Tag Archives: b-movies

Silent Night

Silent Night

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Today’s feature is the 2012 remake of Silent Night, Deadly Night, which goes by the simplified title of Silent Night.

Silent Night was written and produced by Jayson Rothwell, who also penned screenplays for flicks like Second In Command, Malice In Wonderland, and Blessed.

The director for the movie was Steven C. Miller, whose other credits include Under The Bed, Automaton Transfusion, and The Aggression Scale.

The cinematographer on Silent Night was Joseph White, who has shot a variety of horror movies, including the cult favorite Repo! The Genetic Opera, Fear Clinic, 11-11-11, Shelter, and the 2010 remake of Mother’s Day.

The editor for the film was Seth Flaum, who has primarily spent his career cutting comedy features like Vegas Vacation, High School Musical, Juwanna Mann, The Great Outdoors, Grumpier Old Men, Fanboys, The Replacements, The Country Bears, and The Whole Ten Yards.

The team of producers for Silent Night included Joe Laurin (ATM), Richard Saperstein (Lost In Space, Hancock), Patrick Murray (Kill Me Three Times), Kevin Kasha (The Butterfly Effect 2, The Howling: Reborn), Adam Goldworm (The Black Cat, Pick Me Up, Dreams In The Witch House), Aaron L. Gilbert (Daydream Nation), James Gibb (Whiplash, Drive), Brian Witten (Mortal Kombat: Annihilation, Spawn, The Wedding Season), and Phyllis Laing (Heaven Is For Real, The Haunting In Connecticut).

The music for Silent Night was provided by Kevin Riepl, who has primarily worked on scoring high-profile video games like Gears of War and Unreal Championship.

The Silent Night makeup effects were provided in part by George Frangadakis (Sushi Girl), John Wrightson (The Dog Who Saved Christmas), Josh Wasylink (The Taking of Deborah Logan, V/H/S: Viral), Gregory Ramoundos (Dogma, Frankenhooker), Doug Morrow (Capote, Wrong Turn 4), Vincent J. Guastini (Thinner, Super Mario Bros., The Toxic Avenger Part III, The Langoliers), and Andrew Freeman (Battle Los Angeles, Hansel & Gretel: Witch Hunters).

The special effects unit for Silent Night included Evan Campbell (The Faculty, Elves, Spawn, Darkman II, Darkman III), Tim Freestone (Curse of Chucky, Home Alone: The Holiday Heist), James Kozier (White Noise, The Core), and Paul Noel (X-Men 2, X-Men: The Last Stand).

The visual effects work for the movie was done by a team that included Conrad Dueck (Swordfish, The Core), Michael Shand (Catwoman, Paycheck), Scott Purdy (88 Minutes, The Wicker Man), and Tyler Hawes (Superman Returns).

The cast of Silent Night includes Malcolm McDowell (Suing The Devil, Caligula, A Clockwork Orange, Class of 1999), Jaime King (Sin City, The Spirit), Ellen Wong (Scott Pilgrim vs. The World), and Donal Logue (Gotham, Terriers, Reindeer Games).

silentnight3The plot of Silent Night is summarized on IMDb as follows:

The police force of a remote Midwestern town search for a killer Santa Claus who is picking off citizens on Christmas Eve.

In spite of the title of the movie, Silent Night is far less inspired by the original Silent Night, Deadly Night than you might expect: the similarities essentially end with the common appearance of a killer dressed as Santa. The plot is more derived from the real life 2008 Covina massacre, in which a number of attendees at a Christmas party were murdered by a man dressed as Santa in a combined shooting and arson.

Silent Night received a very limited theatrical release, which didn’t reach a particularly wide audience. Those that did see it gave it a mixed reception: the film currently holds a 5.2 user rating on IMDb, along with Rotten Tomatoes scores of 64% from critics and 33% from audiences.

The biggest criticism I have of Silent Night is that it didn’t need to masquerade as a remake of Silent Night, Deadly Night: it really should have staked its claim as something entirely new, with the sole commonality of a killer Santa.

silentnight2The tone of the movie does have some significant issues, however. For the most part, Silent Night is a straight horror movie, though it borrows a number of elements from cop thrillers as well. The problem comes with the insertion of some inconsistent moments of humor in the screenplay, which aren’t enough to push the movie as a whole into horror-comedy territory, but are enough to not be negligible.

