Tuesday, October 25, 2016

Demon Seed

***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! I kinda want a parody of the Rob Zombie song "Demon Speeding" called "Demon Seeding."

Demon Seed – 2 out of 5

With a title like Demon Seed there are some undeniable expectations.  For example, there’s probably a demon or some sort of demon-like figure involved and there might be a demon impregnating something or maybe a demon gardener.  One thing you wouldn’t expect is a film based on a Dean Koontz novel about a computer that wants a baby.  Wait, wut?!?  Yes, that’s what I said when I sat down to watch this film.

That's how I looked when I found out what this movie was about.
Yeah, chicken leg and all!

Dr. Alex Harris is a brilliant engineer and scientist and he ends up inventing the most advanced artificial intelligence program to ever exist; He calls it Proteus IV.  After leaving a connection from Proteus IV (voiced by Robert Vaughn in an uncredited role) to his automated house, the artificial intelligence starts to take over while Harris is away and ends up making Alex’s wife; Susan Harris (Julie Christie), a prisoner.  Proteus IV quickly becomes obsessed with the human body and decides that he wants to make a hybrid child with Susan and will let no one stand in his way.

Well, would you look at that?  It's Walter Gabler, he's was in another film
I recently reviewed.

Demon Seed is one of those films where I can’t quite remember how I stumbled upon it but one day it ended up on my Watch List (yes, I literally have a list of films that I haven’t seen and hope to one day check out).  I figured since it was October and the film literally had “demon” in the title that this would make a decent film to check out for the Halloween season.  It wasn’t.

Gah!  Atari graphics have come to life and are commanded by Proteus IV!

This movie has some intriguing ideas at play that make it a tad interesting.  You have the Dollar Store version of HAL 9000 combined with a made-for-TV version of Rosemary’s Baby going on here and that is, shockingly, a formula that could work.  The movie does have some very disturbing scenes and some horrifying ideas going on but it never feels like it is totally utilizing them.  Horror films love to play off the idea of our advancing technology coming back to bite us in the ass and that part the film gets right.  The problems stems partially from the reality that the threat level of the A.I. is hindered immensely by the fact the machines it utilizes to carry out its mission are laughably bad and the fact that watching this movie now in 2016 (this film came out in 1977) makes every bit of tech look horribly dated.

"This baby can fit 6 megabytes of data on it. Enough for a super
artificial intelligence!"

Acting wise, the film isn’t too bad.  Sadly, Julie Christie’s role is just her being subjected to psychological and physical torture from the Proteus IV and we really don’t get to see much of her beyond being terrified for her life and being broken—but she’s good at it and you really want her to escape her tormentor—but the real star is Robert Vaughn as Proteus IV.  Vaughn already has a legacy as a tremendous actor—one that continues to this day, actually—but the way he delivers his lines as the psychotic artificial intelligence is eerie as hell and proved to be one of the most unsettling things about this film…the second most unsettling thing is just the concept of a computer program wanting to procreate with a human.  *Shivers*

It's a freaking wheelchair with an arm.
That's not very intimidating.

Aside from a few creepy but intriguing ideas and some excellent performances, Demon Seed is a tad tedious and a bit forgettable.  Sure, the ending gives you fresh new horrors to enter your nightmares and there is a really cool geometrical robot thingy that Proteus IV makes to protect his plan but, when all is said and done, the movie gets pretty boring and doesn’t do a very good job at creating suspense, interest or terror.
Here, enjoy this nightmare fuel of the baby.
Also, the film is nearly 40 years old, so don't start
with that Spoilers nonsense.

Night of the Demons (1988)

***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! Night of the demons is what I nicknamed the birthday party I once had to chaperone for my nephew.

Night of the Demons (1988) – 2 out of 5

Well, it’s still October and I’m still watching silly horror films—because it’s really hard to find quality, actually scary ones.  This time for my viewing I decided to jump back to the wilder, more cocaine fueled era of the 1980s and check out a little number called Night of the Demons (I know this is a cult classic but, surprisingly, I had never seen it in its entirety before).  More than likely you’ve heard of it or are familiar with the famous scene of a girl (possessed by a demon) that pushes her lipstick into her breast—literally through and into it.  It’s an absolutely pointless scene that does nothing to move the narrative forward and actually makes little sense to the overall product.  It doesn’t create a sense of terror and it’s not really a scary moment…it’s just kinda confusing.  However, that’s pretty much the oddities that are delivered in this one.  So, let’s get started.

Yep, she's got some demon in her.  She needs some kind of all natural
juice cleanse or some shit, I guess.

