Attack of the Franchise Sequels: Hellraiser IV: Bloodline

It’s Hellraiser…in SPAAAAACE!. Sort of. Unlike the other franchises that have sent their killer antagonists into the future, Hellraiser IV: Bloodline, the 1996 entry in the Hellraiser series, only takes place partially out in the black. Most of the film takes place either in 18th century France, or contemporary New York City. It would be disappointing, as I was looking forward to watching Hellraiser turn into an Alien ripoff, but this is one ambitious shitty movie, so not all was lost.

Bloodline had a checkered path to the silver screen. There were many creative disputes, crew dismissals, and general miserableness. To add to the troubles, after the film was delivered to Miramax, reshoots were demanded, and the film’s director, Kevin Yagher, quit. When the film was finally released, Yagher didn’t want his name on it, so the film’s credited director is Alan Smithee, that wonderful DGA pseudonym for directors who went out for a pack of cigarettes and never came home. Continue readingAttack of the Franchise Sequels: Hellraiser IV: Bloodline”

Attack of the Franchise Sequels: Leprechaun 4: In Space

This is the shameless, absurd piece of shit movie that I have been waiting for this series to produce. With Leprechaun 4: In Space, the filmmakers finally said, “fuck it,” and jettisoned everything that hindered this substandard horror franchise. By that, I mean Earth. The first three flicks were somewhat tongue-in-cheek, but they never lived up, or down, to their potential. This film is the turning point.

Like its predecessor, Leprechaun 4 went straight to video. That was a wise decision. The opening shot — in SPACE! — has some of the worst CGI a viewer is likely to see anywhere, and it sets the tone for the rest of the film. Realism was not within the grasp of the budget, and the result would not have been acceptable for a theatrical release. That also means director Brian Trenchard-Smith was freed from the shackles of even middling expectations. Continue readingAttack of the Franchise Sequels: Leprechaun 4: In Space”

Attack of the Franchise Sequels: Children of the Corn IV: The Gathering

Children of the Corn IV: The Gathering DVD boxOne thing we love here at Missile Test is spotting a former A-list star slumming it in a low-rent shitty movie. There’s nothing mean-spirited about it. We like low-rent shitty movies quite a lot, so we feel blessed when the inevitable career turn occurs, and former Oscar-winners and contenders are forced to make due in productions of lesser means and artistic intent. But, what we like even more is when a low-rent shitty movie features a future A-lister — a performer who has yet to prove they have the talent to take them out of the muck. Rookie performers such as these often do the best job in the film, and raise its overall watchability, without having too much of a negative effect on its shittiness. Preserving that je ne sais quoi is important for the shitty movie fan.

These little road stops on the way to stardom end up being places where we can return and enjoy in mirth the dues these stars had to pay. Again, that’s not mean-spirited. Everyone had to start somewhere, and I have yet to see a shitty film with a future star who mailed it in. Continue readingAttack of the Franchise Sequels: Children of the Corn IV: The Gathering”

Empty Balcony: Jerry Maguire, or, Never Go Full Cute

Jerry Maguire movie poster, in French!Cameron Crowe has made a number of films of note. His films consist of entertaining, escapist, happy storytelling that has about as many sharp edges as a bowl of jello. He made the type of films that challenge no assumptions, and throw in just enough emotion to tug on the heartstrings. The worst part about this is not all the squishiness, but the fact the only reasons his films arouse any emotional responses at all is because they are manipulative, reducing human emotion to a formula. Crowe doesn’t evoke emotions in a viewer — he extracts them.

At the start, Jerry Maguire, Crowe’s film from 1996, freewheels its way through the life of the titular character, played by Tom Cruise. He’s a sports agent, and his life is shown as one of glitz and glamour, right until the moment he finds himself the public spokesperson for clients in trouble with the law or in trouble with the media. (Is there really any difference when it comes to sports?) Continue readingEmpty Balcony: Jerry Maguire, or, Never Go Full Cute”

Stallone Month: Daylight

Daylight, the 1996 film from screenwriter Leslie Bohem and director Rob Cohen, should not be this bad of a movie. It’s the perfect vehicle for its star, and does absolutely nothing wrong in following the Irwin Allen disaster movie playbook. It’s swift and action-packed, and there’s enough tension that it should be able to keep a viewer’s attention. But, the characters. My God, the characters. Continue readingStallone Month: Daylight”

Shitty Movie Sundays: The Substitute

What a gloriously stupid movie. From director Robert Mandel, The Substitute tells the story of Jonathan Shale (Tom Berenger), a black ops soldier who leads a team sent abroad to fight the scourge of illegal drugs. But, we viewers never get to see one of these missions. As the film starts, we meet Berenger and his team at the back end of an incursion into Cuba that has left three team members dead. The government disavows any knowledge of the operation or its participants, and throws Shale and company out on their asses. Continue readingShitty Movie Sundays: The Substitute”

Schwarzenegger Month: Jingle All the Way

I was not sure I would be able to get through this movie even before I began watching it. I try to wipe my mind of all preconceptions before viewing a movie, but it doesn’t take a genius to figure out this is a squishy family movie. I do not like family flicks, and I’m not that much of a fan of Christmas movies, either. But, I like Schwarzenegger movies. What to do? Continue readingSchwarzenegger Month: Jingle All the Way”

Schwarzenegger Month: Eraser

Here I am, just a day after publishing a review where I excoriate the film industry for producing anonymous gobbledygook, and the next film in Arnold Schwarzenegger month is more anonymous gobbledygook, action-style. But what makes Eraser such a bland, unoriginal action story as compared to, say, something like Commando? How does Eraser have any less value compared to that film? I think it has everything to do with panache. Commando revels in its cheapness, but it was also designed to be excessive. Its rough edges give it character. Whereas a film like Eraser, which has been polished to within an inch of its life, lacks character in comparison. Continue readingSchwarzenegger Month: Eraser”

October Horrorshow: The Frighteners

Before he was boring me to tears putting endless hours of Tolkien tales to film, Peter Jackson used to make horror films. Not many, to be sure. Peter Jackson is not a horror filmmaker. He is a filmmaker who has made horror flicks. His most memorable work in the genre was Dead Alive (Braindead for all you worldly purists out there). That film is memorable for being, perhaps, the goriest horror film of all time. It truly was an exercise in bloody excess, impossible to faithfully convey in a posting to a website. Continue readingOctober Horrorshow: The Frighteners”

The Empty Balcony: The Arrival

Once upon a time, there was a decade called the ’90s. In that decade, Hollywood fell in love with CGI. Not because it looked good, or that it served to immerse a viewer further into a film. It certainly did not matter that CGI was still in its infancy — that there were better methods for applying visual effects to film. Nor was there a sense of charity on the part of the studios — a nurturing instinct meant to develop a process that was clearly important to the future of film. Goodness, no. CGI was cheaper than traditional F/X, that’s all. And boy, did it look cheap. Continue readingThe Empty Balcony: The Arrival”