This was yet another movie that played endlessly in local syndication during my mis-spent youth, and I loved it. For a nine-year-old viewer, this is some pretty damned bleak stuff. Near-total worldwide blindness, dangerous gangs of looters (or worse), poisonous man-eating plants that pull themselves out of the ground to chase you...I mean, we're basically talking about the end of the world here!
Knowing that this was based on a British science fiction novel that was by all accounts a classic, I had been curious for years as to what the source material was like. Well, just five days ago I finally found John Wyndham's original, and BOY is it a different animal altogether! I would love to see a straight adaptation rather than the adventure/monster movie take that was employed for the 1963 movie. The original story focuses more on modern (1950's) society coming to a dead halt, and the survivors' attempts to start over rather than the threat of the triffids (which are a lot scarier in the book). Anyway, the novel is severely dumbed-down for the screen, and it kind of made me sad to think what the author must have thought of the movie. So, while I still like the movie for what it is, I recommend the novel for a story that will really make you think.
RAW IMAGINATION IN AN EARLY JAPANESE-ANIMATED IMPORT
Over the years, I have seen many reviews that have mercilessly slagged ALAKAZAM THE GREAT as a bad movie, and it even made it into the highly questionable book THE 50 WORST FILMS OF ALL TIME. The question I have is: did all of you who hate this movie see the same film that I did when I was a youngster? I have shown many children this film over the years and not one of them failed to enjoy it.
ALAKAZAM THE GREAT is loosely based on the Wu Cheng-En classic JOURNEY TO THE WEST, a landmark of Chinese epic literature, and tells the story of an arrogant monkey king who learns the secrets of magic and becomes a cosmic pain in the ass. After a brief rampage through the heavens, he is imprisoned by the gods and eventually sent on a pilgrimage to atone for his sins and learn humility. The monkey must escort a young prince (who is the son of the gods) through a series of insanely lethal adventures in a land teeming with demons and monsters of every description, picking up a couple of unusual traveling companions along the way (an anthropomorphic pig-man and a burrowing cannibal). Much magic and cartoon ass-whuppin' ensues, and despite the (mercifully brief) musical numbers, this film has raw imagination to spare. Fast-paced and fun, this is not the dud that some would lead you to believe. Give it a chance!
If any of you out there know me at all, you know that I simply love Godzilla and all of his rubber-suited brethren. That said, I am fully capable of giving a fair and impartial review of Big G's films; let's face it, the big guy's had his share of stinkers (GODZILLA ON MONSTER ISLAND anyone? Peeee-yew!!!). Some of the Godzilla oeuvre (fancy film-snob word!) have been attempts at social commentary, with varying degrees of effectiveness, yet most are simply good, old-fashioned city-stompin' fun. I am pleased to inform you that the latest installment in the series is a fine return to the old-school fun monsterfests of yore, in fact GODZILLA VS. MEGAGUIRUS gets the El Buncho seal of approval as the best Godzilla flick in a decade!!!
SPOILER WARNING!!! As of now, since I basically just gave you all the "yea or nay" of all of this, you can skip this review if you don't care about Big G. All others, stick around! Also, since this film has yet to see US release, and most of you may not have my video resources, where else are you going to hear about this one?
In this installment, despite what Toho has set up in the previous entries of the current series, it is revealed that Godzilla (there is no longer a distinction between old and new) has shown up a couple of times since 1954 (when he was decisively killed by an "oxygen destroyer", but I won't go there ) in search of nuclear energy to feed off of. To curb the big critter's appetite (to say nothing of his periodic rampages all over the country), the Japanese government bans nuclear power and develops a plasma-based clean fuel system. For whatever reason, this does absolutely nothing to thwart Godzilla.
