Life of Brian

Life of Brian


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Today’s feature is the blasphemous cult classic Monty Python flick, Life of Brian.

Life of Brian was written by and starred the entire Monty Python team: John Cleese, Graham Chapman, Terry Jones, Eric Idle, Terry Gilliam, and Michael Palin. The six members of Monty Python astoundingly combined to play a total of 40 different characters on screen over the course of Life of Brian.

Life of Brian was directed solely by Terry Jones, who previously co-directed Monty Python and The Holy Grail with fellow Python (and acclaimed director) Terry Gilliam, and later co-directed with him again on The Meaning of Life.

The cinematographer for Life of Brian was Peter Biziou, who also shot The Truman Show, Time Bandits, Mississippi Burning, Rosencrantz & Guildenstern Are Dead, and Pink Floyd The Wall.

Life of Brian was edited by Julian Doyle, who later cut films like Brazil, Time Bandits, and The Meaning of Life.

The Life of Brian team of producers included famed member of The Beatles George Harrison, Tarak Ben Ammar (Hannibal Rising), John Goldstone (Shock Treatment, The Rocky Horror Picture Show), Tim Hampton (Legend, Lost in Space), and Denis O’Brien (Withnail & I, Time Bandits).

The Life of Brian visual effects team included common elements with such films as Time Bandits, The Meaning of Life, Judge Dredd, Willow, The Dark Crystal, Brazil, The Brothers Grimm, Who Framed Roger Rabbit?, and Labyrinth, among others.

The makeup effects team for Life of Brian was made up primarily by Maggie Weston (Brazil), Ken Lintott (Henry V, Time Bandits), Sue Ignatius (X-Men: First Class, The Phantom of The Opera), and Elaine Carew (Brazil, Time Bandits).

The plot of Life of Brian follows a young man born on the same day as Jesus of Nazareth through the entirety of his strange life. He lives a parallel existence to the religious figure, up to and including the formation of a cult-like following that surrounds and worships him (though not of his choosing) and an ultimate crucifixion.

The production and release of Life of Brian sparked a massive blasphemy controversy the world over, and it was ultimately banned in many countries like Ireland and Norway. The initial production company that signed on to finance the movie backed out, after which George Harrison stepped up to save the film. John Cleese, in regards to the near-universal Christian backlash to the film, once said “we’ve brought them all together for the first time in 2000 years!”

George Harrison, who stepped in after the initial production company bailed on the film, mortgaged both his home and his office building to help fund the movie, apparently just because he really wanted to see it, and feared that it might be the last chance to see a Monty Python film. Eric Idle has referred to Harrison’s actions as “the highest price ever paid for a cinema ticket.”

lifeofbrian2The screenplay to Life of Brian was dedicated to legendary drummer and founding member of The Who Keith Moon, who was supposed to play a small role in the film, but tragically died before he could film it.

The now-famous song “Always Look On The Bright Side of Life” was created as part of the soundtrack to Life of Brian. It has re-gained a significant amount of popularity in recent years due to it becoming the centerpiece of the Monty Python Broadway musical “Spamalot,” based on Monty Python and The Holy Grail.

During Graham Chapman’s full-frontal nude shot, a rubber band was used to give the illusion of Graham Chapman being circumcised, as his character is Jewish.

The idea for Life of Brian came from a joke title that Eric Idle used to give to reporters when they inquired about what the team’s next film project would be: Jesus Christ’s Lust For Glory.  The Python’s not only found that this got the reporters to stop hounding them, but it gave them the idea to set a comedy in the first century, somehow intersecting with the life of Jesus.

The Venice Film Festival had a special award sponsored by the Italian Union of Rationalist Atheists and Agnostics named in honor of the movie, the Premio Brian. It was given out from 2006 – 2013 to the film in the festival that best “highlights and enhances the values of rationality, respect for human rights, democracy, pluralism, promotion of individuality, freedom of conscience, expression and research, the principle of equal opportunities in public institutions for all citizens.”

