So remember how I praised 'Dahmer' in my last review? It did a great job of working on the audience psychologically by getting us into Jefferey Dahmer's head. It was dark, atmospheric, disturbing, suspenseful, and showed us Dahmer the person a little more than Dahmer the psychopath. Something like 'Gacy', on the other hand, is an example of one of the films I mentioned that drags the factoids across your eye from start to finish and then you think to yourself "I could have seen a much better documentary about this".
We kick things off here by seeing Gacy as a child on a fishing trip in 1953 with his abusive father (Adam Baldwin) to see a very brief example of the abuse he suffered as a kid. Fast-forward to 1976, and we hit the ground running so quickly that we almost trip over ourselves. Gacy and the family are constantly interrupted by neighbours who complain about the foul stench coming from his crawlspace. So there's really no lead-up to anything at all, and it all takes place a little more near the end of everything associated with the Gacy murders. The interesting thing about it, however, is that as famous as Gacy was as Pogo the Clown; an image even used for the film's poster, there's basically NO Pogo going on in this, save for a few home videos and a couple of slight nods to it.
I realize how that must sound, considering the film is about the man and not the clown, but I have to say I'm a little surprised at how little of it there actually was. And my God, when you see him in the clown makeup for the first time, it's actually kind of hilarious when it's supposed to be creepy. He's a little more reminiscent of the intoxicated clown from 'Uncle Buck', and it's all made even funnier when you realize Gacy is played by Mark Holton; someone we know a little bit more from comedies, but is above all else, Francis from 'Pee-Wee's Big Adventure'. So just think of Gacy saying something like "I know you are, but what am I?" and it's very hard to take him seriously here.
As far as the rest of the film goes, it's pretty much a Hollywood adaptation of what we know, and like 'Dahmer', it changes things up a little bit to make it a work of fiction, but everything you need to know about Gacy is still there. Considering this, it's much easier for me to recommend a few documentaries on the actual case much, much higher. I could say the same thing about 'Dahmer', I suppose, but at the very least, 'Dahmer' provided a good story that one could latch onto out of interest in the case. 'Gacy', in a way, moves too damn fast. It covers bare basics, and perhaps what stood out most as a difference was the quality in acting. 'Gacy' feels a little more like a college play.
One big reason for these comparisons to 'Dahmer' is the fact that they come from the same source of DEJ Productions. They pretty well both open with the same, or at least very similar text as well, stating in so many words that "the following is an act of fiction based on real events". So, as with 'Dahmer', I'll give it credit for that, at the very least. But the fact of the matter is, that's just not enough to save it. This wasn't anything truly psychological (although it tried at several points) so much as it's just a movie about a killer who we all know is doing the killing as he hides in plain sight. So my basic conclusion is, quite honestly, that there's extremely basic thriller entertainment value to this one, and just about every doc I've seen about the case overshadows this so heavily that it might as well not eve be there.
I'm gonna go ahead and clear the air about something before I get into this. Typically speaking, I don't think the serial killer biopic is a genre that's all that great. I find, in general, they tend to get a few facts right and sort of glorify all of the kills more for horror purposes than anything else. That sounds dumb, I know, but think of it this way - typically, you're getting a Jason or Freddy in the form of a real-life serial killer, but the only thing really scary about anything is that these people once existed.
So what is it I want from a good serial killer movie? I'm gonna go ahead and say I want something like this! 'Dahmer' is a film that gets us inside the killer's head in a big way, and that's the thing that makes this movie scary - as long as you can ignore the fact that Dahmer is played by Jeremy Renner, or as we all know him now, Marvel's "Hawkeye" (or former Hawkeye, anyway). I can see that adding to some idea of not being able to take him very seriously here, but trust me when I say he pulls off the role incredibly well. If you've ever wanted proof Renner can really act and not just be an action hero, this is it.
The film itself follows Jefferey Dahmer, living alone in Milwaukee, WI, as we are essentially shown how he did what he did. We get several flashbacks throughout the film that go back to his teenage years. One such memory involves his first kill in Bath, Ohio, and more consist of his relationship with his parents; namely his homophobic father, and his alcoholism. The main focus is generally the present day when Dahmer brings back a young man named Rodney (Artel Great) to his apartment with the intent to kill, but it also shows a firm example of his, shall we say, mixed feelings towards his murders, as there's clearly something between them.
Now, to make one thing clear about this film - it is a very uncomfortable film, both in the atmosphere and a lot of the physical activity going on, on different levels. It's darkly lit for the most part, with eerie music throughout, and the tension keeps building through it. But there's also almost a sort of twisted artistry to it. Now, I can stand to sit through a lot, but this does provide a pretty good test of the viewer's nerves. It's sincerely not even something I'd dub a horror movie so much as it is a dark drama, but I have to say, there were some scenes that made me squirm here. But the beauty of it is that it was all done without him just being some angry dude with a gnarly weapon. We really get to know Jefferey here, and it's great to see another one (like the last one) that isn't just a list of facts acted out (like the next one).
I'm going to suggest this mostly to anyone who is really into any sort of true crime involving high-profile serial killers. If you're interested in Dahmer in particular (duh), I'd recommend it even higher. But truth be told, it's quite a bit to get through. It's not long, but it's very dialogue-heavy with a lot of disturbing scenery within. This one seems to be made to play on the psyche with the way Dahmer thinks much more than to say "Hey, here's what he did". It's also one the critic will probably appreciate more than the average moviegoer, but I think this has the potential to appeal to the right audience. Either way, if you have yourself a Prime subscription, it can be found over there right now!
No Man of God
I seem to have picked a pretty good place to start with this month's theme of real-life serial killers brought to the screen in some way shape or form. Therefore, I'd like to take this opportunity to state that if you're no fan of true crime, or indeed, if any of this may be triggering in any sense of the word, one may wanna skip over these next four reviews. However, I will try to refrain from such things as much as possible. We kick things off with a release from just last year, 'No Man of God', centring on who may very well be the poster boy for serial killers in general, Ted Bundy.
There are a few Bundy titles out there, but this one grabbed my attention after hearing it referenced on a certain true crime podcast I listen to. What struck me about it was the idea of it being based on real transcripts chosen from conversations between Bundy (Luke Kirby) and FBI Special Agent Bill Hagmaier (Elijah Wood), ranging from 1984 to 1989. The pair form a complicated relationship during Bundy's final years, and here we see a pretty damn solid case of hero-relates-to-villain, as seen perhaps most famously in the movie 'Heat', but has been done a number of times before.
Having said that, I should probably say that as far as the hero and villain in this case are concerned, the film does a wonderful job of humanizing them both. There are moments they just have a laugh, moments that almost (they don't though) allow you to empathize with Bundy. One great moment in the film involved Bundy asking Hagmaier if he could ever kill someone, and I won't spoil anything, but let's just say the response is rather interesting. And again, don't get the wrong idea here, Bundy's where he needs to be right now. But this does provide an interesting look into Bundy's psyche, which is what it's all about, to begin with.
