Monday, October 15, 2018

Basket Case 3: The Progeny

***DISCLAIMER*** The following review is entirely my opinion. If you comment (which I encourage you to do) be respectful. If you don't agree with my opinion (or other commenters), that's fine. To each their own. These reviews are not meant to be statements of facts or endorsements, I am just sharing my opinions and my perspective when watching the film and is not meant to reflect how these films should be viewed. Finally, the reviews are given on a scale of 0-5. 0, of course, being unwatchable. 1, being terrible. 2, being not great. 3, being okay. 4, being great and 5, being epic! And if you enjoy these reviews feel free to share them and follow the blog or follow me on Twitter (@RevRonster) for links to my reviews and the occasional live-Tweet session of the movie I'm watching! Wow, three movies based on that Green Day song?!?



Basket Case 3:  The Progeny – 1 out of 5

Years ago an ex-girlfriend of mine exposed me to the dark comedy Basket Case.  I know the film has a cult following and is genuinely loved by its fanbase but, holy mackerel, I thought it was dumb.  Granted, I found it fun in its dumbness but never found it to be a genuinely decent example of a dark comedy.  It’s poor production and awkward acting really held it back for me.  At the time I never realized it spawned two sequels.  In 2012, I watched the second one and now, 6 years later, I’m finally giving the final film; Basket Case 3:  The Progeny a chance—I’m a busy man and sometimes it takes me some time to get to these films.

A visual representation of how I feel after watching a Basket Case film.

At the end of the previous film, Duane Bradley (Kevin Van Hentenryck) decided to sew his grotesque twin Belial back onto his body while staying at Granny Ruth’s (Annie Ross) home for deformed people.  The action results in him spending months in a padded cell and his brother cutting all contact with him (they can speak telepathically).  Duane is released in time for all the residents of the home to hop on a bus and hit the road so they can meet with a doctor who will help Belial’s girlfriend Eve give birth to their babies.  However, when they get to the small town, they find the police aren’t too receiving to their kind and some deputies kidnap Belial and Eve’s many kids.  Now Duane and Belial must save the children and end the discrimination that freaks like them keep facing.

I'm not programmed to be a dad so I really don't see much difference between
these and human babies.

Pretty much like the other films, I really didn’t care for The Progeny.  It doesn’t have a balance of horror and comedy (which the other two also had this issue) and the performances are too cheesy.  Sure, the practical effects and make-up have their charm but it’s just not enough to make it a decent movie for me.  Ultimately, however, the major drawback for this film is the fact I didn’t find the story very engaging.

Even giving Belial his own cobbled together mech-suit can't make this film
interesting.

I won’t make the argument that this franchise was standing on top of a high-quality tale full of depth and intrigue but this story just feels like it was quickly farted out and went into production.  The first film, for as much as I didn’t care too much for it, had a story that was interesting enough to get its hooks into me.  The second one was a little lacking but still enough that it felt like it warranted its own existence.  This one doesn’t feel that way.  If the Basket Case franchise was a television series, The Progeny is the episode that was mostly filler and just used to get the season up to a full order for the network.

With a name like Granny Ruth, you'd think she'd be making chocolates and
not safeguarding deformed people from society.  Well, maybe she does both.
 
 
Basket Case 3:  The Progeny is a very weak closure to a franchise that I really only found enjoyable on a “so bad they’re good” level.  I didn’t find any of the films genuinely amusing or entertaining but found charm in all the bad production.  This final one, on the other hand, just didn’t have the same level of charm and was just boring.

Sunday, October 14, 2018

The Shaft

***DISCLAIMER*** The following review is entirely my opinion. If you comment (which I encourage you to do) be respectful. If you don't agree with my opinion (or other commenters), that's fine. To each their own. These reviews are not meant to be statements of facts or endorsements, I am just sharing my opinions and my perspective when watching the film and is not meant to reflect how these films should be viewed. Finally, the reviews are given on a scale of 0-5. 0, of course, being unwatchable. 1, being terrible. 2, being not great. 3, being okay. 4, being great and 5, being epic! And if you enjoy these reviews feel free to share them and follow the blog or follow me on Twitter (@RevRonster) for links to my reviews and the occasional live-Tweet session of the movie I'm watching! In case you are wondering, yes, the film licensed Aerosmith's "Love in an Elevator."



The Shaft – 2 out of 5


In 2012, I watched a 1983 Dutch horror film called De Lift.  It was essentially about an evil elevator.  It was absolutely ridiculous and totally dumb but kinda fun because of that.  After watching it, I learned that in 2001 the same director did an American remake by the name of Down (or The Shaft for the DVD release).  I’ve been meaning to check it out but never ever got around to it…until today.  It is somehow worse and better at the same time!

This movie is dumb but we're all secretly scared about getting trapped in
the elevator doors.


