December 6th, 2010

DANCE WITH ME, HENRY (1956) **

Bud Abbott and Lou Costello star in their final film together and it’s a sorry farewell to the legendary duo.  Lou plays the disheveled owner of an amusement park who takes in two orphans and tries to give them a good home.  In addition to a pissy old woman from Social Services, Lou has to contend with Bud’s no-good underworld associates who are looking to collect on a gambling debt.  When the gangsters frame Lou for murder, he has to work together with Bud to clear his name.

 

I’m a huge Abbott and Costello fan but even I have to admit that Dance with Me, Henry is probably about their worst film.  It’s not very funny and it’s filled with a lot of shitty melodrama that will bore you to tears.  Although Lou gives it his best shot and gets some laughs (the highlight comes when the police try to interrogate him), Bud looks like he’s completely thrown in the towel.  His tired and lifeless performance is just another sign that the end was near for the team. 

 

Another sign of desperation is the annoying idiot rock n’ roller kid who bursts into every scene and plays the title rock n’ roll song.  It would be one thing if the song was actually good, but it’s about the shittiest rock songs I’ve ever heard.  It’s fitting though because Dance with Me, Henry is about the shittiest Abbott and Costello movies I’ve ever seen.

SHARKS IN VENICE (2008) *

So this movie is about some sharks in Venice.  When they chomp down on Stephen Baldwin’s father, he heads to Venice to find out what happened.  Apparently, these sharks swim around protecting some treasure left over from the Crusades or some shit.  Eventually, Steve gets tangled up with some gangsters who want him to fetch the treasure. 

 

Sharks in Venice is a bottom of the barrel SyFy Channel Original.  Most SyFy Channel flicks are terrible but they can be tolerable when they sport cheesy special effects, plots and performances.  Sharks in Venice has no such luxuries. 

 

First off, the shark “special effects” are nothing more than outtakes from Discovery Channel Shark Week.  Say what you will about Mega Shark vs. Giant Octopus, but at least the awful FX were good for a laugh.  Secondly, the plot is just plain stupid.  It’s like a mix between Spring Break Shark Attack and Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade (or maybe National Treasure).  And finally, the performances are bland as all get out.  This movie really needed someone who can chew scenery (like Jeffrey Combs) or someone who’s very appearance entices laughter (like Lorenzo Lamas).  Unfortunately, Stephen Baldwin is neither of those kinds of actors.  He plays things more or less straight and the result is one big boring performance.

 

Bottom Line:  Sharks in Venice deserves to go straight to the chum bucket.

 

AKA:  Shark in Venice.

THE WARRIOR’S WAY (2010) ***

Yang (Jang Dong-Gun) is this Ninja who is ordered to wipe out his enemy clan.  He does so in record time, leaving only a baby girl alive.  His Ninja Master orders him to kill the kid too and he says “Fuck that noise” and wipes out a bunch of his own clan that are sent to kill him.  Yang then leaves China for the Wild West so he can disappear and lie low.  There, he is welcomed with open arms by the citizens of a ramshackle ghost town where he takes over his old friend’s Laundromat.  (Yeah, just because he’s Asian he only has two prospective occupations:  Ninja or Laundromat owner.) 

 

Anyway, some cowboy ruffians led by Danny Huston come to town and try to have their way with Kate Bosworth.  Yang says “No way Jose” and cuts those cowboys to ribbons.  When his clan “hears the tears of his victims” (don’t ask), they immediately head to the ghost town to kill him.  Naturally, they show up just when Huston’s men ride back into town and you know what that means…

 

COWBOYS VS. NINJAS.

