June 9th, 2008

BUGS (2003) * ½

Workers excavating a new technologically advanced subway system unearth a swarm of CGI prehistoric bugs.  In the usual Sci-Fi Channel Original Movie manner, the greedy land developer wants the tunnel to open on schedule no matter how many people get eaten by CGI prehistoric bugs.  But when a bunch of VIP’s get turned into Bug Chow during the train’s inaugural run, a lamebrained cop (Antonio Sabato, Jr. from The Big Hit) and a sexy entomologist (Are there any other kind in a Sci-Fi Channel Original Movie?) played by Angie (The Substitute 4) Everhardt get a SWAT team together for a reconnaissance mission down in the tunnels. 

 

Unfortunately they didn’t bring any industrial sized cans of Raid. 

 

Well, I can say this for Bugs; it’s not the worst Sci-Fi Channel Original Movie I’ve ever seen.  Oh it’s plenty bad, but at least you can have fun spotting all the movies it rips off of.  The giant bugs running amok in the subway is just like Mimic while the land developer wanting to open the subway at all costs is just like The Relic.  But the movie this flick rips off most is Aliens.  The SWAT team members are just like the grunts in Aliens (except with less personality, charisma, and acting talent) and whole scenes are lifted from that movie.  The scene where Ripley tells the troops to fall back before they all get killed?  Check.  The guy who stays behind to blow up a monster?  Gotcha.  The final forklift vs. Queen battle?  You betcha.

 

Bugs isn’t TERRIBLE, but seriously, you’d be better off just watching Aliens again for the 700th time than waste 82 minutes on this.  

 

The gore consists mostly of arterial spray, but there are some assorted impalings, maulings, and severed arms that keep things lively.  Sabato looks like he’s sleepwalking but Everhardt is great as always, even if she DOES keep her clothes on at all times. 

MIDNIGHT EXPRESS (1978) ***

Billy Hayes (Brad Davis) is an American tourist in Istanbul who is caught smuggling a shitload of hashish.  He’s sentenced by the court to serve 4 ½ years in a Turkish prison.

 

He soon learns that Turkish prisons ain’t no joke. 

 

When he asks for a blanket, he’s tied up, stripped naked and beaten.  He tries to remain cool and keep his chin up and serve his time, but when the high court extends his sentence to thirty years, he gathers together some nutty prisoners (Randy Quaid and John Hurt) and tries to escape.  When a jackass rats out his buddies, Hayes beats him within an inch of his life, gouges out his eyes and bites out his tongue. 

 

He gets put into the looney bin for that bit of business and when his girlfriend (Irene Miracle from Inferno) comes to visit, he doesn’t want to chat; he just wants to spank it while she presses her titties against the glass.  After seeing his woman’s fine rack, it gives him the proper motivation to impale the main rapist prison guard’s noggin on a coat rack get the fuck out of Turkey.

 

Director Alan (The Wall) Parker evokes a great sense of atmosphere, but almost always keeps the audience at an arm’s length from the material.  There are one or two rousing moments (like Davis’ speech to the court), but for the most part, there’s a certain aloof quality to the film (chief among them is Giorgio Moroder’s bizarre score) that never fully draws the viewer in. 

 

The biggest stumbling block about the movie though is that I really didn’t have all that much sympathy for Billy.  I mean the dude was smuggling TWO KILOS of hashish into the country!  What did he think was gonna happen?  I’ll admit that he was put through some grueling torture, but he apparently didn’t get the memo to JUST SAY NO!

 

The supporting characters are good, but it’s Paul (Pieces) Smith who makes the biggest impression as the sadistic prison guard.  Unfortunately Davis is just OK and it’s easy to see why he went on to have a nothing career.  Maybe if there was a more seasoned and sympathetic actor in the lead, Midnight Express would’ve been more potent; but as it is, it’s still quite a compelling and worthwhile prison drama filled with enough memorable moments (the titties on the glass scene) to keep you watching.  

 

A young Oliver Stone wrote the screenplay and gave Davis the best line of the movie:  “For a nation of pigs, it’s funny that you don’t eat them!”