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August 31st, 2016 Movie – The Old Fashioned Way

the old fashioned way

I honestly don’t want to go to work today. Part of it is I am getting excited for Dragoncon over the next few days, and part of it is that I honestly didn’t get a good night’s sleep last night. Either way, the last thing I want to deal with today is the hassle of work and yet, I will still be going because the only thing worse than going to work when you don’t want to is not having a job to go to. So to ease my heart and help put me in a better mood, I will indulge myself in some laughter with today’s movie, The Old Fashioned Way.

The plot: As a train is preparing to depart, the local sheriff boards the train looking for The Great McGonigle, the leader of a vaudeville troupe, to give him a bill that he owes. When McGonigle’s daughter, Betty, says he isn’t there, the sheriff waits outside for him but Jenny manages to warn McGonigle as he approaches the train and McGonigle sets fire to the bill while the sheriff’s back is turned, then uses it to light his cigar when the sheriff tries to hand it to him. On board the train, McGonigle’s assistant Marmaduke shows the conductor the troupe’s tickets and as he does this, McGonigle manages to hide a ticket for the sleeping car that another passenger dropped. Betty saw this and tells her father to return the ticket but McGonigle uses it anyways. Meanwhile, Betty runs into Wally Livingston, a young man that has been following them from town to town, and Betty tries to discourage him from going into theater and says he should return to college but Wally refuses as he loves both the theater and Betty. When they reach the next town, McGonigle tries to lift the spirits of his troupe, who is getting tired of being underpaid and sneaking out of town ahead of the law, and reads a fake telegraph saying that their show is sold out. When they get to town, he is surprised to find a marching band performing at the station and mistakenly believes it is for them but it is really for another passenger on the train. The troupe heads towards the boarding house and the owner, Mrs. Wendleschaffer, tells McGonigle that she will not let them leave until they pay their bills this time. As they are eating lunch, they are joined by Cleopatra Pepperday and her son Albert and while Cleopatra tries to convince McGonigle to let her sing for him, Albert spends the time throwing things into McGonigle’s food or throwing food at McGonigle. When everyone gets distracted by the “new horseless carriage”, McGonigle tries to sneak out but Cleopatra catches him and leads him into the sitting room so she can sing for him. After she sings, McGonigle flatters her and says that she can join his theater troupe but Mrs. Wendleschaffer believes he is merely leading her on. Meanwhile, Wally’s father arrives in town and is talking with the local sheriff, who is engaged to Cleopatra, when they spot McGonigle and Cleopatra heading to the theater and decide to follow them. At the theater, Betty tells her father that one of the actors quit so Wally decides to audition for the part. As he is singing, Mr Livingston and the sheriff enter the theater and Mcgonigle tells them to be quiet. When Wally finishes, McGonigle tells him he has the part but McGonigle is then pulled aside from the sheriff, who has a telegraph from the sheriff in Cucamonga but Cleopatra threatens to end their engagement unless he rips it up. Meanwhile, Wally tries to introduce his father to Betty but Mr. Livingston is rude to her so she leaves. Wally tries to get his father to apologize but his father refuses and tells Wally he needs to go back to college but Wally says he can’t as he is performing that night. That night, everyone in town has come to see Cleopatra in the play. Backstage everyone is getting ready when the sheriff arrives with a sheriff from another town, who is there to collect the money from when McGonigle’s troupe was in his town. Despite the sheriff’s warnings, Cleopatra agrees to pay off the debt. The show goes on and Betty ends up falling for Wally as he performs while Cleopatra constantly practices her line but is never called to come on stage and she ends up leaving heartbroken with the sheriff. Mr. Livingston goes to see Betty during an intermission and says that the theater life is no place for Wally and she agrees with him and tells him that she has been trying to get him to go back to college, causing Mr. Livingston to change his opinion of her and he apologizes. After the show, McGonigle entertains the crowd with his juggling act but he later receives a telegram that his tour has been cancelled. As he decides how to break the news to everyone, he overhears Wally and his father talking about Wally wanting to marry Betty. McGonigle then tells Betty that he has been called to New York for a solo gig and is closing the show as a result, allowing Wally to marry Betty while McGonigle and Marmaduke sneak out of town. Later, as Betty, Wally, and his father board the train to leave, they receive a telegram from McGonigle saying that things are going great in New York while in reality, McGonigle has actually become a snake oil salesman.

Not my favorite W.C. Fields movie but this is a pretty funny movie. The acting was pretty good, with Fields doing a good job with his quick wit and his interaction with Baby LeRoy (Albert) was incredibly funny. The story was ok but honestly didn’t seem as entertaining as some of his other movies. I did like that Fields was able to showcase his juggling abilities in this movie. There wasn’t as much slapstick comedy as I was expecting, which was a little disappointing, but there was plenty of Fields’ sharp wit to bring along plenty of laughs. Depending on your personal views, you may or may not like this movie but for me, it was a much needed bit of laughs to start the day.

Rating: 3 1/2 out of 5

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August 30th, 2016 Movie – Ogre

ogre

It’s been a while since I have watched a Syfy original movie. Don’t misunderstand, I have watched some low budget sci-fi/horror movies, but as for an actual Syfy original movie, it’s been over three months since I watched one, when I reviewed Monsterwolf. Syfy original movies were always a fun way to spend a Saturday night at home and since I signed up for Sling TV, I am able to do this again. But for now, it’s time to get on with today’s movie, Ogre.

The plot: In 1859, the small town of Ellensford, PA is suffering through a serious plague, where many people are dying and the townsfolk are forced to quarantine others outside of town. When the town magistrate dies from the plague, several of the townsfolk wish to elect Henry Bartlett, the town magi, the new leader as he has offered a way to stop the sickness. When Henry’s daughter Hope shows signs of the disease, the town agrees to let Henry cast his spell, even though he warns that there will be consequences. Henry casts the spell and then says that once a year, a man must be shackled in the center of town and left as an offering to the ogre, as a way to keep the townsfolk free from the disease. In the present day, Terry has convinced his friends Mike, Jessica, and Leah to come camping with him in search of Ellensford, which is said to be a town lost in time. As they are looking for the town, Terry trips over a line of rocks and breaks his ankle so Mike and Jessica go on ahead to look for help while Leah stays with Terry and tries to get camp set up. As Mike and Jessica make their way through the woods, the come across signs that they have reached a town and pause when they hear some bells ringing but continue on. Meanwhile, Leah is working on trying to get the tents set up when she notices a door in the woods and Terry asks her to help him over to it. When he gets there, Terry sees a pentagram burned into the wood and decides to open it but when he does, he is grabbed by the ogre and killed The ogre tosses one of Terry’s legs to Leah, who tries to run away but the ogre chases her down and kills her too. Meanwhile, Mike and Jessica reach Ellensford and witness a strange ceremony, where Henry uses his stick to randomly select someone for the next sacrifice but the person chosen turns out to be Hope’s boyfriend Stephen. Mike and Jessica try to leave but they are caught by some of the townspeople and Henry has them imprisoned then sends the men out to find Terry and Leah. As they are sitting in the jail, they speak with Stephen, who tells them that he is to be sacrificed the next day to the ogre for the sake of the town. Elsewhere, Hope speaks with Franklin, the town doctor, about their situation and says that the life they are living is a farce as they can not age, or have kids, but they are killed off one by one by the ogre until there will be no one left but Franklin says there is little that they can do. Franklin goes to see Henry to find out what he intends to do with Mike and Jessica and when Henry admits that he plans to sacrifice them to spare two of their villagers for a time, Franklin asks when it will all end. Meanwhile Hope goes to see Stephen and then heads back to her house and grabs her father’s spell book and learns that he had caused the plague to serve his own needs to gain power. Henry uses his magic to move the mark from Stephen’s hand to Mike’s and has him locked to the sacrificial post for the ogre. As the town goes to hide in their homes, Hope sneaks out and frees Stephen and Jessica and the rescue Mike. Hope leads them to the town border and tells Mike and Jessica to run, as they have no part in their town’s pact, but when the ogre attacks them, Stephen helps Jessica across the stone line but ends up disappearing afterwards. The next morning, the townsfolk realize that there wasn’t a sacrifice and wonder where Henry is but Franklin calls for the villagers to meet in the town hall. Franklin tries to convince the townsfolk that they need to stop the sacrifices and act now but several of the villagers feel they need to find Henry and choose a new sacrifice. Meanwhile, Henry finds Hope in the woods and Hope tells him that she read his spell book. Henry admits that he cast the spell on the former magister so that he could get power but the spell got out of his control and infected more people and Hope leaves him in the woods. Hope returns to the town hall and tells the townsfolk to listen to Franklin but Giles and Lawrence, two of Henry’s more devout followers, decide to go looking for Henry. In the woods, Henry encounters the ogre and tries top hold it at bay but the ogre ends up killing him, as well as Giles and Lawrence. Meanwhile, Mike and Jessica manage to make it to town and go to the Sheriff’s station to try and explain what happened but realizing that the Sheriff doesn’t believe them, Mike steals his keys and they head back to town in the Sheriff’s car. When they get the car stuck in the mud, they continue on foot and encounter the ogre but Mike is able to chase it off when he shoots it with a shotgun. Back in Ellensford, Hope has the people pour salt around their houses and light a candle then chant an incantation that will keep them free from harm and it works as the only people that are killed are a family whose candle goes out. The next day, Mike and Jessica return to town and the help make a plan to kill the ogre, with Hope trying to cast a spell which will kill the creature. Mike acts as bait to lure the ogre into a trap and when the ogre manages to break free and start attacking the people, Hope’s spell isn’t ready so Mike and Jessica lure the creature to the line. When the get there, Mike and Jessica continue to distract the creature long enough for Hope to arrive and use her magic to force the creature across the stone line. The creature dissolves in a flash and as Franklin and some of the others arrive, they realize that it is over and they all disappear as well. Mike and Jessica wonder what is going on and Hope explains that their time is over and thanks them for helping them before she too disappears, and Mike and Jessica head out of the woods.

