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A semi-macho park ranger, a half Indian chopper pilot, and a tree hugging lunatic fond of dressing in bathroom rugs team up to take on a brown bear with black legs (new species i guess) that has been knocking the Heinz 57 out of everyone in its path. the coincidences to Jaws in this thing are many, hell even the three main characters are an out and out apeing of Brody (the ranger), Quint (the pilot) and Hooper (the naturalist). this thing even goes as far as to having the half native American pilot recount a story of a grizzly herd, yes herd, gone wild and wiping out an entire Indian camp not unlike the sharks that decimated the crew of the USS Indianapolis. Comparisons to or rip-offs from a far superior film aside, Grizzly is pretty darn entertaining as it degenerates into a laugh riot pretty quickly featuring Technicolor blood aplenty and memorable lines like "while you were sitting on your ass the past ten years I was making this forest a part of me!" wow. in the end i couldn't help but feel bad for the great griz as hes chased down by a chopper and finally gets his due courtesy of a bazooka that apparently fires nuclear war heads. definitely worth a watch or two. best scene: a toss up between evil Yogi tearing off a toddlers leg (shown in full) or the disturbing wide eyed grin a creepy camper gives his girl right before she ends up a chew toy.
High School Big Shot (1959)
waaa hooooah thats good booze!
My favorite riff from High School Big Shots airing on the best show ever. While being aired on MST3K is a sure sign of being a clunker this film actually has a bit to offer and the story has been regurgitated countless times in bigger budget modern day action pictures, Dead Presidents and Revevoir Dogs (which is itself a shot by shot rip off of a Hong Kong action picture) to name a couple. Not to say H.S.B.S was any sort of originator but it's certainly watchable without the zingers flying from Mike and the Bots. This thing oozes cheese but it also maintains a nice grit. Poor Marv gets screwed out of a sure college scholarship after being duped by some bimbo, dad's a suicidal drunk, the big heist is an obvious debacle waiting to happen and when it does unravel people die. Like I said , High School Big Shot wasn't an originator but it has it's imitators and thats something you can't say for many MSTied movies.
Fade to Black (1980)
So Dave Stoller wins the Little 500 and goes on a film related crime spree??
Christopher plays Eric Binford, a generally unlikable film geek who by day putts around on his scooter delivering posters. By night however he sits around in his undies and a blazer watching old movies and being tormented by his wheelchair bound Aunt. He's disliked at by co workers and can only find solace in his love of movies. It figures that when mean ole Auntie attacks his prized projector with no remorse that Erics fragile mind goes KABLAM! and he sends her Evil Keneiveling in her wheelchair down the staircase. It's from that point on that Eric starts dispatching any enemies he has dressed as various film icons. Dracula, the Mummy, Hop a Long Cassidy, Cody Jarret. After Eric has his dream idea for a big budget picture stolen by a greasy producer he really loses it and rents an old car with suicide doors and some how gets a tommy gun and exacts a humorous revenge. Dare you not to laugh at the "Happy Birthday Sucker!" line. I also dare you not to cringe during the Marilyn poster on the ceiling scene, Dave Stoller how could you?? Well after Eric has wiped out half of California it all climaxes, of sorts, in White Heat "top of the world ma!" finale. This movie is only barely tolerable and its really a standout in the high on concept low low low on execution department. I think Dennis should have stayed on his Masi and Tim Thomerson shouldn't be allowed to make any other films except for a sequel to The Wrong Guys. "Watch out for that pancake Duke!!" haha, almost as classic as Breaking Away. 4/10
Near Dark (1987)
Dead pole cats and fangless vamps!
A widely different take on the vampire genre yes, better than Lost Boys...nah. This has it's moments to be sure, Paxton is great, Jenette Goldstein effective, Jenny Wright beautiful, Adrian Pasdar on par. Lance Henriksen mugs a little too much and Josh Miller as Homer can be flat out annoying. He's slightly less distracting in this than in Rivers Edge. Maybe it's time for an Electric Shoes reunion. At any rate some bunk editing and gaping plot holes make it hard to say that this at the level of the Lost Boys. I'm not saying that Lost Boys is the almighty of vampire pictures it's just that these two films are constantly compared due to their release dates. Now I wanna say I enjoy Near Dark wholly. Bill Paxton delivers big time as Severn and Jenny Wright is amazing to look at as well as turning in a great job as the on the fence vamp-clan member Mae. The gore is there and the idea on the whole is downright brilliant it just suffers from to many inconsistencies to be A list horror. Wait is that an oxymoron?
