Saturday, April 12, 2014

The NeverEnding Story (1984)

The NeverEnding Story is one of THE landmark fantasy films of not only the 80's, but all time!...and I only saw it last night on TV. Yeah, I suck, don't I! I've seen Krull, and all four Deathstalker films, yet I haven't seen this?!

Bastian Balthazar Bux is an imaginative kid, but also sad from the recent death of his mother, and persecuted by bullies. One day, he escapes them by hiding in an old run-down book store, where he finds out about strange book The Neverending Story...which he promptly steals (you're a dick, Bastian!). He starts reading the adventure of warrior Atreyu in his quest to save the land of Fantasia from destruction by a mysterious being known as The Nothing. At first, Bastian is simply enthralled by the story, but soon enough, he comes to realize that the book is more than just a story...

Author of the book Michael Ende was none too happy with this adaptation, as it only covers the first half/third of the story, dumbs down certain characters a bit, and doesn't even include certain ones. Ende was angry enough to file a lawsuit against the production company responsible for the film. I understand why he was pissed off (especially given that the movie lacks the reason why the story's even called The NeverEnding Story), but I myself prefer the film's take for a couple of reasons. 1, This still tells a complete, well-rounded and thoughtful story, 2, It's more interesting having the only villain of the film be the borderline Eldritch abomination The Nothing rather than also having a human bad guy, and Three, I just like the plot better this way, without the rest of what's in the book.

However, this is not an adaptation withough issues. For one, the ending is really abrupt!...And doubly stupid. Most glaring is the complete absence of Bastian's father, and the book-keeper after their respective scenes! We don't even find out their names (the same goes for the rest of Bastian's), and the names are a bit of an aspect in the book (Bastian Balthazar Bux, Carl Conrad Coreander). When it comes to those characters, the movie is really lacking.

And speaking of names, with the climax, where the hell does Moonchild come from? It's the name of Bastian's dead mother, but the movie neglects to tell us this (not that you can even hear the name all that well thanks to the music, and the storm)! Though I suppose this doesn't pose an issue if you don't know about that from the book, because in that case you're probably just assuming that Bastian made up the name himself from his night-time surroundings.

Bastian isn't in this movie a whole lot, as he's just reading the story, rather than directly involved in the action. While he's technically the lead, Atreyu is by default the main character, as the majority of the movie focuses on him. As for Bastian, whenever he's onscreen, I found myself face-palming a lot. Due to the bully harassment, he's late for school. It's dumb that he doesn't just go into the classroom and say that, but ok, I'll bite, he can wait for the next class to start...But he never does! He goes into a musty attic and reads the Neverending Story until school's over. And then does he leave when he sees everyone else doing the same? Hell no, he goes back up into the damn attic! And he stays there all night! What the hell, you dumb kid?!

That's enough of the negatives. Onto the good aspects of this movie. The plot is very good! The Nothing is a good concept, and it's much better than a goofy villain mugging for the camera ever could be. There are some fantastic dramatic scenes, like the one with Atreyu and the Rockbiter, and the loss of Artax (which is also pretty funny actually, given the way the horse looks throughout the scene).

The acting is fine all-round. Noah Hathaway is very good as the Native American Indian warrior Atreyu. There's just one tiny problem, though...HE'S FUCKING WHITE! And there's also the fact that his exit from the movie is very abrupt. The moment the Empress starts talking to Bastian, Atreyu's just gone. The next and last time we see him is a brief cameo from afar.

Barret Oliver is ok as Bastian. He doesn't do enough in the story to be an interesting or well-rounded character, as far as I'm concerned.

The rest of the cast (including a terribly dubbed Deep Roy) are fine, especially Alan Oppenheimer as many characters, mainly Falkor the Luck Dragon, who's adorable!...And looks nothing like a damn dragon! When I was a kid, I always thought he was a flying dog!

The creature designs are very good, and extremely creative! The effects, minus sub-par green-screen work, are all very good. The effects can look a little animatronic-y at times, but it''s still light years better than CGI.

All in all, I absolutely recommend The NeverEnding Story! Why did this movie have to end?! Couldn't they have at least made sequels?!...oh wait, they did, and they were awful. *sigh*...