Right off the bat, I'm going to say that this is a film for the real die-hard fans of true crime who could be interested in something like this. While there's a nice change of pace from the typical Hollywood glorification of these serial killers here, there was something very real about this one in that it's pretty much all talking. The film is essentially one long interview, stitched together with a whole bunch of metaphorical imagery, giving the film a very artsy feel in a sense. But if you can allow yourself to sink into it, the performances are well worth the trip. Luke Kirby does an amazing Ted Bundy here, and Elijah Wood does a good job of flexing his acting muscles here, not so much being the Frodo he's become known as.
I think of all the movies I have on this particular list, this is the most real, and far away from any sort of "Hollywoodification". If you're interested in true crime stuff and have any sort of particular interest in Ted Bundy, then this could very well be the film for you, being just on the edge of documentary-style, and above all else, using real transcripts of the convos between these two. It's a pretty neat delve into the human psyche altogether - not just into Bundy's, but I do have to warn that it is very dry. When I say it's like one long interview, I do mean that. There's a break here and there, but if you want to see a serial killer movie for any sort of thrill, this is not the one to pick. Personally, I was pretty lukewarm to it. It's very interesting stuff, but I can't deny getting bored along the way either. So where's the line for me? The next film is a pretty "Dahm" good example of it.
Dave Made a Maze
In my search for this horror/comedy review collection, I stumbled on this title quite a bit. It seemed to come pretty highly recommended by various lists, and the images that I was able to see taken from the film certainly intrigued me. I could tell just by a few details that this was going to be something I enjoyed, and I'm happy to say that I definitely was not mistaken. This is one of the finest examples of all-around creativity I've seen in a film to date, and we all know how I'm a sucker for imagination put into a film.
Things open up with Dave's (Nick Thune) girlfriend, Annie (Meera Rohit Kumbhani) coming back to their apartment after having been away for the weekend. Upon entering, she notices a fair-sized cardboard fort has been constructed in the middle of things, while Dave's voice comes from it. Dave explains that he's built an elaborate labyrinth, and has become lost within it. He insists on having no one enter it, as things are too dangerous and people could get lost or caught in one of his booby traps. We also learn it can't just be knocked down, as it's actually a pretty gigantic structure that goes far further than just the apartment.
Annie calls Dave's good friend Gordon (Adam Busch) over to assess the situation, and Gordon, in turn, invites a whole whack of other guests over as well, including their friends Leonard (Scott Krinsky), Brynn (Stephanie Allynne), Greg (Timothy Nordwind), Jane (Kirsten Vangsness) and last but not leats, a filmmaker named Harry (James Urbaniak), his boom operator (Frank Caeti) and cameraman (Scott Narver). Eventually, the fascination with the alleged complex maze within the simple cardboard box fort leads these people inside in an attempt to rescue Dave, and help him find his way out.
Once in the maze, that's where the film takes a crazy turn with its imagination and just goes all out with things. Booby traps are sprung, for example, causing plenty of blood and gore, giving this horror/comedy its horror element. However, the gore is made up of things like red confetti, ribbons and other things one might see used as fake blood on a stage play. Beyond that, however, is the overall environment of the maze itself. It's all created with layered cardboard, paper, etc. and decorated both simply but elaborately. Think of it as a giant cardboard fort that a group of children constructed over the course of a summer or something. It's pretty simple stuff, but at the same time, you can't not think it's kind of awesome.
Things do not end on simple elaborate design, however. As I said, this is also loaded with imagination. One of the finest examples of this includes the group entering a room in which they all transform into paper bag puppets. Why? I have no idea whatsoever, but it's proof that they weren't afraid to go all out on this one instead of just thinking "nah, that's kinda dumb". There's also a minotaur that chases them around all throughout the maze, a strange portal that can transform you into cardboard if you touch it, and just pure works of art as far as the eye can see. This came from a genuinely creative mind who wanted to have fun with things.
All in all, this makes me think a LOT of being a kid and building forts in my basement. Things would transform just enough that it felt like a different room altogether, and we'd play games in there and such. It's almost like director Bill Waterson is a grown-up tapping into that childlike mentality and taking it to the next level - like what if we still thought like this? Beyond that, there's also a pretty strong message in here about the creative process, not being able to finish things and the frustrations of trying to create something perfect. One could think of the maze as Dave's own frustrated imagination at work as his friends travel through it trying to help him.
One can find this movie on Shudder at the moment, but otherwise, I'm afraid it's a pretty hard one to come across. That said, if you can find a way to watch it, this is one of my high recommendations for those of you who want to see something fun, original, creative and new. It's like I tell people, and this is further proof of it as far as I'm concerned, new and original movies DO still exist, they're just much harder to find now. This is also more of a comedy than it is a horror (especially with the blood not being remotely real), so just keep that in mind if you're coming here for the creepy factor. This may end up being one I want to show visitors when they come by though. If you can find a way to watch it, do check it out. It's bizarre, but really well done!
Here Comes Hell
This title is so very under the radar that it doesn't have a Wiki page (that I can find), the entire cast and crew are unfamiliar names (unless maybe you're British), it's low budget as all hell, and its Rotten Tomato page averages the film at 75% - 100% of that being a whopping 5 critic reviews. However, this is something I actually kind of admired for what it was. It's a title I think deserves to be out there for horror fans to explore.
Now, when I say "horror fans", I mean those who can appreciate this particular blend of 'Evil Dead', 'And Then There Were None' (which is really more mystery) and 'House on Haunted Hill'. Somehow, they made that all fit together here, and the low budget completely lends itself to the effects of old, classic cinema. Yeah, it sometimes looks ridiculous, but you can't help but feel that's what they meant to do. On top of that, it IS classified as a horror/comedy, so I feel a lot of cheap special effects are forgivable. Having said that, I should probably note that it's not exactly a knee-slapper of a horror/comedy either - this is saying a lot, as that's my favourite sub-genre.
The plot is about as basic as it gets. A number of characters, including George (Tom Bailey), Christine (Margaret Clunie), Jeffrey Bank (Robert Llewellyn), Freddie (Timothy Renouf), Victor (Charlie Robb) and Elizabeth (Jessica Webber) get invited to a fancy dinner party at a gigantic Manor. It's the old whodunnit set-up, hosted by some unnamed guy (Jasper Britton). However, instead of the classic situation where everyone gets to know each other, the lights flicker, and the first murder is committed for a night of problem-solving, only the first of these is true to form.
Instead, our Host wishes to conduct a seance with the help of a medium named Madame Bellrose (Maureen Bennett) in order to contact the spirit of the mansion's former owner, Ichabod Quinn (Nicholas Le Prevost). As one can probably guess, the seance goes awry, and before the group knows it, they are face to face with what can only be considered another version of "Deadites" from 'Evil Dead'. Can they survive the night, and close the gate to Hell they just accidentally opened? Sooo... not entirely original on the whole, but once again, this one's more about the execution of things.
