horror, movie, movie review

January 31st, 2018 Movie – The Tell-Tale Heart (1960)

the tell-tale heart

Ahh, now I am actually fairly hopeful about today’s movie. After all, if you are doing a movie based on Edgar Allan Poe, then, at the very least, the plot should be pretty good. I remember my first introduction to Poe was through a pocket sized book, though pocket sized might be a bit misleading, and “The Tell-Tale Heart” was one of the stories included in the book. Now this story has been made into a movie several times over the years and I have never seen any of them before now. Let’s see how good this version of the movie is as I watch The Tell-Tale Heart (1960).

The plot: Edgar Marsh hears a thumping sound and heads downstairs to his study. Thinking it might be a metronome sitting on a table, he quickly smashes it but the thumping persists. Bending down to look at the floorboard underneath, he imagines it moving in time with the beating and quickly runs upstairs. The next day, he is visited by his friend Carl Loomis, who gives him some snuff and begs him to see a doctor but when Edgar refuses, he says to contact him if he needs anything. That night, Edgar heads to a bar and a woman starts flirting with him but he quickly heads back home, as he is too shy. The next day, as Edgar is looking at some erotic pictures, he notices a young woman, Betty Clare, moving into the building next door and becomes infatuated with her. In the morning, Edgar speaks with Betty’s landlord to find out some information about her, then heads to the flower shop where she works and starts to speak to her but his shyness causes him to run off soon after. Edgar goes to see Carl to get some advise on how to talk to women and the next day, Edgar meets Betty on her way to work and asks if he can escort her there, then invites her to dinner. Betty accepts and they go to dinner but Edgar is unwilling to say much about himself and they end up leaving early. As Edgar escorts her home, he attempts to forcibly kiss her at her doorstep but she manages to push him away and quickly slam the door on him. The next day, Edgar approaches Betty at her work and apologizes for his behavior, claiming her beauty was too much for him to resist, and asks that she accompany him to dinner as a way to apologize. Betty is hesitant but eventually agrees to join him for dinner again. As they get a drink after some dancing, Edgar sees Carl and invites him over to join them, and Betty and Carl become attracted to each other. The next day, Edgar and Carl are playing their weekly game of chess when Betty stops by to return a book that Edgar loaned her and as they talk about their plans for the following evening, they invite Carl when he says he has nothing planned. The next night, Betty and Carl keep sharing glances at each other, while Edgar is unaware of their growing attraction. After they leave the club, Edgar returns home and sees Betty undressing in her room when Carl approaches behind her and they start kissing before heading to the bed. In the morning, Carl gets dressed and ready to leave Betty’s room, saying he doesn’t want to be seen by anyone. Betty knows he means Edgar and they discuss Edgar, as well as their feelings for each other, and Carl says he plans on telling Edgar about them and hopes that their friendship will not suffer for it. That evening, Carl is summoned to Edgar’s house by Edgar’s maid, who says that Edgar has been locked in his upstairs room all day and won’t speak to anyone but Carl. After dismissing her, Carl heads upstairs to check on Edgar, who asks him to pour him a drink from the bottle by the window. As Edgar talks about the room, Carl realizes that the window looks directly into Betty’s room and realizes that Edgar must have seen them last night. Turning around, Carl sees Edgar brandishing a fire poker and Edgar begins bludgeoning him to death with it. Several days later, Betty is worried about Carl’s disappearance and goes to the police to voice her concerns but the police say that, given Carl’s past nature, he simply ran off with some woman. Betty goes to see Edgar to see if he has heard anything and he says no, then voices his suspicion about the level of concern she has for Carl but Betty plays it off, not admitting that they were lovers. Later that night, Edgar’s guilt starts messing with his mind, as he hears a leaky faucet and a constant beating in the house. As he looks at all of the various items moving in sync with the beating, Edgar rips up the floorboards in the room to reveal Carl’s body and assures himself that he is dead. Edgar decides to take the body out and bury it somewhere else so that it is not there haunting him. When he returns, he goes to wash his hands but he collapses from the guilt over what he has done. Betty hears the commotion from Edgar’s house and when she looks out her window and sees Edgar leaning over the wash basin, she realizes that he must have seen her and Carl together. The next day, Betty speaks with Edgar’s maid, who confirms that Carl had stopped by the house the day that he disappeared and that Edgar wasn’t feeling himself that day or the days since. Betty goes to the police about her suspicions but they think that Carl had gone there simply to borrow some money and Edgar was too embarrassed to discuss the matter. When Edgar leaves the house, Betty sneaks inside and starts looking around for proof that Edgar killed Carl, eventually finding the bent fire poker, then manages to sneak out when Edgar returns. Betty takes the fire poker to the police, who think she is just trying to find anything to justify her beliefs but the Chief Inspector notices some hair and dried blood on the poker and suspect that she might be telling the truth. Meanwhile, Edgar continues to hear the beating sound in his house and finding himself being driven mad by the continuous beating so he leaves the house and begins wandering the street. The next day, the police are waiting at Betty’s place for Edgar to come back and when they see him, they ask him if he would answer some questions about Carl’s disappearance. Edgar invites them inside and they proceed to ask him questions, but Edgar is distracted by the beating sound, which continues to get louder and louder. Driven mad by the beating, Edgar tells the police they know he killed Carl and tries to run but the police are forced to shoot him and he falls onto the spiked end of the stair rail, impaling himself in the chest. As he screams in pain, Edgar is suddenly woken from the nightmare he was having by Carl and he starts to explain about his dream when he looks out his window and sees a woman, who looks like Betty from his dream, arrive at the house next door and Edgar quickly looks at Carl in horror.

Surprisingly enough, this was a pretty good movie. The acting was good, with Laurence Payne doing a great job of playing Edgar and showing the stages of his paranoia after he kills Carl. I also liked Adrienne Corri (Betty) and Dermot Walsh (Carl), as they were a great focal point for Edgar’s emotions, both the love for Betty and the jealousy at Carl. The plot did deviate from the original story some, making it about a love triangle as opposed to a man killing the old man he lives with due to the old man’s “evil eye”.  It did manage to keep most of the ideas, such as the neighbor calling the police to report the crime, as well as the general theme of guilt driving a person mad that was a focal point of the story. The tone and drama in the movie were very good and did an excellent job of helping move the movie along and keeping you interested in watching it. It’s not a perfect theatrical version of the story but definitely one that is worth watching.

Rating: 4 out of 5

 

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horror, movie, movie review, sci-fi

January 30th, 2018 Movie – Teenagers From Outer Space

teenagers from outer space

Man, do I miss being able to walk into a video store and just look at all of the different movies that were there. About the closest thing to that now a days is to go into a Movie Stop, though they have so many movies jammed together on the shelves that it can be a pain trying to pull out the DVD’s to look at the art work. Anyways, today’s movie is one that I have heard of over the years, either through articles from other movies or other means, and one I had been curious about, as it definitely seemed to fit into my wheelhouse of movies. Luckily for me, it was part of one of the numerous box sets that I have purchased so I will finally get a chance to see it. Now let’s see if this was worth the wait as I watch today’s movie, Teenagers From Outer Space.

