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AVP: Alien vs. Predator (2004)
A missed opportunity
A research team investigates a newly uncovered ancient pyramid beneath Antarctica (?) ...and learns too late that they've stumbled into a Predator training ground, so they are now caught in the middle of the hunters' ongoing battle with the Aliens. Puny humans die, much xenomorph butt is kicked and lots of slime is spilled, the end.
Paul W.S. Anderson's franchise-crossover monster mash should have been a home run. The Aliens and Predators had been battling it out in a highly successful series of comic books for years so there was plenty of "source material" to draw from. Instead we got...a secret Predator pyramid in Antarctica?
"AvP" spends waaaaayyyy too much time on setup but once the two critters finally start beatin' the crap out of each other it becomes entertaining enough in a big,dumb sort of way. The set designs are way cool as well. I just wish they'd simply adapted the first Dark Horse Comics "AvP" mini series from 1989, which would have made a way more bad-ass movie.
...but hey, at least this one's better than "AvP: Requiem!"
Retro flavored "B" movie fun
"The Adventures of Paula Peril" introduces a two-fisted girl reporter who tangles with mobsters and a murderous religious cult. She's kind of like a combo of Lois Lane and Lara Croft, in a movie whose budget appears to have been about twenty bucks.
I was unfamiliar with the Peril character before watching this indie B Movie, which was apparently cobbled together from three short films based on an obscure comic book series.
I will admit that it's fun to watch Valerie Perez as "Paula" kicking bad-guy butt while wearing tight sweaters and high-heel boots, but the flick suffers from cardboard sets, silly dialogue and community-theater level acting. A quick glance at IMDb reveals that there are further "Paula" film shorts in the works. The character definitely has potential to become a cult item, but this first "Adventure" shows that she's not quite ready for prime time yet.
Entertainingly silly rock doc with plenty of T&A
Adult movie stars Bree Olson and Monica Mayhem have come up with a brilliant "legit" business idea: they recruit several of their fellow X- film starlets to form an all-girl, all-porn-star rock band (with Monica on vocals and Bree as manager), then they hit the road for what proves to be a problem-plagued U.S. tour. As it turns out, their front woman's last name is very apropos to describe what follows, as egos, alcohol, and a pronounced lack of musical talent eventually takes its toll on the hastily created group.
This documentary was boiled down from an 13-episode Playboy TV reality series, which explains why some scenes are quite obviously"staged" for the camera. Still, aside from some choice T&A bits (which are naturally unavoidable to the participants'....errr... day jobs), "Tight" is not all that different from the shenanigans you'd see in any typical rock documentary (band rehearsals, poorly attended gigs in crappy venues, disinterested record label scouts, band members getting drunk and arguing) except that the participants here are better looking than usual and barely dressed.
"Tight" is entertainingly silly stuff but it's not exactly a shock when the end credits reveal that the "band" split up at the end of their tour.
La casa 3 (1988)
Routine Haunted House Schlock
A mysterious ham radio signal (!) draws a group of curiosity seekers to an abandoned house which (naturally) was the site of several murders twenty years ago. Soon they discover that the house is inhabited by the angry spirit of a long-dead little girl and her creepy killer clown doll. This Italian horror flick (from Umberto "Nightmare City" Lenzi) certainly doesn't skimp on the gore, which is a good thing because it's the only thing that made it watchable. The characters are all idiots, the acting/dubbing sucks and the story and dialogue are a complete mess. A better title for this one would have been "Outhouse," or "Sh*thouse."
Ozark Sharks (2016)
Generic, but watchable
"Ozark Sharks" was rolled out as part of SyFy's annual festivities leading up to the premiere of the fourth (!) Sharknado flick.
"Ozark Sharks" was a serviceable, if a bit generic, entry in the killer-sharks-on-the-rampage genre. The story is paper-thin: a suburban family (Mom, Dad, Grandma, annoying Emo daughter Molly and big brother Harrison) - are going on vacation to a run-down camping resort in the Ozarks. Some sharks happen to swim upriver from the ocean and begin chomping on all the puny humans in their path (including poor Grandma), which threatens the town's annual lakeside fireworks festival. You can pretty much write the rest of it yourself.
Molly and brother Harrison (plus Molly's doofus boyfriend Curtis) take up arms against the shark invasion, aided by kindly campground bait shop proprietor Mr. Jones, who happens to have a full arsenal of weaponry stockpiled in the back room of his store for just such an occasion. I will leave it to you to find out how it all turns out for yourselves.
