The Vietnam Vet turned psychotic New York criminal assassinator is back, and still played by Robert Ginty, but now directed by part 1 producer Mark Buntzman. I was impressed that part 1’s very first shot was the hero flying away from a fiery explosion. No studio logos, even. Part 2 starts with the Cannon Films logo, but the opening shot is a good one: The Exterminator stepping out into an alley wearing a welding mask, he sprays his blowtorch into the camera and the title appears in the fire.
I didn’t enjoy part 2 nearly as much as part 1, but some bad movie aficianados may like it better. Part 1 is clumsy and raw, but part 2 is just cheesy and stupid. But it’s way more ridiculous. This time there’s no cop character, there’s just The Exterminator going around like a masked slasher killing criminals. In the first one I think he used a welding torch for a little American style perfecly legal and ethical interrogation techniques. In this one they act like a welding mask is his Jason mask and a blowtorch is his Freddy glove. The creepy part is he only appears after they’ve committed crimes, and it’s even said “it’s like he was waiting for us.” So you wonder why he doesn’t intervene before some gangsters murder an innocent elderly couple. Instead he just waits outside so he can light them on fire after they’re done. (Trivia: One of the first guys he lights on fire is played by Reggie Rock Bythewood, writer of GET ON THE BUS, director of BIKER BOYZ.) (read the rest of this shit…)
THE EXTERMINATOR is a crude but enjoyable vigilante action movie from 1980. It’s kind of in the vein of ROLLING THUNDER but closer to the quality level of THE PARK IS MINE. Robert Ginty plays a troubled Vietnam vet whose best friend (Steve James, more on him later) gets paralyzed by a gang so he kills them in revenge, then decides to declare himself The Exterminator and go murder various criminals. Now that I think about it this is actually in the vein of THE PUNISHER (either version), but it came before those movies.
You know this movie means business when the very first shot is the main character being tossed through the air by a huge explosion. There’s not even a studio logo before that, that is the very first shot. It starts out with a gruesome battle in Vietnam that explains why a dude would be troubled enough to become The Exterminator. There’s a very realistic and disturbing beheading in this scene. Stan Winston was one of the effects guys. It’s one of those action movie paradoxes because on one hand these things are what torments the main character, they are what cause him to go crazy and what he flashes back to when he’s murdering criminals. But on the other hand we think they are awesome. We want to see explosions and beheadings. As viewers, what’s worst for him is best for us. We are cruel gods. (read the rest of this shit…)
I saw George Romero’s new movie DIARY OF THE DEAD. It’s basically “NIGHT OF THE LIVING DEAD meets BLAIR WITCH PROJECT” or “CLOVERFIELD with zombies” or “CANNIBAL HOLOCAUST – cannibal + zombies but not ZOMBIE HOLOCAUST.” It’s not a sequel to the living dead movies but kind of a do-over with the zombie plague beginning in the present day and depicted in documentary form. Some film students are working on a crappy mummy movie (come on George, this is 2008, only Rob Cohen makes mummy movies) when they start hearing news about the dead coming back to life, and their director is compelled to keep filming. We’re told at the beginning of the movie that his footage was edited by another character along with clips they downloaded from youtube, some news and security cam footage. Also she admits that she added music. And, I’m afraid, she narrates it.
I feel bad saying this but since nobody is reading this and it’s only a diary I will come out and say it: this movie isn’t very good. I enjoyed watching it and will list many of the good things about it right here on these pages, in the interest of balance. And in case Harry reads this because he got real mad at Quint for not liking it and I pretty much agree with everything in Quint’s review. But in my deepest, most personal secret opinion this is a failed experiment for old George. (read the rest of this shit…)
Recently a reader named David Lambert sent me a very accurate email:
“…I’ve loved your site for almost a decade now, but my one complaint is the almost complete lack of reviews for Westerns.
The Western is the most bad-ass genre out there and it’s a huge hole in your ‘reviewography.’
How can a guy calling himself ‘Outlaw’ Vern not represent the genre that the term ‘outlaw’ comes from?”
You got me, David. I knew he was right so I pledged to “at least review RIO BRAVO or something,” and he gave me a variety of other suggestions that could come in handy if I am to strive for this particular type of excellence. (read the rest of this shit…)
A guy I know told me a funny anecdote about renting this in the early ’90s when he was a teenager. He said he got it at a tiny little mom and pop store in a suburb of Seattle. You don’t really see stores like that now but they used to be around, especially in the ’80s, before Blockbuster and Hollywood were everywhere. This one had a nice old man who ran it (the pop) and when this kid and his little sister brought up BAD LIEUTENANT the old man got excited. “My niece is in this movie!” he says.
“Yeah! Watch for the scene where he pulls over the two teenage girls. She’s one of the girls!” (read the rest of this shit…)
Hey, everyone. ”Moriarty” here. This is the best possible thing for Vern to end up reviewing for us… crazy obscure video titles. And I love the guys over at Dark Sky, so it’s a match made in heaven. Today’s review just proves my point…
So this Dark Sky label has been sending me their DVDs ever since I reviewed their great TEXAS CHAIN SAW MASSACRE ULTIMATE EDITION. Most of them aren’t classics like that, they’re obscure little things I never heard of, and they can be pretty interesting. This month’s titles are TRAGIC CEREMONY and RICCO THE MEAN MACHINE.
