Shitty Movie Sundays: Alien Rising, aka Gemini Rising

What a bottom-feeding pile of garbage. This reviewer has seen many bad movies — enough bad movies that I’ve ruined any arthouse bona fides I may have had — yet, sometimes, I’m still surprised that something so amateurish manages to get made. This is one of those shitty movies where no one involved, even the professionals, seemed able to capitalize on their work.

Alien Rising, from 2013, is a direct-to-video shitfest brought to viewers by screenwriters Michael Todd and Kenny Yakkel, and director Dana Schroeder. This was Schroeder’s second directing effort, and, if his IMDb page is any indication, it will be his last. Thank goodness. We shitty movie fans may be into flagellation, but everyone has limits. Continue readingShitty Movie Sundays: Alien Rising, aka Gemini Rising”

Shitty Movie Sundays: Armed Response (2017)

Saban Films is a clearing house for crap. I have yet to see anything bearing the Haim Saban imprimatur that wasn’t total garbage. From distributing low-rent Japanese television imports Dragon Quest and Power Rangers decades ago, to spreading Dolph Lundgren films the world over, Saban continues its quest to bore viewers to death. Such is the case with Armed Response, whose production companies include WWE Studios. Sometimes, viewers can know what they’re in for before all the pretentious opening logos have flashed past. Continue readingShitty Movie Sundays: Armed Response (2017)”

Shitty Movie Sundays: Shanghai Fortress

How do I know China is a superpower? Besides the massive economy, the massive military, the massive population, and China’s massive effect on world politics? It’s because the Chinese are now making alien invasion movies where they save the day. That is when a nation truly arrives at the forefront — when they can make jingoistic popcorn cinema of the world-saving variety. And, like most American forays into such material, it stinks.

Shanghai Fortress is an adaptation of the sci-fi novel by Jiang Nan, wherein, in the near future, a new energy source called Xianteng has been brought back to Earth by astronauts. It’s a self-replicating energy source, and clean. A new day has dawned for humanity. Except, some aliens get wind of us having Xianteng, and a gigantic spaceship arrives, Independence Day-style, to rain hell on the earth. After five years of conflict, only one major city remains: Shanghai. Continue readingShitty Movie Sundays: Shanghai Fortress”

Shitty Movie Sundays: Ghost Rider

Half-baked idea: A remake of Apocalypse Now with Nicolas Cage starring in four of the most prominent roles. De-aged, he plays Captain Willard, dancing and twirling, drunk on expensive cognac in Saigon while waiting for a mission and hurting himself. As in the original, it would be an improvisational tour de force, perhaps ending in something more outrageous than a shattered mirror and a bloody hand. Either way, he’d be naked.

Later, Cage appears as Colonel Kilgore. “I love the smell of napalm in the morning. BOOYAH!! Let’s do this!” Then he hops onto a surfboard and paddles out into the glorious six-foot swirls, mortar and artillery shells fountaining the sea around him.

At Kurtz’s compound, a long-haired, bedraggled Cage comes out from behind the menacing gathering of Montagnard fighters, cameras hanging from his chest, guiding Willard and company in to dock, haranguing them with tales of Colonel Kurtz’s god-like prowess.

Finally, of course, is Cage as the crazy Kurtz himself, a study in pre-explosive tension, conflating poetry and dime-store philosophy in a hopeless attempt to reconcile his conscience with the things he has done. Continue readingShitty Movie Sundays: Ghost Rider”

Shitty Movie Sundays: Primal (2019)

Nicolas Cage returns to Shitty Movie Sundays with a flick that was released just this past month, although one would be hard-pressed to find a theater that’s shown it.

Primal comes to us from screenwriter Richard Leder and director Nick Powell. Cage stars as Frank Walsh, a selfish, world-weary wiseass who hunts and captures wild animals to sell to zoos.