Overall, this is a totally watchable horror movie, though I might call it unremarkable. There are some amusing performances scattered throughout that keep it entertaining, and the gore effects are everything that you could want from this sort of movie. I wouldn’t recommend it strongly, but there are certainly worse ways to spend your time than watching this flick

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Dark Angel / I Come In Peace

Dark Angel / I Come In Peace

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Today’s flick is a cult classic about a heroin-dealing killer from outer space: Dark Angel, aka I Come In Peace.

Dark Angel has two credited writers: David Koepp (Snake Eyes, Carlito’s Way, Jurassic Park, Secret Window), who overhauled the screenplay via rewrites, and Jonathan Tydor (Ice Soldiers), who provided the initial speculative script.

The director for the film was Craig Baxley, who also helmed the action flick Action Jackson, and did extensive stunt work on movies like Predator and The Warriors.

The cinematographer on Dark Angel was Mark Irwin, who shot the films Scanners, Videodrome, The Dead Zone, Class of 1999, The Fly, Showdown In Little Tokyo, Steel, Scream, Kingpin, and Vampire In Brooklyn.

The editor for the film was Mark Helfrich, who also shot R.I.P.D., Red Dragon, Showgirls, Action Jackson, Revenge of the Ninja, Rush Hour, and Predator, among others.

The music for Dark Angel was provided by Jan Hammer, who scored the documentary Cocaine Cowboys, the Hulk Hogan flick The Secret Agent Club, Beastmaster III, and, most memorably, the television show Miami Vice.

The team of producers on the flick included Mark Damon (It’s Alive (2008), Mac and Me), Rafael Eisenman (Teen Witch), Ron Fury (Howling II), David Saunders (Baby Geniuses, Hellraiser), Jon Turtle (The Grey, Cyborg 2), and Moshe Diamant (It’s Alive (2008), Simon Sez, Double Team, Timecop).

The makeup effects were provided by a team that included Gabe Bartalos (Dolls, From Beyond, The Texas Chainsaw Massacre 2), Evan Brainard (Space Truckers, Mortal Kombat, Brainscan), Tony Gardner (Darkman), Loren Gitthens (Brainscan), Kevin Hudson (DeepStar Six), Rick Lalonde (976-EVIL, Son Of The Mask, The People Under The Stairs), Roger McCoin (Shocker, Garbage Pail Kids Movie), Greg Polutonovich (Baby Geniuses), and A.J. Workman (Shocker, Arena, Communion, Friday the 13th Part VII).

The special effects work for Dark Angel was done by Jay Bartus (Action Jackson, Die Hard), Greg Curtis (Catwoman, North, Jaws 3-D), James McCormick (The Faculty), James Mize (RoboCop 2), Peter Olexiewicz (The Cell, Batman & Robin), Scott Prescott (Friday the 13th Part VII), Jor Van Kline (Demon Island, Waterworld), and Bruno Van Zeebroeck (Double Team, Class of 1999, Xanadu, Jaws 3-D).

The cast of Dark Angel includes Dolph Lundgren (Fat Slags, Masters of the Universe, Rocky IV, Johnny Mnemonic, The Punisher), Brian Benben (Dream On, Private Practice), Betsy Brantley (Deep Impact, Shock Treatment), Matthias Hues (Kickboxer 2), and Jim Haynie (Sleepwalkers).

darkangel5The plot of Dark Angel is summarized on IMDb as follows:

Jack Caine (Dolph Lundgren) is a Houston vice cop who’s forgotten the rule book. His self-appointed mission is to stop the drugs trade and the number one supplier Victor Manning. Whilst involved in an undercover operation to entrap Victor Manning, his partner gets killed, and a sinister newcomer enters the scene… Along with F.B.I. agent Lawrence Smith, the two investigate a spate of mysterious deaths; normal non-junkies dying of massive heroin overdoses and bearing the same horrific puncture marks on the forehead. This, coupled with Caine’s own evidence, indicates an alien force is present on the streets of Houston, killing and gathering stocks of a rare drug found only in the brain… Caine is used to fighting the toughest of criminals, but up to now they’ve all been human…

This movie is primarily known by two different titles: Dark Angel, which was the initial release title internationally, and I Come In Peace, which was used in the United States. However, the original title for the screenplay was Lethal Contact, which stuck with it during the 6 years before it got produced.