At the state-of-the-art Millennium building in New York City, a storm causes lighting to strike the building and suddenly the express elevators start acting strangely.  A couple technicians; Jeff (Eric Thal) and Mark (James Marshall) are brought in to try and fix it while a reporter named Jennifer Evans (Naomi Watts) is assigned to do a story on the initial incident.  Soon, people start dying in elevator-related deaths and Evans think that the experimental computer technology used on the elevators and a shady scientist by the name of Gunther Steinberg (Michael Ironside) may be behind the horror.

The dog took the evil elevator as an opportunity to push his jerk master to his death.


The Shaft is a hard film to take seriously.  It’s about an evil elevator.  How on earth can one take it serious?  Honestly, it’s extremely difficult to take any concept from this specific horror subgenre serious.  Technology is an intimidating thing so the horror field has had a long history of taking items that are meant to make our world and existence more convenient and asking the question:  What if this thing wanted to kill you?  Often this spark for murder is ignited by lightning but whatever the case may be, technology going rogue usually results in more laughs than scares for me and The Shaft doesn’t disappoint in this case.

In defense of the feature, this one doesn't shy away from murdering children.
Which is a weird thing to defend in a crummy film.


The film's"hero," gang.
So the concept is already a little silly but the goofiness of this film is only enhanced by some really awkward looking effects and some truly bad acting.  I will admit that the entire cast isn’t terrible.  Naomi Watts is doing the best she can in this movie and the cast also includes Ron Perlman, Michael Ironside and Dan Hedaya, so there is real talent in this film.  However, most of the cast can’t quite find that line to ride.  Most performances are way too over-the-top and a lot of the supporting players are sporting a truly atrocious phony New York accent and that makes it was really hard to figure out what tone and direction this film was trying to achieve.  One second the film is being all hardcore and murdering blind men, dogs and little kids and the next second you have a guy who looks like he’s starting a bad improv scene where the location shouted out was Manhattan.  It never really achieves balance as a horror/dark comedy.

Yeah, Perlman is in this.  I was very surprised when he showed up.
Also, I won't knock him for taking a role in a movie about a killer
elevator.  I would have jumped at the opportunity to be in
something that dumb in a gawddamn heartbeat.


For all the bad things The Shaft has going for it, they mostly all work in concert to make the film entertaining on a level where it’s so bad it’s good.  It’s easy to riff on and laugh at and it results in a feature that provides a good time.  However, there is one legitimate bad thing about this movie that I couldn’t overlook or laugh at and that is the running length.  The movie is almost 2 hours long.  TWO FREAKIN’ HOURS!!!  That means there’s a lot of downtime and a lot of dragging narrative where this movie tries to justify its existence with needless backstory on how the elevators went evil.  It’s during these moments that the movie takes itself way too seriously and ends up creating a jumbled mess of conflicting tones.  Had the story simplified itself and tried not to aim for that lofty goal, this might have been a better silly horror film perfect for the riffing.

The running length may be long but at least there is this sweet
rollerblading scene!


The Shaft isn’t a good movie in its own right.  It’s a mess of tone shifts, unbalanced acting, poor special effects and an all-around ridiculous premise.  However, these all mix together in just the right blend and were baked together without irony to make a treat that is very entertaining to watch and probably something best viewed with a bunch of friends.  Yes, it’s way longer than it has any right to be but those are just the times you can get up and use the bathroom or get more pizza from the kitchen before you get back to riffing on this goofy piece of work.

Saturday, October 13, 2018

The Predator

***DISCLAIMER*** The following review is entirely my opinion. If you comment (which I encourage you to do) be respectful. If you don't agree with my opinion (or other commenters), that's fine. To each their own. These reviews are not meant to be statements of facts or endorsements, I am just sharing my opinions and my perspective when watching the film and is not meant to reflect how these films should be viewed. Finally, the reviews are given on a scale of 0-5. 0, of course, being unwatchable. 1, being terrible. 2, being not great. 3, being okay. 4, being great and 5, being epic! And if you enjoy these reviews feel free to share them and follow the blog or follow me on Twitter (@RevRonster) for links to my reviews and the occasional live-Tweet session of the movie I'm watching! Not a single oiled up ripped bicep handshake in this film.



The Predator – 4 out of 5

Predator is a cult classic.  Even though it wasn’t the best reviewed film when it was released, the movie went on to become a cult hit and has been permanently etched into pop culture.  The resulting sequels have varied in quality and opinion over the years but there’s no denying that these aliens with dreadlocks, those weird mouths, and killer weapons are pretty damn cool.  When I heard Shane Black (who played Hawkins in the first one) was going to direct a new sequel, I was completely onboard.  The reviews for this one may be mixed but I sure enjoyed the hell out of it.

                                                                                                          20th Century Fox
So, Predators are briefs creatures?


