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February 23rd, 2016 Movie – Desperado

desperado

In 1995, Robert Rodriguez would release the second movie in what would become known as his “Mexico Trilogy.” This movie would be Rodrigues big Hollywood debut feature and really put his mark onto what he could do. This movie also made Antonio Banderas a star in the U.S. as well as showed the audience what a bad ass Danny Trejo can be. I remember going to see this movie with some friends in college and we all enjoyed watching it. So here is today’s movie, Desperado.

The plot: In Santa Cecilia, Mexico, an American named Buscemi walks into a bar and orders a beer then proceeds to tell the bartender and the men in the bar about how he witnessed a man with a guitar case full of guns killing the men in a bar in another town. Nobody pays attention to the story until Buscemi mentions the name Bucho, at which point the bartender and Tavo, a man seated at the bar, start asking Buscemi more questions but Buscemi doesn’t stay around as he warns the patrons that the man is heading in this direction. Buscemi leaves the bar, then heads to a motel in another town, where he meets with El Mariachi and tells him that Bucho is in Santa Cecilia. El Mariachi asks where to go and Buscemi tells him to head to Tarasco Bar, then tells El Mariachi that he doesn’t have the stomach for this anymore and leaves, while El Mariachi gets ready and starts walking to Santa Cecilia. Meanwhile, the bartender at Tarasco Bar calls Bucho and tells him that he hasn’t heard from the bar that Buscemi had told them about. Bucho hangs up and orders his right hand man to double the guard around their operations, then oversees a fight for a prospective new member to the gang. In Santa Cecilia, a strange man twirling a throwing knife arrives in town and after looking at the bar, he proceeds to use a nearby pay phone. Meanwhile, El Mariachi arrives in town and rests across the street from the bar. As he is sitting there, a young boy tries to look at his guitar but El Mariachi stops him, then seeing the guitar the boy is carrying, he teaches the boy a technique and tells the boy to practice it. Inside the bar, two men had walked in and hand cards to the bartender, who slides them to Tavo to have them checked out. After getting off the phone, Tavo makes a gesture and the bartender kills one of the men but says the other one checked out, and Tavo leads him into a hidden room inside the men’s room. When El Mariachi walks in the bar, the bartender questions him about what is in the guitar case and has one of his men point a gun at El Mariachi while another one opens it, revealing a guitar. The bartender relaxes but suddenly, the guitar is revealed to be a false top that hides the guns. El Mariachi says he doesn’t want to kill anyone, as he is just looking for Bucho, but when the bar patrons start pulling out guns, he is forced to kill them all in self defense. While this is going on, Tavo sees it on a TV in the back room and as the accountant goes to join the fight, he kills the man that he brought into the room. El Mariachi kills all of the men in the bar, then starts to question the bartender but the bartender is shot by the accountant and after brief fight, El Mariachi kills him. El Mariachi leaves the bar, unaware that Tavo is following him, and as Tavo tries to kill him, El Mariachi fights him off and kills Tavo, saving a woman named Carolina, who was caught in the crossfire. Bucho shows up at the bar and finds a note that El Mariachi left, saying he is looking for Bucho, and tells his right hand man to kill anyone that they don’t recognize in town. As some of his men are cleaning up the carnage in the bar, the kife wielding man, who is called Navajas, walks in, looks at the mess, then leaves. Carolina takes El Mariachi to her bookstore, where she tends to his wounds, then she sees the guns in the guitar case and says she knows who he is but she can’t help him. El Mariachi heads to the church and meets with Buscemi and the two get into an argument when El Mariachi won’t give up his hunt for Bucho and Buscemi leaves the church. El Mariachi chases after him and says that Buscemi is right and he will give up but suddenly, they are attacked by Navajas, who kills Buscemi and wounds El Mariachi. As El Mariachi is hiding in an alley, Bucho’s men see Navajas and end up killing him, believing he is the one that killed the men at the bar. However, Bucho had received a call from the cartel and was told that Navajas was there to keep an eye on his operations. As El Mariachi makes his way back to Carolina’s bookstore, he sees Nino, the boy with the guitar, and learns that Nino’s father uses his guitar to smuggle drugs and that Carolina also does it. Reaching the bookstore, El Mariachi questions Carolina and she admits that Bucho gives her money in order to use her store as a drop off. When Bucho suddenly shows up, Carolina hides El Mariachi then lies to Bucho when he asks if she has seen him. Later, Carolina tends to El Mariachi’s wounds then shows him the guitar she bought him and the two work together to play it before then end up having sex. Meanwhile, Bucho believes that Carolina lied to him and is hiding El Mariachi so he sends his men to the bookstore to kill them. El Mariachi sees the men approaching and manages to kill them but as he and Carolina are leaving, they see the bookstore is on fire and are forced to go to the roof and jump to the nearby building to escape. As they are hiding, Carolina sees Bucho and points him out to El Mariachi but as he takes aim at Bucho, he hesitates and refuses to shoot him, which confuses Carolina. Realizing they have no chance to escape without help, El Mariachi calls in two friends, Campa and Quino, who arrive in town with their custom weaponized guitar cases. Bucho’s men show up and attack the three men but they are able to fend them off. Suddenly, reinforcements show up and Quino is killed, causing Campa to act recklessly. El Mariachi tries to get him under control but when he sees Nino lying on the ground from a bullet wound, he goes to check on the boy, and Campa is killed. Carolina steals a jeep and picks up El Mariachi and they take Nino to the hospital. Later, El Mariachi and Carolina head to Bucho’s place, where Bucho recognizes El Mariachi as his little brother. The two talk and Bucho says he will let his brother live but he will kill Carolina for betraying him but as he points his gun at Carolina, El Mariachi kills him as well as the rest of Bucho’s men. Later, they visit Nino at the hospital and then El Mariachi leaves town but Carolina picks him up and El Mariachi throws the guitar case away as they drive off but then they back up and he picks it back up, in case they need it.

Desperado was met with mostly positive reviews from the critics, but only holds a 62% rating on Rotten Tomatoes. Many critics praised the action sequences and visual aspects of the film, but said the story itself felt flat. Most of the music in the movie was performed by Los Lobos, who won a Grammy at the 1995 Grammy awards for their song “Mariachi Suite” off of the soundtrack. The movie was a box office hit as it made over $25 million off a $7 million budget.

This is one of those movies that is fun to watch. The acting was pretty good, with Antonio Banderas doing a good job taking over the role of El Mariachi and giving the character a slightly darker edge as opposed to the more innocent look that Carlos Gallardo did in El Mariachi. I did think it was funny that Carlos had a cameo as Campa in this movie. Salma Hayek (Carolina), Joaquim de Almeida (Bucho), Steve Buscemi (Buscemi), and Danny Trejo (Navajas) were all also good in there roles. The story did seem a little weak compared to the previous movie, not really saying much as to how much time passed or what happened to El Mariachi to make him hunt Bucho, making it seem more like a continuation of the first film. The fight and action scenes were very well done and made for some visually entertaining movie watching, though at times they did seem a bit over the top. All in all, it’s a good movie and a good follow up, but I wish there was a bit more to the plot.

Rating: 3 1/2 out of 5

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February 22nd, 2016 Movie – El Mariachi

el mariachi

Quite a few things happened in 1992. First of all, I moved to Atlanta, which is small in scale compared to some of the other events in that year, such as the L.A. riots, Bill Blinton being elected, and Hurricane Andrew. During all these events, a director’s debut film came out and it probably would not have got a lot of notice among the everyday audience. But the studios and critics loved it and it ended up making the director a household name, especially after he made the sequel to this film. So let’s take a look at Robert Rodriguez’s humble beginnings with today’s movie, El Mariachi.

