Monday, May 31, 2004

Sasquatch


Lance Henriksen vs. Bigfoot? You gotta believe this is going to be good. That would be your first mistake. Your second would be hitting the play button. As promising as this set up sounds, in the end, I felt let down. And cold. And a little hungry. Early on, the director seems very eager to show off all the camera techniques he just learned in his film making correspondence course. Like the shaky camera, the digitized picture, the out of frame, blurry, let’s not actually show the audience what’s going on effect. Later it becomes clear why the techniques are being used, to cover up the man in the slightly groomed gorilla costume they are trying to pass of as the Sasquatch. Each scene ends with a black out. Some scenes end half way through with a blackout. Random shots are just thrown in between blackouts. Someone had apparently just finished the Editing for Dummies chapter: “Fading To Black” before making this, without going on to read the chapter: “Every Other Option For Ending A Scene”. (For all you Simpson’s fans, its very reminiscent of Homer’s usage of the star-wipe when making Flanders’s dating video). So the basic plot is such: Lance is a multi-millionaire who owns a company that just produced the prototype for a machine that can instantly identify D.N.A. samples. His daughter is involved in a plane crash while transporting the prototype. Lance organizes a search party under the pretence of finding his daughter, when his real concern is the prototype. The group discovers that they are being stalked by some creature about the same time as they discover the plane crash victims were all killed by some creature. The audience discovers that the Sasquatch has heat vision for some unknown reason. Half the search party is killed by the Sasquatch. Lance learns a little bit about life and love and the true meaning of Christmas. The end. The movie offers two different explanations of why the Sasquatch is hunting and killing people, and in the end, the movie seems to resolve the debate, without making it very clear which one it is for the audience. After 90 minutes of mind numbingly boring suspense, plot holes and bad acting, to then expect the audience to think is asking a little too much. Shame on you movie, shame on you..

Jeepers Creepers 2


Out of a sense of obligation to the first one, I rented the sequel to Jeepers Creepers, the aptly titled Jeepers Creepers 2. After watching the movie, I find myself at a complete loss for words. Not because it was so bad or good, but simply because it was so boring. The first one was so comically ludicrous, and, as with so many other sequels, this just pales in comparison and makes the original look very well thought out and developed. The basic premise is a bunch of students are on a bus, heading through Creeper-land. The Creeper attacks them. The end. The brother from the first movie makes a brief cameo, as the spirit of the brother from the first movie, warning one of the students through a vision to turn back. With the possible exception of Cabin Fever, I can’t remember the last time I wished so much ill will and death upon movie characters. While the original did offer up a few suspenseful moments, this movie is entirely lacking any suspense or gore or even horror. You see things coming from a mile away. Literally. They shoot the serial killing Creeper flying in from at least a mile away before he attacks. Early on in the movie, they kill off all the adult supervision for the busload of kids, while simultaneously killing off any frail strings of plot or explanation that had been offered. Most of the movie consists of kids running interspersed with a few brief moments of something actually happening. If you were one of the few people to see the first one, and were tempted in any way to watch the sequel, I would recommend sitting home with a bottle of vodka and making up the continuation of the story yourself. You would do much better.

Volcano


First off, this movie fails to offer what it promises. The coast is never toast, it just gets some lava on it. Perhaps a better tag line would have been "The coast gets kind of toasty". Tommy Lee Jones stars as Tommy Lee Jones playing an L.A. city worker in charge of transportation, or natural disasters, or Anne Heche control, or something like that. Anne Heche plays the scientist. The two run around L.A. trying to prevent the volcano lying under the city from causing total destruction, preventing the coast from becoming the toast that the movie posters had offered. The perpetually 75 year-old Tommy has a young daughter who gets lost and must be saved, everyone in L.A. learns a little something about themselves and each other. Race relations are solved, the cops and robbers hug, things get blown up, Tommy and Anne fall in love. And in the end, the coast is eggs over easy with a side of hash browns and your choice of English muffin or bagel. But definitely, no toast. For a better volcano disaster film, I recommend Dante's Peak.

