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JCVD (2008)
8/10
JC is "Jerry Lewis-famous" in Belgium. Watch out Steven.
7 May 2009
Warning: Spoilers
Jean-Claude Van Varenberg is not a name you would typically remember. Now replace the last name with Van Damme and that changes dramatically. They are one and the same, but the latter name invokes a certain response. Fame and celebrity invokes a certain universal scrutiny that a "normal" person lives without. It is this theme that the movie cleverly uses to spin a fictitious (and sometimes surreal) dark comedy about the random events surrounding the life of the real Jean-Claude Van Damme.

An immediate JC association is that he is an aging but once prominent international action-movie star, who is well past his prime and now making B-movies exclusively to pay the bills. The movie is constantly juxtaposing that image against a "real life" person trying to play themselves, outside of a movie. The introduction and opening credits is a 3 minute, complicated action sequence of which we would be expecting from a movie starring JC. It's the best JC action sequence of the last 10 years and it turns out to be just another scene in one of those B-movies he is making. This is NOT an action movie, however. He takes his first hit from the 20-something Asian director.

JC takes another hit during his divorce/custody hearing, in which his daughter doesn't want to be with him because friends laugh when he is on TV. Because he makes action movies he is associated with violence and all that implies. He cannot get the roles he wants, because he is typecast. It becomes a vicious cycle to pay the bills through B-movies. He returns home, to Belgium, to figure things out. He just needs to get some cash from the Post Office to pay the cabbie. A mundane situation. Then fans notice him. Everyone starts to notice. Too bad the post office turns into a hostage drama with the cops making a command center of nearby video store. Subliminally we all expect JC to take care of the situation in action-movie style. He does and he doesn't.

The movie is shot in a gritty, digital format reminiscent of a documentary/reality show style. The colors are generally muted in faded gray, greens and browns. Nothing pops but instead screams industrial and earthy. Gritty & real. I saw the dubbed version of the film and as bad as it sounded, it did not affect my enjoyment of the movie. I do recommend you watch it with the original soundtrack and JC talking in his native language.

In this era of films where I have to prepare myself before going out to the theater (by prepare I mean, leave most expectations at home & bring a flask with me), this was a surprise. That is a beautiful and rare thing these days. Though JC is playing a role, namely himself in a fictional situation, you can tell he brought some acting muscle and lay himself upon the alter for exposition. I have always had an affinity for the accent-laden action hero (Schwarzenegger being the other) and this does for JC was Danny the Dog did for Jet Li. It opened my eyes to the untapped talent still residing within an aged action star.

JC ,in an amazing gesture, transcends the movie at one point and his image by stopping the film (pre-climax) and rising about it (literally) to speak to us directly. It feels like a heart-to-heart moment between JC the man addressing his audience and critics alike. The scene, though seemingly out of place, works because it seems like a genuine glimpse into the man. He talks about things that are important to him and even cries several times. I felt as if I had just been witness to a communal exorcism and rebirth. If it was all acting, I have nothing but praise and admiration for JC. He entertained me, inspired and taught me something, all within the span of 90 minutes. He can live contently in the knowledge that he is and never will be Steven Segal. And that's a good thing.

-Celluloid Rehab
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9/10
It loses something in the translation and thankfully Kevin knows Farsi
6 May 2009
Warning: Spoilers
Mystery Science Theater 3000 was a staple for many. When it went off the air, we searched for an outlet. Out of the darkness & rubble, first arose the Film Crew(now defunct) and RiffTrax. Both these endeavors revolved around Mike, Kevin & Bill. This is last movie of the four movies (picked democratically by the "Internet") the Crew laid track for before disbanding. Honcho Home Video Presentation's motto is "every movie deserves a commentary." Mr.Honcho decides to go Greek and makes the Crew lay down a track for the Giant of Marathon (original Italian titles translates to "the battle of Marathon").

The format of the DVD is identical to the other 3. There is an introductory scene with Bob Honcho on the phone selecting the movie, a lunch break in the middle of the movie(where they end up not eating usually) and a finale sketch (in this case making outrageous hats and a racial rambling about the Basque). As with the other DVDs there is bonus selection. This one is in two parts. The first is Mike's apology attempts towards the Persians and Italians. The second part is the commentary track of an electrician extra from the movie (sketch).

This is the typical Italian sword & sandal epic : low budget, melodramatic cardboard acting, repetitive, horrible dubbings, sub-par action sequences, "loads" of homo-erotic imagery & one chiseled foreign bodybuilder on the marquee. In this case, a beardless Steve Reeves as the marathon's progenitor, Phillipides.

We start with the story of how Phillipides becomes champion of the olympics, as the credits & titles roll. This is immediately followed by a lengthy written paragraph, setting up the back story of the love rectangle between Phillipides and Theocratis' arranged wife (Andromeda) and his concubine (the mannish Karis). The front story is your basic power struggle, mixed in with conspiracy and some battles with the Persians. We can't forget the Spartans. Then toss.

These epics seem like historical re-enactments in terms of the dialog, acting, costumes, sets and battles. History is the casualty in most, however, as is the enjoyment level and consciousness. The historical aspect would have been the only saving grace. Instead, crack the grappa, watch this with friends and savor the unintentional comic genius present in this movie. It is a rare and beautiful thing for the genre, though most of good ones star Steve Reeves. Also see Hercules and Hercules Unchained for reference.

Even though the internet picked this fourth, it is arguably the best of the four Film Crew movies. I dare to say that it is comparable (if not better) to the MST3k version of Hercules or Hercules Unchained (both with Steve Reeves). This movie is dedicated to men in diapers.

-Celluloid Rehab
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2/10
It loses something in the translation and sadly it's not the only thing
6 May 2009
Warning: Spoilers
This is the typical Italian sword & sandal epic : low budget, melodramatic cardboard acting, repetitive, horrible dubbings, sub-par action sequences, "loads" of homo-erotic imagery & one chiseled foreign bodybuilder on the marquee. In this case, a beardless Steve Reeves as the marathon's progenitor, Phillipides.

