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

Freejack Quiz

Oh man, so I was really going super fast in my definitely regulation size F1 car, when I crashed and thought I was dead for sure. But then I woke up and instead just had a massive concussion and can’t remember a thing. Do you remember what happened in Freejack?

Pop Quiz Hot Shot!

1) In the beginning of the film Emilio Estevez is Freejacked or whatever. Why and how?

2) During the course of the film Emilio meets three people who recognize him from back before he “died”. Who?

3) When Emilio meets up with Rene Russo she turns him in to the authorities. Why?

4) Well, Emilio and Rene Russo strike a deal. Anthony Hopkins is going to help them out … but what a twist, it is a set up! They are confronted by two groups of armed men. Who are these groups and who hired them?

5) Who actually wants Emilio’s body and why?

Bonus Question: What is the first act of business for Emilio-turned-neo-McCandless as head of the corporation?

Answers

Freejack Preview

Patrick carefully looks over his manuscript. It’s near perfection. Definitely a professional novel by a professional writer who does everything very professionally. And yet his eraser is poised in mid-air, waiting to take near perfection all the way to no ‘bout-a-doubt it, John-Travolta-Jamie-Lee-Curtis perfect. “Aha,” he thinks and lowers the eraser to the phrase, ‘Not a spinning flying double scissor kick!’ He deftly replaces it with ‘Not a spinning flying twin scissor kick,’ making it obvious why this is the only weakness of The Wishmaster. He then takes a moment to shake his head at the piece of shit hack Manfred Long, still caught in his quickening while his page remains blank, before jumping back into the main thrust of his narrative.

With The Wishmaster defeated by their very logical spinning flying twin scissor kick, Clutch Guthrie smooths back his hair and compliments Kat on her scissor kick form. She scoffs at the obvious pick up line but also admits that Clutch’s glutes were in fine form on the landing. With bated breath and a moment to ponder their mutual attraction they soon find themselves in the midst of a passionate make-out session for the ages. You best believe they are frenching hard. In between kisses they agree that since the Wishmaster has been dispatched the only logical thing to do is to team up and free the Vice President. “You mean it?” asks Clutch and Kat nods. “Yeah,” she says breathlessly, “Let’s go free Jack Parrot, the Vice President of the United States.” 

Patrick wipes a tear from his eye as he details how the anthem of the United States swells in the background and then proceeds to treat his readers to a very patriotic and tasteful sex scene. That’s right! We are watching Freejack, the Emilio Estevez/Mick Jagger futuristic thriller that somehow didn’t totally work. Who would have thought? Let’s go!

Back in Party Town, USA Jamie waits several years for Kyle and the cyborgs to arrive. “You thought we couldn’t hack jack into your puny party town?” they cackle, but Jamie just smirks. “No, we thought you could hack jack in, but we’re pretty sure you can’t cyber jack your way out. Hit it, Kyle!” That’s right! We are pairing Freejack with the Michael Dudikoff classic Cyberjack. Classic Dudikoff, am I right? Let’s go!

Freejack (1992) – BMeTric: 44.1; Notability: 62

StreetCreditReport.com – BMeTric: top 4.0%; Notability: top 2.0%; Rotten Tomatoes: top 11.3%; Higher BMeT: Stop! Or My Mom Will Shoot, Body of Evidence, Cool World, Pet Sematary II, Toys, Children of the Corn II: The Final Sacrifice, The Lawnmower Man, Sleepwalkers, 3 Ninja Kids, Poison Ivy; Higher Notability: Toys, Cool World, Newsies, Home Alone 2: Lost in New York, Tom and Jerry: The Movie; Lower RT: Once Upon a Crime…, Love Crimes, Folks!, Live Wire, Year of the Comet, Frozen Assets, Cool World, Man Trouble, Christopher Columbus: The Discovery, The Opposite Sex and How to Live with Them, Body of Evidence, Mom and Dad Save the World, Passed Away, Stop! Or My Mom Will Shoot, Claire of the Moon, Ladybugs, Mr. Baseball, The Distinguished Gentleman, The Gun in Betty Lou’s Handbag, Tom and Jerry: The Movie, and 5 more; Notes: I’m liking the look of that Notability, 60 is crazy high for 1992, especially for a movie like this. Look at those higher BMeT films as wall! Seen a lot of those, but Poison Ivy is a particularly exciting prospect.

