Shitty Movie Sundays: Death Wish II

Forget for a moment that Death Wish II is one of the defining films for The Cannon Group and its producing pair of Menahem Golan and Yoram Globus. Forget that it was this film, along with Enter the Ninja, that would come to define a style of shamelessness that has brought endless amounts of joy to both the shitty movie fan and the wider action flick audience. Forget that a film like this scratches a primal itch that high culture would like to pretend doesn’t exist. Instead, revel in the fact that Jimmy Page did the music for this flick. That’s right. Jimmy Page. From Led Zeppelin. Continue readingShitty Movie Sundays: Death Wish II”

October Horrorshow: Predators

PredatorsIt seems that, for this year’s Horrorshow, I can’t get enough of the Alien and Predator franchises. Maybe I should slow down. It’s not like these things grow on trees. Aliens and predators are a finite resource.

Predators, from 2010, is the first standalone Predator flick since Predator 2 in 1990. In between were the two Alien vs. Predator movies, but I have a hard time fathoming how the flagship title was dormant for so long. There weren’t even any straight to video entries or bad SyFy productions. The predators are excellent horror/sci-fi antagonists. In the right circumstances, they can even be the good guys.

The predators look mean, what with their large stature and menacing mask, and that’s before viewers see the horrible countenance hidden therein. The fact they are aliens who traveled here from the stars just to hunt us is unsettling. We’re supposed to be the top of the food chain. Check that. The predators aren’t here for food. They’re hunting us for sport. That’s an upsetting of the current order that is hard to contemplate outside the realm of fiction. Continue readingOctober Horrorshow: Predators”

Schwarzenegger Month: Red Heat

Most anyone who became aware of both self and American culture after the 1980s has heard of Arnold Schwarzenegger. They’ve probably seen at least one of his films, or maybe heard that he ran California and had terrible taste in SUVs. That’s not all these people would have in common. They would also all be collectively unaware that, once upon a time, Jim Belushi was famous. That’s right, Millennials and those from the generation-yet-to-be-adequately-named, once upon a time there was a mediocre actor and comedian who punched well above his weight, starring in such films as The Principal, Real Men, K-9, and Red Heat, all of which made money. Continue readingSchwarzenegger Month: Red Heat”

October Horrorshow: The Colony (2013)

I don’t know why, but I love stories with an Arctic setting. The poles are some of the most inhospitable places on the planet for life, topped only by the few locations that rise into the deoxygenated death zones at the tops of mountains. The starkness, the harshness, of these places I find fascinating. So much so that, once upon a time, I looked into getting a job summering over at McMurdo Station in Antarctica. Alas, I am unqualified. They have PhD’s down there scrubbing toilets. What more can I offer? Continue readingOctober Horrorshow: The Colony (2013)”

October Horrorshow: Event Horizon

Mix one part huge spaceship, one part small cast, and one part gore, blend on high, and what do you get? Alien. Or one of the many Alien clones that have dotted sci-fi cinema for the last thirty years. Not that there’s anything wrong with that. Formulas in film that work well are often repeated ad nauseam, and while they never quite live up to the creative spirit at work in the original, they still serve to entertain, and that is the primary purpose of film. Even Alien itself is derivative of earlier films, most notably It! The Terror from Beyond Space, including many, many other sci-fi and horror films that portray a small group of people being mercilessly slaughtered one by one. But these days, where there’s outer space and buckets of blood, there is a debt of gratitude owed to Ridley Scott and his crew from 1979. Continue readingOctober Horrorshow: Event Horizon”

The Empty Balcony: Apocalypse Now

Apocalypse Now dropped into my cinematic experience like a bomb. When I was a teenager, I had been vaguely aware that it was a film about the Vietnam War, but I thought nothing more about it other than that it had an interesting title. I had seen other Vietnam War films, notably Platoon and Full Metal Jacket, and felt like I was familiar with the material I would see in Apocalypse Now, so there was no great rush on my part to seek it out. Also, there wasn’t anyone my age (somewhere in the early years of high school, I’m not exactly sure when) who had seen it, so there weren’t any peer recommendations or condemnations to go with the film. Continue readingThe Empty Balcony: Apocalypse Now”

The Empty Balcony: The Matrix

Science fiction is not only the province where the wonder of our imaginations resides, it is also where nagging fear for the safety of mankind finds a home. The best science fiction stretches human timelines to the unbelievable. Also, it reminds us of what is possible. Because we can imagine it, it follows that eventually, it will be done. Some time in the future we will gaze upward at foreign skies with unfamiliar constellations, Sol but one of the infinite dots twinkling in a new sky. We will wander so far from our home for so long it will become legend, rumored to have once been an unthinkable place where thousands of generations could only dream of seizing the stars, when light years were vast and distance still had meaning. It’s possible. Continue readingThe Empty Balcony: The Matrix”