5 DOLLS FOR AN AUGUST MOON (1970)
Hard-Boiled Plot: A scientist has been brought to a secluded island estate by several businessmen, along with their accompanying wives and girlfriends, to try and court his newest formula that is worth millions. When he refuses to sell, someone amongst their numbers begins to go on a killing spree!
The Essentials: One of Mario Bava's lesser known films takes on the plot lines of Agatha Christie's Ten Little Indians. Bava's familiar tricks are on display, but to a lesser extant, with little blood and little suspense, but with his uncontrollable zoom lens in full effect and a script that almost mocks the "everyone is a suspect" motif found in the Italian giallos of the time. A recurring gag of storing the dead bodies in the freezer, complete with its own soundtrack melody, adds a dark-humored tinge to the murder-mystery.
The verdict? For Bava and co-star Edwige Fenech completists only.
Hard-Boiled Plot: A picked on high school twerp turns to a satanic-themed horoscope for fortune-cookie answers to his problems that always seem to be just what he needs to hear. But the seemingly recorded messages are slowly turning him into a possessed demon that is bent on not only destroying his enemies in the most gruesome ways, but dishing out one-liners and opening a portal to Hell as well!
The Essentials: Robert Englund bites off a bit more than he can chew as he makes his directorial debut from the screenplay by the writer of NIGHTMARE ON ELM STREET 4. It takes forever to get to the "good stuff", and even then its not worthwhile. Best part of the movie is trying to decipher all the movie posters on the walls during the projection room scenes. This movie is essentially the "HALLOWEEN III" of the NIGHTMARE series, with all the elements *except* the main attraction present.
The verdict? Even with the novelty value of Krueger directing a movie, this is a waste of time.
Hard-Boiled Plot: Milo is a programming genius picked up by software company NURV to help finish a revolutionary multi-media distribution network. Milo becomes suspicious that not everything is kosher has his boss continually provides code solutions at just the right time, but doesn’t tell him who is writing it.
The Essentials: Programmers will be able to rally around the films pretty-accurate portrayal of tech speak and a call for “open source” programs. Everyone else will be able to rally around baby-faced Ryan Phillippe figure out if he wants geeky Claire Forlani or uber-geeky Rachel Leigh Cook. Tim Robbins pulls off an energetic mimic of Bill Gates.
The verdict? If you want to watch HTML scrawl across your TV for two hours, check it out.
DON’T ANSWER THE PHONE (1980)
Hard-Boiled Plot: a raving-mad Vietnam veteran is stalking prey in Los Angeles and killing them by strangulation with a stocking. A pair of wise-cracking cops and a radio talk show psychologist are on the trail, before more people are on the hunt
The Essentials: Sleazy filmmaking all around! From the graphic and uneasy attacks and murders, gratuitous nudity, the ludicrous comedy bits with the cops, inept acting, and a film title that doesn’t match the storyline at all, this one has all the exploitation features locked and loaded.
The Verdict? Still jonesing for more midnight movie trash? This’ll cure what ails you. Be sure to watch the uncut print on the “Welcome To The Grindhouse” release.
Hard-Boiled Plot: A bunch of drunks, drifters, barflies and an insultingly used Henry Rollins are forced to hole up in a bar and try to stay alive when some very hungry and very vicious creatures come out of the desert for a late night snack
The Essentials: Characters that you don't give a shit about and forget ever before the oh-aren't-we-clever freeze frame introduction is over, rapid editing, shaky cam, can't-see-a-fucking-thing -focusing, but plenty of goo and ick. Even the early demise of Jason "Jay" Mewes and a comedic killing of the helpless kid can't save this horror-by-committee garbage.
The Verdict? Ever wonder why Project Greenlight isn't around anymore? Here is your 85-minute answer. Absolutely worthless.
HIGH ANXIETY (1977)
Hard-Boiled Plot: The new director (Mel Brooks, who also directs) for the Psycho-Neurotic Institute For the Very, Very Nervous discovers that something is dreadfully wrong with how the staff operates while at a conference in San Francisco.
