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May 21st, 2016 Movie – Monty Python’s Life Of Brian

monty pythons life of brian

There is a good chance that I have seen religious satire films before today’s movie, but none of them really stuck with me as much as this one. Granted, my being a fan of Monty Python probably helps make this movie be more prominent in my memories but still. During the summer of ’92, while I was going back and forth between Texas and my grandparents house in Nashville while my family got ready to move to Atlanta, this movie came on Comedy Central. As soon as I saw the words Monty Python, I knew I had to watch it because it would be incredibly funny. Years later, after wondering why I had not bought it sooner, I finally got the DVD which is why I am watching Monty Python’s Life OF Brian today.

The plot: Three wise men men enter Jerusalem and approach a stable, where a woman is resting with her newborn baby. The woman starts to kick them out until they mention they brought gifts, and she quickly invites them to look at the baby. Asking the baby’s name, she tells them it is Brian, and they begin to praise Brian before she takes the gifts and kicks them out but as they are leaving, the quickly rush back in and grab the gifts, then head over to the stable where Jesus lays. Years later, Brian and his mother are listening to Jesus sermon on the Mount, but they are so far from him that they can hardly hear what he is saying. When a fight breaks out among some of the people next to them, Brian’s mom convinces him to leave and go to the stoning and Brian starts to go but he notices a young woman walking by and becomes infatuated with her. At the stoning, the crowd consists mainly of women wearing beards as disguises, since women are not allowed to attend. As the priest reads the crimes for the accused, he must constantly tell people not to throw stones early just because someone says Jehovah, and ends up getting stoned to death himself for saying it. Leaving the stoning, Brian and his mom are harassed by an ex-leper and when Brian asks what happens, the man says that Jesus healed him. Entering their home, Brian and his mom see a Roman soldier waiting for them and his mom admits to Brian that his dad was a Roman, and not Jewish like he had been told, but Brian refuses to believe her. Going to his job selling concessions at the colosseum, Brian sees the girl along with her companions in the People’s Front of Judea and asks to join them and their leader, Reg, says that they have a job for Brian. Brian is tasked with painting some graffiti on a wall but when a Roman centurion sees him, he corrects Brian’s grammar and has Brian write it out 100 times, leaving two soldiers to make sure Brian does it. Brian finishes and the two soldiers leave but when a new squad sees the wall covered in graffiti, they chase after Brian but Brian is saved by Judith, the woman he is infatuated with. Judith takes Brian to the PFJ’s headquarters, where Reg is going over their plan to kidnap Pontius Pilate’s wife and issue demands in exchange for her release. Brian joins the group and they manage to sneak into the palace but find another rebellious group inside for the same purpose. Brian tries to convince the two groups to work together but the two groups start killing each other and the guards end up arresting Brian, as he is the only one to survive. Brian is taken to see Pilate and Brian tries to explain that he is half Roman. When he says his father’s name is Naughtius Maximus, the guards start laughing as they believe it is a joke name like Biggus Dickus, but Pilate says that he has a friend with that name. As the guards continue to laugh at Biggus Dickus and his wife, Brian manages to escape and the guards give chase. Brian climbs the stairs of an unfinished tower and falls off, only to land in an alien space ship. The space ship takes off into space but another ship chases after it and shoots it, causing the damaged ship to crash back onto Earth. Brian manages to escape the wreckage unharmed but finds himself still being chased by the Roman guards. Trying to hide in the market, Brian attempts to buy a beard as a disguise but the shopkeeper demands that he haggle for it and ends up selling it, along with a gourd, to Brian. Brian makes his way to the PFJ’s headquarters but he is forced to hide on the balcony when the soldiers follow him and search the place. The balcony gives way and Brian ends up knocking over a street preacher and Brian begins speaking to the crowd as the soldiers look for him. When the soldiers leave, Brian leaves as well but the crowd, who started to get interested in what Brian was saying, follow and demand he finish speaking. Brian runs from the crowd and they chase after him, believing him to be the messiah. Heading up a mountain, Brian sees an old man in a ditch and jumps down there to hide, accidentally landing on the man’s foot and causing him to break his vow of silence. The man chastises Brian and begins singing to make up for not speaking for so long, which draws the crowds attention towards them. The crowd believes that Brian is able to preform miracles and when the old man attacks Brian, they believe he is an unbeliever and the crowd grabs him and takes him off to be killed, leaving Brian there with Judith. The next morning, Brian wakes up to find Judith still in bed with him but when he looks out the window, he sees a mass of people outside. His mom questions what is going on and after seeing a naked Judith defending Brian, she addresses the crowd, saying about Brian, saying “He’s not the Messiah, he’s a very naughty boy.” Brian tries speaking to the crowd but later, he winds up being arrested by the Romans. Pilate orders Brian to be crucified and Judith goes to see Reg to get them to help free Brian but is frustrated when they begin holding a meeting on what to do. In the city, Pilate addresses the crowd and offers to release one prisoner ut the crowd constantly shouts out names with “R’s” in them, in order to make fun of Pilate’s speech impediment. Judith shouts out to release Brian and the crowd stats chanting it and Pilate, learning that there is a Brian, orders his release. Meanwhile, Brian is hanging on the crucifix when Reg and the PFJ arrive and say they are not a rescue party but are merely there to thank him for being a martyr for them. The soldiers arrive to release Brian but Brian is busy yelling at Reg and the others so another prisoner says that he is Brian. Brian hears him and says that he is Brian, and several other prisoners start saying that they are Brian, but the guards release the first prisoner and carry him off. Suddenly, the Judean People’s Front show up, chasing off the Roman guards, but instead of freeing the prisoners, they commit suicide as a form of political protest. Judith and Brian’s mother both come by to speak with Brian before leaving and Brian is left to lament about his fate but another prisoner starts trying to lift his spirits with a song, which is picked up by all the other prisoners as they all start singing “Always Look On The Bright Side OF Life.”

Monty Python’s Life Of Brian was highly praised by the critics, earning a certified fresh rating of 96% on Rotten Tomatoes. The critical consensus on the site is that it is, “One of the more cutting=edge films of the 1970s, this religious farce from the classic comedy troupe is as poignant as it is funny and satirical.” Due to the controversial nature of the film at the time, it wound up being banned in several countries, including Ireland and Norway, but the filmmakers would use that as part of their marketing, with posters in Sweden reading, “So funny, it was banned in Norway!” The movie has been considered one of the greatest comedies of all time and the song, “Always Look On The Bright Side Of Life”, has been considered a great ode to optimism. The movie was a box office hit, earning $20 million off a $4 million budget.

This is an incredibly funny movie and the religious satire still holds up to this day. The acting was great and it just shows that the Python crew have not lost any of their timing in the 4 years since Monty Python And The Holy Grail. The story was very well written and did a good job of making fun of religion without actually making fun of God himself. Some of the jokes were subtler than others but this still makes me laugh almost the whole way through it. I did like the nod to Spartacus, when all of the prisoners were calling out that they were Brian. The costumes and set designs were really well done and showed the improvements off of the bigger budget. I honestly think that if this movie were to come out now, there would be just as many people trying to get it banned now as there were back in the day, which kind of speaks on how fanatical some people are regarding religion. A fantastic comedy that is always funny, no matter how often I see it.

Rating: 5 out of 5

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May 20th, 2016 Movie – Monty Python And The Holy Grail

monty python and the holy grail

And now for something completely different. I think it was around 8th/9th grade that I was first introduced to the brilliance that is Monty Python. Yes, I know that I led a sad and deprived life before that but I was completely ignorant to how much humor was missing from my life. Anyways, when I first saw this movie, I thought it was one of the funniest things I had ever seen. I promptly taped it the next opportunity that I had, and bought the VHS tape after I got a job and started earning money, then the DVD years later. Yeh, I would say I was a fan. So lets have some fun with today’s movie, Monty Python And The Holy Grail.

