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2nd helping of Film Crew goofiness
29 August 2007
Warning: Spoilers
Three of the crack minds from Mystery Science Theatre 3000 (Mike Nelson, Bill Corbett and Kevin Murphy) return for a second round with their new project 'The Film Crew' and continue their proud tradition of mocking the weak.

For people who missed the first release 'Hollywood After Dark' the film crew are three men who have been hired to create commentary tracks for DVDs that don't have any. Each week (or month depending on how frequently they plan to release these discs) they are sent a new awful film to which they provide the full attention it so richly deserves.

This time out they are sent the B-movie classic Killers from Space starring a young and wooden Peter Graves. MST3K fans are sure to remember another Graves outing 'Beginning of the End' being one of the high points of the last series and this one does a great job living up to it. The plot involves a scientist who disappears during a bomb test and shows up later with a large scar on his chest and no memory of what happened. After his bosses find him leaving some secret information in the desert they are forced to drug him so he can reveal all that he knows. If you have seen the title you may have guessed that his disappearance may be linked to some killers who are perhaps from space. The aliens plans are quite simple. Release giant bugs and animals to destroy the world and then take over but the good Doctor will have none of that and comes up with a plan to save the human race. The only problem is getting anyone to believe him.

Okay the story sounds pretty stupid (which it is) but that script is just one of the films many flaws. Thanks to Peter's stiff performance (just try to ignore that), the directors decision to have seemingly random close ups, repetitive action and the terrible alien make up and flying effects the guys have no shortage of targets to aim at and they don't let anything slide.

A big step up this time is the quality of the host segments. Things seemed a little off in the first one but everything is definitely clicking now and they manage to deliver some laughs while giving everyone a break from the film. Hopefully this improvement is going continue with any future releases.

Anyone who either enjoys MST3K or just likes listening to Smart Asses tee off on something will get a big kick out of 'The Film Crew'. I can not wait for the next one.
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No bots, no problem
8 August 2007
Warning: Spoilers
Three of the minds responsible for one of the funniest shows ever created (Mystery science theatre 3000) return to riffing with this effort that clearly shows they have lost none of their edge.

Bill Crobett, Mike Nelson and Kevin Murphy play the challenging roles of three guys named Bill, Mike and Kevin who are 'The film crew'. Their job is to provide DVD commentaries to older films that have none. Unfortunately since the best films already have those tracks they are forced to watch lessor films. Of course that is really irrelevant. The premise just provides an excuse for these really funny men to watch a crappy film and make a lot of hilarious comments.

Their first assignment is 'hollywood after dark' which is a rather dour cautionary tale about how everyone who wants to be a star is doomed. Future Golden Girl Rue McClanahan (yikes!) stars as a dancer/actress who works as a stripper (double yikes!) while waiting for her big break. She meets up with a rather depressing man who runs a junk yard and they fall in love. Of course their happiness is short lived as Rue gets drugged (possibly, its not shown very clearly) and raped while at an audition and the junkman decides to get involved in a crime to raise the necessary money to get them both out of town. There is no shortage of absurdities in this film and the 'crew' never lets any opportunity to mock pass by.

The quality of the jokes seem to be on par with the Mike Nelson years on MST3K. The gags fly fast and furious and although the host segment isn't great, the actual main program is strong enough to justify checking this out. Hopefully this is just the beginning of a long running series of DVDs.
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Flesh Gordon (1974)
Flesh a-ah saviour of the universe
9 October 2006
Warning: Spoilers
At a time when porn movies were inching closer to the mainstream this film was made to capitalize on that trend. Unfortunately the films cost over-runs and a subsequent police raid necessitated the removal of almost all of the hardcore material (although you can still spot a bit of X activity if you watch the revelers in Wang's throne room during the orgy sequence). Perhaps the biggest surprise of this film is that the deleted scenes have allowed this film to reach a much broader audience and has led directly to its status as a cult classic.

Jason Williams plays Flesh Gordon who along with Dale Ardor (played by adorable porn star Suzanne Fields) get kidnapped by Flexi Jerkoff and together they zoom across the galaxy to stop the evil emperor Wang's sex ray from bombarding the earth.

The goofy names and the sex ray subplot make in pretty clear where the humour is directed. Sure it aims pretty low but it actually works very well. It is next to impossible to be offended by any movie that is this goofy. Everything from the design of Flexi's ship to the look of the aliens puts a sexual spin on the sci-fi genre. Special credit must be given to the amazing monster (voiced by Poltergeist & The Incredibles Craig T. Nelson) that Flesh faces at the movies climax. It is a glowing tribute to Ray Harryhousen although it is given dialogue that none of his creatures would ever think to say.

Sure this film is not for the timid but it can present a fun evenings viewing for any open minded adult but you may want to ignore the long after the fact sequel Flesh Gordon meets the cosmic cheerleaders. The special effects are good but the dialogue is simply too lame and it falls far short of the quality of its predecessor.
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collapsing church crushes cutie
9 October 2006
Warning: Spoilers
A family moves in to a lovely country home owned by Bette Davis and immediately the older daughter (cult favorite Lynn Holly Johnson) begins to sense something evil waiting out in the woods.

This classic Disney effort came at a time when the company first began courting older audiences and their nervousness about this film was evident in the original trailer that featured a warning to parents to check out the film themselves before bringing the young ones. Although a bit of an over statement this film is quite suspenseful in parts and may be a bit much for the more timid children.

