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

Insidious Chapter 2

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.

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Species II

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

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

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…)

My new most anticipated movie: MANIAC COP

tn_maniaccopWell, MAD MAX: FURY ROAD had a good decade-plus run as my most anticipated movie. And that worked out well. I doubt I’ll ever see another one pay off like that in my life, but it’s always good to have things to look forward to, to keep you going.

Right now there are plenty of lower key projects to be excited about, from the finally-happening BOYKA: UNDISPUTED IV to the new STAR WARS picture. But right now the one that pushes my buttons the most is actually a remake of MANIAC COP.

This has been in development for a while, to be produced by Nicolas Winding Refn and (last I heard) scripted by Ed Brubaker, writer of acclaimed crime comics (and Seattleite I believe). Sounds fantastic. But what takes this news to the next level is the director: John Hyams, the genius behind UNIVERSAL SOLDIER: REGENERATION, UNIVERSAL SOLDIER: DAY OF RECKONING, DRAGON EYES, THE SMASHING MACHINE and RANK. I have spent the last five years wondering why the hell some studio hasn’t given this guy a budget to deal with, since his straight-to-video works easily out-thrill, out-style and out-smart most big screen action movies, including $200 million dollar duds like, I’m sorry to say, the recent TERMINATOR picture. (read the rest of this shit…)

Warlock: The Armageddon

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

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

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

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…)

Update from last year’s Halloween special

tn_nightmareonmystreetLast Halloween I did an important, should’ve-been-award-winning piece called Analysis: “A Nightmare On My Street” vs. “Are You Ready For Freddy?”, in which I compared and contrasted the Freddy Krueger themed song by DJ Jazzy Jeff and the Fresh Prince with the one by The Fat Boys. Today I have a brief update, or sequel if you will, to that piece.

In the piece I embedded the “Are You Ready For Freddy?” video, but said there was no video for “A Nightmare On My Street.” In the comments it came up that people including Jake thought they remembered seeing a video. I feel like I would remember such a video existing, but more importantly it’s not on Youtube, on any of the many extras-packed DVDs and Blu-Rays of the Elm Street series, in the excellent 4-hour documentary NEVER SLEEP AGAIN, or on the DJ Jazzy Jeff and the Fresh Prince video collection.

Since then I’ve encountered other people who think they remember seeing it, so I looked into it again. Wikipedia says

“The song was considered for inclusion in the movie A Nightmare on Elm Street 4: The Dream Master, but the producers of the film decided against its inclusion. New Line Cinema, copyright holders of the A Nightmare on Elm Street film franchise, sued DJ Jazzy Jeff & The Fresh Prince’s record label for copyright infringement, forcing the label to destroy a music video produced for the song. Both sides eventually settled out of court.”

but since this section is not sourced I wondered if some of it could be an urban legend. The very specific language of the disclaimer sticker on the record supports the existence of a lawsuit or threat of one, but would they really have made a video before that happened? (read the rest of this shit…)