Thursday, December 15, 2011

Thankskilling Review

 And the Story Goes...
A turkey is resurrected for the sole purpose of exacting revenge on the descendants, who happen to be college kids, of the European settlers who massacred the Natives and took their land. The youngsters must solve the mystery of the turkey's source of power, and how it can be destroyed.
Hero of the Cherokee nation
My Thoughts
Thanksgiving is a magical time of year for most of us living in the States because it's an extended weekend that we can spend with our friends and/or family, and indulge in preparing/eating way too much food while (presenting ourselves as) being thankful for all that we have. That is unless you happen to be a native of these lands, in which case the celebration is usually exchanged for the cursing of things like buoyancy, speakers of Indo-European languages, and opportunistic greed.

Director Jordan Downey must have been privy to the feelings of the Native Americans, and he decided to create an artistic apology for the atrocities that happened. Thus we have Thankskilling!

As with all things, such as hearing that free trade is good for middle class America, and the claim that forcing everybody the purchase health insurance will somehow reduce the cost of health care, a sense of humor needs to be maintained while indulging in the experience that is Thankskilling. Reason, logic, and all around good sense have no place for members of this audience, dagnabbit! Just sit back, and enjoy that which has been carefully crafted for your pleasure.
Turkey in disguise

To answer the question that is inevitably on your minds, yes there are boobs.  But not just any jugs...Pilgrim jugs! It is important to keep in mind that the scene involving said mammary(s) is shot as artistically as possible as an aging adult actress flees from a plastic evil turkey. Indeed, Downey brings to mind a young Stanley Kubrick as each frame passes before my yearning eyes. Well, maybe not Kubrick, but he at least brings to mind a young Nick Zedd...during his golden era, of course.
Hannibal did it first, but Turkey makes it look good
If I'm being honest, and I always strive to be honest, the characters actually work because they are so stereotypical. It becomes obvious after 3.41 minutes that Downey intentionally created the most unoriginal characters since Trevor Moorehouse, with the sole intention of being pseudo original. Well Mr. Downey, in the words of the immortal Tupac, I Ain't Mad at Cha. I've been making the claim that what the film industry needs is more stereotypical characters for years. It appears that somebody was listening.

Folks, it's time be serious for a moment. One aspect of Thankskilling that seems to be forever ignored is the social commentary in the film. As the characters make the "joke" that Ali's legs are harder to close than the JonBonet Ramsey case, it is as if Jordan Downey is saying "hey, murder cases should never be unsolved. Cases such as JonBonet's should not be left open like Ali's legs." Make no mistake, it takes courage to come out and proclaim such a bold statement. Godspeed Jordan Downey, godspeed.

Now I know what you're asking, "but Jack®, is Thankskilling a film crafted with the passion of Tennessee Williams?" Well, in a word, absolutely. Downey possesses a gift that could only be rivaled by Shakespeare, Dickens, Sun Tzu, or Seuss. I'll let you in a little secret, I achieve a literary/cinematic erection when I hear such heartfelt lines as "you just got stuffed" being uttered by a plastic turkey as he satisfies a young women. Only true genius could create such beautiful prose.
Ali gets stuffing between her thighs
And so, the beauty of film can be appreciated by even the most novice of viewers. Indeed, Thankskilling may appear to be yet another no-budget shot-on-video pile of drudge, but underneath it all, this is a film about youth, maturity, sexuality, and self-improvement. Well...maybe it's not about any of those things, but it is about a killer turkey whose presence transcends the cheap video that it was shot on. And that's the stuff that dreams are made of.

Now the question of the giorno, should you see Thankskilling? Only if you have a sense of humor, and like your movies to be extra stupid. This is definitely not a film for everybody, and I'm sure that many would disagree with my appreciation for it. But, if you like the movies that I review on this blog, then I would imagine that you would like this.

Just sit back, relax, and enjoy Thanksgiving 2.0. This is 70 minutes of culture that you can't find anywhere else. Celebrate the givin'.


Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Versus (2000) Review

And the Story Goes...
Ok, this is kind of tough, so I'm just going to throw out the most basic premise that I can. There is a group of people who are apparently reincarnated over and over. I believe that this happens until they reach a point in time that they all come together so that they can enter the 444 portal to another dimension(?). In the process of working towards their goal, these people must fight zombies and each other in the 'forest of the dead.'