The way this plays out is as though it's an old-timey horror/mystery film from the 30s or 40s but if they were allowed to do things like 'Evil Dead' was able to do by 1981. It would have been terrifying for the time, and I can't help but appreciate that aspect of it. I have a thing for something that can use old material but put a new spin on it. The only real problem I have with this is that it's just not really funny at all. There were times I may have snickered a bit, but I'm fairly convinced I wasn't exactly meant to. This is a movie I can appreciate for what it tried to do, but it sadly does fall a little bit flat. However, with the right audience, I do believe this has some kind of cult-following potential. For those of you who have Shudder, go check it out and decide for yourself.
You Might Be the Killer
Here we have what turned out to be a happy accident, as this review was originally to be something that I couldn't end up finding. Therefore, some last-minute research on something to replace it lead me to this title that actually turned out to be right up my alley. I will say that it's not exactly the best of its kind. But it does take a different sort of turn with the typical "camp counsellors in the woods" scenario in its overall execution. It's not what I'd call entirely original, but it seems to borrow from all the right things to make it all work.
The film kicks off with the lead camp counsellor for Camp Clear Vista, Sam (Fran Kranz) running away from something, panicked, sweaty and covered in blood. He uses his cell to contact his friend, Charlotte, better known through the film as "Chuck" (Alyson Hannigan). Chuck is a hardcore horror fan who works at a comic book store called "Rings of Saturn". Sam explains that a killer is on the loose at camp, and begins recounting the events to her in an effort to get her advice on the situation. It's not long, however, before the obvious is stated, and the walkthrough Chuck gives Sam becomes a little more than she bargained for.
One thing I picked up on, whether it was on purpose or not, was the names of a lot of these counsellors. One by one, we had Carol (Olivia Jaye Brown), Ted (Jesse Gallegos), Steve the "Kayak King" (Bryan Price), Drew (Sara Catherine Bellamy), Alice (Clara Chong), Heather (Carol Jean Wells), Freddie (Jack Murillo), Nancy (Savannah DesOrmeaux), Brad (Patrick Walker), Jamie (Jenna Harvey), and Sam's last summer fling he's still in love with, Imani (Brittany S. Hall). I won't go super detailed on some of the character names here, but I will note that a lot of it feels like nods to horror icons - namely 'Elm Street' characters (at least some of them).
Back to the film itself, I thought the dark comedy worked really well here. I appreciated Hannigan's sort of casual take on the whole situation, and a lot of her delivery is pretty funny. There she is, chatting on her phone in the middle of her store talking about murder, blood, killers etc. Therefore, we get a LOT of hilarious customer reactions, as they are all hearing it out of context. I might suggest that side of it is the highlight of the film, as everything else is more or less pretty typical stuff - the only difference being that we're following who might be the killer as opposed to the teenage movie meat waiting to happen. They also used this scenario with two of my favourite horror comedies, 'Behind the Mask' and 'Tucker and Dale vs Evil'. So I think I've found that I definitely have a thing for a good horror/comedy feature that's more about the killer and not so much the innocent victims.
I feel like I should also bring up the quality of the kills in the movie. I'm not gonna sit here and say it's amazing, but there's a lot of that old school 'Friday the 13th' spirit put into this where it's more about something quick and brutal to make the audience go "OOooh!" I've never been one for the torturous aspect of the kill, so this is what I personally prefer. Kills in a movie are like a cup of coffee; everyone has their formula for a good cup. Anyway, for whatever reason, I found it almost refreshing to see kills like this. That sounds really awful, I know, but all I mean is that this felt like it took it back to the old school style that movies like 'Halloween' and, again, 'Friday the 13th' perfected. Of course, maybe I've just been under a rock and missing out on a bunch of solid titles that have gone over my head.
This is a title that can be found on Shudder right now, and I'm not altogether sure where else, so watching it could be a bit tricky. That said, this isn't quite as up there as something like 'Tucker and Dale' where I wanna drag horror fans in by the ear to watch it. But it is something I'd recommend to horror fans to check out, if they can, nonetheless. It strikes me as one of those "throw on any old time" movies that don't make it onto anyone's "favourites" list, but it's enough that you could be in the mood for it every once in a while. I think if nothing else, a horror fan can have some fun with it. I know I did.
One Cut of the Dead
Despite this one being located "under the radar", it seems pretty evident that there are a lot of people out there who are familiar with this title. Personally, I've known of its existence since its 2017 release. Word spread about it being an absolutely solid Japanese horror/comedy flick, but for whatever reason, I just never gave it the time of day until now. My final conclusion though, spoiler alert, is that this is a unique example of how to take two completely overdone horror clichés and make something really good out of them.
This film manages to blend the concepts of found footage and zombie films and create what could be considered a work of directorial art from them... and that's just the first part of it. With that said, I'm going to try my best to keep this as spoiler-free as possible, and that is going to be extremely hard. So perhaps focus should mostly go to this first half. It entails a hack director, Higurashi (Takayuki Hamatsu) who gets frustrated with his film's actors, and we see him storm off. Meanwhile, we learn through actors Chinatsu (Yuzuki Akiyama) and Ko (Kazuaki Nagaya) along with makeup artist, Nao (Harumi Shuhama) that the abandoned water filtration plant they're shooting in has a pretty horrific history.
This history, of course, involves human experimentation and the eventual lead to zombification. Before long, the zombie film 'One Cut of the Dead' within the zombie film 'One Cut of the Dead' turns from fantasy to reality, as actual zombies terrorize the set. This, in turn, actually results in a pretty wonderful combination of comedic moments and high adrenaline. The comedy comes from zombies often being mistaken as actors, but the adrenaline comes from what is essentially a 40-minute single shot of zombie action, complete with chase scenes, gore and things that would be very hard to do in a single take. So huge kudos to these guys for managing it!
As far as the second part of it goes, that's where things get extremely tricky. There's a big reveal, and it gets way too deep into spoiler territory, but I will say this about it - it's very clever! If you want to know what's what and don't care about spoilers, then I'd urge you to take a look at the Wikipedia plot synopsis for this because from my perspective, I'd sooner highly recommend just watching the movie. It's a Shudder Exclusive at the moment, so if you don't have Shudder, you may be SOL. But if you can find a way to watch it, I'd say it's worth the approximate hour and a half, if only to refresh one's perspective on found footage and zombie films.
To top everything off, this is also a film largely dedicated to people who are into filmmaking and the whole behind-the-scenes process of everything. It has some truly unique ideas, it doesn't hold back on making you laugh, and it's also just very impressive filmmaking altogether. The one-cut concept already makes the movie pretty awesome, but then when the tables turn on the film, and the reveal happens, it's enough to make one want to applaud the real writer/director of this, Shin'ichirô Ueda. Once again, I'm happy to say that my mind is opened just a little bit more after checking this one out. If you enjoy found footage and/or zombies on any sort of level, this one comes recommended highly by yours truly.