The plot: At an observatory, an assistant calls over Dr. Mason to take a look at something in the telescope but before he gets there, the assistant apologizes and says he must have been seeing things. Meanwhile, an alien ship lands out in a field and when a dog, Sparky, approaches and starts barking at the ship, an alien named Thor exits the ship and uses a weapon to reduce Sparky to a skeleton. As more aliens exit the ship and begin setting up instruments to test the planet to see if it is suitable to raise Gargons, a lobster-like creature that is a food source for their species. As the various readings are given out, one of the aliens, Derek, examines Sparky’s remains and finds his dog tag. He points out to the others that there is intelligent life on the planet and that the shouldn’t try to raise the Gargons here but Thor and the others show contempt for other species, claiming to be the supreme race and their will is superior to that of any other form of intelligent life on any planet. Derek holds Thor and the ship’s captain at gunpoint, saying they should report the planet as unsuitable for Gargons and that they should find another planet that is uninhabitable, while chastising their race for becoming to robotic and forgetting what it is like to have compassion and feelings. The captain manages to disarm Derek, then has some of his crew bring up one of the Gargons to see how it will do on the planet but the Gargon appears to die. The captain says they will report the planet as unsuitable and that they will take Derek back to their planet to stand trial for his actions. As the others work on packing up the equipment, Derek manages to escape his captors and run off. Thor attempts to shoot him but the captain stops him, explaining that he just learned that Derek is the son of their leader and that he is to be brought back alive. Suddenly, one of the crew notices that the Gargon is still alive and the captain theorizes that the nitrogen elements in the atmosphere must have shocked it’s system but it has now adjusted to it. He orders the Gargon taken to a cave and restrained with leg bindings but the crew worry that it will grow to big to be restrained. Meanwhile, the captain reports back to the leader, who says to send his best man after Derek and Thor, who had listened in on the conversation, volunteers to go find Derek. Meanwhile, Derek makes his way into town and asks a gas station attendant for directions to the address on Sparky’s tag. When he arrives at the house, Derek is met by Betty Morgan and her grandfather, who mistakenly think Derek is there about their room for rent. After talking with Derek and showing him the room, they agree to let Derek stay there as their boarder. Betty goes outside to meet her boyfriend Joe Rogers for a swim date but Joe has to cancel, as the newspaper has him interviewing people that claim to have seen a flying saucer the night before, so Betty invites Derek to join her. Meanwhile, Thor is given a lift into town by a good samaritan and along the way, questions the man about how his car works. When they get to the gas station, the attendant comments about Thor’s uniform, as it is the same as Derek. Thor starts threatening the man to tell him about Derek and the attendant tells him where Derek was heading, then Thor kills the driver and the gas station attendant before driving off in the car. Meanwhile, Derek and Betty arrive at her friend Alice’s house and as Betty hands Derek a pair of swim trunks, Derek drops Sparky’s tag in the pool. When Alice retrieves it, Betty recognizes it and Derek explains that he came to their house because of the dog tag and explains that Sparky was killed. Betty doesn’t believe that anyone could have killed Sparky and asks Derek to take her to where Sparky is. Meanwhile, Thor shows up at Betty’s house and Gramps, seeing the uniform, says that he must be a friend of Derek’s and tells him that they went to Alice’s house and gives him directions. When Gramps comments about Derek not saying anything about where he was from, Thor spares Gramps life, as he figures he doesn’t know anything about their mission. Derek and Betty arrive at the site of the ship’s landing and Derek tries to explain about how Sparky was killed and how he comes from a place that is more technologically advanced. Betty suggests they go see Professor Simpson at the college and they leave but before they do, Derek hears a sound but thinks it is his imagination. Derek and Betty head back to her house so she can change and they head to the college, leaving a note for Gramps to tell him where they are going. After they leave, Gramps is woken up from his nap by the telephone and when he answers it, it is Joe calling to say he is working on a story about a double murder but hangs up before Gramps can tell him about Betty’s note. Meanwhile, Thor goes to Alice’s house but when she refuses to talk with him, he kills her and heads back to the Morgan’s house, where Gramps hands him Betty’s note. At the university, Derek and Betty are told Prof. Simpson hasn’t arrived yet so they go wait outside but after they leave, Simpson arrives at his office. Thor shows up and questions Simpson, thinking that Derek has already talked to him, then kills him and leaves out the window. Derek and Betty see Simpson’s car in the parking lot and head back inside but find his skeleton at his desk. Derek says that someone must have stayed behind to kill him and Betty realizes that the only way they could have known where they were going was if they saw the note. She calls her house to see if Gramps is ok and when he answers the phone, she tells him that Simpson is dead and the person looking for Derek is the murderer. She tells him to meet her at the City Hall Police Station but when he gets off the phone, Thor shows up and forces Gramps to drive him to where Derek is going. Meanwhile, Betty phones ahead and the police say they will have armed guards waiting for them and they head to City Hall, with Derek trying to shoot at them along the way. When they get there, they take cover behind the pillars while Thor gets in a shoot out with the police. Thor kills two of the officers but is injured and runs off, with the police and Derek chasing after him. Joe arrives at City Hall and asks Betty what is going on. Betty explains what she knows and sees Gramps is ok, so Joe goes over to help him across the street. Derek returns and tells Betty to head inside where it is safe but Betty notices blood on the sidewalk and the door handle of her car. Thor appears in the back seat and holds his gun on them, forcing Derek to give him the gun he had grabbed from a fallen cop. Thor then demands that they take him somewhere to get medical attention for his wounds and Betty suggest going to a doctor she knows. Meanwhile, Gramps is telling Joe everything he knows when they discover that Betty and Derek are gone, and the police discover the blood on the sidewalk and figure out what happened. At Dr. Brandt’s house, they catch him before he leaves for a house call and Thor forces him to remove the bullets from him, holding his gun on Derek and Betty as the doctor operates on him. The doctor removes the bullets but secretly injects Thor with a sedative so that they can escape. Back at City Hall, Joe decides to head to the old mine that Betty had talked about and one of the cops decides to go with him. Meanwhile, Betty, Derek, and Brandt show up at City Hall but Brandt realizes that his nurse will be arriving at his place soon so he tries to call and warn her but is too late as Nurse Morse treats Thor, who recovers and forces her to drive him out of there. At the mine, the cop decides to investigate the cave and is killed by the Gargon, who has grown to monstrous proportions. Joe sees this and runs back to his car to get away but is spotted by Thor, who had just arrived there. Thor knocks out Nurse Morse and drives off after Derek but, still suffering from his surgery, ends up crashing the car. Nurse Morse had jumped to safety before the crash and Joe helps her up and warns her about the monster. As the news reports on Thor’s capture and the monster in the cave, Derek and Betty head to the crash site to find the disintegrator and as they look, they share a kiss, with Derek promising Betty that he wants to make the Earth his home. Suddenly, the Gargon appears and as Derek grabs a rock to try and defend themselves, Betty sees the disintegrator underneath it. Derek grabs the gun and tries to use it but it is out of power and so they are forced to run. A search party is sent out to try and find the monster but it attacks them and the survivors are forced to run. Derek tries to figure out what to do to get the gun working and, seeing the power lines, decides to try and connect the gun to them to give it enough power to work. They head out to where the Gargon was last seen and Betty contacts the power company to get there help. With the added boost from the power lines, Derek is able to get the disintegrator working long enough to kill the Gargon and Betty says it is over but Derek looks up into the sky and says it is too late, as “They” are coming. Derek leaves in Betty’s car as Joe and Gramps show up and she tells them what is going on. When they get back to the house, they find Derek has changed back into his uniform and he holds the disintegrator on Joe and forces him to drive him to where they are holding Thor, silencing Betty before she can tell Joe the gun doesn’t work and telling her to trust him. They head to the police station and grab Thor from the authorities, then head to the cave just as the fleet arrives in the sky. Betty has Gramps drive her to the cave, as she knows that Derek will be there and when Joe’s car pulls up, Derek is upset to see them there. When the lead ship lands, the captain and Derek’s father exit the ship and Derek apologizes for his actions, and convinces them to let him guide the ships in. The leader agrees and Derek heads inside the ship, but then seals the hatch and directs ships in on a crash course, killing all of the ships, as well as Thor, the captain, the Leader, and Derek in the explosions. Betty is saddened by Derek’s death and thinks back to his promise to make the Earth his home and never leave it.

Surprisingly, this was a much better movie than I thought it would be. The acting was honestly not that good, but that actually made the movie better, with David Love (Derek) and Bryan Grant (Thor) both being very stiff but that worked out well to sell them as alien’s from another world. However, most of the other actors also came across as being fairly stiff, which didn’t quite have the same effect. The story was interesting, albeit a little cliched, but I did think the idea of the aliens using the Earth as a breeding ground for their herd animals as it was a nice twist on an old theme. The overall theme was also pretty good, a decent mix of suspense and thrills that worked pretty effectively for the time. The special effects were pretty cheap but they made the movie kind of funny. My two favorite parts were the muzzle flashes from the police guns when they were in the shoot out with Thor and the shadowy Gargon, as it looked like they were just holding up a lobster and shining a light on it, so that it’s shadow would fall across the people to make it look bigger. One of the classic low budget movies that is worth watching at least once, even if you aren’t a fan of these movies.

Rating: 3 1/2 out of 5

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action, adventure, comedy, movie, movie review, superhero

January 29th, 2018 Movie – Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles III

teenage mutant ninja turtles 3

Ok, I honestly don’t remember if this movie actually appeared in theaters or not. I mean, it obviously did, because it had a box office return, but I just don’t remember seeing it. Then again, after the debacle of the last movie, I doubt I would have gone to see this in theaters anyways. However, the fact that I never saw it in theater didn’t make a difference as I would wind up seeing bits and pieces of it on TV over the years before I wound up buying it on DVD. So let’s see how good of a movie it is in it’s entirety as I watch today’s movie, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles III.

The plot In 1603 Japan, 4 samurai are chasing after Prince Kenshin and when they corner him in the woods, the samurai demand he come back to the palace. Kenshin refuses and attempts to fight his way free but the samurai disarm him and take him back to the palace, unaware that a young woman was watching them. In the present day, the Turtles are practicing in their lair but after a while, Raphael throws a sai into the radio and questions why they are still training, as the Foot is defeated and nobody knows they are down there. As he storms off to sulk, April shows up with some presents for the guys before she heads off on her vacation. After handing the Turtles their gifts, April starts unwrapping her gift to Splinter, a strange antique Japanese scepter. Back in ancient Japan, Kenshin is scolded by his father, Lord Norinaga, and when Norinaga moves to kill Kenshin for insulting him, he is stopped by the appearance of Walker, a British merchant who has brought more men and weapons to aid Norinaga in his war. Kenshin is dismissed to the temple to reflect and after chasing out the scholars, he sees a scroll, depicting the Turtles, which he calls “Kappa”. He then sees the scepter and reads the inscription printed on it, “Open wide the gates of time”, and the scepter begins to light up. In the present, the scepter April is holding begins to light up and as the Turtles watch, she is enveloped in electricity and disappears, only to be replaced by Kenshin, wearing April’s clothes. Meanwhile, April finds herself in ancient Japan, where she is captured by Norinaga’s guards. April is brought before Norinaga, who believes that she is a witch that spirited Kenshin away. After they destroy April’s walkman, Walker approaches April to serve as a translator and April tries to bluff her way out but Walker sees through it and tells Norinaga she should be killed. Norinaga decides to imprison her instead and while there, another prisoner, Whit, is brought in, who April thinks looks like Casey Jones. In the present, Kenshin faints after seeing Splinter and the Turtles and when he revives, they are able to figure out what happened. The Turtles make plans to go back in time to rescue April, enlisting Casey to help Splinter watch over Kenshin and whoever shows up in their place. When the Turtles use the scepter to travel back in time, they are replaced by Norinaga’s honor guard, not the priests they expected, and Splinter is able to calm the guards and Kenshin down so they don’t start fighting. In the past, the Turtles find themselves in a battle, during which Michelangelo gets separated from the others and is knocked out by Mitsu, the woman who had watched Kenshin being captured, and she has her rebel forces carry him away. The other Turtles head back to Norinaga’s castle, and try to hide when Norinaga summons them. Meanwhile, Walker and Norinaga are discussing whether Norinaga needs Walker’s guns and after Norinaga leaves, Walker sends his assistant Niles to fetch April. Niles and two men head to the prison, encountering Raphael, Leonardo, and Donatello along the way, and the Turtles follow after him and manage to free April. When Norinaga’s guards show up and begin attacking them, April frees Whit, who shows her a way out through a drainage tunnel and they make their escape. April and the Turtles go looking for Michelangelo when they are suddenly attacked by Mitsu and the rebel forces. Whit ends up saving April and when Mitsu attempts to shoot them with an arrow, Raphael throws a sai at her and breaks her bow. Mitsu calls off the attack and when Donatello and Leonardo take off their helmets, Mitsu says they look like the other one, and the Turtles realize she knows where Michelangelo is. Mitsu and her forces lead the Turtles, April, and Whit towards their village where Michelangelo is being kept but they find it under attack by Walker and his men, who are looking for the scepter. Michelangelo is set free and encounters Walker, who approaches him and prepares to shoot him but the Turtles manage to save him and Walker is driven out of the village. When a young boy named Yoshi is trapped in a burning house, Michelangelo risks his life to grab him and Leonardo performs CPR to save his life, causing the villagers to befriend the Turtles. With the scepter missing, the Turtles try to figure out another way to get home, with Donatello having a blacksmith fashion a new scepter. Meanwhile, Raphael starts to bond with Yoshi while Michelangelo develops feelings for Mitsu. At the palace, Walker describes the Turtles to Norinaga, who shows him the scroll with 4 Kappa that resemble the Turtles, and he decides to purchase Walker’s guns and cannons. A spy for Mitsu informs her of this and she tells the Turtles that they will attack the village in the morning. Raphael goes to comfort Yoshi, who doesn’t want Raphael to die so he gives him the scepter, which was hidden under the house. Raphael calls out for the others and when they see the scepter, Raphael realizes that Mitsu made sure to hide it so they would be forced to stay and fight, and Michelangelo questions if it is true but Mitsu leaves without answering. As the Turtles and April prepare to use the scepter to leave, they hear a commotion outside and see that Whit has grabbed Mitsu and is holding a knife to her throat. Whit demands they hand over the scepter, which the Turtles reluctantly do, and then rides off with Mitsu, telling them to being Kenshin to the temple. At the palace, Walker brings Mitsu to face Norinaga, who demands she tell him where Kenshin is but she tells him that he is on a magic journey and only the scepter can bring him back, which Walker now has. Walker has Mitsu placed in the prison as April shows up at the palace and heads towards Walker and Whit, yelling at Whit for betraying them. However, April was meant as a distraction, as the Turtles head up the drainage ditch into the prison and free Mitsu and the other rebels. They then begin fighting with Norinaga’s guards and, after being joined by the rest of the rebels, they are able to capture Norinaga. Suddenly, Walker appears with April as his hostage while his men show up with their guns and the order the rebels to surrender. Walker then tells his men to shoot the Turtles but Leonardo dares him to do it himself so Walker decides to use a cannon but misses when Leonardo ducks into his shell. Walker runs away and the rest of his men are quickly chased off by the rebels. Walker grabs the scepter, and his pet bird, and tries to escape from the Turtles, throwing the scepter away to aid in his escape. Michelangelo manages to catch the scepter while Whit fires a catapult at Walker, knocking him off the castle wall where he falls to his death in the water’s below. Later, April and Donatello are ready to use the scepter to leave but Michelangelo, Raphael, and Leonardo are hesitant to leave ancient Japan. April manages to convince Raphael and Leonardo, while Mitsu says that Michelangelo promised to bring Kenshin back. In the present, Kenshin grows impatient and decides to use the scepter to head back to the past, with Splinter managing to convince him to take the honor guard with him. In the past, Michelangelo is saying goodbye to Mitsu and races to join the others but they disappear before he can reach them. In the present, April, Raphael, Leonardo, and Donatello arrive back in the lair and realize that Michelangelo did not make it, while the honor guard that is still there has the scepter and runs off. April and the others give chase but as the guard exits the lair, lightning envelopes him and Michelangelo appears, climbing back down the ladder to the lair. In the past, Kenshin approaches Mitsu just as Norinaga is escorted towards them. Kenshin hands Mitsu the scepter, who gives it to Norinaga, and after he heads into the temple with it, Kenshin approaches Mitsu and kisses her. In the present, Michelangelo is depressed over leaving Mitsu and the past but Splinter and the other Turtles cheer him up.

