Friday, June 15, 2012

Tango & Cash (1989)

Director: Andrey Konchalovskiy

Starring: Sylvester Stallone, Kurt Russell, Teri Hatcher, Jack Palance, Brion James, James Hong, Michael J. Pollard, Robert Z'Dar, Michael Jeter, Clint Howard, Geoffrey Lewis

More info: IMDb

Tagline: Two of L.A.'s top rival cops are going to have to work together... Even if it kills them.

Plot: Ray Tango and Gabriel Cash are narcotics detectives who, while both being extremely successful, can't stand each other. Crime Lord Yves Perret, furious at the loss of income that Tango and Cash have caused him, frames the two for murder. Caught with the murder weapon on the scene of the crime, the two have alibi. Thrown into prison with most of the criminals they helped convict, it appears that they are going to have to trust each other if they are to clear their names and catch the evil Perret.

My rating: 6.5/10

Will I watch it again? Nah.

If you've ever wanted to see Sylvester Stallone's butt and Kurt Russell's butt AND you wanted to see them in the same picture AND the same frame, then this is your movie.

Watching it for the first (and last time, sadly) I was struck by how close everyone came to making a great fucking end-of-the-80s action flick with two huge stars. There were moments of fun between the two leads but there was enough of it that felt forced that kind of took the wind out of those sails for me. The story was sometimes force, too, like much of the prison sequence which takes up a huge chunk of screen time. A lot of it felt like filler to cover up the lack of good storytelling. It's nicely shot and it feels like the big budget Hollywood actioner that it is but it's also lacking a good framework for the chemistry Stallone and Russell periodically had. Now if they had brought in Billy Dee Williams for Stallone's partner like in NIGHTHAWKS (1981), THAT would have made for a better film. I guess I'm disappointed because I really like Stallone and I really like Russell...but not so much in this vehicle.

MoH 109: The Fair Haired Child (2006)

Director: William Malone

Starring: Lori Petty, William Samples, Lindsay Pulsipher, Ian A. Wallace, Haley Morrison, Jesse Haddock, Walter Phelan

More info: IMDb

Plot: The virgin teenager Tara is outcast in school and neglected by her mother. While riding her bike back home from school, she is drugged, kidnapped and brought to an isolated mansion by the insane pianist Anton. His cellist wife Judith lures Tara to obtain personal information, and then they lock her in the basement where she meets their son Johnny trying to commit suicide. Tara discovers that the creepy couple lost their son drowned in a lake twelve years ago, and have made a pact with a demon to bring him back to life. The price would be the sacrifice of twelve teenagers, and Tara is the last one.

My rating: 6/10

Will I watch it again? Nope.

Even at just under an hour some of these episodes feel too long. I sort of liked this one. It kept me guessing as to what was going on until the reveal near the end but I got to a point where I almost didn't care. The surprise (if you can call it that) ending was OK but I just felt rather middle of the road after watching it. I do love how this series is all over the place as far as content is concerned.

MoH 108: Cigarette Burns (2005)

Director: John Carpenter

Starring: Norman Reedus, Colin Foo, Udo Kier, Christopher Redman, Chris Gauthier, Zara Taylor

More info: IMDb

Plot: With a torrid past that haunts him, a movie-theater director is hired to hunt for the only known print of a film so notorious that its single screening caused the viewers to become homicidally insane.

My rating: 6.5/10

Will I watch it again? Probably not.

This one stands out above the other MASTERS OF HORROR episodes so far in that it feels more like a real movie. I'm guessing it's because of Carpenter and his team. I LOVED the ending and I generally like this but I can't get over two things. First, it's the lead, Reedus. He's not ready for the part. I can't blame him. Somebody had to hire him knowing he's not up to snuff and he feels much too young for the role. I would have rather seen someone a little older that looked and felt like he was an expert at his profession. I wasn't getting it from this guy. The other thing, and this is friggin' huge, is that the title of the film he's hired to find, "Le Fin Absolue du Monde", is named about a jillion times. No lie. I don't recall anyone referring to it as the film, movie, flick, etc. Sometimes you'd hear a character say it 3 or 4 times in the span of 30 seconds. That's either shit writing or there's a perfectly good explanation that I'm not privy to. Regardless, it's annoying as hell. Other than that, It was great to see Udo Kier not hamming it up so much.

