Halloween III: Season of the Witch Recap

Jamie

Michael Myers is… oh… uh… nevermind. But it’s still Halloween and when Dr. Dan Challis sees something crazy happen at the hospital he works at, you better believe he’s on the case. His investigation takes him to a toy factory where he uncovers a deadly plot. Can he stop the crazy toy fiends before it’s too late? Find out in… Halloween III: Season of the Witch.

How?! Dr. Dan Challis is going through some stuff. He’s having trouble with his ex-wife, he’s a full-blown alcoholic, and yet, somehow he’s still a practicing doctor. One out of three ain’t bad. When a mysterious man comes into his ER one night and proceeds to be murdered by a strange, emotionless man who commits suicide by lighting himself on fire, Dr. Challis is intrigued. He’s even more intrigued when he gets a load of the man’s beautiful daughter, Ellie. You thinking what Dr. Challis is thinking? Road trip! They head off the last place Ellie’s dad was seen alive: Santa Mira, CA, home of Silver Shamrock, the maker of the most popular three Halloween masks. The masks are the talk of the world, particularly given the live, big giveaway planned for Halloween night. Anyway, once in town things start to go sideways. Not only is the town run like a police state where people are having mysterious accidents left and right, but when they go to tour the factory they are shocked to find Ellie’s father’s car there. Uh oh! Before they can get out of dodge, Ellie is kidnapped and Dan has to make his way back to the factory to save her. Of course he is immediately captured because (spoiler alert!) the whole place is run by automatons and you def can’t escape their robot clutches. Before he is to be killed, Dan is told the full plot: Cochran, the owner of the factory, has stolen a piece of stonehenge (yup) and is using its dark powers to energize microchips in the halloween masks. On the night of the giveaway they will be activated and all the children turned into gross bugs and snakes and stuff for ye old pagan ritual. Dan is horrified and luckily is able to escape his bonds and rescue Ellie. They then infiltrate the main command center where they activate the power of stonehenge and turn it against Cochran. Dope. On their way home Dan is trying to figure out how to stop the broadcast when Ellie turns out to be a total robot. Fiend! He destroys her and in a last ditch effort is able to stop most (but not all) the broadcasts. THE END.

Why?! Didn’t I just tell you? Stonehenge, pagan ritual, it’s witchcraft, baby! They are all witches… or… well, Cochran is a witch and the rest are robots. But that’s besides the point because the motivations in this thing are amazing. Oh and Dan just wants to get with Ellie and Ellie can’t seem to get enough of this mess of an alcoholic doctor. Good for both of them.

Who?! Halloween II’s Michael Myers, Dick Warlock, father of BIlly Warlock, shows up here as a robot assassin. That’s kind of fun. That also allows me to contemplate this entry’s monster: Cochran, played by Daniel O’Herlihy. He’s an Oscar nominee, so I’m sad to say the film that caught my eye in his filmography is 1986’s The Whoopie Boys… a film I only know because a poster for it shows up in Hot Rod. Largely forgettable in this, though. He comes off quite pleasant for a witch hellbent on sacrificing a whole bunch of kids to pagan gods.

What?! It’s actually a little hard to find real props from the film. Almost everything is replicas. The masks would be the real prize. There are three of them: a witch, a skull, and then a pumpkin (which looks way worse than the other two and no one would want). Somehow this is enough variety for the entire world to go crazy for them. They were created by Don Post, who pioneered latex masks. He made the Shatner mask that ultimately became the Michael Myers mask, which also proved very difficult to replicate.

Where?! This is set near San Francisco, with the factory in Santa Mira, California. It’s a made-up town that has shown up quite a bit in fiction. Makes sense as it sounds real. The town is an important setting with a crazy Irish-centric origin story and the like. Certainly fun so I’ll give it an A-.

When?! Another A+ for the franchise. Interestingly this takes place for a full week leading into Halloween night. The first two Halloween’s take place over a single Halloween night and I know at least a couple of the sequels take place just on Halloween (for that’s when Michael Myers awakens from his pagan slumber). So it would be curious if this is also an outlier in the series, since it takes place on several non-Halloween days.

I kinda came around to the consensus on this, similar to how I changed my tune a little on Halloween II. I think now I would say I like Halloween II a little less than I did originally and Halloween III a little more, but I still prefer the former to the latter. It’s an interesting film, though, and I think without the baggage of Halloween could have attained some level of cult status. It’s got some good gross out effects, some solid B acting, and a weird robot/witch storyline that would lend itself to people really falling in love with it. Not to mention that you can have a lot of fun comparing it to Willy Wonka. Cochran is an eeevil Wonka and his automatons are oompa-loompas… it’s a fun concept to think about. I personally think it lacks some pace and has some really obvious and glaring plot holes. So it’s hard to seriously consider it amongst the franchise behemoth that it carries in name only. Patrick?

Patrick

‘Ello everyone! We got Halloween! We got Celtic legends! We got … wait, is that old man supposed to be Michael Myers? I’m so confused. Let’s go!

P’s View of the Preview – Spoiler alert! I’ve seen this film. I may have even seen it a few times. It is a weird movie that is nothing like the other Halloween films, but I hope this time I’ll get a bit more out of it since I’ve seen most of the Halloween films at this point, and I’ve also watched a ton more horror films from the 70s and 80s at this point. What were my expectations? Maybe for it to be good? People think it is good online it seems. It seems hard to believe since I’ve seen it and it wasn’t good. But maybe once I appreciate the context more I’ll pick up some nuggets of joy.

The Good – There is something very interesting about the main character. Definitely a terrible family man. An alcoholic doctor. A sleeze. And, in the end (we hope) a hero. Truly a different type to the “final girl” that pervaded slashers at the time, but then again, weirdly, the film isn’t a slasher. And the lore! Amazingly the lore with Celtic legends and their connection to Halloween ended up being a huge part of Halloween four through six (at least). I did appreciate that a lot more this time around. Best Bit: I think the main character with all his various complications.

The Bad – I mean, the film is an odd one. It comes across as a cheap 1970s horror film from England or something. Looks cheap, with no scares. Makes not much sense, has weird characters, seems to look to a depressing ending as a potential redeeming feature (a la The Mist). And overall since they retreat directly to Myers in the sequels ends up seemingly out of place in the major franchise records. It is amazing that they didn’t just release the next movie as Halloween 3 and change the name to merely Season of the Witch, leaving the film as a fun factoid in the annals of horror history. Fatal Flaw: It just isn’t scary and cheap looking.

The BMT – Had to be done. Amusingly, it currently doesn’t qualify. But assuredly it did when we watched the film. So take that rulez! I don’t think this will be the most fun Halloween film to watch by a long shot though. The films get real weird first after this one (maybe because of this one, bringing in all of the Celtic/Halloween lore to the series). Still fun. Did it meet my expectations? Nope. I expected to come to the film with fresh eyes and be like “oh how little did I know back then!” But naw, the film just isn’t a particularly good horror film. Weird and fun in its own way. But not scary or even that eerie.

Roast-radamus – Halfway decent Product Placement (What?) for Miller, which people seem to be sucking down throughout the film. And a solid (and odd) Setting as a Character (Where?) for California, and Santa Mira specifically. And then the natural A+ Holiday Setting (When?) for Halloween. I think it is closest to Good despite what the recap above might suggect.

Sequel, Prequel, Remake – This film could have an interesting Reboot of sorts. Take it to something like Shudder, and reboot the series as Halloween Legacy or something. Go with the original vision: a series of tales, all taking place on Halloween, tied together via a general connection to the Celtic spookiness of the original pagan holiday. The second to last episode is Season of the Witch, which is effectively this story, except without the robots and masks. Instead it is a evil Willy Wonka basically. He makes Halloween candy. All of the kids love him. Every year he brings children to the factory for a tour, but this year something weird is happening. He seems insane. And the coup de grace? The whole affair for years and years would be to slowly poison the population with his candy. All it will take is a signal through everyone’s phone to kill them all and complete the ultimate bloodshed which will (in his mind) be such a great sacrifice to his pagan gods as to grant him immortality. Can Charlie and Grandpa Joe stop him before it’s too late? Probably, but you’ll have to subscribe to Shudder to find out. Halloween Legacy Episode 9: Season of the Witch. Not going to lie, I would watch it.

I think I’ll leave it without the schooled section in an attempt to catch up. Cheerios,

The Sklogs

Mr. Wrong Recap

Jamie

Martha is a successful woman who is feeling a lot of pressure to find a husband. Doesn’t help that she’s also lonely. So when she happens to meet a successful, handsome, lonely guy in a bar on Valentine’s Day it all seems too good to be true. And it is, cause he’s def Mr. Wrong. Can she get out of his clutches before it’s too late? Find out in… Mr. Wrong.

How?! Martha runs a big time morning show in San Diego and everyone is making a big deal that she’s single. Not to mention that the only guy giving her any attention anyway is an early twenties assistant at the show, Walter. So when Valentine’s Day rolls around she finds herself lonely in a bar and woah, hold on a sec, a handsome guy happens to pick the same song she was going to pick on the jukebox? And this dude Whitman’s a poet/financial whiz?! They soon embark on a torrid love affair where everyone in Martha’s life is charmed by Whitman and Martha gets increasingly suspicious. First his poetry seems… not great. Also, there is a wildly crazy ex-gf harassing her. One day, when his weird interactions with people get to be too much, she tells him that he should really just be himself around her. Freed by this revolutionary idea Whitman instantly becomes his true self: a total maniac. He is stealing stuff and throwing garbage at homeless people and reveals that in fact his world revolves around his crazy rich mother. It is a total nightmare and yet everyone around her is kinda like “come on, it’s fine, you could do worse.” After hiring a private eye, who reveals loads more terrible things about him, Martha tasks him with getting rid of Whitman. But alas, Whitman is able to charm the PI who tries to take Martha back to Whitman. She flees and is hit by a van. In the hospital she wakes up to find that Whitman put a ring on her finger and claimed they are engaged. She flees again, but is kidnapped by the crazy ex-gf. Whitman rescues her from them only to kidnap Martha all over again, drug her, and drive her to Mexico for her wedding. Martha is able to get word to Walter for help and in a crazy climax Whitman is shot as Martha attempts to flee her own wedding. It is thought that Martha shot Whitman (she didn’t, the crazy ex-gf did) but Walter rescues her and they ride off into the sunset. THE END.

Why?! Love… kinda. I mean Martha wants to find love. She rightly thinks that she is a successful woman who shouldn’t settle just because her family and friends think she’s getting old. But she obviously also wants to be loved. So those two pressures unfortunately push her into Whitman’s arms. Whitman is crazy and everyone else in the film is dumb. That’s about it.

Who?! This has a whole bunch of interesting people in it. There are a few cameos of celebs appearing on the fake show that Ellen works on (e.g. Louie Anderson and Casey Kasem). A minor side character, Bob, is played by Brad William Henke who was briefly in the NFL. But obviously most notable is Robert Goulet who plays the host of Ellen’s show, Dick Braxton… he really barely appears in the film, but you better believe he got a full name.

What?! This is the movie that 1-800-FLOWERS bought and paid for. Hooooo weeeeeeee. It is substantial. Every time you turn around someone is getting flowers from 1-800-FLOWERS. Ellen is even put in the hospital after getting hit by a 1-800-FLOWERS truck. I started to wonder if I misremembered it being a real company. Maybe it was made up for the movie and then someone was a huge fan and started the company.

Where?! Really great San Diego setting. It’s a rare setting… other than the fact that we pretty recently watched K-9, which is also randomly set in the *checks Wikipedia* City in Motion. This eventually plays a fairly important role in the film as it allows for the characters to run off to Mexico and then plausibly head into the desert to cross back over the border to San Diego. A-.