The plot: In 932 A.D. England, King Arthur, with his servant Patsy, is riding across England searching for knights to join his court in Camelot. When he approaches a castle, he asks the knight standing guard on the parapet to ask his master if he would like to join but the guard is more interested in the coconut’s Patsy is using to mimic a horse. The guard questions where Arthur got the coconuts from. When Arthur says he found them and that they could have been carried by a migrating swallow, the guard argues how that would be impossible. A second guard appears and says that an African swallow could carry a coconut and the first guard agrees but says a European swallow couldn’t and Arthur leaves them as they continue figuring out how a swallow could carry a coconut. Arthur rides through a town, passing a cart loaded with dead bodies and the collector, as well as a person who had just dropped off another body, comment about him and the collector says he must be a king because he “hasn’t got shit all over him.” Approaching another castle, Arthur speaks with a man named Dennis and his wife about who lives there and learns that no one lives there. When Dennis questions Arthur’s legitimacy as king, Arthur grows frustrated and grabs him but Dennis starts yelling that he is being repressed and so Arthur lets him go and continues his journey. Heading into the woods, Arthur witnesses a fight between two knights and after the Black Knight wins, Arthur approaches him and asks if he will join his court. The Black Knight doesn’t respond and Arthur starts to go pass him but the Black Knight says that no man will pass him. Arthur ends up fighting the Black Knight and ends up cutting off one of his arms but the Black Knight refuses to quit fighting, forcing Arthur to cut off the remaining arm as well as both his legs before he leaves, with the limbless knight yelling that he will bite his legs off. In the next village, Arthur witnesses a mob bringing a woman dressed as a witch to Sir Bedevere the Wise, a knight living in the village, asking permission to burn her. When there is doubt on if the woman is really a witch, Bedevere teaches the crowd a way to tell if someone is a witch, that being if the woman weighs the same as a duck, she is made of wood and therefore she is a witch. Placing the woman and a duck on a large set of scales, the woman is proven to be a witch and the mob takes her away while Arthur approaches the knight and asks if he will join his court, which Bedevere quickly agrees to. After Bedevere, several other knights join Arthur, including Sir Lancelot the Brave, Sir Galahad the Pure, and Sir Robin the Not-Quite-So-Brave-as-Sir-Lancelot. Arthur and the knights soon come to Camelot but Arthur decides not to head there as it is a silly place. As they continue riding, they stop when God appears in the sky above them and, after chastising them for groveling, apologizing, and averting their eyes, tasks Arthur and the knights to find the Holy Grail. Arthur and his knights start their quest and come across a castle and ask for shelter for the knight and offer to let the castle’s master join their quest but the French knights in charge of the castle mercilessly taunt Arthur. After using a catapult to launch a cow onto one of Arthur’s servants, Arthur orders an attack on the castle but the knights are forced to retreat under the onslaught of more animals being thrown at them. Bedevere comes up with a plan and the knights build a giant wooden rabbit and have their servants wheel it up to the castle gate. Arthur and the knights watch as the French knights bring the rabbit into the castle but when Arthur questions Bedevere about what will happen next, Bedevere says that he, Lancelot, and Galahad will wait until nightfall to leap out of the rabbit to catch the French by surprise, only to realize that they are not in the rabbit. As Bedevere suggests making a wooden badger, the French use the catapult to launch the wooden rabbit at the knights, causing them to run away. A famous historian starts talking about how after their defeat at the hands of the French, Arthur decides that the knights should split up to look for the grail when suddenly, a knight on horseback rides past and slashes the historians throat with his sword. Robin heads off with his favorite minstrels, who constantly sing songs praising him, when he comes across a giant, 3-headed knight. The 3-headed knight starts arguing about killing Robin but when they finally agree on what to do, they find that Robin has ran away, with his minstrels singing about it all the way. Galahad is traveling through a forest during a storm when he sees a grail shining above a nearby castle. When he enters the castle, he is greeted by a young woman named Zoot, who says that the castle is filled with young girls between the ages of 16 and 19 1/2 and has Galahad rest in a bed. When two girls go to tend to his wounds, he gets up and tries searching for the grail. Seeing Dingo, Zoots identical twin sister, Galahad asks her where the grail is and Dingo says that they don’t have a grail but have a grail-shaped beacon, which Zoot must have lit. Dingo says that Galahad must punish Zoot by tying her to a bed and spanking her, then spanking Dingo and the other girls, followed by oral sex, and Galahad starts to relent but Lancelot arrives and drags Galahad out of the castle. Arthur and Bedevere are in a house speaking with an old man who tells them to seek an enchanter that will help them find the grail and the old man laughs before disappearing, along with his house, leaving Arthur and Bedevere in the woods. Making their way through the woods, they soon encounter the Knights Who Say Ni, who demand a shrubbery in order for them to pass. At swamp castle, the king is trying to convince his effeminate son to go through with a wedding and has guards posted to keep the prince from leaving. The prince ties a note to an arrow and shoots it out the window, where it winds up striking Lancelot’s servant Concorde. After reading the note, Lancelot heads out and attacks the castle, killing several of the wedding guests before reaching the prince’s chambers. As the prince starts climbing out the window using a rope he made form bed sheets, the king confronts Lancelot about all the people he killed but when he learns that Lancelot is from Camelot, he offers a drink to Lancelot, cutting the sheets loose before he leaves. As they walk back down to the courtyard, the surviving guests try attacking Lancelot but the king stops them and says that Lancelot has offered to marry the girl instead. Suddenly, the prince, who survived his fall, is brought back inside the castle and the crowd starts singing for the prince to tell everyone how he survived, much to the king’s displeasure, and Lancelot chooses that moment to leave. Meanwhile, Arthur and Bedevere start torturing a woman for a shrubbery when they meet a shrubber named Roger and obtain the shrubbery from him. Returning with the shrubbery, they learn that the Knights Who Say Ni have changed their name and demand another test but Arthur refuses and says he won’t do it. As Robin joins them, the Knights start reacting in pain anytime someone says the word “it” and Arthur, Bedevere, and Robin leave them. Elsewhere, the widow of the dead historian is telling the police what happened. Arthur, Bedevere, and Robin meet up with Lancelot and Galahad and they all continue their journey. When winter hits, they are forced to eat Robin’s minstrels in order to survive. After a year has passed, they encounter Tim the Enchanter who, after a display of his pyrotechnic magic, offers to show them a cave where they will find directions to the grail’s resting place but warns that it is guarded by a vicious creature. Reaching the cave, Tim tells them to hide when a rabbit appears but Arthur mocks him and sends Sir Bors to kill it but the rabbit leaps up and bites Bors head off. Arthur and the other knights charge towards the rabbit but it flies at them and kills two more knights before Arthur calls a retreat. Deciding to use the Holy Hand Grenade that Brother Maynard carries, Arthur throws the grenade and blows up the rabbit in a massive explosion, which is heard by the police as they search the Knights Who Say Ni’s shrubbery. Entering the cave, they find the last writing of Joseph of Aramathia, which Brother Maynard translates. Suddenly, Bedevere cries out in alarm and the knights see a giant, animated monster, which quickly devours Brother Maynard. The knights run for it, with the monster chasing after them, but they are saved when the animator suffers a fatal heart attack, causing the cartoon to be unfinished while outside the cave, the police examine the bodies of the dead knights and the rabbit. Exiting the cave, Arthur and the knights see the old man (from Scene 24) and Arthur tells them that he is the bridgekeeper and they must answer 3 questions to safely cross the bridge but if they get one wrong, they will be flung into the fiery pit below. Lancelot goes first and easily answers the questions and crosses the bridge. Seeing this, the others try but Robin and Galahad both fail to answer the third question and are flung into the pit. When it is Arthur’s turn, he answers the first two but when he is asked the third question concerning the air speed velocity of a common swallow, he asks the bridgekeeper if he means an African or European swallow, and the bridgekeeper is flung into the pit when he doesn’t know. Crossing the bridge, Arthur and Bedevere search for Lancelot, who is being arrested by the police. Arthur continue their quest and soon arrive at the Castle Aaargh but as Arthur kneels to give thanks to God, he is attacked and taunted by the French knights. Arthur summons an army to prepare to attack the castle but as they start to charge, they are stopped short by the police, who arrest Arthur and Bedevere and as they are forcing the rest of the army back, the knock over the cameraman and break the camera.

Monty Python And The Holy Grail met with high praise from the critics, earning a certified fresh rating of 97% on Rotten Tomatoes. The critical consensus on the site is that it is, “A cult classic as gut-bustingly hilarious as it is blithely ridiculous, Monty Python and the Holy Grail has lost none of its exceedingly silly charm.” The movie has a large following and in 2005, a musical knockoff called Spamalot was released on Broadway, which would win three Tony awards including Best Musical. The movie was a success at the box office as it made $5 million off a $400,000 budget.

This is an incredibly funny movie to watch. All of the actors did great jobs filling multiple roles and the timing between all of them was amazing. The story was a very funny spoof of the Arthurian legend and all the side story bits of humor, from the very opening where they started showing Dentists On The Job by accident until the correct movie is placed on the reel, the opening credits and the people constantly being sacked because they kept talking about moose, the various animations throughout the movie, and the police investigation taking place during the movie, were incredibly funny and fit in well within the movie. I think the fact that this was filmed on a low budget really helped with the humor in some ways. There wasn’t much in the way of special effects but the times that it was used generally made for some very funny moments, such as the fight with the killer Rabbit of Caerbannog. An incredibly funny movie that is sure to make anyone laugh.

Rating: 5 out of 5

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May 19th, 2016 Movie – Monsterwolf

monsterwolf

Honestly, the only thing I miss about not having cable is that I don’t have the Syfy channel. Syfy original movies are always some of my favorite things to watch. Luckily, my friends tend to help enable my addiction and allow me to come over and watch some of the movies at their house. Today’s movie is one such instance as I was able to watch it at a friend’s house. When I saw it available on DVD, I just knew that I was going to have to buy it and sure enough, I did, which is why I am watching Monsterwolf today.

