Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Slugs (1988)

Title: Slugs (1988)

Director: J.P. Simon

Cast: Michael Garfield, Kim Terry 


J.P. Simon is a Spanish director who has made some of the worst films to ever be committed to celluloid. If you ask me, he is Spain’s own Uwe Boll; and in case you don’t know who Uwe Boll is, then check out his filmography, I’m sure you’ll agree that most of his films (if not all) are some of the worst you’ve seen in your life. With directors such as these, I always wonder:  how do they do it? How do they convince a producer to give them cash to make these crappy movies? And they keep making movies too, they don’t stop! For example, Uwe Boll has made 28 films so far; and I’m sure he’ll keep making more. I guess as long as video clubs keep buying and renting his films, he’ll keep turning in a profit…and he’ll keep coming back; same thing with J.P. Simon. Mr. Simon is a director who’s pretty much kept his career in Spain; but at various points in his career, he’s attempted to make films that he could sell to American distributors. If you’re a slasher film fan, then I’m sure you’ve seen J.P. Simon’s Pieces (1982); not a bad little slasher if you ask me. It gets pretty gory at times; but it is not without its nonsensical moments.

Another one of J.P. Simon’s attempts at making a film aimed at an American audience was Cthulhu Mansion (1992); a film that in spite of having Lovecraft’s name plastered all over it’s poster, has absolutely nothing to do with Lovecraft or his stories! It is terribly acted, cheesy as hell and horribly edited, but it’s a fun movie to watch because of this. After seeing Cthulhu Mansion I was convinced I had seen one of the worst films ever made; I laughed my ass off no doubt. But a good movie it wasn’t! So it was with great curiosity that I decided to finally watch Slugs, J.P. Simon’s killer slugs movie. I kept hearing that it was gruesome and gory, so I decided to finally give it a chance, you know,  out of morbid curiosity. Call me crazy, but I like seeing a lot of these ‘bad movies’, they make me laugh and lighten up my nights. With Slugs, I knew I would probably be in for a goofy ‘so bad it’s good movie’, so I was prepared for that this time around. Turns out, I was right! This is yet another terrible yet fun film from director J.P. Simon.

Story goes something like this: mutant killer slugs (with teeth!) are procreating in the sewer system of the small town known as Merton. Mike Brady, the towns health inspector knows this and is trying to get someone to hear him out, but you know how horror films go, no one believes Mikes mutant slugs story. Hell, I wouldn’t either! Unless I was in a cheesy horror movie like this one that is! So anyhow, dead people start piling up and only then do the authorities believe Mike. Can Mike whip up a way to kill the slugs before they eat their way through the town?  

Choking on a Slug! 

 So yeah, this is the kind of movie where only one person knows what’s really going on and nobody in town wants to believe him. Mike goes around telling people that there are killer slugs in the sewer but everyone reacts the same way “your crazy! Go to hell!” This movie is so nonsensical, that even when people have actually seen someone choke on slugs and even seen a persons head explode with slugs, they still don’t believe Mike’s killer slugs story! I mean, people, didn’t you just see someone’s head explode as slugs and worms came out of it? Helloooo! Wake up! The people in this movie are so dumb that even when they know their town was a toxic waste dump a few years ago they don’t believe! If we’re going to talk about this films negative traits, then by far, the worst thing this film has is it’s dialog and acting. The actors say their lines fast, just to get them out of the way in an extremely robotic fashion, they speak simply to expose plot points. For example, they'll say things like “Now maybe, just maybe, we might be dealing with a mutant form of slug here, a kind that eats meat!” This film has porn movie dialog and actors, no doubts about it. To make matters worse, most of the dialog is dubbed because J.P. Simon filmed most of the movie in Spain, with Spanish actors. But the main attraction on this kind of film are the monsters and the deaths they cause and in that respect, Slugs delivers. 

On the positive side of the spectrum, same as with J.P. Simon’s Pieces, the film is extremely gory; and this is something that J.P. Simon is known for. He might be a terrible filmmaker, but he sure knows how to cook up a gruesome death! On this one we have naked people being attacked by slugs and people’s heads bursting with slugs! Slugs eat the hand of an old man, after which he chops it off! The deaths get ugly on this one. The effects are interesting too; at one point we get a close up of a slug that shows us it’s teeth and bites Mike’s finger! It looks hilarious! You will have a fun time listening to the inane dialog, and watching these actors dig themselves deeper into their acting career graves, but overall, Slugs is simply a bad movie with some decent gore effects. It’s a series of gory deaths strung together by a paper thin plot, but then again, that’s what b-movies are all about, so b-movie lovers just might find some enjoyment with this one, I know I did. For other killer slug movies, I’d recommend checking out Squirm (1976), Night of the Creeps (1986) or Slither (2006), all of which are all infinitely better killer slug films then this one. 

Rating: 2 ½ out of 5   

 Slugs is based on a novel of the same name by author Shaun Hutson

Monday, August 27, 2012

The Expendables 2 (2012)

Title: The Expendables 2 (2012)

Director: Simon West  

Cast: Sylvester Stallone, Arnold Schwarzenegger, Bruce Willis, Jason Statham, Jean-Claude Van Damme, Dolph Lundgren, Jet Li, Chuck Norris, Randy Couture, Terry Crews, Charisma Carpenter, Nan Yu


Are you ready for a shot of testosterone? Actually, an overdose of testosterone? Because that’s exactly what your going to get with The Expendables 2, a film with big muscle tanks, shooting and blowing up everything that comes in their paths. After all the death and destruction, they all go for a little bit of male bonding and hang out at their favorite biker bar to smoke a couple of stogies and chug down a couple of beers. This is the kind of films where if you ask a question, they’ll answer it with bullets.

This time around, there isn’t much of a story, but the basic premise goes something like this: the villainous villain named ‘Vilain’ (yup!) has found a hidden cache of plutonium worth about four million dollars. He is using the people of a small town as slaves in order to dig and recover the hidden plutonium. The Expendables are then contacted by a government official named ‘Church’ to try and stop him. This mission should be a walk in the park for them, but could Vilain end up being more of a villain than they bargained for?

So yeah, this movie put a big smile on my face for the whole damn ride. I went to see these aging action stars from the eighties blow stuff up; and they did it very well, in this aspect, the film didn’t disappoint one bit. There’s whole chunks of this film simply dedicated to machine guns being fired none stop for minutes on end. I mean, this movie gets loud! How loud? Well, in the first ten minutes of the film they blow up a helicopter, a tank, a couple of buildings and massacre god knows how many henchmen. They shoot guns, bazookas, machine guns, shot guns, you name it and it gets fired, and that’s just in the opening of the film which by the way is pretty bombastic. They really wanted to open up the film with a bang! It’s a great opening scene because all these aging action stars seem to be having the time of their lives; these characters don’t have a care in their minds, it feels as if these guys shoot their guns knowing that they are invincible.

