Wednesday, July 26, 2017

Moonraker - 1979

Wow, what the fuck is this blog?!  I am going to review the 11th installment of James goddamn Bond?!  Yes, I am.  Fuck it.  Fuck it!  I'm feeling buzzy from coffee, I'm horny as fuck, I'm reviewing James goddamn Bond, and life is good.

I was always interested in James Bond as a kid.  I have always liked the idea of these really long series of films that have tons of sequels, and there's always an obscure 2-3 out there that you can't find for some dumbass reason.  I remember being absolutely obsessed with Godzilla, Zatoichi, The Twilight Zone, and other types of really long series that didn't used to be online (Twilight Zone is mostly available online right now, though it's still not the whole show).  I'm not sure exactly why this was, but I am sort of a completionist / obsessive compulsive about these sorts of things.

I remember going to Peters Video, in Calistoga California with my brother and my dad in the 90's and early 2000's, and renting random ass James Bond movies.  How I got into the series, who knows.  It's very possible I saw Goldeneye in theaters in 1995 (age 9), or when it was a new release, and that would about make sense if that was when I got into the Bond series.  Anyhow, we'd rent all the back catalog of Bond films.  I remember liking Roger Moore films the best, because they were zany and dumb, fitting perfectly with my pre-teen mentality.  Second I liked Timothy Dalton, then Pierce Brosnan.  Then Connery, then Lazenby, then Daniel Craig if you're curious.

The Roger Moore films took a turn for the weird very early on.  That is not to say some of the Connery films weren't weird, but I feel like Connery turning Japanese and fighting Oddjob was still not as weird as Bond going to space, Jaws, and using a special Golden Gun on a desert island.  Although my favorite Bond villain was Donald Pleasence as Blofeld, that's purely because I am a Pleasence fanatic.

Moonraker and The Spy Who Loved Me were two of my standout favorites from the series even early on.  I loved Jaws, he was my second favorite villain, and to this day is the only Bond henchman to appear in two Bond films.  Richard Kiel was stunning as Jaws, certainly looks the part, and it helped that he was an unlockable character in the Nintendo 64 Goldeneye video game.

This is a noticeably silly entrant in the Bond franchise.  Capitalizing off of the success of Star Wars like so many other films, this entry saw Bond take to space.  Although when I saw it in the mid 90's this seemed absolutely like a "jump the shark" moment in the series, I have to say that watching it now in 2017, it doesn't seem as unrealistic and far fetched.

There are several different theories as to which actor plays Bond at what age in his life.  It's basically regarded that Daniel Craig is Bond when he's youngest.  He's green, he's cocky, and Q and Moneypenny are young.  Then it would be Lazenby, in the film where Bond gets married.  Then Timothy Dalton as an angry, more violent Bond thereafter.  Then for me I feel like Connery and Brosnan are interchangeable for the most part in the timeline.  But it's pretty much agreed on by everyone that Roger Moore portrayed Bond at his oldest.  He's in the minimum amount of fights, he hardly kills anyone in most of his entries.  Moore was also the oldest actor to play Bond, and so this theory makes sense the most.

This is hardly a standard review, obviously.  But as a Bond entry, I found Moonraker to be pretty fun, and there's always a special place for it in my heart.  The stunts are cool, whether it's skydiving with no parachute, taking a gondola hovercraft onto land, or the tense action on the sky tram.  Moore is confident and slick as Bond, though I'd have to say that Moore also plays the least likable Bond in my book. He beds the ladies, he smarts and charms his way around everything.  This movie never saw a Bond car, didn't have much gadgets, and Bond only kills one person directly in the entire film.  It's an odd one, but it's very good in my book.

As an entry, it's most likely on the low spectrum for most people.  But I'm not most people, and my ratings are a whole WTF thing as I'm sure you'll notice.  I give this one 4 stars.  I like it!  The Spy Who Loved Me is better though.

Tuesday, July 25, 2017

Embryo - 1976

This movie, Embryo, is one that I've seen listed on multiple boxsets time and time again when I peruse Amazon and other sites for DVD boxes that might want to purchase.  I can't say exactly why, since it's not that old or not that bad, but I supposed those reasons alone are not enough to keep it out of the black hole that is the public domain.

