Reviews written by registered user
|15 reviews in total|
When this show premiered Spielberg was at the top of his game/fame. He
was a director(Jaws, Raiders, ET) and executive producer(Gremlins, Back
to the Future). Amazing Stories was a big event series. It had a
million dollar per episode budget(quite high for the 80s), state of the
art title credits and many famous faces(especially behind the camera).
It didn't even need to show its worth in the first season, it was
locked in for two seasons. Alas it was mostly a dud, and was nowhere
near as good storywise as the original Twilight Zone or Outer Limits.
There was no equivalent of "To Serve Man" or "Nightmare at 20 000 Feet" in Amazing Stories. No "Zanti Misfits" or "Architects of Fear." Stories that you could watch once and probably remember well, and be able to relay to someone else in a few sentences and still be entertaining because the idea was good.
The best live action episode was in my opinion, "Mummy, Daddy." It had energy, humor and clever ending, which was improvised, and if it had followed the script as originally written(concluding in the hospital) would have been a dud as well.
"Family Dog" also stood out.
I remember "the Main Attraction," "The Mission" (mainly for the cartoony ending), "Gather Ye Acorns," "Miscalculations," "Mirror, Mirror" and "Go to the Head of the Class."
But beyond some fancy special effects and occasional laugh, the stories just don't hold up.
Doing a memorable anthology show is hard, but the cheaper Tales From the Darkside was locked into the horror genre and didn't do so badly.
The most memorable thing about it was in fact the opening credits, and as others have said, the series never lived up to the concept. It was probably held to a higher standard because of Spielberg's film history at the time, but for the small screen, he was no Rod Serling.
Here is a story set in Canada about Canadians and yet it was made by the US. I have to ponder why Canada didn't jump on doing this story themselves. If one wonders why Canadian movies are so lame (about failure, disease, depression, weird humor) I would say it is because culturally we have an aversion to examining ourselves in a critical fashion whereas other countries do it quite naturally. England has made films about notorious murders, same with Australia, or Germany (Tenderness of the Wolves), and of course, the US. This story would have been perfect material for a domestic movie--but I can find no evidence that Canada ever sought to make this story themselves. I can understand with the stars involved that they dramatized it and changed the facts, but if it were done with no stars, and kept to the historical story, it still would have been fascinating. But the government film funding bodies don't like stories that present Canada in a negative light. At least in the English side-I know Quebec has covered stories on its history in fictional fashion. I remember the furor over a Canadian murder case when a Canadian producer wanted to make a film about it and was harshly condemned, so the US made it-and Canadian crew people vowed not to work on it. This is seriously screwed up thinking. If Canada wants to develop a normal film industry it needs to be less reserved and more self-examining.... On the film itself, I agree with the sentiments that you wouldn't see this film made today-and if you did, it would star model-types. Character actors have really gone extinct. Some of the melodramatic touches in the film worked for me (the dog, the trapper Bill), others fell flat(the inserted love story). Still, Bronson was effective (you could totally believe he was a rugged mountain man) and Marvin had some good lines (I am sure Canadian government culture ministers would have axed his comment calling the trappers "savages" if it was made in country).