When?! Secret Holiday Film Alert! This film is set up entirely by Valentine’s Day and the sadness that Ellen feels on that day. It really doesn’t matter from there on out as that is perfection. I would assume that there are a large number of Valentine’s Day films out there, but this is by far the funniest to claim is your favorite. A

Man, this is a weird and wild movie. I can see how someone would read the script and think it’s pretty good and want to do it. I mean, the complete u-turn that the Whitman character takes is pretty amusing. Martha basically is just like “be yourself” and it’s like Whitman never heard of such a thing and loves it. That could have been OK, if a little dark, given that Whitman is a sociopath. But they hobble the movie in three ways. First, they have some real bad side characters that are unpleasant and cartoonish, most notably Joan Cusack’s crazy ex-gf character. I usually find Cusack charming in an off-beat way, but it really doesn’t work here. Second, the director shot it like a kids movie, which isn’t surprising since he just came off Major Payne and Dennis the Menace. Finally, they muck up Whitman’s character with a whole “you are old, you have to settle” storyline for Martha. So instead of Whitman coming off like a sociopath able to charm and deceive everyone, it almost seems like everyone just doesn’t care about Martha’s well-being and just wants her to get married, even to a total crazy person. So a good concept with several major flaws. Makes for a bizarre viewing experience. As for Holy Matrimony. Wow… I mean… wow. First of all, Leonard Nimoy seems like an actually good director. The film looks great and he got some fine acting from the cast. But, come on. You can’t possibly actually think a film about a woman getting married to a ten-year-old could ever work, right? Also it’s blatantly offensive in its unrealistic portrayal of Hutterites. Clearly the writers knew nothing about the community and didn’t care at all. All they needed was a group they could pretend would have someone marry a ten-year-old. Terrible. I cannot believe it exists. Patrick?

Patrick

‘Ello everyone! We’ve got a psycho stalker! We got Ellen as a leading lady! We’ve got Mr. Wrong! Let’s go!

P’s View on the Preview – I think Mr. Wrong must have floated onto our radar every so often because it is, amazingly, lower than 10% on Rotten Tomatoes, which is obviously extremely impressive and rare. For the most part I just knew it as the Ellen Degeneres vehicle, but otherwise I basically knew nothing about it. What were my expectations? Well, the trailer suggested it was one of those switcheroo comedies. The ones where Ellen thinks Bill Pullman is this awesome guy, and then, whoops! He’s actually an insane person and she’s trapped! Usually, these are really stressful and aggravating … so, unfortunately, that is what I expected.

The Good – It wasn’t that! Stunningly, the actual story is, sure, Ellen thinks Pullman is this great soft spoken guy she meets out one day and he’s rich and awesome. But then she’s like “You can be yourself!” and he’s like “really? Awesome!” and it turns out “himself” is actually an insane person who is a liar, petty criminal, and general miscreant. The way the twist comes about is excellently direct and sudden, and for that I have to at least give the movie a bit of credit. Best Bit: The twist, which happens about half way through the movie and is amusing by itself.

The Bad – I’m going to get a bit deep here, watch out. The conceit of the story, which you can almost forget as you get so lost in the insanity of the film, is that Ellen’s younger sister got married, and everyone is like “awwwwww, you’ll be next Ellen.” And she’s like, whatever. Then she meets Pullman, and he becomes crazy, and the rest of the film you could be forgiven if you forgot that that is probably the reason everyone is like “you are crazy Ellen.” Because while Pullman is a genuinely insane person, the underlying theme is that everyone else in her life is like “This is by far the best you are going to do Ellen, yeah, he’s a bit eccentric, but he loves you and is rich, c’mon!” If you accept that reading of the film as correct then there is a very sinister gaslighting undertone to the whole thing which is pretty gross. Also the movie isn’t funny, so that is obviously going to be an issue with any comedy. Fatal Flaw: In my opinion the only way this movie makes sense is if you accept that in the 90s people thought 30-year-old women should just accept the love of an insane stalker Bill Pullman because that’s the best they are going to do, deal with it. And that is terrible. Just terrible.

The BMT – I think I’ve already forgotten this film. But it is notable for being a very rare Ellen as a leading lady film. That’s interesting. It also has an interesting twist with Pullman, who is pretty great in the film as well. It is diverting, but forgettable though. Did it meet my expectations? Yeah, it was a switcheroo comedy, but in a better way than I was expecting. That’s fun.

Roast-radamus – Really, really good Product Placement (What?) for 1-800-FLOWERS which is all over the film constantly. Also very good Setting as a Character (Where?) for San Diego, which is rare when Los Angeles is just up the coast. And decent Not-so-secret Holiday Film (When?) for Valentine’s Day which is when Ellen and Pullman meet since she is out at a bar being sad. Closest to Bad I think, unfortunately.

Sequel, Prequel, Remake – Definitely a sequel. And here’s the set up, it starts as a kind of normal comedy. A meetcute and people meet the new guy, etc. And then boom! Just like in Mr. Wrong, he goes off the deep end. And here’s the twist, he takes his lovely girlfriend home and there is Whitman! He’s Whitman’s son. White bearded Pullman is back! And he’s macking the girlfriend’s mother, and only the main character seems to see the sinister undertones of this psycho family. As things unravel it is revealed that Whitman knocked off his own mother to get her money, self-published a bunch of terrible poetry, and still holds a flame for Martha (with Ellen appearing in a small cameo). I mean, I think you just call it Mr. Wrong again, and run it back like a semi-reboot (but secret sequel once Pullman shows up). Here’s the key though … make it funny.

Friend or Fiend – Oh boy, this was a weird one. In the early 90s Leonard Nemoy was directing all kinds of movies. And one of those movies was about a ten year old Hutterite who marries the wife of his recently deceased brother who stole a bunch of money from a fair in Iowa … yup. It is a really weird film, but I have to say the 13-year-old Joseph Gordon Levitt is really good, as is Patricia Arquette. The story is just really weird. A 20-year-old marries a 10-year-old in order to try and get a bunch of stolen money, all while learning the ways of the Hutterites. It is a real fish out of water story with the added disturbing undertones of forced child marriage … yeah, this movie was a mistake. It kind of has to be a Fiend just because it really is just too dull to recommend on any level. A good match with Mr. Wrong though.

Cheerios,

The Sklogs

Hard to Kill Recap

Jamie

Mason Storm is… hard to kill. That’s right! After an attempt on his life kills his wife and leaves him in a coma, things are looking bleak for Mason. But seven years later he’s awake and ready to take out the scumbags that are trying to finish the job. Can he get the baddies (and maybe even reconnect with his son) before it’s too late? Find out in… Hard to Kill.

How?! Mason Storm is a police officer extraordinaire (and Academy Awards aficionado) hot on the trail of a corrupt bigwig looking to use the mob to take out a political opponent. After fleeing with evidence of the plot, Mason is ambushed at home. His wife is killed, his son flees into the night, and Mason is left in a coma. Knowing that he’s a target, a friend of Storm’s help fake his death and keep him safe at the obviously not fake LA Coma Center. Seven Oscar ceremonies later and Mason awakens to a changed world… mostly changed by the fact that a hot nurse is now super into him. Nice. The nurse, Andy, tries to contact Mason’s friend but inadvertently alerts a group of corrupt cops that Mason is alive and awake. They storm the hospital, but even in his weakened state Mason is able to escape with the help of Andy. She takes him to a friend’s house where he recuperates through martial arts, acupuncture, meditation and sweet sweet lovemaking with Andy (that also makes him sad, so he goes to pray at his wife’s grave… like for real). One day Mason recognizes the voice of big time Senator Trent as the voice of the corrupt bigwig from seven years ago. Mind like a steel trap! Realizing that this goes extremely high up, Mason recruits his friend to get his long lost son while he gets the evidence needed to put away Trent. They are supposed to meet at the train station, but things start to get crazy as Trent’s forces close in. Mason is snapping necks and taking no names, eventually arriving at Trent’s mansion where he dispatches a whole mess of people before confronting Trent. As the police stream in it becomes clear that Mason already sent them the evidence against the Senator and he’s arrested. Mason wins again! THE END

Why?! Mason Storm just wants justice… and his family to be safe… and to totally get with Andy. But mostly justice. Senator Trent wants power by any means necessary. At the beginning of the film he’s like some lowly city council member who needs someone dead to move on up in the world. So with seven years having passed and Trent becoming a Senator you’d think he’s got at least four or five assassinations under his belt when Mason wakes up.

Who?! We got a Senator… too bad he wasn’t VP Trent by the end. They even show a newspaper where he’s touted as VP for 1992. Gah! Just hold off for a second Seagal! Really I have to give a shout to the local LA newscaster Jerry Dunphy who legitimately plays a role in the plot of the film. This is his second BMT film after Beverly Hills Cop III.

What?! There is a fair amount of Miller High Life in the film. Like sodas, it’s always fun to find what brand a film represents. Patrick also noted a crazy thing where there is just a bunch of spearmint gum in a character’s briefcase. It’s things like that where I wish every movie had a ten part podcast or was required by law to have several DVD commentaries made… we need to really drill down into why the gum was in the briefcase.

Where?! Good LA picture, particularly since we get the legendary intertitle telling us that Seagal has spent seven years in the “LA Coma Center.” That… that’s not a thing. There is no such thing as a coma center and again… I want to know if everyone involved knows how crazy that is. Bring on the ten part podcast! B+.

When?! While the LA Coma Center is legendary, the 1983 Academy Awards setting for the beginning of the film is off the charts. Pretty easily my favorite setting I can remember and I’m only sad they didn’t have him later watch a bunch of movies during his recovery and then express dismay when Dances With Wolves wins Best Picture. A++++++

This is a pretty borderline BMT film in the end, but we felt like it was appropriate to start from the beginning with his first BMT qualifying film. Boy, we weren’t disappointed. Even his first, better regarded film, Above the Law is totally crazy and he continues his descent into martial arts mayhem with this entry. This starts out like a normal film (minus a truly hilarious setting centered around the 1983 Academy Awards) but then we wake up in a coma center (what?) to a totally changed world ourselves. That’s because Seagal is back, Jack, and he’s snapping necks left and right. It’s a pretty entertaining film in the end as long as you’re just looking for a whole mess of action and some pretty dumb stuff. Oh and I’m pretty sure the entire sequence where Mason has sex with Andy and then sadly visits his wife’s grave to pray is spoofed in MacGruber. You gotta be doing something right if you’re what a spoof film is spoofing. As for The Patriot… wow. I mean… that is basically not a movie. On occasion this happens. We will watch something so terrible that it is simply not a film. The Patriot is pretty much not a film. Sure there is an outbreak of a deadly flu and they ultimately solve it with flower power (literally), but most of the film is spent meandering around with Seagal specifically not fighting people. It’s almost like it was in his contract that they couldn’t have him do anything cool or interesting the whole time. It feels like you are peering into Seagal’s mind and it doesn’t feel good. Patrick?

Patrick

‘Ello everyone! We’ve got Seagal! We got ponytails! We’ve got seven year comas! He’s Hard. To. Kill. Let’s go!

P’s View on the Preview – Hard to Kill baby! We’re finally on our way to watching all of Seagal’s 90s releases, and this week we hammered out three of them. In no way is that depressing. I definitely didn’t have a ton of better things to do this week … anyways, funny that Seagal was a cop in his first three films. What were my expectations? I just hoped Seagal actually did some sweet Aikido in his early films. It is a bit sad later on that he mostly shoots people.

The Good – Aikido babyyyyyy! He was genuinely good at it. And he also showed off a bit of how it worked. Early on he basically has to goad the guy we just saw in Wishmaster II into attacking him so he could Aikido him. Yeah, that is basically how it works, using your opponent’s momentum and body weight against them. At least that is a part of it. And a halfway decent storyline as well. The film (and his first film as well) are surprisingly good, despite Seagal not being a particularly good actor. Best Bit: AIKIDO.

The Bad – It is juuuuuuuuust a tad self-indulgent. Having your wife say “Steven Seagal has a giant penis” directly into the camera is just a whole other level of writing a film for yourself. Then he goes to someone else’s house and fucks up all of their trees and makes their guest bedroom into a Buddhist temple? And don’t get me started on how much he was exercising in Los Angeles with a blazing fire burning. Everything Seagal-y in the film is a little bit off, although fun to some degree. Oh, and the first two Seagal films he runs on screen and it is Leelee Sobieski level perfect. He cannot run. Fatal Flaw: Steven Seagal just cannot run, there is no way he was a track star like they suggested in the film. Took me right out of it.

