Saturday, October 28, 2017

Slugs

***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.  Gah!  Run away from the...um...slugs.  Actually, just leisurely stroll away from the slugs.




Slugs – 1 out of 5

I would really like to know the thought process that came about that made this film—or, more accurately, how the idea for the book it is based on by Shaun Hutson came to be.  Was the author sitting in his garden and saw a slug and said, “Hey, I wonder what it would be like to see that incredibly slow creature somehow become a mutated danger.”?  Regardless how it happened, I’m sure glad people come up with this stuff and the funding is acquired in order to make it because I can’t imagine a world where I can’t watch bad monster movies.  The 1988 film Slugs starts kinda fun but when I really sat down and started to notice some very obvious misogyny within the story, it quickly stopped being one of those “so bad, it’s good” films and just became kinda uncomfortable to watch.

Someday aliens will see this and will say, "Yep, they deserve the anal probes."

In a small town, a series of mysterious deaths leads public health employee Mike Brady (Michael Garfield) into an investigation that makes him think there’s a possible contamination in the water. However, the reality is far worse as he discovers that toxic waste has been secretly dumped into the town’s sewer and it has given rise to a new breed of mutated slugs.  More accurately, carnivorous slugs with an appetite for human flesh and a desire for murder!  Actually, the murder is a by-product of their lust for food…also the toxic waste did nothing to make them faster so it’s also possible that the people have been mutated into idiots as well.  Anyhoo, now Brady must try to convince the town to listen to his seemingly crazy discovery and to try and stop these new monsters.

Another movie about a health inspector getting involved with the police in order
to investigate mysterious deaths.  What a cliche!

Slugs is a 1988 Spanish/American horror film and that means some really awesome dubbing!  It’s pretty damn amusing to see actors speak with a voice that is clearly not their own and to see lines of dialogue just slightly off by a fraction every so often.  This is just a part of what makes Slugs kinda fun for a majority of the ride.  Already the premise is silly enough that it promises lots of laughs and easy moments to riff on (because seriously, slugs—this movie had to try extra hard to make these things threatening) but adding in the bad dubbing and acting that gets super over-the-top by a few of the players—for example, the guy who plays the sheriff of the town is in a constant state of rage that everything seems to set him off, even people doing their jobs—and you have a film that should be a lot of fun and a great accidental comedy.   Sadly, something very late in the game took me out of the film and made me rethink other plot elements that I saw earlier.

"Oh my god, you guys!  The horrors down here.  There's poop everywhere...
oh, and the mutant slugs.  But poop, you guys!"

For the most part, Slugs is a pretty fun watch and I was having a great time with it.  I laughed and made snarky comments over the continuity errors, the weird bits of dialogue like a wife telling her husband—completely out of nowhere after some flirting and hinted sexual activity—that she’s sorry she’s a bitch all the time and I had hearty gut laughs over the ways the slugs killed people and apparently how strong those little buggers are.  However, as the movie hit the third act and Brady is teaming with some buddies to stop this slimy menace, there’s a sequence that involves some of the town’s younger folks having a party and a very disturbing curveball is thrown in by director and writer Juan Piquer Simón. 

"I blame this on my wife for being a constant bitch!"

Originally, I thought we were going to see the usual horror film tropes of teenagers messing around and then paying for their activities because these movies have a very unique look at morality but instead I watched as a guy tried to have sex with a girl and then she said “no.”  That’s fine because women have the right to say that and this is not uncommon in horror films at all—in fact, sometimes the overly pushy guy ends up getting it in the end from the killer.  What got me was what happened next as the guy returns in a mask and attempts to rape her.  She successfully escapes and my mind immediately pictures the dude dying because, much like horror film’s odd morality tales they provide, they also like poetic justice so I’m thinking the potential rapist is about to be the slugs’ next meal.  Nope, the woman instead dies and the dude (perhaps the real monster of the film?  Eh?) gets away.  WHAT THE WHAT?!?

One scene was all it took for me to immediately stop having fun with this film.
I'm not usually this nit-picky but this scene was bad.

