Be careful out there today
Paul and his robot best friend Wall•E move into a new neighborhood where he meets Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Mama Fratelli. Everything’s swell until Mama Fratelli shoots Wall•E with a shotgun around the same time that Buffy’s abusive father throws her down some stairs and Paul decides to do what any teen in his situation would do and implant his smashed robot’s CPU brain into his dead girlfriend’s smokin’ body so he can hopefully one day have sex with it (I just assume that last part was his motivation).
Okay, that synopsis isn’t 100% what happens, but it’s waaaay more interesting than the movie that takes place.
Now, before she was “Buffy the Vampire Slayer,” Kristy Swanson was the cute girl next door that fell for new kid on the block and robot building science whiz kid, Paul Conway. I’m not sure what happened to kids these days, but back in my day having your own robot was the shit! Robots were the perfect companion. Take for instance Luke Skywalker and his pals R2D2 and C3PO. Or John Conners and the T-800. Or that weird foreign guy and Number Johnny 5. Remember on Saved By the Bell how Screech’s best pal was his robot Kevin that lived in his closet. One duo that definitely doesn’t make the cut on that list is Paul Conway and his yellow robot BB.
This movie feels like a low budget knock off of an 80s horror movie. Nothing about it has that Wes Craven DNA in it. That could largely be in part to the fact that it wasn’t really supposed to be a horror movie at all but rather more of a PG teen romance film. It takes FOR-EV-ER for the few and far between “horror” scene that the studio spliced in to even take place. And even then, they hardly make any sort of sense.
The first half or more of the movie was so boring I began to run through other movies/shows that shot in the same Universal neighborhood backlot as this one (The ‘Burbs, The Munsters, Desperate Housewives…). After that I kinda just wished I was watching “The ‘Burbs.”
Anyways, so this movie is basically just “Frankenstein” meets “The Computer Wore Tennis Shoes” but without and of the scares or fun from either film. The brain of this movie is Abby Normal and should not be brought back from the dead!
…Well, actually, you should check out this one clip, it’s the only part from the entire film you REALLY need to see:
WHAT’S IN A NAME?: When Craven started the project it was called Friend (after the novel on which it’s based), then it was changed to Artificial Intelligence to A.I. to Deadly Friend. Aside from just the name changes, Craven originally intend for this film to be a PG supernatural Sci-Fi movie focusing primarily on the love story between Paul and Samantha, but then the studio came in and after numerous test screenings and re-shoots pushed it to be the R-rated mess that we see today.
*UPDATE: They did in fact respond to my email and issued my group and I refunds. They invited us to come back for free after hey revamped the show so at least the acknowledge that the show was a total bomb. Here’s a more interesting re-enactment of how that email went…
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Normally I wouldn’t review something semi-Off Topic like this, but Blumhouse’s The Purge: Fear the Night was such an awful experience that I don’t want anyone else to suffer through let alone waste their hard earned dollars on this piece of garbage. It was especially disappointing after how much enjoyed last year’s Blumhouse of Horrors experience. It was a very detailed, well designed, walk-thru style haunted house with a really cool story that tied in really well to the venue (the abandoned Variety Arts Theater). This yeah it was mainly a house of lies and false advertising.
First off, if you’re looking for a traditional haunted house, this is NOT that. They were clearly going for a Sleep No More styled immersive theatrical experience and missed the mark by a mile. But the description on the website does not in any way, shape, or form, describe the experience you’ll have. Stating that you got together with the guy’s from Blackout to design this experience says a lot, but it offered nothing to that extent. Blumhouse should be ashamed to have it’s name on this thing. It does not live up to the quality of their name and actually tarnishes their brand, which makes me question my future decisions about seeing their films.
They boast that each guest will be “embarking on their own discovery of 6 floors and 70,000 square feet of immersive horror-theater.” But even if those are the specs of the entire building, the actual “experience” only consists of 4 floors, one of which is merely the bar. All in all, it really only felt like a 3 floor experience, but cannot actually return to the first floor and explore. So for 90 minutes you roam the top two increasingly overcrowded floors (the later time groups entered after us, increasing the crowd size) where you follow the show’s characters at your own accord. But these however often consisted of walking back and forth between areas where nothing horrific took place. Even in the Liberty Park area where they had characters roaming in Purge masks, they never did more than stare at you as you walked by (SIDE NOTE: they gave out Purge masks for the visitors to wear which were so poorly made, I didn’t meet one person who’s reaction wasn’t “This thing is gouging out my eyeballs!”).