* Note: After writing this, I went back and read Mike Nelson's review of Volcano in his book Movie Megacheese, and realized that mine was unintentionally similar, particularly in the whole tag line issue. The main difference is his is well written, clever and funny. For some really great bad movie reviews, check out Mike Nelson's Moviemegacheese.

Cliffhanger


Oh, Sylvester Stallone is a rock climber who hangs off cliffs AND there are many suspenseful moments. I get it. I guess technically this wouldn’t fall under the category of bad movies no one else has seen, because, sadly, I think it did relatively well at the box office. But in case you’re one of the few people who have not seen it, and if you like seeing Sly in a squatting position from behind as he dangles from a rope, you’re sure to like this movie! Sly stars as Gabriel, a rock climbing rescue guy who drops a chick off a cliff while trying to rescue her in the opening scenes and flees the mountains out of guilt. Unfortunately, he does come back, just in time for a plane-load of villains in the midst of some sort of super-heist to crash their plane in the mountains, scattering their booty amongst the peaks. The villains, led by John Lithgow (who sports a British? accent so humorous it makes any episode of Third Rock From the Sun look like a Greek tragedy in comparison), are forced to lure Sly and the boyfriend of the chick Sly killed earlier into the mountains on a phony rescue mission to help them find their loot. They try to kill Sly a couple of times, but damn it, he’s not getting out of this movie that easy. Lithgow calls Sly a “resilient bastard” in that comical accent of his. So, there’s a lot of running around and hanging from cliffs and the bad guys are eventually out witted by Sly (yup, as unlikely as that might seem, but such is the magic of Hollywood). If the producers had simply put Sly, Lithgow and a dead pig in a big empty room together, and let the camera roll while they tried to out-ham each other, it would have saved a lot of time and money.

Sunday, May 30, 2004

Bubba Ho-Tep


In addition to the movies that are so bad, they’re good, I do enjoy the occasional good movie. Recently, I watched Bubba Ho-Tep, an independent horror/comedy that had a limited theatrical release and is now available on dvd. What initially drew me to this movie was the star, Bruce Campbell, who I am a huge fan of, from the Evil Dead series to his more recent work in Sci-Fi Channel made for tv roles. Bubba Ho-Tep has a similar feel to it as the Evil Dead movies, primarily with the whole horror/comedy set up. But Bubba Ho-Tep explores some deeper issues, from senility to coming to terms with death, to what would Elvis be doing if he were alive today, to how the hell a mummy got into a rest home. The basic plot is that Elvis did not in fact die, but managed to fake his own death and lived out the rest of his life as an Elvis impersonator. But now the aged King is wasting away in a run down rest home in Texas. Campbell plays the King, and only he could make the clichéd lines (“Thank you, thank you very much”, and of course “T.C.B., baby”) not come off corny. He plays a mean Elvis and the make-up is astonishing, but there still is the underlying knowledge throughout the film that it is Bruce Campbell in a fat Elvis suit, which I found enjoyable and not distracting in the least. While pondering his inevitable demise and wondering what his life would be like had he remained Elvis, and if his loved ones knew he was alive, would they care, he discovers that there is a mummy lurking in the rest home at night, sucking out the souls of the residents. He joins forces with his only friend, an old black man in a wheelchair who thinks he’s JFK (played by Ossie Davis), and the two go into battle. The movie is filled with incredible comical situations (the whole premise is pretty damn comical on its own), and some pretty complex life issues. When I had first read the plot summaries of this movie, I figured it would be a hit or miss, and I was banking on miss, since the whole concept, if not done the right way, could just come out messy and corny, but this IS done the right way. I don’t think I could rightly do the movie justice here, and in the hopes that those who read this would want to see it, I don’t want to give too much away, but bottom line is this is one of the best movies I have seen in a long time.