The plot: In a small Mexican jail, an inmate named Azul receives a phone call from Moco, a local drug lord that Azul used to work for. As Azul and Moco talk on the phone, three armed men enter the jail to kill Azul. However, Azul runs his own business from the jail and his fellow prisoners are also his bodyguards. They kill one of the men, and capture the other two, then Azul calls Moco back and has him listen as his men kill the other two assassins. Azul then leaves the jail, where he is picked up by some of his men on the outside and given a guitar case full of guns, which he plans to use to kill Moco. Meanwhile, a young man, with dreams of becoming a mariachi like his father, arrives in the town of Acuna looking for work. the guitarist tries finding work at the first bar he comes to but the bartender says he has no need for one mariachi player as he has a man with a keyboard that can act as an entire band. The Mariachi leaves but soon after, Azul shows up at the bar looking for Moco and learning that Moco owns the bar and the men inside work for him, Azul kills the four men, leaving the bartender and keyboardist alive. The bartender calls Moco and tells him what happened, describing the killer as a man wearing black and carrying a guitar case. Moco pages his lieutenant Bigoton and when he calls him back, Moco orders him to kill Azul, giving him the description that the bartender told him and Bigoton tells the local hotel manager to call him if he sees anyone matching that description. Unknowingly, the Maricahi matches the desctiption of Azul so when he checks into the hotel, the manager calls Brighton to let him know. Laying down on the bed, the Mariachi falls asleep but is quickly woken by a bad dream and he walks out of his room to find Bigoton and some more of Moco’s men at the hotel looking for him, scared for his life, the Mariachi runs out of the hotel but is forced to go back when he realizes he left his guitar inside. The Mariachi tries escaping but when he is cornered by two of Moco’s men, he runs between them, causing them to shoot themselves, then knocks out Bigoton and uses his gun to kill his last pursuer. The Mariachi runs to a nearby bar run by a woman named Domino and explains that he killed some men in self defense and he needed a place to hide because he was sure the men were looking for someone else. Domino takes pity on The Mariachi and lets him stay in her room upstairs. Shortly later, Bigoton enters the bar and uses the phone to call Moco and after the phone call, he tells Domino that the man he is looking for carries a guitar case full of weapons. When he leaves, Domino heads upstairs and finding the Mariachi in her tub, she grabs a letter opener and holds it against his throat while she opens the guitar case and finds it does contain a guitar. Threatening to castrate him, Domino orders the Mariachi to play the guitar and sing and when he finishes, she realizes that he was telling the truth and agrees to hire him to play in her bar for free room and board. The next day, Moco calls Azul and the two men argue over how many people Azul killed and Moco says they will have to see this whole thing through. Meanwhile, The Mariachi decides to go back to the motel to get his money and leaves his guitar and jacket at the bar, asking Domino to watch them. When he leaves, Domino makes a phone call to a friend of hers, who happens to be Moco. Meanwhile, Azul walks into the bar looking for Domino but when the bartender says she isn’t there, he leaves but realizes that he grabbed the wrong guitar case when some of Moco’s men grab him but let him go when they open the case and see the guitar. The Mariachi saw Azul leaving Domino’s bar and realizes that he is the one the men are looking for but when he realizes that The case he has isn’t his, he runs out of the bar to get his guitar back and sees Azul as well as Bigoton and Moco’s men. Bigoton and the men chase after the Mariachi and he is forced to kill the two men pursuing him. The Mariachi heads back to Domino’s bar, where she tends to his wounds and admits that Moco owns the bar, which he bought her to try and convince her to be his woman but she has refused him. The next day, Domino gives the Mariachi some money to buy a new guitar and he goes out but ends up getting caught by Bigoton and Moco’s men. They take him to see Moco but when he looks at the Mariachi, Moco tells Bigoton that they got the wrong guy so they take the Mariachi back to town and drop him on the street. Meanwhile, hearing from his men that Moco’s men grabbed the Mariachi, Azul heads back to Domino’s bar and gets his case back from Domino, then says that if she wants to see the Mariachi, to take her to Moco’s ranch. When they get there, Azul points a gun at Domino’s head and heads inside, but find Moco standing there with his men holding guns at them. Meanwhile, the Mariachi heads to Domino’s bar and learning where she has gone, he grabs the keys to her motorcycle and heads to Moco’s ranch. At the ranch, Azul asks for his money and Moco sends one of his men to get it but when Domino asks about the Mariachi, Moco realizes that she is in love with him and in a jealous rage, kills Domino, then Azul. The Mariachi arrives and sees the body of Domino and cradles her body. Moco approaches and begins yelling at the Mariachi before shooting his left hand, ruining the Mariachi’s ability to play the guitar. Reeling from the pain, the Mariachi sees Azul’s pistol and uses it to kill Moco, after which, Moco’s men simply walk off and leave the Mariachi alone. With his dreams of being a mariachi in ruins, the Mariachi leaves town, taking Domino’s motorcycle, dog, and letter opener, as well as the case full of guns with him.

El Mariachi was highly praised by the critics, holding a 93% rating on Rotten Tomatoes. The  consensus among the critics concerning the film was “Made on a shoestring budget, El Mariachi’s story is not new. However, the movie has so much energy that it’s thoroughly enjoyable.” The movie was a box office smash as it made $2 million off of a $7000 budget. In 2011, the movie was deemed culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant and selected for preservation in the National Film Registry, citing in particular that it was the movie that helped usher in the independent movies boom in the 90’s.

This is a good movie to watch, especially since it was such a great setup for future movies. The acting was pretty good, especially Carlos Gallardo (the Mariachi), who did a really good job as the lead. I agree with the critics as the whole mistaken identity plot line was not original but Rodriguez did a good job in keeping the audience invested in what was going on in the film. Watching this movie, you wouldn’t have believed it was made for just $7000 which is also a testament to Rodriguez’s directing abilities. With plenty of suspense and humor added into the movie, it is well worth watching.

Rating: 4 out of 5

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Flashback Review: March 27th, 2014 Movie – Barbarella

barbarella

Ahhh, the cult classic movie that made Jane Fonda even more of a household name, and this is before her marriage to Ted Turner or the Vietnam controversy. I had seen the VHS case in video stores for years but I think the first time I actually wanted to watch it was due to a random comment a radio DJ had made about how the band Duran Duran got their name from this movie. Yeh, yeh, I know. “Joey this is a cult classic sci-fi movie. How could you have not seen it before then?” Just because it is a cult classic doesn’t always mean I want to watch it,…well that’s pretty much a lie but for whatever reason, this just never really struck my fancy. Still, I would eventually watch it and be entertained by it so during the MBBS (Mass Blockbuster Buying Spree), I decided to take advantage of it and buy a copy of Barbarella on the cheap.