We start with the story of how Phillipides becomes champion of the olympics, as the credits & titles roll. This is immediately followed by a lengthy written paragraph, setting up the back story of the love rectangle between Phillipides and Theocratis' arranged wife (Andromeda) and his concubine (the mannish Karis). The front story is your basic power struggle, mixed in with conspiracy and some battles with the Persians. We can't forget the Spartans. Then toss.

These epics seem like historical re-enactments in terms of the dialog, acting, costumes, sets and battles. History is the casualty in most, however, as is the enjoyment level and consciousness. The historical aspect would have been the only saving grace. Instead, crack the grappa, watch this with friends and savor the unintentional comic genius present in this movie. It is a rare and beautiful thing for the genre, though most of good ones star Steve Reeves. Also see Hercules and Hercules Unchained for reference.

-Celluloid Rehab
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3/10
Fewer laughs than X-Men: The Last Stand. Have adamantium bullets on standby.
6 May 2009
Warning: Spoilers
After the X-Men's "Last Stand" and Wolverine's indestructible leather pants, my expectations going into a movie about Wolverine's origin story were extremely low (bordering on nonexistent). For this movie to be exciting in any way, you must either be a vegetable or seeing a "movie" for the first time. Sadly I fit into neither category.

I was conscious of my bias from the start. I own first editions of just about any comic book with the words "Wolverine" on it as well as Joe Madureira feral-Wolvie ink on my arm (circa 1997). I liked the trailers and word-of-mouth from the leaked torrent viewers was good. The thing that I saw was not.

The opening scene recounts the basic story of the "Origins" limited series, in which the the man who would be Wolverine started off in the mid 19th century as the sickly child of John Howlett. After an altercation between his dad and the groundskeeper, an enraged boy pops his claws, murders and then runs for his life. The groundskeeper's son, Victor, accompanies him. According to the movie, Wolverine's mother had an affair with the groundskeeper and Victor is his brother. Fine, artistic licensing.

The best part of the movie ensues, with a montage of the two "brothers" fighting in every major conflict throughout the world. With the montage complete, the drudgery ensues. They are then recruited by William Stryker for a covert team, comprised of other mutants. While Victor becomes increasingly bloodthirsty over the years, Wolverine increasingly finds it distasteful and eventually drops out. He ends up living as a lumberjack in the wilds of Canada with this girlfriend, Kayla Silverfox. Just as Michael Corleone could not escape his "family" neither can Wolverine. His past returns and his girlfriend ends up as collateral damage. Revenge trip ensues.

The remaining lump of coal is a confused mash up of CG, explosions, random occurrences of X-Men characters (Emma "Silver Fox"??, Cyclops, the Blob, a should have stayed hidden Gambit and an almost unrecognizable Deadpool), wire work, violence and convoluted conspiracies gone awry. I was prepared for a mindless action-butchering of the Wolverine character. It was definitely a mindless butchering, but the action was less than gratifying. Ridiculous is a more accurate description of the action (there is no tongue in cheek here). The movie feels rushed and confused. It wants to be a mindless and enjoyable summer action movie (the result is ridiculously derived and boring) and also wants emotional depth (the motivations are there, paper thin and transparent).

The closest comparison I can muster is the emasculation of Thomas Jane's Punisher. Wolverine, just like the Punisher, will probably never have a good live-action adaptation because the people involved do not understand the characters or imbue them with characteristics not present. The failure is not in the adaption of the source, but in the very essence of the movie. It is flawed all around and tries to tell too much of the story in one sitting. I was ready for a completely different origin story from the comic sources. I was ready for mind-numbing action (see Crank for an example). Instead (and based off the title), we are left with a cheap looking (not cheaply made, however) and marketing based serial action film. Expect X-Men Origins: (fill in the X-Men member here), soon in a theater near you.

-Celluloid Rehab
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7/10
WARNING: Rue McClanahan stripping with sweaty, naked back. WARNING
16 April 2009
Warning: Spoilers
Mystery Science Theater 3000 was a staple for many. When it went off the air, we searched for an outlet. Out of the darkness & rubble, first arose the Film Crew(now defunct) and RiffTrax. Both these endeavors revolved around Mike, Kevin & Bill. This is the first of four movies (picked democratically by the "Internet") the Crew laid track for before disbanding. Honcho Home Video Presentation's motto is "every movie deserves a commentary." CEO, Bob Honcho, has a thing for Golden Girl, Rue McClanahan, so the Crew must do Hollywood After Dark.

The format of the DVD is identical to the other 3. There is an introductory scene with Bob Honcho on the phone selecting the movie, a lunch break in the middle of the movie(where they end up not eating usually) and a finale sketch(in this case the replication of the light bulb strike to the head). As with the other DVDs there is second selection, usually a short vignette. This one is title "Ode to Lunch" where Bill recites a short poem(about lunch obviously).

Unless you have ever thought about what it would be like to see your grandmother in her prime, wearing a bikini or less, don't bother watching this. The only remarkable thing about this film is Rue McClanahan and the possibility that she took this role because she saw something of herself in the character. Don't eat a heavy meal before or any meal while you watch this, as it can prove to be a choking risk.

Locations: A Hollywood junkyard, a Hollywood beach, a Hollywood highway, and a Hollywood set made to resemble your typical international burlesque house & LA lofts.

Plot: Jack Webb lookalike attempts to recruit an ex-navy & hyper-cynical underwater demolition expert, named Tony (the hairy Jack Vorno), for a heist.

Subplot: Rue McClanahan is an aspiring actress who works at Jack Webb's brother's burlesque, to pay the bills. After a confusing transition and conversation with Tony in which Rue explains that there are limits to her stripping, Tony expresses his stark cynicism. Stripping at the burlesque, by the way, is down to underwear and pasties. The only nudity here is Rue's sweaty, bare back (literally, back). Then the date at the beach.

Conflict: Rue meets with a "writer" at his "office"(apartment) to do a "reading." After what seems to be hours, Rue has been drugged(or not) or very drunk(or not) and the writer either makes out with her(or not) or rapes her(or not). Insert fisticuffs. Keep the audience confused.

Conflict resolution: Rue descends into hell as she bares her top for the lascivious W. Hollywood mob. Show Rue's sweaty, back. In the midst of his guilt, Tony agrees to the heist; his share to go to Rue, so they can start over.

