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Monday, July 26, 2010

Sorority Row

Sometimes(well, okay, MOST of the time), slasher movies can really suck. And yet, every so often, you get one that's either a guilty pleasure, or is just viewed at the right time to enjoy it. Sorority Row(a remake of House on Sorority Row) is a combination of these last two: a slasher movie that I SHOULD hate, but actually found quite fun. Is it dopey? Ohhhhhhhhhhh yeah. But it's also pretty amusin and fun as well. Not too many stars are in it--Carrie Fisher("Obi Wan, you're our only hope!"), Rumer Willis(Bruce and Demi's daughter), and Audrina Partridge("The Hills") are about as famous as the cast gets.

The story is your very basic "killer-revenge" plot: A group of sorority sisters have staged a "death" of one of their own, Megan(Audrina Partridge), in order to prank a fraternity douchebag, Garrett, and humiliate him. Of course he freaks out, and before they can reveal the nature of the trick they played, he mutilates the girl by impaling her with a tire iron/lug wrench/whatever-the-hell-it-is. What do I look like, Mr. Goodwrench? Anywhoooo...Now she really IS dead, and he and the sisters of Theta Pi make a pact to dispose of the body and never reveal what happened that fateful night. Of course, this being a slasher flick, we all know how well THAT'S going to turn out, right? Well, these gals have never seen a slasher film in their lives, so they dump the body down a very deep mineshaft...

Cut to 8 months later: Graduation Day, in fact. The girls are no longer as close as they were before "that" night, but still together in their pact. There's just a teensy-weensy little problem--they all get a mysterious text message. From Megan's phone. Showing a hooded figure holding the murder weapon. Did she really die that night, or is she out there, stalking her friends killers for vengeance?

There are certainly enough suspects: we have Maggie, Megan's younger sister, who shows up after the graduation ceremony; there's Garrett, who was pretty bitter about how events transpired the night of the murder; Jessica, the queen-bitch leader of the pack who convinced them to cover-up the murder to begin with(and has most of the film's funniest lines); Mrs. Crenshaw, played by Carrie Fisher, the crabby housemother who not-so-secretly hates the sorority girls; and Andy, the son of a wealthy affluent family, who may just be desperate enough for a future in politics to kill anyone who would ruin his career.

The girls are all a little more generic: we have the hot Asian chick, Claire; the hot drunken slut, Chugs; the hot bookish nerd, Ellie...and a few more here and there. And the kills seem to be there mostly to pad the film's running time, as many of the victims are introduced then killed almost immediately after. For example, we have a school shrink who screws his pretty patients in his spare time. He's handcuffed to the bed when the killer arrives, and gets loose just in time to be slaughtered. Ditto with the sorority sister, Chugs, who finds him bed-bound. She is promptly(and gruesomely) slaughtered with a broken bottle imbedded in her throat. Within the next 10 minutes, another victim is a girl in a shower who overhears characters discussing the cover-up. Now, I'm not a guy who's gonna complain about a shower scene, but why not make the character someone who left an impression on me as a viewer? I mean, sure, she had to be eliminated because of what she overheard, but there were other characters already in the movie who could've served the same purpose!

Oh, who cares? It's rated R, so it's not some lame-duck thriller, like the recent remakes of Prom Night or When a Stranger Calls. Trust me, that's a plus! The girls realize there is a killer among them, and panic. They then decide to attend their final kegger anyway, because apparently, beer and sex are the perfect cure for brutal impalements. Never read that in any medical journals, but it sounds good. Anyway, Claire's ex, Mickey, is next, getting his leg slashed right down to the bone, before the killer slices open his throat. Nice.

So by now, the girls are getting nervous.They get a text, telling them to meet where the body was dumped. While there, they meet up with Garret, who slashed his own wrists. They think he might be the killer, until they find a text message to him, also from Megan. Frustrated by the lack of answers, Cassidy is elected to go down into the pit to see if Megan's corpse is still there or not.

Using her cell phone as a flashlight(when did cell phones become flashlights? This is like the 3rd film in the last month or so I've seen that in), Cass finds "Theta Pi Must Die" written in blood. Apparently deciding to forget looking for Megan's body, the girls go back to a suddenly-deserted Theta House. They learn from a drunk chick that the party was moved to a different house, and now they are alone.

