1992

July 3, 2018

(Ep. 106): Ring of the Musketeers – Movie Commentary: July 2018

Ring of the Musketeers
PG-13 1992 ‧ Action/Adventure ‧ 1h 26m


As descendants of the original Three Musketeers, Peter Porthos (Thomas Gottschalk), John Smith D’Artagnan (David Hasselhoff) and Anne-Marie Athos (Alison Doody) are continuing the chivalrous tradition of protecting those who can’t protect themselves, carrying it into the modern age. Rather than fighting lords and counts, these Musketeers have the Mafia to deal with, but they’re aided by reformed burglar Burt Aramis (Cheech Marin), the newly knighted fourth Musketeer.

Initial release: December 1, 1992 (Germany)
Director: John Paragon
Production company: Motion Picture Corporation of America
Screenplay: John Paragon, Joel Surnow
Producers:Brad Krevoy, Steven Stabler
Plug that VHS player back in! It time for some David Hasselhoff! That’s right, today we watch the Ring of the Musketeers. A made for TV film that… well… nobody remembers.  But when you have a modern day (90’s) Musketeers film that has a cast that contains the Hoff, Cheech Marin, Alison Doody, John Rhys-Davies, Corbin Bernsen, Timothy Stack, Ricky Jay and Branscombe Richmond. You pretty much stop whatever you are doing and pop this VHS in.
So fix that tracking and enjoy that mono audio (yes this VHS wasn’t in stereo) and repeat, Unus pro omnibus, omnes pro uno! Because we do this together ladies and gents! This is the Simplistic Reviews Movie Commentary of Ring of the Musketeers!

                       

October 14, 2015

The Horror Time Capsule – 1992: Candyman

ICONIC

Candyman – Iconic

One thing that has always been a constant is the need for horror icons, especially in the slasher genre. Mainly, it all equals money for studios. Between “Friday the 13th” and “A Nightmare on Elm Street” the 80s were the times of franchising everything and anything. Enter the 90s, and in the vein those classics from the 80s, we were gifted another potential boogeyman who could have become the next horror icon, but two lackluster sequels later, we only have the original film, which is still a solid film on it’s own; enter “Candyman,’ from 1992.

Based on the Clive Barker novella, “Candyman” is the tale of folklore and mythology in the ghetto of Chicago, whereas the original tale was told in the slums of London. Helen is a grad student working on urban myths who stumbles upon a rather gruesome tale of a man with a hook for a hand who kills at will. Digging deeper into the story of Candyman unearths a story of a man who fell in love with a woman and is murdered in cold blood with the help of bees and honey. Soon Helen finds herself haunted by Candyman who wants Helen to become his newest victim and restore his visage which he believes Helen has destroyed.

If nothing else, “Candyman” is a 90s reboot of “A Nightmare on Elm Street” a story about belief and how mythology plays an important part in our daily lives. The same way that Freddy is powerful based on his fear, is the same way that Candyman is effective in his terror.

What I still think makes “Candyman” scary, is the same way that people are still scared of Freddy Kruger; it’s a childhood fear. I remember first hearing about this film when I was in 4th grade and just the thought of being alone in a bathroom and saying “Candyman” five times in a mirror scared me more than anything. Even the thought of being dared to say it by some friends scared me. Looking at it now as an adult I realize that this is all make believe, but still, there is that little thing in the back of your head that you still think it might be real.

Overall, “Candyman” is an interesting film that has a great Gothic/Shakespearean feel to it. There is tragedy and bloodshed, not to mention an interesting twist at the end that you might not see coming.

We dare you to watch these other 1992 films in a mirror five times:

Alien 3
Bram Stoker’s Dracula
Hellraiser 3
Sleepwalkers

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!

