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BoJack Horseman (2014)
A Literary Classic
Holden Caulfield. Huckleberry Finn. Scarlet O'Hara. Scout Finch. Tom Joad. These are an all too short list of some of the great characters in American Literature.
And now we have Bojack Horseman.
Bojack Horseman is a great show, but that doesn't do it any justice. It goes beyond that. Bojack Horseman The Series is one of the great literary stories of our time. Don't let the talking animals and slapstick fool you, those are merely trappings. We start with silly jokes, characters snipping at one another, ridiculous sitcom situations, but the overall story wins out in the end as we are presented with 'moments' that make a paradigm shift in the lives of the characters. This happens several times in all three seasons.
Bojack Horseman The Character is a flawed protagonist. Like so many of us, he has strengths, but his failings overpower those. He constantly sabotages himself with poor decisions and gives in to temptation all too easily. He hurts the people that care about him, but he genuinely wants to do and be better.
This is the struggle that defines the series. This is the struggle that transcends the sitcom trappings. This is the struggle that makes this series literature.
This is what we see in ourselves, the art that makes us look at ourselves in a new light. The fact that they managed to wrap it into an obscene cartoon with talking animals only makes it better.
Dead Last (2001)
"I see dead people. They're annoying."
What would the Sixth Sense be like if it were a sitcom? Watch this show to see. Catching the second (?) ep I wasn't as confused as I thought I would be. The plot wasn't very thick, it was mostly a character piece with emphasis on one-liners. It seems that the main characters, a new unsigned band, can see and talk to dead people. These dead people seem to be stuck on 'our plane' until the band members complete some task. The band is assailed by numerous 'undead' (AKA Ghost) and they must do the ghost's bidding to make the ghost disappear. These tasks vary in difficulty, but always with an emphasis on getting a laugh, which was usually delivered.
All Souls (2001)
"The Dead Have Power Here."
All Soul's Hospital is a teaching Hospital in Boston with a reputation for being the one of the very best, but what most people don't know is that All Soul's has an underside. Something dark and malignant is pulling the strings here and from a bright and happy looking start we are suddenly pulled into a seamy world of ghosts, demons(?), sadistic experiments, immortal doctors, possessions, and more.
This series is a well written mix of horror, drama, and fantasy. We're not always sure that we're seeing what's really there, and sometimes when we ARE sure, we wish we weren't. It takes something exceptional to keep a jaded old vet like me at the edge of my seat, and the pilot of this series certainly delivered. One can only hope that the rest of the series stands up as well.
The cast is superb, the only flaw with them and the characters being the unavoidable one; being only a one hour pilot and not having room for the characters to grow (yet). Further episodes will hopefully expand their borders into new ground. The cinematography is dark and brooding, leaving shadows to hide the things that don't want to be seen. Plotting and direction were riveting, my wife and I didn't want to miss a second.
The only other detractor from this show is the network's idiotic idea of placing similar shows in the same time slot. The WB's Angel is already pretty much dominating the market share, if not the ratings, and is well established with a loyal fan base. Given the choice, even I would tune in Angel instead (Thank heaven for VCR's) and I really like the show.
In a nutshell, if you don't like Angel (And Buffy the Vampire Slayer), then you're not likely to enjoy this series. You're likely to find it highly depressing and occasionally gross. But if you DO like Angel and Buffy the Vampire Slayer, I hope you have a VCR. You won't want to miss this one.
A very 'Human' story.
Don't let the comic book approach fool you. This story in primarily a drama, and a very human one at that. Murphy is a man, a human being, with a life, a love, a family, etc. All that is taken away from him, but not so much by the criminals with the shotguns like most people think. They were very cruel in 'dismantling' Murphy piece by piece, but at all times they were shooting at a PERSON. It was OCP's execs that finished the job in trying to remove his humanity from him. It was they that took the arm he had left, took his memories, took the things that we all take for granted. It was they that tried to remove the humanity from the man.
