July 26th, 2009

CHOICES (1981) **

John Carluccio (Paul Carafotes) is the best quarterback Simi Valley High has ever seen.  He can also play the violin like it’s nobody’s business.  Then some asshole doctor cuts him from the football team because he’s deaf.  This gets John so mad that he starts hanging out with the wrong crowd, begins snorting coke, and gets shanghaied into stealing a car.  Luckily, with a little help from his new girlfriend (Demi Moore in her film debut) he finally turns his life around.


The character of John makes a lot of “choices” in this movie.  For example, instead of choosing to hang out with his friends, he starts palling around with the cokeheads.  Just like John, the screenwriters also had a lot of “choices” to make.  They could’ve made a truly thought-provoking and surprising drama, but they chose to assemble together a lot of predictable clichés.  They could’ve chosen to make John either a believable three-dimensional character or a standard-issue cookie-cutter teen.  They chose the latter.  They could’ve chosen to make the ending logical and poignant, yet they chose to end things abruptly and tack on a crawl telling the audience how John wound up.


If you can’t already tell, Choices is more like an overlong After School Special than anything else.  Since I do have a soft spot in my heart for After School Specials, sitting through Choices wasn’t too torturous or anything.  There are definitely better movie-watching “Choices” out there though, I’ll tell you that much.


Director Silvio Narizzano, who also helmed the immortal Die!  Die!  My Darling!, really lets the clichés pile up but since he kept things moving along at a steady clip, I didn’t mind too much.  If anything, Choices is worth a look just to see a young Demi Moore.  She does a solid job with her drastically underwritten role and she looks pretty foxy too.  (Add an extra star to this review if you’re a Before They Were Famous fanatic.)


The token black dude on the football team gets the best line of the flick when he asks John, “Where is your P-R-I-D-E?”


AKA:  Dilemma. 


A bunch of annoying teens wander into a small country town and do stupid things like strap blow-up dolls to gas pumps.  They get offed pretty quickly by the homicidal corn children and are replaced by another set of annoying teens.  This set of teens wreck their car and end up spending the night in an abandoned farmhouse.  The corny kids, who are still worshipping good old He Who Walks Behind the Rows, quickly kill these bozos too.  That is, until one of the chicks figures out HWWBTR’s weakness and puts a stop to the murderous munchkins.


Children of the Corn 5:  Fields of Terror is a bit different that the previous installments.  The kids now apparently have telekinetic powers and can lift victims up in the air and cause lightning to strike them.  That doesn’t stop them from killing people up with axes, scythes, knives, chainsaws, drills, blowtorches, and hooks when they’re in a pinch.  Also, He Who Walks Behind the Rows is no longer a giant groundhog who burrows through the ground like Bugs Bunny going to Pismo Beach.  Now he just chills out in an eternal flame that burns at the bottom of an old corn silo.  Other than that, it’s the same old shit.


Ethan Wiley directed this puppy.  He’s the guy who did House 2:  The Second Story, a movie that everybody seems to hate EXCEPT me.  Well, this movie is no House 2, that’s for damn sure.  I thought he did an OK job on the technical end of things.  The movie is really slick looking and is imaginatively shot and filmed.  Having said that, there is only so much you can do to hide the fact that this series ran out of steam three sequels ago.  It’s marginally better than the last one although that’s not a ringing endorsement.  Mostly, this is the kind of movie where people wander around the dark and call out other people’s names until they get killed.  


The cast is fun, even though they aren’t ever given anything worthwhile to do.  We get three actors known for their involvement in Tarantino movies (Pulp Fiction’s Angela Jones, From Dusk Till Dawn’s Fred Williamson, and Kill Bill’s David Carradine), two Zappa siblings (Moon Unit must’ve been busy), one Arquette sibling (the tranny one), one actor who played Jason (Kane Hodder), and the requisite Before She Was Famous actress (in this case, Eva Mendes).  They do what they can with the weak material, which admittedly isn’t much.


Overall, Children of the Corn 5:  Fields of Terror is a thoroughly middling chapter in the never-ending series.  On the other hand, it does contain a scene where David Carradine’s head splits open down the middle and shoots out flames that go THROUGH Fred Williamson’s face, so it’s got that going for it.  I mean come on, when’s the last time you saw THAT in a movie, right?


Originally this was going to carry the awesome subtitle, “Field of Screams” but those idiots at Dimension chickened out and changed it.


Now that I’ve seen and reviewed all of the films in this skippable series, I’d rank ‘em (from best to worst):  Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, Part 5, Part 4, Part 7, and Part 6.

THE SENIORS (1978) ** ½

Four horny college seniors (one of whom is a young Dennis Quaid) don’t have any clue what they’re going to do after graduation.  In lieu of graduate school, they begin a scam to lure “liberated college girls” into bed under the guises of a “sexual experiment”.  It ends up being a huge moneymaking endeavor and the boys wind up getting in over their heads.  When a shady banker tries to swindle their money and kill them, the seniors narrowly escape thanks to some gratuitous deus ex machina.  


The Seniors almost seems like a good-natured Disney movie, except of course for the smattering of T & A.  While most of the jokes are pretty juvenile, there are a few hearty chuckles to be had.  (I liked the part where the chick made the dude dress up like King Kong before he fucked her.)  While the flick started out promising (the animated credits are great), it really loses momentum around the halfway point and gets increasingly plot-heavy as it goes along; which is never a good thing in a dumb drive-in comedy.  What’s worse is that the ending is just straight-up stupid.


Quaid does a fine job and you can easily tell that he was destined to go onto bigger and better things.  An up-and-coming Priscilla (Mallrats) Barnes is quite memorable as the house slut and shows off her impressive rack.  The other actors pretty much deserve their ongoing obscurity though.  Director Rod Amateau later went on to helm The Garbage Pail Kids Movie.

AKA:  The Senior.