Friday, April 4, 2014

Crackdown Mission-Uncut and Censored Comparison

Back in 2011, I talked at length about the damn-near lost Pierre Kirby film, Crackdown Mission (who he is and what IFD is is explained in that link). The film is actually mildly easy to locate on German DVD, but, and this is a big but, there is no English language track! (and what we have is the German equivalent to the English dub for Andreas Schnaas' Violent Shit III). Unless this DVD company is being a dick and withholding it, then the English track is either sitting in a moldy basement in China gathering dust, or it literally doesn't exist anymore, which is a damn shame. Especially since this plot is the most unique Kirby ever got! I mean, he was in Thunder of the Gigantic Serpent, but he never actually met the serpent, as it was in Movie A, whereas he was in Movie B, but here, we have Ted Fast himself battling a satanic cult of evil doctors (who seem to have actual supernatural powers to boot)!

While this movie isn't too hard to track down, there's absurdly little information about it on the interwebs. It's crazy obscure! There are only three reviews of it on the entire internet, and two of them are in German, so unless there's a deep dark Pierre Kirby rabbit hole 100 Google pages into a keyword search, or I'm literally the only English person in the world with a review for Crackdown Mission! God, I really hope it's the former!

Unfortunately, the DVD company decided to censor the Crackdown Mission DVD of all nudity and violence. I've no idea why, seeing as how the action here isn't all that violent at all. Was the re-edit done by a 'moral guardian' who just plain hated action? Thankfully they've released a re-issue DVD which is uncut (so says the cover, which is how I was clued in), so I'm here to provide a comparison. What did the first DVD print remove, and what's the complete film like?...

Before I get to that, a refresher on the plot. Crackdown Mission is about what I mentioned above, but that's only the IFD Movie B segment. The rest (i.e. the remaining three-and-a-half quarters) is an Asian take on Ms. 45 (which I never mentioned in my original review, as it slipped my mind).

The uncut version opens up with the traditional IFD opening-a Columbia logo ripoff with a Star Wars theme. Following that is the first major difference between DVD's. In this version, we see the whole opening sex-scene, wherein, 1, there's more nudity (WOOOOOOO!), and 2, it's shown that the double-murder wasn't caused by an intruder as I always thought, but rather the woman poisoning the guy, then killing herself.

Next, there's an extra rape scene, which given its placement in the story makes this more of an obvious Ms. 45 knock-off than it otherwise would be (the woman gets raped in an alleyway, goes home distraught, and gets raped by a burglar who's robbing her apartment). This scene explains why right after, the woman starts crying. In the censored version, her demeanor comes out of nowhere.

Most of the second rape scene is also kaput in the censored version, as is the burglar getting his head smashed in with the lamp/ornament/whatever the woman uses. It goes from her grabbing it, to a rough edit to her hiding an iron under the bed for no reason, then going outside her apartment and loooking at the stairwell while etheral cackling is in the air. Along with other scenes, this is why I originally though this was a possession movie rather than a Ms. 45 rape-revenge flick, as in the cut version, it seems like the thief escapes, then 'turns into ghostly whispers' as I put in in 2011. In the uncut version, we see her take the iron and beating the thief/rapist to death with it, hence her hiding it aftwerwards. We also see her landlady coming up to see what all the commotion is about, and in the process, saying the main character's name-Audrey. FINALLY! I spent the entirety of my review calling her Woman because as far as I could tell, her name is never uttered once.

More uncut footage has Audrey hiding the body (for God's sake, these German distributors must have been pussies! 2001: A Space Oddysey is rated G, and it has more graphic stuff on display than this movie has when uncut!)

The next excised scene has Audrey dismembering the thief's body. Remember how in my original review, I mention certain scenes that are in negative coulour for no reason? Same applies for this, and here, it's reminding me of the Crazy Fat Ethel movies.

I'll just quickly go over the rest of the 'extensions' to Movie A here. There are no quick cuts away when people get shot, and in the cut version, there are several scenes of Audrey throwing shopping in the trash for no reason. But in the uncut DVD, we know that she's disposing of a body. Doesn't make the film feel any less aimless and dull though.

Now finally, we come to the excised Pierre Kirby footage! YES! The years of waiting are finally over!

These scenes are badass! Pierre Kirby not only proves himself to be my second favourite action hero with just a scant seven minutes of fighting at most, but his karate moves are a sight to behold as well. They're pretty cool, and impressive too.

