Archive for October, 2011

And so it’s back to the land of the Tall Man. Mike and Reggie are still looking for the Tall Man, but when the Tall Man takes Mike, Reggie is forced to look for them on his own. While looking, he stumbles across a kid and a militant chick, and the three of them team up to seek out the Tall Man and Mike. While the effects of having a too-small budget definitely show, Phantasm III makes up for it in gonzo inventiveness. Unfortunately, it also steals ideas and lines from other movies in the process–Tim’s house and his methods for dispatching unwanted visitors is similar to Home Alone (albeit cranked up a notch), and Reggie has a couple of one-liners stolen from other movies. Still, while not quite up to the standards of its predecessors, Phantasm III is diverting fun, and it expands the mythos of the series in substantial ways.

OHMC: Pink Flamingos (1972)

Posted: October 25, 2011 in Movies
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Pink Flamingos is a sort of cinematic sacrilege, an act of movie terrorism. It’s a film that, almost forty years after it was made, still leaves first-time viewers disgusted and appalled. This was probably my third time to see it, and there are parts that I still can’t believe I’m actually seeing. While Deep Throat tends to get most of the credit for exploiting cultural taboos and making them somewhat more palatable for 1970s film-goers, I think that, to a lesser extent, Pink Flamingos did the same thing. In fact, even though fewer people saw it than Deep Throat, Pink Flamingos might even be more subversive, as the taboos it breaks span a much wider range of topics. I guess that I must be getting more jaded, because I found much of the film this viewing to be funnier than I remember it being. I still wouldn’t recommend it to my mom, however. For those who may not think that this is a horror movie, think again, as it features mutilation, torture, cannibalism, and most infamously of all, doggy poop-eating. If you’re a first-time viewer, proceed with caution.

I should probably preface my statements about Sweeney Todd with a few caveats:

1. I tend to dislike musicals. And by “dislike,” I mean loathe.

2. When on a band trip to New York in the summer of 1979, while most of the other band nerds were geeking out to Angela Lansbury in Sweeney Todd on Broadway, I and a few other like-minded oddballs were watching Dawn of the Dead in one of the skeeviest theaters I’ve ever encountered.

Now that I’ve given sufficient background information about things, I must say that Tim Burton’s Sweeney Todd is, by far, the best film I’ve seen all month.  I do tend to enjoy most Tim Burton films, and I think that Johnny Depp is one of the most fearless actors to ever stand in front of a camera and emote. When they work together, some sort of weird alchemical magic usually takes place (with Charlie and the Chocolate Factory being a notable exception). This may be their finest collaboration. If you’re on the fence about seeing this one, it may help to know that while Tim Burton considers Sleepy Hollow to be his Hammer homage, he considers Sweeney Todd to be his “what if Boris Karloff or Bela Lugosi had made a musical” film. It’s a masterful film, and I’m already looking forward to watching it again.

Paranormal Activity 3 (2011)

Posted: October 23, 2011 in Movies

Same song, third verse. Although I liked this one slightly more than Paranormal Activity 2 (and I loved the first one), it failed to scare me at all. I never even really got a sense of unease. So, it played itself out, and I watched it with about the same level of fright as I can muster on the “Haunted Mansion” ride at the Disney parks. Having said that, there were still some mildly spooky moments, and the audience I saw it with seemed to be wholeheartedly into it, so we may well see Part 4 next October. I just hope that they lose the “found footage” conceit–this one stretched the credibility of carrying around a camcorder to the breaking point.

Night of the Comet has been one of my guilty pleasures since I first saw it on VHS back in the ’80s. Catherine Mary Stewart and Kelli Maroney are just perfect for their roles, and Mary Woronov shows up playing a scientist. The film has lots of quotable lines, with my favorites coming from the stockboys-turned-zombies. Writer/director Thom Eberhardt does a really good job of depicting an empty Los Angeles, and the pace never flags. It’s not a classic, but it’s a fun little film that deserves to be better known.

From Dusk Till Dawn is an enjoyable, if incredibly schizophrenic, crime caper/vampire movie. George Clooney, in his first starring movie role, and the film’s writer, Quentin Tarantino, star as the Gecko brothers, who are in the middle of leaving a wide swath of murder and destruction on their way to Mexico. On the way, they kidnap a family and hold them hostage to use them and their RV as a way of crossing the Mexican border. Once there, they stop at a biker bar which turns out to be the base of operations for a mess of vampires. It’s pretty obvious that none of this was to be taken seriously, but everything that happens before they get to the bar is uncomfortably violent. Once the vampires appear, the tone of the film lightens considerably, even as the bloodshed goes up to eleven. There are no weak links in the cast, with lots of surprise cameos for drive-in movie lovers. Salma Hayek’s erotic dance instantly cemented her sex goddess status, makeup effects deity Tom Savini gives a memorable performance (for all the right reasons) as a biker named Sex Machine, and Cheech Marin plays three roles. Tarantino’s foot fetish is in full bloom as well. From Dusk Till Dawn is trashy fun for those who can get through the mean-spirited first 45 minutes.

Man, but I used to love this movie! I still sometimes catch myself saying “Buckle up for safety!” to people putting on their seat belts. It’s probably been 15 years since I’d seen The Stepfather, so I was keen to rewatch it tonight. It didn’t hold up quite as well as I had hoped…the music score sounded just like dozens of other cheap thrillers from the ’80s, the romantic subplot between the teenagers was awful, and every once in a while the Jerry Blake character lapsed into a Freddie Kruegeresque one-liner. But, for every groan-inducing one-liner, there’s a quotable line such as “Wait a minute…who am I here?” Still, after nearly 25 years, the film works. It was the first time I’d ever seen Terry O’ Quinn in a film, and I became an instant fan. I also developed a pretty big film crush on Jill Schoelen–what ever happened to her? Even though The Stepfather has lost some of its luster over the years, it’s still a pretty solid little thriller, with a rousing finale and a career-making performance by Terry O’ Quinn.