horror, movie, movie review, sci-fi

Flashback Review: June 13th, 2014 Movie – C.H.U.D.

chud

Now here is a movie that brings back some memories. Years ago, when I was a kid living in Birmingham, I remember seeing this movie on television and was both freaked out and entertained by it. Yes, I know that this is not exactly the sort of movie a 7 year old should be watching but if you haven’t guessed by now, I am sort of an odd duck. Anyways, I saw it the one time on TV and never saw it again for years, even when I had the opportunity to rent it. Then, I got the urge to watch it again after watching Clerks II and Randall had made a comment to Dante that mentions “chud”. That was enough to get me looking for a copy of C.H.U.D. on DVD but alas, the video was out of print so I had to hop on eBay and track down a copy that was reasonably priced so that I could own my own copy.

The plot: A woman is walking her dog down the street in New York City when something reaches out from a manhole and grabs the woman’s leg, dragging her and the dog into the sewers. The next day, George Cooper, a former fashion photographer who has quit that business and whose new subject is photos of a sect of homeless people that have begun living underground in the sewers, is arguing with a former colleague named Derick about the article Derick is writing, as the subjects George had been talking too and photographing have come up missing. At the same time, George’s model girlfriend, Lauren Daniels, has convinced George to shoot her for a perfume add and as she goes to the basement of their apartment to find her makeup in the boxes they have down there, she hears something moving around near the sewer access. Elsewhere, Francine, a downstairs neighbor of George and Lauren, is walking along the street when she is frightened by a pile of boxes suddenly exploding outward and as she goes to look, she finds a bloody hole leading down into the sewers. At the police station, Captain Bosch calls Chief O’Brien and tells him he can’t keep a lid on things much longer but O’Brien tells him that he has too as the orders came from above the Chief’s head. Bosch has one of his officers pull the files of events in the area while he deals with a homeless woman, Mrs. Monroe, that tried to steal an officer’s gun. After letting the woman make her phone call, Bosch is told that someone had filed a missing person’s report for 12 people and when he goes to investigate, he finds that the person was A.J. Shepherd, whom Bosch had busted 5 years ago. A.J. runs a homeless shelter now and tells Bosch that some of his regulars that live underground have been missing over the past 2 weeks. When Bosch tries to question an undergrounder that is there, the man pulls out a knife and A.J. tells him that a lot of the undergrounders are looking for weapons. Bosch has a hunch and calls his precinct and tells them to follow Mrs. Monroe when she is bailed out. The Mrs. Monroe had called George and after he goes to bail her out, she asks if he has some bandages and when they get them, she leads them to Victor, the undergrounder that she was trying to steal the gun for. Victor’s leg is wounded by some \thing he is afraid of and when George goes to change the bandage on his leg, he finds that a huge chunk of flesh has been bitten off, right to the bone. Bosch’s man loses George and the bag lady in the sewers so Bosch takes some pictures from an article that George had helped write to A.J. to see if he can recognize anyone in it. When A.J. refuses until Bosch tells him what his interest in the matter is, Bosch admits that his wife has gone missing after walking the dog the night before. A.J. looks at the pictures and recognizes Mrs. Monroe, Victor, and Victor’s friend Hugo. A.J. then asks Bosch about the EPA probe that has been going on, only instead of the normal week this one has been going on for a month and when he tries calling about it, he gets the run around. A.J. then shows Bosch some of the stuff that has been turning up in the tunnel underneath the shelter, including a radiation detector, and as they head into the sewer, they discover a geiger counter. When Bosch turns it on, the counter begins detecting a high source of radiation moving towards them, then moving away and as the counter finally goes quiet, they hear a loud roar coming from further in the sewers. George has returned to his apartment, where Lauren tells him that she is pregnant and as they discuss what to do, they decide to keep the baby. On the street below, a man and his daughter head to a pay phone to call the man’s brother for help when they are attacked by a mutated creature that came out of the sewer, who grabs the man but leaves the girl. The next day, Bosch arrives at the precinct and is told about the girl and he orders men placed at every street corner within his precinct’s jurisdiction, then calls O’Brien and tells him to get a meeting with the Commissioner and a representative from the NRC. Bosch goes to get A.J. and his evidence and then goes to get George to get his help but when he doesn’t answer the door, A.J. picks the lock and they head inside, where they find and take the pictures of Victor and his leg. They then head to the meeting and Bosch lays out his case but when the Commissioner and Wilson, the NRC rep, don’t seem inclined to do anything, A.J. shows them the pictures of Victor’s leg and threatens to go public with what is going on and their covering it up. Meanwhile, George and Lauren are having a picnic in the park when they are approached by Murphy, a freelance reporter, who wants George’s help in finding out what is going on underground but George refuses to help him. Back at City Hall, Wilson reluctantly tells them that there is radioactive material under the city but a court order is preventing them from moving it out of the city. When A.J. asks what they are going to do about the disappearances, Wilson says they don’t have anything to do with their situation, then taunts A.J. when he says he will go to the press. A.J. grabs all of his things and leaves and when he does, Wilson gets on the phone and alerts someone to stop him from going to the press. Meanwhile, Bosch had gone to pick up Wilson’s briefcase that A.J. had tossed and notices a file inside called C.H.U.D. Wilson tells him not to mess with the file as Bosch asks to know what C.H.U.D. means when Wilson gets a call. After hanging up, he tells them that C.H.U.D. stands for cannibalistic humanoid underground dweller and that his team just found the body of one. They head out to where the body is, and after Wilson and Bosch examine it, wearing hazmat suits as it is radioactive, Wilson is told it died from asphyxiation. Wilson wants to send his team back in, saying that that was the only creature, and Bosch wants to send some of his men armed with flamethrowers for protection but Wilson overrules him. When Wilson’s team heads down there, they discover that Bosch had disobeyed his orders and sent a team down there anyways. Wilson wants Bosch to pull his men back but Bosch refuses and Wilson reluctantly tells his team to continue with the cops. As they make their way into the tunnels, the geiger counters suddenly start going off and they see something approaching them. Bosch orders them to use the flamethrowers but it has no effect on the creatures and they proceed to slaughter the team. After seeing the video of the incident, the Commissioner agrees with Bosch that the people must be warned but Wilson says he can handle it and plans on using sealing the tunnels and sewers then flooding them with gas, killing off all of the creatures. Bosch goes to see A.J., who is recovering from being jumped by Wilson’s man, and he tells him about Wilson’s plan and warns him to get out of the area but A.J. says he can’t leave. Bosch heads out and A.J. goes into the tunnel to warn Val to get out of there but as Val goes to leave, he is knocked back down the ladder, breaking his neck in the fall, and Wilson’s man locks the door, sealing A.J. down in the tunnel. Meanwhile, George returns home to find his pictures missing and, believing Murphy took them, he calls him up and arranges a meeting. When they meet, Murphy tells him that the police have them to show as proof of a coverup and tells George that he wants to head down into the underground. George reluctantly takes him down there but as Murphy examines a tunnel, he is attacked and killed by a Chud and George grabs his gun and runs off. A.J. uses the geiger counter to help him make his way through the sewers and avoid the Chud when he finds a large group of them around Wilson’s nuclear waste material that has broken open in the sewers. When A.J. accidentally alerts them to his presence, he runs off  and climbs to a higher level but accidentally drops the geiger counter, which is going off the charts as one of the Chud approaches. On the surface, Lauren is going through some old photos when she drops something that rolls under the trap door to the sewers. When she heads down there, she finds Bosch’s dead dog hanging from a pipe and she quickly runs back upstairs and locks the door. Elsewhere, Bosch is called out to the scene of a dead body only to discover that it is his wife and after the officers drag him out of there, he heads to a bar and starts drinking. Lauren calls the police and reports about the dead dog, then goes to take a shower. As she is in the shower, the drain suddenly clogs up and when she uses a coat hanger to try and clear up the clog, a shower of blood suddenly erupts from the drain, covering her. Meanwhile, a Chud manages to crawl out from the sewer and breaks down the door from the basement. Elsewhere, 2 patrol officers enter a diner, having just come off their shift, but as they flirt with the waitress/cook, a group of Chud emerge from the sewer and proceed to attack the diner, killing everyone inside. In the sewers, George makes his way to where Victor was only to find Hugo has been ripped in half and George is beginning to turn into a Chud. George is forced to kill Victor and Mrs. Monroe hits him, then grabs the gun and plans on killing George but A.J. knocks her out and save him. Back on the surface, Bosch hears about the diner and heads over there, blaming Wilson for everyone’s death including his wife but O’Brien tells him to head to his car and calm down. Lauren sees the news report on the diner and the gas going into the sewers and, worrying about George, she goes to try and tell the police that he is down there when she sees a Chud coming up the stairs towards her. Lauren quickly rushes back into her apartment and barricades the door, then tries to phone for help but accidentally rips the phone from the cord when she trips over a chair. Two police officers show up, from her earlier call, and head inside only to be killed by the Chud and as Lauren screams for help, the Chud breaks into the apartment but she manages to kill it by chopping off it’s head. Back in the sewers, George and A.J. make their way past the toxic waste only to find more containers from the NRC, marked Contamination Hazard Urban Disposal and they realize that Wilson has been dumping the stuff down there for years and is trying to cover up his own mistake. They soon find the remains of Wilson’s and Bosch’s men and manage to make contact with Bosch, telling him what they learned and he tells them he will meet them at the manhole cover. Bosch goes to get the keys to the truck but Wilson grabs them from the man before Bosch can grab them. Bosch threatens to expose Wilson’s secret and Wilson pulls him aside to talk. As Bosch explains that he knows the truth, Wilson pulls out a gun and threatens to shoot Bosch but Bosch punches him and grabs the keys. Lauren reaches the diner and tells an officer to stop the gas and when he tells her he can’t do that, she asks who is in charge and he points to Wilson, who had recovered and taken off after Bosch. Bosch moves the truck and starts to move the manhole cover when Wilson shoots him. He then drags Bosch’s body out of the way and gets into the truck but as he starts it, George and A.J. manage to lift the manhole cover and get out of the sewer. Wilson sees them and tries to run them over but Lauren arrives and screams out a warning at them, allowing them to move out of the way in time. As Wilson turns around to try again, A.J. sees Bosch’s body and grabs his gun, shooting at Wilson and eventually hitting him. As the van continues moving forward, it ends up hitting the open manhole cover and explodes, as Wilson had ordered them to be rigged that way. George and Lauren embrace and kiss while A.J. hears Bosch tell him “Nice shot”, and he heads over to find Bosch barely alive.