I imagine this came once the ninja boom died, so instead of multi-coloured samurai, it's instead about a bunch of people in regular clothes beating the shit out of each-other. Kinda dull compared to neon pink and fleuro yellow ninjas, but it hardly matters.

There's one particularly goofy moment during the fight with some guy, and Paul John Stanners (who I sorta mistook for playing another character last time), where Kirby throws hay, fucking HAY at some guy, and it throws off his aim! I am so not even kidding. Whether it be deus-ex-machina acorns, or trusty berets, this is one action hero who always has the right stuff on hand to save his skin!

By the way, still no idea if Kirby does do a 'Six bullets or only five' routine with Edowan Bersma's villain at the end, but I swear he does! The way he looks when talking just screams Dirty Harry to me!

Movie B as a whole suffers less from excised footage than Movie A, but that's rather understandable, as Movie B is less than twenty minutes long. Dammit, Universe, you're a cruel dick!

Ultimately, there's twelve minutes of extra footage here, and it's definitely wecome for those who actually want to properly see Pierre Kirby's most elusive (technically) film. Is it worth tracking down this film for the IFD footage, despite the boring rape movie? Sure, why not. Maybe the English track does still exist, and if the movie gets enough attention, maybe the company will release a new DVD with the original English track. Though that's just wishful thinking on my part. But the guy was only in nine movies, so I really do hope that they're all complete someday. R.I.P. Pierre Kirby...

Friday, March 28, 2014

Bill and Ted's Excellent Adventure (1989)

My most excellent friends, let me tell you about the radical journey of Ted Theodore Logan and Bill S. Preston Esq., two most triumphant dudes!

Bill and Ted's Excellent Adventure is one of the most fondly remembered films of the 80's. It's a comedy about two slackers with aspirations of greatness in their band Wild Stallions (spelt with a lot more radical Y's in the movie). Unfortunately the two are flunking history, and if they fail their final test, they'll be expelled, and Ted will be shipped off to military school by his asshole father. Rufus, a mysterious guy from the future, comes to the town of San Dimas to help Bill and Ted with their report, temporarily giving them a phone booth time machine which they can use to travel the network of history until they find the answers for their test...

This is perfection! The kind of movie you want to see a million sequels to! Unfortunately they did make a sequel, which was most bogus!...Ok, most people just think of it as pretty 'meh', rather than truly awful, but still. There also may or may not be a third movie* on the way in the possible future.

*A Third Bill and Ted movie? But they're middle-aged now! How could we see a fifty year old Bill and Ted and take it seriously? As for the lack of Rufus due to George Carlin's death back in 2008, most people say you can't make a Bill and Ted movie without him, but Bill and Ted 3 wouldn't suffer too much from the loss, given he's only in the first film for less than five minutes.

*Oh, and sorry for the most egregious lack of images. I saw this on TV, and don't own a physical copy, so I can't take screenshots. Most un-radical.

This movie is hilarious! Enough said!

Ok, I'll say more. The humour is consistently funny, Bill and Ted are great characters (I especially love their laidback attitude when in the various time periods), the whole finale is great, and by the time the movie's over, you'll have a smile plastered on your face!

Practically every scene is golden, from Bill having the hots for his stepmom, to the duo meeting their future selves, a switch-flip wild western saloon fight, and historical figures like Genghis Khan, Abraham Lincoln, Dr. 'Frood', So-crates, Billy the Kid, etc. enjoying themselves in various different ways in a mall, but my favourite is the 'In Time' one. If you've seen the movie, you know what I mean!

Alex Winter and Keanu Reeves do great jobs as the title duo! They're hilarious, get great lines, have great characters, and Keanu Reeves can actually act here! (Not to knock on Keanu too much)   George Carlin is mildly funny as Rufus. I say 'mildly' as he's barely in the movie.

The actors playing the historical figures do their jobs well, their acting is good, and in the case of Go-Go's musician Jane Wiedlin, who play Joan of Arc, she's a cute babe! And speaking of Joan of Arc, I like to think that in this universe, she lived happily ever after in the present or future, or went back to her own time and kicked some ass, avoiding her horrible death. And as for Beethoven seemingly being able to hear in this movie, I don't mind. Why? Because he's Beethoven! The man was deaf, yet still composed some of the geatest symphonies known to man. I can buy that he heard the bodacious tunes of an electric keyboard.

