"We're still at war, Plissken. We need him alive."

"I don't give a fuck about your war... or your president."

Archive for the ‘Science Fiction and Space Shit’ Category

Mimic 2

Tuesday, November 24th, 2020

One thing we’ve learned from sci-fi and horror films is that monsters and weird things find ways to survive, to evolve, to adapt, to keep coming back. It was true in the case of the Judas Breed, a bug genetically engineered by Dr. Susan Tyler to be a sellout traitor that kills off the diseased roaches of the Manhattan sewers and then dies out, that instead managed to squirt out tens of thousands of generations in a couple years and evolve into a six foot termite-mantis that can mimic the shape of a human to survive on the streets. It was also the case with the MIMIC movie series itself. Guillermo Del Toro and the Miramax marketing department created an identifiable enough brand, the Weinsteins or somebody okayed a direct-to-video sequel, and with a third of the budget and no need to attract box office I suspect it was able to be hatched with less of their scrutiny and meddling. While MIMIC is an interesting movie that doesn’t entirely deliver as slick mainstream entertainment, its sequels are in a good position to exceed expectations. They’re better than you fear and different than you expect, thus fulfilling the potential of the DTV sequel format. (read the rest of this shit…)

Jiu Jitsu

Wednesday, November 18th, 2020

There’s something going on in the world of indie action that I don’t think gets enough attention. It started in 2016 with KICKBOXER: VENGEANCE, a fun remake of the Cannon classic, with stuntman Alain Moussi in the lead and JCVD himself, in eccentric character actor mode, playing the mentor. It was directed by John Stockwell, who did pretty good with IN THE BLOOD and some of his other movies, so when the screenwriter took over as director for the sequel that didn’t seem like a good sign to me.

I was so wrong! KICKBOXER: RETALIATION turned out even better than the first one, with much more ambitious and assured direction, including complex choreography with great long take camera work. Of course, writer/director Dimitri Logothetis wasn’t some screenwriter getting his first shot at directing – he’d had a long and unusual filmmaking history that started in ’80s b-movies, producing HARDBODIES 2 and directing SLAUGHTERHOUSE ROCK, and included the 1989 boxing documentary CHAMPIONS FOREVER. Incidentally he’s also a blackbelt in Kenpo karate, having been taught by Ed Parker (he says he got to train with Elvis three times).

Now Logothetis has reunited with Moussi for another action vehicle, not a remake but a sci-fi story he first tested out as a comic book. And since it has a crazy premise and a good supporting role for Nicolas Cage maybe more people will notice this time. (read the rest of this shit…)

The Car / The Car: Road to Revenge

Tuesday, October 27th, 2020

I don’t have a car and there’s not a drive-in near me, but I think it’s great that the drive-in movie experience is making a comeback in response to the pandemic. Nature finds a way. In honor of this great revival I offer you a drive-in double feature: two horror movies about a car. In fact, about the car.

THE CAR (1977) is directed by Elliot Silverstein (CAT BALLOU) and written by Dennis Shryack & Michael Butler (THE GAUNTLET, CODE OF SILENCE, PALE RIDER) and Lane Slate (DEADLY GAME) and it’s a killer car movie before CHRISTINE. Its faceless villain is a cool looking matte black 1971 Lincoln Continental Mark III customized by George Barris, designer of the Munster Koach, Knight Rider and maybe the Batmobile (rival Wikipedia editors seem to have added conflicting information on that). Anyway it kinda looks like a hearse and has a big, distinctive grill. I could see the Tall Man from PHANTASM cruising around in this thing.

(read the rest of this shit…)

The Hidden II

Wednesday, October 14th, 2020

Now that I’ve finally caught up with the greatness of THE HIDDEN, it was also important to experience the let down of its six-years-later DTV sequel. None of the same people are involved, except in re-used footage, and it’s cheap and crappy. It does at least give me a little bit of a laugh from its audacious short cuts and the extremely dated choice to set a large portion of it at a rave.