August 8, 2014

Slaughter Film Presents: Action Movie Time Machine: Passenger 57

SAFE
 For this ride on the “Action Movie Time Machine”, I have decided to continue with the “Expendables 3” theme of “Battle of the Tough Guys“. This time we will look at the work of Wesley Snipes, who is one of the newest additions to the Expendables team. A man who is no stranger to the action genre and who, according to what I’m sure is a more than reputable internet news source, was granted an early release from prison to take up arms against other tax evaders.
The year is 1992. President George H. W. Bush is televised becoming ill and vomiting in the lap of Japanese Prime Minister Kiichi Miyazawa. Later Bush would step aside, allowing the newly elected, jazz saxophone playing Bill Clinton into the Oval Office. Also, the Cold War is declared officially over. Without the ever present threat of complete thermo-nuclear annihilation, Thrash-Metal musicians became disillusioned and began cutting their hair.
All this and Wesley Snipes took it personally when a few terrorists tried to hijack his plane, in “Passenger 57“.
THE SKINNY
Charles Rane, Bruce Payne, has just been captured by the FBI for countless crimes against his fellow man. Terrorism and murder mostly. The feds struck just as Rane was about to have his face altered by a plastic surgeon. He has been on the run for some time now and the reason he has always been able to allude capture is that he periodically changes his appearance surgically.
Now in custody, Rane is being transported via the friendly skies to Los Angeles, where he will await a trial and his inevitable execution.
Meanwhile, the career of former detective John Cutter, Wesley Snipes, has taken some interesting turns during the past several years. Cutter now trains security techniques to airline personnel, what to do in the case of a hijacking. Cutter took this job after one unfortunate evening when he and his wife walked into a convenience store which was being robbed. Cutter tried to stop the perp, but it resulted in Cutters wife being shot and killed.
Cutter has tried to put all that behind him but his reputation as a hardworking detective who has been giving airlines safety tips, has garnered him the attention of the federal anti-terrorism taskforce. They want him to head their department. Cutters bags are packed and he is on his way to Los Angeles.
Is this important? Not really. It’s just a way to unknowingly get Rane, a murderous mastermind, and Cutter, all around bad-ass, on the same plane together.

Rane is one of those guys who sees  himself as a bit of a genius and likes to think three steps ahead of everyone else. Because of this he has devised a daring escape plan involving several passengers and several flight staff, who work for him of course.
The plans genius is in it’s simplicity. They’ll hijack the plane, rig the plane to explode, jump from the plane before it explodes and when it does, no one will be able to tell who’s charred corpse is who’s. Rane would be as free as a bird to continue blowing up make-a-wish kids, or do whatever a sicko like Rane does.
But there is a flaw in his plan. He never figured John Cutter would be on the plane. Cutter, knowing the inner workings of the plane, disconnects some wires in the hull of the airship, causing it to purge it’s fuel supply. The plane is force to land and Rane sees this is an opportunity to escape. This is a mute point because Cutter, accompanied by several “good ol’ boy” rural police, track Rane down in a near by carnival and return him to custody.
  But there is a twist. Rane’s men are still holding several passengers hostage on the plane, and if he isn’t free to board the now re-fueled plane, they will execute the hostages. Without risking the lives of the passengers, the police grant Rane his freedom.
Rane again thinks he is the all knowing and all powerful cat’s meow, and again underestimates John Cutter. Cutter sneaks aboard through the planes landing gear as it takes off.
  One by one, Cutter dispatches Rane’s loyal henchmen before unarming the reconstituted bomb of his original escape plan.
Finally, as the plane rockets through the air, Rane and Cutter square off in a scene that shows little regard for aviation safety. Each of the men take their turns attempting to throw the other through the open hatch door.
Just when Cutter seems like he is fighting a losing battle, he repeatedly kicks Rane in the dick! Yes my friends. Our hero resorts to low blows. This flusters Rane, as it would anyone, causing him to lose his grip on the edge of the open hatch and fall to his death, somewhere on the surface of the Earth below.
The film concludes with Cutter and the cute flight attendant, who he had awkward flirtations with throughout the picture, walking off into the night to better get to know each other, if you know what I mean and I think you do.
 