Leonard Maltin – 1.5 stars –  Good cast is wasted in this mindless actioner, in which race car driver Estevez dies in 1991 and finds his body snatched into the year 2009 so that it may house the soul of ruthless tycoon Hopkins. Tiresome, superficial fare. Based on the novel Immortality, Inc. by Robert Sheckley. Jagger plays a bounty hunter; it’s his first screen acting role since Performance in 1970.

(Based on a book huh? I wonder how long it is. Do you think I could read it in a day. That is tempting. Interesting to call it an actioner. It probably fits that definition, but it feels weird to call what must be a real deal sci-fi film an “actioner”.)

Trailer – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7Zxr-Y-5YyA/

(My god, it looks incredible! The graphics, the kind of crappy dystopian near-future, the guitar licks. Mick Jagger out of nowhere barely acting. A bunch of race cars. What racing circuit is Estevez competing in? Looked like a junior Indycar or something, the cars looked tiny.)

DirectorsGeoff Murphy – (Known For: The Quiet Earth; Fortress 2; Utu; Goodbye Pork Pie; Never Say Die; Spooked; Future BMT: Under Siege 2: Dark Territory; BMT: Young Guns II: Blaze of Glory; Freejack; Notes: Right, we just watched a film by him in Young Guns II, where I mentioned he’s from New Zealand and got what amounted to a knighthood for his contributions to film there.)

WritersRobert Sheckley – (Known For: The Tenth Victim; Condorman; The Prize of Peril; Dead Run; BMT: Freejack; Notes: Wrote Immortality Inc. which is what the film is based on. In his later life he wrote a bunch of movelizations of television shows and stuff, like Star Trek: Deep Space Nine: The Laertian Gamble.)

Steven Pressfield – (Known For: The Legend of Bagger Vance; Above the Law; Joshua Tree; Separate Lives; BMT: Freejack; King Kong Lives; Notes: Apparently wrote drafts of Hard to Kill and Total Recall. He was born in Trinidad.)

Ronald Shusett – (Known For: Alien; Aliens; Prometheus; Total Recall; Alien: Covenant; Alien³; Alien Resurrection; Dead and Buried; Above the Law; Campsite Massacre; Hemoglobin; Phobia; W; Future BMT: Total Recall; BMT: AVP: Alien vs. Predator; AVPR: Aliens vs Predator – Requiem; Freejack; King Kong Lives; Notes: The writing partner of Pressfield, although he ended up with a ton of other (character) credits since he has a story credit on the original Alien.)

Dan Gilroy – (Known For: Nightcrawler; Kong: Skull Island; The Fall; The Bourne Legacy; Real Steel; Velvet Buzzsaw; Roman J. Israel, Esq.; Future BMT: Chasers; Two for the Money; BMT: Freejack; Notes: Son of Pulitzer Prize winning playwright Frank D. Gilroy. Was nominated for an Oscar for Nightcrawler. His two brothers are also in the business, with Tony Gilroy nominated for Oscars for writing and directing Michael Clayton, and John Gilroy an editor (of things like Rogue One).)

