Yeah, I know, I know. Freddy Krueger review. I'm a big fat liar whose flame-enveloped 501's are putting third-degree burns on my admittedly elephantine cazzies, on this end. After seeing 'nuff net-gativity towards the 2010 reboot, which I hadn't bothered catching (like most of the original series...ziiing), coming from hardcore fans of he of the finger-knives, floppy fedora, and ugly sweater-fame (a character personified for three decades by character actor and genre fave, Robert Englund, for better or worse), I decided that I ought to give the remake a look. I'd always felt that Wes Craven had some solid ideas on his pioneer excursion to Elm Street back in '84, if handled differently, for lack of better words, and a fresh approach might work in the remake's favor in this regard. First of all, casting Jackie Earle Haley, who's made a career out of playing ugly little creeps (dating at least as far back as the friggin' Partridge Family), as Krueger is a genius move, away from the familiar wisecracking horror cornball favorite for ages eight and under.
Shakey-shake...shake it. Come on, pilgrim, you know he loves you.
Russell's at the diner, waiting for his girlfriend Kris to show up, when he dozes off, and is seemingly dispatched in his dream by a horribly burned yet somehow familiar man wearing a fedora, gaudy Christmas-colored sweater, and a glove full of finger knives, though outwardly, it appears that he's slashed his own throat and committed suicide. Kris witnesses in horror, begins to dream about the same mysterious man, then suffers the same fate one night as she's invisibly tossed around her bedroom and slashed to death in front of her ex-boyfriend Jesse's eyes. Jesse runs to Nancy's house to tell her his story, to find that she, too, has been dreaming the same dreams, before being arrested and jailed for Kris' murder, where he also falls victim to the shadowy sleep murderer. Nancy (Rooney Mara) begins to notice a pattern in the teen slayings, eventually discovering that she attended a preschool with all the victims, and that the man she's been dreaming about was a quirky little gardener there named Fred Krueger (Haley) that abused all the children before being run out of town...
Freddy transforms a tittilating teen into a forgotten chocolate bar left in some fat kid's pocket.
When Nancy's friend Quentin (Kyle Gallner) falls asleep during a swim team practice, he envisions his parents among the angry mob that corners a terrified Krueger and burns him alive, leading the teens to believe that they'd perhaps lied to their parents about the abuse as children, and that Freddy has been infiltrating their dreamscape to exact bloody revenge from beyond the grave for their lies. Except, in the climactic showdown at the preschool, they discover that Freddy really wants to kill them all for telling the truth, as his secret toddler-torturing room is stumbled upon, complete with kiddie crayon drawings and half-fabricated finger knives. Drawing upon a piece of sweater that Nancy managed to pull out of an earlier dream, the two devise a plan to do the same to Krueger involving syringes full of adrenalin, finishing him off when he emerges into reality. Believing they've done just that, Nancy sets the preschool ablaze with Freddy's corpse inside, ending the incredible nightmare, once and for all. At home, Nancy notices Krueger in a mirror's reflection, just as he slams his finger knives out of the mirror into the back of her mother's unsuspecting head. Roll credits.
Snarky captions to Elm Street screen caps seem a bit redundant, don't they?
I even thought about laying three wops on this one, but let's face it, that's just crazy fucking talk, man. Still, where I experienced corny non-scares throughout my encounters with the original series, I experienced some real menace and tension in the remake, with Fred's trademark wisecracks wisely toned down for atmosphere's sake. I can go on for days on end with comparisons, which favor the remake for me, or we can simply cut to the chase, as tackling three reviews in one evening has left me slightly burnt out at this point, by summarizing that most of the gripes of the Nightmare fan base towards this ninth installment comprise a lot of the reasons why I prefer it to the original, which I'd probably score roughly the same on the rating scale. For the silent minority out there, who grew to despise all things Freddy over the years, check this one out, you might end up feeling the same way about it as I do when all's said and done. Two wops.
" One, two...Kelly let the grounder roll through..."