Let me tell you about those shortcuts. The movie starts with 2 minutes of credits over black. Then it says it’s 15 years ago, and there are about 2 minutes of green text representing Kyle MacLachlan’s alien character sending messages back home, asking for backup. Then it goes into the end of the first movie, but not even just the climactic showdown like they do in, for example, some of the FRIDAY THE 13TH sequels. No, you get a whole shootout, then the climax, then the epilogue in the hospital. They add some new stuff in the middle to show a dog pick up a weird egg at the death scene, get implanted by an alien and then go to a warehouse, where slimy eggs crawl out of him. But it’s more than 15 minutes into the movie when it finally gets to the end of part 1 and says “15 years later.” I’m surprised they didn’t include the full end credits. (read the rest of this shit…)

The Hidden

Tuesday, October 13th, 2020

Many of you have been trying to tell me this for years, and it has finally gotten through to me: THE HIDDEN is incredible. It’s kind of a sci-fi/horror/action hybrid, and it hits hard on all counts. Makes sense that it’s director Jack Sholder’s bridge between the horror of A NIGHTMARE ON ELM STREET 2: FREDDY’S REVENGE and the action of RENEGADES, but I’d argue it’s more cinematic than either of those. It opens with a thrilling, Friedkin-esque car chase after a buttoned-up looking guy in wire rimmed glasses (Chris Mulkey, FIRST BLOOD, BROKEN ARROW, BARE KNUCKLES, THE PURGE, THE STANDOFF AT SPARROW CREEK) shoots up a bank. He stays very calm, sometimes mildly amused as he tears through L.A. in a Ferrari, occasionally running over people (including a guy in a wheelchair), blaring a heavy metal tape, sometimes bopping his head a little. Police absolutely riddle him with bullets and destroy his car at a road block – he steps out and laughs before getting blown up. Even that doesn’t kill him.

It does put him in the hospital, where a doctor is offended by how the detectives talk about this seriously injured patient. It probly makes more sense to him after Detective Willis (Ed O’Ross, LETHAL WEAPON, FULL METAL JACKET, ACTION JACKSON, RED HEAT) spews a monologue about all the murders, injuries and robberies the guy is responsible for, ending with, “Six of the ones he killed he carved up with a butcher knife. Two of them were kids. He did all that in two weeks. If anybody deserves to go that way it sure to hell was him.” (read the rest of this shit…)

The Witch: Subversion

Wednesday, September 16th, 2020

I watched THE WITCH: SUBVERSION after I heard a few good things and read that it’s from the guy who wrote the incredibly upsetting but badass I SAW THE DEVIL. For this one Park Hoon-jung is also the director, as he’s done with several other films I haven’t seen, including the gangster movie NEW WORLD (2013).

I wish I could tell you this was a crass DTV sequel to THE VVITCH. I did initially assume it would be horror, then I heard it was action, but it turns out to be something harder to categorize. Some melodrama, some sci-fi, some carnage. It seems closest to a Y.A. type movie – teen melodrama X-MEN – except, like so many of the other South Korean movies I’ve seen, it gets horrifically violent at times. (read the rest of this shit…)

The Bride

Tuesday, August 18th, 2020

August 16, 1985

Two John Candy movies in a row, and now all the sudden we’re back to weird science? THE BRIDE asks the question “What if WEIRD SCIENCE happened not in the modern day with teenagers, but with adults a long time ago, and instead of Gary the main guy’s name is Frankenstein?” Or “What if FRANKENWEENIE was a Franken-adult-human-lady?” Or I guess if you want to be a wet blanket you could call it a riff on BRIDE OF FRANKENSTEIN. But it’s totally different. The hair is not even the same, to name only one example.

Director Franc Roddam had done QUADROPHENIA (1979) and THE LORDS OF DISCIPLINE (1983) and was attempting his first big mainstream movie. According to his refreshingly frank DVD commentary track, he had Sting (who had been in his first film) originally slated to play the small part of Josef, but “we said to ourselves this could be a great movie for young people” if they had it star this huge rock star, with his first solo album coming out in June, alongside Jennifer Beals, the hot newcomer fresh off the massive success of FLASHDANCE. So they gave the Josef role to some schmuck named “Carrie Elways” or some shit and Sting played Baron Charles Frankenstein opposite Beals as the titular Bride. But it’s only modernized in some of its themes, while being fairly classical in form and content. It’s not rock ’n roll or flashdancy at all. So I’m not sure the young people much noticed. (read the rest of this shit…)

My Science Project

Monday, August 10th, 2020

August 9, 1985

The thrilling conclusion to the teen science comedy trilogy of August 2-9, 1985 is the one I knew even less about than REAL GENIUS. I can say that because all I knew was the picture of aliens I saw in the one page article in my trusty July, 1985 Cinefantastique, but I forgot it said that scene was cut. So I had negative knowledge of what the movie was about.