The government then implements a paramilitary group called the G-Graspers (Yes, I'm serious) who intend to put an end to the big guy once and for all using a focusable black hole generator called the Dimension Tide. The leader of the G-Graspers is a young woman named Tsujimori, a former ranger whose commanding officer was killed in an encounter with Godzilla five years previous, and she is obsessed with avenging her commander's death. She recruits a humble nano-technology (itty-bitty robots) genius named Kudo to help on the Dimension Tide project by using his skills to create the ultimate computer system to guide it. Why he creates a super-guidance system that can only be operated from his personal laptop computer is beyond me, but I'll let that one go
The test of the Dimension Tide gun is a success, sucking an abandoned test building into oblivion, but there is evidence of residual dimensional distortion. Of course, no one thinks anything of it, and a little boy who accidentally witnesses the test finds a mysterious egg, which he promptly takes home. His family is then transferred to Tokyo, where he abandons the growing, oozing egg in the city sewer system. At the same time, a solar powered satellite is launched into orbit which houses the Dimension Tide gun and can be focused anywhere in the world. However, it has been untested from such a great distance Meanwhile, the egg has begun to replicate in the stagnant sewer water, and soon there are thousands of the damned things
In the meantime, Tsujimori and the G-Graspers find Godzilla on his way to the mainland, and Tsujimori plants a tracer on Godzilla (while hitching a ride on him, no less!!!), making it easier for the G-Graspers to track him with the orbiting black hole gun.
A young couple walk into a back alley and are devoured (very graphically for one of these movies!) by what appears to be a giant dragonfly larva. Then, for absolutely no reason, Tokyo is flooded (???), creating a perfect environment for these giant dragonflies to mature in. Presently, there is a swarm of them flying about in search of radioactive sustenance (I know they ate people, but what the hey?), and by swarm I mean thousands. And what better radioactive snack than a 400-foot tall guy in a rubber suit?
Megaguirus proceeds to hand Godzilla the granddaddy of all ass-kickings in a scene which is truly painful to watch. This is without question the fight of Godzilla's career, with a climax that made me feel like I haven't felt since that day back in 1977 when I first saw Luke Skywalker blow the Death Star out of the sky. For once Godzilla really earns his victory. Trust me, Godzilla fans, this is the stuff.
Once Megaguirus is dry-roasted, Godzilla falls victim to the Dimension Tide's black hole. Or does he? (Watch all the way through the credits for the answer to that question.)
As is apparent from my synopsis, this movie doesn't make a whole lot of sense, even by the somewhat dubious standards of the Godzilla series. To that I say, "who cares?" This is one of the few times where I'm utterly willing to overlook such things, because this is the rare Godzilla flick where the story with the humans is actually interesting and lively. If you like this kind of stuff, definitely check it out! FINAL EL BUNCHO GRADE: A SOLID 9 OUT OF A POSSIBLE 10.
I first saw TUNNELVISION at a party back in 1983, and the effects of the intoxicants that were rampant in my 18-year-old brain led me to belive that it was a comedic masterpiece. NOT SO, I say! Bear in mind that this was made at a point in the seventies when it seemed like everyone (including the president) was stoned out of their minds, and most of these gags are geared to a seriously baked audience. Sadly, that type of humor doesn't necessarily work if you aren't stoned, and out of the seventy-five minute running time, I'd estimate that there are maybe 20 minutes of solid laughs. Take my advice and don't miss:
REMEMBER WHEN- a gameshow where the contestants are chosen by how foolish and embarrassing their outfits are (Betty Thomas in pasties and a g-string and Joe Flaherty in a ludicrous red dress), with questions asking them to remember the various crimes and degradations that they have committed.
RAMON & SONYA- an "All In The Family"-style sitcom about a bunch of foul-mouthed, incestuous gypsies living in New York city.
THE BIG BEAT- a wish fulfillment segment reminiscent of Don Kirschener's Rock Concert, only here the audience gets to beat the living hell out of the various performers.
HOW TO BE BUTCH- perhaps the ultimate PSA, and hilariously self-explanatory.
For those who don't know: MANDINGO and DRUM are both adaptations of books from the Falconhurst plantation series of novels by Kyle Onstott and, later, Lance Horner. There were several books in the series; thus far I've run across about five or six of them!
DISCLAIMER: let me state right now that I am black and can totally understand how people are easily offended by these films. The thing is these films feature such sheer, unadulterated exploitation and overripe acting/dialogue that hardcore bad movie addicts will have a hard time NOT finding these films majorly entertaining! I flat-out admit that both MANDINGO and DRUM are among my favorite guilty pleasures, and I view them both as what would happen if John Waters could have gotten away with making a really sleazy soap opera set on a plantation. Some of the dialogue is so ridiculous that it's nearly impossible for me to take these films seriously at all, although the rape and torture does bring one back to the wretchedness of the situation.
