Year: 2014

October 25, 2014

Yet Another 31 Nights of Halloween: Go to the Head of the Class (Amazing Stories TV Show – S2:E8)

Okay so I’m going to try something a little different here. In the late 80’s, Steven Spielberg came out with a TV show called Amazing Stories that seems to ether grab a ton of flack or a ton of love. I never really watched the show, maybe a totally of two episodes of which I couldn’t tell you a damn thing about. I do remember the show and that opening but not a bit of memory regarding the episodes. So since Amazing Stories is on Netflix, I’m going to pick a couple of episodes out of order strictly do to the crew and actors that appear in that episode.
Go to the Head of the Class: Enjoyable
Season 2, Episode 8 (November 21 1986) 60 mins
The reason why I picked Go to the Head of the Class was because of the involvement of Christopher Lloyd as Professor B.O. Beanes, Bob Gale (teleplay), Alan Silvestri (Music) and Robert Zemeckis (Directing). Yes the majority of those who worked on my favorite movie of all-time, Back to the Future.

Right off from the start this has the Zemeckis look. The opening is classic Zemeckis just like Back to the Future, it tells a lot about the character. We start off on the TV that slowly comes out showing our main character’s room filled with pictures of a girl. We start to pan down from a window with a basketball and baseball bat, band posters, stickers, a phone going off and a clock. Our main character (Peter Brand) picks up the phone to find a screaming mother yelling at him about being late for school.

Cut to a shot of Peter Brand jumping out the window running to school, its so McFly like and that is just too damn awesome. 

The next scene is where Christopher Lloyd comes into the story. He plays a teacher who is pretty hard on his students. Seeing a student crewing gum, he questions the student who quickly swallows the evidence. The Professor then picks a piece of gum from under the desk of the student, ask what is this then? The student says thats not the kind I chew, which in a silly way catches the student in a lie. So he requires the student to swallow the random piece of gum. I love this scene a lot because Brand is trying to sneak into the classroom during this time. The way the whole scene flows just reminds me of Back to the Future, which isn’t a bad thing mind you. Alan Silvestri scores this episode just like Back to the Future. When Peter falls into the grave around the 18:20 mark, just listen, it just screams Back to the Future and damn do I loved that. 

Regarding the story it’s definitely not the strongest but still enjoyable to watch. It’s a revenge plot after Brand and his best friend; Cynthia Simpson (Mary Stuart Masterson) gets caught with the same paper. Brand takes the blame and is punished in front of the class by the Professor. So the two decide to cast a deadly spell on the Professor which doesn’t go to plan. I really enjoyed this episode mostly because it felt so Back to the Future like. That said Go to the Head of the Class was still enjoyable to watch especially with Halloween around the corner.
October 24, 2014

Slaughter Film Presents: Action Movie Time Machine – Warlords of the 21st Century

TEXTBOOK

Well I hope you enjoyed last weeks look at real life spy stuff which concluded our “Double Vision“ series. And believe me, those weren‘t the only or the strangest action movies featuring doppelgangers. At least “Double Trouble” had actual twins. Not like that 1988 flick starring Arnold Schwarzenegger and Danny DeVito. Speaking of which, I hear there will be a “Twins 2” in the not too distant future… so… there’s that.
This week we shall be doing something out of the ordinary. We will be traveling through both time AND space to explore the alternate timelines of humanity. Timelines that haven’t been as fortunate as ours. All aboard the “Action Movie Time Machine”. I have locked onto the time stream of “Warlords of the 21stCentury”, aka “Battletruck“.
The year is 1982. A wave of terrorist attacks are committed in France by Carlos the Jackal [see The Assignment], Michael Jackson Moonwalks into children’s hearts with “Thriller” and “E.T.” & “Tootsie” battle it out to be the top grossing film of the year.
THE SYNOPSIS
Our film begins in 1994, “the near future”, after the fallout of what is called the Oil Wars or World War III. The “Battletruck”, a futuristic armored personnel carrier/semi thing,
is barreling down some forgotten country road in middle America, even though it was filmed in New Zealand, when it comes upon a horse drawn pickup truck with two men transporting fifty gallon drums of diesel. The Battletruck runs the pickup off the road before Straker and his soldiers file out and begin interrogating the men, asking them were they found the diesel. Much like the “Mad Max” films, gasoline is rare and is often fought over.
 
Straker kills one of the men outright to teach the other a lesson, and with the lesson learned he agrees to show them where the gas is located. As they travel, the nameless man explains that his father was in the military and as a child he learned where there was a secret military refueling station and that station is where he and his friend retrieved the diesel. Once they arrive, Straker kills the nameless man and has his men begin fortifying the military encampment.

Corlie, a young and attractive captive of Straker, makes a break for it during the night. But come morning Straker’s men have tracked her and are closing in. Never fear, Hunter is near! Hunter, Michael Beck from “The Warriors”, comes to the rescue and on a steel horse he rides. He pulls his motorcycle around and picks up Corlie just in time to escape Straker’s men. Seeing that she has been injured, Hunter takes the young lady to a village called Clearwater, where she is brought into the fold and put to work in the orchards

