October 20th, 2009

TEENAGE GRAFFITI (1977) **

Some dude that looks like Jim Palmer graduates from high school and is given a brand new car by his hillbilly parents.  This makes his two older brothers extremely jealous and they go out and get drunk and beat people up.  Meanwhile our hero loses his virginity to some ugly chick that looks like Kristen Wiig with a $1500 a day heroin habit.  After successfully knocking the boots for the first time, the idiot gets beaten up by his asshole brothers.  It’s at this point where our “hero” gets magically healed by a Christ-like hermit who lives in the woods.  In the end, the prodigal son returns home to open up a can of whoop ass on his brawling brothers.

 

I really have to wonder about our hero in this movie.  (Forgive me for not bothering to look up his name; I haven’t had my coffee yet.)  Let’s face it; we’re talking about a guy who spurns the advances of a hot MILF just because he thinks he’s in love with the fugly Skeletor chick.  This is a guy who would rather run around wrestling another dude wearing Speedos than hang out with the topless girls who are horsing around in the same stream.  When our “hero” makes stupid decisions like that, it makes it hard for the audience to root for him.  No wonder his brothers want to kick his ass so bad.

 

Now that I think about it though, I don’t even know why his siblings wanted to beat the bejabbers out of him anyway.  I mean his new sports car had a rainbow decal on the hood for Christ’s sake.  Now I know in the 70’s detailed vans were all the rage, but I never remembered seeing a car detailed.  Why in the world would his brothers be so jealous about his stupid looking car; especially if it had a goddamn rainbow on it?  If that was my brother, I’d be GLAD my pops didn’t give me a fucking Rainbow Brite car.

 

If you can’t already tell this movie pretty much sucks and I’m just rambling on to kill time before my coffee finishes brewing.  Now that the coffee is ready, I’ll tell you that this movie had quite a number of titties in it.  It’s for this reason that I’m giving it Two Stars instead of One.

 

AKA:  Country Dreamin’.

LEPRECHAUN 2 (1994) ***

Leprechaun (Warwick Davis) is back.  This time he’s in Hollywood looking for a bride.  He sets his sights on the virginal teenaged Bridget (Shevonne Durkin), much to the chagrin of her boyfriend Cody (Charlie Heath).  Leprechaun chains her up in his magic tree house and prepares for his wedding while Cody desperately to convince his drunken Uncle Morty (Sandy Baron) that Leprechauns are real.

 

Leprechaun 2 is a step up from the first film in terms of production design.  It’s a lot slicker looking and actually feels like a real movie.  I can’t really say it’s traditionally what we would call a “good” movie, but I’ll be damned if it didn’t have me in stitches.

 

I think what makes Leprechaun 2 work is Baron’s performance as the drunken Uncle Morty.  This guy is great.  He looks and acts like George Carlin’s evil twin or something.  His best scene comes when he tries to cheat Leprechaun out of his gold.  (“I could ask for a million dollars… I could ask for a BILLION dollars… but no!  I want your crummy pot of gold!”)  Leprechaun gives him what he wants and makes his pot of gold magically appear in Morty’s belly!  There are a lot of negative things you can say about this movie, but they are easily forgivable because the sight of a crock of gold magically appearing inside of an old dude’s stomach is fucking hilarious. 

 

There’s also a great scene earlier in the picture where Morty gets into a drinking contest with Leprechaun.  Afterwards, Leprechaun crawls into a coffee bar and drinks a bunch of java to sober up.  When the obnoxious barista gets on his nerves, Leprechaun scalds him to death with an espresso machine!

 

Another death scene that gets some laughs, both intentional and otherwise comes when Leprechaun makes one of Cody’s friends think that Bridget is seducing him.  She rips off her shirt and the guy moves in closer to her chest, unaware that it is just one of Leprechaun’s illusions and he is really putting his face into some whirring lawnmower blades.  While this scene is funny enough as is, what makes it downright hysterical is the fact that it features what has to be hands down the worst body double in film history.  Durkin obviously has pale skin and small breasts, but when she takes off her shirt, she miraculously has a dark tan and huge silicone implants.  It becomes even more apparent when the editor keeps cutting back and forth from her face to her tits.  Of course her boobs are merely an illusion created by the Leprechaun, so it kinda makes sense that her tits wouldn’t match her body.  Because of that, I guess I can give this scene a Mulligan.  That still doesn’t mean it isn’t uproarious.