Withnail & I
Generally speaking, I'm a pretty big fan of British comedy. But sometimes a title comes along that's pretty well-renowned as something that almost should be much more up my alley than it ends up being. 'Withnail & I' happens to be one of these movies. Let me be clear that I didn't hate, or even really dislike it. But it's a very well-reviewed title, the concept sounded fun, and upon this first viewing, I came out of it just kind of shrugging my shoulders at it. It's a good movie, I just didn't fall in love with it like so many others.
The story here involves The exuberant Withnail (Richard E. Grant) and the rather pensive Marwood (Paul McGann); two unemployed, actors living together in a nightmarish flat in Camden Town, London, in 1969. A fairly hardcore drug dealer by the name of Danny (Ralph Brown) is their only visitor, and it's not long before the pair feel cooped up enough that they want a holiday. The destination is a rural cottage owned by Withnail's Uncle Monty (Richard Griffiths), to which Monty eventually gives Withnail the key. Soon, the pair find themselves in what could very well be a worse situation than being cooped up in their mess of a flat all day.
Upon their arrival, they find the cottage to be in bad shape and without any provisions, the locals to be unpleasant - namely a rough-looking poacher named Jake (Michael Elphick), and the weather to be very dreary for their stay. Not surprisingly, it ends up being a situation where everything bad about their stay keeps escalating. Such situations include having to cook a chicken, dealing with a potential stalker, and of course, each other. But while I may shrug this one off a bit more than others, I can certainly appreciate what makes it "one of Britain's biggest cult films", according to the BBC.
I think my biggest takeaway from this is the idea that the grass isn't always "greener" on the other side of the fence. However, that's more of a surface thing. This also has a lot to do with the strained friendship of the titular twosome. And without spoiling too much, I'll just say that the way this ends almost defines "bittersweet" and pretty relatable, on the whole. For me, it's actually the way this ends that makes it worth the watch. In its own right, it's a bit of a work of art - cliche as that may sound. So believe me when I say that I can most certainly appreciate this one for what it is.
With all that said, however, I'm not sure why it didn't quite stick out for me. It's something I feel like I need to give a few viewings before really enjoying it, which is not unheard of for me. Even 'Monty Python and the Holy Grail', which I now consider my favourite comedy of all time, was a movie I thought had a "bunch of boring scenes". Nowadays, if you skip those same scenes, I feel like I want to lecture you on why those scenes are hilarious. I do get the impression that with enough viewings, this one could also grow on me quite easily. It's definitely not without the dark humour I appreciate so much, and the cherry on top of it all is Ralph Brown.
For those of you who may not be able to place Ralph Brown, check out 'Wayne's World 2' again - he played Del Preston, Jim Morrison's former roadie. If you recall the character, you'll remember how funny he is, and this is basically the exact same character. Del Preston could totally be Danny, and that's actually kinda fun to think about. For yours truly, his brief appearances are the real comedic highlights of the movie. I will go ahead and recommend this to try out if you're into any sort of underground British comedy. As I said, even after all my praise for it, there's still a little something I don't quite get that others seem to. But again, I don't think this will be my one and only viewing.
Here's a rather hilarious title that still floats under the radar for most people I talk to about it. This comes to us from writer/director Chris Morris, who, if you can't quite place the name, played Denholm Reynholm in 'The IT Crowd'. Also, if you've never watched 'IT Crowd', do yourself a favour and check it out - bloody hilarious.
But getting back on track, 'Four Lions' focuses on a group of radicalized British Muslim men living in England who want nothing more than to become suicide bombers. So right away, one might want to think of this as a sort of British 'Team America'. It's very much a satire on the average terrorist mind, and it does it all very unapologetically. One might call it "edgy", but if you know anything about Chris Morris, this will come as no surprise. Also bear in mind that no one actually gets harmed in this movie. A sheep is credited to have been harmed, but be at peace that this is a fake credit.
Among the four are Omar (Riz Ahmed), our story's lead who's very critical of Western society; the bad-tempered Barry (Nigel Lindsay), the token dimwitted character, Waj (Kayvan Novak); and the ever-naive Faisal (Adeel Akhtar). Just to give some faces to these characters, Ahmed was Bodhi Rook in 'Rogue One', Akhtar was Naveed in 'The Big Sick' and Lestrade in the recent 'Enola Holmes', and one might recognize Novak as Nandor in the 'What We Do in the Shadows' series. Lindsay's a bit harder to place as this is the only thing I would probably know him from, but rest assured, his character is one of the best parts of the film; short-tempered at everyone else, but keeps screwing up, himself.
While Omar and Waj "answer the call", and head to a training camp for al Qaeda in Pakistan, Barry attends a conference and recruits a fifth member by the name of Hassan (Arsher Ali - who I'd probably only know from 'The Ritual'). Disaster hits the training camp by Omar's own hand (in a pretty hilarious scene, I might add), bringing the pair back to Britain, but Omar with a new attitude of authority with the group. The rest of the film pretty well involves them bumbling with plans for a bombing while ideologies are constantly clashing. But what takes you by surprise is some of the underlying concepts the film has to offer, like bringing Omar's loving wife and child into the story.
So, I'm not going to say that the film is "full of heart" while being a knee-slapping comedy, because it's definitely the latter first. I might also say that at this point in time it could be considered "dated", but it's comedic, slap-stick look at terrorism without causing any actual harm to anyone but themselves is almost something to be admired. It's not saying "look at these terrible people" so much as it's saying "look at these idiots". The way the film ends, as well, is (at least to me) enough to redeem a lot of the edgy, dark humor throughout the film. It proves the film still has some heart, and is actually still asking a lot of the same questions we've been asking about terrorism this whole time.
This might not be what I would consider a masterpiece of comedy like so many other reviewers seem to be doing. It's not something I'd be able to throw on just any old time, and I feel like I'd have to be in the mood to watch something along the lines of "World's Dumbest Criminals" to do so. But it does a good job at satirising something that, in essence, is mostly untouched in a comedic fashion. Again, 'Team America' is about all I can think of, and even then, the satire leans more on the American side of things. It's worth checking out if you want a good laugh based on this sort of thing.
Hunt for the Wilderpeople
I may have mentioned this already, but Taika Waititi has grown over the years as one of my favourites when it comes to directing. He's a fine example of someone whose material that I have seen, I've never really been disappointed in. From 'What We Do in the Shadows' to 'Thor: Ragnarok' and even a bit of TV with 'Wellington Paranormal', he seems to hit the mark every time. The man knows how to entertain, my fandom for him just keeps growing, and this movie is no exception. It just makes me want to see more.
We meet a juvenile delinquent named Ricky Baker (Julian Dennison), who has been given a new home through child welfare with his kindly new foster aunt, Bella (Rima Te Wiata), and her crotchety husband, Hector - nicknamed "Hec" (Sam Neill). Bella is very successful in forming a relationship with Ricky, but Hec really keeps to himself, and even sees the boy as a sort of unnecessary burden that he's putting up with. One day, things fall apart when Bella suddenly passes, and Hec prepares to give Ricky back to child services. This leads to Ricky faking suicide and running away with his dog, Tupac.