This was actually one of the more well done Syfy original movies I have seen in a while. The acting was pretty good for the most part, with John Schneider (Henry), Ryan Kennedy (Mike), and Chelan Simmons (Hope) all giving good performances but Katharine Isabelle (Jessica) was kind of annoying. The story was interesting and parts of it reminded me of M. Night Shyamalan’s The Village, only this had more of a supernatural aspect than his movie. While they don’t really explain everything in the movie, I did like how the people basically disappeared when the spell was broken, as they had been somewhat frozen in time and their lives would have ended over a century ago. The special effects were pretty decent and I really liked the ogre design, as they did a good job of making it big but not necessarily a giant that dwarfs the people fighting it. A pretty decent movie that is worth a watch if you are in the mind for something different.

Rating: 3 out of 5

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August 29th, 2016 Movie – Office Space

office spaceEvery now and then, a movie will come out that will just seem to speak to a generation of kids at that time. Today’s movie is definitely one of those movies. In 1999, a lot of people my age were just getting out of college or starting jobs in order to pay bills and rent so a movie showcasing the daily grind that everyone deals with really appealed to a lot of people, especially my friends. So let’s dive right into today’s movie, Office Space.

The plot: Peter Gibbons works for a programming company called Initech but after a lousy start to his morning, where two of his bosses (Bill Lumbergh and Dom Portwood) harass him over his forgetting to use a cover sheet with his TPS reports, he decides to go out for coffee with his friends Michael Bolton and Samir Nagheenanajar. While sitting at the restaurant complaining about their jobs, Peter notices a waitress that he likes and the guys tell him he should ask her out but Peter says he can’t because he is trying to work things out with his girlfriend Anne and then mentions that he won’t be able to play poker with the guys on Friday because he is going with Anne to see an occupational hypnotherapist. As they are returning to work, they see their co-worker Tom Smykowski rushing towards them telling them that their is a staff meeting and that Initech is bringing in consultants to help downsize them. As Tom continues to talk about his concerns, he brings up a topic of what he would do with a million dollars and the others start talking about what they would do with a million dollars. When he gets home, his neighbor Lawrence comes over to talk to him and as they discuss the day, Peter tells him he feels like Lumbergh is going to have him work on Saturday and Lawrence tells him to just leave early on Friday to avoid Lumbergh asking him. On Friday, after Lumbergh introduces everyone to Bob Slydell, a consultant, Peter gives Lawrence’s idea a try but ends up running into Lumbergh, who tells him to come in on Saturday and Sunday. That night, Peter is talking to the hypnotherapist, Dr. Swanson, about his job and Dr. Swanson starts to put Peter in a hypnotic state in order to help him relax but as he is doing this, Dr. Swanson ends up dying of a heart attack, leaving Peter in his relaxed state. With his new state of mind, Peter decides to stay in bad on Saturday, receiving numerous calls from Lumbergh about his not being at work as well as a call from Anne, who he hangs up on only for her to call back and break up with him as she admits she was cheating on him. On Monday, another consultant, Bob Porter, is introduced to the company while Tom and Michael are commenting about Peter not coming in over the weekend and not being there now. At that moment, Peter goes to Chotchkie’s and invites Joanna, the waitress he likes, out to lunch at Flingers, the restaurant next door. When Joanne arrives there, Peter and her talk about their various jobs and then Peter invites her to dinner and then invites her over to watch Kung Fu at his place. Back at Initech, the two Bobs begin interviewing the workers at the company and makes notes on who they feel should stay employed. Peter shows up and Michael asks him where he has been and reminds him of the meeting with the Bobs and tries to get Peter to postpone it but Peter goes on in to meet with them. During the meeting, Peter basically admits that he does next to nothing at work and comments about his having eight bosses and his only real motivation is to do enough work to not get fired or be bothered by his bosses. When the Bobs have a meeting with Lumbergh and Dom about the people they plan on firing, and bring up Milton, who they learned had been let go five years ago but was still receiving a paycheck due to a payroll error so the fixed the error in the hopes that he would just quietly leave on his own. When they bring up Peter’s name and say they want to promote him, Lumbergh starts to disagree with them but they overrule him. As the days go by, Peter learns that he is going to be promoted but his friends are going to be let go. He talks with Michael after work and asks him about a virus that he had created which will be able to siphon a fraction of a cent out of the various bank’s transactions, which they can put into an account and let it grow for a few years and after bringing Samir in on the plan, they decide to install it. After installing the virus the next day, they learn that Tom had tried to kill himself when he learned he was being let go but changed his mind at the last minute only to get hit by a drunk driver and is now receiving a seven figure settlement. As they leave work for the last time, Peter tells them that he stole something as a gift for them and takes them out to a field, where they proceed to destroy a copier/printer that had constantly given them problems. The next day, Peter is taking Joanna to a barbecue that Tom is throwing and ends up telling her about their plan. During the barbecue, Peter learns that Joanna had previously slept with a Lumbergh from work and immediately thinks it was his boss. As they are leaving, they get into an argument about everything and she breaks up with him. On Monday, Peter checks the account and discovers that it has stolen over $300,000 in a few days and when he shows this to Michael and Samir, Michael thinks he misplaced a decimal point in the program. After debating with himself about what to do, Peter decides to take the fall for the missing money, as he was the one to get the others involved. He goes to see Joanna and learns that she had been fired from Chotchkie’s after she flipped off her boss and now works at Flingers. He apologizes for the argument, since he learned the Lumbergh she slept with was a different person than his boss, and tells her he is going to come clean about the money and she agrees to give them another chance. Peter places the money and his confession into an envelope and slides it under Lumbergh’s door, then briefly tries to get it back but is unable to reach it. The next day, Milton goes to see Lumbergh about his missing paychecks and when Lumbergh’s secretary leaves, he walks into the office, intent on getting his red Swingline stapler back from Lumbergh. When Peter arrives at Initech, he finds the building on fire and as he looks around, he notices Milton staring at the fire before walking away and, realizing Milton finally followed through on his threat to burn the place down, laughs as he realizes that his problems were solved. Some time later, Peter is now working construction with Lawrence and as they are clearing out the debris from the Initech building, Lawrence finds the Milton’s burned stapler and Peter grabs it, intending to send it to Milton. Amir and Michael drive up and talk with Peter, saying they can get him a job at Initrode with them but Peter says he is happy where he is.  Meanwhile, Milton is lounging on the beach at a Mexican resort and when he gets the wrong drink and the waiter ignores him, he threatens to have the place shut down and go to a competitor.

