November 4th, 2009

BOOGEYMAN 2 (2007) ** ½

The first Boogeyman movie (the 2005 one, not the 1980 Ulli Lommel mini-masterpiece) was a piss poor PG-13 CGI-heavy shit storm.  Boogeyman 2 plays almost like an apology for the first film.  All I can say is that producer Sam Raimi must’ve finally wised the fuck up.


A chick sees her family butchered by a serial killer and grows up to have some severe issues.  Years later, she checks into a nuthouse to conquer her fear of closets (don’t ask).  It doesn’t take long before The Boogeyman shows up and starts killing people by taking their worst fear and turning it against them.


The guy who is afraid of the dark gets his guts ripped out in a pitch black elevator.  The OCD kid gets a mouthful of bleach.  The cutter chick finds maggots crawling in her slash marks and has to hack into them with a straight razor.  (Not up to par with the similar scene in Hellbound:  Hellraiser 2, but still high quality.)  The guy who is afraid of “opening up” gets his heart ripped out.  The bulimic bitch gets a whole bunch of food pumped into her mouth until her belly explodes.  In addition to those fine kills, we also get some non-fear related deaths like hypodermic needles in the eyes and the piece de resistance, a stellar decapitation via hedge clippers.


Folks, this is the kind of movie where someone just can’t get stabbed and be done with it.  No, the killer has to twist his knife until their guts hit the floor.  I respect that kind of integrity.  The film also puts off a Nightmare 3 vibe because of all the troubled teens in group therapy scenes.


If you couldn’t already tell, Boogeyman 2 is ass loads more fun than Boogeyman 1.  Then again the first film set the bar extremely low.  Actually, if it wasn’t for the gore, Part 2 would’ve been just as useless and boring as the original.


In fact, Boogeyman 2 reminds me of those Amish kids.  You know the ones I’m talking about.  The ones that spend their childhood being all religious and stuff; then when they turn 18, they all go out and party till they puke because they’ve been so damn repressed their whole life.  The Boogeyman franchise is kinda like that.  The first film was a wishy-washy PG-13 crapfest.  Part 2 was all pent-up about the first film being so chaste that when it finally got the go-ahead to be an Unrated Direct-To-DVD sequel that it wore itself out trying to be a balls-out gore bonanza. 


Saw fans will enjoy seeing Tobin Bell playing the doctor who tries to help the kids.  He doesn’t do a good job, mostly because he’s still using that creepy Jigsaw voice.  I mean how can you listen to that raspy voice of doom?  Christ, just him saying, “HELLO PAUL…” in that Grim Reaper-ish tone is enough to SEND you to the loony bin, not get you out of it!


The Bottom Line:  The gore is good; everything else pretty much sucks ass. 

TWISTED NERVE (1969) ***

If you were ever wondering where Quentin Tarantino stole Kill Bill’s whistling theme from; this is it.  That music is some of composer Bernard (Psycho) Herrmann’s best work.  It’s genuinely creepy and unnerving; which is a good way to describe Twisted Nerve.


Susan (Hayley Mills) is a sexy librarian who befriends the meek, mentally retarded “Georgie” (Hywel Bennett).  Little does she know, Georgie is actually a suave psychopath named Martin, who has a split personality.  After Susan spurns an awkward love making pass from Georgie, he goes nuts and kills a couple of people before setting his sights on her.


The flick begins with a warning:  “Ladies and Gentlemen, in lieu of the controversy that’s already been aroused, the producers of this film wish to re-emphasize what is already stated in the film:  That there is no established scientific connection between mongolism and psychotic and criminal behavior.”  Even in the 60’s people were touchy about the subject of the mentally challenged I guess. 


Twisted Nerve moves at a deliberate pace and at 112 minutes, is probably about 20 minutes too long for it to achieve it’s maximum entertainment potential.  That said; I really dug this flick because it spent a lot of time with the killer so you could see him plotting and scheming away.  Then when you see him pull the wool over the other characters’ eyes, you really appreciate the skill and depravity it took.  In the end, it was hard to tell if he really was a mongoloid with a chromosomal problem and a split personality or if he was just pretending, but that kind of ambiguity is what made the film refreshing.


Director Ray Boulting films everything with a lot of pizzazz.  There is always an abundance of bright light and cheery colors which is cool because most of the film is so dark (metaphorically speaking).  I think Hitchcock would’ve been proud of the murder sequences too.  (The fact that he hired Herrmann to do the score is the big tip-off that Boulting was trying to ape The Master.)


The biggest reason you should watch Twisted Nerve is because of Hayley Mills.  She is one stone cold fox in this movie.  There was a couple times where she was dripping wet in a bikini and/or getting dressed and/or wearing something skimpy that sent my blood racing.  She definitely grew up since her Parent Trap days; that's for sure.

