Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Mindwarp (1992)

This is one of those movies where the cover doesn't really match up with the actual movie (I had the VHS cover down at the bottom! This one says millions more! And it's ridiculously awesome!). Maybe if I had known that it goes by the alternate title of Brainslasher, I would have had a better feel for what I was getting myself into. Either way, I declare this film to be amazing. First of all, it's got Bruce Campbell in it. That alone makes it better than about 70% of all other films. Secondly, it addresses the question which I often find myself pondering: will humans ultimately merge with machines and/or coexist solely in a digital world? Finally, even though I've only seen it once, I draw similarities between the film and preposterous questions that I ask myself on a daily basis, often without even realizing it. This means (gasp!), there's actually some sort of intellectuality happening at some point in this film! Granted, most of the movie is spent in some sort of mutant gore fest where these biologically deviated creatures force-forage for shiny, old things by day (from previous human existence on the surface!) and drink each other up at night. Yes, that's correct. There are several scenes of grinding people up and drinking their blood from a goblet. And all this on a million dollar budget (apparently it's one of 3 films produced by the short-lived Fangoria Films)! Bruce Campbell, as I'm sure you've guessed, is the stand alone hero in this wasteland, still human and surviving, who usurps the power of the evil warlord (who turns out to be the chick's father!) and stops him from drinking brains. But then of course, the power of blood pulls him into the dark side. You know what the most ridiculous part of all this is?!! (I only feel sorry for giving away the ending sometimes...): In the end the chick just finds out that this has all been a simulated experience in her mind because her father is actually the Systems Operator, and he's been stuffing these lies into her head because he doesn't want her to go up to the surface but instead desires that she spend her life hooked up to some sort of brain machine that makes you think you're doing fun things all day and then she can be promoted to controlling everyone else's brain machines. And she fucking goes for it! What a bitch! I can't believe I was even rooting for her! But seriously, question of the day: If you aren't fighting for survival, what's the point in living/meaning of life (don't you dare say reproduction!)? And/or: What makes living in reality any more meaningful than living with only virtual experiences? And/or: Is it the virtual that's the problem? Or the fact that there are really only good experiences? Just a few things to think about I guess.
And don't worry, the editing in the movie is way better than the editing in the trailer...

Final Judgment: "Dirty, bloody, porn-starry, mutanty and totally fucked up + the future of the human race and the meaning of life! Is it just me, or do these things fall right into my lap?

"I never imagined I could devour my own child. But I can. Here I can do anything - it's wonderful."

Steel Beach (1993)

Well, John Varley is quickly becoming one of my favorite authors, largely in part to this awesome piece of fiction. I've read his Gaea trilogy (Titan, Wizard, and Demon) which are all stupendous and nominated for a bunch of awards. This piece, however, has more humor and a touch more human insight. It also plays around with the question of the meaning of life and so on. In general, really awesome, fun to read, hard to put down, and all that jazz. If you're looking for some meaningful but still whimsical sci-fi, I highly recommend it. Apparently it garnered a lot of buzz from it's opening line.....:"In five years, the penis will become obsolete."

I deem it: "Spectacular sci-fi!/ Lifegiving literature!/ Finally, somebody who's willing to ask the tough questions and lay down the tough answers!"


Due to the vacations of January (yes, I did many awesome things), I have not posted on many a fine film. However, it has also come to my attention that several of these features are quite prominent and recognized, and don't necessarily warrant their own post. So, I have decided to compress them all into one glorious post of goodness. Behold:

Se7en (1995) - One of the early Fincher masterpieces (no, I'm not counting Alien^3), this movie is pretty revered in the horror/thriller/grossness category and for good reason. I'm actually quite happy that I re-watched this classic (on laser disc no less! Yay for graininess!), mostly because I'd never realized how absolutely excellent some of the shots are. In fact, it reminded me a lot of what I would attempt to accomplish in one of my own films (double yay for construction equipment, wide shots and crazy wires!), if I were so lucky and/or awesome.

The Real McCoy (1993) - Oh man, another movie of questionable morals (has anyone seen The Brave One? That shit is fucked up!). I thought this flick would be awash in hotness, but unfortunately, Kim Basinger had to do all of the work. Who would have envisioned a fall from hotness so great as that of Val Kilmer? I mean, where were all those futurists when you need them? Dayum, he's ugly in this movie. That's about all I remember. Oh, and they stole things and shit.

