October 8th, 2009

JASON GOES TO HELL: THE FINAL FRIDAY (1993) ½ *

New Line bought the rights to the Jason franchise so they could pit him against their flagship horror star Freddy Krueger.  Instead of making that film though, they decided to make the “Final” Jason movie first.  To tantalize the audience, they even had a wicked cool shot of Freddy’s glove grabbing Jason’s mask at the end of the film.  That part is awesome.  The rest of the movie is total garbage.

 

Well, that’s not entirely true.  The opening sequence is a well done stalk n’ slash scenario where Jason chases a chick in a bath towel through the woods.  Then from out of nowhere, the SWAT team shows up and they blow up Jason into a million pieces.  Pretty cool.  Then the movie dives head first into the shitter. 

 

The coroner (Richard Gant, George Washington Duke from Rocky 5) is sifting through what’s left of Jason until he gets to his heart.  What does this idiot do?  He eats it.  Dumb ass.  He then “becomes” Jason and kills people.  After awhile, the lump of shit that’s supposed to represent Jason’s evil spirit hops mouth-first into somebody else and takes over their body.  Then they kill more people.

 

Yup, those morons at New Line took a Jason movie and basically turned it into a Hidden remake.  This movie is so soul-crushingly stupid, that it’s almost sad.  I mean why the fuck would you pay mega-bucks to get the rights to make a Jason movie and then NOT EVEN HAVE JASON IN THE DAMN MOVIE! 

 

Jason doesn’t really kill anyone in this flick since it’s just various possessed individuals doing all the slaying, but I’ll do the obligatory rundown of murders anyway:  probe to the head, slashing, spike through a chick while she’s mid-orgasm, head slammed in a car door, head slammed against another head, wrist snapping, head in the deep fryer, punch in the mouth, the requisite head crushing, and a fatal bear hug.  There’s a fairly decent melting scene too, although that just happens whenever “Jason’s” host body dies.

 

The few but fleeting nice things I have to say about the movie are barely enough to make a full-fledged paragraph.  There’s a lot of titties on display, which is always a good thing and we get a funny scene where Fake Jason steps on a condom while two horny teens are fucking.  The Necronomicon from Evil Dead makes a cameo too.  That’s about it.

 

The bad far outweighs the good though.  How about the WTF scene where Fake Jason ties a naked dude up S & M style before puking his Turd Monster “soul” into his mouth?  Or the tasteless scene where said Turd Monster crawls in between the legs of Jason’s sister (Erin Gray from Buck Rogers, still looking mighty fine)?  Or that this movie has the absolute worst “hero” since the invention of the silver screen.

 

That’s not even the biggest problem with Jason Goes to Hell.  That would be the fact that Real Jason is only in the first ten and last five minutes of the movie.  If that’s your idea of a good time, have at it.  Any other sane horror fan will want to steer clear.

 

Note:  Add an extra Half-Star if you happen to catch the “Unrated Version” because it’s got a ton of gore the MPAA idiotically cut out.

 

Second Note:  This is the second time in the series they had a “Final” installment.  Maybe the title just meant that it was the Final Friday of the calendar year and not the franchise.

 

Suggested Drinking Game:  Take a shot every time “hero” John D. LeMay falls to the ground.

 

<Tomorrow’s Horror Franchise Movie:  Freddy vs. Jason>

AMERICAN NINJA 4: THE ANNIHILATION (1991) ** ½

I was kinda excited to see American Ninja 4:  The Annihilation (or as excited as one can be to see a movie called American Ninja 4:  The Annihilation) because it promised the on screen pairing of the original American Ninja, Michael Dudikoff and his replacement from Part 3, David Bradley.  The problem is; it takes 45 minutes for Dudikoff to show up.  What’s worse is that he and Bradley don’t appear on screen together until about the 80 minute mark.

 

The plot has a bunch of Red Ninjas kidnapping a team of Delta Forcers on an island owned by an evil British colonel and a demented sheik.  American Ninja Sean (Bradley) gets sent in to rescue them but he too gets captured.  Then it’s up to American Ninja Joe (Dudikoff) to get off his ass (he’s been spending his days in the Peace Corps) and rescue the guys who were sent in to rescue the guys. 

 

American Ninja 4 has all the obligatory fight scenes you’d come to expect from the series, just on a smaller scale and budget.  There is plenty of Ninja-starring, karate chopping, and the ever popular arrow catching.  (A one point, Dudikoff even catches one with his teeth!)  This one also incorporates some new stuff like bullet dodging (long before Neo made it chic), but it doesn’t stray too far from the beaten path.  We also get to see such sights as commandos in combat fatigues going up against an army of Ninjas and a pretty good bar fight in which a tubby guy gets kicked onto a pool table that collapses.  My favorite part had to be the funny Ninja training sequence in which a Ninja falls gonads first onto a beam lined with broken glass.