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Soylent Green (1973)

Director: Richard Fleischer

Starring: Charlton Heston, Edward G. Robinson, Leigh Taylor-Young, Chuck Connors, Joseph Cotten, Brock Peters, Paula Kelly, Stephen Young, Mike Henry, Dick Van Patten

More info: IMDb

Tagline: What is the secret of Soylent Green?

Plot: In an overpopulated futuristic Earth, a New York police detective finds himself marked for murder by government agents when he gets too close to a bizarre state secret involving the origins of a revolutionary and needed new foodstuff.

My rating: 7/10

Will I watch it again? Yeah.

Ya know, I don't think there's anyone out there that plays 'annoyed asshole badass' as well as Charlton Heston (or Chuck as I and his close personal friends would lovingly called him). He seems to do it with such finesse and it's easy to see why. He was a badass and I'm sure that being at his level of badassicity brings with it a certain frustration in having to deal with idiots on a daily basis; idiots who couldn't possibly come close to kicking his ass. Remember that bible story about somebody picking up the jawbone of an ass and slaying a whole army with it or something? That was Chuck's jawbone. Seriously. Carbon date that sumbitch and see for yourself. I can't make this shit up. If you I can't prove it right now, it's only because the Vatican conspiracy pricks are covering up. But if there's one thing I've learned in all my years as a respected journalist, archaeologist, bio chemist, Middle Eastern diplomat, porn star and insurance adjuster is that those priests don't let go once they get their teeth into you. I remember years ago one of 'em came into the yard and attacked my little brother, Patches. Everyone was screaming like mad. I can still hear them. It was horrible. We did everything we could think of to get him off. We hit him with downed tree limbs, threw pine cones (even those heavy green ones covered in sap, the ones that haven't fully matured) turned the hose on 'im, kicked - the works. Finally someone had the crazy idea to dress up like the Pope and offer the guy a promotion. It worked. My little brother was dead by that point but the large check they gave us more than made up for it. That kid was a dipshit anyway. Besides, I got a Commodore 64 computer out of it. That was badass. I had the tape drive, dot matrix printer and a smokin' 300 baud modem. I was the shit. We quickly forgot Patches even existed. Oh yeah, SOYLENT GREEN? Great flick. Soylent Green is made out of people.

Child's Play 2 (1990)

Director: John Lafia

Starring: Alex Vincent, Jenny Agutter, Gerrit Graham, Christine Elise, Brad Dourif, Grace Zabriskie, Peter Haskell

More info: IMDb

Tagline: Look out Jack! Chucky's back!

Plot: Andy Barclay has been placed in a foster home after the tragic events of the first film, since his mother was committed. In an attempt to save their reputation, the manufacturers of Chucky reconstruct the killer doll, to prove to the public that nothing was wrong with it in the first place. In doing so, they also bring the soul of serial killer Charles Lee Ray back to life. As Chucky tries to locate Andy, the body count rises. Will Andy be able to escape, or will Chucky succeed in possessing his body?

My rating? 6/10

Will I watch it again? That's a tough one.

I can't say I was disappointed as I didn't expect this sequel to be as good as the first; they rarely are in horror franchises. We get more attempts by Chucky to possess Andy. Unfortunately we don't get enough of what made the first one so good - Chucky time. He's the real draw. The kid who plays Andy does a pretty good job and you really feel for the guy with all he's gone through but when it comes down to brass tax, give me more killer doll action. Maybe that'll happen in the next sequel. At least this one only takes 80 minutes to get to the end credits.