Twist: 15 minutes of dialog free "action" followed by double-cross.

Morale: Hollywood will destroy you, first morally and then physically. Don't bother coming here.

-Celluloid Rehab
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1/10
Imagining Rue McClanahan stripping, then vomit. Then eat more Drano.
16 April 2009
Warning: Spoilers
Unless you have ever thought about what it would be like to see your grandmother in her prime, wearing a bikini or less, don't bother watching this. The only remarkable thing about this film is Rue McClanahan and the possibility that she took this role because she saw something of herself in the character. Don't eat a heavy meal before or any meal while you watch this, as it can prove to be a choking risk.

Locations: A Hollywood junkyard, a Hollywood beach, a Hollywood highway, and a Hollywood set made to resemble your typical international burlesque house & LA lofts.

Plot: Jack Webb lookalike attempts to recruit an ex-navy & hyper-cynical underwater demolition expert, named Tony (the hairy Jack Vorno), for a heist.

Subplot: Rue McClanahan is an aspiring actress who works at Jack Webb's brother's burlesque, to pay the bills. After a confusing transition and conversation with Tony in which Rue explains that there are limits to her stripping, Tony expresses his stark cynicism. Stripping at the burlesque, by the way, is down to underwear and pasties. The only nudity here is Rue's sweaty, bare back (literally, back). Then the date at the beach.

Conflict: Rue meets with a "writer" at his "office"(apartment) to do a "reading." After what seems to be hours, Rue has been drugged(or not) or very drunk(or not) and the writer either makes out with her(or not) or rapes her(or not). Insert fisticuffs. Keep the audience confused.

Conflict resolution: Rue descends into hell as she bares her top for the lascivious W. Hollywood mob. Show Rue's sweaty, back. In the midst of his guilt, Tony agrees to the heist; his share to go to Rue, so they can start over.

Twist: 15 minutes of dialog free "action" followed by double-cross.

Morale: Hollywood will destroy you, first morally and then physically. Don't bother coming here.

-Celluloid Rehab
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9/10
Glaucomic Projectionists from Space
16 April 2009
Warning: Spoilers
Mystery Science Theater 3000 was a staple for many. When it went off the air, we searched for an outlet. Out of the darkness & rubble, first arose the Film Crew(now defunct) and RiffTrax. Both these endeavors revolved around Mike, Kevin & Bill. This is the second of four movies the Crew laid track for before disbanding. In this session, Bob Honcho Enterprises' president, Bob Honcho, selects Killers from Space.

The format of the DVD is identical to the other 3. There is an introductory scene with Bob Honcho on the phone selecting the movie, a lunch break in the middle of the movie and a finale sketch(in this case demonstration of a "Robichet" acting device). As with the other DVDs there is second selection, usually a short vignette. This one is a series of 5 audio outtakes for one scene, called "did you know."

The movie begins in the middle of stock footage of U.S. Air Force planes (black & white, 1940's & 1950's), radar dishes, people messing with knobs, dials and switches, planes flying, planes landing, planes taking off, etc. A nuclear test in about to commence. Peter Graves is Dr. Martin, the lead scientist on the test. He is up in a plane (designated "Tar Baby 1"), circling the event and gathering data.

Shortly after the explosion, something unexpected occurs and the plane crashes. Martin mysteriously shows up at the base, with no memory of what has transpired and a scar over his nipple. He starts behaving strangely or so it seems to everyone else in the movie. To the people watching, we hope Peter Graves won some sort of acting award because it can't be easy to act while in a coma.

This is a truly epic horror movie. The horror is not the subject but rather the effect on the individual. The "Killers from Space" don't appear until more than 1/2 way through the movie and our protagonist, Dr. Martin, has the personality of a Fuccon. Add to this 20 minutes of a sodium amethol(not sure this kind of truth serum exists) induced flashback, a 5 minute chase scene in a power plant (involving running up & down the stairs, as well as using elevators and hiding behind things) and an unusual number of grisly close ups.

I didn't even mention the all too numerous shots of Peter Graves in front of a screen showing a reptile or insect close up or that the plot revolves around a clichéd group of extraterrestrials who's home planet is unlivable and they want to squat or take over our planet. Did I mention the heavy tobacco sponsorship? I counted 8 scenes in the movie, where the sole purpose was to showcase cigarettes or pipe tobacco. In one scene, all 3 characters conversing in the scene are smoking. Was the world really like that or what big-Tobacco wanted it to be? Not even a cameo by Coleman Francis can save this movie from the fate of being watched at 2x speed, from now on.

I struggled with rating this movie. The movie is truly horrible and the jokes aren't the best of the series but the overall score is indicative of the timing of the jokes to maximize relief from the pain. It's like eating something when you are really starving. The jokes, even though they're average, have a bigger impact on a much more horrible and dull movie. The impact is larger and so is the score.

-Celluloid Rehab
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1/10
Any episode of Biography is way better than this.
16 April 2009
Warning: Spoilers
The movie begins in the middle of stock footage of U.S. Air Force planes (black & white, 1940's & 1950's), radar dishes, people messing with knobs, dials and switches, planes flying, planes landing, planes taking off, etc. A nuclear test in about to commence. Peter Graves is Dr. Martin, the lead scientist on the test. He is up in a plane (designated "Tar Baby 1"), circling the event and gathering data. Shortly after the explosion, something unexpected occurs and the plane crashes. Martin mysteriously shows up at the base, with no memory of what has transpired and a scar over his nipple. He starts behaving strangely or so it seems to everyone else in the movie. To the people watching, we hope Peter Graves won some sort of acting award because it can't be easy to act while in a coma.

This is a truly epic horror movie. The horror is not the subject but rather the effect on the individual. The "Killers from Space" don't appear until more than 1/2 way through the movie and our protagonist, Dr. Martin, has the personality of a Fuccon. Add to this 20 minutes of a sodium amethol(not sure this kind of truth serum exists) induced flashback, a 5 minute chase scene in a power plant (involving running up & down the stairs, as well as using elevators and hiding behind things) and an unusual number of grisly close ups.