 

I’m proud to say that Dudikoff has come a long way from the first American Ninja movie.  In that film, he was totally unconvincing in his fight scenes, but here he is quite good.  His roadside Ninja swordfight is done relatively stuntman free and he actually looks like he knows how to use a katana for once.  He also gets a good fight scene where he battles several Road Warrior rejects in a gravel pit.  Dudikoff even manages to play a never-before-seen humorous side to his character during the part where he disguises himself as a priest to gain entrance into the villain’s secret lair.  I also dug the end scene where he casually tossed a grenade on his fallen enemy, effectively turning him into yesterday’s lasagna.

 

American Ninja 4 is not great by any stretch of the imagination but it’s competently done and immensely watchable.  Although it loses major points for not having Dudikoff show up until the second half and giving Bradley very little to do (he’s tied up for most the movie) it’s much better than the previous installment.  Had the filmmakers chose to really make Dudikoff and Bradley a team instead of having them only say ten words to each other throughout the whole movie; American Ninja 4 could’ve easily been the best film of the series.  If you’re in desperate need of a 99 minute low budget Ninja fix, you can certainly do a lot worse.

 

The villain gets all the best lines of the movie.  Just before he executes somebody he says, “Tell my friend the Devil, I’m not ready to come home yet!”  His funniest line is when he gets in Bradley’s face and yells, “You American fuck!  I’ll teach you a lesson you won’t forget for the rest of your life; which I’m happy to say won’t be very long!”

THE NUMBER 23 (2007) *

Jim Carrey is usually good at playing serious roles.  Anyone who has seen him in Man on the Moon, The Truman Show, and The Dead Pool can tell you that.  He’s not particularly bad in this flick but the movie itself is one big undeniable shitfest.

 

The Number 23 casts him in the role of a paranoid man who reads an old book that has eerie parallels to his own life.  Slowly but surely he becomes obsessed with the number 23 and quickly starts losing his marbles.  This leads up to one of the lamest “twist” endings since the last Shyamalan movie.

 

Director Joel Schumacher and Carrey previously collaborated on Batman Forever together.  They should’ve left well enough alone.  Carrey does what he can with the woefully weak material.  The scenes in which he plays the fictitious detective in the book are really goofy and he looks painfully ill at ease.  The “real” sequences of the movie basically just involve Carrey doing a bunch of math so that the numbers in names, dates, etc. total 23.  This isn’t the most cinematic of activities to be sure.

 

All of this may have been OK as a half hour Twilight Zone episode.  At almost 100 minutes it becomes almost unbearable. I hope they make a porno parody called The Number 69.  That would be awesome. 

 

(Whoa, wait a second… 69 divided by 3 is… 23!  How eerie is that shit?)

GOLDEN YEARS (1991) *

Harlan (Keith Szarabajka) is a septuagenarian janitor who gets zapped by a mysterious explosion at a top secret government installation.  His eyes and ears start glowing green and before you know it, he begins to gradually get younger.  A hitman (R.D. Call) from the government agency “The Shop” wants to erase Harlan and his doting wife (Frances Sternhagen) but a rival agent (Felicity Huffman) breaks protocol and helps them escape.

 

This weak ass Stephen King mini-series is kinda like The Curious Case of Benjamin Button Meets The Fugitive.  That’s kind of a half-assed description I know.  Then again, everything about Golden Years seems half-assed now that I think about it, so fair is fair. 

 

On top of that, the lethargic pacing will put you to sleep in no time flat.   The dialogue scenes were stretched out to infinity to get this sucker to fit in an 8 hour time slot (6 minus the commercials.)  At one point a phone conversation is more or less repeated (albeit in different locations) within two consecutive scenes just to keep the clock ticking.  Let’s face it folks, there was barely enough story here for 80 minutes, let alone 8 hours.  That’s a third of my day down the tubes.

 

The mind-numbing length was a bit much for me to handle but I’m a die hard King fan so I pretty much forced myself to get all the way through Golden Years.  It’s more Science-Fictiony than most of King’s work, although the Sci-Fi elements are really left unexplored. What’s worse is that there’s not one single thing scary about this junk.  Unless you consider such horrific sights as two old people showering together, fornicating, and singing annoying songs on long car trips “scary”.  At least you get to hear David Bowie’s great song “Golden Years” a bunch of times, so that’s a plus.

 

Szarabajka (good luck with THAT Spell Check) is OK but he’s just really not a leading man.  He doesn’t have what it takes to carry such a long ass mini-series.  Sternhagen fares better as his caring wife who stands by her man as he gets youth-anized.  As the villains, Bill Raymond is pathetically over the top as Dr. Toddhunter, the mad scientist who invented the youth restoring doohickey thingamabob and Call is just way too dull to make a convincing heel. 

 

King created Golden Years so I guess he should take most of the blame for this sorry excuse for a mini-series.  He also has a cameo as bus driver, which is sorta funny.  His dialogue is pretty weak in this, but he did type up one memorable line:  “It’s just a bit of manmade freakishness… that’s all.”