Posts Tagged ‘Sequel

13
Apr
15

Deathstalker II (1987)

I’ve never been too interested in fantasy movies. Not that I dislike the few that I’ve seen, it just hasn’t been a genre I’ve sought out. The first time I saw the Conan movies I was nearly thirty, and I definitely enjoyed them quite a bit. And just recently, I watched Krull for the first time – another fun movie! But there was something missing from these movies that kept them firmly in three-star territory, and that is self-awareness, something Deathstalker II has in spades!

Meet Deathstalker: negotiator extraordinaire, incorrigible playboy, King of thieves.

Meet Deathstalker: negotiator extraordinaire, incorrigible playboy, King of thieves.

Deathstalker (John Terlesky) is the king of thieves, scouring the medieval landscape for fortune and fame. Though he likes to come off as a selfish dude, it’s clear he can’t leave a damsel in distress behind, no matter how dim-witted she might be! When Deathstalker sees a peasant girl (Monique Gabrielle) beaten by the King’s guards, he fights back in her honor. After handily beating the oafish guards, Deathstalker decides it’s time for a little menage-a-trois, and hits up the local tavern for some sweet titties and a few brews. But it looks like our peasant girl is in some serious trouble, and desperately needs Deathstalker’s help! He really has no choice but to go along with her and her crazy story about how she is actually a princess, but Jarek the Sorcerer (John Lazar) cloned her and usurped the throne! She claims to be a seer, and promises Deathstalker that if he succeeds in helping her reclaim her throne, he will become a legend!

I never really thought of bananas as part of the sword-and-sorcery landscape, but Monique Gabrielle makes it look good!

I never really thought of bananas as part of the sword-and-sorcery landscape, but Monique Gabrielle makes it look good!

As the duo travel to the Princess’s castle, they encounter many strange things, like exploding dwarves, zombies, and a village of Amazon women! Each time, Deathstalker and the Princess make it out by the skin of their teeth, thanks mostly to Deathstalker’s unfailing charm and, of course, flawless physique! The Princess claims Jarek’s sword skills are superior to Deathstalker’s; what will happen when they make it to the castle? Can Deathstalker come through in the end?!

Sure there's plenty of boobs in Deathstalker II, but they throw the ladies a bone every once in a while!

Sure there’s plenty of boobs in Deathstalker II, but they throw the ladies a bone every once in a while!

Deathstalker II is 85 minutes of pure, idiotic enjoyment. I honestly can’t remember the last time I enjoyed watching a film as much as I enjoyed watching this one. The first time I saw it on VHS, I knew we needed to have a copy on DVD. After the second time I watched it, I had to watch it a third time the next day because it is so much FUN! This movie doesn’t take itself seriously for a single second, and that is the biggest reason for its success. The second-biggest reason is definitely Terlesky’s performance as Deathstalker. He is constantly winking, incorrigible to the max, and let’s admit it ladies, he’s pretty easy on the eyes. Next up is John Lazar’s Jarek, chewing up every bit of scenery he’s given, obviously having a blast.

John Lazar, hamming it up with the best of them!

John Lazar, hamming it up with the best of them!

Of course, for every good performance there are some equally bad ones: Monique Gabrielle’s acting is cringeworthy at best, and we get to see her in two different roles! That being said, as bad an actress as she proves to be in this film I thoroughly enjoy her performance here. I think it actually enhances the silliness of the movie in a positive way; unfortunately, Q does not agree! Then there’s Toni Naples who plays the evil Sultana, Jarek’s right-hand woman. She’s pretty awful too; she just isn’t in it as much as Gabrielle. But let’s get real here: we aren’t watching Deathstalker II for great acting, amirite? Both Gabrielle and Naples deliver just about as much as you should expect with lines like these! This movie delivers on everything it should: boobs, swords and sex. What more could anyone ask for?

29
Oct
14

House II: The Second Story (1987)

Note: Hi! This is Mike Q, and I’m not the one who usually writes here. I got this guest-spot because Katy’s fallen behind in writing up movies of late, so I’ve been called in to do some of the titles she doesn’t especially want to deal with.