Life of Brian had a reported budget of $4 million, and grossed a domestic total of over $20 million in its lifetime theatrical run.

The reception to Life of Brian was overwhelmingly positive, despite the controversy surrounding it. The film currently holds an IMDb rating of 8.2, putting it in the top 250 movies on the site. It also holds Rotten Tomatoes scores of 96% (critics) and 93% (audience), and is widely regarded as both a cult classic and one of the funniest comedy movies of all time.

In my opinion, Life of Brian Takes the funny banter of Holy Grail and elevates it to an entirely new level, and is almost certainly Monty Python firing on all cylinders. Much like Holy Grail skewers Arthurian lore, Life of Brian relishes in crucifying both Christianity and first century life in general. Jokes about aqueducts and the sexual innuendo in the Roman names don’t have anything to do specifically with Christianity, for instance.

lifeofbrian1All of that said, this movie is memorable specifically for how aggressively and brashly it takes on Christianity. The entire ‘shoe vs gourd’ sequence is one of the sharpest critiques at how minor religious difference have historically created massive schisms in religions, and the dialogue constantly throws punches at the concept of blind worship.

In my opinion, the fantastic ending of Life of Brian is what sets it apart and above Holy Grail, and makes it the finest work from the group. Grail literally falls apart in the conclusion, which is funny in its own way, but the wry crucifixion of Brian capped by the memorable tune “Always Look On The Bright Side Of Life” is a brutally hilarious arrow in the audience’s chest, and drives home the inevitability of death with a smirk, which isn’t something that is easy to pull off.

Overall, this a fantastic comedy movie, and is easily one of the finest religious satires ever put to film. If you haven’t seen it, you should, and the same goes from all of Monty Python’s works. I adore Flying Circus and Holy Grail, and plan on giving Meaning of Life another spin soon, because I have always seen that as a weakest entry from the troupe (and it is still legendarily funny).

The Dentist 2

The Dentist 2


Today’s flick is Brian Yuzna’s unwarranted 1998 sequel to The Dentist, The Dentist 2.

The Dentist 2 is, of course, a sequel to 1996’s The Dentist, which was written by the duo of Stuart Gordon and Dennis Paoli (Dagon, Castle Freak, Re-Animator, From Beyond), and then extensively re-written by Charles Finch, one of the producers of Fat Slags.  While Dentist 2 gives character credits to all three of those writers, the screenplay was written by one Richard Dana Smith, who had no previous credits at the time. He would go on to write a handful of TV movies, such as The Perfect Neighbor and The Stepdaughter, but not much else.

The Dentist 2 was directed by Brian Yuzna, who also directed The Dentist, Bride of Re-Animator, and Beyond Re-Animator. He is also a long-time producer and collaborator with Stuart Gordon on such movies as Dagon, From Beyond, Dolls, and Re-Animator.

The cinematographer for The Dentist 2 was Jurgen Baum, who also shot such films as Sorority House Massacre II and Jim Wynorski’s Hard To Die.

The editor for the film was Christopher Roth, who also cut such films as The Dentist, Leprechaun, Killer Klowns From Outer Space, Raptor Island, Hatchet, and Axe Giant: The Wrath of Paul Bunyan.

The producers on The Dentist 2 included Mark Amin (Evolver, Leprechaun, Leprechaun 3, The Dentist, Chairman of the Board), Noel Zanitsch (Wishmaster, The Dentist), Robert Lansing Parker (The Running Man, The Dentist, Night Shift), Bruce David Eisen (Evolver, Trucks, Leprechaun 3, Leprechaun In The Hood), Pierre David (Videodrome, Scanners), and the film’s star, Corbin Bernsen.

The visual effects crew for The Dentist 2 was made up of Michele Pruden (Soccer Dog), Rita Schrag (King of the Ants, Poolhall Junkies, Puppet Master 4), and Jim Stewart (Beeper, Scorcher, Dr. Alien, Chopping Mall, School Spirit).

