September 18th, 2009

SOME KIND OF WONDERFUL (1987) **

After John Hughes died I wanted to review a movie of his that I had never seen as a tribute to the man.  Because Netflix is so damn slow sometimes, I just got this movie yesterday.  Sorry for the delay.  Now that I’ve finally watched it, all I have to say is it should’ve been called Some Kind of Mediocre.

 

Eric Stoltz plays this poor kid who works in a garage and spends most of his time painting.  Mary Stuart Masterson is his tomboy best friend who predictably has a crush on him.  Stoltz ends up getting a date with a cute popular chick (Lea Thompson) and they both get grief from their friends because they’re from opposite ends of the popularity spectrum.

 

So it’s basically Pretty in Pink with the genders reversed.

 

Some Kind of Wonderful is just like every other John Hughes movie ever made except it’s lacking the heart and insight of his best work.  The whole thing is predictable and not very funny and the ending is filled with a lot of those Be-True-To-Yourself clichés Hughes is known for.  The performances are good (particularly Elias Koteas as the bully and Craig Sheffer as the asshole boyfriend) but they only help so much.  I did like seeing a young Chynna Phillips in a small role with long hair.  I think it’s pretty hilarious that she blatantly stole Masterson’s hairdo later on when she started up Wilson Phillips.   

 

Speaking of singing, the song “Some Kind of Wonderful” is never heard during the film, which is sorta weird.  Usually whenever a movie from the 80’s and 90’s was named after an oldie (Stand By Me, Taking Care of Business, Pretty Woman, etc.) they used the song during a montage.  I guess Hughes dropped the ball on that too.  We do get to hear The Stones’ excellent “Miss Amanda Jones” though, so that’s a plus.

 

Just because Some Kind of Wonderful isn’t very good that doesn’t mean the world won’t miss John Hughes.  For the bulk of the 80’s, he was the go-to guy when you wanted to make a teen angst movie.  He did some classic stuff (my personal favorite was Weird Science) and his films went on to influence a generation of youth-oriented filmmakers.  RIP John Hughes…

SNUFF (1976) **

Cult movie producers Michael and Robert Findlay, the people responsible for the immensely enjoyable “Flesh Trilogy” bought an obscure Argentinean biker flick (called “The Slaughter”) and re-dubbed it, re-edited it, and re-named it Snuff.  Then they tacked on a new gory ending and tried to pass it off on the public as a “real” snuff movie.  The results were kinda weak but thanks to a great advertising campaign, Snuff, went on to become one of the most notorious exploitation movies of all time.

 

The “plot” follows a Manson like cult leader named Satan (it’s pronounced “Sah-Tan”) who gets a bunch of hippie biker chicks to do his bidding.  Satan has his sights set on a cute pregnant actress (shades of Sharon Tate) who he wants sacrificed.  After the biker babes murder the poor chick, a director yells “Cut” and things switch over to the “real” world of a movie studio.  The “director” then entices his “actress” (who is clearly not the same broad from the biker movie we’ve been watching for the last 70 minutes) to stick around the set.  He then proceeds to torture and murder her while the crew films everything.

 

To me, Snuff is one of those movies you’d have to watch while under the spell of the marketing campaign to get the full effect.  I mean have you tried to watch The Blair Witch Project years later after all the media hoopla died down?  It sucks.  But, if you caught it in the theater during the height of Blair Witch Mania, you have to admit it worked.  Snuff is kinda like that.  33 years after the fact, you already know this isn’t real.  However, if you saw the flick during its original run, you might’ve entered the theater asking yourself, “is it or isn’t it real”, which coulda been fun.

 

I didn’t hate the movie really.  The biker portion of the flick (7/8 of the film’s running time) was OK I guess.  I mean it featured hilarious fake “Born to Be Wild” music, foot slicing, back stabbing, grandmas dying in slow motion, severed hands, a pregnant woman getting stabbed in the belly, and a bunch of hippie chicks getting naked and frolicking in a pond; so it’s not like it was unwatchable or anything. 

 

The “Snuff” scene isn’t particularly bad either, it just loses a lot of its intended impact because we already know it’s fake.  This scene is gory to be sure.  It features the girl’s fingers and hands getting cut off and she even gets her guts ripped out too.  It’s pretty cool and stuff but the blood looks too much like Ragu to be realistic. 

 

The flick moved too slow and probably featured one too many useless characters and/or flashbacks for it to have really worked.  I must say though that the atrociously dubbed dialogue was good for a couple laughs.  (Wait until you hear the little girl whose voice sounds like it was dubbed by Mr. Bill.)  I also enjoyed hearing the familiar voices of the Findlays numerous times playing different characters.  Of all the laughable lines, my favorite had to be:  “Pig!  Filthiest of all animals!  I will cut out your heart and feed it to the dogs!”

 

AKA:  American Cannibale.  AKA:  The Slaughter.