The Essentials: Serving as sort of gateway between Brooks' earlier comedies and his later gag-a-minute work, this parody of The Master Of Suspense relies more on subtle word play and just a few key elements from Hitchcock's greatest scenes. From the main title to the dead-on impersonation of Bernard Herrmann's score work and a brilliant use of "MacGuffin", the movie requires a surprisingly great deal of knowledge of Hitchcock's work to truly appreciate.
The Verdict? A must-see for Hitchcock fans. Brooks' riff on the shower scene decimates Gus Van Sant's parody from 1998 and is alone worth the price of admission.
HOT SHOTS (1991)
Hard-Boiled Plot: In this spoof of TOP GUN, Topper Harley (Charlie Sheen) is brought back into the Navy to lead a dangerous flight mission to bomb Saddam Hussein's nuclear (nu·cle·ar) power plants. But Topper's unstable personality may just cause the mission to fail!
The Essentials: Classic joke-a-minute action that riffs Top Gun for all its worth, while also bringing in some flavor from IRON EAGLE and a gag at the expense of 9 1/2 WEEKS , as well as a laundry list of pop culture references. Charlie Sheen, Cary Elwes bring some decent laughs, while the unstoppable Lloyd Bridges is clearly the comedy master here.
The Verdict? Not as funny as when you were twelve, but then again what is?
MR. BROOKS (2007)
Hard-Boiled Plot: Addicted-to-murder Mr. Brooks has finally sworn that he will not kill anymore. But his imaginary friend Marshall keeps egging him on to do some more killings. When Brooks is given evidence that he has been seen at his latest murder spree, he must figure out a way to keep his name clear. A subplot about desire to murder being hereditary get thrown in for a few laughs as well.
The Essentials: William Hurt does an incredible job in the “Tyler Durden” role. Dane Cook haters will squeal with delight during the final confrontation. Not much in the way of suspense or violence, but it is a solid psychological thriller
The Verdict? If you watch “psychological dramas” but not “horror” movies, its decent way to spend two hours. Otherwise, just watch FIGHT CLUB again and then skip to Hurt’s small but impressive performance in A HISTORY OF VIOLENCE.
THE PROPHECY (1995)
Hard-Boiled Plot: A prophecy that foretells of a human soul that will finally end the stalement between Heaven and the army of rogue angels leads to a desert stand-off between fallen angel Gabriel and a priest-turned-cop who has lost his faith.
The Essentials: Christopher Walken in one of his best performances as Gabriel, Viggo Mortensen as Lucifer, and "Casey Jones" from the live-action TEENAGE MUTANT NINJA TURTLES movies. Do you need more? Low-budget Dimension Films classic from the mid nineties that will give theology majors something to ponder while working on their Walken impressions.
The Verdict? A must see!
SMOKEY AND THE BANDIT (1977)
Hard-Boiled Plot: Legendary trucker Bandit and his friend Snowman take on a psychotic offer to make a run from Georgia to Texas and back with 400 cases of beer in twenty-eight hours. Along the way, Bandit picks up a runaway bride, gets in the crosshairs of a Texas sheriff, and causes more property damage than a hurricane.
The Essentials: Hal Needham (CANNONBALL RUN) sets up a slapstick comedy with cars that features breakneck speed, jumps, crashes in his directorial debut. Burt Fuckin' Reynolds proves once again he is the only straight man not in porn that can wield a mustache and look good, Sally Field reminds us she was once had a great ass, and Jackie Gleason not only makes being a redneck bigot hilarious but also heartwarming.
The Verdict? You've caught ten minute snippets of this while channel surfing for years. Isn't it time you finally took the time to sit down and watch the whole thing?
Hard-Boiled Plot: Giant transforming toys are on the hunt for an eBay item that will lead them to the Rubix-Cube-O-Robot-Life.
The Essentials: A half-hour of awesome giant robots fighting in a city and killing bystanders left and right is padded out by almost two hours of worthless human bantering, masturbation jokes, Megan Fox's cleavage, lame robot dialogue (its not their fault though, they learned English from the internets), and the real reason the Hoover Dam was built. Might have been saved if Michael Bay could learn to hold a shot for more than five seconds. And how hard is it to give us fuckin' wide shot once in a while?!
The Verdict? Rent it, fast-forward to the last half hour, and then forget it.
Friday, June 1, 2007
5 DOLLS FOR AN AUGUST MOON (1970)