Being smart girls who know a killer wants them dead, they all split up. At this point can I volunteer to kill these dumbasses? Claire decides to go turn off the hot tub, or something, and ignore the danger of wading through a wet, bubbly maze to find an electrical outlet. Sheesh, do they still give out the Darwin Awards? Anyway, she doesn't die from electrocution, so that's a plus...while the other 3 girls are in the house, she's getting chased through foam by the killer. She gets her ankle caught in some power cords or garden hose or something, and gets dragged away by the killer, as the others watch. Cassidy wades out into the sea of bubbles and finds her with a flare going off in her mouth.

Back in the sorority house, Jessica finds Megan's sister in her bed, talking about how Jess's boyfriend Kyle did things to her that the Kama Sutra hadn't invented yet. There's a great catfight, lotsa hairpullin' and wacky shenanigans ensue until the other two show up and put a stop to it. Damn.

They all realize someone else is there, and Jessica grabs a fire axe. She nearly gives Mrs. Crenshaw a heart attack, and gets a broken nose in return. YES!! The girls tell Crenshaw everything, and she orders them to hide in a bedroom while she goes after the killer. Oh, and Maggie finally hears the whole story and freaks out that her sister might be dead, or might be a living breathing killing machine. And you thought YOUR family was messed up!!

Crenshaw sees the killer, then decides she's at a carnival shooting gallery, and shoots at every plate in the house. Because, you know, aiming for the killer woulda made too much sense. She ends up impaled, with a big closeup of her once-young bosom(ah, Princess Leia in the golden bikini...WTF happened to you?) Hearing the shooting, Jess and Cass, I guess(seriously, I have to keep looking up the names of these characters) decide to try to escape from the opposite end of the house. Ellie, on the other hand, elects to stay in the bedroom.

Maggie, meanwhile confronts the killer herself, still hoping it might be her sister. The robed killer responds to her pleas by setting the house on fire. This leads to my favorite scene: Amidst all the chaos, Ellie declares, "I HAVE TO DO SOMETHING!!"...and quickly, decisively hides in a closet. YEAH!!!!!!!!!

So now we have the final battle...Jessica and Cassidy find out the killer is....Kyle? Seriously? I mean, no offense, movie, but...KYLE??? At one point in the final chase, he even suggests they "hug it out", lol. The 2 girls find Megan, and yes, she is dead. Very dead. Very, very dead. Deader than the Dead Parrot in Monty Python. Deader than Disco. At that point Kyle auditions for the lead in The Shining, but blows it when he forgets to say "Heeeeeere's Johnny!!"

This leads to a huge WTF moment: Kyle is confronting the girls, talking about his career and future, and in the middle of his speech, he gets an axe to the back of his head. Now, being the son of a politician, he should be brainless, rendering the weapon harmless, but in the movie, they act like he has a brain, so maybe there was some scifi in there, too, Anyway, the axe was wielded by Andy, Cassidy's boyfriend, who was gone for so long I assumed he had gotten himself trapped in another movie somewhere.

So he swoops in, saves the day, movie over. Right, movie? Nope. He's ALSO a psycho killer. He kills Jessica before she has a chance to bitch about stuff again, then begs Cass to let him get away with murder. Uh huh.

He forces her through the burning house, ostensibly to find and kill Ellie, the last Theta Pi. Cassidy gives him the slip, with the hope of finding Ellie before he does. She does, but Andy finds them both, and attacks them. Ellie gets away, and Cass manages to fight off and knock out Andy. Looking for Ellie, Cassidy instead finds Megan's sister Maggie. While trying to help her navigate through a burning room, Cassidy again confronts Andy. They scuffle, and Andy pins her down as he prepares to finish her off. Then, outta nowhere, Ellie comes back and shoots him in the chest.

Eh, not so bad, he could survive tha---awww, he just fell through the burning floorboards, where he was engulfed in flames. Ellie, Maggie and Cassidy work together to escape, and have one of those great, dramatic slo-mo walks away from the burning house, chests heaving and--wait, what? What's this "15 months later" shit? No, movie, you ended. Let it go. Dammit, all right, but hurry up:

So we get this final, pointless scene. Rush Week at the rebuilt house. Maggie ended up pledging the same sorority her sister died for, for no reason that makes any kind of sense. Oh, and after they show her as a pledge, we see Garret's hand(easily identifiable, due to his previous wrist-slashing), holding a gardening tool in as menacing a way as any schmuck can hold a gardening tool. Ay yi yi. How the heck did HE survive??? And was there any male character who WASN'T trying to kill these girls?

Still, not bad for what it was....we got about 9-10 deaths, some brief nudity, good effects and THREE psycho-killers. Heck, even some of the DVD outtakes were fun to watch. And the alternate ending was one I actually liked, so "yay, me", I guess. 4 killer trees outta 5.