Dark Angel bears some interesting similarities to the plot of Predator 2, at least in broad strokes. Basically, they both star a hardened urban cop doing what is essentially standard police work, but with the twist of having to deal with an alien culprit behind it all.

darkangel2Dark Angel was set and shot on location in the unlikely locale of Houston, Texas, meaning that Dolph Lundgren portrays not only an American cop, but a Texas cop.

David Koepp used a pseudonym for his writing credit on Dark Angel, and is listed in the credits as Leonard Maas, Jr..

The budget for the film was somewhere in the ballpark between $5-7 million, and grossed just under $4.4 million in its lifetime theatrical release. This made it a commercial loss, though it has gained some cult acclaim in recent years that has justified a blu-ray release. However, at the time, critics and audiences weren’t particularly thrilled with what many saw as nothing more than a Terminator ripoff. Currently, it holds a 6.0 on IMDb, along with Rotten Tomatoes aggregate scores of 13% from critics and 45% from audiences.

Matthias Hues, who plays the primary antagonist, is either the weakest or the strongest aspect of the movie, depending on how you look at it. He certainly isn’t a good actor, but he is undoubtedly physically intimidating. He mechanically spits out his handful of lines  just like you would imagine a murderous alien would, which is all that was really asked of him. His weapons are also totally over the top, particularly his killer Frisbee/CD, which gets a surprising amount of time on screen given how ridiculous it is.

darkangel3Dolph Lundgren is once again in top form in Dark Angel, which was just after The Punisher and before Showdown in Little Tokyo. Personally, I think Dark Angel is as good as Lundgren ever got as a lead, given he sunk into direct-to-video fodder before the 1990s was over with. He still has some of the comedic flair that came out in The Punisher, and is clearly more comfortable than he was in Masters of the Universe. Luckily, he doesn’t attempt a Texas accent, because there’s no telling how that might have turned out.

The thing that stands out most about Dark Angel is the weird, weird plot. The idea of combining a drug-based gritty cop movie with a science fiction story is really damn bizarre. For what it is worth, it comes off better than I thought it would, and creates an interesting sort of tone that the field of Terminator knockoffs (like Abraxas) totally miss. It is dark and gritty, but still has moments of being humorous in a way that only a b-movie can pull off. The result is a movie that is fun to go back and watch now, even if it didn’t work for people at the time.

Personally, I recommend this flick to any action or sci-fi movie fans as a deep cut from the late 1980s. It deserves more eyes on it, and I think it is starting to get the love it merits now. If you want to hear more about Dark Angel, check out the podcast episodes on it from We Hate Movies and the Bad Movie Fiends.

Halloween III: Season Of The Witch

Halloween III: Season Of The Witch

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Today’s feature is the seasonal cult classic bad movie, Halloween III: Season Of The Witch.

Halloween III was written and directed by Tommy Lee Wallace, who has been behind flicks like It, Fright Night Part II, Amityville II: The Possession, and acted as an editor on the John Carpenter classics The Fog and Halloween. Uncredited screenplay work was also done by John Carpenter and Nigel Kneale (Five Million Years To Earth, Enemy From Space) over the course of a number of re-writes.

The cinematographer for the film was Dean Cundey, who shot such flicks as Escape From New York, The Fog, Halloween, Flubber, Big Trouble In Little China, Back To The Future, Road House, Hook, and Jurassic Park.

The editor for Halloween III was Millie Moore, who spent most of her career working on television movies, with the exception of 1971’s Johnny Got His Gun, which was written and directed by Dalton Trumbo.

The music for the film was provided by the duo of John Carpenter (Halloween, The Fog, Vampires, Assault on Precinct 13)  and Alan Howarth (The Omega Code, The Dentist, The Dentist 2, They Live, Escape From New York).