Hook (1991) - Yes, Spielberg has received altogether too much credit in his lifetime. On the other hand, some of his movies are totally life-changing. For me, this is one of those films. Even disregarding my complete disgust with the idea of adulthood and unfounded obsession with pirates, this movie has seriously touched my feeble little life. And I don't care if it defies physics or looks like an elaborate Disney ride! I'm just amazed to see so many spectacular sets and costumes and props!; now-a-days this movie wouldn't even be happening in real life (CGI-fest!). And Rufio is so cocky/hot even though he gets the shortest end of the stick!!! Don't forget Bob Hoskins! He always knows how to pick 'em!

Back to the Future Part II (1989) - Talk about a movie with awesome sets, costumes and props! This one is totally radd!! I don't even care that they just recycled future cars from other sci-fi flicks; I'm totally green yo! I'm just glad they had future cars. That's one of my basic sci-fi requirements: if they couldn't take the time to envision new styles and transportation systems in the future, it's a no go. The creepiest thing about this movie (besides the fact that Michael J. Fox spans 3 generations and both sexes...?) is the realization that they filmed both Part II and Part III at exactly the same time, sometimes even on the same day! Talk about a money saver! I'm just glad Zemeckis is a multi-tasker....

Cobra (1986) - This movie is slightly obscure, but the ageless plot of Stallone killing people swept it over into this "seen it!" category. In fact, the only thing better than Stallone's character name (Marion 'Cobra' Cobretti) is the catchphrase: "Crime is the disease. Meet the Cure." Man oh man. Well there are plenty of people who sit around in their rooms thinking of nothing more than how awesome this film is, so I direct you their way. All in all: A Stallone Standard.

Bachelor Party (1984) - I guess they don't make 'em like they used to! And by that I mean: filled with tits and pussy (why don't they show the foot long?), crazy dance moves, crassness and lewdness, and the requisite sexism! One of Tom Hanks' earliest movies, and definitely among his best (Do the Alligator!). It also stars that dude who plays Kent in Real Genius, an asshole to the end. And don't forget the bestiality! Pretty much totally ridiculous and offensive, in a good way!

Final Judgment: "What does this say about me as a person?/Ahh movies!"

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Death Race (2008)

Well, despite the fact that this movie is sΓΌber-new, I thought that given it's innate Tesla-attracting properties (it's beyond absurd for most people; and a box-office flop!) I should go ahead and give it a post. Although, based on my extremely brief piece of research, I definitely watched the wrong Death Race. Yes, Statham is hot and gigantic and the current king of thoughtless action. But David Carradine and Stallone? Now that's a team. This one actually managed to incur a higher rating on imdb than the original, but seeing as how Dark Knight is in the Top 5, I think it's obvious that the scale is skewed. And now for the good news: This movie is bizarrelly unbelievable that it just may blow your mind! I mean, is this why people mock science fiction? Just because something is set in the future doesn't mean it has to be ridiculous! The girls were ridiculous. Female inmates that are so scorching your eyebrows will disappear before you have time to take a breath (At least they made one of the giant black dudes totally and unabashedly gay: one more reason for the loser homophobe Jesus-lovers to stay away [not like that, dude! that's a sin! notice how it's always the sex and never the violence that's a problem? what's up with that!? {man, I totally hope I've offended that wrong?}])?! Or what about the power-up thing? What is this, a video game??! So basically, it's a smash-up of The Running Man, Cannonball Run and Rollerball. You've got these crazy inmates racing to the death in the vain hope that they'll be released from prison. But really, they're pulling people into prison just so they can get them on the track. Armored cars and some sort of jailbird chop-shop (like they would ever have access to those kinds of weapons...); and then there's the race. You don't get offensive or defensive weapons until you drive over a lit circle with a sword or shield in it (it's uh me! Jason!), and then you can blow the shit out of people! That's mostly what happens the whole time; he just beats the shit out of people. But that's cool I guess. It's not like I was expecting anything else. Big explosions, gruesome deaths, hating against the system, etc. Yes indeed, you have to appreciate a movie that tells no lies. And, as it's directed by one of the greatest bad sci-fi directors of all time, Paul W.S. Anderson (Resident Evil, AVP, Mortal Kombat, and Event Horizon...oh shit, and a new Castlevania pic?!), there should be no doubt

Final Judgment: "Bad sci-fi is like a fine wine: it needs at least 10 years to age before you can truly appreciate it!/Jason Statham strikes again, heroically securing his place in the absurd science fiction annals, a category which some people (ah-hum) enjoy entirely too much...

