Friday, May 20, 2011

Fool's Views (4/11 – 4/17)

Looking back at my final week before dashing up Wisconsin-way to shoot Dead Weight, I was initially baffled by what dictated my viewing choices. However, upon recollection, some presciently came courtesy of the unattended Netflix queue (Jackie Chan, Yetifest 2011, etc.) while others were pressed upon me by insistent friends, the likes of which I am blessed to call mine.

As always, feel free to leave your two cents worth – we’ll make sure you get some change back.


Dead Heat (1988)
(1st viewing) d. Goldblatt, Mark
For years, I had avoided this deliciously delirious oh-so-80s zom-com because, well, no one ever told me it was a horror comedy. I mean, look at that poster! It looked like a straight ahead action flick with a generic title that happened to have reanimated dead cop Treat Williams back on the case to solve his own murder, which did not sound all that appealing. Then there was SNL vet Joe Piscopo looking like a steroid-laden, inflated-biceps action star, again with no hint that his expert comic wisecracking was actually being well-used. Hats off and backslaps all around to fellow fiend Dan Kiggins who sat me down and set me straight. This movie is SO much fun, I can’t believe the horror community doesn’t praise it more, especially with Steve Johnson’s top notch makeup f/x strolling hand in hand with one of Vincent Price’s last screen appearances. People! Embrace the Dead Heat!

Harpoon (aka Reykjavik Whale Watching Massacre) (2009) (1st viewing) d. Kemp, Julius
It’s an Icelandic Texas Chainsaw Massacre slasher flick…on a ship…and it’s a boatload of fun. With a worthy Gunnar Hansen cameo (a true Icelander by birth) and a great cast of unknowns, there are some terrific kills and the answer as to who will survive and what will be left of them is never a predictable one. Entertaining and worthwhile.

Nymphoid Barbarian in Dinosaur Hell (1990) (1st viewing) d. Piper, Brett
Obviously, the selling point of this Troma acquisition is its awesome exploitation title. If only it had actually delivered on any of its implied cinematic promise. Considering Piper’s obvious low budget and the quite decent stop-motion animation sequences of giant mutant monsters tussling with one another, the film had distinct potential. Sadly, the majority of the running time is occupied by a grade Z plot about kinda sorta cavegirl Linda Corwin and her struggles in the big bad. If only they could have gone the whole magilla, added more buxom babes, better fights, and a story that actually moved, then we might have had something. As it stands, the fast-forward button between monster mashes is the only way to go. Fun fact: That’s scream queen Tiffany Shepis on the DVD cover, even though she appears nowhere in the movie. Ah, Troma...)

Abominable (2006)
(2nd viewing) d. Schifrin, Ryan
A surprisingly enjoyable and suspenseful sasquatch flick by way of Hitchcock’s Rear Window. A paraplegic writer returns to his mountain cabin following a tragic climbing accident that claimed both his mobility and wife, only to find himself (and the neighboring bridal shower nubiles next door) menaced by a very hairy scary bloodthirsty beastie. Delivers better than it has any right to, with enjoyable cameos by Lance Hendrickson and Jeffrey Combs, as well as Tiffany Shepis, who gives us an eyeful of her naked lusciousness before exiting the film via one of the best screen offings in recent memory. The director is the son of famed composer Lalo Schifrin (who also contributed the score).

