What a disappointing movie. With a title like Venomous and a poster featuring a giant snake’s head on the attack, I was expecting this direct-to-video cheapie to be a ripoff of Anaconda. Instead, it’s a ripoff of Outbreak. All the epidemiological plot points are there, and every character has an analogue. But, Treat Williams is no Dustin Hoffman, Mary Page Keller is no Rene Russo, Hannes Jaenicke is no Kevin Spacey (are we allowed to like his acting again, yet?), and Geoff Pierson is no frickin’ Morgan Freeman.
From way back in 2001, Venomous is the story of a viral outbreak in the small town of Santa Mira Springs, California, played by the Blue Cloud Movie Ranch. The virus in question is a bio-engineered disease that the US government introduced into rattlesnakes. After a terrorist attack on the lab during an introductory scene, the snakes escape into the wild. That would be that, except that a series of earthquakes in Santa Mira have caused the snakes to flee from their underground hiding places. Townsfolk are bitten, and it is discovered that antivenin isn’t saving their lives. A closer look at the blood of the victims reveals the presence of the virus. That’s when this thing becomes an Outbreak ripoff. Continue reading “Shitty Movie Sundays: Venomous”
From the murky realms of Hollywood anonymity comes Double Exposure, the 1982 film by writer/director William Byron Hillman. Basically a remake of an earlier Hillman film called The Photographer, Double Exposure is a psychological thriller wherein a fashion photographer, Adrian Wilde (Michael Callan), is plagued by dreams of bloody murder. Not his murder, mind. Rather, the brutal slayings of young models in his employ.
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.
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 reading “Shitty Movie Sundays: Next”
When is a shitty movie not a shitty movie? When it’s super cheap, but also good. Such is the case with It! The Terror from Beyond Space, released in 1958.
We wrap up It Came from the ’50s with the movie that was the supposed inspiration for Alien. The story is similar. A spaceship from Earth sets down on another planet and picks up a stowaway alien with a thirst for blood. How the human spacefarers rid themselves of the alien is also similar. How the two films differ is in the small details. Continue reading “It Came from the ’50s: It! The Terror from Beyond Space”
Vampire Circus didn’t make the cut two years ago for the October Hammershow, but now I wish it had. I watched some real stinkers that month, and Vampire Circus would have been a worthy replacement.
Hammer released Vampire Circus in 1972, placing it at the tail end of Hammer’s run. The cracks in Hammer were apparent by then. The formula they had been using for over a decade was showing less and less return at the box office, so Hammer turned to gratuitous nudity and more gore to try and boost sales. It didn’t work. But, even though it seems Hammer was turning somewhat desperate, they were still capable of releasing good horror flicks. Continue reading “October Horrorshow: Vampire Circus”
Gimmicks present unique problems when it comes to film, or art, or anything. Gimmicks may be useful for an initial draw, but people tire of them. Gimmicks are also used to disguise, or make up for, a lack of funds or competence. That is why William Castle, despite throwing some interesting gimmicks into his films, is remembered for being a shitty movie director as much as an innovator.
Before today, I never once considered what it would be like to be trapped in a basement crawlspace with ravenous alligators during a category 5 hurricane. Now, I know. It’s pretty scary.
That’s the setting for Crawl, the creature feature from earlier this year from screenwriters Michael and Shawn Rasmussen, and director Alexandre Aja.
The film follows Kaya Scoladerio as Haley, a swimmer at the University of Florida. A hurricane is bearing down on the area, but neither she, nor her sister up in Boston, have been able to get ahold of their father, Dave (Barry Pepper). There’s some family drama and token sappiness involving Haley and her father, but regardless, Haley decides to head down to the family homestead to check on the old man and make sure he’s still alive. Continue reading “October Horrorshow: Crawl, or Go Gators!”
Once upon a time, I would have been impressed by seeing the Janus Films and Criterion Collection logos before the start of a film. But that has been dashed by the reaction I had to The Blob. Could Fiend Without a Face be another classic film with an inflated reputation? In short, yes. But, this film doesn’t have near the same disparity between reputation and actual quality as does The Blob. It’s just a b-movie, through and through. Continue reading “It Came from the ’50s: Fiend Without a Face”
A fun game to play when watching a William Shatner flick is to pretend that it’s not fiction, and that this is Shatner’s real life, post-Star Trek. This is helped by the fact that Shatner, not once, ever, was sublimated to the role. Like Al Pacino, Shatner is a larger than life actor whose personality dominated every part he played. That sounds like a bad thing, but so many of these duds Shatner were in would have been totally unwatchable without him. He singlehandedly saved many of the films he was in, including this one. His unique take on the craft of acting was truly special. Continue reading “October Horrorshow: Impulse (1974)”