And what wisdom did I glean from watching Sorority Row?

-My childhood fantasies didn't always age very well....
-1 killer isn't enough for today's audiences. Try 3.
-A "fun" movie doesn't necessarily have to be a "good" movie to be enjoyable.
-Hollywood can make R-rated slasher flicks and the world won't end. And a REMAKE too!!

See you next week!!

Thursday, July 22, 2010

The Hills Run Red

Well, after 3 weeks of killer-baby films, I FINALLY get to watch something else...about a killer named Babyface killing people to make a"real" horror movie. Oh well. At least this one trades in 1980's Michael Moriarty for 2009 William Sadler. I'd call that a trade-up. As always, SPOILERS AHEAD!!!

So, this week's slasher is The Hills Run Red. From the title, I was thinking it was probably a direct-to-DVD SyFy-Channelesque ripoff of The Hills Have Eyes, but it's actually a pretty decent film, story-wise. The premise is simple: years ago, a horror-film director(William Sadler) made a film so shocking, it was pulled after only 1 or 2 showings. A group of film students set out to find this legendary missing film, with the aid of the late director's daughter. Unfortunately for them, the film is still being made, and anyone who looks for it becomes a victim of the film's psycho, Babyface--so-called because he is disfigured, and wears a baby-doll mask over what's left of his real face. The disfigurement is also the film's opening sequence, and is actually pretty damn effective.

The daughter, a drugged-out stripper, agrees to help them with their project after the main character Tyler(played by the guy who was "Stifler" in American Pie's Band Camp sequel) gets her off the drugs. Getting her off the drugs is code for tying her to a bed, watching her de-tox, then screwing her brains out while she's still vulnerable. Uh huh. Along with best friends Lalo and Serina(who also BOTH had a secret fling, despite Tyler being in love with Serina), Tyler and Alexa go on a road trip to her late father's home to search for the completed film. Along the way, their journey is shown along with quick-cuts of the "lost" film's footage--and a menacing hulk in the background. filming them as they get deeper and deeper into trouble.

Now, up to this point, I still wasn't quite sure what kind of horror movie I was watching: was it a "movie-reality mixes with the real-world" kind of supernatural premise, in the vein of Midnight Movie? Was it a "psycho makes his kills into a movie, but not really", like the Scream franchise? Was it one of those "we're someplace we shouldn't be, pissing off the locals and getting ourselves killed for our hubris and lack of humility", like the recent slew of movies in the Wrong Turn series, or the remakes of The Hills Have Eyes and Texas Chainsaw Massacre?

In a word: yes. It has elements of all the above-mentioned films...Stifler--errr, I mean, "Tyler" drags his 2 friends and the stripper along on a road trip so he can make a documentary about the search for the legendary movie. Almost immediately, the group stumbles into a small hillbilly community and start to ask them questions about the film's authenticity. During the trip, Alexa starts having long-repressed memories resurface, which doesn't actually make sense(more on that in a bit, but it realllllllllllllly doesn't make sense when the plot unfolds). Alexa reveals that her father's house is nearby, and that he kept all of his films there. Okay, so off we go!

"Nearby" means about 100 miles away in a forest. At night. With a deformed killer filming them. Heck, add Chevy Chase, and you have the best Vacation sequel EVER. Oh, and in the forest they discover things like body parts and dolls, to keep them on the right track. There's even a nifty flashback showing Concannon filming a woman tied up by Babyface, and her dismemberment as she is literally torn apart. Spielberg has nothing on this guy.

At some point, they decide that they need to set up camp for the night. During the night, the hillbillies from town find them, and decide to rape and pillage. Bad idea. Babyface shows up and makes the townies into mincemeat. He then turns his attention to our intrepid film students, but settles on just abducting Alexa after a halfhearted attack on the group.

Separated, the trio wander through the woods, trying to avoid the killer while also trying to find each other. Lalo and Serina try to call the police, but are unable to give the dispatcher any information about their location. During the phone call, they suspect they are being followed, and fire a flare gun(Lalo brought along the flare gun, a pistol, a cell phone...he must've realized what kind of movie he was in, huh?) into the darkness, revealing Babyface, who was silently stalking them the entire time. After making sure Serina gets away, Lalo tries to divert Babyface's attention, and is shot for his trouble.