The team of producers for Halloween III included original Halloween creator John Carpenter, Debra Hill (Crazy In Alabama, The Dead Zone), Joseph Wolf (A Nightmare On Elm Street), Irwin Yablans (Arena, Men At Work), and Barry Bernardi (Pixels, Cabin Boy, Paul Blart: Mall Cop, The Devil’s Advocate).

The group of effects workers on the movie included Thomas R. Burman (Frogs, Howard The Duck, Hudson Hawk, Suspect Zero), John Wash (Timecop, Demolition Man), Sam Nicholson (Highlander II, The Running Man), Jon Belyeu (The Dead Zone, Jingle All The Way, Tango & Cash), William Aldridge (Class of 1999, Die Hard, Road House, Showgirls), and Ron Walters (The Breakfast Club, Police Squad!).

halloweeniii2The cast of Halloween III includes Tom Atkins (The Fog, Maniac Cop, Lethal Weapon, Night of the Creeps), Stacey Nelkin (Bullets Over Broadway), Dan O’Herlihy (RoboCop, Twin Peaks), Michael Currie (Sudden Impact, The Dead Pool), and Ralph Strait (The Beastmaster).

The plot of Halloween III follows an impromptu investigation into the brutal murder of an old man, which leads his daughter and a local doctor into a rabbit’s hole of mysticism and evil. Eventually, their efforts unveil a sacrificial plot that could threaten countless lives.

Halloween III is best remembered as the only entry in the franchise to not feature the iconic masked killer, Michael Myers. The plan was initially to turn Halloween into an anthology series, with few (if any) recurring characters between the films. This idea was axed after the negative response to Michael Myers’s absence from Halloween III, and Halloween IV was thus subtitled The Return of Michael Myers.

halloweeniii1The children’s masks that feature prominently in the plot of Halloween III were actually produced and distributed as part of the marketing of the film, and can be still found with a little bit of hunting online.

The infamous jingle that recurs throughout Halloween III uses the tune of “London Bridge Is Falling Down”, specifically because it was both catchy and available in the public domain.

Joe Dante, who is best known for movies like Gremlins, Small Soldiers, and The Howling, was at one point attached to direct Halloween III, but ultimately moved on to a different project before filming began.

Halloween III was made on a  production budget of $2.5 million, on which it grossed $14.4 million in its lifetime theatrical run. While this was ultimately profitable, it failed to come anywhere near the lofty expectations of the franchise, and is popularly regarded as a failure.

The reception to Halloween III at the time was overwhelmingly negative, primarily due to the absence of iconic franchise face Michael Myers. Currently, it holds a 4.5 rating on IMDb, along with Rotten Tomatoes scores of 33% from critics and 24% from audiences. However, the movie has grown a significant cult following over the years as a good-bad movie, and is fondly regarded by a vocal subsection of horror fans.

halloweeniii4For all of the criticisms that have been leveled at Halloween III, the movie definitely deserves full points for originality. This film is not a cut and paste slasher movie by any stretch of the imagination, which is more than can be said for most of the other Halloween sequels. The plot is beyond outlandish, but there are certainly no other movies like it.

More important than sheer originality, Halloween III is as entertaining as it is bizarre, particularly as the film comes to a close. Even though the plan doesn’t make much sense when you scrutinize it, the plot is certainly fun to watch unfold. After all, this movie has the rare distinction of not only allowing the bad guys to (more or less) win, but it also implies the mass deaths of countless children, which is nothing if not bold.

Overall, I consider Halloween III to be a prime example of a good-bad movie. The plot is unparalleled, the acting (particularly from Atkins) is delightful, the deaths are both brutal and excessively campy, and the music makes you want your head to explode in the best possible way. If you haven’t seen this film yet, it is a necessity of the season for both horror fans and bad movie fans alike.

As an added bonus, I highly recommend the coverage of the film by both We Hate Movies and The Cinema Snob if you are looking for additional opinions on the movie.

House II: The Second Story

House II: The Second Story

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Today’s feature is 1987’s House II: The Second Story.