The plot: On a stormy night, a digging team for Holter Ex oil company contact the site’s foreman and show him some artifacts they discovered as well as a strange blue flame hovering over a stone ring buried under a small hill. The foreman contacts Mr. Stark, the oil company’s owner, to tell him about it and Stark tells him to blow it up because if they report it, they will be “choked on red tape.” The workers set charges to blow up the ring but when they dust clears, the hill is gone but the ring is still standing. Suddenly, the flame above the ring goes out and a strange smoke starts pouring out of the ring. When a large wolf emerges from the smoke, the workers run towards a a fenced in area and lock themselves in but the wolf jumps over the fence and proceeds to kill them. The next day, Sheriff Bennett is at the site trying to figure out what could have killed all the men when they find a large tooth but don’t know what animal it could have come from. Stark is in town to try to get Chief Turner to sign over the deeds to the Native American lands but Turner refuses. Maria Bennett, Stark’s lawyer arrives and Stark hopes that she can help influence people to sign over their properties since she grew up in the area. Stark, Maria, and Turner drive to the site of the attack with Sheriff Bennett and Turner notices the flame missing from the stone ring. He says that the spirit animal that was trapped in the ring was released and killed the men. Meanwhile, another of Stark’s workers is attacked and killed by the wolf. Maria heads to the local grocery store to buy some items and several people there asks if her ex-boyfriend, Yale, knows she is in town. When she gets to her dad’s home, she finds Yale there and the two talk for a bit before Dale leaves, as Maria’s father has a warrant out for his arrest. As Maria is about to have dinner with her father, Stark calls her and tells her to meet him in his office. At his office, Maria speaks with Stark and comes up with a plan to buy up the lots that the tribe doesn’t own and when people see their neighbors getting all the money, they will help convince Turner to sell the land. Meanwhile, Yale is at the local bar with his friend Chase and as Yale leaves, two more of Stark’s workers leave as well but the wolf causes them to crash their car and it attacks them. The next morning, Maria sees one of Stark’s employees speaking with her dad’s neighbor, Burt, and when Burt asks if the deal is legit, Maria says it is and Burt signs the deal. As Burt goes inside and starts packing for a vacation, the wolf enters his house and Burt tries to hide but it finds and kills him. Stark and his assistant, Audrey, personally go to Yale’s house and try to get him to sign the deal but Yale refuses, then goes to Stark’s office to bring Maria some lunch and the two talk while they eat. Stark goes to the site of the second attack and berates Sheriff Bennett for not doing his job, then he calls in some mercenaries that he had hired for a job in Africa and has them fly in to deal with the wolf. At the sheriff’s station, Sheriff Bennett and his deputy are discussing the accident and the deputy comments that Turner might have something to do with the killings since only HolterX employees were being killed. At Holter Ex, Turner shows up in Stark’s office and tells him that the men Stark brought in to kill the wolf will be dead if they go into the woods. Stark realizes that Turner will never sell the land so he calls Coughlin, the lead mercenary, and tells him to kill Turner. Later that night, Maria is getting ready for bed when she hears something and she calls Yale and then the sheriff’s station but as she is on the phone with them, she sees the wolf in the window and ducks as it breaks into the house. Maria manages to run from it and climbs onto the roof of the house. When she sees the wolf outside, she breaks a window and climbs back into the house. Maria grabs a shotgun and almost shoots Yale when he enters the house but when the wolf appears, Yale grabs the gun and shoots the wolf. When the wolf doesn’t die, Yale tells Maria to run and the wolf tackles him but then chases after Maria, only to be struck by a semi. Sheriff Bennett and his deputy arrive and after making sure that Maria is ok, they arrest the truck driver for DUI but there is no sign of the wolf. Yale takes Maria back to his place to look after her and Mrs. Fonteneau and the checkout girl from the store bring over some food, which surprises Maria as she says that noone would have helped her in New York. Maria has Yale drive her to Holter Ex, where she tells Stark that she quits, then Maria and Yale go back to his place and end up having sex. At the sheriff’s station, Sheriff Bennett is watching the driver when they hear a wolf’s howl from outside and all of the car alarms start going off in the parking lot. Leaving the driver in his cell, the sheriff goes outside to check on things but the wolf makes it’s way inside the station and kills the driver, then escapes despite Sheriff Bennett’s shooting it. The next day, Sheriff Bennett organizes a hunting party to go out and kill the wolf, but the mercenaries see them and head out in a different direction. Meanwhile, Yale finds Chase asleep in his truck outside Yale’s house and when he wakes him, Chase tells him what happened to the driver. Yale tells Maria what happened and Maria decides to go see Turner to get some answers. Maria, Yale, and Chase go see Turner, and he tells them about a tribe that once lived in the area. When they could not defeat the white man, one of the tribes warriors prayed to the spirits and became an undying wolf  in order to take revenge for his fallen tribesmen. Meanwhile, Audrey calls Stark and tells him that Turner had filed an injunction in court so Stark contacts Coughlin and tells him to kill Turner that day. Back at Turner’s place, Turner tells them that the only way to kill the wolf was for another member of the tribe to kill it using an arrowhead made from the bones of an enemy, but the price for undoing the spell was that that the warrior would die as well. Maria says that the tribe no longer exists but Turner says that one member still lives but before he can say anything else, he is shot in the throat by Coughlin. The other mercenaries try to kill Maria and the others but they manage to escape. Maria, Yale, and Chase head to the sheriff’s station and tell Sheriff Bennett what happened, who tries to track down the mercenaries while Maria tries locating the last member of the tribe. Meanwhile, Stark calls Coughlin and is furious about what happened but Coughlin hangs up on him then assembles his team to hunt the wolf. They head out to the woods but the wolf manages to kill the three mercenaries and injure Coughlin but he manages to shoot the wolf and make his escape. Sheriff Bennett manages to see video of the mercenaries car and track the license plate back to Holter Ex. Sheriff Bennett and his men see that the car is heading towards an airstrip and head out to stop him but Maria, Yale, and Chase head out towards helipad at the refinery. Coughlin calls Stark and tells him he will pick him up at the helipad and stark hurriedly grabs his papers and stuffs them in his briefcase. As Maria races towards the oil rig, they end up getting in a wreck and Maria flashes back to the argument she had with her mom before they got in the wreck that killed her. Regaining her senses, Maria climbs out of the car and while Yale is helping Chase get free, she tells him that her mom told her she was adopted and that she was the last member of the tribe. Seeing the wolf heading towards the rig, Maria grabs a shotgun from the police car and heads after it. At the rig, Stark motions Coughlin to land but the wolf jumps at the helicopter and, turning into a ball of electricity, destroys it. As the wolf approaches Stark, Audrey and his security guards quit and run away. Maria shows up and asks if Stark had Turner killed and Stark says if he didn’t close the deal then he would have been killed. Maria lets the wolf kill Stark, then loads an arrowhead that Turner wore around his neck into the shotgun and shoots the wolf with it. The wolf turns into a pile of ash and Maria collapses but Yale and chase get there and with paramedic’s help, they manage to revive Maria. Some time later, Yale and Chase are sitting outside Yale’s porch when Sheriff Bennett and his deputy arrive and arrest them. When Maria asks what they are doing since she and Yale are getting married the next day, her father says he is just taking Yale to his bachelor party, then hands Maria an envelope containing some stuff from her real mother and she sits on the porch to read what was inside the envelope.

This is a fun movie to watch but it could have been better. The acting was decent, with Robert Picardo making an excellent bad guy in Stark but nobody else really stood out. I know she was the lead but I kind of found Leonor Varela (Maria) to be kind of annoying. The story was interesting and started out pretty good but got very predictable in the end. The special effects varied between being good and bad. I will say that the wolf turning into a ball of electricity was definitely a WTF moment in this movie. I also liked the animation during Turners speech about the legend of the wolf. There was definite room for improvement but if you like these movies, it won’t be a complete waste of time.

Rating: 2 1/2 out of 5

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May 18th, 2016 Movie – Monsters, Inc.

monsters inc

Yup, there are times that I am nothing more than a big kid. Now I didn’t see this when it came out in theaters, though I honestly don’t know why. Anyways, when it came out on DVD, I wound up buying it and it quickly became one of my favorite original animated movies. After all, I liked all of the other Pixar movies that had come out at the time so why would this one be any different. So let’s have some fun with today’s movie, Monsters, Inc.

The plot: A little kid is lying in bed when he is woken by the sound of his closet door opening but when he doesn’t see anything, the kid goes back to sleep, unaware that a monster is hiding next to his bed. When the monster stands up, the kid sees it and screams, causing the monster to scream and trip over some of the toys in the room. Suddenly, the lights come on and the kid, who is just a training dummy for Monsters Inc., goes back to the sleeping position while the monster is chastised for leaving the door open, with the chairman of the company, Henry J. Waternoose, saying that a child could use the door to enter Monsterworld and that their touch is deadly to monsters. When one of the trainees says he won’t go into a child’s room, Waternoose says they will because the city runs on children’s screams and they need all the screams they can get due to a scream shortage. The next day, Monster, Inc.’s top scarer, James P. “Sully” Sullivan is woken up by his roommate and partner Mike Wazowski for his morning exercises. Walking to work due to the scare shortage, they are greeted by several monsters that comment about Sully being close to breaking the all-time scare record. Reaching Monsters, Inc. Mike goes to see his girlfriend Celia Mae, who works as a receptionist there, and tells her that he got reservations to a high end restaurant for her birthday. In the locker room, Mike thanks Sully for the tickets but then is scared by Randall, another scare floor monster and Sully’s chief rival for breaking the all-time scare record. After collecting his paperwork from Roz, the scare floor’s administrator, Mike gets set up for their shift, bringing a door that will open into a kids room. Throughout the day, Sully and Randall go back and forth for the top position on the leaderboard when an incident with a sock stuck on a monsters back causes the CDA (Child Detection Agency) to be called in and the floor is temporarily shut down. Waternoose complains about the shutdown and asks Sully to help teach new scarers to frighten kids. When their shift is over, Mike is preparing to head out for his date but when Roz asks if he filed his paperwork, Sully volunteers to get it for him. Heading back to the scare floor, Sully spots an active door on the floor and he checks to see if someone is inside. Not finding anyone, he goes back through the door and finds a three year old girl on the scare floor. Sully freaks and places the girl back in her bed but as he leaves, he trips over some of her toys. Seeing someone coming, Sully runs back into the locker room and hides the stuff from the kid’s room but finds that the kid had climbed on his back. Sully hides the kid in a bag and heads back to the scare floor but sees Randall coming out of the door and sends the kids door back to the holding area. Not knowing what to do, Sully heads to the restaurant to tell Mike but the kid gets out of the bag, causing the patrons to panic. Sully and Mike manage to grab the kid and get out of there before the CDA arrives and decontaminates the area and all the patrons. Back at Sully and Mike’s apartment, they try to keep the kid, who calls Sully “Kitty”, hidden but when she starts crying after Mike takes a stuffed animal away from her, they try to give it back before the power surge from her crying attracts the CDA’s attention. Mike trips and causes some stuff to fall on his head, causing the kid to laugh, which causes a massive power surge that blows out the lights and Sully wonders what it was. When the kid gets sleepy, she ends up crawling into Sully’s bed but is scared of the closet, showing a drawing she made of Randall. Sully sits in front of the closet until she goes to sleep and tells Mike that he doesn’t think she is dangerous. The next day, Sully and Mike makes a costume to disguise the the kid and head to Monsters, Inc. but find the CDA searching the place. Mike leaves Sully and the kid in the locker room while he goes to try and get the key to her door from Roz but Roz refuses since Mike’s paperwork wasn’t turned in. Mike returns to the locker room to find Sully playing hide and seek with the kid when they all hide as Randall enters the locker room and they over hear him talking with his partner, Jeff Fungus. After they leave, they head back to the floor and Mike grabs a card from a coworker and brings it’s door down but Sully says it is not Boo’s (what he decided to call the kid) door. When Boo runs off while they are arguing, Sully and Mike go looking for her and run into Randall. Mike tries to misdirect Randall but when Celia starts yelling at Mike, Randall realizes Mike was at the restaurant. Randall confronts Mike and tells him that when the scare floor empties during lunch, he will have Boo’s door at his work station. Meanwhile, Sully sees Boo fall into a garbage can but when he is distracted by some CDA officials, he doesn’t see her climb out, leaving one of the eyes from her costume in the can. Sully sees the trash sent down the garbage suit and watches as it goes through the compactor, resulting in a cube of garbage coming out. Mike sees Sully carrying the cube of garbage but when they hear Boo’s voice, they see her playing with a group of monster kids. Heading to the scare floor, they see Boo’s door but Sully gets suspicious when Mike says Randall is involved. When Mike tries to show that everything is ok, he is grabbed by Randall and hidden inside some scare cans and Sully and Boo follow him. Losing sight of Randall at a dead end, Boo finds the secret entrance and they head down a tunnel, where they watch Randall and Jeff strap Mike into a chair and turn on a machine Randall calls the Scream Extractor. Sully unplugs the machine and while Randall goes to plug it back in, Sully frees Mike and Randall returns to find Jeff attached to the machine. Sully and Mike start to leave the building but Sully decides to tell Waternoose what is going on. Heading towards the training room, they try talking to Waternoose but Waternoose insists on Sully giving a scare demonstration, which he reluctantly does, scaring Boo in the process. After the trainees leave, Sully tries to comfort Boo but she runs from him, exposing herself as kid in the process. When Waternoose sees her, Mike explains what happened and Waternoose picks up Boo and says he will take care of things. Summoning a door, Waternoose apologizes for their getting involved but when the door arrives, Sully and Mike notice it is not Boo’s door and Waternoose says it’s theirs, as Randall opens it and Waternoose shoves them through. Sully tries going back but the door is deactivated, leaving them stranded in the human world. Mike is angry about the situation and when he sees Sully isn’t listening to him, Mike attacks him and the tumble down the hill, where they run into the Abominable Snowman. Abominable takes them to his cave, where he talks about all the place has to offer and when Sully learns that there is a village nearby, he looks through all of the stuff Abominable has in the cave and fashions a sled to go to the village. Mike argues with Sully about everything but refuses to head off with Sully. Sully sleds down the mountain and manages to make it to the village and uses a kids closet to go back to Monsteropolis. Racing back to the secret chamber, Sully breaks the Scream Extractor loose and tosses it towards Randall and Waternoose, pinning Waternoose to the wall. Sully frees Boo and grabs the card for her door but before they can leave, he is attacked by Randall, who uses his chameleon abilities to turn invisible so Sully can’t fight back. Mike shows up while Sully is fighting Randall but thinking Sully is ignoring him, throws a snowball at him but hits Randall, allowing Sully to hit Randall. Sully grabs Mike and Boo and they head for the scare floor when Celia grabs Mike and demands an explanation. Mike tells her what is going on but she doesn’t believe him until she sees Boo with them and Randall chasing them. Reaching the scare floor, the summon Boo’s door but Randall is almost on them until Celia gets on the intercom and announces that Randall broke the all-time scare record, causing Randall to be mobbed by coworkers. Realizing that they won’t have time to get Boo home, Sully sends the back, then he and Mike grabs onto another door and follow it to the storage department, with Randall chasing after it. When the door they are riding reaches a dead end, Sully has Mike make Boo laugh, causing a power surge that activate all of the doors. Making their way through the various doors to escape from Randall, but Randall manages to grab Boo and send the door they are riding on falling to the ground. Sully and Mike manage to get through the door and back to Monsteropolis, where they chase after Randall. Randall goes through a door and Sully follows him but Randall attacks him, knocking him back through the door but Sully manages to hold on to the door frame so he doesn’t fall. As Randall steps on Sully’s feet, Boo attacks Randall, allowing Sully to climb back in and grab Randall. Sully and Mike send Randall through a door, where the humans think he is an alligator and begin attacking him with a shovel, then destroy the door so Randall can’t come back. Finding Boo’s door, the try to send Boo back through but realize the power is off. Before they can make her laugh again, the door starts moving, having been summoned by Waternoose, who is waiting with the CDA to arrest Sully and Mike. Reaching the scare floor, Mike distracts the CDA and runs off with Boo’s costume and while they chase after him, Sully grabs Boo’s door and heads out, but Waternoose sees them and chases after them. Sully places the door in a station and goes through but Waternoose follows after and tells Sully that he will do what ever it takes to keep the company going, even if he has to kidnap 1000 kids. Waternoose strikes Sully and goes to grab Boo but grabs the training dummy instead. Suddenly, the lights come on and the wall lifts up to show Mike there with the CDA, having heard Waternoose’s confession. Waternoose is arrested and Sully and Mike are approached by the CDA’s #1 agent, which turns out to be Roz. Roz said that she had been undercover for 2 1/2 years but didn’t know Waternoose was involved until the grabbed Boo. Sully says he wants to send Boo home and Roz agrees, but summons a shredder for the door, saying that it is the rules. Mike says goodbye to Boo and Sully takes her back to her room and places her in bed hugging her goodbye. After Sully leaves, Boo tries opening the closet to see him again but only sees her closet as the door has been shredded. Leaving the company, Mike comments about how they effectively shut down the company but Sully realizes that there is a way to save it. Some time later, Mike enters a kids room and tries telling jokes but when he gets no response, lets out a loud belch which causes the kid to laugh. Returning to Monsteropolis, Sully congratulates Mike on reaching his quota as it is shown that Monsters, Inc. now focuses on making kids laugh, since it is 10 times more powerful than screams. As Sully is looking out over the floor, Mike takes him to a hidden room, where he shows Sully Boo’s door, which he had been rebuilding. Sully places the piece of the door he had kept as a memento into the door and the door becomes active. Stepping inside, Sully calls out to Boo and starts to smile when he hears someone calling him Kitty.