Sunday, June 10, 2012

MoH 107: Deer Woman (2005)

Director: John Landis

Starring: Michael Benben, Walter High, Michael P. Northey, Anthony Griffith, Cinthia Moura, Sonja Bennett

More info: IMDb

Plot: A harried, burned-out cop believes that a recent string of murders prove that the murderer might be a deer-like creature in the form of a beautiful woman right from a local Native America folklore legend.

My rating: 7.5/10

Will I watch it again? Nah. There's just too much to watch before I die.

Cool. Two good ones in a row and this one got a few laughs out of me. I'm really digging this series. Being a fan of Landis's work I knew what to expect and he didn't disappoint. He knows how to have fun and bring the audience along with him. It's funny, gory and interesting. It doesn't hurt to have a good rack, either.

How many points is that? I need that mounted above my fireplace. Ahahahahahahahaahaha. It was a damn shame to have to shoot her. She was comin' right at me with intent to kill. Had to put her down. I figured I should preserve somethin' to remind me of the day I almost snuffed it.

(Don't go gettin' jealous of my mad Photoshop skills.)

Moh 105: Chocolate (2005)

Director: Mike Garris

Starring: Henry Thomas, Matt Frewer, Stacy Grant, Jake Smith, Katharine Horsman

More info: IMDb

Plot: Jamie (Thomas) is a lonely and depressed and divorced young man who creates artificial flavorings until one day his life is hijacked by a series of random scenes in which he realizes that he is psychically linked to a beautiful young woman that he has never met. But when a violent image shakes him, Jamie decides to track down the woman and finds that her life is not all that it appears to be.

My rating: 7.5/10

Will I watch it again? Nah.

Great story! Thomas was terrific, too. This one was light on gore and heavy on interesting storyline that kept me waiting to see what happened next. The subplot with Jamie's ex and kid didn't seem to serve the story at all except to further emphasize his loneliness and that wasn't even necessary. It was probably just filler but I'm not going to sit here and try to analyze this shit to death. This was a neat entry with a fun conclusion. Nice theme by Nicholas Pike.

MoH 104: Jenifer (2005)

Director: Dario Argento

Starring: Steven Weber, Laurie Brunetti, Carrie Fleming, Kevin Crofton, Beau Starr, Julia Arkos

More info: IMDb

Plot: Police officer Frank Spivey saves a disfigured young woman named Jenifer from being slaughtered by a crazy old man. He takes her into his home because she has nowhere else to go, but starts to become obsessed with her. Soon, it becomes clear that there are problems with Jenifer that turn Frank's life upside-down. He realizes that there is only one thing that will keep Jenifer from hurting anyone else and let him return to a normal life.

My rating:6/10

Will I watch it again? Noop.

Steven Weber (who wrote the teleplay) does a great job. I really dig this guy. He's the best thing about it next to the gorgeous Carrie Fleming.

I guess Sarah Jessica Parker wasn't available that week. I don't understand why she only plays deformed chicks in movies. Maybe it's that lovely rack of hers.

Anyway, those are the two best things about this (Weber and the makeup effects, that is). A few minutes after Frank (Weber) rescues Jenifer it doesn't take a rocket scientist to figure out how the rest of this is going to play out. It's rather obvious but that shouldn't get you down. The blatant PSYCHO (1960) rip-off music score by Claudio Simonetti performed on a synthesizer should. It's embarrassing. I hate to say that it took me out of the picture every once in a while but it did. The rest of the movie is by the numbers but it didn't keep me from appreciating the effort by Weber and the makeup department.

Moh 103: Dance of the Dead (2005)

Director: Tobe Hooper

Starring: Jessica Lowndes, Jonathan Tucker, Robert Englund, Margot Berner, Marilyn Norry, Sharon Heath

More info: IMDb

Plot: In a post-apocalypse society, 17-year-old Peggy lives with her over-protective mother and works in her restaurant. She misses her sister Anna, who died some time ago. When two couples of punks come to the place to eat some hamburgers, Peggy feels attracted to Jak, who invites her to go out on date with him later. Peggy goes out with Jak without telling her mother, and they go across town to a dark place, the Doom Room, where the master of ceremony is the ringmaster of a freak show with dead. The MC injects blood in the dead, and they dance on a ring for the exalted audience. When Peggy sees her undead sister Anna dancing in the show, the MC discloses the truth about her presence in the circus.