Thursday, April 22, 2004

Jekyll & Hyde - The Musical


I recently underwent a sort of life-altering altering event that I feel the need to share with others. No, it wasn’t a near death experience or even a Christmas miracle. It was something as simple, yet as profound as witnessing HBO’s broadcast of “Jekyll and Hyde – The Musical” starring David Hasselhoff.
The musical itself is the story of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, the story of an obsessed scientists whose experiments turn him into a monster, I think. That is, I think there was a story in there, somewhere. I was so awestruck that for all I know the actual plot could have been the telling of the opening of a new Six Flags rollercoaster. Maybe upon several further viewings, the story will become more apparent.
The musical portion of the, well, Musical, was obviously written by someone who had recently been hit over the head several times with a large blunt object while Iron Maiden songs were playing, leaving the writer with the sole belief that the only criteria for writing musical lyrics is all lines must rhyme, no matter how forced and silly the result may be. And the results in “Jekyll and Hyde – The Musical” are both very forced and very silly. You may, at first, be inspired to make a game of viewing the musical numbers, guessing what line will follow next, but this impulse will wear off quickly, as you realize that no matter how silly your guess may be, it’s always correct, provided it rhymes with the previous line. Several of the musical numbers reach a climax involving three or four characters all belting out their tunes in unison, unison meaning they all sing at the same time, not as in they all sing the same lines or in the same key or notes that should be grouped together. The result sounds something along the lines of what a musical version of a Jerry Springer panel might be. Every musical theater cliché is made use of here, with the writers proudly yelling, “run with it… keep going… just a little farther now… that’s it… keep going…”
“Jekyll and Hyde – The Musical” in itself would warrant perhaps a moments glance from me while channel surfing, maybe a “what in the hell” before I surfed on to a “Dude, Where’s My Car” or an “Exit Wounds”, were it not for the breakthrough performance of one star, THE star, Mr. Hasselhoff, who, it would appear has recently contacted Michael Jackson’s personal plastic surgeon and asked for the “fleshless skull look” facelift. Mr. Hasselhoff does not only chew the scenery, I believe he still has some left over, stored in Tupperware, sitting in the back of his fridge, that he could not finish in one performance. I think there were some other people starring in this performance as well, somewhere off in Mr. Hasselhoff’s shadows. Mr. Hasselhoff portrays both title roles himself, a challenge he meets with such ingenuity that Sir Laurence himself would be intimidated. When playing the role of scientist Dr. Jekyll, Mr. Hasselhoff ties his hair back into a ponytail, when playing the alter-ego, the murderous Mr. Hyde, he lets his long greasy hair hang down in his face and leers out of the corner of his eyes. It makes one wonder if only the top staging directors were brought in on this, or if the master thespian brought this idea to the table himself. All of Mr. Hasselhoff’s talking car, beach running, German wooing (can you make a Hosselhoffian statement without these analogies!) experience builds up to the climactic ending where Jekyll and Hyde face off, alone. Here the lighting team lends a hand to Hasselhoff for this challenge. When he sings his Jekyll lines, he turns his head to show his hair neatly tucked behind his ear, and is bathed in bright light. When Hyde responds, he turns his head to reveal long greasy curls shadowing half his face, and the light goes off. And back and forth it goes, over and over, as they sing “No you can’t” “Yes I can” “No you can’t” “Yes I can” (I am paraphrasing here, since the actual lyrics are not far from this yet still manage to somehow rhyme.) Actually, I think there was one more scene after this one, but who can remember after a spectacle like that.
After the final applause and curtain calls, Mr. Hasselhoff saunters out (and believe me, what he does can only qualify as sauntering) to front stage to thank the audience, admitting that this was his first stage experience. And, as if that weren’t enough of a show of gratitude, he ends it all with one final, glorious Lord of the Dance half split stance. No, no, no, thank you, Mr. Hasselhoff.
I highly recommend to anyone who has read on this far that they watch “Jekyll and Hyde – The Musical” as it airs this month on HBO. If you do not have cable, try to track down a copy on video, if for nothing else, the final Hasselhoff scene. If all else fails, and you can’t find it anywhere, try giving ol’ David a call. I’m sure he’ll be happy to lend you one of his copies.