Despite the promise of the mint-looking advance poster and it's unquestionably Mentor-esque imagery (yeaaaasssh), tonight's review, edited and released in the States as "Land of the Minotaur", is more of a drag than it ought to have been, with silver screen legends Donald Pleasance and Peter Cushing, appearing together for the first time since 1960's excellent The Flesh and The Fiends, good and evil-style posturing against a bevvy of blonde beauties with a score by the legendary Brian Eno, but a hapless script, oafish pacing, amateurish direction, and an outrageously inept male lead performance by one Costa Skouras, who kind of looks like a less likable Greek Jay Leno, anchor this piece of late night tv filler as the second feature on a dreary drive-in double bill, and I don't know about any of you, but I'd usually be in the back seat, pistoning into some weepy young devotchka's gutty-wuts like Bill Laimbeer with two fouls, by that time, and not inclined to pay much attention to whatever the hell was going on up on the big screen outside. Therein lies my beef here, you see, as a lifetime horror nut, I would have waived the backseat time on Pleasance and Cushing alone, only to witness...
"But your eyebrows bring me to squirting climax..." quips Milo's squeeze (Jane Lyle).
On a remote Greek isle, nosy couples have been going missing while monkeying around some delapidated ruins, leading local priest, Father Roche(Pleasance), to surmise that something or someone sinister has orchestrated the disappearances. When three more visiting tourists vanish, Roche sends off a letter to New York, where his dubious detective pal, Milo (Skouras), is shacked up with a gorgeous blonde (Lyle), urging him to drop his metropolitan affairs and fly to Greece immediately and assist him in investigating the strange goings-on. When Milo inevitably arrives on the scene, he naturally slags off Roche's every suggestion as superstitious rubbish, causing the padre to wildly overreact to Milo's imaginary lead foot while driving (shoddy editing shows the car barely coasting). Then there's Laurie (Luan Peters), the distraught girlfriend of one of the missing men, who classically catches an ill-timed backhander across the face-piece when Milo misses his mark in a dramatic exchange gone awry.
"But I don't wanna 'come on and zoom-ah-zoom-ah-zoom-ah-zoom'!"
Enter Baron Corofax (Cushing), on exile from the Carpathians and heading a really splendid Minoan cult of Satan-worshipping pagans (eh, like I said earlier, the script is foggy) who wear satin robes and hoods and enjoy sacrificing people by the two's to an over-sized golden minotaur statue that talks and repeatedly blows flames out of it's nostrils. So there's that. Corofax also enjoys being chauffeured around the island in a limousine and bullying non-believers with a shotgun. Of course, Roche and Milo get themselves captured and dragged off to the cult's fancy subterranean digs, where the priest's visual premonitions of being shanked in the armpit on an altar nearly come true, except that he's equipped with a gaudy homemade-looking cross and container of holy water, which just so happens to be the only effective weapon against these nearly invincible evil-doers and their full moon-only time frame. You could almost predict exactly what's gonna happen in the climax, if you gave enough of a shit, that is...
"That is correct. Write a proper screenplay and I shan't be forced to blow your head off."
You'll remember Jane Lyle as the impossibly hot blonde lead in the Greek-lensed Island of Death the previous year. In fact, Bob Behling and Jessica Dublin, both also from the cult classic cast, are aboard here, but forgive my momentary lapse into a fucking caveman at the prospect of Ms. Lyle and her seldom seen-but-breathtaking physical endowments for a second, when I say yes, yes I most certainly would. She was a Top Five dish of the decade in my book. You're all entitled to your own personal favorites, but she was sweetly pretty, and I want to protect her. In my hypothetical drive-in trip earlier, I'd opted out of the back windshield steam for the sake of the big names involved, and ultimately, that particular sacrifice would not have been worth it, given the failure of the motion picture to generate little else but unintentional laughs. On the scale, Men manages a mere single Wop. Approach with caution.
Dig Donald's "I'm about to be shivved for Satan" expression.