The story itself involves a kids game that leads to a disappearance. It has been thirty years since Bette Davis' daughter has vanished but she has begun to appear to the girl who has moved into her home. The new girl must cope with haunting visions of a blindfolded blond girl which keep showing up in different reflective surfaces (mirrors, pools of water) as well as reoccurring symbols of overlapping circles. The mystery angle makes it quite involving for children as they can try to figure out the story before the protagonist does although how the story actually works out depends entirely on which version of the film you watch. Disney continued to tinker with the film after its release and several endings are available. If you watch the excellent recent DVD you can decide which one you like for yourself as they are on it.

Thanks to some strong acting, a terrific score and solid direction by the reliable John Hough you have a effective little thriller that is suitable for family viewing but you may want to watch it first for yourself, just in case.
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The Car (1977)
9 October 2006
Warning: Spoilers
In this 70's drive in classic a small, isolated desert community is visited by a sinister presence who sets out to mow down anyone who ventures in the streets. As such is the case in films like this, the problem is not just your garden variety hit and run driver. That would be too simple. The Sheriff (James Brolin) is forced to admit that the problem is that Satan has shown up in the form of a possessed car.

Although this film was dismissed on first release as a Jaws rip-off it has slowly found its audience thanks to very positive word of mouth. This fast paced, dumb as dirt, thriller has become a cult favorite thanks to its absurd premise (and its willingness to run with it) and some surprising drama. Ronny Cox delivers a strong performance as a alcoholic cop who has trouble dealing with the stress of the killings, especially when one strikes close to home.

The sequence involving the school teacher standing on hallowed ground with her students taunting the evil car as it revs and roars on the edge of the property has to stand as some bizarro masterpiece and the way she meets her ultimate end is a true horror classic. Any movie where a wife beater gets to stand up and join the good guys for some last reel heroics deserves a special place of honour on anyones DVD shelf and Anchor Bay has created a great one (thats sadly out of print) that allowed viewers to spot the long rumoured demon in explosion which was much harder to see on the murkier fullscreen VHS transfer from the eighties.

All in all, a good time for anyone who appreciates either car crashes or just weird cinema in general.
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she comes in the night
9 October 2006
Warning: Spoilers
Astonishing Bava ghost story concerning a series of unsolved murders in a quiet town. A coroner and a police officer are each brought in to get to the bottom of the case but are faced with superstitious villagers who are convinced the problem traces back to the death of a little girl years earlier.

Despite the audience indifference that occurs in North America, director Mario Bava has long been considered one of the masters of the genre. This highly prolific talent along with his compatriots Fulchi and Argento helped establish Italy as the world leader in horror films.

This creepy, stylish film has clearly influenced countless offerings that followed such as the specter in the otherwise dismal Fear dot com and the genre classic The Changeling. The image of the little girl with her faced pressed to the window or her ball bouncing down the stairs and through the hallway continue to give off an eerie vibe that makes this film far more effect than many other horror movies. Add in a solid dubbing job (I have yet to find a subtitled copy) and you have a remarkable flick.

This incredible movie (often available in multi packs for next to nothing) is terrific for when you don't want to be grossed out, you just want a great story, told to perfection.
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Delta Delta Die! (2003 Video)
So much fun
12 September 2006
Warning: Spoilers
Memories, the curse of aging. It is so hard to enjoy anything when your mind can recall times where similar things where available. I couldn't watch 'The Jacket' without thinking of 'Jacob's Ladder', I couldn't watch 'The last horror movie' without thinking of 'Man bites dog' and yet I could enjoy watching this film without thinking about all the earlier cannibal sorority babes films that came before it. Perhaps this film was so brilliant that it was above comparison? No, I'm sure that wasn't it. Has my memory started to fade from age? Perhaps but I can still recall the great Karen Black film 'Auntie Lee's Meat Pies' so that can't be it. Could my mind has been fogged by the strip tease performed by Troma favorite Tiffany Shepis? Actually that one makes a lot of sense but I think there may be more to it than that. Like the basic fact that this film is a lot of fun.

The delta's are the most popular sorority on campus. Thanks to house mother Julie Strain their charity bake sales are always big hits. But what is in the meat pies that make them so darn delicious? Oh crap, since I already referred to them as cannibal sorority babes I guess that really isn't much of question. They kill people and feed them to the other students (although they are not allowed to feed on the flesh themselves which leads to friction within the house).

Let's get the obvious stuff out of the way. Yes there is a lot of nudity. Films like this thrive on it. Julie Strain seems to be trying to make up for her sister Lizzie's refusal to disrobe by removing her cloths with alarming frequency. Perhaps the budget was too low for fabric softener and she found them scratchy and uncomfortable? Aside from the already mentioned (and very much appreciated) Tiffany Shepis dance the film features enough flashes of nudity to keep the most bored of viewers tuned in. This may seem like enough to recommend the film but the movie actually offers more. There is a surprising amount of humour that actually works, the cast all offer either half decent performances (Brinke Stevens and Tiffany Shepis are especially strong with Julie Strain obviously having a ball) or they are likable enough to overcome their shortcomings and the film moves at a brisk enough pace to make the whole experience quite pleasant.

