Thursday, October 25, 2007

The House on Skull Mountain

Wow! Check out Skull Mountain, how'd you like to have a house there? An excellent title and cool poster artwork belie the fact that this mediocre film is not so much about super creepy glowing eyed skull mountain, so much as it is about an old dead lady and voodoo. Thus it is a huge disappointment - unless you like voodoo films, which I don't.

Creaky old Pauline Christophe sends letters to her remaining kin, none of whom know her, and promptly kicks the bucket. When her long lost relatives arrive, they find Pauline in the ground and a surly butler who seems upset that the four descendents will be around for the reading of the will.

After the reading, the remaining Christophe's are stalked by death, which makes the living members wonder what the hell is going on. Particulary interested is Andrew, the only white member of the family, played by Victor French. Andrew is an anthropology professor at the University of Maine, and he wants to dig into the family history to figure out where he fits in the family. As he is only a few generations from Pauline, you'd think that would be fairly easy to discover without much research.

As the threat to the family members increases, the question becomes whether Pauline has come back from the grave for her voodoo revenge, or whether it is prehaps her snooty butler, who resents the family and is known to practice voodoo.

Anonymous Rex (2004)

Anonymous Rex proposes that dinosaurs did not become extinct, but currently make up ten percent of the Earth's population. The dinosaurs have developed hologram projections to disguise this fact. But they are able to identify each other by pheromones, particularly when sniffing the back of each others necks.

Dinosaurs have strategically placed themselves throughout society in positions of authority in order to help and protect their own kind. Their human disguises are so effective that they find themselves paying the price of never being able to truly be themselves, a conflicting burden indeed.

Daniel Baldwin, contrary to his usual questionable pseudo-acting, turns in a solid performance as one of two cops that are the main focus of the film. He and his partner discover there has been a rash of Dino-suicides and suspect that there is more to them than it appears, possibly murder.

The Dinosaur Cops (which would have been a much more enticing title for the film) are on the opposite political side from Raul, a dino who advocates unleashing hopped up, caraniverous dinos on the human population. Raul's theory is that this will start a war which will release the dinosaurs from their self-imposed prison of lies.

The film is a decent outing with an interesting idea, as long as you can stand some lame dialogue and cliche plot points.

Friday, October 19, 2007

The Being (1983)

Pottsville is a sleepy little town where nothing ever happens, unless you count the campaign to stamp out smt and the recent rash of random killings. Pottsville also boasts the "most sophisticated dump site in the country," which is something to be proud of, I guess, except that it apparently spawned the gooey icky monster that is killing everyone.

The town sheriff is constantly underwhelmed by the horrible events confronting the town, especially when he is face to face with large piles of goo. Even when the victim is his girlfriend...or wife or hooker. It's never clear what his relationship is to the human sized pile of gelatin in the bed, but since he was starting to take his pants off, he had some sort of intimate relationship with it. To add to the confusion, the sheriff is dating the girl at the local diner, which may be why he doesn't care that much about the monster made mess in his bed.

The town's mayor is involved in the cover up at the dump and is reminiscent of the mayor in Jaws who continues to deny any responsibility or possibility of a problem because it will cost the town lots of money. Once again, a mayor's concern about potential business earnings overrides the need for public safety and the sophisticated dumps place as a monster breeding ground is secure.

Scenes to watch for are: the opening scene with the kid running through the junkyard where day turns to night and back again; the junkyard kid crashing a car trying to escape the monster only to find the monster has somehow hidden in the trunk?!?;and the monster jumping on Martin Landau's back (now that's good movie making!)

Also listen for the music which sounds like someone has let a monster loose on the piano.

Monday, October 8, 2007

Chillers (1987)

Chillers is the story of five strangers stuck in a bus terminal late at night telling each other about their recent nightmares. Most of the actors are not very good and the stories all have fairly predictable outcomes. In fact, we had all seen this movie before, but none of us could remember any of the individual story lines. We didn't even remember the kid whose catchphrase was, "That's not scary." How could that not lodge in your head?

The stranded passengers nightmares are as follows:
  1. female swimmer who has sex with dreamy diver who turns out to be dead
  2. boy on camping trip whose scout leader is wolfy and crazy
  3. woman in love with newsman on her tv who turns out to be vampire
  4. guy who can bring the dead back to life with his thoughts accidentally revives psycho killer
  5. college professor with interest in a local dig is targeted by evil deity in student who visited dig site
The concept about the guy who can bring the dead back to life is the most interesting. But there are far too many unanswered questions, among them why does everyone come back looking perfectly healthy and clean in their funeral suit? Also when you call the parents of a dead child to say that you've brought the kid back to life, why wouldn't they immediately hang up the phone? And the parent's actually drive into town to pick up their recently un-deceased kid, and don't seem creeped out by this at all. Yikes!