It's basically just a bunch of scenes that are slapped together in order to tie fight scenes together.

My Thoughts
There are two versions of this film that are currently available: Versus, and Ultimate Versus. I'll be reviewing Ultimate Versus, and I think that the only real differences is an added fight or two, and the music is changed up. The DVD box also states that "some attitudes [are] replaced by cgi optimizer." I'm not completely sure what that means, but it probably has something to do with fake looking cgi blood being added. Whatever it means, it sure does sound "ultimate."

I'll begin by saying that the Japanese are a wacky bunch. With things such as hentai, those game shows where people are maimed, and square watermelons, I've reached a point where if I see something that is incredibly weird, I usually have no issues with assuming that the Japanese had something to do with its creation. That's why I was in no way surprised when Versus turned out to be a completely strange, yet entertaining, film.

The movie begins with a kinduh-helpful back story as to why this shiz is going down. After our brief introduction, it is not long before we are given our first glimpse of all of our characters in ancient times, and then present times (remember how they reincarnate?). The first aspect that stands out is writer/director Ryuhei Kitamura's attempt to try to make Versus stylish and fresh. The back of the DVD box even says that it's "super cool & no rules." In reality, the characters actually come off as more goofy and funny than cool. I'll go so far as to say that they  look more like parodies of Japanese people playing non-Japanese people trying to be cool. They're supposed to be intimidating I suppose, but I ain't buying it. These foos would have a hard time punkin' a girl scout, let alone somebody that keeps it real.*

The situation isn't remedied by that fact that apparently Kitamura believes that fresh and super cool means that characters pose repeatedly throughout the movie. I love the Charlie's Angel style pose by the group of two girls and a guy who are known simply as the assassins. It lets us know not to take the experience too seriously. Funny? Yes. Fresh and Cool? Eh. In spite of all of this tom-foolery, I will admit that the director does manage to keep some energy circulating with the camera work, and this helps to offset the general corniness of the characters.

Oh, and I'm not using names because I want to. I'm not using names because nobody in seems to have a name in Versus. That may be why everybody is an exaggerated version of various stereotypes. We have a prisoner, a gangster, a biker, a guy that screams continuously, a girl (no certain type of girl....just a girl), a couple of cops, a group of assassins, and the main bad guy. Strangely enough, this is all we need to know about them. After all, most of their interactions with each other are nothing more than fighting.

So, I've ripped on the posing and general stupidness of the characters, but seeing as this is supposed to be an action/comedy/fantasy, I guess that this cheesiness was intentional. One of the best lines in the movie is by the armless cop as he proclaims that he has "500 times faster reflexes than Mike Tyson." That has to be a joke, right? And, who can forget about the Yakuza guy that turns into a bug type person that crawls around on trees? That's (Japanese) weird, and has to be intended for comedic relief. These are just a couple of laughs that get throughout, too.

Now, I know what you're thinking: "but Jack, aren't you going to discuss the fight scenes in your (Inimitable Movie) review©?" Of course I am!

The fight scenes are many, and pretty well put together. This is the area that Versus really shines. Throughout the film we get a healthy mix of hand to hand, sword and gun battles that are much better than what we got from many of the movies coming out of States during the same era. Ultimately, if you're in the mood for a bit of the old ultra-violence, then this might be the movie for you.

As a fair warning to those of you who like endings that make sense, you should know that the ending of Versus really doesn't make any all. It's worse than the ending to The Blair Witch Project. We have flip-flopping roles, shaved heads, futuristic settings, smoke, and laser guided swords (seriously). In fact, then only thing that we don't really get is a Japanese woman in a Catholic school girl outfit, which is something that I kept expecting throughout the entire film. Oh, those wily Japanese. Just when you think that you have them pegged, they throw you a curve ball!

Kitamura managed to put together a semi-coherent mess of a movie that ends up being pretty entertaining. If you're not able to completely suspend your disbelief for a while, then Versus may not be the right film for you.  If, however, you don't care about gaping plot holes, adequate character development, or even an ending that makes any type of sense, then you should definitely check this one out. The spectacle of it all is worth it, son!

I'll rate in keeping with the tone of the movie: On a scale of 1 to Boobs, I give Versus an Orange. Give it a Watch!