But they failed.
Murphy's humanity showed through at all times, though thinly at first. Just the twirling gun, the favorite catch phrase, just the little things we usually don't even think about. As his memories almost returned in the form of dreams his humanity responded next with a cry for vengeance. He sought out his killers, not realizing who the real killers were. When he DID find out who was really behind his death, it only led to him being brought down in a hail of gunfire again, this time at the hands of the police. Again his outside forces were trying to strip away his humanity, but this time it backfired. The human that had relearned courage and duty was now forced to relearn fear. Thus humanity was strengthened on one of our greatest failings.
He survived the ordeal the second time, and it was then that he confessed his humanity to Nancy Allen's character. He could feel the loss of his family, but couldn't remember their names. After this he had to face his killers again. Boddicker and his gang? They hated him. They feared him. They wanted to kill him.
Him. Not It. They were still shooting at a person, not a thing.
At the end Murphy was robbed of the chance to overcome his programming and arrest Dick Jones, but it didn't matter by that point. The CEO (as played by Dan O'Herlihy) asked for his name, he gave it.
Murphy. Not Robocop. His program still limited him much like the written laws might limit the spirit of what our police officers are trying to do while protecting us, but Murphy was a HIM now, never again to be an IT.
All the jokes, the cartoonish violence, even that "I'll buy that for a Dollar!" guy couldn't distract from the sheer victory for humanity announced in that one simple two syllable word, Murphy.
Beverly Hills Vamp (1989)
Awful, awful film.
This movie tries to be as bad as "Dinosaur Island" but only sucks as bad as "The Phantom Empire" The excuse for a plotline plods along, the acting is reminiscent of the 2 by 4 in the wall to my left, and the camera work isn't working at all, my etch-a-sketch showed more talent and innovation even when I left it untouched. The script tries to have a constant stream of jokes, but none of them hits the mark, not even the one they stole from "Leisure Suit Larry". The only good thing about this film is all the nekkid chicks, but we only see them for about 10 minutes altogether out of an hour and a half running time. The rest of the time is spent watching 3 total nerds do nerdish things. The 'plot' follows the 3 nerds that go to Hollywood to try and get their movie made, get shot down immediately and then decide to buy some hookers. The hookers turn out to be vampires and they spend the last hour running about trying to kill the nerds, who are of course trying to escape.
If you like the "So bad it's good" style of film making, then this film isn't for you. If you like genuinely good films, then this film isn't for you, either. Now if you into wasting your time with mind numbing drivel, then this is the perfect film for you.
Gary & Mike (2001)
Two guys, a car, no money, what could go wrong?
Everything, usually with hilarious results. In this series, a take off of Jack Kerouac's On The Road, 'nice normal' Gary gets hooked up with Mike 'the friend from hell' on a cross country odyssey to find themselves. Mike talks Gary into abandoning the traditional roadtrip following Lewis and Clark's expedition in favor of a new trip, while Mike himself is just trying to escape the father of a girl he 'made friends' with on the morning of her wedding to another boy. With a start like this, it's no surprise that they usually find trouble rather than enlightenment, especially since Officer Dick (the girl's father) is following along to claim a large portion of Mike's hide.
On the way they meet everything from pyromaniac hippies to Klingon speaking hookers to Mole People to Mike's brother. Each story seems crazier than the last with no end in sight. Gary wants to lose his virginity to 'the right woman' while Mike is willing to take whoever's next, ideally 'fixing' Gary's condition at the same time. They go on television, jump from planes, run from Rabbis, and eat food stored in their glove box. And they never ever look back to home.
Pure adventure tale
A group of adventurers band together on a future Earth to try and claim the ultimate weapon.
I saw this on TV as "World of the Talisman" and was pleased with it. Unlike most anime that was getting TV time in the late '80's, it was actually a stand-alone tale instead of something horribly cut down from a TV series.