The plot: Barbarella receives a call from the President of Earth and given a mission to track down a missing scientist named Durand Durand, who had disappeared in the uncharted area of the Tau Ceti region. The matter is of some urgency as Durand Durand had apparently created a weapon called the Positronic Ray, which could end up causing the entire region to end up in a war. As Barbarella enters the Tau Ceti region, her ship encounters magnetic disturbances and she ends up crash landing on the 16th planet of the region. As Barbarella goes outside to explore, she sees two little girls and attempts to talk to them, but as she is trying to use her translator to communicate with them, one of the girls places a crystal inside a snowball and hits Barbarella on the head with it. The two girls tie her wrists then take Barbarella to another wrecked ship, which happens to have belonged to Durand Durand. Inside, several other children emerge and they begin placing strange dolls on the ground in front of Barbarella. Suddenly the dolls begin moving and reveal razor sharp teeth which they use to begin attacking Barbarella. Before the dolls can kill her, Barbarella is saved by Mark Hand, the Catchman responsible for catching children. Mark Hand offers to take Barbarella back to her ship and fix her stabilizer in exchange for sex but when Barbarella offers him a pill to use like they do on Earth, he refuses it, preferring to do it the “old fashioned way”. Afterwards, Barbarella gets back onto her repaired ship but the stabilizer was placed in backwards and she ends up plunging into the ground and eventually ends up inside a giant underground labyrinth. As she leaves her ship, a rock slide occurs and knocks her unconscious but she is found by Pygar, an angelic creature who happens to be the last of the ornithanthropes. When she asks, Pygar tells her that he was blinded in Sogo, the City of Night, and thus lost the will to fly. Pygar then takes Barbarella to see Professor Ping, who explains that the labyrinth is basically a prison for everything good in Sogo and when she asks him, he says that he believes Durand Durand is somewhere in the city. Ping says that he will repair her ship but it could take weeks to finish. With no choice but to wait, Barbarella asks Pygar to take her to his place but as they are going, she is attacked and captured by one of the Black Knights that guard the city. Telling Pygar where her gun is, she is able to direct his aim so that he destroys the Black Knight. As thanks for saving her, Barbarella has sex with Pygar, which causes him to regain the will to fly and she offers to be his eyes if he takes her to Sogo. As they are flying towards the city, they are attacked by some Black Knights in flying ships and Barbarella is able to take out two of them but one of them briefly stuns Pygar and he and Barbarella start to fall until he is able to regain consciousness and halt there fall while Barbarella deals with the last ship. Entering the city, Pygar warns Barbarella to be careful about being with an angel and she tries to find something to hide Pygar’s wings but she is soon grabbed by two men. Before the men can do anything, she is saved by a one-eyed woman and Barbarella thanks her before going to find Pygar. She finds him surrounded by a group of people and manages to stop them from killing him but they end up in the Chamber of Ultimate Solution, a chamber where people go to commit suicide. Deciding to brave whatever fate lies in store for them, they prepare to go through one of the doors when they are stopped by the Concierge to The Great Tyrant. As he takes Barbarella to see The Great Tyrant, he explains about the Mathmos, a lake of liquid energy under the city that feeds on negative emotions. Pygar is carried away in a net and the Concierge shoves Barbarella down a pipe where she meets The Great Tyrant, who turns out to have been the one-eyed woman that saved Barbarella. The Great Tyrant shows Pygar tied up on a crucifix and Barbarella grabs a gun she hid in Pygars trunks and threatens The Great Tyrant unless she frees Pygar but the Concierge explains that the gun is out of power so Barbarella is taken away to a cage where she will be pecked to death by birds. As Barbarella is swarmed by the birds, she finds herself rescued by Dildano, the leader of a resistance movement against The Great Tyrant. Barbarella offers to thank him with sex but he wishes to do it the Earth way, as he has some pills to use. They use the pills but afterwards, Barbarella questions how he got them and realizes that the only was from Durand Durand. Dildano admits he got the pills from Durand Durand and says only The Great Tyrant knows where he might be so he gives her an invisible key into The Great Tyrant’s sleeping chamber. They work out a deal to help each other and contact Ping, who says the ship is repaired but that a Black Knight patrol had spotted it so he programmed it to fly somewhere safe. Dildano sends Barbarella back to the city but she ends up captured by the Concierge, who places her in a machine called the Excessive Machine (a.k.a. the Orgasmatron), which he plans to use to make Barbarella die of pleasure. He activates the machine but Barbarella ends up shorting out the machine, which surprises the Concierge. As he goes to get another device to use, he trips on Barbarella’s garments and her locator devise indicate that he is Druand Durand. Barbarella questions him and he says the Mathmos aged him and he refuses to go back to Earth as he plans to conquer Sogo, then head back to Earth as a conqueror. When Barbarella says she has a key to the Chamber of Dreams, Durand Durand leads her to it, then takes her key as well as the Tyrant’s key, trapping them inside the chamber. Barbarella wakes the Great Tyrant and the two wathyc on the view screen as Dildano and his rebellion destroy the Black Knights but Durand Durand kills them all with the Positronic Ray. The Great Tyrant releases the Mathmos to destroy Sogo, killing everyone including Durand Durand, but Barbarella and the Great Tyrant survive due to Barbarella’s innate goodness. As they float on the Mathmos, they find Pygar, who is also immune to the Mathmos and Barbarella manages to revive him and Pygar carries them back to Barbarella’s spaceship. As they are flying away, Barbarella questions why Pygar would save the Great Tyrant and Pygar responds that angels have no memory.

Barbarella met with mix reviews from the critics, but currently holds a 73% rating on Rotten Tomatoes. The site’s consensus about the movie states “Unevenly paced and thoroughly cheesy, Barbarella is nonetheless full of humor, entertaining visuals, and Jane Fonda’s sex appeal. Like I said earlier, the 80’s group Duran Duran got the idea for their name from the evil Durand Durand, which is kind of funny. The movie was a box office bomb as it only made about $5.5 million off a $9 million budget.

This is definitely one of those cult classics that showcases what a B-Movie is, granted this had a bigger budget than most B-movies. The acting was pretty over the top, with Jane Fonda using her sex appeal more than her acting to get this movie moving along. The story was pretty good, as it was based off a French comic book. The special effects were terrible as it seemed the budget went entirely into set design, and maybe wardrobe. One of those movies that earns it mark on the “Must See At Least Once” lists, but is funny enough in how bad it is to make it worth watching a second time.

Rating: 3 out of 5

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February 21st, 2016 Movie – The Manster

the manster

After the busy, yet fun day that I had yesterday, it feels good to sit down and relax with a classic sci-fi/horror movie. What, you mean everyone doesn’t choose this way to relax? Well their loss. Anyways, today’s movie is one that I had heard of years ago but never got around to watching myself. Then when I started buying some of these box sets of movies, it happened to be on one of them. A rather lucky coincidence as I was too lazy to actually buy this movie on it’s own. So let’s get right into today’s movie, The Manster.

The plot: Some girls are bathing at a hot spring in Japan when a strange creature attacks and kills them. The next day, Dr. Robert Suzuki goes to his mountain lab and asks his assistant Tara if Genji has returned and she says he has so Suzuki arms himself with a pistol and goes down into the basement. Downstairs, he speaks briefly with Emiko, his wife whom he had experimented on and disfigured and then sees Genji, who was also experimented on and became a huge, hairy creature. When Genji attacks him, Suzuki is forced to shoot him and then throws the body into the volcano that the lab is built on, while Emiko screams at the act. While this is happening, Larry Stanford, an American reporter stationed in Tokyo for the World Press, has climbed the volcano to reach Suzuki’s lab for an interview with the doctor. During the course of the interview, Suzuki ends up giving Larry a drugged drink and after Larry passes out, he proceeds to give Larry an injection, though Tara questions if they should do this. When Larry wakes up, he heads back to his office and his editor tries to get him to cover a story in Hong Kong, but Larry refuses, as he plans on going back to New York and his wife. That night, Suzuki takes for a night out on the town and ends up getting Larry drunk and carry on with some of the geisha girls. After a week, Larry goes back to his office and his editor Ian comments that Linda, Larry’s wife has called since Larry was supposed to be back in New York by now, but Larry says he has been working non-stop and decided to take some time off and enjoy tings that he never tried before. That night, Suzuki takes Larry to a bath house famed for it’s mineral baths and Larry ends up taking a bath with Tara, though they are separated by a glass wall, but as he is soaking in the water, he suddenly starts feeling strange and scratches at the spot where Suzuki had injected him. He spends the night dancing with Tara and when they head back to Larry’s hotel room, they find Linda and Ian waiting for them there. Linda had come to Japan to bring Larry home and tells him that he must make a choice and Larry decides to leave with Tara. At Tara’s place, Tara asks Larry why he left with her and he says that he fells like something strange is going on with him but he feels comfortable with her. Tara tells him that she won’t be with a man unless he is all hers and tells him to go resolve things with Linda. Larry returns to his hotel and, seeing Linda asleep on the couch, decides to fix himself a drink but notices that his right hand has begun to change. Hiding his hand behind his back, Larry wakes Linda by yelling at her and threatens to slap or strangle her until she runs from the room. After she leaves, Larry unbuttons his shirt and notices a strange growth on his shoulder where the injection occurred and leaves his room. Larry winds up at a temple and speaks with a monk there but when the monk doesn’t respond and continues chanting, Larry ends up attacking him. Larry ends up at Tara’s place and she questions what happened but Larry can’t recall any details after leaving his house. Later that day, Ian tracks Larry down and tries talking to him but Larry refuses to talk with him. That night, Larry wanders the streets and ends up attacking and killing two women. At his lab, Suzuki is studying a chart of Larry’s progression from a normal human into a new species and Tara comments that she doesn’t like doing this but Suzuki reminds her what he did with his own wife and how he had to continue this path. Ian brings a psychologist friend with him to speak with Larry but Larry becomes angry and kicks them out of his room, then yells out when he opens his robe and reveals an eye growing out of his shoulder. Realizing that he probably does need help, Larry goes to Dr. Jennsen’s office and breaks in. Dr. Jennsen calls the police then fills a syringe with a tranquilizer but when he steps into the room that Larry is in, he witnesses a second head grow from Larry’s and is to shocked to move as the creature kills him. Ian arrives at the Jennsen’s office and the police superintendent asks that he not report anything on the murder for 24 hours in the hopes that it will lure the killer into the trap and Ian reluctantly agrees. Later, Ian sneaks into Larry’s room and finds some prayer beads that he saw Larry holding after the monk was killed and takes them with him. The next day, after the police superintendent’s press conference, Larry gives the superintendent the beads and starts to explain how he got them. Meanwhile, some police officers see the transformed Larry and start to give chase to him but Larry attacks the pursuing officers and gets away. Larry returns to his hotel room to hide but Linda enters the room and, seeing Larry’s appearance, screams and faints. The police show up and Larry ends up fleeing, with the police in pursuit again. Larry heads to Tara’s place but not finding her there, ends up trashing the place and leaving. Ian and Linda lead the police there but they don’t find anyone there and Linda asks that they not kill Larry if possible. At his lab, Suzuki has an enzyme prepared for Larry if he returns and Tara says he never should have started this and Suzuki accuses her of falling in love with Larry. Tara gives Suzuki a knife to commit seppuku, then heads upstairs to call the police but is shocked when Larry appears and breaks into the lab. Downstairs, Suzuki speaks with Emiko and asks her forgiveness, then shoots her and prepares to kill himself when Larry appears. Suzuki tries to stab Larry and Larry ends up attacking and killing him, but not before Suzuki sets his machine to make the volcano explode and destroy his lab. As the police begin climbing the volcano, Larry grabs an unconscious Tara and climbs to the top of the crater, where he ends up splitting into two separate creatures. Larry ends up fighting with the creature but it overpowers him and grabs Tara and throws her into the volcano. Larry then shoves the creature into the volcano before collapsing and Linda rushes to his side and hugs him as the police approach. The superintendent tells them that he will have to formally charge Larry for the murders but Linda believes that Larry didn’t do it and says she will wait to be with him.