Which is really part of the films charm, we know they aren’t going to die, we know they are going to blow everything up, beat up the bad guy, save the day and get the girl! It’s how they go about it that counts; it’s the attitude they carry while they do it that matters. In the opening sequence, The Expendables drive around this truck that has a sign that reads ‘Bad Attitude’ and that says it all right there. The fun of watching this movie is really watching these old dudes we grew up with kicking some ass and cracking jokes while doing it. Half of the fun is listening to the banter as they make fun of each other and their action star careers. One of the funniest moments has Arnold and Willis stealing each others catch phrases! Hilarious in deed. Chuck Norris got a big audience reaction when he appeared on screen, but the same happened with all of them. The first time we see Arnold, a smile creeped up on my face when he says "this is embarassing", his appearance in the film is like an unvailing, the first of many surprises to come for 80's action fans. The film grabs you from the very beginning, once you see these guys having so much fun tearing up the place, you just know this is going to be a fun ride. The 'One That Hasn't Aged So Well Award' goes to Jean-Claude Van Damme, who looks like crap when he takes off his glasses, which is probably why he wears them for a huge part of the film and in contrast,  the 'Aging Gracefully Award' goes to Dolph Lundgren, who looks pretty much the same he's always looked, but with a really funny attitude, sam as in the first film, he's character is one of the best things about this sequel. Lundgren should be making more theatrical action films in my opinion. 

He's back! Just like he always said he would! 

Story wise the film is fluffy, and when I say fluffy I mean it really doesn’t even matter. The whole business with the plutonium is just an excuse for blowing shit up; which is fine I guess. I started to wonder what a film like this one would be like if it had a more serious tone to it, but I guess it wouldn’t be what it is if it was more serious in tone. What we like about these films is the goofiness; it reminds us how silly action movies from the 80’s where and how much fun they were to watch. Ever sat down to watch Cobra (1986) or Invasion U.S.A.(1985)? These films are unintentionally hilarious; which means they weren’t made to be funny, back in the day that’s just the way action films were. These films where filled with nonsensical plot lines, indestructible heroes and huge amounts of violence. That’s what the eighties action films where all about, and that’s exactly what you get with The Expendables 2.

On the downside, Chuck Norris walks in and out of the movie in five minutes. It’s great to see him appear and make a few jokes about him being ‘The Lonewolf’ but I wish he’d been a more integral part of the film, same goes for Jet Li who is in the film only for the opening sequence, though he does have his moment to shine. I guess theres so many characters that some of them have to be sacrificed in the altar of screen time. Still, this film is bigger, louder and more explosive then the first Expendables film. I’m looking forward to the inevitable sequel, which considering how much money this ones making at the box office is a sure thing. I hear they are going to try and get Clint Eastwood and Nicholas Cage to appear in the film which would be awesome, let’s hope it happens. Steven Segal’s also been M.I.A. in this series. Also, I hope Wesley Snipes gets out of jail in time to make it for the next sequel as well, I have to say he’s been sorely missed in this series. All in all, Expendables 2 is a solid slice of 80’s style action, recommend it for a night of mindless, nostalgic fun.  

Rating: 4 out of 5

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Equilibrium (2002)

Title: Equilibrium (2002)

Writer/Director: Kurt Wimmer

Cast: Christian Bale, Emily Watson, Sean Bean, Taye Diggs, William Fichtner


Director/Writer Kurt Wimmer has had an interesting career, though you might not think so at first because he’s only directed three films, he continues working as a screenwriter in big budget Hollywood action/sci-fi films like the recent Total Recall (2012) which in spite of being a “softer” film than Verhoeven’s blood drenched original film starting Arnold Schwarzenegger, still managed to be an entertaining film in my book. He also wrote Salt (2010) which by the way I absolutely loved; it got me to respect Angelina Jolie as an action star. Wimmer’s first directing gig was a Brian Bosworth action film called One Man’s Justice (1996) a.k.a. One Tough Bastard; but he got fired half way through the shoot of that film, so most of the time, he speaks of Equilibrium as his first directorial effort.  

Wimmer directs Bale

Equilibrium tells the tale of ‘Libria’; a world ruled under the tight regime of a dictator who is simply referred to as “Father”. What kind of a world is Libria? Well, because of the horrors brought on by war, this new society has decided that they want to stop feeling. In order to inhibit feelings everyone takes a drug called ‘Prozium’ at certain points during the day. To further hold a grip on society’s feelings, all forms of artistic expression have been prohibited. This means that poetry, novels, paintings, films and music have all been outlawed. Of course, not everyone agrees with this way of life and groups of rebels are spread out through out the land, hiding their music records, their books and paintings in little cache’s of cultural awesomeness. In order to find these cultural treasures and destroy them, the government has the ‘Grammaton Clerics’, police men who go around burning all forms of artistic expression. One of these Clerics is John Preston. Problem is that Preston has stopped taking Prozium and is starting to feel. Will he succumb to the wonders of sensation? Or will he remain a cold, robotic tool of the government?

Through his film, Wimmer comments on many things, one of them being emotional repression. Films make us feel, and Wimmer whose worked in the film industry for many, many years knows how repressed the filmmaking industry is. There’s no better example than Total Recall (2012); a film that Wimmer himself wrote. In my comparison between the old and new Total Recall, I felt this new one had been neutered, stripped of all that edgy violent coolness that the 1990 version had. On Equilibrium, we meet characters who are rebels and have stopped feeling. One of these characters is Mary. a character that has stopped taking the emotion repressing drug. When she is questioned as to why she wants to feel she says: “Feeling is as vital as breath, and without it. Without love, without anger, without sorrow, breath is just a clock…ticking” Equilibrium speaks about how repressed society has become, and more specifically how repressed the American film industry is.

Certain cultural artifacts in Equilibrium are rated ‘EC-10’ by the government, a not so subtle way of commenting on the nefarious ‘NC-17’, a rating that can kill a films chances at the box office. During a point in the film we even see a foot soldier of the government burning a roll of film, so yes, Wimmer was commenting on the repressive nature of the rating systems in the film industry. I read an interview in which Wimmer accurately compares films to a drug. We see a sad film when we want to feel sad, an uplifting one when we want to feel uplifted and a funny one when we want to laugh. And it is true; films are like a drug that can manipulate our emotions. How many times have you found yourself deeply moved by a film; to the point where you even drop a tear or two? Ever found yourself screaming for Rocky to win? We have a rating system to control what the younger population is be exposed to, but is it also used to control the ideas we are presented with? Through the drug that the people of Libria take in Wimmer’s film, he was commenting on the Motion Picture Association of America and how they try to hold back what ideas we are exposed to and what we can feel through films. 

