Sunday, June 29, 2008

Happy Birthday to Me (1981)

Virginia is one of the school's top ten, the popular students. Unfortunately her friends are starting to disappear, which the film reveals is due to murder. Virginia is a little on the nervous side, which turns out to be due to emotional trauma from a car accident when she was younger in which her mother was killed.

As her friends disappear, Virginia starts to have blackouts. She begins dating one of the top ten who is such a total jerk that you wish he would die. The question becomes is Virginia killing her friends or is it someone else that knows them. Glenn Ford has a small role as Virginia's psychiatrist and Melissa Sue Anderson does a nice job as Virginia.

The film has a twist ending and is a good 80s slasher.

Return to House on Haunted Hill (2007)

Ariel and Paul are kidnapped by thieves who believe she knows where the statue of Baphomet resides in the evil haunted house her sister was trapped inside years earlier. Inside the house they run into the Professor who has spent years of his life trying to locate the statue. Stupidly enough, they all show up in the evening, the house goes into lock down and they can not escape it's evil clutches.

They split up and search for the statue, causing members of the group to be picked off by the ghosts that inhabit the building, all of whom seem to have been abused by Dr. Vannacutt, played by the always interesting Jeffrey Combs. The group of criminals have no common sense and any intellect or self preservation is put on hold due to the potential riches they will get by finding the statue.

There are some ridiculous Indiana Jones type scenes and you will not believe how stupid some of these characters can be. Hey, I'm in the basement of a haunted house in lockdown, but two naked young women have shown up out of nowhere and want to get make out? No problem there, let's go! Yeah, no synapses firing in that brain.

Dead and Deader (2006)

Anytime the cover to a movie says "Dean Cain" and "best zombie movie so far this year" you've got to make the assumption that either they are lying, or the movie was released on January 2nd.

Lt. Bobby Quinn and his unit are blown up on a mission. Quinn wakes up in the morgue and finds that he is, by all medical analysis, dead and there is a strange little scorpion under his skin. He manages to remove the scorpion before it turns him into a zombie, but the rest of his unit are not so fortunate and run amuck, killing indiscriminately. Quinn is a responsible leader and feels he must make sure his unit is contained before they infect the entire region.

Turns out the scorpions are a government experiment (aren't they always) done by a rogue scientist who has cancer and is trying to develop a way to keep from dying. As usual, top secret experiments go terribly wrong and everyone dies. Booo! Bad movie, bad movie!!

Hood of Horror (2006)

Snoop Dogg is the glue holding this anthology of short stories together by narrating the set up in which all the protagonists learn a lesson, which is of course too late and they all go crashing straight to cartoon hell. The twist endings are easy to figure out and the characters all deserve what they get.

You'll feel like you've been watching it for ten hours by the time the first segment is over. The most interesting and unique part of the whole film is death by beer bottle through the skull. It ends up looking like a bloody party hat sitting on the guy's head. Ick!

Sunday, June 8, 2008

Day of the Dead (2008)

A virus accidentally unleashed in a small town in Colorado turns people into zombies while the Army tries to quarantine the area and keep it from spreading. The local hospital is overrun, as are the main roads, and the few survivors try to find a way to safely escape from the hordes of fast running zombies.

While the survivors keep their wits for the most part, there are a few moments designed to add suspense where they do things totally out of character. This may also be the only movie to have a vegetarian zombie in it.

I'm not sure why people remake movies, especially when generally they make a worse version of whatever they are re-making. I suppose this has a bigger budget than the original, but unless you prefer the running zombies, stick to the original 1985 version.

Sunshine (2007)

The Icaris II is Earth's last hope at survival. Their mission is to deliver a nuclear blast to the dying sun, thus saving mankind. Eight years prior, the Icaris I disappeared on the same mission, so the crew is single minded in their intent to complete their task.

As the story plays out, there is suddenly a distress beacon, which turns out to be from the first ship. At this, the crew divides on whether to change course to intercept the ship, or continue towards the sun. While some argue that they should not deviate course as failure means the Earth dies, others state that the other ship will give them two chances to jump start the sun - which makes me question why in the eight years since the previous ship disappeared why they didn't come up with a better plan.

From this point on, the crew is divided and problem after problem confronts them. The slow pacing runs through more than half the movie before a new subplot changes the whole tone of the film, and annoyed me as it seems the obvious solution was overlooked. When all was said and done, I found myself unsure as to what to think of this film.

The Super Inframan (1975)

All I can say is wow! The sets and costumes are amazing, even if the story is only marginal. It's like the Hong Kong version of Sid and Marty Krofft.