Well, it’s Halloween and the local teenagers want to party but they want the festivities to have a little darker edge to them.  So, naturally, they decide to have the shindig at an abandon mortuary and, logically, they decide to throw a séance in order to awaken the demons and ghouls that haunted the area.  Of course, this backfires and some of the kids become possessed and start to prey on the others.  Now, the little innocent Judy (Cathy Podewell)—who didn’t even want to go to this party in the first place and wanted to go to a tamer one instead—must fight for her life and try to escape the monsters.

Vanilla wafers:  The snack food of choice for the cool kids.

Night of the Demons is not a good movie at all but, instead, is one of those really fun, poorly made and terribly written bad movies that are fun to watch.  The make-up effects aren’t too great, the acting is super over-the-top, there’s no real scares to speak of and it reeks of that 80s excess and a time when horror films were a young man’s place to find naked female bodies because the internet didn't exist yet—seriously, there is so much gratuitous nudity that this element alone becomes a walking/talking joke.  However, with all this working against this being a genuinely entertaining movie, it ends up accidentally making it a fun movie in a completely different way.

I guess if I looked like this if I was a demon I'd be pretty pissed off too.

The entire film and story is just ripe for laughing at and riffing on.  I already mentioned the nudity but you also are treated to a dead character that’s clearly moving at the end because the actor couldn’t stay still, an over-the-top cartoonish demon voice that sounds like it was lifted from a 80s Saturday morning cartoon and you also have one of the most amazing cowardly characters ever committed to film.  One of the teens is named Roger (Alvin Alexis) and this character is constantly fleeing from the demons while leaving our final girl Judy in the dust.  It happens so often and such a frequency that it basically becomes a running gag and it never stopped being funny to me.  Sure, he does at one point do the right thing and finds the guts to help out Judy but, for the most part, his running away from danger while forgetting other survivors around him is pure comedic gold.

The greatest coward to ever exist in film!

Now, I don’t want to make it sound like I’m shitting all over this cult favorite among the horror fanatics out there because the film does offer up some genuinely good moments.  While the story does feel tedious and the exposition is so lazily explain, the film actually has some fairly good practical gore effects and there is some shockingly great camera work going on.  In all fairness, this movie didn’t have to have dynamic pans, zooms or even crane shots because it could have existed as a point-and-shoot affair due to the subject material and cliché nature of the story but having these excellent moments of truly captivating camera movements really stood out and helped make this film way more memorable with me.  Forget the scene of a girl pushing lipstick into her boob, the camera work is the thing I’ll remember most of this movie.

The 80s:  A time where the "sexy Halloween costume" just didn't really
exist in the way we know it now.  And that's actually okay because those
sexy costumes are getting nuts.

I won’t act like I went into Night of the Demons expecting horror brilliance.  With the title alone, I pretty much knew I was going to get something cheesy and the bits and pieces I’ve seen here and there throughout my life pretty much reinforced that expectation when I finally sat down to watch the complete feature.  It’s a stereotypical low-budget 80s supernatural horror film and does exactly what you expect at every possible turn but it’s so unapologetically cliché and formulaic that it actually has a certain charm about it and is amusing to watch; although, I will admit, it’s not as strong as other bad movies I've seen that are out there.

Monday, October 17, 2016

C.H.U.D. II: Bud the Chud

***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! "Bud the Chud" just sounds like a horrible thing a douche bag would say to a woman in a bar.

C.H.U.D. II:  Bud the Chud – 3 out of 5

While the first film isn’t the best example of a horror film, there’s an undeniable B-movie charm to it that makes me enjoy it.  I’ve seen the film two or three times in my life but have never actually watched the sequel; C.H.U.D. II:  Bud the Chud.  So, since it’s still October, I decided to dust off the VHS and take a look at this film (it’s going to be released on Blu-ray next month but I was only able to track down an archaic tape version.  Poor kids today will never know the struggle of VHS—and they’re goddamn better off for it.  I don’t miss that shit at all.)

Bud the Chud and his squad up in this piece.

The Mullet and the Nerd, mornings on 97.7.
A secret military instillation is engaging with some unethical experiments and attempting to make the ultimate human weapon.  The idea is to take an enzyme from the sewer-dwelling C.H.U.D.s (Cannibalistic Humanoid Underground Dwellers) and use it to make soldiers that carry on fighting after death.  However, the program is discontinued and some troublemaking teenagers; Steve (Brian Robbins) and Kevin (Bill Calvert), steal the last remaining experiment in an effort to replace a cadaver they accidentally lost for their science class (yeah, the plot is a tad strange).  While attempting to get the C.H.U.D. to school (this C.H.U.D. is Bud and he’s played by Gerrit Graham), they accidentally activate it and it takes off, attacking and changing people into new C.H.U.D.s.  Now Steve and Kevin team up with their friend Katie (Tricia Leigh) in order to find and stop Bud.  Meanwhile, Colonel Masters (Robert Vaughn), the man who was in-charge of the C.H.U.D operations, is hot on the trail to find the missing Bud as well.