Of course, I am not against controlling the kind of images that our children are exposed to with a film. It would be stupid to allow a child to see a film like Henry Portrait of a Serial Killer (1986) for example. But why limit this films chances at appearing on the silver screen by rating it NC-17 and therefore limiting the amount of screens it can be seen in? Yes it is a violent and disturbing film, but it also comments about real life, in fact, the film is partially based on the exploits of real life murderer Henry Lee Lucas. It comments on real life horrors, and this, as seen by an educated adult shouldn’t be a problem. We all know that life is ugly, life is deadly, bloody, nasty, but it is also beautiful and uplifting and emotional. In life, things don’t always end with a happy ending; in fact the truth is that we rarely get a happy ending to anything! So why make believe that everything is pretty and clean and perfectly solved, when in real life this isn’t so? Aren’t films and art a mirror image of the world we live in? Doesn’t art imitate life? If this is so, then part of our world is in denial of who we really are. There’s a moment in Equilibrium when Cleric John Preston begins to feel, he looks at himself in the mirror and screams “look at yourself!” Maybe this is something that we as a society should start doing. Instead of trying to hide things as if they didn’t exist. There should be no problem in analyzing who we are through films; or maybe this is something that the powers that be don’t want the people to do? Think? Analyze? Learn? Again, as has happened before, film is seen as a threat, as a powerful tool that can change the way we see things as therefore, it is considered dangerous. This is also a theme I talked a bit about in my review for Bernardo Bertolucci’s The Dreamers (2003).

It cannot be denied that Equilibrium is obviously highly influenced by Orwelle’s 1984, Huxley’s A Brave New World and Bradbury’s Fahrenheit 451 all books about societies living under fascist dictatorships. The burning of books, a totalitarian government ruled by a huge television screen, children who rat on their parents, art and sex being prohibited, rebels who want nothing more then to be themselves and be free, these are all elements that we’ve seen before on these books and films. What Equilibrium adds to the mix is the action and the style. It’s 1984 mixed with The Matrix. It’s no secret that Wimmer loves his kung fu style action; he always finds a way to work it into his films. This element was felt even stronger in Wimmer’s Ultraviolet (2006) a film that was taken by the studio and re-edited beyond recognition. Here’s the deal with Ultraviolet: you can see it has a lot of cool elements to it, the visuals are eye candy; the film is so colorful, always changing, visually, it’s never boring. It has a lot of that comic book style action Wimmer loves so much! Motorcycles that ride up buildings! Sadly, the film was re-edited by the studio who thought Wimmer’s cut of the film was “too emotional”. Again with the repression of emotions! The studio wanted to augment the more superficial elements of the film. As a result, we got a film that feels like a big old mess. But that wasn’t Wimmer’s fault; he wanted a film that would have as much action as emotion, yet it was the studio that wanted things the other way around. So if you find Ultraviolet to be a film that’s style over substance, now you know who to blame. I’d love to see Wimmer’s cut of the film!

Equilibrium benefits from having Christian Bale in the role of John Preston, a member of the government who suddenly finds he doubts what he does. He kills, nay, exterminates, the poor, the artistic and rebellious side of society. Their only crime is wanting to live in a world where they could be themselves; where they can be individuals. Not a world where we all think, dress, and look alike. Don’t know about you guys, but I fight for this everyday. For trying to be an individual, to say what I think and not be afraid to do so, to not wear a mask, to be the exception, not the norm, to be myself. This is what Equilibrium is all about. There’s this moment in which John Preston stops taking the drug and starts realizing that he is spilling the blood of innocents, he is no longer a cold robotic tool of the government, he feels and realizes he has someone’s blood on his hands. Wow, what a moment! Bale plays Preston in such a cold matter, with an emotionless face for a huge part of the film, but little by little emotion creeps its way into his life, then he is a tortured soul. That scene where he hears Beethoven’s 9th for the first time, amazing stuff.

Of course the film is not perfect. Its budgetary limitations sometimes show their ugly face. For example, this is supposed to be a distant future, completely unrelated to the world we live in, yet the Clerics drive Cadillac Seville’s painted entirely in white? That takes me right out of this future world and takes me right back to the 90’s. Performance wise Taye Diggs is the only weak link in the film. While Emily Watson, Christian Bale and Sean Bean all turn in great performances, Digg’s fails to portray an emotionless being because he is always smiling or screaming in anger. What happened to the supposedly emotionless cleric? Worst part is that he says that he can detect someone who is feeling even before they know it themselves. Shouldn’t he know he himself is showing emotion all the time? He’s constant smirking gets a bit annoying. Also, the films comic book style action clashes with its heavy themes, but if you find comic book styled action entertaining (the way I do) then you just might find enjoyment in it. Especially the martial arts called 'Gun Kata' that Wimmer created specifically for this film. It's kind of like mixing Kung-Fu mixed with Guns, pretty cool stuff. Bottom line is this is a film with lots to say, heavy on themes, the way good sci-fi should be. It has a couple of weak moments that don’t allow it to be a perfect sci-fi, but it can certainly be qualified as  beyond average. This is a film that speaks about the importance of not loosing our humanity, and that matters a lot in my book.

Rating: 4 out of 5   

Thursday, August 16, 2012

Batman Returns (1992)

Title: Batman Returns (1992)

Director: Tim Burton

Cast: Michael Keaton, Michelle Pfeiffer, Christopher Walken, Danny DeVito


I watched Batman Returns back in 1992 when it first hit theaters and was wowed out of my skin by it; my teenage mind couldn’t take so much coolness! Watching it today, I still think it’s a fantastic film that is in many ways superior to the first one. And that was no easy task either, the first one has a magic all it’s own. But this sequel was a bigger production with a bigger budget. I mean for it’s time, this film was huge! For Batman Returns, the budget was doubled, which gave director Tim Burton an even bigger arena to play in then he had with his first take on the character in Batman (1989). This doubling of the films budget is understandable; it is actually standard operation procedure for Hollywood. When a film makes it ultra big (the way Burton’s first Batman film did) then Hollywood is programmed to automatically give audiences something bigger and better the second time around. An example of this would be Steven Spielberg’s Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom (1984), a film that ended up being bigger and louder then its predecessor; and this was certainly the case with Batman Returns, the sets they built for this film took up 50% of Warner Bros. studio lots! Taking in consideration how sometimes huge productions can become huge disasters as well, did lightning hit twice this second time around?

I’d say that yes, this film is as good as its predecessor, and maybe even superior to it. A lot of that has to do with the fact that Tim Burton was given way more creative freedom with this second film. Considering how well Burton did with the first film, and how much money it made, Warner Brothers let Burton do whatever the hell he wanted with this sequel. They even pronounced him full on producer. In fact, Burton accepted to work on this sequel only if his specifications were met, and they were. Whole characters were completely exorcised from the script and many re-writes were made. For example, the character of Harvey Dent (a.k.a. Two Face) was taken out and replaced by an entirely original character called Max Shreck, a millionaire tycoon/business man who wants screw Gotham City over. The inclusion of Batman’s sidekick Robin was supposed to happen on this film, but at the request of Burton he was taken out because there were too many characters on the film, a smart move on Burton’s part if you ask me. This could have easily turned into another Batman and Robin (1997) But under the able hands of Tim Burton, it was smooth trails for this film. By the way, did you guys know that Marlon Wayan’s almost played Robin on this film? He even tried the suit on, but eventually it was a no go and it was Chris O’Donell who ended up playing the character on Batman and Robin. Ultimately, these Burton made changes only helped the film, making Batman Returns the most ‘Burtonesque’ of all the Bat films.