House II was written and directed by Ethan Wiley, who provided the screenplay for the original House and directed Children of the Corn V: Fields of Terror. Some credit was still awarded to Fred Dekker (RoboCop 3, The Monster Squad, Night of the Creeps) as a writer, due to him coming up with the original story concept for House.

The cinematographer on House II was the veteran horror director of photography Mac Ahlberg, a frequent Stuart Gordon collaborator who shot such films as King of the Ants, The Wonderful Ice Cream Suit, Space Truckers, Robot Jox, Arena, DeepStar Six, House, Re-Animator, Dolls, From Beyond, Ghoulies, and Trancers, among many others.

The editor for the film was Martin Nicholson, who has cut films like Halloweentown, Forbidden Zone, The Big Picture, and worked on handful of episodes of Game of Thrones.

The two credited producers for House II were Sean Cunningham (Friday the 13th, Jason X, The Last House On The Left, DeepStar Six, House) and Andrew Z. Davis (Volcano, Red Dragon, Rush Hour 3, Your Highness).

houseii2The musical score for House II was provided by Harry Manfredinim who is best known for his work on the Friday the 13th franchise, as well as movies like House, Slaughter High, DeepStar Six, Wishmaster, The Omega Code, Wolves of Wall Street, and A Talking Cat!?!.

The special effects team for House II included Mark Walas (Signs, Gremlins), Chris Walas (Humanoids From The Deep, Piranha, DeepStar Six, Scanners), Peter Chesney (The Ladykillers, Waterworld), Mike Smithson (Battlefield Earth, Dollman, Brainscan, Suburban Commando, The Island of Doctor Moreau), Gregg Olsson (RoboCop 2, Gremlins), Kelly Lepkowsky (Hot to Trot, Arachnophobia), Jarn Heil (Iron Eagle), and James Isaac (Jason X, DeepStar Six).

The visual effects for the film were done in part by Eric Brevig (Wolf, Wild Wild West), Phil Tippett (RoboCop 3, Howard the Duck), Mark Sullivan (The Stuff, Ishtar, Demolition Man, League of Extraordinary Gentlemen), Craig Newman (Speed, TRON), Randy Dutra (The Golden Child, Willow), Scott Beattie (Con Air, Freejack), Jon Berg (Laserblast, The Crater Lake Monster, Piranha).

The cast of House II includes Arye Gross (Castle), Jonathan Stark (Fright Night), Royal Dano (Ghoulies II, Killer Klowns From Outer Space), Bill Maher (Real Time with Bill Maher), John Ratzenberger (Cheers), Lar Park Lincoln (Friday the 13th Part VII), Amy Yasbeck (The Mask, Wings)

houseii4The plot of House II starts off with a man inheriting a house from his deceased parents. While going through the belongings, he discovers that a family heirloom is missing: a mystical crystal skull, which was apparently lost some generations before. On a hunch, he believes the skull may be buried alongside his great great great great grandfather, and convinces a friend to help dig him up. To their shock, not only do they find the skull, but also the living corpse of the impossibly old ancestor, However, instead of being a brain-hungy zombie, “Gramps” turns out to be a pretty cool guy, and leads the two friends into a series of misadventures as they protect the crystal skull from evil.

On paper, House II is a sequel to the cult classic horror-comedy House, which came out in 1986. However, it only bears slight thematic similarities with its predecessor, and is arguably an entirely different genre. It was followed up with the perplexingly titled House IV, which was came out in 1992. House III technically never existed, though the unconnected 1989 movie The Horror Show was labeled as such in foreign markets, necessitating the bizarre title of the franchise’s third installment.

I wasn’t able to dig up an estimate for the production budget, but House II did manage to rake in 7.8 million in its lifetime theatrical run. The reception, however, was not warm: it currently holds a 0% aggregate score from critics on Rotten Tomatoes, alongside a 40% audience score and an IMDb rating of 5.3.

houseii1This movie is, above all else, weird. House is a surreal and at times humorous horror adventure into the depths of a possessed house, and is kind of like The Burbs crossed with The Amityville Horror. House II, on the other hand, jettisons a lot of the body horror and otherwise disturbing elements of the first film, and focuses more on the idea of an adventure through alternate dimensions within the confines of a home. I definitely understand why fans of the 1986 House were disappointed in this follow-up, because it is definitely a different kind of movie. That said, I don’t think it is nearly as bad as its reputation would have you believe.