My rating: 5.5/10

Will I watch it again? Nope.

This one's pretty dull but I really liked what happened in the club regarding the dance of the dead. It wasn't the gratuitous nudity but the idea behind what constituted for entertainment and how that affected Peggy. And then there's what happens after she finds out. THAT was really cool but all the BS with Peggy and Jak bored the piss out of me. Ugh. I guess not every episode can be a winner but then this one's got Robert Englund.

MoH 102: Dreams in the Witch House (2005)

Director: Stuart Gordon

Starring: Ezra Godden, Campbell Lane, Jay Brazeau, Chelah Horsdal

More info: IMDb

Plot: A graduate student, Walter, questions his sanity after he rents a room in an old boarding house which was the residence of a 17th Century witch, and he figures out that the evil forces still roam within the walls.

My rating: 7/10

Will I watch it again? Nah. Once was fine.

Ooh, this was a goody. Godden (as Walter) does a great Bruce Campbell - almost too good but that was part of the fun. It was fun from start to holy shit end. I was surprised that it got as grisly as it did, pleasantly surprised. The rat with the human head was too silly (I'm sure it fares better in the Lovecraft short story) but the gore was good and that ending...nice! Fun piece. Masters of Horror is shaping up to be a good piece of entertainment.

MoH 101: Incident on and Off a Mountain Road (2005)

Director: Don Coscarelli

Starring: Bree Turner, Angus Scrimm, John DeSantis, Ethan Embry, Heather Feeney

More info: IMDb

Plot: While driving in the night in a lonely road through the mountains, Ellen distracts with her radio and hits a car parked on the road. She faints and she looks for help since her car does not start again. She meets in the woods Moonface, a deranged monster-like man that collects human bodies pulling a woman. She is abducted by Moonface, but she recalls the survival lessons of her husband Bruce facing and fighting back the killer.

My rating: 6.5/10

Will I watch it again? Nah.

I recently started watching this series from the beginning. I had only seen a couple of eps prior and I kind of dug it. It was a short-lived, two season series on Showtime with a total of 26 episodes. Each episode was a near-one hour horror mini-movie directed by a master director of horror films. I've heard nothing but mixed bag thoughts from anyone who I've talked to that's seen it. I'm keen to get through all 26 this year so I can move on with my life.

This first episode is directed by a guy whose films I really dig (PHANTASM (1979), BUBBA HO-TOP (2002)) so my expectations were a little high. It's a pretty good flick. I have no idea why Ellen fell for Bruce in the first place as he's clearly an unstable guy but whatever. That's not really all that important as people fall for the wrong guy/gal all the time without any rationale to the outside world. OK, I liked how we get bits and pieces (in flashback) of what happens between the two of them as she's currently dealing with a Texas Chainsaw-esqe killer in the night time woods. And I liked how she was able to survive. It made sense but it bugged the piss out of me how she started over-doing the tough girl routine with the one liners and shit. The ending was pretty good. It's weird but it's just under an hour but it felt like it went on much longer than that. Not a bad way to kick off a series such as this. It's promising. I wonder how the rest will fare.

John Pinette: I'm Starvin'! (2007)

Director: Larysa Fenyn

Starring: John Pinette

More info: IMDb

Plot: After starring in the Broadway smash Hairspray, John Pinette returns in the hottest show at the Montreal Comedy Festival. Named "Stand-Up Comedian of the Year" by the American Comedy Awards, Pinette gained wide attention for his role in the Seinfeld finale and is a favorite The Tonight Show guest. He's here with an all-new material on everything from health food ("Salad's not food. Salad comes with food.") to family parties ("If you see a skinny person at the Pinette Family reunion, you say, 'And you are married to who?'").