This was kind of an interesting, low budget variation of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde but it worked. The acting was pretty good, with Peter Dyneley doing a great job portraying Larry from the normal beginnings to the troubled person after he meets Suzuki. The plot was pretty similar to Jekyll and Hyde in the whole, good and evil in men dichotomy. But in this case, the difference of it being artificial and the two aspects actually splitting from each other was definitely a new twist. There was a good amount of suspense in this movie, though the actual scare factor wasn’t much due to the low budget. If you are a fan of either genre, this is a good movie that is worth watching.

Rating: 3 1/2 out of 5

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February 20th, 2016 Movie – Manos: The Hands Of Fate

manos

Lists, lists, and more lists. There is a list for just about everything. One list in particular is relevant to today’s movie and that is “The Worst Movie Ever Made.” Now you will probably find several hundred such lists on the internet but if there is one thing that they will all most likely have in common, today’s movie will be somewhere near the top of the list. Widely regarded as one of the worst movies ever made, many of my friends are saying to themselves, “Of course Joey owns this movie.” So without further ado, allow me to present today’s movie, Manos: The Hands Of Fate.

The plot:Michael, along with his wife Margaret, Daughter Debbie, and the family dog Peppy, are travelling outside of El Paso, TX looking for Valley Lodge. Turning onto a dirt road when they see a sign for the lodge, they continue driving, but a couple making out in a car nearby comments that there is nothing down that road after the car drives off. Driving down the road, the family soon realize they are lost and decide to turn around and head back to the highway. Seeing a house close by, they decide to stop and ask the man standing outside the house for directions. The man introduces himself as Torgo and says he takes care of the place for “the Master.” When they ask where Valley Lodge is Torgo says there is no place like that near there and, with it getting dark, Michael decides that they should just stay the night at the house, though Margaret does not want to stay there. Inside the house, the family sees a picture of the Master and his dog, and Michael asks Torgo about the Master and Torgo says he is away but always with them. As Torgo prepares to show them to the bedrooms, they hear a horrible howl outside that frightens Margaret. As Michael goes outside to check out the noise, Peppy runs outside and begins barking at something. Michael grabs his gun and flashlight from the car and discovers the body of Peppy nearby. Margaret decides that they need to leave so Michael agrees but when he tries to start the car, it refuses to turn over. Inside the house, Margaret says that she will be glad to leave but Torgo says it will be dangerous to leave as the Master wants her. Torgo says that the Master wants her as his bride but the Master can’t have her because Torgo wants her and says he will protect her. When Michael comes back inside, he asks Torgo where the phone is but Torgo says that there is not a phone in the house. When they notice that Debbie is missing, Michael and Margaret go frantic looking for her but they find her outside walking with the large dog from the painting. When they question Debbie where she was, they discover the Master lying on a stone slab and his brides standing against pillars around him.Michael has Margaret and Debbie go in the bedroom and lock the door while he gets some answers from Torgo. Meanwhile, Torgo approaches the body of the Master, saying that the Master can’t have Margaret because he wants her. Torgo knocks Michael out and ties him to a nearby pole while he goes back to the house. Meanwhile, two cops pull up to a car and tells the couple making out in it to leave  (for the second time that day) and the couple tells the cops to go bother the other couple that drove down the road. Suddenly, the Master wakes up and prays to his diety Manos before waking his brides. An argument starts between the brides about what to do with the family and Manos yells at them to be quiet, saying he will deal with Torgo, as he was the one that brought the family to the house, as well as the first wife.. When he leaves, the brides continue arguing and soon start fighting over what should be done. Meanwhile, the Master approaches Torgo and says that Torgo has failed them and Torgo must die. Torgo tries to defy the master but the Master ends up hypnotizing Torgo, then leads him back to where the women are still fighting and breaks up the fight. While this is happening, one of the wives unties Michael and tries to wake him but fails. Manos orders the brides to kill Torgo and says that his first bride must be sacrificed to Manos as well. The first bride is tied to a pole and the other brides proceed to attack Torgo but do not kill him. Michael finally comes to and makes his way back to the house to get Margaret and Debbie. Back at the altar, Manos calls off the brides and then severs and burns Torgo’s left hand, laughing as Torgo goes running into the desert with the wound still burning. Manos then sends the the brides to get the family before the night is over while he prepares his first bride to be sacrificed, but she mocks him and says that his power is fading. Michael, Margaret, and Debbie run off into the desert but realize that they have no choice but to head back to the house to wait out the night. Seeing a rattlesnake nearby, Michael shoots at it, which catches the attention of the two deputies but they don’t see anybody and decide to keep on their patrol. When Michael and his family reach the house, they are greeted by the master and Michael fires his revolver at the master but it has no effect. Some time later, two women are driving along the highway when they turn down the dirt road, passing the same couple making out in their car. With a storm coming, they stop at the house and Michael greets them, saying he takes care of the house for the Master, while at the Master’s lair, it is shown that both Margaret and Debbie have become the Master’s brides.

If you are a fan of bad movies, like me, then you will love this movie for how bad it is but for the everyday movie watcher, you will absolutely hate this one. This movie is bad on so many levels that it is a wonder it was ever made. The acting is terrible. The story makes almost no sense. The camera work and editing is atrocious. Even when it was shown on MST3K, Dr. Forrester and Frank actually apologized to Joel and the bots for showing them this movie. That is how bad it is. But everyone has heard all of this about this movie before, so I decided to try and find something good and redeeming about it, and I have. There is a redeeming quality about this movie and that is…….it’s short. Granted, it is not the shortest movie I own but at 68 minutes, it ranks up there. So if you want to torture someone for an hour, this is the perfect thing to make them watch.

Rating: 1 out of 5

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February 19th, 2016 Movie – Manhunter

manhunter

Years ago, I watched what has become one of the most iconic crime/thriller/horror movies to come out in a long time (note to self: I should rectify my not owning that movie after Lent). Like many others, I watched the subsequent sequels, but I also heard of an earlier movie in the series but never got around to watching that. Then came the massive Blockbuster movie buying phase that caused such a spike in the number of movies that I own and this movie happened to be one such purchase. So I finally got around to watching the last movie in the series, which brings us to my review of said movie, Manhunter.