Burton talks out a scene with Pfeiffer and Keaton

And that’s basically what sets this one apart, that it’s Tim Burton’s world, he effectively turned the Batman franchise into his own, gothic, dark, grotesque, slightly sexualized universe; all without forgetting that this is Batman were talking about here. We get the batcave, the batmobile and even a bat glider! Plus, there’s all those cool Bat gadgets! We also see Batman getting a new love interest. Apparently, Vicky Vale couldn’t deal with Bruce Wayne’s dual persona. But no worries! Bats is now interested in Selina Kyle a.k.a. Catwoman. One of the most interesting aspects of the film is how Bruce Wayne deals with falling in love for someone who is a mirror image of himself. Selina Kyle also leads a double life; she also puts on a costume and fights evil, in her own twisted, angry way. Pfeiffer’s Selina is the voice of the angry woman saying “I’ve had enough!” And that’s one of the things that make Tim Burton’s Batman films so damn good; he always handled the villains so exquisitely well. They were always bigger than life; and were always, to a certain extent treated with sympathy. There’s no better example than Batman Returns to show this.

On this film Batman goes up against three villains, and though in the hands of a lesser director  this could have become a hindrance (Joel Schumacher?) Burton handled all three villains very well, giving each the screen time they deserved in order to become fully fleshed out characters. This probably explains why out of all the Bat films this is the longest one clocking in at 126 minutes. I say that’s no problem, I’d rather have a slightly longer film that truly fleshes out it’s characters, then a badly edited one where things apparently happen at a blink or you’ll miss it pace. Another reason why the villains in Batman Returns worked so well is because they were so well casted! Michelle Pfeiffer as Catwoman, wow, I mean, many actresses were rumored to play the character, but I’m glad it was finally Pfeiffer who ended up donning the cat costume, she’s so freaking sexy on this film. In fact, she was part of the reason why the film got a lot of heat. The sexual innuendoes are all over the place on this one! At one point Catwoman tells Batman and The Penguin “You poor guys, always confusing your pistols with your privates!” Unfortunately the general population didn’t take a sexualized Batman film in a good way, so much so that McDonald’s had to put a stop to their Batman Returns promotional happy meals, which of course made all the sense in the world. After all, this was not a children’s film and neither was the first film for that matter, Burton’s films were made for adults. I mean, sure they were about comic book characters, but they had an adult like sensibility to them. This of course was something that the studio quickly changed for Batman Forever (1995) and Batman and Robin (1997) two films that were obviously aimed at a more infantile audience and were decidedly campier. It’s no surprise that these two films are the most despised in the whole franchise and the ones that killed it.

Catwoman steals the film; she’s the epitome of feminism. She’s the secretary who is stepped on (literally!) by her boss. She’s not paid enough; she lives alone, in an extremely crappy apartment, in a child like environment. The film comments on how women are treated in this world, and she’s a character that’s here to show the anger felt towards the machismo, the chauvinistic pigs of the world. She’s sexy yeah, but she’s not to be taken for granted! She matters! And she will be heard! “Life’s a bitch and now some am I!” Pfeiffer’s portrayal of this character was so successful that the studio squeezed in an extra scene in the last frames, where we see Catwoman re-emerging, still alive. The studio planned to give the character her own film, but it took then more then ten years to finally release Catwoman (2004), one of the worst films ever made. By then everybody involved with the first film had moved on to other things and so the magic went with them. The character would emerge again in TheDark Knight Rises (2012), portrayed by Anne Hathaway in a less sexy, yet still effective form. In my opinion, Pfeiffer’s take on the character is still unrivaled.

Then we have the awesomeness that is Max Shreck, a character brought to life by the one and only Christopher Walken, through this character Burton and his writers wanted to show that the “real villains of the world don’t always wear costumes”. Walken was the perfect choice for Shreck, scary, intimidating, yet completely diplomatic when he has to be. Reportedly Walken even scared Burton himself! This theme of costume less villains was a great theme to explore, the film was criticizing big money and how they often times sacrifice the interests and well being of the people in order to maximize their profits; a theme that is still relevant in our modern times, in fact, maybe even more so. Out of all the villains in the film, Shreck is the baddest of them all. He lies through his teeth; he portrays himself as a true Gothamite, while he stabs the city in its back with his proposed power plant that will suck the city dry! He has one of the best lines: "Who would have though Selina had a brain to damage? Buttom line: she tries to black mail me, next time I throw her out of a higher window! In the mean time I have bigger fish to fry!" Damn, so cold. Finally we have DeVito’s The Penguin, an outcast of society, who lives in the cities sewer system. And here is the villain whom we can feel some amount of sympathy for, he’s simply an angry man because everyone rejects him, even his own parents who have no problems in throwing him into the river. Interesting tid bit of information: The Penguins parents are played by Pee-Herman and Diane Salinger, two actors  who worked together before on Burton’s first film: Pee Wee’s Big Adventure (1985)!

Critics were divided by this film; some felt it was a combination of art film and film noir, while others felt it didn’t give enough screen time to Batman or that it was too dark or sexual. Some said that The Penguin was a poor substitute for Nicholson’s Joker. I say the film is a big budget art film, it is dark and sexual. It feels a lot like a big budget film noir. And it’s gothic, and grand in scale, and grotesque and all of these elements add up to a great Batman film that never bores. A gigantic dark carnival! Seeing all these great actors having fun together on the silver screen is fantastic and personally, I love the fact that it’s a Bat film that’s heavy on themes. I can agree with some critics that said that Batman/Bruce Wayne is a bit eclipsed by the villains of the piece, but honestly, the villains are so interesting and the world they inhabit so lush and gothic that I had no real problem with this. It does feel like the stars of the show are actually the villains, and that’s okay in my book because, hey, at least Burton and his crew had something to say through them, this isn’t some empty spectacle. In my opinion, Burton created two very unique bat films, he did what every director should do with their films, make ‘em their own.

Rating: 5 out of 5  

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

The Watch (2012)

Title: The Watch (2012)

Director: Akiva Schaffer

Cast: Ben Stiller, Vince Vaughn, Jonah Hill, Richard Ayoade, Rosemarie DeWitt


Certain things can destroy a films chances at the box office, one of them is a negative social event that can be linked to the films plot or premise. For example, the 1999 Columbine High School Massacre in Columbine Ohio affected -actually completely destroyed- any chances that horror comedy Idle Hands (1999) had at making any money. Why? Because it was a horror film about high school teenagers! Simply because of that. After the Columbine tragedy, suddenly anything that had to do with violence and teenagers was dead at the box office. The same fate befell another film that was released that same year called Teaching Mrs. Tingle (1999) which had a group of teenagers threaten their evil history teacher (played by none other then Helen Mirren!) with a crossbow. The students end up knocking the teacher out and tying her to a bed in order to convince the teacher that they need to pass her class. Of course, the nation had Columbine on their heads so the movie died at the box office. The film was originally called Killing Mrs. Tingle, but the studio, predicting death at the box office changed the title to Teaching Mrs. Tingle.

