January 20th, 2009

THE PIRATE MOVIE (1982) ½ *

Pirates aren’t my thing.  I freely admit that.  Musicals aren’t my thing either.  The Pirate Movie combines the two with little wit and a lot of desperation and makes for a totally stupefying and amazingly painful 100 minutes.  My wife gets a lot of shitty movies off of Netflix and while The Pirate Movie isn’t quite as bad as say, The Apple; it’s pretty bottom of the barrel in every way. 

 

The flick is essentially yet another version of Gilbert and Sullivan’s Pirates of Penzance (there were only about 700 other remakes of that damn play during the 80’s), except this time director Ken Annakin decided that Gilbert and Sullivan wouldn’t draw in the youngsters, so he hired some other jackass to add new pop songs into the mix.  Next he put teen heartthrobs Kristy McNichol and Christopher Atkins into stupid pirate costumes and told them act annoying as possible and then said, “ACTION!”  The resulting mess is preferable to having sea sickness, but not by much.

 

What really irked me about this movie (besides the lame musical numbers) was that the film is supposed to be one of those “It was all a dream” deals.  You see, Kristy nearly drowns in the present day while windsurfing (don’t ask) and while she lays catatonic on the beach, the film becomes one long dream sequence that takes place in the 19th century.  This may have been a semi-viable way to make a pirate movie relevant for the MTV generation, but Annakin just uses it as an excuse to toss in every kind of pop culture reference and unfunny joke imaginable.  His defense is, “Hey, it’s all a dream so why not put an Indiana Jones impersonator in there?”  The problem is, none of this is remotely funny and the film often resembles a dyslexic version of a Mad Magazine movie parody.  Seriously folks; this movie is filled with sight gags for the blind.

 

There is only one good scene in the whole damn movie.  That’s when Atkins turns his stupid old pirate sword into a badass lightsaber.  (A GREEN one at that, which makes this movie kinda ahead of it’s time since green lightsabers weren’t introduced until the next year in Return of the Jedi.)  As terrible as the rest of the movie is, any movie that features a lightsaber is worth at least ½ * in my book.  Other than that, The Pirate Movie deserves a funeral at sea.

THE FIEND OF DOPE ISLAND (1961) * ½

I’m going to be honest with you; I only got this movie because The Cramps named one of their albums after this flick.  Usually any time The Cramps name an album after a movie (like How to Make a Monster) or name a song after a movie (like I Was a Teenage Werewolf), the film itself is pretty entertaining.  Not so with The Fiend of Dope Island.  After sitting through this boring tripe, I have to wonder just what The Cramps saw in this movie to make them want to immortalize it in song.  They probably just dug the title, which is easily the most entertaining thing about this turd.  Either that or they were on heavy amounts of dope at the time.

 

Charlie (Bruce Bennett from The Alligator People) is a dope smuggler who lives on his own private desert island and rules over the natives with an iron fist.  When the native stooges get out of line, Charlie literally cracks the whip on his insubordinate subordinates.  When a sexpot named Glory, played by “The Yugoslavian Bombshell” Tania Velia comes to the island, he holds her prisoner and makes her go-go dance for him.  After Charlie tries to rape her, his second-in-command David (Robert Bray) says enough is enough, beats the snot of out him, burns his supply to the ground, lets the natives whip him a couple of times, and then feeds him to the sharks.

 

Bennett delivers an OK performance in this flick, but the script he co-wrote for himself is pretty weak.  While the scene where Bennett’s native helper gets revenge by repeatedly whipping Bennett during a thunderstorm is alright I guess; it wasn’t up to snuff with the whipping scene from High Plains Drifter.   Director Nat Watt (whose career dates back to the silent era) does a decent job on this scene, although he paces the rest of the action in a lethargic manner and never properly exploits the drug angle either.  Don’t go into this flick expecting a Reefer Madness type drug movie like I did as The Fiend of Dope Island is more of a lame-o jungle picture than anything else. 

 

AKA:  Whiplash.