"Ozark Sharks" had the misfortune to premiere right after a re- airing of 2011's similarly themed (but far superior) "Swamp Shark," so for much of "Ozark" I felt like I was sitting through a re-run. At least "Swamp Shark" had some recognizable faces in it like Kristy "Original Buffy" Swanson and Robert Davi. The cast of "Ozark" appears to be mostly unknowns, who are likely doomed to stay that way.
At least it was better than the director's previous SyFy Sharknado Week effort, 2015's "Zombie Shark," which was mostly unwatchable. Feel free to skip this flick unless you absolutely have to watch every shark movie that SyFy pumps out.
What a Mess...
Good grief. Where do I begin? "Halloween 5" was bad enough, but wow, go-round #6 for ol' Mikey Myers holds the title as the worst "Halloween" sequel in my book. This flick is so "all-over-the-place" that it's near impossible to describe its "story" in a capsule review, but I'll try: It's been eight years since the last movie, and it seems that Myers and his niece Jamie Lloyd vanished without a trace after the police-station massacre that ended the 5th film. When we join the action, Jamie has just given birth in a "Temple of Doom" set surrounded by black suited Druids. When she escapes with her child, Uncle Mike naturally follows, and eventually knocks off his niece in a particularly nasty fashion. The baby is safe, however, having been stashed away in a bus station bathroom (?) by Jamie before her demise. (Was this baby supposed to be Michael's child? It's never made quite clear whether it is or not. If so... niece rape as a plot device? Ugh.) Said baby is discovered later on by Tommy Doyle (yea, the kid Laurie Strode babysat for in "H1"), all grown up now and obsessed with Michael Myers. He happens to live across from the Myers House, which is now occupied by a new dysfunctional family of unlikable characters including Kara and her annoying son Danny, who has visions of the Man in Black. Tommy seems to think that Michael's rampages are tied in with the appearance of a constellation in the sky that's tied into Druid legend, and that he is destined to kill the last remaining member of his bloodline... the baby.
Meanwhile, Haddonfield has banned Halloween since the events of the 4th and 5th movie, which doesn't sit well with the students of Haddonfield Junior College, who have decided to host a Halloween fair/rally, attended by a local Howard Stern shock-jock wanna-be (rumor has it Stern himself was offered the part, but he declined), to bring the holiday back to town. This gives Michael a whole new set of teenage cannon fodder to hack to pieces.
Eventually Kara, Tommy, Danny and the baby are imprisoned by the "Cult of Thorn" (don't ask) in the bowels of Smiths Grove Sanitarium, where Dr. Loomis' supervisor Dr. Wynn is revealed as the mysterious Man in Black and he aims to help Michael achieve his ancient destiny... or some such nonsense. Seriously, this movie is so jumbled that I just wanted Michael to kill everybody so it would end quicker.
The only good things I can say about this movie is that the violence is brutal and bloody, and quite frankly the nastiness of the kill scenes were the only things keeping me awake.
I am quite honestly mystified at the amount of good reviews that this film has on this site. "Halloween: The Curse of Michael Myers" was the final nail in the coffin of this once-proud terror series, and was such an incomprehensible, jumbled mess that the studio had no choice after its failure but to "reboot" the franchise with the next film ("H20: 20 Years Later"), which wisely ignored the events of "Curse" and its two predecessors.
Supposedly the film was subject to much post-production tampering/rewriting/re-shooting before its release, which may explain why it flows about as well as a wedding video shot by a drunken cameraman. Much of Donald Pleasance's role ended up on the cutting room floor, which is a shame because as usual, he's the best thing in the movie.
If you love the Halloween films as much as I do, please ignore this one because it does absolutely nothing but crap on John Carpenter's masterpiece.
Porky's II: The Next Day (1983)
"Woooo Boogie Boogie Boogie!"
Before there was "American Pie," there was "Porky's," the classic '80s sex-comedy created and directed (for two out of three installments, anwyay) by the late, great Bob Clark.
"Porky's II: The Next Day" is a laugh-a-minute smut fest that picks up exactly where the original "Porky's" left off. Pee Wee, Tommy, Meat and the Angel Beach gang don't have to deal with old Porky this time around; instead their school's big drama club presentation of the works of Shakespeare is being threatened by a fire-and-brimstone preacher and his flock, who claim The Bard's works are "indecent." To complicate matters further, the production's "Romeo" happens to be played by a Native American, which brings the local KKK into the picture. Will Pee Wee and the gang put up with such interference? Of course they won't, and before you know it the boys (and girl) are busily setting up elaborate series of pranks to get even with the Reverend, the Klan, and a sleazy, double dealing councilman. They even take time to fix the wagon of the dreaded gym teacher from Hell, Miss Balbricker!... all in the name of triumphing over the forces of injustice and intolerance, of course.