I didn't even mention the all too numerous shots of Peter Graves in front of a screen showing a reptile or insect close up or that the plot revolves around a clichéd group of extraterrestrials who's home planet is unlivable and they want to squat or take over our planet. Did I mention the heavy tobacco sponsorship? I counted 8 scenes in the movie, where the sole purpose was to showcase cigarettes or pipe tobacco. In one scene, all 3 characters conversing in the scene are smoking. Was the world really like that or what big-Tobacco wanted it to be? Not even a cameo by Coleman Francis can save this movie from the fate of being watched at 2x speed, from now on.

-Celluloid Rehab
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8/10
The Best of the Film Crew
15 April 2009
Warning: Spoilers
Mystery Science Theater 3000 was a staple for many. When it went off the air, we searched for an outlet. Out of the darkness & rubble, first arose the Film Crew(now defunct) and RiffTrax. Both these endeavors revolved around Mike, Kevin & Bill. This is the third of four movies the Crew laid track for before disbanding and I believe is the best of the bunch.

In this episode Bob Honcho picks the Wild Women of Wongo for the Crew to lay down a commentary track. As usually there are 3 sketches; beginning, lunch & end. The first sketch is about the air conditioning of the building. The lunch sketch is all about a map of the world and the final sketch is the testing of a match-making computer. As compared to the sketches in Hollywood After Dark & Killers from Space, these seem less forced and somewhat funnies. Sadly, none of Film Crew sketches compares to any from MST3k. There is a bonus section on the DVD and it contains two sketches: the Crew is forced to DANCE by the dragon god priestess & reenactment of the final scene of the movie, with cutouts.

A disembodied Mother Nature narrates a story 10,000 years in the making. The events of the great "Wongo"-"Goona"-"Monkey Men from the Sea" conflict are recounted. The manipulative Mother Nature has placed all the prettiest women with the Wongo tribe and the good looking men in the rival & nearby Goona tribe. The men of Wongo & women of Goona are suppose to be fugly. The Monkey Man threat is severely over-hyped, as is their involvement in the film.

The conflict arises when the son of the king of Goona arrives by canoe, waving the white-wing of peace, to warn Wongo of the arrival of the Monkey Men from the sea. The Wongo men, obviously jealous of his good looks, devise a plan to kill him. The Wongo women, lusting over the pretty man, decide to step in. The origins of humanity start are becoming clearer, but it just needs a few more ingredients.

Add a "Dragon God" (a.k.a. crocodile/alligator), the god's temple complete with one crazy priestess, some modern dance, leopard print & leather slips, lots of hair spray, blue hair, empty scenes of the "jungle", at least 12 cut-aways to an annoying parrot, stock footage of crocodiles/alligators, scenes of wandering through the jungle, several repetitions of previous footage, a scene of a woman trying to drown a crocodile/alligator and page upon page of horrible "savage-man" dialog (i.e. "me go", "Wongo not friend to Goona", Yoda teaching English class, etc.). Anyone can film a movie like this. Just go to the Florida Everglades or Keys and hire some bodies from Gold's Gym, don't forget to cater it and remember the script will figure itself out. The pain is excruciating. This is definitely the kind of movie to watch at 1.5x and not by oneself. Do NOT attempt this without the Crew, moreover bring many friends and several bottles of bourbon.

-Celluloid Rehab
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1/10
It's a miracle the human race survived.
15 April 2009
Warning: Spoilers
A disembodied Mother Nature narrates a story 10,000 years in the making. The events of the great "Wongo"-"Goona"-"Monkey Men from the Sea" conflict are recounted. The manipulative Mother Nature has placed all the prettiest women with the Wongo tribe and the good looking men in the rival & nearby Goona tribe. The men of Wongo & women of Goona are suppose to be fugly. The Monkey Man threat is severely over-hyped, as is their involvement in the film.

The conflict arises when the son of the king of Goona arrives by canoe, waving the white-wing of peace, to warn Wongo of the arrival of the Monkey Men from the sea. The Wongo men, obviously jealous of his good looks, devise a plan to kill him. The Wongo women, lusting over the pretty man, decide to step in. The origins of humanity start are becoming clearer, but it just needs a few more ingredients.

Add a "Dragon God" (a.k.a. crocodile/alligator), the god's temple complete with one crazy priestess, some modern dance, leopard print & leather slips, lots of hair spray, blue hair, empty scenes of the "jungle", at least 12 cut-aways to an annoying parrot, stock footage of crocodiles/alligators, scenes of wandering through the jungle, several repetitions of previous footage, a scene of a woman trying to drown a crocodile/alligator and page upon page of horrible "savage-man" dialog (i.e. "me go", "Wongo not friend to Goona", etc.). Anyone can film a movie like this. Just go to the Florida Everglades or Keys and hire some bodies from Gold's Gym, don't forget to cater it and remember the script will figure itself out. The pain is excruciating. This is definitely the kind of movie to watch at 1.5x and not by oneself. Bring many friends and several bottles of bourbon.

-Celluloid Rehab
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8/10
No stinger, no bite, but eye candy. Not the best, but still good.
13 April 2009
Warning: Spoilers
The movie version of the popular TV show finally came to the big screen, but it's not a perfect adaptation. The guys are subjected to "This Island Earth" by the familiar Dr. Forrester. In between the condensed movie, there are 5 "sketches". Dr. Forrester's mad-scientist soliloquy & Crow drilling a hole to the Earth can be considered the first part. When the film melts and breaks is part two. There are two "interocitor" sketches and the credits.

Dr. Cal Meacham is a gifted and important atomic scientist. So important that Lockheed lets him commute to work in one of their vehicles. A commute to work is flying a jet from DC to somewhere across the country. As Cal arrives at work the plane malfunctions, but (thankfully) he is saved by a mysterious and pulsating green glow. At work, more strange things appear. This time an ordering mishap occurs, giving Cal a "capacitor" of incredible specifications. A delivery of a metal-page catalog arrives and continues the strangeness, which ultimately leads to an ordering spree and the creation of an "interocitor".

