November 25th, 2009

OMEN 4: THE AWAKENING (1991) ** ½

Apparently Damien the Antichrist spread his demon seed to a little orphan chick when nobody was looking.  An infertile couple adopts the kid and she turns into a bratty little tyke named Delia (Asia Vieira).  When she isn’t causing nuns to have heart attacks or beating bullies in the face with lunchboxes, she’s doing freaky stuff like biting the faces off Barbie dolls.  It’s obvious that this kid is nuts yet it takes her parents forever to catch on.  While Mom (Faye Grant) starts getting worried when the nanny plummets to her doom, dad (Michael Woods) stays blissfully clueless the whole time.  Mom eventually has a baby of her own and when she learns it’s an Antichrist too, she sets out to go all kinds of Gregory Peck on it’s ass.


Shoot me if you want to, but I found Omen Quatro to be surprisingly enjoyable.  While the lowered expectations probably helped (this after all went straight to TV), it still had it’s fair share of moments.  Then again, anything would be an improvement after Omen 3:  The (Not So) Final Conflict


Even though the flick was made for TV, it still had a number of decent kills.  There was a quality decapitation that was completely bloodless yet still was true to the series’ standards.  We also got an OK snake attack, death by wrecking ball, an assault with a scalpel, and not one but TWO nannies biting the big one.


Omen 4 starts off well enough but it begins to deteriorate by the time the idiot nanny (Ann Hearn) starts babbling on about the power of healing crystals.  (SPOILER ALERT:  They do not help her doomed ass.)  That’s alright because if we didn’t have her around, we would’ve been deprived of the hilarious “Psychic Fair” that the demonic Delia promptly burns to the ground.  There’s also a lot of rigmarole concerning a sketchy detective (Michael Lerner) snooping around that eats up a lot of valuable running time.


I was always smitten with Faye Grant ever since V so it was nice to see her in a rare leading role for a change.  She was strong but vulnerable; which is a good trait to have when you learn that both of your kids are Antichristes.  She also gets the best line of the movie when she says, “That freak will never rule because I’m going to kill him!”

THE 27TH DAY (1957) * ½

Gene (The War of the Worlds) Barry stars in this intriguing but talky Sci-Fi flick.  An alien who calls himself “The Alien” gives five different people capsules that have the capacity to destroy the human race.  The capsules stop working after 27 days and it’s up to the chosen few to make sure nothing happens to them before the deadline.  Of course, the Alien had to give one of the capsules to a dirty Russkie whose superiors want it use to start WWIII.  Gene, an English broad, and some stuffed shirt scientist try to prevent that from happening and save the world from destruction.


The 27th Day is a none too subtle Cold War allegory.  (The five different people singled out by the Alien are clearly supposed to represent the nations with “The Bomb”.)  In other hands, it could’ve worked but William Asher‘s direction is static and clunky.  Asher was the guy who directed a slew of Beach Party movies, so he was obviously the wrong director for this type of picture.  It doesn’t help when the script by John Mantley is so damned heavy handed.  He also couldn’t think up a decent ending either.


The set-up had a lot of potential but unfortunately the whole thing falls apart when the Alien skips town.  Once the Sci-Fi trappings of the flick disappear, it basically just becomes a boring Cold War thriller.  And who wants to watch that shit, right?

THE H-MAN (1959) **

Japanese gangsters start disappearing left and right, leaving only their clothes behind.  A bimbo nightclub singer witnesses one of the thugs dissolving but of course, the cops don’t believe her.  Eventually we learn that a giant slime monster (a product of the H-Bomb) is on the loose and going around melting folks.  Scientists scramble to find a way to stop the creature and finally come up with the bright idea of flamethrowering the shit out of it.


The H-Man is a goofy monster.  It looks like a cross between The Blob and a mass of KY Jelly.  Sometimes it takes a mannish shape but mostly it just slops itself around.  Since it’s just a big pile of goo, it doesn’t have a lot of personality.  However, the dissolving people effects are kinda cool (they resemble blow-up dolls covered in liquid Dial soap) and the endless scenes of scientists melting frogs in a lab are pretty funny.


You can see where all of this may have been fun but The H-Man doesn’t have quite what it takes to be completely successful.  The big problem is that director Inoshiro (Godzilla) Honda’s pacing is so damn constipated.  I mean it takes a freaking half an hour for the monster to even show up.  Before that you have to sit through a lot of nonsense involving gangsters and detectives as well as a bunch of lame nightclub acts and dance routines.  As with most Japanese monster mashes; the ridiculous dubbing is good for a laugh or two.


AKA:  Beauty and the Liquidman.

NINJA ASSASSIN (2009) ****

Ninja Assassin is pure unadulterated Ninja porn.  Plain and simple.  There is a plot but it is completely unnecessary.  With a good porno, you can fast forward through all the plot stuff just to get to the action and it would still have the same effect.  Ninja Assassin is the same way.  Except instead of boobies and buttholes, there are Ninja stars and swords.  That is to say, it’s awesome.


Let’s talk action.  Let’s talk Ninjas.  This movie has so many damn scenes of Ninjas slashing the shit out of each other that it will make you just grin ear to ear.  The Good Ninja is played by Rain, who has to be the best actor named after a meteorological phenomenon.  He fucks everybody up but good.  The Bad Ninjas don’t stand a chance.  They even have the benefit of CGI to aid them in their Ninja-ing.  (No smoke bombs are necessary when you have computer effects to blend you seamlessly into the background.)  This Rain guy doesn’t care.  He slices and/or dices and/or cuts off every major appendage the bad Ninjas have.  There are more severed limbs in the opening sequence of this movie than you can shake a stick at.  The standout is the scene where Rain chops off PART of a guy’s head (otherwise known as a “half-decap”).


The director James (V for Vendetta) McTeigue films all of this with unabashed glee.  Although he goes a bit overboard on the Shaky-Cam stuff in the middle section; the rest of the film contains some of the best Ninja action these eyes have ever seen.  Who knew that an Irish guy named McTeigue could direct a movie about Japanese Ninjas?


Ninja Assassin isn’t the best Ninja movie ever made but it’s arguably the goriest.  It’s basically like a big budget Golan-Globus movie.  I can’t think of higher praise.  I mean Sho Kosugi came out of retirement to star in this movie.  If that isn’t a reason to rush out and see Ninja Assassin, I don’t know what is.


Ninja Assassin slashes it’s way onto The Video Vacuum Top Ten for 2009 at the Number 3 spot; putting it in between Chocolate and Crank:  High Voltage.