I have no idea how accurate the translation was, though the 'electronic stutter' suffered by the main bad guy was pretty cute. As I recall, the heroes consisted of a man, a woman with a pet furry whatever (The TV Guide listed these as brother and sister, though even the translation didn't give any hint of that), a pair of moderately inept spacemen, and what seems to be an intelligent sword. The bad guys were a series of men or aliens in a variety of 'robot suits' (Like the power suits from StarShip Troopers), though they all had the same basic design. They all spend a merry hour and a half chasing each other about with an extreme amount of firepower, but no blood or sex (Probably why it was deemed suitable for translation to American TV).
All in all a pleasant distraction without any overbearing morals or messages to weigh it down.
A great idea that suffered unfairly
As many Robotech fans know (And just where are all your comments?), this series was originally 3 different series in Japan that was slightly (or horribly, depending on who is asked) re-edited to be one series here. The first, Macross, is the best of the 3, mostly because it has the least changes in plotline to help it match the changed Robotech universe as well as having the most fully realized characters. It also has the most character development of the three. The second part was interesting, especially in how the lead female character was re-written to be Max and Miriya's daughter, but the series was pretty much a shoot-em-up western using robots and ray guns instead of horses and revolvers. The third involves a guerrilla band trying to free Earth from the Invid invaders.
I have always said that any series that has a main character die is worth a little respect. This is because it is always a dramatic risk to have one's audience become attached to a beloved character only to have them lose that character. One risks losing that audience. I can't think of any American series that did this before Robotech/Macross, an even now it is mostly a plot device to explain the loss of actors due to contract changes and the like (See Highlander and Star Trek: DS9). Sadly, it is the so-called 'Children's programming' that takes this risk (See Roughnecks and Power Rangers: Lost Galaxy) rather than the 'serious drama' of prime time.
The Macross portion loses 2 main characters during it's run, followed by similiar sacrifices during the 2nd and third portions leading to a tragic tale of love, adventure, courage, and loss. All 3 original series are said to be better that the Robotech version, I haven't seen them, so I see no reason to deny it. I CAN say that I see no reason to knock THIS series. Unlike Star Blazers (Which I love to death) this one didn't even think of trying to coverup the deaths of characters whenever possible. It instead took the challenge head on and gave it to us complete with a mourning inter-racial lover.
There were plans to have a second series to follow up on this one, but due to rising production costs, as well as the fall of the American dollar against the Yen, the second series became the movie/video Robotech: The Sentinals. A very dry and flat production at best.
No, it's not Robotech.
On the good side, it wasn't just the original Macross series chopped down to an hour and a half. Rather, it was a new script and animation retelling the story of the TV series. On the bad side, it sacrifices a LOT of the 'flesh' of the story in favor of the brevity. For example, one difference was that instead of Max's character marrying the Zentraedi (Or Zentrani, depending on the version of the original you saw) female, he kills her. All of the subplots from the TV series involving the female Zentraedi are completely dropped as well. There are other differences as well, but I don't want to give them all away.
A true fan of the original series, or even the Robotech version, is likely to be disappointed with this, even though all the later Macross series are more a sequel of this rather than of the actual TV series. On it's own, however, it is very enjoyable, though you would usually have to look in the children's section of the local video store to find it.
Shiriusu no densetsu (1981)
Beautifully animated fairytale masterpiece
I saw this on either HBO or Showtime in the early 80's (As the legend of Sirius) and was entranced by it. The story is a retelling of Romeo and Juliette, though with a happier ending (Not a difficult feat). It also reminds me greatly (especially Ursula) of Disney's 'The Little Mermaid', though that came much later (And wasn't as good). The final battle between Posideon and 'Ursula' (A very different beast that I can't remember the actual name of) is better than Disney's offering, including the animation.