I haven’t read the book but a quick cruise around the internet didn’t show me that this scene is a direct adaptation from the source material so its creation definitely feels suspect.  I mean, it’s cool to occasionally throw a curveball when it concerns tropes in various forms of media and storytelling but this didn’t really feel like Simón was doing a tongue-in-cheek, against the grain move here; it really felt like this was his way of saying the woman is paying for saying “no.”  In horror movies, teenagers “pay” after they’ve done drugs and had premarital sex, it’s basically become a joke in the genre but this was the writer’s way of saying that misbehaving by the era’s moral standards results in danger and death.  What Simón showed here wasn’t the same but rather him saying that a woman’s body isn’t her own.

A visual representation of the director's crappy attitude towards women.

This scene made me wonder if Simón just hates women and then I started to look back at the film and the female characters within it.  There was the wife who is never shown to be a terrible person but tells her husband that she’s sorry she’s a bitch all the time.  Then there was the scene with the two teens who had sex and the slugs made their way into the bedroom and literally covered the entire floor (which, if we factor in both the actually intercourse and the foreplay, that means the slugs infiltrated the house in less than two minutes—HA HA!  Hack jokes!  I’ll be here all week).  During this scene the woman dies first and we watch as her naked body is taken over by the slugs.  The man dies too but it’s off screen and long after having to watch this woman in agony.  Then there’s how some of the side female characters are portrayed with slight incompetence or as parties of annoyance (the nagging wife).  Aside from Brady’s wife, there isn’t a decently written woman in the film and, even then, she’s not really portrayed as a person who can exist in the world without a man.  This examination made me realize that Simón might have a real problem with women and this moment at the party was so off-putting that the film stopped being fun and was just a monster movie being used as a mask to hide a man’s misogyny.  I realized this was made in the late 80s and that society didn’t have the same progressive standards it is working towards now but the woman paying for stopping the attempted rape was a complete killer for me with this one.

I know Stranger Things has us nostalgic for the 80s but this is how the decade
really looked like.  It wasn't pretty.

I will admit that I was having a genuinely good time with Slugs until the attempted rape scene happened and then the whole film just felt gross.  This movie could have been a stupid, campy monster movie that you’d see on a local horror host’s late night show and, while it still is kinda that, I just couldn’t escape the fact that it’s painfully clear that director Juan Piquer Simón clearly had something against women and then the film just looks sad, pathetic and socially irresponsible.  It’s seems very Social Justice Warrior of me and to have this one complaint ruin the whole movie might come off as petty to some people but it really obliterated all the fun and entertainment it was giving me.  Until that moment, this movie was going to get my score of 2 or even a 3 but realizing that the real monster in this film was misogyny rather than mutated slugs (and it was only a monster to me, the audience having to see it) knocked it down to a 1.  Hell, I almost gave it a zero because having a rapist win is something that is too common place in real life, it shouldn’t be the case in the fictional world.

Thursday, October 26, 2017

The Hand

***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.  Turns out this wasn't about the ninja clan in the Marvel universe.




The Hand – 1 out of 5

I’m not entirely sure how I found out about The Hand but, when I read about it, the part of me that loves bad movies got super excited and I had to track down a copy of it to watch for my Halloween horror-centric October.  Turns out it really wasn’t that hard to get because Netflix had it (Netflix, it’s been awhile since I’ve name-dropped you so you can pay me now…also, come to think of it, you haven’t paid me for all the other times I’ve name-dropped you.)  I had hopes this would have been silly and kinda fun but, as it turns out, it’s kinda boring; however, it’s sprinkled with a dash of potential that is examined at the end but then completely ignored.

The look a man gives you when you were only supposed to blow the bloody doors off.

Talented comic artist Jonathan Lansdale (Michael Caine) is having a successful career but a loveless marriage with his wife Anne (Andrea Marovicci).  In the middle of having an argument about Anne taking their daughter and living in New York for a while without him, an accident occurs that takes his prominent hand and severs it.  Unable to locate the appendage after the accident, Lansdale is forced to give up as an artist and work as a teacher while his marriage crumbles around him.  However, soon after the accident that he starts having violent fantasies about the hand harming and killing people but he’s completely unprepared for just how frightening the reality of it all is going to be…

Trim your nails, evil hand.  You don't even deserve to be in the same room
as Ash's possessed hand.