C.H.U.D. met with poor results from the critics, currently holding a 23% on Rotten Tomatoes. While there isn’t a critical consensus on the site, some liked the tone of the movie while it’s detractors felt it was too slow and boring to make it worthwhile. C.H.U.D. is an acronym for Cannibalistic Humanoid Underground Dweller but in the movie, it was meant to officially refer to Contamination Hazard Urban Disposal, which was the EPA’s botched plan that ended up spawning the chuds. The movie was a modest success at the box office, earning $4.7 million off of a $1.25 million budget and would spawn a sequel 5 years later.

This is one of those movies that always strikes a cord with my memories. That being said, I can admit that while it is somewhat entertaining, this could have been a lot better. The acting was ok, with John Heard (George), Daniel Stern (A.J.), Christopher Curry (Bosch), and Kim Griest (Lauren) doing good jobs in their roles. I also liked George Martin (Wilson), as I thought he played his character as the perfect government agent that wanted to keep his secrets contained. The story was interesting, playing off of a rise in concern over the handling of nuclear/radioactive waste, but the pacing was so slow at the beginning that it actually hurt the movie because the ending felt a little forced in their attempt to try and tie everything up. The special effects were pretty decent in regards to the creature designs and make up but they didn’t really show them actually attacking anyone; you would generally only see the aftermath which was a little disappointing. It is a fun bit of 80’s nostalgia horror but it isn’t going to be for everyone.

Rating: 3 out of 5

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crime, dark comedy, horror, movie, movie review

Flashback Review: June 12th, 2014 Movie – A Bucket Of Blood

a bucket of blood

Ending the weekend with a Roger Corman movie, now that sounds like some fun times to me. Now I saw this years ago during a Halloween binge watching of old horror movies on TV. Now I wasn’t as familiar with Corman’s work back then as I was now but I thought the movie was pretty interesting. When I bought the Chilling Classics box set, I noticed this movie was part of it and I made sure that A Bucket Of Blood was the first movie out of that set that I watched. Now let’s see if my memory of this movie holds up to a more recent watching.

The plot: Dimwitted Walter Paisley works as a busboy at the Yellow Door Cafe, a popular beatnik hangout. As a man is on stage reciting a poem, Walter is collecting the dishes and empty cups at the tables when he stops at a table where Carol, The hostess whom he has a crush on, is sitting and watches her as she draws. When the performance is over, the club’s owner Leonard chastises him and tells him to keep working and after Walter leaves, Carla admonishes Leonard for being too hard on him. Meanwhile, an undercover cop named Lou Raby is sitting at the club when he gets up to head outside, then calls his chief to report what he has been able to learn about any narcotics being passed around in the club since he worked his way in. Later that night, Walter returns to his apartment and works on sculpting something out of clay when he hears Frankie, his landlord’s cat, crying out from behind the wall where it got stuck. Walter gets a knife to cut Frankie out of the wall when it accidentally plunges through the sheet rock and stabs Frankie. Walter knocks down the wall and sees what he has done and gets depressed over it and as he wonders about what to do, he recalls the words of a poet that had performed and decides to use Frankie’s body as a sculpture. The next day, Walter takes the clay covered cat to work and shows it to Carla and Leonard, passing it off as something he created. Carla is impressed with the sculpture and convinces Leonard to display it at the club and Leonard agrees, telling Walter that if it sells they will split the proceeds. That night, several people comment about Walters sculpture and Leonard tells Walter to take the rest of the night off, as he is unable to do his job with everyone approaching him. As Walter goes to leave, a woman named Naolia approaches him and talks to him for a while, then gives him a vial to remember her by. Walter pockets the vial as he leaves but he unknown to him, Lou had seen what happened and follows Walter to his apartment, confronting him about the vial, which contains heroin. Lou goes to arrest Walter, who protests his innocence, and when Lou brandishes his gun to try and get Walter to come with him, Walter panics and hits him with the frying pan he was holding, killing him. Walter’s landlady starts knocking on the door to find out what the noise is and Walter quickly hides the body so she doesn’t see it, then works on cleaning up his mess. Meanwhile, Leonard is closing up the club when he accidentally knocks the cat statue over and as he looks closely at it, he realizes it is a real cat and gets rid of it. The next day, Leonard tells Walter that someone had bought the cat statue and has him sit down with Carla and some other patrons. When the men asks Walter if he is working on anything else, he tells them that he is working on a full size statue he calls “Murdered Man”. Leonard gets a sick look on his face and he goes to call the police about Walter but when an art critic offers to buy the cat statue for $500, he hangs up and tells the man he doesn’t have the cat statue but will have another statue there soon. As the man leaves, Carla approaches Leonard and tells him that she is going to Walter’s to look at his statue and invites him to come along. Leonard agrees and when Walter unveils the statue, they are both shocked  but Carla tells him it is incredible. Leonard feels sick again and when Walter asks if he can show it at the club again, Leonard tells him he shouldn’t show his pieces one at a time, but should build up a collection and do a proper show, that way they can sell them for more money. He then tries to subtly steer Walter into doing free form sculptures, so as to keep him from killing anyone else, and gives him $50 for his half of the cat statue and tells him if he needs more money to let him know. The next night at the club, several of the patrons treat Walter like a star and he is talking with them about his sculpture but a model named Alice doesn’t seem impressed by Walter and is rude to him. Walter follows Alice home and knocks on her door, apologizing to Alice and asking if she would like to be his model for his first female form sculpture. Alice agrees and they head back to Walter’s apartment, where he has her sit in a chair after taking her clothes off and proceeds to strangle her. The next day, Walter shows his new piece to some of the patrons at the home of Maxwell H. Brock, the poet that inspired Walter, and they are all impressed and Brock plans a party for Walter at the Yellow Door. After the party, Leonard warns Walter about drinking too much, saying he might say something he regrets but Walter ignores him and heads home. On his way, he sees a man working at a construction yard and Walter kills him, cutting off his head with a buzzsaw so he can use it to make a bust. When Walter shows up with the bust at the Yellow Door, Leonard tells him not to make anymore statues and tells him that he will organize his show to display what he has so far. The night of the show, Walter escorts Carla to the show and as they are walking, Walter proposes to her but Carla turns him down, saying she likes him but she doesn’t love him. Walter gets upset at the rejection and asks if she will let him make a statue of her after the show. During the show, Carla is looking at the statue of Alice when she notices a human finger underneath the clay. Shocked, she goes to leave but Walter stops her and when she tells him there is a body in his statue, he admits it is Alice and he made her immortal. Walter says that he can do the same to her and she runs out of the club, with Walter following her. After they leave, the statue of “Murdered Man” falls and everyone realizes Walter’s secret to his art. Leonard goes to call the police while Maxwell and Lou’s partner, who was also undercover at the club, chase after Walter. Walter chases Carla to a lumberyard but as he searches for her, he starts hearing the voices of Lou and Alice, taunting him about having nowhere to go. Walter runs back to his apartment and as he realizes that he will soon be caught, he decides to hide where they won’t find him. Walter, Carla, and the others break down Walter’s door and find that Walter had covered himself in clay and hung himself and one of the men says that Walter probably would have called it “Hanging Man, his greatest work”.