Meanwhile, Straker has regrouped with his men and has followed in the direction where Hunter was last seen, which also happens to be in the direction of Clearwater. Once in Clearwater, Straker kills those who resist, strips the men of their weapons, loots the villagers possessions and conscripts them all into his fighting force. For a long time now Straker has been traveling and looting, while growing his numbers by force. As Straker barks orders, Corlie quietly escapes the village by horse and seeks out her moto-protector Hunter.
  Again Straker engages in hot pursuit and arrives at Hunter’s farm house just as the lovemaking of Hunter and Corlie comes to an end — I bet you didn‘t see that coming. Straker and his men attack but Hunter and his bitty manage to escape. A lengthy motor chase ensues through the “American” forests before Straker and company give up and return to his military diesel base camp.
Back at Clearwater one of the villagers has a change of heart and captures Corlie himself to give to Straker as a peace offering. Hunter knows that he is now the only one who can save the village as well as Corlie from the evil grip of Straker.
With the help of the villagers, one of which is John Ratzenberger from “Cheers”, Hunter builds some armored rat buggy over night which he uses to attack and destroy the diesel depot. AGAIN, a chase ensues with Hunter racing to the second stage of his plan with Straker following in the Battletruck. I know I’m not the only one who thinks “Battletruck” is a stupid name for anything right?
Hunter hops onto his motorcycle, loops around behind the Battletruck and with a homemade rocket launcher, blows a hole in the side of the Battletruck. Hunter then climbs into the gaping hole, fights Straker and his men one by one before escaping with Corlie. The now unmanned Battletruck careens off a cliff and explodes into a fiery wreck when it hits bottom.
The film ends with the people of Clearwater rebuilding their village and Hunter riding off into the sunset. The End.
THE VERDICT
So, “Warlords of the 21st Century” isn’t exactly bad. It has an evil bad guy, a heroic loner and a damsel in distress, which are all set in a post World War III apocalypse. It follows the traditional three act story. The acting isn’t great, but again it isn’t exactly bad and the film doesn’t rely heavily on special effects that would otherwise look cheep due to the films low budget.
Ya see, all that stuff I just mentioned is fine and well, but none of it makes this movie anything more than derivative and textbook. Not only is this film inspired by, influenced by or just a plain rip-off of “Mad Max”, and to some degree “Escape From New York”, it also spiritually rips off countless fantasy pictures. If it weren’t for all the cars and modern weapons “Warlords of the 21stCentury” could have easily taken place in the ancient past and been about a man trying to save a village from marauders and rescue the princess from an evil sorcerer. Whether it takes place in the future or in the past, this story is one that has been told in hundreds of films, and honestly, manages to keep from standing out against any of them.
“Warlords of the 21st Century” isn’t the only one. Allow me to illustrate how unoriginal many of these post apocalyptic films are by sharing descriptions of similar films found on IMDB;
Robot Holocaust
A highly unlikely band of heroes traverses a post-apocalyptic wasteland to rescue a scientist from the tyrannical Dark One and his army of robots.
The Book of Eli
A post-apocalyptic tale, in which a lone man fights his way across America in order to protect a sacred book that holds the secrets to saving humankind.
Steel Dawn
In a post-apocalyptic world, a warrior wandering through the desert comes upon a group of settlers who are being menaced by a murderous gang that is after the water they control.
Cyborg
A hired fighter living in a plague-ravaged apocalyptic America sets out to rescue a young girl from a murderous gang called the “Pirates”, and exact his revenge against their leader who killed his family.
What do they all have in common? A lone survivor, or small group of survivors, defends a village or small community from marauders before venturing out to save the princess, scientist, book or water. If you’ve seen one, you’ve seen ‘em all, even if it has robots or a plague.
I never quite figured out why Straker was so interested in Corlie. I guess he was in love with her or something. I kept waiting for there to be a reveal that she was the daughter of the President — captured as a trophy during the Oil Wars or something. But no. Just a pretty girl and nothing more.
“Warlords of the 21st Century” isn’t original, and because of that, it isn’t worth viewing unless you’re a sucker for this sort of low rent fare. Again, it isn’t exactly bad. But you will be able to predict what is about to happen next, every step of the way.
I’m Cory Carr and this concludes our trip on the “Action Movie Time Machine”. Until next time, Semper Fi!
For more from Cory, check out his website slaughterfilm.com, where he and his good friend Forest Taylor record weekly podcasts, reviewing the films that are legendary, even in Hell!

October 23, 2014

Yet Another 31 Nights of Halloween: American Horror Story: Freak Show

FINALLY

AHS: Freak Show – Finally

I would have written this article the week this show premiered, but the more I write reviews about the pilot episodes for shows, the more I realize that that is a pretty flawed review, case in point, my initial take on “Marvel’s Agents of SHIELD,” but there are also times when I’m right, case in point, “The Bridge.” This isn’t about me being right and wrong however, this is about me finally getting a show that I thought I would like, and low and behold, despite a few flaws here and there, I actually enjoy, albeit, I can only enjoy it for one season. “America Horror Story: Freak Show” combines the mythic qualities of the traveling side show, an interesting cast of characters, and of course, one of the creepiest depictions of a clown since Pennywise. I’m finally on the “American Horror Story” bandwagon.

“Freak Show” is essentially the story of murder and mayhem in a small Florida town in the 1950s. The added twist is that Elsa Mars’ Freak Show is in town, making them the prime suspects. Meanwhile, conjoined twins Bette and Dot Tattler are under investigation for the murder of their mother, but are spirited away by Elsa to join her troupe of freaks. What we find out that no one else knows yet, is that the actual culprit of the murders, or at least most of the murders, is Twisty, a wandering clown who loves magic tricks, juggling, stabbing people with scissors, and abducting children.

The main complaint that a lot of people have about “AHS” is the extreme violence, and radical psycho-sexual aspects of the show. I mean, people, you kind of know what you are getting into when watching a show about depraved and disturbed people; you are going to see some crazy sh*t, it’s just the way it is. Growing up watching horror my whole life, there is very little that can disturb me, but I guess since the (mainstream) horror genre has, for all intensive purposes, been de-balled, it’s all the more shocking to see shocking things on TV. But I mean this is FX, their motto is literally “No Limits.” Where is the surprise here people?

