Monday, November 26, 2012

Fool's Views (11/12 - 11/25) (Turkeys and Toons!)


Brain of Blood (1972)
(1st viewing) d. Adamson, Al (USA) (IMDb rating 2.2)

Grant Williams (a long, long way from The Incredible Shrinking Man) teams up with another veteran from a much better film (Kent Taylor of 1942’s Cat People) for this bargain basement landslide of lugubriousness. With the benevolent leader of fictitious country Kalid dying, his loyal aide Williams and bombshell wife Regina Carrol enlist the skills of mad scientist Taylor to transplant the figurehead’s brain into a new healthy host body. Of course, things do not go as planned and the gray matter ends up residing in the hulking body of Taylor’s physically and emotionally scarred assistant John Bloom (the monster from Frankenstein vs. Dracula). This story is entertaining enough on its own pulpy merits, but Adamson shamelessly pads out the running time, forcing us to spend what feels like hours in torturous midget Angelo Rossitto’s cellar dungeon with helpless heroine Vicki Volante.

Boggy Creek II: And the Legend Continues… (1985) (1st viewing) d. Pierce, Charles B. (USA) (IMDb rating 1.9)

Disappointed with the appropriation of his Legend of Boggy Creek’s legacy by outsiders – the result being 1977’s Return to Boggy Creek – writer/producer/director Charles B. Pierce picked up the reins 13 years later and cranked out a sequel himself, setting the docudrama elements aside in favor of a straightforward fictional narrative. Pierce pulls quadruple duty by assaying the lead role of an anthropologist on the hunt for the hairy cryptozoological beast, while his son, Charles B. Pierce, Jr. plays one of three trusty student assistants on the expedition into the Arkansas swamps (with Cindy Butley and Serene Hedin holding down the fairer sex portion of the fort). Despite relying on formulaic plotting and some hilariously dodgy “computer technology,” one shouldn’t judge this book by its ultra-low rated cover. Not to say that it’s actually “good” or “entertaining” or “scary,” but neither is it the unwatchable dreck its #41 ranking on IMDb’s Bottom 100 might lead you to believe. (No way does this deserve the same ranking as Birdemic or Track of the Moon Beast, but there it sits.)

Face of the Screaming Werewolf (1964) (1st viewing) d. Warren, Jerry (USA/Mexico) (IMDb rating 2.0)

Piecing together footage from both Rafael Portillo’s Attack of the Aztec Mummy (1957) and Gilberto Martinez Solares’ La Casa del Terror (1960), enterprising huckster Jerry Warren conceived a “story” of a mummified werewolf (Lon Chaney, Jr. – who else?) who is discovered via an archeological expedition thanks to a Bridey Murphy-esque hypnosis session (see also Roger Corman’s 1957 effort The Undead). That the material is derivative and clunky almost goes without saying and headliner Chaney utters not a single word of comprehensible dialogue during his limited screen time. A real chore to sit through, even with its abbreviated 60-minute running time.

Missile to the Moon (1958) (1st viewing) d. Cunha, Richard E. (USA) (IMDb rating 3.1)

Wonderfully high spirited, straight-faced sci-fi effort that features an experimental rocket ship piloted by the motley crew of inventor Michael Whalen, two escaped convicts (sensitive Gary Clarke, saucy Tommy Cook) and affianced white-bread couple Richard Travis and Cathy Downs. Upon improbably reaching their titular destination, the Earthlings encounter scores of fetching females (a dozen or so beauty queens ranging from Miss Minnesota to Miss Yugoslavia), a giant cave-dwelling spider, and some awesome rock monsters that rival From Hell It Came’s Tabonga tree creature for clumsy charm. Clarke and Cook also engage in some random romancing with the locals, while Downs catfights with alien femmes Nina Bara and K.T. Stevens over pudgy Travis. A definite highlight of the annual Turkey Day festivities, a first time viewing for all in attendance, although Mssr. Kitley remembered seeing clips of it from 1982’s It Came from Hollywood.

