Saturday, February 23, 2013
In case any of you cats are interested, I've posted my feelings about the nominees for this year's Tinseltown backslapping party over on the Fool's Views blog. Come check it out if'n you're so inclined.
Thursday, February 21, 2013
Well, if you’ve been paying attention, you’ll see that I’ve not be idle even if the Fool’s Views themselves have been absent. Clearing out the Doc’s closet of reviews from the past 5-6 years and airing them out in the fresh cyberspace has taken time but it’s been both a gratifying walk down memory lane as well as the opportunity to spark conversation regarding films that I had seen prior to kicking off this current iteration of my mad-brained blithering blather. Hope you’ve been enjoying the ride thus far.
However, to get caught up with current events after a three-week hiatus, here are the latest flicks for clicking. Hope you like. (Films with a longer review can be accessed through the title link.)
As always, feel free to leave your two cents worth – we’ll make sure you get some change back.
Lifeforce (1985) d. Hooper, Tobe (UK/USA)
Based on Colin Wilson’s novel The Space Vampires, a team of astronauts encounter a ship lodged within the head of Halley’s Comet and discover three humanoid creatures encased in coffin-like crystalline blocks. As any genre film fan can predict, as soon as they get them back to earth, blocks are going to crack and heads are going to roll.
President’s Day (2010) d. LaMartina, Chris (USA)
It’s election time at Lincoln High, with candidates dropping out of the race not from peer pressure but rather lack of a pulse. Yep, someone wants to win so badly they’ve donned a wrinkly pale latex mask with a crepe hair beard, grabbed their trusty top hat, shouldered an axe and started four-scoring their fellow future politicians right out of existence.
Tuesday, February 19, 2013
Shining, The (1980) d. Kubrick, Stanley (UK/USA)
Carving out a niche of its own in the vaunted annals of haunted house cinema, Stanley Kubrick’s stunner is far from a slavishly faithful adaptation of Stephen King’s bestseller, which dismayed the author and baffled critics upon its initial release.
Look! Up in the sky! It’s a bird! An enormous bird! An enormous bird puppet from beyond the stars here to wreak havoc and hilarity upon anyone who crosses its path! While a befuddled Jeff Morrow wonders where the hell it came from, and more importantly, what the hell happened to his career (“I was in This Island Earth, damn it!”), the nest-making pest swoops, lurches and screeches circles around his hapless human co-stars.
Monday, February 18, 2013
Possession, The (2012) d. Bornedal, Ole (USA)
Jeffrey Dean Morgan and Kyra Sedgwick star as separated parents, struggling through divergent child-rearing preferences during Morgan’s weekend visitation rights for their two girls Natasha Calis and Madison Davenport. To further frustrate matters, after the younger Calis picks up an old wooden memorabilia box at a yard sale, she starts exhibiting such strange behavior as speaking in growly voices, eating pancakes too fast, stabbing people with forks, eating raw meat, breaking crockery, punching out classmates and coughing up computer-generated moths.
Cherry Tree Lane (2010) d. Williams, Paul Andrew (UK)
It’s a little sad when the words “just another home invasion flick” are all that keep running through one’s head for the 81 minutes that Brit writer/director Williams takes to go from start to finish, but that’s pretty much all that it is. Uptight suburban couple Rachael Blake and Tom Butcher sit down for yet another tense evening dinner together when a knock on the door turns their acidic nighttime routine into a nightmare. Three thuggish youths (Jumayn Hunter, Ashley Chin, Sonny Muslim) storm into the house, smack the couple around, duct tape them up and then settle in to wait for their son to come home. Apparently, sonny boy’s been telling tales and needs to be hushed up.
Sunday, February 17, 2013
Howling: New Moon Rising, The (aka The Howling VII) (1995) d. Turner, Clive (UK/USA)
Writer/producer/director/star Turner resurrects the long-running, wildly erratic lycanthrope series for a seventh go-round...then proceeds to line-dance all over its grave. This final (barring 2011's reboot The Howling: Reborn) installment in the hodgepodge werewolf series based on Gary Brandner’s novels features lots of down-home, country-fried humor, mostly of the sniggering, self-congratulatory kind – which might not be so bad if any of it were actually funny.