Yes, folks, believe it or not, this is a sex comedy with a social conscience. You'll still get your share of goofball raunchy bits (don't miss the scene involving "Graveyard Gloria," which also features the best bit of comic zombie action ever filmed) but at the same time, you'll cheer as you watch the irritating Holy Rollers and clueless Klansmen get their comeuppance.
I may be in the minority, but I think the "Porky's" series actually got better as it went along. I prefer "II: The Next Day" over the original, and the 3rd film, "Porky's Revenge," is my favorite installment overall. If you're looking for an '80s flashback, or just an immature chuckle, then give this one (or any of the "Porky's" films) a spin and give your inner 14 year old the time of his life. "Wooooo Boogie boogie boogie!"
I've been on a Sean Connery kick this week so when "Zardoz" turned up on Fox Movie Channel I decided to give it a whirl, despite the absolutely savage reviews I've read of it here and on other web sites. After spending two hours of my life sitting through this pretentious mish-mash of "Planet of the Apes," "2001" and, apparently, a whoooole lotta LSD, I can only say that I wish I hadn't bothered.
The story of "Zardoz" is frustratingly non-linear but I'll give describing it my best shot. Connery plays "Zed," an "Exterminator" in the year 2293 who prowls the land killing "brutals" (i.e. other humans) on behalf of a big flying stone God head that calls itself "Zardoz." You'd think any movie that opens with a big flying stone head telling a group of worshipers that "The penis is evil...The gun is good! Now go forth and KILL!" before spewing a variety of firearms from its mouth would be totally awesome. Unfortunately, you'd be wrong.
For reasons that are never made entirely clear, Zed jumps aboard the flying stone head, kills its pilot, and rides with it through "The Vortex" (I'm still not entirely sure what that is) till he lands in the territory of the "Immortals," a group of refined, celibate intellectuals who dress like the members of ABBA and live in a commune-like atmosphere controlled by a omnipotent computer. I would imagine that a savage killer suddenly appearing in their midst would freak such people out, but instead they're merely curious about him and thus they treat Zed as an experiment. He's put to work as a slave and is studied by a parade of random characters, many of whom were topless women. That was fine by me because at least the topless shots briefly woke me out of my bored stupor. As the film goes on Zed teaches some of the Immortals how to love, how to welcome the idea of death (apparently immortality becomes really, really, boring after a while), and inspires a revolt against the system... or something like that. I'll be honest, that's about all the summary I can give you, because overall this movie didn't make a lick of sense. It's just an endless series of artsy-fartsy filming techniques and "What the Eff?" moments.
Most of all, I tried like hell not to be distracted by the fact that Connery spends most of the movie wearing a pair of orange bikini panties and not much else. I guess if you were a straight female in the early 70s, it might have been the major selling point for this movie, but after a while I couldn't help but think "Dude, that's James Bond in a Speedo!" I'm honestly at a loss for words after viewing "Zardoz." It's the most nonsensical, pseudo-intellectual piece of sci-fi crap that I've had the misfortune to sit through in quite a while, and I think that's saying a lot considering I just watched "Battlefield Earth" a few weeks ago. Come back John Travolta, all is forgiven!!
Fun Popcorn Flick
I've never read Alan Moore's "League of Extraordinary Gentlemen" comic book series, but it seems that familiarity with it is not necessarily a requirement for watching this film, as I'm told that it differs greatly from the graphic novel. This movie was hammered pretty mercilessly by critics and audiences when it was released in 2003, but I found it to be a rather offbeat, mostly fun action/adventure romp.