An even more recent example is The Dark Knight Rises whose box office was inevitably affected by the mass murders at a movie theater in Aurora Colorado during a showing of the film. The Dark Knight Rises still made a lot of cash and set world records, but I know the film would have made even more then that if media coverage of the tragedy had not scared moviegoers from going to watch the film. Well, here comes The Watch a film whose fate proved to be similar to these films I’ve just mentioned. Why? Because it was linked to the shooting of Trayvon Martin by George Zimmerman in Sanford Florida. You hadn’t heard of this story? Well, it goes like this: George Zimmerman a Hispanic man who was part of a neighborhood watch in Florida, sees 16 year old Trayvorn Martin walking the streets of the neighborhood. Zimmerman for some reason mistakes Trayvon  for a hoodlum, chases him down, and ends up shooting him in the chest. Turns out Trayvorn Martin was no criminal and Zimmerman was just a trigger happy nutcase, a racist wannabe judge who racially profiled Trayvorn and shot him without any real reasons. And so, since this real life nutcase was part of a neighborhood watch, a nervous studio changed the films original title from ‘Neighborhood Watch’ to just ‘The Watch’, which is a misleading title, it made me think the film was about some sort of magical watch or something?  

So social events can hinder a films box office intake. Still, a good question to ask would be: was The Watch a good movie to begin with? Truth be told, The Watch is no big deal. It’s the kind of film that you’re better of just renting; it’s nothing memorable or groundbreaking or awe inspiring. What it does have is a good cast of comedians that elevate a very mediocre, half assed script that feels so ‘been there done that’ that it renders the film utterly forgettable. The script was paper thin, it made no effort to bring anything new to the table. Bringing something new to the table is of course something that gotten increasingly more difficult because so many films have been made. Inevitably most films will walk on tired ground. Keeping this in mind, The Watch feels a heck of a lot like Ivan Reitman’s Ghostbusters (1984). Four comedians come together to fight a seemingly unstoppable force, and they have no real clue as to how to do it, but they do it anyways. This isn’t the first film to try and duplicate Ghostbusters success; in 2001 Ivan Reitman tried to duplicate his own Ghostbusters formula and directed Evolution (2001), a film about four comedians playing the roles of scientists trying to stop the return of the dinosaurs to modern times. Reitman tried mixing Jurassic Park with Ghostbusters, the results where…okay.

"Somebody get me The Ghostbusters..."

I guess nobody can really recreate the magic of The Ghostbusters…ever! That’s such a perfect film, many things make Ghostbusters a great film. The cast for example was pitch perfect. Bill Murray doesn’t play a smart ass prick who's full of himself, he was just being himself. Dan Aykroyd and Harold Ramis are a pair of real life geeks…and Ernie Hudson is the new guy who comes out of left field, I think the trick with Ghostbusters was that everyone was perfectly cast because they were basically playing themselves. Ghostbusters wannabes don’t understand that, plus, there was the magic of making the film in New York City! The people of New York and the city itself add a magic to the proceedings that’s hard to find anywhere else. These things matter people! In comparison, The Watch was filmed in Georgia and takes place mostly inside of a Costco; enough said. The cast is a decent one though, and its the only thing that keeps the film from sinking. I imagine this film with a lesser cast would have sucked even harder. Stiller plays the ‘quintessential nice guy’ for the umpteenth time, Vince Vaughn plays the eternal college frat boy (yet again), Jonah Hill plays a wannabe cop who’s a little nutty, and finally, Richard Ayoade is the weird one. They way they play with the dialog and their improve jokes are what keep things interesting. But  damn, what was up with the product placement in this movie? Costco is splattered all over this one, so is Coca-Cola and Tide and Trojan Condoms…it gets to be product placement overload; I know it’s just the nature of the beast and all, but it makes you feel like people only do these things because they get paid? And that’s just really sad…I can’t talk about it anymore! It’s giving me a headache…let me take a Nuprin! Little. Yellow. Different.

So anyways, the whole alien invasion scenario doesn’t even matter on this film, which is one of the biggest mistakes these filmmakers made. That’s what was cool about Ghostbusters, they had ‘Gozer the Gozerian’ and Zuul’s and Shandor’s and Gate Keepers and giant marshmallow men! Gozer opened up portals to other dimensions, bringing forth formidable villains! Here we have aliens sans-personality, again here is where the script shows it needed more work. As it is, the film feels like a lazy cash in, like a film that takes the audience intelligence for granted and thinks we’re going to accept this half assed attempt at a movie as a true film worth our time. The Watch isn’t a complete waste of time, but it’s a lame attempt at a film. It’s got cool looking monsters and funny improves, but lame ass villains and a weak as hell script. My advice to the guys behind this film is try harder next time, this was just lame-o my friends! A wasted opportunity that has a moment or two, but could’ve been so much better had they put more effort into it.   

Rating: 3 out of 5

Original promotional material bearing the films original title

Monday, August 13, 2012

Citizen Toxie: Toxic Avenger IV (2000)

Title: Citizen Toxie: Toxic Avenger IV (2000)

Director: Lloyd Kaufman

Cast: David Mattey, Heidi Sjursen, Joe Fleishaker, Paul Kyrmse


There’s a couple of films out there that pride themselves in trying to be as offensive as humanly possible. Films like John Water’s Pink Flamingos (1972), Trey Parker’s Team America: World Police (2004), Frank Henenlotter’s Frankenhooker (1990) or the Sacha Baron Cohen double whammy Borat (2006) and Bruno (2009). And I get these directors, offending people makes money. In ‘Kiss and Make-UP’ Gene Simmons autobiography, Simmons says that “the formula for success is to offend as many people as possible”; which as we all know has worked wonders for Simmons personal bank account. So I get it, Lloyd Kaufman is doing just that with his Troma films; he’s been doing it for years with movies like Class of Nuke ‘Em High (1986) and Tromeo & Juliet (1996). I’ve yet to see a Troma film that didn’t have some sort of shock element to it. Still, I have to say that with Citizen Toxie: Toxic Avenger IV he really tried his hardest.

Lloyd Kaufman proudly standing next to his creation: The Toxic Avenger!

On this film The Toxic Avenger has to stop a group of terrorist freakazoids called ‘The Diaper Mafia’ basically, these are a bunch of guys who dress up as babies and take over a school of disabled children or as it is called in the film ‘Tromaville School for the Very Special’. Unfortunately, Toxie isn’t very successful in saving the school from the explosion and so the bomb blows up and creates and opens a dimensional rift! Toxie is then transported to Amortville, which is basically an alternate version of Tromaville, and Toxies alternate doppelganger called ‘The Noxious Offender’ is trapped in Tromaville. Will Toxie return to Tromaville in time to stop The Noxious Offender from destroying his life and reputation as New Jersey’s First Superhero?