The effects are cheesy, but good. And the movie's soundtrack is most excellent! WYLD! STALLYNS!

I leave you with the most excellent recommendation of this outstanding movie! Don't make the egregious mistake of missing out. Later, dudes and dudettes! Party on!...

Saturday, March 22, 2014

The Revenant (2009)

Ugh, I've been looking forward to seeing 2009 zombedy The Revenant since I read a highly positive review a couple years back, and I finally watched it last night, and I was sorely disappointed!

I was so pissed off that I originally wasn't going to mention this film here, and just I'd just forget it over time, but no. There are too many glowing reviews on IMDb that talk about how this is an 'undiscovered classic', 'Deserves more credit than it gets', 'Is one of the best horror comedies of all time', and 'Forget Shaun of the Dead!'. Yeah, everyone has different opinions, but when I see so many glowing reviews for something I hate, and they say stuff like that, then I really have no other option than to speak up!

I really liked The Revenant for first half-hour, but the plot started to piss me off badly! The plot really is the main thing that tanked this movie for me. The acting's all good, the effects are good, but the terrible writing just kills it. There are stupid character decisions, bullshit moments, missed opportunities, and the whole thing just made me angry! Really frustrated!

Another big problem is the amount of swearing here. I swear, and there's nothing wrong with that of course, but this film goes WAAAY overboard! Almost every single line has the word 'fuck' in it at least once, and it got annoying only twenty minutes in! Imagine having to deal with the rest of the damn film!

The comedy was fine enough for the first quarter, but steadily declined. And as a comedy-horror, the two genres never really mesh. Films like Braindead, Shaun of the Dead, and Evil Dead II are all much better examples of the genre. You could do better with My Boyfriend's Back than The Revenant!

By the way, as an aside, there are so many people online (and on the DVD cover) claiming that The Revenant is 'Destined to become a cult classic!'. Go and research what a cult classic actually is, you goddamn idiots!

And that's all I have to say about this film. Not a whole lot, but enough to get the point across, I hope. It's so bad that you'd do good to rewatch Night of the Living Dead after just having read about this film, so you can see a real zombie film. Hell, a Jerry Warren zombie film is a better candidate than The Revenant! Avoid!

Sunday, March 9, 2014

Starving in Hollywood (2014)

Well this is a first. For the first time, I've been recommended something for review by someone involved in its production-sketch comedy webseries Starving in Hollywood (brought to my attention by cast member Dolores Quintana, who might be familiar to those who've seen Zombie Nation).

Transmission 1

Starving in Hollywood is a scattershot acid trip of a sketch comedy, and yes, I mean that in a good way! This first episode is a very good introduction to this series.

The comedy definitely hits the mark. While it may not be for everyone, there are plenty of laughs to be had here, especially in the first two sketches, and the 99% one. This series is especially appealing to me as I've seen innumerable sketch comedies over the years, and the bad ones are like insects-for every good sketch comedy, there's five shitty ones, and believe me, I've seen some of the worst sketch comedies this side of the Eastern Seaboard. Huge props to the makers of Starving in Hollywood for making an entertaining one!

The acting is good all round, especially from Rebecca Honet, who's not only a beauty, but is a fine actress I'm definitely looking forward to the rest of the series.

Transmission 2

Airing today was episode 2 of SiH, and it's a fine follow-up, with more comedy, and more bits that make you wonder if cameras can 1, Drop acid, and B, Edit film.

This time round, there are some recurring sketches/characters, and some new, and the episode is funny all-round, like Batman's Bane as a chiropractor with exactly the kind of result you'd expect, the hilariously baffling Madness Minute (think Buffalo Bill, Frank Zito, and The Gruesome Twosome), and the Alternative Hollywood Tour group.  There was one sketch (the blimp one) which I didn't find very funny, although I didn't even get it, so maybe it's a reference to something I'm unfamiliar with.

As with before, the acting's all good. No complaints here.

Watch this space for my thoughts on future episodes...

Friday, March 7, 2014

Not This Time Nayland Smith's Third Year Anniversary

Woohoo! It's my third year anniversary of blogging! Wooooo!

