Posts Tagged ‘Armageddon

01
Oct
15

Lifeforce (1985)

Probably five or ten years ago, I watched Tobe Hooper’s Lifeforce for the first time. I only remembered two things about it: 1) I didn’t like it and 2) space vampires. Q had two copies of the film, one on videocassette, which supposedly had the superior cut, and the other on DVD; the inferior cut that I must have seen previously. So, in a move to free some space on our shelves, I agreed to buy the blu-ray which had both cuts, knowing I was also agreeing to give the film another go. But all that crap is boring, can we just get to the naked vampires already?

Space is the place

Space is the place

Like any good science fiction horror flick, Lifeforce starts off on a spaceship. This particular ship, the Churchill, is out exploring Halley’s comet. When they get close to the comet, they discover a giant alien spaceship and do what no one should ever do, but what they always do in movies like this: explore it. Inside, they find some desiccated alien life forms resembling bats, and three ‘sleeping’ humanoid forms suspended in some kind of enclosure. What else to do but bring the specimens back to the spaceship? After all, this is a mission of discovery.

NAKED VAMPIRE SPACE PODS

NAKED VAMPIRE SPACE PODS

Well, the next thing you know, no one has heard anything from the Churchill for some alarming amount of time. A rescue shuttle shoots on into space to see what the hell’s going on, only to find a burned out ship and the three alien pods. Not knowing what the hell happened, they take the pods back to Earth, and that’s when shit gets totally fuckin’ naked and weird. And naked. Did I mention naked?

Steve Railsback gets a tough break.

Steve Railsback gets a tough break.

Rewatching Lifeforce a second time, it is amazing to me I didn’t remember that nearly a third of the film consists of a Mathilda May walking around completely naked sucking the life out of people. Okay, to be fair, some of that time she is lying down naked. The other thing I found perplexing was why my initial reaction was so negative; turns out the film is actually pretty good – and no, it wasn’t because of the different cuts, because we accidentally watched the longer cut and I didn’t find myself squirming in my seat or anything remotely along those lines. No, the film actually moved at a pretty decent clip, and it kept me interested.

It's never a good thing when desiccated corpses walk the earth.

It’s never a good thing when desiccated corpses walk the earth.

So, yes, there is more to Lifeforce than Mathilda May’s tits. Steve Railsback plays a perfect shell-shocked victim; frantic eyes, desperate pleas, the whole bit. Bonus getting to see a bespectacled pre-TNG Patrick Stewart play a role that doesn’t come close at all to resembling the in-control Captain Picard. But probably what impressed me most were the special effects. There’s a few Pink Floyd light-show moments, and those are cool, but the really great stuff is watching May suck the life out of her victims, and in consequence watching their desiccated corpses search for lifeforce amongst the living. Ok yeah and it’s pretty cool when they explode, too.

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06
Oct
14

The Visitor (1979)

VisitorPosterDo you like The Exorcist & The Omen, or any of their sequels? What about Rosemary’s Baby? What about every other sci-fi horror movie from the 1970’s? If you answered yes to any of these, then why waste your time re-watching any of them when you could just watch The Visitor, a dazzling blend of everything you’ve already seen before, with a weird scientological, blonde Jesus twist! That’s what we did for day 6 of 31 Days of Horror. I think I don’t regret it.

The beginning of The Visitor happens somewhere else. I’m not sure if we’re on another planet, or in another dimension, or what, but blonde Jesus is telling a bunch of bald kids about the evil Sateen, who impregnated a bunch of women so his demon seed can spread through the cosmos. During this serious lecture, in walks Jerzy (John Huston – yes, that one) signaling to blonde Jesus they’ve found the latest demon seed. It’s time to rally the bald kids and send them to Earth in search of an eight-year-old girl named Katy, a creepy, southern-drawled version of Linda Blair who uses her telekinetic powers to rig basketball games and stuff.

Katy’s mom Barbara is having an intense relationship with the owner of the interested basketball team, Raymond (Lance Henriksen). He’s trying his damndest to get her to marry him, but she won’t because she knows there’s something wrong with Katy and doesn’t want to give birth to another creepy little shithead monster thing. Of course it turns out Raymond isn’t actually in love with Katy, he is part of a satanic cabal interested in populating the world with more of Sateen’s mutant seed. If Jerzy and his band of baldies can’t steal away with Katy in time, the whole universe will feel the ripples of that evil tidal wave!