The plot: Will Graham, a former FBI profiler, is approached by his ex-superior Jack Crawford for help in dealing with a serial killer but Will is reluctant to do so since his almost being killed by Dr. Hannibal Lektor, the last serial killer he caught, caused him to have a breakdown. After discussing it with his wife, Will agrees to look over the evidence and crime scenes, and Jack promises to keep him clear of any danger. Will heads to Atlanta, where the last victims were killed, and looks over the crime scene, making his own notes on what happened. At his hotel later that night, Will is watching video of the dead family and realizes that the killer took off his gloves at some point to open the victims’ eyes and calls Jack to have the coroner dust the bodies eyes. The next day, Will and Jack attend a briefing at the Atlanta Police Department, where the chief brings them up to date on what they know about the killer, dubbed “The Tooth Fairy”. After they leave, Will is confronted by a reporter, who had taken pictures of Will as he was recuperating in the hospital from Lektor’s attack, and Will throws the reporter onto a car and tells him to stay away from him. Will goes to see Lektor and gives him the file on the murders to try get his opinion on The Tooth Fairy but Lektor ends up getting under Will’s skin and he is forced to leave. Later, Lektor gets access to a phone and manages to use it to get Will’s home address. Will heads to Birmingham to look at the first victims’ house and finds where the killer sat in a tree and watched the family, realizing the killer prefers big yards so he can observe the family without being seen. Meanwhile, a guard doing a routine cleaning of Lektor’s cell finds a note and takes it to the warden, who immediately contacts the FBI to speak with Will and Jack. The note, apparently from the Tooth Fairy, mentions trying to correspond with Lektor and Jack orders the note taken to the lab for testing before being placed back in Lektor’s cell. At the labs, they find a hair that matches one from the killer as well as some lettering from a ripped portion of the note, but no fingerprints. Figuring out how they are going to contact each other, Jack wants to substitute a different message to lure the Tooth Fairy into a trap but they when they find Lektor’s response, they realize that it won’t work and Will says to let the paper run Lektor’s ad. Since the Tooth Fairy seemed interested in Will, Will offers to use himself as bait but the FBI’s psychologist recommends against it, as it would mean Will getting more involved in the case then he feels is healthy. Will and Jack decide to go ahead and do it, using Lounds, the reporter that was harassing Will, to write the story. Will wears a wire and is armed as the FBI keeps watch on him in case the Tooth Fairy goes after him but they only succeed in almost shooting a jogger by accident. Lounds winds up being captured by the Tooth Fairy and tortured before he is tied to a wheelchair and set ablaze in a parking garage. At the hospital, Jack informs Will that they cracked Lektor’s coded message to the Tooth Fairy and it was Will’s home address so Will rushes off to head back home. His family is placed into protective custody and Will heads back to Atlanta to track down the killer. In St. Louis, the Tooth Fairy, whose real name is Francis Dollarhyde, is at his work at a film lab and he offers to take a blind co-worker named Reba home but after stopping at a lab, he ends up taking her back to his place. As Francis is watching a home movie of his next victim, Reba starts kissing him and the two end up having sex. Believing himself to be in a relationship with Reba, Francis heads over to her house to see her but sees a co-worker taking her home and he jealously believes they are kissing so he kills the co-worker, then approaches Reba’s apartment and abducts her. In Atlanta, Jack is telling Will that it is too late to stop the Tooth Fairy this month so they should just wait until he kills so they can examine the scene when it is fresh but Will refuses to give up. As he watches the home movies from the two families, Will realizes that the killer has seen these movies as well and used them to study the families and figure out what he would need. Learning where the videos were processed, Will and Jack head to St. Louis and during the flight, they contact the store, as well as the St. Louis police and learn the identity of the killer. Will and Jack are given a ride by the police and Jack says they should wait for S.W.A.T. to take Francis down but Will sees that Francis is preparing to kill Reba so he rushes the house and breaks through a window to save her. Francis sees Will approaching and catches him when he breaks through the glass, easily overpowering him and knocking him to the ground. Francis grabs a shotgun and begins shooting at the approaching cops, killing the two officers and wounding Jack, but gets shot himself in the process. Francis heads back into the kitchen to finish off Will but Will is able to pull out his gun and empties it into Francis. After Will, Jack, and Reba are looked after, Will goes back into retirement and heads back home, where he is reunited with his family.

Manhunter was initially met with mixed reviews from the critics but after the success of The Silence Of The Lambs and the other sequels, the critics found more appreciation for it, as shown by it’s current ranking of 94% on Rotten Tomatoes. The initial criticism tended to focus on the movies overemphasizing the music and visuals, with some questioning William Patterson’s skill as the lead actor but later reviews would state this as being one of the best in the series, with the only complaint being it’s slightly dated look and soundtrack. Originally, the movie was going to be called Red Dragon, the name of the novel it was based on, but due to a previous film of De Laurentiis with a similar title bombing at the box office, and the influx of kung-fu movies with the name Dragon in them, the film’s title was changed. The movie was a flop at the box office, only earning over $8 million off of a $15 million budget.

I will admit that it has been way too long since I have seen the other films but on it’s own, this is a good movie. The acting was pretty good among the main characters. William Peterson (Will) and Dennis Farina (Jack) were both good, as was Brian Cox as Hanibal Lektor, though Anthony Hopkins really stole that role and made it his own in later movies. But for me, Tom Noonan was the best performance because he makes such a creepy bad guy. The plot was pretty good and did a decent job showing some of the forensic work of the FBI, kind of an early precursor to such shows as C.S.I. and Criminal Minds. One thing that I didn’t like was the final fight between Francis and the police, as the use of mulitple shots of the same thing happening, mainly his shooting the cops, felt poorly edited compared to the rest of the movie. However, I did like the use of “In-A-Gadda-Da-Vida” in the final scene of the movie, as the timing of the music worked well with what was happening in the movie. Definitely a good start to a good series of movies.

Rating: 4 out of 5

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February 18th, 2016 Movie – Killer Fish

killer fish

I am going to be 100% honest with you here. For the longest time, I did not think this was a movie. See, I saw about 10-15 minutes of this movie years ago as a kid and recognized Lee Majors, not so much from The Six Million Dollar Man, but from The Fall Guy, which my parents watched when I saw this movie. So I honestly thought that it was an episode of The Fall Guy. Decades later, I was on a nostalgia kick and found The Fall Guy on Hulu and started watching it, but they didn’t have this as one of the episodes so I went online to see if it was a different episode but didn’t find it listed. So I looked through Lee Majors’ movies and sure enough, I found this movie listed so I decided to buy it because I really wanted to watch it. So here is today’s movie, Killer Fish.