Perhaps ten years ago, I got into a conversation with a co-worker about Weekend at Bernie’s II (1993). I listened incredulously to his description of the plot: a voodoo witch puts a curse on Bernie’s corpse, such that it dances towards a buried treasure whenever music plays near it. The hapless friends tasked in the first movie with pretending their friend is still alive now are tasked with keeping the world from finding out that their friend is a boogieing zombie. It seemed hard to believe that there was a movie out there that would live up to the promise that description offered for over-the-top hijinx. When a while later I got my hands on a copy, I found out that, indeed, Weekend at Bernie’s II didn’t. A while later, though, I found myself in a situation where I was watching through a healthy backlog of movies at a clip, and made a double feature of the Sean Cunningham-produced House (1986) and House II: The Second Story. While House didn’t do a lot for me (it couldn’t settle on a tone, and seemed like its best bits were done better in Evil Dead II — sorry, Fred Dekker!), House II was a revelation: THIS was the zombie buddy-comedy that I’d been hoping for all this time… the Weekend at Bernie’s II  that delivered on its promise. We watched it again for Katy’s first time as the 25th movie in the 31 Days of Horror.

house 2 thai

A Thai poster. Not as cool as the disembodied hand ringing the doorbellon the VHS jacket, but more in line with what this flick holds in store…

In the 1950s, a couple that lives in a creepy house give their baby away for safekeeping just minutes before a nightmarish figure (voiced by Fred Welker, using the same voice he used for Darkseid on Super Friends) kills them both. In October of 1986, that baby, now grown, comes back to claim his birthright. He is Jesse McLaughlin, an up-and-coming artist, and he and his music-biz girlfriend Kate have come to make the family mansion into their new home away from the city. Before too long, they’re joined by Jesse’s meathead “entrepreneur” best friend Charlie (Fright Night‘s jonathan Stark) and his aspirant rockstar girlfriend. After only a few minutes have passed in screentime, Jesse explains that he’s named for his great-great grandfather, who was a bandit in the old west, and who built the house they now live in. Seems the elder Jesse had found one of the legendary Mayan crystal skulls along with his partner,  the ominously-named Slim Razor. When great-great Jesse absconded with the skull, Slim felt he’d been cheated. The younger Jesse and Charlie figure that there are big bucks in it for them if they can find the skull, and rashly decide it must have been buried with the elder Jesse. Why not dig him up? So they do, the night before Halloween… and that’s when the REAL fun begins.

Look! It´s a prehistoric bird...

Jesse, Charlie, and a prehistroric bird

I won’t say too much more, but it should come as no surprise that the elder Jesse isn’t dead at all — he’s been kept alive by the mystic powers of the skull, and is played delightfully by Royal Dano. Grandpa Jesse explains that the house has been designed as a temple for the skull, and that it acts as a gateway to alternate universes. They all have to work to keep it out of the wrong hands… This state of affairs — zombie grandfather, dimensional gateways — is something the fellows decide is best kept from an increasingly incensed Kate (who’s being egged on by her lecherous asshole boss, played by a young Bill Mahr), and leads to all sorts of wacky cross-time adventures. This movie at times feels like the pilot for an especially zany Sunday-afternoon adventure show of the sort produced by Sam Raimi in the ’90s, by way of a multiple-camera sitcom of the same period. It’s stupid, and even childish, but never really mean-spirited or cruel.  It gets away with its increasingly outrageous twists through charm and goodwill, and some moments that feel really heartfelt in the midst of the silliness. It’s no surprise, perhaps, that Slim continues to be a threat, but Cheers‘ John Ratzenberger’s guest appearance as an electrician with a helpful sideline comes as an unexpected delight. While, sure, it isn’t horror in the strictest sense, this seemed like a nice break from the gialli that we’d most recently consumed. Even Katy, who holds the ’86 House in high regard, was charmed by this one.

onset_house2

The whole House II gang… at least, all the regular humans

Don’t expect anything groundbreaking, scary, or intellectual here — it’s dumb laughs. But, like the Japanese House (1977) that I prefer to imagine this is the sequel to — this movie has nothing to do eith either other than its loose haunted house premise — this film is made all the better by virtue of its light spirit and easy demeanor.

