Saturday, September 15, 2012

Troll (1986)

Have you ever thought to yourself....?...
'I really want to watch a movie about an adolescent boy being introduced to the world of magic.  And I want it to be coming-of-age, but not too young - I mean, I want there to be some darkness. And it would be really nice if the boy was named something like...Harry. Harry Potter! That's the one.'
Well have I got the movie for you. Troll! That's the one! No, but seriously, this 1986 creature feature explores the adventures of young Harry Potter Jr. while he battles the evils of a very promiscuous and fecund troll who moves into the building. And what good luck, this Harry Potter character is played by the most delectable of 80's youth = Noah Hathaway - that's Atreyu from The NeverEnding Story! I can't believe it. No, I mean, I really can't believe it since I didn't even recognize him, despite the fact that Atreyu was my most major of celebrity crushes back in the day. I guess it's true: I really do like a guy with long hair. Well, I will leave Harry Potter for all you other lonesome 80's celebrity-crushless chicas - and he's a good catch! He's got a magic staff! He's friends with an old lady who keeps a dopey mushroom as a pet! He lives in the same apartment complex as Sonny Bono!

(Peter Dickinson: You have the distinction of owning the only two children in the entire building. 

Harry Potter Sr.: Oh, we don't own 'em, we just rent! 

Peter Dickinson: Well, let me give it to you straight Harry Boy! You see, I am a single, unattached guy. And I live upstairs, right above you. Now, I'm into swinging, and children having pillow fights at all hours of the night while I'm trying to score, may cause a few strikeouts, you get me Harry Boy!)

Let's see...what else is awesome about Harry Potter...  Oh yeah = He doesn't have to worry about his annoying little sister anymore because she's been possessed by a randy troll! And he might even get to see Julia Louis-Dreyfus butt-nude naked! There's not even a need to go outside to find a park, or entertainment, because his building has got that back-to-nature/growing a garden of singing trolls thing going on! Wow, he's got everything! Come on ladies, sign up sheet just this way! 

"I recognized your knock. It's pre-pubescent"

Final Judgement: "This creature-feature is definitely a keeper!/Warwick Davis has got some competition!/Nothing creeps me out more than slimy singing puppets!/This one's for Artax!!!" 

Also, Warwick was in H.P. while Fondacaro ruled Troll = the battle continues!

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Highway to Hell (1991)

I have to confess....while searching for the perfect flick, I pulled this film off the shelf because I thought, prayed, and hoped that Jake Busey was on the cover. Alas! It was mere photo editing and my own desires creating a mirage of Busey-Beauty. But, after reading the back, and seeing some very convincing screenshots, I said, "Let's do this thing!" Whereas in life, my decision processes always seems to mislead and confuse, I am rarely led astray when it comes to the ancient art of deciphering VHS covers. And this, my friends, was surely a masterpiece. Where do I begin.....well this seems like one of those listy movies, so here goes.  I wonder how many booyah-points it would take to convince you to watch this film....? Maybe I should go in order of awesomeness? =
hell cop hell minions and hell whore, Kristy Swanson (with the look of a 90's stay-at-home-genie), a real motorcycle gang, Pontius is my copilot, Gilbert Godfried as Hitler and Ben Stiller as Attila the Hun (+ actually all of the Stillers make an appearance in this one...), man, woman and demon boobs, a nun with a cigar, Rob Lowe's little bro, a satanic mechanic, an army of different colored VW bugs, claymation sonicspeed face + Claymation Cerberus!, a belly button beard, melted parakeets, an academy award nominated writer (not for this one = a tragic upset! although he has written and directed some pretty classic features...) + director of one of the best creepy children's movies of all time, dancing dismembered body parts, and so many cameos I couldn't even catch them all....Hey! = that's not a bad list!

Luckily, the imdb commentators are there to save the day, with insights of wisdom like:

"Popping up in snazzy bits are the ever-amiable Richard Farnsworth as a folksy, friendly ol' fuddy dud gas station proprietor, Pamela Gidley as a helpful motorcycle mama, 80's hard rock icon Lita Ford as a crazed hitch-hiker, stand-up comic Gilbert Gottfried as a raving neurotic Hitler, and Kevin Peter Hall as the eyeless captain of a boat which travels across the river Styx. Robin Vidgeon's bright, dazzling cinematography and a way cool bluesy'n'funky score by Hidden Faces further enhance the marvelously idiosyncratic merriment to be found in this one-of-a-kind flaky favorite."