* Note: This review was originally written in 2002, and sadly, I do not believe HBO is still airing this masterpiece.

Jeepers Creepers


“Jeepers Creepers” , the 2001 teen horror, starts out simply enough, a brother and sister are driving home from college along a state-long stretch of deserted road. As the two kids slowly, painfully slowly, set up the story, an urban legend about two prom goers who were killed on that same road back in ’78 comes up. Oh, and the chick’s head was never found. Three hours later, as they are still driving along the deserted road and are still setting up the story, something actually happens. An old nineteen-fifties dark pick-up with a cattle catcher mounted on the front and vanity plates reading “BEATINGU” (be eating you) appears behind them, driving erratically at high speed. The truck repeatedly rams the back of their car as they try to let it pass. It finally passes and further down the road they see the same truck parked beside an abandoned church. A large figure draped in dark dingy clothing and a wide brimmed hat pulls a body shaped object wrapped in a sheet out of the back of the truck and throws it down a large pipe sticking out of the ground. The two kids blatantly stare as the dark figure blatantly stares back. Six hours later, the same truck appears behind them, terrorizes them again, and passes. So, of course they decide the best plan of action is to turn, go back to the church and see what he threw down the pipe. The boy falls down the pipe, discovers that he is in the basement of the church which is plastered with dead bodies up to the ceiling, and escapes just as the bad guy returns.
For the next eight hours of the movie, they are chased by the evil thing, constantly finding reasons to get out of the car and turn the engine off, despite the fact that they are continually having trouble starting the car and perhaps leaving it running while they examine decapitated police officers and just eating the cost of the gas might be the best plan of action. They run into a psychic who has already seen all this in her dreams, and all though she can’t offer them the advice of letting the car run when they get out, she does give them some vague explanation about how the creature following them is some sort of demon that has to eat specific parts of specific people for some reason or other. The song “Jeepers Creepers” is played a couple of times for some unknown reason, everyone they come into contact with dies, they find that there is no way to kill the demon, and they all live happily ever after (except all the people who died). The end.
With all the plot holes, story line inconsistencies and vagueness, and the poorly developed antagonists and protagonist, the biggest question I am left with after viewing this film is, why the vanity license plates? Was the demon not getting the results he wanted and thought they might add that certain panache to his killing spree? Perhaps the truck was a 16th birthday present from his parents and his mom thought the personalized plates would be a “cute” touch? Did he have to go to the DMV, wait on line and then pay the excessive costs for vanity plates? Or, being that he is a supernatural demon did he just conjure them up himself? And if he has those kinds of powers, was “BEATINGU” really the best he could come up with? How about “EAT U L8R” or “I CHU M” or something as simple and classic as “DMON LUVR” ?
With problems of this proportion in the script, I think it’s a lot for the filmmaker to ask us to suspend our disbelief. No wonder the film failed to frighten me in its intended way.

* Note: "Jeepers Creepers II" coming soon (eventually)

Friday, March 26, 2004

Welcome


“You’ll watch anything!” my husband will often proclaim after walking in the bedroom and looking at what’s on the tv screen (usually in disgust). And it’s true. The cornier, low budget, moronic the better. From bad horror flick to teen sex romp to sci-fi action thriller, I’ll watch it all. If it stars Steven Seagal or was directed by Kevin Costner, bring it on! If it went straight to video, chances are I’ve rented it. If it only aired on the Sci-Fi Channel and involved some genetically mutated creature that’s now out for human blood, I was there. If you’ve ever wandered through the video store making snide comments about one of the tiles collecting dust on the shelves, but secretly wondered what delights lay within, you’ve come to the right place. I am the Queen of Guilty Pleasures, and baby, my pleasure is bad movies.