Tuesday, May 22, 2018

The Prey - 1984

Remember when this blog was bursting with enthusiasm from a bad film seeker?  Remember the jovial and uncontainable fire that belched forward from me when I would watch some shitty movie?  I think watching these boxsets has killed a lot of my former enthusiasm for this.  It was something I deeply, deeply wanted to do, that I'd wanted to do for years, but I do think that it may have been a mistake.

The problem is that I don't really watch anything else when I'm in the sets.  It feels like, if I'm gonna watch something dumb, it may as well be the bad movie that's on the set versus the one that isn't.  Also, I do like some of the movies on the set.  But in the meantime, it becomes a tremendous chore to keep going through the set movies.  I wish there was an easy answer. 

But nights like last night may be part of the answer.  I was trying to find a certain movie on youtube, one which I did not find naturally.  But it recommended this movie, The Prey to me.  It looked like a subpar 80's horror, and for some reason that greatly excited me.  I went home, did my laundry, cooked some pasta, and sat down to The Prey.

The Prey is a good example of the average Friday the 13th copycat.  It is almost the exact same flick as The Forest, which I reviewed over three years ago!  Wow dude, I have officially been doing this blog for way too long.  Similar to The Forest, it shares a lot more in common with Memorial Day Massacre now that I think of it.  Prey came before MDM though, so you know.  Just for completion, here is the link to the other movie that The Prey was similar to, The Final Terror.

Create the checklist here with me:  A group of six attractive teenagers are going to go camping in the wilderness.  There's a old forest ranger who saw something creepy years ago, a lone weirdo who was burned and wandering around the woods alone.  The group of six teens gets all hot and heavy on their first night in the woods, and the next morning two of them go missing.  Could it have to do with the perspective shots that play every once in a while accompanied by the sound of a beating heart?

Along with perspective shots, there are also plenty of psuedo-artsy shots of animals in relative close up, with bizarre music playing to accompany them.  Ants scurrying, worms, snakes, beetles, whatever the case may be.  The best was when a ranger comes across a vulture.  Inter-cutting his anguished face, the body the vulture was feasting on, the vulture itself, again and again, with strange music blasting, and with a scree of noise building....  It was fucking glorious.

I needed a tone shift drastically.  Maybe I'll take a two or three month break from the 70's set.  Cause you know what?  I actually had a GOOD TIME last night.  This movie was pretty good, but it wasn't just that.  Relaxing, not watching some forced 70's comedy or something, seeing horror and 80's, and something linear, I honestly could give this movie 5 stars just based on the night I had last night.  I didn't even drink!  No beer at all, I haven't really been doing the weed thing in a very long time, and I had a tremendous time watching this.

Speaking objectively, it was actually a good movie.  It was well paced, it was only an hour 17 minutes so it wasn't overly long.  It saved the monster to the end, the characters were like-able and the story made sense.  The kills were not shown for the most part, but good when they happened.  The whole thing was good.  It was a great average slasher.  It even left it open for a sequel!  Which, in another dimension, maybe this had the dozen or so sequels that other, lesser horror tropes had.  Why it's not better known is beyond me.  4 stars.

Friday, May 18, 2018

Frantic - 1988

I've only been updating the blog with movies from the boxsets lately.  There are multiple reasons for this.  Please see my review of Against a Crooked Sky  for some insight as to why this might be.  Also, what I didn't mention is that I've been writing a lot of other things recently.  This actually dates back to early last year, when I started writing my first movie script.

I wrote two full movie scripts, and I wrote about 6 partial scripts.  I wrote my "show" which has two complete scripts for 30 minute shows.  I also wrote a script of Workaholics to enter a contest.  All this writing drains me bro.  I can't write nonstop for "work" and then also write for fun on a movie blog.

Buuuuuuut, here I am reviewing a well known Polanski movie.  What can I say?  Life is confusing like that.  I'm also going to try and write a script for Bob's Burgers in the next two weeks.  Although I'm sure it's probably stressful and shitty to work in television, someone's gotta do it right?

Frantic is a great title and a great movie, directed by Roman Polanski, the OG child molester we hate to admit that we love.  Harrison Ford, John Mahoney, Dominique Pinon, and others star in the fast paced and well plotted 1988 flick.

Early on, about say 15 minutes in, Harrison Ford's wife has mixed up her suitcase with another that looks like it at the airport.  She receives a call while Ford is in the shower, and she goes out to meet the people who supposedly have her real suitcase.  She is promptly kidnapped.  Then the rest of the movie, right up until the hour forty or so minute mark, is all Harrison Ford tracking her down to get her back.

The tension is great, the soundtrack great.  The acting, obviously great.  Harrison Ford reminds me a bit of Daniel Day Lewis, I realize, maybe that's why I like him.  But fuck, you know, let's talk about what's NOT great a tiny bit.