Wow Woodyanders - the words roll off your fingers like honey mixed with butter. Brrravo!, as my Armenian friend says

Or what about Gary Imhoff's critical analysis of classical mythology in this culturally significant piece?:

"Highway to Hell is a retelling of the Greek myth of Orpheus, who entered Hades to bring his dead wife, the nymph Eurydice, back to life. There are two main changes in this telling of the story. First, Orpheus used the beauty of his singing and lyre playing (he was the son of a muse) to charm the guards of hell, Charon and Cerberus, and to persuade Hades to release Eurydice, while the hero of the movie uses a big gun and powerful car. Second, the Greek myth is tragic -- Orpheus was warned not to look back at Eurydice as they left the underworld. He did; she was kept back; and he himself died soon afterward. In this telling, the happy couple escapes Hell.

It might be an interesting project for a film student to compare the story to other film versions of the myth -- among others, there is a film of Offenbach's opera "Orpheus in the Underworld," a 1990 movie called "Shredder Orpheus" whose IMDB plot summary is, "Skateboarder named Orpheus and friends go to Hell to stop television signals that are brainwashing America," and two great classics, Jean Cocteau's Orphee (1949) and Marcel Camus's Orfeo Negro (Black Orpheus, 1959), set in Rio's carnival."

Oh crap. Did I spoil the ending? Thanks a lot smarty pants! Also, where can I get Shredder Orpheus, and why isn't it already on my shelf....?!..(Of course it was filmed in Seattle....)

Final Judgement: "Busey-less but still beautiful!/Hell has never been so hot!/Horror-fantasy-comedy = thank you for reminding me why you are my favorite genre...!/"Don't Buckle Up. It Won't Help"

Also, the fact that this film has not been released on DVD is both sad and quite the epic validation of my vintage VHS collection. Take that digital diva demons!
UPDATE: ....perhaps I spoke too soon....


Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Parents (1989)

Despite the impression that my cluttered movie shelves might give to the snobfully inclined, I do actually know a "good" movie when I see one. And this here cannibal-feature most definitely fits the bill. A trip down the user reviews lane quickly shows that I am not alone in being both awed and inspired by this lean, grass-fed, 100% American horror flick. That's right, comparisons to Lynch and Hitchcock and Kubrick float around with words like 'Delicatessan' and 'Texas Chainsaw Massacre' making a blushing appearance as well. In fact, this may or may not be a movie for the intellectually inclined (aren't dark comedies always a little bit in that bowling alley?), since I've read more than one essay in the comments section drawing on the brutal confusion of adolescence and the "cold, sanitized, and Uncanny." One Dubliner describes the film with a feathered pen in hand, writing that "parents as the symbol of unimpeachable, unquestioned authority whom we have to trust regardless of their real motives, are a potent representation of this chaotic universe, a universe that could crush us at any moment if it wanted to, but which we're stuck with" Yikes. Now add in a glimpse into the black abyss (yes, your mother's vagina during a late night bone session with the pops), a sickeningly shallow suburbian decade and clearly more red-meat consumption than is appropriate at any age, and you've got yourself quite the horror flick. None of the characters have names, there's limited dialogue and the music is suspenseful in a very familiar way (what's that? you say he hired Lynch's composer?). All in all, it's definitely a movie that sticks with you. And since I find myself asking everyone around me, "have you seen Parents?," and they all answer with a morbidly resounding 'no,' I thought a post was a definite requirement. And it's not like it's filled with no-names. Randy Quaid and Mary Beth Hurt take the lead. And the director is a Christopher Guest acting favorite: Bob Balaban. Balaban hasn't even done much feature film directing (although I need me some "My Boyfriend's Back"). But I guess stars do collide, and this is America goddammit, because he bought this script off someone sitting next to him on a plane. So get out those cocktail napkins friends! Write away!
Let's see...what else...I did go to the trouble of Friending our lovely adolescent (he's grown up some since the 80's), but all I really learned is that everybody looks normal when they're posing in a family photo complete with awkward shoulder grips and pullover sports hoodies.
Oh yes, and the Germans are blunt as ever..'Daddy ist ein Kannibale!'

I deem it: Eerily familiar and satisfyingly unresolved!/A horror film that puts the meat where its mouth is!/Namelessly applicable and creepy, creepy, creepy!!

Ps. I threw in some of the photos that come up when you google "crazy parents" = ah life...