 

The Warrior’s Way is the greatest Cowboys vs. Ninjas movie of the year.  As much as I dig the concept of Ninjas duking it out with Cowboys, I think it stops short of being the definitive Cowboys vs. Ninjas movie.  The problem is that the Cowboys vs. Ninjas stuff is mostly weighted towards the last half hour of the film.  Despite a rather cool prologue (that features echoes of Shogun Assassin), things bog down severely once the Ninja gets to the Wild West.  This chunk of the flick is rather dull and there are way too many scenes of the Ninja getting to know the townsfolk.  I will say that when we finally do get to the Cowboys vs. Ninjas stuff, it is fucking awesome.

 

I guess it’s to be expected that this movie is flawed.  I mean this is the first Cowboys vs. Ninjas movie that I know of, so they obviously didn’t quite work out all the bugs.  (Red Sun had cowboys vs. samurais and Shanghai Noon had cowboys vs. Chinese palace guards; but not Ninjas.) 

 

Remember in the 70’s when American distributors would get a hold of a Chinese Kung Fu movie and they’d re-dub it, re-edit it, and give it a flashy new title?  That’s exactly what I would’ve done if I was the producer of The Warrior’s Way.  First, well… I wouldn’t have to do any re-dubbing because it’s already in English.  Second, I’d cut out about 30 minutes of that getting to know you shit in the middle so we had ten minutes of pure Ninja stuff in the beginning, 30 minutes of pure cowboy stuff in the middle, and 30 minutes of kick ass Cowboy vs. Ninja stuff in the end.  And finally, I’d lose that shitty title and just call it… Cowboys vs. Ninjas. 

 

My version:  Four Stars.  This version:  Three Stars.

 

AKA:  The Warrior.

REAL MEN (1987) ****

Real Men isn’t quite one of the Greatest Movies in the History of the Human Race, but it is one of those movies that I have seen over ten times, so it gets the automatic Four Star treatment from me.  This is one of those flicks that I rented a lot from my local video store when they first opened up because they only had about 50 titles to choose from.  Usually a night at the video store consisted of me and my friends renting this, Teen Wolf, and The Invisible Kid.  As a ten year old, Real Men was fucking awesome because A) Most of the humor is kinda lame, but perfectly suited to a ten year old boy B) It had some tits and C) It had some tits.  Despite it’s flaws, whenever I watch the flick, I feel like a ten year old again; which is about the best compliment I can give a movie.

 

If you’re a big fan of Jim Belushi and John Ritter, you’ll probably love it too.  They’re great together and have a lot of comedic chemistry.  Plus, Ilsa herself Dyanne Thorne is in it too, so it’s got that going for it.

 

Belushi stars as a CIA agent who has to schlep along a meek businessman (Ritter) to a drop site to meet some aliens so they can receive “The Good Package”, a formula to reverse the Earth’s pollution.  The Russians want to stop them because they want “The Big Gun” from the aliens.  Along the way, Belushi tries to teach Ritter how to be more macho and Ritter shows Belushi the benefit of being more sensitive.

 

Man, I really do love this fucking flick.  It’s got some great comedic set pieces; like Belushi and Ritter’s run-in with a CIA hit squad disguised as clowns (“Who are those clowns?”), Belushi’s one night stand with a dominatrix, and the hilarious scene where Belushi takes Ritter home to meet his dad.  Probably the funniest and most memorable part though is when Ritter points his finger, says “Bang”, and actually kills a couple people.  I’m not saying it’s Duck Soup or anything, but Real Men’s definitely filled with a lot of laughs.

 

My favorite exchange between the duo takes place after Belushi bangs a hot Russian spy and lights up a cigarette.

 

Ritter:  “I didn’t know you smoked.”

 

Belushi:  “Only after sex.”

 

Ritter:  “Well, at least you don’t smoke that much.”

 

Belushi:  “About a pack a day.”

BRAINSTORM (1983) **

Natalie Wood stars in her last movie as the estranged wife of scientist Christopher Walken.  He’s just created this doohickey that you wear on your head that lets you experience someone else’s thoughts, feelings, and sensations.  Naturally the government wants to use it for some sort of a weapon and Walken sets out to sabotage the project.