First of all, the kidnappers basically never make any attempt to contact Ford's doctor character Richard Walker.  They turn out to be after a miniature electronic thingy hidden in a Statue of Liberty souvenir.  Well, why don't they EVER try to get it from Walker?  They could have called him about 15 minutes after they kidnapped the wife, and just made the trade.  Second of all, Walked finds a matchbox in the suitcase.  It happens to have the name and phone number of the guy he needs to contact.  Why?  Because movie magic.  In real life, it would have been some useless phone number, perhaps to a pizza delivery restaurant.  Third, the female that's tossed in as eye candy for the audience and temptation for Ford is just ridiculous.  A druggie punk, who stays with Ford just "cause" basically, it's not done particularly well.  Also, it's good and all, but I still think 2 hours total was maybe a little long.  Surely about 15 minutes of the filler could have been cut....

It's a good movie, it's fun to watch, and it's quintessential for a Ford enthusiast like myself.  4 stars.

Friday, May 11, 2018

Wacky Taxi - 1972

I wish you could all hear the frustrated, defeated sigh I just let out before I started this review of Wacky Taxi.  Really dude?  You're going to name your movie Wacky Taxi?  Alternate name, Pepper and His Wacky Taxi.  Nope, not any better.

My thought as I watched this, and that I want to convey the most is: what the hell did the script for Wacky Taxi look like?  I'm willing to bet it looked a little like this:

Lady Patron:  Can you take me downtown?
Taxi Driver:  Sure lady, hop in.
(driving montage, over which is heard random incoherent mumbling by the taxi driver, the lady patron, and other people who are not pictured.  Also, previous conversations from the movie play in the background during the montage, for no apparent reason)

I mean what the fuck, seriously?  In dialogue scenes, the driver rattles on and on while no one is listening.  Half his sentences are partial thoughts, interrupted, meaningless, really just the types of things someone would be thinking.  A lot of "Uh, I'll put that here, what's with this luggage, go to the airport, hop in the cab, yeah I can make change for a $20, 60 cents please, how do I get downtown..." and so on.  Randomly a fare person will start speaking too "Hey driver...what's with the traffic....how much to...can you take me....say what is this?" and so on.

Incomprehensible would thus be a good term for this movie entirely but especially the dialogue.  The plot is simple I guess, I'll take that back.  Some dude named Pepper has five kids, and he decides to support them by quitting his job, investing his money in a run down old Cadillac, and starting a taxi business.  It's a success I guess, and we follow him as he drives around, talks, and does nothing.

Minor plot turns happen, the taxi is stolen at one point.  Pepper tries to recruit people to make a taxi business.  Pepper gets in trouble for operating a taxi without a permit.  But nothing means anything, no problem is presented as an actual roadblock, and everything hums along like nothing as this supposed "comedy" plays on for almost 90 minutes.

Is it funny?  Come on, do you need to ask?  I'd be very hard pressed to take a guess at what was even supposed to be a little bit  funny.  Nothing is anything!  Nothing ads to anything, nothing goes anywhere, nothing is ever said or done or expressed.  There's not a pratfall, not a shtick, not a gimmick or an accent to be heard.  It's all just random, unclear, and off-putting.  No.  There is no goddamn comedy.  It's about as funny as a hole in your shoe on a day when it's raining.

I'm going to predict, with just a bit of aggitation and perhaps too much determination, that no movie in this set will make me laugh.  The 70's was a great time in comedy too!  Monty Python, Woody Allen, Mel Brooks, Cheech and Chong, Peter Sellers, John Waters...  But this, ugh, this just hurts.

What saves it from zero stars, I guess, is the fact it's not....hm....unwatchable.  It's linear, the characters are defined.  It wasn't like it was hard to follow.  God, why am I giving this any stars?  I just considered giving it zero.  i was going to give it one.  You know what?  Half a star.

Death Scream - 1971

Also known more usually as The Deadly Trap.

Am I going insane?  I could have sworn the DVD write-up on this movie said it had Raul Julia in it.  I put this movie in for one reason.  Raul Julia.  Then the movie starts and the credits say Faye Dunaway, Frank Langella, and I'm like, wow nice cast.  I figure Raul Julia isn't one of the main actors.  A bit part.  A small role.  But nope.  He wasn't in it at all.

Deadly Trap versus Death Scream.  What I'm trying to do is think about which name fit the movie better.  And I think it's a draw.  It's a draw where neither of them fit very well.  Plus the synopsis, the synopsis with the name added on top makes it sound great.  Like a 70's action movie.  The synopsis you ask?