I have to admit I enjoyed all previous entries in The Toxic Avenger franchise. Parts I through III were actually pretty ‘decent’ comedies. Yeah they wanted to shock and offend, but they were pretty entertaining Z level films. And yeah, there’s a Z level in moviedom for me, it’s reserved for movies such as these; ultra low budget films that are decidedly cheap. Funniest part is that Part IV starts with an opening sequence that says that all previous sequels were not the real sequels: this is the real sequel! Right from the get go, I was giggling with this one. Kaufman knows these movies are bottom rung material, but Kaufman doesn’t give a flippin’ fuck about anything, he just wants to shock and sell some dvd’s while doing it. And he achieves it. I mean, how he could not shock with material such as this! The script literally feels as if it was ‘written’ by someone high on super crack! These films are stupid and offensive but you can rest assured that something funny, or morbid or completely gross will happen at some point, in fact, every five minutes.

Don’t believe me? Okay, try this one on for size: Toxie takes one of the members of the diaper mafia and literally pushes his head out his butthole! Then the guy exclaims “Now I got my head up my ass!” And that’s just for starters…at some point we meet a collection Tromaville superheroes and one of them is called Dolphin Man, and it’s literally a man with a dolphin head! Toxie’s sidekick is an obese dude known as ‘Lard Ass’! Toxie and Noxie both impregnate the same woman, and you can see both babies fighting inside of their mothers womb! I mean, seriously folks, these are not the craziest things you will see in this movie. Not enough for you? Then maybe you’ll enjoy catching cameos from Eli Roth, Ron Jeremy, Cory Feldman, James Gunn and even Lemmy from Motorhead! Hell, even GOD makes an appearance; and guess what? God is a drunken midget on this one! That’s how completely nuts this movie is! And he’s surrounded by whores! Still not enough? Even Stan Lee narrates part of the film! And another thing that made this one more fun to watch then it had any right to be was the inclusion of ‘Sgt. Kabukiman N.Y.P.D.’ which by the way is another one of Lloyd Kaufman’s crazy creations. He’s an NYPD cop who dresses up in Kabuki style make up to fight crime! It was amusing to see Toxie going up against an evil alternate version of Sgt. Kabukiman. I immediately felt the need to watch Sgt. Kabukiman N.Y.P.D. (1990), so expect a review for that one soon.

Sgt. Kabukiman vs. The Toxic Avenger!

My only real problem with this film is that technically it looks worse then previous sequels, cheaper somehow. I think it’s because the previous films were shot on actual film, and that helps the film look a bit better. Strange that previous efforts look more polished then this one, I guess it makes sense, the budget for this one was a mere 500,000, while parts one and two shared a budget of 2.3 million. Still, even with its budgetary limitations, it’s commendable that Kaufman manages to turn in a bad film that amuses. These films are in my opinion bad taste in its purest form, but damn it, it’s entertaining just for that. I cannot bring myself to say that this is a good movie, because it isn’t! But I would be lying if I didn’t say that I wasn’t shocked or giggling or cringing or turning my face away very five seconds. My advice with this one is, if you are offended easily, do not watch this one! If on the other hand you enjoy the thrill of watching some unbelievably raunchy, sacrilegious jokes and grossly irreverent situations then by all means indulge on this slice of Tromaville low brow entertainment. At the very least you won’t be bored.

Rating: 2 out of 5 

Corey Feldman cameos!

Friday, August 10, 2012

24 of the Oddest and Strangest Creatures from Filmland (Part 3)

A scene from Ghoulies II (1988)

It seems like you guys can’t get enough of these monsters from filmland series of articles so here my friends, I give to you another installment for your reading pleasure! This article is  is filled with some truly strange cinematic beings, hope you enjoy it!

Film: The Resurrected (1992)

Creature: Mutant Experiment

Description: This film is based on H.P. Lovecraft’s ‘The Strange Case of Charles Dexter Ward’ and is basically about a scientist who is experimenting with a chemical that can help him achieve everlasting life. Basically he’s found a way to transfer himself onto another body. But like all mad scientists, he makes a couple of mistakes along the way and the resulting mistakes are the horribly disfigured creature you see pictured above, which the good doctor keeps hidden away in a dark, dank dungeon beneath his laboratory.

Quote: “I think you’ve found a way to live forever…but it’s messy”

Film: Gremlins 2: The New Batch (1990)

Creatures: The Gremlins

Description: This movie is one big love letter to monster movies. It seems director Joe Dante wanted to cram as many monsters as he could onto this one; the result is literally hundreds of variations of Gremlins. Where in the first film most of the Gremlins looked pretty much the same (save for their leader ‘Striper’ who had a white mohawk) on this sequel there’s so many different types of Gremlins, you’ll have a hard time keeping track of them. Let’s see…we get the ‘Veggie Gremlin’ ‘Lady Gremlin’ ‘Talkative Gremlin’ ‘Spider Gremlin’ the ‘Bat Gremlin’ to name but a few.

Quote: “All they have to do is eat three or four children and there would be the most appalling publicity”  

Film: Q: The Winged Serpent

Creature: Q: The Winged Serpent

Description: This film comes to us from Larry Cohen, the director responsible for such films as It’s Alive (1974) and its sequels, and The Stuff (1985), which of course means your in B-Movie territory, and that’s all Q: The Winged Serpent aims to be, and achieves it. A giant winged serpent is flying through the New York skies snatching people from the rooftops of buildings and eating them! It’s up to an ex-con piano player to help the NYPD find the creatures nest and stop the creature from killing any more New Yorkers.

Quote: “Eat em! Eat em! Crunch! Crunch!”

Film: The Never Ending Story (1984)

Creature: Morla - The Ancient One

Description: This film is filled with creatures left and right, but one of the ones that always stuck to my head was Morla, the giant turtle. You see, in the film, Atreyu the films hero needs to find information about how to stop ‘The Nothing’ a big black cloud that is  devouring the land of ‘Fantasia’ and its Morla ‘The Ancient One’ who sends Atreyu in the right direction. She is so ancient that she knows everything, unfortunately she doesn’t care very much about anything either! Another problem is that she talks really slow and is allergic to youth! You don’t want to be standing in front of Morla when she sneazes; just ask Atreyu who gets hurled a couple of feet in the air when Morla sneezes on him!

Quote: “We don’t even care whether or not we care”

 Film: Night of the Demon (1957)

Creature: The Demon

Description: On this film we meet Dr. John Holden, a man who does not believe in the supernatural. He’s such an incurable skeptic that he goes to a symposium on the supernatural simply to expose a Dr. Julian Karswell, the leader of a satanic cult. He is such a skeptic that he accepts an invitation to stay at Dr. Karswell’s mansion. Problem is that Karswell is the real deal, and the supernatural is real! So, looking for a way to kill Dr. John Holden, Dr. Julian Karswell slips Holden a magical parchment that assures whoever is holding it a quick death at the hands of the demon you see pictured above. Originally director Jaques Tourneur didn’t want to reveal the demon at any moment during the film, he wanted to make a more psychological film, but at the insistence of the films producers, he found himself obligated to show the creature, which of course is great because we got yet another memorable creature to place in the annals of Hollywood horror.