The plot: In Brazil, four thieves (Lasky, Kate, Warren, and Lloyd) cause an explosion at a power plant and use the confusion from the subsequent explosions to break into a nearby railroad vault and steal a fortune in gems. The thieves get in a van driven by an accomplice named Hans, who drops them off at a nearby reservoir then continues driving before rigging the van to explode and bailing out. Meanwhile, Lasky, Kate, and the two others throw the case containing the gems into the reservoir before quickly change clothes and head out onto the lake where they pretend to be fishing when the authorities search their boat. Heading back to the resort they are staying at, they all meet up with Paul Diller, the man who organized the theft, who says that they will retrieve the gems in 60 days, after the authorities stop looking for them, but two of the of the thieves, Warren and Lloyd, aren’t happy about waiting but decide to go to Rio for the 60 days. As Lasky says goodbye to the two thieves, he runs into Gabrielle, a model who is doing a photo shoot at the resort, and after a second run in where she accidentally knocks him into the pool, Lasky invites her to dinner. Meanwhile, Warren and Lloyd head to the reservoir to get the gems but as Lloyd dives into the water, Warren sees some movement in the water, just before Lloyd surfaces and starts screaming before he goes under again. Warren heads back to the resort and catches Lasky by surprise in his room but Lasky overpowers him and when questions him about his brother, Warren tells him what happened. During his dinner date with Gabrielle, Lasky sees Kate and excuses himself to go speak with her, where she asks him if he knows where Warren and Lloyd are but Lasky feigns ignorance, unfortunately, Gabrielle sees them talking and walks off. Kate goes to see Hans and when she finds him missing, she gets in a boat and heads off to where the gems are hidden, with Lasky jumping on board and joining her. At the reservoir, Hans dons a scuba tank and arms himself with a spear gun while Warren tells him where the gems where. Hans dives into the water but he soon surfaces and starts screaming. Lasky and Kate hear the screams and head towards the reservoir just as Hans accidentally shoots Warren with the spear gun and drags him into the water, where both men are killed. Kate goes back to see Paul and realizes that he had placed piranha into the reservoir to purposefully keep anyone from claiming the gems before he could. She decides to go tell Lasky but when she gets to his room, she sees Gabrielle emerging from the shower, who tells Kate that Lasky has gone spear fishing, when he is really hiding in the shower. Kate goes back to see Paul, who declares the partnership over and says that the two of them will go collect the gems. Paul and Kate head to where the gems were hidden, then Paul uses some gas to distract the piranha, allowing Kate to dive down and get the gems. While underwater, Kate sees the body of one of the former thieves and starts to panic but she continues looking and soon finds the container with the gems. As she tries to free it from the underwater plants, the piranha start coming towards her but she uses more of the gas to keep them at bay long enough for her to get out of the water with the gems. Paul and Kate hid the gems inside a beauty case then head back to their boat, only to find that it has been sunk so they start walking back as it starts to rain. They soon see Max, a local tour boat operator who had taken Gabrielle and the photography crew (Ollie, Anne, and Ben) to a nearby waterfall for a photo shoot and get a ride with him, where they find Lasky on board as well. As the storm starts getting worse, Max steers his boat into a cove near the damn but when a tornado cause the damn to break, the ship ends up getting damaged and starts taking on water. Lasky and Paul go to see the captain, who is working on stopping the leak from the inside but says he will need to go outside to fix it. Paul tries to attack Lasky from behind and the two men start fighting but when they hear screaming from outside, they agree to stop until the get onto shore. Outside, the first mate is screaming and thrashing in the water and Max dives in to save him but the first mate is killed and Max starts being attacked but he manages to make it back to the boat, where Lasky and Paul pull him back on board. Back at the resort, the hotel manager Luis is checking over the damage to the hotel when a young boy is attacked by piranha and they realize that the lake is filled with the deadly fish. Going to see Tom, a local pilot, he tells him what has happened, and that he can’t raise Max on the radio, so they work to get one of his planes cleared of debris and fly off to search for the missing boat. On the boat, the passengers work to make a homemade raft and Anne and Ollie get on the raft and start to head to shore. However, Ollie is bit by one of the piranha and falls off the raft, where the piranha kill him, but his struggles cause Anne to fall off as well but she manages to make it onto shore and yells out that she is going for help. Tom and Luis see Anne and the boat shortly after and drop two life rafts for the people to use, but one doesn’t inflate and sinks next to the boat while the other lands too far for them to swim for it. Tom is then forced to crash the plane and he and Luis manage to escape with another raft before the plane explodes. When a carbide lamp on the boat explodes, Paul gets an idea and asks Max if he has anymore on board. Grabbing the lamps, Paul tosses them overboard, where they explode, killing some of the fish and scaring off the others, allowing Lasky to dive down and inflate the raft near the boat, though he does get bit before he makes it back on board. Securing the raft to the boat, Paul pulls out a pistol he found in the boat’s cabin, then has Kate keep an eye on them while he gets on the raft with the gems. When Lasky tells her to wave goodbye, Kate sees that Paul is leaving without her but the gun turns out to be empty. Lasky jumps into the water and swims out to the raft, where Paul hits him with the paddles until Lasky is forced to swim back. However, the raft starts deflating and as Paul sinks into the water and is killed by the piranha, Lasky opens his hand to reveal that he broke the valve off the raft when he swam out there as Tom and Luis, as well as a rescue helicopter arrive to save them. Later, the police arrive at Kate’s room and bring her the beauty case, which she gratefully accepts. The next day, Gabrielle is saying goodbye to Ben at the airport when she sees Kate and the two women hug while saying their goodbyes while Anne is seen on the phone with Tom standing with her. As Kate is on her plane, she opens up the beauty case but finds that the gems are gone. Meanwhile, Gabrielle gets into a car and hands Lasky a beauty case, which he opens to find some of the gems and a note from Anne, congratulating him on a job well done and saying that she has the other half of the gems.

This is a fun low-budget action movie to watch but I don’t know if it is because of the movie itself, or some of the goofs that were in it. The acting was pretty good, with Lee Majors (Lasky) doing a good job as the hero while James Franciscus (Paul) made for a great villain. Margaux Hemingway and Karen Black were also good as Gabrielle and Kate respectively. The plot was good, but a little confusing at the end, as the comment Lasky makes to Gabrielle about bringing her to Brazil, as well as the phone call Anne is on and her note to Lasky makes it seem like the three of them, and Tom, were all working together in some way that is never explained. The special effects were decent some times and bad others, such as the really terrible looking tornado that destroys the damn. My favorite goof though is at the beginning during the explosions at the power plant, where you see a worker moving across the screen during a shot of the power plant, so it looks like a giant is walking along the exploding tanks. I honestly had to back the DVD up and watch it again to make sure I actually saw that. A fun little movie that can help keep you entertained on a boring afternoon.

Rating: 3 out of 5

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February 17th, 2016 Movie – Gorilla At Large

gorilla at large

I honestly have no clue what today’s movie will be like. Now you may be wondering why I bought this movie but the truth is, I didn’t but the DVD for this movie. This movie is half of a double feature set from Fox’s Midnight Movies DVD sets (which are a great way to find some old sci-fi/horror movies). Anyways, the reason I bought this DVD was for the other movie, Mystery On Monster Island, which I have also not seen but it sounded interesting. Still, today’s movie did have some recognizable names attached to it so who knows, Gorilla At Large might turn out to be a good movie after all.

The plot: Cyrus Miller’s carnival has just reached a new town and Cyrus is walking around the fairgrounds looking at all the people before he heads to the tent containing their main attraction, a large gorilla named Goliath. Stopping to tell the barker, Joey Matthews, that he wants to speak with him, Cyrus heads inside and he and Joey watch Goliath scare the crowd just before Cyrus’ wife Laverne does her trapeze act over Goliath’s cage. After the act is done, Cyrus explains that he is taking Joey off the barker stage as Laverne wants to use him as part of her act. Cyrus heads backstage, where he talks to Kovacs, Goliath’s handler, about leaving the door to Goliath’s cage open, then talks to Laverne when she comes down from the trapeze stand. Heading back out to the boardwalk while Laverne changes, Cyrus notices one of his workers, Morse, reading instead of manning the booth and yells at him for it. Heading back to Laverne’s dressing room, he comments about Morse and decides to check his receipts to see if he is stealing from him. Joey enters the dressing room in a gorilla costume and Cyrus tells Joey that Laverne will explain the act while he deals with Morse. Laverne tells Joey that while she is swinging over Goliath’s cage, the spotlight will be on her and Kovacs will lead Goliath under the stage while Joey, in the gorilla costume, will catch Laverne when she purposefully falls. As they leave her dressing room, they see Cyrus firing Morse and Laverne asks if that was the right thing to do since Morse was a troublemaker. Joey goes to tell his fiance Audrey the good news, as the extra $50 a week he will be making will allow them to get married soon and leave the circus. As Joey walks her into the tent to explain the act, they discover the body of Morse and call the police. Detective Garrison questions everyone and based on the evidence, says that it looks like Morse got drunk and got too close to the gorilla cage and the gorilla broke his neck except that the gorilla was locked up below the stage and Joey’s gorilla costume is missing, which means someone could have murdered Morse. Garrison closes the park down and tells everyone not to leave and after he leaves, Owens, Cyrus’ publicity man, tells Cyrus that Morse never drank alcohol due to a bad ulcer. The next day, Garrison’s partner Joe gives him some background information on the people of interest at the park, such as Kovacs being Laverne’s first husband, and that Cyrus was also part of a trapeze act with Laverne and another partner named Kewpie, who died in an accident during their trapeze act at a different circus. At the park, Audrey tells Joey that she wants to quit the circus and go ahead and get married but Joey says he can’t quit now due to his being the prime suspect. Joey tries to tell Laverne that he wants to quit but she convinces him to stay with her act, which makes Cyrus jealous. Meanwhile, Officer Shaughnessy is keeping an eye on Goliath while Kovacs goes to get his food but as he is staring at the gorilla, someone in a gorilla costume knocks him out then opens Goliath’s cage, allowing the gorilla to get free. Audrey sees Owens and asks who she needs to talk to about quitting and he says he will tell Cyrus, then warns her to get Joey out of here before he gets sucked in. Owens asks Audrey to turn off the lights in the mirror maze while he goes to speak with an arriving Garrison. Audrey ends up getting lost in the maze and sees Goliath inside with her so she begins screaming. Owens is about to tell Garrison that he knows who killed Morse when they hear her screaming and enter the mirror maze to look for her. Kovacs sneaks into the maze and finds Goliath holding Audrey and gets him to put her down and sneaks him out of the maze. Meanwhile, Garrison and Owens continue looking for Audrey when Owens is killed by the person in the gorilla costume. Hearing Owens’ struggles, Garrison begins smashing the mirrors and discovers his body while Joe finds Audrey. Garrison tells Joe to have everyone meet at the gorilla cage and when Joe goes to get Joey, he sees the gorilla costume hanging in Joey’s locker and Joey says that it just appeared there. Down in the empty cage, Garrison questions Joey about the costume and it looks like Joey could be the killer, but there is no real proof. Later, Kovacs tries going to where he hid Goliath but he is forced to leave when Shaughnessy and another officer walk by looking for the gorilla. Shaughnessy unknowingly trips the lever that releases Goliath from his hidden cage and he begins wandering around the park, activating the various rides as he goes. Goliath reaches Laverne’s trailer and reaches through the window towards her. causing her to scream and the police show up preparing to shoot Goliath but Kovacs appears and gets him back in his cage. Later, as Garrison is questioning Laverne about what happened, Cyrus confesses to the two murders and Garrison has him arrested. The next day, Laverne is practicing her act with Joey when Kovacs shows up and grabs Laverne, lifting her over his head before Joey manages to grab her from him. Laverne admits to Joey that Kovacs is her ex-husband and that he wants to kill her before she kisses Joey but he tells her he has to go. Joey heads to the police station, where he proves that Cyrus couldn’t have broken anyone’s neck as his arm hadn’t healed right after a trapeze accident. Joey tells Garrison he believes that Kovacs is the real killer and convinces the Garrison to go with him to arrest him. As Joey is below the stage getting in the costume, he finds the wrist tapes that Laverne uses inside and realizes that she was wearing the costume and used her knowledge of judo to break Morse and Owen’s neck. Questioning Kovacs as to why, Kovacs explains that Laverne killed Kewpie and Morse was blackmailing her for it and Owens knew all about it. Hearing the music for the final act starting, Joey tells Kovacs to bring Goliath down but Kovacs refuses, saying Laverne had this coming. Joey tries to warn Laverne but she goes through with the act and ends up falling into Goliath’s arms. Garrison has the cage opened to try and save her but Goliath pushes him aside and carries Laverne out into the crowd and eventually makes his way up to the top of the roller coaster with her. Joey climbs up there to rescue Laverne and as the police use fireworks to distract Goliath, Joey is able to grab Laverne when Goliath puts her down and the police are able to shoot and kill Goliath. Later, Laverne is arrested for the murders and Joey sees Audrey there and the two embrace and leave the circus together.