TRAGIC CEREMONY is a 1972 Italian horror movie about a TRAGIC CEREMONY. A group of young people go boating, then driving around in a dune buggy, they run out of gas and end up having to go up to a mansion to ask for help. Little do they know there’s a TRAGIC CEREMONY that’s gonna happen there. See, there’s a satanic cult, and one character has this pearl necklace that has a spooky past, and who knows what kind of crazy shit will go down?
Well, I know. I saw the movie. Some heads get chopped off, a guy gets thrown out a window, etc. (read the rest of this shit…)
You might not have noticed this, but I’m obsessed with THE TEXAS CHAIN SAW MASSACRE. I consider it one of the all time great American independent films. I watch it over and over and I still keep noticing things I hadn’t before. I’ve read the book about how it was made, I’ve watched the documentaries, I took the fuckin remake personally like somebody had broken into my apartment and smeared shit all over the walls.
But I’m not the only one. I run into others like me every once in a while. I get contacted by them. We are everywhere, but you will not notice us. We have the power to blend in with our surroundings. You are probably staring right at us right now and you can’t even see us. We are invisible. Whoah – behind you! Too late. Nice try. (read the rest of this shit…)
Man, I try to be a nice guy. I try to be an optimist. I was ready to burn the DAWN OF THE DEAD remake at the stake, but then I saw it and it wasn’t too bad. It’s a hollow action movie version of the original, but it’s a fun one, and it’s pretty well executed. I’m not too much of a hardliner to admit that.
So if they already remade that and did okay I wasn’t gonna be too up in arms about a DAY OF THE DEAD remake. And I was rooting for Steve Miner too. He’s the director and I’ve seen people talk shit about him here, but I have a soft spot for him. He directed my two favorite FRIDAY THE 13THs (parts 2 and 3) which are fun and have a good energy to them. And he still had some of that spark when he did HALLOWEEN H20: H20 STANDS FOR HALLOWEEN TWENTY YEARS LATER. Nobody seems to like that movie, and to be honest the Michael Meyers mask looks terrible, but I think it’s a pretty good movie. The ROCKY BALBOA of the HALLOWEEN series. And it has that great chase at the end, you gotta at least enjoy that. Ignore that bullshit in the next one about how Michael Meyers switched clothes with a paramedic. That’s for conspiracy theorists. Anyway because of those three movies I figured if they had to do a fast running DAY OF THE DEAD then maybe Steve Miner wasn’t a bad choice to do it. (read the rest of this shit…)
RAMBO: JUST RAMBO, NOT RAMBO FIRST BLOOD PART 2
Poor John Rambo. Drafted into ‘Nam, transformed into a killing machine, trained to eat things that would make a billygoat puke. He came home, butted heads with an asshole sherriff, fought a bunch of cops, got a pardon so he could rescue some POWs and “win this time,” lived at a monastery I believe, real good stickfighter, made some allegiances in Afghanistan that in retrospect were not so hot but you know what they say about hindsight. Now he lives in a shack in Thailand where he catches deadly snakes for a living. His first line in the movie is telling a guy to go fuck himself. He’s real cynical about the state of the world and the inevitability of bloodshed, but some Christian missionaries convince him against his better judgment to take them in his boat and drop them off in a war zone in Burma. You guys run along now, don’t get raped or blown up. Then when they don’t come back on time he has to go back and drop off the team of mercenaries the church hires to rescue them. I wish the team had a cool name like The Holy Rollers and had pictures of Jesus, Joseph and Mary airbrushed on their weapons, but no, they’re just regular guns for hire, they don’t give a shit about that stuff. They don’t even care about the money that much, so they’re gonna turn around when things look bad. But Rambo (to them “the boatman”) changes their minds. Using a bow and arrow. (read the rest of this shit…)
CLOVERFIELD is a new movie about a giant monster named Cloverfield who comes out of the water and attacks New York City. Cloverfield knows he has a sissy name that’s way too close to that asshole cat Garfield. He wants it to have a more rebellious ring to it, like [Holden] Caulfield, or at least semi-respectable, like Seinfeld before he started advertising BEE MOVIE. So to prove he’s not fucking around and to establish dominance one of the first things Cloverfield does on his visit to the big city is rip the head off the Statue of Liberty and throw it across Manhattan. If he was trying to bowl it was a gutterball but, poor bowler or not that shit is threatening to a human like you or me. Let’s face it, he has a size advantage. That is the main thing going on between Cloverfield and us. More weight, more reach. Not really a fair fight.
Since we don’t actually witness the incident (except for where the head lands) it’s hard to really know for sure what Cloverfield’s motive is. It’s easy to jump to conclusions that he’s making a statement about the loss of liberty in America post 9-11, or perhaps he is some sort of rabid anti-American and is threatening our liberty. He should realize that it is very insensitive in the post 9-11 world to not only attack landmarks in Manhattan but to make people think of being beheaded. I don’t care if the fucker’s from space, if you’re visiting some place you gotta do research on the local customs and not just be a big asshole like that. So he’s either very anti-american or just a prick. Or maybe he hates women. My guess though is he thought the statue looked at him funny. Or he saw that torch and thought she was armed and just acted on reflex. After all, it is New York. Okay, I have gone through alot of theories here but I’m sticking with that last one, the Amadou Diallo theory. If anybody finds evidence to back me up on one of those stupid “viral marketing” websights everybody got all caught up in please let me know. (read the rest of this shit…)