Soon enough, however, Hec finds the lost Ricky in the bush, and an injury to Hec's ankle has the two of them camping out for a little while. Meanwhile, back at the house, authorities find it abandoned, with some damage to the barn (caused by Ricky's fake suicide) and conclude that a bereaved and unstable Hec has kidnapped Ricky. But while authorities search for the pair, Hec has a nasty criminal record and Ricky's fate if brought in by authorities at this point could only be bad. With that, the two decide to head into the woods together; fugitives of sorts, ducking and dodging authority figures. And don't worry, the movie has a better explanation than I do about why these two are being chased.
With all of that, hopefully, I didn't spoil too much in my description. But anyway, essentially we have Alan Grant of 'Jurassic Park' trying to take care of and bond with the pain-in-the-ass kid from 'Deadpool 2'. I mean, it already sounds kind of fun, doesn't it? Especially when all he wanted to really do in the first place is get rid of the boy. That's nothing against actor Julian Dennison, but he manages to find himself somewhat typecast. Between this, 'Deadpool 2' and 'Christmas Chronicles 2', he seems to always land a role as a kid we're supposed to get irritated with, yet sympathize for. I think he's got talent, but he needs to land something where he can really flex his acting muscles.
With that said, however, this predates other things I've seen him in, so it could be said that the trend started here. It's also fitting to play off of Sam Neil's character. Their chemistry is honestly quite good here. I like the idea that this takes the father/son concept and makes it completely reluctant. Neither Ricky nor Hec want to really be with each other here, but they're forced to be and made to look out for one another. What gives it the extra "zip" is that these two aren't lost, scared and alone so much as they're survivors on the run from authorities. It often results in hilarity, but it's balanced very well with a good amount of drama.
As far as Taika Waititi's material goes (that I have seen), I would put this level to something like 'Jojo Rabbit'. All in all, it IS a drama, but it's a drama that's full of laughs that can STILL manage to make you tear up. Waititi seems to be very good at being able to gauge our every emotion, even though he leans towards comedy first. After seeing this, I've convinced myself that I need to check out some of his material that I haven't seen yet. For any fans of his who haven't checked this title out yet, I'm gonna highly recommend it. I may have liked 'Jojo' a bit better, but this is very close in comparison, especially with such a good soundtrack full of indie music.
Full disclosure, I thought this was a little more "Under the Radar" than it actually is. I suppose perspective is everything. Nevertheless, despite how much I love The Lonely Island's farcical music, for some reason, I never sat down to check out 'Popstar' in its more than five years of existence. I suppose my familiarity era for Lonely Island material is more the stuff that took place ten-plus years ago.
Just taking a slight aside here, let's talk about further, more "hidden" Lonely Island success. They may be mostly known for their SNL/viral music videos, but the trio of Andy Samberg, Jorma Taccone and Akiva Schaffer have had their hands in a bunch of popular stuff, including writing and performing "Everything is Awesome" and 'The LEGO Movie', a Netflix Original called 'Michael Bolton's Big, Sexy Valentine's Day Special', the upcoming 'Chip 'n Dale Rescue Rangers' and more. So they may be a little more "behind the scenes" now, but I'd almost consider them to be the modern-day, edgier "Weird Al" (not to take anything away from Al, I still love the guy!)
The film is shot mostly mockumentary-style, as it covers the success of Conner Friel (Samberg); a musician who went solo after his work with the fictional "Style Boyz" fell apart with a break-up. The Style Boyz further consisted of Conner's childhood friends, Lawrence Dunn (Schaffer), who has since become a farmer after failing his own solo career and Owen Bouchard (Taccone), who becomes Conner's nearly pointless DJ (as all he does is hit "play" on an iPod). Conner has since adopted the solo name "Conner4Real", and his debut album "Thriller, Also" is ultimately a success. However, his second album, "Connquest", tanks, putting Conner in a bit of a desperate situation.
Harry (Tim Meadows), Conner's manager, tries a few different things to attempt to get Conner back on top. These include things like trying a sponsorship with Aquaspin home appliances and hiring a rapper named Hunter the Hungry (Chris Redd). Meanwhile, Conner tries his own strategies with on-stage gimmicks that keep going wrong and going public with his proposal to actress Ashley Wednesday (Imogen Poots), on the advice of his publicist, Paula Klein (Sarah Silverman). Soon enough, however, it becomes a question of what part of this job is more important - the money, fame and success, or doing right by his fans and old friends.
I can't believe that this one almost went over my head. The way it plays with the ego of this "superstar" gone awry gets pretty hilarious, but what really makes the movie is ALL of the names attached to the cast. Shot mockumentary style, we get names like Seal, Michael Bolton, Nas, 50 Cent, Usher, Akon, Mariah Carrey, DJ Khaled, ASAP Rocky, Mario Lopez, and even the one and only Ringo Starr all playing themselves in various interviews. And that's not even everyone! To see how serious they are in some of these ridiculous interviews about Conner4Real can get pretty hilarious.
All in all, this ended up being a box office failure. But I think one must take into account other titles released around it contributing to its box office floppiness as well. It was released alongside 'Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Out of the Shadows', and had 'X-Men: Apocalypse' and 'Alice Through the Looking Glass' released before it, while audiences were awaiting the following week's releases of 'The Conjuring 2', 'Now You See Me 2' and 'Warcraft'. Even 'Finding Dory' was released the week after that. In other words, it almost didn't stand a chance when your average fan is flocking to familiarity.
With that said, however, I can't push this as a comedy enough. This is, without a doubt, one of the funniest comedies I've seen in quite a while, and it's something I plan on re-watching time and time again. It's going to be one of those titles for yours truly. Just as far as taste goes, I might classify it as something of a present-day but edgier 'This is Spinal Tap'. It's absolutely worth checking out if you are or ever have been a fan of Lonely Island, as well. Despite the fact that it didn't do so hot at the Box Office, it has earned a bit of a cult following, and I'm pretty happy to join that particular cult. A few minor things hold it back, but this is almost a 5.
This one represents the directorial debut of a more common actor, Peter Stebbings, who one might know from a variety of TV dramas such as 'Murdoch Mysteries' (as James Pendrick), 'Nurses' (as Dr. Thomas Hamilton), and 'Bates Motel' (as "Trespasser"/"Bob's Employee"). Interestingly enough, this one predates the more popular 'Kick-Ass' as the portrayal of a "real-life" superhero, using nothing but wits along with little fighting skill, and getting his ass kicked appropriately in the process.
'Kick-Ass', however, still has a very comic-style feel to it. As "real" as it's meant to be, it's still an obvious work of fiction. There's something about the genuine harshness of 'Defendor' that stands out, making it really quite realistic all over. It even gets pretty deep at times and speaks to some out there who would love to get away with being a superhero. To be quite honest, despite any of its brutality, the bottom line of the film is actually pretty inspiring, as if to say even us little guys can be heroes. All it takes is the right frame of mind, and the understanding that the word "hero" doesn't have to be attached to the word "super".