PAGAN ISLAND (1961) **

A sailor ends up shipwrecked on an island populated by 30 sexy girls who like to wear short silk skirts and leis that barely cover up their boobs.  (Some girls’ tits are so big they have to wear as many as four of five leis.)  After he watches a hula girl named Nami Maka (coincidentally enough played by a chick named Nami Maka) dance in front of a bizarre looking idol, he falls instantly in love with her.  Unfortunately she is marked to be sacrificed by the tribe to the evil “The Sea God”, which complicates their relationship.   

 

Directed by Barry (The Beast That Killed Women) Mahon (whose real life WWII exploits was later fictionalized in The Great Escape), Pagan Island offers very little for any viewer expecting a quality nudie cutie movie.    Even though all the chicks in the film were cast by famous nudie photographer Bunny Yeager, the nudity in this flick is downright sparse.  (You have to look really close in between the girls’ leis in order to see some titties.)

 

The flick does have some stuff going for it.  The underwater photography is quite good and the “Sea God” is pretty creepy looking and would look right at home in a Tim Burton movie.  There is also a random-as-fuck attack by a giant clam in there too.  Plus, the flick is less than an hour long, so you can’t really get too pissed at it.

 

Special Note:  There’s a chick named Yanka Mann in this movie.  I only bring it up because I thought it was a funny name.  I just wanted to share that with you.

NEKROMANTIK 2 (1991) ***

I’ve always wanted to check out the Nekromantik movies but since they’re always like $45 each at horror conventions, I never bother picking them up.  When I found Part 2 on Netflix I figured I’d add it to my queue and find out what all the fuss was about.  Since I haven’t seen the first flick, I didn’t really know what to expect from this sequel.  Well, the title sequence featured footage from the first Nekromantik (which I presume is the last scene of the movie) in which the main character hari-karis himself to death while his raging hard-on spurts out jizz and then blood all over his bedroom.

 

OK, I’m now officially up to speed.

 

This sequel picks up with another necrophile named Monika (Monika M.) digging up that guy’s grave in broad daylight and bringing his corpse back home with her.  Once she gets him undressed, she rides his face and then gives him a BJ.  Since she’s not used to the taste of decomposed dingus, she promptly pukes.  It’s still love at first sight though.  We can tell she’s in love with the dude because she props his corpse up and takes Polaroid pictures of herself making kissy-face with it.

 

The plot thickens though when Monika falls in love with a guy named Mark (Mark Reeder) who happens to be alive.  (His job is to dub heavy breathing sounds into porno movies.)  Monika wants to stay with him so she cuts up her former lover into little pieces and decides to throw him in the trash.  Alas, she can’t bear to toss out his decaying flaccid schlong, so she puts it in the refrigerator for safe keeping.  When Mark finds out about it; he’s remarkably civil about the whole thing.  Monika and Mark soon hit a rough patch in their relationship (he doesn’t get off on watching videos of real life animal mutilation; the pansy) and before you can say “Couples Therapy”, she’s grabbing the hacksaw and… nope, I won’t spoil it for you.  You got to see it for yourself.

 

Nekromantik 2 is crammed with a lot of padding that keeps it from achieving true classic status.  During the course of the movie we’re treated to a gratuitously artsy fartsy film-within-a-film, a long irritating petting zoo sequence, uninterrupted takes of Monika eating goulash, and a mini-music video.  All of this nonsense gets in the way of the corpse fucking.  But you’re not watching a Nekromantik movie to see the filler, you’re watching it to see dead body diddling and in that respect, Part Deux doesn’t disappoint.  The necrophilia scenes are all well done and are thoroughly disgusting.  We’re talking Gross Out City.

 

Most people won’t be able to take Nekromantik 2.  In addition to all the necrophilia stuff, there’s an extended scene where a bunch of girls get together over pizza and watch a video of baby seals being vivisected.  Part 2 is definitely worth a look for die-hard gore fans with cast iron stomachs and/or people who think they’ve seen it all.  Oddly enough though, the flick actually reminded me a lot of a Hal Hartley flick with all of the static camerawork and faux classical music.  Weird.

