October Horrorshow: Anaconda

What a gloriously stupid movie. It makes me happy to write that sentence again; something I have not done since way back in May. But, this flick deserves it. If I had not already named another film the official film of this year’s Horrorshow (revealed at a later date), then Anaconda would have won the distinction running away. Anaconda is a fantastic example of the heights to which a shitty movie can soar. It features a soon to be breakout superstar, a fading has-been whose Oscar is gathering substantial amounts of dust, and a rapper in the midst of crossing over into movie stardom. It hails from a time when CGI was in its infancy, yet relies on these effects too much. It’s self-aware and amateurish at the same time. It’s a piece of shit, and I love it. Continue reading “October Horrorshow: Anaconda”

October Horrorshow: Critters, or, Power of the Night!

I don’t think I’ve seen this movie since the late 1980s. That’s almost thirty years of depriving myself of big hair, a pack of unstoppable, ravenous fur balls that are more teeth than animal, and Power of the Night, the number one single by Johnny Steele. Oh yeah, this was the decade I grew up in, with all its foibles, bad fashion, and shit music. This was the decade that put Eric Clapton in pastels and convinced teenagers everywhere that synthesizers were an acceptable accouterment to rock music. And my God, Reagan was in the White House. No, no, no. If it weren’t for the amazing run of substandard cinema throughout the decade, I would want to have the entire time wiped clean from my memory. Continue reading “October Horrorshow: Critters, or, Power of the Night!”

October Horrorshow: Chernobyl Diaries

Oren Peli, he of the found footage Paranormal Activity horror franchise, wisely decided to expand his horizons...somewhat. With shared producer and screenwriting credits, Chernobyl Diaries, from earlier this year, can be considered part of Peli’s oeuvre. Co-producer Bradley Parker served as the film’s director, in his first effort helming a film after a career in visual effects and some second unit work. Continue reading “October Horrorshow: Chernobyl Diaries”

October Horrorshow: Basket Case

This is one of the more bizarre movies I’ve ever seen. From writer/director Frank Henenlotter, Basket Case is an ultra low budget black comedy horror flick about a young man and his brother. By all accounts, Duane Bradley is a normal person. Raised in upstate New York, he’s on his first trip to the big city. He’s naïve — green as all hell, in fact — but he has his charms, and it’s easy to tell that the city can’t come close to extinguishing all his innocence. Continue reading “October Horrorshow: Basket Case”

October Horrorshow: The Blob (1988)

Things have calmed down a bit here at Missile Test. Today is the second straight day without a zombie sighting in the October Horrorshow. No walking dead, no rambling hordes, no barricaded windows or locked down shopping malls. Instead, we return to the realm of the creature feature with the 1988 remake of the classic b-horror flick The Blob. Directed by Chuck Russell, who shared the screenwriting credits with Frank Darabont, this remake is a fine movie in its own right. Continue reading “October Horrorshow: The Blob (1988)”

October Horrorshow, Spring Edition: Class of Nuke ‘Em High

Class of Nuke Em HighWhat a shitty movie. From Troma Entertainment, a production company well-versed in churning out b-movie fare (most famously the Toxic Avenger series of films and its spinoffs), Class of Nuke ‘Em High is self-aware schlock. From the opening scene to the end, the filmmakers never miss a chance to remind the viewer that what they are watching is not meant to be taken seriously. But the way they choose to draw attention to this fact, with overwrought characters and performances, only serves to make the film feel forced. It revels in cheapness, and this would be a good thing, if only they weren’t trying so hard. At every step of the film, Troma seeks to establish its brand, reveling in its ineptness at putting together something that is watchable.

The film has a strong beginning. After an opening shot purposefully evocative of Troma’s production logo, the scene shifts to the fictional town of Tromaville, New Jersey, where an accident at a nuclear power plant has leaked radioactive goo into the high school next door. A hapless student is exposed to the contaminant when he drinks from a water fountain before class, and his transformation from stereotypical 80s film nerd to smoking corpse is hilarious. But in that scene is a first glimpse of the film’s downfall. Most of the ensemble cast is present, and all exist, like the poor victim, as caricatures of the diverse collection of jocks, losers, horndogs, and punks that populate the banal visions of high school typical of so many films from the 50s to today. The problem is, there isn’t a straight man among the bunch to balance things out. Continue reading “October Horrorshow, Spring Edition: Class of Nuke ‘Em High”

October Horrorshow, Retroactive: Aliens

Alien is an artful film. It is frightening and suspenseful, but it also has operatic grace and gritty realism, despite being set mostly aboard a spaceship. It’s hard to imagine Alien spawning a sequel so tonally different yet still so successful, but Aliens does just that. The two films are poles apart, sharing with each other only the alien creatures and Sigourney Weaver, who reprises her role from the first film as Ripley. Continue reading “October Horrorshow, Retroactive: Aliens”

October Horrorshow, Retroactive: Alien

Always beware when a series of films has been labeled a franchise. Often it can mean that any effort to bring quality to the screen has been abandoned to embrace the industry’s insulting perceptions of mass taste. Such has been the fate of the Alien series of movies. The last entry that remained within the original continuity, Alien: Resurrection, was so awful it effectively killed the series. Since then, it has truly embraced the franchise label, making reality longstanding plans to team up with the Predator franchise, following a trail the comic book wings of the two brands began blazing in the 1980’s. Continue reading “October Horrorshow, Retroactive: Alien”