Our hero Sirius, a water child, falls in love with Marta, a fire child. In the english translation, they were Prince and Princess, respectively though that doesn't affect the storyline much. Friends are lost, and other sacrifices are made in the name of true love, then....well, can't give away the ending.
Star Blazers (1979)
The best American Translation so far
I remember this series only too well. It was only slightly cut for American audiences, leaving out only the actual deaths of characters (Mostly redshirt types, excepting Captain Avatar) when they were shot, blown up, or other. The characters were exceedingly well realized with backstories and CHANGES to the characters as their characters developed. Compared to the pitifully slaughtered 'Battle of the Planets' (Gatchaman, later re-translated into G-Force which managed to be better) or anything American animated series were planning on doing (He-Man, Bravestarr, etc ad nauseum), this series really shone. Only the 'Robotech' series came close, and that one suffered from trying to combine 3 Japanime series into one.
Looking at the coming attraction scenes made me realize that some editing was done in the last episode of the 1st season. In it, a Gamilon was rushing into the cargo bay where Nova was trying to activate the CosmoDNA (The Gamilon boarding party was using a radioactive gas) Starsha had given them and Sandor was protesting that it might not be safe. In the actual ep, Sandor and Nova both turn to see the Gamilon enter, but we never actually see him, and Nova ends up wounded for no readily apparant reason other than the aforementioned gas. I am certain that Sandor shot the encroaching Gamilon, but too late to prevent Nova from being hit.
There were several episodes where bodies were seen, if not the causes for their deaths. This marked it apart from anything else being shown 'for children' at this point. Considering that American animation seemed to be following the same rules that American comics were following (No death, sex, excessive violence, excitement, things of interest, plot development, etc) it isn't really a surprise that so many of us rushed home to watch it. (While at a meeting for my high school band, I came across several of the 'cool kids' singing the theme song together.)
In my area only the first 2 seasons were shown, but my wife reports that she not only got just the first, but it didn't include the final episode where they return to Earth, never mind the whole Comet Empire season. After hearing that, I didn't feel so bad about missing the 3rd season.
Just as a clarifying point for my faithful readers, though one of the crewmembers reported that Sgt. Knox had returned in another fighter, it was dubbed in. He died destroying the power center on the Comet Ship (In fact, none of the Marines they brought aboard survived the season). According to a later movie, Orion the engineer also died in the final ep of the 2nd season (Much to my sadness, I liked him). Also the chief pilot, Conroy died fighting the Comet Empire, but was replaced by his identical younger brother in the 3rd Japanese series, though the American series considered him to be the same character. (Nevermind that he was using a urinal when he spotted the Andremeda coming after them in the 2nd season's 5th episode. I wouldn't expect American TV to show that).
I hope that the various petitions are successful in returning Star Blazers to television. While there are several interesting animated shows, with the exception of Roughnecks; the Starship Troopers Chronicles, that are merely interesting, Star Blazers was actually engrossing.
Spiral Zone (1987)
As well developed as the times allowed.
I was pleasantly surprised to find that J. Michael Straczynski was involved with the writing on this show. When I first watched it some 10+ years ago, I wasn't impressed with the obviously 'toy oriented' hardware the various heroes and villains used, but rather with the potential depth shown with the characters. IE the character Tank had evacuated the Zone in the initial attack, and ended up leaving his loved ones behind (His daughter, maybe a wife, too). This tortured him and was especially touching in one ep when he attached himself to a young girl that was seemingly immune to the Zone. Another where one character froze up during combat and was assigned to the rear, humiliating him into becoming a trustworthy soldier again. These came to a somewhat 'stunted' ending, it being a 'kids' show and all, but that's what I mean when I say it was as well developed as the demands of the late 80's allowed.