The makeup and special effects team for The Dentist 2 included Anthony Ferrante (who later directed the Sharknado franchise), Sam Greenmun (Evil Eyes, The Dentist, Virtuosity, Mystery Men), A.J. Venuto (Blade, Transformers, AI), Ralis Kahn (Pledge This!, Kiss Kiss Bang Bang, Dogma), and J.M. Logan (Texas Chainsaw Massacre: The Next Generation, Halloweentown, Virus, G-Men From Hell).

The music for The Dentist 2 was provided by Alan Howarth, an experienced composer and sound editor with credits on such movies as The Omega Code, They Live, Escape From New York, The Dentist, Halloween III, Battle Beyond The Stars, Poltergeist, Fortress, The Running Man, Class of 1999, Total Recall, Cool as Ice, and Tank Girl.

The cast for The Dentist 2 is once again led by Corbin Bernsen (The Dentist, Judgment, Psych), with accessory roles filled out by Clint Howard (Blubberella, House of the Dead, Santa With Muscles, Ice Cream Man, Night Shift), Jeff Doucette (The Mangler 2, Newhart, Splash), Jim Antonio (Catch Me If You Can, Crazy In Alabama), Wendy Robie (Twin Peaks, The Glimmer Man), and Susanne Wright (The Brothers Solomon), among many others.

dentisttwo3The plot of The Dentist 2 takes place after the events of The Dentist, where Dr. Feinstone finds a way out of his mental hospital and goes on the run. He takes up in a new town under a new name, and is looking to start another practice. However, he has tried to overcome his dark past, and has to wrestle with his inner demons and compulsions while also evading the authorities who continue to hunt him down.

The full title was originally The Dentist 2: Brace Yourself, a title that is still used on some of the home video box covers. However, the movie is typically just known as The Dentist 2.

dentisttwo1Reportedly, a third installment in the series was planned (and even greenlit), but Brian Yuzna wasn’t able to find the time to make it before Trimark merged with Lionsgate in 2000, which likely means there will be no more Dentist movies in the future.

The reception to The Dentist 2 was overwhelmingly negative. It currently holds a rating of 4.2 on IMDb, along with Rotten Tomatoes scores of 0% (critics) and 24% (audience).

The film had an estimated budget of $1.8 million, but never had a chance to earn any of that back in theaters, ultimately going straight to video.

Corbin Bernsen is as hammy as ever in this film, and is an absolute delight to watch. However, not a whole lot happens in this movie, making it a pretty disappointing sequel to an astoundingly cheesy movie. A lot of the conflict is internal for Feinstone, and once he does give in to his impulses, he isn’t quite as theatrical as he was in the previous movie, as he doesn’t really have the same motivations for his actions. There also isn’t nearly as colorful of a cast of character behind him, like Ken Foree’s cop from the first film.

dentisttwo4Overall, there is still some stuff to enjoy in this film for fans of the first movie, particularly in regards to Bernsen’s acting, the nauseating cinematography, and the score. However, there isn’t nearly as much action or tension in this sequel to keep the plot interesting, which makes the movie feel anchored down. Fans of the first should check it out, but it hardly compares to the ridiculous glory of The Dentist.




Today’s movie is a little flick called Troll, starring Michael Moriarty and Sonny Bono.

The writer for Troll was Ed Naha, who also wrote the screenplays for films like Dolls, Dollman, Omega Doom, and C.H.U.D. II: Bud the CHUD.

Troll was directed by John Carl Buechler, who was also behind such films as Ghoulies Go To College, The Eden Formula, and Friday the 13th Part VII. He has also worked extensively as an effects artist on low budget films like Piranha, Robot Jox, Dolls, From Beyond, Carnosaur, and The Gingerdead Man.

The cinematographer on Troll was Romano Albani, who most notably shot the film TerrorVision, as well as Dario Argento’s Inferno.

The editor for Troll was Lee Percy, who has cut such films as The Ice Harvest, Boys Don’t Cry, The Believer, Dolls, From Beyond, and Re-Animator over his career.