Anyway, I don't know where those of you who claim that DRUM is not a sequel to MANDINGO got that idea. Warren Oates is playing the same character that Perry King did in the first film, only this story takes place about fifteen years later. He even makes veilled references to what happened at the end of MANDINGO, specifically the fates of Ken Norton and Susan George. In other words, PAY ATTENTION! And if you think this is exploitativve, go back and watch the uncut version of ROOTS again. Sure it's more "legit" than MANDINGO and DRUM, but it is every bit the exploitative soap opera that they are. For the real flavor and excellence of ROOTS, read the book.
Remember the days when there used to be matinees on the weekends with double and triple features that parents could drop their kids off at and have a day of peace? Well, I saw this one when I was ten years old and I went with great anticipation, since one of the early matinees that I went to was a fun double feature of THE SEVENTH VOYAGE OF SINBAD and KING KONG ESCAPES.
Now here's the problem: when the matinee was advertised on TV, the ads were for a film called JOURNEY TO THE BEGINNING OF TIME; something about a bunch of kids in a raft who somehow end up in the prehistoric era battling dinosaurs. All of the kids I knew went to see it, and we were alive with excitement. The lights dimmed...and we got JOURNEY TO THE CENTER OF TIME, a boring highbrow flick for a much older age group. That's right, the distributor sent the theater the wrong movie!!! I can only imagine the plight of the poor theater manager who had to face all of the irate parents after the show....Anyway, I was one of about twenty kids who actually sat through the movie, and I really wish I hadn't. That so-called "twist" ending...Oh, brother!!!
Seeing this on the late, lamented 4:30 Movie on New York City's WABC TV back in the mid-'70's was a real eye-opener. Here was a movie that pretty much has no action whatsoever and my ten-year-old self sat riveted to it. I went into it knowing that it had something to do with a guy who turns into fly or something, but in no way did I expect such a tragic, intelligent and downright disturbing movie! And I defy you to be able to say that the ending didn't scar you for life!
A good 3 Brothers action-comedy, but wait until you get a load of Jackie's fight with Benny Urquidez!
This is a pretty good film of its type, but let's cut right to the chase: skip ahead to roughly the last 20 minutes since the rest of the movie isn't anything you haven't seen before (not that that's meant to be an insult). What you'll find is a series of kung fu battles (Yuen Biao vs Keith Vitali, Sammo Hung vs Richard Norton) that are okay, but the highlight is the four-star fight between Jackie Chan and Benny "the Jet" Urquidez. That fight is a real bone-rattler and is probably the best one-on-one fight put on film in the last twenty years.
There are those who prefer Jackie Chan's later work (the POLICE STORY series, WHO AM I?, RUMBLE IN THE BRONX), but give me the early stuff! DRUNKEN MASTER is the perfect balance between action and humor, and the story is pure fun from start to finish.
Sort of a remake of the previous year's SNAKE IN THE EAGLE'S SHADOW (which was again sort-of-remade right after this one as THE FEARLESS HYENA), DRUNKEN MASTER tells the story of Freddy Wong (Wong Fei Hung in the original Chinese), the troublemaking son of a martial arts teacher, who is simply incapable of not getting into fights. At his wits' end, his father calls in his Freddy's uncle, the infamous Sam Tse, to discipline the boy. Sam Tse also happens to be a master of the "eight drunk gods" technique, which is fueled by Herculean ingestion of wine. When a drunken master gets loose, God help anyone foolish enough to fight him!!!
Freddy's training is so harsh that it could be seen as torture, so Freddy runs away because he is too lazy to learn it. Besides, he already knows his dad's style of kung fu, right? He promptly runs into a killer-for-hire who teaches the kid a humiliating lesson in the art of ass-whuppin'. He also engages Freddy in one of the all-time classic exchanges in a genre that is replete with classic exchanges:
BAD GUY- Hmmph! Who teaches you that kung fu? FREDDY (proudly)- My dad does! BAD GUY- Hmmph! Judging by your kung fu, he's useless! I wouldn't hire him to wipe my ass!!! (He then seriously kicks Freddy's sorry butt)
After that, Freddy trains hard in the eight drunk gods, and his transformation is a joy to behold. The sequence in which Jackie demonstrates seven of the eight forms is a jaw-dropping display of what a highly-trained martial artist/acrobat can do. YOU WILL BE AMAZED. Highly recommended, and whatever you do, don't miss Jackie's fight with an old lady in the middle of the street (old school kung fu fans, you know the rule: if the person is really old, DO NOT FIGHT THEM!!!), and his drunken-style fight with "the king of sticks." It's not as slick as Jackie's later films, but this one has fun and energy to burn!