Monsters, Inc. was highly praised by the critics, earning a certified fresh rating of 96% on Rotten Tomatoes. The critical consensus on the site is that it is, “Clever, funny, and delightful to look at, Monsters, Inc. delivers another resounding example of how Pixar elevated the bar for modern all-ages animation.” The movie would win an Academy Award for Best Original Song, Randy Newman’s first after 15 previous nominations. The movie was a box office hit, earning over $562 million off a $115 million budget.

Simply put, I love this movie. John Goodman (Sully) and Billy Crystal (Mike) did a great job with their voice overs and had some great comedic timing between the two. Steve Buscemi (Randall), James Coburn (Waternoose) and Bob Peterson (Roz) were also good with their voice work. The story was well written and had a lot of laughs as well as drama mixed in, making it impossible not to keep watching or be entertained. I will admit that I did tear up some at the end when Sully opens the door and hears Boo call him Kitty. It’s hard not too. The animation was incredible and definitely showed how Pixar has steadily improved over the years. A great movie to watch, even if you don’t have any kids to watch it with.

Rating: 5 out of 5

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May 17th, 2016 Movie – The Monster That Challenged The World

the monster that challenged the world

If there is one thing that the 50’s will always be known for, in regards to sci-fi movies, it is definitely the giant bug craze. There were dozens of giant bug movies to come out during that decade. Today’s movie kind of goes along with that trend, although the monster in question is actually a mollusk instead of a bug. Still, this is one of those movies that is usually shown in clips of the giant monster movies from the 50’s and was referenced in the documentary Attack Of The 50 Foot Monster Mania, which only increased my wanting to own it. So let’s get right into today’s movie, The Monster That Challenged The World.

The plot: An earthquake occurs in the middle of the Salton Sea in California, and the tremors were felt at the nearby naval base. 2 hours later, a naval parachute test occurs and a man jumps out of a plane and parachutes into the sea. The retrieval boat sees where the man went into the water and contacts both the plane and the base before heading out to pick up the jumper. When they arrive at the spot, the two men on board see the parachute but there is no sign of the jumper. One of the men dives into the water to try and find the missing man but after a while, he disappears as well and as the man on the boat calls out for his partner, a something rises up from the water, causing the man to scream in terror. Back at the base, the radio operator is unable to get the retrieval boat back online and so he contacts Lt. Commander John “Twill” Twillenger, the head of Naval Intellegence at the base, and reports what happens. Twill, along with Lt. Robert “Clem” Clemens, head out in a rescue boat and find the missing boat with one man dead and no sign of the others. Twill notices a strange substance on the side of the boat and has Clem collect a sample when their pilot alerts them to something surfacing next to the boat and they see the body of the jumper, but it is all shriveled up. Arriving back at the base, Twill takes the sample to Dr Jess Rogers and while the doctor is studying the sample, he asks if the doctor’s tests might have been the cause for the body’s condition but Jess assures him his test did not cause the men’s deaths. While waiting for Jess to run his tests, Twill waits in the lobby, where he talks with Gail MacKenzie, Jess’ secretary, and her young daughter Sandy. When Jess says that it is an animal secretion but wants to run some more tests, Twill tells him to call him in the morning. Twill heads to the morgue, where he meets with the coroner and Josh Peters, the town sheriff, and after hearing the autopsy results, he asks Josh to close off the beaches until they figure out what happened. At the lab, Jess is still testing the substance when one of his assistants walks by with a geiger counter and they get a reading off the substance. Meanwhile, the sheriff’s deputy stops by a shop to tell the owner about the no swimming ban, just as the owner’s daughter is going out on a date with Morty, a Seaman at the base. The daughter heads down to the beach and meets Morty and they both decide to go for a swim but Morty suddenly disappears and as she calls out for him, the girl is dragged under as well. The next day, Twill and Josh are speaking with the mother about her daughter’s disappearance when Twill notices two boys fighting over a sailor’s cap and one of the boys shows them a pile of clothes and Twill notices the same substance on a rock near the clothes. Twill has a dive team start investigating the Sea and they discover an underwater cavern with an egg inside and Jess has a net lowered so they can bring it up. As the net is hauled up, the divers find the body of the girl and work on retrieving her when they are attacked by a giant creature and one of the divers is killed. The other diver surfaces and starts telling them about what he saw when the creature surfaces and starts to attack them but Twill manages to chase it off after stabbing it in the eye with a boat hook. Returning back to base, they assemble a demolition team to seal off the cavern as well as kill anymore eggs that might be around. The next day, Jess is speaking with Twill, Josh, and some Naval officials about the creatures, saying that they are prehistoric sea mollusks, and warns that some of them might have escaped and they work on setting up patrols of the nearby canal system in case they are spotted. As the police start patrolling the areas around the canal, one of the patrol cars find a seemingly abandoned car and when the investigate it, they find a man who manages to tell them his date was attacked just before he dies. As Twill, Jess, and Josh arrive at the area, they get a report about some cows being killed at the same time that the couple were attacked. Jess theorizes that there must be an underground river connecting the sea with some of the pools around the canal area which is how the mollusks made their escape. Twill orders helicopters to search the pools for signs of the mollusks while Twill and Josh tries to find some old survey maps that might show an underground river. Working with all the guard posts on the canal’s locks, they have all of the guards keeping watch and calling in if they see anything. Back at Dr. Jess’s lab, Sandy sneaks in to the lab to see the test rabbits while Gail is busy on the phone. Noticing the rabbits shivering, she raises the temperature on the thermostat before going back to the front lobby to meet back with her mom. Later that night, one of the canal guards is attacked by a mollusk and when the command post doesn’t hear anything from that lock, they send a car to investigate. The car finds the body and Twill orders all of the nearby locks closed in the hopes of trapping the creature but one of the locks accidentally cuts the creature in half when it closes on it. Returning to the command post, Twill is approached by Lewis Clark Dobbs, the curator of a nearby museum, who shows him an old map that had been left to the museum, which shows an old river the natives used to dig wells on. Using the map, Twill is able to locate where the mollusks new nest is and a team is prepared to go down there with explosives and destroy all the creatures. After the explosions occur, Jess has his assistant handle checking on things after the sediment settles and he heads back to his lab with Twill. At the lab, Gail is on the phone when Sandy shows up and goes to check on the rabbits but finds the cages all destroyed and the rabbits gone. Suddenly the mollusk from the egg kept in the lab appears and when Gail hears Sandy scream, she manages to grab Sandy and barricade themselves into a nearby supply closet. Twill and Jess arrive and hearing the screams, find the mollusk trying to get into the closet. Twill has Jess go get help and then he uses a fire extinguisher to chase the mollusk from the closet long enough for Gail and Sandy to escape. As the creature approaches him, he manages to use some more cooling gas to keep the creature at bay long enough for some MP’s to arrive and shoot the creature. As Twill leaves the base, he is approached by Gail and Sandy and they walk off hand in hand.