I don't think it was ever repeated since it's initial showing and I know that I didn't see ALL the eps that were made (No idea why, the local channel only showed 20-30 out of the 60 ep run). Knowing JMS (Babylon 5, Murder She Wrote, The New Twilight Zone) as I do, I am sure that they wouldn't have disappointed me. Perhaps they even would have filled in some of the blank spots in the characterization. After all, JMS has a reputation of forcing genuine quality down the throats of executive types that only care about selling a related toy line. Just look at "The Real Ghostbusters" that JMS edited for, and "Captain Power and the Soldiers of the Future" that has a strong cult following. Both, like Spiral Zone, had genuine character development, as opposed to simply having a background story. This series is not his best, but it definitely puts He-Man and Brave Starr to shame. (Not that it was hard to do for those series).
Tarzan: The Epic Adventures (1996)
Someone got paid for this?
The good thing about this series is that it didn't last. Considering how bad it was, I'm surprised it got made at all. I saw about 2 maybe 3 episodes (To give it a fair chance) and the trauma hasn't fully left me yet, even some 3 years later.
The one episode I remember the best is the one that convinced me that the writers weren't even really trying. The scene I recall involved some Roman soldiers that had a woman under arrest. Tarzan (As tragically slandered by Joe Lara) spots them and proceeds to make it his business to see to her safety. A fight ensues in which Tarzan kills the soldiers, tosses off a lame platitude that I can't remember (Fortunately), and frees the woman who promptly states that now she can get back to slaughtering Nuns and Orphans again.
OK, she didn't actually say that, she was the daughter of a political prisoner and thus was being taken herself. But Tarzan DID NOT know that until after he minced and diced the soldiers. It would have served his careless ass right if she DID go back to stuffing puppies into blenders and the like. It surely doesn't match up with Johnny Weissmuller's far superior portrayal. IE he stated something like "Other men live to fight, but Tarzan only fights to live" when he refused to fight Germans during "Tarzan Triumphs!", a film made during WWII no less!
The one thing that made me decide to attempt to suffer through more than one episode was the way Tarzan's home was made to look like it was within easy walking distance of some 50 or so 'Lost Civilisations' (Romans, Greeks, Antlantians, maybe Martians would have showed up if the series continued long enough) like the earlier Johnny Weissmuller Tarzan was (Why Tarzan didn't build a tourist trap around this has always eluded me, he coulda made a fortune). I was hoping for a more 'fantastic' (Giant spiders, Lizard Men, ETC) portrayal than most low budget TV series could afford to have, like the 30 minute Tarzan show that lasted in syndication from 1991 to 1993 (Merely boring), or the series about Tarzan with Ron Ely that was produced in the 1960's (The best TV series about Tarzan so far).
There was no Jane in this version, but I recall a contest being offered where the winner would get the role. What can be said about a leading role being given away as a contest prize? I guess no reputable actors wanted to put their names on this thing (At least not after seeing what was being perpetrated) so an act of desperation was called for.
I recommend that you stick to Johnny Weissmuller or Ron Ely if you just plain need a good Tarzan fix.
The Cars That Ate Paris (1974)
Not a single person got et!
Considering the movie was called "The Cars that eat People" my wife and I was expecting somebody to get chowed down on by a car. After all, the cover certainly had a picture of just that happening, but we didn't get the horror film we were expecting. We got some kind of drama about a self-styled 'frontier' town where half the population have sticks stuck up their butts, and the other half build and drive really bizarre cars.
Considering that it took nearly an hour before something exciting finally happened, it was definitely a good thing that my wife and I are well versed in the MST3K method of movie watching. The saddest part was that the piano player (Look at me! I can play the same 2 bars over and over and over) didn't get eaten by one of the cars. If anyone needed to be eaten by a car, it was her.
The spiky beetle was totally cool looking. Too bad it got stuck in this movie. As the most talented member of the cast, it really deserved something better.
Burn Baby Burn!
This movie is for anyone that thinks all Japanese Anime is good anime. There are parts of this 'movie' that make me think it was cut down from a series, but other parts that look like loss on the sides from the transition from widescreen. Too bad they couldn't lose the whole movie while they were at it.