Okay zombie stuff, but what's up with that ending?
At the height of the unlamented slasher film boom of the early '80's, it was refreshing to see the occasional Italian zombie film. Let's face it: if you were a gorehound you knew that American gore movies were getting tamer and tamer by the day thanks to wimpy censors/distributors cutting the only thing that people go to see these movies for in the first place-the friggin' gore! If you wanted the hardcore stuff, the Italians frequently came to the rescue ( although that's not to say that the films themselves were any good, they were just gory as all get out). That said, THE GATES OF HELL certainly delivers the goods, but the story is utterly pointless and nonsensical.
SPOILER WARNING!!! At the end of the film, when all evil is vanquished, the heroes emerge from the underworld and run to embrace a kid who was left orphaned by all of the preceding mayhem and he runs to eagerly greet them. As they all run toward each other, suddenly the action goes slo-mo and the adults start waving frantically at the boy while screaming "No! No! Nooooooooo!!!!!" We then see a freeze frame of the kid's smiling face, the image shatters like a pane of glass and the credits roll. HUNH??? I stood up in the theater, turned to the equally bewildered audience and screamed "Does anyone here understand what the *@#$% that was supposed to mean???" The blank looks on their faces spoke volumes. To this day I don't understand that ending and will give my first-born child to the person who can explain it!
I'm a huge Godzilla fan, but I was never able to warm up to this entry in the series. The mawkish comedy is very irritating and would unfortunately begin to creep in from here on.
With battles that resemble third-rate wrestling shows and a story that's pretty uninteresting, this one really does nothing with the two great movie monsters. And that Kong suit!!! OY! It looks like a hairy, mutated duck-creature. Well, at least we get to see Kong get drunk, and we get another batch of unintentionally hilarious Japanese actors in blackface as the natives of Kong's island. Skip this one and head straight for the far-superior GODZILLA VS. MOTHRA (aka GODZILLA VS. THE THING).
SPOILER WARNINGS(like you haven't already seen this, and if not, shame upon your house)!!!
Ah, MOTHRA...We die-hard giant monster fans usually have widely divergent opinions on what the finest films in the genre are, and by that I don't mean regarding such merits as camp value. I'm talking ART; genuine classic cinema. The original MOTHRA is one of that rare handful.
The look of this film is unique for a film of this genre; simply put, it looks like a fairy tale. And talk about a departure from the usual radiation-spawned beastie! Mothra is a goddess who had apparently been on that island for quite some time, long enough to have a culture of hardcore worshipers. Also of note is the fact that she is a benevolent creature who only wreaks havoc when the greedy entrepreneur refuses to return her priestesses. Mothra goes up against all that science can throw at her and triumphs at every turn for one simple reason: she is a GODDESS and is therefore not necessarily answerable to science/physics.
The little things in this film go a very long way to make it memorable. The identical twin fairy priestesses who speak in unison, the song for help that the twin fairies sing endlessly to summon Mothra that people misinterpret as merely a quaint native folk song (HOO BOY, are they ever wrong!!!), Frankie Sakai as the pugnacious reporter "Bulldog," Bulldog's edge-of-your-seat rescue of an infant, Mothra blithely cocooning herself and the subsequent (pointless) use of an atomic heat-ray to try and burn her alive, the truly beautiful and majestic image of the winged Mothra taking flight and demolishing everything in her path with hurricane-level winds...it all adds up to a perfect, entertaining family film. If you have never seen MOTHRA, rent it now. Keep an open mind, remember that you're watching a fairy tale, and you will not be disappointed. HIGHEST RECOMMENDATION.