Next, a strange white-haired "man", named Exeter, appears on the interocitor & reveals all. He admits that the catalog, the parts & their assembly were a test to verify his aptitude. Exeter is a recruiter for a scientific think-tank. Cal can't resist and ends up at a utopian-like mansion full of the world's best scientists. Some typical snooping later, the development of a love interest (Dr. Ruth, if only it were her) & the Professor's help, lead to the truth; Exeter is an alien and they are going to his home planet of Metaluna, with Cal & Ruth tagging along. BIG Surprise, right? No. Not at all actually. HELLO!. There are aliens on the movie posters even before you would have walked into the theater.

I remember seeing this movie as a child on AMC on a Saturday afternoon. It was one of the first science fiction movies that had better than average production value and a plot line that was a bit more than an "alien-western" or "alien-horror" story. It's not perfect and it isn't Forbidden Planet (the overall best sci-fi movie of the 50's; story, special effects,etc.) either, but it is fast paced and enjoyable. Most sci-fi of the time is about an alien out to destroy us & our attempts to stop them. This Island Earth adds a small layer of actual science, some sympathetic extraterrestrials and colorful special effects to create something worth remembering. There are genuine attempts at science fiction here, restricted by the budget, studios and audience perception of the genre. Don't expect 2001: A Space Odyssey, but it's not Plan 9 from Outer Space either.

This is by far the best production value of anything with Mystery Science Theater 3000 on it. The sets, models and robots look great. One of the funniest parodies of the series comes out of this: the "Normal View" scene. I enjoyed it so much that I made it my ringer. There is a strange "echo",however, that accompanies all the sketches, but that can be explained. This contributes to the the most pasteurized version of the show ever. It feels a little hollow. Frank and the opening credits, which were important to the series, are sadly missing here. The guys even do the credits for their own movie and in the end, it is still MST3k and it is still fun. You just have some regret of how much more amazing it could have been.

-Celluloid Rehab
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6/10
Don't expect 2001: A Space Odyssey, but it's not Plan 9 from Outer Space either.
13 April 2009
Warning: Spoilers
Dr. Cal Meacham is a gifted and important atomic scientist. So important that Lockheed lets him commute to work in one of their vehicles. A commute to work is flying a jet from DC to somewhere across the country. As Cal arrives at work the plane malfunctions, but (thankfully) he is saved by a mysterious and pulsating green glow. At work, more strange things appear. This time an ordering mishap occurs, giving Cal a "capacitor" of incredible specifications. A delivery of a metal-page catalog arrives and continues the strangeness, which ultimately leads to an ordering spree and the creation of an "interocitor".

Next, a strange white-haired "man", named Exeter, appears on the interocitor & reveals all. He admits that the catalog, the parts & their assembly were a test to verify his aptitude. Exeter is a recruiter for an advanced scientific think-tank. Cal can't resist and ends up at a Utopian-like mansion full of the world's best scientists. They are so advanced that planes don't require seat belts and craniums are designed for easy access on the outside of the body. At the same time they are so Utopian that they continue to be served by a black maid. Some typical snooping later, the development of a love interest (Dr. Ruth, if only it were her) & the Professor's help, lead to the truth; Exeter is an alien and they are going to his home planet of Metaluna, with Cal & Ruth tagging along. BIG Surprise, right? No. Not at all actually. HELLO!. There are aliens on the movie posters even before you would have walked into the theater.

I remember seeing this movie as a child on AMC on a Saturday afternoon. It was one of the first science fiction movies that had better than average production value and a plot line that was a bit more than an "alien-western" or "alien-horror" story. It's not perfect and it isn't Forbidden Planet (the overall best sci-fi movie of the 50's; story, special effects,etc.) either, but it is fast paced and enjoyable. Most sci-fi of the time is about an alien out to destroy us & our attempts to stop them. This Island Earth adds a small layer of actual science, some sympathetic extraterrestrials and colorful special effects to create something worth remembering. There are genuine attempts at science fiction here, restricted by the budget, studios and audience perception of the genre. Don't expect 2001: A Space Odyssey, but it's not Plan 9 from Outer Space either.

-Celluloid Rehab
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2/10
This is a prime example why they fire people on Fridays.
10 April 2009
Warning: Spoilers
The movie starts suddenly on a small cliff. What appears to be a man in animal skins (a caveman I suppose) is on top of the cliff throwing things at people below. The people are dressed in 18-19th century garments and are throwing things, up at the caveman. Sadly you know this will be a bad/cheap movie from the start as there appears to be a man in jeans and a turtleneck in the crowd of villagers. Did the movie run out of costumes up front or was this guy crashing the movie? Eventually, the villagers overwhelm the lone caveman and proceed to beat him to death with clubs & rocks. Then the titles.

Marie Frankenstein (the doctor's daughter) is on her way home to her family's country castle, with her fiancé and a female friend tagging along for spring break. According to the good doctor, the Neanderthal man's (a.k.a. caveman) appearance is not a fluke, but is explained by "science". They somehow live in the nearby caves and have for hundreds of years. His experiment is the reanimation of that ex-caveman, now called "Goliath".

This is a typical Italian knock-off/mash up of movie genres. I have had numerous experiences with these, from spaghetti westerns to giallo to the epics and even the apocalyptic future. This one is the Italian version (much cheaper) of a Hammer film with gratuitous nudity. It does try to portray Dr. Frankenstein as a misunderstood character, who is good by nature and circumstances and others have tarnished his image (the Wicked effect). This aspect is muffled by the gratuitous nudity, some horrible dubbing, extremely low budget and the "freaks". When you add 2 Neanderthals cavemen (one living in a cave and the other necrotic), a revenge driven ex-employed dwarf (Michael Dunn, most renowned for his role in Star Trek's Plato's Stepchildren episode) and a mustached, adulterer hunchback (Boris Lugosi, Karloff & Lugosi's Italian love child), what good can come from it?

Basically, it was the dwarfs fault. Firing the dwarf causes the series of events that we are all aware of : monster escapes, innocent people are killed, villagers riot with torches, the monster & Frankenstein are killed by the end. There is not much horror, logic, acting, suspension of disbelief, nudity or much of anything else in this movie except a painfully long run time. You will struggle with the dialog, as some of it sounds like English, but in the end all you come away with is that the rule of the mob is that the mob rules. That and the idea that a long, nude mineral bath can fix just about anything.
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8/10
Night Train to Mondo Hell
9 April 2009
Warning: Spoilers
This is the fourth installment of Cinematic Titanic and it's a real stinker. The guys do a great job of dwindling the pain level to a tolerable nuisance. So "ditch the dickey" and jump on it.