I remember rolling with the pre-release buzz around this one, a loose remake of the 1942 original, in all the genre mags of the day, yet coming away from my first screening feeling pretty underwhelmed by it all somehow. By 1982, I guess I must have expected full-blown FX-dripping transformation sequences and gory murders abound, a much harder nut to crack in my early teens on monster-based matters than most. I like it a lot more now, and it's easy to see why: A superb cast built on familiar names like Malcolm McDowell, Nastassja Kinski, Lynn Lowry, and Ruby Dee, an engaging screenplay written by Alan Ormsby, who had a hand in some of my favorite movies of the prior decade (Deathdream, Children Shouldn't Play With Dead Things, Deranged), some effectively minimalist makeup and gore work from Tom Burman, and competent direction from the guy who brought you Blue Collar(1978) and American Gigolo(1980).
Lynn Lowry can be a scratching post in my pad anytime.
Irena (Kinski) meets up with her long-lost brother Paul (McDowell) in New Orleans, having been separated since the death of their animal trainer parents in early childhood. He leaves his sibling with Female (Dee), his Creole housekeeper, while he slips off to maul a leggy prostitute (Lowry) after having taken the form of a melanistic leopard, as he sometimes enjoys doing. His feral indiscretions lead to an abrupt capture by the local police, aided by the hearty tranquilizers of some nearby zoo-hands, who transport the feline Paul to his new permanent res: a smelly, undersized zoo cage. His sister, also a were-leopard, though unrealized as yet, sniffs him out at the zoo, with her feline sensuality even attracting Oliver (John Heard), who hires her for the gift shop on the spot. For Paul, sex with humans transforms him into a big cat, but only by murdering one can he change back. Enter one poor bastard named Joe (Begley, Jr.), who gets a little too close to Paul's enclosure while carrying out his zoological duties, and eats arm-torn death because of it.
Watch Ed Begley, Jr. become less arm-ly, and thus, considerably more leg-ly.
As it goes, Paul suggest that he and his sister begin an incestuous relationship, as it is the only physical contact that either sibling can experience without metamorphosis occurring. A blech-worthy proposal until you factor in that the entire were-cat race is based on incest and your sister just so happens to be Nastassja Kinski. Well, Irena's more interested in having sex with Oliver, who's holding Alice (Annette O'Toole) at bay just for a chance to have sex with Irena, who would transform into a leopard if she had sex with...yeah, you get the idea. Paul's jealousy lands him on an autopsy table, where he ultimately disintegrates, leaving the oft-nude Irena to ponder the difficult decision between a sex-less romance with Oliver or life as a huge jungle feline. I'll leave the finale for you to discover when you check this one out for yourselves...
That's an odd-shaped fur ball.
There are some notable cameos from Dan "Night Court" Larroquette and Ray "Twin Peaks" Wise to mention. The always adorable Kinski is perfect here, exuding feline sensuality throughout the nearly two hour running time and bare-assed nearly as long, and I suppose McDowell is equally cattish, leaping about and preening himself when he isn't trying to slip 'Tass the brotherly bone. Speaking of sexies, Lynn Lowry also gets semi-nude for the cinematic cause, as per usual, as does O'Toole, who's in possession of the most impressive breasts of the lot, flat-chested McDowell included. Needless to say, the Giorgio Moroder score and familiar title track by Bowie are equally impressive. It's an odd, little movie that carves it's own erotic were-leopard thriller niche in the genre-drenched decade of the eighties, and holds up pretty well over thirty years later. Altered states will heighten your experience. Just sayin'. You'd do well to add a Shout! Factory copy to your collection immediately, if it isn't already there, that is. On the scale, People purrs it's way around my leg to three wops. Recommended.
Animal whisperer that I am, I'd put out a saucer o' milk for a sweet little stray like this one.
In a world gone to the dogs, as Prospero and Jacopetti so eloquently stated back in the tumultuous sixties, it was only a matter of time before "man's best friend" finally turned the tables on us in the form of a couple of marginal survival horror/thrillers released towards the middle of the following decade. So what transformed these furry tail waggin', leg liftin', tongue waggin' pals o' ours into snarling, pack-minded, frothy-jawed biters of human meat? Prolonged exposure to Mason Reese's infernal Underwood deviled ham commercials / Paul Lynde musical numbers that feature Roz Kelly in a tune-carrying capacity / disco-themed action slacks ? Come to think of it, all of those things induce bloody rabies madness with billowing froth like a volcano o' violence, no matter how the frig you look at it. Tonight's review, the better of the aforementioned pair of killer dog movies (The less-satisfying 'Dogs'(1976) being the other), was written and directed by the guy responsible for Bruce Lee's Enter the Dragon four years earlier, and stars Joe Don Baker, still riding a wave of "Walking Tall" popularity four years later.