Loreley's Grasp, The (aka When the Screaming Stops) (1974) d. di Ossorio, Amando (Spain)
Well, when this Spanish film’s title (originally released in the U.S. as When the Screaming Stops) first came up, my immediate thought was of a girl in one of my high school classes named Lorelei and how nice it would have been to be in her grasp, but that’s neither here nor there. Although, the bevy of sexy senoritas on display in Amando di Ossorio’s feature about a legendary monster that feeds upon the hearts of her victims are nothing to sneeze at either.
Saturday, February 16, 2013
Cannibal Man, The (1972) d. de la Iglesia, Eloy (Spain) 98 min.
Unfortunately lumped in with the array of Italy’s gruesome gut munchers of the 1970s and ’80s, many may be surprised to find that this particular Video Nasty surprisingly contains no actual onscreen cannibalism whatsoever. Although it does open with some lunch-buckling slaughterhouse scenes that precipitate the Italians’ use of mondo jungle footage, viewers would be better prepared for what to expect (and what not to) had the film been allowed to keep its original title, La Semana del Asesino (The Week of the Killer) for its U.S. release where it was also known as Apartment on the 13th Floor.
Mesa of Lost Women (1953) d. Ormond, Ron / Tevos, Herbert
“Have you ever been kissed by a girl like this?” Lovely exotic spider women, mad and madder scientists, a two-timing gold digging female and a huge puffy stuffed spider puppet add up to a hallucinogenic experience that occasionally stumbles into artless grace. Jackie Coogan (yes, Uncle Fester from TV’s The Addams Family) is carrying on inscrutable experiments in the jungles of the Muerto Desert (?), turning women into lethal killing machines or lethal killing machines into women, one of the two.
I am Legend (2007) d. Lawrence, Francis (USA)
The third screen version of Richard Matheson’s novel (preceded by 1964’s The Last Man on Earth and ’71’s The Omega Man) is the first true “Hollywood” take on the story and the end results are thoroughly confounding. While the backstory for the plague that wipes out the world’s population is inspired (a mutated cancer cure gone terribly wrong), one wonders how and why the virus had to turn the source material’s “vampires” into hopped up, steroid-sucking CGI monsters straight out of a Stephen Sommers Mummy movie.
Goke: Body Snatcher from Hell (1968) d. Sato, Hajime (Japan)
In the 1960s, Japan turned out some of the wildest, weirdest genre offerings fans could encounter. Case in point: This futuristic Flight of the Phoenix, where, after passing through blood red cloudbanks and encountering a glowing UFO, a commercial airliner crashes in the desert, stranding its disparate band of survivors.
Friday, February 15, 2013
Beast Beneath (2011) d. Higgins, Julian (USA)
Also known as The Curse of Griffith Park (the title that comes up during the closing credits) and The Wrath (which actually boasts its own 2007 IMDb credit), this long-shelved creature feature purports to be “based on the terrifying true tale” of the ghost of Don Antonio Feliz, the original owner of the Los Angeles property eventually purchased by Col. Griffith J. Griffith in 1882.
30 Days of Night (2007) d. Slade, David (USA)
Based upon the graphic novel by Steve Niles (who also worked on the screenplay) and Ben Templesmith, this big budget adaptation from Sam Raimi’s Ghost House Pictures suffers mightily from the realization of how good it could have been, which unfortunately obscures how often it manages to deliver the goods.
Killdozer (1974) d. London, Jerry (USA)
TV-movie notable for predating 1977’s The Car in the pantheon of possessed pedal pushers, although in this case it’s not that pesky Satan behind the wheel but a kind of extraterrestrial blue light that endows the titular heavy equipment (upon making contact with a recently unearthed meteorite) with a murderous mean streak. Clint Walker, as the foreman of a construction crew assigned to create a landing strip on an isolated Pacific island, plays his role with a steel jaw and stone face, ruthlessly pushing his frantic crew (including Neville Brand, Carl Betz, and a pre-Vega$ Robert Urich) to continue their efforts while they are bumped off one by one.