Eyeball gouging mask
Also of note, even though it’s described as an “immersive experience” you’re not allowed to touch what little props they had in the rooms. One visitor actually got yelled at when he tried to interact by opening a viewing window between two rooms, and yet another was forbidden to go into the hospital set even though the doors were not blocked off like they were in other sections of the theater (this is a prime example of what’s not working, this is the complete opposite of the Sleep No More experience where you’re very much encouraged to dig through the details of the sets). Not only was every one of the visitors we met underwhelmed and confused, one person in our group talked to an employee and asked, “Really? This is it?” and they replied with an apologetic “Sorry” look and shrug.
I truly felt bad for the performers. It was clear that the show was underwritten and lacked direction. Unlike Sleep No More, it was never established whether or not the visitors were supposed to be “actually there” and seen by the actors or not. In some parts you engage and talk the performers (the First Lady, the pregnant girl), but then in others they act like you’re not there (the creepy old man apartment, the President having sex with his mistress), without any rhyme or reason to any of it. It simply failed to keep our attention. There was even a part where our friend was taken and placed on a kitchen table for “interrogation” but it was so boring we actually left him there to see if we could find something interesting… which we did not. But suffices to say, if you get bored when the experience actually involves someone you know, then it’s a clear sign that something isn’t working.
Now don’t get me wrong, it took at least 30mins before we realized this thing sucked. It did start off promising when they gave us each Security Badges (my friend that went the previous night said they all received personalized badges with their names on them, ours simply said “Delegate”). We noticed it had instructions to text a code to a phone number to check in with security. We weren’t sure if this was something that could possibly effect our experience, or simply get us on an annoying mailing list. We did it anyway and it only came into play once during the whole night, so what could potentially have been a really cool interactive element was completely underused.
Immersive interactive experience!
Upon entering the theater, they made each of us go alone (some people, none in our group, got special badges with their names on them, but the only function was they made that person in their group enter first). It started like a traditional haunted house where you’re walking in dark hallways and people pop out and scare and even though it was under-desgined, it had a scary element to it because you were completely alone (a problem that plagues most haunted houses is the line is so contiguous that you hear where all the scares in front of you are before you get there). Eventually you get tot he theater and there’s a political Purge type event going on, but noting happens during this part. With the Purge theme we were expecting at least some theatrics of the person at the podium being assassinated, especially when we were backstage.
Now, I’m not going to post a complete walk-thru of this experience, as I’ve already wasted my time on it once, but the first floor was actually kind of interesting. A rebel group takes the visitors captive and you and your friends are lead through a creepy hostage experience (one of our friends was even pulled from our group and lost until everyone regrouped at the bar). Tho this part was gain under designed and relied heavily on bare hallways, darkness and smoke. It was still kind of exciting. But then they take you to the bar and the experience falls flat on it’s face.
To the bartender’s credit, they pour their drinks REALLY strong, which was nice (and you’ll need it because the rest of the 90min-2hour experience is so boring, you’ll need to be drunk to get through it). They leave you to explore the rest of the place (two small cramped floors) on your own and here’s where it fails miserably. The layout was just wrong. Rooms dead ended which lead to a bottlenecking effect where you’d enter a space get tot he end and see nothing was going on and have to double back through the approaching crowd behind you and swim upstream just to get out.
It was a truly horrifying experience because it of the lack of effort put forth on their part to deliver any kind of horror theater as promised on their website. I was almost offended at how unorganized it was and embarrassed that I talked up last year’s Blumhouse to my friend who I convinced to come with me. And even at our half price ticket (normally $65) we had all felt that we were straight up scammed out of our money. Money that I would’ve easily put towards a much better haunted house experience. I emailed them to request a refund, but doubt they’ll respond (although they have been apologizing to people on the Yelp reviews). I understand that this is a complicated feat to pull off, but as Sleep No More proves, it’s entirely possible. It just requires the proper planning and execution. And if you’re going to attempt such a thing, have it worked out BEFORE you open to the public, please don’t make me pay for your R&D to work out any kinks.
If you only pay for one haunted house or theater experience this Halloween season, DO NOT make it this one!
-0 out of 5 spooks
If there’s one thing I love it’s the hand drawn movie poster of the 80s, back when one sheets were an art form and not just a bunch of photoshopped heads… even if some of the old stuff wasn’t exactly accurate, it was still cool as hell! Check out this fun look back at a few misleading 80s horror movie posters over at FearNet.com….
After watching a Missourri gator wrasslin’ match end in human dismemberment, a sweet little girl with a subconscious thirst for bloodshed demands to take home a souvenir. Daddy buys her Ramon, an adorable baby alligator, and they head back to their home in Chicago.