Office Space was well received by the critics, holding a certified fresh rating of 79% on Rotten Tomatoes. The critical consensus on the site is that, ” Mike Judge lampoons the office grind with its inspired mix of sharp dialogue and witty one-liners.” After the movie came out on video, Swingline began receiving calls for the red Swingline stapler that was used in the movie, but they did not have a red model available at the time so they soon started selling one, resulting in an increase in sales due to the free marketing from the movie. The movie was based off of the Milton cartoon shorts that Mike Judge did for SNL and Liquid Television, though Milton played a smaller role in the actual movie. Mike Judge blamed to ad campaign for the poor box office performance, as it only made a little over $12 million off of a $10 million budget, and Fox Filmed Entertainment chairman Tom Rothman conceded that the marketing campaign did not work and said, “Office Space isn’t like American Pie. It doesn’t have the kind of jokes you put in a 15-second television spot of somebody getting hit on the head with a frying pan. It’s sly. And let me tell you, sly is hard to sell” Despite the poor box office showing, the movie became a cult classic when it was released to video, becoming one of Fox’s top selling videos in 1999.

This is a fantastic comedy to watch. The acting was great, with Rob Livingston (Peter) and Gary Cole (Lumbergh) doing great jobs in their roles. Stephen Root was fantastic as Milton, with his mumbling, stuttering speech patterns doing a good job of matching how Mike Judge had done in the animated shorts. The story was a bit simplistic but the dialogue and writing showed that you didn’t need an elaborate plot in order to make an effective comedy. The scenes with Milton were some of my favorites, as he was constantly forced to move or relocate his office throughout the movie as Lumbergh tries to force him to leave. My favorite was the scene with the birthday cake, as he initially had a piece of cake but was told to pass it to someone else and at the end, everyone had some cake but him. Definitely a comedy that was ahead of it’s time and a great comedy to watch that anyone can relate too, no matter which profession you work in.

Rating: 5 out of 5

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August 28th, 2016 Movie – Octopus 2: River Of Fear

octopus 2 river of fear

I feel the need to be completely honest here. I have been sitting at my computer for over an hour trying to figure out how to introduce today’s movie. Normally I will bring up when I first saw it or some random movie that the movie triggers but for today’s movie, I got nothing. What further complicates things is that I have been distracted by various alerts on my phone so I will switch my focus for a minute that soon becomes several minutes. Anyways, Since I have now wasted another 50 minutes trying to explain my lack of ideas, I’m just going to go ahead and get on with today’s movie, Octopus 2: River Of Fear.

The plot: In New York City, a couple is walking along a dock on the East River when some giant tentacles reach out and drag them into the water, all of which is witnessed by a nearby homeless man. Meanwhile, four New York Harbor police are on a boat when they see a suspicious boat and believe it to be some drug smugglers. Nick and Walter use scuba gear to swim out to the boat, taking the two people on board by surprise. When they don’t see any drugs on board, they notice a dive meter and realize someone is underwater and quickly head back into the river and capture the third person. The next day, Captain Hensley berates them as the person the arrested was a New York judge and while Nick tries to plead his case, Walter quickly takes the blame for the incident and Hensley tells them to go check on some underwater power cables for the electric company and dismisses them. As they leave Hensley’s office, Nick questions Walter about one of Hensley’s comments and Walter admits that he is transferring to a new department and has recommended Nick to be his replacement as team leader. Checking out the underwater cables, the two cops find the dead bodies of the couple and quickly surface so the can call it in. As the bodies are dragged out of the water, Nick and Walter are examining the damage to the dock when they encounter Rachel Starbird, the mayor’s assistant, who is interested in how the case is progressing since the city as having a big 4th of July event soon and the mayor is expecting over 50,000 tourist to attend. Nick gives an abrupt statement and then heads over to where another officer is picking up a bottle of liquor and Nick recognizes the brand and realizes that they might have a witness to the incident. Nick and Walter head down to some old sewer systems where the homeless tend to gather and speak with Mad Dog, who eventually tells them that a giant octopus killed the people but Nick and Walter don’t believe him. That night, the octopus attacks a tug boat in the East River and causes it to explode. When Nick and Walter return to the station, they see video footage of the explosion and go to suit up but Hensley says he sent two other members of the team and tells them to go home but Nick stays behind and looks up information about octopus and gets harassed by Tony, who feels that he should be promoted instead of Nick. At the mayor’s office, the mayor is watching the video of the explosion and asks Rachel, who is there to get his signature for a children’s event, to head to the harbor precinct in the morning and find out what is going on. The next day, Nick goes to Hensley with his theory but Hnsley tells him he is crazy and kicks him out of his office. When Rachel shows up to ask about the explosion, Nick tells her that it was a faulty engine and that there is nothing to worry about so she can make the mayor happy. When Rachel returns to City Hall, she learns that due to a miscommunication, she is the one that will be chaperoning the kids around for the 4th of July celebration and she finds herself stressed out but winds up bonding with Anna Lee, a young girl in a wheel chair. That night, Nick and Walter are on patrol and head over to a dock where a man says his friend Bert had fallen in. Walter dives down to look for the missing man, leaving Nick on the boar, and is attacked by the octopus. Walter manages to break through part of the dock and briefly scream for help and Nick dives down to help Walter, repeatedly stabbing the tentacle holding Walter but it has little effect. Running out of air, Nick swims back to the surface and tries to use a nearby crane to catch the creature but the creature gets away and Nick dives after it just in time to see it drag Walter away. The next day, Nick is given a psych review and Hensley tells him that Tony is investigating the incident. As Nick is cleaning out Walter’s locker, Rachel shows up to offer her condolences and Nick snaps at her but then apologizes and the two talk briefly about Walter before she leaves. The next day, Tony approaches Nick in an attempt to bury the hatchet between the two and says that he has a lead on the dead tourist case. Someone has been using one of the tourists’ credit card and when they get to the hotel, they find Mad Dog there. Tony arrests him and at the precinct, Nick tells Hensley that Mad Dog is innocent but Hensley says to let the matter drop, then holds a press conference about the incident. Nick later tries talking to Tony as he is celebrating solving the case but Tony believes Mad Dog is guilty since he had the tourists credit cards. Meanwhile, another cop is called to check out the sewers and ends up being attacked and killed by the octopus. The next day, Nick tries to convince Rachel to talk to the mayor and she reluctantly agrees but when she gets to City Hall, the mayor refuses to make time to talk to her. That night, Rachel and Nick are walking along the river, as Nick says the octopus prefers to attack that area at night. Seeing a shape in the water, Nick and Rachel follow it and check out an old treatment plant on the water’s edge and end up being attacked by the octopus but manage to get away. Returning to the precinct, Nick, Rachel, and Hensley call the mayor to tell him what is going on but the mayor refuses to call off the 4th of July event and doesn’t want the media alerted and cause a panic. Nick and Rachel try to figure out where the creature’s lair is but Nick receives a call from Tony about the judges boat being dead in the water and Rachel has to take the children to Brooklyn so they plan on meeting back at the station. Nick and Tony head out to the boat and find a female passenger hiding in a storage area, saying that the octopus got the judge and that their friend is still in the water. Tony and Nick dive down and find the dead man, as well as the drugs he was picking up but the octopus shows up and the push the body towards it so they can escape. Heading back to the precinct, Nick and Tony meet with Rachel and Hensley to call the mayor but the mayor refuses to close the river or warn people about the creature and insists that Nick and the dive team deal with it while he tells Rachel to get the kids to Brooklyn for his photo op. Nick, Tony, and the rest of the team head out into the water where they believe the creature’s lair is but the octopus attacks them and kills several members of the team. Nick fires an explosive spear at the creature, which drives it off but the explosion weakens part of the wall for the Brooklyn Tunnel, causing a collapse that traps Rachel and the kids inside. Nick and Tony are the only members of the team left and Nick has Tony, who is injured, head back to the boats while he goes after the octopus and succeeds in killing it. As he goes to leave, he hears screams coming from the tunnel and tells Tony to call for help while he finds another way into the tunnel. Reaching the tunnel, he sees Rachel and the kids and starts having them climb up the emergency exit to safety. Just as everyone reaches safety, the octopus suddenly emerges but Nick and Tony shoot it with explosive spears and finally kill it for good.