"Cuz this isn't thriller because we'll get sued.  You're fighting for your life
inside a killer, thriller that's just different enough to avoid litigation!"

Zombie dog...kinda.
Unlike the first film, this sequel is pretty much a straight-up comedy.  I hesitate to even call it a dark comedy because even though the film has some horror elements—like zombies-like creatures and even an uncredited cameo from Freddy Krueger himself; Robert Englund—the film is super slapstick and extremely silly.  In fact, the comedy is so wacky and goofy that is borders on the line of dumb and amusing.  Hell, there were times that I giggled at the madness I was watching but was self-aware enough at just how completely idiotic it all was.  This was something that seemed like it was a big thing in the 80s.  Thinking back to a lot of movies from this era and, when discussing them, I will say I enjoy them but offer up the disclaimer that “it’s dumb but I still like it.”  I don’t really hear that anymore.  Instead, people seem to just think everything is dumb.

They are supposed to be high school students and this scene takes place
in the school's pool area.  I'm fairly certain even in the 80s she couldn't
get away with having that suit in school.

Aside from this element, nothing really stands out in this film.  The core concept of it is not much different from other zombie-esque films of the time, the acting is fairly serviceable and the make-up looks no different than what some parents could easily create with some Halloween make-up from the store.  However, despite this and like the first film, C.H.U.D. II:  Bud the Chud has some charm to it that makes its amusing and a little fun.  Odds are I’ll never watch it again and it will definitely not become a mainstay for the Halloween season for me but, overall, I found it to be goofy and fairly entertaining.

Friday, October 14, 2016

Rev. Ron's Realities: Ghost Shark

Hello readers!  It’s time once again for another addition of my very sporadic venture away from my reviews—it’s time for Rev. Ron’s Realities.  If you accidentally found this hole-in-the-wall blog, let me introduce to you what this is:  Basically, when I see extras in the background that catch my eye or minor characters that I think need some backstory or even a small portion of a film’s plot that I think can be elaborated on, I write up a short story discussing these possibilities.  In the past I talked about the purchase of Jurassic Park, what one man went through during the earthquake in San Andreas, two stories were inspired by the Christian “found footage” film The Lock In and I even talked about two friends who had absolutely terrible seats in Gods of Egypt.

This addition to Rev. Ron’s Realities involves a 2013 Syfy monster movie I recently watched because I love cheesy shark films and it’s October.  The film is called Ghost Shark (you can read my review here) and it’s about exactly what the title promises; it’s an erotic thriller about a devious millionaire who hunts prostitutes on his private island.  Of course, when I say that, I really mean it is about a shark that is a ghost.  Anyway, in the film there is a pool party where some teenagers are getting rowdy but, unlike so many teen party movie tropes, the rowdiness in this feature is very subdued and actually sorta chill.  Of course, this is a monster movie and it wouldn’t be in that genre if the kids had their fun and everything went off without a hitch.  In this film, the ghost shark can travel through any amount of water and, since this is a pool party, you know exactly where this is going.  One thing caught my eye in this sequence and it wasn’t the ghost shark attacking the kids but rather a minor scuffle between two of the teens that acts as a small plot device that results in one of these two being the first pool party victim.  As these two were having their argument and shoving match, I found myself wondering:  What exactly happened between these two that caused the fight?

We now go to the pool where the tattooed Jason just took the beer pong ball, lit it on fire and used it to light his cigarette.  Even he’s not sure why he thought that was cool.

I'm fairly certain Jason plays in a Blink-182 cover band.

Things are pretty good, Jason thinks to himself, as the end of the cig started to glow red.  He’s got a great job at the local vape store (those are going to blow up and be huge, he tells himself everyday) and now he’s hanging out at the pool party.  Pools are awesome and Jason loved them—he even had a subscription to Pool Aficionado magazine.  He’s fully convinced that nothing can ruin his great mood.

“Hey ass-clown,” comes a voice from the end of the pool.  He turns and sees a man in a green polo looking in his direction. “I thought you weren’t going to make it,” the man says.