After a mysterious space craft crash lands on Earth and military sniper Quinn McKenna finds himself face-to-face with a violent creature nicknamed the Predator, he finds himself being silenced and shipped away by a secret military group calling themselves the “Stargaze Project.”  Before this, McKenna was able to get some of the Predator’s hardware shipped to his ex-wife and his son; Rory (Jacob Tremblay).  The director of the project; Will Traeger (Sterling K. Brown), is desperate to get his hands on the alien tech with its secret super weapon the creature brought with and to silence anyone who knows too much; that includes a biologist by the name of Dr. Casey Bracket (Olivia Munn).  However, it seems this Predator is being chased by a much larger variety and it is going to stop at nothing to get what the first Predator brought with it.  Now it’s up to McKenna and a team of misfit soldiers; Nebraska Williams (Trevante Tremblay), Coyle (Keegan-Michael Key), Baxley (Thomas Jane), Lynch (Alfie Allen) and Nettles (Augusto Aguilera), to stop the two monsters and get their hands on the ultimate prize the Predator smuggled to Earth.

                                                                                                          20th Century Fox
"Do it!  We're here!  Kill us now!"

From a tone perspective, this latest Predator film is leaning more towards the action end of things and leaning away from the horror/thriller aspects that had been seen in previous installments.  Black also brings in a lot of humor and gags along the way in order to make this the funniest Predator film to date.  With brutal and memorable action leading the charge (this movie is non-stop action), the humor and comedy that is inserted might not be everyone’s cup of tea.  For me, this element never felt out of place and gelled very well with everything else and ended crafting a product that was a lot of fun for me to sit through.  However, I could see the humor being grating to those who would rather their moments of levity come in the form of a pithy 80s action one-liner.

                                                                                                          20th Century Fox
"Pew pew.  I got you!"

Another tonal aspect to the film that might be off-putting to hardcore fans of the franchise is how the film comes off very…for the lack of a better descriptive…comic book-y.  The mythos of the Predators is further expanded and into more over-the-top territories, there’s also the existence of Predator hounds, and the ending is very much something you’d see in a Predator-based comic from Dark Horse.  The film also reconsiders why the Predators have an interest in our planet.  These two elements could easily turn away those who just want the camouflaged, “one ugly motherfucker” creature looming in the dense foliage of the jungle.  This feature’s emphasis on the R-rated popcorn summer blockbuster with all its guts and noise and gags is a very different direction than what we’ve seen before and it is something that is ripe for division among audiences. However, for me, these changes were welcomed because it felt like it was trying to be its own monster while still existing within the established franchise and not like it is just doing what has already been done.

                                                                                                          20th Century Fox
You'll either love or hate these things.


The final element that I really enjoyed about The Predator is the cast.  The characters might not be the most dynamic but the cast makes them a whole lot of fun.  Boyd Holbrook led the charge excellently thanks to his charm and he was backed up by a great supporting crew.  The group of broken soldiers he takes into battle with him is definitely my highlight of the cast.  They were all very enjoyable in the film but the one I wanted to see the most of all was Keegan-Michael Key.  I’m a big fan of Key & Peele and was really excited to see this hysterical comedian give action a shot and he did it well.  Additionally, Sterling K. Brown made for a very awesome antagonist as he somehow managed to be a cool, snarky bad guy that you loved to hate but also just found to be pretty cool in general.  Overall, the film’s cast is overloaded with talent and everyone really knew how to find that line that matched the tone the feature was striving for.

                                                                                                         20th Century Fox
Seriously, Brown is such a cool bad guy that you almost want to be on
his side the entire film.

On the negative side of things, the film does have some development issues.  This could be to the fact the film ran into some troubles that required editing to take place but it is noticeable that some minor story and character elements feel lacking.  It’s never to the point where the story becomes confusing or muddled but there are times when more stuff and more digging would have been welcomed.  Finally, the film has one character element that feels a tad dated in 2018.  Quinn McKenna’s son has Asperger’s and this trait is used like it is a superpower.  This is nothing new because it’s been done before and, to the film’s credit, it is trying to showcase people with Asperger’s in a decent light and show they’re people to, but there are moments where this is treated like a mutant ability.  Hell, at one point Asperger’s is even called the next stage in human evolution.  Thankfully, the film isn’t disrespectful to Asperger’s and it is clear the production’s heart is in the right place but there are moments that feel a little cliché when writing from this perspective.

                                                                                                          20th Century Fox
The Super Predator doesn't need armor...just be glad his junk isn't flapping
in the wind...because it is also a weapon that will kill you.


                                                                               20th Century Fox
What other sons from previous films can play characters
in the next film?
The Predator has some hiccups when it comes to its story development but it’s a solid action film.  The cast is great, the action is very exciting and non-stop, there are some laughs along the way and it does a great job of throwing in the nods and winks to other installments in the franchise without feeling like it is just waxing annoyingly for nostalgia purposes.  For example, Jake Busey is in the film as the son of his dad’s character from the second film and that’s just fun.  The appeal on this one might be varied for casual and hardcore Predator fans but I found it a pretty entertaining film and a unique addition to the mythology and series.