If you are a seasoned “AHS” vet, there are plenty of actors that you’ll recognize from previous seasons, including Sarah Paulson, who I think steals the show as the conjoined Tattler twins, Jessica Lange, who is going all out in her final season of “AHS” as Elsa Mars, and Evan Peters as Jimmy Darling, the Lobster Boy, who has probably already given a few ladies a new idea to try in the bedroom. One of the bigger additions to the cast, no pun intended, is Michael Chiklis, who plays circus strongman, Dell Toledo. Being a huge fan of “The Shield” it’s great to see Chiklis back on a network that gave him his most well known character, Vic Mackey. What gives the show even more cred is the use of actual “freaks” in the cast.

In an ultra-PC world that is so sensitive about the perceived needs and wants of those less fortunate, it’s an interesting idea to use actual sideshow performers as many people I’m sure see this as a form of exploitation. When Todd Browning’s “Freaks” was released in 1932, the uproar was unprecedented. Normally people would have to go to an actual circus freak show to see this assortment of oddities, but Browning put it right in everyone’s face on the silver screen. Over 80 years later, we are seeing the same thing on Hulu, VOD, and live on Wednesday night right now FX. The other humorous thing is that you would think that people would be up-in-arms about the exploitation of real “freaks” on a show, but the real backlash is from actual clowns about the portrayal of Twisty the Clown. Zeitgeist of the times is most certainly at its funniest when people are worked up more about clowns than what people used to find reprehensible nearly a century ago.

While I generally enjoy “Freak Show” so far, there are a few things that I find simply off-putting, namely the misguided and just plain weird musical numbers. Not knowing much going into this season, the first musical number to me sounded natural and fit in with the era the show was working within. However, the next musical number, which was a re-working of the Fiona Apple “classic,” “Criminal” complete with a mosh put and a midget crowd surfing…..yeah. I assume this will be a theme throughout this series, and it really takes me out of the moment. Combining the “Glee” elements with this show just seems like pandering to a few fans.

Where this season will go, and how far it will go, intrigues me to no end. The characters that are being created are rich and seem to have a lot of history to tell and the simple contrast of peaceful suburban life in the 1950s being disrupted by a serial-killing clown and a troupe of carnies creates a mood of dread and excitement.

Fun Fact: In 1991, Jim Rose Circus, a modern day Freak Show, plays the Lollapalooza Festival, starting a new wave of performers and resurgence of interest in the genre.

October 18, 2014

Yet Another 31 Nights of Halloween: Sorority Babes in the Slimeball Bowl-o-Rama

TRASH

Sorority Babes – Trash

I’ve brought this up before in the past, but trash cinema and my childhood are very closely linked. Between “USA’s Up All Night” and “Monstervision” my formidable years between the ages of 8-13 were spent staying up until around 3 am when the TV would finally turn to color bars, watching horror, exploitation, and other trashy films all night. Rhonda Sheer and Joe Bob Briggs were my TV aunt and uncle who would come over ever Saturday night and show me the films from their private selection, and while that sounds creepy and borderline grounds for starting a police investigation, I wouldn’t give it up for anything. This brings me to this review, and a film I’ve been talking about reviewing forever. It’s the cult “cult” classic from 1988, “Sorority Babes in the Slimeball Bowl-o-Rama.”

“Sorority Babes” is the classic yarn about horny teens who just want to see some naked sorority girls. On this night, The Delta Delta Delta Sorority are having their initiation, and you know what that means; whip cream and paddles of course. Babs, the house mistress of Tri Delta, along with Frankie and Rhonda are putting their new initiates, Lisa and Taffy, through the ringer. This brings us to frat boys, Calvin, Jimmie, and Keith who decide to crash the party, but are caught by Babs. Seizing the opportunity to further embarrass Lisa and Taffy, Babs suggests that they have to go to the local mall with the boys and steal a bowling trophy to complete their initiation.

Upon arrival at the mall, the group meets Spider, a punk rock chick with a propensity for profanity. Unbeknownst to the group, Babs, Frankie, and Rhonda have followed them to the mall and look on in the security room. Having finally found the trophy, the deed is done, but with a little bad luck, the trophy falls and unleashes a horrific entity; an imp with a soulful voice willing to grant wishes. Of course these wishes come with a price as the imp transforms Frankie and Rhonda into his demon brood and orders them to kill the rest of the group. After hiding and hearing some exposition from the mall janitor, Calvin and Spider devise a plan to capture the imp and save the day.

This film is by no means to be taken seriously, hell it’s barely a horror film, it’s pure 80s trash at it’s best. The lighting is shoddy, the effects are iffy, the camera work is sub-par, the acting is laughable, the premise is ridiculous, the nudity is well……great, and that is what makes this film so much fun. It’s the epitome of “so bad, it’s good” and it’s one of those guilty pleasure flicks that I’ll never forget. It’s like Saturday Morning Cartoons; some people grow up on different things in life, I happened to grow up on trashy 80s films that aired in the wee hours of the evening.

Aside from being ironic in my last paragraph, there are a few things to point out in this film. One, the lead, Calvin, played by Andras Jones, looks surprisingly like River Cuomo from the band Weezer. The resemblance is uncanny, and looking further into the film, namely it’s soundtrack, I find it spooky that in the credits there is a song called Killer Love by Kurt Cuomo. Just an odd coincidence that likely means nothing, but I find it funny. The other thing is that this film stars Linnea Quigley, one of the premier B-movie Scream Queens of the 1980s. Quigley plays Spider, the hardcore punk rock chick. Not sure why I’m throwing that out there, but while she is billed as one of the stars, and if you like her in this film, you’ll love her in “Return of the Living Dead” as Trash. It’s okay…..I’ll wait.

Moving on, all in all, this film is great fun if you are open-minded enough to giving “Sorority Babes” a chance. I feel like this is a film trapped in time, and would be lost to a generation that is looking for torture porn and found footage horror. There are slick odes to other films throughout, and while it’s cheesy and otherwise pretty cheap looking, its nonetheless a fun time and a trip down memory lane.

Fun Fact: The trophy, although appearing to be metallic, is actually made of balsa wood.