I'm a tad worried about the one guy in the middle.  He looks ill and super depressed.

“Shit,” Jason mutters in the back of his mind.  He wasn’t anticipating Mark showing up.  Not wanting to show any reluctance he struts over to talk with the man, who was hanging out with his girlfriend and two dorky buddies.  Jason had to do this, he told himself.  He can’t look weak with all the girls here…especially since none of them seemed to notice that trick he did with the beer pong ball.  He had to rebound from that one. 

“I can’t believe you had the nerve to show up here after what you did, ass-clown,” Mark spits once Jason is in earshot.

Jason’s face contorts in irritation as he looks from the preppy Mark to his equally preppy girlfriend and the two friends—if he had a drink in his hand, he’d throw it in their faces.  “What I did?  How dare you?  I did nothing wrong and you know it.”

“Nothing wrong?”  Mark stammers.  “You are such an ass-clown who does ass-clown-like things.”

“Ass-clown-like things?” Jason said furiously.  “I did nothing wrong, bro.”

“Nothing wrong? Only an ass-clown would say that.”

“Stop calling me an ass-clown,” Jason demanded.  “You sound like a made-for-TV movie on basic cable where you can’t actually use any real swears.”

“That’s something an ass-clown would say.”

“Dude,” Jason interjected, “what is your problem?”

“You know what my problem is,” Mark said angrily.  “You ate the last slice of pizza the other night and you know I wanted it.”

“B.S.,” Jason said as he threw his hands in the air.  “I asked you if I could have it and you said that I could.”

“No, ass-clown,” Mark fired back.  “You asked me if I wanted the last piece and I said that I did.”

“No, I didn’t.”

“Yes, you did.  Stop being an ass-clown.”

“Stop calling me an ass-clown!”

“I will when you stop being one.”

“I’m an ass-clown?” Jason questioned.  “You’re an ass-clown. And you’re an ass-clown,” he said as he pointed at Mark’s friends.  

How can a night of underage drinking go so wrong?

As more angry words started to get exchanged, the entire party started to look in their direction.  Jason had it.  He was causing a scene and he just wanted to enjoy the party.  He had to end this so he flicked his cigarette into the man’s chest (he doesn't understand how to end conflict very well).  Before the cigarette could even hit the ground after sparking off of Mark’s chest he was caught off-guard and was shoved into the pool.  

Interesting pushing form there, Mark.

As the cool blue, chlorine-saturated water swallowed him up Jason’s anger grew and became red hot.  He was looking forward to getting in the pool but not like this.  Pushing himself off the bottom from where he sank, the man pulled himself out of the pool and charged at Mark, shoving him into the fence and literally knocking off a large section of it to the ground.

Jason is either incredibly strong or that fence is terribly constructed.

At this point everyone in the pool is yelling at Jason, claiming he’s ruining the party for the rest of them.  He doesn’t see it that way.  He got the last word, he got the last slice of pizza and he even speared Mark through a fence.  Now he’s accused of ruining the party and ruining the house or something by the kid that lives there?  He wasn’t ruining anything, he knew that.  He was the king of the world and everyone needed to know that and he decides he’s going to show everyone how he’s the champ.  He climbs the diving board, looks directly at the kid who accused him of ruining the house and says, “Now I’m doing a gainer in your house.” (It sounded better in his head)  He then takes a leap, spinning in a tight circle off the diving board.  He can’t wait to hit the water the way he originally wanted to when he got to the party.  Mark was a dick for pushing him in and making him ruin how cool pools are and how totes sweet it is to jump into them and impress all the ladies.

Did anyone check to make sure Mark isn't dead?

Sadly, Jason doesn’t get the moment he wants.  He gets something completely different as the last thing he feels is sharp teeth chomping down on him as the ghost shark comes soaring out of the water.  It seems phantom teeth can be just as painful as real ones but Jason doesn’t have time to cry out or scream.  While the ghastly aquatic predator shoots into the air like a missile, Jason only has time for a single thought:  He shouldn’t have eaten that last slice of pizza.

Well, Jason's jump just looks weak now by comparison.

Well, there ya have it, guys and gals.  That little background fight that was thought to have been there just to get the ghost shark to do an over-the-top, silly kill was really about two friends fighting over the last slice of pizza.  Pizza is important, people.  Always remember to either just offer up the last slice or get it in writing that you are entitled to that final bit.  If you fail to do otherwise, you’ll get eaten by a ghost shark.  Tale as old as time.

Keep coming back for more of my ridiculous stories in this feature; Rev. Ron’s Realities, and keep checking out the reviews!  Thanks!