This movie is like, whoa, all over the place; it is excitingly schizophrenic in that way. It is a bit like The Sentinel or The Manitou; there’s so much going on and it’s all crazy weird conspiracy shit tinged with religion and mythology. But all of its freneticism does not work in its favor; the movie is a tangled mess of tropes and what seems like possibly a weird religious agenda. The confusion results in a muddled and incoherent plot. Of course, none of that matters to a person like me: I still loved watching it; I had to know what the hell was going to happen next, even though (or perhaps especially because) I knew whatever it was wasn’t going to make any sense and was going to be delivered with questionable dialog!

The best part about movies like The Visitor isn’t on the screen at all; it’s wondering how a film like this ever got off the ground in the first place. What compelled the writer to sit down and come up with this story? Who financed it? Why? What about the actors; what are they thinking when they deliver these terrible lines? And specific to The Visitor, how the hell did they get people like John Huston and Sam Peckinpah (yeah, he acts in this too, by the way) to be in this movie? The whole thing is just so gloriously bizarre you have to love it. Though it is obviously a pastiche of a million movies that come before it, it automatically sets itself apart from every one of those by its sheer what-the-fuckness.

Should you see The Visitor? Well, that clearly depends on what type of person you are. If you’re the kinda guy or gal that only likes “Good” movies, then, uh, NO, you should not see The Visitor. However, if you’re reading my blog right now that probably is some indication that you’re at least a little bit interested in the weirder fringes of cinema, and in that case then I direct you to watch The Visitor as soon as possible, and to get on your knees and thank the fine folks at Drafthouse Films for resurrecting this nearly-forgotten shitsterpiece.

09
Aug
14

Hellbenders (2012)

Few things please me more than browsing a used-dvd horror section; I’ve stolen away with quite a few gems in my day, attracted by an actor’s name, art on the box, or an intriguing plot. Seeing as how I don’t keep up with the times and have no idea what’s good or bad in horror these days, I’m shooting in the dark when it comes to picking the good from the bad. So, when I saw Clancy Brown’s name in a film called Hellbenders about priests who sin like crazy so they can drag demons into hell, I thought I’d give it a shot.

Some priests kiss the crucifix. These kiss razorblades!

Some priests kiss the crucifix. These kiss razorblades!

It’s really too bad you can only sort of tell a film’s tone by its packaging. I knew we were in trouble once we watched the trailer; an in-your-face punch-fest with too-cool one-liners. Uh oh. Turns out Hellbenders is like a post-Boondock Saints version of Ghostbusters with a hard-on for The Big Lebowski. A strange trio of influences, but they’re all there in spades.

So as I briefly mentioned before, the movie is about a group of priests called The Augustine Interfaith Order of Hellbound Saints. Their job is to blaspheme and sin their way through life so they’re always “damnation ready” in preparation for that big exorcism where they may have to kill themselves in order to drag the demon at hand into hell. Stephen keeps the books, tracking each sin committed by the group. The sins have to be bad enough and frequent enough so that they’d be damned to eternal hellfire any time they might die. Though they may take many bonghits and fornicate day and night, some are better at sinning than others.

Angus (Clancy Brown) is their leader, perpetually dressed like Jeffrey Lebowski, he swears his way through the

I think they got the wrong Lebowski.

I think they got the wrong Lebowski.

movie, counseling the lesser sinners in the art of damnation. Then there’s Larry (Clifton Collins Jr.) a rather milquetoast guy who seems to think drinking constantly and cheating on his wife with fellow Hellbound Saint Elizabeth will be enough to get him into Hell. There’s a few others, but they aren’t given enough substance to write about here, except I will mention one of them is a Polish dude who’s always wearing sunglasses that reminds me an awful lot of Walter Sobchak.

When they’re not toking away at the bong, taking shots off each-other’s bellies or fornicating, they’re off fighting demons. Occasionally the bishop line rings and they’re off to the races – but only if they’re damnation ready. It’s too bad the b-team got sent on what seemed to be a routine exorcism but ended up being a real doozy of a demon! Elizabeth and Macon (quiet, least badass priest who unfortunately spends the rest of the film in a body cast) try to cast the demon out, but find out they’re dealing with far more than your garden-variety evil. In fact, it’s Surtr they’re fighting: killer of gods, bringer of Ragnarok! Oh, shit! Surtr has no trouble possessing Elizabeth and soon the demon is loose in New York City, wreaking a lot of Ghostbusters-like havoc.