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles III met with poor results from the critics, holding a 21% rating on Rotten Tomatoes. The critical consensus on the site is, ” It’s a case of one sequel too many for the heroes in a half shell, with a tired time-travel plot gimmick failing to save the franchise from rapidly diminishing returns.” A fourth movie was planned called The Next Mutation where the Turtles would undergo a secondary mutation, as well as a 5th Turtle being introduced, but the movie ended up being scrapped but the idea was used in a live action TV series produced by Saban. The movie was a modest hit at the box office, earning $42.2 million off of a $21 million budget.

The sequels just keep deteriorating in quality every time. This movie was definitely not good and probably would have been better suited as a direct-to-video rather than a theatrical release, regardless on if it did earn a profit. The acting was honestly weak, and even the voice actors just didn’t seem really enthusiastic over being in this movie. The story was boring, trying to revitalize the series some by adding a time travel twist but it just felt lame and kind of fell flat on it’s face. The fight scenes were not that impressive while the suits themselves, due to being created by a different company, looked different, and not necessarily in a good way. They honestly should have quit while they were behind and skipped this movie cause it really isn’t worth watching.

Rating: 1 1/2 out of 5

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action, adventure, comedy, movie, movie review, superhero

January 28th, 2018 Movie – Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles II: The Secret Of The Ooze

teenage mutant ninja turtles 2

As expected of any superhero movie, if the first one is successful, then a sequel is sure to follow. That was definitely the case for Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, as it seemed like the studio almost immediately got to work on a sequel when they realized how big of a hit the first movie was. When I first saw the trailers for this movie, I remember thinking that it didn’t look as good as the first one, seeming to focus more on the comedy, and making it seem stupider as a result. I didn’t go to see this in theaters but I do remember renting it on video so my little brothers could watch it. So let’s see how today’s movie stands up as I watch Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles II: The Secret Of The Ooze.

The plot: In New York City, a pizza delivery boy name Keno is delivering some pizzas to April O’Neil’s new apartment when he notices some vans with several boxes parked across the street. Heading to the shopping center, he finds 3 guys stealing some stuff and after attracting their attention, uses his martial arts skills to knock them out, only to see several more men show up. Suddenly, the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles show up and place Keno in a trash can to keep him out of trouble, then proceed to deal with the crooks. When they are finished, they send Keno to call the police and when he gets back, he finds the Turtles gone, as well as the pizzas but the money for them is placed in the bag. April returns to her apartment just as the Turtles come back and asks if they have had any luck finding a new place to live and Raphael suggests they go to their old home but Leonardo says that would not be smart since the Foot knows where that is. As Raphael and Leonardo argue over why that matters, since Raphael believes the Foot isn’t a problem since Shredder is dead, Splinter shows up and says that they must return to the underground. Meanwhile, the remains of the Foot Clan are meeting in the junkyard and Tatsu, expressing his anger over the situation, says he is in charge now but they are all shocked when the Shredder appears. The Shredder tells Tatsu to send his best ninja to follow April, as she will lead them to Splinter and the Turtles, so that he can get his revenge on them. The next day, April is doing a report on TGRI’s (Techno Global Research Institute) efforts in cleaning up a toxic spill and interviews the head scientist, Professor Jordan Perry. At the apartment, Leonardo, Donatello, and Michelangelo are watching the news report and Raphael wants to change the channel but Splinter tells him not to touch the TV, as he stares intently at the screen. After the interview, some of the TGRI workers find some dandelions that have grown to gigantic proportions and go to alert Jordan, who says a canister must have been buried there and leaked, but unknown to them, Freddy, the Foot soldier that is undercover as part of April’s camera crew, finds one of the flowers and takes it to the junkyard to show Shredder. When Shredder sees the flower, he says that whatever caused this might be useful and orders Tatsu to gather his best men and grab Jordan. At April’s apartment, April returns to her apartment and the Turtles tell her that Splinter has been on the roof ever since he saw her report when Splinter comes down and asks that they join him. On the roof, Splinter reveals the broken canister that contained the ooze that transformed them and when he puts the pieces together, they learn that it came from TGRI, and Splinter says they have to find out if there are more canisters, as it could cause great trouble to the city. At TGRI, Jordan is working on getting rid of the remaining canisters of the ooze and as he prepares the last canister for disposal, Tatsu and the Foot show up and grab it and Jordan. The Turtles show up at TGRI and Donatello discovers that all of the canisters have been disposed of except for one. Suddenly, the see Tatsu and the Foot with the canister and they attempt to get it back from them but fail. Returning to April’s apartment, the Turtles decide to go ahead and move out, as they feel April isn’t safe if the Foot are still around and looking for them. Before they leave, Keno shows up with a free pizza and manages to get inside her apartment and discovers the Turtles and Splinter. Splinter explains how they came to be and Keno says that the Foot is recruiting any teenager that knows martial arts. He offers to infiltrate the Foot and find out where the ooze is and Raphael agrees with him but Splinter and the others say it is too dangerous. The Turtles head down into the sewers to find a new place to live but Raphael gets fed up and decides to leave. As the others keep looking for a new home, Michelangelo falls into an abandoned subway tunnel, which they feel will be perfect as their new home. Meanwhile, Shredder has Jordan use the ooze on a wolf and snapping turtle, causing them to mutate into giant creatures. However, the two creatures have the intelligence of infants, imprinting on Shredder as their surrogate mother. Shredder orders Tatsu to destroy them but Jordan appeals to Shredder, saying that they might not be smart but their great strength could be useful to him. The next day, Raphael meets with Keno and has him go try to sign up to be part of the Foot Clan, helping him pass the test to get in. Keno is taken to the Foot’s headquarters in the junkyard and Raphael says they should go tell the others when he sees the Shredder in a nearby building. Not believing what he saw, Raphael goes to take a closer look but they end up being spotted by Tatsu, so Raphael starts fighting the Foot to allow Keno to escape and tell the others, but Raphael ends up getting captured. Keno runs back to April’s apartment, where he meets her outside and tells her about Raphael being captured. The Turtles head to the junkyard to rescue Raphael but end up getting captured, and Shredder reveals himself and has them maneuvered over a bed of sharpened metal scraps. Splinter uses a bow and arrow to free the Turtles from the net, and they begin fighting the Foot to rescue Raphael when Shredder yells out for his new creations, Tokka and Rahzar. The two creatures easily overpower the Turtles and during the fight, Donatello is thrown into the building where Jordan is being held and he manages to rescue him. Michelangelo finds a manhole cover and the Turtles and Jordan manage to get away from Tokka and Rahzar. Afterwards, Shredder decides to send Tokka and Rahzar out into the city and have them begin destroying the area. The next day, April is interviewing Police Chief Sterns and afterwards, she is grabbed by a Foot soldier and dragged into an alley, where Freddy reveals himself and gives her a message for the Turtles. April contacts the Turtles, who bring her to their new home, and explains that Shredder wants them to head to a construction yard to face Tokka and Rahzar or else Shredder will unleash them on Central Park. Realizing they have no choice, the Turtles prepare to head to the construction yard but Jordan stops them, saying he has an idea. Having Keno go pick up some supplies, Jordan fashions an anti-mutagen to use against Tokka and Rahzar but says that they have to eat it. Michelangelo comes up with an idea and the Turtles head to the construction yard, where they find the Foot surrounding the open area. Shredder calls out Tokka and Rahzar but before they start fighting, Michelangelo offers them a pre-fight doughnut. Tokka and Rahzar each eat one but when Tokka grabs a second one, he discovers the frozen anti-mutagen inside it and begins fighting the Turtles. The Turtles are thrown out of the construction yard and into a nearby club, where Vanilla Ice is performing. As the crowd reacts in shock at the fight, Vanilla Ice begins singing about what is going on, calling it the Ninja Rap. Jordan shows up and speaks with Donatello, and realizes that Tokka and Rahzar’s burping is slowing the anti-mutagen’s affect but grabs a fire extinguisher, saying they can use that to introduce more CO2 into their system to speed up the anti-mutagen. The Turtles manage to knock Tokka and Rahzar down, then spray the extinguishers into their mouths, rendering the two unconscious. The Foot shows up and the Turtles easily defeat them, as well as Tatsu, then start dancing and make their way on stage. Shredder appears and holds up the last container of ooze, saying that he will make more mutants to fight the Turtles but Keno shows up and kicks the ooze out of his hand, which Jordan quickly grabs and leaves the club with it.. Shredder grabs a hostage and threatens to douse her with the small vial of ooze that he has but Raphael throws Keno into him, causing Shredder to release his hostage, and Michelangelo uses a keytar, with the speakers turned up, to send Shredder flying out of the club. The Turtles follow after him only to discover that Shredder has drank the ooze, turning him into a Super Shredder. Super Shredder begins to tear down the docks that they are on, sending it crashing down on top of him but the Turtles dive into the water and mange to swim to safety. Later, Splinter is watching the news, where April reads a note from Jordan thanking the Turtles by name. When the Turtles return home, Splinter asks if they were seen and they tell him no, as they practice the art of invisibility, but he holds up a newspaper, with their picture on the front page, and tells them to practice harder, quoting the Ninja Rap song as they start their punishment.