I have to agree with the critics that this was a pretty underrated 50’s monster movie. The acting was really good, with  Tim Holt (Twill) doing a good job of being the straight laced, by-the-books, commanding officer who starts to loosen up when he starts trying to date Gail, played by Audrey Dalton. Many of the minor characters were also well written, which normally doesn’t occur in the older movies as they were intended to just “be there” but in this movie, several of them had there own distinct personalities, such as Milton Parsons character, Lewis Clark Dobbs. The story was pretty good and, like almost every other movie from that era, did have a radioactive element to it that was able to explain the creatures. The movie also did a good job of putting quite a bit of suspense in to it, making the scenes with the people being attacked or killed much more effective. The creatures themselves were actually pretty well designed considering the low budget for the film and definitely one of the more unique movie monsters to come out. There honestly isn’t much I can say against this film. It really is a good 50’s sci-fi movie and worth watching.

Rating: 4 out of 5

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May 16th, 2016 Movie – The Monster Squad

the monster squad

Ahhh, the memories. Back in the day, my granny used to have a descrambler on her cable box, which let her get the PPV and Premium channels for free. And being the best grandmother in the world, she would tape all sorts of movies and wrestling events and mail them to me. One of those tapes had today’s movie on it and I remember watching it plenty of times through out the years. Sadly, many of those tapes are no more and I admit to not thinking much about this movie. Then, a few years ago, my friend Jason had commented about this movie and how he had bought it and I told him how I rememeber watching it. Needless to say, this movie wound up in my collection pretty soon after that so let’s all enjoy today’s movie, The Monster Squad.

The plot: In Transylvania during the late 1800’s, Dr. Abraham Van Helsing leads a group of villagers to the castle of Count Dracula, and after blasting through the gates and killing on of Dracula’s brides, he locates a magic amulet in the main chamber. Bringing a young girl inside, Van Helsing has her read from a scroll, resulting in a portal opening up which Van Helsing hopes will defeat Dracula. In the present day, elementary school students Sean and Patrick are called into the principal’s office after school, where the principal lectures them on not paying attention in their science class. Meanwhile, their friend Horace, who people call “Fat Kid”, is being bullied by E.J. and Derrick when Rudy, a Junior high school student, shows up and stops them. As Sean and Patrick are walking home, they are joined by Sean’s sister Phoebe who comments about the “scary German guy” as they walk by an old house. Horace runs up to them and tells them about Rudy saving him and asks if they should have Rudy join their monster club. Meanwhile, two pilots are transporting some wooden crates in an old military bomber when they hear some noises coming from the back of the plane. One of the pilots goes to check it out and is attacked by Dracula but as Dracula examines a crate with Frankenstein’s name on it, the pilot opens the bomb bay door, causing the crate to drop into the swamp below and Dracula flies off after it. In Sean’s treehouse which serves as their monster club, Sean and the others are giving Rudy a monster test but Rudy is more interested in watching the girl next door undressing. When Sean’s mom, Emily, calls him inside for dinner, Sean sees a book that his mom got for him which turns out to be the diary of Abraham Van Helsing. Later that night, Sean’s dad Del, who is a cop, is called in to investigate the disappearance of a 2000 year old mummy, while at the police station, a man claiming to be a werewolf is demanding to be locked up but after he attacks some of the officers and grabs one of their guns, he is shot. As the ambulance is driving the body to the morgue, the body transforms into a werewolf and he kills the driver and escapes. The mummy and werewolf meet Dracula in the swamp, where the watch as the gill-man surfaces holding the crate from the plane. Gill-man tosses the crate onto the shore, and Dracula opens it to reveal Frankenstein’s monster, and Dracula uses the storm to bring it back to life. Meanwhile, after listening to his parents argue, Sean notices a message from someone named Alucard about wanting to buy the diary and Sean realizes that the name is Dracula spelled backwards. Sean has the other members of the club gather at the treehouse that night and tells them about what is going on and says that they are the only ones that can stop it and the diary might help if they can figure out how to read it. The next day, Sean, Patrick, and Horace go to see the “scary German guy” in the hopes that he can help translate the book and discover that he is actually a nice guy. After giving them some pie and Pepsi, he translates portions of the book for them, explaining that the amulet is composed of concentrated good and during the equilibrium, when the forces of good and evil are balanced one day every 100 years, the amulet is vulnerable to being destroyed, and the balance will shift towards evil, but the forces of good can stop this by opening a portal to limbo, which would suck the monsters into it’s vortex. Sean and his friends head back to the clubhouse and Phoebe shows the Frankenstein’s monster, who Dracula had sent to steal the diary but Phoebe befriended. The boys are scared at first but seeing that he really is friendly, they get over their fear of him and decide to call him Frank. Meanwhile, Dracula and the wolf-man head towards an old mansion that Van Helsing’s disciples had hidden the amulet and locate it hidden behind a wall. The next day, Rudy forges some stakes and silver bullets in his shop class, then steals a bow and some arrows from the archery team while the others work out a plan for what they should do. That night, Patrick and Rudy talk to Patrick’s sister and after asking if she is a virgin, blackmail her into helping them by threatening to post a nude photo of her that Frank accidentally took on the school bulletin board. Sean, Horace, Eugene, his dog Pete, and Frank head to the mansion to get the amulet. Meanwhile,  Dracula had drugged the wolf-man while he was human in order to keep him from leaving, then heads to a locked room, where he proceeds to feed on 3 women trapped there, but the wolf-man spits out the drugs after Dracula leaves and leaves the house to warn Del about what is going on but transforms partway through the call. As Sean and the others approach the mansion, Frank says that Dracula is near and wants the boys dead. When the enter the mansion, Frank accidentally sets off the charges Dracula was planting, causing part of the roof to collapse on top of him. Horace and Eugene try to dig him out but Sean says they can’t help him and have to find the amulet. The wolf-man suddenly appears and Sean tells Horace to kick him in the nards so they can get past him. Running through the mansion, the find themselves trapped between Dracula, the wolf-man, and the three girls, who are now the vampiric brides of Dracula. Sean finds a hidden passage that saves them and also drops them right where the amulet is. When Sean grabs it, Dracula shows up and grabs him but Horace uses some pizza loaded with garlic to get Dracula to drop Sean and the boys run for it. Making their way to the road, they are surprised to see Phoebe show up with scary German guy, as well as Rudy, Patrick, Patrick’s sister. Deciding to head to an old church in the middle of town, they drive off but the mummy appears and grabs onto the back of the truck. As Sean and Horace try to keep the mummy from grabbing Phoebe, Patrick ties a piece of the mummy’s wrappings to an arrow and Rudy fires it into a tree, causing the mummy to unravel as the drive away. Meanwhile, Del and his partner, Detective Sapir, head towards the mansion but they are shocked when a hearse, being driven by Dracula, drives right though them. Dracula heads to Sean’s house and blows up the treehouse, then blows up Del’s car with Sapir still inside. Del fires his gun at Dracula, who is unfazed by the bullets and flies off. Del searches the house for Sean and Phoebe and when he doesn’t see them, uses the walkie talkies to get in touch with Sean and learns where he is. Arriving at the church, they find the place locked so Sean says they will just have to do the ceremony there. When the brides show up Rudy kills them while scary German guy and Patrick get Patrick’s sister to read the spell. When Dracula flies towards them as a bat, Del pulls up and shoots him, sending Dracula crashing into a book store. Del goes after him and prepares to blow him up with a stick of dynamite but the wolf-man appears and attacks Del. Sean distracts the wolf-man, giving Del enough time to place the dynamite in the wolf-man’s pants and shove him out the window, where he is blown to pieces. Sean and Del embrace but as they get up, they notice Dracula has disappeared. Patrick’s sister finishes reading the spell but when the portal doesn’t appear, she admits that she isn’t a virgin. The wolf-man manages to magically be reassembled and heads towards Rudy when the police show up and try to stop him. Rudy grabs one of the fallen officer’s revolvers and uses the silver bullets he made to shoot the wolf-man, who transforms back into human and thanks Rudy before he dies. The gill-man appears next to Horace and starts attacking the police. Horace manages to grab a shotgun from the police and tries to run into the nearby Burger King but E.J. and Derrick have locked the doors and won’t let him in and Horace ends up shooting the gill-man with the shotgun. Eugene suggests using Phoebe to read the spell and scary German guy helps her with the spell. Dracula begins walking towards them killing or knocking at the police that try to stop him. Dracula blasts scary German guy and grabs Phoebe but Frank suddenly appears and tosses Dracula away, impaling him on a metal cross. Phoebe finishes reading the spell and the portal opens but Dracula grabs Sean and tries to drag him into the portal with him. Sean manages to grab one of Rudy’s stakes and stab Dracula, who releases Sean and is then grabbed by Abraham Van Helsing and they  both end up in the portal. Frank makes his way to Phoebe, who tries to hold onto Frank, but when he is sucked into the portal, Phoebe throws her stuffed animal to him as a gift. The portal closes and Emily and Del rush to embrace their kids. Suddenly, the military arrives, having received a letter written by Eugene and when they try to figure out what is going on, Sean says that he can explain, saying that they are the Monster Squad.

The Monster Squad met with mixed reviews from the critics, holding a 53% rating on Rotten Tomatoes. While there isn’t a critical consensus on the site, most critics seemed to either believe the film was fun to watch or to goofy to be entertaining. The film did have a loyal cult following, as evidenced by how the DVD was released. In 2006, a special 20th Anniversary Reunion was held at the Alamo Drafthouse in Austin, TX, with several cast members as well as the director attending. The two screenings of the movie were completely sold out and the organizers of the event asked the audience to contact the copyright holders via “snail mail” and ask for a DVD release and the outporing of messages prompted Lionsgate to release a two-disk 20th Anniversary DVD. Not bad for a movie that only made $3.8 million at the box office.

