October 22nd, 2009

LEPRECHAUN 4: IN SPACE (1997) **

Leprechaun (Warwick Davis) is chilling out in space trying to marry a hottie Princess (Rebekah Carlton) so he can get his hands on her father’s gold.  Then a bunch of Space Marines show up, rescue the Princess, and head back to her home world.  Leprechaun stows away on board their ship and the mischievous munchkin murders the Marines one by one as he tries to reunite with his bride-to-be.

 

Director Brian Trenchard-Smith has the dubious distinction of directing the best (Part 3) and the worst (this one) Leprechaun movies.  I’m not saying that In Space is terrible or anything, it’s just sorta so-so.  Let’s take a look at the Stupid to Cool Ratio.

 

Let’s start with the Stupid Stuff first.  This flick has some of the worst CGI effects known to man.  I know that this is a low budget, straight-to-video Leprechaun sequel we’re talking about, but model spaceships being held up by strings would’ve been preferable to the Nintendo 64 graphics that are passed off as “effects”. 

 

Then there’s the atrocious performance by Guy Siner as the evil Dr. Mittenhand.  This guy is done up to look like some reject from a Dr. Who episode and he overacts like a sumbitch (he speaks in a mock Dr. Strangelove accent).  Later in the film, Leprechaun mixes this bozo’s DNA with a spider and a scorpion and turns him into a lame monster that wouldn’t have cut the mustard for one of those Roger Corman Presents remakes.  The Mittenhand scenes are annoying and take up too much of the flick’s running time; time that would’ve better spent on Leprechaun killing people.

 

Speaking of which, Leprechaun’s kills are kind of weak in this one.  I think the sorriest death came when he flattened a scientist’s face like a pizza.  What’s most depressing is that when Leprechaun murders someone in Part 4, he doesn’t say a funny rhyme afterwards.  The only rhyme he gets is, “Death and destruction is my game, agony is my name!”  Talk about pathetic.  This is especially disappointing considering that his limericks we so superb in the last film.  He does sing “Danny Boy” at one point though.

 

And I think that’s essentially my biggest beef with the movie:  It just doesn’t feel like a Leprechaun movie.  Sure, the setting is novel, but it doesn’t really enhance the whole premise of the series; namely people looking for Leprechaun’s gold who make wishes that get turned against them.  Nobody makes a wish in this movie and his gold is mostly forgotten about until the movie is almost over.  It also doesn’t help when most of the flick consists of boring ass scenes of cut-rate Space Marines walking down hallways looking for Leprechaun. 

 

Much of Leprechaun 4:  In Space is too stupid for words but I did laugh occasionally (admittedly not nearly as much as any of the previous films).  Which leads us to the Good Stuff.  I think the best thing this flick has going for it is The Resurrection Scene.  Most horror sequels have a scene where the killer comes back to life and Leprechaun 4 has a doozy.  In the opening scene, the Marines blow Leprechaun up and one of the soldiers pisses on his dismembered body parts.  While peeing, some of the Leprechaun’s essence jumps back inside the Marine’s dick.  Later, when the soldier is making out with a chick, the Leprechaun comes bursting out of his cock.  While this scene is hilarious to be sure, I think it would’ve been better if the special effect was something a little more extravagant than just Leprechaun rising out of a pair of pants lying on the floor.

 

As you all should know, I’m a sucker for a good jumping-on-a-grenade scene and this movie certainly delivers.  The scene in question comes when Leprechaun jumps on a grenade to save the Princess.  Sure, it’s not on par with the similar scene in Child’s Play 3, but it’ll do in a pinch.  While we’re on the subject of the Leprechaun’s fiancée, I have to commend Carlton for the excellent scene where she gratuitously whips out her titties.  (“When a woman of royalty shows her breasts, it means a death sentence!”)

 

Then there’s the ending.  Leprechaun gets hit with a laser beam and grows to enormous size and chases the soldiers around the cargo bay.  It’s pretty funny.  Then the heroes blast the giant Leprechaun out of the hatch and into space.  Since this movie has already ripped-off of Aliens so much by that point, I’m sure James Cameron didn’t mind them stealing the ending either.

 

And I would be remiss if I didn’t mention the scene in which Leprechaun kills a guy with a lightsaber.  (What, you expect Warwick Davis to go all the way to outer space and NOT make a Star Wars in-joke?)  As funny as this scene is, I wish it wasn’t so brief and the effects so shitty.

 

As you can see, the Stupid to Cool Ratio is about an even 50/50.  That’s far below the norm for the series.  While Leprechaun 4:  In Space certainly has it’s share of Stupid Stuff, I can’t bring myself to give it any less than Two Stars.

 

<Tomorrow’s Horror Franchise Movie:  Leprechaun in the Hood>

PAINT YOUR WAGON (1969) *

Paint Your Wagon is a movie that’s practically begging for you to hate it.  First off, it’s a musical.  Secondly, all the songs are sung by people who couldn’t carry a tune to save their life.  The worst thing about the film though is it’s length.  The flick runs over two and a half hours, most of which is spent on… you guessed it… singing by non-singers.

 

Lee Marvin stars as a prospector who finds gold while burying a dead guy (Clint Eastwood).  Lee makes a deal with the deceased’s twin brother (also Clint) to get a piece of the action, just as long as they split everything down the middle.  One day Lee drunkenly buys a Mormon wife (Jean Seberg) at an auction.  Since Clint and Lee split EVERYTHING 50/50, they have to share her.  When Marvin goes out of town to shanghai some French prostitutes for the horny miners, Clint ends up falling in love with her too.  This predictably leads more shenanigans and (shudder) more singing.