On the whole, this was about an average, to slightly sub-par movie. The acting was decent but nobody really stood out among the main characters. The story was ok but there were several random bits that didn’t make much sense, like the old lady in the tunnel that they saved but had to rescue her dog too because she was freaking out about the dog. That and the random plot line about the judge that was involved in drug smuggling which was such a minor plot line lasting all of 5 minutes in the two scenes it was featured in. The special effects actually weren’t that bad for a B-movie but I have seen better. I will say that the effects during Nick’s dream were some of the worst out of the whole movie (on a side note, Lady Liberty loses her head once again in a movie). Not the worst killer octopus movie out there but then again, there aren’t really that many to choose from.

Rating: 2 1/2 out of 5

 

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August 27th, 2016 Movie – Octopus

octopus

You know, it’s kind of a shame that there aren’t more giant octopus/squid movies made. I mean, the Kraken is a sailing legend for centuries and has inspired so many stories. So I don’t know why you can’t make more movies about a subject like that. Oh, maybe today’s movie has something to do with that. Is it possible that a movie can be so bad that it causes people to not want to make any more movies on that subject? Well, the answer is obviously no but today’s movie, Octopus, certainly didn’t help matters.

The plot: During the Cuban Missile Crisis, the U.S.S.R. Leningrad, a Soviet nuclear submarine, is traveling towards Havana with a cargo of toxic material comes into contact with an American submarine that orders it to surface. When the Soviet captain and refuses and attempts to run from the ship, the American sub fires on them. The torpedoes strike the ship, ripping open a hole in the sub and causing it to sink and releasing the toxic materials into the water. 38 years later, CIA analyst Roy Turner and his partner Henry are at the US Embassy in Bulgaria discussing the “old days” when they decide to head out to get a snack. As they leave, they pass an old lady, who goes around handing out baked goods to some of the staff but leaves her bag behind. Seeing the woman exit the embassy, Henry notices she doesn’t have the bag and he and Roy turn just as the embassy explodes. Henry and Roy chase after the woman, who starts taking off her clothes to reveal she is a terrorist named Casper. When Casper starts shooting at Henry, Roy notices the bomb hidden in the discarded clothes and tries to warn Henry just as it explodes. Roy aims his gun at Casper but Casper calls his bluff about shooting and gets into a car and starts to leave, but Henry manages to shoot the car and cause it to crash before he dies and Roy is able to pull the unconscious Casper out of the car. Wanting to quickly get Casper out of Bulgaria so he can trial for his crimes, their only option is a US sub that is in the area, captained by Jack Shaw, a somewhat disgraced Navy Captain. After boarding the sub, Shaw introduces Roy to some of the crew as well as Dr. Lisa Finch, an oceanographic scientist who is on the sub to study an area of ocean known as the Devil’s Eye, where 27 ships have mysteriously disappeared. Meanwhile, a woman meets with her handler, who gives her a picture of Roy and tells her she will be placed on a cruise ship along with some other agents who will take control of the ship and alter it’s course to intercept the sub carrying Casper so they can rescue him. When the sub suddenly suffers an impact and stops moving, a pair of divers are sent out to investigate the damage and are attacked by a giant octopus. Not knowing what they are facing, Shaw has the sub attempt to dive down to get away from what killed the men. Roy is called to the brig, where Casper is apparently going into convulsions but as Roy warns the sailor to be careful, Casper suddenly reveals that he got free from one of his restraints and grabs the sailor, threatening to kill him unless Roy frees him. Roy reluctantly does so and Casper kills the sailor and then attempts to kill Roy. Meanwhile, Lisa manages to get an image of the creature and tells Shaw about it and he attempts to kill it but the creature evades the attack and attacks the ship again, causing it to crash into some underwater mountains at the crush depth of the sub. Trying to figure out their next step, Shaw and Lisa find Roy, who tells them that Casper escaped and Shaw gets yells at Roy but when Roy yells back saying that he is not a field agent and shouldn’t even be on the assignment, Shaw calms down and goes with Roy to find Casper. Lisa goes to her workstation and encounters Casper, who forces her to help him launch a signal buoy in order to stay alive. When Shaw and Roy show up, Casper launches the buoy, which causes the octopus to start attacking the ship again. Shaw, Roy, and Lisa take Casper towards the bridge but they find some men trapped in a section of the ship. As they try to help them, a tentacle suddenly breaks through the hull and starts attacking the men. Casper makes a run for it and traps them in that section of the sub, which is starting to fall apart from the pressure so Shaw leads Roy and Lisa to the emergency exit hatch. As they try to escape, a tentacle grabs Shaw and starts to drag him towards the window but Lisa manages to shoot it off him. Making their way to the bridge, they find that Shaw’s second in command, Brickman, is the only person still there. Brickman tells them he managed to launch a remote camera and as they watch the image, Roy recognizes the Leningrad and believes that the containers it was carrying caused the creatures mutation. When they don’t get a response from the engine room, Shaw and Rickman head down thee to find that the head engineer is dead so Shaw works on getting the engines working while Roy continues looking for Casper. Roy finds Casper in the cargo hold and the two start fighting. Casper manages to get the upper hand but Roy grabs his gun and points it at Casper and threatens to shoot him but Shaw stops him, saying that the ship is about to explode. Heading back to the bridge with a captive Casper, Lisa tells them that the water contained samples of the anthrax virus, which is what caused the creature to mutate. Lisa comes up with a plan to lure the creature away long enough for them to get to another part of the ship where Lisa’s minisub is stored and escape. Shaw leads the way and they head to the minisub but Brickman is grabbed by a tentacle and is killed. They manage to get the minisub launched just before the sub explodes and head towards the surface, where they find the cruise ship on the surface. Heading to the bridge, Shaw, Roy, and Lisa introduce themselves to the captain but before they can say anything else, Casper’s men take control of the ship and take them prisoner. As a helicopter heads towards their location to pick up Casper and his men, the octopus shows up and starts to attack the ship. Meanwhile, Casper is planning on killing Roy and the others, leaving a bomb to blow up the ship as well but after he leaves, Roy and Lisa manage to take out the guard but Shaw is accidentally shot in the leg. Shaw tries to disarm the bomb while Roy and Lisa go after Casper. Roy catches up to Casper but is unable to shoot him and Casper manages to climb up to the helicopter and taunts Roy one last time but the octopus attacks the helicopter and kills Roy as it brings the chopper down. Heading back to Shaw, they learn that Shaw couldn’t defuse the bomb and they decide to try and feed it to the creature. Roy takes the bomb and uses the minisub to head towards the creature and manages to bail out just as the creature swallows the sub. The bomb explodes and destroys the creature and Roy makes it back to the surface, where Lisa and Shaw celebrate his safe return.

I wish this was a more entertaining movie but this is just bad. The acting was absolutely terrible and the bad dialogue certainly didn’t help any. The plot was somewhat interesting but I think it is one of those times where they tried to hard to be serious and it backfired. The special effects regarding the octopus was about 50/50 on being good or bad. Sometimes the effects were really good but there were just as many instances that it looked completely stupid. A good example is when the octopus attacked Brickman, as the tentacle CGI tentacle looked terrible next to Brickman. Not one of Nu Image’s better movies.

Rating: 2 out of 5

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August 26th, 2016 Movie – Octaman

octaman

Ahh, the memories I have of the inconsistent search for this movie. I first saw a brief portion when I was 7 or 8 and was channel surfing one Saturday afternoon and caught the end of a movie where this octopus man is hiding in an RV and starts attacking people. This was back in the days before internet and easy access to being able to find almost anything so I was never really able to find out what the movie was. Then, years later I was home sick and watching daytime TV (like you do) and lo and behold, a movie came on about an octopus man. So I finally learned the name of the movie but it would be decades later before I would actually get around to buying today’s movie, Octaman.