Kingdom of the Spiders (1977)
Good God man the spiders they're.......everywhere!
Things I learned viewing Kingdom of the Spiders. Things aren't all that peaceful in peaceful Verde Valley. Rack Hansen is NOT his brother. Rack Hansen is a terrible pool player. Woody loves his prize cow. Woody is not an exceptional driver when distracted. Hick town pilots who spray pesticides can neither draw a spider properly or fly well when distracted. A pistol isn't the best way to remove a spider from your hand. It is however effective in removing a couple fingers from your hand and creating a hilarious scene. The town sheriff is also not a great driver when hippies covered in spiders are mobbing the same streets that he's striving so very hard to keep safe. Rack Hansen runs through spiders like he has a load in his pants and is trying to reach the potty. If you're traveling with a wife who has a Johnny Ramone haircut and you come under siege by tarantulas, its probably best to kill her right off because shes going to get really annoying. Rack Hansen has more of an immunity to spider bites than every other citizen of Verde Valley. Finally spiders love to encase entire towns or in this case a shoddy painting of an entire town in their evil silk!
"This doesn't look like sausage, it's good though." Ugh no it's not!
I hope John Carpenter saw this and has his lawyer on speed dial. Not only is his score lifted note for note in this groan fest but so is the basic premises of Halloween. The story has a troubled little mute boy with an egg ashing mommy having only one true friend in his neighborhood. In the early goings he's harassed by some kids on really cheap BMX bikes and bullied into walking around the edge of a well, to prove what I'm not sure. Well he falls in and upon his rescue is committed to a sanitarium that he (surprise, surprise) escapes from ten years later. Emerging with a head that looks like a canned ham, an odd immunity to electrified fences, and a vengeance for those who bullied him it's not long before John Radley is eating duck guts, putting heads in vices, and delivering pizza with mystery sausage on it to his old friend from the neighborhood. This movie contains some truly annoying performances and some of the best bad dialogue ever. Sample: "This is Gretchen Peters and I called like a looong time ago for some pizza." Oh my goodness. There's a Sam Loomis character of course who confronts murderous John Radley and in true bonehead fashion hands him his flashlight so he can be bludgeoned to death with it. Way to go doc. There's also a great sheriff who looks more than a little like Tool Times Al Borland. Sheriff Borland (I forget his name) likes busting little kids reading porn in abandoned houses and asking for leftovers at crime scenes. Ultimately John Radley has a final showdown with his lost friend Gretchen and goes out in a slo-mo fizzle of glory. "Love!" It's painful to watch folks. Not poor Johns demise..the whole freaking movie!!
"Cuz all da phones is dead"
The ugliest cast in the world squares of against blood worms turned ravenous man killers by lightning strikes. A Richie Cunningham lookalike travels to a southern swamp to meet up with his hot babe that looks a lot like ...well, Richie Cunningham. She's got a busted bean pole of a sister who acts as bizarre as she is ugly. They have a haggard mother who catches the vapors every 12.5 minutes and they all live next door to a worm farm(that figures)which is run by a skeleton named Mr. Beardsley and his hired hand Roger. Roger is a bonafied piece of work, a hulking dim wit who gets to blubber immortal lines like, "Weee hooo itsa gunna be a soooprise!" and "Uh huh uh uh now you gunna be da wormface". The movies best line though is handled by the stereotypically oblivious and prejudice backwoods sheriff. This gem of a character fornicates in his own jail cells and bullies our wimpy hero every chance he gets. When he threatens our flannel clad Richie Cunningham he says something along the lines of "You wont even get youself a phone call....cuz all the phones is dead!" I tell ya folks you gotta see and hear this brilliant script writing for yourselves. I almost forgot to mention the action and suspense scenes. When hero burglarizes a dentists office you'll be on the edge of your seat and later when he gets beat up by a flying sheet of plywood? Man oh man! You'll actually be surprised that for all the riffing Squirm is not even as close to ridiculous as the premise would make it sound. As far as the "nature goes icky bingo and turns on mankind" genre goes you could do way worse than Squirm. I do however dare you to find a movie with a more unattractive cast.