ActorsEmilio Estevez – (Known For: The Outsiders; The Breakfast Club; Mission: Impossible; St. Elmo’s Fire; Young Guns; Badlands; The Way; Repo Man; Stakeout; The Public; Bobby; Tex; Wisdom; The War at Home; Never on Tuesday; Sand; The L.A. Riot Spectacular; Los reyes magos; Future BMT: The Mighty Ducks; D2: The Mighty Ducks; Men at Work; Arthur and the Invisibles; D3: The Mighty Ducks; Loaded Weapon 1; Judgment Night; That Was Then… This Is Now; Another Stakeout; Nightmares; BMT: Young Guns II: Blaze of Glory; Maximum Overdrive; Freejack; Razzie Notes: Nominee for Worst Actor for Maximum Overdrive in 1987; Notes: The son of Martin Sheen and brother of Charlie Sheen he declined to take the stage name Sheen like they did. A fairly accomplished director, he’s apparently making a third Young Guns film.)

Mick Jagger – (Known For: The Bank Job; The Burnt Orange Heresy; Fitzcarraldo; Performance; Enigma; Bent; Ned Kelly; The Man from Elysian Fields; Running Out of Luck; BMT: Freejack; Notes: The lead singer of The Rolling Stones. He has eight children, he was nominated for an Emmy for the documentary Crossfire Hurricane, and very rarely acts (and his scene in Fitzcarraldo was cut out).)

Rene Russo – (Known For: Avengers: Endgame; Thor; Nightcrawler; Thor: The Dark World; The Intern; Major League; In the Line of Fire; The Thomas Crown Affair; Velvet Buzzsaw; Outbreak; Lethal Weapon 3; Lethal Weapon 4; Get Shorty; Ransom; Tin Cup; Big Trouble; The Adventures of Rocky & Bullwinkle; Frank and Cindy; Future BMT: Two for the Money; Yours, Mine & Ours; Major League II; Showtime; Just Getting Started; Mr. Destiny; One Good Cop; Buddy; BMT: Freejack; Razzie Notes: Nominee for Worst Supporting Actress for The Adventures of Rocky & Bullwinkle in 2001; Notes: Very accomplished actress, she married Dan Gilroy, the writer of the film, in 1994. They are still together.)

Budget/Gross – $30 million / Domestic: $17,129,026 (Worldwide: $17,129,026)

(Oh that ain’t good. You want more than that. These always seem like a tough beat because making a futuristic film costs money, but then you look at it and wonder if they actually thought they’d make $30 million let alone a profit? It seems like a bit of Hollywood accounting to a degree.)

Rotten Tomatoes – 18% (3/17)

(ooooo, I get to make a consensus. Mostly a string of chase scenes and smashing up sets, Freejack does a disservice to the actors with its lack of wit.)

Reviewer Highlight: The trouble with low-rent science-fiction movies is that beneath all the futuristic gimcrackery — the video phones and laser guns and hyperspace leaps, the obligatory time-travel setups — you realize, at some point, that you’re watching a routine urban chase thriller: Lethal Weapon 2000. – Owen Gleiberman, Entertainment Weekly

Poster – Freejack Attack is Back, Jack

(I’m giving them an E for effort, but this is… not a good thing they have done. Funny, too, that Hopkins is so high up on that poster. He barely appears in the film while Rene Russo does all the heavy lifting. The font and the soft blue tone rescue it a bit, but it hurts my eyes. C-.)

Tagline(s) – Alex Furlong died today. Eighteen years from now, he’ll be running for his life. (D)

(Again, this is bold. If I had to create an impossibly confusing tagline for a film to ensure that a) no one would read it and b) no one would understand it, this would be it. The only thing this tells you is that it’s set in the future. That and to steer clear of the film.)