This is simply a highly entertaining B movie that sits along side Cheerleader Ninjas as reminders of how much fun these films can be.
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Slaughter Party (2006 Video)
Troma stumbles
11 September 2006
Warning: Spoilers
I am a hardcore troma fan. From Toxie to Terror firmer there is no companies whose films I look forward to more than these guys. Hell, I even enjoyed the chaotic Tales from the Crapper but this one I'm afraid just does not work.

After three men head out to the desert to look for a local legend (and realize that there is more to it than myth) one of them gets transformed mentally and becomes a woman killer. The fact that the slasher is also a midget becomes the one novelty that this film provides. Although the sight of the little guy snarling and swinging a knife is good for a few laughs it is not enough to sustain the film. To provide slasher fodder the film-makers give us a group of women who are taking a vacation in that same place. Through a remarkable coincidence not only is the sister of one of the victims among the party goers but the killer dwarf who has been slaughtering people in a nearby city hitches a ride with one of his potential prey and ends up at the same spot.

This film features some sophomoric sex sequences including the rape of the midget and some necrophilia thrown in but if anyone has seen a troma film before they expect that sort of silliness and are not offended but that seems to be the films major problem. They simply did not go far enough. The elements were there for a fun, insane, terror firmer-like romp but sadly the finished product just kind of sits there lifeless.

As a zero budget film the acting is very hit and miss. Felissa Rose (sleepaway camp) was better at the low key moments but seemed to crank up the histrionics just a bit too much. Adam Glasser (Anal Surprise Party) seems as natural in this film as he is on the terrific series Family business and of course its always nice to see the great Brinke Stevens get another role even if it is nothing more than a cameo. Like many troma offerings the cameos lift the film over some dull stretches with Brinke's work being matched by Ron Jeremy and the brilliant acting skills of the remarkable Lloyd Kaufman.

This is one of those films that seem to fall in the middle. The killer midget idea is cool but the killings are so poorly done that the novelty does not hold. The vacationing girls are cute but the directer can't seem to work up the enthusiasm to make a half-decent exploitation film. The cameos are fun but they can't justify some weak performances. In the end I recommend passing on this one unless of course you are a Troma completest but if you stumble across it on a friends shelf and you can borrow it than go ahead. At least it is short.

By the way, avoid the commentary track on the DVD. It is a dull, one joke offering recorded by the killer. If you can make it through more than ten minutes than you are a far more patient person than I am.
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Odd but not always funny.
11 September 2006
Warning: Spoilers
In a weird future where tubes provide all of lives necessities (and also seem to provide the basis for almost all of the slang that the Hollowhead children use) Meet the Hollowheads creates one of the most unique worlds ever captured on film. Unfortunately that creativity does not carry over to the plot. The films basic story is one of those classic old chestnuts that has been used on virtually every family sitcom. Dad brings the boss home for dinner and wants everything to go right to secure the big promotion. Of course the boss turns out to be a jerk (and eventually much worse) but the family tries to keep the strained smiles on their faces despite his behaviour. Although this film has amazing production design too often is comes across as odd and simply not funny. From the crushing of live creatures to make children's snacks to a tentacled monster who is kept in a fridge so its limbs can be hacked off for dinner there is no shortage of bizarre sights (I won't even get into the family dog or the bizarre means of feeding Grandpa) but only some of it is amusing. Most is just weird. The whole film comes across like David Lynch directing an episode of 'The Jetsons'.

Obviously a lot of care went into this film and the acting is first rate.A very young Juliet Lewis may rate the box cover but special mention must be made of both the criminally under-rated John Glover and the remarkably sleazy Richard Portnow. Although they were great there really was no weak link in the film. I just wish that after the writers had created this amazing world they would have spent just a little longer figuring out what they wanted everyone to do in it.

Style is important but it is not enough on its own to carry the film. This movie is worth watching for anyone who likes new worlds but do not expect a masterpiece, its more of a interesting misfire. The potential was there but they were never able to bring it to the next level.
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Hell Night (1981)
Linda Blair, mutants and a Van Patten. What else do you want?
18 July 2006
Warning: Spoilers
A gorgeous Linda Blair stars as a sweet young thing who, during pledge week, is forced to spend the night in Garth Manor. Years ago this was the setting of a massacre as Daddy Garth snapped and took out his wife and kids before killing himself. By the time the police arrived two of the bodies were gone and thus began a local legend.

This film, aside from being beautiful to look at, features something that was in short order in the eighties - restraint. Instead of focusing on special effects, the movies concentrates on building suspense and as a result is often criticized for being slow paced and having a low body count but this film, despite the modern setting is really a fun throwback to the fifties old dark house movies. The big plus is that unlike most of the films of the classic genre there is no man behind the mask. There is actually a creature (well, two to be specific) that is after them.

Linda Blair does a terrific job of anchoring the cast of this low budget effort. As her career has faded over the years it is easy to forget how good she could be. This film along with Born Innocent and the original Exorcist stand as the best examples of her abilities. Vince Van Patten (Rock and Roll High School), Peter Barton (Powers of Matthew Starr) and one hit wonder Suki Goodwin are all well cast and the writer wisely lets the audience spend some time with the characters before the horror begins which is very rare in this genre.

As good as the cast is, the best in show is truly cinematographer Mac Ahlberg who gives this movie a beautiful rich look. Few low budget horror movies get this level of care as every frame is perfectly shot with many scenes lit entirely by candlelight (a process developed for Barry Lyndon).

