separate conversations.
I love the total lack of adherence to medical reality (the "reverse embryo" scene in particular); that is, the total impossibility of it. It's as if writer-director Chris J. Miller had a bunch of weird ideas and just decided to cram them all in, whether they made sense or not. Evidently a lot of the budget went to practical makeup effects. The weak-of-stomach should probably avoid this one.
There is a pact between B-movie makers and the audience, and the director knows it: Namely, if we're going to watch your low-budget movie, we want boobies. Miller delivers. He also gets very good performances from most of the rest of his (non-nude) cast, which was unexpected. Detective Giger is a hoot. Based on the trailers on the DVD, I gather he's a recurring character in Miller's movies.
Shot compositions are remarkably good, and there's interesting and clever integration of original footage with "guerrilla" footage shot on location at Wasteland Weekend. There are some interesting real-world locations, and even a pretty cool "sci-fi corridor" set.
If I have one complaint, it would be the overuse of different fonts for super cards and too many modern video effects. That said, there are enough '80s-era video graphics to satisfy purists. FD features great original music, plus an extra bonus: the same music that Epic Meal Time uses!
Is it logical? No. Easy to follow the story? Not really. But is it fun to watch? Absolutely.
Final note: If you pirated this movie and then didn't buy a legit copy, you suck. If you pirated it and then gave it a bad rating, there is a special place in Hell for you.
Kitschy time capsule doesn't quite hold up; still fun, though
"U.F.O." (pronounced YOU-foe by Ed Straker) was one of my favorite shows when I was a kid. I still have my original Dinky Interceptor toy. When the remastered DVD box set was released, I bought it immediately. I finally finished watching the series, and although it brought back fond memories, it struck me how wonderfully inept the show actually was.
Derek Meddings' models were fantastic, of course, and the effects were on par with the other Gerry Anderson shows like "Thunderbirds," but dramatically, technically and logically, it was downright awful. (For example: On Moonbase, you can shut off your roommate's oxygen supply and no alarm will sound. And the best way to deal with an alien-controlled woman who wants to blow up your base is to spend 6 hours falling in love with her and then TAKE HER TO THE BASE.)
It's like it was written by kids and realized by adults. It's a kids' show masquerading as a show for grown-ups. (I'm still fond of it, of course.)
Survival Island (2002)
Not nearly as bad as I'd expected
The only reason I had to watch this movie was because a friend was on the crew. He told me that it was widely regarded on set as one of the worst productions ever. We watched it together and he gave a running commentary. Despite the low budget, it was actually pretty entertaining. However, instead of relying on primitive CGI to animate their clay demon, the directors should have shot the movie the way Spielberg shot around finicky mechanical sharks for "Jaws." The piñata wasn't bad-looking, but when it transformed via cheesy CGI, it really drew attention to itself. There were some very effective practical gore effects, so it wasn't as if they didn't have options.
The cast was serviceable and the girls were hot (Lara Wickes was adorable and I fell madly in love), but the filmmakers violated the sacred pact between the horror genre and its male viewersnamely, if we're going to watch your no-budget movie, we want some nekkid boobies in return. The single instance of partial boobage from Daphnee Duplaix was pretty weak, and also raised some questions. For one, you can't get a Playboy Playmate to disrobe? And for two, how exactly does a director ask for the shot they used? "OK, guy, pull her top down a little--CUT! Moving on..."
So in the end, not so terrible. Here's a tip, though: Mute the TV and play the soundtrack to "Predator" instead. You'd be surprised at how much better the movie seems.
Steel Frontier (1995)
Painful to watch
I made it about 8 minutes into "Steel Frontier" before I turned it off. Then, glutton for punishment that I am, I watched some more the next day. Today I had to iron a pile of clothes, so I decided to finish the movie, and that was its own punishment. Here's what I don't understand: Robert Rodriguez and Shane Carruth each spent $7,000 on their debut features and created two remarkable movies. Yet here we have two directors with arguably way more money, and they churn out a huge, steaming pile of crap. Let me see if I can figure out the logic: "It's 'Road Warrior' but it's like a future Western. We'll get the cheapest 'actors' we can find, we'll have my mentally challenged cousin write the script, and we'll spend the budget on a bunch of explosions. We can't lose!"
Seriously. I don't think even the MST3K guys could improve this. But if you insist on watching it, I recommend getting very drunk first.
Teenage Caveman (2002)
Not good, but strangely compelling.
So I was flipping channels one night before bedtime and happened into the middle of some crazy party scene with half-naked girls. Good enough for me. I set the VCR and went to bed, but I was back in front of the TV 10 minutes later. There was just something about this movie that was oddly appealing. And not just Tiffany Limos. Or Andrew Keegan's samurai hair and drag queen outfit with big shoulder pads and peekaboo belly button. Despite the low production values, lack of plot and gaping holes of logic, little gems of brilliance were scattered here and there. Too bad they were too few and too far between.