 

As you can tell, most of this movie is entertainingly stupid.  Some of it is downright disturbing.  Like the scene where Leprechaun threatens to consummate his wedding with Bridget and licks her face.  (“Kiss me, I’m Irish!”)  Then there’s one part that will just make you want to puke.  Leprechaun he tells her, “We’ll have to make many changes to your face.  The wee ones won’t suckle if you don’t look like them!” 

 

Be glad this movie spared you the sight of Leprechaun babies suckling at the teat.

 

For whatever reason, Leprechaun 2 makes up a whole bunch of new rules regarding the Leprechaun.  For example, he can only be killed by wrought iron, but in the first film it was a four leaf clover that did him in.  Leprechaun even has some stupid rules regarding marriage.  He’ll only marry a woman who sneezes three times without someone saying, “God bless you”.  (“She sneezes one, she sneezes twice; she’ll be my slave when she sneezes thrice!”)

 

The filmmakers also made some glaring continuity errors too.  In the beginning, Leprechaun gets trapped inside a magic tree for a thousand years.  But the first movie ended with him being trapped inside a well!  He also said in the original that he was 600 years old, but he claims to be 2000 in this one.  I hate it when they do shit like that.

 

A couple of inconsistencies aside, Leprechaun 2 is fun for the most part.  The series was really gathering steam at this point, with Part 3 being the crown jewel of the franchise.  It’s even better when you play this Suggested Drinking Game:  Take a shot of Irish Whisky every time Leprechaun says, “I want me gold!”

 

<Tomorrow’s Horror Franchise Movie:  Leprechaun 3>

KICKBOXER 2: THE ROAD BACK (1991) **

David Sloan (Sasha Mitchell) doesn’t compete in kickboxing tournaments because both of his brothers died fighting the dreaded (in more ways than one) kickboxing champion Tong Po (Michael Qissi).  Instead, David opts to teach inner city kids kickboxing in his rundown gym.  To keep the gym open, he has to accept a big payday to fight for the kickboxing title.  He easily wins and after the match, calls out the promoters for being drug dealers and scumbags.  They get P.O.’ed PDQ and torch his gym, resulting in the death of one of the kids.  If that wasn’t enough, Tong Po also shows up and murders David’s prize student in the ring, Ivan Drago style.  You know what that means:  David’s got to dip his fists in Krazy Glue and broken glass and give Tong Po a beat down.    

 

You know, I hate it when sequels unceremoniously kill off one of the main characters off screen.  The most notorious instance of this is in Alien 3 when David Fincher killed off Newt and Hicks without giving them benefit of a meaningful death.  I think the only time that this device actually worked was in Rocky Balboa because Adrian’s death gave the story some depth.  What Kickboxer 2 does though is akin to killing off Rocky and substituting his brother, Stony.  If there is no Rocky in a Rocky movie, then what’s the point?

 

Yes, Kickboxer 2:  The Road Back features absolutely no Jean Claude Van Damme whatsoever.  Instead, we get… Sasha Mitchell, the idiot from Step by Step.  This is not an acceptable trade-off from where I’m sitting.  I will say this for Mitchell though; he is a halfway passable martial artist and has a sliver of charisma.  He’s not great, but he’s better than say, David Bradley, who replaced Michael Dudikoff in the American Ninja movies. 

 

I didn’t know this until I popped the DVD into the player, but this flick was directed by none other than Albert Pyun.  This guy kinda gets unfairly criticized as being one of the worst directors in film history.  I say that any man who directed Sword and the Sorcerer is OK in my book.  Still, Pyun has directed some unmitigated turds in his time.  I mean have you SEEN Alien from LA?  Pyun is also the dude who directed Jean Claude Van Damme’s worst film, Cyborg, so I guess you really can’t blame old JCVD for turning down the opportunity to reprise his role.    