You know a movie will not go well when John Carradine narrates (a.k.a. reads the script & plot synopsis) over his character's funeral procession, a mere 5 minutes into the movie. The narration is his character's last will & testament. It stipulates that his estate be divided amongst his 4 children and servants. The children shall split $136 million equally, but if any should die then that share is split amongst the remainders. If all the children should die then it is divided amongst the servants. To be eligible, they must live in the family estate for a week. It sounds like the typical plot of a reality show.

There is little subtext as to the nature of the Deans. They are a powerful and severely dysfunctional family, but the real trouble starts with the drowning of that dog. From the opening voice-over by John Carradine you expect this movie will lead to a Machiavellian cat and mouse game with a twist ending.

That journey is painfully slow and pointless. We trudge through minutes of watching people sitting around, playing pool, throwing darts, the misuse of the "through the fish bowl" shot, dramatic conversations between silk cravat wearing men, constant bickering, misplaced circus music, bizarre flashbacks reminiscent of faux-German expressionism, the horror aesthetic of the 4th grade and heaps of dramatic overacting. This all inevitably leads to the expected & ungratifying ending.

In the end, you will be happy to still be alive, but the pain might be too great to bear alone. This is probably the 2nd funniest of the series, behind the Oozing Skull, with some great lines such as: "We're like the white Jacksons" or "Check it out. I'm acting backwards." Share children, share.

-Celluloid Rehab
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Will to Die (1971)
1/10
Modern Borgia's Mess
9 April 2009
Warning: Spoilers
You know a movie will not go well when John Carradine narrates (a.k.a. reads the script & plot synopsis) over his character's funeral procession, a mere 5 minutes into the movie. The narration is his character's last will & testament. It stipulates that his estate be divided amongst his 4 children and servants. The children shall split $136 million equally, but if any should die then that share is split amongst the remainders. If all the children should die then it is divided amongst the servants. To be eligible, they must live in the family estate for a week. It sounds like the typical plot of a reality show.

There is little subtext as to the nature of the Deans. They are a powerful and severely dysfunctional family, but the real trouble starts with the drowning of that dog. From the opening voice-over by John Carradine you expect this movie will lead to a Machiavellian cat and mouse game with a twist ending.

That journey is painfully slow and pointless. We trudge through minutes of watching people sitting around, playing pool, throwing darts, the misuse of the "through the fish bowl" shot, dramatic conversations between silk cravat wearing men, constant bickering, misplaced circus music, bizarre flashbacks reminiscent of faux-German expressionism, the horror aesthetic of the 4th grade and heaps of dramatic overacting. This all inevitably leads to the expected & ungratifying ending. You will be happy to still be alive, but the pain might be too great to bear alone. Share children, share.

-Celluloid Rehab
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Choke (2008)
7/10
Freak Flag Flying High
7 April 2009
Warning: Spoilers
I first took notice of actor, Sam Rockwell, back when he was a security officer named "Guy", but I didn't fully realize his potential until George Clooney's directorial debut, Confessions of a Dangerous Mind, put him in the shoes of TV icon, Chuck Barris. His rendition of Zaphod, from the Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy (2006), was unforgettable and made an average movie more enjoyable.Now he plays the lead in the movie version of the book (of the same name) by Fight Club author, Chuck Palahniuk.

Victor Mancini (Rockwell) is a historical re-creationist by day. By night he visits his ailing mother (Angelica Houston) in the home and/or attends sex-addict group support meetings to get sex . You see Victor did not have a normal childhood. His mother came and went, leaving him mostly in foster homes. At the same time, his father's status is quite vague. Because of this, he does not form any meaningful female relationships. He just has sex. Every woman he sees, he envisions having sex with (be it old, ugly or fugly) or having had sex with them. He cannot turn it off. It is one of his coping mechanisms.

The other is related to the title of the movie (& the book as well); choke. Victor intentionally chokes himself (usually on food and in a public place like a restaurant), with the intent of selecting a "Good Samaritan" to save him. This instills good feelings in the savior, which Victor manipulates to supplement his income.

The movie seems to follow the path of the book, as the narrative revolves around several months of Victor's life as he is trying to deal with the increased deterioration of his mother's condition. This is juxtaposed with flashback's from his childhood. Any comedic qualities derived from the movie is mostly dark in nature, but is still funny. If you frown upon nudity, sexual situations or bad language, then you probably picked the wrong movie. The movie alternates between serious and comedic, but ultimately I think it is meant to be proverbial in scope. Sam Rockwell is the star of this movie. He has the charisma and personality to do great things and can keep something interesting based on only his performance.

The message is not a new one. Hunter Thompson wrote about it. We are all freaks in one way or another. Some people fly their "freak flags" while others live in fear of what others will say. Not "flying the flag" or being yourself is the cage/bonds. To truly be "free", we must fly our "freak flags" high, so others can see. Acceptance and reciprocation by another, makes us not freaks but "normal". So fly high, my brothers and sisters.

-Celluloid Rehab
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1/10
Smooth as honey, painful as acid.
3 April 2009
Warning: Spoilers
Dr. Zinthrop extracts royal jelly from a queen wasp, which is the key to his development of a rejuvenation formula. On the other side of the world, Janice Starlin is a former model/starlet that has created a cosmetics company based on her image. Her age is now affecting her sales. By Corman chance(I mean random), Zinthrop meets with Starling to develop a human version. Zinthrop decides to test it on Starlin herself. Starlin's patience with science wears thing & she decides to overdose on the test compound, with comic results.

I wish I could tell you there is more, but sadly Corman packed the movie with as many items from an office-supply company catalog as possible. Makes one wonder who funded the movie. 73 long minutes loaded full of scenes of bureaucracy including office phone calls, business lunches, several board meetings, filing, paying invoices, office small talk, searching through drawers, searching for missing persons, driving around, sneaking around rooms, delivery of things, delegating tasks, riding elevators and going over an itinerary. The scenery more than makes up for this by placing us in remote & exotic locations like a boardroom, an office and a room made to look like a laboratory. In all honesty, there is a scene with Dr. Zinthrop walking around the woods, by himself, or the scene where we are driven around to crazy carnival music. Neither seems to have much relevance to the actual movie, however.