"Jill is surprised and angry when her computer-genius boyfriend decides to quit his job in a big company for unclear reasons. But when her children disappear mysteriously and seem to have been kidnapped, she wants to know more, and discovers that she may be caught in a DEADLY TRAP..."      -IMDb.

What that plot doesn't say, wow, that's going to be a LONG ass list.  You see, I wasn't drunk, I wasn't distracted, I wasn't angry and half paying attention.  I actually WATCHED this movie.  I sat there, eyes open, jaw set, and I watched this entire movie.  And I'll tell ya, this plot synopsis doesn't cover half the nonsense in this one.

First of all, Jill is a extremely untrustworthy narrator.  She is the main character, and is prone to fits of amnesia which are never explained, and have nothing to do with the plot except to serve as a catalyst for some of the things that go wrong.  It's a slow development and it reminded me initially a lot of Footprints on the Moon. You have a main character woman where odd things are happening to her, seemingly pointing towards missing time, missing memories, etc.

Except...this woman isn't half as well written as the woman from Footprints, and they explain the amnesia away and then it promptly never comes back.  Except one part where she has a hard time remembering a phone number later.  Also, Jill has two kids, 8 year old Cathy and 4 year old Patrick.  Half the time that she's hanging out though, she's got Patrick...and where the fuck is Cathy?  That really bugged me.

Eventually, Patrick is indeed kidnapped.  Maybe it's cause she lets him run all over the place chasing his hula-hoop?  Cathy also pretty much vanishes, conveniently left out of the story for the most part.  And what is the story?  Well, to be honest, I have no idea.  It just sort of goes, and I will admit I had no real clue what was happening in this movie.  It's a tough road to walk through to follow the plot, and I can admit I don't really know what happened in the end.

You should check out this dude's awesome 70's movie blog here, I'm a giant fan of this blog, being that I am immersing myself in 70's movies for a LONG time right now.  This particular one, despite the fact I really wanted to like it, and it has various times of creepy atmosphere, only gets 1.5 stars.

Wednesday, May 2, 2018

Against a Crooked Sky - 1975

I'm going to come right out and admit I wasn't paying a lot of attention during most of Against a Crooked Sky.  Whatever bro, it still fucking counts.

How much of my life have I wasted watching stupid ass movies?  How many endless days of back to back movies and shows and boring nonsense have I committed to this shit?  Way too fucking many.  My life feels like it's going nowhere.  I can't make decisions anymore.  I want everything and nothing.  I want to be alone, I want to be with people, I want to work, I never want to work again.  Is this what it's like to grow older?  Is part of the process literally going insane and never realizing what it is you're after?

People tell me, endlessly, what do you want?  As if what I want will solve things.  I'll tell you:  I just want to not worry.  I just want things to make sense.  I want to feel like something, somewhere, makes sense.  Instead nothing does.  The women in my life, the men, the house, the job, the area, the world.  I belong and I don't.  I love it and I don't.  I've been trying to find my niche for my entire life.  Where the hell do I belong?  Where the hell are there people like me?

What am I.  I don't really know.  Maybe finding one's niche requires the level of self knowledge I don't have yet.  Maybe this is why people commit to something like a sexuality, a interest, a identity.  They see parts of others they want, and they adopt that for themselves.  But I don't.  I just have half interests in things.  Brought down by my crushing hatred of interaction and yet, somehow my desire to interact with people on a super fucking deep, emotional and core level.

What does this have to do with Against a Crooked Sky, an average "cowboys vs Indians" western?  Well, nothing, obviously.  Except I've been outing myself on the kink scene, and while I was watching this I was texting some kinky women, searching events, and trying to track down that cute awkward dude who I kinda wanted to fuck.  Do I "identify" with kink?  Not really.  I am kinky, I am into it, it's not "who I am" though.  But might as well get laid right?  Who knows, maybe that will at least up my confidence or my experience.

This movie is a family friendly cowboy flick, much more in the vein of something which I might've enjoyed versus that one movie The Proud and the Damned.  I remember it had a decent soundtrack, it was shot in Utah and looked great, and the acting was fine.  It's the kid from Where the Red Fern Grows, not that I've seen that one, but he is fine as the main character Sam.  Sam's sister gets kidnapped by Indians, so he gets an old drunk prospector to help him find the girl, leading the drunkard on with promises of gold. 

By the time the end sequence came around, I was burnt out on writing these people, so I paid attention, and I think the end was a great sequence.  It had a eerie darkness to it, and although I should rewatch the whole thing, I don't intend to.  I also started the next movie, a "comedy" called Wacky Taxi, that I dread finishing.  2.5 stars.

