June 20th, 2008

DON’T PANIC (1989) **

Michael (Jon Michael Bischof) is a wimpy teenager who messes around with a Ouija board on his 17th birthday and pretty soon, he’s having weird visions where bloody hands come through the ceiling and attack him. 

 

He’s also the only 17 year old I know of that still wears pajamas with dinosaurs on them, but the less said about that, the better. 

 

The next day at breakfast, a face comes out of Michael’s television and warns him that one of his schoolmates is in danger.  Michael tries to help her but no one believes him and the chick ends up dead at the hands of a serial killer.  As it turns out, the murderer is actually an evil spirit that escaped from the Ouija board and has possessed Michael’s best friend.  Since Michael has a psychic link to the murderer, he knows when and where he’ll strike next, so he and a hot tempered bully join forces to stop the possessed psycho.

 

When director Rueben Galindo Jr. is dishing out all kinds of head-scratching weirdness, Don’t Panic works.  It’s just too bad that the parts of the movie that doesn’t revolve around bizarre visions and/or people having a giant dagger stuck into them is so damned listless and dull. 

 

Michael’s hallucinations are well done for the most part and have a certain Elm Street quality about them.  The kills are pretty bloody and there is at least one impressive knife through the mouth scene.  The extraneous scenes of Michael’s less than optimal home life (dad’s always working and mom’s always drunk) slows things down considerably, but the fact that Michael spends half the movie running around in goofy looking pajamas definitely helps things though. 

 

Featuring a scene from Cemetery of Terror (which was also directed by Galindo) playing on television. 

I’M NOT THERE (2007) ½ *

 

As far as hopelessly pretentious, senselessly artsy, mind-numbingly awful movies filled with music from overrated 60’s relics go; this one is WORSE than Across the Universe. 

 

I’m Not There is one big fucking mess.  It doesn’t make one lick of sense and it has the severe misfortune of featuring tons of Bob Dylan’s cringe-inducing nasally droning, or “songs”, if you will. 

 

Supposedly the whole idea behind this film is that there are six actors “playing” different versions of Bob Dylan, but only half of them (Christian Bale, Cate Blanchett and Ben Whishaw) remotely resemble Dylan, or for that matter are even portrayed as folk singers.  The other three are a washed up movie star (Heath Ledger), a little black kid (Marcus Carl Franklin) and Billy the Kid, played by Richard Gere of all people. 

 

If that wasn’t disorienting enough, director Todd (Velvet Goldmine) Haynes hired a woodpecker with ADD to edit this fucker.  Shit’s everywhere.  One minute we’re following around Bale in an afro singing to a choir, next thing Blanchett’s wandering around a black and white Vidal Sassoon commercial getting wasted, then Gere’s riding a horse in what looks like a Hallmark Hall of Fame version of The Postman while liberating trick or treaters from Gandalf the Grey’s second cousin. 

 

Honestly, you would need to do as much drugs as Bob Dylan did in his entire lifetime to make heads or tails out of this movie. 

 

The only part worth recommending is Ledger’s performance.  While everyone else in the film gets lost in the shuffle (That’s including you, Cate Blanchett.  Man, was it just me, or did you get tired whenever someone was talking about this movie and all they could say was:  “Oooh!  Cate Blanchett plays Bob Dylan!  Couldn’t you just DIE!!!”  Give me a break!), only Ledger really registers above the slow, quiet, mewling death rattle that is this movie.  The scenes he’s in are more or less inconsequential because of the general slipshod nature of the narrative, but he holds your attention, which is a lot more than I can say for all the other actors involved in this used cunt rag of a movie. 

 

Seriously Todd, what the fuck up was with those Dr. Quinn Beyond Thunderdome Richard Gere scenes?  Get back to me on that one ASAP.  My sanity is in your hands…