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.