October 17, 2014

Slaughter Film Presents: Action Movie Time Machine – The Assignment

DOUBLE INTRIGUE

Alright, enough goofy action comedies about twin brothers separated at birth, weight lifting, JVCD splits and taking bubble baths together. This time we’re visiting a film featuring real life spy stuff and espionage, “The Assignment“. I first heard about this flick back around ‘99 when I was staying up late to watch “skin-emax”, and instead stumbled upon this. Oh how those were the days… All aboard! The Action Movie Time Machine is now departing.
The year is 1997. Mike Tyson bit off Evander Holyfield’s ear during a boxing match. The world mourns the loss of both Princess Diana, Mother Teresa & Notorious B.I.G.. The “Titanic” sails again, this time at the box office and “Batman & Robin” proved to be the worst Batman film of all time. All this and “Carlos the Jackal” was brought to justice in “The Assignment”,
THE SKINNY
“The Assignment” begins with Lt. Cmdr. Annibal Ramirez, Aidan Quinn, who is spending his shore leave traversing the narrow streets of Israel when he notices that he is being followed. He ditches his things and makes a break for it, but as it turns out, the person following him isn’t the only one. There is a group of people working together to track and capture him. Once he is captured, he is brought to a dank and dirty apartment where he is beaten and interrogated by an unnamed man, Ben Kingsley, who keeps calling him Carlos and “The Jackal”.
 
At first Annibal pretends to be a tourist, as are his military instructions if he were to ever be detained in a hostile environment, but after a while he understands that he has been captured by some form of Israeli military and starts to explain who he is and how they can contact a naval liaison to corroborate his story. He is detained for several more days before he is set free.
Weeks later Annibal returns home from a long stint at sea when he is visited by Jack Shaw, Donald Sutherland, from the CIA. Jack has come to recruit Annibal for some highly sensitive spy work. Why Annibal? After all there must be scores of highly trained special ops types ready and willing to take on this assignment, right? Well none of them share the face of a notorious terrorist for hire, Carlos “The Jackal”. Somehow Annibal and Carlos are doppelgangers.
After some convincing, Annibal travels to a remote facility in Montreal, Canada. Here he takes on the alias Miguel, begins learning all that he can about Carlos and receives a crash course in spying from Amos, the very same man who interrogated Annibal in Israel. Amos and Jack have been tracking Carlos for years, but have never been able to apprehend him. Now with “Miguel” on their side, perhaps they can get the drop on him.
Miguel’s training consists of memorizing the names on tombstones, counting condiments in a refrigerator, breathing in cheap cigar smoke and eating gallons of oatmeal a day until it gives him the shits. I don’t know about you, but it all sounds like high tech spy stuff to me.
As a child Carlos’s father, who he hates, smoked the cigars and now as an adult when he smells the same cigars it drives him nuts. The same goes for the oatmeal. As a child he and his mother were poor and there was little else to eat. This is all an attempt to get Miguel inside the head of Carlos. He had to endure as a child, and now as an adult he can be selfish and impose his will on others. This sort of personality trait is the sort of thing that will make him a believable Carlos to the people who know him best. As for the condiments and tombstones, these are tactics used to get Miguel to be more observant of his surroundings. To be able to piece together the whos, whats & wheres from his environment.
There is a scene in which Miguel’s “mock wife”, Jack, told him that she is spending the week out of town with family and now Miguel has two minutes to casually look around a mock kitchen and living room, and report his findings after time expires. He drinks from the milk carton, looks in the trash and has a seat on the couch. Miguel’s learns from this that the milk is fresh so it must have been purchased recently. Too recently for her to have been out of town. There was a book of matches in the trash from a bar down the street. The couch has a cushion turned over and smells of cheap aftershave. Miguel explains that she never left town. She also met a man at a bar and brought him home, then had sex on the couch. After which Miguel smiles and asks Jack, “…are you fucking my wife?”.

The training continues with Miguel learning how to fuck from a spurned lover of Carlos. Let it be known — this lady is a freak. Miguel has reservations about cheating on his wife, but ol’ Jack always knows just what to say; “Don‘t think of it as cheating on your wife. Think of it as fucking for your flag”. Lol I love this movie.
As the film approaches the final act, the plan is finally explained to Miguel. Since assassinating Carlos outright will result in retaliatory attacks from his fellow terrorists, Miguel will pretend to be Carlos to discredit him with his Soviet connections and in turn let them take him out. He, as Carlos, will sleep with one of the real Carlos’ mistresses and convince her to do some banking for him. The banking involves accepting a wire transfer from the CIA into her account and then out of her’s and into Carlos/Miguel’s. This is something that will get the attention of Soviet Intelligence. This combined with a public meeting between Carlos/Miguel and Jack solidifies the counter intelligence story that Carlos is being paid off by the CIA to share with them what he might know about the Soviets.
You pretty much know how this is going to end, but because I think you should give this flick a watch, if you get a chance, I’ll try to save some juicy details about the finale. Just know that there is a face to face fight between Carlos & Miguel, some secret spy code words, as well as double lives are lived.
THE VERDICT
“The Assignment” is tame by the standards of ‘80s action movies. However its real life esthetic has always been something that I’ve enjoyed. The way Annibal is trained in Canada has always fascinated me. How he was pushed to his limits — forced to remember seemingly unimportant information and taught how to interpret it. And of course how Jack and Amos teach Annibal to react to the smell of cheap cigars and oatmeal the same way Carlos would, but forcing him to smell and eat it constantly.
This is the sort of thing I imagine real life spies might have to do in order to blend in and survive.
Released right around the same time as “Goldeneye”, “Mission Impossible” and “The Saint”, I was introduced to a new brand of action movie. Sure, Bond had been around for thirty or so years but most of those films leaned more toward traditional action fare than what I was now getting familiar with. Besides, Bond always had fun but unrealistic gadgets and one-liners that I’ve grown to expect and love in Bond films, but I can’t take them all together seriously.
This films story is as entertaining as it is interesting. I was surprised to lean in recent years that “Carlos the Jackal” is a real person who was arrested and convicted in ‘97 for killing several French police. The Carlos from “The Assignment” is a little more colorful, and I don’t think there was ever a plot to discredit him by using a double. But oh well. If you’re interested, you can learn more about the real Carlos here.
The acting is great, and with Ben Kingsley and Donald Sutherland, how could it not be? The special effects are mostly good but from time to time they show their age. There are a several explosions that are super-imposed. While they do look obvious, they also don’t look awful. It was the ‘90s after all. Even space aliens hell-bent on blowing up the white house super-imposed their laser blasts [“Independence Day“].
 