P.s. I was unable to find any pictures of Jason Statham with animals, so I recommend just watching the trailer/awesome intro instead. The official page is a little complicated for me, but feel free to have a go at it!

Monday, January 5, 2009

Kazaam (1996)

I like to think that it's only in collections like mine where a director known for seemingly the best science-fiction/fantasy movie ever and the worst science-fiction/fantasy movie ever can have both of his creations given a supremo place upon my shelf. Yes, I'm talking about Paul Michael Glaser, the writer and director of this flamboyant film, as well as the director of the infamously glorious future-feature, The Running Man. And those are some serious credentials. Looking back on it, it almost makes sense. The gratuitous costumes and theatricality are all there. Plus a bunch of actors known more for their action-based reputation and, in this case, line-drive delivery, then their actual acting or actual line delivery. Maybe he just doesn't like working with real actors because he thinks they talk too much or something. Not the case here. Unless your referring the plot-imperative and perfectly ridiculous raps thrown down by the one and only Shaquille O'Neal in what is definitely another masterpiece perfectly chosen by The Big Galactus. Actually, wikipedia seems to indicate that Shaq is known precisely for his elocution, something that makes me worry a little bit for the other players. No, but seriously, it is now a real-life goal of mine to own all 4 legitimate Shaquille movies (no, that doesn't include his cameo appearances in Freddy Got Fingered or Scary Movie 4; there's just no way I could ever justify that!), and I'm well on my way with this beauty and the absolutely scrumptious action-hero flick, Steel. Well, the plot seems pretty self-evident, and the reviews seem pretty poor (did you know that Rotten Tomatoes nominated this movie as the worst of all time? Who are they kidding? Have they even seen Stay Cool or Random Hearts or Glitter or Groom Lake or whatever? This has to be a joke, right? This movie will go down in history! When will studios realize that if they've got a clunker on their hands, they just have to suck it up and head down the cult path [eg. Mindwarp, a movie that would be nothing ever noticed without the triumphant portrayal by Bruce Campbell]?) I'm assuming that the reception was so terrible because this movie bends boundaries in a way that the 20th century just wasn't quite ready for. Rapping genies that live in boom boxes? Fur schizzle. Wiggered orphans with teeth for gnashing? Absolomundo. And the kid is so awesome with his galaxy shirt that is the only one he wears in the whole movie and his star map on the ceiling. Who are they appealing to? Is it just me? The violence certainly eliminates a few families. Oh well, I guess no complaints on my part. For some weird reason all the imdb comments are totally angry or totally wasted. And I have a suspicion that there's some backhanded reverse psychology going on here at times. WTF? Does society no longer appreciate value? Apparently not, since this $20 million film fell just short of recouping costs. We can only hope for justification in longevity and DVD sales I guess. It made it to DVD, right? Oh Wilt're still my hero!

I deem it: "God's gift to genies and the rap scene!/Quite possibly the most brilliant piece of musical film work to come out of the nineties!/Oh the costumes!/The sheer glory of this bodacious beauty is like a blinding star of mid-nineties perfection!

Behold the most elegant quotes of this fine film:

Max Connor: You smell like hippopotamus butt!


Kazaam: Grab my belly and make a wish!

and of course...

