OHMC: Class of 1999 (1990)

Posted: October 12, 2012 in Movies
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Awful film concerns android teachers at a violence-plagued high school.  Class of 1999 pretty much sums up everything that was wrong with genre filmmaking in the late 1980s–far-fetched storylines, egregious over-acting, awful costume designs, labored wisecracks…the list is nearly endless.  I happened to catch this at a dollar theater when it came out in 1990, and I felt ripped off then.  Even the usually-reliable Pam Grier didn’t help matters any.  I was able to pretty much eradicate it from my memory until I watched it again today.  I did notice this time around that there was a Nine Inch Nails song on the soundtrack (“Head Like a Hole”).  I must have discovered Pretty Hate Machine sometime after I saw this movie.  Watch it if you must, but I’m not recommending it.

For those of you who fancy yourself rebels and don’t care to listen to the voice of reason, here’s the movie from YouTube–knock yourselves out:

OHMC: Deadgirl (2008)

Posted: October 10, 2012 in Movies
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Perplexing film about two high school boys who, while skipping school one afternoon, find a dead girl, naked and chained to a table, in a remote corner of the basement of an abandoned mental hospital. In this instance, though, “dead” is a subjective term, as the girl keeps moving even after having had her neck broken and being shot three times by one of the boys. Still, being teenage boys, one of them sees the sexual possibilities inherent in the situation and things rapidly get a) out of hand and b) disgusting. While I really wanted to like the film, I never felt as engaged with the story as I wanted to be. The blame for this falls on the directors more than on the screenwriter–I get the feeling that they wanted the film’s tone to be seen as “intense,” when in actuality it comes much closer to being seen as “languid.” The screenwriter doesn’t escape all blame, though, as the film takes out a full-page newspaper ad announcing the ending about 75 minutes in. Although I hate to say it, Deadgirl ends up being pretty forgettable.

Better-than-expected remake of the 1980 cult film. Director Darren Lynn Bousman may make a great film yet. This one isn’t it, but it’s another step in the right direction. Radical rethinking of the original film is at least twenty minutes too long, but there are some very good performances to help make up for it. Rebecca de Mornay turns it up to eleven as the mother–she’s probably as full-tilt in this one as she was in The Hand That Rocks the Cradle. Movie is graphically gory, so if that bothers you, you may want to steer clear of it. My major complaint: If you’ve seen the original, the last minute appearance of the character Queenie was a high point of the film. Queenie was mentioned several times in the remake, but she never showed up. Color me mighty disappointed.

Another film that I’ve loved ever since I saw it in its original release way back when.  For me, the success of the film lies with the performances of James Karen, Don Calfa, and Clu Gulager.  The teenagers and the military just get in the way of watching these three pros.  It’s not a perfect movie by any means, but it’s a lot of fun and has a killer soundtrack.   It’s one of my five favorite zombie films.

Here it is, thanks to YouTube user Johnny Boyd:


Also known as George A. Romero’s Diary of the Dead (just in case you can’t figure out which movie I’m writing about), Diary of the Dead has been the victim of a pretty bad reputation ever since it was released. I bought the film when it first came out on DVD, but due to its less-than-stellar critical reception, I’ve held off watching it until now. I’ve got to admit that I feel, now that I’ve finally seen it, that it’s been unfairly maligned. While I was very disappointed in the direction that Romero took Land of the Dead, Diary of the Dead made everything right again, at least to my eyes. In fact, now that I’ve thought about it a bit, I might even like Diary of the Dead a bit better than Romero’s Day of the Dead. I really like that, instead of being trapped in one setting for the majority of the film, Romero takes us out into the world, showing us what’s happening in more than one place. I like that there are no zombies for whom we’re supposed to feel sympathy. I like that Romero can still have social commentary in a film without getting too heavy-handed about it. I like that the film moves. I’m glad that I finally gave it a look.

Well, this film has finally shown me that I don’t really like Lucio Fulci’s work. The first time that I saw Zombie, I was underwhelmed. I thought that City of the Living Dead was average at best. The Beyond is not too bad, but I certainly wouldn’t make a case for it being a classic of world horror cinema. Now comes Touch of Death, and it has proven to me once and for all that Fulci just isn’t a director that I care to follow. He has no discernible style that’s his own, no particular philosophical slant, nothing that really differentiates his work from that of many others. Phil Hardy, in his essential The Encyclopedia of Horror Movies, says that Fulci, and I quote, “is basically a realist director whose work derives its impact from what others put in front of” his camera. I can’t think of one Fulci film I’ve seen that I feel achieved its full potential. For me, Touch of Death is the worst of the bunch. While there are a few amusing touches and a few terribly graphic gore scenes, the film doesn’t hang together as a narrative. I can’t in good conscience recommend it to anybody except the most undiscerning gorehounds.

2012 was pretty obviously the cinematic year of Joss Whedon, and The Cabin in the Woods served as the appetizer to the main course that was The Avengers. Most appetizers are tasty, but they don’t fill you up. And that’s kind of the way that I feel about this film. For all the cleverness on display, for all the great actors, for all that it gets right, The Cabin in the Woods still falls short of filling me up. I saw it in its theatrical release earlier this year, and I thought that it was okay but not the horror film to end all horror films, as the fanboys seemed to think. My opinion was most probably influenced by all the hate waves rolling off the audience toward the screen–I don’t know that I’ve ever felt quite such animosity towards a film in the theater. To be perfectly honest, I felt that the film was smarter than most of the people in the theater. Still (unlike the majority of the audience) I didn’t feel that I’d wasted my money. Now, upon my second viewing, I like it more than I did originally…but it still comes up just short of greatness. It may be that it’s just too clever for its own good, and it feels to me that it has a clockwork heart instead of a real, live, beating one. I can still enjoy it, but I don’t see myself ever really loving it.