The movie is full of odd monsters, a skeleton army wearing motorcycle helmets, an evil demon princess set on conquering the world, and a few kids - who in typical monster movie fashion - know about top secret military experiments.

Princess Dragon Mom starts her destruction in a bid to take over the world, which causes a top scientist to get a volunteer that he can make into Inframan - the only being who can save the earth. There is some very silly dialogue and scenes, but the monsters and scenery are fantastic.

Today You Die (2005)

If there's one thing Steven Seagal movies have a soft spot for, it's the children. He's always bonding with, rescuing, or comforting a child. I guess it just goes to show that even though he kills everyone who gets in his way, he's just a good guy at heart.

As Harlan Banks and his wife drive down the Las Vegas strip to his new job and new life, they drive by the St. Thomas Children's Hospital, which has a "Going Out of Business" sign plastered on it. As they sadly stare, a little pathetic girl bundled up in a wheelchair is pushed down the front walk in slow-motion. Wow, can there be anymore heartfelt than a going out of business sale on sick kids?

Harlan has been hired to drive an armored truck, in what he believes is a legitimate business, but instead turns out to be a heist. Wouldn't it have been better to get someone who was in on the deal? The cops seem to have been tipped off, and Harlan must drive like a madman to elude them. He's got no idea that it was a robbery and he doesn't even know where they are supposed to go.

After being sent to jail, Harlan has lots of time to figure out how to get back at the bastards who set him up. He also befriends the urban gang leader, which seems to be a reoccurring Seagal movie cliche. As with all later Seagal films, he's huge and his hair looks like black straw. Seriously, what is up with the way it sticks straight out in the back? It's very disturbing.

Monday, June 2, 2008

Sasquatch Hunters (2005)

Rangers guide a group of scientists into the woods to search for a gorilla skeleton which they hope will lead to the discovery of a new species. A bone that they found matched a mystery bone from the 1800s, so they rounded up this expedition, even though the lead scientist says perhaps a gorilla escaped from the zoo.... yeah, that sounds plausible.

After being forced to stop for the night, the group finds a bunch of graves, a huge bone matching the one they already have, and the carcass of a bear high in a tree. Yet no one seems alarmed that perhaps whatever killed the bear also dug the graves and probably lives near by.

When a ranger named Spencer disappears, the group starts to get concerned. But not enough to stop them from giving his sister Janet a sleeping pill... in the middle of the woods at night with a potential killer animal on the loose. It's also a mystery as to how Janet got to be a ranger as she is a total wreck and not the sort of person you would want to rely on for anything important like your life.

The lead scientist wants to stick around to gather evidence and report on his find. As it usually is in cases like this, it is a very bad idea. Another bad idea is the CGI sasquatch that looks good in the distance, but is obviously not even with the actors in the shots. There is an amusing moment when the digital camera of one scientist is found with a photo of the sasquatch on it. Yes, that is a lovely "photo" of the CGI bigfoot. She may as well have taken a picture of a Captain Caveman cartoon.

Wishmaster 4: The Prophecy Fulfilled (2002)

Lisa and Sam are a young couple who buy a fixer upper, ride a motorcycle, and take off their clothes. Everything is great until the end of the opening scene, in which a quick cut to "three years later" reveals that Sam has become paralyzed from a motorcycle accident and is very bitter about life.

Lisa has hired lawyer and friend Steven to sue the company that made the faulty parts for Sam's bike. But Steven wants a relationship with Lisa. After they accidentally release the Djinn, Steven becomes the face that the Djinn wears as he tries to make Lisa love him.

Sam is so bitter at life and mad at Lisa, who has taken care of him for three years, that you just want the Djinn to bludgeon Sam over the head and put him out of his misery. The end of the movie is not an ending at all as Lisa walks out of their house, looks around, and walks off screen. Huh? But what about.... who's going to...I don't... oh nevermind.

Hot Fuzz (2007)

Sgt. Nicholas Angel is the best policeman on the force. In fact he's so good that he makes the rest of the force look bad by comparison, which is why he is transferred to a small town in the middle of nowhere. After irritating the townfolk and local police with his zealous enforcement of the law, Nicholas realizes that the death of two local actors is not what it seems. While the rest of the town is content to write it off as an accident, Nicholas starts an investigation that leads him - as well as his over eager, action movie enthusiast partner Danny - into uncovering some strange goings on in town.

Not a movie I was interested in watching, it ended up surprising me as I really enjoyed it and would even watch it again. It is similar in style and humor to Shaun of the Dead, which isn't surprising since it was written by and starring the same people. It also features a really interesting death that I have never seen in another film.