 

Brainstorm had the potential to be a mind-blowing Sci-Fi flick (no pun intended) but it’s undone by the flimsily written characters and generic plotting.  The performances are earnest enough I suppose, yet they never really endear themselves to the audience completely.  Although there are some good moments sprinkled in throughout (like when Walken uses the machine to make a greatest hits compilation of memories from his marriage), the relationship stuff and the sciency stuff go together like oil and water. 

 

The special effects are great, but that’s to be expected since the director was Douglas Trumbull, the man who did the FX for 2001.  While the photography during the Brainstorm Vision Cam sequences is breathtaking, the constant switching of aspect ratios gets annoying after awhile.  Maybe if I saw it in a theater, it would be a different story.  At home though the flip-flopping of Widescreen to Wider-Screen just gets irritating.

 

The photography isn’t the big problem; it’s the script.  The story gets increasingly muddled as it goes along and the government conspiracy subplot is tedious.  It’s also really frustrating that they introduce a potentially intriguing plotline late in the film (someone dies while wearing the Brainstorm Helmet and transmits images of Heaven), and then do very little with it.  Maybe if the screenwriters Brainstormed a little bit more, Brainstorm could’ve turned out better.

 

AKA:  The Gordon Forbes Tapes.

NIGHT OF THE DEMONS (2010) ** ½

The original 1988 version of Night of the Demons was a memorable, if uneven horror flick.  The moments that were memorable mostly revolved around Linnea Quigley’s anatomy.  Fans of the original will be pleased to learn that she has a cameo in this new remake shaking her moneymaker.  Man, that thing hasn’t aged a day in 22 years.

 

But I don’t want to get swept up in nostalgia here.  Let’s sha-na-na-na-na live for today.  And today, I just watched the remake of Night of the Demons and I have to say it’s about on par with the original.  Like that film, it’s filled with a lot of annoying characters and stupid situations.  But whenever the flick doesn’t get bogged down (the first half hour drags like a sumbitch) or the characters aren’t bugging the shit out of you, it more or less delivers the goods.

 

Angela (Shannon Elizabeth from Jack Frost) invites a bunch of people to a Halloween party in an abandoned mansion where a massacre happened years before.  The previous tenants were actually possessed by demons who tried to bring about Hell on Earth.  Predictably, the demons also possess Angela and she sets out to turn the partygoers into slimy Hell spawns. 

 

I think Night of the Demons could’ve stood a chance to be a classic if the acting wasn’t so terrible.  Take Edward Furlong for instance.  You’d think he’d be able to essay the role of a strung out druggie loser to perfection.  All he had to do was go Method and it would’ve been a piece of cake.  But no, he just sucks and grates on your damned nerves.  Likewise, Shannon Elizabeth just doesn’t make for a convincing Satanic Slut.  I mean I think she’s hot and all, but she is woefully miscast here.  She should be off playing bubble-headed bimbos, not seductive temptresses. 

 

The movie was supposed to be released theatrically last Halloween but it wound up on DVD a couple months ago.  I think I sort enjoyed myself with the flick because of the lowered expectations that come with a Direct to DVD horror remake.  I don’t think I would’ve been happy spending ten bucks to see it in a theater though. 

 

This was written by the same dudes that did that Tobe Hopper Direct to DVD remake of The Toolbox Murders a while back and it’s marginally better than that flick.  If only they could’ve done something about the pacing, the stupid “rules”, and idiotic characters.  (Seriously, how many times were they going to leave the “protected room” to take a leak?)    

 

Well, it’s kinda like shooting fish in a barrel when it comes to critiquing the acting, script, and plot of Night of the Demons ‘10.  What really matters is the gore and/or nutty set pieces.  In that respect, I sorta dug this new Night of the Demons.  There is a cool tentacle-out-of-the-nipples scene, some gut ripping, and a clever twist on the original’s signature lipstick scene.  I think by far my favorite scene though was when the one demon cornholed a hot chick.  Most of the movie is borderline Special Ed; but since you don’t see Demon Sodomy everyday, I’m willing to give it ** ½.

