October 14th, 2009

ANVIL: THE STORY OF ANVIL (2009) **

Anvil:  The Story of Anvil is just like This is Spinal Tap… except it’s a real documentary… and it isn’t very good.

 

Basically, Anvil was this heavy metal band that went on tour with Bon Jovi ONCE and thought they had a career.  For the next thirty years, they’ve been playing club dates to 14 people in skuzzy bars while eeking out a meager living in Canada.  Although a promising Eastern European tour goes nowhere (at one point they play in Transylvania), they remain optimistic.  After a lot of in-fighting, they cut a new album and eventually play a triumphant gig in Japan to a sold out crowd.

 

I thought this movie was a joke but apparently Anvil is a real band.  It’s hard to tell though when the director keeps making all these stupid Spinal Tap references.  Throughout the movie, Anvil visit Stonehenge, have a clueless female manager with a bad accent, and have speakers that go up to 11.  The drummer’s name is even Robb Reiner for Christ’s sake!

 

The big reason why I thought this was a mockumentary was that it’s called Anvil:  The Story of Anvil.  I guess the filmmakers were actually being serious when they named their movie that though.  Honestly, who calls their movie, Anvil:  The Story of Anvil?  That’s like Oliver Stone making JFK:  The Story of JFK.  Or watching a Kung Fu movie called Ricky:  The Story of Ricky.  It’s redundant as fuck. 

 

I think all of this may have been entertaining but none of the band members are really endearing.  While I admire their never-say-die spirit, they’re all just your average Canuck-leheads with bad hair, worse teeth and zero charisma.  Think of a heavy metal version of those dweebs from American Movie and that gives you a good idea of what to expect.  Lots of REAL rock stars like Slash and Scott Ian are seen talking about Anvil in the film’s early going and they’re quite interesting to listen to.  Maybe if the whole movie was about them TALKING about Anvil, it would’ve been good.

 

Save yourself 80 minutes and just watch Spinal Tap again.

FREDDY’S DEAD: THE FINAL NIGHTMARE (1991) ***

Freddy Krueger (Robert Englund) has finally whittled Springwood’s teenage population down to one.  He gives the kid amnesia and sends him to the next town to bring his estranged daughter Maggie (Lisa Zane) to her old home.  Freddy then travels in her memory (don’t ask) back to the youth shelter where she works so that he can continue murdering kids there.  (“Every town has an Elm Street!”)  In the end, Maggie gets help from a hippie dream therapist (Yaphet Kotto) who gives her the tools necessary (3-D glasses) to destroy Freddy once and for all.

 

They said it was the “Final Nightmare” (yeah right) but I have to hand it to New Line for pulling out all the stops to at least make you think it was the last one.  There’s a cool flashback showing Freddy’s prototype gloves, a decent 3-D sequence (nowhere near as good as Friday the 13th Part 3-D though) and even some celebrity cameos (Johnny Depp, Roseanne and Tom Arnold, and Alice Cooper) too.  With all of these ingredients, it certainly felt like they were giving him a send-off. 

 

If you can’t already tell, Freddy’s Dead:  The Final Nightmare features everything but the kitchen sink.  It’s that kind of attitude that I like about this movie.  Of course, this approach also makes the film uneven as all get out.

 

First thing is first, Englund plays Freddy in game show host mode.  It’s probably his worst portrayal of the character but since this was intended to be Freddy’s fond farewell, I guess you can’t complain about him being the life of the party.  Let’s face it, you know not to expect anything remotely “scary” from Freddy in this flick when he shows up four minutes into the movie dressed as the Wicked Witch of the West and saying, “I’ll get you my pretty… and your little soul too!”

 

On the other hand, the dream sequences are top notch in this one.  My favorite was when Freddy put the dude from Garfield into a video game.  When the other kids disconnect Freddy’s controller, he uses “The Power Glove” to kill the guy.  Yes, I know this is stupid as Hell but you have to remember that I first saw this movie at the age of 13 when two things consumed my life:  Nintendo and Elm Street movies.  To me, this scene was the pinnacle of the series at the time.  Watching it now, it’s cheesy as the Kraft factory, but I’ll be damned if it doesn’t make me feel like I’m 13 again.

 

There’s also a cool dream scene where a deaf kid gets a giant Q-Tip shoved in his ear.  Then Freddy gives him another hearing aid that over amplifies his hearing so that when Freddy scratches his razor nails on the chalkboard, it makes his head explode.  (“Nice hearing from ya, Carlos!”)

 

Of course, there is plenty of dumb shit here too.  I think the lamest part was when the kid’s parachute broke.  As he’s falling, we see Freddy pushing a bed of spikes out into the middle of the road Wile E. Coyote style.  I don’t know what was stupider, the Looney Tunes aspect of the scene, or the fact that Freddy makes a winded sounding “Phew” after pushing the spikes.  What the Hell was that about?  I mean The Dream Demons gave him all this infinite power to conjure up horrifying imagery to torment teens in their dreams but he gets winded from pushing this little bed of spikes? 