In the end, not even the presence of Bruno VeSota (a.k.a. the poor man's Orson Welles) could salvage this monstrosity of boredom. Under no circumstances should you watch this without the accompaniment of friends or in a non-Cinematic Titanic version. 1.5x setting was the perfect speed to keep from going into a coma. Failure to do so will result in severe psychological damage.

-Celluloid Rehab
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7/10
Two movies for the price of one. Bulk isn't always better.
3 April 2009
Warning: Spoilers
This is the second movie from Cinematic Titanic (the first being the Oozing Skull), also released in 1972 and both containing the acting talents of Grant Williams, dubbed by some as "one of the four actors of the apocalypse". After watching them back-to-back, you will realize just how true that moniker is.

The communist Chinese develop the gumball technology of doom, who's detonation force will "rupture the faults of the earth's surface and setup a chain reaction of explosions when the earth's tension is broken." For the lay person, this means that the Earth will be destroyed. The US response is to replace half of the all-male crew of Project Astra, who's goal was a mission to Venus for a 2 year trip, with a female crew. Instead of the planned mission, they become humanity's Adam & Eve/Noah's Ark insurance policy. Will humanity survive? There are two distinct movies here. The first part is a genuine attempt at a low budget science fiction narrative with a message (albeit derived & unoriginal) in the nature of Ikarie XB1. That movie dies suddenly somewhere over Venus. You are probably asking yourself how will you know when that is? Trust me, you'll know. It is when the second movie starts, all with different faceless-actors in a dark room doing stuff. This leads into stills & voice-over narrative. Fin.

In the end all you remember is that a lot of painful, pointless dialog occurred, with female astronauts walking around a rocket in their pink robes. And then it all ends in a whimpering blaze (yes I know this is oxymoronic, but it is how I felt). You are not quite sure if anything ended, except the life span of several of your neurons. ad astra per alia porci.

After years of watching movies all the way through, the good and the bad, I discovered another option while watching Orgy of the Dead. That movie was so bad that I could only watch it in 5 minute increments, preferring to fast-forward through the rest. Most movies are not that bad and that technique should only be used when your sanity is on the line.

As an alternative I have developed levels of fast-forwarding that does not deter from the watching experience (as the voice and sound effects can still be distinguished) but alleviates most of the sources of movie induced hemorrhages; 1.5x speed-up & 2x speed-up. The first option is less severe and almost unnoticeable. It will reduce the film length by a 1/3. The second option should only be used in cases of severe pain and it will alter the movie drastically & reducing the film time by 1/2. During the course of watching the Doomsday Machine, I alternated between 1.5x & 2x frequently. Even with the crew of the Cinematic Titanic helping, it was still too much pain for me to bear (again).

Save me Casey Kasem!

-Celluloid Rehab
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1/10
I don't believe it. I DON'T BELIEVE IT!
3 April 2009
Warning: Spoilers
The communist Chinese develop the gumball technology of doom, who's detonation force will "rupture the faults of the earth's surface and setup a chain reaction of explosions when the earth's tension is broken." For the lay person, this means that the Earth will be destroyed. The US response is to replace half of the all-male crew of Project Astra, who's goal was a mission to Venus for a 2 year trip, with a female crew. Instead of the planned mission, they become humanity's Adam & Eve/Noah's Ark insurance policy. Will humanity survive?

There are two distinct movies here. The first part is a genuine attempt at a low budget science fiction narrative with a message (albeit derived & unoriginal) in the nature of Ikarie XB1. That movie dies suddenly somewhere over Venus. You are probably asking yourself how will you know when that is? Trust me, you'll know. It is when the second movie starts, all with different faceless-actors in a dark room doing stuff. This leads into stills & voice-over narrative. Fin.

In the end all you remember is that a lot of painful, pointless dialog occurred, with female astronauts walking around a rocket in their pink robes. And then it all ends in a whimpering blaze (yes I know this is oxymoronic, but it is how I felt). You are not quite sure if anything ended, except the life span of several of your neurons. ad astra per alia porci.

-Celluloid Rehab
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2/10
What would life be without spring, George Bailey?
2 April 2009
Warning: Spoilers
This is a typical short film in the genre of the "what would life be like if we didn't have 'this'?" . This can be anything from an element to a specific technology. We are typically given situations without said thing and then we repeat the same situations with the thing in question, for comparison. This short deals with springs.

The main character is fixing a coach for his wife instead of going golfing with the boys (sadly not a euphemism). He places a dreaded curse upon the spring's existence and an animated character appears. It calls itself Coily the Spring Sprite and it is there to make the man's existence a living, spring-less hell.

Coily gets the utmost pleasure from making all the springs disappear and making the man miserable to the point of acquiescing his mistake. After that, the man takes to his reprogramming like a fish to water. He becomes a spring-aficionado and proceeds to harass all his friends, in a Coily-like fashion. The man, once a victim, continues the vicious cycle of psychological abuse.

One of the funnier MST3k shorts (and the guy's presence is always a blessing), but by the end, we ALL get it; springs are everywhere. Shut up already.

-Celluloid Rehab
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8/10
Presenting Cinematic Titanic
2 April 2009
Warning: Spoilers
Mystery Science Theater 3000 was a staple for many. When it went off the air, we searched for an outlet. Out of the darkness & rubble, first arose the Film Crew(now defunct) and RiffTrax. Both these endeavors revolved around Mike, Kevin & Bill, and thus only part of the original crew. The remaining cast, Joel, Trace,Frank & Mary, started Cinematic Titanic. The Oozing Skull is their first release.

