"I got news for 'em. There's gonna be hell to pay. 'Cause I ain't daddy's little boy no more."

Archive for the ‘Reviews’ Category

Insidious Chapter 2

Thursday, October 1st, 2015

insidious2INSIDIOUS CHAPTER 2 is another pretty good ghost movie from director James Wan (DEATH SENTENCE, FURIOUS SEVEN) and his longtime co-writer Leigh Whannell. It’s actually a better sequel than usual because either they set up on purpose what part 2 would be or they just happened to leave a good hook for it on accident. Chapter 1 was kind of a POLTERGEIST meets JAWS THE REVENGE deal where this family thinks their house is haunted by a demonic Tiny-Tim-loving Darth Maul cosplayer, but it turns out their son (Ty Simpkins, IRON MAN THREE) is haunted. The dad (Patrick Wilson, THE A-TEAM), has to go to The Other Side or Tiptoe Through the Tulips Land or whatever to straighten things out with these fuckin ghosts. But also we met his mother (Barbara Hershey, BOXCAR BERTHA), and there was some indication that something like this had already happened to him before when he was a kid.

Well, now it all ties together. We flash back to his childhood (Isn’t chapter 2 kinda soon for that? I think this is gonna be a pretty short book. Will this even be a novella?) and then we see how it connects to some spookiness going on with the family right now, particularly with dad acting weird, being seen doing odd things when he thinks he’s alone, and covering his growing agitation with an increasingly awkward fake smile. Did he come back from ghost world somehow… wrong?

The first one dealt with the fear of spooky kids, this is one is all about the fear of insane dads and husbands. And the idea of someone you know really well suddenly seeming different, not themselves.

(read the rest of this shit…)

Species II

Wednesday, September 30th, 2015

tn_speciesiiOh shit. What if instead of a female alien killing people in a SPECIES movie, it was a male alien? That would change everything. I HAVE NEVER SEEN ANYTHING LIKE THIS.

No, actually I’m making it sound stupid, but I honestly think this is a good premise for part 2. I talked in my review of the first one about how much I liked the gender subtext there, even if they didn’t do as much with it as I’d like. This one continues the exploration by giving us a male-alien-sex-rampage to compare and contrast with the female one.

Men are from Mars, you know, so that’s where it starts. America’s first manned mission to Mars (co-financed by Pepsi, Sprint, Reebok and Bud Lite) ends up getting the crew infected by Species DNA, which speaks to either how bad their luck is or what a toxic shithole Mars is, because I swear they were there for like five minutes total. I kind of feel bad for Reebok on this, it doesn’t seem like they got their money’s worth. One of the astronauts goes down on the lander, plants the flag, makes a brief speech, digs up three soil samples and flies back to the shuttle. They don’t notice that the samples are steaming and dripping slime as they high five and get ready to be “Homeward bound, bay-bay!” (read the rest of this shit…)

The Fly II

Tuesday, September 29th, 2015

tn_flyiiDavid Cronenberg’s remake of THE FLY was and is something special. There’s nothing else like it. But you know how us humans are, we tried to put it in a box, treat it like a regular hit movie. Hollywood said “Hey Cronenberg, it’s your lucky day, we got TOP GUN for you.” And the world of horror movies said “Let’s get the guy that did the special effects to direct a sequel!” For her part, Geena Davis said “You know what, find some other actress to play my character dying in childbirth and redub my lines over the re-used video footage of Goldblum.” And thus humanity embarked on the journey of THE FLY II.

I don’t remember thinking too much of this one when I saw it in the 1980s as a double feature with I’M GONNA GIT YOU SUCKA. And for years I would joke about the true fact that people didn’t want to buy THE FLY on DVD because it came with THE FLY II. That they could charge more for it if it was just the first one.

But I realize now that I was too close. It was too soon. I wasn’t ready for it yet. But now, after a quarter century of experiencing life in a world where there is a FLY II, no matter our moral objections… shit, I enjoyed this one. It’s kind of like The Fly himself. It shouldn’t exist, but it does, so what’s it supposed to do? It makes a go at it. (read the rest of this shit…)

The Green Inferno

Monday, September 28th, 2015

tn_greeninfernoEli Roth is one of the few name brands in modern horror. That’s weird because THE GREEN INFERNO is his first directorial work released in eight years. He’s spent more time producing and writing (the non-horror MAN WITH THE IRON FISTS being his most notable in that area in my opinion) and he was an Inglorious Basterd and what not. But as a director this is only his fourth film. At this point in John Carpenter’s career he was on his twelfth film, PRINCE OF DARKNESS.