If you are at all interested in spy/espionage thrillers then “The Assignment” is for you. I highly recommend It.
I’m Cory Carr and this concludes our ride on the “Action Movie Time Machine”. Until next time, “Awfully warm for this time of year.”
For more from Cory, check out his website slaughterfilm.com, where he and his good friend Forest Taylor

October 14, 2014

Slaughter Film Presents: Action Movie Time Machine – Double Trouble

DOUBLE ENJOYMENT

Man, the action movies of this vintage were really reaching with this gimmicky subject matter. All the straight forward stories about alien hunters in the jungle and war vets returning to NAM to “take pictures” had all run dry and Hollywood writers must have been looking to cartoons for inspiration. All aboard! Out destination today is 1992…AGAIN! If I’m not careful the year 1992 is going to get stuck in the internal memory of the time machine and I’ll never be able to escape the early ‘90s.
The year is 1992. Peter and David Paul, aka “The Barbarian Brothers“, are identical twins who spent most of the ‘80s body building in Southern California before making the jump into acting. They had a gig driving a “D.C. Cab“, they hung out with “The Flamingo Kid” and even starred in a film that seems to have been titled after then, “The Barbarians”. As the ‘90s began things were really looking promising for the Barbarian Brothers and they even landed a role in the film we‘ll be visiting today, “Double Trouble“.
THE SKINNY
This films begins with Peter, Peter Paul, making a phone call to the police from a plush high-rise apartment in the dead of night. Who is he calling? The police. Why is he calling them? The apartment has been robbed…by him. I’ll admit this isn’t the smartest thing I’ve seen a criminal do, but much like the “Wet Bandits”, this is his calling card.
 
Moments later he is apprehended on the roof by detective…umm… David, David Paul, Peter‘s twin brother. He isn’t so much apprehended as he is shot by David. The two start bickering about how Peter can’t stay out of trouble and how David takes life too seriously. David gets frustrated and shoots Peter in the arm. Peter stumbles, falls off the roof and makes his escape.
This doesn’t matter much because a day or two later Peter is up to his old cat burglary tricks when he heists a collection of valuable diamonds. Again, Peter calls the police but this time he asks them to send David. Peter tries to get even with his bro for shooting him by setting a booby-trap but instead gets caught in it himself.
 
After spending the night in the jail house, Peter cuts a deal with O’Brien, the chief of police, played by James Doohan of Star Trek fame. Apparently Peter overheard some juicy information the last time he was in prison, some of which helped him find the diamonds he tried to steal. The rest involved Philip Chamberlin, Roddy McDowall, a diamond exporter who the police suspect is using his exporting connections as a way to traffic drug money. O’Brien decides to team Peter up with David and let them work together to dig up dirt on Chamberlin.
 
As the brothers investigate they learn that Chamberlin has paid off all the right people, including city council who approved the plan to build a subway underneath the nearby diamond exchange. He then made friends with Kent, the man in charge of the subways construction. The plan is to use the unfinished subway to blow a hole in the wall of the diamond exchange’s underground vault. It’s just an old fashioned robbery. I guess the police shouldn’t have been so concerned with Chamberlin’s drug money trafficking.
Once the brothers are hip to Chamberlin’s plot they rush to the diamond exchange, but it’s already too late. The diamonds have been stolen and Chamberlin and his goons are headed to the airport to skip town. The twins follow.
Once Chamberlin and the rest arrive he shares a celebratory toast with his criminal cohorts. The funny thing about criminals thou, they are greedy and can’t be trusted. Chamberlin poisoned the champagne so he could wouldn‘t have to share the booty.

Chamberlin grabs the diamonds and heads to his private plane but surprise, the brothers beat him to the punch in a way that only Barbarian Brothers or a Mentos commercial could. The plane is upside down.
Now the typical cat and mouse chase ensues before David corners Chamberlin and blows him away. The blast from David’s shotgun throws Chamberlin’s body through a plate glass window in a display of true detective work that would make Dirty Hairy proud.
With another case closed, David stops to wonder where his brother is. And that’s when he notices, the diamonds are gone. As the credits roll David chases Peter into the early morning sunrise. The End.
THE VERDICT
“Double Trouble” plays better as a comedy than a straight action movie. Hmm, am I experiencing déjà vu? Didn’t I just say that about “Twin Dragons“? The sheer absurdity of these two walking behemoth twin brothers pitted against each other in typical odd couple fashion doesn’t do much to help the poor acting and less than amazing plot that was later stolen for “ Die Hard with a Vengeance“.
But I have to admit, it’s pretty entertaining all things considered. The Barbarian Brothers share good comedic timing and some of the humor isn’t half bad. The jokes are low hanging fruit in most cases but it was enough to get a few genuine laughs out of me.
I also enjoyed all the familiar faces. James Doohan and Roddy McDowall are great. Even David Carradine was kind enough to make an appearance as an old prison friend of Peter’s. Here is someone I bet you forgot existed, Bill Mumy. He plays one of Chamberlin’s enforcers, but you might remember him as the little boy from the “Lost in Space” television show or the episode of “The Twilight Zone”, “It‘s a Good Life”.
 