Linda Blair fans, in fact more mature horror movie lovers in general should enjoy this fun thriller whose climax still stands as a high water mark for villain dispatching. Although people with short attention span will find it rough going patient viewers will find it well worth tracking down a copy.
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Dead & Buried (1981)
What a great horror movie should be
3 June 2006
Warning: Spoilers
A photographer on a beach meets a beautiful young woman. He begins taking her picture (and she begins removing her clothing) when a group of average people show up, beat him down and set fire to him. From this remarkable beginning comes one of the most fascinating, although strangely underrated, films of the 80's.

A powerful James Farentino plays a small town sheriff who is stunned by an odd, and brutal string of seemingly unmotivated murders. He gets more and more frustrated as the bodies begin to pile up and no one (including the towns mortician played to the hilt by Jack Albertson) seem to be too concerned. After a hit and run accident seems to take on a supernatural tone, the sheriff becomes more paranoid and begins to even suspect his wife (played by cult and personal favorite Melody Anderson). The performances of the three leads are all incredibly strong with Alberston obviously having a absolute ball playing the swing loving, wise cracking, death obsessed undertaker. This was his last film and he went out on a high but that could have been the morphine.

This movie contains one of the most disturbing death scenes ever filmed which involves a survivor of a earlier attack who, while attempting to recuperate in a hospital,gets a visit from a nurse who finds a very uncomfortable location to administer a shot. Even twenty plus years later it still causes the viewer to flinch.

Aside from the great leads the movie also features a strong collection of supporting actors who were on the verge attaining fame including Barry Corbin-Northern Exposure,One tree hill and Dukes of Hazzard Lisa Blount-An officer and a gentleman,Prince of Darkness,Profit Robert Englund-Ford Fairlane,Urban Legen, A nightmare on Elm Street. This cast when combined with a incredible gut-shot of an ending add up to a great evenings entertainment. This amazing film (directed with great skill by Gary Sherman) still stands as a high water mark for the small town horror genre and deserves to be seen by a wider audience.

Seek It Out!
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Welcome to Seduction Cinema
11 May 2006
Warning: Spoilers
Somewhere near the bottom of the film studio ladder you can find companies like U.F.O, Troma and beneath them lie Seduction cinema.

Seduction is a direct to video production company that specialize in lesbian themed, non-hardcore erotic movies. It has developed a very dedicated fan base that purchase each new title as they are released but sadly the company has become too closely associated with frequent star Misty Mundae. I say sadly because recent mainstream interest and her appearance on the show Masters of Horrors has caused her to set her sights a little higher than the zero budget S.C efforts which forces the company to find a new identity. But back in their glory days they released this film on a very appreciative world.

The gorgeous Misty Mundae is forced to attend a boarding school at the request of a absent father. At the school she meets her absurdly hot room-mate played by Ruby Larocca who immediately has designs on her but the headmistress (Barbara Joyce) has other plans. In typical S.C style the movie stops every ten minutes for a extended sex scene but unlike most of their efforts this one has a somewhat interesting story and a couple of good performances. Ms. Larocca appears to be having a great time as the sexual predator who views Misty as a tasty meal and Darian Caine makes a welcome (though brief) appearance as Satan. This is the sort of film that Jess Franco would crank out in the 70s (although this one does not have the hardcore sex that Franco was always willing to throw in for foreign sales) and fans of that madman's work would be wise to give this one a go.

To me, as a long time zero budget cinema fan (and Troma worshiper), I came across the Seduction cinema films through their parody films (Playmate of the apes, Who wants to be a erotic billionaire) but I actually prefer their more original works. You either see past the low budget and occasionally weak acting or you get hung up on these things and just hate all of these films. For me the most obvious thing that unites these no-budget movies is a real sense of fun. These low budget companies are able to create their own unique style which gives the viewer something very different from the bland, by the numbers, studio efforts that load up the multiplexes.

If you have never seen a Seduction cinema film either this or Sin Sisters (featuring both of the Mundae sisters) are excellent choices to begin with. This one is a fun, fast paced film (although the frequent exterior shots of the school do get a little old) and the DVD is totally loaded with extras including a ton of previews of other company offerings, a great behind the scenes featurette and some deleted scenes including a alternate opening. I do recommend you pass on the disc's bonus feature, the first film by director, as it is quite weak and not really worth viewing.
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no Michael Myers, get over it
26 March 2006
Warning: Spoilers
After a sequel that ended the Michael Myers saga (or at least ended it until someone decided there was more money to be made) the producers were in a position of trying to decide where to go next. They made one of the most bold, and reviled decisions. They decided to give the audience something new.

Halloween 3:Season of the witch tells the story of a doctor who tries to understand what led to a murder in the hospital he worked at. He meets up with the victims daughter and they realize that the last appointment he had before he showed up in emergency was at a out of the way mask factory. When they head to the small town they find security cameras everywhere and no police force at all. Along the way they meet up with ace mask salesman Buddy Kupfer and his equally annoying family, Marge Gutman (that name should never had made it past the first draft), and company president (and legendary prankster) Conal Cochran. Although the company has a record of the order being picked up they happily provide a replacement and try to send our heroes packing but they manage to piggyback a tour on the backs of Kupfer family and during it, they spot her Father's car hidden poorly in one of the loading bays. When they attempt to bring some police in from the outside the company captures them and in James Bond villain style, explain their plans in great detail.