This is a silly movie that is a lot of fun to watch. Considering that the main characters were mostly little kids, the acting was pretty decent. I do think Duncan Regehr’s (Dracula) performance was a bit too over the top at times but that did kind of add to the whole appeal of the movie. The story was interesting and I did like how they worked all of the classic Universal monsters into one movie. I didn’t particularly care for the wolf-man’s or Dracula’s look but all of the other monsters were really good, especially the gill-man. Some of the special effects were pretty cheesy but again, it only added to the movies charm. A classic overlooked 80’s movie that is definitely one of those guilty pleasure movies that is fun to watch.

Rating: 3 1/2 out of 5

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May 15th, 2016 Movie – Monster On The Campus

monster on the campus

Three movies in one week from the Classic Sci-Fi Ultimate Collection makes this a good week of movie watching for me. I had honestly never heard of this movie before I bought this set. It kind of surprised me that when this movie first came out, it would be the last sci-fi monster movie that Universal would do for 8 years. Makes you wonder how bad it is for a major studio to not take another chance on that format. Anyways, let’s see just how good or bad today’s movie, Monster On The Campus, really is.

The plot: Professor Donald Blake is making a plaster mold of his girlfriend’s (Madeline Howard) face when he hears a car honking outside, Looking outside, he sees Jimmy arriving with the coelacanth he ordered from Madagascar but Jimmy tells him that the fish is starting to thaw out. Jimmy chases off his dog Samson from drinking some of the water leaking from the crate and he and Donald examine the fish. Madeline starts to come outside when Samson starts growling and goes to attack her, causing her to shut the door. Jimmy and Donald go to grab the dog and Jimmy is bit before Donald manages to cover Samson with a blanket and they take him inside Donald’s lab before taking Jimmy to see Dr. Oliver Cole. Dr. Cole tends to Jimmy’s wound and says it doesn’t sound like Samson has rabies but asks Donald to get a saliva sample from Samson and his nurse, Molly, says she will be by to pick it up around 7:30. Later that night, Molly goes to pick up the sample and Donald points out something odd about Samson’s teeth, commenting that it is something that hasn’t been seen in canines for thousands of years. Donald then has Molly get the freezer door so he can put the coelacanth up but he winds up getting bit when the fish’s mouth closes on his hand. As he is putting the crate away, his hand slips into the bloody water and Molly takes Donald home when he starts feeling woozy. Arriving at his home, Molly tries to wake Donald but when she is unable to, she heads inside to call Dr. Cole but while she is on the phone, she is attacked. At her house, Madeline is talking with her father, Professor Gilbert Howard, while waiting for Donald to pick her up and decides to go see if he is still working in his lab. Approaching the lab, she is surprised by Townsend, the night watchman,  and they check the lab but find no sign of Donald and Samson seems to be back to normal. Madeline heads to Donald’s house and sees Molly’s car still in the drive way and the furniture inside has been smashed. Madeline calls the police then, hearing a groan, checks outside and finds Donald on the ground and Molly hanging from a nearby tree. The police arrive and question Donald but he has no memory after getting to Molly’s car. When Donald’s tie clasp is found in Molly’s hand, the police take him to the station for further questioning. Madeline pleads with the lead detective, Lt. Mike Stevens, but he is unsure of Donald’s innocence until another detective shows him a hand print on the glass door that shows someone else was in the house, and tells Madeline that Donald is free to go. The next day, Donald is teaching his class about the coelacanth and evolution. Jimmy and his girlfriend Sylvia speak with Donald after class about Samson and he takes them into his office, where Dr. Cole is examining Samson and concludes that it is not rabies. When Donald mentions Samson’s teeth, he examines them with Dr. Cole but finds that they are normal dog teeth, causing Donald to doubt what he saw. As everyone leaves, Lt. Stevens comes by to speak with Donald some more and tells him that he will be assigning him a bodyguard until they catch whoever killed Molly. Later, Donald is examining some blood from the coelacanth when he notices something in the slide and heads over to show Dr. Cole. As Donald and his bodyguard, Sgt. Eddie Daniels, leave, they run into Jimmy and Sylvia, and Donald tells them to wait in his lab. As they head towards the lab, Jimmy and Sylvia hear a buzzing sound but can’t see what is making it. At Dr. Cole’s office, Donald shows him the slide, saying there were crystallized bacteria in it but when Dr. Cole examines it, he only sees normal bacteria. Donald is irritated that Dr. Cole doesn’t believe him and goes to leave but Dr. Cole stops him and gets a sample from the bite on Donald’s hand, saying it is infected. Back at the lab, Eddie goes to check in and Donald lets Jimmy and Sylvia in so they can take Samson home. When they hear the buzzing and tapping on the window, they are shocked to see a large dragonfly at the window. Donald opens the window to let the creature in, then manages to trap and kill it. Donald says the dragonfly is a species thought extinct and believes there is a connection to the coelacanth as he had chased off a normal dragonfly that was feeding on it earlier. When Jimmy tells him that Samson had drank the water from the crate before the attack, Donald tells the kids to take Samson and go home but not to tell anyone what happened. Donald places the dragonfly on his desk while he puts the coelacanth back in the freezer but unknown to him, some of the blood drips into his pipe. As Donald starts to smoke his pipe, he begins to feel funny and his vision gets blurry. As the dragonfly starts to shrink back to normal size, a misshapen hand covered in hair smashes it. Eddie returns to the lab and hears the sounds of someone smashing things and makes it inside but finds that the lab is trashed and Donald is missing. Heading outside, he sees a strange figure running through the bushes and gives chase but winds up losing him. Using a security box to call Lt. Stevens, Eddie reports what happened but as he is speaking with Lt. Stevens, he is attacked and killed. When the police arrive, the have Eddie’s body taken away and Sgt. Powell discovers strange footprints leading away. Meanwhile, Donald comes to in the grass with his clothing in tatters and returns to the lab to find it in shambles. When newspapers report the footprints, Lt. Stevens believe the footprints were faked to implicate Donald as the killer, just like the tie clip, but the fingerprints prove someone else is the murderer but since there is no record of the man, they are having a hard time finding him. A few days later, Madeline goes to Donald’s lab to talk to him as he has been cancelling his classes but Donald ignores her as he accepts a phone call from Madagascar concerning the coelacanth. Madeline goes and tells her father, who is upset about how much money Donald is charging with the call and has Dr. Cole meet him at the lab, where he plans to have Donald take a leave of absence. When they arrive, Donald had just finished his call and he tells them about his theory involving the killer. Telling them that the coelacanth had been treated by gamma radiation during the shipping process as a new method to preserve it, he theorizes that someone had wound up exposed to the blood and been regressed to a primitive state. As he continues his explanation, Donald realizes that the killer is himself, though the others don’t seem to realize it yet. When the police arrive, Donald clams up and Gilbert places Donald on a leave of absence, believing the stress of everything has gotten to him. Donald heads up to Gilbert’s cabin in the woods, and speaks into a tape recorder, saying that he believes that he is the murder and plans on proving it. Back at the college, Jimmy and Sylvia go to see Madeline and tell her that they were there and saw the giant dragonfly, prompting Madeline to head to the cabin. At the cabin, Donald has several cameras placed around the room and is about to inject himself when he is interrupted by a forest ranger, who noticed the lights on in the cabin and stopped to check on it. After he leaves, Donald injects himself with coelacanth plasma and transforms into Neanderthal and proceeds to trash the cabin, with the cameras snapping pictures of it, before he exits through a window. Madeline is on the road up to the cabin when she spies the transformed Donald and runs off the road. As Donald approaches her, the park ranger runs up to check on them and Donald chases him off before grabbing Madeline and carrying her away. The ranger calls the police to report what happened and then goes off after Donald and Madeline. Finding the car empty, the ranger heads to the cabin and finds it empty and wrecked and begins calling out for Donald. Madeline comes too and seeing the transformed Donald, starts screaming and Donald tries to carry her off again when the ranger shoots at him. Donald kills the ranger then chases after Madeline but he suddenly collapses. Madeline makes it to the cabin and finds it empty but Donald shows up and she embraces him. Donald realizes one of the cameras was undamaged and quickly develops the film, showing his transformation. When the police and Gilbert arrive, Madeline tries to tell them that Donald killed the creature but Donald says that it isn’t dead but he can show them where it is. Kissing Madeline goodbye, Donald fills a syringe with the plasma and heads out with the police. When they reach a nearby hill, Donald tells the police to wait a few minutes and follow, then goes ahead with Gilbert. At the top, he injects himself with the plasma, then transforms in front of Gilbert’s eyes. Gilber tries to tell the police not to shoot but they kill the transformed Donald and watch as he changes back to normal.

To be honest, while there was some suspense to this movie, it wound up being a pretty slow and predictable film. The acting was decent though some of the minor characters just seemed to stiff in their acting. The plot was pretty good and I liked how Arthur Franz (Donald) theorized what happened only to realize he was describing exactly what happened to himself. The ending honestly felt rushed as they spent almost an hour giving the set-up and then tried to squeeze in a dramatic finale in the remaining 20 minutes. The makeup for the transformed Donald did look pretty good but the “shimmer effect” to indicate the change was a little overkill. I know that this movie is a somewhat typical example of the sci-fi genre back in the day but to be honest, there are a lot better examples to have placed in this collection.

Rating: 2 out of 5

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May 14th, 2016 – Monster Island

monster island

You know how sometimes you find yourself owning a movie and there is really no good reason why you should own that movie. Admittedly, some might say that applies to quite a few movies that I own and in the case of today’s movie, they might be right. See, a while back I was channel surfing late one night and caught a portion of this movie. I was curious about it and looked to see what it was and was surprised to find that it was shown on MTV. But then again, it was an MTV original movie so that kind of makes sense. Anyways, I got a copy of it, this is kind of what I do after all, and that brings us to today’s movie, Monster Island.