Tyler, meanwhile, finds Wilson Concannon's house and breaks in. Inside, he finds tons and tons of film reels, all marked as The Hills Run Red--including footage of his friends, Alexa, and himself from earlier scenes in the movie. Hearing Alexa screaming, Tyler finds her in the house, tied to a bed. He releases her, they escape Concannon's house, and they promptly find Serina...just as Babyface bursts in. He knocks out Tyler, and attacks Alexa, who reveals that she's working WITH Babyface.

Now, remember earlier, where I said that Alexa's repressed memories didn't make sense? Think about her character for a moment: she's luring victims for Babyface to kill, she's faking drug addiction(I guess) to gain the trust of the main character, and she and her family have been killing people for what looks like years. So why not just throw in some dialogue where she mentions her memories of growing up? Why have her fake amnesia? And since she's faking the memories, why show them to the audience as "flashbacks"??? All right, back to the movie:

Serina at this point is hiding, trying to avoid the killers, and looking for a way to escape. She finds a car to hide under, just as Babyface arrives. He moves into a barn and she makes her way to the barn's cellar(barns have cellars, hey I learned something new!), where she discovers numerous corpses and barrels of blood and gore. Babyface nearly finds her but leaves, giving her time to find a better hiding place. Sure enough, when he returns he can't find her, and he leaves again.

Turns out she was hiding in one of the blood-barrels. Covered in blood, she takes a lesson from Last Action Hero and manages to almost entirely wipe the blood off before she leaves the barn. Babyface, proving that he wasn't just born as a baby yesterday, knew she was hiding in there and waits for her on the roof, swooping down as she emerges. Yeah, sure.

Meanwhile, in another movie, Tyler finally wakes up. He's tied down to a wheelchahir and sees reels and reels of film around him, all titled The Hills Run Red. The director, Wilson("Wiiiiiiiiiilson!") Concannon is there to pull a James Bond, and tell Tyler his evil plan so Tyler can escape and get the upper hand. Alexa is his daughter, and Babyface is both his grandson AND his son! Saves a bundle on Father's Day and birthday cards, I guess.

He shows Tyler a scene from his original film of The Hills Run Red, where the actor playing Babyface is screwing up the take. Frustrated, Concannon is so fed up that he walks in front of the camera, yells at the guy, then demonstrates how he wants the scene done by stabbing the guy to death. Driven insane by the pressure to complete his film, Concannon makes all the killings real, which ironically gets the film banned for being too violent.

Wheeling Tyler into the barn(I haven't seen so many barn scenes since Friday the 13TH III), Concannon shows him that Alexa has tied up Lalo, and has him in a verrrrrry tight bondage-y outfit that is pushing rolls of his flesh through openings in the material. As she begins slashing at Lalo's exposed midsection, Concannon criticizes her technique, and an arguement between them ensues. The discussion ends with Concannon shooting her.

Using their altercation as a distraction, Tyler manages to free himself. He is confronted by Babyface, who appears as Concannon shoots Alexa, which gives Tyler an idea. Picking up a camera, Tyler "directs" the scene, and tells Babyface to kill his father. After seeing what happened to Alexa, Babyface is only too happy to oblige. Before Babyface can turn his attention back to killing Tyler, Serina decides to reappear in the movie, stabbing and impaling him with a skewer. Of course no one ever dies in these things, so Alexa pops up again to knock both of them out with a shovel.

When Tyler regains consciousness THIS time, he is in the mansion's "theatre room", surrounded by corpses, including the bodies of Lalo and Concannon. Alexa tells him that he will now watch the entire, uncut film. As she leaves the room, Tyler watches as scene after scene of carnage and atrocities unfold on the screen, including everything that just happened in THE FRIGGIN' MOVIE I JUST WATCHED!!!!! Geez. Taking a page from the Sam Neill horror flick In the Mouth of Madness, Tyler eventually goes insane, roll credits. At least HE got a good laugh out of this.

Oh, and there's another scene in the credits: Alexa walks into a room where she's holding Serina hostage. She holds the Babyface mask in front of Serina, who is now pregnant. So I guess if Tyler doesn't make a good Babyface, they have an about a decade and a half...

Eh, despite the kind of "meh" ending, I liked this one. No killer babies, no watered-down botched editting, and a killer who's not afraid to just say WTF, and pop a cap in a hillbilly. I do sort of wish we could have seen more of the "film-within-the-film", but what they did show was still fairly fun and gruesome. 4 Killer Trees out of 5.