Not much later, Daddy apparently has had enough of the way Ramon just sits there being cute, quiet and virtually motionless. In a mad dad rage, he flushes the little guy down the toilet. Lost in the vast, stinky world of subterranean Chicago, Ramon is scared and alone…and hungry. Luckily, a sinister pharmaceutical company is testing illegal growth hormones on puppies, then discarding the dead doggies in the sewers. Ramon eats and eats, growing 36 feet long, but never outgrowing his abandonment issues. He begins to take out his rage on sanitation workers and other sewer dwellers until eventually, he’s ready to take on the Windy City proper.
There is an almost immeasurable ocean of JAWS-inspired cinema, with subgenres too various to name here (sharksploitation, crocsploitation, fishsploitation, etc.) In that ocean, only a small handful of films didn’t sink straight to the bottom. Joe Dante’s PIRANHA is one of them. Lewis Teague’s ALLIGATOR is another. Now here’s where it gets weird. Both were written by two time academy-award nominated screenwriter John Sayles. In a just world, these films would have earned him said nominations. In our world, they probably earned him about three hundred and eighty dollars.
Sayles’ riff on this old urban legend goes far beyond the call of duty for a film that could feasibly have the log line, “Big gator eats people.” His witty dialogue pops and he’s got a sly sense of humor that pervades even the serious scenes – like when a severed arm in a drainage pipe is found to belong to Ed Norton, the fictional sewer worker friend of Ralph Kramden in “The Honeymooners.” Everything is tongue-in-cheek and often satirical. Sayles has a (femur) bone to pick against drug companies, the press, hunters and bureaucracy, but the film never falls into all-out parody. He writes some very real human beings into the script. His protagonist isn’t some dumb hunk. He’s a burned-out detective with a tragic, particularly unheroic backstory and thinning hair that people like to call him out on. Genre vet Robert Forster handles the pathos of the role with ease, and brings an extra layer of cool to boot. It’s not surprising that Quentin Tarantino sites ALLIGATOR as one of the main reasons he wanted to cast Forster in JACKIE BROWN.
But enough about this fancy pants writing and acting stuff, right? You don’t pop a movie called ALLIGATOR in the VCR to explore its nuanced characters acting with a capital A. You cue it up because you want to see a big old gator chow down on some dummies. Fortunately, ALLIGATOR delivers in that aspect as well. Big time.
Teague brings this 36 foot beastie to life with a variety of fairly awesome, if not entirely convincing, practical effects. We’ve got what appears to be a full-size mechanical gator with a limited range of motion, a puppeteered gator head for chomping, a puppeteered tail for whacking, and best of all, a real live gator trouncing around on miniature sets. In one “you gotta rewind that” moment, the gator brushes against a miniature bench and it gets knocked around like dollhouse furniture.
As artificial as some of these effects may seem, they still read infinitely more real than the bargain basement CGI in modern B-movie fare like DINOCROC, GATOROID and CROCOSAURUS. They required actual craftmanship. The actors are actually interacting with the creature, not a tennis ball on a stick. It makes all the difference in the world.
The blood and gore quotient is also surprisingly high for this type of film. Legs are munched off, people are swallowed whole, and in a very memorable scene, the gator’s tail slowly crushes a limousine with a mean old man inside of it. All of this is generally a ton of fun, but one disturbing scene almost feels like it belongs to an entirely different, far more mean-spirited flick. Without spelling it out for you, let’s just say it involves a cute little kid, a swimming pool, Ramon, and a shitload of blood. Come to think of it, I think I just spelled it out for you. That scene stuck with me above everything else from seeing the flick as a kid, and was one of the main reasons I chose to revisit it.
All in all, Alligator is a well above-average creature feature from an era that took some pride in its B-movies. Next time Bruce the Shark is due for a visit in your living room, give him the cold shoulder and make room for Ramon.
RATING 31 out of 36 Ragin’ Gators
TEAGUE OF HIS OWN: Director Lewis Teague has a history of directing some killer big-screen beasties – a rabid St. Bernard in CUJO, a mysterious kitty in STEPHEN KING’S CAT’S EYE, and Charlie Sheen in NAVY SEALS.
Ever since his family moved into the house on 1428 Elm Street, teenage Jesse has been having sweaty, shirtless nightmares about an older man named Freddy who’s trying to “get inside of him.” No, it’s not Freddy Mercury. This man wears a colorful sweater, a fancy fedora, and has long, skinny knives for fingers – and he’s just dying to “use Jesse’s body”…um…to kill and stuff.
Will Jesse be able to set himself straight, or will the man of his dreams eventually have his way with him?
Before I can talk about how this film stacks up in the pantheon of NOES movies, I have to address the elephant in the room. It’s a big pink elephant, and it just had the waiter bring over a Midori Sour. Oh god. It just winked at me.