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles II: The Secret Of The Ooze met with negative results from the critics, holding a 32% rating on Rotten Tomatoes. The critical consensus on the site is, “Not only is the movie’s juvenile dialogue unbearable for adults, but the turtles’ dopey and casual attitude towards physical violence makes them poor kids’ role models.” Ernie Reyes Jr. was the fight double for Donatello in the original movie and the producers liked him so much that they wrote the character of Keno into the sequel just so they could have him in it and replace Casey Jones, who they felt was too violent. While it had a bigger budget, the movie was not as successful as it’s predecessor, earning $78.6 million off of a $25 million budget.

This movie is such a disappointment compared to the original one. I did like Paige Turco, who replaced Judith Hoag as April O’Neil, and I loved Ernie Reyes Jr. (Keno), who matched up incredibly well with Raphael in attitude and personality. The story honestly felt a little weak, as if they wanted to try and create Rocksteady and Bebop, the mutated villains from the cartoon, without actually using those characters. The fight scenes with the ninjas was pretty good, and Ernie Reyes Jr. was fantastic in his fight scenes, but the scenes with Tokka and Rahzar were just so slow paced in comparison that it wasn’t even funny. And of course, we have the whole scene in the club and “Ninja Rap”. Pardon my language for a minute but, fuck this movie for giving us that fucking song. Ok, got that out of my system. Anyways, there are some good parts but on the whole, it doesn’t come close to the original.

Rating: 2 1/2 out of 5

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action, adventure, comedy, movie, movie review, superhero

January 27th, 2018 Movie – Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (1990)

teenage mutant ninja turtles

Cowabunga dudes. Honestly, was there a more popular cartoon in the late 80’s than Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. I know that my younger brothers certainly loved it, and they had the toys to prove it. However, everyone’s favorite quartet of reptilian ninjas got there start in comics before they ever hit the small screen. I honestly never read the comics and only got my introduction through the cartoon but when I heard that a movie was being made, I was excited to see it. So let’s get a dose of Turtle Power with today’s movie, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (1990).

The plot: In New York City, Channel 3 reporter April O’Neil is doing a news story about the recent rise in criminal activity, and how they seem to be organized into one single gang. As she walks home that night, April is assaulted by a group of punks who try to rob her. Suddenly, a sai goes flying into the street light, plunging the alley into darkness and when the police show up, they find April is unharmed while the punks are tied up. As the cops cut the punks free and take them into custody, April notices the sai on the ground and quickly grabs it, unaware that someone is watching her from the sewers. In the sewers, Leonardo, Michelangelo, and Donatello, three humanoid turtles, are celebrating their victory over the punks but the 4th turtle, Raphael, is upset over losing his sai. When they return to their lair, they tell their master, a humanoid rat named Splinter, about their victory and he congratulates them on remaining unseen, as he has been teaching them the art of ninjitsu. Feeling down over the lost sai, Raphael decides to go see a movie and as he leaves the theater, he stops two kids from stealing a purse. The would-be purse snatchers run into the park, where they are confronted by a vigilante named Casey Jones, who begins to attack them with a hockey stick. Raphael stops Casey from seriously injuring them and the two begin fighting briefly before Casey knocks Rapahel into a trash can and runs off. The next day, April’s boss, Charles Pennington, shows up to check on her and as they are talking, he comments about his son Danny’s recent behavior, unaware that Danny is part of the criminal gang and swipes some money from April’s billfold when they aren’t looking. April goes to interview police chief Sterns about the gang and asks about the involvement of a criminal organization known as the Foot Clan, which angers Stern. As April is conducting her interview, a shadowed figure is watching her report and tells his men to go silence her. After leaving the interview, April heads down to the subway, where she is confronted by members of the Foot Clan. April tries to defend herself with the sai but the knock it away and knock her unconscious. Raphael, who was following April, grabs his sai and attacks the Foot Clan, then grabs the unconscious April and carries her down the subway tunnel, unaware that a member of the Foot Clan is following him and learns where their lair is. Inside the lair, Raphael explains to Splinter and the others why he brought April there and when April regains consciousness, she screams out at the sight of Splinter and the Turtles. Splinter tries to calm April down and after she sits down, he explains how they came to be. Splinter tells April how he was the pet rat of a ninja master named Hamato Yoshi and shortly after coming to America, Splinter found himself living in the sewers scavenging for food. One day, he found 4 baby turtles crawling around in a strange, glowing ooze and he scooped them up into a coffee can but the next day, the turtles started growing and becoming more human, as did Splinter. Splinter then decided to train them in ninjitsu, as he had mimicked Yoshi’s movements from his cage over the years, and decided to give them names. Later, the Turtles escort April back to her apartment, where she offers them some frozen pizza for dinner. When the Turtles return to the lair, they find the door broken open and quickly head inside to find that the lair is trashed and Splinter is missing. The Turtles return to April’s apartment and after telling her what happened, she lets them crash there for the night. The next morning, the Turtles are forced to hise when Charles stops by April’s apartment with Danny, having picked him up from the police station for stealing. Charles tries to talk April out of continuing with the story and while they argue, Danny sees Michelangelo in a mirror but when he turns around, Michelangelo is gone. After Charles and Danny leave, Charles starts to lecture Danny about stealing but when they are stopped in traffic, Danny quickly gets out of the car and runs away. That night, at the warehouse that serves as the hangout for the teenage criminal gang, as well as the training center for the Foot Clan, the leader of the Foot Clan, a man known as Shredder, addresses the assembled ninjas and teenagers. After promoting one of the teenagers into the Foot Clan, he tells them to let him know if they see or hear anything about the Turtles and Danny comes forward with information. The next day, April does an interview talking about the Foot Clan, which causes Sterns to call and yell at Charles. The Turtles are watching the interview and afterwards, Leonardo and Raphael argue over what there next move should be. Raphael goes onto the roof to blow off some steam, where he is seen by Casey from a nearby rooftop, when some Foot ninjas appear and begin to attack him. Meanwhile, April returns to the apartment and gives the other Turtles a tour of the antique store that she lives over. When they get back to the apartment, they are shocked to see Raphael come crashing down through the skylight, with several Foot ninjas following after him. The Turtles begin fighting with the Foot, with the floor giving way underneath them and they end up in the antique store. When Tatsu, Shredder’s lieutenant, arrives with more Foot ninjas, the Turtles find themselves becoming overwhelmed but are saved when Casey shows up and begins helping them. During the fight, a fire breaks out and April has Leonardo help her uncover a trap door to the basement garage and the Turtles start making their way out of the store. Casey covers their escape just as the April’s answering machine picks up and he hears Charles calling to tell April that she is fired. The group escape in April’s van and make their way to her family’s old farm. Meanwhile, Shredder questions a captive Splinter about where he and the Turtles came from. After he leaves, Danny approaches Splinter and Splinter starts talking to him, sensing the boys’ uneasiness over what he had caused. At the farm house, Donatello and Casey work on getting an old truck running, as April’s van is no longer working. Leonardo keeps a vigil over Raphael and when he finally regains consciousness, the two make up for the fight they had. With Raphael now awake, the Turtles begin training again so they can fight the Foot and find Splinter and while he is meditating, Leonardo is able to make contact with Splinter. Rushing back to the farm house to tell the others, Leonardo has them head out into the woods and as the meditate around a campfire, they are able to summon an astral projection of Splinter, who congratulates them on achieving this final lesson and tells them that if they work together as a family, then nobody can defeat them. The next morning, the Turtles tell April and Casey that it is time to head back and they make their way back to the city. Heading down to their lair, they find Danny hiding down there, and he tells April that he ran away and not to tell his father. That night, Danny sneaks out of the lair and returns to the Foot hideout but Casey, who was sleeping in the truck due to his claustrophobia, sees him and follows him there. Inside the hideout, Danny approaches Splinter, who comments about Danny’s hiding from his surrogate family and begins telling him about his family. In Japan, Splinter was the pet of Hamato Yoshi, whose only rival in ninjitsu was Oroku Saki. The two competed against each other in everything, especially for the love of a woman named Tang Shen. Not wanting to see them fight over her, Tang Shen decided to run away to America with Yoshi but Oroku Saki followed them and killed both Tang Shen and Yoshi. During the fight, Splinter’s cage was broken and he leapt onto Saki and begin bighting and scratching his face but Saki threw him to the ground and sliced off part of his ear before leaving. Danny asks what happened to Saki and Splinter says he doesn’t know but his mark is on the headband that Danny wears. Danny is confronted by Shredder, who finds a picture that April drew of Leonardo in Danny’s back pocket and realizes that the Turtles are back. Shredder sends the Foot to deal with the Turtles and then tells Tatsu to kill Splinter. Danny hears this and tries to go free Splinter when he is grabbed by Casey, who is disguised as one of the Foot ninjas, and Danny tells him about Splinter and they rush to free him. The unchain Splinter but are confronted by Tatsu, who proceeds to beat up Casey but Casey manages to grab a golf club and uses it to beat Tatsu. Afterwards, the gang of kids want to attack Casey, saying that they are loyal to Shredder, but Splinter says that the Shredder is simply using them and doesn’t really care about them as Casey and Danny help him leave. Meanwhile, the Foot head down to the Turtles lair but the Turtles set a trap and easily defeat the first wave of ninjas. As more ninjas start to show up, the Turtles continue fighting them and eventually manage to beat them all, with the fight making it’s way out of the sewer and onto a rooftop. On the roof, the Turtles are confronted by Shredder, who easily outmatches them, though Leonardo is able to slice his arm during the fight. As the Turtles fight shredder, Casey, Danny, and Splinter show up on the street below, with the gang following behind him, and Casey takes out some of the straggler Foot ninjas. On the roof, the Turtles ask Shredder where Splinter is and he mocks them by saying he is dead, causing Leonardo to rush at him in anger. Shredder easily disarms Leonardo and holds his spear at his throat, telling the others to drop their weapons or else he will kill Leonardo. When they do so, Shredder calls them fools and goes to kill Leonardo but stops when Splinter appears. Splinter calls out Shredder by his real name, Oroku Saki, and Saki takes off his face mask to reveal the scars that Splinter gave him. Saki charges at Splinter, who uses one of Michelangelo’s nunchucks to snare the spear and flip him over the roof. As Shredder is dangling over the roof, he attempts to throw a knife at Splinter but Splinter catches it, causing him to let go of part of the nunchucks. Shredder falls into the dump truck that Casey had moved earlier and Casey pulls the lever activating the compactor, crushing Shredder inside. The police show up and question the gang about what is going on and the leader tells him to check out the warehouse, saying that he will get all his answers there. Meanwhile, Charles shows up with a news crew and Danny races up to him and apologizes for his actions. After making up with Danny, Charles approaches April and convinces her to come back to work, with the offer of a raise and a corner office as incentive. As April gets ready to go on the air, Casey approaches her and they two end up kissing, with the Turtles cheering them on from the rooftop before they start cheering their victory over the Foot.