Quote: “But where does imagination end and reality begin? What is this twilight, this half world of the mind that you profess to know so much about? How can we differentiate between the powers of darkness and the powers of the mind? ”

Film: Mom and Dad Save the World (1992)

Creature: Deadly Alien Mushrooms

Description: This movie is one of the craziest movies you will ever see. It is a mixture between science fiction, fantasy and comedy that is so underrated it’s not even funny. It is not an intelligent film (in fact far from it) but then again, that’s exactly the kind of film it wants to be. To me Mom and Dad Save the World has always felt like something straight out of Monty Python, or perhaps it feels like something that Terry Gilliam would have directed, while high on weed. The film tells the story of Emperor Tod Spengo, a dictator who with the help of a very powerful microscope catches a glimpse at Marge and Dick Nelson, a regular every day middle class couple who are about to embark on a summer vacation. Unfortunately, Spengo immediately falls in love with Marge and so with the help of a very powerful magnet Spengo brings Dick and Marge to his planet so he can marry Marge, kill Dick and destroy the Earth! Amongst the many creatures we meet in this film (of which there are many trust me!) we meet the deadly mushrooms you see pictured above. At first they look kind of cute, but when they start hopping and opening those gaping jaws, you won’t feel they are so cute anymore. 

Quote: “Did I mention we were a planet of Idiots?”

Film: Cats Eye (1985)

Creature: Air Stealing Troll

Description: This is a film composed of various stories that are all connected by this cat that roams through all the stories. One of the stories is about this little girl who goes to sleep one night and is visited by this evil looking little troll who likes to steal the breath from little girls...until they die! Apparently, this is what this little creature enjoys doing. So anyways, the cat serves as the little girls protector, the little girl is played by none other than a very young Drew Barrymore.

Film: Krull (1983)

Creature: The Beast

Description: This film is all about ‘The Beast’, a creature who flies around space on his flying fortress, searching for worlds to conquer and for the one female who will be his Queen. The Beasts fortress appears and disappears out of thin air, which makes it difficult to catch this villain. But fear not! A group of heroic people decide to take The Beast on, and so they embark on a journey to find ‘The Glave’ a mythical weapon that can destroy The Beast. The film is filled with many creatures, including flying horses, giant spiders, Cyclops and blind sorcerers. The Beast itself is portrayed very vaguely in the film, often times it is seen in shadows or in a distorted fashion, but once in a while we get a good glimpse at it, especially towards the ending of the film.

Quote: “I will allow you to go wherever you please within these walls; for this is the place from which you will rule this world and countless others. You cannot escape me, you will be my queen”

Film: House 2: The Second Story (1987)

Creature: Zombie Cowboy

Description: Many love the first House (1986) because it is one of those monster filled movies from the 80’s that had tons of make up effects and was heavy on the fun factor. It was a none stop roller coaster ride of ghosts, creatures and vengeful zombies from Vietnam! The second film was a bit different because it turned out to be too sweet when compared to the second one, which was more of a horror film. This ‘Second Story’ has the same basic premise of a house that opens portals to other dimensions, but it’s more centered on adventure and even romance, it kind of feels a little bit like an Indiana Jones movie. But fear not horror fans! There’s a bit of horror to this movie in the form of the Zombie Cowboy you see pictured above, he hungers for the magical skull that can help him live forever. Above all things this skull cowboy simply looks cool! I also loved the idea of him riding on a zombie horse! The film has a couple of other cool creatures, amongst them a pterodactyl, a zombie grandpa and a worm/dog, which is pretty weird on its own.   

Quote: “Look at me, I’m a 170 year old fart, I’m a god damn zombie!”

 Film: Big Trouble in Little China (1986)

Creature: Sewer Monster/Chinese Wild Man  

Description: Honestly, I call this one the monkey monster, but I don’t know what the hell it is. If you ask John Carpenter though, he will tell you exactly what it is. According to Carpenters script for Big Trouble in Little China this creature is “The most horrific creature…thing…abomination you ever saw. An unnatural monster of myth and legend, a Chinese wild man made of flesh and blood,  with long twisted locks of fire red hair, yellow teeth and yellow eyes…the claws on his fingers that dig into Gracie’s arm recalling only death…” so there you have it ladies and gentlemen. The problem is that if you haven’t read the script for Big Trouble, then you won’t have an iota of an idea what this creature is, it’s existence is never explained in the film, it simply is a monster. But whatever, who cares what it is, it looks monstrous and cool, like most of the monsters in Big Trouble in Little China, they defy definition.

Quote: “But I do know this is a pretty amazing planet we live on here and a man would have to be some kind of fool to think were all alone in this universe!”

Film: Beetlejuice (1986)

Creatures: Adam and Barbara Maitland Ghosts

Description: The Maitland’s have just died, and right in the middle of their home renovations too! To make matters worse, now they got the Deetz’s moving into the home they worked so hard on! What’s this ghost couple to do? Scare the Deetz’s right out of their house that’s what! Problem is they don’t know much about being ghosts or scaring people, so it takes a few tries to figure out a way to scare the Deetz’s. One of the many things they try is stretching their faces out of proportion until they become the hideous visages you see pictured above.  

Quote: “Barb honey, we’re dead. I don’t think we have much to worry about anymore”

Film: Leprechaun (1993)

Creature: The Leprechaun

Description: Back in 1993, when I was in high school, my high school buds and gals wanted to go to the theater to see a scary movie. We had to decide between Bram Stoker Dracula or Leprechaun. I’d read an article on Fangoria and seen some pictures of the make up effects so I thought Leprechaun might be a better choice so my friends trusted me, the film geek of the class to make the choice, so I went with Leprechaun. You probably know how this story ends. By the end of the film people were kicking my ass over how shitty this movie had been. Ha! I still wonder how the hell this film got a theatrical release, but it did, and I fell for the publicity push, sometimes the pictures in a magazine will make a film look better it actually is. Still, no matter how ‘bad’ these films might be considered, they’ve had a long run. Leprechaun spawned tons of cheap ass yet fun straight to video sequels and a remake on the horizon! I guess people like how the Leprechaun cracks jokes every time he’s going to kill somebody. Come to think of it, in a strange way, The Leprechaun filled the void that the old Freddy Krueger left when he changed into the unfunny Freddy he is today. Kudos to Warwick Davis who’s gone on to play The Leprechaun for so many years. 

Quote: “Try as they will, try as they might, who steals me gold won’t live through the night”

Film: Deep Rising (1998)

Creature: Giant Octopus

Description: So this film is basically about this giant octopus thing that invades a cruise ship on its inaugural run and little by little eats every single person on it! In other words, lot’s of gruesome moments are waiting for you with this film. The creature is an awesome one to behold for various reasons, number one its huge! It has numerous tentacles and a scary looking gigantic mouth filled with pointy teeth! In order convey the awesome scale of the creature, the filmmakers used two methods: miniatures of the ship, complete with thousands of skeletons and corpses from the people that the creature had fed upon, and number two, they had Rob Bottin, make up effects master and monster connoisseur design the thing. The result? A very impressive movie monster! 