In the Muslim country of Khalid (fictional), its benevolent leader/dictator,Reed Hadley as Amir, is dying of cancer. Amir dies and a desperate plot unfolds. His body is wrapped in aluminum foil and taken in a clandestine operation (the population does not know of his death) consisting of his doctor (Nigserian) and Mohammed, out of the country to perform a risky brain transplant. The surgery is being performed by the disgraced Dr. Kent Taylor, who believes there is no chance of failure and has two assistants. One of them is about 3 feet high (Master Blaster did indeed run Barter Town) and the other is a mutilated & traumatized 7 foot giant named Gor. What could possibly go wrong??

Did I forget to mention Amir's deathbed American, blonde-Barbie wife, Tracy or that Dr. Kent has a dungeon with female slave test subjects & delusions of grandeur? How about a brain transplant that didn't take? There is a lot of double-dealing throughout this and people are killed, but I'm not going to lie to you anymore : MISSION ACCOMPLISHED. The ends justify the means. If you can accept that then you will not have to waste 80 minutes. I hope that is warning enough. Don't say I didn't warn you. If you must watch, then don't watch alone and have plenty of medicine standing by.

I prefer the new format, in that all "sketches" occur with the movie in pause, in front of the screen and not as a separate location. Also the inclusion of 5 commentators, instead of the traditional 3, opens up the possibilities for some truly dynamic exchanges. The Oozing Skull is a perfect first choice as it is nearly impossible to watch alone and remain conscious. "It's like Chinese sound effect torture." The crew of the Cinematic Titanic make going down with the ship a pleasant experience, to be repeated with friends.

-Celluloid Rehab
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1/10
I think it will be more than wonderful
2 April 2009
Warning: Spoilers
In the Muslim country of Khalid (fictional), its benevolent leader/dictator,Reed Hadley as Amir, is dying of cancer. Amir dies and a desperate plot unfolds. His body is wrapped in aluminum foil and taken in a clandestine operation (the population does not know of his death) consisting of his doctor (Nigserian) and Mohammed, out of the country to perform a risky brain transplant. The surgery is being performed by the disgraced Dr. Kent Taylor, who believes there is no chance of failure and has two assistants. One of them is about 3 feet high (Master Blaster did indeed run Barter Town) and the other is a mutilated & traumatized 7 foot giant named Gor. What could possibly go wrong??

Did I forget to mention Amir's deathbed American, blonde-Barbie wife, Tracy or that Dr. Kent has a dungeon with female slave test subjects & delusions of grandeur? How about a brain transplant that didn't take? There is a lot of double-dealing throughout this and people are killed, but I'm not going to lie to you anymore : MISSION ACCOMPLISHED. The ends justify the means. If you can accept that then you will not have to waste 80 minutes. I hope that is warning enough. Don't say I didn't warn you. If you must watch, then don't watch alone and have plenty of medicine standing by.

-Celluloid Rehab
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Mr. B Natural (1957)
2/10
Once at band camp, I was assaulted by Mr. B Natural holding a French horn
1 April 2009
Warning: Spoilers
Mr. B Natural is really a talking, musical note that transforms into a woman dressed in a powder blue Peter-Pan like outfit, pretending to be a man calling himself B Natural. Still following?

Mr. B would have fit in perfectly in a 70's party with George Carlin, Rick James and Robin Williams (sniff, sniff). Now imaging instead of all these cool people (or any other people), it's just you and Mr. B in a room together. Also, Mr. B is really working for an instrument manufacturer, COMM. On top of that, Mr. B is on a roll after dropping some acid, ecstasy and meth. Hold on to your hats and hope your psychiatrist can fix it later.

The opening scene is band practice on a grass field, followed by notes & Mr. B on a sound stage. The scene moves to band co-ed lockers (very progressive for 1957). Mr. B comes out of the closet(literally) and convinces our protagonist, Buzz (??), into getting his parent to buy him a musical instrument. Life is great. Buzz goes to all the great parties. We then get assembly porn of the COMM factory. I wish I were kidding:

Mr. B returns. I feel soulless now and the drugs are wearing off. The only thing I learn is that "it really is quite fun to be psychotic." Thank you Joel, Crow & Tom for helping me through the dark times.

-Celluloid Rehab
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2/10
My boyfriend sure knows his stuff; torturing nature.
1 April 2009
Warning: Spoilers
First of all, this movie was made back in 1936 and it's a bit like talking to your grandpa. You understand it's his way & not malicious, but it's still a bit outdated and un-PC. Based on the movie on it's own, I would give it a 1. The extra vote was for the MST3k version, which improves upon the pain. Definitely do not watch alone & remember to adopt an orphan afterward.

Our protagonist, Ross Allen, is described as a modern day Tarzan. His job is catching live animals for the zoo from the Florida Everglades. With the assistance of his faithful Seminole guide, who's name is either "Eh Wat" or nothing at all, he fulfills an order asking for the following: 1 live bobcat, 2 cub black bears, 3 six-foot diamondback rattlers & a partridge in a pear tree (I made that last part up).

Ross has a variety of techniques for capturing these living animals. Techniques such as: chopping down the tree the animal is in (you could also have your man servant attempt this), chasing animals to & from trees, smashing animals into the ground, pulling animals out of the trees or water-boarding a bear. In all honesty, by the end, I was hoping one of those snakes would get a nice bite of Ross. Time eventually did.

-Celluloid Rehab
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Posture Pals (1952)
3/10
Ms. Martin's Silhouette Night
1 April 2009
Warning: Spoilers
Another instructional movie, typical of the 1950s. This one is about posture. The only claim to fame of Posture Pals is that MST3k used it for one of their sketches and it is probably the first film appearance of a pre-Laura Engels, Melissa Gilbert look-a-like. Crazy, right?

As is typical with instructional films like this, it leaves a lot of room for unintended comedic consequences. The only good thing I can say about PP is the shortness, 10 minutes. It also marks the beginning of the change in educational policy from winner to winners concept and eventually leading to "last winner". I bet Mary, Tommy, Jimmy & Jane (respective Posture Queen, King, Prince & Princess) could burn all existing copies of this. I don't blame the kids. I blame Ms. Martin, the mime. Never trust a mime.

Plot points:

1) Good health = good posture.

2) Good posture keeps you from being tired.

3) Develop the habit of good posture.

4) The way you look can depend upon your posture. Standing tall makes you look cheerful & happy.

-Celluloid Rehab
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