September 19th, 2008

LADIES AND GENTLEMEN THE FABULOUS STAINS (1982) **

Corrine “Third Degree” Burns (Diane Lane), her cousin (Laura Dern) and sister (some other broad) run away from home to be in a punk rock band called The Stains.  They land a gig opening for a British punk band called The Looters, led by Billy (Ray Winstone), who develops a thing for the spitfire Corrine.  The Stains gain notoriety when a local news reporter does a story on Corrine, who captures the hearts of the tri-county area’s disaffected female youth populace with her skunk hairdo, fishnet stockings and motto:  “We Don’t Put Out!”  Eventually all the girls start dressing up like their idol and buying stuffed skunk dolls.  Predictably, The Stains sell out and leave their disillusioned fans holding the bag. 

 

I don’t necessarily have a problem with the clichés naturally built in to a rock n’ roll movie, but let’s get real, you’ve seen this all before and done much better.  While it’s kinda fun seeing a young Diane Lane running around wearing next to nothing, her character is so grating that it gives the film no one to root for.  It’s not like one of those deals where success goes to her head and she starts acting like a jerk; she IS a jerk for most of the movie, even BEFORE she gets famous. 

 

The reason why punk rock never lasted is because once record companies got a hold of the bands, they homogenized them into a more marketable item.  (Hence, “punk” became “New Wave”.)  The same thing happened with this film.  If it had been produced by an independent company, the rock n’ roll sequences might have felt a little more real.  Since it’s a Paramount Picture, it all feels a little too “safe”.  Even the presence of Steve Jones and Paul Cook from The Sex Pistols (who penned a handful of decent songs for the soundtrack) can’t help the flick. 

 

By the time the film came out, punk music was passé, so the studio barely released it; leading people to assume that it’s some kind of a lost classic.  Now that’s it’s out on DVD and I’ve actually watched it, I’d say that they shelved it not because they couldn’t market it, but because really, it’s just not very good.

 

I did have fun spotting Debbie (Play-Mate of the Apes) Rochon as a groupie though. 

THE ORPHANAGE (2008) **

Some Mexican lady used to be an orphan so she thinks, “Wouldn’t it be great if I take my husband and my AIDS addled adopted kid to live at my old decrepit orphanage?”  Sounds fine until the tyke begins seeing little kiddie ghosts running around rampant and starts playing hide and go seek with orphans from the other side.  When the little HIV afflicted tot disappears, mama goes plum loco trying to find him.  And when she… Hey wait!  Have YOU guessed the super-duper surprise ending yet? 

 

If you can’t already see it coming from a mile away, here’s the deal.  It’s sort of like one of those Pan’s Labyrinth things; except this time it’s the mommy who buys the farm so she can go to the big orphanage in the sky and spend eternity taking care of dead Mexican orphans.

 

Basically what we have here is The Seis Sense, except that it’s subtitled and the little kid sees Mexican dead people.  

 

The sad thing about this flick is that it actually started out okay.  The opening scenes showed some promise and there was a pretty nifty scene where an old lady got her jawbone dislocated when she got hit in the face with a speeding truck.  Once a bunch of paranormal Ghost Hunters type of Mexicanos started rooting around the house doing all kinds of sub-Poltergeist hijinx, the film started to falter and things never quite recovered from there. 

 

We did get introduced to one semi-cool monster kid who looked like a cross between John Merrick and Jason Vorhees, but for the most part all of the other ghostly brats were anything but creepy.  Seriously, what’s with all these directors who think that poltergeist preschoolers are scary?  Why is it that films like The Others, The Ring and this slice of Montezuma’s Revenge try in vain to scare their audience with brats from beyond the grave?  Chances are a living 5 year old with Attention Deficit Disorder is going to give you more problems than a dead one.  

 

If you’re like me and appreciate a good horror flick, then give this one a pass.  If your idea of “scary” is watching a Mexican mamacita play a South of the Border variation of One, Two, Three Red-Light with a bunch of kiddie ghosts, then The Orphanage will definitely be for you.