By far the worst story is the woman who is in love with the local tv newsman. As she stares longingly at the tv, she starts a monologue that begins, "You don't bring me flowers..." which made me think she quoting from the Neil Diamond song of the same name. Thankfully that was not the case, instead she chooses to be even crazier by stating that even though he never thinks about her, she's happy to see him every night on the tv. Then she scares the hell out of every sane viewer by saying one of the stupidest lines ever said with total sincerity, "I love you, newsman!"

The one problem with Hollywood's tendency to cast unnaturally good looking actors, is that when you see people on the screen who look like your next door neighbor, it's unnerving.

Also of note - the guy who can bring people back to life is one of the lead actors in Invasion of the Space Preachers.

Thursday, October 4, 2007

The Dark (1979)

The city streets aren't safe after dark, especially when there's a killer with the nickname "The Mangler" on the loose. Mangler has been killing young women, but the blind man that is tip tapping along the dark streets every night better be careful. Look out man! Mangler's on the loose!...unless this is a very clever ruse and the blind man is the Mangler. Hmmmm....

Well that's just a bit too clever I guess, as the writers veer off into the wildly imaginative plot that The Mangler is really a space monster with laser eyes who sort of resembles Frankenstein. His laser eyes can even throw a man across a Monestery into a wall, which leads to the man exploding, woah! Sounds fantastic, but they only do it once.

William Devane plays a father searching for the serial killer that murdered his daughter, and looks like a cross between Steven King and Alice Cooper. With his David Cassidy shag, he feels comfortable walking around drinking coffee while wearing the world's ugliest bathrobe.

I love the dvd cover but the movie lacks excitement. And what's up with the blind guy? He's always tip tapping around the police out on the street during their investigations. Does he have some strange knack for walking near crime scenes? Or is he just completely lost, aimlessly wandering around town trying to figure out where the hell he is?

And what about the ending narration which states that "only the blind have nothing to fear in the dark." Huh? Is this to justify putting a blind guy in the film? Oh my aching brain!

Best dialogue:

"I could make a wild guess, but it would be wild and useless."

"Of the millions of possible alien encounters, man has had his first..."

"Mangler's a zombie.... Mangler's a zombie..." - newsboy on street

Wednesday, October 3, 2007

Drive Thru (2007)

Orange County's rich teens sure love their gangsta clothes, pool parties, and haunted houses for yearbook fund raising. They also love fast food restaurant Hellaburger, with it's creepy Horny the Clown mascot.

McKenzie and boyfriend Fisher accidentally use a ouija board at the end of their rocking pool party, and unleash a force that keeps leaving clues to let McKenzie know who is going to die next. Unfortunately the clues are so obscure that they aren't at all useful and McKenzie essentially spins in circles with a bag over her head, metaphorically speaking of course.

The first clue was the license plate number of her friends, who left the party early to get food at Hellaburger. It seems like a rich girl such as McKenzie should have better food than Horny the Clown, but I guess since these friends were the ghetto white rappers of Orange County, they needed to get their fast food fix.

Once McKenzie figures out that the kids who are dying all have a connection to her Mom's old high school friends, Mom is forced to reveal her horrible secret, and we're forced to admit that this is way too much into Nightmare on Elm Street territory to be a coincedence.

Killer Clowns are inherently spooky, and a drive thru clown with his big head and large metal plated mouth is just plain creepy. But the writing is so horrible that it is completely distracting and overwhelms anything you might be able to say that would be positive. Only those who want to see evil clowns or dont' care about the quality of their slasher flicks should watch this one.

Lastly I must comment about the darkroom scenes. McKenzie is horrified as she hangs up her 8x10 glossy prints to dry. They show her friends at the time of their death. But in order to make her prints, she would have had to: look at the negatives; align and focus them in the enlarger; expose the photographic paper; put the paper in the developer to keep an eye on when to remove it and place it in the stop bath; then leave it in the fixer for at least a few minutes. Also it is customary to do a contact sheet from the negatives before this process to see which negatives are worth printing. So her darkroom experience is just ridiculous.

But not as ridiculous as the fact that her prints were black and white, the dark room only had b/w enlargers, yet at the police station, her photos are miraculously in color?!

Tuesday, October 2, 2007

Stephen King's Desperation (2006)

A small town Sheriff who is possessed by an ancient spirit named Tak begins hauling highway travelers to the local jail, if he doesn't kill them first.

David, son of Ralph aka Max Headroom, has taken up praying and sees a vision of his dead sister who hands him a lump of glowing kryptonite, which turns out to be green soap. David soaps himself up, slips through the bars, gets a gun to kill the dog the sheriff left in charge, and releases the rest of the jailed victims.

Once outside, the group loses it's grip on cranial functioning and hides in the old theater. Rather than running away or sending someone to get help, they hang out on the stage and talk, thus ensuring the death of a few more of the characters.

For such an all powerful deity, Tak's well is extremely lame, and as his disembodied voice uselessly yells for one of our heroes to go away, we are left wondering how he took over the Sheriff's body and killed everyone in the aptly named desert town, Desperation.

The credits list someone as "pie carver". Oddly enough I have no idea who that is as no one was addressed by that moniker and no one carved any pies.