09
Oct
14

Hellraiser: Hellworld (2005)

Up to this point, this year’s iteration of 31 Days of Horror has offered up a pretty darn good list of horror flicks. It’s about time we had a real stinker, and Day 9 more than delivers that. Remember when I warned y’all that I was going to intentionally make the mistake of watching the rest of the Hellraiser series, even after Hellraiser: Inferno insulted my intelligence? Well, I’m a woman of my word folks; when I saw Hellworld on sale for $3 I figured it was time to bite the bullet. After all, Lance Henriksen is in it, so it can’t be that bad, right? Sigh… sometimes my optimism needs a reality check.
This computer game's menu is a little outdated, even for 2005.

This computer game’s menu is a little outdated, even for 2005.

So, this is when Hellraiser attempts to go meta, sort of. The film takes place in a world where the Hellraiser movies are a thing that everyone knows and loves, and there’s a computer game and everything! I’m not exactly sure what the stupid game entails, but I do know that some kid named Adam “took it too far,” doused himself in gasoline and set himself on fire. All of his friends are on a major guilt-trip, because they watched him get consumed by the game and sat back and did nothing. The only guy who seems to really feel super bad about it is this little twerp named Jake who freaks out on everyone at Adam’s funeral. Jake and his asshole friends consider themselves to bet he only “family” that Adam had, since his father was pretty much absent for most of his childhood, and I guess the mom is crazy or something? Whatever, within the first five minutes it is already apparent that we aren’t going to care about any of the characters.

Anyway, whatever, the four jackasses obviously didn’t learn their lesson and two years later are still hung up on Hellworld. If you can solve a particular puzzle with the puzzle box online, you get a special invitation to a Hellworld party! Despite our heroine (if you want to call her that) Chelsea’s reservations, she agrees it would be totally awesome to go to a Hellworld party, and so the  foursome head on over to some scary old house, where surprise, surprise, their old pal Jake shows up, too!  Looks like our host (Lance Henriksen) knew how to target all the right Hellworld fans. As the group convenes in the hallway, Henriksen invites them into a special room where he serves them questionable beverages and shows them fetuses in jars and stuff. So spooky. So edgy. Let’s party!

As I’m sure you’ve guessed by now, this party isn’t just fun and games. One by one, each unlikable asshole meets a pathetic end, seemingly at the hands of Pinhead. These fools stroll around the house, opening

Ladies and gents: your edgy host.

Ladies and gents: your edgy host.

doors you obviously shouldn’t be opening. Their curiosity kills them in the end, and the only two we are left with are Chelsea and Jake. When they set their feeble minds to work at figuring out just what the hell is going on at this “party” they start putting the pieces together. What they find results in one of the most unsatisfying and stupid endings to any horror movie I’ve ever seen, except, perhaps, Hellraiser: Inferno. Turns out, Henriksen is actually Adam’s father and is seeking revenge on all the kids whom he blames for his child’s death, even though he didn’t give a shit about his kid while he was alive, or even after he died; the scumbag couldn’t even make it to the kid’s funeral. Makes a whole lot of sense, right? But it gets better: he drugged the kids and then buried them alive, and everything we watched was nothing but a hallucination! Pinhead didn’t kill them, see, they killed themselves! Seriously. Wow. That is lame. Really, really lame.

It is truly amazing how easily dumbed down a great premise like Hellraiser can be. I know all too well that, usually, the quality of a franchise plunges the higher the sequel number, but holy bejeezus, I’ve never

Oh, if you care, Henry Cavill is in this.

Oh, if you care, Henry Cavill is in this.

seen anything quite as bad as the plummet from Hellraiser’s best films to the last two (maybe even three, Hellbound wasn’t so hot, either, but at least it wasn’t a total wreck) I’ve watched. The folks writing these films are literally given a premise and world in which to work, and they still can’t come up with anything worthwhile. There are many directions Hellworld could have taken, and a lot of them would have been a lot more interesting than what they decided to go with in the end.