Clint is not down with all the blaspheming and sinning.

Clint is not down with all the blaspheming and sinning.

Angus is pissed off that Elizabeth wasn’t ready to take a demon down into hell, but all Larry can do is whine and moan that this chick he slept with a year ago is gone. He wants to save her! What a terrible time for the pope to die and the bishops to send out their auditing crew! In walks Clint, a mix between Walter Peck from Ghostbusters and Brandt from Lebowski who is just appalled by the blasphemy and insists on shutting down the group, even though they’re the only ones who can save the world from the fire of Ragnarok! How will they get out of this one?

Ooof, this movie is a confused mess! I think it’s trying a little too hard to pander to a crowd thirsty for cult hits and ultraviolence; there are many scenes where someone is being beaten senseless, and then when they’re a bloody pulp, they’re beaten again. It’s almost as if JT Petty, the writer/director of the thing, thought he heard someone somewhere once say “I wish Ghostbusters had more senseless violence and cursing but none of the charm!” The problem is, I don’t think anyone ever said that. That’s where the “post-Boondock Saints” comment comes from; while I can’t say I

Elizabeth's looking a little rough these days.

Elizabeth’s looking a little rough these days.

remember much from that movie (in fact, I’m pretty sure I turned it off because it’s a stupid piece of shit) I do remember a lot of stupid violence played for laughs and a curse word every ten seconds. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not a square, but there’s a time and a place for violence and pottymouths, and the answer isn’t always everywhere, all the time. It just comes out forced, weak and insincere.

I guess I understand why someone would want to make a movie like Ghostbusters; it is after all one of the most entertaining movies ever made. But all of the things that make it good are lacking in Hellbenders. Add to it the weird fetish with The Big Lebowski; one look at Angus and Jeff Bridges’ Lebowski is immediately evident: the long hair in the face, the shitty robe, the weird pants. There’s even a scene where Angus pisses in a carton of half-and-half. There are other Lebowski-like moments, but no need to catalog them here. Suffice it to say if you watch it, take a shot after every Lebowski reference and you won’t be able to drive home.

This look pretty much sums up Collins Jr.'s performance. Wha? Meh.

This look pretty much sums up Collins Jr.’s performance. Wha? Meh.

But perhaps the weakest link of the film is Clifton Collins Jr., an actor I’ve never seen or heard of before, but turns out stars in The Boondock Saints II: All Saints Day. You don’t say! His performance is completely anemic; there’s no gusto behind his curse words, which makes their frequency seem all the more forced. Q thinks his role would have been played better by Lou Diamond Phillips, but personally I think it was meant for Robert Beltran!

Sadly, this selection is going to be sold back to the store where it came from. Clancy Brown, you’ve failed me, but I won’t lose faith in you. Just make better decisions next time!

21
May
14

Mars Attacks! (1996)

It can be hard for a film to overcome its initial reception. It’s been nearly twenty years since Tim

President Nicholson

President Nicholson

Burton’s Mars Attacks! was released, and all this time I’d never watched it, just remembering folks said it was “pretty terrible.”

Why in the world did I ever listen to what “folks” say? “Folks” don’t know jack. “Folks” tend to like the new Godzilla movie. Shows you what “folks” know. And yet the resounding voice of a thousand idiots can still be difficult to shake off, even decades later. But I’m glad I finally sat down to watch Mars Attacks!, because, folks, it is delightful.

The plot is simple: martians land on the earth and, despite the naive human hope they have good intentions, proceed to incinerate everyone and everything they can get their beams on. Even our charming American president (Jack Nicholson) can’t seem to get them to listen to reason. It’s going to take a lot more than

Pieces of Pierce

Pieces of Pierce

clever speeches to get them to back off. A little Slim Whitman, perhaps?