Kazaam: Who dare to wake me? Ain't gonna name this a mystery. Don't wanna do time on your wishes three. Watch it, boy! You don't want to dis me! Or I'll dish out my misery. Now. who's that sorry wanna-be that disturbed my z's? If you wanna be number one, I'm sorry boy, that's been done! But if you got the itches for a sack of riches don't matter how avaricious, I'm the man that can grant your wishes! Hey, don't turn your butt on me! I'm the man of the ages, straight out of the pages. Hang on! I'm contagious, outrageous, spontaneous! You can't contain this. I am KAZAAM!
Max Connor: I'm really happy for you.
Kazaam: Where do you think you're going? Make your three wishes and I'm of your face, back in my box and out of this place.
Max Connor: listen Mr. Psychopathic Dork in the Basement, I don't think you're ordering anyone.
Kazaam: Do you realize who I am? I'm your genie!
Max Connor: In that case I wish i was as big as you, but not so stupid.

Well said Max, well said.

Sunday, January 4, 2009

The Worm Ouroboros (1922)

I just finished another book of note, mostly because it's totally insane. Written in 1922 by a seemingly crazy and extremely OCD Englishman, The Worm Ouroboros is an early predecessor to Tolkien, although in this case, the entire novel is written in a mix of Shakespearean vernacular with just a touch of Homerian and Norse epic. Man, oh man. We're talking, having-to-sound-out-the-words-because-they're-barely-English sort of writing. At just over 500 pages, I have to admit that it took me a while to make it through the book. But I'm convinced it was worth it. The plot is convoluted and extremely sexist and patriarchal, but then again, it was written in the 1920's. In fact, the entire story is focused around a single war, at the end of which the heroes are so sad and bored that they beg the gods to revive their enemies so they can go at it again. That's the worm for you, eating it's own tail. Undeniably the origin of physical and psychological debates, the worm represents many things to many people, but always with the underlying concept of continuity. All in all, there's no denying the historical context of the novel and that's what really makes it interesting. Combining space travel with ghouls, witches and demons, plus polytheism and fantastical voyages, you've got a piece that sent Tolkien chomping at the bit a few decades later. Among his criticisms of this early piece of fantasy is the fact that Eddison used names devised during childhood instead of engaging in serious etymological research. But then again, everyone knows Tolkien was crazy. He was probably just jealous that Eddison came up with a meticulous appendix and chronology before he did. Actually, Eddison did know both Tolkien and C.S. Lewis, and he was also fluent in Greek, Latin, French and Icelandic, a passion of his hobbies and not his position as Knight Commander of the Order of St. Michael and St. George or Companion of the Order of the Bath. So all in all, definitely a man worth respecting. This book is one of his earliest, and although I definitely need a break, I will certainly return.

Final Judgment: "A Fantasy epic not for the faint of heart/Mind-boggling detail and manipulation of the English language/Get the 60's version and it comes with pictures!/You know what they say: "Hungry dogs will eat dirty puddings"!

Wizards (1977)

It's not very often that you can say a movie that grossed only $9 million in theaters was wildly successful, but for this delightful delicacy, with a budget of a mere $1.2 million, that is exactly the case. In fact, some of the features that makes this film so exquisite are the result of said limited budget, and here in we find proof that full-throttled intention certainly means more than funding. Written and directed by Ralph Bakshi, the creator of such curiosities as Fritz the Cat, Heavy Traffic, Spiderman (1968-1980), The Lord of the Rings, and the graciously gratuitous Cool World, Wizards delivers exactly what's promised: political themes, creature features, and juicy titties. Agreed, the plot is a little bit of an afterthought for this awesome animation, but let's face it, the animation is what we came to see. And damn is it good. Part of the budget dilemma resulted in the (in my opinion) creatively crafty idea of superimposing live-action war footage from other films, but first eliminating all dimensionality and color. What you get is this literal collage of animation techniques with crazy fairies and wizards and weirdos, but also insanely intense line-drawn backgrounds that make your brain spin, and finally, the borrowed war footage. If the Nazi war plot of good versus evil isn't enough, the sheer medium of the piece should give you some sociological fodder to work with. Otherwise, hit the bong and just enjoy the incredible images. All in all, this is interesting and visually excellent animation for the intellectually or imagery-ally inclined.

I deem it: "Tubuloso!/ Giggling fairies with tits against mutant Nazi demons: the choice is easy and attractive!/Proving once again that cartoons aren't just for kids (Fuck you Rabbit!)!

For more awesome pictures, check out the Bakshi site!

And definitely feel free to watch the trailer (Oh the sweet sound of seventies music and sexy sirens...)!