August 29th, 2009

BRUCE’S FIST OF VENGEANCE (1984) **

Jack Lee must protect a secret book that Bruce Lee wrote so he gives it to his good friend Bruce Le for safe keeping.  There’s a dickhead dojo owner who wants to steal the book and he sends out a bunch of his bonehead buddies to beat up Jack.  For the most part, Jack is able to stay one step ahead of the bad guys.  That is until the end when the dastardly dojo owner shoots Jack in the back and steals the book.  This finally sets the stage for Bruce to use his Fist of Vengeance.

 

Bruce’s Fist of Vengeance is a virtual remake of They Call Him Bruce Lee.  It even features the same star (Jack Lee) and location (Manila).  It also steals music from other movies (most notably Diamonds Are Forever).  This one is slightly better than They Call Him Bruce Lee because the filmmakers gave Jack more to do this time out.

 

And I’ll tell ya, Jack Lee is kinda funny in this movie.  He gets a couple of humorous fight scenes including one part in which he teaches a bad dude a lesson by pulling his pants down in front of an entire karate school.  There’s also a funny bit where he fends off a bunch of assassins in his hotel room while getting dressed.  Granted, he’s no Jackie Chan or anything, but he’s (intentionally) funnier than most Bruce Lee imitators.

 

No matter how many things this flick had going for it, I still had one major beef:  The fight scenes.  Yeah, Jack had a couple nifty comical fights early on, but the more serious battles later in the film are either sped up way too fast or filmed in the slowest slow motion in history.  In one scene Bruce Le will be running around like The Monkees karate chopping people, then the next, he’ll be in such Super Slow Mo that it looks like he’s hardly even moving.  The fast motion scenes are particularly idiotic because they occur in the section of the film when Bruce is trying to avenge his friend’s death.  Nothing and I mean nothing ruins the mood of a good old fashioned vendetta than silly looking fast motion that makes you look like Benny Hill. 

HORROR SEQUEL DOUBLE FEATURE: HALLOWEEN 2 (2009) ** & THE FINAL DESTINATION IN 3-D (2009) ***

Since the wife goes back to teaching school on Monday and the baby is due in just a few weeks after, I figured now would be the time for us to check out Halloween 2 and The Final Destination in 3-D before both of our schedules get jammed up.  Plus, it’s been ages since the two of us had seen a double feature since the demise of The Diamond State Drive-In.  So we fired up the Taurus and gunned her up to the Salisbury Stadium 16 for a Saturday Horror Sequel Double Feature.  Here’s the lowdown.

 

HALLOWEEN 2  (2009)  **

 

Now I wasn’t the biggest fan of Rob Zombie’s 2007 remake of the seminal John Carpenter classic Halloween, but I do still say that the flick had it’s moments and wasn’t too bad whenever Robby Boy wasn’t copying off The Master.  I think what drove me nuts with Zombie’s Halloween was that I was frequently comparing it to the infinitely superior Carpenter film.  Going in to this flick, I had some hope that it would be fairly decent since I would be more or less comparing it to the remake and not the original Halloween.  (Or for that matter, the original Halloween 2.) 

 

First off let me just say that I have a big problem with calling this thing “Halloween 2” because there was already a great movie called Halloween 2 that was made in 1981, which was a sequel to Halloween.  I know THIS Halloween 2 is a sequel to Rob Zombie’s Halloween 1 but to me, it’s just way too goofy to have 2 separate Halloween franchises.  Now whenever I tell somebody about that great scene in Halloween 2 I have to add, “Uh, no not the Rob Zombie one”.  I HATE that.

 

It makes more sense to me to just called the Halloween remake Halloween 9 and call this one Part 10, but that’s just me.  In fact, it would’ve made an infinite more amount of sense to have waited until Part 10 to make a remake, that way when you did Part 11; you could just call it Halloween 11 and make everyone think it was a Roman Numeral II.  For argument’s sake, I’ll just call this flick Halloween 2; just know that it irritates the living shit out of me to do so.