Tuesday, April 24, 2018

Cold Sweat - 1970

Charles Bronson is not a actor I have seen a lot.  Death Wish and it's sequels is perhaps the only movie of his that is in my usual genre type, and if that's an adequate excuse than I will run with it.  I dunno, he's in a lot of western movies and a lot of other random stuff.  It's not my foray.  Although I do wonder if there's another Bronson appearance on the 70's or 80's boxset...?

Bronson had a Dolph Lundgren-esque career as an action star.  A dude that had certainly "made it" and had been around for a long time, but played quite down the list of action stars and didn't have as much popularity.  Well, maybe not.  Maybe he was more like, uh fuck...  well, anyways.  I can't think.  Man I'm fucking tired.  I guess kinda like Steven Seagal.  Or something.  Lundgren is perhaps too minor an actor, though I do love him.

Charles Bronson was an action star for a while in the 70's, and this movie was directed by James Bond regular Terence Young.  Cold Sweat was also based off a book written by Richard Matheson.  I'm not too familiar with Matheson, but I have read some of his books, so that part of the credits did make me excited for this movie.

Bronson plays Joe Martin, a boater dude who is living in France with his family.  Turns out Joe has a history that comes creeping back, as these things do.  Some men who Joe escaped from 10 years ago appear and begin to make matters rough for Joe and his familia, and pretty soon it's the standard "retired criminal versus mob bosses" scenario where the stakes are high and the details low.

This is also the type of movie where, as exciting as it may be in idea, it does sort of fall flat.  As I said in my review of Hunk, I put this movie on when my friend was over.  We got relatively far into it as well.  Like an hour.  But it was too slow, not very interesting, and it was sort of unclear what was really going on.  I'm sure a lot of this could be rationed as our reaction due to being drunk as hell and generally low patience, but we are somewhat good at sitting through bad movies.  My friend vetoed this one and we watched Hunk instead, basically.

It's an average action flick, inspired by James Bond, and it's a revenge story.  It's got decent actors.  It's got some kills.  It has a few short nudity flashes.  But all in all, it really wasn't all that great and I'm just going to give it a 2.

Monday, April 23, 2018

Hunk - 1987

I had the experience of having my friend from Santa Rosa over the other day, and he examined what I have been talking about on here for a while, my boxset of 100 Awesomely Cheesy Movies.  He thought it would be cool to watch on of the movies contained herein.

I tried to service my friend and the blog, and I chose Charles Bronson action vehicle Cold Sweat from the Swinging Seventies set..  We got quite a ways into it.  But we weren't really in the mood, and he's not as adept at watching shitty movies as I am.  So he vetoed that, and wanted to watch something from the Excellent Eighties part of the set.

So, I peeled that glorious cling wrap off the Excellent boxset, I took his recommendation, and in went Hunk.  My friend Matt had read me the description of the movie, and I was going to warn him that it might be a lame comedy.  After all, the plot of the movie is that a geeky kid gets a wish of his fulfilled when he wishes to become a hunk.  That plotline sounded like a recipe for terrible 80's jokes and "comedy" but we forged on, I deciding not to mention it.

Like I said, the plot was as dumb as could be expected.  But it being late 80's, the pacing and the feel of it was not all bad.  In fact I very well may have even liked this movie.  I can't decide for sure yet, for some reason.  The movie's unpopular loser is Bradley Brinkman.  He's got the Jew-fro, glasses, awkwardness, he's the 80's ideal nerd.  He wants to get the ladies so he says he would sell his soul to be a hunk.  The devil appears and offers him everything he could want by turning him into good looking beefcake Hunk Golden.  Hunk has it all, the women, fame, money, and car.  But Bradley's only chance to save his immortal soul is to choose to revert back to his nerdy self, and give that all up...

It was a fine movie.  I'm just saying, I finish this and it's like, yeah okay sure.  That worked.  It made sense.  It kept two very drunk guys mildly interested for 90 minutes.  Was it funny?  Ehhh, I'll say not really.  Was it well made?  Sure!  Decent effects, good acting, and it felt like it was relatively "realistic" in the terms where everything made sense and you didn't question XYZ.

The pacing was a little slow, and it's not a plot to keep one guessing.  I guess they didn't really "do" a lot with the idea too.  Hunk Golden has everything, and he falls in love with a girl.  Naturally that is what eventually makes him wanna turn back into Bradley, but will the girl accept him for who he actually is?  Well of course, ya fucking idiot, it's an 80's comedy.  Naturally everything is going to work out in the end.  But besides the girl, he never really learns any lessons from the brief spotlight.  He fucks a bunch of women, shows off like hell, he does everything he wants and gets a girl, and in the end never learns a lesson except that apparently if you bait girls well enough they will put up with a still relatively attractive slightly more nerdy dude.

Huh.  I feel like I liked it a little less now.  But I think 3 stars sounds around right.