 

The teaming of Clint Eastwood and Lee Marvin should’ve been dynamite.  Unfortunately someone got the stupid idea to put them in a dumb, overlong musical.  Clint Eastwood is a lot of things.  A singer is not one of them.  I liked him when he played The Man With No Name in The Dollars Trilogy but I wished he was The Man With No Voice so I didn’t have to listen to his cringe-inducing crooning.  The same goes for Lee Marvin.  He doesn’t necessary “sing” as much as he just kinda talks his lyrics.  At least Marvin is good at playing the rascally old codger.  What little life there is in the movie is courtesy of him.  It isn’t much though.

 

The music hurts your ears and your eyes don’t get off easy either.  The whole movie looks muddy and grimy with a color scheme consisting of nothing more than a bunch of dull browns and drab blacks.  The finale where the mining town crumbles to the ground is OK but sadly that’s the closest thing you’re going to get to an “action” scene in the movie.

 

In short, Paint Your Wagon will make you want to Paint Your Wall with your brains.

PALE RIDER (1985) ** ½

A gang of ruffians ride into a small town and scare some folksy gold miners.  During the fracas, a little girl’s dog gets gunned down by one of the no-good sons-a-bitches.  The chick then asks God for revenge and The Almighty sends her Clint Eastwood.

 

Now that’s what I call service!

 

Clint plays “The Preacher”.  He goes around acting pious and wearing a white collar, but when push comes to shove he’ll gun you down quicker than you can spit.  He sides with the poor miners and protects them against the banker villain (Richard Dysart) and his hired thugs.

 

Pale Rider is kinda like a lightweight companion piece to the vastly superior High Plains Drifter.  As with that film, Clint is a gunfighter that is possibly a ghost that possesses seemingly supernatural powers.  For instance, in the finale he appears to have the ability to be everywhere at once (kinda like Jason) while gunning down the bad guys.

 

Even though the film is a “Pale” imitation of High Plains Drifter, there was a sturdy enough foundation here to make a great western.  Eastwood unfortunately dropped the ball in that department.  His pacing is overly lackadaisical and the irritating miners get more screen time than The Preacher.  Although the final shootout has it’s fair share of head shots and bloodshed; overall the flick had way too many lulls in between the gunfights to be truly worthwhile.

 

I guess it’s OK that Clint the director made a few missteps because Clint the actor is pretty awesome in this flick.  He gets a great stick fighting scene early in the picture that would look right at home in a Kung Fu movie.  The highlight of the flick comes when Clint takes a sledgehammer to Richard (Moonraker) Kiel’s nuts.  No matter how uneven Pale Rider may be, any movie in which Dirty Harry fights Jaws can’t get any less than ** ½.

KICKBOXER 3: THE ART OF WAR (1992) * ½

Sasha Mitchell returns as kickboxer David Sloan.  This time, he goes to Rio de Janeiro for a kickboxing exhibition and befriends a young homeless runaway.  When a greedy manager tries to sell the kid’s sister into a life of prostitution, David intervenes and tries to put a stop to the villain’s operation.

 

Kickboxer 3:  The Art of War features very little kickboxing.  It also contains no art or war either.  Because of this it should’ve been called Kickboxer 3:  The Fart of Bore.  It still doesn’t have much kickboxing, but at least you can tell from the title that it stinks and it’s boring.

 

Seriously though, where was I?  Oh, the flick falls into the unfortunate Karate Kid 2 trap of being mostly a travelogue for the first half of the film, instead of getting down to the business at hand.  You get to see a lot of the beaches of Rio this way, but precious little action.

 

Sasha Mitchell was pretty good in Kickboxer 2 but here he basically just plays his character from Step by Step.  I don’t know what happened to Sasha in between Part 2 and this one but I have a feeling that it starts with a “C”, ends with an “E”, and has “OCAIN” in the middle.  Seriously, the dude never blinks once throughout the entire movie and he has a nose as red as Rudolph.  It could’ve just been the tint on my TV though.  Still, the tint issue doesn’t hide the fact that he looks like he lost about 20 pounds throughout the course of the movie.

 

Kickboxer 3 is mostly the same old song and dance (or punch and kick) you get from many low budget action sequels but there was one thing about the film that I thought was truly original and that was the villain’s plan.  You see, he has a lot of money riding on the match between his fighter and David.  Most villains in this position would force David to throw the fight.  This guy is a real sport though.  He actually helps David train.  And by “train” I mean his underlings force him at gunpoint to jog with a backpack filled with rocks, drop him miles off the coast and make him swim back, and take him water skiing without the skis. 

 

Most movies have the obligatory training montage before the big fight.  Others have the obligatory scene where the villain tortures the hero.  This portion of the film is neat because it cleverly combines the two.  It also helps when the villain (Richard Comar) is slimy as fuck.  (He looks like the love child between Joe Isuzu and Chuck Woolery.)  After this brief interlude of inventiveness, the movie goes right back to sucking.  


Special Note:  This movie was written by Dennis Pratt, which is really weird since he also wrote another movie I watched earlier today, Leprechaun 4 and little else.  No, I didn’t plan it (like my Clint Eastwood double feature).  Shit like that just happens here in The Vacuum.