The producers for Troll were Albert Band, Charles Band, and Debra Dion, who were all heavily involved with the production company, Empire Pictures. Empire was Charles Band’s initial independent company that existed throughout the 1980s, prior to the creation of the more recognizable Full Moon Entertainment. The outfit also produced films like Trancers, Re-Animator, From Beyond, Dolls, and Robot Jox, and laid the foundations for a number of Full Moon franchises.

The makeup effects supervisor on Troll was John Vulich, an eventual Emmy winning effects artist who would work on acclaimed television series like Babylon 5, The X-Files, and Buffy the Vampire Slayer.

The creature creation for Troll was done by the director himself, John Carl Beuchler. The rest of the team included Brent Armstrong (Hollow Man, It’s Alive 3, Starship Troopers, In The Mouth of Madness), Howard Berger (Evil Dead 2, Maniac Cop 3, Scream, The Faculty, Kill Bill), R. Christopher Biggs (Super Mario Bros., Hudson Hawk, Teen Wolf), Everett Burrell (Aliens, DeepStar Six, Castle Freak), Gino Crognale (The Spirit, From Beyond, 976-EVIL, Django Unchained), and Mitch Devane (Dolls, From Beyond, Captain America).

trollone6The visual effects team for Troll was made up of Jim Aupperle (Evil Dead 2, Beetlejuice, RoboCop 3, Dollman, Son of the Mask), James Belohovek (Robot Jox, Leviathan, Evolver, RoboCop 3, Dollman), Steve Burg (Robot Jox, Leviathan, Chopping Mall, Waterworld, Interstellar), Linda Drake (From Beyond, Dr. Alien, The Smurfs 2, Chopping Mall), Kevin Kutchaver (Robot Jox, RoboCop 3, Last Action Hero, Blade, League of Extraordinary Gentlemen, Shoot Em Up), Len Morganti (School Spirit, Argo, Robot Jox, RoboCop 3, Blind Fury, True Believer), and Martine Tomczyk (Super Mario Bros., Apollo 13, The Last Dragon), as well as a handful of others.

The musical score for Troll was done by Richard Band, Charles Band’s brother. He has famously provided music to movies like Re-Animator, Castle Freak, The Pit and The Pendulum, and Laserblast.

The cast for Troll features a number of recognizable faces, including Michael Moriarty (It’s Alive 3, The Stuff, Q, Law & Order), Sonny Bono (The Sonny and Cher Show, Hairspray), Noah Hathaway (The NeverEnding Story), Shelley Hack (Charlie’s Angels), Julia Louis-Dreyfuss (Seinfeld), and June Lockhart (Lost in Space, Lassie).

trollone2The plot of Troll centers around a young family who is moving into a new home in a San Francisco apartment complex. Unbeknownst to them, however, an evil, magical troll also calls the complex home, and has sinister plans for the new tenants. The young Harry Potter, Jr. teams up with a friendly local witch in an attempt to save his sister, who is captured by the troll as the family is moving in.

Troll has received increased attention in recent years thanks to the cult popularity of the pseudo-sequel, Troll 2, directed by Claudio Fragasso. Troll 2 is widely considered one of the elite good-bad movies of all time, and even inspired a documentary about it called Best Worst Movie. However, despite some debate on the point, Troll 2 doesn’t have any direct official connection to Troll, nor does it actually feature trolls at all in the film.

troll22Two of the central characters in Troll bear the name Harry Potter, which is of course now the title of a phenomenally popular book and movie franchise. However, the books wouldn’t be written for another handful of years, leading some to wonder if J.K. Rowling took the name from this movie.

The reception to Troll was overwhelmingly poor. It currently has a 4.2 score on IMDb, along with ratings of 29% (critics) and 28% (audience) on Rotten Tomatoes.

Troll had an estimated production budget of just over $1 million. It managed to gross roughly $5.5 million domestically in its theatrical run, making it a profitable low-budget feature in spite of the poor reception.

