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My favourite actors are Elizabeth Hurley, Dave, Isabelle Adjani, Chuck Norris, Vanessa Redgrave, Dave, Jim Caviezel, Cate Blanchett, Julie Strain, Dave, Melinda Clarke, Gillian Anderson and Paul Squires.
Favourite film: Blade Runner
Favourite Music: Rush, Yes and Cradle of Filth.
Favourite book: William Gibson's Neuromancer.
Ambition: To become Sauron's right-hand man.
Tarzan and the Mermaids (1948)
Tarzan and the Ballads of Benji
Not even Tarzan could defeat Benji and his interminable songs, however! What is there to be said about Tarzan and the Mermaids that hasn't already been said by the other fine reviewers on this site? Probably not a lot, but having caught this on TCM just this week the film is certainly a bizarre adventure. Given that the running time just tips the 60 minute mark there is substantial amount of padding on show (which never bodes well), from the long narrated intro (which also gives the villains' game away from the off), the various aqua pursuits of the island folk (although the cliff diving is thrilling, it must be said) and then the exploits of Benji. If Benji's full-length songs don't eat up enough screen time, then there is Benji preparing for and then engaging in a sea joust. Of the songs, it's interesting to note the pained but humouring faces of Jane et al when Benji treats them to his ditties - a bit like visitors enduring a friend's insistence that they sit through their 'talented' child's piano recital and who act all polite when all they really want to do is scream "ENOUGH!". Anyway, Cheetah has the right idea and nicks Benji's guitar early on, but sadly he is ordered by Tarzan to return it.
Oh, and Benji is supposed to be a river postman, but he can't even get that right and forgets the only letter that he has to deliver to Tarzan Towers. Luckily, he has no qualms about invading privacy and having read it previously conveys, in the form of verse (cue five more minutes of Benji action), its contents from a now England-based Boy. Although, given the sketchy information Benji communicates, Boy is clearly living student life to the max and not missing the jungle one bit.
Anyway, aside from no mermaids, we get the lovely Linda Christian as Mara, a crook pretending to be a God (who wants to marry Mara, which would rathar give the non-God game away on the wedding night, I'd have thought), George Zucco walking around an Aztec pyramid a lot (with some cool star-shaped shell necklace bling), and a secret island that curiously leads directly to Tarzan and Jane's gaff by river and only takes 10 minutes to get there by canoe (as Tiko, Mara's true love, also demonstrates when he randomly shows up at Tarzan/Jane's tree-top manor). So, a guilty pleasure, for sure, if you can survive Benji and his songs. But that is a big 'if'.
Avalanche Sharks (2013)
It Has No Logic, But It Has An Avalanche and It Has Sharks
What is there to really say about Avalanche Sharks? The premise is ridiculous and so, duly, is the execution. There is a mountain and there are ghost sharks (possibly, not quite sure about the precise ontology of the sharks), and there are numerous victims of said spectral fish. At the most obvious level the film is entertaining as a cheap and poorly-conceived cash-in on the 'where-is-the-most-unlikely-place-a-shark-can-strike-from' low budget mania that has emerged of late, and on that premise it is worth a watch. However, the film has no real logic and is ultimately really random in its approach. For instance, the film opens with three distinctive characters, but then pretty much forgets about them, and the climax is perhaps the most random solution I've ever seen (also involving a very random character). And what of the characters? Well, you get a marine biologist who never utters anything remotely biological (and sharks on a mountain really should pique at least some professional interest, regardless of the tragic back-story), the usual unscrupulous mayor/businessman who won't close the mountain, a ranting 'You're all doomed!" old mountain man, and a hilarious 'marine' who keeps telling people that he is a marine (but who displays very little military prowess). Oh, and one of the best performances I have seen in a film of this type: a man who, as a result of seeing his girlfriend eaten by the sharks, has a religious epiphany and renounces drugs in favour of universal love (I'll leave it to you to see how that pans out). However, the CGI is actually not too bad at all and nobody is taking the proceedings very seriously (except the marine character, boy, he takes things seriously). All in all, then, the bar is set low, but with a title like Avalanche Sharks, what do you expect?