 

Oh yeah, I neglected to mention The Dream Demons.  Freddy’s Dead breaks the Horror Movie Sequel Rule of adding an idiotic back story to its killer.  Apparently these slimy little fuckers (they look like turds with faces) gave Freddy his power just before the parents burned him alive.  While I liked seeing the flashback of the townsfolk torching Freddy, the Dream Demon crap is pretty weak and adds to the film’s needlessly silly tone.

 

I still laughed though.  I have a little rule that states that an unintended laugh is as good as an intended one.  From the “Damn, that was pretty funny” laugh to the “What the fuck were they smoking when they made this shit” laugh, Freddy’s Dead delivers on both counts.

 

Example:  At one point, a kid gets hit by a bus driven by Freddy who says, “No screaming while the bus is in motion!”  Lamesville, right?  Still I chuckled because it was so bad.  Then later in the flick Freddy battles a kickboxing broad and he says, “Kung Fu this bitch!”  Now that is genuinely funny.  I laughed a lot during this movie, more than most comedies.  Laughter is such a precious commodity that we can’t be too judgmental when something makes us laugh without meaning to.

 

The 3-D sequence is OK.  Nothing spectacular or anything, but I liked it.  Bad 3-D is better than no 3-D at all and this 3-D is slightly better than average.  Although the 3-D sequence only takes up the last ten minutes or so of the flick, it still hurtles its fair of shit out of the screen like:

 

  • 3-D Hand
  • 3-D Dream Demon Statues
  • 3-D Razor
  • 3-D Molotov Cocktail
  • 3-D Arsenal
  • 3-D Knife
  • 3-D Spiked Bat
  • 3-D Freddy Glove (naturally)
  • 3-D Arrow
  • 3-D Pipe Bomb
  • 3-D Exploding Freddy Head

 

Freddy’s Dead:  The Final Nightmare is goofy and juvenile but it delivers what you want in a Freddy movie, namely teenagers getting killed and Freddy saying funny shit afterwards.  I don’t even hate it for lying to me about being the “Final” one either.  I mean Freddy even says during the film that, “Sticks and stones may break my bones but nothing will ever kill me!”  That should’ve been your clue that he’d be back.

 

Special Note:  It had to happen sooner or later.  After watching four Elm Street movies in a row, I finally had a dream about Freddy last night.  I hesitate to use the word “nightmare” because it wasn’t scary.  I was on my mom’s deck looking into her swimming pool and then Freddy suddenly burst through the lattice work and said “Boo” and knocked me into the pool.  That’s when I woke up.  I think the dream would’ve been a lot cooler though if Freddy had said something funny like “No lifeguard on duty!” but whatever.

<Tomorrow's Horror Franchise Movie:  Wes Craven's New Nightmare>

HIGHWAY TO HELL (1992) **

Highway to Hell kinda ties into my month long Horror Movie Franchise marathon because it was written by Brian Helgeland, who penned A Nightmare on Elm Street 4:  The Dream Master and features C.J. Graham, the guy who played Jason in Friday the 13th Part 6:  Jason Lives.  It’s not very good but it does feature a couple moments of random weirdness to make it at least tolerable.  It was directed by Ate De Jong.  If you’ve never heard of him; he’s the man who directed Drop Dead Fred.  That right there should’ve been a red flag.

 

Chad Lowe and Kristy Swanson are on their way to elope in Vegas when they take a wrong turn in the desert and end up in Hell.  She gets kidnapped by the scar-faced Hellcop (Graham) and the wimpy Lowe sets out to rescue her.  Along the way, he gets some help from a friendly tow truck driver named Beezle (Patrick Bergin).

 

If you didn’t immediately figure out that Beezle is actually Beelzebub, the Devil, then you may enjoy it.  

 

Highway to Hell has some clever moments but the two leads are pretty irritating so it’s hard to care about them (although that has more to do with the writing than the performances).   Lowe is kinda like a poor man’s Mark Hamill and Swanson doesn’t get enough screen time for her character to really register.  When she is on screen however she fails to make much of an impression. 

 

The supporting cast fares much better.  Bergin is great as the Devil and even manages to makes Old Pitch seem a bit sympathetic.  Graham does a fine job as Hellcop and makes you wish the movie was more about him than the idiot couple.  There’s also a great scene where you see Attila the Hun (Ben Stiller), Cleopatra (Amy Stiller), and Hitler (Gilbert Gottfried!!!) dining together too.  Stiller also pulls double duty as a cook in a zombie diner and is pretty funny.

 

Highway to Hell has some cool stuff in it.  There’s a strip club where a dancer’s ta-ta’s catch on fire, a guy who pisses green acid, a three-headed dog, and a horny she-devil with giant tits.  And wait until you get a load of Hellcop’s pair of “Hand” Cuffs.  Unfortunately, the flick has way too many potholes in the road to make Highway to Hell worth the trip.  In addition to the two whiny leads, the pacing is hopelessly erratic and there are too many lulls in between the fun stuff.  It also suffers from a pretty shitty ending.  If Highway to Hell is in your movie-watching future, I’d highly advise making a detour.