If this movie was meant to be mostly humorous or silly, I give it a 4 out of 10. I did laugh a couple of times, but for most of it I was just smiling at the absurdity of it. If however, this was meant as a serious movie, then I would give it a 1. Please tell me it wasn't meant to be serious. Please tell me when I heard them say "human rights groups would be monitoring the evictions closely" that they actually said "nonhuman rights groups," because having a human rights group at the evictions of alien cockroaches makes as much sense as them being present at a whale hunt. If it was meant to be comedic, it is still pretty lazy in writing. Peta would have made more sense. But that's a sloppy line if I heard it right. If this movie was meant to be taken seriously it had many more problems. Such as the idea that the US and other countries would leave an alien ship and weapons in the hands of South Africa. Never. They could have written a few lines to explain it away well enough but they didn't bother. Or that any country would tolerate such obnoxious looking and behaving aliens on the doorstep. They would have been quarantined right at the beginning unless they were worried an alien ship would come back looking for them-a few lines would have explained it. The refugee scenario worked OK in Alien Nation because the aliens acted more human like and it was a cop drama anyway--but here, there wasn't much done in an effort to make such a scenario realistic. And the idea that one was supposed to feel sad for them--I am afraid the director didn't do a good job making me feel that way, and I avoid stepping on insects when I walk! I felt nothing for them. Spoiler: When the main character gets sprayed with goo and has a change, it was so clean and perfectly done that it reminded me of 1950s cartoons where someone drinks a potion and their head changes into a frog (while their hands stay normal). If this was serious, the guy's face would at least have had a rash! And the way they stick him in the gun for the test--it just made me smile. It was ludicrously presented. So i have to believe it was mostly meant as a comedy, but it didn't work for me. Also the use of shaky cam annoyed me, and the docudrama style was inconsistently used. I had heard it was like this generation's 2001, Robocop and Star Wars. Big praise. The movie borrowed a few elements from them but wasn't fun like those movies. The aliens spoke in a bizarre clicking fashion and the humans could perfectly understand it--in Star wars this was done in a comic book manner, and the Stormtroopers were wearing helmets that may well have had a translator device. That was cartoonish. The alien arm transformation was cartoonish. I know it was a bad summer for movies, but really, was this that much of a breath of fresh air? It only came about because the video game movie Jackson had planned was canceled-and they needed to do something with the money they had. It wasn't as if the director had a script about alien race relations sitting on a desk. And there was precious little about that in the movie. I cant remember one quotable line of dialogue. I keep coming back to it being a comedy--even the idea that Nigerians would prostitute themselves for the aliens as suggested in a line--hard to imagine. Seems more like they just threw everything they could at the screen and hope it stuck. Lucky for them they had the backing of a big studio and director. The effects were quite good though-I just wish they had used them in a better story.
This film got little coverage in horror books or magazines I collected
growing up, and I only became aware of its availability in the internet
age. The premise was intriguing, although I assumed it to be more of a
comedy and probably cheaply made. As a fan of Crain's Blacula I was
pleasantly surprised to discover his involvement-even more so when "Big
Skillet" Ji-Tu Cumbuka shows up--playing a straight talking police
detective who reminds one of Samuel Jackson. The film does appear
cheaper than Blacula and has less dramatic tension--on the other hand
it manages to give its central character a bit more depth than one
would expect from the Jekyll and Hyde story having been done so many
times previously. The scene where Casey tells the prostitute about his
childhood and mother is poignant, and makes his request to her all the
more chilling since we realize he has some sincere reason to do his
research and wont take no for an answer. A mad scientist with a twist.
The makeup by future fx star Stan Winston who had worked with Casey on the TV movie Gargoyles isn't a big deal by today's standards and despite the title he doesn't really look caucasian but more like a Haitian voodoo zombie. Whether Winston was hampered by budget or it was a conscious decision to make him more of a ghoul is an open question.
There are some story lapses and the ending seems rather abrupt and too basic for a story that had established such a dramatic impetus for the main character--but it has a few amusing lines and is probably worth a look for people seeking an alternative drive-in horror film. 6 1/2 out of 10.
There is a joke that a standard Canadian film is a "quirky" story that
involves despair, odd humor, incest, bestiality or necrophilia.
This movie goes for the last category.
I really don't see other countries that have such a fascination with the subject matter and get mainstream government funding for it. I suspect that one of the appeals of funding a a film like this is that it pokes fun at US culture. The irony is that in the 1950s Canadians were watching the same movies and TV shows. Our own shows and movies were awful or non existent. I wish Canada would expand its horizons and try making horror, fantasy and science fiction films that aren't meant to be quirky satires. There ARE other stories out there. New Zealand and Australia are able to do it--I don't see why Canada can't. The only exception seems to be when one half of the film-making team(writer or director) comes from another country. The case with Rituals, Terror Train etc.