My rating: 6.5/10

Will I watch it again? Nah.

#15 on Stand-up Comedy Month, May/June 2012

Pinette starts off with some so-so funny bits about his experience with the musical, Hairspray, and then does an hour of fat/food jokes. I laughed every once in a while and I found his style of stand-up kind of fun (he's manic and exaggerates) but what surprised me most was how he could come up with so much material on being fat and eating. That was impressive. I won't be watching this one again but I won't turn down a chance to see any of his other work.

Saturday, June 9, 2012

Prometheus (2012)

Director: Ridley Scott

Starring: Noomi Rapace, Michael Fassbender, Charlize Theron, Idris Elba, Guy Pearce

More info: IMDb

Tagline: The search for our beginning could lead to our end

Plot: A team of explorers discover a clue to the origins of mankind on Earth, leading them on a journey to the darkest corners of the universe. There, they must fight a terrifying battle to save the future of the human race.

My rating: 7/10

Will I watch it again? Yes


I had high hopes for this one. Scott returning to sci-fi after the one-two punch of ALIEN (1979) and BLADE RUNNER (1982)? I'm there!!! I saw it in 3D on an IMAX screen and it looked AMAZING!!! Holy crap is this a gorgeous film to watch. It's sci-fi, geeky eye candy. The 3D is fantastic. I will see it again in a few days and when I do it'll be on the same screen.

This isn't the home run that ALIEN was. It's a great attempt but it falls short. There are plot holes that will have you asking questions all over the place and the last couple of minutes is blatant pandering but there are a lot of things going for it. The overall theme of the piece is neat. I really dig mankind's origin and all that goes on with who and how and what they planned to do with their creation. The special effects are magnificent. The "extraction" scene was insanely fun and intense. LOVED it. Marc Streitenfeld's score didn't work for me. I wanted something more mysterious akin to how Jerry Goldsmith scored ALIEN (I'm not saying that score was what was needed but he managed to heighten the fear and unknown of that universe).

I just LOVE the spacesuits and how they're obviously inspired by European space movies of the 1960s.

I enjoyed it but I walked out feeling like there was too much of some things and not enough of others. The characters were fine as were the actors but there wasn't anything really great or real about them. They felt like they were acting if that makes any sense. Remember how in ALIEN the characters felt real and their dialogue, actions and reactions were genuine? There's a part of me that doesn't want to compare PROMETHEUS to ALIEN but it's so difficult to avoid since it's the same director and this is, despite what Scott and others have been claiming all along, a prequel to his 1979 masterpiece. It's flawed but it's also quality science fiction that, like the best of them, gives you lots to think about. I'll feel better or worse about it after I see it again in a few days (after which I'll probably update this with a spoiler section). There's a lot to love about this picture but then there's more than enough "WTF, Ridley, I thought you guys were professionals!" moments that it may be enough to make you feel disappointed. It's not like they haven't hyped the shit out of by this point. Brilliant marketing.


UPDATE 6/10/12: Just got back from seeing it again and this time I wasn't exhausted and sleepy going into it (I first watched it (above) at the Thursday midnight showing immediately following a long gig) and I liked it a little better. I still have problems with it.

The ending with the voice over log, ala Ripley's log entry in the '79 picture, is a sorry attempt to recall that film as is the fight with the 'Engineer' who is then attacked by the alien (a HUGE face hugger) who minutes later has a xenomorph (similar to the one we all love) burst out of his chest and hiss a lot. It's a lame bone being thrown to the fans of the series and it's a cheap ad-on. The film should've ended before that.