Embryo would star an aging Rock Hudson, still good looking and in great shape, as a scientist who wants to create a way to save fetuses that are dying.  Rock Hudson plays Paul, who's a likable if somewhat naive scientist that just wants to do good, can't see anything beyond the good that his science will do.  He's pretty much the stereotype.

At first Paul tries out his experiment on a dog that he has in his lab.  The dog is not only born, but thrives and grows quicker, smarter, and better than any normal dog would.  Apparently.  So, then it's Paul thinking, "well shit maybe I should try this on a human!" and try it on a human he does.  He refuses to do things the amoral way, so he finds a 3 month old fetus that is going to die, he snags it, and he injects his growth hormone.

The baby girl continues to grow, grows up normal and quite fast, and is suddenly about the age of 24.  He takes her out of her capsule finally, and discovers she has super intelligence, the drug is no longer going to make her grow quickly, and she's eager to learn human customs.  Victoria as she's called, because she was a victory, is a genius, and despite not being mature emotionally, she quickly begins to master the more mathematical and scientific aspects of the human mind.  Then, much like every movie like this, she decides she must embrace the emotional side.  She fucks Rock Hudson, and soon begins to develop problems with the drugs used to grow her.  They seem to be turning her evil....

Sorry about the convoluted plot-line outlaid above.  This movie was one of those, like Frankenstein, where you could say "yeah it's about a dude who brings a monster back from the dead" or you could go into the details about the plot details.  The point is, this is Frankenstein but dressed up with a bit more character and a girl rather than a monster.  The girl is played by Barbara Carrera, who was decent enough in the role.  It's mostly her and Rocky Rock Hudson conversing most the flick, and they did seem to have some chemistry between them.

Looking at this from the recent angle I have of 1976 movies, I have to say this one was "better" as well.  I guessed 1978 when I was writing the year above, and in that way, I guess you could say it looks just a tiny bit "better" than the other two 76 movies I've seen recently.  The pacing was kind of slow, but it was also more of a drama / slow burn movie then a quick flashy actioner of a film.

Hm, what else.  Nothing much worth noting.  Roddy McDowall was in a small cameo.  No music worth remembering.  Decently shot and whatever.  Some nudity from Victoria, she has a nice body.  And, the ending was totally one you could see coming.  Basically once things take the turn and Rocky fucks Victoria, you can probably guess the rest of the movie, but it was still worth watching I'll argue.  It's was a basic "meh" of a movie, but that's still worth 2.5 stars.

Friday, July 21, 2017

Exterminator City - 2005

There's low budget and then there's no budget.  This blog has primarily dealt with low budget, but we'll take our first sort of foray into no budget here.  Now, I can't actually say no budget about this movie.  I don't know exactly how these things work, but it's my understanding that you'd have to pay a girl a decent amount of money to appear naked or topless in your film, and since every single girl in this is naked or topless, they must've had some money to pay them to appear that way.

Everything else in this movie is obviously done by like 1-2 guys, and a budget of nothing.  There's hand built, seriously clunky looking robot hand puppets, very early MST3K looking contraptions that barely seem to function.  There's a lot of terrible dialogue by guys that obviously thought they were pretty genius for making a "comedic" script that featured robots calling each other words like "bitch".

The director Clive Cohen has zero other movies he's remotely connected with, and zero information on IMDb.  That's something I will now always miss about IMDb, the message board dialogue started on each page by various other movie viewers.  Inevitably on each lonely IMDb page there'd be someone else, like me (or maybe even it would be me) who would start a message board about someone like Clive Cohen.  They'd say something like "Where is he now?" or "What the heck?" and they'd be wondering if someone out there on the information superhighway knew any insider information on Cohen.  I miss those boards.

Exterminator City....well, I don't miss movies like this.  This is the kind of entertainment that I can't exactly tear apart from limb to limb, cause it obviously took creativity, talent, and artistry to make it.  It's not funny though, it's not interesting, and it's like watching something made by middle schoolers.  Trust me, I used to film shit with my friends, and half the stuff we made was about as good as this, not even fucking joking.