PS A poster from Finland said people who prefer non human animals to other humans as company suffer from a pathology similar to the idea in this film that humans would take zombies as pets and servants. I pity someone who thinks that there is a link between a fondness for living species and necrophilia. Human nature is a scary thing.
The idea of a 70s era double feature with fake trailers was an inspired
Machete was my favorite trailer, followed by Thanksgiving, then Don't (Where did they find that Roddy MacDowell look alike, doing a Hell House impression?).
Movie wise--Planet Terror was amusing, clever, just the type of inventive energy I expected from something like Slither, but didn't get.
It was disgusting, offensive, but you had to admire it for not holding back, and I laughed out loud a few times.
Great to see Jeff Fahey again--he stole the show along with Josh Brolin. I almost didn't recognize Michael Biehn! Death Proof on the other hand--I just couldn't stand it. It didn't even feel like an old movie. Rodriguez put a huge amount of effort into his, Tarantino, evidently did not(though he was good in the Planet Terror cameo).
One odd thing about the whole project was how they tried to make the film look old(not so much in Death Proof) even though people are using modern technology. I would have preferred more of a retro consistency.
The only aspect of Grindhouse that made me think of the 70s was the title credits for Death Proof and bits of the Machete and Don't trailers. Otherwise, Planet Terror seemed more like early to mid 80s in terms of subject matter and feel.
It was nice to see that cartoon panther cub morphing into the Restricted sign. Haven't seen it in ages.
I give it a 7 for Planet Terror and a couple of the trailers, but Death Proof gets a 0.
In film history class we were usually shown a silent era German movie followed by Triumph of the Will. This film ought to be included. It is surprising on a few fronts. One is the high production values. Not a cheap movie at all. Even when compared to a US technicolor film of the period, this had a few advantages like real European locations, access to the Venice canals (a movie in colour first?). It could also be the first colour film to show a space-science fiction sequence. The effects were impressive for the time and its clear that the Gilliam version borrowed some fx ideas from this. The often heard assumption that Germany's best film technicians all fled or were killed simply isn't true judging by this. Very colourful film. The language barrier prevented me from judging the comic timing very well but looked as though the performances were on target. As others have pointed out the nudity and sexual talk is rather jarring to see when you think of the US censorship board of the period. Probably the two biggest surprises were the black people(!) and the not so unsubtle digs at the regime. The villain with the moustache talking about invading Poland really came as a surprise. This flies in the face of what I often heard-that Germans were brainwashed by Hitler-clearly there was some dissent judging from this. And it also counters the idea that was put froward in the last 10 years that in war time one doesn't criticize the sitting president. They did in Nazi Germany!
I was really impressed with this film the first time I caught it on a sci-fi TV channel in the late 90s early 2000s. The way the story weaves between marital conflict and alien invasion was rather neatly done, and while the creatures aren't ALIEN quality they serve well enough. This is the kind of film that shows how unprofessional movies of today with 10 times the budget have become--since the people making this film had limited resources but they gave it their best effort. Has some memorable and funny lines and situations. Pity on those who cant appreciate its merits. I can watch it once a year and still find it amusing.
I give it 5 out of 10 although if it was not based on Predator I think
it would earn a 6.
The original Predator was a fun hokey sci fi action film with off the wall characters, dialogue and a closing credits sequence which was pretty unusual (the cast salute to the audience). It benefited greatly from production problems and some changes that allowed the story to play out as it did(with an alien design that is very memorable).