The BMT – The first two Seagal films (and probably all of them up through Under Siege) are quite good. I understand why the critics were skeptical of the new brand of action hero, which tended to take rote storylines and insert whomever was available at the time, but even being not very good this was at least fun on a “police procedural two-parter from 1993” level. Did it meet my expectations? Yes. I finally managed to watch a Seagal film where he did Aikido, looked fit, and it wasn’t all played as a comedy (I’m looking at you Under Siege with your random Playboy Playmate running around cracking jokes).

Roast-radamus – I have to give the Product Placement (What?) to Spearmint Gum which you can see multiple packs of in a briefcase at one point. Why? Who knows, he never chews on the gum, he never offers it to someone. Presumably it was a character choice, like he was planning on quitting smoking. Solid Setting as a Character (Where?) for Los Angeles, and specifically you seem them venture out to Malibu and Venice Beach among other locales. Closest to Good for sure.

Sequel, Prequel, Remake – There has never been a movie that was better suited for a BMT Crossover Episode than this. Sasha Petrosevich has found himself outnumbered and outgunned. Only a person as good as him at Aikido could get him out of this jam. But surely in this universe, such a person couldn’t exist! “Not in this universe,” Sasha says. Taking his infinity gauntlet he opens a portal to an alternate universe and pulls out Mason Storm, who (as luck would have it) is also half past dead. They aren’t twins, but they can kick some ass. Aikido-ing around like whirling dervishes they dispatch the bad guys and save their terrified families. “Hey brother, you can come to my universe anytime.” Once back in the world of Hard to Kill Mason Storm starts his own agency, Hard Past Dead. “That’s a portmanteau.” Mason Storm says with a smirk. Oooooooooh boy, the ladies love cool Mason. These crossover episodes are starting to really get deconstructed. Very dadaist.

Friend or Fiend – We went for a curious one, a Seagal film that was released straight-to-video, but which was released prior to his last film to be released theatrically, The Patriot (1998) (yeah not the Mel Gibson one). The film is about Seagal (a Montana rancher and *checks notes* leading military doctor for infectious diseases?) as he tries to find the cure for a military-developed virus when it is intentionally released by an eeeeeevil militia leader. Yep … that’s the storyline. And guess what the cure is that they take literally forever trying to develop? Flowers. Just some of the Eastern / Native American medicine that these idiot doctors would never think of. But Seagal does, and then the military drops flowers on the town and everyone is saved (I’m not joking, that’s the conclusion to the film, here’s some flowers, it is the best anti-viral in the world?). The film is a joke. It is so so weird. And in a way that is interesting and pretty funny, but those moments are few and far between. And the Eastern medicine is better than Western medicine garbage, and also the characters being mealy mouthed about condemning the violent ideology of the militia left a bad taste in my mouth. I’m putting this squarely in the Fiend territory.

You Just Got Schooled – Uh oh, turns out that the first ever Seagal film (which was just prior to Hard to Kill) was (vaguely) good! That’s right, I watched Above the Law (that’s three Seagal films this week, may God have mercy on my soul). The film is fun, as expected. Seagal is looking fit, and he’s hitting people hard and they are falling hard and you can immediately understand why he was such a magnetic character/actor at the time. The first hour of the film operates mainly as a normal buddy cop film, except the one of the buddies is Steven Seagal and all of the weird whispering baggage that entails. The last thirty minutes of the film? Pure comedy. Actually one of the funniest films I’ve ever seen. Seagal can’t run in this film either, and everything devolved into pure lunacy right when he sends his wife away to protect his family from his poor decision making skills. I think if you watch Above the Law, Hard to Kill, Under Siege, and Fire Down Below you’ll know exactly what Seagal was bringing to the table in the 90s. B+. Enjoyed watching it despite it ultimately being very very Seagal at the end.

Cheerios,

The Sklogs

Freejack Recap

Jamie

Alex Furlong has just died… only to awaken in the far future of 2009 where the rich buy the bodies of young whippersnappers of the past. Now he’s a freejack and he’s on the run. Can he find the man who had purchased his body (and perhaps get the girl he lost in 1991?) before it’s too late? Find out in… Freejack.

How?! Alex Furlong is a racing superstar on the rise with the love of his life at his side. Everything is going great until he perishes in a fiery car crash. THE END… psych! Just as he is about to perish his body is transported to the dystopian future of 2009, where the very rich have concentrated wealth and power and the rest of the world has descended into disarray. In this future the rich and powerful are able to buy bodies from the past and so Alex Furlong is spoken for. Not so fast! He breaks free and goes on the run as a (bum bum bum) freejack. With the help of a kindly nun he tracks down his old manager who in turn helps him find his ex-girlfriend, Julie (just before he double crosses him and almost gets him killed). Alex then runs off to find Julie, who happens to now be one of the top executives at McCandless, the company that runs the whole bodies-from-the-past business. She can’t believe he’s alive and quickly chases him away. Confused by his reappearance, Julie finds Alex and gets him to safety. She then asks Mr. McCandless to help get him safe passage out of town and he agrees. But when they all go to the boat he is meant to board it turns out to be a trap. And not only that, a double trap! Even Mick Jagger, the honorable bonejacker, doesn’t know everyone who is pursuing Alex. After earning Mick Jagger’s respect, Alex and Julie head to McCandless HQ and confront McCandless’ right hand man, Michelette. He reveals that McCandless has been dead the whole time (what a twist!) and he’s quickly approaching the moment when his mind needs Alex’s body or else it will die. Michelette wants that to happen so he can seize control of the company. Alex has other ideas and heads to the spiritual switchboard where he confronts McCandless. Ultimately McCandless attempts to take Alex’s body from him. Julie disrupts the process just in time, but no one can tell if Alex is still Alex or if he’s McCandless. Mick Jagger confirms that he’s now McCandless and kills Michelette. In the end we find that Mick Jagger knew the whole time that Alex was still Alex, but decided to let him continue to live as McCandless, hoping he can change the world for the better. THE END.

Why?! I could write a whole book on how as a movie becomes more generic the motivation of the hero is the first thing to shrivel up and die. Alex just wants to get his girl back and not be a freejack (in that order). The bad guy wants to live forever. There is this whole other explanation given about McCandless being in love with Julie, but I can’t tell if that’s just a ruse to get his hands on Alex’s sweet, sweet body.

Who?! Did I mention that Mick Jagger is in this? I won’t even say that he was a bad actor. In fact I thought it was pretty impressive that he took such a substantial role in what I thought was his first and only major film role… I was wrong. He actually acted a lot more than I thought and was apparently supposed to be a main character in Fitzcarraldo. Anyway, a distracting example of a musician-turned-actor.

What?! I can’t tell if the thousand times they show Estevez crash into a giant banner reading Nissan is a product placement or not. Sure it looks super rad, but also the main character of the film dies in a fiery crash as he plows into a sign for your car company. Also gotta love futuristic movies where everything has to look weird and futuristic… even the Miller Lite you are drinking.

Where?! Futuristic NYC in this film isn’t nearly as dystopian/prison island-y as other depictions of future NYC. I do like how they zip around to different parts of the city and tell you some of the characteristics and stuff. Even for a totally unrealistic version of the city it’s still a pretty solid setting. B+.

When?! They are pretty exact. Estevez is transported from 1991 at the time of his death aaallllll the way to the far future of 2009 bum bum bum. Thursday, November 23rd, 2009 to be exact (which oddly, wasn’t a Thursday in real life… dystopia messed up the calendar). Weird, I don’t remember having a celebration of Freejack Day when November 23, 2009 rolled around. But I guess we were busy prepping for TGivs. A.

This has a reputation for being very dumb and predictable, with blame being dumped on the director. It’s certainly a bit slow and the main twist was airmailed. So I could see people feeling a little let down by a big gaudy production delivering a particularly predictable product. But I don’t know, it was kooky enough to hold my attention. Like at one point Estevez makes a run for it in a champagne food truck… like literally a food truck that appears to be made specifically to deliver expensive champagne to rich people. That’s fun. Really this is what I imagine a film like Babylon A.D. would have turned out like if it had been made in 1991 and there is something fun in that at the very least. I also enjoyed Rene Russo (despite her looking exactly the same in 1991 and 2009). Overall I’d say I’d watch small parst of this again… just not the whole thing. As for Cyberjack, hooooo weeee. Now that’s what I’m talking about. I love me some dumb Dudikoff action. I mean, this film has to be seen to be believed. Dudikoff’s character is such a hilarious mess and Brion James is so far out there that I dare you not to be entertained. I loved it. Patrick?

Patrick

‘Ello everyone! We’ve got singers who can’t act! A twist that never quits! And crazy future set designs straight out of the 60s! Let’s go!

P’s View on the Preview – This, Johnny Mnemonic, and Chain Reaction all kind of meld together into 90s era future cyber nonsense. This is the one with Emilio and apparently it is about time travel and involves Mick Jagger actually trying to act? That’s a bit odd. What were my expectations? Much like anything that resembles this I imagine it is a mess that looks like crap and tries to float on its futuristic setting. A bit like Highlander 2.

The Good – The storyline is a lot better than I would have initially given it credit for. It is a pretty fun film if you like the set design style. I do. It kind of feels like a British television movie from the 80s in some weird ways. Odd whiffs of A Clockwork Orange or something as well. I very much liked the twist (or even double twist) at the end as well. The initial twist and motivations by Hopkins were obvious. The second twist (and ultimate conclusion) less so and also I think pretty fun. Best Bit: The ending probably.

The Bad – It feels more old school than I think it should have aimed for. It immediately feels dated, and makes the setting of around 2009 even stranger to witness 12 years on from that “future” time period. As I said the first twist is a bit too obvious and they could have made that reveal a lot sooner. And Mick Jagger, not surprisingly, is pretty rough, although I liked what all of the other actors are doing for the most part. Fatal Flaw: Feels outdated and a bit slow.

The BMT – I like this film a little too much for this to actually be a BMT film really, but it is a pretty funny 90s time travel film, and also very notable for singer/actor Mick Jagger in a rare role. There are a bunch of films of this era (like Time Cop) which feel the same way and collecting them together into a film festival would be amusing to me. Did it meet my expectations? Yeah, although it is far more competent than I would have expected. I would have guessed more Double Dragon, less Demolition Man.

Roast-radamus – Solid futuristic Setting as a Character (Where?) for NYC where the entire film is set in a dystopian world where Japan won the trade war (I think). And a hilarious Super Secret Holiday Film (When?) as the film is literally set on TGivs 2009. Even though they do not acknowledge this in any way, it is literally November 23, 2009, which is Thanksgiving Day. That’s wild. Closest to Good I think.

Sequel, Prequel, Remake – We’re back baby with a sweet BMT Crossover Episode! Emilio is running things and freejacking people all over the place. Naturally, when the half past dead Sasha Petrosevitch is heading towards becoming full past dead, he’s pulled into the future to help Emilio extract a dangerous freejack who is trapped in Alcatraz v3.0 (the one after the one from Half Past Dead). Entering into the ultra-futuristic prison Sasha does a bunch of Aikido, shoots some laser beams, and gets his man (and a boatload of time crystals the criminal hid as well!). As thanks Emilio uses his laser beams to send Sasha and the time crystals back to his original timeline. At the end of the film Sasha uses the time crystals to pull Billy the Kid from the back right before he is killed in New Mexico to join the half past dead team. He is also played by Emilio Estevez obviously. One and a Half Past Dead is the name of the film because it is set in the future.

Friend or Fiend – This week we watched one of the other “major” “Jack” films, Cyberjack (also known as Virtual Assassin) starring Michael Dudikoff. And boy howdy, this film is nuts. There are three levels to this. First, Dudikoff films in my experience are mostly rote action drama flicks and can be a bit touch and go. Here, this is literally just Die Hard, down to the hardscrabble police detective taking down hostage takers with his wit and wiles. BUT (and this is the second point) it is set in the future. Immediately you’ve kicked it up a notch by having some laser beams and holograms and other things they could barely do in the mid-90s. AND (and this is the third point) during the entire film Dudikoff is listening to a baseball game, and his love interest is also obsessed with baseball … that’s the best shit I’ve heard all day. So there. First level, you got a rote straight-to-video Dudikoff fiend. Second level, you are cooking a bit and right on the friend/fiend threshold because at least they mixed it up. But with the baseball? You get right to Friend territory because it is now officially charmingly weird. Anyways, Brion James is in this and he is off the hook insane, it is great. And the love interest is also funny since she gets a ride home with Dudikoff who is the janitor in her lab and drinking from a flask the entire time, but then is like “man, this guy likes baseball? What a catch!” and seems to immediately fall in love with him. The 90s man.