There's literally scenes of huge titted women walking around their homes topless and going about daily tasks, and we're supposed to what, accept it because "it's funny"?  Sorry, no.  Sorry, you don't get a pass just cause you intentionally made your movie campy and self aware.  I don't know.  This is the Charles Band type of shit where it's made specifically to pander to the high idiots and their drunkard friends as they sit in an induced stupor and snicker at the movie while daring each other to taste the bong water.

I don't have lots more to say to it.  It is relatively entertaining despite my roast up above, and there's certainly worse films out there.  It came on a circa 2005 DVD, and I haven't watched a DVD that poorly produced in a really long time.  I remember buying my first DVDs in about....2002, roughly 6 years after they existed from what the internet tells me.  At first they didn't have menus or anything, just jumped right into the movie.  This has one item on the menu, which is obviously home made.  You start the movie, and you have to watch trailers.  This is like VHS shit where the trailers are literally PART of the movie.

So, Exterminator City.  Hm, I don't know.  Strangely enough, after venting all this, I feel like giving it decent marks.  Perhaps it's the fact I put it on when I was tired, and I was still entertained to an extent.  Perhaps it's something else.  I'll never know.  But hey, Clive Cohen, good job wherever you are, you drunk son of a bitch.  2.5 stars.

Saturday, July 8, 2017

Burnt Offerings - 1976

Two 1976 movies in one day?!  Oh my fucking god.  Goddamn.  I'm a little bit drunk, but I watched Burnt Offerings stone cold sober, so this is a drunk review of a sober movie basically.  Interesting huh?  Now you're reminded about why you read this dumbass blog.

Burnt Offerings is a Amityville inspired, super by-the-numbers haunted house movie.  Which is not to call it bad.  In fact, I might even take that bit back about it being a haunted house movie.  It's billed as a haunted house movie, when I would say it's more of a demonic possession and mystery film.  I dunno.  I'm a bit of a genre freak in case you haven't noticed.  I fucking hate when things are labelled as something other than what I would classify them as.  Get Out, the recent "horror" movie (which I give 5 stars) is labeled horror.  Yeah right!  That movie is a straight mystery thriller.  No fucking horror elements at all.

Burnt Offerings has Oliver Reed of Venom fame as the father figure of a family that moves into a huge dilapidated mansion which is actually located (in real life) in my current home town of Oakland California.  Bay Area, bro-han.  Oliver Reed, his hot wife Karen Black (drool) and their wormy son all live in this mansion which is practically given to them, and they have to take care of the weird old woman who lives in the top floor.

Pretty much right away it's established that the woman either is dead or doesn't exist at all, Karen Black develops an obsession with her, and Oliver Reed begins to be influenced by some sort of demonic force.  I'm obviously at the point where I don't give a shit about their character names.  Oliver Reed falls under evil influence and attacks the wormy son, tensions rise, and eventually they all decide they must leave the house.  But what about the old lady who lives in the place?

Basically, I was expecting a low level haunted house movie, and instead I got a bizarre mix of ghost film, demonic possession, and a mostly average flick in general.  I'm not really in the boat right now of "I have tons to say about this".  I fact, I can't really even say if I liked it or not.  It felt....basically like anything else one might watch.  Had it's good and bad.  The actors, good.  The plot, meh.  The scares, zero.

That would be one thing I'll say.  Zero scares, and one of those movies where I don't even know what would be considered scary in 1976.  I guess the father attacking the son is scary in concept, but I mean, seriously yo.  It was a right down the middle, meh experience, which I'd normally give a 2.5, but for whatever reason, I'll give this 3.  Maybe because Karen Black is hot.  Probably.

Friday, July 7, 2017

The Witch Who Came From the Sea - 1976

Hundra director Matt Cimber made this odd little film, The Witch Who Came From the Sea (I'll call it Witch for brevity) which was another one of these well know video nasties.  I don't remember if I added Witch because of Matt Cimber, because it was a video nasty, or why specifically I added it at all, but suffice to say that's extremely common for me to add something and forget why.  Classic me.

The Witch is a very bizarre, very fucked up story of a woman who may or may not have psychic powers and also may or may not be going insane.  This movie walks the line between fantasy and reality very well, and very often.  It's also one of those movies where despite the clear resolution in the end, it's still unclear exactly which scenes were reality and which were imagined.

