May 26th, 2009

TEEN WOLF (1985) ****

Okay, so I have a rule that any movie, no matter how flawed it may be, gets a Four Star review if I’ve seen it more than ten times.  When I was a kid, I used to rent Teen Wolf like crazy (along with Invisible Kid… man THAT needs to be on DVD ASAP).  Almost a quarter of a century later, I picked it up on DVD for $5 and it dawned on me that I had to have seen this movie AT LEAST ten times; hence Four Stars.

 

Basically, the whole movie is an 80’s updating of Michael Landon’s I Was a Teenage Werewolf, except that the Teen Wolf doesn’t kill anybody.  Scott (Michael J. Fox) is just a regular teen who feels awkward because he can’t play basketball very well and the hottest girl in town won’t give him the time of day.  That all changes when he becomes a werewolf.  Suddenly, he’s the most popular kid in school and doing slam dunks like Wilt the Stilt.  (Except with a lot more hair.)  Eventually though, he learns that “being himself” is more important than being an animal.

 

Werewolves were always my favorite monster growing up and Family Ties was my favorite TV show, so it’s only a natural that I’d love this movie as a kid.  As an adult, I still like it a lot, even though the predictable third act is rife with tired sport clichés and the gratuitous “be yourself” message is irksome.  The make-up is also pretty terrible (the werewolf looks like a hippie version of Chewbacca).

 

Fox’s enormous likeability carries the movie a long way and he delivers one of his all time best performances.  Also standing out from rest of the (wolf) pack is Jerry (Iron Eagle) Levine as Stiles.  Levine has an endearing chemistry with Fox and turns in one of the best teen performances of the 80’s.  (I remember watching this when I was a kid and wanting to grow up to be like Stiles.)  The “urban surfing” scenes are great and are some of the coolest stuff my seven year old eyes had seen on film. 

 

Comparing Teen Wolf to that OTHER 1985 Michael J. Fox movie is a little unfair.  (The movie’s best joke is that the 5’ 4” Fox is on the basketball team.)  Sure, Back to the Future is hands down a much better flick and is wholly deserving of it’s Four Star status, but I’ve easily seen Teen Wolf twice as many times as that movie; so that says something about it’s enduring longevity.  

 

Followed by a cool Saturday morning cartoon and a pitiful 1987 sequel.  Screenwriters Jeph Loeb and Matthew Weisman also wrote Commando the same year.  (PS:  Look fast for the guy who flashes the camera at the very end of the movie.)

TEEN WOLF TOO (1987) ½ *

Teen Wolf Too is exactly like the first Teen Wolf except:

 

  • Jason Bateman (whose dad produced this turd) stars as Michael J. Fox’s cousin, who is also a werewolf.

 

  • It takes place at college instead of high school.

 

  • The sport that Teen Wolf excels at is boxing and not basketball.

 

  • There’s a new guy playing Stiles.  He’s dreadfully unfunny and sports a hideous mullet.

 

  • The Teen Wolf sings a musical number (a sure sign of creative bankruptcy).

 

  • Said musical number is followed up by not one but TWO (make that TOO) musical montages that show what a jerk the new Teen Wolf is.  (At one point he almost runs over a bicyclist with his sports car!)

 

  • The boxing scenes are horribly shot.  (It should’ve been called Raging Bullshit.)

 

  • John Astin plays the irritating dean who harasses Teen Wolf.  

 

  • Kim Darby is a teacher that’s revealed to be a She-Wolf that has a tail that wags.  (It’s as stupid as it sounds.)

 

  • It sucks hairy wolf nuts.

 

Teen Wolf Too also started the unfortunate trend of naming the sequel “Too” instead of “Two”.  (Get it; he’s a Teen Wolf TOO?)  It also happens to be worse than Splash Too and Look Who’s Talking Too.  Luckily, the shitty box office returns were enough to put a silver bullet in the franchise.

PINOCCHIO’S REVENGE (1996) *

A single mom lawyer is unable to get her child-butchering client out of the electric chair.  Consequently, the serial killer’s doll, Pinocchio comes back for “revenge”.  First the doll worms its way into the lawyer lady’s house and befriends her young daughter.  Next, Pinocchio kills the kid’s other dollies and then sets its sights on attempting to murder her bullying classmates.  When the little snot-nosed brat cuts Pinocchio’s strings, he roams free; offing her would-be stepdad and the nanny before predictably coming after her stressed-out mama.