Monday, January 2, 2012

On Deadly Ground (1994)

Steven Seagal asks the tough questions in this oil-tycoon, Alaskan Eskimo thriller. Yes, questions like "what does it take to change the essence of a man?," and "how much money is enough?" - all in his slightly urban youth, slightly Native, always slow and smooth, Seagal accent. 'How did Seagal's spiritual tendencies shine through as Forrest, the extra top-secret problem solver with a nasty attitude and vision quest memories of him wrestling a bear to death?,' you ask = Oh it's easy when Seagal gets to direct the piece. That's right, this is the action diva's directorial debut, rife with both morals and explosions, a perfect combination in any decade. 'But how did he get that gig?,' you press on...Well, in 1994, in the height of Seagal mania, Warner Bros. just couldn't say 'no' to an 'Under Siege 2,' even if it meant handing over the helm to the madman himself. Let's see....crunch some numbers here and...well, with the first Under Siege bringing in over $120 million in box office profits, I can see why they took the gamble. On Deadly Ground got a $50 million budget and lost $12 in the box office. But that $12 was gained back during the $45 million profit of Under Siege 2, leaving them with a tidy $33 million and rentals. Not bad, not great, and probably why Seagal couldn't grab another director's cap during his long and prodigious career. Oh well: he left us with this beauty, and we can always be grateful for that = Medicine man dances, mercenaries, ruthless oil tycoons, breathtaking shots of Alaska, dog sledding and dream sequences, Eskimos, stock footage lectures, titties (? Oh yes, even in Alaska!), bar fights, and explosions, explosions, explosions. Oh yeah, and that dreadful pipe cutter. Oef. It's true, the Eskimos probably aren't really Eskimos. And vision quests probably don't always involve hot, naked chicks. And even Steven Seagal probably can't survive being blown 500 feet from an oil rig explosion. But here, and now, please...just let me believe...I mean, seriously: the guy's a bonafide, real-life hero! Busting bad guys with the law on his side? = Check. Saving cute endangered wildlife? = Check. Getting blessed by Eastern holymen? = Check. He's even got a sexual harassment suit or two on his list! This is as real as it gets my friends!

Besides, even R. Lee Ermey is a little bit scared.

Throw in a dainty and well-manicured Sir Michael Caine, a completely useless Joan Chen, and a super-creepy John McGinley, and you've got yourself a 90's action movie. Even Billy Bob is in this flick, although I must admit that, even knowing that I forgot to notice him. Oh well (I just hope his psychic mother doesn't curse me!)...

And apparently Warner still has a lesson to be learned since they cut poor Seagal's 11 minute rant against gas companies down to a measly 5 minutes.

All in all, I must say this hit the spot like a hot salmon chowder on a cold Alaskan day. So thanks to Señor Salazar for the vehement recommendation.

I deem it: "The pinnacle of Seagal = the Rainbow Warrior is so close to the sun that you can't even feel a chill in the winter tundra of our '3rd world state'!/Seagal is so kick-ass, they couldn't even make up a story to justify his awesomeness!/Steven Seagal: standing up for the underdogs of the world, whether they be victims of racism or just victims of pony-tail hatred!/Alaska, here I come!"

Ps. You know that Seagal is in law enforcement reality TV now, right? Also, could anyone besides himself have written this over-the-top imdb bio?
"Steven Seagal is a striking and somewhat boyishly handsome looking (often with ponytail) and usually impeccably dressed action star who burst onto the martial arts film scene in 1988 in the fast-paced Warner Bros. film Above the Law (1988). The enigmatic Seagal commenced his martial arts training at the age of seven under the tutelage of well-known karate instructor and author Fumio Demura, and in the 1960s commenced his aikido training in Orange County, CA, under the instruction of Harry Ishisaka.....Unbeknownst to many, in 1997 Seagal publicly announced that one of his Buddhist teachers, His Holiness Penor Rinpoche, had accorded Seagal as a tulku, the reincarnation of a Buddhist Lama. This initial announcement was met with some disbelief until Penor Rinpoche himself gave a confirmation statement on Seagal's new title. Seagal has repeatedly discussed his involvement in Buddhism and how he devotes many hours studying and meditating this ancient Eastern religion."

Pps. I couldn't find any good pictures of that naked vision quest scene. In fact, I couldn't even find any pictures of Steven Seagal naked - the only thing that came up was a disturbing photo of a naked mole rat (...I guess it could have been Seagal...). But hopefully these blurry Native pics (spot the fake Eskimo!) will serve to titillate at least slightly.