This movie is basically every ridiculous mid-century science-fiction movie rolled into one and pumped up on steroids. This of course makes perfect sense given the fact that Burton had just made Ed Wood two years beforehand. Perhaps these naysayers were expecting a serious, sappy, romantic epic drama like Independence Day, and who could blame them – that piece of crap was released just months before Mars Attacks!. But really I think the problem is people don’t get jokes. Or are jokes too obviously low-brow for them? Do people go for the “serious” drama because they think it makes them look smarter, as my husband suggested after the aforementioned dreadful debacle Godzilla?

Best Grandma ever.

Best Grandma ever.

I was so surprised that this was actually a competent, amusing and fun film. I really wanted to understand why people didn’t like it. So I watched the trailers, thinking maybe they made the movie look more like Independence Day than it actually is. And the answer is no, they didn’t. Could it be that people don’t even pay attention to the two minutes they’re expected to in a movie trailer? I guess the final answer is: who cares. Their loss. After years of watching movies and never understanding why the masses like one thing but pan another, I should probably just finally admit that I’ll never get it. I am more than okay with that. I hope you are too. I hope that’s why you’re here!

17
May
14

Godzilla (2014)

godzillaposterTo say I have a soft spot for Soviet propaganda films isn’t exactly accurate; I’m certainly no authority on the subject, but there is one in particular I consider to be a favorite: Ballad of a Soldier. It’s a story about Alyosha, a very young soldier who shoots down two tanks. As a reward for his heroics, his superiors offer him anything he wants. All the young boy really wants to do is make it home to his mother, so he can help repair her roof. He only has a few days to get there and back, but he is determined. Along the way, he meets a lot of people, many of whom are missing their loved ones in the war. The valiant young soldier goes out of his way to help those in need, knowing that it will cut his trip home with his mother even shorter.

In the end, our young hero gets little more than a hug and a kiss with his mother, and then he’s off to battle again, never to return home. But what a guy! A real citizen. A true role model. If only everyone could be like young Alyosha.

What the fuck does this have to do with Godzilla, you ask? Well, Gareth Edwards’ 2014 remake of the Japanese classic giant-monster horror film is little more than military propaganda, with a whole crap-ton of sappy, tear-jerking family drama to round the whole damn thing out.

Ford Brody (yeah, that’s the hero’s name, Ford fucking Brody) has a history with nuclear energy. As a young boy growing up in Japan, his parents were bigwigs at the local nuclear power plant. It’s the usual perfect-family-how-could-anything-disturb-their-happiness bullshit, until one day something goes terribly wrong, and his mother (Juliette Binoche, totally wasted in this role, and why the fuck is she in this anyway?) dies, unable to escape the reactor’s core, or something. His father (Bryan Cranston) takes it pretty hard of course, and fifteen years later is arrested after he’s caught in the quarantine zone, attempting to retrieve old documents and discs from his family’s former home.

Enter steely-eyed Ford, freshly returned home to San Francisco from the war. Just after telling his droopy-eyed child that he’ll still be around tomorrow, he gets the call that his father needs help. So he flies off to Japan, where they go into the quarantine zone again only to find out that there’s no radiation there at all. So, what the hell’s going on? Well, there’s a giant fucking monster (let’s call it MUTO, or Massive Unidentified Terrestrial Object, because everything should be named like we’re in the fucking war room) feeding off all the radiation, silly, and it’s about to blow. And it does, and the shit hits the fan. And wherever the shit hits hardest, you’ll find Ford, willing to “do whatever it takes” to save the world from monsters, even if it means postponing his homecoming yet another day. What a guy.

The Americans swiftly take over because, America, fuck yeah!, and Ford has no problem suiting right back up for military duty. After all, he was warned that returning to civilian life is “the one thing they don’t prepare you for.” Good thing for Ford that the MUTOs are signaling one another across the Earth so they can breed. How the fuck will America save everyone? Oh, I know, I know! Let’s detonate a fucking nuclear bomb 20 miles off the coast of San Francisco, that’s a good idea, right?

If only the Americans listened to the advice of the wise, sage, Japanese scientist man (Ken Watanabe) who warns us all that our human arrogance will be the death of us. Seriously, instead of throwing more radiation out there, why don’t we just let the giantest giant monster of all, Godzilla, take care of it? Let them fight it out! There’s a natural balance to these things, after all.

No, the Americans didn’t listen, and (surprise!) their brilliant plan backfired! The MUTOs carried the nuclear warhead into the heart of downtown San Francisco; what better nourishment for a brood of fetal MUTOs than a nuclear warhead? D’oh! I guess it’s all in God(zilla)’s hands now. Oh, and Ford’s, because is there anything that guy can’t do?