I feel about the same way about House II as I do about Halloween III: if you can divorce the film from its fan expectations, it is actually a pretty fun ride. Just like with Halloween III, House II makes little to no sense, bouncing from one bizarre reality to the next. Magical crystal skulls, giant dog-worms, pterodactyls, and zombies from the old west all play important parts, and none of that makes any more sense in the context of the film. That said, I found it to be generally fun, if not entirely coherent. I might go so far as to say that House II is like John Dies At The End without the edge or the cynicism.

In general, I think this weird, weird movie deserves a second look from a new generation. This comedic ride into complete nonsense is a blast: perhaps not a Troll 2 or The Room, but it definitely deserves more recognition as an entertainingly bad movie. Who doesn’t love a story of bonding between a man and his great great great great grandfather?

Wolves of Wall Street

Wolves of Wall Street

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Today’s feature is David DeCoteau’s Wolves of Wall Street, about literal werewolf stock brokers.

Wolves of Wall Street was written by Barry L. Levy, who also provided screenplays for the films Vantage Point, Paranoia, and a short film called How The Pimp Saved Christmas.

Wolves of Wall Street was directed by David DeCoteau, an infamous b-movie director who has been behind such films as Puppet Master III, Dr. Alien, Prehysteria 3, The Killer Eye, Retro Puppet Master, and A Talking Cat?!?

The cinematographer for the film was Horacio Marquinez, who shot movies like World’s Greatest Dad, Vacancy 2, StarStruck, and Dummy.

The team of effects workers for Wolves of Wall Street included Luke DiTomasso (A Most Violent Year, Nurse Jackie), Tobi Britton (The Flamingo Kid), Brian Abbott (Captivity, Party Monster), Ildiko Juhasz (Return To Sleepaway Camp), and Leza Ann Rawlins (The Motel, Going Under).

The team of producers for Wolves of Wall Street was made up of Paul Colichman (Murder Dot Com, Gods and Monsters), Roberta Friedman (A Good Night To Die, Alphabet City), Andreas Hess (Ice Spiders), Sylvia Hess (Nuclear Hurricane, An Accidental Christmas), Michael Mahoney (Castle Freak, Trancers 5), and Jeffrey Schenck (Malibu Shark Attack, Big Monster On Campus).

wolveswallstreet2The musical score for the film was provided by Harry Manfredini, who has provided music for such memorable horror films as Friday the 13th, Swamp Thing, House, Deepstar Six, Wishmaster, Jason X, and The Omega Code.

The cast for the film included Eric Roberts (Miss Castaway, Inherent Vice, Doctor Who), Elisa Donovan (Clueless), Bradley Stryker (The Lizzie Borden Chronicles), John-Paul Lavoisier (One Life To Live), Jason-Shane Scott (Starship Troopers 2), Michael Bergin (Baywatch), William Gregory Lee (Justified), and Jeff Branson (The Young and The Restless).

The story of Wolves of Wall Street follows a young, aspiring stock broker as he moves to New York and breaks into the world of Wall Street. In order to make his way, he joins up with a ruthless firm of brokers, who demand his life in exchange for success. Also, they are apparently werewolves.

wolveswallstreet3Wolves of Wall Street, as the title suggests, is (very) loosely based on the story of Jordan Belfourt, which would be made famous in Martin Scorsese’s lauded film The Wolf of Wall Street. Belfourt, on top of his notorious career on Wall Street, produced a number of b-movies (including Santa With Muscles) over the years, and became a friend of David DeCoteau’s from acting as a producer on his films Skeletons and Prey of the Jaguar.