Fright Night 2 (2013)
Wastes Its Best Asset (contains spoilers)
This is a very strange film. I expected a remake of the original Fright Night 2 only to find that it wasn't that at all. Then I assumed it was a sequel to the remake, but as Charley Brewster had no knowledge of vampires or Peter Vincent, it wasn't that, either. OK, so how about just being a fun trashy horror film with an absolute knockout lead actress as a seductive vampire? Well, yes and no. Jamie Murray is marvellous and the saving grace of the film, and her performance partially rescues the affair. However, she needed to be featured more and her character been allowed to cut loose more extensively. As it is, the film misfires in the belief that the audience will be rooting for the drippy and charisma-free Charley and his vapid girlfriend (an ex-Coronation Street luminary) - I'll skip over 'Evil' Ed. I'd have been quite happy to see Countess Bathory triumph! As for 'Peter Vincent', Sean Power isn't Roddy McDowell (or David Tennant for that matter) and we'll leave it at that. Also, the Countess Bathory angle is confusing as Gerri ultimately has three personas: the seductive 30-something Gerri, a wizened Gerri who needs to bathe in blood to get back her youthful visage, and a monstrous vampire form. Of the latter, if that is what a vampire truly looks like then why does she age in her human guise? It doesn't make sense, but since little does in the movie I don't suppose it is worth pondering. So, more Gerri and less moping Charley and Fright Night 2 could have been an effective B-feature. But it isn't. Oh, well, there's always the next season of Defiance.
The Cloth (2013)
To Quote Robert Palmer: There's No Telling Where the Money Went
IMDb cites the budget for this epic at 4,000,000, but that cannot be. It is impossible to discern where such a sum could be on screen. The camera work and cinematography are at the amateur-hour level. Aside from the much-mentioned head cropping, the picture quality constantly shifts - a scene featuring a redneck couple in a pickup truck looks like it was shot on a non-HD digital camcorder - and character reaction shots seldom match up. The special effects are also distinctly unspecial. For instance, the supposedly important demon emerging from Hell is visually incoherent, as are many of the 'fight' scenes, all of which possess only rudimentary CGI. I rented this in anticipation of a B-movie extravaganza of Danny Trejo and Eric Roberts schlock, but I was robbed! Instead, I was subjected to two thespian non-entities with Danny and Eric making the odd appearance (and I have no idea what Eric Roberts' character was supposed to represent or be doing - probably exactly what Eric thought). Furthermore, the film makes little sense and the conclusion is abruptly reached nonsense, all of which adds to the incredulity regarding the apparent budget. $4,000 I could believe, but $4,000,000? Either the figure cited is a mistake or Danny Trejo and Eric Roberts charge a lot for cameos!
Easily the Best Film about Space Tax Disputes, Ever!
When we think back to the halcyon days of Star Wars, with its timeless narrative, thrilling space battles and heroes, heroines and villains that defined a generation and live on, immortal in the pantheon of popular culture, we realise that for all of their brilliance there was one thing missing: lengthy discussions of tax disputes.
But fear not, in 1999 George Lucas recognised his terrible mistake and rectified it to create an accountant/bureaucrat/lawyer's science fiction dream movie. Now, we have an iconic titles sequence that contains evocative words like 'tax!' and 'trade disputes!' in place of nonsense like evil Empires, Death Stars, and the glorious fight between good and evil. Furthermore, spectacles such as epic space battles and outlandish cantinas are downplayed to make way for marvellous and protracted scenes of space councils and diplomats earnestly debating trading laws! It has its critics, for sure, but I say that Star Wars: The Phantom Menace was and is a visionary work of tax and trade negotiation-based genius.
The Fog (2005)
"Let's replace a scary zombie pirate's hook and sword with a....walking cane!"
I wish I could have been privy to the producers meeting when The Fog remake was first mooted as the finished film plays out like a producer was simply given a basic summary by a friend who had caught Carpenter's original on cable the night before and they just drew the script from that without bothering to see the film for themselves. The 1980 original, while not perfect, has a great sense of atmosphere and really creepy protagonists - most notably Captain Blake, joined by his decomposing undead crew and their nasty hooks. In the remake, we get Superlad pouting manfully and Maggie Grace as the damsel in distress to give the film that all-too-important 'teen appeal' (although it's a shame that Liam Neeson didn't show up to get all CIA on the ghosts - I would have bought that for a dollar!). And, while I like Selma Blair, she is not given a role that equates to Adrienne Barbeau's marvellous and gutsy turn as Stevie Wayne. In a nutshell, then, the film is not scary or remotely effective, and the CGI is no replacement for the visceral effects of the original. But the biggest problem are the ghosts, and I can't begin to imagine the script session that pitched replacing Captain Blake's rotted and leprous visage and wickedly sharp weapons with a transparent, bearded Rade Serbedzija wielding a (wait for it)......silver-topped cane! If they ever go for a remake of The Burning they should replace Cropsy's deadly garden shears with two Mars bars as his implement of slaughter - so much scarier (think of the calories!). Oh, yes, and there is a bit of hokey reincarnation and human-to-ghost romance, too. Perhaps if Jamie Lee Curtis had hooked up (see what I did there!) with Captain Blake, all of that murderous unpleasantness could have been avoided. In the end, The Fog (2005) just needs to get lost in the mist of time.