A Bucket Of Blood has met with mostly positive praise from modern critics, holding a 79% rating on Rotten Tomatoes. While there isn’t a critical consensus on the site, most of the critics cite this as a great example of Corman’s early work, citing the blend of humor and horror as well as the rich atmosphere he created in the film. The line about how Walter Paisley “knows his anatomy” is apparently a nod to the similar-themed House Of Wax (1953), which used the same line about Prof. Henry Jarrod, played by Vincent Price, who would go on to become one of Corman’s favorite actors to use. The movie was a mild success at the box office, earning $180,000 off of a $50,000 budget.

I know people like to look down on Roger Corman movies but this one is actually a well made movie. The acting was pretty good, with Dick Miller doing a fantastic job as Walter, while Barboura Morris (Carla) and Antony Carbone (Leonard) did good jobs as well. The story was pretty good, though I will admit that there were some similarities to House Of Wax (1953) but while that seemed to go with the pure horror route, Corman added some comedy to his script that changed how you perceive the killer. Instead of being some sinister killer with purpose, you instead feel sympathy for Wallace, as he just unluckily kills the first man (and cat) and wants to hide the bodies but when everyone thinks he is a genius, his desire for everyone’s praise has him going on to kill more people until his guilt causes him to kill himself. A surprisingly good movie that is well worth giving a chance if you see it coming on.

Rating: 3 1/2 out of 5

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comedy, fantasy, movie, movie review

Flashback Review: June 11th, 2014 Movie – Bruce Almighty

bruce almighty

Now here was a movie that I was honestly curious about when it first came out. I mean, who didn’t dream about having the powers of God at one point in their life, or at least the power to do whatever you wanted. There was only one problem with this movie that kept me from going to see it, Jim Carrey. I used to like watching Jim Carrey’s movies but after time, I started liking them less and less because he seemed to basically play the same character all the time. So I never went to see Bruce Almighty in the theaters but when it came out TV, I would catch it every now and then and decided to go ahead and pick a copy on the cheap after a few times.

The plot: Bruce Nolan is a field reporter for a television station in Buffalo, NY but has dreams of becoming the lead anchor. After doing a local story on a bakery trying to bake the largest cookie, Bruce’s girlfriend, Grace Connelly, tries to cheer him up but he continues to mope about his situation. After dropping Grace off at the daycare she works at, Bruce gets stuck in traffic and is late to work, where he learns that his story is being dropped in exchange for a story that his rival, Evan Baxter, had done. After the meeting, Bruce talks with Jack Baylor, the station manager, and tries to convince him to give him a shot at a major story instead of the small time daily stories he does that constantly get unaired, and Jack decides to send him to do a live report at Niagara Falls. Bruce calls Grace to let her know about his live broadcast, thinking it is a sign that he will be getting the upcoming promotion to the anchor position but as he is being introduced to the audience, he learns that Evan has been given the promotion. Evan decides to take a jab at Bruce during his acceptance by using Bruce’s own words from his unaired story in his speech. When they cut to Bruce, he is frozen in shock at first by the announcement but then proceeds to go through with his story, taking the time to criticize the station and Evan for his perceived slights. Bruce ends up being fired and as he is leaving, he sees a street gang harassing a homeless man and yells out at them, causing them to leave but after checking on the homeless man, Bruce taunts the thugs, making them turn around and beat him up and vandalize his car. When Bruce gets home, he complains about everything that happened to Grace and though she tries to calm him down, he refuses to stop, upsetting her when he says he is tired of his mediocre life. Bruce drives off and decides to try praying to God for a miracle to occur but ends up crashing into a light pole, causing him to start yelling at God and blaming him for his misfortunes. As he finishes ranting, Bruce receives a page from a number he doesn’t recognize but he decides to ignore it. The next morning, Bruce is woken up by a page from the same number, prompting him to throw the pager out the window, where it is destroyed and run over, but when he rushes their dog outside to keep it from peeing in the house, he hears the ruined pager going off again and decides to call the number. When he calls, he hears the announcement specifically calling him out about a job and is directed to an abandoned warehouse. Heading inside, he sees a janitor mopping the floor, who directs Bruce on where he needs to go then asks for help but Bruce says he is busy and asks for a rain check. When Bruce gets up to the 7th floor, he finds the janitor there fixing a light and as Bruce thinks he is being pranked, the janitor removes his work clothes to reveal a white suit underneath, telling Bruce he is the boss. The man tells Bruce that he is God and Bruce doesn’t believe him at first when God says he is offering him all of his powers, until he sees himself with 7 fingers on his hand when he tries to trick him. Bruce runs out of the warehouse and ends up at a diner, where after a few accidental uses of God’s powers, God reappears and asks Bruce to walk with him. Walking across the nearby lake, God explains that there are two rules Bruce must follow; don’t tell anyone he is God and don’t mess with free will. God then tells Bruce he is going on vacation, leaving Bruce to handle things while he is gone. As Bruce starts to have some fun with his new powers, he sees the gang that beat him up the day before and decides to get revenge on them. Bruce then heads home, apologizing to Grace for how he acted the night before and using his new powers to make their sex better. The next day, Bruce wakes up hearing several voices in his head but shakes it off as a recurring dream, then tells Grace he is going to get his job back. Bruce shows up at a K9 training center just as a rival network finishes their story, and Bruce is able to get the scoop over them, as their van mysteriously locked itself, when one of the dogs uncovers the body of Jimmy Hoffa. As Bruce films a report about Hoffa’s discovery, and the rival news crew being arrested for marijuana possession, he returns to his former studio and is given the job of lead field reporter, where he makes it so that even more strange things miraculously occur while he is reporting. Bruce then goes to the studio while Evan is on air and proceeds to use his powers to cause Evan to make a fool of himself on camera. That night, Bruce takes Grace to the restaurant where they had their first date and he tells her that has gotten the promotion to an anchor position after Evan’s debacle on air but while she congratulates him, Grace is disappointed as she thought he was going to propose to her. Suddenly, Bruce starts hearing voices again and rushes out of the restaurant, when he suddenly finds himself on Mt. Everest with God. After messing with Bruce for a bit, God explains that the voices Bruce has been hearing are people’s prayers, which he has been ignoring, and suggest that Bruce try using his powers to help others instead of himself. That night, Bruce starts trying to come up with a way to get rid of the voices and converts the prayers to emails, then auto answers yes to all of them, figuring that will make everyone happy. Friday night, a party is held for Bruce’s upcoming promotion and Bruce calls the house, hoping to get Grace and convince her to show up, then uses his powers to get their dog Sam to help him. After trying to call the house again, Bruce is surprised by Susan, who starts kissing him but as he pushes her away, Hesees Grace in the door way. Grace storms off and Bruce follows after her, trying to convince her that it was an accident but Grace tells him she is staying at her sister’s house. Bruce uses his powers to try and get Grace to forgive him, making several signs appear near her but she tells him she doesn’t love him anymore. As Bruce’s first night as anchor is about to go on, all of the various prayers Bruce answered and events that he caused to happen result in chaos and riots occurring in the streets. Bruce leaves the studio and when he sees what is occurring, he calls out for God and suddenly finds himself in the warehouse. Bruce looks for God, who appears behind Bruce and reminds him of the rain check for helping clean the place and Bruce starts cleaning with God. When they finish, God subtly offers Bruce advise about what to do before he leaves, telling Bruce he can handle it. The next day, Bruce turns off the auto answer program with his emails, while doing some good deeds to people he sees in need. When he gets to the office, Bruce approaches Evan, who is packing up his things, and tells him that he turned down the anchor position and congratulates him on getting the job, saying he deserved it. As Bruce continues doing small things to help people, Grace’s sister Debbie shows up to pick up Grace’s things. As she is finishing, Bruce hands her the photo album that Grace had been working and Debbie is surprised to find that it is full, then tells Bruce that Grace prays a lot for him. Bruce checks his emails to see all the times Grace has prayed for him when he suddenly sees a new notification and sees Grace praying, asking God to help her stop loving him. Despondent, Bruce walks down the highway where he had wrecked his car and tells God that he doesn’t want the powers anymore and will let him decide what is best for him, just as he gets hit by a truck. Bruce is confronted by God and told to pray for something and Bruce prays for Grace to find someone that will make her happy. God tells him he will get right on that, then pushes Bruce, shocking Bruce just as the EMT’s are shocking his body to try and revive him. Bruce wakes up in a hospital and sees Grace at the doorway and she goes over to him and embraces him as the two make up. Some time later, Bruce is doing an news story about a blood drive, introducing Grace as his fiance during the report, and as the report finishes and Grace moves Bruce over to donate some blood himself, they pass by the homeless man that Bruce had helped and had kept appearing around town, who suddenly reveals that he was God all along.