 

At first glance, I thought Pinocchio’s Revenge was going to be a horror comedy in the tradition of Leprechaun.  As it turns out, it’s just a lame ass Child’s Play rip-off (right down to the scenes where the single mother goes one-on-one with the demented doll).  The acting, effects (The doll’s mouth doesn’t even move when it talks!  Jeez.), and the screenplay are all abysmal and the horrible non-ending doesn’t do it any favors either. 

 

Here’s an example of how bad this movie is.  The serial killer who owned Pinocchio is named Vincent Gotto.  Come on movie, wouldn’t it have been a lot cooler (and more clever) to call him Joe Petto?  Do I have to think of everything?

 

Kevin (Night of the Demons) Tenney directed this tripe.  Honestly though, I do have to say that Pinocchio’s Revenge is probably slightly better than any direct-to-DVD cartoon movie that Disney could come up with.  Slightly.

 

AKA:  Pinocchio.

VICE ACADEMY 3 (1991) **

Well, Linnea Quigley must’ve been getting awfully expensive because she didn’t appear in this installment of writer/producer/director/editor/caterer Rick Sloane’s Vice Academy series.  Instead of Linnea, we get another scream queen, Elizabeth Kaitan; which if you ask me is about a fair trade.  Also not showing up for duty is Jayne Hamil, who played Ms. Devonshire.  The new chick they got to play her is pretty grating but it didn’t really make me completely hate this outing.

 

This time, Ginger Lynn Allen is undercover in prison keeping a close eye on a busty convict (Julia Parton).  When the chick escapes, she runs through a chemical testing ground (kinda like in Spider-Man 3) and ends up with green hair (kinda like in Batman).  She starts a mini-crime spree throughout the city and Ginger and Elizabeth have to put aside their differences to bust her.

 

Vice Academy 3 is a definite step up from Part 2 as there are actually a handful of funny jokes in this one.  Among them was the Prisoner Field Day scene where female convicts participated in a potato sack race while wearing a ball and chain.  There was also a mildly amusing scene during Earth Day where Ginger and Elizabeth donned “recycled” bikinis too.

 

Although this entry contained more laughs than its predecessor, it was sorely lacking in the T & A department.  Kaitan and Parton each only showed off their goodies once and Allen kept her clothes completely on this time.  Come on Ginger, remember The G-Spot?  You were awesome in that flick.  Don’t deprive your fans of your wonderful assets!

 

At least Ginger gets the best line in the movie.  It comes when Elizabeth says she’s taken a lot of tests and Ginger quips, “Nobody wants to hear about your visits to the free clinic!”

THE STEPFORD WIVES (1975) * ½

Katharine Ross moves to the suburbs of Stepford Connecticut with her dull husband who poo-poos her dreams of being a photographer.  She gets wary when her husband joins a “Men’s Club” of chauvinist pigs who all have wives that are obsessed with cooking and cleaning.  Slowly (and I do mean SLOWLY), Ross starts to realize that the wives are actually robot duplicates and her husband is eager to make her a “perfect” wife.

 

The Stepford Wives (based on the novel by Ira Levin) suffers from a supreme mishandling of the material.  Although the concept of husbands turning their wives into “perfect” mates seems ripe for social commentary and satire, nothing clever is really done with it.  We get one scene where a couple of wives with Suzy Homemaker hairdos blab incessantly about the wonders of Easy-Off, but that’s about it.  The thing that sends the flick right into the shitter is that director Bryan Forbes foolishly plays things like a horror movie when there is zero suspense or shocks to be had.  The “horror” elements of The Stepford Wives are so terribly mundane and banal that they render the film as sterile, emotionless, and aloof as the Wives themselves.

 

Having a cast made up of entirely robots might have been the way to go since everyone in the flick more or less sucks.  Katharine Ross makes for a pretty bland lead and isn’t really convincing at showcasing the feminist paranoia her character is experiencing.  (Although I did like the nice set of boobs her robot double got.)  As her bitchy sidekick, Paula Prentiss is thoroughly annoying and will get on your nerves PDQ.  At least Tina Louise is easy on the eyes as the town’s resident robotic redhead.