Another big bad taste in my mouth is how many of the crew were scientists yet some of them don't come close to behaving like one. Millburn is a biologist and his first instinct upon seeing an alien species is to touch it like a cute wild baby whatever. Really? Of course this leads to his death. I don't mind the latter part but they could have easily come up with a situation where he met the same end without betraying his scientific background. Then there's the biggest offense in Fifield. He looks like a former punk rocker with a brain imbalance that makes him psychotic and unstable (and stupid) yet he's a geologist. Well, at first he says he's security and he's there to protect everyone. It's only once they're snooping around the alien digs that he drops the bomb he's a geologist and he's not going to hang around to get killed. I'm not going to knock the way someone looks and correspond that to how well the can do their job but his personality and instability give me major concern as to how the hell this guy would have been chosen for the mission in the first place. And his reappearance at the ship is just an excuse to have an action fight. It did not serve the plot at all.

Those are the big issues. I can forgive little stupid things like Dr. Shaw & co. being tossed around outside the ship in a 200 MPH wind storm with millions of shards of silicon beating on them without so much as tearing the suits or scratching the clear helmets (yet later they easily shatter during the Fifield fight) because the overall story is pretty damn neat and interesting.

I was wrong about the acting and the score. Seeing it again, I have a better appreciation for the leads and the characters with a stronger liking for just about all of them (Fassbender and Elba being my favorites). I like Vickers's motivation as the neglected child of Weyland. I paid closer attention to the music and I found I really dug it except for the "Awe Theme" (That's what I'm calling it as I don't know it's real title) which is the one that plays (for a total of five times which over-stayed it's welcome after the second time) whenever something on screen has the characters in awe of what's happening (it's the theme that opens the picture). It feels an awful lot like the John Williams "Leaving Home" theme in SUPERMAN (1978). It's not a bad theme but it feels way to close for me to ignore.

Oh, and it hit me this time where I could point to for the inspiration for the spacesuits - PLANET OF THE VAMPIRES (1965), which is funny because that movie had more than enough inspiration for ALIEN (1979).

I still like the picture (in some ways even more so) and I'm sure I'll pick up the Blu-ray someday on the cheap but I feel pretty confident that I won't be able to shake the bits I dislike. Ridley Scott and pals could have had their cake and have eaten it, too, with a few logical, grounded in reality changes that would have still produced a great sci-fi/action/horror picture. He's smarter than that...or at least I thought so.

UPDATE: 8-17-13 - It just occurred to me after watching MISSILE TO THE MOON (1958) that PROMETHEUS is nothing more than a dumb 1050s low budget sci-fi flick with a modern bloated Hollywood budget.  If Ridley Scott had told everyone that when it was released then it would have prevented some of the severe backlash the picture received.

Friday, June 1, 2012

Lewis Black: Unleashed

Starring: Lewis Black

More info: IMDb

Plot: Comedy Central's jittery, apoplectic commentator on all things absurd in politics and culture is superb on this disc's collection of four half-hour cable specials and bonus features. Fans and newcomers get a chance to see how much the comic has grown since his delightful 1998 show, in which Black characteristically sputtered this bit of social-scientific criticism: "It's absolutely stupid that we've lost the ozone layer. We've got men, rockets, Saran Wrap--fix it!" Black attacks Bill Clinton for obscuring the meaning of infidelity ("If curling is an Olympic sport, oral sex is adultery!"), Y2K hype, flu shots, America's power elite, Ross Perot ("He's the kid in Deliverance all growed-up!"), and even delivers a "Taxes 101" college lecture ("What would help IRS forms? Verbs!"). Bonus features include Black's "Indecision 2000" inserts--caustic commentary about the last Republican and Democrat conventions--for Jon Stewart's show.

My rating: 6.5/10

Will I watch it again? Sadly, no.

#14 on Stand-up Comedy Month, May 2012

I REALLY like Lewis Black. His unique delivery sells the humor. I much prefer his 'pissed off' persona to that of Denis Leary. Because these specials aired on Comedy Central, they've got the commercial break bumpers intact and it's annoying. I've heard a lot of Black's routines before and I much prefer them in the one hour, uncensored vein. I was shocked that I didn't laugh all that much at these. Maybe it's because of the constant forced breaks. The highlight were the 40+ minutes of bits he did for the Republican and Democratic conventions. Those were great. Everything else was just average Lewis Black.