Friday, August 31, 2007

Review – Buffy the Vampire Slayer

To this day it completely astounds me that this later became a successful television series. I never saw the TV show, but the movie that spawned it is pure sitcom. We’re given a 50 / 50 mix of valley girl high school comedy and vampire picture. The surprising thing is that the mix works fairly well. Perhaps it’s just that both of the spawning sub-genres are so dumb that their collective lack of wit blends easily together. In any event, despite a clever line or two and a handful of appearances by actors who would later become famous for other roles (not to mention two or three folks whose careers were headed in the opposite direction), for the most part this is just as terrible as the title makes it sound. See if desperate

Saturday, August 25, 2007

Review – Caved In: Prehistoric Terror

Less thugs, more bugs. Jewel thieves in pursuit of a lode of giant emeralds kidnap a cave guide (a badly-aging Christopher Atkins, looking like a desiccated blend of Mark Hamil and Tommy Shaw). Sadly for all concerned, the abandoned mine they’re prowling is infested by giant beetles. When the monsters start attacking in waves and their intended victims fight back with lasers, the whole thing takes on the distinct look-and-feel of “Centipede: The Motion Picture.” However, we do get lines like “Your plans aren’t just coming apart. They’re being torn to shreds by giant bugs.” See if desperate

Review - A Few Good Men

On the surface this is an empty-headed military courtroom drama, a picture well suited for the “talents” of Tom Cruise and Demi Moore. It’s packed with the sort of dialogue and plot progression that clearly reveals its origin as a stage play. Further, it’s a stiff exploration of the nature of duty and honor, concepts apparently best understood in terms of platitude-laden barbs tossed back and forth between the characters. But to get more out of the viewing experience, carefully count up the sides. Almost all the protagonists are Navy, and almost all the antagonists are Marines. The result turns into a strange bit of class warfare in which the ruling elite eventually prevails over even a high-ranking member of the “grunts.” Or maybe I’m just reading too much into it, and there’s really nothing more here than Jack Nicholson’s high-ham insistence that Cruise “can’t handle the truth.” Mildly amusing

Monday, August 20, 2007

Review – Blackwater Valley Exorcism

Imagine a bizarre combination of exorcism movie, religious message piece, and soap opera. Now try to imagine why anyone would want to make such a production. The movie leads off with a solemn assurance that the exorcism scenes were put together under the close supervision of a Catholic priest to assure authenticity, and then we’re told that this is based on a true story. Lord, I hope not. I’d like to think that God and Satan both have better things to do than this. See if desperate

Sunday, August 19, 2007

Review – Death Valley: The Revenge of Bloody Bill

Members of a high school debate team (and honestly, these actors are high school kids like the cast of Grease was) are waylaid by a carjacker and end up in a ghost town full of flesh-eating zombies led by the evil reanimated corpse of a Confederate raider. I don’t know what’s more frightening, the vengeful spirit of a 19th century criminal who thinks black people should be slaves or a 21st century film-maker who portrays the only black male character as a criminal. Further assaults on the audience include the script, the acting (honestly, is it that hard to play a zombie?), and the editing. But my personal favorite was the contrivance that the town itself is literally a “twilight zone” permanently locked just at sunset, allowing the director to use an obnoxious orange filter on almost every shot in the picture. At least that saved him from worrying about lighting continuity. See if desperate

Friday, August 17, 2007

Review – Blood of Dracula (1957)

This thing’s got almost no blood and even less Dracula (unless you count the fact that some of the characters refer to vampires as “Draculas”). Instead what we get is the bizarre tale of a rebellious teenage girl who gets sent to a boarding school. There she falls under the hypnotic influence of a twisted chemistry teacher who tries some kind of bizarre mind control experiment on her. As a result she’s transformed into a bloodsucking fiend, and things go downhill from there. The script and acting are awful in equal measures, making this play out like an old John Waters movie (only Waters was parodying productions like this, whereas I’m pretty sure these folks are serious). It also sports a parade of JD movie clich├ęs, including a dreadful musical number. Though film students in the 1950s might have been able to consult this production as an example of how not to make a movie, by now even that small value is gone, making this little more than a relic of an age that has fortunately passed away. See if desperate

Saturday, August 11, 2007

Review – Dolly Dearest

“I’m not going to lose my daughter to some damn 900-year-old goat head!” Actual dialogue from the movie. And fairly indicative of the overall experience, too. As the title makes plain, what we’ve got here is yet another attack-of-the-evil-dolls, sort of a Chucky meets The Exorcist with only the worst elements of each included. When the evil side of the dolls finally comes to the surface, they end up looking like Andy Rooney in a wig. And as potentially scary as Andy Rooney in a wig might be … well, it just doesn’t work. Denise Crosby, Sam Bottoms and Rip Torn all lend their talents to this production, suggesting that this thing must have been intended to do at least a little business at the box office. Why then did they decide to call it “Dolly Dearest”? Even “900-Year-Old Goat Head” would have been a more appealing title. See if desperate

Wednesday, August 8, 2007

Review – The Beast of Bray Road

Another perfectly serviceable urban legend dies a protracted, painful death at the hands of a crew of inept film-makers. Start with the usual mix of bad acting, bad writing, and bad technical quality. Stir in a werewolf that looks like a big, rabid teddy bear. Then limit the monster’s diet to rednecks, making it pretty well impossible to care whether or not the rampage of death and destruction ever comes to an end. Indeed, this picture commanded so little of my interest that I actually forgot to wonder who would end up being the beast. So when the “mystery” was finally solved it caught me by surprise, not because it was actually surprising but because it hadn’t occurred to me that there was a mystery to begin with. See if desperate

Saturday, August 4, 2007

Review – Dark Prince: The True Story of Dracula

For awhile now I’ve been convinced that the real story of Vlad the Impaler – or at least as close to the real story as history will let us come – would make a better tale than the gothic potboiler cooked up by Bram Stoker more than a hundred years ago. This made-for-TV production only partially proves my point. Though its heart is in the right place, the story wavers between interesting 15th century history and cartoonish attempts to incorporate the vampire legends into the matter-of-fact drama (such as suggesting that the “sunlight kills him” thing might have had something to do with a genetic condition that made him sensitive to light). Though this is better than most vampire stories of similar ilk, it’s still too low rent to really impress. Mildly amusing