The film opens with a man named Arthur Poppington (Woody Harrelson) talking to a psychiatrist named Dr. Park (Sandra Oh). Arthur has been sent to see her and be interviewed about his assault on a Mr. Debrofkowitz. The story is then told as a flashback interview, where we see Arthur taking on the role of "Defendor"; a hero out to stop his nemesis "Captain Industry", whom he believes is responsible for his mother's death. This leads him to a corrupt detective named Dooney (Elias Koteas), who Arthur thinks must work for Captain Industry.
After a confrontation and a good beat-down from Dooney and his friends, he meets a prostitute named Angel (Kat Dennings). Angel, not living up to her name, convinces Arthur that she knows who Captain Industry really is, and leads him on a not-so-healthy path, all the while spending Arthur's money. Meanwhile, Arthur's friend and boss, Paul (Michael Kelly) becomes increasingly concerned about Arthur's well-being, both mentally and physically. Eventually, it leads the viewer to question whether what "Defendor" is doing is really wrong or perhaps just a little justified.
While one is bound to go into this expecting much more of a comedy (again, similar to 'Kick-Ass'), what we get instead is actually a bit of a pleasant surprise. This movie takes into consideration things like the mental health part of a superhero. While Batman is quite often said to have issues or be "crazy", it's never really analyzed on a level quite like this. Beyond that, it's a matter of how far one would take the hero role before getting into trouble, and indeed, is any of the vigilantism he displays actually justified? It's a pretty interesting character study altogether.
When it comes to James Gunn's early work, a lot of people would probably suggest 'Slither' as being the cult hit of his past. However, he did have another that doesn't get referred to nearly as much (probably because it's his lowest-ranked title), and that's 'Super'. I still think that it has its following, but its timing is extremely unfortunate.
When you watch this, it's basically a cross between 'Kick-Ass'; released the same year and infinitely better, and 'Defendor', released a year prior and also often seen as much better. The thing 'Super' had working for it more than anything else seemed to be its cast of familiar faces. Again, at the time, James Gunn was still a pretty fresh face, so his name didn't mean a whole hell of a lot quite yet. In other words, to be fair, this isn't about to be equated to 'Guardians' or the latest 'Suicide Squad'. This is a little more on-par in quality to 'Slither'. Perhaps even a bit less.
Frank Darbo (Rainn Wilson) lives a life of insecurity and refers to the two best moments of his life for inspiration. First and most important is his marriage to his wife, Sarah (Liv Tyler), and second, was pointing out a perp's location to a cop, thus illustrating his interest in crime-fighting, or at least, the law. His humility is a little overwhelming, however, causing Sarah to leave him for a club owner named Jacques (Kevin Bacon). Frank sees this as more a kidnapping than a loss, however, and wants to get Sarah back one way or another. It doesn't help at all that Sarah is a recovering drug addict and this Jacques character seems to have plenty of them.
Soon, Frank has a vision in which he's visited by the Holy Avenger (Nathan Fillion), who pretty much tells him that he should become a superhero. Due to the messenger being the Holy Avenger, Frank takes this as a message from God, and does his research on powerless heroes at a local comic store. With the help of comic store clerk, Libby (Elliot Page), and her suggestion for someone out there to become a superhero in real life, Frank takes to the streets as the Crimson Bolt. The thing is, his way of avenging society isn't exactly by the book. And as he quite literally tells crime to "shut up" with his pipe wrench, his mission to save his wife (who may or may not even want saving) remains his primary goal.
Between this being a black comedy that's almost too dark in its look at comedy, and being overshadowed by 'Defendor' (to be reviewed next) and 'Kick-Ass', it's sort of easy to see why this got swept under the rug. It is interesting, however, to remember this being sort of a big deal for a short time. In fact, this practically paralleled 'Defendor' in a "Coke/Pepsi" sort of way for a bit as the lesser-known "realistic" hero. It basically comes down to taste. Personally speaking, I find this one to be a lot sillier than 'Defendor', and the message at the end is a bit of a "wait a minute..." kind of message; one you need to second-guess. I wouldn't recommend any movie in this "real hero" category above 'Kick-Ass', myself. But like I said, this does have a cult following, so maybe it's another case of me just not wanting to be part of that cult.
Let's face it; whether you're like me and can't get enough, or someone who's sick of it all, one can't really deny an oversaturation of the superhero genre lately. It is, indeed, to the point where a lot of it can be played for laughs nowadays (like three of the four titles on this "Underground Superhero" list). But one might recall this somewhat forgotten farcical title from 1999 that has since become something of a hidden gem.
It's important to remember that this predates things like the 'X-Men' and 'Spider-Man' movies, and at the time, the best superhero movie in existence was probably still 1989's 'Batman'. Sure, 'Blade' was still very fresh as well, but the superhero genre was only really on the first rungs of the ladder to success. As a result, there was something about 'Mystery Men' that always felt a bit off, as it was a parody of the superhero genre before the superhero genre was anything really good yet. Therefore, it's largely considered nowadays to be before its time, and it's currently something fun to check out more so than it was upon its initial release.
An amateur superhero team consisting of Mr. Furious (Ben Stiller), The Shoveler (William H. Macy) and The (now probably controversial) Blue Raja (Hank Azaria) try to make a name for themselves by preventing a robbery. They are, however, interrupted by the arrogant Captain Amazing (Greg Kinnear), whose fame and power have seemingly resulted in all of his primary enemies being eliminated, one way or another. This leads to his sponsors withdrawing support, and his own desperation to stay on top. Using his secret identity of lawyer Lance Hunt, he pleas for the release of his arch-nemesis Casanova Frankenstein (Geoffrey Rush), basically so that he has something to do.
Amazing's plans backfire, however, and Frankenstein outwits and captures him. All the while, his diabolical plan involves unleashing something called the "Psycho-frakulator" on Champion City - a device that can bend reality with fatal consequences. So we have a very classic Batman-ish villainous plot here which, along with silly things like not recognizing Captain Amazing out of costume (like Superman) really lends itself to the comedic aspect of the movie when we think of how silly some of these things are. Anyway, with Amazing out of the picture, it's up to the trio of unlikely heroes to save the city.
Realizing the team needs more allies to go after a big villain like Frankenstein, the team holds auditions for new additions. Through this, they recruit Invisible Boy (Kel Mitchell), The Spleen (Paul Reubens) and The Bowler (Janeane Garofalo). The trouble is, no one but The Bowler is very good with their superpowers, and they eventually need to undergo some training from the Sphinx (Wes Studi). Can the unlikely superheroes show their full potential, rescue Captain Amazing from the clutches of the evil Disco Boys and save their city?
It's interesting for me to remember seeing this upon its release and not really being into it at all. I think a lot of it was, again, the timing though. It was kind of hard to see this as a farce more than thinking the superhero genre was just kind of doomed at that point. I mean, it was still pretty hit or miss after that, save for a few titles leading up to 2008's 'Iron Man'. But it's like I said before. One can actually probably get a real kick out of this nowadays with the whole genre basically taking things over. It's a fun superhero comedy that doesn't take itself seriously at all, and even seemingly makes fun of the whole thing. I really think this is one that both fans and non-fans of the superhero genre can appreciate.