Predator 2 was not in the same league of course-but Danny Glover was a compelling enough lead that I can watch it from time to time. But it started the downward spiral. The problem is that the predator worked great as an Arnie menace--but it seems that filmmakers don't know what to do with it in his absence. The main problem plaguing every movie since is that they make the predator weaker, and open to truces and friendship pacts with humans, they take the "you aren't armed, no sport" line which was just an easy way to explain why the woman wasn't being targeted and used it as a "noble hunter" device to spare women and children and justify lazy writing. The original Predator was a very strong, violent sob--when he loses a fight he laughs as the bomb counts down-he doesn't let Arnie go. He's a hunter-a jerk. Evil. Even against armed humans he has the advantage and he hides behind camouflage and shoots injured men and skins others alive. Not noble at all, but for some reason there is a fan base around the character, that has turned it from a menacing figure into a bumbling goon.
The AvP movies were bad, partly for the reasons cited above, although Requiem at least had a predator close to the original height and the fight between it and the predalien mimicked the original movie enough that that sequence was almost competent.
Now we have Predators once again trying to keep the predator franchise going without Arnie. I liked the basic concept and some of the ideas-(although the alleged original Rodriguez script of Dutch and other aliens who had killed a predator being dropped on a planet where they are hunted as a spectator sport for the predator homeworld could have been so much better if they had been given a budget to match). Unfortunately the execution on this version fizzled in my judgment. It copied aspects of the original movie a little too much, and as indicated at the beginning, they had to make the predators dumber, weaker, and prone to helping humans a little bit. The original Predator script wasn't exactly smart, but this one is dumber with less interesting characters. I liked Fishburne's fat faced nutty survivor and the humor of the convict but that wasn't enough. The Braga character was better than I expected, I didn't mind the doctor until near the end or the convict (until he was able to survive what Jesse Ventura could not and fight back). But I feared Adrian Brody would be annoying and he went far beyond what I expected. Not only was he super smart, never made a mistake, unlikable, but they had him take off his shirt and use Arnie like lines and SPOILERS successfully punch the predator a few times.
Not even Arnold's best punch could hurt the original predator, and somehow Brody was able to whack these super-predators with ease. This was not suspenseful. It was horrible.
I liked the concept of the predator dogs--but like so many recent Hollywood movies with fx and monsters, they do a poor job of establishing suspense and menace. The predator dogs appear, chase, get shot, retreat. Reminded me of the abysmal Clash of the Titans remake where giant scorpions that could easily crush a person were handled as if video game phantoms. As an audience we want to see why these predator dogs are scary or dangerous. We don't get to see it. They needed a few more parachute drops and allow us to see someone getting ripped apart.
By the end of it I was rather irritated by Brody's character and the decisions of the filmmakers. I am not convinced a Predator movie can work without someone like Arnuld, maybe a Jason Statham would have been better for this--but they would have needed to be more inventive in defeating the predators on their own world. using alien technology, or the help of fellow alien prey.
It could have helped maybe if it had taken a page from the Expendables in tone--while not a great movie, it did have some of the character camaraderie and casting that was inspired by the original Predator.
The Predator alien is a cool design all dressed up with nowhere to go without Arnold Schwarzenegger to fight.
Another reviewer said the 1968 movie was really about the civil rights movement but I don't think that is supported by the film itself. The source novel was specifically about human nature in general, and made direct reference to the use of primates, especially in labs. The 68 movie was more of a general commentary on human nature than the book, but retained reference to hunting and vivisection(which has been criticized in literature at least since the time of Shakespeare so it wasn't started by Peta) and a cynical view of human nature (the Lawgiver's scripture at the end makes that clear). Taylor goes from being misanthropic-perhaps a disillusioned idealist, to a champion of humanity, only to have his arrogance ripped away from him. If the story had merely been an allegory for the civil rights movement it would have been as dated as something like the Defiant Ones. The timelessness of human nature makes it work 4 decades later. The later movies had more of a civil rights/Vietnam allegory, and have become more dated as a result. It is rather interesting how the gorillas, who were the most important ape class in the novel, became much more war-like and barbaric as the film series progressed. Maybe the new movie takes a more heavy handed approach but even that would be more logical and less jarring than attempting to portray it as a civil rights allegory the way District 9 did(which implied Nigerian prostitutes were having sexual relations with the insect-like aliens!).
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