"Now, you want me to make out with her? Can't I just bat her in the face instead?"
Right from the outset, we see how Seal Island's titular feral pack grows in number, as a vacationing family abandons their summertime pal, leaving the whining collie tied up in the woods, as they depart for home with fall weather on their heels. Apparently, lots of folks discarded their pets after a satisfying holiday together, culminating in an apex hunting party of flea-bitten mutts led by a particularly ornery-looking mongrel-beast, driven by equal parts hatred and hunger in dispatching adult horses, and even local blind hermits. Enter Jerry (Baker), the local widowed marine biologist(!) growing roots on the island with his young arm candy, Millie (Hope Alexander-Willis) and their two sons. In between some slobbery make out sessions and upright parenting, Jerry begins to notice the looming canine threat when the pack punks the family dog out of his junkyard rabbit chase and later terrorizes Millie in her Volkswagen, forcing him to alert the remaining islanders to the danger of the murderous reverse-Lassie's with a vicious storm impending.
...just as the car's eight track player chewed up her new David Soul album.
Among the sitting ducks-turned-human chew toys are a grizzled old angler (R.G. Armstrong), a local merchant (Richard Shull), a banker named Dodge (Richard O'Brien), his girl Marge (Bibi Besch), his drape son, Tommy (Paul Willson), and a happening chick named Lois (Sherry Miles) that Dodge has brought along in an attempt to "man" his withdrawn wallflower of a son up a bit. Naturally, the dogs whittle down the survivors' numbers; sending Tommy to plummeting cliff death (a seventies favorite, for sure), eating Lois alive in a barn, and tearing ol' Dodge up like he was one of your good loafers safely tucked away in the back of the closet, before Jerry and company can orchestrate a dramatic final showdown with the killer pack in one of the abandoned houses. His meticulous study of shrimp must have included classes on pyrotechnics and stunt falls, as he manages to set the house ablaze with the majority of mad dogs inside, impaling the main mongrel, Tepes-style on a sharpened radiator pipe (!!) after rolling off the roof, and even winning back the trust of the surviving abandoned collie from the first reel before the end credits finally roll. I think everything's gonna be alright here, afterall...
"I SAID...Roll that motherfuckin' beautiful bean footage..."
Though you'd rightfully expect to come away from tonight's movie mostly underwhelmed by the final product given the 'Meh' factor of the anti-Benji subject matter and much of the supporting cast, the performances of Baker, Besch, and an underutilized R.G. Armstrong, meshed with the film's realistic dog attacks, prove effective enough in raising tense vibes throughout to elevate this one out of the decade's prolific celluloid heap. Probably the best killer dog movie this side of 1983's Cujo or Wilderness (2006), it's available on dvd-r through Warner Archives. On the scale, a respectable deuce.
Luckily, we've kept the island's damage to a minimum...
Some decent horror fare saw release in the mid to late eighties, despite the general consensus that the genre had lost considerable steam from it's golden age at the outset of the decade, with pioneer offerings from names that would become legendary like Michele Soavi, Peter Jackson, and Jorg Buttgereit, as well as established names like Argento, Carpenter, and Raimi instantly coming to mind in a mid-bubbler ponderance of the era I recently undertook. Nearly thirty years later, I remain unchanged in my general assessment of the films of the period, perhaps expanding my list of favorites and sleepers now and then after seeing something that had thus far eluded me, but three decades removed from the last time I sat down to watch tonight's review (and the Chachi haircut, fragstache, and Lions color hightop shelltoed Adidas I thought I was rocking at the time, mind you ) haven't wavered my opinion about it very much...