Attempt to reach a younger audience by making use of modern slang

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Prisoners of the Lost Universe Review

And the Story Goes...
A scientist, Dr. Hartmann, creates a teleportation device that he, Dan, and Carrie accidentally fall in to at various points. The folks enter a parallel universe where technology is primitive, and everybody somehow speaks English (conveniently called Venyan). It is up to Dan and Carrie to find the good doctor so that they can all go home, or else they will become prisoners...of the lost universe!

Unfortunately, this is the sexiest that we get
My Thoughts
I can't help but to think that writer/director Terry Marcel made Prisoners of the Lost Universe specifically for me. I mean, he took two of my favorite subjects, prisoners and lost universes, and made one complete Inimitable (Movie Reviews)© film out of them. For that I will forever be indebted to him, and his ability to turn seemingly ridiculous story-lines into actually ridiculous movies.

For those familiar with cheesy 80s sci-fi, or avid fans of Jack Palance, you will undoubtably recognize Terry Marcel's work in such classics as Hawk The Slayer or The Last Seduction II. He truly is one of the unsung heroes of low budget science fiction films of the early to mid 1980s, and he will not be forgotten by yours truly (he isn't dead. I just won't forget him).

Baldin's back, and lookin' for watches
If you've seen Hawk the Slayer, then you will certainly recognize two of the standout characters from that movie as they (seem to) reprise their roles in Prisoners. Of course I'm speaking about Crow the elf, and Baldin the midget thief. Baldin the thief, played by Peter O'Farrell, is now Malachi...the thief. Crow, played by Ray Charleson, is now The Greenman, called so because he's green and a man. I really can't help but to wonder if Signor Marcel couldn't come up with different characters, or if he just didn't feel like it. Baldin wasn't bad, but he wasn't so impressively fun to watch that there was a need for O'Farrell reprise the role in Prisoners of the Lost Universe. If a recurring character was needed, then Palance's Voltan would be the way to go. That hammy bastard knew how to work a script!

John Saxon, who can do no wrong (even when he does), was saddled with the responsibility of providing the villain, Kleel, to this gem. Kleel is a straight up thug who is not afraid to smack a ho. Eazy E would be proud, and as an interesting side note - sources close to the deceased rapper claim that he actually based his gangsta persona on John Saxon's Kleel. I checked for verification of these claims, but I wasn't able to find any information. Thus, I will continue to present this assertion as fact until further notice.

Kleel knows how to work the ladies
Alas, I would be remiss if I didn't mention the performances of both Richard Hatch and Kay Lenz. Hatch is a Kendo master named Dan who has a habit of calling women "lady" repeatedly. Lenz is a sassy reporter named Carrie who doesn't take merda from anybody! Together they form a dynamic team that can overcome anything. Both actors give much better performances than what you would expect from such an obviously low budget movie. Actually, it's kind of weird that  Hatch, Lenz and Saxon are in this. They already had careers going, so I'm not sure why they wanted in on this movie. Maybe they all had nasty meth habits.

Saying the production values of this bad boy are shoddy would be an understatement. Those of you who are not entirely familiar with the tell-tale signs of a bad movie shouldn't worry, for I will share with you a couple of indications that I personally use. Initially you will want to take a look at the set that is used. If the alternate universe looks exactly like South Africa, with absolutely no alterations to the landscape (like alien looking plants or animals), then you are probably watching a low budget movie. Keep in mind that to make it look different small people can be given goggles that light up. This is the B movie's answer to no alien costumes.

South African landscape - Check
Small people wearing glowing goggles - Check
Whoa, what planet are we on here!?
Also, keep an eye out for the scientific laboratory. There should not be any scientific equipment within the lab. Instead, there should be seven or eight random books, and a series of t.v. screens and flashing lights scattered across the walls. After all, laboratories are for inducing epileptic fits, and not for conducting scientific experiments.

Random books - Check
Flashing lights -Check
Everything appears to be in order in this lab
Finally, on to sound design. A famous director, I believe it was F.W. Murnau, once said "the sound and music are 50% of the entertainment in a movie." It is evident with The Prisoners of the Lost Universe that Marcel subscribes to this philosophy. When you hear creative sound effects such as that of a bell ringing as a man is kicked in the crotch, you can't help but to ask yourself "do I detect a slight David Lynch influence?" Ok, probably not. But, the crazy sound effects do fit the overall tone of the movie, and that's all that matters.