The first of Toho's color giant-monster extravaganzas, RODAN (called "Radon" in its native country) is spectacular in every sense of the word. The opening bits in the mines are truly scary, and the hero's ordeal in the caverns is seriously harrowing. As a kid, those scenes really made an impression on me, and I can fully understand how someone could suffer a total nervous breakdown after seeing what that poor guy saw...
As for the tile critter: SURPRISE! There are two of them!!! They fly at mind-bending speeds and (unlike almost every other critter in this genre that I can think of) they actually eat people! Think of them as giant predatory birds and that's them in a nutshell. Great fun for the whole family. Sadly, in subsequent appearances (which make zero sense due to how this flick ends) Rodan was given an almost goofy personality and the worst googly eyes ever seen on a monster suit.
NOTE: when referring to this film I'm only talking about the original version, not the one with Raymond Burr (which wasn't bad, by the way).
GOJIRA is one dark, depressing mamma-jamma, simply a film that American monster movie makers would have been incapable of making. With the horrors of the atomic bomb still painfully fresh in the Japanese national memory, Gojira was the perfect embodiment of a death beyond imaginging, translated from a culture whose mythology is steeped in ogre-like death-bringers. Usually seen at night, Gojira is a dark, implacable shape that proceeds with no point or purpose, leaving agonizing tragedy in its wake.
What really sets this apart from its many spinoffs and sequels is the clearly addressed danger of atomic energy as a force that man can never control. One important point made in this film that has been glossed over by the later films (and indeed by most Gojira fans) is that the 1954 appearance of this creature is NOT the first time that it showed up. As illustrated in centuries-old woodprints, the monster that was later irradiated and reawakened as Gojira attacked Japan centuries ago and was driven back into the sea by a group of brave (and probably insane!!!) samurai. Spears and balls may have driven Big "G" away back in the days, but the bomb rewrote the rules, big time.
The other very interesting thing in this film is Dr. Serizawa, a brilliant scientist who has the means to destroy Gojira, but has serious reasons for not wanting to do so. Rent the flick and see what I mean. HIGHLY RECOMMENDED.
A STRONG CONTENDER FOR THE TITLE OF "MOST SHAMELESS MOVIE EVER MADE"
You just have to love the massive balls that it took to release this film at the height of the James Bond craze. It wasn't enough just to flagrantly rip off the Bond films, no, the producers actually got most of the supporting actors/villains/hot chicks from the real films and then had the nerve to cast Sean Connery's brother, Neil, as the hero (who is alluded to be 007's brother)! However, as bad'60's spy flicks go, this is astonishingly more entertaining than most of them. Give it a chance!
WHAT'S THE DEAL WITH THE ITALIAN FILM INDUSTRY AND THESE CANNIBAL FLICKS?
Basic concept: a grad student goes to the Amazon with two people in tow to prove that cannibalism among headhunters is actually a racist myth perpetuated to make people hate Amazon Indians (like anyone actually cares). HOO-BOY, is she proven wrong!
This movie basically bites the big one, but it is a must-see for gore fanatics because of *SPOILER WARNING* the infamous scene where a native chops off a bad guy's ween and eats it in front of him like a popcorn shrimp. That's crazy enough, but the poor slob actually manages to escape and go on a machine gun rampage like a castrated Rambo! The other scenes of gore are pretty run-of-the-mill for this sort of thing, but they are a bit more sadistic than usual. That's not a recommendation, by the way.
The most distasteful thing in the film is the use of footage of real cruelty to animals. I may be a gorehound, but I don't find harming animals fun by any stretch of the imagination. If you see virtually any shot start off with an animal, hit the fast-forward. Although, there is a bit with an old native dude happily munching on giant grub-worms, and one of the heroines observes "That's disgusting!" Thanks for the heads-up, Sherlock!
ONE OF ABOUT A HUNDRED SCARE-FREE ITALIAN "DAWN OF THE DEAD" RIPOFFS
Boring, cheap and generally annoying, ZOMBIE is another endurance test from those wacky Italian goremeisters (or is that maestros?). The incredibly repetitious theme tune will be forever burned into your brain, and you will wander around for days with it ringing in your poor, innocent head.
*SPOILER WARNING* There's really nothing to give away. Basically this flick is a low-rent DAWN OF THE DEAD, only minus the script, characters, suspense, etc. The now-famous "eyeball scene" is seriously phony, but the underwater fight between a zombie and a shark is pretty funny. Sadly, that's about the only thing in the entire film worth seeing.