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (1990) met with mixed to negative results from the critics, holding a 40% rating on Rotten Tomatoes. The critical consensus on the site is, “Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles is exactly as advertised: one-liners, brawls, and general silliness. Good for the young at heart, irritating for everyone else.” Robin Williams is a fan of the franchise and gave Judith Hoag information on her character through his comic book collection, as the movie went into production while they were finishing working on Cadillac Man. The movie was a box office smash, earning $202 million off of a $13.5 million budget, making it the highest grossing independent film at the time and spawning 2 sequels.

To be honest, this movie didn’t age that well but it is still an entertaining movie to watch. The acting was pretty decent, with Judith Hoag and Elias Koteas doing good jobs as April and Casey. The story was pretty good, following more along the lines with the version of the Turtles from the comics, which had a darker tone than the cartoon, but the studio added some humor into the movie to make it fit more with how the kids viewed the cartoon. The suits the Turtles actually looked pretty good (which isn’t too surprising since they were done by Jim Henson’s workshop) and I also liked the look of Splinter, which made the fact that this was a low budget movie that much more impressive. I also liked the fight choreography, which was pretty good during the scenes with the Foot ninjas, but not as impressive during the fight with Shredder. All told, this is still a fun movie and does bring back some nostalgia when you watch it.

Rating: 3 1/2 out of 5

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action, adventure, animation, movie, movie review, superhero

January 26th, 2018 Movie – Teen Titans: The Judas Contract

teen titans the judas contract

Another day, another superhero movie. One of the main reasons that the DC animated films have done so well is that there is so much history to use for the stories. Take today’s movie for instance. “The Judas Contract” is probably one of the best stories involving the Teen Titans to ever be written and is notable for Dick Grayson dropping the Robin identity and becoming Nightwing. The funny thing is that this isn’t the first time that this story received an animated telling, as almost the entire second season of the Teen Titans cartoon was loosely based on this story. However, that telling was more of a kid friendly version, so let’s see how they do with a little more adult version as I watch today’s movie, Teen Titans: The Judas Contract.

The plot: 5 years ago, the Teen Titans (Robin (Dick Grayson), Beast Boy, Bumblebee, Kid Flash, and Speedy) are patrolling their city when they see a portal in the sky, and Starfire being attacked by some flying lizard men. When the lizard men capture Starfire, Robin leads the Titans into rescuing her, then has Speedy fire an explosive arrow into the portal, causing it to turn into a vortex that sucks the lizard men back into it. Robin manages to save Starfire from being sucked into the vortex and she thanks him in her native language before kissing him, then thanks him again in English, explaining that she can learn languages through kissing. Starfire tells him that her sister, Blackfire, staged a coup and she was forced to flee her homeworld but she vows to return and free it. As she has no place to call home, Robin offers to let her stay with the Titans and when she accepts, he introduces her to the rest of the team. In the present, Nightwing rejoins the Titans (now led by Starfire and consisting of Beast Boy, Raven, Robin (Damien Wayne), Blue Beetle, and Terra) to take down a hive base. Inside the base, Mother Mayhem is warned of the Titan’s approach by Deathstroke but, seeing no signs of them, dismisses his warning at first but when the Titans attack, she orders the base abandoned, taking the equipment with her. During the battle, Nightwing heads to the computer room to download the data, with Starfire covering him, and the two discuss their relationship. With the battle over, Nightwing asks Starfire to move in with him and she accepts. Returning to Titans Tower, the group unwinds, with Beast Boy trying to get Terra to open up to him, while Beetle has a video call with his family, which doesn’t end as well as he wished. Nightwing is going over the data recovered from the mission, adding it to the data they collected from other raids. As he lets the computer work, he watches an interview on Brother Blood, a cult leader who also leads Hive, before he is interrupted by Robin, Starfire, and Terra. When they notice Beetle acting upset on the monitors, Starfire has Beast Boy and Terra go talk to him. The three end up walking around the city and when they come to a homeless shelter, Beetle decides to volunteer, as it reminds him of helping out at one in his hometown and it will help the scarab get better acclimated to being around humans. While she is there, Terra has a flashback to her own past, causing her to get uncomfortable and she leaves. That night, Terra has a nightmare which causes her powers to act up and when the others go to check on her, she gets defensive and tells them to leave her alone. Meanwhile, Mayhem approaches Brother Blood, who is bathing in the blood of the reporter that had interviewed him earlier, and expresses her concerns about the Titans but he says not to worry, as Deathstroke will take care of them when the time is right. They then head down to the lab, where an experiment takes place that infuses the life force of some volunteers into their test subject, a man named Jericho, making him stronger. Seeing the test is a success, Blood says it is time to move their plan to the next phase, while Mayhem shoots Jericho in the head. Blood then meets up with Deathstroke and tells him to move things up a week, which Deathstroke doesn’t like but Blood tells him he will double his pay and to make sure to capture all of the Titans. The next day, the Titans are doing some training exercises and when Beast Boy and Terra spar against each other, Beast Boy, as a snake, wraps her up but this triggers another flashback from Terra, who loses control and lashes out at Beast Boy. The Titans quickly rescue Beast Boy and stop Terra, who apologizes and is uncomfortable with the Titans showing such concern over her. Later, Robin and Raven express some suspicions about Terra to Nightwing and Starfire but Nightwing says Starfire thinks she is worth giving a chance and shoots there concerns down. That night, Terra secretly leaves the Tower and Robin follows her but she confronts him about tailing her. Suddenly Deathstroke shows up and starts attacking Robin but just when Robin starts to get the upper hand, Terra attacks Robin and captures him, revealing herself to be a double agent. Later, Terra visits Slade and attempts to seduce him but he tells her now is not the time and that they have to finish the mission, as the money Blood is paying them will allow them to start their own League of Assassins, with the two of them at the head. The next day, the Titans throw a surprise party for Terra’s one year anniversary with the team, catching Terra off guard with their kindness, and as the celebrate, the computer finishes it’s analysis of the data and points them to a hive scientist. The Titans head out to the scientist’s lab and find him deleting all his files so they try to stop him but he sends out some robot drones to attack them. The Titans manage to destroy the drones and Raven captures the scientist but before they can question him, Deathstroke, who takes control of a drone remotely, kills him. Seeing that the scientist had photos and files on all of the Titans, Starfire warns them to be careful as they go about their daily routines. Later, Terra is sitting on the edge of the island staring at the water when she is joined by Beast Boy, who talks to her and tries to explain that all of the Titans have faced hardships and she isn’t the only one that has had it rough. The two end up kissing, causing Beast Boy to get excited, and while he celebrates, Deathstroke contacts Terra and tells her that they will take the Titans down tomorrow. The next day, Nightwing goes to check on Beetle and Beast Boy only to find evidence of them being kidnapped. When he returns to his apartment to check on Starfire, he finds her missing just as Deathstroke bursts in and attacks him. The two begin fighting, with Deathstoke overpowering Nightwing, and as the fight carries them outside and onto the docks, Deathstroke ends up shooting Nightwing, who falls into the water. Deathstroke contacts Terra, who has captured Raven, and after he leaves, Nightwing emerges from the water, having used a block of wood as a makeshift kevlar to stop the bullet. After returning to the Tower, Nightwing figures out that Terra had double crossed them and tracks her phone so he can rescue the others. At the Hive base, the Titans find themselves strapped into Blood’s machine when Deathstroke appears and starts taunting them, then reveals that Terra is working with him. When Blood and Mayhem appear, Blood tells Deathstroke that their contract isn’t complete, as he failed to bring Nightwing’s body to him. When Blood suggests that he substitute Terra for Nightwing, Deathstroke agrees and Mayhem shoots Terra with a tranquilizer as she stares in shock at being betrayed. Terra is hooked up to the machine and as Blood gives a speech to his followers, he activates the machine and begins to absorb their powers and abilities. Nightwing shows up and disables the machine, saving the Titan’s lives but Blood begins attacking them with their own powers. Starfire, Raven, Beast Boy, and Beetle begin attacking Blood, while Nightwing and Robin attack Deathstroke, who is easily able to beat them. Terra regains consciousness and her anger at being betrayed causes her to lash out, striking Blood as she heads towards Deathstroke and begins attacking him. While they are fighting, the Titans get the upper hand on Blood and Raven, using her demon powers, rids Blood of all their powers and Mayhem kills him to avoid having him captured. Meanwhile, Terra’s fight with Deathstroke continues and she eventually manages to bury him in rocks, then cries out in anguish. She sees Beast Boy staring at her and apologizes to him, then uses her powers to push him to safety as she starts to bring the temple down around her. Afterwards, Beast Boy digs Terra from the rubble and holds her as she looks up at him and smiles briefly before she dies. Some time later, Beast Boy is on Kevin Smith’s podcast and is discussing the Titans and how they deal with the pressure of being heroes and after Kevin brings it up, he talks about Terra’s circumstances. Beetle is shown to still work at the shelter and receives a visit from his family and he happily hugs them. Robin is on the roof of Titans Tower staring at Deathstroke’s mask when he is joined by Raven, who shows him a puppy she got while the Titan’s newest member, Wonder Girl, flies overhead, and Nightwing and Starfire are shown to be relaxing on their couch watching TV.

Teen Titans: The Judas Contract met with positive reviews from the critics, holding an 80% rating on Rotten Tomatoes. While there isn’t a critical consensus on the site, most of the critics felt that it was one of the best movies from DC’s animated line to date. An adaptation of “The Judas Contract” had originally been planned to be the third movie in DC’s animated universe, coming out after Superman: Doomsday and Justice League: The New Frontier but the project ended up being shelved. The movie had a bit of tragedy to it as on the same day Miguel Ferrer was announced as providing the voice for Deathstroke, he ended up dying of throat cancer.

This is a great movie and honestly makes me want to go get my trade and reread it. The acting was good, with Christina Ricci doing a great job as Terra, showcasing all of the various emotions she goes through during the movie. Just from what I remember, the movie seemed to follow the original comic fairly closely but there were some obvious differences, one of them being that Cyborg, who was a member of the Titans in the comic, was not in the movie, as he is a member of the Justice League in the current animated universe. I will say that the whole aspect of Terra trying to seduce Deathstroke, and his playing upon her feelings for his own benefit, was a little creepy. I mean, they never really say how old Terra is, or any of the other Titans for that matter, but it could be safe to say that it she is a teenager and she could be on the older side of that group but the scene where she is in lingerie and trying to get Slade to sleep with her was a little uncomfortable to watch. The animation was pretty good and I liked the design of Brother Blood after he had absorbed the Titans’ powers. A great movie that is definitely worth watching.

Rating: 4 1/2 out of 5

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January 25th, 2018 Movie – Teen Titans: Trouble In Tokyo

teen titans trouble in tokyo

T-E-E-N! T-I-T-A-N-S! Teen Titans! Let’s Go! One thing I am not ashamed to admit is that I do enjoy watching cartoons, even as an adult. The thing that some people don’t consider is that there are plenty of times that cartoons are written with the fact that adults watch them as well, and will have a lot of subtle humor that adults will pick up on but it will go over kids heads. Regardless, I remember watching Teen Titans when it was on Cartoon Network and thought it was one of the best written cartoons to come out in a long time. Today’s movie, Teen Titans: Trouble In Tokyo, is kind of like a series finale, coming out a couple of months after the show ended, and one that I was eager to watch.