It would be harder to miss the homosexual undertones in Freddy’s Revenge, if not for the huge array of homosexual OVERtones. This movie is gay, folks. Not like, “This Oscar party is kind of gay” gay. More like, “this penis near my buttocks is gay” gay. For further analysis, diving into the subtext isn’t necessary. Instead, let’s just lay out a more detailed synopsis of the plot.
(SPOILERS ahead, but don’t worry too much. This is very much a “you have to see it to believe it” film.)
So due to these nightmares about a male agressor trying to penetrate him, Jesse (played by openly gay actor Mark Patton) struggles at home and at school. His parents suspect he’s hiding skeletons in his closet, and wonder how to “correct him.” At one point, they’re truly disturbed (along with the audience) when they catch Jesse dancing on his bed to “Touch Me All Night Long” while wearing glitter glasses and firing a pop gun between his legs. Poor Jesse, he can never be fabulous. It doesn’t help matters that Jesse’s girlfriend Lisa seems more interested in getting in his pants than hearing about his big scary dream hunk. How annoying. At least there’s someone Jesse feels he can turn to – a bully named Ron, whom he tellingly befriends after Ron rips his pants down and does some bare-bottomed wrestling with him during gym class.
Poor Jesse can only keep the bad man inside him at bay for so long, however. Soon, he finds himself being taking over by him. One night at Freddy’s whims, he wanders to a MEN’S S&M BAR. What?! Overt enough, yet? No? Okay, let’s keep going.
At the S&M Bar, Jesse is caught having a beer by his male gym teacher, Coach Schneider. Now you might think Coach would be embarrassed to run into a student at an S&M bar, especially when he’s wearing a sleeveless vinyl vest, but you’d be dead wrong. Coach takes Jesse back to school with him, in the middle of the night, to PUNISH HIM like the bad, beer-drinking boy he is. After making him run some laps, Coach tells Jesse to hit the showers. All this sexual tension is too much for young Jesse, apparently, because now Freddy fully “gets inside” of him for the first time.
Under Freddy’s control, Jesse telepathically attacks his gym teacher by BOMBARDING HIM WITH BALLS - soccer balls, basketballs, tennis balls, you name it. If it’s a ball, count on Jesse putting it in Coach’s face. As if that was somehow too subtle, Jesse then uses his psychic Freddy powers to tie Coach up in the showers, rip off his clothes, and towel his bare ass until it bleeds. We’re even treated to several close ups of the ass getting redder and redder. It’s astounding, really. After Coach is fully dominated, Jesse/Freddy finishes him off. Which is to say he kills him. I forget how, honestly, because Jesse steals the end of the scene with the most feminine scream in slasher movie history. Read more »
A group of movie-goers get trapped in a theater and one by one become possessed/infected by demons.
Long before “Inception” was blowing the mind of the average movie-goer, a few films had paved the way with intricately nested story structures, but I bet you never thought “Demons” was one of them… well prepare to have your mind blown! This film is about a group of people invited by some weirdo on the street with a Terminator styled half metal face to a free screening. So not only are you watching a movie about people watching a movie, but the events that happen in their movie begin happening to them, which could happen to YOU! And to really pull the condom off this mindf*ck, it’s an Italian horror movie, set in Germany, shot in English but with the standard Italian style post-sound ADRed dialogue. BAM! If your head hasn’t exploded (or imploded) yet, read on.
This movie is chock full of black people at the movie clichés, classic 80s punk rockers (doing coke out of a can of Coke -it’s like a theme within a theme!), a LITERAL blind date (NOTE: never take a blind guy to the movie theater unless you want to go to a movie with someone who is going to ask you what is going on for the ENTIRE movie!), and a shit ton of demon possession that is for some reason oddly works a lot more like a zombie outbreak than demons.
The movie has some classic lines like, “Smash everything, Smash EVERYTHING!” as the movie patrons tear up the automatic projection room. There’s some pretty sweet demon transformation FXs, a sweet samurai style melee attack on a dirt bike, a random helicopter crash for no real good reason, and a nice little surprise at the end (keep watching through the beginning of the credits).
So even though the movie works better as a zombie film than a demon one, it’s a great example of a Good Bad horror movie, lots to laugh at but some decent horror elements are present as well, so it’s not super terrible. If some half metal faced weirdo stalks you down and hands you a free ticket to go see “Demons” be sure to attend!
RATING: 4 out of 6 cursed film reels
SIZZLIN’ SOUNDTRACK: An insane amount of 80s metal and major artists like Billy Idol, Mötley Crüe, Rick Springfield and more…