In the beginning of Witch, we see the main woman, Molly, at the beach with her two nephews, Tadd and Tripoli.  As she watches some hunky guys down the beach, we slowly see them die, seemingly caused by Molly's intense stare.  This is chief among the scenes I don't know if were real or not.

The movie slows down from there and we follow Molly as she goes about her life.  She works at a local bar and restaurant, she spends a lot of time with her sister Cathy, and Cathy's sons Tadd and Tripoli.  Why the two boys are named Tadd and Tripoli is never explained. The questions we really wanted answered in this film simply never are.

One night while watching football, she sees and is attracted to two of the star football players.  Next we know, she has found these two in real life.  She seduces them, takes them to her room, and begins to tie them up to the bed with promises of kinky sex.  Molly does have a lot of nudity, so be prepared for pretty small but perky tits that you can glue your eyes to in many scenes.  Anyhow, she ties up the guys, and to their dismay puts her clothes back on.  Molly then produces a razor, and begins cutting.

This movie did a great job of walking the fantasy and reality line very well.  There is eventually some explanations, but they never do explain everything.  It's said that Molly was a victim of childhood sexual abuse by her obese fisherman father.  Her sister Cathy possibly was too, but that's never said.  The two footballs presumably remind her of her father?  I don't remember that being part or not.

There's also a bizarre mermaid and ocean motif in the film that's never explained.  Molly gets a weird mermaid tattoo midway through the film, just after the two killings.  You know, I'll say it now:  This movie was very weird but really good.  It was enjoyable, and I honestly could keep talking about small plot points for forever it seems.  The Witch did have an amateur feeling to it, sure, but the acting and the strangeness of the story more than made up for it.

This qualifies more as a video nasty than Don't Go in The Woods (click on the link "nasties" in the first sentence).  It's got tons of nudity, it's got blood, and it has themes of rape, incest, and child molestation.  Yet, it feels curiously subtle, and like all the bad shit that happens in the movie is reasonable.  For that, and for the awesome feel of the film in general, I'll give it 4 stars.

Wednesday, June 14, 2017

The Final Terror - 1983

I believe I was about halfway through this movie when I decided it was pretty awesome.  That was a nice feeling.  The Final Terror, which is a pretty awful name, was actually pretty awesome!  Other names up for contention, by the way, were: The Creeper, Three Blind Mice, The Forest Primeval, and Bump in the Night.  I get it, it's hard to name horror movies.  I do get it.

The Final Terror was step on the ladder for many of the people in it, which is always a good sign.  Director Andrew Davis later directed a classic Steven Seagal film, Under Siege, as well as one of my favorite Harrison Ford films, The Fugitive, an Academy Award winning film.  The film also stars Joe Pantoliano, Daryl Hannah, Rachel Ward, and Adrian Zmed.  A lot of them got famous literally about a year or two after this was filmed, which was in 1981.  That was enough to push this film finally out into theaters in 1983.

The charm of this movie, and the reason that I decided I liked it, is the complete picture.  This film has it all.  Like I said it has the actors.  Then, the music is great.  The music is always an important part of the horror film genre, where little things like atmosphere make all the difference.  Shot in the beautiful redwood forests of north California, the setting looks amazing.  Finally there's the actual horror elements which come into play as well.

Plot first, several friends are going up to the woods to go camping (original, right?!).  They are driven there by a generally pissed off and cranky Joe Pantoliano.  The friends are eight people, I think.....  There might have been too many characters, that is one thing I'll say straight out.  They're driving up to somewhere way up a river, to do a mix of camping and rafting.  Once they arrive, it's camping, pranking each other, and scary stories told around the fire.  Soon enough, a prank is played on Marco and he goes missing.  All the group sets off to search for him, and then the kills begin.

I mentioned there are a lot of characters in this.  The group of friends is big, and I'm not entirely sure why that is.  In fact, I thought early on, and on reflection I still think that Daryl Hannah never has a single line.  That's because there's just too many characters, and I sort of got them confused.  When everyone is a attractive blonde/brunette except for the two black characters, it's very easy to get the whitey's confused.  Most of the characters also do very little.  Besides walking around, screaming when need be and other such reactions, they are mostly just there.