There really are many things to make fun of Prisoners of the Lost Universe about. Keep in mind that there are movies that are fun because they're so bad, but those involved aren't aware of the ridiculousness (The Room). Then there are the films that are bad, but those involved know it. It's apparent that everybody involved in this production know what type of movie that they are making, and it leaves us with a fun sci-fi flick. There are no Oscar worthy performances (with the possible exception of Bill Flynn as 2nd Prisoner), but if you're looking for that in a movie with this title, then it sounds like you have a lot of soul searching to do.

If you like a little/lot of cheese in your movies, and are looking for a fun adventure film, then give this one a shot. It's an enjoyable movie, and you have nothing to lose unless you're one of those morons that runs around proclaiming "I want the two hours of my life back," when you don't like a movie.

One thing that would have made Prisoners... better is if Marcel spliced in some Bruce Lee footage into the film (Game of Death style), and we could've had a Lee/Saxon reunion. A cracka® can always dream.


You can watch Prisoners of the Lost Universe here.

Monday, September 5, 2011

Flashback - Morderische Ferien Review

And the Story Goes...
A young girl, Jeanette, witnesses the murder of her mother and father in their home. She manages to escape from the killer, but spends her youth in a mental institution as she works to overcome the memories. Her doctor feels that she is capable of entering the real world, and he finds a job for Jeanette tutoring a family of rich kids to speak French. Strange events take place, people begin to go missing, and it is up to Jeanette to uncover the secret as to who the killer is, and why he is following her.
Tutor Jeanette arrives on the scene, do you know what I mean?
My Thoughts (This may contain spoilers)
It's no secret that Germans can be scary people. Seriously, they have an intense love of order, they have a real penchant for Polka music, and  they seem to feel a strong desire to push sauerkraut on you when invited into their homes. In spite of all of these terrifying characteristics that the filmmakers of Flashback innately possess, this is not a scary movie. In fact, I propose that what we are seeing is a comedy with some gore thrown in for the heck of it. Comedy/horror would be a more appropriate classification.
It's better that they don't show his face. Trust me
To begin I'd like to proclaim that I personally love just how unlikable all of the victims are. Honestly, the kids seem to be bigger sociopaths than the killer, so we end up just watching people, who do bad things to others, die. Tormenting a person to the point that they have a mental break down is not the best way to go about drawing sympathy. Maybe that schei├če flies in Germany, but not in my hood, crackuh®! This leads me to believe that the writer intentionally made them so horrible that their deaths become comedic, rather than scary.

Speaking of the victims, one thing that I was confused by is the exact age of the "kids" that Jeanette is hired to tutor. I assume that they are supposed to be high school aged, but they really do look like they would be in grad school. And, the fact that Jeanette sleeps with her male student, Leon, would suggest that he isn't a minor. However, out of curiosity I decided to take a stroll on over to the CIA World Factbook to see the age of suffrage in Germany, which is 18. However, according to Wikipedia ( I know, I know), the age of consent in Germany is only 14! This means that Jeanette could rock Leon's world without fear of prosecution as long as she isn't over 21 and in a position of control, e.g. a guardian or tutor, over him. In any respect the kids look a hell-of-a-lot older than teenagers, so I still have no idea what age group we're supposed to be dealing with.
It looks like Jeanette is tutoring Leon on more than just French (wink)
The dubbing is pretty much on par with 1970s chopsocky flicks, and calling the voices inappropriate would be a gross understatement. It is the opinion of us/me at Inimitable Movie Reviews© that the actor voicing Leon, and the dude voicing Chin Bo in Twin Warriors are, in fact, one and the same! I have no evidence to support this, but I'm sticking with the accusation. It's interesting to see that his ability to appropriately voice the characters that he is dubbing has not improved in a full 7 years. In his defense, the female voices every bit as tragic as his, so I'd like to believe that he may be just trying to fit in. In any respect, I feel that subtitles would be more appropriate (I'm looking in your direction Netflix).

Now I know what you're thinking, "but Jack, isn't there anything that is good about Flashback?" Well, yes there is. The choice of camera angles were interesting and fresh. Also, the scenery is very nice, and I liked seeing different types of locations than what we're used to seeing  in typical American slashers. The landscapes are beautiful, and the house is amazing. I can say with a clear conscience that I have never wanted to be a rich German more than I do right now.
The vibrator is mightier than the sword
As to be expected, the women in the cast are all pretty hot. Clearly director Michael Karen knows what the typical fan of cheesy slasher films looks for, which begs the question as to why there are no boobers. This is a European film dagnabbit, we expect no less than 6 nude chicks to be presented for every 90 minutes of footage! You failed us Mr. Karen.