Snowbeast (1977) (1st viewing) d. Wallerstein, Herb
In spite of its TV-movie origins, there is a fair amount of entertainment to be mined via this Jaws-in-the-slopes aping. Seriously, with an annual snow festival upon which the locals depend to get them through the lean summer, the community leaders’ refusal to give recent munching massacres priority over monetary gain, a heroic trio (park ranger Robert Logan, Olympic skiing champion Bo Svenson and mutual love object Yvette Mimieux) and a decided reluctance to show off its titular monster, the only thing missing is a mid-flick Quint monologue about the Alfred Packer party. Fantasy fans might recall Mimieux as the female star of George Pal’s The Time Machine


Punisher: War Zone (2008)
(1st viewing) d. Alexander, Lexi
Kuh-rist. Not being too familiar with the comic i.e. not at all, I can’t speak to how true this film version holds to its source material (though I am assured by those in the know that this is the closest Hollywood has gotten yet). What I can speak to is Ray Stevenson’s utter badassedness and the stunning degree of gore and mayhem dished out by his accurately-dubbed titular character. I mean, wow. 300’s baddie Dominic West has a whale of a time as the antagonistic Jigsaw, though he often feels like he’s in a completely different film than anyone else (shakes of Nicholson in Burton’s Batman).

Enter the Void (2009)
(1st viewing) d. Noe, Gaspar
Noe’s wildly hypnotic epic of a young American drug dealer in Tokyo is akin to watching a 2 ½ hour magic trick as the visionary director drifts through time and space, above the city, through walls, tunnels, and literally in and out of his characters’ heads. Another remarkable feature from the creator of I Stand Alone and Irreversible.

Touching the Void (2003) (1st viewing) d. MacDonald, Kevin
Terrific combination of dramatized action and talking head accounts of Simon Yates and Joe Simpson’s ill-fated ascension of Siula Grande in the Peruvian Andes in 1985. Any thoughts of becoming a professional mountain climber immediately vanished from mind.

Police Story (1985)
(1st viewing) d. Chan, Jackie
Police Story 2 (1988) (1st viewing) d. Chan, Jackie
Supercop (aka Police Story 3) (1992) (2nd viewing) d. Tong, Stanley
It’s a strange and wonderful thing, rediscovering an international phenomenon on your own terms. I remember seeing Jackie Chan for the first time via his U.S. breakout hit Rumble in the Bronx in the mid-90s and being appropriately dazzled, but he soon became so nationally ubiquitous that I never took the time to delve back into his extensive Hong Kong output. (In fact, I originally sought out Supercop more to see Michelle Yeoh than its ostensible star.) I enjoyed Rush Hour and Shanghai Noon for the light comedy/action fare that they were, but for whatever reason never caught the “Jackie bug.” Consider me duly infected. While Chan does err on the side of cute n’ goofy more often than my personal tastes would normally dictate, there’s no denying the man’s innate ability to drop jaws when it comes to performing and/or staging phenomenal action sequences. Be it gymnastic, gravity-defying physical martial arts or automotive chase mayhem, Chan’s contagious joy and fearlessness are impossible to deny. I’m sorry it took me so long, but at the same time, the anticipation of first-time godsmacking goodness to come is something I relish. Bring it on, JC.

2011 totals to date: 169 films, 98 1st time views, 79 horror, 13 cinema


  1. A few to add to my "to see" list there. I did enjoy Warzone though

  2. Actually, you've got Sylvia Sidney and Yvette Mimieux mixed up. Sidney (who memorably played social worker Juno in Beetlejuice one decade later) is the lodge owner concerned about the Winter Carnival and Mimieux is the reporter who plays both sides of the love triangle.

    If you haven't read it, here's my review of Snowbeast when I watched it last fall:

  3. Filthy Lord - You're constantly adding flicks to my to-see list, glad to return the favor.

    Craig - Whoops! You're so right. Thank you for the correction - it was blowing my mind that Mimieux looked soooooo old for her age. Turns out, it was Sidney, who looks just right for hers. And good call on pointing her out from BEETLEJUICE, I couldn't place her. But then again, I had the wrong actress when I went looking at her filmography, so there you go. Correction made, review modified, thanks given.

    Off to check out your SB writeup

  4. Sidney had a long career going all the way back to Hitchcock's Sabotage in 1936 and Lang's first three American films: Fury, You Only Live Once and You and Me. If you've never seen them, Sabotage and Fury are definitely worth your time.