The plot: A brightly colored ninja named Saico-Tek begins attacking Jump City in order to draw out the Teen Titans; Robin, Starfire, Cyborg, Raven, and Beast Boy. The Titans attempt to capture Saico-Tek and eventually do so, but not before Saiko-Tek damages Titans Tower. As Raven directs the others into helping clean up the damage, Robin begins interrogating Saiko-Tek to find out why he attacked their city and their home. Saiko-Tek eventually reveals he was sent there by his boss, Brushogun, then kicks the sprinkler system and disappears in the falling water. When the Titans can find no trace of Saiko-Tek in the city, Robin decides they should head to Tokyo to track down Brushogun and bring him to justice. When they arrive in Tokyo, Beast Boy starts to treat it as a vacation and wants to head to the famous comic book factory but Robin says they are heroes, not tourists, so they should find Brushogun and try to stay out of trouble. When they find themselves lost and unable to understand the language, Starfire kisses a boy (which makes Robin jealous) in order to learn Japanese and starts to lead them where they want to go when a giant reptile begins to attack the city. The Titans try to stop it but are unsuccessful and just before the reptile kills Robin, he is saved by Tokyo’s supernatural defense force, Commander Uehara Daizo and the Tokyo Troopers. Daizo greets the Titans, giving them a tour of their facility, and Robin asks if they can use it to track down Brushogun but Daizo says that Brushogun is simply an urban legend and doesn’t exist. Seemingly with nothing left for them to do, Beast Boy, Cyborg, and Raven split up to explore the city, while Starfire drags Robin along with her, unaware that a mysterious individual is observing them and creates 4 beings to follow them. Cyborg heads to an all you can eat sushi restaurant while Raven searches for something to read, with a shop keeper handing her a pack of gum. Beast Boy laments about the comic factory being closed for the day but sees a cute girl and starts following her around, eventually being led to a karaoke bar. Meanwhile, Robin and Starfire keep hanging out and eventually wind up on Tokyo Tower, where they start to express their mutual attraction to each other. Before they can kiss, Robin focuses his attention back onto Brushogun and says they are heroes and don’t have time for this, upsetting Starfire and causing her to fly away. As Robin tries to focus on the object left by Saiko-Tek at the tower, he is attacked by Saiko-Tek. Robin and Saiko-Tek begin fighting and Robin eventually catches him and pummels him into the ground but as he stands up, with Saiko-Tek’s blood on his hands, the crowd believes he killed him and Daizo and the Tokyo Troopers arrest him. Meanwhile, Raven finds a bookstore and asks the shopkeeper about Brushogun and he hands her a book about his history. Meanwhile, Beast Boy is mobbed by fan girls after his karaoke singing and he runs away, running into Cyborg, who was running from the angry chefs, and the two quickly hide from their pursuers. Starfire is feeling dejected about Robin but after talking with a little girl, feels that Robin does care for her and she wants to find him, only to see a news report about his arrest and the mayor calling for the other Titans to turn themselves in or leave Tokyo. Starfire contacts the other Titans and tells them the news and they make plans to meet up but they end up being attacked by the 4 beings; with a blue robot boy attacking Starfire, a ghost-like being attacking Raven, a yellow robot attacking Cyborg, and Beast Boy being attacked by the girl he had followed, who had turned into a pink cat-girl. Meanwhile, Robin is being transported to prison when a note with the name Brushogen slips into the van. Suddenly, the name lifts off the paper and transforms into one of Saiko-Tek’s explosive throwing stars, causing an explosion in the van. Robin drags the driver to safety and then leaves, changing clothes with a mugger, who had tried to mug him in order, in order to avoid detection. Robin then heads to a dive bar and after beating up the patrons, asks for information about Brushogun and is told that he was real but disappeared just before the new criminals showed up. When the Tokyo Troopers arrive, Robin attempts to escape and after a chase, is surrounded by the troopers but before they can arrest him, Starfire flies down and rescues him. Starfire takes Robin to a temple and hands him his uniform and the two are about to kiss when Beast Boy and the others show up. Cyborg tells Robin they reexamined the crime scene and it wasn’t blood on Robin’s costume, but ink, which was also on all of them after their encounters with their attackers. Raven then explains the history of Brushogun, who was a comic artist who used dark magic to bring his drawings to life but the spell backfired and he ended up becoming Tokyo’s first super villain. Realizing he didn’t kill anyone because Saiko-Tek wasn’t really alive, Robin dons his costume again just as they find themselves surrounded by their various pursuers. The Titans manage to escape and start working to track down Brushogun when Robin realizes where he is hiding; the comic book factory Beast Boy wanted them to visit earlier. The Titans make their way inside and find that Brushogun is actually a captive himself, trapped in a cursed printing press which uses his powers to create villains against his will. Brushogun explains that he sent the first Saiko-Tek to them as a message, knowing that they would head to Tokyo to investigate. When they ask Brushogun who is the one controlling the villains, Robin deduces that it is Daiko, who shows up and has his troops attack the Titans. When the Titans defeat his troops, Daiko uses the press to create multiple copies of Saiko-Tek and the other creations to attack them. As the Titans fight their attackers, Robin confronts Daiko, who jumps into the press and merges with Brushogun, becoming a monstrous creature made of ink. Daizo then creates more beings to fight the Titans and the Titans defends themselves against the attacks. Seeing Brushogun in Daizo’s stomach, Robin heads up to him and asks how to stop Daizo and Brushogun tells him that if he is freed from the press, Daizo will lose his powers. Robin frees Brushudo, who thanks Robin for saving him before fading away, and the spell breaks. Robin checks on Starfire and as he starts to talk about them being more than heroes, Starfire tells him to stop talking and the two kiss, with the other Titans looking on and Cyborg saying, “Well it’s about time.” The next day, the Titans are rewarded for saving the city and exposing Daizo for his crimes. Beast Boy finds himself mobbed by fan girls again, Cyborg is awarded a mountain of sushi to eat, and Raven is made the mascot for the gum she was given. Afterwards, Robin says that maybe they do deserve a vacation once in a while and Beast Boy says next time they should go to Mexico, prompting Raven to smack him.

All of the humor that was in the TV series was able to make it into this movie, making this a really funny movie to watch. The voice acting was great, with all of the original people returning to voice their respective characters. The story was well written, making for a great stand alone movie that did not need to reference anything from the TV show to carry it but able to stand on it’s own merits, and did a great job of mixing in a somewhat serious plot with some humorous moments to lighten the mood. While I did like that they gave some resolution to the Robin/Starfire drama, which was a constant running gag in the show, I will admit that it did feel like it was done as a bit of fan service and wasn’t really essential to the story. The animation was great, with the cut scene animations making me really laugh several times. Whether you were a fan of the show, a fan of comic book based cartoons in general, or just a big kid at heart, this movie will definitely entertain you.

Rating: 4 1/2 out of 5

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drama, movie, movie review, thriller

January 24th, 2018 Movie – The Teacher (1974)

the teacher (1974)

We go from a classic sci-fi movie to the height of the drive-in exploitation era. Today’s movie touches on a subject that is as much a popular subject of porn movies, as it sadly is a common occurrence in real life. I am curious which came first; was it the actual teachers getting caught fooling around with students that inspired movie makers to make movies on the subjects, or did teachers/students see the movies and decide to try it in real life. Either way, this theme constantly pops up in movies, from big budget films to low budget B-movies and especially porn. Today’s movie is one that probably got a lot of play in drive-ins so let’s see if this is as bad as I expect it to be as I watch today’s movie, The Teacher (1974).