Over the top, you fool.  That's only way you'll beat
your own hand.
I sorta knew what I was in for when I saw Oliver Stone’s name appear in the opening credits as the director and, sure enough, that crazy dude delivered something that is on par with his usual quality—and by that, I mean this movie was pretty bad (Spoiler Alert:  I don’t like Oliver Stone).  From the moment the film starts to the final moments before the credits, the film is kinda boring and it tends to move very, very slowly.  Even worse, Michael Caine’s decent performance (honestly, I’ve seen him much, much better than he was in this one) can’t save the film nor make it tolerable.  To be fair, a film about a killer hand seeking vengeance is a hard one to pull off but Stone somehow managed to make it really boring with only momentary scenes that were amusing because…well, because it’s a freakin’ severed hand killing people.  However, the ending of the film teases something that probably could have easily saved the film and that is playing on the idea that the hand is entirely in Jonathan Lansdale’s head.

Stone makes a cameo as a crazy homeless man.  The only portion of the role
that required him to act was the homeless part.

Caine is rocking the hair of Moss from The IT Crowd18 years before the show even began.
Okay, here’s where I get into Spoilers Territory.  The film came out in 1981, if you haven’t seen it yet, I’m not entirely sure why you are reading my review…but, considering how few reads I get, I thank you for taking the time.  Anyway, in the end, Lansdale is arrested for killing his wife, his friend and the college student he was having an affair with.  A psychiatric doctor tries to convince him that the hand was just a figment of his imagination and a coping mechanism for the murders—an external element he could pin the actions on.  At that point, I’m like, “Holy hell, that is actually a great idea.”  However, almost immediately, the hand kills the doctor and all chances of this just being a sick mind trick inside of Lansdale brain goes out the window.  The very fact that the hand was actually killing people literally kills the film.  Had Stone went the subtle route (not something he’s EVER been known for) and crafted a film that, on its surface, looks like a hand is killing people but, in reality, it’s just a sick, fractured man committing the acts and then blaming it on a delusion, this film might have been amazing.  Put in the correct and talented hands, this movie could have been brilliant.  Instead, you have Oliver Stone fumbling with it like he does with all his properties he’s worked on.  What you get with this one a boring, go-nowhere film with an overly simplistic story and no creativity in sight.

It's important to note that at no point during production no one stopped and
came to their senses about making this movie.

Yep, crossing your eyes to play a dead body was
a good choice.
Aside from Michael Caine’s performance (which, truthfully, is kinda mediocre), The Hand doesn’t really offer much to make it interesting or even entertaining.  The production has the overall look and quality of a student film, there’s no real atmosphere or tension, the make-up and limited gore is pretty laughable and the story and characters aren’t very interesting or engaging.  I had hoped it would have been good for a laugh because what’s not funny about seeing an actor try to make a rubber hand at their throat look convincing and like it is killing them but the whole thing was just bland and boring.  This says a lot because usually you get hints and doses of Oliver Stone’s craziness in his films but that element just wasn’t there.

Wednesday, October 25, 2017

Cult of Chucky

***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'd be lying if I said I wasn't trying to make a bad parody of Living Colour's "Cult of Personality" using this film's title.




Cult of Chucky – 4 out of 5

I can’t believe that there has been 7 films with Chucky; the killer doll inhabited by the soul of a serial killer.  That’s staying power!  Who would have thought it?  Not me, honestly, because those first three films were pretty cheesy.  Well, anyway, the evil little doll has returned for another installment with Cult of Chucky and it’s not too shabby!

Let's see how good you look after seven films.

After the events of the previous film, Nica Pierce (Fiona Dourif) is declared too mentally incompetent to raise her daughter and is sent to a psychiatric facility.  While admitted, she’s informed by her daughter’s foster mother; Tiffany Valentine (Jennifer Tilly), that the little girl died.  Horribly distraught and angry over the news, Nica holds firm that it was the evil doll Chucky (Brad Dourif) that put her in this position and brought all the death that has surrounded her but no one believes her.  Without warning, more Good Guy dolls (the doll that serial killer Charles Lee Ray inhabited and used to become Chucky) start to appear in the hospital.  Nica swears the dolls are real but no one will listen to her.  Meanwhile, an adult Andy Barclay (Alex Vincent)—the young boy who was first tormented by Chucky—learns of Nica’s predicament and rushes to help her…but the real plan that Chucky has orchestrated is far more terrifying than either Nica or Andy could predict.