The plot: A group of teenagers are running through the jungle being chased by a giant praying mantis. Flashing back, high school senior Josh has won a contest from MTV to have his entire senior class taken to a tropical island to see Carmen Elektra. Josh learns that his sister Jen had entered him in the contest without asking him. Not in the mood to party as his girlfriend had dumped him the week before, Josh confronts Jen when they arrive on the island and she tells him that she had entered him so that he could have fun during his senior year instead of brooding like he had been and that it might possibly be his last chance to get his ex, Maddy, back. Seeing Maddy kissing her new boyfriend, class president Chase, and running into them later makes Josh more depressed. Hearing a strange cry, Josh sees a large winged ant flying around but nobody else sees it and he winds up going backstage with Jen to meet Carmen Electra. Finding himself attracted to Carmen, Josh watches her performance and finds himself dancing along to her performance when suddenly, the giant ant flies through the crowd and grabs Carmen and her bodyguard, Eightball, dropping Eightball in the jungle and flying Carmen towards a mountain in the distance. All of the kids attempt to use their cell phones but are unable to get any reception and Josh’s friend Andy tells him that the island is in the middle of the Bermuda Triangle. Bob Stanton, the producer for the concert tries to calm everyone down and tells them to head back to the boat and the kids start to leave. Josh gets on stage and tries to rally the kids to help him search for Carmen but Bob mentions the waivers that they all signed and says that when the boats navigation systems are back on, they will be leaving, with or without them, causing most of the kids to choose to leave. While Josh, Jen, Andy, and their friend Stack work out what they should do, Bob thinks that filming him could make a huge profit, whether he succeeds or not, and convinces new VJ Lil Mindi and her cameraman GT to go with Josh and document it. Maddy also chooses to stay and convinces Chase to stay as well but he only does so in order to get on TV. The group sets off and after a while, Chase tries taking the lead but ends up getting them lost. As the group starts to argue, Stack tells them to calm down and he climbs a tree to try and see which direction they should go but as he sees the mountain, something in the tree moves and he ends up falling, with Eightball falling on top of him. Eightball doesn’t remember much after the ant dropped him but when he learns that they are going to look for Carmen, he quickly joins them and Stack points out the direction of the mountain. As they are leaving, Maddy notices a strange tribal necklace on the ground and after wiping off the dirt, decides to put it on. Continuing on, the group encounters a giant praying mantis and when GT turns on the camera’s light to film it, the giant insect starts chasing them, bringing us to where the movie started. As they are running, Maddy suddenly stops the group and leads them towards a lake, where she points out some canoes, and the group escapes. Meanwhile, Carmen wakes up inside a nest in the volcano and tries to escape but the ant inside refuses to let her leave. Back in the jungle, Chase attempts to catch some fish while Eightball, Andy, Jen, and Stack go get more firewood. Josh talks to Maddy about the canoes and Maddy tells him she feels like she has been on the island before. Suddenly, Chase catches a piranhaman, which quickly begins attacking the group. When it goes after Maddy, Josh manages to use the fishing rod to yank it back from her and the creature ends up tackling GT into the lake and kills him. When it turns it’s attention back to the group, it is shot in the shoulder by Dr. Harryhausen, from the Department of Atomic Energy, who says they shouldn’t be there. Dr. Harryhausen leads them to an abandoned U.S. Army outpost, where he was stationed, and while in his lab, Jen is attacked by a creature he calls Rudy, a genetic hybrid Dr. Harryhausen created. Dr. Harryhausen explains that the island was once home to a primitive tribe if natives but the army relocated all but the most stubborn of the tribe, before the dropped some H-bombs off the coast. Dr. Harryhausen was among those sent to investigate the effects. He then tells them that the island will soon sink and when he learns that they are heading to the mountain, he tries to warn them from it, saying his entire team was killed there, but relents and tells them the quickest way there. As they are leaving, he stops Maddy, who had begun to act weird, and after touching the necklace, tells her where she goes, there is hope. Making there way through the base, Lil Mindi and Chase question whether they should keep going, and Josh admits that if the others want to turn back, he won’t blame them, but Maddy grabs Eightball’s machete and says they should press forward. As they continue towards the mountain, Chase tries to persuade Lil Mindi to delete the footage showing him in a bad light, as he says he is being groomed for a great political future but she refuses. The group are forced to hide as two praying mantises appear and they realize that one is a male and one is a female as the two insects have sex followed by the female biting the male’s head off. As the female leaves, Lil Mindi’s cell phone suddenly rings, attracting the bug’s attention. As the giant insect chases them, Lil Mindi speaks with Bob and after telling him of the footage she has, he tells her to head to a small beach to the west of the mountain and he will pick her up there. The group comes to a bridge and they start to cross but Josh notices that Eightball is missing. As the mantis gets close to the bridge, Eightball appears in a bulldozer and starts forcing the mantis off the cliff but when it latches onto the bulldozer, Eightball yells at Josh to find Carmen, just before he topples over the cliff with the insect. Chase panics and wants to leave and Maddy slaps him and calls him a coward before saying the mountain is an hour’s journey As the group starts to head off, Josh looks one last time at the cliff where Eightball died and Maddy stabs the machete into the ground as a memorial to him. Reaching the mountain, Josh and the others work on fashioning some weapons but as they start to head up the mountain, Lil Mindi and Chase decide to leave. When Lil Mindi runs into a giant spider web, Chase takes the opportunity to grab the bag with the footage and destroy the tape of the piranha man attack, then learns where the boat is meeting them and heads out, leaving Lil Mindi to be killed by the spider. Meanwhile, Josh and the others climb the mountain and realize that it is a giant ant hill. When an ant attacks them, Josh kills it with his homemade bow and arrow, and they are joined by Dr. Harryhausen, who decided to come help them. Making their way into the ant hill, Dr. Harryhausen tells them that the army had bombed the ant hill and killed most of the ants but the queen and a few ants had survived and killed the soldiers in retaliation. Reaching the main chamber, the group sees that the warriors from the missing tribe have been enslaved by the ants, and the queen ant had grabbed Carmen in order to keep the slaves happy. When Maddy says she has to help her people, Dr. Harryhausen explains that she is the incarnation of the island’s warrior goddess. Maddy summons power from the necklace to revitalize the tribe’s spirit and calls out for them to attack the ants. Josh and Jen use the distraction to rescue Carmen but suddenly, the island starts shaking and Dr. Harryhausen says that the island is starting to sink. Meanwhile, Chase makes it to the beach and starts waving towards the boat but due to the seismic activity, and Bob not recognizing Chase, the boat sails off and Chase swims out after it. Dr. Harryhausen leads Josh and the others to a shaft where they slide down the mountain to safety and gives Rudy to Jen to take care of but Dr. Harryhausen stays behind and uses a vial of nitro he had to kill the ant and seal the mountain. As the group finds themselves stranded, Josh tries telling Maddy how he really feels and ends up ripping the necklace off of her, causing Maddy to return to normal. As the two embrace, the group notices a helicopter approaching and Nick Carter exits and asks if they are all okay. Carmen explains that he was the mystery musical guest and they all quickly get on the helicopter, along with two members of the tribe, and they leave the island as the mountain explodes. As they fly away, Josh and Maddy kiss while below, Chase continues swimming, unaware that he is being followed by the piranhaman.

This is a stupid, low-budget, spoof of the giant insect movies from the 50’s that does manage to make me laugh, mainly because of how ridiculous it was. The acting was a mixture of good and terrible. I did like the fact that Adam West’s character was called Dr. Harryhausen, in tribute to Ray Harryhausen. The plot was fairly simplistic and stupid to be honest and the special effects were very bad. There really is no reason for me to find this movie funny but I do. I can’t explain it because this really is a bad movie, but I just find it funny to watch. That being said, I know that this is not something that many people will want to watch.

Rating: 2 out of 5

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May 13th, 2016 Movie – The Monolith Monsters

the monolith monsters

Today’s movie is yet another movie from the Classic Sci-Fi Ultimate Collection. I will be honest, I had never heard of this movie before I bought this collection. However, after watching it, it quickly became one of my favorites movies in the set. I have to admit, it is kind of funny to think of all the different ideas that studios had for sci-fi movies back in the 50’s, because there have been some fantastic plot ideas to come out of that era. But today’s movie, The Monolith Monsters, has got to be one of the best, simply because of how ridiculous it is.

The plot: Outside the town of San Angelo, CA, a large meteorite crashes into the desert and explodes, scattering pieces all over the desert. The next day, Federal geologist Ben Gilbert is driving through the desert and stops to add some water to his radiator to keep his car from overheating. As he puts the water can back in his car, he picks up one of the meteorite fragments, noticing others scattered about, and leaves, not noticing one of the meteorites starting to smoke after touching some of the water that was spilled from his car. Heading back to his office in town, Ben is met by the local newspaper publisher Martin Cochrane, who seems curious about the strange rock before lamenting about the lack of news in the small town. That night, the wind picks up and knocks a container of distilled water onto the meteorite. Ben is woken by the sound of breaking glass and goes into the office to close the windows when he sees something off camera. The next day, Dave Miller, the head of the district geological office returns to the office and finds part of the office destroyed with large meteorite fragments everywhere and Ben completely petrified. Meanwhile, Dave’s girlfriend Cathy Barrett is taking the kids in her class on a field trip in the desert, where one of the girls, Ginny Simpson, finds one of the meteorite fragments and takes it home with her. Her mom tells her not to bring the rock inside and Ginny decides to wash the rock off but when her mom calls out to her to come inside, she ends up dropping the rock in the wash basin before heading in the house. At the doctor’s office, Dave, Cathy, Martin, and Police Chief Dan Corey are awaiting the results of Ben’s autopsy. Dr. Reynolds comes out and explains that he can’t figure out the cause of death and is sending the body to a specialist. When Martin asks for more details so he can write about it, Dan tells him he can’t print anything as it would cause a panic. Dave shows them one of the rocks from the lab and wonders if the rock had anything to do with it. Martin recognizes the rock as being similar to the one that Ben was examining earlier and Dan comments about the lab being full of them now and wonders where they came from. When Cathy tells them that Ginny had found a similar rock and taken it home with her, Dave wants to go to Ginny’s house to see if anything is going on there and heads out with Cathy and Dan. Arriving at Ginny’s house, they find the house destroyed, with hundreds of pieces of rock all over the place. Cathy finds Ginny in a state of shock and after finding her parents dead and petrified like Ben was, Dave and Cathy take her to Dr. Reynolds while Dan stays behind. Leaving Ginny and Cathy at the doctor’s office, Dave returns to his office and starts examining the rocks from the office and Ginny’s place and discusses them with Martin. They receive a call from Dr. Reynolds, telling them that Ginny’s hand has turned to stone and he wants to get her to Los Angeles so a specialist named Dr. Hendricks can treat her. Dave volunteers to take her himself and with a police escort leading the way, they make their way to Los Angeles. Dr. Hendricks places Ginny in an iron lung as the disease has spread to her upper body and says she has 8 hours to live if they can’t figure out what caused it. Dave speaks with his colleague, Professor Arthur Flanders, who says theorizes that the rock is a meteor fragment. Heading back to Ginny’s house, Arthur looks around the area while Dave updates Dan on how Ginny is doing. Arthur notices a difference in the ground near the rocks and the area further out and points it out to Dave. Heading back to the lab, they find that the soil has had all of the silicon from it and explaining that to Dr. Reynolds, he says silicon is what makes the skin flexible. Telling Dr. Reynolds to let Dr. Hendricks know what they found, Dave and Arthur head out in the desert and find where the meteorite landed. That night, Dave and Arthur are trying to figure out how the rocks multiply when Arthur breaks off a piece that lands in the sink. When Dave dumps out some coffee in order to brew a new pot, they notice the fragment growing and realize that water is what causes the rocks to grow. Realizing the implications as a storm is occurring outside, Dave and Arthur race towards the site of the meteor, only to see massive towers of rocks growing up then crashing down when they get too big, only for the pieces to start growing again. Heading back to town, they let Dan know what is going on and he gets word out to the townspeople to prepare for an evacuation if necessary. Meanwhile, Ginny recovers and Cathy tries calling Dave to let him know the good news but discovers the lines are down to San Angelo. Dr. Hendricks contacts the California Highway Patrol, who sends a car out to San Angelo so they can relay the call to them. Dave is glad to hear about Ginny and asks Dr. Hendricks what his treatment was, hoping it might stop the rocks from growing when a farmer pulls into town with his family and his wife’s arm starts turning to stone. As they begin treatment on the farmer’s wife, the farmer tells them that the rocks are still growing, despite the fact that it is no longer raining. Dave goes to see how close the rocks are to town, while Arthur tries to see if Dr. Hendricks formula will stop the rocks from growing, and Martin and Dan get some kids to go door to door and warn everyone to evacuate town. When a woman drives into town and passes out and Dan discovers her husband dead in the back of her truck, he uses the highway patrol car to make a call to the governor. Meanwhile, Dave observes the rocks and figures out how long they have before they reach the town. Returning to the office, Arthur tells him that the different ingredients don’t seem to work on their own so they begin testing combinations of them to see if the rocks stop growing. Cathy and Dr. Hendricks arrive in town and while Dr. Hendricks helps treat the farmer’s wife, Cathy goes to see Dave. When none of the materials in the formula stop the rock’s growth, Dave realizes that the saline solution they were mixed in was what did it and they test the theory to prove it. Looking at a map to show the rock’s path, Dave tries to figure out a way to stop the rocks and figures the only way to stop them is to blow a nearby dam, causing the waters to flood the salt mine and carry the salt water in the path of the towers. As the rocks are now visible from town, Dave heads out to help set the explosives while Dan tries contacting the governor. When the rocks reach the area where the flood waters would flow through, Dave gives the call to blow the dam, in spite of the fact that they have not gotten the approval from the governor. The salt water succeeds in stopping the rocks from growing and progressing further. Dan later tells Dave that the governor said not to blow the dam unless he was absolutely certain it would work.