THE VERDICT
All in all “Passenger 57” is a pretty good little action flick. It’s a hell of a lot better than other action films from it’s time (“Showdown in Little Tokyo“), more serious too. I only wish the villain was more of an immediate threat. Rane prides himself on being an evil genius, but we don’t get to see him do anything really intelligent. He’s good at escaping, but he isn’t very good at getting away.
Another drawback is the plane. Since the mid ’70s, when hijacking a plane was in vogue, there have been countless theatrical and made for television films about just that; a small group of terrorists hijacking a plane with threats of blowing it up. For this reason “Passenger 57” is rather forgettable. By the time it was released in ’92, the subject matter had been done, redone and lampooned, (“Airplane!”) with little room for improvement. Chuck Norris did it in the ’80s and Harrison Ford did it again in the late ’90s.
If only “Passenger 57” was over the top, then it might have had more lasting power throughout the years. There is no sex and the violence is tame by action movie standards. I think the studio was playing it safe with this one.
Talk about playing it safe, I noticed something rather interesting. I think “Passenger 57” is a ’90s version of a blaxploitation film. I didn’t notice it at first, but through the course of the film there are several subtle references to topical “black culture” of the early ’90s. Tom Sizemore’s character Sly refers to Cutter as “brother” several times, as if to seem casual and friendly, or even hip. But it comes off as goofy. It’s something an embarrassing dad might do to seem cool in front of his kids.
Aside from this and several Arsineo Hall references, which to me imply that this may have been made with a black audience in mind, the film has a tone to it. Something I can’t quite put my finger on. It’s something vague. For instance Cutter encounters several small town southern police who first arrest him (not realizing that he is the hero), and then bust his balls throughout the rest of the film. They only start showing respect for him at the end of the film after Cutter has already saved the day. I think if this same movie was made in the ’70s there would have been a few “N-bombs” dropped, thus showing how much of an up-hill battle Cutter was fighting to do the right thing and to be the hero. It isn’t everyday that I find myself thinking how racism could have made a movie better, but here I am.
I think the filmmakers/studio had all this in mind and were planning to make a film about a strong black hero, rather than one simply starring a black actor. But I think they were afraid to make these race related elements too obvious in fear of seeming racist. OR, perhaps the studio wasn’t willing to gamble marketing a film to a minority fan base so they pulled the “questionable material” in order to broaden the audience and make more money. After all, Snipes was a pretty hot commodity at the time, regardless of the audience.
Either way, it seems “they”, the powers that be, pulled out any overt reference to race at the last minute, and what we’re left with is a film that seems sanitized. The ’90s were a strange time for race. It’s too bad because “Passenger 57” had potential beyond it’s limitations. Wesley Snipes could have been the next “Shaft”.
Anyhow, I’m Cory Carr and this has been another trip on the “Action Movie Time Machine”. I hope you panty-wastes learned a thing or two about airplane safety. I know I sure didn’t. Until next time, Semper Fi!
November 14, 2013

White Men Can’t Jump

White Men Can’t Jump – Chemistry

CHEMISTRY

It seems fitting that we are a few weeks into the NBA season, as well as NCAA Basketball just getting underway, that we finally post a review about something basketball oriented.  While football gets most of the glory, cinema-wise, there are a handful of decent b-ball films.  Most people will automatically name “Hoosiers” as the best in the genre, if not one of the best and most inspiring sports films of all-time.  I tend to disagree.  While “Hoosiers” is all well and good, and features a drunk Dennis Hopper, it’s the classic underdog story that has been done to death, so to me, it kind of looses it’s shine after nearly 30 years.

When I think of a basketball film it always comes back to one of the first films I ever saw on HBO back in the early 1990’s, and that would be “White Men Can’t Jump.”  It’s the Ron Shelton-directed flick that made basketball fun and not some inspirational true story.  However, I’m sure a lot of white guys can relate to going to an outdoor basketball court, getting crap from a Wesley Snipes-like player, and eventually embarrassing them with a cross-over and a fade away jumper.  Unfortunately, I wasn’t one of those players. Think of ME as Dennis Hopper in “Hoosiers.”

Like most Shelton films, “Jump” deals with misfits who become endearing to the audience.  While he’s gone outside of the sports realm with mixed results, see “Hollywood Homicide” as a prime example, his wheelhouse has always been how sports can be romantic and bring people to common ground.  “Jump” tells the story of two hustlers who constantly try to out hustle each other.  Woody Harrelson plays Billy Hoyle, a former college basketball player on the run with his Jeopardy-loving girlfriend, Gloria, played by Rosie Perez, still enjoying her 15-minutes of fame.  Hoyle meets Sidney Deane, Wesley Snipes’ best role outside of “Blade,” a braggadocious street ball player with aspirations of escaping the inner-city.  The irony of Deane is his love for the street, while still trying to escape it and do what he needs for his family, which is really at the heart of the film.  Despite the fact that Hoyle and Deane are always trying to one-up each other and hustle each other, there always seems to be a mutual respect between them.  What I like to pretend sometimes is that “Money Train” is a direct sequel to “Jump” and Jennifer Lopez takes over as Rosie Perez’s character.

“Jump” is in the vein of Shelton’s other sports films, namely “Bull Durham” and “Tin Cup.”  The characters feel lived in and the chemistry between Harrelson and Snipes is undeniable.  There are times when you think they hate each other, and the next minute you think they are the best of friends.  It feels like the same relationship “Nuke” LaLoosh and Crash Davis had in “Durham.” Whether how much of the dialogue between Hoyle and Deane was ad-libbed, it feels authentic and something you would normally hear during any pick-up game, anywhere.

There are a few weak points to “Jump.”  Rosie Perez, if you’ve seen her in any movie, can become quite grating after a while.  I don’t know if it’s the voice, the accent, or simply both, but after hearing “Beeeeleeeee!!” about 100 times you’ll want to take a charge from Rick Mahorn and Bill Laimbeer at the same time.  Does that sound a little too erotic?  There is also the subplot of Billy and Gloria being on the run from two gangsters looking for money.  It’s a little weak, and doesn’t add much to the story as a whole.