So, in the end I can’t say “Double Trouble” isn’t all that bad, even though I expected it to be. In fact I had more fun watching this than I did watching both “Twin Dragons” and “Double Impact“. Go figure. I guess you shouldn’t judge a book by it’s cover even if it’s cover is a muscle-bound pair of twins who probably shouldn’t have been actors.
Now I bet you‘re wondering what happened to the Barbarian Brothers right?.. Right?! Well they went on to star in a few other films, their last being “Twin Sitters” from 1994 in which they play baby sitters who get caught up in all sorts of hilarious hijinks. Oh but that’s not all! They also recorded the “Twin Sitters” soundtrack and on four of those songs they rap. LOL Why? WHY, DID EVERYONE RAP BACK THEN?! I guess there weren’t many good ideas in the early ‘90s. I blame everyone’s struggle to kick their cocaine habit — a remnant of the ‘80s.
 I’m Cory Carr and this concludes our ride on the “Action Movie Time Machine”. Until next time, Semper Fi!
For more from Cory, check out his website slaughterfilm.com, where he and his good friend Forest Taylor record weekly podcasts, reviewing the films that are legendary, even in Hell!

October 12, 2014

Rant Corner (Ep.1) – “Gotham” or: How I Learned to Stop Caring for anything on TV and Developed a Drinking Problem.

In chemistry, beer is an organic compound in which the hydroxyl functional group is bound to a saturated carbon atom. At Simplistic Reviews we take that chemistry and mix it up with a RANT!

Funny writing that Dr. Stranglove title brought me back to a date I once was on.
Do you have time for a story?

Go to    (1) for Yes       (2) for Get on with it!

(1) Okay good…Well on my date, the girl asked me about my favorite movie. I told her, “Back to the Future”. She said her favorite was Dr. Stranglove. I explained I loved that film dearly including its beautiful hilarious long title. She responded with Stranglove? “Well, yes the whole thing” I said with a fork placing the chicken in my mouth. She said, “It’s not that long”. I in a state of wtf said, “Yes, or How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb”. She responded with, “That’s not the title, its Dr. Stranglove…” I waited for the “or how I stop”. It never came just like a god bless you after a sneeze. I got up and walked away. Never to speak to her again.

I’ll have to tell you about the Back to the Future Date next time.

So Saturday and Sunday Cartoons are no more. Don’t worry we have something to fill up that time slot for ya, how about a Drunken Rant?!

Justin pops open some Firestone Double dba why because it’s vintage bitch! And since it’s our first episode of our Rants, we figure we spend a little more money on the production value because we love you and we at Simplistic Reviews love all that is intoxication. Yes some say its a problem we say it adds to the production, and you need it especially when dealing with Fox’s, Gotham

(2) Oh…god… do you need that alcohol when watching that thing called a show.

P.S. I was pretty loaded in this, enjoy! 

FOR MATURE AUDIENCES ONLY


October 7, 2014

Yet Another 31 Nights of Halloween: Re-Animator

HEAD

Re-Animator – Head

One of the oldest, and most cliched tropes in horror are zombies. Zombies, zombies, and zombies. You simply can’t get away from zombies. Well, to be fair, vampires took the lead a little bit, but with “The Walking Dead” and numerous video games, you can’t get away from zombies. But, there was a time when zombies were cool, not running jokes (double pun). This brings me to the 1985 cult classic from Stuart Gordon, “Re-Animator.” While it’s not a zombie movie per say, maybe more of a modern day take on Frankenstein, there is still plenty of zombie-like behavior throughout the film.

Our tale starts at the University of Zurich, where Dr. Herbert West is found with his “dead” professor, Hans Gruber, and after the incident, West flees the University to come to Miskatonic University in Massachusetts to continue his studies. He meets Dan Cain after answering an ad for a room to rent in Cain’s home. Dan is engaged to be married to the Dean of the University’s daughter, Megan, which is being kept a secret.

After an altercation with the University’s head brain researcher, Dr. Carl Hill, West continues his research and brings Dan’s dead cat, Rufus, back to life. While Dan is horrified, he is also intrigued by West’s research and helps him sneak into the University’s morgue to continue testing his “reagent” on fresh corpses. This is met with mixed results as the test corpse is re-animted, but uncontrollably, killing Megan’s father, Alan Halsey. West, after dispatching his creation, seizes the opportunity with an even fresher corpse, and injects Alan with his reagent. While not a wild as the previous experiment, Alan is merely a zombie of his former self.

After contacting the authorities, Dr. Hill remands Halsey in his private padded room and lobotomizes him with his latest creation, a laser knife, to make him more docile. Hill goes to visit West after the procedure and plans to blackmail him if West does not turn over his research for his serum. Distracting Hill, West is able to dispatch the doctor with a shovel, removing his head from his body. Sensing a breakthrough with an even fresher specimen, West injects Hill’s head and body with his serum, resurrecting both. However, while not paying attention, Hill’s body knocks out West, stealing his notes, research, and serum, and returns to the morgue at Miskatonic’s Hospital to begin his own research with the reagent.

Meanwhile, Dan and Megan find West in his research basement, discovering that all of his research has been stolen, but before they can react, Megan’s father, Alan, attacks, knocking out Dan and taking Megan back to Hill. Needless to say, Hill’s plan is to use his laser knife and West’s serum to resurrect the dead and lobotomize them to create an undead army under his command and it’s up to West and Cain to stop him and save Megan.

“Re-Animator” is a classic in the splatter/body horror genre, and I could only imagine what it would have looked like if it was directed by David Cronenberg, even though Stuart Gordon does an admirable job directing. The film takes classic tropes of zombies, Frankenstein, and other elements of the horror genre, and marries it in a perfectly cheesy 80s way. While the plot is ridiculous, and some of the gore effects over-the-top, that doesn’t take away from the truly sleazy masterpiece this film is.