While watching the movie, I have to say I was wondering why the hell Pinhead was using such lame methods to kill these kids. I thought the whole premise of Pinhead and the Cenobites is that they enjoyed bringing pain by way of torture to their victims. That’s not what we’re presented with here; instead we get a simple slashing of the throat or, perhaps the most egregious knock at Pinhead yet: decapitation by way of cleaver. Seriously? Even the kids in this movie should have known better than to think that Pinhead would use a cleaver to kill them. There is just no imagination whatsoever in this movie. And it looks like shit. And the characters are assholes, so who gives a shit if they die anyway?
This is wrong on so many levels. For the same reasons Captain America shouldn't use guns, Pinhead shouldn't use cleavers!

This is wrong on so many levels. For the same reasons Captain America shouldn’t use guns, Pinhead shouldn’t use cleavers!

Another thing I wondered while watching Hellworld: does Doug Bradley actually read the scripts of these sequels, or does he just show up, do a few takes, and leave? How much are they paying him to act in these films? It must be so sad to remember what it was like to have an interesting, meaty role in a horror film and then have to turn around and say a few cheesy lines as the same character just to take home a paycheck. His screen-time is probably shorter than the time it takes for him to get all that make-up on. On a related note, if I were Clive Barker I’d politely ask to have my name removed from such films. If you are considering, even for a second, that this movie is worth your time, please think again. It isn’t. It isn’t worth the plastic it’s printed on. It’s probably not worth the time I spent writing this post, either. Just say no.

04
May
14

Troll 2 (1990)

One of my favorite things about keeping this blog is having the opportunity to revisit some of the junk that I’d watched as a kid. Being forced to look at some of them again, occasionally a lightbulb goes off: oh, that’s why I like shit moviesTroll 2 couldn’t be a better example. I was a lucky enough kid to grow up with cable, and cable in the 90’s was chock full of shit movies. Better still, they were played over and over and over and over again. Perhaps I was first drawn to Troll 2 because it was the sequel of one of my favorite movies, Troll, a charming, silly horror/fantasy starring my childhood crush Michael Moriarty. But Troll 2 has absolutely, positively nothing whatsoever to do with its predecessor.

Is it a troll? A goblin? Whatever it is, it wants to eat you.

Is it a troll? A goblin? Whatever it is, it wants to eat you.

The Waits’ are your average American family. Holly is your typical teenaged girl, lifting weights in her bedroom and dancing in the mirror before bed. Joshua is a young, imaginative boy who routinely discusses man-eating goblins with his dead Grandpa Seth. Their parents, Diana and Michael, are a little concerned about Joshua’s attachment to his dead grandfather, and hope their upcoming, lengthy vacation in the country will help the boy get over his issues.

Mr. Waits is so cool even the collar on his PJ's is popped!

Mr. Waits is so cool even the collar on his PJ’s is popped!

Unfortunately, Nilbog doesn’t turn out to be the country haven they’d hoped for. Instead of relaxing family time, the Waits’ are confronted with evil goblins who turn people into vegetables so they can eat them! It’s a good thing Joshua maintained good relations with Grandpa Seth because without his help, his family and friends would be nothing but dinner for the ugly goblins of Nilbog!

Because nothing's sexier than an ear of corn.

Because nothing’s sexier than an ear of corn.

The plot, of course, is unremarkable. What is remarkable about this movie is just what a disaster it is on every single level. The acting is some of the worst I’ve ever seen, and it is across-the-board horrible. The writing is terrible and perplexing; it’s impossible to watch this movie and not wonder what the hell kind of drugs the writer was on. The film takes so many inexplicable, strange turns (corn sex?) that it keeps you baffled for its entirety. The most amazing thing about this movie is that it did, in fact, get made. The cast and crew got together and actually accomplished making what some would call one of the worst films ever made.