The plot: Ralph Gordon is setting up some items at an abandoned warehouse on the docks before driving off and stopping at a across the street from a nearby high school. When class gets out, he stares at one of the teachers, Diane Marshall, as she talks with some of her students, including Ralph’s younger brother Lou. Ralph gets jealous when most of the students leave and Diane focuses her attention on the one remaining student, Sean Roberts, but Sean eventually leaves with Lou and Diane heads home, with Ralph following her and parking down the street so he can watch her house. When Diane leaves the house, Ralph starts following her again but she notices him and pulls over to try and confront him only to have Ralph continue driving past her. Ralph heads to the warehouse and watches as Diane heads to the harbor and gets in her boat, piloting it out onto the ocean, where she starts sunbathing topless. Suddenly, Ralph hears a motorcycle and curses when he sees Lou and Sean show up so he quickly stashes his binoculars in his chest and grabs a bayonet before hiding. Lou and Sean enter the warehouse and Sean is worried that Ralph might catch them there but Lou says not to worry and heads up to the top floor. Heading to his brother’s chest, he grabs the binoculars and looks out at the water to see Diane still topless, heading out onto the nearby fire escape balcony for a better look. As the two boys pass the binoculars between them and talk about their teacher, Ralph approaches them and yells at them, startling the two boys and causing Lou to fall from a hole in the balcony to the street below. Seeing his brother die, the unstable Ralph blames Sean for Lou’s death and attempts to kill him but Sean manages to get away. Later that night, Sean returns home and gets into an argument with his dad, Joe, before heading to his room to get ready for bed. As he is changing, he hears a noise outside and opens his window to find Ralph standing outside. Ralph tells him that the sheriff is on his way and warns him not to say anything or else he will cut out his tongue. When the sheriff arrives, he starts asking Sean some questions about Lou but Sean sees Ralph watching him from some bushes and he lies about being with Lou that afternoon, saying they had argued and Lou had dropped him off outside of town. A couple of days later, Sean rides his bike over to Diane’s house so he can pass along his mother’s, Alice, invitation to lunch and Diane starts flirting with him and invites him inside but Sean gets flustered and says he has to head back home. When he gets home, Sean starts working on his van when Bonnie and Margaret, two other women that Sean’s mother invited, show up followed shortly by Diane. As the women lounge around the pool, with Bonnie going swimming, Diane and Margaret end up getting into an argument regarding Diane’s husband, who had left her a year ago, and Margaret leaves, taking Bonnie with her. Alice has Sean join her and Diane by the pool and Sean and Diane end up goofing off while Alice fixes some lunch. Afterwards, Sean asks if he can borrow his mom’s car to get some parts for his van and when he says he wants to get some paneling, Diane says she has some in her garage that he can use. Sean and Diane head over to her house and when they get there, they see Ralph pull up and tell Sean that he will be waiting for him at the warehouse. When Diane asks what that was about, Sean says that Ralph is crazy and they head inside her house, where Diane offers Sean a beer. As they are talking, Diane asks Sean to kiss her, which he does but he gets flustered afterwards and heads out to look at the paneling. Diane goes to take a shower and when she is finished, she calls out to Sean and after talking with him for a while, she starts kissing him again and ends up seducing him into having sex. As they are laying there afterwards, Diane invites Sean to go out on her boat with her the next day and Sean eagerly agrees. The next day, Ralph sees them heading out on the boat and he dons a wetsuit and swims out to the boat. On the boat, Sean and Diane have sex and when they finish, they prepare to head onto the deck to eat lunch when they see Ralph there with a harpoon but, when he sees Diane, he quickly dives back into the water and swims away. The next day, Sean is working on his van when he keeps seeing Ralph staring at him then disappearing, freaking Sean out. Alice, who had gone over to Diane’s, calls to invite him to lunch with her and Diane but Sean declines, but Diane gets on the phone and invites Sean to dinner, which he accepts. As Sean and Diane head to dinner, Joe argues with Alice at their house about how it looks for Sean to be going out with a married man and Alice tells him that Diane is divorcing her husband and that Sean is 18 and needs to learn how to do things himself. Back at the restaurant, Sean and Diane get into the car and start kissing but as they go to leave, they see Ralph standing in front of the car. Ralph yells out that he just wants Sean and Sean gets out of the car to confront him but when Ralph pulls out the bayonet to try and stab him, Diane screams, startling Ralph enough to allow Sean to push him down and get back in the car so they can leave. When they get back to Sean’s house, Alice and Joe ask what happened to Sean and Diane tells them that Ralph had attacked him. Joe wants to call the sheriff but Sean says to stop, then comes clean about what happened the day Lou died, apologizing to Diane for spying on her. Joe still wants to call the sheriff but Alice says they should wait a day and talk to her brother, who is a lawyer, before calling the police and Joe reluctantly agrees. The next day, Joe and Alice drive off to see Alice’s brother and as soon as they leave, Diane shows up at Sean’s house and ends up convincing him to come back to her place. They drive their in Sean’s van and head out to the pool but while they are in back, Ralph sneaks into Sean’s van to wait for him. Sean and Diane end up having sex and afterwards, admit they love each other and Sean tries to convince Diane to marry him when he is done with college. Hearing the phone ringing and thinking it is his parents, Sean answers the phone only to discover it is Russ, Diane’s husband. Russ talks with Sean for a few minutes, telling him he is coming home in a few days, before Diane gets on the phone with Russ. Feeling dejected, Sean heads out to his van and prepares to head home but Ralph grabs him and holds the bayonet to his throat, then has him drive out to the warehouse. Diane tells Russ that she is divorcing him and hangs up, then goes looking for Sean but when she heads outside, she notices Ralph’s car down the street and quickly gets in her car and heads to the warehouse, fearing the worst. At the warehouse, Ralph puts a collar on Sean, threatening to choke him if he does anything stupid, but when his attention is turned away, Sean manages to get out of Ralph’s grip and head up to Ralph’s chest and grabs Ralph’s rifle. When Ralph approaches him, Sean tries to shoot him but Ralph says the gun is filled with blanks, then chokes Sean to death when he tries to escape. Diane appears at the warehouse and starts calling out to Sean so Ralph disguises his voice and lures her upstairs. When she gets there, Ralph confronts her and says he killed Sean so they could be together. Diane gets him to drop the bayonet and Ralph tries to have sex with her but Diane is able to grab the bayonet and stab him with it. As Ralph bleeds to death, Diane goes looking for Sean and finds his body on the balcony, where she starts crying over the death of her lover.

Yeh, this is about what I expected it to be. The acting was ok, with Anthony James doing a great job playing the creepy Ralph, who was probably suffering from some sort of PTSD, which nobody really talked about back then. Angel Tompkins was pretty good as Diane but Jay North was honestly a little stiff (no pun intended) as Sean. The story was good, mixing the teacher/student romance with the drama of Ralph’s stalking and blaming Sean for Lou’s death. The drama was pretty good but some of the “love-making” scenes were pretty corny, as were some of the setups leading to them. It’s not the worst movie to show up in a drive-in, but not exactly one worth seeing either.

Rating: 2 1/2 out of 5

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horror, movie, movie review, sci-fi

January 23rd, 2018 Movie – Tarantula

tarantula

Today is starting to be a great day as I get to start with one of the great classic sci-fi movies. I remember seeing this movie on TV when I was a kid and honestly thought it was great. Everytime it came on during one of the weekend movie marathons the TV channels used to have, I would always watch it, no matter which part of the movie it was at. Of course, watching this movie got me interested in watching other giant bug movies so I would always go looking for them, renting them at the video store when I got older. But for now, let’s get on with today’s movie, Tarantula.

The plot: In the Arizona desert, a severely disfigured man is stumbling around before he collapses and dies. Some time later, Dr. Matt Hastings returns to the small town of Desert Rock and when he is contacted by Sheriff Jack Andrews and asked to come over. When he gets to the sheriff’s office, Jack explains that they found a body in the desert that looks like Eric Jacobs, a biologist working for Professor Gerald Deemer, but there is something about the face that is making him question the identity. Matt heads over to the mortuary with Jack and when he looks at the body, says he can’t be Eric because the disease he has, acromegaly, takes years to develop. Deemer enters the mortuary and when he looks at the body, says it is Jacobs and tells Matt that he did suffer from acromegaly. The sheriff wants to have an autopsy performed but Deemer says it isn’t necessary and that he will take care of the funeral arrangements. After he leaves, Jack and Matt argue over his explanations for what happened to the body. Deemer returns to his home, where he has his lab set up, and continues his experiments with a radioactive isotope, which has resulted in the massive growth of the animals he tested it on, such as rats, guinea pigs, and a tarantula. As Deemer goes to inject a monkey with the isotope, his other assistant Paul Lund, who is also disfigured due to acromegaly, attacks him. As they struggle, they destroy part of the lab and the tarantula manages to escape it’s cage and head outside. Paul knocks Deemer unconscious and injects him with the syringe full of the isotope that Deemer had prepared, then starts to walk away before he collapses and dies. Deemer regains consciousness and puts out the fires in his lab, the buries the man’s body and the dead animals before cleaning up. A few days later, Matt is talking with Jack about his suspicions over Deemer’s handling of Jacob’s body when they are approached by Joe Burch, the town newspaper reporter, who questions them about Jacob’s death. As Matt returns to his office, he meets Stephanie “Steve” Clayton, who is trying to get a ride to Deemer’s lab and he offers to take her there as he was going to head out there himself and the drive off but as they make their way through the desert, they don’t see the tarantula, which has grown larger, walking along the desert behind them. When they get to Deemer’s lab, they find Joe interviewing Deemer about Jacobs’ death and Matt helps Deemer end the interview. Deemer is then introduced to Steve, who says that she was invited to serve as Jacobs assistant and Deemer says he remembers Jacobs saying she was coming and would understand if she doesn’t want to stay now. Deemer then shows Matt and Steve his lab, explaining the damage as a result of an electrical panel shorting out and starting the fire. He then shows them the radioactive isotope and explains how he is working on using it to create a super food that could help solve world hunger due to over population. Matt tells Deemer that he still has some questions regarding Jacobs’ death and Deemer says that he was emotional before due to the death of his friend but he will allow Matt to perform an autopsy. Matt performs the autopsy and finds nothing unusual about Jacobs’ death, as it was exactly as Deemer said, and Jack chastises him for wasting people’s time just to try and prove he is right. After a few days working in Deemer’s lab, Steve heads into town to run some errands and meets up with Matt. The two start talking and Steve tells Matt about the work they are doing in the lab and invites him to take a look at it. As they are driving, they stop at a large rock formation to take in the desert but a sudden rock slide causes them to run for cover. Steve wants to leave and they get back in the car and head off, not noticing the tarantula, crawling up on the top of the rocks. When they get to Deemer’s lab, they don’t see Deemer there and Steve shows Matt the test animals but is surprised by how much they have grown in the few hours that she was gone. Matt is called back into town and after he leaves, Steve is approached by Deemer, who chastises her for bringing Matt there without his permission. Steve expresses concern over Deemer’s face but he dismisses her, then looks into a mirror to see he is starting to show signs of acromegaly. Matt heads back to the rocks to see what caused the rock slide and is met by Jack, who invites him to go with him to check out a nearby rancher’s claim of something eating his livestock. When they get to the ranch, the ranch shows them the piles of bones, as well as a strange pool of liquid, and they can’t figure out what caused it. That night, the tarantula, now grown to enormous size, attacks the ranch again, killing a horse and the rancher, then heads down the road, where it throws a truck carrying some sheep off the road and proceeds to eat the sheep and the two men in the truck. The next day, Matt, Jack, and Joe are investigating the truck wreckage and they find the same pools of liquid there, and Jack says that the rancher was also killed the same as the people here, so Matt takes a sample of the liquid with him to analyze. In his office, Matt says that the liquid resembles insect venom, which both Jack and Joe scoff at, and Matt says they can have Deemer look at it to confirm it. Matt calls Deemer’s lab and Steve answers, telling Matt she is worried about Deemer, then screams when Deemer grabs the phone from her. Matt rushes over there and Steve meets him and tells him to quickly check on Deemer, who is fully suffering from acromegaly. Deemer then explains that Jacobs and Paul were getting impatient and decided to test the nutrient on themselves, which resulted in their acromegaly, and Paul, driven mad by what happened, decided to have Deemer suffer the same fate. Deemer then tells them about the animals he had which all perished in the fire, including the tarantula, and Matt gets an idea as to what is happening in the area. Matt flies to Phoenix with a sample of the venom and the professor there confirms that it is tarantula venom but the amoun Matt brought him was enough for 100 tarantulas, then scoffs when Matt says he found pools of the venom. Matt tries calling the town to warn them but the tarantula has knocked down the long distance phone lines so he flies back and tells Jack to call the state police and have them bring all the weapons they can to Deemer’s place. Meanwhile, the tarantula kills two homeless men before heading to Deemer’s lab, where it begins attacking the building. Deemer is killed by the roof collapsing on him but Steve manages to get outside, where she is met by Matt and they quickly drive off, with the tarantula following after them. Matt and Steve meet up with Jack and the state police and they all see the tarantula approaching them. Two officers armed with machine guns stay behind to try and hold the spider at bay while Jack and the others head back to evacuate Desert Rock but the officers are killed as the tarantula continues towards town. Radioing ahead to make sure the town is evacuated, they have someone meet them outside town with as much dynamite as they can find, then call the Air Force base and have them load the planes with napalm to use against the tarantula. Setting up the dynamite outside of town, the wait for the tarantula to reach it before blowing it up but the tarantula’s size prevents the dynamite from doing much damage to it. Matt and the others returns to the town and watch as the tarantula approaches, then start to cheer when they see the Air Force arrive. The jets begin to fire rockets at the tarantula and then switch to napalm, eventually burning the tarantula to death as Matt and the others look on in relief.