Like REAL GENIUS, it has a cold open in a military facility to establish what the kids will be dealing with. But this scene is in 1957 when President Eisenhower (Robert Beer, who also played him THE RIGHT STUFF) is dragged out of bed to be shown the UFO the boys captured. He tells them to get rid of it. Cut to 1985.

From that point on it’s closer to WEIRD SCIENCE than REAL GENIUS, because it’s another one about high school kids accidentally unleashing sci-fi craziness in their small town (in Arizona, I think). A major difference from the other two is that the main character, Michael Harlan (John Stockwell, CHRISTINE) is by no means nerdy. I don’t think he’s a popular kid either, he’s just a broody, gruff, kind of dim but basically nice dude who’s not really interested in anything but working on cars. His favorite singer is Bruce Springsteen, he drives a 1968 Pontiac GTO with a huge blower, and when science fiction causes it to break down outside of town he refuses to walk home because he thinks someone will see him and question his mechanic skills. (read the rest of this shit…)

Weird Science

Monday, August 3rd, 2020

August 2, 1985

I’m no expert on the films of John Hughes, but I’ve seen enough to know WEIRD SCIENCE (which he wrote and directed) is pretty different from the other ones. It’s still a teen movie, like he was known for at the time, but it’s his only foray into science fiction unless you count his screenplay for JUST VISITING (the 2001 flop remake of LES VISITEURS) for involving time travel.

It feels a little off to call WEIRD SCIENCE sci-fi though. It’s more like computer magical realism, I think. We’ll get to that in a minute.

Much like EXPLORERS, we have two oft-bullied nerds, the main character Gary (Anthony Michael Hall, following SIX PACK, VACATION, SIXTEEN CANDLES and THE BREAKFAST CLUB) and computer genius best friend Wyatt (Ilan Mitchell-Smith, HOW TO BE A PERFECT PERSON IN JUST THREE DAYS, DANIEL, THE WILD LIFE). Going by the actors’ ages, Gary and Wyatt are about 2 or 3 years too old to be Explorers or Goonies. So they’re different in that they do not dream of adventure; they are entirely consumed by horniness. And the girls they like to stare at in school ignore them, so Gary’s big idea is to make a woman. He’s inspired by seeing BRIDE OF FRANKENSTEIN on TV (colorized! what the fuck!?) and figures his smart friend should be able to do something like that with his fancy computer machine. (read the rest of this shit…)

Sleight

Tuesday, July 21st, 2020

SLEIGHT is a 2016 film from director J.D. Dillard, who later did that fun woman-trapped-on-an-island-with-a-monster movie SWEETHEART. It’s produced by Blumhouse Tilt and the prestigious WWE Studios, who I still contend should only make movies starring wrestlers, but I forgive them in this case. The Undertaker would’ve been weird in this part.

Instead, Jacob Latimore (DETROIT) plays Bo, a young man living in L.A. He’s some kind of budding engineering genius and he got a great scholarship, but he had to ditch out on it because his parents died and he was the only one left to take care of his kid sister Tina (Storm Reid, THE INVISIBLE MAN). He has a cool neighbor, Georgi (Sasheer Zamata, formerly of Saturday Night Live), who looks after Tina for him sometimes, but otherwise he’s on his own.

Like SWEETHEART, it trusts us to have the patience to watch what he does for a while instead of giving us all the information up front. We see that he works as a street magician – a really good one. He does David Blaine style card tricks that blow the minds of the various young people he approaches on Hollywood streets. And he has a few weirder tricks where he seems to make objects move – like, causing someone’s ring to float and spin above his hand, moving his other hand around it to show that there are no strings involved. He does that one for Holly (Seychelle Gabriel, THE LAST AIRBENDER, BLOOD FEST) who is clearly into him, and maybe would be giving him the same look if the trick wasn’t so astounding. He gets her number and starts having awkward dates with her. (read the rest of this shit…)