First of all, if possible avoid the dubbed version of this one (ATTACK OF THE MUSHROOM PEOPLE). The dubbing is no worse than usual for a Japanese sci-fi/horror movie, but this one really needs the subtitles so the viewer won't be distracted by the cartoonish dubbed voices. There is an excellent widescreen/subtitled edition of this available from Video Daikaiju ( if they're still in business; they somehow got away with putting out excellent-quality subtitled versions of the films that Toho released for the Japanese video market), and it is also pretty easy to find at various comics/sci-fi/media conventions.
MATANGO scores very high on the slow-burn creepiness meter, and the story of a bunch of hapless castaways slowly descending in to distrust and madness is utterly compelling. What they find on the island is truly disturbing, and I can't put into words how thankful I am for not having seen this during my formative years. This is one of those movies that can royally mess up your mind if you're a little kid. HIGHLY RECOMMENDED.
FUN SCI-FI ADVENTURE THAT INTRODUCED MANDA TO THE RANKS OF THE TOHO DAIKAIJU HALL OF FAME
*SPOILER WARNING* Sort of a Japanese Captain Nemo story, ATRAGON has to do with a super submarine that can do damn near anything and the part that it plays in saving the world from invasion by the evil forces of the Mu empire. When the Mu invaders show up, they boast of their superiority, yet they request that we not use Atragon (the super-sub) against them. Those wussies...
Anyway, much butt is kicked and the serpent monster Manda makes its debut here. Manda is probably best known for the train derailment scene from DESTROY ALL MONSTERS, and is kind of cool since it looks like a traditional Asian dragon. As Toho flicks go, this has more plot than usual, but I still think it only rates a **1/2 out of a possible ****.
LIKE "STUPID" HUMOR? LOOK NO FURTHER MY FRIENDS!!!
This admittedly idiotic parody of the thankfully forgotten kiddie film "THE WILDERNESS FAMILY" is so completely, bloody stupid that you have to love it. The fake trailers at the beginning mostly bite the big one, but "Gina's Story" is notable for a pre-STAR TREK: THE NEXT GENERATION Gates "Dr. Crusher" McFadden back when she was still known as Cheryl. Also, the trailer for a "Raging Bull" parody is hilarious in it's pointlessly-censored profanity.
The "story" proper deals with a family of New Yorkers who pack up and move to the forest in an attempt to "get back to nature." Massive amounts of bad jokes, tastelessness and stupidity ensue, but what a crazy ride! Top insanity points go to Weejun, a brave of the Kay-O-Pectate tribe, and the adolescent daughter's alarming first love.
This film should not be attempted without the aid of lots of booze or other, er..."party favors" of choice. Enjoy!
ONE OF THE UNDISPUTED SHAW BROTHERS MASTERPIECES!!!
Since the previous comments have pretty much nailed it on this one, all I have to add is that if you've only seen this in the seriously edited- for-television version that ran as part of the BLACK BELT THEATER/DRIVE-IN MOVIE package back in the '80's, seek out the version that can still be found for rental in some video shops. The uncut ending is a real mind-blower!!! However, this film is so good that even edited it turned enough of us on back in the days to keep us tuning in every Saturday afternoon for years.
THE MOST ENTERTAINGLY NONSENSICAL HOUR AND A HALF YOU WILL EVER SEE
Cobbled together from several episodes of JOHNNY SOKKO AND HIS FLYING ROBOT (made to compete with ULTRAMAN, only with a much smaller budget), VOYAGE INTO SPACE is one of the few such cut-and-paste movies that actually works. This used to run on New York city's 4:30 MOVIE show in the blessed pre-Oprah days of the late '70's and early '80's and many a kid in the tri-state area still recalls this one with great fondness.