Rats - Night of Terror (1984) (1st viewing) d. Mattei, Bruno (as Vincent Dawn) (Italy) (IMDb rating 3.7)

A post apocalyptic band of bikers happen upon a deserted city and settle in for the night, only to be besieged by the rodent populace lurking about, below and especially above. (There are a lot of aerial attacks in this film, with dozens of the furry pests descending upon their hapless human victims like some twisted waterfall effect.) Claudio Fragasso (of Troll 2 infamy) lent a hand in the script department, as well as some uncredited direction, while Demons’ Geretta Giancarlo (aka Geretta Geretta although she’s billed here as Janna Ryann) and Zombi 2’s poster zombie Richard Raymond (looking much hunkier here) lead the unruly group through their doomed paces. Enlivened by several choice sequences of ratattackery and a wackadoodle twist ending, but there’s also a lot of bickering and cautious (read as: time consuming) walking about en route.

Return to Boggy Creek (1977) (1st viewing) d. Moore, Tom (USA) (IMDb rating 1.9)

For what it clearly a children’s fantasy film, albeit one starring Bigfoot as opposed to any goblins or elves, it was a curious choice to try to associate the finished product with Charles B. Pierce’s 1972 cult horror docudrama The Legend of Boggy Creek. One can only assume this is what has contributed to its unfairly low IMDb rating, since it’s a perfectly serviceable adventure about three youngsters surviving in the rural swamplands with their plucky single mom (Gilligan’s Island’s Dawn Wells) and cantankerous elders John Hofeus and Jim Wilson. Dana Plato, who would later achieve a momentary modicum of fame as Gary Coleman’s adoptive sister on TV’s Diff’rent Strokes, is the eldest of the trio, pursuing her Nancy Drew dreams in uncovering the mystery behind the stinky hairy brute that lurks deep in the shadows. Never really scary, or exciting for that matter, but a reasonable facsimile of live action ’70s Disney fare.

Things (1989) (2nd viewing) d. Jordan, Andrew (Canada) (IMDB rating 4.5)

Despite having seen it only a mere eight months ago in February with Liquid Cheese creator and fellow cinematic adventurer Dave Kosanke, I worked up enough courage to again face the astonishing, transcendent awfulness of this Canadian DIY Super-8/16mm feature for the purposes of Turkey Day. Absolutely one of the worst-produced films ever to see legit release, and yet, so completely ineptly terrible on every single level that you just can't stop watching. It’s as close to a waking nightmare as you can imagine, where a sort of internal illogic takes over. Why is that guy taking off his coat and putting it in the freezer? Why are those guys just talking calmly while that bloody bug is crawling out of his wife's belly? Why does it sound like everyone is dubbed twice? Why is porn star Amber Lynn playing a (clothed) TV news reporter who seems to have omniscient knowledge about the events within this little Nova Scotia house when it's happening right now and there is no one else around? Does it not bother anyone that she's clearly looking five feet offscreen to read her lines? These and many other questions will confound your synapses for the 95 minutes it takes to realize director Jordan and lead actor Barry Gillis’ screenplay’s hazy vision, but by the end there will only be a sense of great accomplishment and the profound realization of having ventured where very few can claim to have gone. You’ve seen some THINGS.

Thankskilling (2009) (1st viewing) d. Downey, Jordan (USA) (IMDb rating 4.0)

Yep, this is the killer turkey movie. Or more accurately, it’s the fowl-mouthed killer turkey puppet movie, which apparently gives writer/director Downey license to not even entertain the notion of actually putting forth the effort to make a cohesive or entertaining film. Which is truly a shame, since there are moments (such as the Turkie/Sheriff tea scene or the animated pilgrim flashback sequence, showing how the homicidal gobbler came into being) which indicate that a genuinely bawdy and outrageous horror/comedy in the Troma vein could have been achieved…if only Downey had cared enough to give his script another pass…perhaps with another, funnier writer. A killer turkey puppet spouting caustic one-liners has potential appeal, but only if the bon mots consist of more than tired profanities. (Example: “Nice tits, bitch!”) I get that it’s supposed to be goofy and not taken seriously, but there’s stupid and then there’s just lazy – I get far more of the latter here and I have no patience for lazy filmmaking. Because if Downey doesn’t care, then why should we? Clearly, there’s an audience for this though, since the sequel Thankskilling 3 (no, there’s no T2, hardy har har) hit VOD earlier this month.