There is a fair amount of human gore, and a lot of animal gore. If you're the sensitive type who can't stand to see dogs chopped in half, or cats in blenders, then you probably wouldn't like Flashback. I will say that it's pretty fake looking, and nowhere near as cruel as what we saw in Cannibal Hollocaust. Personally, I found the dog's death in Funny Games to be much more disturbing than this. Just be aware that animal murders do take place.
Ye get what ye deserve
For the record in regards to the killer, I don't believe that if you see your parents murdered, and you kill their killer in an act of self defense, that you would become a psychopathic killer. That seemed to be the angle that they were going for, but it just seemed weird. After the opening act we see that Jeanette is living in an institution, but appears to be a well adjusted young lady. As to why she is in an institution, I can only ask did she go insane, or was she being punished?

In Conclusion
It's interesting to see a German take on the typical slasher film. Flashback may not be an entirely original story, but it does an adequate job of keeping it entertaining. The twist ending isn't really necessary, and it actually raises a few more questions. This isn't giallo, so I don't understand the need to try to be clever and the constant barrage of twist endings that we as the audience are forced endure these days. If I want mystery I will watch La Signora in Giallo.
Those Germans know how to party!
All in all, Flashback isn't a bad movie, and you will probably get some laughs out it. It's a definite rent before you buy. Check it out with some friends, and enjoy learning about different cultures. Did you know that the standard mode of transportation in Germany is the ski lift?


Previous: Hell of the Living Dead Review

Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Virus or Zombie Creeping Flesh or Hell of the Living Dead (1980)

The Story Goes...
A contaminated rat at a nuclear facility type building bites and turns the staff into zombies, which ultimately spreads across the entire country of New Guinea. It is up to a journalist and some commandos to destroy the zombies, and prevent the zombie virus from infecting the world's population. 

My Thoughts...
There are three things that Italians are most known for throughout the world:

1. Changing the shape of pasta and pretending that it somehow has different flavors in spite of the fact that every shape contains the exact same ingredients.

2. Drinking coffee from tiny glasses whilst discussing various illegal activities, and opera.

3. And, of course, specializing in exploitation films from the 1960s throughout the 70s and early 1980s. With a minor in zombie films.*

Bruno Mattei specialized in two of these three concepts (I'll let you decide which two), and today we will discuss his zombie classic Virus...or Zombie Creeping Flesh...or Hell of the Living Dead. Distributors could not seem to decide what to name this gem, so it is up to old Jack to decide once and for all. And, I choose Zombie Creeping Flesh just because there is another movie titled Virus, and if I have to say "of the living dead" one more time I'm going to flip.

Zantoro has more hatred for zombies than Tallahassee¹
 Should you do a little research into the life and times of Bruno Mattei, you will see that his mastery ranged from zombie films like Zombie Creeping Flesh, to nunsploitation in Guardian of Hell, to rats in Rats - Notte di Terrore (Night of Terror), and of course sharks in the no-way-affiliated-with-the-original sequel to Jaws; Cruel Jaws. 

IIndeed, Signor Mattei was to exploitation flicks what my morbidly obese drug dealer neighbor is cheeseburgers...a master. Assisting Mattei in this epic piece is none other than the legendary Claudio Fragasso, who you no doubt remember as the director/writer of the life changing experience known as Troll II, taking on the credit of writer. Zombies and Mattei and Fragasso, oh my! This has no choice but to be a nut busting experience for those fans of early 80s Euro-schlock.
Much like many of his contemporary Italian exploitation directors of era such as Lucio Fulci, Mattei's films have a dreamlike quality that I have trouble finding the words to describe. Jack find words hard! Anyways, I suppose that surreal would be an acceptable term, but it seems to be with the film itself, and not the just the subject material. It's like there is always a light haze that covers the scene. It really does seem to set the mood for viral zombie flicks. Good job fellows.
Few people are aware of the Mussolini edict that declared that zombie
exploitation films must contain no less than 1 severed arm per 120 minutes.
Quota filled
For fans of the soundtrack of George Romero's Dawn of the Dead, you will probably love the soundtrack for Zombie Creeping Flesh...if for no other reason than the fact that Mattei stole it directly from Dawn (oh those wily Italians). The music was produced by Goblin, who you may also remember as the band who composed the music for the Dario Argento classic Suspiria. Even if Mattei used the music illegally, it fits the tone of the film, and I enjoyed it. For some reason the formulaic mix of zombies and progressive rock make me all warm and tingly on the inside. A condition that only Mrs. Plissken can alleviate (wink).