 

Nekromantik 2 is more than just a corpse fucking orgy though.  The cast is especially good and Monika M. is surprisingly appealing, even when she’s knocking boots with the dead.  Quite an amazing feat if you think about it.  Also, some of the deadpan humor is quite funny (the penis in the fridge gag is hysterical) and director Jorg Buttgereit is able to strike an eerie balance between the humorous stuff and the sickening shit.  While the film doesn’t work 100% of the time, there’s enough gory goodness here to make me give it a solid ***.  It’s good enough to make me want to see the first one, which is probably the best compliment I can give it.

RIGHTEOUS KILL (2008) **

Robert De Niro and Al Pacino star as two over the hill cops named Turk and Rooster who are trying to solve a rash of vigilante style slayings committed by a serial killer who leaves poetry behind at the scene of the crime.  Now I know what you’re saying, “Whoa, De Niro and Pacino?  Where do I sign up?”  Hold your horses though, folks.  Even though it’s got De Niro and Pacino in it, it’s still pretty bad.

 

Righteous Kill proves the rule that the less screen time De Niro and Pacino spend together, the better the movie.  Remember Godfather 2 in which both men starred, but spent no screen time together?  Fucking classic.  How about Heat when they only shared one scene together about halfway through the movie and then met again briefly at the end?  Well, it wasn’t a classic, but it was still pretty fucking good.  Now in Righteous Kill, the duo spends about 75% of the running time together and the movie is a fucking dog.

 

This movie is a goddamn mess.  It keeps going around in circles.  De Niro and Pacino visit a crime scene, banter, De Niro gets a little out of control when someone accuses him of being the killer and Pacino has to cool him off.  This pattern is repeated endlessly throughout the film, making it feel more like an extended episode of Law and Order than a dynamic pairing of two of the finest acting talents of all time.  The flick is also a victim of god-awful editing (most likely from post-production tampering by the producers) and one of the most obvious plot “twists” in cinema history.

 

What happened?  I mean all the ingredients are there.  You got D & P playing two grizzled cops.  (Named TURK and ROOSTER for Christ’s sakes!  How in the world do you fuck that up?)  You got a serial killer.  You got Carla Gugino liking rough sex.  (Although she doesn’t show her massive mammaries… bummer.)  You got a great scene where De Niro beats the shit out of rapper 50 Cent and makes chump change out of him.  You got a skateboarding pimp.  Seriously folks, when’s the last time you saw a skateboarding pimp in a movie, huh? 

 

There are several reasons why the flick just flat out sucks.  The biggie is that it was not directed by someone as awesome as either The G-Father 2’s Francis Ford Coppola or Heat’s Michael Mann.  That’s right, instead of getting an A-Lister behind the camera; we get Jon (FUCKING FRIED GREEN TOMATOES) Avnet.  This Avnet jackass also directed Pacino in the pathetically weak 88 Minutes too.  What’s Avnet trying to do, purposefully derail Pacino’s career? 

 

Another reason the flick doesn’t fly is that De Niro and Pacino just don’t really command the screen.  Both guys woefully underplay each scene as if they thought that just standing side by side for 100 minutes would be enough.  Their mere presence together makes the movie tolerable, but that’s not exactly a glowing compliment.  A movie as boring as this one could’ve used either one of their patented over-acting.  (You know like when De Niro squints up his face and repeats the same sentence over and over again or when Pacino says SENTENCES where he OVEREMPHASIZES certain words TOO MUCH.)  It’s also sucks that their dialogue sounds like something a seven year old Quentin Tarantino would write.  They sit there and make Brady Bunch, Underdog, and Starsky and Hutch references, but it all feels forced and phony.  As the two younger cops also working on the case, John (Land of the Dead) Leguizamo and Donnie (“Look, I’m acting in a movie that’s not a Saw sequel!”) Wahlberg fare much better and have more chemistry together than De Niro and Pacino.

 

You might be wondering why I am still giving Righteous Kill ** instead of *.  Well, as less than stellar as both De Niro and Pacino are in this movie, they’re still pretty fun to watch.  You don’t get many opportunities to see them together so you might as well enjoy it while it lasts; even if the movie does suck.  Their performances are only a testament to just how awful the script is.  Not even the two greatest actors alive could manage to breathe life into this shit heap.