It is far too convoluted, unevenly paced. characters drop dead in ways that suggest that we should care more than we do (Hence the 'cut from a series' theory) and the ending made about as much sense of the rest of the movie.
As a brief outline; The hero gets sent to space school to be a pilot. How he qualifies for this is not explained, but he musta been good, 'cos he already had a uniform on. Within 15 minutes, he attends school, gets in trouble with the law about visiting a garden, falls in love with a politician's daughter, is caught with said daughter and is sent to a labor prison. The plot picks up from there (Sort of). He then escapes and goes off into outer space to find the Firebird after stopping to pick up some really lame friends. When you're on the run, I guess you can't be too choosy.
I made a copy from a local late night tv broadcast and like to show it to my friends now and then as an example of what bad anime looks like.
The Stolen Jools (1931)
Nice effort, considering it was for a charity
I just caught this old thing as an add-on for Dementia 13 on Haunted Hollywood (A light night movie program that shows here in Dallas). It wasn't quite the laugh riot it was intended to be, but there were several moments worth catching. Laurel and Hardy, for example, as 2 detectives that mistakenly make a final payment on their car. There was a funny bit with someone I thought was George Burns, but have found that it actually was someone else I don't know. Don't look for a solid story line, rather expect a series of gags, skits and one liners, not all of which hit the mark.. When you have half of Hollywood out for cameos, that's about all one can expect.
Porklips Now (1980)
I'd be frightened if I wasn't laughing so hard.
The way Ernie catches the whole mood and style with what was probably a super 8 camera and a dull patch of suburbia is amazing. The writing was incredible in the way he turned his bad clichés into almost sensible strings of thought, not to mention the great camera work. We've all heard of stream of consciousness, I guess you'd call this stream of punconsciousness.
Every time I see this, I actually manage to see something new, be it one of the ads that flash by way to fast, or something so obvious you slap yourself for missing it before. The attention to detail is much better than several big budget movies manage, it's too bad that big budget directors aren't required to make at least ONE no-budget film.
One doesn't NEED to see Apocalypse Now to get this movie, (Yet another sign of it's quality) but it would definitely help. I saw this after seeing the original, but I would love to see someone see them in the opposite order and watch their reactions. Although Apocalypse Now has many 'black comedy' moments, seeing Porklips Now first will probably have a very interesting effect on what gets laughed at.
I give this a full 5 stars
Chrome Hearts (1989)
The Perfect Movie!
This movie had everything, Drama, Comedy, Action, Romance, Motorcycles, Lesbians, a Musical number, Mad Scientists, Midgets, Zombies, Blind Orphans, and most especially, CHEESE! Lots and lots of cheese!
This movie doesn't just fall into the 'so bad it's good' genre; it pretty much defines it. Right from the beginning we see the Biker Gang that the movie revolves around get berated by their leader "You're the Sluts! Try to act like it!" From there, the Sluts are let loose in yet another small town, not realizing that this is Zombietown, run by the evil Mad Scientist and his Midget henchman. From this unlikely start, the movie can only go downhill. It does so with nary a look back, and not a scrap of good taste.
If you like cheese, this is the movie for you.
The Night of the Hunter (1955)
When the cliches were new
It's amazing to think that even though this movie was a total bomb at the box office, it still carries the first appearance of so many of what are now cliches. The most obvious is the LOVE/HATE tattoo, of course, and no one wore it as well as Robert Mitchum.
This is a period piece, make no mistake, but it is a landmark film in so many ways. The cinematography alone has been shamelessly copied by everyone and his cousin, what, with it's innovative use of angles and shadows. The tattoo I have already mentioned, and a religous man as a bad guy? No wonder audiences flocked elsewhere.
This film won't please everyone, and it shouldn't. But it DID please me. I was scared, and I was held in suspense, right until the money reappeared at the end.