Troll features, without any doubt, one of the most aggravatingly annoying child actors I have ever seen in a movie. For most of the movie, the little girl character is possessed by the troll, so she has to act like an evil character in disguise. Frankly, it is unbearable whenever she starts growling or trying to be scary.

trollone4Michael Moriarty, as always, is delightfully eccentric and goofy in Troll. He isn’t quite as memorable as he was in Q: The Winged Serpent or The Stuff, but he has some solid moments in here despite not having a whole lot of screen time. Likewise, Sonny Bono plays a great scummy neighbor during his brief presence in the film, before he turns into a weird plant-thing.

trollone3There were far more pop culture references than I expected in this movie, to such name brand products as Star Trek and Godzilla. I assume this was an intentional touch by Ed Naha, who seems to enjoy inserting humor and self-awareness into his movie scripts. Speaking of which, there are some genuinely funny moments in this movie: I am particularly fond of the fake movie clips that show up in the background.

trollone7“That may look like your canary, Tweety, my dear… It may sing like Tweety, it may molt like Tweety…but your canary is a pod person from the planet Mars.”

The climax of the movie features some really dated lightning effects that are impossible not to remark on. I am sure it looked at least ok at the time, but it is pretty hilarious to watch these outdated visual effects now.

trollone8The troll itself isn’t particularly menacing, and something about the costume just seems unwieldy and awkward. It honestly makes Warwick Davis in the Leprechaun franchise look genuinely frightening by comparison. Even worse is that the smaller troll creatures look vastly different, and amazingly look even cheaper than the central troll.

trollone5Overall, Troll isn’t an elite bad movie, particularly when compared to its pseudo-sequel. However, there is plenty to enjoy here between the bad effects, hammy acting, ludicrous plot, and troll-singing. It would be worth a recommendation based on Sonny Bono’s death scene and Michael Moriarty’s presence on their own, let alone all of the other nonsense going on in this film. For bad movie aficionados, this is a must-see.




Today, we’re going to take a look at the catalyst to one of the most notoriously silly horror franchises of all time: Leprechaun.

Leprechaun was written and directed by Mark Jones, who doesn’t have a ton of interesting credits to his name, outside of writing a few episodes of The A-Team. He has directed a few other movies over the years (Scorned, Rumpelstiltskin, Quiet Kill), but none have had the same kind of lasting impact as Leprechaun.

The cinematographer for Leprechaun was Levie Isaacks, who also shot The Dentist and Children of the Corn II: The Final Sacrifice.

The film’s editor was Christopher Roth , who cut such films as The Dentist, The Dentist 2, and Killer Klowns From Outer Space over the course of his career.

The producers for Leprechaun included Mark Amin (The Dentist, The Dentist 2, Trucks, Chairman of the Board, Leprechaun 3, Evolver), Barry Barnholtz (The Dog Who Saved Christmas, The Mangler 2), and William Sachs (The Incredible Melting Man, Galaxina, Exterminator 2).

The Leprechaun effects team included Larry Arpin (The Dentist, Highlander II, Maniac Cop 3, Maniac Cop 2, Maniac Cop, Blood Diner, The Ambulance), Ken Herbster (Superman IV, Ghoulies IV), Leon Stankevich (The Blob, The Secret Agent Club), David Kindlon (Wolf, Hell Comes to Frogtown, From Beyond), Joel Harlow (Battlefield Earth, The Langoliers, Suburban Commando, Blues Brothers 2000), John Deall (It, Virus, Critters 4), Gabriel Bartalos (Dolls, From Beyond, Texas Chainsaw Massacre 2, Leprechaun 3), and numerous others.


The music for Leprechaun was provided by the duo of Kevin Kiner (Hell on Wheels, Nick Fury: Agent of SHIELD) and Robert J. Walsh (Zombie Nation, Revenge of the Ninja, Jem, The Transformers, G.I. Joe), both of whom have extensive composition credits for numerous television shows.