 

This Halloween 2 starts off almost exactly like the original Halloween 2 with Michael Myers (Tyler Mane) stalking Laurie (Scout Taylor-Compton) in a hospital on Halloween night.  Then the action abruptly switches to one year later with disturbed Laurie seeing a shrink (Margot Kidder!) because she has a lot of bad dreams.  Meanwhile Dr. Loomis (Malcolm McDowell) is on a book tour of his latest tell-all expose on Myers, which fittingly is released on Halloween.  In the book, he drops the bombshell that Laurie is indeed Michael’s sister.  Laurie reads the book and it screws with her mind so much that she decides to get drunk to forget it all.  Since this is Halloween night we are talking about, that means Michael is in town looking to hack her up.

 

Halloween 2 started off just fine.  Zombie crafted some surprisingly suspenseful scenes (like when Laurie gets locked into a parking attendant booth) and really delivered on the gore.  In the first half of the flick we get a severed head, butcher knife to the skull, axe to the back, eye slashing, deer antler impalement, dog eating, and face stomping.  Disappointingly, the gore dries up once Halloween night rolls around as Zombie starts making the killings bloodless and/or leaves them off screen entirely.

 

Likewise, the movie gets worse as it goes along and completely falls flat on its face once it enters the homestretch.  In addition to the deaths becoming increasingly weak, we also have to contend with an extremely annoying subplot that is supposed to explain “why” Michael is going after Laurie.  Okay, apparently Michael sees visions of his dead mother dressed in a white gown accompanied by a white horse who goads him into going after Laurie.  These scenes are goofy as all get out and seem more like an opportunity for Zombie to put his wife Sheri Moon Zombie into the movie than a logical reason for Michael to murder his sister. 

 

Then there’s Zombie’s continual mishandling of the Loomis character.  Again, Loomis is portrayed as a money grubbing asshole and not a caring physician.  Again, he’s given very little to do besides act like a prick.  Again, he just kinda shows up at the end so Michael can kill him.  (I don’t think I’m spoiling anything here because Loomis died in the first movie and came back, so I’m sure he’ll do likewise if there’s a Part 3.  Unless Zombie remakes Season of the Witch that is.)  The final confrontation between Loomis and Michael is particularly lackluster and anticlimactic. 

 

Also, Zombie goes overboard on Laurie’s dream sequences.  Rob:  trippy psychedelic shit doesn’t really belong in a Halloween movie.  Save that shit for one of your music videos, buddy.

 

And you know, as much as Zombie previously stated that this Halloween 2 was not a remake of the 1981 Halloween 2, then why would he stage a major murdering spree in a hospital, the same setting where the original Part 2 took place?  Not that I mind.  I mean the hospital massacre scene IS the best thing the movie has going for it.  Zombie also cleverly lifts things from Part 4 (the ambulance escape scene as well as the idea that a Myers relative may take up Michael murderous mantle) and Part 5 (there’s a Halloween party in a barn plus the fact that Michael lives the life of a long-haired drifter during the other 364 days of the year that aren’t October 31st).  For all his talk about making this movie “his own”, he certainly did swipe a lot of stuff from the other installments.

 

I will fess up and say that Halloween 10 err… 2 is marginally better than its predecessor.  The first half is moody and atmospheric (as opposed to the bland and rushed second half) and I liked the restrained use of John Carpenter’s classic Halloween theme.  Another plus is that Mane actually GETS how to play Michael Myers now.  His portrayal of the slow moving and emotionless Michael is miles better than his previous turn as the masked killer.  He actually feels more like Michael Myers and not that White Trash Jason wannabe from the remake.  Of course, he does have to play a lot of his scenes with Ghost Mommy and her White Horse though.

 

And then there’s the random Weird Al cameo, which is as hysterical as it is bizarre.   

 

Overall, Halloween 2 is a middle-of-the-road entry in the series.  The kills are quality for the most part and the nudity is plentiful so those bases were covered.  Had Zombie 86’ed all the dreams and Ghost Mom shit (not to mention made Loomis a likable character), it could’ve stood shoulder to shoulder with Part 7.  It could’ve been worse I guess:  Busta Rhymes could’ve been in it.

 

A horny coroner gets the best line of the movie after ogling a hot dead chick:  “I got wood just Ziplocking her up!”