Having done some reading about "Teenage Caveman" and its director, Larry Clark, I'm reminded of something Ben Stein wrote in his series of articles, "The Diary of a Mad Screenwriter," about a producer friend whose every project could be summed up as: "Teenage girls discovering their bodies as they come of age..." Maybe he was writing about Clark. I certainly can't fault the guy for, as another reviewer suggested, using movies as an excuse to see naked young girls. My only gripe is the buzzkill: When the exotically delicious Tiffany Limos gets naked and then the other half-naked girl EXPLODES...well, that's not the sort of climax I was hoping for. Kind of like in the worthless-except-for-topless-Jeannie- Millar "Starquest II," where instead of getting some more nakedness, we're treated to a rubber head getting a rubber monster finger through its rubber eye. Yeesh. And speaking of that flick, who doesn't notice the amazing similarities between the two movies?
Kudos to Richard Hillman, who was a heck of a lot of fun to watch, even with the sound off. Although not in the same way that Limos was, of course. Please note that I never said that "Teenage Caveman" is actually good. But it was intriguing enough to make me write a review, which says something. There's definitely a rental in my near future. Heck, I might even add this one to my DVD collection. Thanks, Larry!
(I actually did purchase this. Then I traded it away. No regrets.)
Mail Order Wife (2004)
Shh! Don't tell!
It was purely a fluke that I even got a copy of this movie. If "heartbreaking work of staggering genius" hadn't already been used, that's what I'd call it. This movie is simply amazing. It's a roller-coaster of emotions from beginning to end. You'll laugh nervously...then you'll stare, slack-jawed as another twist comes out of left field...and in the end, you'll feel about the same way you did at the end of one of your relationships. It's over, but you're ambivalent. And you won't really know how you feel for some time. The most incredible feat the filmmakers pull off is that at the same time you're starting to fully appreciate what the movie really is, you've bought into it fully. You've identified with Andrew and you've even said some of the things he says. In some ways, it's more real than reality.
This whole movie should require a spoiler. This is not dark humor--it's pitch black. Blacker than black. If you enjoy twisted and unusual movies, and/or you've ever been in love, you're bound to enjoy this movie.
In Smog and Thunder (2003)
The joke gets old fast
The trailer on the Web site--plus the involvement of Paul Zaloom ("Beakman's World")--was enough to convince me to buy the DVD, but I'd have been happier with a rental. The paintings, particularly the pseudo propaganda posters, are interesting and humorous, but the jokes are few and far between. There was nary a real laugh to be found. The voiceover work was either too polished or not polished enough. If Peter Thomas had done the narration, that would have lent a real "straightness" that Zaloom lacks. I appreciate the effort, but it's about 10 minutes' worth of material stretched out to 46 minutes. If you're addicted to The History Channel, you might get a kick out of this flick.
I watched "Torque" last night (and you should have no sympathy for me). Thoroughly abominable.
In no way did it mimic reality; if anything, it was TV Beer Commercial Reality, where hot chicks dance slo-mo in sprays of water and the camera never stops moving. "Hard-Boiled" (Lashou Shentan) is over-the-top gun fantasy, but it's at least rooted in reality. "Torque" is not rooted in anything but music videos. Bike stunts went way beyond anything possible in real life, even with super top pros. As if the director said, "What's the absolute craziest thing we could do here, no matter what?" It was so over-the-top it was...it wasn't even good enough to be numbing, it was just dumb. Heck, the single best part of the movie was the most understated. Plus it was like all the characters from a really bad straight-to-video low-budget biker movie were transplanted to a movie with a really big budget. So you had the bad girl who was realllly bad...the wisecracking hero who's realllly a wiseacre...
Daughter of the Mind (1969)
I can't tell you a thing about this movie plot-wise, but I can tell you that this was, hands-down, the scariest thing I ever saw on TV as a child. All I had to do was say "wax hand in a fishbowl" to my best friend to freak him out. I remember images, like a ghostly image of the girl floating in air, and someone replicating the effect with mist and a projector, but that's about it. Oh, and that Pam Ferdin was in it. (I feel like I grew up with her, because I kept seeing her in everything.)
Even the odd title still haunts me, 30-something years after first I saw the movie. Would love to see this again...but then, maybe it's better if I didn't. Some things are best left to the (childish) imagination.
Bowling for Columbine (2002)
I'd put off watching this movie for several reasons. One was that I absolutely refused to pay for it. Another was that I figured it would just make me angry. I was finally able to see it on cable.
I wasn't particularly angered by the movie, because it was about what I expected from Moore. What I didn't expect was that it would be so utterly BORING.