Cheerios,

The Sklogs

Never Talk to Strangers Recap

Jamie

Dr. Sarah Taylor is a psychologist extraordinaire. When a new mystery man comes into her life at the same time that she becomes the victim of a mystery tormentor’s psychotic games, she starts to suspect they may be one and the same. Can she stop her tormentor (or does she even want to?) before it’s too late? Find out in… Never Talk to Strangers.

How?! Dr. Sarah Taylor specializes in Multiple Personality Disorder (but I’m sure that’ll have no bearing on the plot). She explains how it’s characterized by bouts of amnesia and I’m sure it’s just a coincidence that she also seems to be forgetting a lot… … … Anyway, she’s still reeling from a broken engagement which leaves no room for a relationship with her friendly neighbor or even getting back in touch with her estranged father (hmmmm, isn’t childhood trauma also a sign of MPD? I’m sure that’s not relevant). One day she meets a mysterious sexy guy, Tony, at the grocery store who is mysteriously sexy. They begin a steamy relationship, but something seems off. Not only is he a little volatile, but shortly after starting the relationship terrible things begin to happen to Sarah. First she is sent a bunch of rotting trash as a gift (ok fine) and then her cat is killed and sent to her in a box (well that escalated). At that point she decides to hire a private detective to figure out what his deal is (besides being totally steamy and hot). The detective follows Tony around New York where he reports that it appears that he has another family. Deciding to confront him she gets into his apartment when he’s away and discovers that he has a dossier on her (what a creep!). When she heads back to her apartment she ends up nearly getting killed when a rickety heater falls into the tub she was in. At that point when Tony shows up at her apartment she fears for her life, but he tells her that it’s all twisted. He was hired to investigate her in the disappearance of her former fiance. That in fact it was her all along (WHAT A TWIST!). She has MPD (who could have seen that coming?) due to her childhood trauma inflicted by her pedophile father. Just then her father shows up and Sarah goes into her MPD mode and totally kills both Tony and her father. She then gets away with it because she has MPD and does even remember. THE END.  

Why?! Huh, I guess I didn’t think of this at the time. Why… why… WHY??? I mean Tony has a purpose. He was hired by Sarah’s former fiance’s family in order to determine whether she was responsible for his disappearance. Sarah… she just forgets stuff. So I guess she mostly want to live a normal life. Her alter ego is filled with murderous rage. Simple as that.

Who?! It’s hard to say that Dennis Miller is anything but an actor. Claiming he’s like a comic-turned-actor would cover a very large portion of comic actors. BUT… there was this moment in the mid-2000s where Dennis Miller wasn’t just trying to make comedies, he was showing up in numerous thrillers between 1994-1997. Look at this lineup: Disclosure, The Net, Never Talk to Strangers, and Murder at 1600. Wild.

What?! The only thing that really stands out to me is how prominently Dennis Miller displays the bottle of Stoli that represent clue #2 of a million that De Mornay has Multiple Personality Disorder and is in fact the killer. Besides that there is a startling number of autographed photos for sale from this film that no one remembers… some costing over $100!

Where?! In my secret lair where I have all my BMT research there would be a large map hanging with little pins in it for all places that are confirmed settings in BMT films. There would be one little lonesome pin sticking out of Syracuse, NY. That’s Never Talk to Strangers. We see the location listed on Dr. Taylor’s business card. Why Syracuse, NY? No idea. B+.

When?! Secret Holiday Film Alert. From the jump we get Xmas light galore and De Mornay hesitant to invite her abusive father to Christmas dinner (no matter how much of a sad sack he’s become). Interestingly, even by the end of the film it still hasn’t actually reached Christmas Day. So she apparently met, dated, slept with, hired a private detective to follow, and killed Banderas all between Thanksgiving and Christmas. Busy lady. A.

I LOVED THIS MOVIE (in a very BMT way). It kinda has everything we’re looking for. It’s a “very serious” movie made by “very serious” people about “very serious” things, but clearly the studio didn’t like where things were heading with it and turned what was likely a three hour erotic melodrama into an 86 minute fiasco. I harp on the length only because you start the movie and within 10 minutes not only does De Mornay explain what Multiple Personality Disorder is and its association with bouts of amnesia, but then we are treated to her very noticeably forgetting things about her own life… almost as if she herself has amnesia, bum bum bum. It’s impossible for someone to watch this movie and not immediately conclude that De Mornay is the murderer herself. That is unless maybe they were distracted by the warp speed editing that chops everything to pieces. It’s just the best. Add in some truly… uh… interesting sex scenes with Banderas and it really is an unexpected treat. This is basically what I want out of my erotic thrillers. Some erotic thrills (of course) combined with the inevitable need for a twist resulting in some real dumb stuff to laugh at. As for Cover Me, I was surprised to find a competently made thriller within this Skinemax schlock. Color me schlocked (thank you). If you took out the excessive number of sex scenes (leave the library sex scene in, please… what can I say, I’m a fan of libraries) you’d almost think it was a normal film with subpar actors. Oh, I guess minus the sexist undertones inherent to the genre, of course. Patrick? 

Patrick

‘Ello everyone! We got murderers! We got Multiple Personality Disorders! We got the beautiful skyline of Toront… er, (checks notes) Syracuse, NY?! Let’s go!

P’s View on the Preview – It is a rare thing that I roll up to a film basically knowing nothing about it. I was even skeptical that it was a true erotic thriller … because surely I would have known about it in that case, surely it must be just a regular old Ashley-Judd-esque thriller. But nope, it is, indeed, a true erotic thriller. We might now actually be done with them as far as theatrical releases. What were my expectations? To be bored. Why else would this film be so thoroughly panned and so thoroughly forgotten?

The Good – The movie looks great, but feels like a low-key ABC detective/psychologist procedural at times (if you cut out the nudity). I don’t know what it is, but everything feels so extremely bizarre that it could only have existed on television at 10PM on Fridays on ABC. Honestly, that’s a good thing. I like those types of shows, and it ended up being a nice relaxing watch (between sex scenes). Banderas and De Mornay both were great as well I thought. The film had a lot going for it under the hood. Best Bit: De Mornay in the end.

The Bad – The film is chopped to pieces and they telegraph the twist ending so early that the entire film deflates in front of you. All of the good work Banderas puts in to seems like a sleazy creep is all for nought because one could not possibly think he’s the murderer … because De Morney is obviously the murderer. The whole thing runs off kilter because the twist is so obvious. Watch the trailer … they are obviously setting it up for Banderas being the prime suspect. Look at the poster! But then watch the movie and realize that for not one single moment do you think he’s the murderer … because De Mornay is. They’ve already told you this. Baffling. But entertainingly so. It is like watching a Hannibal Lecter film where he’s the main character, but he’s like “My god, who could be eating all of these people?! Maybe this creep over here.” And then at the end they just go “It was Lecter all along!” and you, dumbstruck, stare at the screen thinking “wait … was I not supposed to think that the entire time?” Fatal flaw: I mean … the non-twist. I can’t stop thinking about it!

The BMT – This might be the best worst twist in film history? There are crazy bad twists (like in The Call) that ruin films because, for whatever reason, something producers feel the need for some big “thing” to happen at the end of the film. But this is definitely intended as a twist, but is such a not-twist that it makes you wonder if you are the stupid one for watching the movie with the obvious twist in mind. For real … did I watch the movie wrong? Did it meet my expectations? Usually BMT films merely do meet my expectations. This so far exceeded them that it is blowing my mind. I don’t get it. I still don’t get it. I will never get it. Be right back, I need to watch Never Talk to Strangers again.

Roast-radamus – Maybe the best Product Placement (What?) since (checks notes) Certs in Terminal Velocity, with the main character nervously applying Chapstick throughout the film. Also a truly incredible Setting as a Character (Where?) for Syracuse, NY for whatever reason (although it is clearly filmed in Toronto). And simultaneously the best and Worst Twist (How?) for the “reveal” that Sarah was the baddie all along (wait … were we supposed to not know that from the jump?). And incredibly BMT in the end, against all odds.

Sequel, Prequel, Remake – The most interesting idea is probably a television Remake. Much like Hannibal you frame it as Sarah is a criminal psychologist who specializes in Multiple Personality Disorder. But what she doesn’t realize is that she herself has MPD, and that there are three different Sarahs. There is the diligent psychologist trying to deduce the trauma and diagnose the disorders for the criminally insane. There is a protector, who herself applies pressure to get information (and is Sarah’s unknown source of investigative information) and protects Sarah from those who mean her harm. And there is a third which is a homemaker with a family, oblivious to the other two. The reveal of the third personality occurs at the end of the first season. At the end of the second season the protector fakes the third personality’s death to get her husband off of their trail. And in the series finale, it all comes crashing down as the husband (trying to determine who murdered his wife) finds out it was his wife all along! Same ending to the sequel in the quiz, slow zoom out from the asylum where Sarah is getting treatment after her diagnosis is revealed. Never Talk to Strangers would still be the name, although it makes less sense given the description. A little bit of a stretch, but you’d have to say that the “strangers” are the other personalities hidden within or something.

Bring a Friend Analysis – Oh boy. As a friend this time we brought along a genuine Playboy feature film! Cover Me seems to be the first in a series of films made by Playboy in the mid-90s. We chose it mostly because there is, somehow, an FMV adventure game called Blue Heat which was produced concurrently to the film itself (which is insane). But I’ll talk about the game in a second (oh yeah, we played it). The movie is … almost competent? It is pretty wild. If I were to describe the quality it would be straight-to-syndication pilot episode which was ultimately passed on (e.g. K-9000). If not for the need to stop every ten or so minutes for a softcore sex scene the film itself would be okay, although it is certainly offensive from a cross-dressing / transgender perspective 25 years later. Maybe the most bizarre choice is to have the main character (who you mostly see nude for photo shoots and undercover in a strip club) in a monogamous relationship with another detective … it certainly seemed to tie their hands a bit as they danced around the fact that we saw four sex scenes between those two characters. Also crazy that it stars Paul Sorvino, Cerbin Bernsen, and Elliot Gould. The 90s were certainly a wild time, it must have cost a mint for the cast alone (relatively speaking). B+. I like the concept of the film more than actually watching it. It is saved by the (also amazingly competent) video game tie-in, otherwise there is little reason to watch it. Watching it back-to-back with playing the game though is a trip and tells you everything you need to know about the 90s.

You Just Got Schooled – Oh yeah, you didn’t think I was going to not review the game itself, Blue Heat: The Case of the Cover Girl Murders. Firstly, finding and running this game is hilarious. It is only kind of available as an iso rip from the original (4!) CDs, and then it only runs on Windows 3 or (early versions of) 95. I got a Windows 95 emulation up and running. A few tips, make sure you go with an early version of the Pentium (I used Pentium 75), I tried it with a later MMX version and it seemed to cause the videos to stutter. Also you need a graphics card that supports 256 colors, otherwise it will just throw an error during install (I went with Trident TGUI9440). Overall surprisingly painless if you follow this 1997 tutorial for PCem, although you do have to somewhat trust a few downloads (I don’t think I have a weird computer virus …). The actual game? Shockingly long and shockingly competent. It is Full Motion Video and I think made with HyperCard (which is what Myst was made in), and is a very weird game, and not just because of the nudity. It is a long investigation which is totally different from the movie, with very little in the way of knowing what is going on and why. The dialogue system can cut you off if you do something wrong, and they overwhelm the player with a huge number of “pieces of evidence”. The game is both an incredible example of how to make an open-ended criminal investigation adventure game and an unmitigated disaster … wait, that’s kind of like Police Quest! What a revelation. A+ tie-in, but as a game it is more like a straight C, surprisingly good, but still not good.