This movie drew a lot of criticism for several reason most of which were undeserved. Some seemed to find it confusing and they did not understand the motives of the villains but if they paid attention it is all explained quite clearly. The goal is two fold, return Halloween to its dark roots and to sacrifice millions.

Another complaint was the commercial jingle that plays dozens of times over the course of the film that seemed to annoy many but in all fairness, name a jingle that doesn't get under your skin. They are designed to seer into the brain and the Silver Shamrock commercial does just that.

Perhaps the most frustrating complaint are by people who are upset about the lack of Michael Myers. I think that book had been closed quite well in the second film and Carpenter's idea of continuing the series as unique stories that are related to the holiday Halloween instead of simply doing retreads of the first picture (an idea that was picked up by the most recent Hellraiser sequels as Pinhead and company have been pushed further into the background in favour of new stories of the damned) was great and more series's would benefit from such an approach.

Despite the negative view many people have this is simply the best sequel to Halloween of them all. Tom Atkins and Stacy Nelkin make a very enjoyable (though unlikely) screen couple, and Dan O'Herlihy makes a terrific villain. His explanation for how the Stonehenge rock arrived is a real laugh out loud moment. Sure the film sometimes looks a little cheap. The control room set up is really low tech, even for an eighties film but the special effects are so well done that all is forgiven.

I highly recommend this to anyone who is in the mood for something different.
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The Fog (2005)
Its all a haze
2 February 2006
Warning: Spoilers
I am a John Carpenter fan. Although I am not a fan of the recent Assault on Precinct 13 I am not one of those people who automatically hate all remakes. I thought Dawn of the dead and Texas Chainsaw Massacre both were solid films with Amityville Horror and The Grudge on a lower rung. I really enjoyed the directors "Stigmata" so I was actually quite interested in this film. Sadly that enthusiasm faded pretty quickly once the film began.

First off the kiddie cast list got me very nervous. It make no sense to me that someone can make the leap of logic from Tom Atkins to Tom Welling. I understand that horror movies are aimed at younger people, they always have been, but are young people incapable of watching anyone on screen who is not in their peer group? I am not even going to mention the quality of his performance or the lack of chemistry with co-star Maggie Grace. It was simply a unnecessary distraction in a film that really should have been trying to keep the audience hooked on the ambiance and not thinking about the many faults.

When the film began and we were treated to the next major change. The originals odd jazz station which gave the film a trippy vibe was replaced by generic, music of the moment, that seemed to be nothing but a commercial for a soundtrack album. As much as I like Selma Blair I have to admit that I really missed Adrienne Barbeau although in Selma's defense I think she played the role as well as anyone could have.

The biggest problem with this film is that all changes were done in the hopes of broadening the audience and none were done simply to improve the story. It is hard to argue any logical reason for changing the drunk fishermen in the original to two babes in bikinis. It was done because it was assumed that it was what the audience would want to see. That shows both a disrespect to the material and to the potential audience. People are not as stupid as this film likes to assume and they can spot pandering quite easily.

I have gotten this far without even mentioning the ending which leaves several major questions unanswered. If the ghosts were after revenge why did they leave Nick Castle alive, if they were after the girl why did they kill so many people. It was sloppy story telling which seemed par for the course for this truly weak offering.

Seek out the original.
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Best of the series
16 December 2005
Warning: Spoilers
A loose prequel of the Amityville Horror with a different family moving in to the house and trying to deal with the awakening evil. Although the family name has changed, the story follows the family whose killing spree was mentioned frequently in the first film. Of course after spending time with these people you would understand why someone would kill them.

Papa (the creepy Burt Young playing his standard sleazy bastard role to perfection), Mama (a whimpering Rutanya Alda) pack up the children and move into the best real estate deal on the Island. Their unusually close older teen children (Jack Magner and Diane Franklin) and their younger siblings try to hide from Dad's wraith (he is a wife beater, child beater and if they had a cat, he would probably kick that too). Unfortunately the spirits see older boy Sonny as a excellent patsy and then try to convince him to sleep with his sister (neither one of them really seems to need much encouragement) and eventually kill his family. After Sonny kills them all he seems to have trouble convincing people that it is not really his fault. It seems no one will believe him, no one that is except for the good priest (James Olson) who breaks him out of jail so he can do battle with the spirit within.

There is very little original about this film but its willingness to embrace the sleazier aspects of the story make this one the most entertaining of the series. The acting is quite good and the directer keeps it moving at a fast clip.

Although widely reviled when first released this film seems to be finding its audience through home video and it definitely deserves its belated success.
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One of the funniest movies ever made
6 December 2005
Warning: Spoilers
This film is on my short list of best comedies. It is unbelievably funny while at the same time revelling is non-PC behaviour that will forever limit its appeal. This movie is not for the easily offended.

The plot concerns Gordon Hocheiser (played in pitch perfect fashion by the great George Segal) who after making a promise on his Father's deathbed finds himself caring for his Mother (Ruth Gordon) who is on the rocket sled of senility. Unfortunately she seems to ruin every relationship he has and when she begins to sabotage his courting of the lovely Louise Callen (Trish Van Devere) she finally pushes Gordon over the edge.