 

It’s still no Night of the Demons 2 though.

3 NUTS IN SEARCH OF A BOLT (1964) **

Mamie Van Doren plays a dim-witted stripper who meets Tommy Noonan in the unemployment line and takes him back to her apartment to meet her two idiot roommates.  The three of them are too poor to afford a shrink so they hire Noonan to tell the psychiatrist all of their neurosis.  Predictably, the shrink labels him as a schizophrenic and tries to make money off him.

 

3 Nuts in Search of a Bolt has a really stupid plot.  It’s something so farfetched that it wouldn’t have even cut it on an episode of Three’s Company.  I guess it would’ve been alright if it was funny, but the laughs just aren’t there.

 

The only reason this movie exists is to see Mamie Van Doren’s tits.  Because of that, it comes pretty highly recommended.  Of all of the Marilyn Monroe imitators of the 50’s, Mamie was always my favorite, so I gladly sat through all the lame jokes and stupid plot just to see those ta-tas.  She’s just one of those cult movie actresses whose films are mostly terrible but they’re still worth watching just because she’s in them.  That certainly sums up 3 Nuts in Search of a Bolt.  Add in the fact that she gets naked, and you’ve got yourself some required viewing.  (Make no mistake, the flick itself still sucks.)

 

What’s cool about the film is that whenever Mamie’s about to do a striptease or take a bath or something, it switches from black and white to color.  This is really convenient if you’re just fast-forwarding to the good stuff.  Just remember:  Color = Mamie’s showing or shaking her tits.  Black and White = Boring sitcom shit.

TWIN SITTERS (1995) ** ½

Twin Sitters is basically Mr. Nanny, except instead of one Hulk Hogan babysitting some obnoxious brats, we get two Barbarian Brothers babysitting some obnoxious brats.  The title also has a double meaning because not only are the babysitters twin brothers, but the kids they’re babysitting are too.  Is this one clever movie or what?

 

But enough about the plot.

 

This flick is stupid and dumb, but in the right sort of way.  It’s just about as good, if not better than The Barbarians’ Double Trouble.  I’m not saying it’s a laugh riot or anything; it’s just that it has a goofy charm that makes it watchable. 

 

A lot of the fun comes just from watching the Barbarians, David and Peter acting like complete idiots.  For starters, they strut around wearing a wardrobe that looks like they raided the closet of Gerardo, George Michael, and any random wrestler from the WWF.  Just looking at them inspires laughter.  Not many guys can get away wearing goofy outfits while riding around in a monster truck with personalized license plates that say “TOOO BIG” while listening to their own rap songs on the radio. 

 

Plus, their delivery is so bad it’s awesome.  Like when Peter (or was it David?) picks up an antique plate and the butler tells him it’s two hundred years old and he quips, “This guy is rich, you’d think he’d be able to afford some new plates!”  Any other comedian would say this line and it would suck, but these guys somehow pull it off.

 

The supporting cast is pretty good too.  It’s not nearly as varied as Double Trouble, but we do get George Lazenby as the bad guy and Valentina Vargas (the hot Cenobite from Hellraiser 4) as the sexy maid.  Twin Sitters also works as a 90’s time capsule.  In addition to the funny fashions, we also get gratuitous plugs for Powerhouse Gym and Super Nintendo. 

 

I can only praise the flick but so far.  For every funny gag, there are about four or five clunkers.  There are also some Home Alone inspired shenanigans that just aren’t funny at all.  On top of that, you have to deal with some bad taste child endangerment scenes that seem out of place in a comedy as silly as this one. 

 

Then again, it’s a Barbarian Brothers movie, so you know what you’re getting into.  There are two kinds of people in this universe:  One who will watch a Barbarian Brothers movie, and one who won’t.  You know which one you are.

 

AKA:  The Babysitters.