Tarantula met with high praise from the critics, holding a 92% rating on Rotten Tomatoes. While there isn’t a critical consensus on the site, the critics all seemed to recognize the iconic status of the film in the realm of sci-fi. The spider that was used for this movie would also be used in another iconic sci-fi movie, The Incredible Shrinking Man. The movie was a hit at the box office, earning $1.1 million at the box office, and, along with Them!, helped usher in the wave of giant bug movies in the 50’s.

This is probably the one of the most iconic sci-fi movies to come out of the 50’s and as ridiculous as it may seem by today’s standards, I still enjoy watching it. The acting was mostly good, with Leo G. Carroll doing a great job as Prof. Deemer and I liked John Agar (Matt) and Maria Corday (Steve), but felt that they appeared a little stiff at times. The story was good, doing a good job if introducing a radioactive element to the movie in a scientific way as opposed to just saying it is the result of a nuclear explosion or accident. The special effects were pretty good for the time, especially in regards to the make-up used to show the acromegaly, but there were a couple of times where the rear screening with the spider had it looking like it was walking on air instead of on the ground. Definitely a must watch movie for any sci-fi fan, and one that has to be acknowledged for it’s impact in the genre.

Rating: 4 1/2 out of 5

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action, comedy, movie, movie review, sci-fi

January 22nd, 2018 Movie – Tank Girl

tank girl

Ah, the fun of the Indie comic turned into a movie. Even in the mid-90’s, more and more studios were trying to make a go at making movie’s out of comic books. While the two big comic companies were always a big draw, the mid-90’s seemed to try making more movies off of some smaller comic book properties. Some of the movies, like The Crow and The Mask (1994) were successes, but some others didn’t fare as well. Today’s movie, Tank Girl, unfortunately falls into the later category but when it came out, I still had every intention of seeing it.

The plot: In 2033, the Earth is a barren wasteland due to a comet having struck the Earth in 2022, causing it to stop raining for 11 years.  Rebecca Buck (Tank Girl) is wandering the wasteland looking for a present for her boyfriend Richard when she comes across the remains of a Ripper attack on some Water & Power workers and scavenges what she can from them. Heading back to the compound where she lives, Rebecca goes to find Richard and starts to fool around with him until they are interrupted by Sam and another kid that live there. Meanwhile, Kesslee, the owner of W&P, is congratulating his men on the fact that they control 95% of the desert and the water it contains, but then chastises the captain in charge for failing to capture the last 5% before killing him by draining the water from his body, then putting Sgt. Small in charge. Back at the compound, Rebecca is on guard duty when Sam shows up and offers to get Rebecca some food in exchange for the “danger ball” that she found. Some time later, someone approaches Rebecca from behind and, thinking it is Richard, Rebecca starts teasing him by cutting holes in her stockings and ripping them. When she turns around, she discovers it is a W&P soldier, with more of them raiding the compound for stealing water. Rebecca manages to kill the soldier that surprised her and several others but is too late to prevent Sam from being taken and Richard killed. Rebecca is soon captured and the raid’s leader moves to kill her but stops, at the request of his men, and he shoots Rebecca’s ox instead. Rebecca is taken to W&P headquarters, where she is put to work digging new tunnels for the water pipes. Later, as she is showering off the dust, she helps out a female mechanic nicknamed Jet Girl, who is being sexually harassed by Small, by kissing her and saying she is her girlfriend. The next night, Rebecca decides to try and escape and, seeing a tank, decides to try and steal it but gets locked in when she sets off the security system. Rebecca is rescued by Jet and when Rebecca asks her to put in the security codes so they can escape, Jet tells her that the tank is not operational. Rebecca says they should just steal another tank but Jet tells her that nobody escapes W&P. The two are unaware that Kesslee and Small were watching them on a security feed and Small wants to kill them but Kesslee wants to continue to try and break Rebecca. Small approaches Jet as she is working on a jet and tells her that her flight status has been revoked and the hangar is now off limits to her. Kesslee places Rebecca in a freezer for a while before placing her in the pipe. When the Rippers attack another W&P outpost, Kesslee decides to have Rebecca search for their lair and has her brought out of the pipe. Taking her to the outpost’s remains, KEsslee has Rebecca tagged with a locator chip and has his men send her down into the subchamber they discovered but before she heads underground, Kesslee and his men are attacked by the Rippers. A W&P jet is flying nearby and the pilot sees the attack on his viewscreen but as he calls it in, Jet, who had stowed away, activates his ejection seat and sends him flying off, then takes over flying the jet. At the outpost, Rebecca has survived the attack and discovers Kesslee’s arm but no sign of the rest of him. She heads towards a tank when Jet arrives, happy to see her friend alive, and after saying they should leave, gives Rebecca the codes for the tank. The two head towards an old amusement park to hide out and as Rebecca is goofing around, she sees Sam’s Ripper statue, as well as the Doris Day bust she made for Rebecca. When the owner tries to capture them, Rebecca gets the upper hand on her and asks her where she got the statues. With the help of Jet’s lie detector, the force the woman to tell them what happened to Sam and Rebecca wants to go rescue her. Jet says they can’t go driving around in the W&P vehicles but the woman says they can use the items in her garage to modify them. Meanwhile, Kesslee has survived the attack, though his face has been gutted as well as his losing his arm. A cybernetics doctor named Chet’sai is brought in to replace the damaged parts with cybernetic versions. While this is occurring, Small tells Kesslee that Rebecca and Jet have taken the bait and Kesslee tells him to make sure they get Sam before they do. At Liquid Silver, the brothel that Sam is being held at, the owner sends Sam to a client that has a fetish for small girls. Sam manages to trick the pervert by having him set off the danger ball then makes a run for it, only to run into Rebecca. Rebecca tries to get Sam out of there but the owner sees them and has her guards attempt to capture them but stops when Jet shows up and holds a gun to her head. Deciding to have some fun, Rebecca forces the owner to start singing “Let’s Do It”, getting all of the dancers and crowd to join in, but the club is soon raided by Small and some W&P soldiers, who grab Sam and head back to their headquarters. Rebecca wants to rescue Sam but, realizing that it will take more than just her and Jet, she decides to try and track down the Rippers and enlist their help. Rebecca and Jet go looking for the Rippers and eventually find their sub-chamber only end up being captured. The Rippers dose the girls with nitrous oxide and start questioning them, but the girls are too stoned to answer anything seriously. One of the Rippers, T-Saint, wants to kill them as he thinks they are spies but some others, especially Booga and Donner, want to spare them, so the leader, Deetee, puts it to a vote and the girls end up spared. As they are held captive, Rebecca starts a friendship with Booga and learns that they are an army experiment to create super-soldiers by combining human and kangaroo DNA. When the war ended before they could be used, Johnny Prophet was told to kill them, as he was the one to create them, but he refused and took them out into the desert to live instead. When the Rippers get workd of a W&P shipment coming in, they decide to give the girls a test by having them confirm the shipment so they can figure out what to do. Rebecca and Jet head to the outpost and start taking some pictures of the crates but T-Saint wants further proof  so they pretend to be photographers shooting a men’s calendar in order to get closer to take pictures of the weapons inside the crates. T-Saint tells them to steal the crates to prove they aren’t spies so Rebecca and Jet do so but the brakes on the truck fail as it heads for a cliff. Rebecca manages to disengage the cab from the trailer but the trailer continues heading towards the edge of the cliff, with Rebecca still on it, when Booga shows up and grabs Rebecca, then jumps to safety with her. Back at the Ripper’s lair, Deetee holds a toast for the newest members of their community and Rebecca and Booga get closer to each other. The next day, the Rippers open the crates to find them filled with dirt except for the last one, which contains the body of Johnny Prophet, causing the Rippers to yell out in grief. Rebecca and Jet help the Rippers come up with a plan to attack the W&P headquarters, painting Jet’s jet back to it’s original colors and flying the Rippers inside the base while Rebecca heads there in her tank. Parasailing behind her tank, Rebecca storms the front gate and blows her way in while Jet manages to convince the air traffic control that they have a faulty plane and gets them inside one of the hangars. As the group meet up, the Rippers can hear that there are over a hundred soldiers massing to fight them. Deetee says that they fight better in the dark and when Jet says there are power boxes at the end of the corridor, Deetee sacrifices himself to take out the power box, throwing the base into darkness. Enraged at Deetee’s death, the Rippers begin attacking the soldiers while Rebecca goes to save Sam but she encounters Kesslee. Kesslee tells Rebecca that Sam is in the pipe, which is slowly filling with water, and he then grabs her and reveals that he had secretly had her bugged, meaning that he knew their plans the moment they made them. Rebecca manages to avoid him and knock him off the railing they are on, causing his cybernetic arm to get stuck. When Rebecca tries to knock him out, her fist goes right through his head and Kesslee reveals that his head is a holographic projection. Kesslee gets free and continues attacking Rebecca when her tank bursts through the wall, knocking him into a grate which gets electrified. With Kesslee trapped, Rebecca has her tank finish him off only to find out the tank is out of ammo. Rebecca gets inside and uses beer cans for ammo, which Kesslee is able to block, but she then uses them to dump a bucket of water on his head, temporarily shorting out his head. Rebecca approaches the disabled Kesslee and before he can do anything, places a water siphoning device on him and sucks all the water out of him. As the Rippers continue to kill the soldiers, Small decides to try and run but ends up being killed by Jet. Rebecca finds Sam and manages to get her out of the pipe but they find themselves surrounded by W&P soldiers. Suddenly, Booga appears and tells them that he took the bullets from their guns and Rebecca kisses him, saying that it was a great idea. In an animated sequence, Rebecca and the Rippers destroy W&P to allow the water to flow freely to everyone, with Rebecca driving her tank off a waterfall, with Booga skiing behind her.

Tank Girl met with mostly negative reviews from the critics, holding a 37% rating on Rotten Tomatoes. The critical consensus on the site is, “While unconventional, Tank Girl isn’t particularly clever or engaging, and none of the script’s copious one-liners have any real zing.” Alan Martin and Jamie Hewlett, the creators of “Tank Girl”, talked poorly about the experiences in making the movie, as well as all of the edits and scenes that were cut, including a scene of Rebecca and Booga reclining in bed after having sex, despite the fact that the studio spent $5000 on a prosthetic penis for the scene. The movie was a box office bomb, earning $6 million off of a $25 million budget.

This movie is crazy, ridiculous, and a lot of fun to watch. You know how you can see a character and immediately say, “This actor/actress would be perfect for this character?” That is exactly how I feel regarding Lori Petty and this role, as she was perfect as Tank Girl. I also liked Naomi Watts (Jet), Ice-T (T-Saint), and Jeff Kober (Booga) but I was kind of disappointed with Malcolm McDowell (Kesslee). I have honestly never read the Tank Girl comics so I don’t know how closely the movie follows them but the story itself was pretty entertaining, feeling a lot like a comic book in how the plot was laid out. The special effects were ok, though I wasn’t too impressed with the Ripper’s make-up, and I also liked the cut-aways that featured some artwork from the comics, which helped with the whole comic book feel of the movie. It is an entertaining movie and can be a lot of fun to watch due to it’s zaniness.

Rating: 4 out of 5

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