Like in every shitty movie he’s been in, Cage overacts. He can’t seem to help himself, and that’s fine with this shitty movie fan. Often, especially in revenge flicks, Cage plays melancholy so deep its laughable. Not in this flick, though. His Frank Walsh character is just as damaged as any of the other characters he has played, but there’s no hint of a dead wife, or girlfriend, or kid — no hint he’s carrying a dark secret. In this flick, Cage is just an asshole. Continue readingShitty Movie Sundays: Primal (2019)”

Shitty Movie Sundays: Next

Thank goodness for Nicolas Cage. He could have been like so many other best actor Oscar-winners and gone on to a lifetime of prestige roles and special appearances, but Cage decided to zig instead of zag. He’s a prolific worker, but a casual movie fan can be forgiven should they be unable to name anything he’s been in for the past ten years. He has fully, and without reservation it seems, given his life over to shitty movies. Just this year he has starred in a film about a former government assassin who runs a fleabag hotel in South America, another film about zoo animals running loose on a cargo ship, a neo-noir thriller, a drug wars action flick, an H.P. Lovecraft adaptation, and a second neo-noir thriller. Six movies! And not one of them has been good enough to advertise during sporting events or primetime TV. But, I bet they’re all entertaining flicks. Continue readingShitty Movie Sundays: Next”

October Horrorshow: The Pyramid

Sometimes I curse The Blair Witch Project for loosing found footage horror flicks upon the movie-watching public. And I curse Rec, as well, for its creepy night-vision climax that has been used over and over again in just about every one of these ripoffs. There is now a whole pile of these films, and it’s hard to find one that doesn’t default to the techniques and gimmicks of these two films.

The Pyramid, from 2014, saves all of its originality for setting and place, while delivering a film identical in tone to any number of horror flicks where a group of people find themselves lost underground and are being stalked by…something. In fact, this is the fourth such film to be featured in this year’s Horrorshow, after Gonjiam, Derelict, and Creep. It’s a cheap way for filmmakers to use the same darkened hallway or tunnel set in many different shots and scenes, creating the illusion of a vast maze. The only problem with this is, these films very clearly use a small set, so it’s left up to the viewer to pretend that the filmmakers aren’t trying to fool us. Continue readingOctober Horrorshow: The Pyramid”

October Horrorshow: The Belko Experiment, or, That Guy Battle Royale

I can’t recall seeing a film that had as many moments when I said to myself, “Oh, look. It’s that guy.” The Belko Experiment is chock full of that guys, and they all feature prominently. There’s that guy from Ghost, (Hollywood aristocrat Tony Goldwyn), that guy from Scrubs (John C. McGinley), that guy from The Killing (Brent Sexton), that guy from The Walking Dead (Michael Rooker), that guy from ER (Abraham Benrubi), budding that guy from The Newsroom (John Gallagher, Jr.), and plenty of other that guys and gals that have been featured in Hollywood films for a generation. Why has such an ensemble been assembled? To kill each other in bloody fashion. Continue readingOctober Horrorshow: The Belko Experiment, or, That Guy Battle Royale”

October Horrorshow: Dead Trigger

What a putrid mess. Dead Trigger, from 2017 but resting on a shelf until this year, is an adaptation of a video game. It’s not the worst video game adaptation I’ve ever seen (that title belt is, and very well always could be, held by House of the Dead), but, it is a properly awful movie. It’s a good thing for the shitty movie fan that this film stars Dolph Lundgren, who has been gracing productions like this for over 30 years. The man is a shitty movie legend — the Tom Brady of bottom feeding dreck. Continue readingOctober Horrorshow: Dead Trigger”

October Horrorshow: Paranormal Investigation

Just when I thought Amazon had cornered the market on films so obscure they don’t have Wikipedia pages, Netflix steps up their game. Paranormal Investigation, the 2018 found footage ghost flick from director Franck Phelizon, is so obscure that not only is it nowhere to be found on Wikipedia (as of this writing), its IMDb page is very sparse. There’s not a single cast member with an associated headshot, and most have only this film as their sole credit. I wish I could write in some greater detail about the cast, but that’s going to be difficult. The film’s credits are as sparse as its internet presence. Continue readingOctober Horrorshow: Paranormal Investigation”