Bruce Almighty met with mixed reviews from the critics, holding a 49% rating on Rotten Tomatoes. The critical consensus on the site is, “Carrey is hilarious in the slapstick scenes, but Bruce Almighty gets bogged down in treacle.” During the scenes where God pages Bruce, the studio used an actual phone number instead of the usual fictional 555 number most movies use. The studio admitted that while the number used was not in use in the 716 area code, which is used in Buffalo, they did not check to see if it was used in any other area codes. Several people that used that number began receiving calls from people wanting to talk to God and when it was released on video and for television, the number was changed to 55-0123. Despite the mixed reviews, Bruce Almighty was a box office success, earning $484.6 million off of an $81 million budget and would spawn a spin-off sequel, Evan Almighty

This was not going to be the greatest comedy of all times but it was actually a better movie than I thought it would be. The acting was good, with Jim Carrey doing a good job as Bruce but Morgan Freeman was fantastic as God, and I honestly couldn’t think of a better person to play him, while the interaction between the two was great. Jennifer Aniston did a good job as Grace while Steve Carell made for a great foil for Carrey with his portrayal of Evan. The story was pretty good, essentially playing out the fantasy most people have had at one point or another; what would you do with the power to do anything. The best thing though is that they actual showed a fair amount of growth in Bruce throughout the movie, allowing him to break from his focusing on helping himself and his career with his powers and then using them to help others and being more selfless in his actions. The comedy aspects were a decent mix of slap-stick, which were pretty much all Jim Carrey, and some play on words and situational comedy but it was done to a very good effect. So yes, it is a good movie and one worth giving a chance.

Rating: 3 1/2 out of 5

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horror, movie, movie review

Flashback Review: June 10th, 2014 Movie – Bride Of The Gorilla

bride of the gorilla

I am tired and yet I can’t seem to be able to fall asleep. I was hoping that this movie would help me get some sleep, at the expense of my having to finish writing everything up in the morning but alas, sleep continues to elude me. When I first bought the Sci-Fi Classics box set, I was looking through the information on the back of the box and on the DVD cases and was surprised to see Raymond Burr’s name listed in this movie. Well then I simply had to put in Bride Of The Gorilla and watch for myself to see what type of early movie he decided to take part in.

The plot: In the South American jungle, the Van Gelder plantation lies in ruins, having fallen victim to the always encroaching jungle after years of being maintained by generations of Van Gelders. Some time earlier, Dina Van Gelder is dancing in the house when Barney Chavez, the chief foreman of her husband’s plantation, enters and complains about the lack of being able to keep workers on the grounds. After issuing his complaints, he starts flirting with Dina when her husband Klaas enters the house with his friend, Dr. Vint. Klaas asks Barney why he is there and as Barney tells him, he came in from the heat, Klaas says that there was an accident at the warehouse and one of the workers died. Dina tries to keep the peace between the two and as Klaas walks away, Dr. Vint he warns her about the dangers that the jungle can bring out in people, especially Barney. During dinner, Dr. Vint says that there has a been a case of smallpox in the harbor and suggest Klaas have his workers inoculated just to be safe. Klaas turns to Barney and asks about a situation with a farmer and his daughter regarding Barney. Barney tells him that it is his own affairs and Klaas decides to fire Barney, then leaves after Dina asks him why he is upset with Barney. Dr. Vint leaves to follow and Dina talks with Barney about his problem with her husband and begs Barney not to leave. Barney steps outside and is confronted by Larina, the serving girl, who begs him not to leave or take her with him if he does but Barney says he isn’t leaving. Meanwhile, Dr. Vint is talking with Klaas and tells him it is a good thing that he got rid of Barney but that he should take Dina out of there as the jungle is no place for a woman like her. Klaas leaves Dr. Vint but as he walks the grounds before heading back to his room, he is confronted by Barney and after a brief argument, Barney knocks him down and allows a snake to kill him. Barney then goes to see Dina and ask her to come away with him but unknown to Barney, Larina’s mother, Al-Long, had seen what Barney did and places a curse on him. The next day, Police Commissioner Taro is questioning Barney about Klaas’s death but while he is somewhat suspicious of him, he says that the leaves found on Klaas’ body are a sign of witchcraft, then calls Al-Long forward. When Taro questions Al-Long, she tells Taro that she saw Klaas get bit by the snake but didn’t see Barney there, as he was in Dina’s room. Dina confirms that he was there and Taro says the investigation is closed, but sends officer Nedo to Al-Long’s room to see if she has any of the plant in question, as it is illegal to own one but though Nedo finds the plant, she convinces him to not report it. Later, Barney and Dina are getting married and as they prepare for the ceremony, Al-Long sends a drink over to Barney, smiling as he drinks it. The ceremony goes off without a hitch and as Barney goes to sign the paperwork, he notices his hand starting to change and quickly leaves the room. Dr. Vint goes to check on Barney and Barney tells him that there is something wrong with his hand but when Dr. Vint looks at it, he doesn’t see anything wrong with it. That night, as Barney and Dina are getting ready for bed, Barney starts acting strange, saying the jungle is calling to him, and proceeds to head out into the jungle. Barney is found the next day in the garden by Dina, who has him brought inside and laid down on a couch. Dr. Vint is called to check on him and says he is feverish but that some rest should do him some good. Dr. Vint then talks with Dina regarding Klaas and her marrying Barney but she tells him that she knows he was attracted to her but she loves Barney. Dr. Vint leaves and goes to see Taro, who tells him that he knows Barney killed Klaas but can’t prove it due to Al-Long’s lying about his whereabouts. The two then discuss the supposed sightings of the Sukara, a legendary creature, in the area when Taro gets word that the creature supposedly killed some animals at the Van Heusen plantation and the two head off to investigate. When they get there, Dr. Vint says that the animal’s neck has been broken and Taro questions the workers, who say they sayw the creature and describe it as human shaped but with red fur. That night, at the Van Gelder plantation, Barney transforms into a gorilla and heads towards Dina’s room but as he moves to attack her in her sleep, he backs away and leaves. Dina is woken by the movement and, grabbing a pistol, goes looking for what was in her room, firing when she hears something moving in the brush but Dr. Vint tells her that it is them. Dr. Vint and Taro enter the house and Dina tells them what happened and Taro gets a strange look on his face when Dina tells him that Barney is in the jungle. Dr. Vint and Taro warn Dina about the traps that the farmers have started setting in the area, telling her to warn Barney when he returns. Dina goes looking for Barney and finds him caught in a trap and after they free him, she helps him to the house. Al-Long tends to Barney’s wound and as he goes to head back into the jungle, Dina stops him and as they argue, she tells him that they should sell the plantation and leave the jungle and Barney agrees to go with her. As they are making the preparation to leave, Dr. Vint stops by to try and talk Dina out of leaving but as he talks with Barney, he notices his pupils are dilated and tries to get a further look at them but Barney shoves him aside and walks away. Dr. Vint goes to speak with Dina about his concerns and she calls out to Barney to come there but they learn that Barney had left and gone into the jungle. 2 days later, Barney returns and tells Dina that he won’t leave the jungle and wants to stay and she tries to convince him to come with her but she refuses. As Barney is spending more time in the jungle, Dina talks with Dr. Vint about his actions, and he expresses his concerns about Barney’s actions but she refuses to leave him. When Dina pleads one last time with Barney to leave with her, he tells her he can’t and she says that she will stay with him in the jungle. Barney leads her into the jungle but when Dina gets nervous and pulls a gun on him, Barney dares her to shoot, then rushes off into the jungle, with Dina following behind him. Meanwhile, Dr. Vint and Taro show up at the plantation, with Taro finding the plant that Al-Long was using to poison Barney, then they head into the jungle to find Barney and Dina. Barney changes into a gorilla again and goes after Dina, who screams in fear before firing several shots at him before fainting. The gorilla picks her up and carries her off but Dr. Vint sees him and shoots him, killing the gorilla, which changes back into Barney.