The plot (?) follows the adventures of Johnny Sokko, a 10-year-old kid who becomes an agent of the top-secret agency UNICORN and incidentally happens to be the only person who can control Giant Robot, a 200-foot-tall engine of destruction who looks like a cross between the Tin Woodsman and a pharoah. They oppose hostile extra-terrestrial Emperor Guillotine from the planet Gargoyle (and his henchmen, the Gargoyle gang), who has at his disposal an endless variety of ass-kicking (and phony) giant monsters. One of these is the Nucleon, which looks like a bunch of traffic cones that have been hot-glued together and rolled into camera range. There's also a bargain basement sea monster, a silver-faced dude in a clown suit, and much, much more. If this ever comes on tv again, tape it immediately and show it to your friends who will be slack-jawed with astonishment. Fun for kids and drunks of all ages!
This is what a Frankie and Annette movie would have been like if everyone involved had been huffing bags full of airplane glue. The jokes are only (barely) funny if you're totally zooted (you know what I mean!), the performances suck and Eric Stoltz should be forever ashamed, but how can you totally hate a film whose John Belushi knockoff character is named "Johnny Bighead?" His mom is even named Mrs.Bighead! He even runs around screaming the wannabe-catch phrase " Ah Bau Bauu!!!" Oh, and the soundtrack is really, REALLY '80's, including a version of Oingo Boingo's "Only A Lad" that I've never heard anywhere else. And don't drink the BUZZ Cola!
THE IMITATION THAT SPAWNED AN AVALANCHE OF SCHLOCK
I don't know how many of you reading this were there for the '80's wave of "slasher" flicks, but it was a seemingly-endless, numbing thing to behold. I love horror and gore, but when a lousy movie (like this one) unexpectedly makes a mint at the box office, imitations (to say nothing of sequels) are sadly inevitable. What's sadder is that this was in fact an imitation of the vastly superior HALLOWEEN.
I grew up in Westport, Connecticut at the time that this came out and Sean Cunningham was making a living churning out low-budget fodder, including the agonizing BAD NEWS BEARS knockoff MANNY'S ORPHANS (the BNB as soccer kids), which was interesting to myself and my classmates only because Cunnigham cast the local school kids as his principals. Anyway, I went to see FRIDAY THE 13th just to see a local kid as the monster at the end. None of us teens who got past the staggeringly lenient box office were prepared for the gory onslaught that followed the trailers. I personally didn't find it scary, but at least it delivered on the blood and guts! Sadly, most of the kids I knew found it to be "the scariest movie ever made" and would go on to equate true horror with gore. Evidently so did a lot of people, hence the assembly line of sequels and innumerable knockoffs. There were so many friggin' slasher movies that I actually was able to write my 11th grade research paper on the proliferation of these turkeys and what it meant for American society at the time (yes, I was a pain-in-the-ass film geek even then)!
Skip ahead to about twenty years later, and FRIDAY THE 13th shows up on cable. Having only seen it during the initial run, I was curious to see if the film actually held up. The answer was a resounding "NO." There are no performances, the script bites the big one, the effects are weak (though admittedly gory. SPOILER ALERT!!! And it is fun to see Kevin bacon get the arrow through the throat), there is absolutely zero suspense and on top of all of that, the film is painfully dull. If you haven't seen this dog in as long as it took me to see it again, skip it. Let it remain an amusing footnote in the annals of stupid stuff that happened in the '80's
A FUN '80'S COMEDY, AND A FINE EXAMPLE OF THE POST-"ANIMAL HOUSE" RAUNCHCOM GENRE
I saw this one in a Fairfield, Ct theater with a bunch of fellow tanked-up theater circuit employees, and we loved it! Sure it's stupid! Who cares? My cardinal rule with comedy is that it doesn't have to be highbrow to be funny; if a comedy makes you laugh, it has succeeded.
The predictable "snobs vs slobs" comedy is given the novel twist of having the slobs actually be highly proficient at their field of expertise, in this case "hot dog" skiing. While the comedy is pretty standard, the scenes on the slopes are standouts, particularly the spectacular Chinese Downhill race. And let us not forget that living proof of the existence of the Goddess, Shannon Tweed. The only thing that she's missing is the giant seashell that she looks like she stepped out of!!!
As for the heroes of the film, if you've ever gone seriously skiing, you know these guys. The raging alcoholic, the stoner, the foreign expert, the annoying new-kid-on-the-slopes/phenom, the thermonuclear ski goddess... They're all here. And don't miss the scene that features Mitch ryder's rockin' cover of Prince's "When You Were Mine." Kick back some tallboys and check it out!