The found footage genre is very hit-or-miss when it comes to my own taste. A lot of people just can't really do it, and that's something I understand. But if it's done creatively enough, I tend to really like quite a few of them - one of them being the now unbelievable 10-year-old 'Chronicle'; the found-footage take on obtaining superpowers for lack of a better term. And, funny story, two of these actors would go on to feature in mainstream Superhero movies.
As all found-footage movies go, our basic setup is seen from the get-go where our lead, Andrew Detmer (Dane DeHaan), decides he's going to film "everything" from now on. A good chunk of this is due to his abusive, alcoholic father, Richard (Michael Kelly) who blames Andrew for literally everything, including Andrew's mom, Karen's (Bo Peterson) illness. Andrew also gets bullied at school, but one has to admit that to some degree, he's not really the most likable person. But no worries, as this character was actually well-formed that way for good reason.
Andrew's cousin, Matt Garetty (Alex Russell) invites him to a party one night, in order to mingle and try to get himself out there, meeting people. There, things don't go too well, but he eventually meets Class President hopeful, Steve Montgomery (Michael B. Jordan). Steve brings Andrew and his camera to meet up with Matt in order to explore a very mysterious cave that seems to have appeared out of nowhere. Upon exploring, something unknown happens that seemingly leads the trio to obtain telekinesis.
One thing I do love about this movie is the way this power works. Things seem to come with limits, and it acts a lot like weight-lifting. The more they do it, the better they get, but if they overdo it, things result in a pretty bad nose-bleed. As they videotape all of the cool stuff they learn how to do throughout the film, things don't exactly go without incident, and soon enough we see the difference between having the power to help others and having the power to help oneself. If you gained such an ability yourself, would you abuse it if you were really good at it? Or would you only use it when and if it was asked for?
One word of warning I'll give about this, along with most found-footage films, is that there's really no explanation as to how they really got these abilities. Something happens, we don't know, and we're not meant to know. One thing I appreciate about this genre is the lack of explanation. One can use imagination to fill in the blanks, and to some degree, it almost doesn't make any sense to offer up an explanation, as we're supposed to be experiencing things through the eyes of the cameraman. I do get people being somewhat miffed about that, considering a lack of structure. But for me, found footage is almost meant to be more of a theme park ride experience than an actual solid film.
There are a few examples of found footage that I'd say are really well done, and I have to say that this is one of them. It's a fun and quick way to tell a superhero story while being original, but also offering up the two paths someone with special abilities can go down. It sort of begs the question of what one would do if they had this power. For me, I like the idea of using it for mischief. You're not being a good guy, but you're not exactly being a supervillain either. There's a whole bit here where you see them do just that, and though you feel kind of bad for the people they are messing with, it does give one a pretty good chuckle.
As for the two who went on to star in mainstream superhero movies, Michael B. Jordan is likely the obvious one, as Killmonger in 'Black Panther' AND Human Torch in 2015's 'Fantastic Four'. Dane DeHaan also went on to be a crappy version of the Green Goblin in 'The Amazing Spider-Man 2'. But what's odd is that Alex Russell doesn't seem to (unless I missed something) have credit for anything like that. The guy has potential though, so we shall see if he gets added to anything in the near future. Anyway, if you ever wanted to see where at least Michael B. Jordan came from, this is an interesting watch nowadays. If nothing else, it's a cool take on not only the found-footage genre, but the superhero genre as well.
The Angry Red Planet
Topping off these B movies is the truly unique 'Angry Red Planet'. While definitely landing under the category of "so bad it's good", I have to at least give the film a little bit of credit for creativity. We see it in the cinematography, as it makes everything on Mars an odd shade of red (almost like a photo negative), and in the creature design - most famously, if you Google this movie, you're bound to see a giant crab, spider, bat... thing. It's would-be nightmare fuel if it didn't look so corny.
The film also goes by the names 'Invasion of Mars' (not to be confused with 'Invaders from Mars') and 'Journey to Planet Four'. The interesting mix of (RED/ORANGE) colours in the Mars scenery, and hilariously designed creatures are largely due to a low budget time restraint of only nine days to film! Could you imagine filming a whole movie in nine days!? Even famously rushed films get about a month (give or take). Anyway, this gave way to "CineMagic", which combines hand-drawn animation with live-action (way before 'Roger Rabbit'). However, the process created clearly terrible-looking stuff (even if it feels original), and was only seemingly used once more for a 'Three Stooges' movie.
As for the film, it opens with mission control awaiting the arrival of the "Mars Rocket 1", following the first manned mission to Mars. On its way in, however, ground technicians can't seem to communicate with the astronauts. The ship is safely landed by remote control, and only two of the four crewmembers are found alive; Dr. Iris Ryan (Naura Hayden) and Col. Tom O'Bannion (Gerald Mohr). O'Bannion's arm is covered in a strange alien gunk, and this ultimately leads to a "how did we get here?" story, as Ryan explains the mission in detail during her debriefing. So most of the film is a story in memory.
As one can probably expect, this is full of all the wonderful cheese that we've come to expect from your average 50's B movie (1959, specifically). The ultimate message, in the end, had a lot to do with how advancing technology is a dangerous thing. But the final bit of the movie where this message takes place is actually too funny to spoil. It's not a big deal, but when all said and done, it's totally laughable (which probably doesn't come as much of a surprise). And for as much credit as I may give the film for originality, none of that actually makes the movie any good. I mean, a log of poop that can breathe fire and speak fluently is original too, but try handing that idea into a big-time producer.
Simply put, this is, like most B movies of the era, super fun and corny. It's an acid trip of a romp, loaded with the finest cheese, and almost has to be seen to be believed with some of the choices made. Fair warning, things start really slow. So don't fret if you're not laughing at the absurdity of everything from the get-go. Personally speaking, I found things got "good" right around the time you first see Mars' surface. But with that said, it's a part of Amazon Prime's collection if you're a subscriber. So if you have about an hour and a half with which to lose your mind, head on over and check it out
Invasion of the Star Creatures
Another fine example of a product of its time (in other words, extremely dated with some things) is this little independent romp that doesn't fit into society today at all. The main problems it runs into are it's very cartoonish treatment of both women and Native Americans. As a result, this is another movie that's hilariously over-the-top and dated. The sad thing is, all of the dated stuff is trying to help the movie be funny.
Watching this is a lot like watching someone carrying ten stacked pizzas on one hand while trying to ride a unicycle and burp the alphabet. You know it's going to fail, you know the fail is gonna be hilarious, but the movie will get back up and try again, only to fail over and over with each try. This is a film that's so badly dated with its material that it's really no wonder the only version I found of it was on a YouTube channel, chock full of ads while I was watching it.