Wolves of Wall Street, shockingly, is not a very subtle movie. The parallels between wolves and stock brokers are made constantly and explicitly, to the point that is is exhausting to sit through. Stock brokers are shown urinating on objects to claim them, obsessing over red meat, showing off superhuman senses of smell, and pack hunting, and the full moon might just have more screen time than Eric Roberts by the end of the movie. Before I even got halfway through the movie, I was muttering to myself “yeah, I get it.” At the same time, the movie does everything it can to not show that the stock brokers are actual werewolves, which I have to assume was a budget decision. After all, special effects makeup is expensive, and I think this movie was made for less than the wardrobe costs of The Wolf of Wall Street.

One of my biggest issues with Wolves of Wall Street is that the supposedly relatable and pure protagonist is a bit of an asshat from the beginning of the film. The central romance of the movie is the direct result of him essentially cornering a woman and refusing to accept that she didn’t want to date him, which eventually gets him what he wants. As the plot goes on, he becomes increasingly possessive and aggressively jealous. Basically, he is exactly the sort of jackass that the rest of the stock brokers are, but the audience is supposed to be on his side because he is theoretically good-hearted deep down. It doesn’t help that the actor playing him is absolutely terrible, but the writing of the character would have ruined him regardless.

Worse than the bad characters, abysmal acting, and heavy-handed writing is the hard fact that this movie is just plain boring. In spite of all of those other problems, this might have made for a fun and cheesy film with the right spin on it. Unfortunately, this movie as it stands is the rough equivalent of watching paint dry, and I know what I’m talking about there. The only reason I might recommend watching this movie is for the interesting tangential connection to Jordan Belfourt and the much superior Scorcese movie, and because of how hilarious this movie would have been if it starred Leonardo DiCaprio as the Belfourt surrogate and Matthew McConaughey in Eric Roberts’s role. If only.

Monster High

Monster High

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Today’s feature is the 1989 horror comedy, Monster High.

Monster High has two credited writers: John Platt and Roy Langsdon. The two also wrote the screenplays for 1990’s The Forbidden Dance and Out of Sight, Out of Mind. They  later became producers on a variety of reality television shows, including Big Brother, Brat Camp, The Surreal Life, Kid Nation, and Flipping Vegas.

Monster High was directed by Rudy Poe, whose only other directorial works have been a couple of documentaries. However, he did produce a number of Playboy videos in the late 1990s and early 2000s.

The cinematographer for the movie was Eric Goldstein, who was a camera operator on such movies as The Island of Doctor Moreau, New Nightmare, Hard Ticket To Hawaii, Kingpin, and American Pie 2.

The editor for Monster High was Warren Chadwick, who cut the films Jungle Warriors, Hollywood High Part II, Scared to Death, and Walking the Edge.

The producers for the film were Annette Cirillo (Return of Swamp Thing), Andrew Deane (The Black Cat, Pick Me Up), Richard Gitelson (Rugrats), Arne Holland (The Lemon Sisters), and Tom Kuhn (Playboy’s Really Naked Truth).

The music on Monster High was provided by Richard Lyons, who also scored the notorious Clint Howard horror film Ice Cream Man.

The effects work on Monster High was provided by the team of David Domeyer (Mulholland Drive, The Running Man), Richard Miranda (American Ninja 4, The Mangler Reborn), Matthew W. Mungle (The Midnight Meat Train, Deep Blue Sea), and Howard St. James (Hobgoblins, Death Street USA).

monsterhigh3The reception to Monster High was generally negative: it currently holds a 35% audience aggregate score on Rotten Tomatoes, along with a 3.3 rating on IMDb.

This movie is far more comedy than it is horror, and fails in that endeavor in just about every way.  For example, most of the movie is accompanied by a narrator, who is sure to explain any and all of the cheesy jokes and exposition, despite the fact that everything is clearly laid out to start with. This isn’t just grating, but it drags most of the sequences out longer than they need to be.

The humor in the movie, for the most part, is what you would expect from a modern day Scary Movie sequel: vapid sex comedy and gross-out humor. There is also a bit of self-awareness of the genre’s tropes, but it is mostly buried underneath a mountain of boob, condom, and weed jokes.