Now let’s get down to it, “Re-Animator” is what it is today with the help of one key set-piece; it’s the ironically hilarious, albeit extremely exploitative, “head” scene. Upon seeing this scene again, and remember it from when I first saw this film, while the scene is graphic, there really isn’t much there. This scene has popped up on so many lists of the most memorable horror scene, or sickest scenes in cinema, but it’s more the insinuation than anything and the way the shot is composed is simply a sick pun (head giving head). I’m sure some people see this as misogynistic, sick, twisted, and plain gross, but you could get away with stuff like this in the 1980s.

There are also a few nice odes in the film as well, including the opening title score, performed by Richard Band, which is an obvious ode to Bernard Herrmann’s “Psycho” theme. And the Talking Heads poster that is above Daniel’s bed, which would allude to Dr. Hill’s “talking head” later in the film. While not the most subtle or ingenious ode, it’s still very fun to see.

All in all, “Re-Animator” is still a lot of a fun, and holds up very well nearly 30 years later. The gore effects and the animatronics rival anything practical being done today, if you can still find reasonable effective practical gore, and it’s just cheesy and exploitative enough to be a lot of fun. Also, unlike other Lovecraft fare, this story is actually reasonably easy to follow. Most of his Cthulhu Mythos can get a little confusing and in depth, but “Re-Animator” is an easy to follow story about a man trying to play God, and wrestle with naked corpses.

Fun Fact: “Herbert West-Reanimator” was first published in October 1921 in the magazine, Home Brew.

October 4, 2014

Gone Girl (Slight Spoilers)

PIKE

Let’s get something straight before you guys tear my head off, okay?  I love David Fincher.  He is one of the five best directors working today.  There is maybe…maybe…one or two other directors alive that possess the same skill, vision, patience, and attention to detail he does.  His scenes are practically Kubrickian.  No shot in a Fincher film is pointless or a happy accident.  His films seem to always have the texture and feel of a well crafted graphic novel.  That being said…Gone Girl isn’t really about him.  In fact, Gone Girl isn’t exactly an amazing masterpiece.  Hell, it might be my least favorite of his films.  Gone Girl is, at best, a solid mystery turned thriller that doesn’t quite stick the landing.  Now, that is not because of Fincher in my opinion.  Yes, he is still at his directorial best here.  The detail, the delivery, the decision making, all still there and all still top notch.  As I watched the film, however, I couldn’t shake the feeling that Gone Girl’s story was just a bit beneath him.  It’s a story that we have seen done a thousand times before, either on Lifetime, NBC, or over ten years ago in theaters with actress Ashley Judd.  The film even takes the time to make a Law & Order joke to point out how familiar of a story it is.  It’s a story that Fincher could direct in his sleep.  Short of an amazingly shot sequence involving a sex scene gone wrong, Fincher doesn’t really get to flex his directing muscles as much as they have been in any of his other films.  No, if you really want a reason to see Gone Girl…if you really want to know what the brightest light shining from this film is, I’ll tell you.  It’s the Gone Girl herself, Rosamund PIKE.

Gone Girl tells the story of Nick and Amy Dunne.  A seemingly happy couple suddenly torn apart by the disappearance and possible murder of Amy Dunne.  To be fair, I am coming to you as someone who has not read the novel by Gillian Flynn.  So, whatever liberties Fincher has taken with the material, I am not aware of.  I wanted to just watch this film in a vacuum and glean what I could from the overall message.  A message, which might be either the biggest “F%#k You!” to marriage I’ve seen in a film since The War Of The Roses, a commentary that the secrets we keep from those we love will inevitable imprison or kill us, or a warning to be careful of those you love because they could actually be capable of unspeakable things.  In any case, these are not new topics or even a different way to look at these topics.  What stands out to me is the way this story is delivered to us by its stars.

Ben Affleck is solid as the almost too perfect husband with a secret, but admittedly, he plays the part almost the same as the one he had in American remake of State Of Play a few years back.  The exchanges between Affleck’s character Nick and his sister Margo, played exceptionally well by actress Carrie Coon, are the only times where Ben seems to show us something new.  Neil Patrick Harris and Kim Dickens are a little bit on the nose with their showings, but are still entertaining.  Tyler Perry’s role as the Johnny Cochrane-esque defense attorney Tanner Bolt was even well done and fitting. (Perry actually has my favorite line of the film.)  But at the end of the day, the reason anyone will remember Gone Girl is Rosamund PIKE’s performance.

Happy Wife, Happy Life Indeed

It is not just the fact that she out acts each person she’s in a scene with, which she does.  It’s the manner in how PIKE does it.  It is never over the top or cliche.  It’s acting without “acting”.  It’s the wheels turning behind her eyes, the growing coldness and subtle craftiness in her narration, the calm command in which she confronts her marriage and the direction her life takes.  The way she emotes her anguish, fear, and anger through a glance or a smile or a gesture.  Rosamund Pike delivers something here that truly should be seen and hopefully will be honored.  Much like Affleck’s character, I didn’t see it coming.

I am going to keep this review short to avoid spoiling Gone Girl any more than I already have.  The one thing that I hope I get across is that it is not a bad film, but not a groundbreaking masterpiece as some might lead you to believe.  The situation that happens near the end of the film is the most interesting direction the story takes in my opinion, but we only get about 10 minutes of it.  I have no doubt that once you see Gone Girl, the brilliance of Rosamund PIKE’s performance will be the main thing that will stick with you.  Fincher’s always terrific, yet, somewhat untested direction in it will be second.  The story itself will be a distant third.  Wipe that sugar off your lip…don’t leave your Mountain Dew unattended…know your spouse’s bloodtype….watch it…then tell me I’m wrong.

