Saturday, September 7, 2013

"Scared To Death" (1981) d/ William Malone

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The only science fiction element in tonight's review, the directorial debut from the man who gave you the "House on Haunted Hill" (1999) remake and "FeardotCom" (2002), is the H.R. Giger...inspired, coughcough, SynGenOr, which stands for Completely-Bloody-Fake-Looking-Alien-Rip-Off, in this case. The movie itself is otherwise pretty standard z-grade slasher fare with the fifties-style monster twist also provided by Malone himself, a special makeup/mask artist in his own right, having provided the makeup work for Dan Curtis' The Norliss Tapes (1973) and the original sculpt for the Michael Myers mask in Carpenter's Halloween five years later. Rick Springfield wasn't impressed enough, apparently, and backed out of tonight's movie, which Malone threw together for roughly seventy grand or so, claiming he'd miss too many acting lessons if he took the role. Looking back, we can all breathe a collective sigh of relief at never having to live in an alternate reality where Rick Springfield couldn't act...

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"...and after dinner I've got us two tickets to Sister Sledge."
When former badge-turned-pulp best seller author Ted Lonergan (John Stinson) isn't recklessly backing his car into Jennifer Stanton's(Diana Davidson) vintage Rolls-Royce, he's helping his homeboy Det. Capell (Jonathan David Moses) solve murder cases, like the current homicidal misogynist stalking the streets of Los Angeles, leaving a growing pile of female cadavers in his wake, but Ted's not interested this time. Jennifer isn't interested in Ted, either, until he flashes the cash to pay her vehicle repairs, but a new rear quarter panel later, and it's powder blue eye shadow time, big boy. Paint rollers full. One vadge-pounding later, she's his unofficial secretary off-the-books doing his leg work, investigating a lead on the current murder case in the form of leggy geneticist's assistant, Sherry Carpenter (Toni Jannotta), only instead of witness testimony she's on the receiving end of hot French/monster kisses from the SynGenOr, which leave her more than breathless, indeed...

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"I don't care if you can pop n' lock on skates, if you don't wear your socks above your knees, you're outta the gang, baby."
With Ted's girlfriend in a coma just like that emo-billy Grinch used to sing back in the eighties, he turns to Sherri for the specs on the new life form in question, and though she's a little foggy on some details, it all involves a rubbery tongue that juts out between some even more rubbery teeth into the victim's mouth onto somewhere just inside the spine, where fluid is collected for the creature's neurological nourishment. Meanwhile, the Syngenor dispatches an entire rogue crew of roller skaters out on the roll for kicks inside a parking garage, and Ted discovers that the murder case has since been mysteriously closed from higher up from his soulful detective pal. Naturally, Ted and Sherri are going to have to infiltrate the creature's sewer-lair themselves, and they might just find cocooned victims there, too, stockpiled for their spinal fluid in a vaguely similar manner to that other movie we were talking about earlier. I'll leave the finale for you to experience, if you haven't nodded off, drooling on the seat cushion like a post-lobotomy R.P. McMurphy, by then, that is.

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I never saw the Xenomorph lying down on the job, Syngenor. Just sayin'.
Malone would next tackle Creature (1985) with Klaus Kinski, who you'll be seeing more of here in the coming themed holiday month of reviews that I'll either be giving you a sneak peak at along the way, or just dropping on you, all sudden-like. You never know what I'm gonna do, really (and neither do I, half of the time). Stinson would turn up in Oliver Stone's The Hand the same year, and also in Malone's Creature. I'm not sure if any of the other cast members did anything of note and I'm also pretty sure nobody cares.Though there's some nostalgic eighties-style synth-based tension in some of the shots, and pretty victims a' plenty, ultimately the budgetary limitations prove too steep to uplift this one from one Wop status. Some may get a kick or two out of it, but most probably won't.

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"Yeah, I've got a pretty big nose...this is also big."
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