While some of the characters and story elements are lacking, as a whole, “Jump” is still great, and while the fashion has been left in the past, the film has aged incredibly well.  The jokes are still funny (I mean who doesn’t appreciated a well crafted “Yo Mama” joke) and they took a sport that was lacking any real cinematic flare, and gave it some.  I know I’ll hear crap about this from “Hoosiers” purists, but c’mon!  Oh, we can’t forget that any self-respecting basketball player always goes to Sizzler after a game, just ask Dwyane Wayne.

Fun Fact:  Duane Martin, who played Willie in this film, was also a baller in 1994’s “Above the Rim.”

December 10, 2012

Happy Holidays: Reservoir Dogs

Reservoir Dogs – Cool

Disclaimer:  Reviews this month will either be listed as Crappy or Happy Holidays.  This in no way is saying that certain movies are bad or good, but rather will make you feel good or happy, or depressed or crappy, but on occasion crappy will mean just that, a big pile of crap.  Glad we cleared that up, now enjoy the reviews.

20 years ago I was eight years old, and Quentin Tarantino had made his first film and it was playing at the Sundance Film Festival in Utah.  Being eight I was more interested in Nintendo, Saturday Morning Cartoons, and watching “The Goonies” for the 100th time.  Tarantino in no way had been engrained into my brain….yet.  Come 1994, “Pulp Fiction” is released.  I’m still a little too young to fully grasp that two movies had been made within two years of each other that would change the way I thought, wrote, and viewed film.  But more on that later, let me tell you why “Reservoir Dogs” is the coolest movie to grace cinema in the last 20 years.

This past Tuesday I went to my local multiplex to see “Dogs” as it was intended, on the big screen (thank you Fathom events for giving audiences the chance to see classic movies again in a theater setting).  It was quite an experience to think this is how people were watching this same movie 20 years ago at Sundance or even Cannes.  It was incredible to be honest.  The crowd looked a little young, like scenester hipster kids who just heard about QT after “Inglorious Basterds.”  But I digress.

“Dogs” is the tale of six strangers handpicked by crime boss Joe Cabot, played by Lawrence Tierney, to hold up a jewelry store and steal a large stash of diamonds.  Without fail, the heist turns sour with several of the men getting killed and the survivors questioning what happened, and thinking that one of the crooks might actually be a police informant.  Simple right?  Well, it actually is a relatively common plot device used in crime films, but Tarantino weaves a narrative that is anything but.

The main thing that sets Tarantino’s movies apart from other common fare is the narrative construction that moves forward and backwards through time with ease.  Sure, flashbacks are used where we meet Mr. White, played by Harvey Keitel, Mr. Blonde, played with maniacal perfection by Michael “why don’t I get more work in Hollywood” Madsen, and Tim Roth as Mr. Orange, but the non-linear storyline was something relatively new in Hollywood 20 years ago, and while many try to duplicate it, rarely can anyone replicate it like Tarantino.

Normally in films with murderous criminals we don’t feel remorse or anything in common with them, but its funny that as soon as these criminals open their mouths and start talking about the meaning of a Madonna song, why tipping in a restaurant is a biased idea, or whether Pam Grier played the role of Christie Love, you forget that these guys are bad guys because they talk just like you and I.  This is another trademark of Tarantino; he makes you feel empathy for characters that can be supremely evil and sadistic, and by sharing a common bond, such as love for Blaxplotation movies, or music from the 1970s, you feel a kinship, which is incredible even while someone is having their ear cut off with a straight razor.

While “Dogs” might not be Tarantino’s magnum opus (I’ll reserve that for another review upcoming), it still stands as a touchstone for independent film in the early 1990s, and encouraged young filmmakers to go out and try their hands at movie-making.  Without “Dogs” you probably wouldn’t have movies like “The Usual Suspects,”  “The Way of the Gun,” or “Lucky Number Slevin.”  While all of those films are cool, they will never have the far-reaching influence of “Reservoir Dogs.”

Fun Fact:  A reference to a female thief named “Alabama” is made by Joe Cabot to Mr. White.  You might remember another female criminal named Alabama Whitman from the Tarantino-penned “True Romance” from 1993. 

July 24, 2012

Split Second

Split Second: Throwaway

It’s the kind of film that you see when you’re a child and it sticks into you’re mind till you reach age 24. You sit down one day and pop it in. It’s not bad, but not good. You watched it once, so you throw it away never to be watched again…because it’s a Throwaway.

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