The film takes place in an alternate-reality Europe of 1899, and features a number of characters from 19th/early 20th century adventure stories banding together to battle a mysterious supervillain called 'The Fantom' (he's sort of a steampunk Darth Vader) who plans to ignite a world war using previously-unseen technology that he's developed in his top-secret lair. Sean Connery (in his final live-action film role to date) toplines as H. Rider Haggard's Allan Quatermain, who is called out of retirement in Africa by Her Majesty's Government to join the League of Extraordinary Gentlemen - a collection of heroes with "singular abilities" who are gathered together whenever the world's in peril - and neutralize the threat. The other League members include Captain Nemo, Mina Harker (from Bram Stoker's "Dracula"), "an" Invisible Man (not THE Invisible Man of H.G. Wells fame, mind you -- apparently due to copyright concerns, this guy's a thief who stole the invisibility formula from Wells' character), the eternally youthful Dorian Grey, the tortured Dr. Jekyll/Mr. Hyde, and a grown up Tom Sawyer (!) who's now a "special agent" for the U.S. Government. This motley crew boards Nemo's trusty submarine, the Nautilus, and travels across the world to foil The Fantom's evil plot.
The main thing that the film has going for it (aside from the always-welcome Connery) is its lush, atmospheric look. Obviously no expense was spared in terms of costumes and set design, and the special effects (though heavily reliant on CGI) are done well enough. As the League pursues the Fantom and battles his henchmen in various world capitols, there's certainly enough action that the viewer won't get bored. I was particularly impressed with certain key scenes involving Mr. Hyde and the Invisible Man, and the rock'em sock'em final battle at The Fantom's hidden weapons factory deep in the mountains of Asia will satisfy action junkies who've been waiting for lotsa stuff to blow up. Connery proves he's still the world's most bad-ass senior citizen as the two-fisted Quatermain, and Shane West supplies fine supporting work as Tom Sawyer.
In the end, it's probably a good thing that I never read the "League" graphic novel because then I probably would've spent the entire run time picking apart the differences from the source material. Alan Moore, of course, has disavowed the film version (as he does every time Hollywood adapts one of his works) and Connery himself has said he "didn't understand" the film, but hey, as far as escapist, Saturday afternoon popcorn movies go, you could certainly do worse than "The League." Fans of other underrated, period-piece adventure films like "The Phantom," "The Shadow" and "The Rocketeer" should have a blast with it, and perhaps viewers may become curious about the featured characters and head to their local library to discover some classic literature. This is the kind of movie that's got "cult film" written all over it and hopefully more people will discover it as the years go by.
Schlock and Awe
"Ghoulies" was the first (and still the most successful) "little creature" film to rip off Joe Dante's "Gremlins" (others that followed included the "Critters" series, "Evil Toons," and the execrable "Munchies") and helped put Charles Band's Empire Pictures on the map. I remember seeing this one as a teenager and thinking even way back then that it wasn't much good, but when it came on Turner Classic Movies this past weekend, I couldn't help myself and gave it a whirl, figuring that I could use a blast of '80s cheez nostalgia.
Unfortunately, even nostalgia can't save this dog of a movie. The script is absolutely nonsensical (and appears to have been made up as the filmmakers went along), the acting's terrible, and the creatures, though cool looking, don't really get to do much once we finally see'em.
Our story (such as it is): twenty something Jonathan has inherited a big ole mansion that belonged to his parents, who were bigwigs in the local Satanic cult. Jonathan starts messing with the leftover black magic stuff in the basement and boom, conjures up a bunch of nasty looking little creatures who begin snacking on his idiot friends. Unfortunately, Jonathan's too busy trying to patch things up with his girlfriend to notice this or the fact that he's accidentally resurrected his dead father (played by rocker Michael Des Barres), who happens to be conveniently buried on the property. Thus, a battle for supreme power ensues, via lots of cheap special effects, yelling and screaming. The ending is not really an "ending," it's just one more shock scene to set up the inevitable sequel (of which there were three, if memory serves).
"Ghoulies" has some cool looking (for its time) creature and puppet effects (a trademark of most Charles Band/Empire productions) and Band's combo of Gothic Horror and high camp would serve the studio well in their seemingly dozens of creature features that followed this one (see: "Doctor Mordrid," the "Puppet Master" series, "Demonic Toys," "SubSpecies," etc.), most of which were way better than (and most likely paid for by the success of) "Ghoulies." The PG-13 rating for "Ghoulies" is puzzling, as it's pretty dark stuff. I can just imagine a 1985 theatre full of parents taking their 12 year olds to this sickie, thinking it's going to be another action packed cute-critter flick like "Gremlins" ... until the Satanic Black Mass in the opening scene! Added trivia notes, apparently one of the midgets in this flick was the guy inside the "E.T." suit, and a very young, very hot Mariska Hargitay (of future "Law & Order" fame) makes her film debut here as one of the teenybopper victims.
Worth a look for '80s trash devotees but otherwise there are far better options.