The plot: Dr. Rick Torres and his partner Susan Lowry are doing a study of the water near a remote Mexican fishing village and find that it is contaminated with high levels of radiation. Rick is planning on cutting his trip short to report his findings when his assistant Mort shows up with a strange looking octopus that he caught in a pail. Going with Mort to where he captured the octopus, they release it and observe it crawling on land towards the river but recapture it and Rick plans on taking it with him back to the states to ask for more funding, unaware that they are being observed by the octopus’s parent. After Rick and Susan leave, a second octopus is found and one of their team is starting to cut it when he is attacked by a humanoid octopus, which quickly kills the man before grabbing it’s offspring and heading back into the river. In the states, Rick goes to show his boss, Dr. John Willard, the octopus but discovers it has died while being transported. Despite his arguing for more funding, John doesn’t see much of a connection between Rick’s work and the creature and says he won’t be able to help so Rick decides to look elsewhere. He ends up going to see his friend Steve, who is a horse wrangler/animal trainer for Johnny Caruso, a circus owner, who agrees to help fund an expedition so long as he can find something that will make a great circus attraction. Heading back down to Mexico in an RV, they find the camp deserted and the dead body of the worker in the tent. The next day, Mort returns with some men from a nearby village and tells Rick what happened. One of the villagers, Davido, tells Rick of a legend his grandmother tells him of a creature that is half man/half sea serpent which lives in a lake and killed his father and offers to take Rick there. Rick and the others leave with Davido while the two other villagers head back to the village but they are attacked and killed by the octaman. As Rick and the others are making their way to the lake, they find another specimen of the octopus but are unable to catch it so Rick decides to make camp in the area. As Rick, Susan, Mort, Steve, and Davido go out looking for more of the octopuses, Johnny is attacked by the octaman and calls for help but he is soon rendered unconscious while Carlos is killed. When the others return, Johnny is unable to tell them what happened and he stays in the RV with Susan while the others search the area. The octaman returns and starts attacking the RV but Susan starts blowing the horn to alert the others while Johnny tries shooting it. The octaman disappears and Rick decides to try and capture it. Rick, Mort, and Stevehead out in the boat but as the look for it, the creature grabs Mort and drags him overboard. Rick and Steve are able to rescue him but the creature heads back to the RV and manages to capture Susan. It starts trying to take her to the lake but Rick and Steve use their flashlights to blind the creature. As the creature sets Susan down, Rick uses some gasoline to make a ring around the creature then sets it on fire, then quickly grabs Susan and carries her to safety while the fire burns up the oxygen around the creature and causes it to fall unconscious. Using a net to hold the creature down, Steve shoots it with a tranquilizer while Rick and Johnny argue about whether the creature should be killed or not. That night, a storm manages to revive the creature and it gets free from the net but Susan is able to communicate with it and get it to leave. The next day, Rick and the others continue towards the lake when they come across some fallen trees blocking their path. As they work on clearing the way, Davido looks around and sees the creature heading into a cave and tells the others. Rick and the others decide to let it be but when Davido insists on going after it, they reluctantly follow. Making their way into the cave, they soon discover the creature has managed to get behind them and causes a cave in, trapping them in the cave. Noticing some water trickling down from an opening, Davido climbs up it and finds a way out for them and they all climb to safety. They make their way back to the RV only to discover the octaman waiting for them inside. The creature starts attacking them, killing Johnny in the process, but Susan manages to convince it to just take her. As it starts to carry her towards the lake, Rick and the other try to rescue her and while they distract it,F Susan pulls out a gun she was carrying and shoots it. The creature lets Susan go and after she gets to safety, the others start shooting at the creature until it finally falls into the lake and sinks to the bottom as it dies.

One of those 70’s low budget sci-fi movies that are so much fun to watch. The acting was pretty decent and while I don’t know for sure if some of the voices were dubbed or the actors were just using bad accents but either way, some of the characters sounded bad. The story was honestly a pretty typical sci-fi piece, using the 50’s popular theme of radiation to explain how the creature came about. The special effects were definitely on the low end but to be fair, there were some even worse monster costumes to come out at that time so it was definitely not the worst to come out. If you like low budget monster movies, then this is one you might want to watch.

Rating: 3 out of 5

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August 25th, 2016 Movie – Oasis Of The Zombies

oasis of the zombies

Today I am starting a new letter for movies and it happens to be one of the letters that I don’t own a lot of movies for. Come to think of it, as I get further into the alphabet, the number of movies per letter is going to start going down, with some notable exceptions obviously. When all is said and done, I might go back and see how many movies I have for each letter, but that is a task for another day. Right now I need to start watching today’s movie, Oasis Of The Zombies.

The plot: Two women are driving across the desert in Africa when they come to an oasis and decide to rest for a bit. Going for a walk among the trees, one of the women notices some old weapons buried among some fallen trees and decides to try and grab some of them but the other woman is unnerved by the noises coming from the oasis and decides to head back to the car. The scared woman is running to the car when a pair of hands reaches out of the ground to grab her, causing her to scream, just as something attacks the other women. Some time later, Colonel Kurt Meitzell goes to see Captain Blabert to ask about where a German WWII convoy that was carrying a shipment of gold was intercepted, as Blabert is the only man that knows where it is. Blabert pulls out a map to show him, commenting about a legend that Kurt’s troops still guard the treasure, but Kurt says he doesn’t believe in legends and after Blabert shows him where the convoy was ambushed, he kills Blabert by injecting him with a poison. Some time later, Captain Blabert’s son Robert receives a telegram about his father’s death and when he gets home, he reads through his father’s journal where he wrote the details about the convoy attack and how he was the only man who survived. Blabert was found by some merchants traveling the desert and his wounds are tended to by Sheik Mohamed Al-Kafir and his daughter Aisha and during his stay at their place, Blabert and Aisha fall in love. When he is recovered, Blabert returns to the nearby Allied base and returns to service for another two years but when he returns to Mohamed’s place, he learns that Aisha had died giving birth to his son. After finishing the journal, Robert talks to his friends about the story and they decide to go to the oasis and try to find the gold. Meanwhile, Kurt, his wife, and two men head out to the oasis to look for the gold and while Kurt and his wife sleep in their tent, one of the men gets greedy and convinces the other man to go with him to look for the gold. As the greedy man starts digging, they are attacked and killed by zombies. Kurt hears what is going on and tries talking to the zombies, as he was the commanding officer that sent them on the mission but they don’t respond to him and attack and kill his wife. Kurt is attacked by one of the zombies but manages to get away, but soon crashes his car and starts stumbling towards town as his wounds overtake him. Robert and his friends arrive in the area and meet with Professor Deniken and his group, who are tending to the injured Kurt and they manage to see Kurt but he dies before he can answer Robert’s questions. Robert goes to see his grandfather, Sheik Mohamed, and after introducing his friends Sylvia, Ronald, and Ahmed, Robert asks for Mohamed’s help in finding the oasis. Mohamed reluctantly agrees and after leading them into the desert as far as he is willing to go, he points them in the direction of the oasis. Robert and his friends arrive at the oasis and see Deniken’s car there but no sign of the professor, Erika, or the others in their group so they split up to look for them. They soon find the dead bodies of the professor’s assistants as well as an injured Erika and an injured Deniken soon stumbles up to them, saying that the dead came out of the sand to attack them. Robert and his friends decide to stay the night just outside of the oasis and keep a guard posted but while Ahmed is standing guard, Ronald decides to use the time to sleep with Erika, as they had been flirting with each other before the two groups had split up. Hearing some sounds coming from the oasis, Ahmed goes to investigate and ends up being killed by some zombies. The others wake up and see the zombies heading towards them and Deniken suggests using fire to keep the creatures at bay. Using some gas from the vehicles, Robert, Ronald, and Sylvia make a ring of fire and fashion some moltov cocktails and torches to fend off the zombies but Erika and Deniken are attacked by zombies and Ronald ends up being killed when he tries to save Erika. as dawn breaks, the remaining zombies disappear and Robert and Sylvia stumble out of the oasis before collapsing onto the sand, where they are soon found by Mohamed. After they regain consciousness, Robert retrieves his jeep and they follow Mohamed back to his house.