Quote: “I don’t mean to sound like a pussy, but this shits starting to freak me out man!”

Film: Dragonslayer (1981)

Creature: Vermithrax Pejorative

Description: ‘Vermithrax Pejorative’ is the name the filmmakers behind Dragonslayer gave to the dragon that appears on the film. I like it, it’s weird, and it’s catchy. And in my opinion, old Vermithrax is the best damn dragon I’ve seen on any film, and there have been some cool ones out there, but Vermithrax takes the taco as the meanest baddest, most realistic one of the bunch. Kudos to the filmmakers for making such a great looking monster way back in 1981, when there was no such thing as computer generated images. The dragon was achieved through the use of various effects techniques such as stop motion animation, puppets, animatronics, and miniature work. A truly amazing piece of work, and a vastly underrated film. Dragonslayer remains one of my favorite fantasy films of all time.  

Quote: “In fact, if it weren’t for sorcerers, there wouldn’t be any dragons. Once, the skies were dotted with them. Magnificent horned backs, leathern wings, soaring…and their hot breathed wind. Oh, I know this creature of yours…Vermithrax Pejorative. Look at these scales, these ridges. When a dragon get’s this old, it knows nothing but pain. It grows, decrepit, crippled, pitiful, spiteful! ”

Film: Howard the Duck (1986)

Creature: Dark Overlords of the Universe

Description: The Dark Overlords of the Universe are these demon-like creatures that come from a place called “Nexus of Sominus” or something like that and they want to come to earth and take over. In order to do so, they need to use a machine that these human scientists have created that can open worm holes to other parts of the universe! These Dark Overlords look like a mix between a giant crab and a giant scorpion…on acid! They can shoot paralyzing rays of energy from their tail! They shoot tentacles from their claws! They can blow things up with their eyes! They are monstrous in nature, but in order to hide their true form, they can hide inside of a human body. These creatures were brought to life through the magic of stop motion animation by the hands of the great Phil Tippett, one of the few stop motion animation masters left on this planet. Tippett’s crossed the frontier from stop motion to computer animation, sadly, but I loved the stuff he used to do with this art form in films like Willow (1988) and Robocop 2 (1990). The Dark Overlords of the Universe are just one of his many stop motion animation creations.  

Quote: “I have disguised my true form, which would be considered hideous and revolting here”

Film: Willow (1988)

Creature: The Eborsisk

Description: The Eborsisk is a two headed dragon that is born out of magic. Willow is a sorcerer’s apprentice who’s desperate; he needs something to give him the upper hand in the fight against Bavmorda’s henchmen; so he uses the corpse of a troll to concoct this strange creature with the help of a magical wand belonging to a good witch called ‘Cherlindrea’. So it's because of Willow that The Eborsisk comes to be! Coolest part about the monster is not that it’s a dragon, but that it’s a fire breathing dragon! Unfortunately, The Eborsisk doesn’t know good guys from bad guys, so even the good guys end up fighting against it.   

Quote: “Don’t play with that wand, its got vast powers! Only a real sorcerer can use it, not a stupid peck like you!”

Film: Clash of the Titans (1981)

Creature: Medussa

Description: Medussa is also known as ‘The Gorgon’, one look from her eyes will turn any man who looks into stone. Her blood is so venomous, that it will in fact melt metal! Oh and another thing, she has snakes on her head! On the film, Perseus, the son of Zeus must cut off her head to use it as a weapon against the all powerful six armed under water behemoth known as The Kraken. Medusa has appeared in various films dealing with Greek Mythology amongst them Percy Jackson and the Lightning Thief (2010) and the new Clash of the Titans (2010), but even though these more recent versions use better effects, I still find Ray Harryhausen’s portrayal of the character to be the best, it’s just so spooky!

Quote: “You must win Medussa’s head. She’s not going to give it to you as a present. As difficult and as dangerous as to vanquish a thousand Kraken’s!”

Film: Ghostbusters (1984)

Creature: Slimer

Description: This ghastly creature is a harmless little ghost that starts out by spooking the Ghostbusters when they first encounter him in the hallway of a haunted hotel. It is Peter Venkman who has a close encounter with it. He is not an evil entity like most of the ghosts that the Ghostbusters have to deal with, all Slimer cares about is eating. Strange part is that since he has no stomach (remember, Slimer’s a ghost) when he eats anything it just falls right to the floor. He is known for running straight into human beings and sliming them with his protoplasmic residue. By Ghostbusters II, slimmer is sort of a pet to the Ghostbusters, apparently it regularly resides at the Ghostbusters HQ   

Quote: “He slimed me!”

Film: Army of Darkness (1993)

Creature: Demonite and Pit Hag/Witch

Description: Again, this is another film filled with strange creatures, but these two stand out amongst all the others. The Pit Hag is awesome, it’s this witch who apparently lives in a dungeon filled with water, waiting for her masters to through tender morsels like Ashley J. Williams, also known as ‘Ash’, down to her. She has white eyes, huge claws and a big ass haid, she’s also going bald for some reason, I guess she must be reaching middle age. Then we have this Demonite thing that snatches Ash’s mid-evil girlfriend Sheila and whisks her away to the hands of ‘Evil Ash’ the leader of the titular Army of Darkness, I love this creature because it’s got a very demonic look to it.  

Quote: “Into the pit with those blood thirsty sons of whores!”

Film: King Kong (2005)

Creature: Giant Man Eating Worms

Description: When I first saw this movie I was blown away by these scenes that take place in Skull Island because it felt to me as if on that island one could not stand still without some creature trying to kill you or eat you in one way or another. Out of the many creatures we encounter in Skull Island we have these really freaking weird giant worms. What freaked me out about them is that they move about so slowly that you wouldn’t expect them to be so deadly. But little by little they creep up on you until suddenly they are wrapped around your body and eating you alive, these creatures truly freaked me the hell out!

Quote: “Monsters belong in B-Movies”

Film: Men in Black 3 (2012)

Creature: Boris the Animal

Description: These Men in Black films are filled to the brim with tons of aliens and monsters, but Boris the Animal was one of my favorites from this third film. What made him stand out? Well, for starters he is so dangerous that he has to be kept in a high security prison…on the moon! Second, he can shoot these bones out of his hands, that shoot out as if they were bullets. If he gets caught up in trouble, these spiderlike creatures crawl out of his hands and save him…he also time travels and has an awesome chopper; he ends up being one of the most formidable villains that J and K ever faced.  

Quote: “Look at you, every mistake I ever made just waiting to happen!”

If you enjoyed this article, you might enjoy parts I and II which showcase even more strange creatures from filmland! 

The Brain from Planet Arous (1957)


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