Saturday, July 21, 2018

Code Hunter / Storm Watch (2002)

Another straight to VHS beauty. Have you noticed how the DVD / online platform previews for B-list movies always make them look terrible and not at all as awesome as they would have been when they caught your eye browsing the shelves of Rasputin? A million copies of Jerry McGuire and then *BAM*, the face of this clear winner.

And that list of names. Oh the names. We have a real battle of the B-listers here. Adrian Paul, Bai Ling, Tone Loc, Coolio, and of course I can't forget the lovely Vanessa Marcil. I say of course because I was quite impressed, although in hindsight not at all surprised, by the number of reviewers who wrote that they procured this movie just for her. She is in The Rock after all. The director has a much less impressive list of credentials, heavily marred by a blatant Indiana Jones ripoff - that's more obvious even then stupid Avatar stealing the Pocahontas story and leaving out all the killer music!

But seriously, when you put the Highlander, the Vampire Princess, and two rap artists into a movie, I want to see it. I'm going to see it. And see it I did.

This is a movie where a boy can live out his Eurotrash spy dreams in virtual reality VR missions while the vampirically unchanging Bai Ling chases him down in vinyl miniclothes and a blue wig. Seriously, how have I never written about Bai Ling before? She does - not - change (see below) = amazing!

This is a movie where, in battle, everyone randomly types as fast as they can, and the code flashes back and forth in some non-sensical non-language. This is a movie where Coolio is a gunslingin cowboy shooting cops, where everyone wears colored sunglasses indoors, where satellites shoot lightning, and where hurricanes meet artificial intelligence. This is a movie you want to see. At least once. If you're into that sort of thing I mean. I most certainly am.

 Sophisticated IMDB user and Gibson fan ETCmodel02 is as well, writing, ""See, the cyberpunk genre can be fun without being tripe." And here I thought that was just stomach lining! Look, I'm learning things!

I also learned that people were a bit miffed by the opening line of the plot synopsis, "The hottest sex, the coolest technology, the most extreme adventure you've ever experienced." I guess when there's absolutely no sex in a movie, that line can be a bit hard to pull off. Oh well, good thing I never made it that far - as soon as I saw the cover, it went straight into my VCR!

Bai Ling in Code Hunter (2002)
Bai Ling in 2015
Final Judgement: Bai Ling is a genetically modified alien princess/The Highlander meets Lawnmower Man meets Hackers meets Virtuosity/Makes me want to watch Precious Find again/As classic as it gets/"'What the hell do we have to do to get some goddamn answers around here?"' - 'Play video games'"

Sunday, April 22, 2018

Creature (1985)

From the intensely piercing synth music that frenetically starts the producer credits, to the dramatic intro about feuding firms in space, you know this movie is, for lack of a better word, sickkkkk. That's right, I said it - I loved Creature.

But real talk: I know that we just rewatched the Alien movies (I-IV, VII), but it just me or are there a lot of parallels? Archaeological team disappears after finding a hibernating alien egg...The infection spreads...And there's that whole cultivating an alien race side plot.

"Only some of these butterflies are not so friendly."

Klaus Kinski is so perfect for this role. He shines as a huge creep. Very believable.

But maybe I'm not so crazy after all. I mean, the special effects crew that worked here was the same in "Aliens", released just a year later. And with quite a few review titles like, "You don't have to be original to amuse," and "An "Alien" rip-off-so what???," I'm guessing other people picked up on it too. But they're what??? This movie rocks!

And there are some pretty crucial differences between this movie and Alien. Like the nudity, for one. Example A) the reanimated (and naked) lady covered in blood. At least he can die and orgasm at the same time - isn't that every man's dream of how to go? If you haven't seen it, you're definitely gonna watch it now, am I right?

In general, there are a lot of hot chicks in this movie. Hot chick scientists, hot chick security - the definition of silent but deadly. This was also clearly made at the height of 80's hair fashion. Which is to say, I love it.

I'm not alone in that either. Because with an estimated budget of $750k, this puppy pulled in $4+ million in the US alone. Please and thank you.

Mind control, collective intelligence, the undead, Klaus Kinski, and full frontal nudity = sign me up please. And don't forget the CREATURE. Complete with quintessential 'creaturevision'.  What's not to love??

Final judgment: Classic creature feature+add Kinski+a lot of faces fall off in this movie!/"I think they are some sort of biological control device"=gimme gimme.

Thanks to Kindertrauma for the images.

Sunday, February 18, 2018

Brainscan (1994)

Amongst the appropriate and expected (albethem slightly benign and commonplace) user review titles, such as "Fun and underrated horror flick", or "Badly executed attempt at a video game horror movie...", and "Nightmare on Elm Street meets Terminator via The Lost Boys", I read what spoke to me like a clear message of hope: "Unique Period Film". 10 out of 10 from this Brainscan viewer and Bergman lover. Unique period film. I thought about it a bit, and I realized that the reviewer has nailed it right on the head - seen through to the depths of the soul of this film, and called it into the light. Brainscan (1994): Unique period film.

He's right, the characters can only exist in this place and time. And the nineties are perhaps far enough in our past now to evoke feelings of a distant era. An era when CD-rom computer games are the most important thing in a young man's life, and the most dangerous thing someone could get involved with. An era when teenagers being implicated in a dark murderous scandal was still shocking and unthinkable. And an era when effects were still "practical" as my friend Skip calls them. No computer graphics here. Unless you are talking about the insane hell-hole portal that transports young John Conner (oh wait...that's a different movie) to and from his interactive hologram murder video game, narrated and controlled by some Beetlejuice meets Troll, meets Freddy Krueger, meets drop dead Fred. Then....Drop Dead Freddy, that's it. Alias: The Trickster, who can videodrome in and out of the TV at will to intimidate and enlighten young Michael (played by Eddy Furlong). Frank Langella rounds out the team as a corrupt cop and poorman's Sean Connery.

There is a truly philosophical bent to this fine horror film and masterpiece of its genre, perhaps best epitomized by this classiest of quotes,

Dr. Fromberg: Don't you see? Senseless violence is not entertainment.
Michael: What is it then?
Dr. Fromberg: Why? why do you watch these things?...
Michael: I guess it's kind of an escape.
Dr. Fromberg: Like, uh... lighting up a marijuana cigarette and escaping the real world, hmm? Like watching a pornographic sex film, getting an erection and raping someone? Is that what you mean?
Michael: You know, I don't think erections rape people. People rape people.

True wisdom there Michael. People rape people. I didn't expect to start on such a mind-altering and soul-searching journey when I pulled this skepticism-inducing VHS cover out of the stack. But here we are. We can't claim any control in this thing we call life.

Final Judgment: A true 90's classic/Horror meets virtual reality meets gaming culture/Horror kids rule the world/Senseless violence entertainment escape with a Nietschesque bent/The reason I buy VHS.