" Ho ye! Whaur's the cludgie??!! "
Some brainy Celt seed planters go and jostle a stone column that happens to be sitting in the middle of one of their fields, unaware that doing so will unleash a 9 foot tall Irish boogeyman named Raw Head Rex (Big Fake-Looking Head Rex would be more apt, I think) upon the unsuspecting countryside, populated with caravan parks fulla horny teenage gypos, bare-knuckle boxers, and that there sorta like, me boyyos. The awakened pagan god-turned-aggro baboon is exceedingly pissed off at either the notion that his big goofy mouth full of teeth doesn't close all the way, or that whoever banished him to his lengthy dirt nap all those centuries ago also dressed him like an extra in Cameo's "Word Up!" video, to add insult to injury. He graciously proceeds to relieve any nearby shoulders of the excessive weight that a human head no doubt adds to the equation, climbing a hilltop triumphant with dome in tow, boastful that he'd done it, the phony-lookin' bastard. Into the mix, add a guy named Hallenbeck (David Dukes, who's luckily one letter S away from a bad Klan joke I had brewing over here) who's visiting with his family and researching religious artifacts at a local church that just so happens to have a stained glass depiction of Rawhead's earlier religious defeat in one of it's windows. Hmmm, that's damned peculiar.
I had the same expression when I heard the Short Circus broke up.
Rawhead enlists a nut named O'Brien (Ronan Wilmot) in a Renfield sort of capacity, later giving him a piss baptism and awkwardly chewed-out neckpiece for his loyalty, while snuffing Hallenbeck's young son right under his nose during his daughter's roadside bathroom stop, and even influencing an police inspector to splash the responding force with gasoline, igniting them all like so many cop-mallows before they could make Irish/Swiss cheese out of him. Luckily, the dying Reverend (Nyall Toibin) confides to Hallenbeck with his last breath that Rawhead can be defeated by an ancient weapon concealed in the church altar, if wielded by a woman like his wife just in the nick of time, and by "defeated" he means belted with dated light FX that suddenly age the bloodthirsty bully and weaken him to the point that he's once again consumed by the surrounding earth, only to pop back out, seemingly uninjured, at a funeral in the final shot, surprising absolutely nobody at all, I'd imagine.
"Why didn't you meet me outside Chess King like I asked you to?!!?"
From what I understand, even Barker himself wasn't incredibly amped with Pavlou's cinematic take on his short story, and really, who'd blame the guy, it's clunky and gawdawful, save for laughs. The pair had previously worked together on 1985's Underworld aka/ Transmutations. In the end, I wish that the someone who'd awakened Rex, would do the same for me, having nearly drifted off several times throughout. One Wop.
The tragic resolt of bringin' yer stones to a bare mandible foight.
Hel-lo, ladies...remember me? From the discotheque.
Just a head's up to all my patient little woprophiles grooving out on life while I've been otherwise occupied, cursing another foul sow of an East Coast winter wreaking havok on my arthritic middle-aged joints, and sorting my funking life out while planning my course of global assault (once the weather breaks, Gods, I'm older than that empty Quaalude script you've got nostalgically tucked away in an attic trunk next to a big box beta copy of New Wave Hookers), which includes lots of new genre reviews by your main man here at one of your favorite way stations of exploitation for the past eight years running. Those of you that have been reading all along should know all too well by now of my propensity to go dormant for several months at a time, to recharge mein batteries, refresh the perspective, screen some new stuff, and focus on my usual inimitable brand of pagan balls-out decadence that leaves mothers worldwide a sopping wet, trembling mass of spent sexual energy. I assure you, I've done all of these things in our time away from each other, and will continue to do so as long as it's sexy to me. And it's all still REAL sexy to me, so break that up, pack it into the glass slider, and put some fire to it, motherfuckers. Wopspl oi!oi!oi!-muthafuckin'-tation. Misogynist black gloved killers, helpless pillow-chested knife-cushions, seventies crime drama, groovy drug-soaked sex orgies and ritualistic sacrifice, ecological terrors and monstrosities, you name it (as long as it's not named Freddy Krueger, haha), we've got some for 'yer. Year eight kicks off...right now.