This is one of the worst zombie movies I have seen in quite a while. I can’t really tell if the acting is good or bad since this is a foreign movie but the dubbing was pretty bad. The basic plot was interesting and there are parts of it that make me wonder if the creators of Dead Snow might have used this movie as inspiration, but the overall movie was a little confusing. The costume designs were ok at best, with some of the zombies looking better than others. The camera work was absolutely terrible, going in and out of focus at times and switching between day and night in the middle of the same scene. There are lots of zombie movies out there for you to enjoy so if you want to skip this one, you really won’t be missing anything.

Rating: 1 1/2 out of 5

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August 24th, 2016 Movie – Now You See Me

now you see me

This is the movie that led to my owning Center Stage, Clueless, and probably more movies down the road. So when this movie first came out, I was somewhat interested in seeing it but never actually did and even when it came out on video, I just never got around to watching it. When the sequel came out this year, I decided that I should watch the original before going to see the sequel. When I mentioned this to my friends, they loaned me my copy of it (and we know what happened with that) and I thought it was a really good movie. So needless to say, I saw that it was available for cheap on Amazon and that is how I come to find myself watching, and owning, today’s movie, Now You See Me.

The plot: J. Daniel “Danny” Atlas, Merritt McKinney, Jack Wilder, and Henley Reeves are all magicians performing their individual acts across the country, unaware that they are all being observed by a man in a hoodie. After each of their various performances, they discover a tarot card that gives them a date and an address in New York City. Danny and Henley run into each other as they head to the address and realize that they both received cards and see Merritt standing outside the apartment. When Jack shows up and reveals his card, he picks the lock and the enter the apartment to find a strange design on the floor along with a rose and a card that says “Now You Don’t.” When Henley places the rose in a vase on the floor, it causes the water to leak out and activate the dry ice in the design, which allows some projectors to show the designs for a magic act to them. One year later, the four magicians, now known as The Four Horsemen, are being sponsored by Arthur Tressler and performing their act in Vegas. For their finale, they say they will rob a bank and select an audience member who happens to live in France. Placing a helmet on his head, they use a device that apparently transports him into the vault at his bank in Paris, France. Telling the man to place his ticket stub and a playing card he signed in the middle of the bank, Danny tells him to press a button on his helmet, which activates an air duct that sucks the money out of the vault, where it falls into the audience at the show, and when the bank manager opens the vault, all she finds is the ticket stub and the playing card. The FBI arrest The Four Horsemen and bring them in for questioning and Dylan Rhodes is assigned to the case, along with Alma Dray from Interpol. When they don’t have enough evidence to hold them, The Four Horsemen are released but Dylan is told by a colleague that Thaddeus Bradley, a former magician who now reveals the secrets to magic acts, was at the show and had filmed it. Dylan and Alma speak with Thaddeus and he agrees to show them how the Horsemen did their act. Returning to the stage, Thaddeus has Dylan stand in the prop and reveals that it simply drops him into a replica vault that was built under the stage and theorizes that the Horseman stole the money while it was being transported to the vault and replaced it with fake money made out of flash paper, which was ignited using a delayed timer. Dylan and Alma head to New Orleans, where the Horsemen’s next act is being performed. Thaddeus is also there filming his special on the Horsemen when he is approached by Tressler, who offers to pay him off in exchange for not making the special but Thaddeus refuses. Meanwhile, Alma is doing research on magicians and tells Dylan about one named Lionel Shrike, who had done a trick where he had a man pick a card and then went to a tree in Central Park and had it cut down and inside the tree was the card. Dylan and Alma attend the Horseman’s show and watch all the various acts. For the finale, the Horsemen had told the audience to write their bank accounts on a piece of paper and bring Tressler on stage, with a fake check that shows his bank account. When the value on the check starts decreasing, some of the audience members see that their accounts have gone up by the same amount and one of the audience members says that he got a notice on his phone that it really happened. Henley then tells the audience that they were not chosen at random but were all there because they were insured by Tressler’s company but were denied their claims after Hurricane Katrina. Dylan goes to try and arrest the Horsemen but is tackled by some audience members that were under a post hypnotic suggestion that Merrit had given them earlier in the show. Alma chases after them and manages to corner Danny but she doesn’t shoot him and he escapes and Dylan tries to track him but loses him when he discovers that the person her was tracking was himself. Later that night, Tressler meets with Thaddeus and pays him to expose the Horsemen as revenge for their taking his money. Meanwhile, Dylan gets drunk and argues with Alma about letting Danny get away but later apologizes and asks her about “The Eye” and she tells him that it is a group of magicians that have real magic which they use to help people that have been wronged and she believes that there is a fifth horseman that is helping them. Dylan notices his phone acting weird and they discover that it is a fake phone that Danny had planted on him during their interrogation. Dylan tracks his real phone to New York, where the Horseman are busy getting rid of the evidence of their acts. Dylan prepares to lead the team into the apartment building but Alma is forced to stay outside, as one of the men claims she doesn’t have jurisdiction. Danny, Henley, and Merritt leave the building via a garbage chute, leaving Jack to burn the last of the papers. When Dylan and Agent Fuller reach the apartment the Horsemen were in, Jack confronts them in an effort to escape but Dylan chases after him. Alma commandeers a car and picks up Dylan after Jack steals an FBI car and their car chase ends when Jack wrecks on a bridge. Dylan runs to the car to try and grab Jack but it is about to explode so Dylan is only able to grab some papers Jack was carrying and Jack is killed in the explosion. Dylan receives a call from Thaddeus, who Dylan had seen recording the Horsemen’s escape, and tells him he suspects that Alma is actually helping the Horsemen. Dylan joins the FBI team and learns that he is being taken off the case as his phone was used to access records for an Elkhorn safe housing millions of dollars. The FBI head to where the safe is being stored and find that it was moved on Captain Evans orders but when he denies it, it is revealed that he had been hypnotized by Merritt. They find the safe being transported and follow it to 5 Pointz, where the Horsemen have announced their last act will be performed. When they arrive at the site, they find Thaddeus there, who tells Dylan that he has been fooled again and they open the safe to reveal that it is full of balloon animals. When the Horseman’s act starts, Agent Cowan leads the FBI to where they seem to be but Alma grabs Dylan and tells him that they are going the wrong way and to trust her. Dylan follows her and they find the real building that the Horseman are on but as Dylan goes to shoot them, Alma stops him just as the Horseman jump off the roof and transform into a shower of money that rains down on the crowd, and as everyone focuses on the money, the Horseman are able to slip away unnoticed. Dylan admits to Alma that she was right and she kisses him goodbye before she walks away. Fuller shows Dylan that the money is counterfeit and the real money is found in Thaddeus’ car. Thaddeus is arrested and as he is in jail, Dylan goes to visit him. Thaddeus claims he was framed and tells Dylan what he believes happened but as he is talking it out, he learns that Dylan was actually the one helping the Horseman and Dylan leaves Thaddeus asking why he did it. Meanwhile, Danny, Henley, and Merrit meet up with Jack at Central Park and when they get to the Lionel Shrike tree, they pull out the tarot cards they had received and the cards merge to reveal an eye, which they use on the card in the tree. The card activates the nearby carousel, where they find Dylan waiting for them and he invites them to the Eye. Some time later, Dylan meets with Alma on a bridge in Paris, and he reveals that he is Shrike’s son and that Tressler, the French bank, and the safe company all played a part in his father’s death, which is why he targeted them for the crimes. He gives her the chance to turn him in but she decides to keep it a secret and shows him this by putting a lock on the fence and throwing the key in the river, where it joins the other keys that people have thrown in the river.