But one thing I liked and why I decided I liked this movie is that about the halfway point, one character is dead and one is kidnapped, and none of the friends know it yet.  The friends find a cabin in the woods where it seems the killer is living.  As they look around the cabin, the killer is holding the kidnapped girl below the floorboards, machete held to her face.  It's a cool, chilling sequence.  And that's when I realized that plot aside, this movie was a cool mix between Texas Chainsaw and Friday the 13th.

The difference between a slasher like Friday and a horror thriller like Texas is of course, the grittiness and the disgust associated with the killer.  Leatherface in the first few Texas movies is disgusting, putrid, surrounded with decay and mental instability.  Whereas Jason is superhuman, almost a hero, and never really threatened, Leatherface is just a fucked up big guy in an apron.  These small things done to give the killer a level of humanity or depth are really where a horror movie can up it a notch.  Nothing is scarier than knowing that the guy after you might not just kill you.  He might do fucked up, sick or just plain hurtful things to you first.

The other interesting thing, spoiler alert I suppose, is that there's not a lot of deaths in this movie.  Most of the characters live.  This to me is a lot more realistic of a plot.  Despite the fact that the end had a small dumb plot point, this movie felt super realistic to me in a lot of ways.  Basically every part of this could and might happen.  There's no glaring parts that were idiotic like so many of these movies.  There were no supernatural parts.  This movie felt very honest about it's intention, and it was very well done in that way.

Amazon Prime has really shitty quality, and I bet that watching this on DVD would have been an almost 5 star experience.  However, I am only going to give it 4 because the quality was god awful.  Also, some scenes it's hard to tell exactly what was happening.  There's a scene where for some reason the girl who can't swim randomly gets out of the boat, and I have no idea why.  Also, the end was pretty dumb with a last minute, predictable twist.

Sunday, June 11, 2017

Jason Goes to Hell - 1993

Where does that phrase "jumping the shark" come from, anyways?  I have no idea.  I think it refers to Evel Knievel jumping sharks, but since that's considered "cool" and "jumping the shark" is considered bad, I wonder bout these things.  I guess the vernacular phrases we use every day rarely have reasons for why they exist, and language as a form makes no fuckin sense anyways.

Jason Goes to Hell is a very "jump the shark" moment in the Friday the 13th series.  It had perhaps already jumped when Jason went to Manhattan, however at this point it seriously went just plain fucking wrong.  Jason, without any explanation whatsoever, can suddenly change bodies?!  In the first opening scene, which is again never explained, a girl typically runs from Jason only to have the police ambush him and literally blow him up.  Except that his heart doesn't blow up, which apparently means he's still alive.  But his body is destroyed, so now he can literally infest the "idea" of Jason into other people?!

Some red lights fly out of Jason's chopped up body, infest the morgue attendant, and soon he consumes the heart of Jason which makes him into a psycho killer.  The temporary bodies Jason is in run out after some time, so he not only kills people randomly, but kills people with the intention of hopping bodies.  That's all well and good, and later it turns out that he can indeed be stopped, as long as it's at the hand of someone that's related to him.  He has a sister that's alive, as well as her baby daughter.  So it's up to them to stop Jason permanently by stabbing him in the heart with a special dagger.

Ugh.  If it sounds like this is stupid and/or complex, that's cause it is stupid.  It's complex, not in a good way, but in a way that makes you angry and realize just how low the bar was set at this point.  In Jason Goes to Manhattan, at least Jason was legitimately in the film, he had a reason to go to Manhattan, and it was such a small change to the series that is was fine.  In this one, it's not only fucking with the location, but with the mythology, the killer, the basic story elements, etc.

There are quite a bit of kills, and so therefore we come to the one part of the movie that is acceptable: the violence.  There's tons of kills in this, and a lot of them are pretty creative.  Also, I guess that the whole idea of Jason switching bodies is kind of cool, it's just that it needed to be introduced WAY before this dumbass film in order for it to make sense.  Also, there is never an explanation given as to how Jason comes back after being killed in this one.  I guess that was spoiler alert, Jason dies in the end, by the ways indicated, and then in Jason X, Jason just randomly is back at it.

So, this movie was pretty awful, and in fact these three (Manhattan, Hell, X) and even Freddy Versus Jason could all be seen as why this franchise is effectively dead unless they reboot it again like they did in 09.  Anyways, whatever, 1 star.