You know the facility is a good one when it looks like an abandoned building
in Russia.

I had my hesitations going into this latest installment of the Chucky franchise because seven is a big number when it concerns a film series.  Yeah, there are examples of successful franchises and shared cinematic universes that are strong when they hit the seventh film but those are the exceptions and not the rule.  Chucky has always been a bit of a mixed bag for me because I find the first three films to be pretty awful (but kinda fun in said awfulness) but once the series went full-blown dark comedy with Bride of Chucky, I felt the property finally hit its stride.  Honestly, that is the best film in the series, in my opinion.  Seed of Chucky wasn’t anywhere near as great as Bride but I still found it fun.  Curse of Chucky was serviceable for me but the return to straight horror and the cheap feel of the production left me a little meh towards the product.  This time around, the film is still centered on mostly horror but, unlike the previous feature, I think it works far more effectively.

She definitely is the spitting image of her dad.

I didn’t really find this film to be scary but writer/director Don Mancini really did a great job of providing a foreboding tone.  This atmosphere promoted an overwhelming sense of dread that the character of Nica is feeling and the idea that Chucky is out there and ready to pounce.  However, the thing I really liked the most about this film was how Mancini was able to bring about a new Chucky film that isn’t just a “He’s Back!” story that centers around the doll finding a new family to torture and torment as he attempts to find a new body to take over.  Instead, Mancini introduced a new element that shows Chucky has become more knowledgeable of the dark magic he used to originally inhabit the Good Guy doll and is using it to make himself a new kind of threat.  For the sake of Spoilers, I won’t give away this exact plot point but it made the horror icon a larger menace…and that’s not a pun derived from his size.

My favorite part is how there's no obvious little people being Chucky's body
double that results in size continuity issues like in the first film.

At least Vincent was smart enough to not be in
the third film.
From the cast perspective, the performances are pretty great.  Brad Dourif is continuing to show that he can make a character that is pretty silly on paper be fun and entertaining in execution.  Brad’s daughter; Fiona, is really an amazing talent who is able to play Nica with the right balance of unhinged and sincerity.  She makes her character come off like she’s telling the truth to us, the audience, but can come off like she’s off her rocker to the other characters.  Alex Vincent, reprising his role as Andy, is probably the weakest in the cast but that isn’t me saying he’s the worst.  He doesn’t quite achieve the same level as everyone else but still does a great job with his character.  You also have Jennifer Tilly doing what she does best and being just an absolute blast to watch and, finally, the supporting players are all doing a tremendous job at making the locale of the psychiatric hospital come alive and feel authentic.  Most of the patients do a great job of not going too over-the-top with their performances so the hospital never appears like a parody of an actual mental health facility.  It’s often too easy to go for “full blown crazy” when playing the mentally ill.

Jennifer Tilly is basically a modern day old Hollywood bombshell!

The film also provides some great gore moments and I was very impressed with the animatronics of the Chucky doll.  This is possibly the most expressive I’ve seen the character’s features get and when you combine that with Brad Dourif’s excellent delivery of the lines, it was easy to get lost in the character and no longer see it as just a silly, fun slasher movie monster but see him as an actual character in the scene.  However, there were plenty of moments where the robotics did come off pretty awkward and the effects used to make him walk looked incredibly silly.  As often as the processes and performance used worked to make him feel authentic, there were more than a few times that the reality was broken due to limitations.

His "you serious?" face is pretty adorable.

For the most part, Cult of Chucky is a pretty refreshing new step in the franchise and is akin to how Bride of Chucky was a new take after three films that were essentially the same.  The film has some issues with the Chucky robot and the murderous doll action does feel like it takes too long to arrive at times but the film does have a story that is both continuing the mythology, evolving the main character, and isn’t taking the lazy route and doing the same thing we’ve already seen.  I honestly think this might be my second favorite film in the franchise.