Definatly under the rainbow
This is truly a lost gem of a film. It is beautifully photographed, well-acted, well paced, and well written. It is a fantasy film that relies on the fantasy and not on the SFX budget. Something we see all too little of these days.
It is the story of a little boy that has visions during medieval times of a great city, and to save the village from the horrors of the Black Death, he, his brother Connor, and a few others must travel there and erect a spike on the cathedral there. Of course, this is a fruitless enterprise and Connor knows it, but no one would listen to him; they were stuck on a single idea and would hear nothing else.
Their journey to what turned out to be New Zealand is both humorous and sad. There were times when one would be brought almost to tears and at other times laughing hard enough to hurt, but the sad element was dominant.
As with all the films I like to review, it has a strong 'cult movie' appeal, but it is more accessable to general audiences than, say, Six-String Samurai was. Seeing that the Director (Vincent Ward) later did 'What Dreams May Come' (I'll review that one in a few weeks) this film deserves to brought back into the spotlight.
Space: 1999 (1975)
The unwilling travelers
Space:1999 was a fascinating show in that it had so much potential, but so little delivery. After reading a behind the scenes book on the show, I found that the producers were always sticking in their fingers with opinions on what the show simply needed to have. The results of doing such a thing is never good, as this series demonstrates, especially the 'happified' second season. There is a definite dark theme going on, that isn't allowed to be fully explored in the first season and is completely abandoned in the second.
One thing to remember about the series is that no one on Moonbase Alpha signed on for deep space exploration. They weren't prepared for it in any way and were justifiably terrified almost continuously. One example was when the two lead characters (Martin Landau and Barbara Bain) were on a planet and heard a noise in the bush. Martin's character, Commander Koenig, actually opened fire on the bushes without seeing if there was a target there or not. Even at 10 years old, my age the first time I saw it, I was shocked. It was defiantly NOT a politically correct thing to do. Star Trek would never have done it, or almost any other show, sci-fi or other. Why did he do it?
He was terrified. Plain and simple. He was not a hardy space explorer out to meet new races, he was the equivalent of Dilbert's pointy haired boss suddenly responsible for protecting 300 people on a base that was NOT self sustaining and was hurtling through space with no control. He even managed to lose 30 people in the first season. A full tenth of the personnel didn't survive the first season. And the producers wondered why everyone on the show acted miserable most of the time.
A later episode shows that the 'accident' on the Moon was not an accident. Moonbase Alpha's residents were meant to populate the stars. Too bad the 'Mysterious Alien Force' behind it forgot to ask the Moonbase personnel first. A later ep also taught them that shooting first and asking questions later is a really bad idea, just as other lessons in humanity were taught. Koenig actually offered asylum to an alien that had already killed members of his crew, for example.
The show is defiantly worth checking out, as long as one treats the second series as a different show altogether.
Made-for-tv can work!
The thing about made-for-tv movies is that the networks have a requirement that there is a chill and/or spill on every commercial break. If the formula is followed successfully, it definately pays.
Gargoyles is proof of this. It is a low-budget film, but is well-paced. I was thoroughly chilled by this when it first showed on TV, and saw it again a few years ago, then caught it again today on MoviePlex, sans commercials. It holds up very well over time, and the acting is quite good in most places. I especially liked Bernie Casey as the lead Gargoyle, though I don't know if I should call it especially inspired or deliberatly hammy. Doesn't matter, still enjoyable either way.
The effects were on the very lowest budget, so you get a whiff of 'cheese' to enjoy as well, but the monster suits were actually quite good. I only saw 'rubber stretches' once or twice. I can think of big budget films that didn't have costumes as good as these. Bernie Casey's voice was filled with some kind of static. A cheap effect, but an effective one.
The plotline was a bit slanted, the Gargoyles were dedicated to taking over the Earth, completely evil and therefore must be destroyed, something that wouldn't likely be passed today due to politcal correctness, but the ending still works nicely despite that.