A pretty straight forward murder/mystery movie, with the inclusion of a gorilla to make things interesting. The acting was pretty good all around, with some good early performances by future Academy Award winners Anne Bancroft (Laverne) and Lee Marvin (Shaughnessy). The story was a pretty simple “who-dun-it” style mystery but the use of a gorilla as a red herring made for a good twist. The gorilla costume for Goliath had its’ moments of looking decent and looking bad, but the times it looked bad might have been more the camera angle or blue screening and not the costume itself. So if you are in the mood for a mystery, you might want to give this movie a try.

Rating: 3 out of 5

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February 16th, 2016 Movie – Ghoulies 3: Ghoulies Go To College

ghoulies 3

Imitation has been called the sincerest form of flattery. I wonder if the people that came up with Gremlins were flattered by this series of movies. After the success with Gremlins, other studios decided to come out with movies depicting little monsters terrorizing people. I remember watching the first two movies in this series years ago as a kid but I only caught bits and pieces of today’s movie and the last one. I guess it is finally time to fix half of that problem as I watch today’s movie, Ghoulies 3: Ghoulies Go To College.

The plot: A man frantically runs into his house and locks his door, then begins reading from a comic book when 3 ghoulies burst through the windows and start attacking him, but he manages to finish the spell and both the ghoulies and himself vanishes. Years later, the house has been made part of a local college campus and a kid finds the comic in the bathroom and starts to read it but leaves before he finishes the spell. The college is celebrating it’s annual “Prank Week”, which is taken very serious by Skip Carter and Jeremy Heilman, two kids in competing fraternities, but one of their professors, Professor Ragnar, warns Skip that he will expel him if he catches him pulling another prank. In Ragnar’s class, Ragnar catch’s the student with the comic and confiscates it. Later that night, a party is being held at Skip’s frat house and his girlfriend Erin shows up only to break up with him as she has a date with Jeremy. Meanwhile, Ragnar, who has an obsession with the occult, notices similarities in the comic to a book he has and begins reading the comic, summoning the 3 ghoulies, which appear out of a toilet in Skip’s fraternity. After Skip and the other fraternity members leave the house, leaving Wes and his girlfriend Veronica to look after the place, the 3 ghoulies head towards the couple as they are having sex but are transported to Ragnar’s office when he demands they appear. Seeing the 3 ghoulies that he summoned, Ragnar yells at them to get away from him and ends up sending them back to the frat house. Hearing a noise, Wes goes to check it out and is attacked by the ghoulies in the bathroom and they end up flushing Wes down the toilet they were summoned from, then proceed to trash the house. Meanwhile, Skip and his friend Mookey head to the Gamma frat house and wire Jeremy’s moped so that it will shock him. However, the ghoulies followed them and end up trashing the moped after they leave. The next morning, Skip and his frat brothers return to the house and find it trashed and no sign of Wes anywhere. Skip goes to see Veronica to see if she knows where Wes is and she says she doesn’t and attempts to seduce Skip when Erin, Veronica’s roommate, walks in with Jeremy. Jeremy and Skip confront each other over what they believe happened and after he leaves, Skip tells Mookey that he doesn’t think the Gamma’s trashed their house. Meanwhile, Ragnar has been reading up on the comic and, learning that whoever controls the comic controls the ghoulies, he summons the ghoulies then orders them to steal the Pranking Crown for him. The ghoulies steal the crown and take it back to Ragnar, who then orders them to kill him but when his secretary walks in, the ghoulies end up killing her instead and Ragnar sends them away. Meanwhile, Mookey and some of the frat brothers stage a panty raid on Erin’s sorority but while the girls manage to fend off the boys, the ghoulies sneak in and trash  Erin and Veronica’s room then kill Veronica while she is in the shower. The next day, Skip meets up with Erin, having managed to convince her to give him another chance, but she says the date is cancelled after what happened at the sorority. In Ragnar’s class, Ragnar uses his lecture to comment on the prank war and says that he is one orank away from having Skip expelled. Skip swears that he is done with pulling pranks and Jeremy uses that moment to cause Ragnar’s desk to explode. Ragnar follows the wire from the destroyed desk to Skip’s desk, where he finds a remote, and he expels Skip. Skip pleads his innocence and says that he is being framed but Ragnar refuses to listen and Skip leaves, followed by the rest of the Beta Zeta frat. At the frat house, Skip questions why they left as it means there will be no more fraternity and Mookey argues with Skip about his not wanting to get revenge on the Gammas. Meanwhile, Jeremy and his friends are bragging about getting Skip expelled but Erin overhears them and pours coffee down Jeremy’s pants. Erin goes to see Skip to apologize and after they make up, she tells him that Jeremy framed him and agrees to go with him to tell Ragnar. Meanwhile, Ragnar orders the ghoulies to kill Skip but when they go to the frat house, they end up killing one of the Gammas, who was there to set off a massive stink bomb in the house. Skip and Erin go to Ragnar’s office and find the body of his secretary with the pranking crown and run for help but they are grabbed by Jeremy and his frat brothers. Erin manages to get away and tries to call for help but Ragnar grabs the phone from her then summons the ghoulies to grab her. Hearing Erin’s screams, Skip tries telling Jeremy that she is in trouble but when Jeremy insults her, Skip gets mad enough to break free and knock out Jeremy and the Gammas. Ragnar and the ghoulies have Erin tied up in the library and plan on torturing her to find out who else knows about the murder. Skip shows up and Ragnar sicks the ghoulies on him but Skip uses a glue-filled squirt gun to stop them. Knocking out Ragnar, Skip manages to free Erin then grabs the comic and orders the ghoulies to kill Ragnar. Erin and Skip head back to the frat house, where they are confronted by Jeremy but a demonically transformed Ragnar burst into the house and Jeremy knocks himself unconscious while trying to run away. Ragnar chases after Skip and Erin but Skip flushes the comic down the toilet and Ragnar is sucked into the toilet and destroyed. As they are recovering from the ordeal, the school security guard Barcus shows up, questioning Skip about a bomb that blew up his security cart and Skip points him to Jeremy, who has some dynamite that he was going to use to frame Skip. Barcus takes Jeremy to be expelled and the rest of the Beta Zeta’s show up, saying that they won thr prank war, and the group celebrates their win.