This was a slow paced and interesting movie but in the end, not that good. The acting was ok, with Raymond Burr and Barbara Payton doing good jobs as Barney and Dina respectively, and they played off each other rather well. I also liked Lon Chaney Jr as Taro, with the intro that he gave at the beginning helping to set the mood. The story was interesting but not enough to keep it from being incredibly boring. I’m serious, this was boring as hell and all the star power it had could not save it from that fact. The drama felt kind of forced in the movie while the limited special effect, which were simply a dissolve to effect the changing of Barney into a gorilla, I had some high hopes but unfortunately this was a disappointment.

Rating: 2 out of 5

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action, drama, horror, movie, movie review

Flashback Review: June 9th, 2014 Movie – Breakout From Oppression

breakout from oppression

So allow me to vent a little about an issue I have with some of these Mill Creek box sets that I own. I hate the way they throw anything in there just to try and fill the quantity of movies they need. Take this movie for instance. This movie, Breakout From Oppression, is found in the Martial Arts box set. However, there was no martial arts to be seen in this movie. Nada. Zip. Zero. I mean, it’s like they just decided to take some Asian movie that had been dubbed in the 70’s and throw it in here because, “Hey, it’s Asian so it will fit.” Well my mood is already not happy because of that but let’s at least see if it the movie is somewhat entertaining.