Octaman (1971) d. Essex, Harry (USA)
One of special f/x maestro and multiple Oscar-winner Rick Baker’s early efforts and one that he’d probably like most of us to forget, which might account for its relative obscurity. However, thanks to Fred Olen Ray, the much-beloved limb-swinging creation finally made its home video premiere last year in a stunning widescreen print that leaves your darker-than-pitch TV broadcast bootlegs in the dust. Now you can actually see Baker's many-limbed creation as it stumbles along attacking a crew (headed by former Sinbad Kerwin Mathews) investigating the effects of pollution and radiation on a small Hispanic village - whether that's a good thing or not is open to debate.
Thursday, February 14, 2013
Splatter University (1984) d. Haines, Richard D. (USA)
When a maniac escapes from an insane asylum (you’d think these folks would learn the value of added security one day), he infiltrates a nearby university’s faculty, posing as one of the staff and bumping off random students and professors alike. Plucky Francine Forbes, with her bright smile and Breck girl hair, makes for a likeable heroine, newly hired to replace one of the last semester’s recently demised.
Sea Serpent, The (aka Hydra) (1984) d. di Ossorio, Amando (Spain)
After U.S. Forces drop a bomb into the Atlantic during a training exercise off the coast of Portugal, a giant slumbering sea serpent is awakened from its centuries-long slumber. Mayhem and hilarity ensue. The only thing faker than the titular menace, which rivals Reptilicus for sheer goofy monster puppetry, are the horrendous acting stylings of garishly miscast WASP Timothy Bottoms as a crusty sea salt tough guy captain (named Pedro, no less!) and Taryn Power’s fetching socialite, whose facial expressions upon seeing her American friend gobbled up resemble that of a heartburn sufferer.
Turistas (2006) d. Stockwell, John (USA)
Billed by pundits as “Hostel: South American Style,” this yawn-worthy would-be slaughterfest starts off promisingly enough with a wingding of a bus crash that strands a multinational crew of tourists in the middle of Brazil. Walking down to the seashore, they discover a local cantina where the water is warm, the beer is cold and the tanned rippling flesh is everywhere.
Tuesday, February 12, 2013
Madhouse (1974) d. Clark, Jim (UK)
Vincent Price takes center stage as a hammy horror star sidelined when someone lops off his fiancée’s head at a fancy dinner party (rude, that), resulting in a decade-long rest in the booby hatch. When sleazy producer Robert Quarry decides to resurrect Price’s “Dr. Death” character in a new series of films, the aging icon returns…only to encounter his cast and crew being mysteriously murdered one by one – with himself the prime suspect.
Daybreakers (2009) d. Spierig, Michael/Spierig, Peter (Australia/USA)
The boys from Down Under follow up their high-energy, low-budget zombie flick Undead with a vampire epic that starts off with such promising and well-developed mythology that it’s more than a little disappointing when it devolves into “small band of rebels vs. the all-controlling corporate powers” action clichés, complete with predictable last minute double crosses and irksome jump scares (in this case, in the form of annoying vampire bat shrieks).
Saturday, February 9, 2013
Hostel (2005) d. Roth, Eli (USA)
Following the spirited (if not entirely successful) twist on the “kids in the woods” horror subgenre with his flesh-wasting freshman effort, Cabin Fever, writer/director Eli Roth heads overseas to provide a chilling assault on the vacationing habits of backpacking college kids everywhere.
Hostel: Part II (2007) d. Roth, Eli (USA)
Eli Roth knows what he likes: Boobs and blood. In this follow up to his smash 2005 hit, he once again proffers plenty of both, but unfortunately, with the element of surprise gone, he has little else to offer. Since the mystery behind the sanguinary Slovakian hostel is already on the table, the erstwhile writer/director tries to expand his storyline by exploring the inner workings of the organization behind it all, as well as the prospective sadists who patronize it.
Friday, February 8, 2013
I Know Who Killed Me (2007) d. Sivertson, Chris (USA)
Even without star Lindsay Lohan’s tabloid-documented public implosion just prior to its theatrical release, IKWKM ends up being 2007’s biggest “mainstream torture-porn laughing stock,” thanks to Chris Severtson’s listless, hammerheaded direction and Jeff Hammond’s two-tons-of-dumb script. After a sadistic serial killer kidnaps a bright and bubbly high school student, the town is rocked when she turns back up minus a few limbs...claiming to be somebody completely different.