...Yeah, that's all I'm going to say this time. It's been 50 degrees Celsius here for the last few days (which proves that God exists and he hates us all...Either that, or it's Ming the Merciless), and I can't be bothered doing much of anything. I now successfully own a copy of Dr Mabuse: The Gambler, but am I watching it? Nope, I'm waiting for cooler weather.

Actually, I have one more thing to say. I WILL have a banner for my blog done up before the year is out, and I can assure you that among other things, it will contain Fu Manchu, Brandon Lee, and Pierre Kirby!

Saturday, March 1, 2014

The Refrigerator (1991) [The Deadly Doll's House of Horror Nonsense's The Shortening]

There have been many household items that have gotten hungry for human blood over the years, from Death Bed: The Bed That Eats, The Mangler (clothes dryer), a film about a blender massacre that may or may not exist, The Lift (Tagline-"The stairs! The Stairs! For God's sake, take the stairs!"), etc., and in the case of 1991 film The Refrigerator, it's exactly what it says on the tin!

Steven has just quit his job, and he and his wife Eileen are leaving for their new apartment, which is oddly cheap at only $200 dollars a month. They soon come to realize, however, the terrifying reason they got the flat so cheap...THE FRIDGE!...

The Refrigerator is mostly horror, but it doesn't take itself too seriously. It knows what it is.    Annoyingly, there's no shortage of people on the internet who don't get the joke, who say things like 'This film is unintentionally funny with its badness', as if the film about the demonic refrigerator took itself dead serious. It's meant to be somewhat goofy.

Fortunately and unfortunately, this movie is the kind of horror where as I explain in my Dangerous Game review, I like the characters enough that I'd want to see a TV show about them, or something (I'm more leaning on the something side when it comes to these characters). Fortunately, because that means the writing is good and the characters aren't like Tina in Halloween V, and unfortunately, because, well, it is a horror movie. But hey, I'm no softie-bring on the carnage!

And carnage there is, from a guy getting his leg chomped off by a garbage can, or torn up by a hostile cuisinart, to the titular refrigerative menace.

If you're wearing a hat like that, quite frankly, you deserve to get eaten by a fridge...

The film is a little slow-moving, but it's never boring, thankfully. I do kinda wish that deaths could have been more evenly spread out, as aside from the kill in the opening, there's not another death until over forty minutes into the film. But at least the movie is using said time to develop its characters and tell its story, so I won't be too harsh. One part I definitely felt was too short was the fun montage with an original song singing about the film's characters!

The characters are fun and likeable. Eileen is relatable with her character storyline (and the scene with her and her mother near the end is very good!), and Juan the plumber/super is likeable and fun, portrayed very well by Angel Caban.

There's not much gore, but what there is is more than serviceable.

By the way, I would write a Dirk Gently joke about now, but I'm really not sure how many of my readers have read The Long Dark Tea-time of the Soul, so I'll stay my hand at making obscure jokes for now.

Also by the way, The Refrigerator contains the best line in any horror-comedy!-"I am the wafflemaker!" It has to be seen to be believed!...

The film has very good scoring, which surprisingly manages to build an air of creepiness for a movie about a killer fridge! If you took out the goofy idea, tightened up the pace, you'd have a damn fine regular horror movie!...Not that I'm saying that should have happened. It'd be no good to deprive the movie of its charm. One problem though is that I wish there was some backstory for the killer gateway-to-hell fridge.

There is one stupid thing that happened at the end of the though...


When the crazy possessed Steven is carrying Eileen to the refrigerator, she grabs ahold of a knife, and instead of just cutting his arm or something, she stabs him in the back and kills him! Honey, don't act so shocked and distraught that he's dead, you're the one who friggin' killed him!

Also, there's no ending to the climax. Appliances go haywire, the fridge eats psychic lady (Why didn't you run, bitch?!), Eileen and Juan get out, then they smile with relief as they're out...But uh, what about the fridge?! You didn't do anything, you just left as psychic lady died, and called it a day!


I recommend The Refrigerator. It's a fun little flick, and it's well worth a watch! Just remember to keep an eye out for your fridge. It's watching you. It's always watching you...

This post is for The Shortening, a blogathon set up by Emily of  The Deadly Dolls House of Horror Nonsense.