I would highly recommend it to any horror fan.
The Wicker Man (1973)
Classic 'Textbook' film
This film gets classified as horror, though it's actually a tense mystery. It's a textbook film in that the 'story' is a showcase for a chance to demonstrate the various forms of Paganism. It doesn't show a specific type, but rather shows a kind of mish-mash of different details of several Pagan religions, demonstrated in this film as one.
The story involves a mysterious letter that claims that a girl has gone missing from a remote island community. A police sergeant (Edward Woodward) is sent to investigate. People alternately claim the girl doesn't exist, then that she is dead, but never really answering any questions. The mystery builds to the end, with it's shocking 'sacrifice'.
This film was very controversial in it's day since the Pagans aren't shown openly eating babies and other ridiculous exaggerations; a common (and unfair) perception of the time, and sometimes now. They are shown as a normal people that laugh, sing, and even grieve (A quick, but touching shot of a nude woman crying over her husbands grave) as anyone else would. The ending doesn't help this perception, much, but there had to be a selling point or the movie would have never been made.
Whether your interested in Celtic Studies, or like a suspense/mystery with good pacing (Try and get the 102 minute version, it seems to be the one that makes the most sense) then this film is for you.
Six-String Samurai (1998)
Somewhere, over the Wasteland.....
I kept expecting to see Judy Garland start singing while watching this movie. It had a 'Wizard of Oz' By Katsuhiro Ôtomo, starring Buddy Holly and the world's most annoying boy, feel to it. I got the impression the actual writer had one of those freaky dreams and wrote his script based on it, especially the Wizard of Oz ending meets Motley Crue ending.
This is not to say that I didn't enjoy the movie, I loved it to death and watched it 3 times in a week. It is a very low-budget film, but the money was used to great effect; it doesn't really look low budget until the matte at the end of Lost Vegas.
The kid is annoying, but deliberately so. There is definitely a bond that develops between Buddy and the kid. We see it mostly when Buddy repeats his butterfly line at the end. He says it for a very different reason than when he said it at the beginning.
The list of characters is interesting in the way most can be recognised as 50's rockers and other celebreties. The bad guys are also very different and interesting. (I rather liked the windmill people) and the Russian army (Listen again, that was NOT Russian they were speaking) had me in stitches till Buddy put them in stitches.
There was very little blood, despite all the sword play, but that's OK. Splashing blood everywhere wouldn't have made this movie any better. Being a cult film, it's probably as good as one could hope it to be.
Buddy is, of course, the ultimate hero. He defeats whole armies, conquers death, and his legend will live forever, (I won't spoil the ending by saying why this is.) just as this movie will be loved by fans for just as long. Or hated. That is the price of any cult film, after all.
Dead & Buried (1981)
Low budgets are the best budgets
When it comes to good Horror, a big budget can be a disaster. With rare exception, (Most being sequels that managed to be good) it's the low budget Horror that scares us the most. This is because there is no budget to 'buy' a SFX shortcut. This is very true of 'Dead and Buried'.
I remember seeing this on cable (HBO, I think) and being totally creeped out. I couldn't look away, the dark and forboding mood reached right out of the TV and kept me in it's thrall. When I saw it on tape many years later (And finally saw the first 15 minutes) it had lost nothing over time. It had still managed to keep me interested, jaded on Horror that I was.
The film is essentially a Zombie flick, or could be. It's never really clear, nor should it be. Things start off weird and then get weirder, and doesn't stop till the shock ending. (No, I didn't see it coming the first time.)
Fine performances were turned in by James Farentino (About half of what's on TV, not counting guest spots) as the Sheriff, Melody Anderson (Flash Gordon, Manimal) as his beautiful wife, Robert Englund in a Pre-Freddy (C'mon, EVERYBODY knows HIM) role and Jack Albertson (The other half of what's on TV, most notably Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory and Chico and the Man) as the Mortician.
I give it a full 5 stars.