The plot: Fonda Chiu has just been released from prison after serving 8 years of a 12 year sentence. Having received a letter offering her a job from Mr. Wang, the president of a newspaper, Fonda arrives at the paper only to find that he is on a business trip. The assistant editor takes Fonda to see Simon Chang, the Editor, and when she tells him Mr. Wang was hiring her as an assistant editor, the assistant editor gets upset at the thought that Fonda is taking her job but Simon calms her down, then tells Fonda to come back after she gets settled in and they will figure out the job situation. Fonda goes to an apartment that had been recommended to her and after speaking with the landlord, she accepts the deal. As Fonda goes to take a shower, someone sneaks into her apartment and substitutes her bar of soap with a different one, one with a slit in the middle. The soap causes Fonda to flash back to her time in prison, where one of the prisoners was constantly bullying her, and when she finishes her shower and looks around, she notices the sliding door is open and quickly closes it. The next day at work, the Editor praises the story she wrote and decides to put her on assignment, then asks if she had found a place to live. When she tells him she had a place on the coast, he tells her that’s too far and suggest she move into the reporter dorms but she tells him she likes the solitude at her place. Later, Fonda is shopping for some clothes but the shop keeper is rude and says she can’t try on any clothes. When Fonda goes to leave, the shop keeper demands that she pay for the earrings she had tried on and Fonda discovers that she has misplaced her wallet and the store owner goes to take Fonda to the police but Sheena, Mr. Wang’s secretary, vouches for her and leads Fonda away. Later, Sheena and Fonda are talking and discussing the people in the area when Simon joins them. Sheena excuses herself and Fonda and Simon talk for a while. Later, Fonda is attempting to do some cleaning when she falls off the ladder she is using, spilling the bucket of water on the floor. As she is cleaning it up, Simon shows up and offers to take her fishing and the two start to bond. The next day, Simon and Fonda are talking for a bit but Sheena and the assistant editor both aren’t happy about it and when Simon asks Sheena for the President’s itinerary, ‘Sheena tells him that she wants to go home and leaves. Later, Fonda stops by Sheena’s house to drop off the medicine for Sheena’s grandmother but Sheena yells at her for coming over, then rushes over to take her grandmother, who is in a wheelchair, back in the house. Inside, Sheena chastises her grandmother for going outside and making a mess, then asks if she recognizes Sheena, indicating that Sheena knows her past. Someone can be heard moaning to let them go but Sheena yells at them to be quiet. Fonda goes to see Simon, explaining what happened at Sheena’s place and tells Simon that she believes Sheena is in love with him and that he should stay away from her(Fonda) but Simon tells Fonda that he loves her. Simon kisses Fonda and although she is reluctant at first, she returns the kiss but when she starts having flashbacks to her past, she quickly breaks away and heads back home. The next day, Sheena brings some snacks for Fonda as a peace offering but before Fonda can have any, Simon tells her to accompany him on a story and after they leave, the assistant editor tells Sheena that Fonda is going to end up with Simon. Simon and Fonda head to the scene of a murder, causing Fonda to flashback to the murder she was accused of. When they head inside, they are attacked by the killer, a woman with a knife, but Simon is able to fend her off long enough for the police to show up and chase her away. Meanwhile, Sheena is feeding her captive in her basement but when he refuses, she tells him he can starve and Sheena heads upstairs, telling her grandmother she has something to do that her mother would be proud of. Later, someone cuts the brakes on Fonda’s bike and as she goes to ride to work, a kid on a bike keeps doing stunts in front of her and trying to hit her, forcing her to end up riding down a hill and crashing when the bike hits some rocks by the cliffs. A bruised Fonda starts walking when Simon pulls up and offers her a ride, concerned when he sees the state she is in. When they arrive at the office, Fonda wants to go in separately but Simon tells her not to worry about what the others might think. Inside, the assistant editor constantly harps on Fonda in an attempt to get her to quit, while Sheena offers to help Fonda when she is looking through the archives. As they are working, Sheena asks if Fonda is going to the garden party and Fonda says no but Sheena says that she should go and offers to make Fonda a dish to bring. Some time later, Fonda and Simon are walking along the beach and talking about their relationship and Fonda tells him that she has been to jail but Simon tells her he doesn’t care about that and that they should look towards the future. At the garden party, Simon stops by the tent that Fonda and Sheena are at and wants one of the spring rolls that they made but Fonda slaps his hand and tells him to wait, as she offers one to the assistant editor and her children. After the oldest son grabs one, Fonda goes to offer one to Simon but the assistant editor suddenly screams out as her son starts bleeding from the mouth. When she goes to check on him, she finds a piece of glass in his mouth and attacks Fonda, accusing her of trying to kill her son. Simon goes to pull the assistant editor off of her and as he tries to calm her down, Fonda grabs Sheena and tries to get her to admit that she had cooked the spring rolls but Sheena yells out that Fonda was trying to blame her for her crime. Sheena ends up being injured as they struggle and Simon helps her to the nearby ambulance while the assistant editor’s husband grabs their son and and takes him to it as well. At the hospital, the assistant editor is still blaming Fonda and tells Simon that she wants him to get rid of her but Simon says that this has to be an accident but the assistant editor refuses to consider it. Simon then takes Sheena home and carries him to her room, where she tries to get him to stay with her but when he refuses, she tells him that he still loves Fonda and yells at him to leave. Simon goes to see Fonda, who tells Simon that she loves him and doesn’t want him to leave her but she feels like someone is trying to ruin her life like it was before and worries that he will get hurt in the process. That night, Fonda dreams about her past, and the married man that she was having an affair with. Fonda wanted him to divorce his wife but he tells her that his wife had taken pills last time he was out late and worries what she might do this time. When the man leaves, his wife stabs him and runs off, leaving Fonda there to find the body and take the blame for his death. Meanwhile, Sheena is thinking of Simon and she hears her mother’s voice in her head, telling her that Fonda was the one to kill Sheena’s father and that her mother had gone insane as a result. Sheena’s grandmother snaps her out of her trance and she goes to start dinner, then heads down to check on the director only to find him dead. As she goes for a closer look, the director lunges at her to try and escape but Sheena proceeds to beat him with the flashlight that she was carrying. The next day, Simon has his photographer, Joe Chan, pick up Fonda and work with her today, as an attempt to keep the peace at the office. As he sits down to watch some TV, he hears a knock on the door but when he goes to check, nobody is there. When he heads back inside, he finds Sheena there, who tells him that she had come in the back door, and Sheena asks for a wrench, telling him that she has a busted pipe. Simon offers to fix it for her and heads back to her house with her. When they get there, Simon greets Sheena’s grandmother while Sheena ushers him into the basement. Simon comments on the smell and says that a rat must have died and he asks Sheena where the light switch is. She tells him on the wall but as he heads for it, Sheena attacks him and ends up knocking him out. Later that night, Joe brings Fonda home and offers to come up, as Simon had told him not to leave her alone, but Fonda tells him she will be fine and he drives off. As Fonda enters her house, she finds the lights are all off and she grabs a light and starts calling out for Jo-Jo, the monkey she has started raising, but she finds a blood trail and sees the monkey has been killed. Fonda tries calling Simon for help but gets no answer so she rushes out into the night only to find it raining and she reluctantly heads back inside. The next day, the police are questioning people in the newspaper about Simon’s disappearance and the assistant editor tells him that she should be questioning Fonda, who had shown up to say goodbye to Simon and leave the newspaper but the police officer asks her to accompany him to Simon’s house and Joe goes with them, as he is Fonda’s alibi for yesterday. When they get to Simon’s house, Joe says that Simon couldn’t have gone far as he left his TV on and the clock was running so the officer asks Fonda to come down to the station for some more questioning. Meanwhile, Simon regains consciousness and as he tries to free himself, he discovers the body of Mr. Wang. Sheena shows up and he asks why she killed Mr. Wang and she tells him it was an accident but he wouldn’t go along with her plan to kill Fonda, telling Simon her reasons why. Later, Fonda is sitting on the rocks by the beach when Joe approaches her and she tells him that she can’t leave due to Simon being missing and the police saying she is the #1 suspect. Joe tells her that they found Simon’s car by the beach and Fonda rushes off to see if there is any news on Simon. At the crash site, the assistant editor is saying that this is all Fonda’s fault and when Fonda hears this, she starts walking into the ocean, wanting to kill herself, but Joe stops her. Fonda is taken to the local hospital, where she is sedated but makes Joe promise to take her out of there tomorrow before she passes out. Meanwhile, Sheena tells Simon about the police finding her car and believing him dead and Simon asks her what she is planning on doing next and tries to reason with her but Sheena doesn’t listen and proceeds to gag him, then drags Mr. Wang’s body upstairs. Sheena then takes Mr. Wang’s body and drags it out to the ocean, throwing it in the water, then makes her way to the hospital and sneaks into Fonda’s room. Sheena moves her hands towards Fonda’s face and decides to try and smother her but Fonda thrashes out and kicks her away. Fonda asks what Sheena is doing and Sheena tells her that she had kicked her blanket off and she was replacing it, then tells Fonda she will pick her up for Simon’s funeral in the morning but as her eyes water up, she tells Sheena to take her back to the hospital. Meanwhile, Joe had been falsely told to go to the head office and as he is leaving, he comments about Fonda’s bad luck and the president says that he recognizes the name and, after speaking, Joe heads to the archives and learns about Fonda and her imprisonment. Joe heads back to Fonda’s place and finds no sign of her but as he looks for her, Sheena attacks and kills him, while Fonda awakens shortly afterwards, unaware of what happened. Meanwhile, Simon manages to make it out of the basement and as he crawls across the floor, he is confronted by Sheena’s grandmother, who heads towards a shelf and knocks over a glass container of water. Back at Fonda’s house, Fonda hears something and goes outside to investigate only to find Joe’s body hanging from a rafter in the barn. She runs out of the building and finds Sheena approaching her and Fonda tells her about Joe’s body but Sheena says she must be seeing things. Sheena leads Fonda back inside and as she sees Joe’s body, Sheena tells Fonda it is a shame that he had to die, and that Simon has to die, but it is all her fault. When Fonda asks her why, Sheena explains that she is the daughter of the man Fonda was having the affair with and she says that Fonda killed her father. Fonda tries to get away but Sheena catches up to her and leads her towards a noose she had prepared, saying that it will look like Fonda killed Joe and then herself. Fonda gets away fro Sheena, though Sheena stabs her in the shoulder, and Sheena chases after Fonda, attempting to shoot her with a gun. Fonda makes her way into a building and when Sheena catches up to her, Fonda struggles with her and eventually pushes her out the window onto the concrete below. Fonda heads out to the beach, where she sits down on a boat and as she looks out at the sea, Sheena tries to attack her again. Fonda struggles with Sheena some more and after knocking the cleaver from her hand, Fonda grabs it and uses it to chop off Sheena’s head. In shock with what she has done, Fonda grabs the boat and starts dragging it out to the sea before collapsing from exhaustion. The next morning, Simon, who had freed himself with a piece of broken glass, arrives at the dock with the police and he sees Fonda on the boat and calls out to her. Some time later, Fonda and Simon are talking and Simon tells her that he will get her the best lawyer and wait for her, no matter what, as Fonda gets into the police boat and is taken away.

Putting my disappointment of the lack of martial arts aside, this is a decent little horror/drama. The acting was ok, with Fonda Lynn (Fonda) doing a good job in her role, while Alan Tam (Simon) and Lona Chang (Sheena) doing equally good jobs as well. The story was good, but to be completely honest here, it didn’t seem all that original. I mean, the whole aspect of Fonda being falsely imprisoned and the daughter of the man she supposedly killed seeking revenge on her by driving her insane first honestly sounds like something out of a Hitchcock movie. That being said, the director did a good job and while you pretty much knew who the killer was early on, there were enough drama and suspense in seeing what Sheena was going to do next to keep you watching. It definitely didn’t belong in this box set but it is a decent movie if you are looking to kill 90 minutes.

Rating: 2 1/2 out of 5

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comedy, drama, movie, movie review

Flashback Review: June 8th, 2014 Movie – The Breakfast Club

the breakfast club

If ever there was a movie that was synonymous with the 80’s, it is definitely this movie. I mean, you have some of the biggest names from the Brat Pack all in one movie, with high school being the sole focus. The fact that it is a John Hughes movie makes it even that much more of an 80’s icon. I remember seeing this movie on TV years ago as a kid and not really getting much of what was being said. I would then see it again years later in the mid-late 90’s and it seriously resonated with me a lot more. I had recorded a later showing of The Breakfast Club on TV but due to the editing for television, I decided to go buy a VHS copy of the movie and would later upgrade it to DVD. Not hard to say that this is one of my favorite movies from the 80’s, but does it still hold up?