October 3, 2014

Slaughter Film Presents: Action Movie Time Machine – Twin Dragons

DOUBLE LACKING

Well, well, well we meet again. I take it that two Jean-Claude Van Dammes wasn’t too much for you. After all he does happen to speak with an accent…if you haven’t noticed. This can be confusing for some… apparently. All aboard the Action Movie Time Machine!
The year is 1992. Yeah, we’re back in the early 90s… again. Not much has changed since that last time we visited. TWA declares bankruptcy. Mike Tyson plays his own game of Punch-Out with a woman he is convicted of raping, and there were plenty of toy related movies to watch. Ironically enough, both “Toys” starring Robin Williams is released as well as the direct to video “Demonic Toys”, for those of you who thought “Toys“ wasn‘t creepy enough. All this and Jackie Chan discovers that he has a long lost twin brother in “Twin Dragons“.
THE SKINNY
The film begins in black and white during the mid-60s. A woman has just given birth to a pair of beautiful baby boys. Meanwhile, police are wheeling in a wounded man who made an attempt to escape capture. However, this man still has some fight left in him. He regains consciousness, swipes a cops gun and starts to shoot his way out of the hospital. He is cut off from the exit and makes his way to the very same room the mother is in with her sons. Using one of the boys as a human shield, he leaps through a window and makes his escape. The human shield is soon discarded and later discovered by a drunken slut.
Now modern day, we learn that one brother, John, has been raised by his loving parents and at a young age became a piano prodigy. As an adult John is a world renowned conductor. On the other side of the coin we have Boomer, who practically raised himself and is now a hard fucking, shit talking stock car racer/mechanic.
 
This story gets interesting when we see John travel to Hong Kong for a piano concert, and during this concert, Boomer, who happens to be repairing a car, suddenly can’t control the movements of his fingers. The twins are somehow psychically connected when they are near each other.
Soon we see Boomer and his friend Tyson, another racer, making their escape. As it turns out the duo owe a local mob boss a considerable amount of money. Boomer and Tyson hustled them into a race, thinking they could win…they didn’t. Now the mob wants them to pay up.
A boat chase ensues that lands Tyson in a body cast. The hospital Tyson is staying in happens to pay protection money to the mob, so for the time being he belongs to the mob and is their prisoner. To guarantee Tyson’s safety, Boomer gets roped into taking care of the mob’s dirty work. Driving mostly. In fact there is a plot to sprint another, higher ranking mob boss.
 
This gets complicated when John arrives in Hong Kong to conduct a concert. Soon the two are thrust into a constantly evolving case of mistaken identity that involves the mob, an angry Iron Maiden fan, kung-fu conducting and the love interests of both men which results in fast paced slapstick fight scenes. At one point, both brothers share a bath with one of the women — one brother pretending to be a mirror so they don’t get found out like it was some sort of Marx Brothers gag.
As far as their love interests are concerned, each brother has a female acquaintance who the other brother falls for. This is an obvious set up for hijinx that will later result in some sticky situations, a romantic ending and even an opportunity for them to be taken hostage. The later never happens. I guess the mob figures that Tyson is good enough.
 
Anyhow, once John and Boomer have understood that they are twins, they decide that they are in this together and hatch a plan to rescue Tyson.
The brothers head to the mob’s hideout near the docks. The next twenty minutes of the film are one big fight sequence that moves form the docks and into a Mitsubishi car factory. First the showroom, then the crash test area and later the assembly line.
For a brief time Boomer is trapped in some sort of cage and John, a man who know music not fighting, must defend himself. With his wonder twin powers, Boomer throws punches and kicks that force John’s arms and legs to move. Boomer controls his brother this way. Lol He moves him like a puppet and ends up saving his life.
 
The brothers rescue Tyson and send the mob boss, Boss Wind, rocketing into a wall inside one of the crash test cars.
The film ends with the two brothers marrying their women in a twin wedding. I told you there would be romance in the end.
THE VERDICT
Much like “Double Impact“, this action film stands out from others because it features twin brothers. Unlike “Double Impact”, this film features the fast paced and often humorous fight choreography that is often found in Jackie Chan films. “Twin Dragons” also tries to build upon the supposed supernatural connection that twins are said to possess. If you hadn’t thought of it yet yourself, “Twin Dragons” has a lot like in common with Cheech & Chong’s “Corsican Brothers”. Of course in that film each brother feels the physical pain of the other and in this film the brother’s physical movements are caused by the other when they are in close quarters.
While the action in this film is pretty good, my only complaints focus on the plot and how it unfolds. I feel that too much of the film focuses on the humorous hijinx the brothers experience during their travels, which is entertaining, but this makes the story seem watered down and even vacant in parts. The mob boss doesn’t even have a clear criminal plot. They have Tyson as a hostage and that’s about it. I wish there was a plot mechanism that forced both brothers to work together to fight the mob. Instead they decide to work together because… they look alike? Maybe because they are together each time the mob assigns them to the next task, i.e. deliver a brief case, drive a getaway car, ect…
The thing that’s strange about this “separated at birth” story is that the two brothers never discover that they are brothers. Not until the very end anyhow. This whole movie they  think it’s strange that they are doppelgangers and even say that they would make good brothers.
I think some of this poor story telling has to do with the English dub. While it sounds good and doesn’t come off as odd as many dubs do. I feel like something has been lost in translation. The character names for instance are John, Boomer and Tyson, but according to IMDB the original names were Ma Yau, Die Hard and Tarzan. Weird and wild stuff.
 
In the end “Twin Dragons” isn’t the best twin related action movie. It isn’t even that great of a regular action movie as it feels more like a comedy. But it will hold your attention and might be worth checking out if you are a fan of Jackie Chan.
I’m Cory Carr and this concludes our ride on the “Action Movie Time Machine”. Until next time, Semper Fi!
For more from Cory, check out his website slaughterfilm.com, where he and his good friend Forest Taylor record weekly podcasts, reviewing the films that are legendary, even in Hell!
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