The Stepford Wives (2004)
Did the producers actually see the original film or read the novel?
OK, many moons have passed since the release of this film, but it still stands as a depressing indictment of how Hollywood creatively operates. In terms of content, the first half of The Stepford Wives is not too bad, certainly lighter than the original, but it still keeps to the spirit of the piece and Nicole Kidman is always a class act. And then there comes the extraordinary reboot: an irrational plot turn that happens before your very eyes. Indeed, it is as if it had featured a producer actually walking into frame and crying out: "Whoa, back it up, Mr Oz. I've just finally finished watching the original and it's really, really bleak! Quite horrible, in fact, and a total downer. Who knew? At this budget we want light and frothy! We want Matthew Broderick's amusing hangdog face, a delightful battle-of-the-sexes farce, and Jon Lovitz/Bette Midler screwball antics. We most assuredly don't want MURDER. So, audience, please forget the robots, forget everything you saw until now (except the laughs!) - the ATM machine wife, the burning hand but no pain or ill-effects, the malfunctioning Country-lite singer - just go with the new 'hypnosis chip' angle from now on. Yes, I know that makes absolutely no sense at all and I know that you have seen robots, but just imagine that that was a dream. So, enjoy the rest of what is now a very different film, and good evening". And thus the producer exits stage left and we indeed are expected to expunge whole scenes and accept the happy ending. Hollywood can be a most peculiar place.
Exists in a film universe all of its own
It's impossible to rate this film according to IMDb criteria as it operates under unique filmmaking rules. The continuity and editing just do their own thing so the viewer totally accepts the way in which a shot of a shark supposedly swimming about in a roadway suddenly cuts to a close up that shows said shark basking in deep azure Pacific seas. But the use of jarring stock footage is truly an art form in bad movie circles, and more of it, I say! Everyone knows the plot, and you get the impression that the film was constructed in the wake of a night out that involved one of the producers declaring: "Imagine one of those terror storm movies involving sharks! A sharknado, if you will!" The next day a poster was produced and the film hung on that. So, in the midst of weather systems that come and go, sharks that change size and leap from here, there, and everywhere, and an interminable bus rescue, the cast is game, although Tara Reid looks a bit bewildered by what is going on at times, while John Heard pretty much forms a double act with a bar stool. By conventional standards, the film would garner a 4, but this opus writes its own rules, and I thank the Elder Gods Ed Wood and Roger Corman that such chaotic, but marvellous spectacles still get made.
Mega Piranha (2010)
Amusing at first, but then tedious in its awfulness
Everyone loves a bad monster movie, right? There is a great charm in the so-bad-it-is-good film, and for a while Mega Piranha delivers the goods. Alas, but then the unremitting awfulness wears you down due to endless repetition of scenes and CGI that is so bad that it can't be unintended (I hope). Add the unlikely return of a really rubbish villain, and a bizarre finale that suggests that everyone just got bored and pulled the plug, and you just have ultimate tedium (well, for me, at least). Still, it is not everyday that you get to see Tiffany playing a hydro-biologist, and I'm hoping to see Britney Spears as a Navy Seal in 'Mega Shrimp' and Ke$ha as the US President in 'Monster Manatee' vs. Giant Gecko' some time soon.
Blood Feast (1963)
Some Kind of Genius
My rating is a kind of anti-rating. Is this a fine film? No. Is the plot compelling? No. Are the actors top-notch emoters? No, no, and thrice no. Are the gore effects convincing? Absolutely not! Is the film a work of sheer visionary genius? Yes! Sort of, in an alternative film-making universe kind of way. Fuad Ramses is one of the greatest/most bizarre cinematic creations I have had the pleasure of seeing. His logic is fantastic, and if for nothing else, he deserves kudos for outrunning a number of fully-fit police officers, and him with a conspicuous (read sinister) limp! Ramses' enunciation of his lines is brilliant and I am now searching for an opportunity to slide "a feast...last...given...five...thousand...years...ago" into an everyday conversation. Add not very bright police officers, one of whom is clearly Basil Exposition's father, and a series of splendid (and ground-breaking, it must be said) gore set-pieces, and you have genius. So, let us all raise a glass to Mr. Lewis and proclaim Blood Feast as the warped work of art it most surely is.