It’s been a while since I have seen the original Ghoulies but I do think that while this was entertaining, in that complete juvenile sense that some of these movies are made, this wasn’t as good as the original. The acting was pretty good, with Evan MacKenzie (Skip), Eva LaRue (Erin), Kevin McCarthy (Ragnar), and John R. Johnston (Jeremy) each doing a good job in their roles. The plot honestly seemed pretty unoriginal, coming off like it was a combination of Gremlins and Revenge Of The Nerds. The puppets used for the ghoulies were pretty good, but the special effects showed how little of a budget this movie had. The movie was definitely more of a comedy than a horror and there were plenty of things to laugh at, such as the running gag involving Barcus’ security cart getting repeatedly trashed. A funny movie to watch but it isn’t a must see movie.

Rating: 2 1/2 out of 5

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movie, movie review

February 15th, 2016 Movie – Day Of The Animals

day of the animals

So a couple of months ago, I was watching this series on Netflix called Zoo. Now I enjoyed the show but as I was watching it, it kept reminding me of today’s movie, so I ordered it off of Amazon. However, I tend to buy used copies of movies if they are cheaper, which was the case for this movie, so it took a while to get here. I remember seeing this movie years ago when I was a kid and the one thing that stood out was Leslie Nielsen’s character, since I was more used to him in comedy performances at that point, so seeing him ranting like a madman was definitely an eyeopener that stuck with me. Feel free to see for yourself if you watch today’s movie, Day Of The Animals.

The plot: Steve Buckner is leading a group of people on a survival hike down a nearby mountain in Northern California but as they are preparing to leave, the sheriff warns him to be careful, as some strange things have been happening in the mountains recently. After taking some helicopters to the mountain top, the group begins hiking down the mountain but as they stop for a rest, a Native American named Daniel Santee comments to Buckner about there being no noise from wildlife nearby. Suddenly, the hear the cries from dozens of birds nearby, as an eagle flies down and lands next to a boy that is part of the group. When the eagle flies off and the noise stops, everyone is spooked but Buckner assures them they are safe and they continue on their hike. Back in town, the sheriff heads to the local bar and tries petting a dog outside but it growls at him so he pulls his hand back. Inside, the sheriff is sitting at a table with his deputy and some friends when they see a report about the depleting ozone layer on TV and how it’s effects could be felt at higher altitudes and the sheriff comments about the sun looking peculiar that morning. Back on the mountain, the group come across an abandoned camp site, which they find odd, but Buckner decides that they should camp nearby. As the group of hikers sit around the camp fire, Santee speaks with Buckner and tells him that they should keep the fire going and keep a watch, as he felt there was something wrong in the woods. Later in the night, Terry Marsh, a news anchorwoman, sees Buckner keeping watch and comments on how she is worried about how the other campers never came back. Suddenly, a wolf attacks one of the women in the group, then suddenly runs off as the others rush to help her. The next morning, Buckner and Santee give the injured woman, Mandy, and her husband, Frank, a map and directions to a nearby ranger station and send them there, telling them to get word to have a helicopter meet the rest of the group further down the mountain. As the rest of the group continue their hike, Paul Jenson, an advertising agent, begins to get belligerent with the others, particularly Buckner, and complains that they are unarmed and Buckner and Santee try to calm him down. Meanwhile, Frank and Mandy are continuing towards the ranger station when they notice a large number of birds near them. Mandy yells at Frank, who gets frustrated and walks away, and the birds suddenly attack her and in spite of Frank trying to save her, she is knocked off a cliff by the birds. Frank continues down the mountain and comes to a river, where he finds a little girl standing by the shore. When he asks where her parents are and offers her a snack, an eagle suddenly swoops down and grabs the snack, causing the girl to start screaming. Meanwhile, a young boy in the group, John Goodwyn, hears a report on his radio about an evacuation being called for the high country but when his mom tries grabbing the radio, it ends up falling in a nearby river. Buckner and the others reach the area where the food drop is only to discover that all the containers have been busted open. Jenson starts questioning Buckners leadership and argues that they should wait for the helicopters to come back and pick them up, and some of the others agree with him but Buckner says they should head down to the lower areas like the report said and the majority of the group agrees with him. In town, the sheriff is woken up by a call from his deputy, who tells him the army is there and they are declaring martial law and evacuating the town due to the ozone depletion . The sheriff doesn’t believe him at first but when he is attacked by a pack of rats in his kitchen, he grabs his wife and they head into town, where he heads to the station and she joins the evacuation. Back in the mountains, the hikers have made camp for the night when they are attacked by three cougars but no one is seriously injured. The next morning, they start gathering food and prepare to continue downhill but Jenson argues that the ranger tower uphill is closer and they would be able to radio for a helicopter. Buckner tells him that if Frank and Mandy had reached the tower, a helicopter would have already found them but Jenson refuses to follow Buckner any more and manages to convince Shirley Goodwyn (John’s mother), as well as a young couple (Bob and Beth) to follow him up the mountain, with John reluctantly following his mother. As they make their way up the mountain, Jenson continues to delve further into madness, throwing Shirley and John to the ground and attacking and killing Bob when he tries to stop Jenson from going after Beth after . As a storm rages, Jenson tries to rape Beth but a bear suddenly appears at their camp and Jenson struggles with the bear and is killed while the others manage to get away. Frank and the little girl reach the outskirts of town but as they try to get into a truck, they notice it is full of rattlesnakes so they head to a nearby house but are unable to find anyone inside. Continuing further into town, they come across an army truck and as Frank opens the door, the body of the sheriff falls out. Continuing past the truck, they find a jeep that is unlocked but when it won’t start, he leaves the little girl in the jeep while he goes to get his car which is nearby, but when he gets to his car, he is bitten by several rattlesnakes that were hiding inside and a dog kills him as the little girl watches in horror. John, Shirley, and Beth find a helicopter and start heading for it when they notice a pack of wolves feeding on the pilot but the three hikers manage to get inside the helicopter and close the doors before they wolves are able to kill them. Buckner and the rest of the group (Santee, Terry, Roy, and Prof. MacGregor) reach some nearby cabins but when a pack of German Shepherds suddenly appear, they run into a nearby cabin and barricade themselves inside as the dogs try to get inside. When the attack stops, the group start to relax but several dogs break through the windows and begin attacking the people inside. Roy and Prof. MacGregor are killed by the dogs but Buckner, Santee, and Terry manage to get out and make their way to the nearby river, where they break off a small canoe dock to use as a raft. A couple of dogs manage to jump onto the raft so the three people are forced to hold onto the sides until they can get the dogs off the raft and climb on. The next day, John wakes his mother and Beth and they see all of the animals in the area have died, as well as a helicopter heading towards them. Meanwhile, the military, wearing hazmat suits and gas masks, are patrolling the  towen looking for survivors and find the little girl while Buckner, Santee, and Terry have managed to float to a nearby ranger station, where they are rescued.

This was an interesting “what if” movie that focused on a recent issue Americans were dealing with, the depleting ozone layer. The acting was pretty decent, with Christopher George doing a good job as the stoic hero while Leslie Nielsen kind of stole the show as the crazed Jenson, especially when he went completely mad and tried wrestling a bear. The story was pretty good, as they have a scroll at the beginning of the movie commenting on the recent findings about the ozone layer being depleted and how the movie was a dramatization of what could happen. The special effects involving the animal attacks were pretty good, though the scene where Mandy falls off the cliff was honestly a pretty bad job of blue screening. All in all, this is one of those movies from the 70’s that was not going to win any major awards, but just be entertaining to watch.

Rating: 3 1/2 out of 5

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