Now You See Me met with mixed reviews from the critics, earning a 49% rating on Rotten Tomatoes. The critical consensus on the site is that, “Now You See Me‘s thinly sketched characters and scattered plot rely on sleight of hand from the director to distract audiences.” During the filming, Isla Fisher almost drowned while filming the scene with her in a tank of water when her feet got stuck in the chains, as the crew thought her pounding on the glass was simply what she was supposed to be doing in the scene, but she managed to free herself and exit the tank. Despite the poor reviews, the movie was a box office hit, earning over $351 million off of a $75 million budget.

There might have been too many subplots to keep track of, but this is a fun heist movie to watch. The acting was great among all of the characters. I really liked the interaction between Jesse Eisenberg (Danny), Woody Harrelson (Merritt), Isla Fisher (Henley), and Dave Franco (Jack), as well as the bantering between Mark Ruffalo (Dylan) and Morgan Freeman (Thaddeus). The basic plot was interesting but there were a lot of sub-plots in the movie that can make the movie pretty confusing if you don’t pay attention. The special effects used for the magic acts were incredibly well done and were definitely fun to watch on their own.  You have to pay attention to get the full effect, but worth it for this entertaining movie.

Rating: 4 out of 5

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August 23rd, 2016 Movie – Not Of This Earth (1988)

not of this earth 1988

Jim Wynorski and Roger Corman. I think I am going to have to look up how many times these two have worked together on a movie. Anyways, when I first head that Wynorski had made a remake of Not Of This Earth, my initial thought was that there was going to be a lot of boobs showing in this movie. Sure enough, three minutes in and I was proven right in that regard but then again, when you cast Traci Lords, fresh off her infamous porn career, what do you expect. Still, let’s see if this movie is more than just a bunch of boobs as I watch today’s movie, Not Of This Earth (1988).

The plot: An alien spaceship lands on Earth and a strange man approaches a car where a couple are having sex, killing them both and then attaching a device to the woman’s neck which begins draining the blood from her body. Some time later, the man, introduced as Mr. Johnson, arrives at a clinic and asks for a transfusion but does not want to have the required blood test that the nurse, Nadine Story, tells him is required. When Dr. Rochelle takes Johnson into his office to discuss the matter, Johnson uses his powers to place a mental command that he can study his blood but not tell anyone about it. Nadine starts the transfusion and Johnson asks if she would work for him to help save her life but she says that she couldn’t unless the Rochelle assigned her to the case and so Johnson uses his powers on Rochelle to make that happen. As Nadine and Johnson are leaving the clinic, they see Nadine’s boyfriend Harry writing a ticket for Johnson’s parking and Nadine talks Harry out of forgetting the ticket before the two go out for lunch while making plans for dinner later in the week. Johnson returns to his home and tells his driver/chauffeur Jeremy to prepare a room for Nadine. That night, Johnson goes out kills another woman and uses the machine to drain her blood. The next day, Nadine arrives at the house and meets Jeremy, who takes her to see Johnson. Johnson tells her that he does not need blood that day so he takes her to her room but when he locks her door, Nadine calls him back and questions as to why he locked her door. That night, Johnson uses a device in his study to contact his home planet of Davanna, where he is given his assignment for being on Earth. The next day, Jeremy brings in breakfast for Johnson but Johnson doesn’t eat anything, instead adding something to his glass of water which he then drinks. Nadine administers Johnson’s daily transfusion and then decides to go for a swim out in the pool while Jeremy runs some errands for Johnson. Meanwhile, Johnson answers the door to find a vacuum salesman trying to sell him a vacuum and Johnson takes him down to the cellar and kills him, disposing of his body in the furnace. Sometime later, Nadine notices smoke coming from the chimney and decides to investigate the furnace but before she can really look around, she hears a car honking outside so she heads back out, leaving her sunglasses behind. Outside she sees Harry and Rochelle, who had gotten a lift from Harry, and as they are talking, Jeremy pulls up and Harry recognizes Jeremy as a former crook. Rochelle speaks with Johnson about his condition and says that he wants to focus on it some more as he thinks he might be able to find a cure. Meanwhile, Harry doesn’t feel comfortable leaving Nadine there with Jeremy and warns Jeremy that he will be keeping an eye on the place. That night, Jeremy takes Johnson out around the town and they end up picking some hookers to take back to the house. After dismissing Jeremy, Johnson takes the hookers down into the cellar, where he kills them and drains their blood. Placing the containers of blood in a large trunk, Johnson calls for Jeremy and has him carry the trunk into the study. Nadine returns home from her date with Harry just then and Johnson tells her that he will be ready for his transfusion in an hour and as she is administering the transfusion, he discusses medical techniques with her. Some time later, a stripper-gram shows up at the house by mistake but Johnson uses his powers to have the girl follow him into the study. The next morning, Nadine and Jeremy are talking when Nadine asks about the water glass that Jeremy brought back from the study, noting a chemical smell coming from the liquid. Jeremy tells her about the strange things that have been going on and they decide to work together to learn more about Johnson. Nadine takes the glass to Rochelle to have him test it and while she takes a call from Harry, her replacement nurse, Mary, tells Rochelle that the container of blood she is carrying has a virulent strain of rabies and he tells her to place it in the cooler and he will dispose of it later. Back at the house, a Davanna woman appears in the transporter and tells Johnson that she had to escape as things are worse on Davanna. She also tells him that the woman he sent through arrived in a compressed state, so they are effectively stuck on Earth. That night, Rochelle goes to see Nadine while she is on her date with Harry, asking where she got the liquid from but as soon as he learns that it came from Johnson, he strangely loses interest in it. Meanwhile, Johnson and the Davanna woman break into the clinic and Johnson gives her a transfusion but accidentally gives her the tainted blood. Leaving the clinic, Johnson gives the woman some money and directs her to a nearby hotel. As she heads to the hotel, she is attacked by some gang members but kills them, then attacks another woman before she reaches the clinic and collapses just as Rochelle arrives. Rochelle and Mary go to treat the woman but she dies and when they remove her glasses, they notice her eyes are essentially burned away. Harry calls Nadine just as she arrives home and tells her about the girl and says that she is wearing one of Nadine’s dresses and Nadine and Jeremy decide to snoop around. They find a container of pills and the transporter in the study and realize Johnson is from another planet so Nadine has Jeremy check the cellar while she looks upstairs. Nadine receives a call from Rochelle, talking about how the woman died and what caused her condition but when Nadine asks if Johnson is the same way, Rochelle stops talking and hangs up. Johnson reveals himself to have been listening to the call and confronts Nadine in an attempt to take control of her mind. Meanwhile, Jeremy finds the skeletal remains of the people Johnson had attempted to burn and he goes back upstairs. Seeing Johnson going towards Nadine, Jeremy tries to shoot him but Johnson uses his powers to kill Jeremy. Nadine tries to call for help but Johnson grabs her and Nadine shouts loud enough to make him let go and she makes a run for it, with Johnson in pursuit. Nadine manages to use a payphone to call Harry and tell her where she is but when Johnson appears, she is forced to keep running. Johnson continues chasing Nadine and eventually manages to take control of her mind. With Harry and another cop after him, Johnson gives Nadine instructions to step in the transporter before he drives off, killing Harry’s partner as he leaves. Harry sees the dead cop and Nadine and Nadine tells him Johnson used his eyes to kill him and Harry goes to chase him, not realizing Nadine is still under his control as she heads back to the house. Harry chases Johnson, who tries to get Harry to look at him, but when Harry turns on his siren, the sound causes Johnson to lose control of his car and he plunges off a bridge and is killed when the car explodes, freeing Nadine and Rochelle from his control. Some time later, Nadine and Harry are standing over his grave and as they leave, a man dressed like Johnson and carrying a briefcase is seen walking through the graveyard.

Not Of This Earth (1988) met with mixed to poor reviews from the critics, earning a 40% rating on Rotten Tomatoes. While there isn’t a critical consensus on the site, the critics seemed to feel that it was a typical Jim Wynorski movie but a senseless remake. The movie came about as a bet between Wynorski and Roger Corman over whether Wynorski could make the movie in the same amount of time and with the same budget (albeit adjusted for inflation). The movie would be Traci Lords first mainstream movie, after working in porn while she was under age, and would be the last movie she made where she appears nude. After the success in video sales, Roger Corman offered her a role in another movie but she turned it down as she didn’t want to do another nude scene.