 

Pyun’s style is straightforward and befits the material.  He does go more than a little overboard with the slow motion in the final two fights.  So much so that when Tong Po breathes, he sounds like a damn tiger.  The fights themselves are not bad per se; they’re just sorta bland and unmemorable.  You can easily say the same thing about the film.

 

The flick was written by David S. Goyer, screenwriter of Blade and Batman Begins.  Goyer also wrote Van Damme’s Death Warrant.  (I just like the way that sentence sounds.)  He also gave villain Cary-Hiroyuki (Showdown in Little Tokyo) Tagawa all the best lines like:  “Some things money can’t buy.  Fortunately for me, you’re not one of those things!”

 

Mitchell returned for more in Kickboxer 3 and 4.

DONOVAN’S REEF (1963) **

A bitchy broad from Boston (Elizabeth Allen) comes to a remote South Seas island to swindle her old man out of a potential inheritance.  You see, if she can prove that he is lacking morals, she can get the family fortune signed over to her name.  Since her pops (Jack Warden) is living in sin with two bi-racial children on the island, that qualifies.  However, his drinking buddy “Guns” Donovan (John Wayne) lies and says the kids are his, then sets out to win the frigid chick’s heart. 

 

Donovan’s Reef was the final paring between star John Wayne and director John Ford.  Of the films of theirs I’ve seen; this is by far the worst.  For starters, it’s paced the way old people fuck; slow and sloppy.  There are a handful of decent fight scenes and barroom brawls, but you have to sit through a lot of unfunny comedic shit to get to the good stuff.  And for a movie so goofy, the anti-racist subplot is ill-fitting.  I’m sure Ford meant well, but it just seems out of place in a comedy as broad as this one.

 

I think that’s probably why I didn’t dig this flick.  It’s more of a comedy/travelogue than an honest to goodness John Wayne movie.  The Duke does what he can with such flimsy material, but in the end, it ain’t much.  The supporting cast fares slightly better.  Lee Marvin gets some good scenes; most of which revolve around him punching somebody.  I particularly liked the opening where he beats up a guy with a mop.  Cesar Romero also livens things up as the nominal villain of the piece, even though he is never really given anything villainous to do.

THE GOLD RUSH (1925) *** ½

I’m not the biggest Charlie Chaplin fan in the world (I’m more of an Abbott and Costello man myself) but I thought it was high time for me to check this flick out.  The only other Chaplin film I’ve seen was The Great Dictator and I enjoyed it immensely, so I figured that this one would go down smooth.  While I had a couple of quibbles with the film, overall it was thoroughly entertaining.

 

The Little Tramp goes out prospecting for gold in the icy Klondike where he meets these two burly looking motherfuckers who let him stay in their shack.  They almost go hungry during the long winter and the Tramp resorts to eating his boot.  When the weather warms up, he heads into town where he meets this dance hall dame and falls head over heels in love with her.  At first, she doesn’t give the Tramp the time of day but she eventually falls in love with him when he becomes a millionaire big shot.

 

The first act of The Gold Rush features more classic comedy than you can shake a stick at.  There’s a great scene where The Little Tramp tries to leave the shack in a howling windstorm and promptly gets blown out the back door.  Then of course, there’s the immortal scene where he eats his boot for supper.  We also get a funny scene where his roommate gets so hungry that he hallucinates and imagines the Tramp has turned into a giant chicken.

 

For me, the flick kinda slows down once the Tramp falls in love.  The laughs certainly dry up during this portion of the film, that’s for damn sure; although we do get the immortal “Dinner Roll Dance” scene.  The finale where the Tramp’s shack is dangling on the edge of a cliff almost makes up for the lulls in between the laughs though.

 

The Gold Rush still has enough yucks for the bucks to place it on The Video Vacuum Top Ten Silent Movies of All Time List at Number 9, right in between The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari and Maciste in Hell.