Haute tension (2003)
Wave of mutilation
Easily the best horror film of the past few years. That isn't saying much but when you line this up next to the likes of Saw and the TCM remake this is a stellar piece of film-making. Yeah there are those who'll call the ending a cop out or implausible trash but they shouldn't try and deny its sheer simplistic brilliance it maintains in it's first 75 or so minutes. I didn't mind the ending myself one bit. I'd have a crazed Cecile de France chase me around any day, the woman is beauty personified. Digesting the ending is as simple as recognizing that her characters' fragile mind has snapped like Joe Theismans femur on Monday night football. The gore is all you could ask for and more (mommy gets its best with a blood soaked nod to the motorist scene as well) and the tension indeed runs high. One suggestion I'd insist on is watching the french language version as the English dubbing is horrible, especially in the cases of Marie, the little brother and le Teurr. 8/10 so says Cris. Cecile de France come get me!!
Blood Beach (1980)
More like Dud Beach
I can remember as a wee little guy seeing the posters for this at the theater and being completely freaked out and intrigued by it but still being scared pantsless to see it. Flash forward over two decades later and Blood Beach isn't available on DVD and VHS prints are pretty rare themselves. Folks there's a reason for this, anyone authorizing a DVD release of this would be stoned to death and I think a single kind soul bought up the majority of VHS copies and melted them down into guitar picks. Lucky for me my good friend in Texas locates and purchases one of the fossil few of the escaping tapes and we organize a midnite viewing while I'm visiting. Half way through she was asleep, two thirds through and I'm sawing wood myself. What a slow moving bore this movie is. Wooden acting (save for John Saxon), minimal gore, and the worst creature effect perhaps ever are all here. You really find yourself disliking almost everyone in the movie. The Adam Curry 80's VJ looking guy and the annoying hobo lady really knocked the needle off the get-on-your-nerves O'meter. We finished watching this movie only for completest sake the next day. A classic example of things better left a mystery of youth. Blood Beach is really bloodless, a girl gets scraped up legs, a dog is beheaded, and a rapist is umm... de-donged? That's it for the gore but a ocean of blood wouldn't have saved this thing. This movie is slower than molasses flowing up hill in February. I never even cared what was under the sand and when they finally unveiled it soda came out of my nose and I wasn't even drinking any. In the end I was more interested in Burt Youngs Chicago back story and why he would want to blame people being sucked into the sand and eaten on the Nazi party? Hi five* Heather! Burrrr Mowww!
The Final Terror (1983)
Joey Pants takes a beatin'!
Absolutely better than average slasher. It obviously even influenced big budget films like Predator with its invisible camouflaged killer and final showdown location similarities. Do yourself a favor and sit through the opening sequence which is a tad lame and you'll be rewarded. The cast is chock full of Hollywood newbies and Animal House alumni and the story is more an action/survival deal then a straight slasher tale. The body count is low but the kills aside from the first pair are done with the right amount of tension and grue. The Final Terror does have it's fair share of creep moments and they're downright tense. Namely the initial entering of the shack in the woods, the quiet stalking then loud attack on the disabled bus, and the glimpses of what you think are forest scenery that then begins to creep and crawl revealing it's the camouflaged killer. The movie also goes against the slasher grain by keeping most of its cast alive and intact to mount a "we ain't gonna take this crap" attack on their stalker. Adrian Zhmed is the hunky wolf wailin' weed thief, Darryl Hannah is the obligatory blonde in the woods who narrowly avoids a throat slashing(too bad there), John Fredrich is the shroom popping' Nam-head who doesn't have both oars in the water, and Joe Pantoliano does the best job as Eggar, the on edge, threatening, pain in the arse, moss mommas son who takes one hilarious beat down. You love to hate and hate to love Eggar and ultimately feel a little sad for him, after all he did warn'em.