So, what did The Hills Run Red teach us this week?
-You can't always judge a movie by its title...unless it's released by The Asylum.
-Stifler would still be alive if he had stayed at Band Camp.
-In the movies, people can have names like "Lalo" and "Wilson and Alexa Concannon", and it doesn't sound weird to others around them.
-I can spoil an entire movie about a killer named Babyface, and not make a single, sarcastic joke about it....but if the next movie's killer is named "R. Kelly", I can't make any guarantees...Same goes for the lack of jokes about The Hills.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

It's Alive! III: Island of the Alive

Here it is, the swansong of the It's Alive franchise. It's Alive! 3: Island of the Alive is a very '80's, very silly horror flick. It begins with a woman in a taxi, about to give birth. It's a generic "dark and stormy night" scenario, and the driver of the cab demands that a street cop help out with the delivery(incidentally, neither the cop nor the cabbie seem to be looking at each other during this scene...the angles are just kind of "off"). We all know, of course, what's about to happen...

So, after the woman begins thrusting her hips up and down(is she having the baby, or making it?), she pulls up her shirt to reveal a bloody basketball under her shirt. Seriously, I haven't seen a pregnancy so fake since Debbie Rowe met Michael Jackson. In a weird way, it reminded me of the decapitation scene in Chopping Mall, where I swore that I saw watermelon seeds flying out of the "exploding head". Eh, whatever--rookie cop fires away at the baby, and we're OFF!!

Our favorite monster-baby hunting cop, Perkins, returns in this film. He is called to the scene because of his experience with Mutant Muppet Babies. I guess he's the guy you want when there's a baby to shoot. Anyway, he and some backup officers find the baby by following a trail of blood into a church. They discover the baby, dead, after apparently trying to perform a self-baptism. Under a scene depicting cherubs and angels. Very subtle.

The credits start rolling, and right away we're in trouble. The credits are rolling over what resembles a lava lamp spill. The cast includes Karen Black, a completely off-the-wall Michael Moriarty, and the always-great Gerrit Graham(seriously, go watch CHUD 2 and the 1-season TV series "Now and Again", and bask in his greatness as a comedic actor. I'll pause the review 'til you're done.).

Okay, so now we're in court. A judge is hearing the pros and cons of mujrdering the Monster Muppet Babies, and the judge is teetering verrrrrrrrrrrry close to letting them commit mass infanticide. Frustrated by how things are going, Jarvis, the father of one of the babies and a failed actor, tries to show the court a different aspect of the monsters' personalities. Moved by what he sees, the judge decides that, while the mutant babies can live, they should be shipped off to an island near Cuba, away from other humans.

Oh, and there's a pointlessly long-winded scene where Karen Black and Jarvis have a confrontation in a bar. At one point, you can actually see her brain explode, when a plume of smoke rises from her head. Seriously. Deep thought makes her head smoke. Jarvis then shares a few awkward moments with a hooker, and humiliates himself at a party.

There's a (mostly) pointless sequence where a guy who looks EXACTLY like Michael McDonald's swinger character from "MADtv" is leading a small group of hunters to the island to kill the babies. The hunt is, of course, sponsored by the drug company from the previous films. Wanna guess how successful they are?

Anyway, cut to four years later: the proud papa is working at a shoe store when he is approached by Perkins. There's going to be an expedition to the island, to see how the mutants have developed in the last four years. Basically, if you've ever seen the Jurassic Park sequel, The Lost World, you've pretty much seen this film. Still here? Okay...after several silly, joke-y scenes on a boat, the crew arrives at Baby Island.

The crew consists of about 6 people: there's Jarvis, of course; Perkins; the token female; and a handful of generic "guys with guns and equipment". Jarvis sneaks off and tries to plea with the monsters to let them leave alive, but the hunters find him and force him to help in the search. Bad idea.

The babies terrify them, and kill about 3 or four of the "professional hunters", for food. Jarvis and Perkins get back to the yacht, only to discover that some of the babies made it there first, killing the crew. Freaked out, Perkins falls overboard and swims back to the island. This leaves Jarvis alone with the killer babies. Good news, the mutant son he had is protecting him from the others. The bad news, he gets thrown overboard anyway, and picked up by Cubans who assume he's a spy.

They hear his story, and eventually believe him. Of course, the news about the discovery of the boatful of corpses helps lend authenticity to his story. They bring him to Florida, which has become a Mad Max movie for some reason. Jarvis realizes the babies are on a killing spree, and goes back to the club where his ex works. She's been kidnapped, and the search begins!

