We’re still burning through reviews that were intended for Tom Cruise month. This film is where I began to realize I might not want to watch 31 Tom Cruise movies:
I knew there were going to be some tough watches this month. It’s impossible to run through 31 of a star’s films and not find at least one film made for a completely different type of viewer than myself. In Legend, the 1985 fantasy film from writer William Hjortsberg and director Ridley Scott, that audience was one that likes a fairy tale. That’s what Legend is. It draws stark lines between good and evil, takes place in an enchanted forest, features a damsel in distress, and shares its overall creature aesthetic with Halloween displays at a big box store. Continue reading “Empty Balcony: Legend (1985)”
I didn’t think I was going to like this silly movie. If not for this month of reviews, I doubt I would have seen it again, ever. Demolition Man feels like a pure expression of movie by committee. The action genre had had much of its life polished out of it by the time this flick came around in 1993. The effect on this film is that, bizarrely, it feels as much like a stage play at times as it does a movie. There is no possibility for suspension of disbelief, nor does the movie require it for the viewer to be entertained. The ideas behind the film are outlandish, something of which the filmmakers were aware. Therefore they wisely shied away from heavy-handed seriousness in favor of the absurd. Continue reading “Stallone Month: Demolition Man”
This is the film that started the long decline of the Alien franchise, but much of the bad feeling this film generates is misplaced, I think. There’s a lot of love out there for the first two films in the series, so any continuation of the story is going to face both closer scrutiny and higher expectations. I don’t believe there is anything inherently wrong with that, so long as opinions aren’t magnified beyond a reasonable consideration of a film’s quality. Luckily for the filmmakers of Alien 3, it was made in a simpler time — the 1990s — when a franchise flick wasn’t judged with any sort of finality before it was even released.
Alien 3 hails from 1992, and was director David Fincher’s first feature film. He worked from a screenplay cobbled together by David Giler, Walter Hill, and Larry Ferguson, after the project had been bouncing around in development since shortly after Aliens hit it big at the box office. At one point, sci-fi legend William Gibson was hired to write a script by Giler and Hill (who also served as producers on the film). Gibson’s script was wildly different from what was eventually filmed, so much so that he received no writing credit. For the curious, Gibson’s screenplay can be found online. Continue reading “October Horrorshow: Alien 3″
What a weird fucking movie. I’m glad I watched it.
The Keep, from 1983, was Michael Mann’s second directorial effort, coming two years after Thief. The film tells the story of a unit of German soldiers who occupy a remote castle keep in Romania during World War II. But, this is no normal keep. The walls are inset throughout with over two hundred crosses made of nickel. The battlements appear designed not to keep an invading army outside of the walls, but rather to keep something in. There’s even a creepy caretaker on site to make sure that anyone who crosses the threshold knows the story of all those before who tried to spend a single night in THE KEEP. Spooky. Continue reading “October Horrorshow: The Keep”
This movie is Arnold Schwarzenegger on the cusp. After Conan and The Terminator, people knew who he was, he was a legitimate star, and this earned him more roles. But he was still making movies for Dino De Laurentiis. That man was a producing legend, but not always for the best reasons. For every Blue Velvet or Serpico, there were about five or six Maximum Overdrives. De Laurentiis movies look cheap, like the filmmakers that made them didn’t have the cash they needed, or weren’t competent filmmakers in the first place. Raw Deal was the last De Laurentiis film with Arnold to hit theaters, and Arnold was probably glad about that. Continue reading “Schwarzenegger Month: Raw Deal”
(Note: I wrote this way back in May, then decided that, rather than post this immediately, it would fit in better with the October Horrorshow. Hence the slightly dated references in the opening paragraph.)
From 1989, Leviathan is George P. Cosmatos’s follow-up to the classic Sylvester Stallone shitfest that was Cobra. And Leviathan isn’t any better. Little more than a mashup of Alien and John Carpenter’s Thing, Leviathan is a stroll down recognizable and well-worn plot paths, comfortable in its familiarity, like an old pair of shoes or the quilt that your grandmother made when you were a child. A more crass reviewer could say Leviathan is a blatant rip-off of much better films, and they would be correct. But I choose to view Leviathan in a more forgiving light, especially since, these days, Hollywood is determined to cram sequels, adaptations, reboots, and remakes down the throats of the all-too-willing public. This week, I could have chosen to see The Avengers or even Battleship at the theaters. Instead, I decided to stay local with my garbage, and rent a fine example of shitty monster movie cinema to view in my own home. Continue reading “October Horrorshow: Leviathan”
VHS tapes, once upon a time, dominated the space below millions of televisions in American homes. They were in your house, a friend’s house, a family member’s house, stacked tall and deep in all sorts of cabinets upon which the TV was perched — cheap particle board constructions bought at the local big box with fake wood grain or flat black veneer, peeling up at the edges always. That awful furniture can still be found. The shapes have just changed a bit as tapes have disappeared and been replaced by DVD boxes. Continue reading “The Empty Balcony: Excalibur & Monty Python and the Holy Grail”