 On a side note, I'd like to point out that Bruno was stealing music before stealing music was cool. There was no Napster, iTunes or Limewire in his day. He had to work to steal his music, and he loved it! The man truly was a trailblazer.

Boy zombie
 We are given a real treat with the voice acting, as it compliments the inappropriate overacting that only vintage Italian actors could provide, rather well. After all, questionable delivery decisions on the part of the actor combined with the often lethargic dubbings of the voice actors are truly a large part of what makes these films fun to watch. Geez, I love passion mixed with boredom.

 Now, I know what you're thinking: "Mr. Inimitable®, this is all fine and good, but are there boobs?" Of course there are! You see, the journalist knows that she must work with the natives in order to learn more about the zombies. But, in order for them to trust her, she will need to take off her shirt and wear war paint. I realize that this is the standard method of gaining trust in most cultures today, and it should go without saying, but I'm here to educate those who may not know. You're welcome.
One of the greatest diplomatic figures of our generation
Yes, the rumors are true. Stock footage is used in Zombie Creeping Flesh, and honestly I would expect no less. If you need to make  a 90 minute film, but only have enough resources to make a 60 minute film, then shortcuts have to be made, son. When you're working with a shoestring budget, you gots to do what needs to be done, cracka. That's called keepin' it real.
Some stock footage from Hell of the Living Dead
If you're a fan of classic zombie movies from the late 70s and early 80s, then Zombie Creeping Flesh is a must see. It's cheesy, hokey, and far from art, but it's an eye popping good time. The pacing is great, and you shouldn't get bored. Bruno Mattei and Claudio Fragasso are a great team, and the two know their audience, and provide loads of entertainment for those individuals.

And yes, the story was influenced by previous entries in the genre, but it doesn't take away from the fun. I'm sure that Mattei would admit that he was influenced by his zombie predecessors, and may even have been proud that you took the time to notice.
The typical reaction to seeing a Bruno Mattei film
Generally I would say that this is a great starting point if you would like to see some of Mattei's work. It gives you a taste of Bruno before jumping into the Emmanuels, the nunsploitation, and the Nazisploitation. If you dislike cheapness, then look elsewhere. But, if you want a fun zombie flick from a legendary director, then check this one out.


*The previous illustration is not intended to offend normal Italian citizens in any manner, and is clearly provided for entertainment purposes. Please keep in mind that this disclaimer is considered void and unnecessary for the Jersey Shore type losers. 
¹Tallahassee is a reference to the zombie hating lunatic in Zombieland. If you haven't seen it, then you should probably reevaluate your priorities.

Sunday, August 14, 2011

Miner's Massacre (Curse of the Forty-Niner) Review

Who to Know
John Carl Buechler.................Director

John Phillip Law.....................Sherrif Murphy - Remember John from Death Rides a Horse?
Martin Kove.............................Caleb

And the Story Goes....
In a nutshell, an evil miner places a curse on his beloved gold before he dies at the hands of angry villagers (one of which is the late Jeff Conaway) some time in the 1800s. Fast forward to the present, and we see a group of young-folk arriving to the town with the hopes of finding the legendary treasure. Little do they know that the 49er is willing to take any measures necessary to protect what's his.

My Thoughts
My love for all things miner, ghost town, out house, and old curmudgeon led me to Miner's Massacre, and I have to admit that I'm not upset that I took a chance. Sure, this is not a highly original attempt at redefining miner-sploitation, and it might not ever be a cult classic, but it's still an enjoyable enough movie for those who love the kids-in-the-woods style horror films.
Curmudgeons love tattered maps
At first I was frightened because Miner's Massacre is the only production of Wanted Entertainment LLC. That's right folks, the persons behind Wanted Entertainment had so little faith in this movie that they formed their production company as a Limited Liability Company...and bragged about it for some reason. The assumption that I got from this is that this movie was made for a quick profit in the straight to DVD market, which usually means we're about to see an extremely sub-par production. The unimpressive Wanted Entertainment CG logo was barely more detailed than the graphics from the 8-bit Nintendo system. That's scary considering that this was filmed in 2002.
The intro for Wanted Entertainment LLC's logo
The music is a little strange in Miner's Massacre, as it seems to range from heavy rock to adult contemporary styles of music. It's a little weird, but I didn't find it as messed up as Death Valley: The Revenge of Bloody Bill's constant barrage of crappy metal. I have a feeling that the producers just took whatever cheap unknown songs that they could afford, without regards to the type of movie that they were making. That's what the French call "keepin' it real."