Now, Going way off-topic, remember 'Deadpool' and its gag opening credits? Well, this one actually opens with "R.I. Diculous Presents", which instantly gives you the notion that this is a comedy more than the typical B movies that lean more towards horror and sci-fi. Granted, this is another sci-fi, but it's sci-fi comedy, featuring Dollar Store versions of Abbott and Costello; Army Privates Philbrick (Robert Ball) and Penn (Frank Ray Perilli). They are responsible for the simpler tasks at the U.S. Army base where they're stationed; Fort Nicholson, and are introduced with a runaway hose gag, instantly telling us everything we need to know about these two bumbling characters.
Philbrick and Penn are soon assigned to a scouting mission, sending them into a nearby cavern, along with an expedition team. In the cave, they are separated from the rest of the team, and captured by whatever the crap those things are in the accompanying picture - described as humanoid, plant-like creatures. Said creatures bring them to an alien base, commanded by two beautiful women from the distant planet of Kalar (just examine these names for a second); Dr. Puna (Gloria Victor) and Prof. Tanga (Dolores Reed). We also soon learn that a kiss from one of these guys leaves them in a dazed state. But just you wait, because the offensiveness doesn't stop there.
As also mentioned previously, we eventually come across a Native American group, made to be a source of humour by using a lot of stereotypes. Granted, they come across as friendly, but we do still get words like "savages" thrown into the mix. Being that this was 1962, none of this movie's offenses are entirely surprising, given the general public's (ignorant) state of mind about things back then. But once again, we have something that's actually entertaining because it's so terrible in that sense. It's another example of a film that illustrates how far we've come as a society, and yet, how much further we have to go.
Viking Women and the Sea Serpent
Perhaps one may know this better by its other long, drawn out name, "The Saga of the Viking Women and Their Voyage to the Waters of the Great Sea Serpent". Either way you name it, it's still another hilariously bad piece of the Roger Corman collection. This movie made me laugh so many times, but often for the wrong reasons. There's a sort of over-the-top hilarity to it all in that it's trying to be a step forward for women, but it's really taking two steps back. After all, this was still 1957.
The film features a group of Viking women whose men have gone on some kind of venture, and haven't returned. It opens with the women deciding on whether they go out looking for their men by throwing spears at a tree. How anything is really decided here, I have no idea, but it's al null and void once their leader, Desir (Abby Dalton) makes the decision for them. They head out, along with the only dude left on the island, Ottar (Jonathan Haze), who insists he goes with them because they're women and need a man to go along. You instantly question what he's even doing there while all the other men left, and the movie makes it sad but clear.
Anyway, the women (and Ottar) decide to depart on a kind of lousy boat, which is eventually attacked by a sea serpent, and they soon find themselves stranded somewhere that just so happens to be the same place their men are. A race of savage, but very well-spoken men called the Grimaults find them, and take them all captive. Lead by the ruthless Stark (Richard Devon), the women are shown that their men have since become slaves, working for the Grimaults in the mines. Soon this all leads to an escape plot, with Desir and her man, Vedric (Brad Jackson) at the wheel.
So, needless to say, this is an extremely dated movie. There seems to be some sort of effort for the time in giving women a voice - but their voice is written by Roger Corman. About the best this does is show that women can do what men can do... like row a boat. It carries with it, the old fashioned thinking of a woman needing a man in order to, not only be happy, but honestly live. For comparison, look at 'Wonder Woman' and the land of Themyscira - that's a society of women who just plain don't need men, and they're doing great on their own. Here, though, the women go looking for their men as a sort of "need" - especially when it comes to going unloved.
The sad truth is that a lot of that old age thinking is in a lot of the dialogue, and I couldn't help but laugh at so much of it. There's even one dude who keeps whipping people, but the amount of randomized times he does it makes for an honest to God running gag. Everything about this movie that's hilarious is a bad thing, be it abuse, overall treatment of women in the script, or how guys spoke about women. To make things perfectly clear though, it's funny in the context that it's such ridiculousness to even consider nowadays. This isn't like watching a movie from the 80s where it gets awkward because of some of the terms used. This is a bit more like... 'Reefer Madness' in that the context is so crazy, it's funny.
So, in my humble opinion, this is really quite worthy of landing on anyone's eventual long list of films that are "so bad, they're good". Even though there's nothing particularly good about this movie, I still had a great time watching it. I think there may come a time on this site of mine that I will have to squeeze in a Roger Corman special, because I'm slowly learning how fun his movies actually are. For those curious, one can find it, absolutely free on YouTube. It just might be under its original title.
Not of This Earth
This one comes to us from Roger Corman; a name synonymous with B movies that we watch as guilty pleasures these days. In fact, look no further than the library of 'Mystery Science Theater 3000' mockery. The list is pretty extensive. I might also add that this isn't the only one of his movies I have on this list. Basically, this was a guy who could parallel the ever-famous Ed Wood in the same era of schlock.
An alien, calling himself "Mr. Johnson" (Paul Birch), takes up residence in Los Angeles. He talks kind of strange, and has this weird thing about wearing sunglasses (even at night, as he goes full Corey Hart), but otherwise appears basically normal. Although, behind those shades lies a stare that can kill, just by looking at it. Hailing from a planet called Davanna, his people have developed an incurable blood disease, and he was sent to collect human blood for its similarities. He manages to off a few victims here; all the while his assistant, Jeremy (Jonathan Haze) being completely unaware.
Our "Heroes" of this film are the witty nurse Nadine Storey (Beverly Garland), whom Johnson hires for housekeeping, and her cop buddy, Harry Sherbourne (Morgan Jones). If you're looking for people to route for here, you don't really get it, though. There's a lot of dryness to these characters, and a lot of the jokes are lame. The real humour of this comes from the casual dialogue, often involving blood. Some choice lines include "You shall have blood" and "If I do not receive blood within four chronoctons of time, I will have no need of emotion." The delivery is similar to Maggie saying "I need blood" at the end of 'Treehouse of Horror IX'.
This is another one of those movies you might put on a Bad Movie Night list. But with that said, I think there are better titles (even for that purpose) out there. This one feels like you might need more of a twisted sense of humour to really like the dialogue in the same way someone like myself does. I know it's weird, but casual banter about blood with the right delivery can be hilarious. Think of Patrick Stewart telling one of his fellow actors "I need your blood" just randomly. It's like there has to be some sort of class behind it for it to be funny. Anyway, a bit hard to narrow down, but if you check out this flick (available for free, a lot of places online) you'll get what I'm talking about.
Now, one unanswered question my readers may be wondering is what in Planet X's hellish orbit is that thing in the accompanying pic? While I was under the impression that this creature would have been the focus of this movie, going into it, it's merely a sort of drone that gets called upon by Johnson to dispose of anyone who finds out he's "not of the Earth". But I've gotta say, it's funny when it does show up. So, if nothing else, this all amounts to a fun movie to watch if you have the time for a little over an hour of random stupidity, and quotes about blood you may never hear elsewhere. Get the friends together and have a laugh!