I’m glad to have him back though because I’ve liked all of his movies. I remember CABIN FEVER being fun when I saw it at a midnight show, and though I had mixed feelings when I first saw HOSTEL it has grown on me on further viewings. And I especially like HOSTEL PART II, which I think is very underrated, even something of a modern horror classic.

Roth has always been one to talk worshipfully about the Italian horror directors, not just arty Argento but the slimy guys out in the jungle filming muddy maggot ridden zombies and cannibal savages cutting open ancient tortoises. So this is his tribute to those movies, his story of western travelers intruding on the territory of indigenous people who have, you know… different customs.

In the old ones they carried film cameras to make documentaries, these kids carry smart phones to livestream what’s happening. (Don’t worry, it has no found footage elements.) They come as activists trying to stop a corporation from plowing down the rain forest and the people inside it to get to the natural gas underneath. Or “unobtainium,” let’s call it. But their small plane crashes and leaves them stranded near the village, where they are manhandled, poisoned, caged, carved, cooked, eaten, etc. by a fictional Peruvian tribe (portrayed primarily by indigenous farmers who had never left their village deep in the Amazon). The captives plan and fight amongst themselves and try to escape. (read the rest of this shit…)

Warlock: The Armageddon

Thursday, September 24th, 2015

tn_warlock2Remember how I have that problem with horror movies about witches, because they pretend that witches were real and the religious crusaders – who in real life executed totally innocent people based on a superstition – were right? WARLOCK had enough of a fun time travel premise and comic tone that it didn’t bother me that much, but I appreciate that in the sequel they go out of their way to avoid that problem. The solution: Druids!

Kenny Travis (Chris Young, Bryce from Max Headroom) is a high school nerd who is picked on by a popular (long haired) jock kid named Andy (Craig Hurley) who he calls “the school bully.” Andy makes fun of Kenny for reading comic books, but more notably accuses him of being satanic. Kenny doesn’t know it yet, but his father and some of the others are Druids who are charged with using magic runestones to protect the world from evil. But the Christian church-going townspeople blame all the evil shit that happens on this religious minority.

It’s easy to hate this asshole Andy, but not as easy to actually like Kenny. Can’t he be a nerdy underdog without being such an uncharismatic weiner? He stands there cowering while his fucking dad comes up behind him and uses magic to make the sprinklers go off on the jocks. Then all he can come up with to say to them is “Butthead!”

This, unfortunately is our hero who has to face off against the Warlock, who is played by Julian Sands but is apparently not exactly the same warlock he played in the first one. That’s pretty unusual, now that I think about it. As the movie’s Wikipedia entry currently puts it, “It is a sequel in title only to the 1989 film WARLOCK, and stars Julian Sands returning in the title role.” It’s kind of like if LADY DRAGON 2 starred Cynthia Rothrock again as the Lady Dragon but it was totally unrelated to the first one and not about the same lady dragon. Oh, wait. That is what they did. (read the rest of this shit…)

The Return of Josey Wales

Wednesday, September 23rd, 2015

tn_returnofjosey“He’s crazy. He’d charge Hell with a bucket of water.”

10 years after Clint took his acting/directing to new heights with THE OUTLAW JOSEY WALES, the less known character actor Michael Parks (DEATH WISH V: THE FACE OF DEATH, KILL BILL, TUSK) took over the role for his one go behind the camera. He was, uh… less successful than Clint was.

When I was reading about Forrest Carter, the Klansman turned acclaimed Native American author who wrote the book that THE OUTLAW JOSEY WALES was based on, alot of the bios mentioned that after the success of the movie he wrote a sequel called THE VENGEANCE TRIAL OF JOSEY WALES and tried to turn it into a screenplay. They did not mention that the screenplay had been turned into this.

At the start of the movie Josey is off somewhere living a life of peace thanks to everyone who conspired to pretend like he was dead at the end of Clint’s movie. But some of his friends from the saloon, Kelly and Ten Spot, are still around, and reminisce about him sometimes. If I didn’t look it up I’m not sure I’d know they were connected to the first movie, since they’re not the most memorable characters and they’re played by different people this time. But I’ll survive. (read the rest of this shit…)

No Retreat, No Surrender 2

Tuesday, September 22nd, 2015

tn_nrns2NO RETREAT, NO SURRENDER 2, sometimes subtitled “Raging Thunder,” which is also the name of the opening credits song, picks up exactly where part 1 left off: with Corey Yuen directing movies. But it has no characters or story that have any relation at all. Like it would’ve been hard to throw the ghost of Bruce Lee into a scene or two.