The plot: On Saturday March 24th, 1984, 5 students (Pampered rich girl Claire Standish, champion wrestler Andrew Clark, geeky Brian Johnson, juvenile delinquent John Bender, and shy outcast Allison Reynolds) make their way to Shermer High School in Shermer, Illinois to serve out there detention in Saturday school. Once they all assemble in the library, Assistant Principal Richard Vernon enters and tells them that they will be there until 3 in the afternoon, they will not leave their seats, they are not to talk or sleep, specifically calling out Bender for that. He then hands them all paper and pencils and tells them that he wants them to write a 1,000 word essay describing who they are. Warning them that his office is right across the hall, Vernon leaves the room, leaving the door open so that he can keep an ear out for them acting up, but has soon as he does, Bender starts harassing Andrew and Claire while picking on Brian. When Vernon leaves his office to use the restroom, Bender gets up and disables the door so that it won’t stay open. Andrew, Brian, and Claire all argue with Bender to fix the door but he refuses, just as Vernon returns and sees the door closed. Vernon heads inside and questions them about the door but though he knows Bender did something to it, the others choose not to rat him out. Vernon attempts to prop the door open with a chair and when that doesn’t work, has Andrew help him push a magazine rack in front of it to hold it open but when Bender points out it is a fire hazard, Vernon tells Andrew to put the rack back. Vernon then approaches Bender and asks him where the screw from the door is and when Bender mocks him instead, Vernon gives him another week of Saturday school. Bender continues to taunt and push Vernon, despite Claire telling him to stop, until Vernon gives him 8 more weeks of Saturday school before finally walking back to his office. The 5 kids continue sitting in the library and boredom quickly sets in, causing them to fall asleep until Vernon wakes them to go use the restroom. Returning to the library, Bender starts ripping up a book, while Andrew asks Claire if she is going to go to a party that night. When Claire says it depends on which of her parents says no, Bender asks her which one she likes better. Claire says that she doesn’t think either one of them really cares about her, prompting Allison, who had been silent up to this point, to loudly exclaim “Hah!”, and as everyone stares in shock at Allison, Claire tells her to shut up. Bender continues messing with people, questioning Andrew about his relationship with his parents and teasing Brian about his. After everyone learns Brian’s name, Claire asks Bender what his name is but he asks her for hers and when she tells him, he starts teasing her that it is a “fat girl’s name”. Bender then starts taunting her on if she is a virgin and how far she has gone with a boy. When Andrew tells him to stop, the two get into it briefly, with Andrew putting Bender in a hammerlock and forcing him to the ground. When Andrew lets him up, Bender taunts him by saying he doesn’t want to get into a fight with him because he would kill him, pulling out a switchblade to emphasize his point, and Andrew tells him to leave Claire alone. Later, Vernon tells the kids it’s time for lunch and sends Andrew and Allison to get some sodas for them to drink. As they are walking down the hall, Andrew attempts to start a conversation with Allison and she asks him why he is there, to which Andrew tells her but Allison doesn’t believe him. Back in the library, Bender is continuing to taunt Claire, comparing her to Brian as far as being a virgin. Brian tells Bender he isn’t a virgin, saying he slept with a girl from Canada and then motions to Claire when Bender asks if he did it with anyone locally. When Bender loudly says Claire’s name, she asks what they are talking about and Bender tells her. Claire tells Andrew she is disappointed in him but when he says he didn’t want Bender to pick on him for being a virgin, she tells him she doesn’t think it is a bad thing to be a virgin. After Andrew and Allison return and everyone starts eating their lunch, Bender continues teasing Claire and Brian, eventually deciding to do an impression of how he feels life at Brian’s house is. Andrew laughs at first but seeing the look on Brian’s face, he asks Bender about his own home and Bender fulfills his request, depicting his life as being in an abusive household. Andrew doesn’t believe Bender, prompting Bender to show him a burn mark on his arm, saying that was what he got for spilling paint in the garage, then rages out before climbing up the stairs and sitting with his back to the others, while Claire admonishes Andrew for what he did. When Vernon leaves his office after spilling coffee on himself and his desk, Bender uses the opportunity to go to his locker, followed by the others, and retrieve his stash of pot. As they head back to the library, they see Vernon walking ahead of them and quickly turn around and try to find another way back before Vernon gets there. Andrew and Bender argue over which way to go, with Andrew saying they are done following Bender and convincing Brian and Claire to go with him. Allison and Bender follow as well but when they end up trapped, Bender decides to sacrifice himself, as he didn’t want the others to be punished for simply following him. He shoves his pot down Brian’s pants, then goes running down the halls yelling out, luring Vernon away from the others and after him. Vernon catches up to Bender in the gym and takes him back to the library to gather his things, telling the others that they will have to do without Bender for the rest of the day. Vernon takes Bender into a supply closet and then threatens to beat the crap out of him when Bender gets out of high school, then tries to goad Bender into hitting him so he can go ahead and beat him then and there but Bender doesn’t do anything. After Vernon locks the door and heads to the restroom, Bender climbs through the air ducts back to the library but ends up crashing through the ceiling, shocking the others. When an enraged Vernon enters the library to find out what the noise was, the others choose not to rat out Bender, who is hiding under Claire’s table teasing her. After Vernon leaves, Claire slaps Bender as he comes up from under the table, as he had stuck his head up her skirt while he was under there. Bender then heads over to Brian and asks for his pot, then heads towards the back of the library to smoke it. Andrew tries to talk them out of it but Claire and Brian head back there as well, then Andrew decides to go back as well. After Brian, Andrew, Claire, and Bender all smoke some pot, Claire and Bender are sitting around discussing relationships while Andrew and Brian are joking around. Allison joins Brian and Andrew, where she reveals that she had stolen Brian’s wallet, then dumps out the contents of her bag. When they question why she has so much stuff in her bag, she tells them her home life is unsatisfying and she might run away, then refuses to say any more about it, getting angry when they press her. When Andrew approaches her alone, she yells at him to leave her alone and when he starts to walk off, she chastises him for doing whatever anyone asked him. The two talk some more about their problems and Allison reveals that her parents simply ignore her. Meanwhile, Vernon had gone down to the basement and is going over some of the faculty files when he is confronted by Carl, the janitor. The two end up talking about how the kids treat him and how scared he is for the future and what the kids will be like as adults. Back in the library, the kids are sitting around discussing things, with Andrew telling them that he was there for taping a student’s butt cheeks together while Brian had brought a flare gun to school to kill himself, as he had received a failing grade in shop, but it had gone off in his locker, while Allison, who is shown to be a compulsive liar and a kleptomaniac, says she simply had nothing better to do. As they are talking, Brian asks what will happen to them all on Monday, wondering if they will go back to ignoring each other and staying in their own social circles or if they will acknowledge their burgeoning friendship, and whether they will end up like their parents when they get older. After having some fun for a while, Bender crawls back through the air ducts into the supply closet. In the library, Claire and the others convince Brian to write the essay for all of them, then Claire pulls Allison aside and fixes her hair and applies some make up to her. The changed Allison hesitantly approaches Andrew, who she has developed feelings for and he tells her he likes the change, as he can see her face instead of it being hidden behind all of her hair. Meanwhile, Claire sneaks into the supply closet to talk with Bender, giving him a hickey before she heads back. The kids all leave, with Allison kissing Andrew before they get in their respective parent’s cars, while Claire gives Bender one of her diamond earrings, then they kiss before she leaves. Bender puts the earring in his ear, then leaves the school grounds while inside, Vernon reads the essay that Brian wrote for all of them, which is signed “The Breakfast Club”.

The Breakfast Club was well received by the critics, holding a certified fresh rating of 88% on Rotten Tomatoes. The critical consensus on the site is, “The Breakfast Club is a warm, insightful, and very funny look into the inner lives of teenagers.” The movie’s theme song, “Don’t You (Forget About Me)” was originally written with the intention of Billy Idol to sing it but he passed on it, though he would eventually cover it as a bonus track on his Greatest Hits CD that was released in 2001. The song would later be pitched to Chrissie Hynde of The Pretenders but she also passed, though she suggested they offer it to Simple Minds, which was fronted by her husband at the time. The Breakfast Club was a box office smash hit, earning $51.5 million off of a $1 million budget, and would be selected for preservation in the National Film Registry in 2016.

Don’t care what anyone thinks, I still love this movie. This is still a great movie and still holds up over the years. The acting was great, with Judd Nelson (Bender), Molly Ringwald (Claire), Emilio Estevez (Andrew), Ally Sheedy (Allison), and Anthony Michael Hall (Brian) all doing fantastic jobs in their roles. All 5 of them seemed to put a lot of realism into their characters, made even more effective as many of their lines were ad-libbed, especially during the scene where they were discussing what they did to end up in Saturday school. I also loved Paul Gleason, as his portrayal of Vernon is probably one of the most iconic roles he had and one of the characters that is most parodied in other movies and different media. The story was great, not going your usual teenage drama that Hughes is known for but taking a little darker, and deeper look into the pressures that high school students face; from school, their parents and home life, and their various social circles. This is part of the reason why this movie still holds up because these issues and pressures still exist in schools today. The drama had a lot of realism to it while the bits of comedy were interspersed well enough to keep it from becoming too dark or depressing. A great movie and one that I will watch any time it comes on TV.