Cheerios,

The Sklogs

Wishmaster Recap

Jamie

When a mysterious red ruby crosses her desk, Alex immediately sends it off for analysis. Soon thereafter people around her start to die and she comes under the influence of a djinn. He needs her to request three wishes and he’ll be free to rule the world. Can Alex stop this mystical, all-powerful monster before it’s too late? Find out in… Wishmaster.

How?! Alex is an antiques appraiser, so naturally when a dockworker swipes a jewel from the site of a gruesome crate-crushing-a-person accident she’s the first to see it. She takes one look at it and is like “uh, something is up with this jewel.” She sends it to a friend for analysis, who releases a gruesome djinn in the process. The monster kills him and proceeds to run rampant through the city granting wishes and twisting them to his own horrific devices. All while this is happening Alex is getting flashes of what this Wishmaster is doing. Ultimately the djinn needs to gain power by stealing souls via his wishes in order to power up the jewel. Then he needs Alex to get three wishes granted and voila he’ll be free and ready to rule the world and mold it to his own gruesome vision. Realizing what’s going on, Alex eventually arrives at the doorstep of a folklore professor who explains exactly what’s going on with the djinn. The djinn tracks down the professor and takes her place when Alex comes a-knockin’ again. Horrified, but somewhat prepared, Alex attempts to trick the Djinn, but has her wish turned against her and she’s trapped in the jewel, forcing her to use a second wish to get out. Scared that the djinn is going after her sister, Alex rushes to a party, which quickly turns horrific at the hands of the djinn. The djinn tries to force Alex to use her third wish to save her sister, but Alex stays calm and instead wishes that the person responsible for the crate-crushing-a-person accident wasn’t wasted at the time. This reverses time and retraps the djinn in the jewel. THE END (or is it? (ugh, unfortunately not)).

Why?! Who runs the world? Djinns. Who runs the world? Djinns. That’s all that stupid djinn wants. He wants the world to be full of horrors because that’s what he likes: immense suffering of humans as a result of their puny wishes. But Alex won’t have any of that. She just wants safety for her family and that means that djinn must be stopped.

Who?! A number of cameos here with Tony Todd and Kane Hodder. Robert Englund also has a more substantial role. Might be more even, as this is a horror film for horror fans. I’d also like to take a moment to meditate on the monster: the djinn. Fun to have something all powerful and evil and yet limited in some way. Creates fun as a trickster. They quickly muck it all up in the second though by making a whole bunch of new rules. Necessary because it’s a bit of a one trick pony. Once you figure out the trick in the first film you have to change the game.

What?! Mark another in the Coca-Cola column. Also funny product placement with Pacific Bell (makes sense with the setting of the film), only made funnier by the fact that in the goofs section of the imdb they note that while most phones in the film sport the Pacific Bell logo, the phone at her apartment has a BellSouth logo. Uh oh! What a goof!

Where?! This is Los Angeles through and through. I’m glad too. I think LA should be the location for more horror, but for some reason the classics are more intrigued by terror destroying the perceived safety of Midwestern suburbia… or the empty horror of the backwater South… or the Northeast and its tradition of witches and ghosts. But LA is a weeeeiiiirrrd place and I think they use it nicely in this film. B.

When?! This is the one drawback of LA. You can’t tell from the weather what time of year it is so there isn’t much pushing a filmmaker to take that extra step and establish an exact date. There might be one in here somewhere, but I didn’t notice it on first viewing so it’s an F… for now.

I really liked the look of this film. Some really great (and gross) effects for the most part and then some nice acting by Divoff to bring the Djinn to life (ruined in the second film). The only big issue for me was that they jump into a bunch of rules for how the djinn operates expressly so they could figure out a way to deliver the final “twist” for how Alex manages to trick the djinn and get out of the predicament. This creates a bunch of problems when inevitably you have the djinn more or less doing what he wants with everyone else in order to squeeze in your sweet, sweet practical effects death scenes for all the minor characters. And you can tell that they knew what they were doing. This was a film made by people steeped in horror lore. How? Because they were already including cameos by Kane Hodder and Tony Todd. They knew what they were up to and it worked out OK for the first film, but really hamstrung them for any possibility of having a decent franchise. Speaking of, the second Wishmaster is horrific. One of the worst. Everything falls apart so quickly because of how things were set up in the first film that you wonder why they even bothered to make another film (let alone more after that). And Divoff in turns cranks the Djinn up to such a degree that it seems like he’s in a comedy. Ugh. The problem is that I actually like watching horror films, and in particular horror franchises, so when one veers so quickly into unwatchable territory it’s truly dismaying. Patrick? 

Patrick

‘Ello everyone! We got wishes! We got a who’s who of horror icons! We’ve got djinns! Let’s go!

P’s View on the Preview – The horror genre for this cycle caused a lot of consternation. Mostly it is because as far as wide releases are concerned I think we’ve kind of worked through some of the best we have. But there was at least one 90s franchise we hadn’t touched yet. Wishmaster, which amusingly comes right on the heels of watching Kazaam. What were my expectations? The trailer showed what was up with this film, a whole lotta practical effects. The reviews said the issue with this: they forgot to write an actual script. I’m just going to be here counting wishes.

The Good – At times the practical effects were indeed quite fun. The people creating the film obviously had a lot of affection for that approach to horror and so do I, so even when a bit cheesy I appreciated that they were willing to create a film where multiple practical effect centered scenes were presented. And the subject, a djinn, is perfect in that regard. A wish can be fantastic, and an evil djinn who twists that wish in sadistic ways can create fantastical horror as a result. A large part of the film at its core is well done and a very good idea to boot. Best bit: The practical effects.

The Bad – But the film falls down at the lore which is somehow both non-existent and so oppressive as to tie one’s hands. The Djinn can grant a wish for the price of your soul? But then the woman who conjured him up gets three wishes? But after her third wish the Djinns rule the world? It all is a very silly means to a not-very-exciting end. And yeah, the acting and script are pretty bad. Any part with non-practical effects looks bad. I do have to give credit, where you would expect the final wish to be dumb, it actually works. Question though … if the goal is merely to grant three wishes to your master and then you get to rule the world, why would the Djinn choose to make any wishes bad? Doesn’t that just tip your hand that you are a terrifying monster? Whatever. Fatal flaw: End-to-end lore, and it isn’t even that good of lore. Should have saved that for the sequel, never go full-lore on the first film.

The BMT – I love watching horror franchises. Maybe someday I might even finish this one (there are two other straight-to-video sequels, but ain’t no one got time for that). But this one is really interesting in that the first has a somewhat botched fun idea and the sequel … well more on that in the friend section. It certainly represents something of a last hurrah for large scale practical effects driven horror. Something like Hostel or Saw maybe does some of that, both that could certainly be said for something like supernatural horror which must all be CGI at this point. Just fun stuff. Did it meet my expectations? Yeah, it really gave me that sweet sweet practical effects while also being amusingly bad in its own way.

Roast-radamus – A pretty fun Product Placement (What?) for Pacific Bell with multiple telephones sporting the logo in full throughout the film. An okay Setting as a Character (Where?) for Los Angeles, or at least California as evidenced by the license plates on the cars. I’m not going to give it anything for the twist since it was actually pretty good. Closest to Good I think, it is a pretty fun (if messy) horror film I think.

Sequel, Prequel, Remake – I would love to do something funny here, but this film really deserves a Remake. The first one is okay with the wishes and stuff, but I still think there is room to improve the lore. The Djinn are all powerful, so why can’t he destroy himself if he wants? But … just make that bit undesirable to the main character. At the beginning of the film the main character’s husband is killed when the Djinn is created. The Djinn is attempting to fulfil a condition, thirteen souls captured by wishes that take another’s life and the Djinn can open a portal and control the world. But, the one who freed the Djinn can bind it to the fire opal with one of three wishes. With 12 souls captured (and 12 gruesome deaths) the hero finds the Djinn, and the hero wishes for the Djinn to destroy himself. Fine, but then your love is dead forever, you could have him back if you so wish, but I’ll destroy myself if you want. Hesitating, she instead wishes for her love to live again. The Djinn creates a tree with the man’s soul bound to it, forever trapped in agony. She wishes for her love to be a living human, and he is, but with terminal cancer, with mere weeks to live. With one wish left she uses the same twist from the first film, I wish for a specific moment that allowed the Djinn’s fire opal to be discovered to have changed in the past. And voila! The events of the film are undone, but the fire opal lies in wait for another chance to fulfil the prophecy. Not much much different, but I think it cleans up the lore a bit and also allows for people to wish for anything. It is just the Djinn’s (tricky) logic that often tempts them into trying to outsmart him, and that often fails.

Bring a Friend Analysis – I do love when we can do the same franchise as part of a friend, and this time we got to do Wishmaster 2: Evil Never Dies. Everything about this movie is awful. It opens with them spitting in the face of the lore (if someone wishes to have never been born, and you grant that wish uh … why does the main character have a picture of that person in her apartment? Riddle me that!), the Djinn constantly just says like “I can’t grant that wish”, the movie establishes totally different lore (the Djinn must collect 1001 souls prior to taking over the world … he definitely didn’t do that the last time), and in the end they don’t even bother to have the One Weird Trick loophole, instead it seems like most of the mischief the Djinn got up to actually ended up happening? Combine that with the fart joke and Divoff’s weird unchanging facial expressions (which at times seemed like a joke? As if they were poking fun at themselves and the absurdity of the character’s monotone when acting as a human? Bizarre), and the film is awful. Amazingly people online seem to like 1 and 2 about the same, and love Divoff in the role. Divoff is solid in the first, but here I think the direction let’s him down and they leaned a bit too hard into the quipiness which also caused issues during some of the Leprechaun installments. Actually, two very similar series. I could definitely imagine a timeline in which there are seven or eight Wishmasters if it had started in 1989. C+. I think it is worth the watch if you watched the first one, but it is quite bad if you aren’t into the wink-wink comedy horror sequel idea.

Cheerios,

The Sklogs

Terminal Velocity Recap

Jamie

Ditch Brodie plays by his own rules. This gets him mixed up with a beautiful lady who happens to also be an ex-KGB spy. She enlists Ditch to help stop a group of her fellow spies who are trying to steal a planeful of gold from the former Soviet Union. Can he stop the baddies (and perhaps get the girl) before it’s too late? Find out in… Terminal Velocity.

How?! Ditch Brodie is a rebel without a cause. So even in the midst of an FAA investigation you better believe he’s ready to give a skydiving lesson to a mysterious lady who shows up out of the blue. On their way up for the dive Ditch is shocked to find that she has jumped out of the plane without a parachute! He attempts to dive after her but is too late and she crashes to the ground. Shaken up, Ditch is convinced something is off. He begins to investigate and goes to her apartment in Tucson where he’s attacked by a couple of thugs. Back at the skydiving center he is approached by an Assistant DA who is investigating the death and Ditch brushes him off. As he rides the desert in thought he notices a small plane similar to a plane seen in footage of the incident. He chases it to a gas station where he discovers that the woman, Chris, is still alive. She’s an ex-KGB spy who is trying to escape a group of her fellow former spies. Using the incident as leverage she forces him to do a night dive with her in order to infiltrate the industrial plant she worked at. Inside he retrieves a MacGuffin and barely gets away from the same group of thugs he encountered before. He retreats to the skydiving center where he arranges for a meeting between him, Chris, and the Assistant DA. But it’s a trick! The Assistant DA is actually one of the ex-KGB thugs! Chris and Ditch use a rocket car (for real) to escape and end up in the desert expositing about their histories as spies/olympic level gymnasts (also real). Chris takes the MacGuffin back and is able to track where the ultimate treasure, a planeful of Soviet gold, is hidden. The ex-KGB thugs are aiming to steal it, but Chris wants to stop them as it’ll spell doom for Russia as it tries to get its footing. They find the plane and confirm the treasure, but have to retreat when the thugs show up. Ditch is having second thoughts and lets Chris go off alone (and immediately get kidnapped). Feeling bad, Ditch chases after them with the help of a biplane, boards the treasure plane, damages it, and saves Chris. After parachuting to the ground they dispatch the last of the thugs. Ditch is now an American and Russian hero and he and Chris get medals and smooch. THE END.