THE GREAT ESCAPE (1963) ****

After reviewing director John Sturges’ weak Ice Station Zebra yesterday, I decided to watch Sturges’ The Great Escape; one of the greatest fucking movies of all time.  The Great Escape has one of the best casts ever assembled.  Steve Muthafuckin’ McQueen, James Garner, Richard Attenborough, Charles Bronson, James Coburn, Donald Pleasence, the list goes on and on. 


All these guys are prisoners in a Nazi POW camp.  After digging tunnels and acting cool as Hell for about two hours, they escape.  What did the kraut-eating sons-a-bitches expect when they put all those badasses together under one roof?


You know, I always go back and forth over which star-studded WWII Men on a Mission movie featuring Charles Bronson is better, this one or The Dirty Dozen.  I think I have to give The Dirty Dozen the edge because it’s a bit more action-centric.  Still, The Great Escape is one Hell of a good time.


Sturges directs the film with an invisible style.  He doesn’t do anything flashy; he just presents the material and has enough confidence in his actors to let them do their own thing.  Besides, with a cast this great, who needs to worry about shit like “motivation”?  Sturges’ only direction must’ve been, “OK, act like a badass annnnnd… ACTION!”


And what a cast of badasses we have.  McQueen simply gives the best performance of his career.  He’s never been as cool as he is here.  The motorcycle finale is all kinds of awesome and what makes it so great is the fact that McQueen did nearly all of his own stunt diving.  Garner is also outstanding as the smooth-talking “Scrounger”.  I particularly liked the scene where he vouches for the blind Pleasence and vows to keep an eye on him throughout the escape.  Pleasence’s inevitable fate is tragic and both he and Garner are terrific in their final scene together.  Bronson does a marvelous job as the tunnel digger who has severe bouts of claustrophobia.  Many critics wrote him off as being a “Stone Face”, but he gives a fully three-dimensional performance in this movie.  The scene where the lights get turned out on him while he’s in the tunnel is unforgettable. 


On top of the impeccable cast, Elmer Bernstein delivers one of his finest scores.  It’s definitely among the best in film history.  You’ll be whistling that shit days after you watch the flick. 


McQueen, Bronson and Coburn were also in Sturges’ excellent The Magnificent Seven.


The Great Escape is Numero Uno on The Video Vacuum Top Ten Films of the Year 1963.


The Little Shop of Horrors is one of director Roger Corman’s finest hours.  After directing dozens of unintentionally hilarious movies like Attack of the Crab Monsters, this was his first intentionally funny horror film.  It also happens to be a searing indictment of the small time businessman and the lengths he will go to in order to be successful.


Seymour Krelboin (Jonathan Haze) works for his overbearing boss Mushnik (Mel Welles) at his Skid Row flower shop where he pines for the pretty (but dumb as a bag of hammers) Audrey (Jackie Joseph).  Seymour creates a mutant Venus Fly Trap, which he names Audrey Jr. that drinks human blood to live.  The more Audrey Jr. grows, the busier the shop becomes, which makes Mushnik very happy.  As Audrey Jr. gets bigger, so does her appetite, and eventually Seymour takes to killing hobos and hookers in order to feed her.


The Little Shop of Horrors is famous for a lot of reasons.  First, it was shot in two days, which is pretty amazing.  Secondly, it kinda gained a second life after the 1986 musical remake.  Thirdly, it’s a public domain movie, so everybody’s probably seen it.  And perhaps the best reason is because it features Jack Nicholson in one of his greatest roles.  His performance as Wilbur Force, the masochistic dental patient has to be seen to be believed.  With his hair parted down the middle, he reads Pain Magazine and says shit like, “No Novocain!  It dulls the senses!”  He’s almost as nuts here as he was in The Shining.


This flick is chockfull of bizarre little bits and entertaining black humor.  The Dragnet style cops are hilarious and some of their banter will leave you in stitches.  The scenes of Seymour feeding Audrey Jr. disembodied hands and feet while the plant screams “FEEEEED MEEEEE!” are also pretty great.  And not only does the movie features a man-eating plant, but also a plant-eating man played by the always awesome Dick Miller.  (“I’ve got to get home; my wife’s making gardenias for dinner!”)  The Little Shop of Horrors is rife with weird touches like this that makes it so much fun.


Incredibly, Corman also managed to churn out Ski Troop Attack, Fall of the House of Usher, and Last Woman on Earth the same year.


Audrey Sr. gets the best line of the movie when she says, “I’m so hungry; I could eat a hearse!”


The Little Shop of Horrors is Number 3 on The Video Vacuum Top Ten Films of the Year for 1960 which places it just below The Magnificent Seven and right above Peeping Tom.