Instead of being about a karate student in Seattle learning kung fu from the ghost of Bruce Lee to fight Russian Jean-Claude Van Damme in a karate tournament this is about Scott Wylde (Loren Avedon, KING OF THE KICKBOXERS), an American kickboxer, getting into some shit in Thailand. It seems like he’s a tourist, there to visit his old friend Mac Jarvis (Max Thayer, MARTIAL LAW II, ILSA, HAREM KEEPER OF THE OIL SHEIKS), but then we find out he has a fiance there, Sulin (Patra Wanthivanond). She’s from a rich family and she brings him to a restaurant for a huge feast of TEMPLE OF DOOM type food such as tiger balls and monkey brains. “Very funny, sweetheart!” he says.

But four guys break into his apartment with big knives and little guns and kidnap Sulin to the tune of inappropriately upbeat music. Two stay behind to fight Scott, and it’s immediately clear that the fights (action choreographer: Corey Yuen) are better in this than in part 1. It’s a very acrobatic fight inside the little dingy apartment, jumping off the bed, slamming against the flimsy walls, kicking a guy through the door and across the hall and through the neighbor’s door (where of course he surprises two people who are having sex). And there’s alot of banging heads against walls. And he kills them. (read the rest of this shit…)

Los Locos: Posse Rides Again

Monday, September 21st, 2015

tn_loslocosOkay, first thing’s first: although this western starring Mario Van Peebles is sometimes subtitled “POSSE II” or “POSSE RIDES AGAIN,” it is not a straight sequel to POSSE. If it was really intended as a sequel it was in the weird way of “what if we did another western starring Mario Van Peebles?” His character is named Chance this time (it is not specified whether or not his mama took one) and although at first he’s kind of a mystery man, people start referring to him as a “half breed” (explaining his long, straight hair) which I don’t believe he was in POSSE. At the end there’s a part where he puts a stick of dynamite in his mouth like a cigar, which could possibly be a reference to something he does in POSSE. But otherwise it really doesn’t seem like it’s supposed to be the same guy as Jessie Lee.

Anyway, Chance makes a great entrance. He’s coming over the horizon, something looks weird about him, he’s got a strange silhouette. As he gets closer you realize it’s ’cause he’s been tarred and feathered and run off into the desert in handcuffs. Ah shit, this guy is not having a good day.

He comes across a caravan of a couple nuns, some mental patients they’re taking care of and a couple guys on security. The mean Mother Superior (Jean Speegle Howard) has them clean him off but figures he’s a convict and treats him as their prisoner. So she’s not Mother Teresa. (read the rest of this shit…)

Azumi 2: Death or Love

Thursday, September 17th, 2015

tn_azumi2Thanks for the warning, fellas. AZUMI 2 is no AZUMI. I had known director Shusuke Kaneko as being good at giant monster and horror type pictures, and I really thought his cleverness and style would apply well to our little badass raised in the mountains to be the ninja assassin orphan girl with the purple cape. But maybe with this one he caught a tough break. Either the budget was much lower or they just didn’t know how to use it as well as Kitamura did. Lots of standard woods and dirt, looking cinematic than ’90s syndicated TV show. Like Xena or something.

I didn’t really mind that (spoiler? unspoiler?) negotiations prevent us from having a huge climactic massacre like in the first one. That part feels kinda ballsy, I can respect that. It’s progress for the character and her story instead of just more of the same. What was disappointing was that the first one had that incredible village set that was so integrated with (and wrecked by) the battle. This one is just in an ugly clearing. She could’ve killed 700 people, it still would’ve seemed like a step down. (read the rest of this shit…)

Game of Death II

Wednesday, September 16th, 2015

tn_godiibruceleeiconGAME OF DEATH II is a weird proposition. How the hell do you make a sequel to Bruce Lee’s unfinished final movie and pretend he’s still the star? It’s like if they tried to figure out how to keep Paul Walker in FURIOUS 8. It’s a little different because some of the best fights Lee ever shot were for GAME OF DEATH and they didn’t bother to use all the footage in the first one. But I guess they thought it would be cheating to use that stuff. Instead they took a bunch of his closeups from ENTER THE DRAGON and cut them into scenes of a lookalike always shown either from the back or at a distance. Lee’s character Billy Lo is worried about his brother being too into sex and not enough into practicing kung fu. He finds his kama sutra and leaves him a letter and a Jeet Kun Do manual to counter its harmful influence.

Also Billy talks to his master, who tells stories about his youth, illustrated with clips from Chinese movies Lee made at 6 and 15. Instead of letting you figure it out (like Soderbergh using clips from POOR COW as flashbacks in THE LIMEY) they use onscreen text to tell you, breaking any illusion that this is the character Billy Lo, famous movie star who faked his death. In the younger one he’s picking on an old man, headbutting him in the gut, pointing a gun at him and saying he’s gonna kill him. Weird. (read the rest of this shit…)