As much as I liked the original for it’s being almost serious in scope, I like this one almost as much for the exact opposite. It might be unintentional but this movie is pretty funny to watch. Traci Lords (Nadine) was a surprisingly good actress considering this was her first non-porn movie and showed some really quick wit and delivery with her lines. Arthur Roberts (Johnson) was also good, playing his role almost exactly like Paul Birch did in the original. The story was almost exactly like the original with some small differences, such as Rochelle living in the remake but getting killed in the original. I did think it was funny hat during the opening credits, they showed clips from other Roger Corman movies and there were some more scenes used in the movie itself. The special effects were honestly a little comical, mainly a lot of glowing lights to showcase the effects from Johnson’s eyes as he killed people. Not quite as good as the original but still a fun movie to watch.

Rating: 3 1/2 out of 5

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movie, movie review, Uncategorized

August 22nd, 2016 Movie – Clueless

clueless

My friends strike again and to be completely honest, I am surprised it hasn’t happened more often. So yesterday I was sitting at my friends’ house watching men and women inflict some scripted violence upon each other (in other words, I was watching WWE Summerslam). While watching the PPV, I was talking with Emily and Mark and during some of the various topics of conversation, we got on the subject of Amazon when Emily suddenly exclaimed that she had a gift for me. When Mark started shaking his head, I knew what was coming and sure enough, I found myself in possession of a new movie. Funny thing is, unlike the last movie that I was bought (Center Stage), this is a movie that actually enjoyed watching so I had no problem accepting today’s movie, Clueless.

The plot: Cher is a socially popular high-school girl that lives with her father, a high priced litigator, in Beverly Hills. She picks up her friend Dionne and the head to their school, where Dionne ends up arguing with her boyfriend Murray. In her first period class, Cher is given her report card that shows she is getting a C in the class, upsetting her because she knows that her dad will freak out about the grade. When she returns home, she encounters her step-brother Josh and the two start arguing about how each other lives their life. When they sit down to dinner with their dad, he questions Josh about his decision to try environmental law, then asks Cher for her report card but Cher says it isn’t ready yet because she is trying to talk to her teachers about her grades. She manages to convince some of her teachers to give her higher grades but is unable to get her debate teacher, Mr. Hall to change his mind. During a shopping trip to try and ease her mind, Cher decides to try and find someone for Mr. Hall to date and decides to try and hook him up with another of her teachers, Miss. Geist. Back at home, Cher’s father finds out about a ticket she received and tells her she can no longer drive without a licensed driver in the car with her. Cher convinces Josh to go with her and as they are driving, Cher mentions her getting her teachers together and Josh calls her selfish because it serves her own interests. Cher’s. Josh’s comments seem to bother Cher but she goes through with her plan and Mr. Hall and Miss. Geist hit it off and Cher gets her grade changes from a C to an A, which amazes her dad. Deciding she want to try and do more good deeds, Cher and Dionne befriend Tai, a new student at school, and start they working on making her more popular. They also try to curb Tai’s interest in Travis, a skateboarding stoner boy that goes to their school. Cher tries to hook Tai up with Elton, who is in one of the popular groups at school, and takes some group pictures with Elton and Tai next to each other. Later that evening, Dionne tells Cher that Elton had one of the pictures that Cher took of Tai in his locker and so Cher and Tai go with Dionne and Murray to a party that Elton is at. Tai runs into Travis, who tries to impress Tai but ends up ruining Cher’s shoes. When Tai gets hit in the head, Cher succeeds in getting Elton to help her with him and after making sure she is ok, Elton and Tai start dancing. Leaving the party, Elton ends up giving Cher a ride home instead of Tai and tries to hook up with Cher but she rebuffs his advances and gets out of the car and he drives off. Cher tries to call a cab and ends up getting mugged and Cher ends up calling Josh to pick her up. The next day, Cher and Dionne tell Tai about Elton and they try to cheer her up after school and Tai learns that Cher is still a virgin. When a new boy named Christian shows up at school, Cher gets a crush on him and starts trying to get his attention and they decide to go to a party together. When Christian goes to pick up Cher, Josh gets jealous and decides to go to the party to keep an eye on them and ends up dancing with Tai during the party. When the party ends, Christian goes to an after party and Josh takes Tai and Cher home, with them stopping to get takeout for their father and his legal team, who are working on a major deposition. Christian calls Cher to watch some movies and Cher does her best to try and seduce him but he ignores her attempts and makes an excuse to leave. Cher is complaining to Dionne and Murray about it and Murray reveals that Christian is gay, which bums Cher out but she still enjoys hanging with him as he becomes her best shopping friend. One day, Christian and Cher are shopping and Christian ends up saving Tai from some men that are harassing her. The next day, everyone at school is talking about Tai’s incident and Cher finds her self being somewhat ostracized by Tai and some of the other kids. Cher is getting ready for her driving test but ends up having a bad day and all during the test, she is thinking back to some comments that Josh said. When she fails her driving test, she returns home to find Tai and Josh hanging out and Tai asks Cher for her help in getting rid of some stuff that reminds her of Elton because she is interested in Josh. Cher tries to talk Tai out of dating Josh and Tai ends up arguing with Cher about it. Cher goes for a walk and realizes that she is in love with Josh but doesn’t know how to act around him. Deciding to make a change in her life, Cher volunteers to head up a relief effort for Pismo Beach, which both Josh and her father notice. As they are collecting supplies, Travis approaches Cher to apologize for ruining her shoes as part of his twelve step program and invites her to an amateur skateboard competition that he is in. At the competition, Cher runs into Tai and the two apologize for their fight and Cher sees how Tai and Travis are towards each other and realize that Tai has lost interest in Josh. That night, Cher is helping Josh and one of her dad’s assistants with some files for the deposition when Cher accidentally misfiles some papers and the assistant yells at her and then leaves. Josh goes to comfort Cher and they end up admitting their feelings for each other and kissing. Some time later, Cher is a bridesmaid for Mr. Hall and Miss. Geist’s wedding and when Josh tells her that there is a pool going on who will catch the bouquet, Cher ends up catching it and winning the $200 and then embraces and kisses Josh.

Clueless met with positive reviews from the critics, holding a certified fresh rating of 81% on Rotten Tomatoes. The critical consensus on the site is that it is, “a funny and clever reshaping of Emma, Clueless offers a soft satire that pokes as much fun at teen films as it does at the Beverly Hills glitterati.” Building up to the movie, Alicia Silverstone would appear in several commercials for MTV as her Cher character going through her own experiences with the various music trends in the past decade. The movie was a surprise cult hit in the theaters, earning over $56 million off of a $12 million budget. Due to it’s popularity, a spin-off TV series was produced in 1996 to show the continuing adventures of Cher and her friends, getting several members of the cast to reprise their roles, but Cher, Josh, Tai, and Mel (Cher’s father) being recast.

I think this is one of those quintessential teenage movies from the 90’s that is a must see for any teenager from that decade. The acting was really good among all of the main characters. Alicia Silverstone (Cher) and Stacey Dash (Dionne) were great at playing the “typical” high school girls that are interested in shopping and popularity over anything else while Brittany Murphy (Tai) showed an interesting character development going from a “stoner” girl into a clone of Cher before finally becoming her own person. Paul Rudd (Josh), Donald Faison (Murray), and Breckin Meyer (Travis) did a good job in their roles, with Paul Rudd doing a good job interacting with Alicia Silverstone as they go from step-siblings that can barely tolerate each other to falling in love. The story was pretty interesting, being a modernized version of Jane Austen’s “Emma”, and it did do a really good job with showing Cher growing up and maturing as a person. I know that a lot of it was the stereotypical teenage girl dialogue but there was a lot of humor to be found in the movie and there were several lines that had me laughing when I first saw it and still had me laughing today. Although personally, I liked the soundtrack the best as there were a lot of good songs in the movie, not to mention The Mighty, Mighty Bosstones making an appearance in it, and it was a CD that I could easily listen to without skipping a track. A great movie to just put on and enjoy without having to over think anything.

Rating: 4 1/2 out of 5

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