The babies find her before Jarvis does, but he arrives at her apartment with a gun. He tries to reason with them, but the cops are all set to open fire. There's a very cheezy massacre scene, and a revelation: the mutant babies are dying. Mumps. Jarvis, his ex and their baby escape, steal a car, and decide to be a family. There's a lot of fake laughter, followed by a twist so unsurprising I don't think I even blinked. This one gets 4 outta 5 baby-eating trees, for the sheer batshittedness of the movie, and Moriarty's crazy performance. 1980's drugs looked like fun.

So, what did this slasher flick teach me?
-when babies age, they don't bcome children, but bigger babies. Take THAT, science!
-In the '80's, Michael Moriarty did a LOT of drugs when deciding which movies to make.
-babies, especially 4 year old babies, prefer to eat human flesh and wear the clothes of their victims.
-I can sit through anything twice...(fell asleep the 1st time I put this DVD in, during the early boat scenes)

Next week: NO killer babies!! YAYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYY. Unless something cataclysmic happens(like someone gives me another killer-baby movie to watch), I'll be seeing The Hills Run Red. Sounds like one of those "Asylum Mockbuster" versions of The Hills Have Eyes, but maybe I'll be pleasantly surprised...


Wednesday, July 14, 2010

It Lives Again!

Same monster, different day...

This time around, I watched It's Alive 2: It Lives Again!, the continuing saga of the Monster Muppet Babies. Yup, you heard right, BABIES, plural. Three, in fact. Nobody puts Babies in a corner!

Father of the year, Frank, is back, minus his wife and son. This time around, the drug company from the first movie has been covering up the scandalous killer baby massacre. Apparently, Frank's baby was just the first mutation: others have been popping up, with alarming frequency, and the company's solution is to track down couples with a particular set of genes, accost them in the O.R., and take or kill the babies before the parents even see them.

Well, since Frank knows the babies can be reasoned with, he's had a change of heart. Travelling all over the country, Frank finds couple who are having babies under the right set of circumstances and tells them his story. He then offers them a chance to be whisked away to have their Monster Muppet Babies, before the government can intervene. His latest rescue attempt? Jody and Eugene Scott, two comedically dramatic, intense people who remind me of Sarah Silverman and a sleazy Ed Norton. I'll let YOU decide which one's which.

Frank crashes their baby shower and waits for all the guests to leave so that he can try to tell them in relative privacy who he is. At first, they of course scoff at him....until he shows them, by way of the goon across the street watching their house, just how much danger the baby is in. They agree to at least hear him out later that night, and he leaves them with his phone number.

And guess what happens next? Yup, Sarah Silverman goes into labor, and Fight Club tries to get her packed and to the hospital. He even calls Frank, who has been distracted, and fails to get back to his motel room in time. The couple gets to the hospital, only to find a veritable army of police officers waiting for their arrival.

Lucky for them(?), Frank arrives in the nick of time, steals some scrubs to disguise himself, and bursts into the O.R., demanding the baby and the couple at gunpoint. They kidnap a Mafia boss moonlighting as a surgeon(seriously, he's an elderly, menacing-looking mafia-type, playing a doctor...WTF???), and have an exciting, pulse-pounding car chase. Okay, not really, but at least I tried...) Yeah, they get away, because they switch vehicles in a tunnel, that fortress of ingenious design. Uh huh. And the truck is big enough to carry the couple, Frank, another team of doctors, and a ton of medical equipment and computers. Riiiiiiiiiiiight. Pull the other leg, movie.)

So, the baby is delivered, and promptly placed in a cage, because everyone in the film forgot that scaring these things is a bad idea. Great. He(?) is brought to a secret lab, where it is revealed that there are two more It-Babies, also in cages. Meanwhile, Jody and Eugene, the not-so-proud parents are in another area of this secret compound, trying to repair their relationship. Remove the killer babies, and this would be on Lifetime, starring Melissa Joan Hart and Luke Perry. Turns out their marriage is pretty much kaput, as she believes he is the reason the baby came out as a monster. Happy Father's Day!!

In the least shocking twist ever presented in the history of films, the three Muppet Monsters escape their cages and attack. The scientists die, the evil corporate guys, even Frank is killed during the "excitement". There's even a morbidly funny scene where the babies attack a child's birthday party. And yet, Eugene starts to come around and see his baby as something less monstrous. Awwwwwwwww. I hope they started a scrapbook: Baby's First Step; Baby's First Fang; Baby's First Decapitated Stranger. Sweet.