Why?! Pretty good motivation film. Ditch doesn’t have much other than survival and getting hot ladies. Chris’ motivation, though, is real interesting. Her group of ex-KGB operatives find themselves a bit lost after the fall of the Soviet Union so her colleagues plan to hijack and steal a bunch of gold for their new capitalist lives. Chris is like, no way. She still has family in Russia and crippling the young country by stealing all their wealth isn’t in the cards for her. It’s pretty interesting to see how movies made their way through a changing world.

Who?! Nothing super interesting here. There was some thanks and an In Memory credit for a make-up artist on the film. I couldn’t find out much about his passing, though. Some interesting actors show up in bit parts though. Melvin Van Peebles, who just passed away, is there, as is Rance Howard, father of Ron Howard.

What?! Put this squarely on the Coke side of the Coke-Pepsi debate. I wonder if it’s because we are focusing on the 90’s that it seems like every film had to have a fridge full of soda. Gandolfini’s character also has a funny quirk of chewing Certs when he’s nervous… at least when he’s in the guise of a lowly assistant DA and not a ruthless ex-KGB agent.

Where?! This appears to mostly be set in Arizona. Several times they orient themselves around Tucson and Phoenix as they drive and dive their way around the state. Years after mapl.de.map it’s always fun to find another one that would have been a good choice for a state. Interesting that American Anthem was our choice for Arizona back in the day as that also is gymnastics centric… I wonder if that is how Sheen’s character ended up there. Was at the gymnastics training facility and eventually drifted out to the skydiving area.

When?! Patrick helpfully noted the presence of a calendar flipped to March in one of the scenes. Otherwise I didn’t note anything in particular about when this might be taking place. That’s good enough for a C, with some room for improvement if they were to at some point enjoy some green beer or whatnot.

Fun movie with some real bad acting by the main players, some good acting by Gandolfini, and some Christopher MacDonald acting from Christopher MacDonald. It’s also pretty confusing if you were simply trying to watch a glossy 90’s action flick about skydiving. At times it’s like they assume the audience wrote the movie or something. Sheen is skydiving into a smokestack and then running away with something in a coat rack while being chased by Russians (who don’t sound Russian) as he does the bidding of a Russian (who kinda sounds Russian). At a certain point you just have to let the movie flow, and indeed it slowly coalesces over one of the several necessary exposition scenes. I got it by the end, but it does throw you for a loop in the moment. All that said, it’s exactly what I want out of my 90’s action. I’d call the genre Electric Guitar Action and it was perfected in the 90’s. As for Crackerjack, hoooo weee. Now that’s what I’m talking about. I loved watching this film. A perfect Die Hard knock-off… and somehow also starring Nastassja Kinski! It’s just a perfect combination of weird sets, weird lines, explosions, and a laugh-out-loud hilarious flashback scene.One of my absolute favorite Bring a Friend entries thus far. Patrick?

Patrick

‘Ello everyone! We’ve got Charlie Sheen acting like a mad man! We’ve got skydiving! We’ve got a cold war storyline for post-Soviet American politics! Let’s go!

P’s View on the Preview – I had to do a double take when combing through the keywords and plot details … KGB agent? We’re talking about like 1994 right? Once you watch the film it all makes a bit more sense, but it does, in some ways, all feel like a script that was leftover from the heady days of Rambo III which they forgot to make until three years too late (oddly, a lot like Police Academy: Mission to Moscow). Watching the trailer it also seemed very weird to see Charlie Sheen in a genuine action role … it was hard to tell how much this film was actually a comedy. What were my expectations? I really don’t know. I guess I expected there to actually be very little skydiving in the end and a whole lot more of a convoluted political plot.

The Good – I got it half right, there is actually quite a bit of skydiving and in the end the skydiving was the best part of the film (by far). Sheen being a former-Olympian-turned-bad-boy-skydiver is quite good and I kind of wish they had done Terminal Velocity 2 just to see how wild they would get with it. He does come across as a weird early-90s American James Bond in a way, all the way down to the overly complex story involving the dissolving KGB in a Russia teetering on the brink of civil war. Best Bit: The skydiving duh.

The Bad – The overly complex political plotline was just a tad bit too overly complicated. It takes quite a bit of effort to untangle who are the bad former KGB, who are Russian mafia (were they all former KGB, just working for the mob remotely?), and who are the good former KGB. Perhaps it all made a lot more sense at the time, but for a while I was skeptical the plot synopsis could possibly be right because it all seemed very under-explained. Sheen was a bit too jokey for my taste in action, personally (admittedly it probably struck the right tone for an American-in-a-James-Bond story, it just isn’t my cup of tea). Fatal Flaw: Really hard to understand, and I usually am quite good at parsing even the most ludicrous of bad movie plot lines.

The BMT – Unfortunately, beyond the usual “extreme sport” bad movie subgenre, or “skydiving” subsubgenre I don’t really see why this could get any play in bad movie circles. It is actually pretty good if you can understand the plot at all. It looks good and has great skydiving action. I kind of dug it. Double feature with The Chase for sure. Did it meet my expectations? Half and half. There was a lot more skydiving action than I expected (good) and, yeah, it was a little too convoluted as far as political intrigue (bad).

Roast-radamus – Really fun Product Placement (What?) for a few things, but my favorite is Certs which Galdofini nervously chomps on just prior to the movie’s twist. Solid Setting as a Character (Where?) for Arizona, which is actually a pretty rare setting (and one we also saw recently with Fire Birds). And a genuine MacGuffin (Why?) for the mysterious plane which, it turns out, contains a boatload of gold. Closest to Good I think, I like the movie and I think I would like it even more on subsequent viewings when I understand better what it is about.

Sequel, Prequel, Remake – In our continued adventures in Half Past Dead BMT Crossover Episode this seems ripe for it. Because guess where Shasha Petrosevitch is from? Well … he’s American, but it seems like he must have some connection to Russia. In this sequel to Terminal Velocity, the Half Past Dead team come to recruit Krista (and Ditch) whom they’ve heard just might be Half Past Dead. Disappointed when he realizes that she merely faked her own death, Sasha goes to leave when over the wire it is revealed that that boatload of gold from the first film is missing in Russia once again. “Missing gold, that’s my speciality ,” Sasha says, “looks like I’m having a homecoming.” Flying to Russia with the Half Past Dead Team, Sasha reveals that he too was once high level KGB, deep-cover in the US and given a burn notice (which he evaded) in the early 90s prior to becoming a bonafide American hero. It turns out that the gold was stolen by a dissident looking to start their own Siberian kingdom. Doing a sub-zero skydive (“I invented sub-zero skydiving!” says Ditch), they get the gold, Ditch still has the lady, and Sasha gains two friends. “We could use your skydiving skillz on our team, problem is … you have to have seen the other side.” He shoots them both in the chest, black screen, cheers from the audience. Half Past Cold: Temperature Drop. The sequel series would establish that they indeed both survived and started the Russian branch of the Half Past Dead Team, in Half Past Dead: Moscow.

Bring a Friend Analysis – This week we watched Crackerjack (which I pronounce Crackerjack!! with a double exclamation point). It’s about a police officer named Jack who’s become reckless after his family is murdered by the mob (thus his nickname Crackerjack), who then gets himself into a real Die Hard situation at a remote mountain resort. He has to defeat the terrorist Getz (played by Christopher Plummer (!)) who wants mob diamonds to start maybe like a fascist utopia (?), and also he was the one that killed Jack’s family (!) and also he’s rigged the surrounding glacier to explode and bury the resort (!). It’s a lot to absorb, and yet as far as a straight-to-video feature it might be one of the best ones I’ve ever seen in its own way. Lots of hand-to-hand action, but because it’s Die Hard Thomas Ian Griffith also gets beat up a lot which is fun. The plot is kind of convoluted, but there are a lot of explosions and model work and as far as lightweight background noise it is really really enjoyable. Maybe don’t sit down in earnest to watch this thing, but do you have some mindless work you need done? This is a great diversion. A. I love it. I want to watch all of TIG’s films now. This is what I always wanted with Bring a Friend, but somehow we always watch things like A Talking Cat?! which are garbage.

Cheerios,

The Sklogs

Kazaam Recap

Jamie

Shaq’s Kazaam, baby! And all our wishes come true. When Max finds a magic boombox with a genie inside he’s ready to use his wishes to try to get his dad back in his life. But an eeeevil nightclub owner has different ideas. Can Shaq and Max team up to stop the baddies before it’s too late? Find out in… Kazaam.

How?! Max is a trouble maker who’s always being hassled by the older kids in his class. Add a mom who just got engaged to a firefighter who WILL NEVER BE HIS REAL DAD and Max is having a bit of a tough time. One day, while escaping from the school bullies, he stumbles upon a magic boombox and *poof* out pops Shaq, ready to slam dunk and shatter the backboard of all his dreams. That’s because he’s a genie and until Max gives him three wishes to grant he’s stuck with him. Max is like “yeah, whatever,” and lets the supposed genie tag along to visit his dad, who’s back in town after bailing on him when he was just a baby. The dad is thrilled to see Max and sets him up with some VIP passes for a big concert that night. Riding high off this reunion, Max finally entertains the possibility that Shaq is a genie and Shaq in turn entertains us with some totally dope raps and BMX bike races. Finally Max asks for his first wish: junk food to the sky and *poof* there it is. Man, now Max has a father and a genie. What more could a kid wish for? Well, not so fast, cause that night they sneak to the big concert and Shaq is instantly a star, rapping his way into the show to everyone’s delight (particularly the eeevil club owner). Max tries to see his dad, but happens upon him in the midst of a shady deal with the club owner and is yelled at instead. Sad, Max tips off the school bullies about the shady deal and they end up stealing a valuable tape that could mean trouble for Max’s dad. Feeling bad, and getting yelled at by his dad again, Max sadly asks for Shaq to conjure a replacement tape, leaving him with only one wish. Later that night Shaq is distracted by his burgeoning music career so doesn’t notice that the eeevil club owner murders Max and steal the magic boom box. Enraged, Shaq breaks free of his bonds and slam dunks the club owner (literally… like actually does that). He then transforms into a djinn and brings Max back to life after which he grants his father a second chance since now he is all powerful and can do that shit. Max lives happily ever after with his new family while his father repents the error of his ways. THE END. 

Why?! Love and family. That’s all the kid wants. Fortunately Shaq goes all djinn on him and is able to grant him an ethereal wish, am I right? Everyone else is driven by greed, other than Shaq… he mostly wants freedom (naturally)… the freedom to have a crazy big rap career and to get down with the ladies again. High five.

Who?! Shaq is a supreme athlete-turned-musician-turned-actor and boy does he show his rapping skillz… … … anyway, Da Brat also shows up and everyone is like yo, she’s all that. I also have to point out that the main child actor in this, Francis Capra, grew up to play Weevil in Veronica Mars. Kinda mind blowing.

What?! A fun project would be to categorize all films by Coke vs. Pepsi. In this case, Shaq saps on Pepsi while he wait for his big concert to start. I feel like we’ve been on an insane Pepsi run (although the main series of Police Academy is squarely in the Coke camp). Really the most fun aspect of this would be when you get that random Tab film and are like WTF, mate?

Where?! This is pretty obviously set in NYC. I wouldn’t say that it is necessarily a great NYC film other than the fact that Max’s mom’s fiance is a New York city firefighter, which seems pretty classic. Given the setting I wonder whether you would characterize Shaq as an East Coast rapper. Born in New Jersey, grew up in Texas, playing basketball in Orlando, and about to move to LA. But obviously playing an NYC-based rapping genie trumps all that. East Coast. B.

When?! School year. I’ve started to think that this section of the email is too much work unless we are dealing with a holiday film (secret or otherwise). I think my main goal here will be to mostly promote the idea of finding out when random films take place rather than actually putting in the effort myself. Either that or insist we only watch secret Christmas films from now on. This is an F, but maybe one of our many fans will find differently and correct me (please?).