Speaking of Death Valley...., do you know who the 49er reminds me of? That's right, he is the spitting image of Hillary Clinton!... or I mean, he is very similar looking to Bloody Bill. I guess I should say that Bloody Bill looks like the Niner since the latter came out first. I guess I can't be too mad at similar reincarnated zombie killers. As my dear old grandpa used to say, "if it ain't broke, don't break it." I too have been accused of copying the profile of a classic horror character for my original screenplay Teddy Schmruger and the Bad Dream on Schmelm Street. Don't worry about old Jack though, folks. I'm in it to win it, and won't let the negativity of others get me down.

"How's the acting," you ask? Not as bad as you would think, actually. There are no Oscar winning performances, but everybody seems to know what type of film that they are in, and they act accordingly. Though sometimes the actors do get a little too into it, and it is actually pretty funny in those moments. One instance that comes to mind is when the kids first arrive to the town, and one of the girls is screaming because pigeons are in the room with her. I don't know if she was just messing around, and they left the take in the movie, or if the actress actually believes that her reaction was appropriate. The look of sheer terror continues to bring a smile to my otherwise statuesque face.
The look of terror
A treat for those of us who grew up in the 80s is the presence of one Martin Kove, of The Karate Kid fame. I kept hoping that Billy Zabka would make a cameo so that him and Martin could discuss sweeping the legs of 49er, then they could formulate a foolproof plan to trick Ralph Macchio into entering another fight, thus creating an effective crossover for The Karate Kid 4: Annihilation/(or insert another word that denotes destruction here).  
I think that's Vermouth. Only hardasses drink Vermouth straight, son!
Anyways, one cool thing about Miner's Massacre is that they have not one, but two guys running around whilst on fire. In the age of computer graphics, it's rare to see movies where a person is doused in flammable fluid and set on fire, and I applaud the effort. Also, at about 1 hour into the movie we get to see a car flip, explode, and the occupant jumps out while on fire. It was a great Schwarzeneggerian moment.

Man on fire
Miner's Massacre is a decent kids-in-the-woods movie. I mean, it is a straight to video horror movie, so don't expect to be blown away. John Carl Buechler, who is credited with directing Troll, Ghoulies 3, and Friday the 13th Part 7, still knows how to keep things fun, and the stupidity of the characters is comical.

Miner's Massacre is a fun movie to watch with some friends, while enjoying some beer, pizza, and to pass the time while waiting for Teddy Schmruger to hit a theater near you.


P.S. There are no taters!

Friday, July 29, 2011

Do You Wanna Know a Secret? Review

And The Story Goes...
A group of college kids, including multi-talented Joey "Whoa*" Lawrence, head to Florida for a luxurious spring break vacation. They soon find out that all is not well as acquaintances and friends begin to die by the hand of a mysterious masked killer. It is up to a Reese Witherspoon look-alike and her friends to find out who the killer is, and to stop him before it's too late.

The typical attire of a girl on spring break at 9 in the mo'nin
My Thoughts
The secret is that there are no real scares, blood, boobs or inventive stories involved in Do You Wanna Know a Secret?. Whoa!*

In my review for Dead Above Ground I had mentioned that it was a 'by the numbers' film...and I stand by that statement! As it turns out Do You Wanna Know a Secret? is by all accounts a by the numbers movie to the tenth power. On IMDB this is listed as a horror, thriller and mystery, though if you've seen more than one typical late 90s/early 2000s teen horror flick, then you will probably have 'the secret' figured out in 7 minutes 41 seconds ± 2. Luckily for me, my tolerance for what many would consider to be painfully terrible cinema is fairly high.

After learning the plot of Do You Wanna Know a Secret?, and seeing how 'want to' is spelled, it should come as no surprise that actors who could actually provide solid performances more than likely avoided this project like the plague. In fact, J-Dogg Lawrence (as he's known on the streets) is the best part of this movie. Indeed, the grown up version of the Blossom heartthrob appears to be a Laurence Olivier-esque thespian when compared to the remaining 'actors' (or as I like to call them 'the warm bodies reading lines').