Bee Movie (2007)
(1st viewing) d. Hickner, Steve / Smith, Simon J. (USA)

I hadn’t heard this was a “must see” while it was in the cinema, but then it seemed like the buzz (get it?) grew for it afterwards, so upon finding it on the public library shelf, I decided to give ‘er a spin. In telling the story of a bee who goes against the worker/drone mindset, we are treated to several thrilling aerial sequences flying in and around obstacles and landscapes, but when it gets down to the actual plot, that’s where the sting is lacking. Having Jerry Seinfeld as the dissenting voice in the hive wasn’t a bad idea, but when his striped insect character falls in love with a human florist (Renee Zellwegger) and vice versa, the story takes a turn for the misguided. I’d call it a “C” movie.

Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs (2009) (1st viewing) d. Lord, Phil / Miller, Chris (USA)

I was so delighted by the screen version of Judi and Ron Barrett’s children’s novel that I immediately jumped online to find out what the HELL could have kept it from being nominated (and perhaps winning) the Best Animated Oscar that year. Wouldn’t you know it, that was the same year as Up, The Princess and the Frog, Fantastic Mr. Fox, Coraline, and The Secret of Kells. Talk about an embarrassment of riches. Nevertheless, this one belongs in their esteemed company, spinning a wild tale of a hapless inventor (Bill Hader) who finally achieves success with his latest brainstorm, a machine that literally rains food of every type from the sky. An aspiring newscaster (Anna Faris) is on hand to cover the story, and everything seems to be going fine until the greedy mayor (Bruce Campbell) decides to overload the mechanism in attempting to lure tourists. Equally sharp visuals and wisecracking, with a warm chewy sentimental layer underneath.

How to Train Your Dragon (2010) (1st viewing) d. DeBlois, Dean / Sanders, Chris (USA)

Speaking of Oscars, the adaptation of Cressida Crowell’s young adult modern classic did manage to snag a Best Animated Film nomination...the same year as Pixar’s Toy Story 3. (Guess who won.) Jay Baruchel (sounding very much like Christian Slater) voices a scrawny young Viking named Hiccup who naturally is the son of the most ferocious warrior to stride the land (Gerard Butler), who is in turn naturally embarrassed by his son’s lack of vigor and strength, especially in the field of dragon slaying. It’s not really any surprise when Hiccup stumbles upon a rare and lethal breed of dragon (one that resembles a cross between Stitch of Lilo and Stitch and a winged black cat) and is able to befriend it, nor is it a shock that the dragons are really just misunderstood creatures wrongfully painted as villains. But there is a rich storytelling charm throughout and dazzling visuals of flight and characters and creatures, and the cast (in spite of some puzzling and pervasive Scottish accents) is delightfully game.

Megamind (2010) (1st viewing) d. McGrath, Tom (USA)

Will Ferrell’s patented cowering bluster perfectly suits the titular supervillain who endlessly finds himself at odds with the residents of Metro City and their patron superhero, Metro Man (a disappointingly uninspired Brad Pitt). But when Megamind actually achieves the unthinkable and destroys his worthy opponent in battle, he finds that a vanquished kingdom is, well, boring. So he sets about turning schlubby news cameraman Jonah Hill into a new superhero to square off against…with mixed results. Tina Fey is fine if unremarkable as a Lois Lane type who starts to see the good in the big bad blue-hued dude, while David Cross fares best as Megamind’s android assistant with an inverted fishbowl (complete with fish) for a head. Also a slight quibble with the overuse of popular tunes as aural shortcuts (did we really need to hear AC/DC's "Back in Black" or "Highway to Hell" or Michael Jackson's "Bad" for the umpteenth time...?)

2012 Totals to date: 567 films, 499 1st time views, 341 horror, 159 cinema


  1. Glad you enjoyed Cloudy With A Chance Of Meatballs. How To Train Your Dragon is, IMO, a better movie than Toy Story 3 but most rational people disagree with me on that front. :-)

    1. Yeah, I couldn't go along with you on that one. TOY STORY 3 destroyed me. And I'd probably give the edge to CLOUDY over DRAGON if I had to choose. Totally personal taste.