When the hero of the film is doing his best to give his Mother a heart attack it is clear that you are walking on shaky ground. It takes an actor as likable as Segal to make the audience root for his character and when you consider the dark ending this movie had before its first theatrical release (Seek it out if possible) the film finishes on a tragic note as Gordon finally admits defeat.

As if the 3 strong lead performances were not enough you also get Gordon's brother Sidney (played by Ron Leibman in a scene stealing turn) who doesn't want to take in Mother but finds himself rushing to her defense whenever she gets Gordon too wound up. His short cut which goes through the park finds him frequently mugged by the same gang and at one point being forced to rape a woman (who turns out to be a male, undercover cop who asks for his number afterward). Keep your eyes open for a great Rob Reiner sequence in court and try to remember the era that this film was made in while watching. This movie was made a time when the notion of being politically correct was just some fever dream that you would wake up screaming from. Everything was not being watered down to make sure that no one is ever bothered by anything they see. If you keep that in mind you will understand why this movie is held is such high regard by so many.
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Up the Creek (1984)
Seek this out
5 December 2005
Sometimes the planets align and everything just comes together. Some likable but underused actors join up with a veteran (and really really old) director to film a script written by the author of some minor league films. This is the sort of recipe that more often than not ends up with a mediocre movie that is instantly forgettable but for whatever reasons They ended up producing one of the funniest teen comedies ever made.

A group of loser college students played by an all star collection of teen sex comedy stars including Tim Matheson and Stephen Furst from Animal House, Dan Monahan from Porky's and Sandy Helberg from History of the World Part 1 who,having their arms twisted by a corrupt Dean played by John Hillerman, agree to enter a dangerous raft race with the promise that victory will bring them un-earned degrees.

Excessive drinking, fart jokes and gratuitous nudity are just some of the pleasures that this movie provides for the viewer. It also features the smartest dog in the world (he does charades), a kick ass song by Cheap Trick and the gorgeous Jennifer Runyon (ghostbusters & Charles in charge, I don't know which credit is more impressive) along with some great race footage and hilarious dialog. This movie is simply much better than it has the right to be.

All the people who complain that it is stupid miss the point. Of course it is stupid. Its moronic. Its dumb as dirt. It is also hysterically funny from start to finish. This movie reminds me in many ways of Weekend at Bernies another incredibly goofy movie that if approached in the wrong mood is virtually unwatchable. To avoid injury try not to think. Just sit back and let this movie wash over you.
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Head (1968)
Good Head
5 December 2005
Warning: Spoilers
Pity the Monkees. People always accused them of being manufactured (which they were) or being nothing more than a American knock-off of the Beatles (Again, which they were) but to the kids of the time they were real, they were important, they were legitimate. Discussions about who were better The Monkees or The Beatles were common on school yards but the critics, well they never quite bought into it. Despite recording some very catchy, classic pop tunes, the Monkess did not receive much respect for their albums. Sadly a similar fate was met by their one movie vehicle despite the fact that it stands as the best band film ever. Beatle fans may argue that "Hard Days Night" was better and I am sure that many of the kids think "8 Mile" was superior but none of these films were as daring and inventive as "Head" and that is probably why it failed.

If Head had told a direct A to B type story perhaps it would have appealed to the bands young fans but by pushing the envelope and using the movie opportunity to mock their own image they really sabotaged the film with their fans. Could you imagine Eminem turning to the camera and actually talking about how sad it is that he is the best selling guy in a genre in which only 5% (and I am being generous) of the acts are white. If you can picture that than you have an idea how daring it was for the Monkess to sing "Hey, Hey we are the Monkees. You know we like to please. A manufactured image, with no philosophy". When you have a film in which Frank Zappa tells Davy that he should focus less on the dancing, and more on the music its clear that there is a lot more going on then you expected.

The story, what there is, concerns the boys trying to flee their manager, who at one point forces them to play dandruff in a commercial, but every time they run away they end up inside a box. I don't think you need to be Fellini to figure out the symbolism of that bit. Some neat little comedy bits follow with Davy as a boxer who has to give up playing the violin to take a dive in the big match and Peter refusing to throw away a ice cream cone he does not want because there are starving children so its wrong to waste food but the real selling point to this film is the music and its some of the best the band ever recorded. Even if you are put off by the story, you can sit back and enjoy some terrific music.

Any film that begins and ends with Mickey attempting suicide by jumping off a bridge (at the end the band follows him) is never going to be a mainstream classic but if you are a fan of either the band or experimental cinema of the era than you will enjoy this film.
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beyond a lot of things
2 December 2005
I love this movie and I am unapologetic about it. I have seen many of Russ Meyer's films but this one is easily the best (yes including Vixen). Whether it is the music, the clever dialog or the fact that Dolly Read is as cute as a buxom button, this film stands above the other Meyer's flicks and remains one of my all time favorites.

The plot is simple, cute girl (Dolly Read) packs up her band (Cynthia Myers and Marcia McBroom) and her boyfriend (David Gurian) and heads to L.A to collect a share of an inheritance from her Aunt (Phyllis Davis). After her band catches the eye of pop guru Z-Man (John Lazar) they are set off on the road to ruin as they deal with the temptation of Sex (Michael Blodgett plays Lance who corrupts the not very innocent Kelly,James Inglehart as Randy lures Pet from nice guy Emmerson played by Vixens' Harrison Page. Only Casey is allowed to actually find love in Erika Gavin's Roxanne) and Drugs which captures Harris and ruins his relationship with porn star Ashley St. Ives (Edy Williams).