Unimportant character. She doesn't have money,
but man does she want a taco!
(fuzziness is from the movie)
Let's talk death scenes for a moment. They are far and few, and tame even by 1950s standards. Some characters just don't show up for a while, and we learn later that they were screen. Personally I don't get a hard-on for huge amounts of gore, but I believe that if you intend to make a stereotypical teen slasher film, then by George you need to give the people what they want! I'd like to give a little note to the filmmakers: cutting necks isn't the only way to kill people!

In essence the story line, acting, editing, death scenes, characters and even the score are all average or below average.

Now, I'm sure that you're asking 'but Mr. Inimitable®, isn't there anything redeeming about this movie.' Well, seeing Joey Lawrence play the tough guy is pretty entertaining. I haven't seen such devastating whirling roundhouse kicks since the era of Norris in such classics as Lone Wolf Mcquade and The Octagon. At first glance Joey may appear to be your typical aging teen idol desperately clinging to the fame that he once knew, but I can guarantee you that this ex-Tiger Beat regular is all business.

Joey Norris....I mean Lawrence
Another great character is Oz, who, in keeping with the tradition of Blacula, Blackenstein, and  The Bleature Blom the Black Blagoon, I would like to call Blercules (black Hercules, for those of you who can't put 2 and 2 together), but in the spirit of political correctness I will simply refer to him as the nondescript gent who isn't Joey Lawrence or the killer, or better yet - Oz. This guy is huge, and you would think that might come in handy at some point. However, as the movie progresses, he grows geekier and geekier until he is barely a step above Steve Urkel. At one point the battle between this giant and the killer, who is of average height, build and intelligence, is so one sided that it's laughable. As my grandpa would always say 'you can't judge a book by its cover...even if the cover is on steroids.' I always wondered what in the hell he was talking about. Now I know.

Jeff Conaway (R.I.P), of Taxi and Grease fame plays a troubled detective...or FBI agent...or a person in some position of authority ( I admit that I just don't feel like rewatching it to find out his exact title because it really isn't that important). Unlike Joey, you can see that Signor Conaway doesn't really have an interest in playing in Do You Wanna Know a Secret?, and he is just going through the motions for his paycheck. I can't say that I blame him. It would be sad having a once (semi)promising career, and now you are stuck playing with actors who deliver lines with the subtlety of an atom bomb in time square - I'm looking in your direction Leonora Scelfo.

Now I'd like to bear my soul to you for a moment. I don't know what the killer's problem is, and I've actually lost sleep over this because the secret isn't really a secret. The secret is pretty mundain, and it's surprising that the movie makers actually believed that it would require an entire feature length production to:

1. Create a strong desire within the audience to learn what the secret is (something that never happens)
2. Have the characters develop a strong desire to learn what the secret is (I don't think that they even care)
3. Have the secret revealed and resolved (by this point nobody cares anymore because those who managed to stay awake are probably thinking about how they could have watched Scream 3, Gigli, or anything on the food network instead of Do You Wanna Know a Secret?!)

This entire story could have been told in roughly 15 minutes, or 20 minutes if Andrei Tarkovsky is directing. All I'm saying is if you plan on making a movie of mostly filler, then at least give us characters who are fun to watch.

The killer
Do You Wanna Know a Secret? is an incredibly predictable movie that is in a genre that is already filled with overly cliche and predictable entries. The premise isn't that interesting, and the execution doesn't make up for any shortcomings that the script has. The only real reason that I watched it is because I was curious to see Joey Lawrence in a horror movie since all that I remember of him was Blossom and that show and movies that he made with his brothers.

All in all, I would say that if you skip this movie, then you won't be missing much. This would definitely be most entertaining for fans of this particular time period of teen horror flicks, or Joey Lawrence fans, but I think that most would find it stupid and/or boring. Some hooters could have really broken up the monotony of it all, but I guess you can't everything. In other words, watch at your own risk.


Oh yeah...whoa*

*Obligatory Joey Lawrence 'whao' reference. As per Connecticut State Statute 315 article 12, any article, blog or obituary that contains the name 'Joey Lawrence' must have no less than 3 'whao' references per 1000 words. 

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