Rating: 5 out of 5

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martial arts, movie, movie review

Flashback Review: June 7th, 2014 Movie – The Brave Lion

the brave lion

Now I have always enjoyed watching some of the old school martial arts movies when I was a kid because you honestly didn’t need to know what was going on. All you were concerned with was all of the fights that would occur. Now, as an adult, I still enjoy watching some of those old school movies but I find myself wanting more of a plot involved with them. With the Martial Arts box set from Mills Creek that I have, I find myself confronted by numerous examples of those types of movies and have to admit that some are definitely better than others in that regards. Now to see how The Brave Lion fares in this regard.

The plot: During World War II Japan, two Japanese soldiers, Sirvaki and Mekoni (I have no idea how their names are spelled), are in prison awaiting execution but are offered a chance for freedom. Since they had spent time in China and know the language, they are ordered to take charge of a lumberyard in occupied China and make sure to fulfill an order that the Imperial Palace has placed. Some time later, the foreman at the lumberyard, Wong Shan, is disciplining one of the workers and when a second worker asks why he is beating him up. Wong Shan says it is his job, then begins fighting with the second man, eventually killing him. Mekoni, the manager of the lumberyard, had seen the fight and when he asks Wong Shan who started it, he says the first man and Mekoni  orders him strung up. When some of the other workers see this, they go after Wong Shan but he is able to fend them off until another man, Xiao Wing, stops the fight, telling Wong Shan they should discuss this. When the man is cut down, Mekoni is furious and beats the two men that had cut him down, then chastises the doctor for treating the injured man. Sirvaki asks Mekoni what they should do with the two men and he has them strung up and left out in the sun. As the two men bake in the sun, a young boy sneaks over to give them some water. Meanwhile, Mekoni speaks with Wong Shan, saying he knows that he started the fight. Wong Shan says it doesn’t matter as they need to get the job finished and Mekoni agrees with him. Later, a young woman is walking with the boy when they are approached by Mekoni, who accuses them of giving water to the men but doesn’t do anything to her as she is the niece of the lumberyard’s owner. The niece then goes to her uncle and tells him about what is going on and the owner orders the men released and tended too. He then goes to speak with the Mekoni but the Mekoni tells him that the order has been increased and they will have to work double shifts in order to fill it. Later, Wong Shan is ordering the men to work but when the refuse and several try to beat him up, he fights with them but it is eventually stopped when Mekoni tells them they can all take the night off that night. The men all cheer and head into town for the night but as they celebrate, the owner’s niece overhears Mekoni and Sirvaki speaking with a Japanese official about what to do with the men. The next day, the niece goes to tell Xiao Wing, one of the men that was tied up the other day, but Wong Shan, who is attracted to her, hears that she is there and when he sees her with the man, he begins fighting with him. The two men continue fighting until Xiao Wing manages to beat Wong Shan. Later, the two are in the doctor’s office, and the owner’s niece is tending to Xiao Wing’s injuries and when Wong Shan complains about her ignoring him, she decides to treat him by giving him an injection. Later that night, as the men are drinking, Wong Shan shows up and offers to be friends with Xiao Wing. Later, the owner’s niece meets with Xiao Wing and tells him about the Japanese men that met with the Mekoni and Sirvaki and how they plan on moving the men somewhere else once the job is completed. Later, Wong Shan and Xiao Wing are both motivating the men to hurry and finish the job, but some of the men are tired of Mekoni’s brutal reign and try to escape. Mekoni and Sirvaki catch up to some of them and they proceed to beat the men mercilessly. One of the men goes back to try and free them but he is attacked by Sirvaki and as he runs away, Mekoni and Sirvaki’s men chase after him and manage to catch and beat him close to death before Xiao Wing manages to chase them away. The dying man tells Xiao Wing that the other men are being killed, and Xiao Wing asks Wong Shan to come with him as he goes to try and stop it. At the lumberyard, the owner is saddened to see the dead men lying on the ground and asks Mekoni if he did it and Mekoni admits it and says he will kill anyone that gets in his way. Wong Shan, seeing the dead men, rushes off to attack Mekoni and is stopped by Sirvaki but before Sirvaki can beat him, Xiao Wing asks that he be let go and Sirvaki relents. Later that night, Mekoni asks Xiao Wing to be the new foreman but he refuses and Mekoni is shocked by the refusal. Meanwhile, the men all want to quit working for Mekoni and Sirvaki and though Wong Shan is reluctant to join in, the shame him into leading them. When Mekoni hears about this, he wants to have Wong Shan killed for his disloyalty. Later, Mekoni is told that Xiao Wing is not part of Wong Shan’s revolt and he praises the man, then orders Wong Shan to be found and killed but the niece’s young brother hears them and goes to tell his sister. The niece tells her brother to warn Wong Shan but he is too late as Mekoni’s men find him and begin attacking him. Wong Shan tries to fend them off before turning to run, only to see Mekoni and Sirvaki on the path below him with some more men. Wong Shan continues to try and fight and run but he is eventually killed and when Xiao Wing and some other men rush up, Mekoni tells them all to get back to work. Later, the girlfriend confronts her uncle about Mekoni and Sirvaki and accuses him of betraying their country to work with the Japanese. Meanwhile, the men all meet with Xiao Wing and convince him to lead them against Mekoni and Sirvaki. The next day, the niece and nephew go running to their uncle, telling him that some men have gone to destroy the bridge out of the area in order to disrupt Mekoni’s plans and Mekoni and Sirvaki go with the owner to the bridge to stop them. When they get there, they find the bridge is gone but Mekoni thinks it is all a trap and orders the owner’s niece and nephew captured so they can turn the trap on the workers. When the workers learn that the trap has failed, they decide to go ahead and gang up on the Japanese men and beat them up. Meanwhile, Xiao Wing sees the niece and nephew tied up to rocks and moves to free them when the niece warns him about the trap. Xiao Wing ends up facing off against some of Mekoni and Sirvaki’s men and manages to beat them but Mekoni attacks him with a whip while Sirvaki uses his size and strength to attack him. Xiao Wing manages to get free from their combined attack and as he runs up the hill, he continues fighting with them and manages to send Mekoni tumbling down the fill. Sirvaki continues fighting with Xiao Wing and send shim tumbling down the hill, where Mekoni is waiting for him but Xiao Wing manages to get Mekoni’s feet stuck in the mud and he is able to knock him unconscious. Sirvaki makes it back down and continues attacking Xiao Wing but Xiao Wing gets the upper hand. Sirvaki attempts to escape but Xiao Wing follows him and as they continue fighting on the train tracks, Sirvaki attempts to escape on a hand cart but runs into the blockade that Xiao Wing and the workers had set up earlier. Xiao Wing catches up to Sirvaki and continues fighting him but Mekoni, who has revived, gets in the nearby train and attempts to run Xiao Wing over. Xiao Wing sees the train coming and shoves Sirvaki down onto the tracks, causing Mekoni to run him over by mistake. Xiao Wing then renews his attack on Mekoni and as they fight all over the place, Mekoni eventually ends up being trapped in some of the lumber and Xiao Wing drops a log on top of him, killing him. As the niece, nephew, and workers show up, Xiao Wing collapses from exhaustion and they all rush to help him while back at the lumber mill, the owner sets fire to the lumber yard in order to prevent the Japanese from getting any of it.

Despite the multitude of fights, this was actually a pretty boring movie. The acting was ok I guess, while the dubbing was atrociously bad in such a hilarious way. The story had some basis in truth, as Japan did occupy China during WWII, but the plot of the movie was actually a little hard to follow. The worst part is that you really don’t have much clie who anyone is during the entire movie, which was incredibly annoying for me while trying to write this review. The fight scenes were plentiful but that honestly kind of made them seem boring because the whole movie ended up seeming like nothing but one giant fight. This is one of those movies that is ok to watch as a time suck, but don’t expect a lot out of it.

Rating: 2 out of 5

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