I’m going to start with some positives. The main kid is pretty good actually and I’m a bit of a sucker for kids films with some nice messages mixed in there. Troublemaker comes to respect his all-around-good-guy of a future stepfather while also realizing his biological father is flawed and helps steer him towards redemption? Sign me up. Also the raps are entertaining, although silly in a kids movie kind of way. As for the rest of the film? Well, it’s nonsense of course. It’s so “rad” that it is immeasurably lame and Shaq appears to have little interest in anything but showing off his rap skillz. I would guess that this movie could have been about anything, but if they let him rap and paid him the big bucks he would have said yes. “Rapping Paul Bunyan? I’m in.” Eventually it gets a little repetitive and boring that even when a crazy Middle Eastern stereotype kills Max by throwing him down an elevator shaft I barely batted an eye. I was like “sure, sure, just get on with it.” So overall I’d say solid, but not spectacular for a BMT kids film. As for Getting Lucky, I don’t have all that much to say. You can see what Troma was up to. Kind of an indie horror/comedy grindhouse production house that made films attuned to the vision of the head of the studio. You really get a sense that he made exactly what he wanted to see, which is interesting, but also comes off as on the same level as a college film production. Patrick?

Patrick

‘Ello everyone! We got Shaq! We got Da Brat! We got a B-story that goes for miles and results in the cold-blooded murder of a child! Let’s go!

P’s View on the Preview – Everything about this film revolves around the B-plot. The B-plot is all I really remember about the film. The B-plot is one of the main things that perplexed reviewers at the time. The trailer actually makes the film look fun, but I know that’s a trick because there is nary a mention of music piracy, so it must only be showing half of the movie. As I said in the preview: recut Kazaam into just the B-plot. I dare you to, you cowards. What were my expectations? To like Shaq and also to love this B-plot. If this B-plot doesn’t go for days then I’m going to be furious.

The Good – I think with distance (and a whole lot more Shaq in our lives) his entire section of the film is pretty delightful. The kid actor is good, his interactions with him are fun, the way they dance around him being able to grant wishes and other silliness is amusing. The actual kids’ movie (complete with cameo by Da Brat, somehow a staple of the time) in the movie is actually not the worst thing in the world. Throw in a healthy dose of teaching kids that divorce isn’t their fault and step-dads can be pretty cool, and what’s now to love? Best Bit: Shaq, he’s a cheesy actor, but oozes charm.

The Bad – I remembered the B-plot of the film (and also that the kid falls a few stories multiple times during the film) … but no matter what I remembered I still couldn’t help but burst out laughing when Max’s father mentioned his “million dollar tape” and “music piracy” scheme. I guess the screenwriters must have known Shaq was coming on board, and they knew Shaq wanted to rap in the film, and so they needed some reason for Max to be in danger because of that … but music piracy? So weird. Without that the film is just a bog-standard kids film. With it it transcends B-plots and becomes something else entirely. Oh, and yeah, the kid actually is killed at the end which was pretty confusing for a hot second before you remember there is a genie who can bring him back to life. Fatal Flaw: A B-plot so ludicrous it blinded everyone to any virtue the film otherwise might have had.

The BMT – This is like Nine Lives on steroids. Nine Lives wishes it had the B-plot of Kazaam. Here’s the thing, Kazaam isn’t that entertaining. At times it is mostly just Max crying about his father and is somewhat sad (and the bullying in the film is off the chain, Max gets the shit kicked out of him a bunch). But the B-plot? It is the quintessential example. I could be misremembering something, but this has to be the best B-plot ever made, right? And it wasn’t by accident they definitely added it in after Shaq was attached. Legendary. Did it meet my expectations? And more, but I should be clear: I never want to watch Kazaam again. It just has the best B-plot in children’s film history.

Roast-radamus – I have to say, a legendary Cameo (Who?) by Da Brat (who, you might remember, was the musical guest on the second episode of All that, so yeah, lot’s of appearances of Da Brat in my life at the time). In the end I decided it was a really solid Product Placement (What?) for Pepsi in particular, although there are arguments for Jif and M&Ms among many others. And the Setting as a Character (Where?) for NYC is really good as Max’s obvious failure by the New York City public school system is a subject of much consternation by his mother. I think closest to BMT, mainly, again, for the B-plot.

Sequel, Prequel, Remake – Imagine if they made a Sequel? And I got the perfect plot. Kazaam, an all powerful Djinn is now doing his thing in LA. He’s rapping, producing music, starring in movies, the works. But one day his powers start fading. What could it mean? Reading up on Djinn lore, he realizes that the moment he saved Max’s life it created a connection, as long as Max’s bloodline is doing well, he keeps his powers, but if he fails them he becomes mortal. Going back to NYC he finds Max, a famous inventor, but his family isn’t doing well. His son has fallen in with a gang, and Max just doesn’t know what to do. Well, Kazaam knows what to do. He makes Max into a genie, and tasks him with helping his son out of his predicament. There is a fun montage of Kazaam showing Max how to make wishes, and Max is disguised as Shaq so his son won’t know (double the Shaq!). And in the end, Max learns a valuable lesson in love, and his son stands up for himself and comes back home. And Kazaam? Well, he’s back to full power baby! Ka2aam. You know that is how it would be stylized and you hate it. Look into your heart, you know it to be true!

Bring a Friend Analysis – We really went with a curve ball this week and watched Getting Lucky a 1990 Troma distributed film made guerrilla style with nary a professional actor in sight. The film is pretty weird, but because it is Troma it also somehow manages to be weird enough to be interesting. To really boil it down, a boy finds a leprechaun in a beer bottle and gets three wishes and uses them to get the girl of his dreams. After the first attempted rape scene, I was like Tony should be in prison. After the second, I was like man the 90s were wild, Tony should be in prison. But then after the third when Tony DOES go to prison? I was blown away. The film knowingly winks at the camera with the final horseback chase scene and shish kabob fight, and barely has a plot, but something about it is compelling. It is a little like a Neil Breen film in that you eventually acclimate to Michael Paul Girard’s weird vision and enjoy it on some level beyond what the actual movie provides. But I’m still giving it a B-. It is just a hard sell considering the subject matter and the script which seems like it was barely written by a 12-year-old boy. Maybe someday I’ll be able to put it into better context within the Troma oeuvre.

Cheerios,

The Sklogs

Fire Birds Recap

Jamie

Jake Preston is the greatest! Helicopter pilot, that is. After his friend is killed by a South American cartel’s helicopter ace, Jake is recruited to train with Brad Little on the new Apache attack helicopter. Can he get through the training and take down the cartel (and perhaps get the girl?) before it’s too late? Find out in… Fire Birds.

How?! Jake Preston wants only two things in life: to fly helicopters like a mofo and to win the War on Drugs. When his friend dies at the hands of a cartel’s hitman/attack helicopter pilot extraordinaire he jumps at the opportunity to be part of the group trained on the new Apache helicopter to go after him. The teacher is Brad Little. He’s long in the tooth but still the best helicopter pilot the army has ever seen. But he sees something in Jake. Something he never thought possible: a pilot even better than he is. That’s cause Jake Preston is the greatest! He breezes through most of the training and even crushes Little in boxing to boot. He even finds time for a little on-base romance with his former flame Billie who he still has the hots for (and you better believe she still has the hots for him). Things are going swimmingly until the hardest test in the program: a simulation of a night mission. Turns out Jake has a dominant eye problem and only one other pilot ever was able to get over the issue. That pilot? A man by the name of Brad Little. Boom. Little helps Jake get over his problem and soon they are both off to South America to take on the cartel. When they get there they are surprise attacked by the cartel who not only have a helicopter but a couple of fighter jets too. The Apaches take off and go head to head with the cartel’s air force taking them down one-by-one. Little is injured, but remember, Jake is the greatest and so even alone he is able to trick the cartel hitman and take him out. Hooray. With that the War on Drugs is won and everyone high fives. THE END.

Why?! Did you not notice the mention of the War on Drugs? The funniest aspect of all this is the entirely unironic framing of the War on Drugs as an actual war… like… as if direct military intervention in Central and South American countries was a clear and obvious strategy that would be employed across the globe. 

Who?! I have to dive deep on the fact that Dale Dye has a story credit on this film. I know Dale Dye as Captain Lang in Operation Delta Force 2: Mayday. ODF was a series of straight-to-video military action films that started with a Jeff Fahey vehicle set on train and then managed to move into two separate sequels involving submarine hijackings. The one that Dale Dye is in features one of the best (read: insane) characters ever put to film: Flint Lukash. This is all to say that Dale Dye… well… let’s say the man works. And yet this is the only film he ever got a writing credit on. Blows my mind.

What?! While it is obvious to say that this is one long advertisement for the US Army (true), it’s also important to note on occasion that Patrick and I are crazy people. So when I saw Nic Cage guzzling the same black and gold labelled beer throughout the film I know I would have to mention it here. Turns out that they can’t get enough Miller Genuine Draft in Fire Bird. Probably what made Nic Cage the greatest.

Where?! They tell you a little about where the final battle is through an intertitle pointing to the Catamarca Desert. When I watched I was pretty sure that meant Chile, but apparently I was confusing that with the Atacama Desert. Catamarca is in Argentina, but is the name of a province, not a desert as far as I can tell. Where they train is less clear. It seems like Arizona, and Patrick told me he found some evidence for that, so I’m gonna go ahead and given this a C+

When?! Too much of this is made up to really be convinced of any specific time. They do open with a quote from President George H.W. Bush from September 5th 1989 about the War on Drugs, so you can imagine it’s around then, but not much better. Feel like we’ve been on a cold streak in this category. D-.

Great movie to put on at your next Cage-a-thon. Not only will no one have seen it, but it’ll really put into perspective for those that only know late stage Cage that Nic Cage has never really changed. He’s always been late stage Cage. It’s also fun and funny to varying degrees throughout the film. One the one hand you have the ludicrous War on Drugs setting and Nic Cage screaming “I am the greatest!” over and over in your face. On the other you have Tommy Lee Jones doing a pretty solid and even keel performance, which kind of anchors the film a bit. And this was in Under Siege/Blown Away era TLJ, so he really was a wild card. But he channeled his The Fugitive performance here. Anyway, the film was actually not all that bad. The only aspect I thought was just blah was unfortunately Sean Young, who was given a pretty good female character to play and seemed disinterested in it. Weirdly, I almost wish I could see this film with Demi Moore in that role. As for Airborne, we tried something new in how we choose the Friends this year and boy has it paid off so far with Airborne. I really enjoyed it. It’s pretty ludicrous and, while perhaps a little confusing for those that aren’t giant Gutes-heads like Patrick and I, I think most people who are at least somewhat familiar with his work would find the whole concept hilarious. Oh and if there’s one thing I’m a sucker for it’s a film where someone has a lucky coin and Gutes got on. Patrick? 

Patrick

‘Ello everyone! We got Nic Cage. We got Tommy Lee Jones. We got Top Gun with Helicopters. We got Fire Birds! Let’s go!

P’s View on the Preview – Uh, Top Gun with Helicopters, nuff said, right? Wrong, the cast is also spectacular. So what could have gone wrong? From the reviews it appears it was too gung-ho America for even the most patriotic of critics. And that’s saying something considering critics liked Top Gun. What were my expectations? I think I’ll easily be able to divide my brain into the “well, this celebration of the War on Drugs seems a bit unsavory” side and the “wooooooo mf-ing helicopters! Bro, like … helicopters!!” side. And that means I might just have fun with this.

The Good – It is, indeed, Top Gun with helicopters. And if that is what you are looking for I have no idea why you would go away dissatisfied with this film. It gives you what you want, which is Nic Cage screaming in your face while helicopters do loop-de-loops and shoot things. Tommy Lee Jones is great and plays the veteran who doesn’t want to call it quits perfectly. The Arizona setting is beautiful, and the soundtrack is bumping. I think there is a lot to love here. Best Bit: It’s between Tommy Lee Jones and the sweet red convertible Nic Cage drives around.