 

After the lights went up on Halloween 2, me and the wife headed to the concession stand (“Let’s All Go to the Lobby”) to refill our Big Ass Soda and get some Twizzlers before slapping on our 3-D glasses for: 

 

THE FINAL DESTINATION IN 3-D  (2009)  ***

 

It is my hope that 2009 will be remembered for being the year that marked the return of the 3-D horror movie.  It will probably be best known however as the year Hollywood made clever use of the word “The” in the title of a fourth film in a successful franchise.  Earlier in the year, The Fast and the Furious Part 4 dropped the “Thes” out of its title and simply became Fast and Furious.  The latest installment in the Final Destination franchise on the other hand simply ADDED a “The” to its title to make it THE Final Destination; implying that this will be the last in the series.

 

Sure, and if you believe that, you’ll believe that Jason Goes to Hell was REALLY the Final Friday. 

 

I don’t know about you all, but I LOVED me Final Destination 2.  It was one of the greatest Teenage Shish-Kabob Movies of the New Millennium.  While Final Destination 1 and 3 are good and all, it’s 2 that’s balls out brilliant.  What made me want to see The Final Destination so badly was that it was directed by David R. Ellis, the man who also did FD2 (not to mention Snakes on a Plane). 

 

That and it’s in MUTHAFUCKIN’ 3-D. 

 

Now I do have to chastise New Line, the studio responsible for the Final Destination pictures here for a second.  Why on God’s green Earth did you make Part 4 in 3-D when everybody knows the classic Part 3’s are all in 3-D?  Final Destination 3-D could’ve been whispered in the same breath as Friday the 13th Part 3-D, Jaws 3-D, Amityville 3-D, and Spy Kids 3-D but….NOOOOO!   You had to make Part FOUR in 3-D.  Where’s the logic in that?  The only way that it would make sense is if you made Final Destination 4-D where not only images came out of the screen, but REAL blood splashed on them too.  (Think the Shamu show at Sea World except with protoplasm.)  As it is, we have to settle for the title The Final Destination in 3-D.  Doesn’t have quite the same ring to it, does it?

 

The Final Destination in 3-D is just like the other three movies.  Someone sees a premonition of mass death.  They, along with several others narrowly avoid death.  Later, death comes after them and kills them in a myriad of gory Mouse Trap inspired ways.

 

Seriously, this movie is exactly like the others.  In fact, I think some of the dialogue is exactly the same.  The only thing that’s different is the site of the initial accident (this time it’s at a Nascar race instead of a rollercoaster, freeway, or airplane) and the way people die. 

 

The screenplay must’ve been written like Mad Libs:  (Boy’s Name) sees (Girl’s Name) die at a (Place) in a premonition and prevents her death.  Later, (Same Girl’s Name) dies when a random flying (Sharp Object) goes straight into her (Body Part) and kills her.

 

Because The Final Destination in 3-D is exactly like its predecessors, the only way to accurately judge the film is on two things:  The body count and the 3-D effects.  We get: 

 

  • 3-D flying screwdriver.
  • 3-D flying tire.
  • 3-D white trash couple being cut in half.
  • 3-D motor to the lap.
  • 3-D splintered bench through the mouth.
  • 3-D pole through the stomach.
  • 3-D flying flaming severed head.
  • 3-D pedicure.
  • 3-D flying rock to the eye.
  • 3-D chunks of human torso squished through a chain link fence.
  • 3-D extreme underwater enema.
  • 3-D flying cork.
  • 3-D 3-D movie of death.
  • 3-D chick ground up through the escalator.

 

Now on the basis of death and destruction, Final Destin… excuse me, THE Final Destination in 3-D is easily the least of the series.  Just because it’s not quite up to snuff with the previous films doesn’t mean there isn’t some good stuff here.  Of all the gory deaths, the escalator scene was probably my favorite.  Now when I was a kid, I used to have an acute fear of escalators.  I would have horrible nightmares where my shoelace got caught in the steps and I’d get sucked in feet first screaming.  The Final Destination brings this childhood fear of mine to the big screen.  Not only that, it presents it in 3-D no less.

 

The other kills are adequate but they didn’t make me jump or say “Oh damn” or anything.  Likewise, the 3-D didn’t really bring the gore sequences fully to life (death?).  They enhanced them to a certain degree (like the chain link fence scene) but they didn’t fly off the screen the way My Bloody Valentine did.  But… even the worst 3-D adds fun to a movie just for the sheer novelty of the 3-D effects.   The Final Destination in 3-D’s effects, while no means great, definitely bumped the flick up a notch or two.  And that, combined with the generous amount of goodwill I’ve built up for the series over the years, was enough for me to give it a positive review.