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Example: asphyxiation via giant condom

The creative deaths that pop up throughout the film are about the only value it has, courtesy of its extensive class of monsters. This film offers just about every kind of monster you could imagine: aliens with ray guns, mummies, killer plants, an evil computer, zombies, etc, and the variety of deaths go along with them. It seems to me that the effects workers had an absolute ball coming up with the gimmicks and squibs, and they mostly look pretty impressive considering how cheaply the movie was made.

The thing that stood out the most to me about Monster High was the plot, which essentially turns into Space Jam in the last act. An evil alien creates an army of monsters to end the world, and the students at the ground zero high school challenge him to a basketball match to save the planet from destruction. Unfortunately, neither Michael Jordan nor Bugs Bunny make an appearance.

Overall, this movie isn’t good for much more than some vapid, mindless fun. Personally, it isn’t my cup of tea, but I can see how some people would get a kick out of it. The effects are generally impressive, as I mentioned before, but the writing and acting are just atrocious, enough so that I would generally advise avoiding it. That said, if you are into horror comedies that rely on boobs for viewership, this one might be up your alley.

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Shredder

Shredder

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Today’s feature is the 2003 snowboarding-themed slasher movie, Shredder.

Shredder was directed and co-written by Greg Huson, whose only other notable credits are for editing a variety of Playboy documentaries. His co-writer for the film was Craig Donald Carlson, who apparently served as an electrician on the killer puppet movie Pinnochio’s Revenge.

The cinematographer for the film was Charles Schner, who was a camera operator on Carnosaur 3 and Captain America: Civil War, and worked on a variety of television shows including The Mentalist, My Name Is Earl, and American Horror Story.

The editor for Shredder was Andi Armaganian, who has done extensive cutting work on the television shows Arrow and Smallville.

The musical score for Shredder was provided by Alan Derian, who was composed music for a variety of low budget features, including Red Line, Beatdown, Beneath the Blue, and Eye of the Dolphin.

The team of producers for Shredder were Jerry P. Jacobs (Disaster Movie, Cyber Tracker), Geof Miller (DeepStar Six, House IV), and Rory Veal (Lovers Lane),

The effects work for the film was provided by the team of Jerry L. Buxbaum (The Kill Hole, Bullet), Mark Villalobos (Army of Darkness, The Mangler, The Prophecy), Minky Billups (Baby Geniuses, Mission Impossible: II), and Scott Billups (Barb Wire).

The cast for Shredder included Scott Eric Weinger (Aladdin), Lindsey McKeon (Saved By The Bell: The New Class), Billy O’Sullivan (The Van Dyke Show), Brad Hawkins (Boyhood), and Candace Moon (Lions For Lambs, Speed Demon).

Shredder was briefly released to theaters in parts of the northwestern United States, where snowboarding is a big hobby.

In Japan, there was apparently an attempt to market the film as a Friday the 13th sequel, going by the title of Jason Z, which was an aping of the 2001 hit Jason X.

shredder3The reception to Shredder was very negative: it currently holds a Rotten Tomatoes aggregated audience score of 24%, alongside an IMDb rating of 4.5.

Shredder is plagued with awful characters and dialogue from start to finish. There is a constant barrage of lines like “You are so killer!” and “Somebody kill me!,” and more utterances of the word “dude” than I have ever heard outside of The Big Lebowski. The characters are by and large immature brats of high class birth who aren’t identifiable in the slightest, and basically only exist to be “shredded.” By the end of the film, I hated snowboarders as much as the killer, and couldn’t help but pull for the masked skiier to finish off the bunch.

shredder2Shredder tries to ride the line between horror and comedy, presenting an assortment of red herrings and ludicrous character deaths. Personally, I got a slight chuckle out of the sheer silliness of the frozen corpse inside of a snowman and the snow angels made with killed snowboarders. However, most of the attempts at humor just don’t work in the slightest, and come off as either in poor taste or just extremely lazy. In a lot of ways, it bears similarities to Scream in how the characters are written with an awareness of slasher movie tropes, but without any sense of subtlety.

Overall, Shredder is a fairly generic slasher movie that clearly had aspirations of being more. As it is, though, there isn’t a whole lot to recommend here. Horror fans might enjoy it for the generic slasher that it is, but it certainly isn’t anything unique to go out of the way for.