The Bad – Now, if you were looking for actual Top Gun level filmmaking then that’s where we go a bit wrong. Mainly, it has to be Nic Cage’s fault in the end. It feels like Tom Cruise manages to ground what is otherwise an absurd jingoistic and homoerotic film into a blockbuster. Nic Cage manages to Nic Cage it up. Which is all well and good now, but then? I think people balked at it. Otherwise the only real complaint was that I knew they didn’t have the guts to kill off one of the main three characters. While this pleased me, you didn’t get the emotional gut check of Goose dying to tell you that you were, in fact, watching a real movie. Instead you are left thinking you watched a feel good family action film. Which isn’t the same. Fatal Flaw: As much as it wants to be, it isn’t Top Gun, not even close.

The BMT – I kind of liked this film and I think there is something to be said about the absurdity of the various forms both Nic Cage and Tommy Lee Jones take within their BMT repertoires. I can respect that. And as an almost-forgotten part of both of their filmographies it is better than it had any right to be, and also was ludicrous. I think there is a ton of room to watch military films from the 80s and 90s like this in the future, I think we’ve left a ton of those on the table over the years. Did it meet my expectations? Yup, I successfully partitioned by brain into two halves and managed to like this film quite a bit.

Roast-radamus – Two solid Product Placement (What?) for Miller (which Nic Cage guzzles throughout) and Tide (in the pivotal laundry room scene). Solid Setting as a Character (Where?) for Arizona which, shockingly, is not mentioned anywhere on IMDb or Wikipedia as the location of this film (but it is definitely set there, you can see it on a map). I think that is it amazingly, no MacGuffins or Twists this week. Closest to BMT I think, although it is getting close to Good as well, I did genuinely like this film a lot.

Sequel, Prequel, Remake – I mean, we definitely need a Sequel. This time it is Nic Cage’s turn to be the grizzled veteran. And who’s a nice young star around 25-30 years old to be the hot shot? Maybe someone like Joe Keery from Stranger Things could work, he has that irreverent charm, but also comes across as too cool for school most of the time. And what better way to kick this film into the 21st century than to make Joe Kerry an ex-professional video game player who, after his father died, decided to follow him into the military to become the pilot he could never be. Operating drones, the new frontier on the war on terror is drone-to-drone warfare, and my god, Joe if the mf-ing best! He shoots everything down left and right, but alas, he never did tell them why he actually quit video games. He sustained nerve damage in his video gaming hand after a drug fueled night on the town and car crash. Well, Nic Cage can help with that. With a little bit of practice on the road, he helps Joe switch his dominant hand from the right to left. And in the end Joe gets the girl, destroys the drones, foils a terrorist plot, and high fives with everyone! Fire Birds 2: Drone Warfare. Sounds terrible, but also like something I would see on Netflix next to The Ice Road starring Liam Neeson.

Bring a Friend Analysis – This week we watched the Steve Guttenberg classic Airborne (nope, not the one with Seth Green, the one from 1998). Why? Well, obviously this is also a movie about flying and aircraft, right? … Right? WRONG! In an amazing twist of fate there is an airplane for approximately 5 minutes total of the film near the beginning and right at the end, the rest definitely has its feet planted firmly on land. The tagline is even “Pray it doesn’t land”!!! How does that happen? Is it just a trick to try and pull in that sweet sweet Turbulence money? The movie is pretty run of the mill, a standard Steel Sharks affair (complete with lucky coin), and is almost exclusively notable for Guttenberg playing a hardcore special ops soldier. Sean Bean being in it (for maaaaaaaaaybe 5 minutes of total screen time?) is truly bizarre as well. It is one of those films where there are seven weird things just floating around in a mostly boring story. Reminds me of a Dudikoff film. If not for it being called Airborne with barely a plane in sight it would be a C, but with that I’ll promote it to a B. Goes along at a good clip with a weird hook to legitimize watching it, plus the twist at the end is hilarious.

Cheerios,

The Sklogs

Police Academy 6: City Under Siege Recap

Jamie

Police Academy is back, Jack! When the city is hit with a crime wave, Lassard and his officers are called in to stop the baddies. Hijinks ensue and it looks like the police will fail until the officers figure out that the robberies are connected to a new train line. Can they find the gang and take them out before it’s too late? Find out in… Police Academy 6: City Under Siege.

How?! There is a big ol’ crime wave in the city and the mayor is concerned. He gets Capt. Harris in there to try to take them out, but being the bumbling fool that he is, he totally botches it. The mayor and the commissioner are furious and bring in Lassard and all our favorite former cadets to clean up the mess. Meanwhile we see that the crime wave is being caused by three ridiculous criminals who are really just doing whatever a shadowy figure known as The Mastermind tells them. With Lassard in charge things… go pretty much just as badly. They botch a sting operation and let a giant diamond get stolen on their watch. Despite these failures The Mastermind still wants the police out of the way and plants diamonds in Lassard’s office, leading to their suspension from the case. Knowing that time is running out and wanting to clear Lassard’s name, Nick gets everyone together and tells them that he’s noticed something odd about the robberies: they follow an old bus line. Wait a second! That’s no bus line! That’s a new train line! Knowing where they will strike next they are able to corner the baddies and do battle. Ultimately after a classic Police Academy Chase they subdue the baddies and chase The Mastermind to the Commissioner’s office where he’s revealed to be… the Commissioner? No, really it’s just the Mayor in disguise. With that our friends are once again honored for their bravery. THE END.

Why?! You see, the Mayor had inside information about the train line and knew that the properties along the route were going to be bought for big bucks by the city. By getting the robberies to hit up all the places along the route he could drive down property values and snap them up and make a big ol’ profit. It’s really a classic case of corruption.

Who?! Two interesting things in this one. One is that Robert Folk goes uncredited on the music. I can’t recall seeing that before, but he seems to have done it a number of times in his career. But maybe here it’s more because they just keep reusing the Police Academy music for every film. The other thing is that Billie Bird shows up in this film as Mrs. Stanwyck… just two movies after she was a titular Citizen on Patrol in Police Academy 4.

What?! Dunkin’ Donuts and Coca-Cola have some fantastic product placement in the fifth film and at least Coca-Cola said “sign me up for some more of that Police Academy action.” They show up once again as the drink of choice for our group of misfits. It’s what gives them the power to take out dirtbags while also tickling our funny bones. Put that on the bluray cover.

Where?! Sigh, back in our anonymous city. I think I speculated back in some other recap that this might be set in Jacksonville or something, but it’s all just a mishmash of random places (but mostly Canada). This one had a weird scene at the end where Harris is sent flying into the sky after Nick ties a bunch of balloons to his chair. We then see him float over the skyline of Boston. But, why? F.

When?! Just give me another F. They barely put any effort into giving these films a general plot, let alone putting things together to give an idea of when things are set. Let’s see if we can narrow it down. There is a blackout in the city and people aren’t going absolutely crazy so we can probably rule out summer. That’s all I got.

It’s also a classic case of a film with an actual plot?! Patrick and I were stunned when we watched this film and it read like an episode of Law and Order or something. They were picking up clues, tracking down criminals, and putting the baddies in jail. Where are the pratfalls? Where is Harris getting pooped on by a bird or something? It’s actually kind of amazing how straight it’s all played. I can’t tell if this makes it the best of the Gutesless Trilogy (all rights reserved) or the worst. On the one hand, I followed along with an actual plot. On the other, no one said any jokes. Well I guess at one point Winslow literally got on stage in a comedy club and started doing his act… but as I said… no jokes (zang). It’s a very odd entry in the series. Almost like they momentarily jumped back on the rails and transported back in time to Police Academy 2 or something. As for the poor, sad Police Academy: Mission to Moscow, it totally fell apart. No wonder they attempted a lackluster limited release, but ultimately shuttled it off to straight-to-video. It’s not just barely a movie, you can almost feel the anxiety of the actors as they attempt to carry out their duties. Well, at least Moscow was interesting to look at in the film. Crazy they shot there at that time. Patrick?

Patrick

‘Ello everyone! The whole gang is back … uh, again! We have Tackleberry! We have Hightower! Wait … now House is gone? You’re supposed to add more characters to the ensemble cast, not less! Let’s go!

P’s View on the Preview – Out of all of the Police Academy films, this feels like the odd man out. You go from taking the gang to Miami (fun!) to … a rehash of the second film? At least let the gang go undercover or something. Police Academy 6: Undercover is not a bad idea actually. That might come up in the Sequel, Prequel, Remake section. Anyways, just thought this was an odd direction for the franchise this late in the game. What were my expectations? I was really hoping this would be the one where I was like “this is kind of okay actually” just to throw a curveball into these recaps.

The Good – The film actually has a storyline which is an interesting departure for the series (zing). There is a bad guy (obviously the Mayor, spoilers), a plot, a police investigation, and the inevitable chase using a silly vehicle (in this case a cherry picker and monster truck). I kind of liked the Three Stooges-esque bad guys. That type of bad guy works really well with the goofy cops. Best Bit: It is interesting to watch a Police Academy film with the plot of a 70s police procedural episode.

The Bad – Still not funny. Weird that they didn’t manage to one up themselves after taking the gags to Miami, instead it is just the second film again (with a plot). The twist … my god, there is literally only one person it could be the entire time. I was very skeptical they would have the Mayor actually be the bad guy because it was so obvious (and he’s a doofus), but there was no one else it could have been! I would have had mad respect for the film if they had Captain Harris steal a bunch of stuff to frame Lassard? That would have been great. Fatal Flaw: Still not funny.

The BMT – We did it boys! This isn’t the most impressive franchise we’ve done (the saga of Friday the 13th is still the best), but it is amazing we did it in like two years. Seven films, and at one point or another all of them qualified for BMT. And the back half is all 0% and BOMB films. It really does set the bar for just how bad a franchise can be, at least for comedies. Did it meet my expectations? Honestly, the film is dull. It is more amusing when the whole thing just explodes in a ball of fire. It was probably the best of the non-Guttenberg films, but that isn’t saying much.

Roast-radamus – Decent Product Placement (What?) for Coca-Cola being prominently displayed (oddly the seventh film was clearly brought to you by Pepsi, what happened?). And this might be the leader out of the gate for Worst Twist (How?) for the inevitable reveal that the only person in the film who wasn’t in a previous Police Academy film was the bad guy … This film is closest to BMT.

Sequel, Prequel, Remake – You heard it above, let’s make the Remake of the sixth film to make it like it should have been. The gang is going undercover. They are tossing off their blues and donning their sweater vests because they are going to an actual academy to investigate a drug ring on a college campus! Hightower is an astrophysics professor, Hicks is a brash economics professor, tackleberry is undercover as a pacifist political science professor … you get the gist, I’m trying to cast them against types for the goofs, but it is now occurring to me that that is tough. Anyways, they think they know the bad guys are the frat bros, but boy are their faces red when it turns out they are just trying to raise money for the local hospital, and they are “taken off the case”. Not so fast! They figure out that actually it is the math club that is doing it, those dastardly nerd alerts! They have a big chase scene in the school’s solar cars (which run out of juice when a cloud floats by, doh!). In the end they get their guys, solve the case, and prove once again that a rag tag group of goofs can still do good. Police Academy 6: Undercover University.

Bring a Friend Analysis – Obviously, in order to finish up the series we just had to watch the seventh, and final (for now), Police Academy film, Police Academy: Mission to Moscow. Interestingly, this is also the only sequel to not officially have the number in the title. I should probably get this out of the way: the film is hot garbage. It is a shadow of the already-not-very-good Police Academy films, and is mostly fueled by bad ADR and sound effects (and not the faintly amusing sound effects from Winslow, sound effects from a 90s morning zoo program). It also very notably was filmed during the 1993 Russian constitutional crisis (you can see the damaged White House clearly during the final chase scene) which caused all kinds of issues with the schedule. If not for that I’m willing to bet the series would have successfully transitioned to straight-to-video and there would have been ten films in total, just based on how cheap this should have been to make. A solid friend though, a trip to see just how much the series fell apart with the four year break. C+. Not amusing to watch, but amusing in the context of the series as a whole. The issue is you have to watch seven films to get there, and the film itself is pretty aggravating.

Cheerios,

The Sklogs