The cast of Leprechaun is led by Warwick Davis (Willow, Return of the Jedi, Labyrinth, Leprechaun 3), Jennifer Anniston (Friends, Bruce Almighty), Ken Olandt (April Fool’s Day), and Mark Holton (Teen Wolf), and is filled out by a handful of less recognizable faces.


The story of Leprechaun kicks off when a family moves into a new house that was abandoned after a mysterious incident incapacitated the previous owner. Through their explorations in the home, an evil leprechaun (that the previous owner captured) is accidentally released and reawakened, and immediately goes on a killing spree through the local town in search for his stolen gold. The family has to learn the monster’s weaknesses in order to prevent it from eliminating all of the local townsfolk.

Initially, there was going to be product placement in the film by Lucky Charms, but they pulled out after seeing the final product, leading to a costly re-shoot. I’m curious what the hell they expected from a leprechaun-themed horror movie, other than what is present here?


Interestingly, Leprechaun was apparently initially planned as a scary kid’s movie, but inserts were added to make it more traditional horror when producers worried that it wouldn’t resonate with adult horror audiences.

The film was later re-marketed for home video release to emphasize Jennifer Anniston, who eventually took off as a celebrity over the run of the hit show Friends.


Leprechaun spawned one of the most notoriously goofy horror franchises, which is currently up to 7 installments. The franchise is best known for outlandish location gimmicks, taking the sinister creature to space, Las Vegas, and the ghetto (twice). The most recent film was a rebooted take on the story made in 2014, called Leprechaun: Origins.

The reception to Leprechaun was generally negative, and it currently holds a 4.6 rating on IMDb alongside Rotten Tomatoes scores of 25% (critics) and 32% (audience). However, the entire franchise has a dedicated cult following that has allowed it to survive through the years.

Leprechaun was made on a reported production budget of $900,000, and grossed just over $8.5 million in its domestic theatrical run, making it a profitable little movie.

Leprechaun is, of course, packed with silly rhymes and one liners. However, that is what the movie is all about when it comes down to it: Freddy Krueger without any element of menace, and a penchant for verse. It is a licorice type of movie: you will love it or you will hate it, and there isn’t much room for middle ground in between.

Over the top deaths might be a signature of the Leprechaun series, but there are not as many as you would expect in this first film. I think, all told, only four people wind up dead, and at least half are mundane deaths. That said, it doesn’t get much better than the pogo stick death in this movie.

Leprechaun contains some truly dreadful acting, particularly from the comic relief painters. However, Anniston is also pretty terrible, making it a wonder that she has gone on to have the career that she has had.

Jennifer Anniston’s character in this movie is unbearably bratty as the story begins, and can somehow afford to constantly drop money on things, despite the fact that it is never really established that the family is super-wealthy. She theoretically softens as the film goes along, but she is overall less likable than the Leprechaun himself.

Leprechaun rides the border of being a horror movie at all, and just being a failed comedy. Nothing is particularly scary about it, and from what I have read, that is how it was initially designed. If you think of it as a movie-length Are You Afraid Of The Dark?, the style makes a lot more sense, specifically in regards to the acting and the humor.

One of the key motivations for a couple of characters chasing down the Leprechaun’s gold in this movie is to be able to afford an operation that can supposedly make a mentally handicapped person ‘smart’. The way it is explained in the story initially made me wonder if the kid character who proposes this is just deluded/misinformed, or if the writer actually thought that this sort of operation actually exists. However, the kid acknowledges towards the end that such an operation towards the end, bringing up even more questions about what he was supposed to do with the gold, and why he bothered lying about the operation in the first place.

Overall, Leprechaun is a weird little movie that doesn’t quite know what it should be, and that is painfully obvious from watching it. As far as a bad movie watch goes, some of the sequels are way more fun, but it is worth watching this one to have a foundation. Warwick Davis also definitely has his entertaining moments here and there that make it worth watching. Personally, I found it a little easier to sit through after finding out it was supposed to be for kids initially, which gave me a different outlook on it. As I mentioned earlier, the best way to watch this movie is to think of it as a really long episode of Are You Afraid of The Dark? or Goosebumps.