I love this movie if for no other reason, then it is soo ridiculous. When I described it to my friends, I said that the villain in the movie is a bunch of giant grow crystals; simply add water and instant monster. The acting in this was ok though sometimes the characters seemed a bit 2 dimensional. The plot was entertaining though I wouldn’t quite call it very high on the believability scale. I seriously think that they might have actually used grow crystals for the scenes with the monoliths. At least I hope so because that would have been super funny. Anyways, there wasn’t much in the way of special effects aside form the crystals but for the story it worked. There are a lot of reason why you might not like this movie, but there are just as many reason to enjoy watching it for the sheer silliness of it.

Rating: 3 1/2 out of 5

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May 12th, 2016 Movie – Monkeybone

monkeybone

I know there was a reason I bought this movie but to be honest, I can’t remember what it was. I remember going to see this in theaters but the only reason I went to see it I think was because I had already seen the other movies playing at the time that I had wanted to see. Yeh, I admit that is a little mean, especially since this is somewhat of a comic book movie, but it is the truth. I still wish I knew why I bought this DVD. Oh well, here is today’s movie, Monkeybone.

The plot: Cartoonist Stu Miley is at a meeting where his agent, Herb, is showing the pilot for a cartoon based off of his comic strip, Monkeybone. During a meet and greet, where Herb keeps trying to get Stu to meet with people that want to sell Monleybone merchandise, Stu tells Herb that he doesn’t care about the money as he plans on proposing to his girlfriend Julie. Stu and Julie leave the party but find that Herb had stuffed several test products into Stu’s car for him to look at. As they are about to drive off, Stu accidentally causes a Monkeybone raft to inflate, causing him to get into a wreck. Stu ends up in a coma and his consciousness is transported to a carnival-like landscape called Down Town. Wandering around Down Town, Stu sees several creatures that had given him nightmares as a kid before he goes into a bar. Inside the bar, Stu sees Monkeybone performing and when Monkeybone comes over to him, Stu screams. Back in the real world, Julie sees Stu’s sister Kimmy crying over Stu’s body and accidentally lets slip that Stu was planning on proposing to her. When Stu’s doctor comes in, Kimmy wants a realistic recovery time as a pact she has with Stu makes her want to pull the plug to prevent a lingering death and the doctor tells her three months. One of Julie’s friends, Alice, drives Julie to Stu’s house and finds the setup for Stu’s proposal. While looking at all of Stu’s drawings, Alice questions how Stu went from drawing his nightmares to drawing Monkeybone and Julie tells her that she had Stu switch his drawing hand. Back in Down Town, Stu sees a grim reaper give an old man an exit pass back to the real world and Stu wonders why he didn’t get one. Stu receives an invitation to a party hosted by Hypnos, the god of sleep. While there, he sees a nightmare that Julie is having and Hypnos confirms that Stu’s sister is going to pull the plug on Stu at 9 in the morning. Hypnos tells Stu that the only way to leave is to sneak into Death’s realm and steal an exit pass. Back in the real world, Julie wakes from her nightmare and heads back to her lab at the sleep institute. She shows her coworkers Stu’s brain waves, which show that he is stuck in a nightmare loop and wants to try and increase the strength of his nightmares in an attempt to scare him awake. Back in Down Town, Stu and Monkeybone follow a reaper and manage to steal his cloak. Disguising themselves as a reaper, they sneak in to steal an exit pass but Death unmasks them and tells her Reapers to grab them. Back in the real world, Julie and Alice give Stu a shot of Oneirix, a drug she developed that can cause nightmares, to try and wake Stu up. Back in Death’s realm, Stu ends up caught in his nightmare but Monkeybone manages to save him and they escape. Arriving back at Down Town, Stu goes to thank Monkeybone but Monkeybone hits him over the head and steals the exit pass. As Monkeybone gets ready to leave, Stu tries to stop him but Hypnos has him held captive and explains that they have plans for Stu’s body and Stu is forced to watch as Monkeybone leaves. In the real world, the doctor is about to pull the plug when Monkeybone, now in Stu’s body, suddenly wakes up, causing Kimmy to faint. Julie takes Monkeybone back to Stu’s house but notices the difference in Stu, as does Stu’s dog Buster, who bites Monkeybones hand. The next day, Monkeybone has Herb start arranging for more Monkeybone merchandising but when he goes to sleep, Hypnos pays him a visit and tells him to steal the Oneirix so that he can start giving people more nightmares. Monkeybone breaks into Julie’s lab and steals the Oneirix, replacing it with grape Kool-Aid. When a toy company shows him a new farting Monkeybone doll, Monkeybone decides to replace the gas in the dolls with a mixture containing the Oneirix so that the gas will be distributed worldwide. Back in Down Town, Stu finds himself locked up with several other people such as Stephen King, Jack the Ripper, and Attila the Hun. Miss Kitty, who had taken a liking to Stu, steals the key from Hypnos and helps Stu escape. Stu goes to see Death and tells her what happened and why he stole the pass and Death has a change of heart, and mentions she is a fan of his comic, and sends Stu back to Earth. Stu wakes up inside a recently deceased gymnast whose organs were in the midst of being harvested. Stu manages to escape from the hospital and heads back to his house where he finds out about a fundraiser at the museum which Monkeybone, still in Stu’s body, is attending and after grabbing his grandmother’s wedding ring to give to Julie, he heads to the museum, with Buster following him and the organ extractors chasing him. At the museum, Herb steals one of the monkeys and gets sprayed with the gas, causing him to have a waking nightmare about his clothes attacking him so he takes them off then goes running naked through the crowd warning them about the evil clothes. Monkeybone tells the crowd not to worry about Herb and after calling attention to Julie and doing a song and dance, he proposes to her but she wonders why he is giving her a new ring instead of his grandmothers. Suddenly, Stu shows up and tells Julie not to listen to his body because it is really Monkeybone. Stu is taken away by security but Julie stops them and talks to Stu and doesn’t believe him at first. When Stu mentions the dream she had about the doctors pulling the plug and she sees Buster show up and be friendly towards Stu, she believes him and Stu gives Julie his grandmother’s ring. Heading back to the auditorium, Stu tries to stop Monkeybone but Monkeybone bursts open a pinata filled with the toy monkeys then makes his escape. Heading to the roof, Monkeybone uses a giant Monkeybone float to try and escape but Stu grabs onto one of the guide ropes and starts fighting with Monkeybone, losing various organs during the fight. As a crowd looks on, a police officer attempts to shoot the float to bring them down gently but instead, it sends them higher up in the air before the fall to their deaths. Stu and Monkeybone find themselves falling back towards Down Town but before they land, they are grabbed by a giant robot being driven by Death. Death places Monkeybone back inside Stu’s head, where she says he belongs, then sends Stu back to the real world, saying she will take “the South Park guys” instead. Julie is crying over Stu’s death when she is shocked to see Stu coming towards her and asks if it is the real Stu and Stu responds by kissing her. As they embrace and kiss, Herb is seen in the fountain, pleading with the audience to take off their clothes and a cartoon shows various people taking off their human disguises to show monkeys underneath.

Monkeybone received mostly negative reviews by the critics, holding an 18% rating on Rotten Tomatoes. The critical consensus on the site is that, “Though original and full of bizarre visuals, Monkeybone is too shapeless a movie, with unengaging characters and random situations that fail to build up laughs.” Director Henry Selick was a fan of a comic book titled Dark Town and wanted to do a movie that stayed true to the source but it wound up morphing into Monkeybone. The movie was a box office bomb as it only made a little over $13 million off of a $75 million budget.

This wasn’t a terrible movie but regarding movies with live action and animation mixed together, it definitely wasn’t that good. Brendan Fraser did do a good job of playing the differing aspects of himself and I did think Whoopi Goldberg made a funny Death but everyone else just seemed kind of plain. The story was definitely interesting and showed some promise but it just seemed to fizzle out in the end and rush to it’s conclusion. The concept for Down Town and the set design looked good but the costumes and puppets could have been better. It’s not the best movie out there but it might keep you entertained for a bit.

Rating: 2 out of 5

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