Anyway, the movie eventually cops out and ends the same way the first one did, by having Eugene shoot his child. Wow, very original. Still, you get a better look at the monsters this time around, and the (unintentional?) humor is improved as well. Not bad for a movie that asks you to be afraid of little pudgy ankle-biters. Plus you get a really great WTF-esque moment where the geezer Mafia Doc reveals that one of the mutant babies is HIS!!! The guy is old enough to have been the doctor who delivered Adam and Eve's firstborn, so there's an image I didn't need in my head. How old was the baby mama???

The third film in the series, It's Alive! 3: Island of the Alive, will be next in line. It Lives Again, just for the kooky factor, gets 4 baby-eating trees outta 5.

Sunday, July 11, 2010

It's Alive!

In the 39 years I've been alive, I've seen millions of movies, and a great many have been slasher films--hey, I guess I'm just lucky enough to have great taste in cinema, right? Anyway, in that time, I've seen my share of weird slasher-flick villains: Psycho doctors? Check. Summer camp killers? Ohhhh, yeah. Killers possessing inanimate object? Yep. But you know what I never thought of? Killer Babies.

Yes, Killer Babies. I've watched It's Alive(both the original 1970's "classic", and the recent remake, both via Netflix Instant) and It Lives Again and It's Alive 3: Island of the Alive on a double-sided DVD. Oh baby!

The first film in the It's Alive franchise is about an advertising executive and his wife, Frank and Lenore. They have a son and another baby on the way. On the day the Lenore starts going into labor though, SOMETHING GOES WRONG!!!!! *gasp* It seems that there was a minor massacre in the delivery room, killing everyone except for the mother and the baby, who fled out through a window and left Mama to take the rap. Naturally, Lenore is accused of murder, and an investigation follows. Mom is allowed eventually to return home, but still under what is pretty much house arrest. And one question remains: how does a woman giving birth kill a roomful of medical personnel while strapped down to a table???

We learn fairly quickly that the answer is, "She doesn't." Her baby does. See, when Lenore first knew she was preggers she decided to abort the fetus by way of an experimental medication. Then, when she changed her mind, she went to the other extreme and tried fertility drugs. All those drugs, plus cigarettes, alcohol, recreational drugs and whatever-the-hell-else she decided to ingest, all of it mutated the baby. In the first movie you don't really see the monster baby much, but in the other films it resembles a fat version of the monsters in the Ghoulies, pretty much like a normal baby, really.

Anyway one cop, Perkins, knows something weird is going on. He starts visiting the couple, interviewing them more and more, and doing deep background checks. By the way, Perkins is in all 3 of the It's Alive movies--although by the third film, he seems shoehorned into the plot. I don't know if it's intentional or not, but the guy's a riot...sort of like Norm on "Cheers" if they could pry him off of that barstool. (oh, and apparently the actor passed away, so forget about ever seeing him in any future killer baby films)

So the parents are kind of stuck: the baby is on the loose, killing pretty much everyone it encounters, they're being scrutinized 24-7, and the pharmaceutical company responsible for the drugs that mutated the baby in the first place have coerced the authorities into trying to hunt it down so it can be dissected/studied. Frank pretty much cracks under pressure, what with having his Baby Mama deliver a Baby Monster, so he gets his hands on a gun and decides to kill the baby himself. I mean, hey, it's not like his wife will ever want to carry HIS baby ever again, and he loses his cushy job, so what's a monster breeder to do?

Well, the baby ends up breaking into a school. While Frank is helping investigators look there for the baby, Lenore finds It first, and hides it in the basement. Dr. Spock must've loved this film's parenting advice. While It is exploring his dank, dark new home, he meets Frank and Lenore's older son, whose name completely escapes me at the moment. Let's see, he could be considered the Sibling Hero of It, right? So let's just refer to him as SHIt.

So SHIt tries reasoning with It, and it turns out that It only kills because he's frightened. Kind of like that time I rode a roller coaster at Six Flags and decapitated everyone waiting in line after I got out. Because THAT is just the most normal reaction to fear ever, right? But I digress: Frank interupts the SHItstorm, and wins Father of the Year trophies by shooting It. It escapes AGAIN(C'MON, mutant or not, it's a freakin' BABY fer Petes' sake!), and after ditching his handgun, Frank gets his hands on a shotgun. Yee-ha, it's turning into a tame episode of Jerry Springer now!