Film critic Roger Ebert made his screen writing debut with this ultra hip, very funny script. His great writing combined with the fast moving shooting style of Russ Meyer to create one of the most purely entertaining X rated films ever.

This film unfortunately is a target for people who do not like Roger Ebert and use his involvement as an excuse to rail against him. They claim that since he wrote this film (and it does have violent scenes) he is a hypocrite to complain about violence in other films but they are missing the point. His complaints are never about violence (he actually recommended many violent movies like Last House on the left and Devil's rejects) but how it is portrayed. Although it does get violent at the end, you can not get too offended. The film seems to exist far from reality in a cartoonish world of bright colours and psychedelic music.

I know this movie is not for everyone, its X rating clearly shows that, but for daring viewers this film should provide a fun evenings viewing.
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Terror Firmer (1999)
Must see Troma offering
2 December 2005
As a long time Troma fan I have enjoyed the Renaissance that the company has enjoyed in the wake of Tromeo & Juliet. After the success of Toxic Avenger (and video success of Class of Nuke em' high) troma had fallen off the chart. Several dismal Toxie sequels and the long wait for Sgt. Kubuki Man NYPD created the impression that Troma had lost their way but Tromeo & Juliet reminded everyone why they had fell in love with the company to begin with. Tromeo raised the bar once again for what you could expect from a Troma offering and with high expectations I watched Terror Firmer and thankfully this movie delivered.

Someone is killing people on the set of a Troma film. As the body count rises the crew must rally together to get their blind directors vision to the screen (or at least to the video shelves). From that absurd premise we launch into what I truly believe is the best in house Troma production ever (2nd only to pick up film Cannibal the musical over all) and this movie works as a valentine to the beloved company.

Indie-film god, and troma co-founder, Lloyd Kaufman finally responds to the worlds demands and returns to leading man status as Larry Benjamin, director of the newest Toxic Avenger film. Larry tries to get the best out of his inexperienced, though largely enthusiastic crew. Tromeo himself, Will Keenan plays the Spielberg loving crew member who competes for the affections of the pretty Alyce LaTourelle with Trent Haaga. Haaga plays Jerry, a guy who seems to be living out his dream (as well as the dream of most fans) working on a Troma film. With a very likable cast this film can, and often does, takes many detours. From a Seinfeld parody to a odd public service announcement, the story often wanders off in odd directions only to be corralled back by another killing.

As you can tell by some of the other reviews, this film is clearly not intended for the mainstream. It was specifically designed to appeal to the faithful, not to win over any new fans. From the lead performance by Lloyd Kaufamn to the tons of cameos by Troma veterans like Lemmy, Joe Fleishaker, Trey Parker and Matt Stone and Lisa Gaye this movie seems to be like Troma doing a victory lap to celebrate the fact that in a industry where independents get chewed up constantly, They are still standing. And their fans are grateful for that.
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a good start
2 December 2005
The newest version of Tales from the Crypt launched their film franchise with this excellent comedic/thriller that promised a long run that sadly failed to materialize.

Demon Knight told the story of a traveler who was being pursued through the desert, who holds the fate of the world in his hands. Character actor William Sadler gets a rare lead and makes the most of it as our hero who most protect a religious artifact from a emissary from hell played in a brilliant over the top fashion by the absurdly under-rated Billy Zane. As Sadler settles into a rooming house for a final fight with evil the locals are forced to choose sides and figure out how to survive the night.

Like the television series, the film features a strong cast of actors including cult legend Dick Miller, a pre-respect Thomas Haden Church, the really cool named CCH Pounder and Ms. Fresh Prince Jada Pinkett Smith and director (and former Spike Lee Cinematographer) Ernest R. Dickerson gets strong performances out of them all.

The special effects are great with the demons themselves having a unique look. Bloodshed is frequent and excessive as it should be in a movie like this. No caving in for a PG-13 rating, this movie is a hard R and delivers what is required by the genre. Well the effects are great the script is where this movie really separates itself from the crowd. Like the series, humour is used to strong effect and is used to keep the film from getting too heavy.

Although not a blockbuster, this film did well enough in theaters and on video to rate a followup. The sequel which had been in development Fat Tuesday was struck down and Bordello of Blood was chosen. A mistake, as audiences ignored it and star Dennis Miller used the movie as a punchline for many jokes. No third movie was ever made.
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Candy (1968)
Good grief, why haven't you watched this yet?
28 November 2005
There was a beautiful brief moment in cinema history when film makers freed themselves of the shackles of form and found fun, exciting ways to tell stories. Movies became groovy mind-blowing experiences that forced the viewer to follow the plot as it tripped all over the screen. Unfortunately Jaws came along and reminded the studios of how much money they could be making and the experiment was declared a failure. But during this brief period such wonderful and largely buried treasures as Beyond the Valley of the Dolls, Myra Breckenridge, Magic Christian and Vanishing Point (only Easy Rider seems to have survived the era with its reputation in tact) were created and have since been embraced by the odd as their own. But perhaps the most reviled of the lot has been the film Candy.