Grandpa Seth's knowing grin is almost as reassuring as that double-decker bologna sandwich in your backpack.

Grandpa Seth’s knowing grin is almost as reassuring as that double-decker bologna sandwich in your backpack.

Personally, I wouldn’t go that far – the films that actually deserve that label are far, far worse. Unwatchable, even. And Troll 2 is many things, but unwatchable is not one of them. In fact, it is such an easy pleasure to watch, it makes you wonder if it didn’t actually do something rightTroll 2 is often named as the pinnacle of the so-bad-it’s-good genre. I’m very much a fan of these types of movies, but even after all these years I’m still wondering what it is about movies like this that actually make them worthwhile. I could go on and on about my thoughts on the topic, but considering my next post is going to be written on Best Worst Movie, the documentary about Troll 2, I’ll save my deep thoughts for that one! Just know, if you’re ever curious about the weird, cult crap films out there, Troll 2 is a must-see.

01
Dec
13

Hellraiser: Inferno (2000)

But, see? He loves kids? He can't be all bad, right? Wrong!

But, see? He loves kids? He can’t be all bad, right? Wrong!

I cannot say for certain that Hellraiser: Inferno is the absolute worst of the Hellraiser franchise, but that is only because I have not seen the ones that come after it. Honestly, I am afraid to. This one is just so terribly, head-shakingly bad, I’d hate to devote more time to movies like this. Unfortunately, I’m sort of a completist when it comes to these things, so I know I will inevitably delve deeper into the world of Hellraiser. I just hope the rest of them are better than this.

This time it’s a dirty cop who gets dragged into Pinhead’s underworld. Detective Joseph Thorne (Craig Sheffer) is a pretty despicable guy: he cheats on his wife with prostitutes, steals money from

The first finger.

The first finger.

dead guys, and sets up his partner for a crime he didn’t commit. His one positive characteristic, and what is supposed to be his redeeming quality, but isn’t at all, is that he really cares about kids.

Anyway, an old classmate of his is found torn to pieces. The only evidence is a disembodied finger and, you guessed it, a strange puzzle box. And, yes, you guessed it again, Thorne spirals downward into the world of hell once he gets his hands on it. Seems some underworld boss called simply “The Engineer” is probably behind this and a whole bunch of other shit. Thorne cares not about the bodies that pile up throughout his investigation, he cares only to save the life of the child whose fingers are found at every crime scene.

He's a sucker for the ladies.

He’s a sucker for the ladies.

Despite the ten-or-so minutes of internet research I did to find out why anyone bothered to write this movie, I couldn’t really find out much about it. It seems to me, though, this was never meant to be a Hellraiser movie. Pinhead is in it for maybe 10 seconds, and while there are Cenobite-like creatures in the film, they could have just as easily been any other type of creepy crawler. No, I think this is a movie that really aspired to be more like Seven or some other gory cop psychological thriller. The problem is, it doesn’t do that job well, either! Thorne is so completely unlikable, why should we care what happens to him? And that “twist” at the end? Lame, and quite stupid. This might be one of the most frustrating movies I’ve ever seen. I am absolutely stunned when I read reviews saying this is one of the better of the Hellraiser movies. That just simply isn’t true! It’s the least Hellraiser of any that I’ve seen, and it is just plain bad besides that. And what a shame to see Craig Sheffer, the underworld hero of Barker’s Nightbreed, return to his world with such a shit show.

01
Dec
13

Hellraiser: Bloodline (1996)

The safest way to open the box is by making a robot do it. Clever, Merchant. Clever.

The safest way to open the box is by making a robot do it. Clever, Merchant. Clever.

Ever wonder why that darned box was made in the first place? Or why all the chains? Well my friends, wonder no more! The fourth installment of the Hellraiser franchise will answer these questions and so much more!