He tracks the thing to the sewers, and realizes exactly what his non-monster son realized about 2 scenes earlier: Baby It is just scared. Awwwwwwwwwwwwww. Any bets on how monstrous his diaper must be at this point? Frank picks his son up, apologizes for shooting him, and walks out of the sewer with It in his arms. Best Father's Day card EVER. Too bad the cops waiting outside weren't watching the previous 10 minutes of the film, because they open fire on It, giving him a circumcision he'll never forget. As the movie winds down, there's a call over the police radio: Another monster-baby has been born, this time in Seattle. Was he ever in a grunge band, I wonder? DUN DUN DUNNNNNN 4 killer trees, just for the batshit-craziness of it all.

So, after watching all of this nonsense, what lessons have I walked away with this week?

-Muppet Babies are hard to kill.
-I can get through an entire movie recap without even once making fun of a name like "Lenore".
-Lead actors in movies from the 1970's didn't need to look good or know how to act to get work in Hollywood.

Join me next time as I go make boom-boom in the diaper that is It's Alive 2:It Lives Again! Cootchy-coo, mofo's!

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

American Psycho

If you're anything like me(you poor thing!), you've probably watched some movie franchises out of order. Such is the case with this week's excursion, American Psycho. I saw the sequel* on Netflix's Instant option a few weeks before I decided to start this blog, and it definitely makes the first one look pretty good in comparison...which is faint praise, at best.

Based on the controversial novel, American Psycho tells the story of Patrick Bateman, a 1980's Yuppie who is obsessed with his own image and success. He and his fellow pretentious co-workers are so constantly worried about one-upping each other, they barely even recognize one another when not at work. They constantly exchange business cards to show off their own affluence, and spend most nights hanging out in trendy retaurants and nightclubs.

Patrick hates most of them, enough so that he decides to murder one, a co-worker named Paul Allen(played by Jared Lehto). He invites Paul back to his apartment, puts on a Huey Lewis CD, and proceeds to hack Paul to death. He then dismembers the body, packs a suitcase of Paul's belongings, and books him on a flight to Paris.

And no one notices. After getting away with it, Bateman becomes bolder: he kills a homeless man, he beats up(and possibly murders) a couple of hookers, he even gets into a shootout with the police, and kills an animal or two, all to an authentically cheesy '80's soundtrack of Whitney Houston, Huey Lewis and Genesis. Or does he?

See, everything Patrick does in the film is ambiguous. Everything. For instance, after he kills Paul Allen, several characters claim to have seen or spoken to Paul. And the shootout is after a hallucinatory sequence where an ATM asks him to feed it a cat. While some films benefit from their confusing narratives(movies like Memento and The Machinist come to mind), it gets a little annoying after awhile. The cast is great--we have Christian Bale, Lehto, Reese Witherspoon Chloe Sevigny as the nervous secretary, the still-smoking-hot Samantha Mathis and Willem Dafoe(he plays a detective who isn't sure if Bateman killed Paul Allen or not)--so the problem isn't with the cast. It's the script. A little less of the dream-sequence-y hallucinations, and a little more of Bateman playing cat-and-mouse with those around him would have helped the film a lot.

By the end, after he terrorizes everyone from his secretary to a confused chinese laundromat worker, we're not even sure he IS Patrick Bateman. Not helping matters any, he calls his lawyer and confesses to crimes that apparently were portrayed in the novel, but not the film. It's like that scene in The Goonies where the Asian kid rambles on about the frickin' octopus, after all of the octopus scenes were taken out of the film.

And yet, I have to admit that I was entertained. Watching him dance to Huey Lewis and the News before killing Paul, seeing him and his co-workers practically wet their pants over each others' business cards, and seeing him go stark raving mad at people who never seem to react is all pretty funny stuff. It just wasn't much to make up a thriller. Much better workplace slasher films have been made, like Severance, Office Killer, and Intruder just off the top of my head. But in spite of the plotholes and lingering questions(what was the scene with the realtor about??? ), I still found myself amused by the story. Seeing him working out to Texas Chainsaw Massacre is pretty damned funny, as is the "murders and executions" line in the film. I just wish I had seen this one before all of those others. Maybe it would have seemed more original to me a decade ago, when it first came out. Another one that gets 3 killer trees outta 5.

So, what did I learn from this week's slasher film?
-Some of these movies have expiration dates.
-Christian Bale can actually act, without doing the "growly voice"(seriously, does ANYBODY understand his dialogue in the Batman films??).
-I can and will watch Samantha Mathis in anything, at any time....hubba.

*I may decide to talk about the sequel as well, at some later date, but it was pretty generic. And the connection to this film is practically non-existent, so it's kind of a ripoff to watch it thinking it's a sequel. Hey, buyer beware right?