Candy tells the simple tale of a sweet young thing that goes out into the world to grow but finds herself confronted at every turn by typical male stereotypes (played by some of the biggest stars of the day) who really only have one goal in mind. Along the way she meets up with the artist (Richard Burton), the soldier (Walter Matthau), the healer (James Coburn) and the guru (Marlon Brando) among others. Candy wants to free her mind but each man tries (and some succeed) to free her of her panties. Despite the premise Candy is more like a teasing Roger Vadim film (think Barbarella) and the nudity is kept to an absolute minimum. The biggest surprise is even with the big name cast, the films best performance belongs to John Astin as Candy's Father and also as her lecherous Uncle who has his own designs on her. The supporting cast is definitely one of the films high points along with the terrific score that features some trippy space tunes along with classic rock. Sadly there are some faults though.

The script by Buck Henry is very hit and miss with some excellent lines immediately followed by many that just produce cringes in the audience. The lead actress Ewa Aulin is lovely to look at but delivers all of her lines like she has just learned them phonetically and has no idea what she is saying and the directer allows the pace to drag at many points.

Still if the films from this era interests you than this one should be required viewing. There is an excellent DVD available so there is no excuses for passing on this under-rated gem.
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its bad yet I can't stop watching
28 November 2005
I am not a so bad its good fan. I have never been big on the whole ironic viewing experience. Even with mediocre films that I enjoyed there was something I honestly liked about them. But now I am torn because other then the women I can't think of a reason to like this film and yet I did. Does that mean I am shallow, quite possibly. Does it mean I just like staring at cleavage, can't argue with that. But usually it takes a lot more then eye candy to get me to like a film but there is something about this one that gets me.

The plot is simple, street pusher (Darby Hinton) sells drugs to children and no one can stop him except of course the seven from heaven. A school teacher, a vegas lounge singer, a martial arts instructor, a model, a stunt woman, a cop and a high school student all join forces to bring down the drugdealer's boss, the kingpin Peter Lawford who along with his right hand man Jack Palance seems to have cornered the primary school drug racket. The women are all gorgeous with special mention going to Playboy playmate and H.O.T.S star Susan Kiger as the singer. If you can keep your eyes from drifting lower during her sequences you are a far better man than I am.

The film gets more bizarre as it goes along as these Magnificent Seven (or actually 14 if you consider how they are costumed) seem to bring down the bad guys with relative ease. This film was clearly aimed at young kids so no one ever poses any real threat to them. When one of the ladies are captured they only dump her in a pool tied to a tea set. Director Greydon Clark (a favorite of mine) helps keep everything moving at a fast clip and the actresses are all quite likable which makes it a big improvement over his previous film Satan's Cheerleaders.

If you are nervous about watching this film pick up the MST3K version. The movie is shortened so it is even faster paced and their humour helps it through some slow patches. But if you have only seen that version you should keep your eyes out for the original on VHS. You will be surprised at just how watchable it is.
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One of a kind flick
13 October 2005
Warning: Spoilers
The eighties, some of my favorite movies have come from this time and most of them failed to find an audience. Such films as Buckaroo Banzai, Streets of Fire and Radioactive Dreams found new ways to tell classic stories and over the years Streets and Banzai have both developed cult followings but sadly Radioactive Dreams has never been able to find its fan base. It may be because it has never been released on DVD, it could be the terrible music number that grinds the movie to a halt just when the excitement should be building but perhaps it is just too odd.

The story is the standard hard boiled detective yarn with the dick trying to play several sides against each other and discovering the danger of putting their trust in the wrong person. At least it would be standard if not for the Post-Apocalyptic setting and the fact that our heroes have spent almost their entire lives locked up in a bomb shelter and have picked up all they know about the world from reading detective novels. These changes allows the characters to actually grow from kids playing a game to two guys trying not to become cynics in the face of a world were everyone only consider their own best interests and everyone is expendable.

One of the problems with the film for first time viewers is the way that the tone changes from a pretty light hearted beginning to a much darker conclusion. When watching it the second time the shift does not take you off guard and you can just appreciate the film.

If I have made it sound more serious than it is I apologize. It is a fun, very entertaining entry in the Post-Apoc genre and needs a DVD release so it has a chance at building new fans.
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Whack It!
18 August 2005
You are a horror movie fan looking for the next level in terror so where do you go. You stared down the devil in "The Exorcist" and spit in his eye, You took every ghost that Kurbrick could throw at you in "The Shining" and laughed in their faces, werewolves, vampires, witches in the woods and moist Japanese girls have all stepped up to terrify you and none have had any effect, you mocked their attempts to frighten and now you are looking for a new thrill, a new kick. Prepare yourself for the white knuckling, seat dampening, hair graying, bowel loosening, sanity breaking spectacle of Shock Cinema's latest champion :

Pinata-Survival Island

Throughout history the Pinata has had a cruel existence. Being stuffed with Candy and being beaten by blindfolded children is the best most Pinatas can hope for, but not our title piñata, instead of candy, he is stuffed with evil (just like Martha Stewart) and when he is cracked open the terror really begins. Every piñata based nightmare that you have ever had is on display in this film.

Oh wait, I have never had a Pinata based nightmare. In fact, I doubt that anyone has ever had a piñata based nightmare. If you or anyone you know was traumatized by a theme birthday party perhaps this film will be a soul shattering experience. All others, need not apply
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