Whatever. At least now we get to the good part: monsters fighting. This is what I came for in the first place. Just so you know, I’d estimate there’s a total of 10 minutes of sweet giant monster fights in this movie, which is, of course, over two hours long. There are some really great visuals of the monsters fighting throughout San Francisco. But there’s pretty much nothing else new, interesting, thought-provoking or entertaining in this movie. Why should I be surprised? And where the fuck did everyone’s sense of humor go? Why are all these movies loaded with sentimental music and sappy family bullshit?

Garbage.

19
Sep
13

Omen III: The Final Conflict (1981)

omeniiiposterThe Netflix queue giveth and the Netflix queue taketh away, so when we saw Omen III: The Final Conflict only had two days left on instant, we snatched it up like starving waifs. I’m fairly certain I wasn’t aware that Sam Neill was in it until I committed to watching it, and of course this prompted me to ask the eternal question: “Why is Sam Neill in everything?”

Well, I don’t know the answer to that question, and I fear it shall plague me for the rest of my life. What I do know is that Neill is pretty darn good at playing the devil’s spawn. Yes, Damien Thorn is back, fully grown and ready to take over the world! The stars are aligned (literally) for the second coming of Christ, but the child won’t live if Mr. Thorn and his weird group of followers have anything to do with it.

See, Damien Thorn is a lot more than just the spawn of satan, he’s also a powerful politician who’s just been granted the position of ambassador to Great Britain. There, he convinces scores of people to hunt and kill any male child born at the particular time when three stars aligned; after all, it’s the only way to ensure the Christ child does not survive. With the savior out of the way, Damien Thorn will rule the world!

But the Christ child isn’t the only thing Thorn has to worry about: a ragtag group of priests are hot on Damien’s tail, ready to stab him with blessed daggers that are the only weapon that can kill him. Can the priests get to Damien before he and his disciples murder the Christ child and plunge the world into eternal darkness?

Well, so, this movie’s a thing. A thing with Sam Neill in it. It’s okay; fairly creepy in certain parts (I mean, come on, we’re talking about Sam Neill here) but it’s nothing special. Oh yeah, and it’s not the Final Conflict, either, because Damien’s legacy lives on in Omen IV: The Awakening. Given everything I’ve said about this movie’s mediocrity, if you asked me if I’d watch the fourth installment in the franchise, sadly the answer would still be yes. I’m a glutton for punishment in the form of crappy horror, what can I say?

10
May
13

Warlock: The Armageddon (1993)

Happy Birthday Mr. Warlock!

Happy Birthday Mr. Warlock!

Warlock: The Armageddon has been on the to-watch list for a while now, which might be embarrassing for a few reasons, but whatever. Now that I’ve finally watched it, well, I’m not sure what there is to say about it. I mean, it’s a Warlock movie. Oh well, here goes.

So, there’s an total lunar eclipse. We all know wacky shit happens during eclipses, yeah? So this time Satan’s son is gonna be born. Within the first five minutes we’re treated to a naked, soaking Julian Sands, our Warlock of the hour. He’s on a quest to collect five magic stones. If he gets his hands on them, all evil will be

Warlock at the circus?

Warlock at the circus?

unleashed and you can kiss the Earth goodbye. Only a group of Druids can save the world from ultimate destruction!

It’s not just any Druids that can fight the evil Warlock, though. Oh no, they must be warriors. Unfortunately, the most learned of the Druids we know are not warriors at all, but their kids sure are. They must be trained up before the evil Warlock makes his way across the country to collect the remaining stones held by the Druids.

Apparently, training to become a Druid warrior is a lot like baseball’s spring training. What better way to teach a young boy how to move objects with his mind than by giving him a baseball? Oh, and did I mention, to become a Druid warrior you

Warriors in the blood rain.

Warriors in the blood rain.

have to die first?

This movie is straight-up dumb. But it’s dumb in that delightful way that will entertain you for its entire running time. It’s so goofy, there’s no hope of taking anything here seriously. Some of the special effects are decent, too. And, well, there’s Julian Sands. Certainly not an exceptional film by any means, but if you happened upon this on cable one day, I’d recommend you leave it on. Why not?




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