Well, it all starts in the 22nd century. No, really. A scientist has commandeered a space station to use for his own purposes: he’s going to raise hell and banish the Cenobites into eternal space! Of course, no one believes him because, really, who would. But he’s got a long story to tell, and a pretty girl to listen to him, and so, here we go…

Seems this scientist is the last in a long line of guys that all look exactly the same and who all have some weird affinity for building things that look like, well, that box from Hellraiser. The troubles began when his great-to-a-high-power grandpappy, Phillip L’Merchant, was commissioned to

Evil powdered-wig guy raises demons!

Evil powdered-wig guy raises demons!

make a puzzle box by a Marquis-de-Sade type in powdered-wig times, Paris. L’Merchant had no idea what his creation would be used for, and he and his growing family desperately needed the money, so he went for it.

Turns out, the box is used to animate the dead corpse of a peasant girl into a demon to do powdered-wig-man’s bidding. L’Merchant is none-too-happy about this and sets off to create an antidote, so-to-speak, but to do so he needs the original box back. Well, of course he doesn’t get it, and the demon, Angelique, curses him and all of his descendants.

Wouldn't be a Hellraiser movie without weird-looking Cenobites.

Wouldn’t be a Hellraiser movie without weird-looking Cenobites.

Then some stuff happens in the 1990’s, and then we’re back on the space station and more stuff happens. The good news (or, perhaps, the bad news, given the disaster Hellraiser 5 turns out to be) is that if you eradicate Pinhead in the 22nd century, we can still make movies about him in the present day!

This movie is not good. I knew it was bad when I saw in the theaters at fifteen-years-old, and it isn’t any better watching it as an adult. That being said, it certainly is not the worst of the Hellraiser flicks. Oh, no, that one, my friends, comes next.

30
Nov
13

Hellraiser III: Hell on Earth (1992)

Skinned Alive!

Skinned Alive!

What I’m about to say might make horror fans the world over gasp in disbelief; any credibility that I haven’t already lost might go up in smoke completely, but I do not care, I must proclaim the truth! Hellraiser III: Hell on Earth is most definitely my most favorite Hellraiser film of them all!

I grew up on Hellraiser flicks. Pinhead and sweet old Uncle Frank have been scaring me since I was far too young to be watching such things. I love the first two just as much as the next guy, but Hell On Earth has something I think it’s pretty safe to say the first two don’t have: a sense of humor. For me, that’s the key. I’d much rather be watching something with a little bit of goof in it than something that takes itself too seriously. And, yes, that includes horror – heck, perhaps especially horror requires such goofiness to be truly successful!
Pinhead will use all his people skills to get the heck out of this statue...

Pinhead will use all his people skills to get the heck out of this statue…

Anyway, plot: Kristy Cotton and her unfortunate family are nothing but faded memories, and one would hope the evil found in Pinhead’s box is long dead and buried. But there’s no money in a dead Cenobite! This time it’s the wonderfully sleazy J.P. Monroe, owner of Gasworks, the hottest goth nightclub in town, who unwittingly unleashes the evil upon us.

It all starts when Joey, an aspiring and currently flailing newscaster, witnesses some pretty bizarre shit in the ER: some dude rolls in on a stretcher with blood pooling on the sheets and chains exploding from his face! Joey’s Nancy Drew instinct kicks in, and she’s on the hunt for the truth. Her only clue: the box. She convinces a desperate, scared and broke young

It's that darned box again!

It’s that darned box again!

woman named Terri, an acquaintance of the unfortunate young ER visitor, to help her solve the mystery. You know what comes next: the innocent Joey is dragged into a world of pain and horror!

Yes, it’s gory and it still has all of Pinhead’s ridiculously dramatic soliloquies about pleasure, pain and the human condition. But this time, it makes you giggle, just a little bit, and not in a sneering way; you’re giggling because Anthony Hickox wants you to giggle. And it rules! I must say, I’ve gone through a few “best of Hellraiser” lists on the web and I’m astounded to find Hell on Earth is often very low on the totem pole while some others (pretty bad ones that I’ll be posting about pretty soon) are up high. I guess when one thinks about Clive Barker, one isn’t necessarily looking to bust a gut, and I suppose I can understand that, but really, this movie is totally entertaining. I definitely recommend.



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