Keyword(s) – bounty-hunter

Top 10: Once Upon a Time… In Hollywood (2019), Blade Runner 2049 (2017), Django Unchained (2012), Thor: Ragnarok (2017), Guardians of the Galaxy (2014), Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker (2019), No Country for Old Men (2007), Birds of Prey (2020), Guardians of the Galaxy: Vol. 2 (2017), The Magnificent Seven (2016)

Future BMT: 58.7 Suburban Commando (1991), 44.1 Identity Thief (2013), 40.7 Pink Cadillac (1989), 37.3 Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter (2012), 35.9 Domino (2005), 32.5 Star Wars: The Clone Wars (2008), 30.8 Spacehunter: Adventures in the Forbidden Zone (1983), 30.4 Mortal Engines (2018), 29.2 All About the Benjamins (2002), 20.6 The Three Musketeers (1993)

BMT: Jupiter Ascending (2015), Transformers: Age of Extinction (2014), Hansel & Gretel: Witch Hunters (2013), Ghost Rider (2007), Jason Goes to Hell: The Final Friday (1993), Young Guns II: Blaze of Glory (1990), The Darkest Minds (2018), Jonah Hex (2010), The Bounty Hunter (2010), Barb Wire (1996), Freejack (1992), One for the Money (2012), Critters 2 (1988)

Matches: The Hateful Eight (2015), Star Wars: Episode V – The Empire Strikes Back (1980), The Ballad of Buster Scruggs (2018), The Chronicles of Riddick (2004), Raising Arizona (1987), Transformers: Age of Extinction (2014), Ghost Rider (2007), Midnight Run (1988), Mud (2012), Critters (1986), Identity Thief (2013), Dead Man (1995), Jonah Hex (2010), Welcome to the Jungle (2003), The Bounty Hunter (2010), Domino (2005), Barb Wire (1996), Home on the Range (2004), Freejack (1992), One for the Money (2012), The Hunter (1980), Vampire Hunter D: Bloodlust (2000), Spacehunter: Adventures in the Forbidden Zone (1983), All About the Benjamins (2002), Trancers (1984), Last of the Dogmen (1995), Dragon Warriors (2015), Scorched Earth (2018), Wanted: Dead or Alive (1986), The Night Crew (2015), Phoenix 2 (1995), Hard Bounty (1995), Future Force (1989), The Retrieval (2013), Coast to Coast (1980), Neon City (1991), Grim Prairie Tales: Hit the Trail… to Terror (1990), The Blue Iguana (1988), Future Zone (1990), Moving Target (1996), Space Rage (1985), The Other Side (2006), Meaner Than Hell (2009), The Mandalorian Legacy (2009), Street Hunter (1990), L.A. Bounty (1989), White Wall (2010), Galaxy Hunter (2004), Big Mistake (2014), The Bounty Hunter (1989), Revengeance (2016), Blackhats (2015), Sin’s Kitchen (2004), Six Gun (2008), The Big Bang (2003), Boston Nightly: Long Term Parking (2015)

(So many bounty hunter films. It feels like maybe you could make a cycle? Identity Thief (Comedy), Suburban Commando (Action), The Three Musketeers (Romance), Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter (Horror) … yeah I think it wouldn’t be that hard, although too bad we already did The Bounty Hunter since Romance is a stretch with The Three Musketeers.)

Welcome to Earf (HoE Number 20) – The shortest path through The Movie Database cast lists using only BMT films is: Anthony Hopkins is No. 4 billed in Freejack and No. 1 billed in The Rite, which also stars Ciarán Hinds (No. 5 billed) who is in Ghost Rider: Spirit of Vengeance (No. 2 billed) which also stars Nicolas Cage (No. 1 billed) who is in The Wicker Man (No. 1 billed) which also stars Leelee Sobieski (No. 5 billed) who is in Here on Earth (No. 1 billed) => (4 + 1) + (5 + 2) + (1 + 1) + (5 + 1) = 20. If we were to watch Two for the Money we can get the HoE Number down to 12.

Notes – Rene Russo (Julie Redlund) met her husband, co-writer Dan Gilroy, during production. They have been married since 1992.

According to reports at the time of the production and interviews with some members of cast and crew, the test screening was disastrous. Producer Ronald Shusett was brought in to re-shoot almost half of the movie, and add more character scenes and humor. Emilio Estevez said that director Geoff Murphy let them down by focusing too much on action.

The film was loosely based on the 1959 science fiction novel “Immortality, Inc.” by Robert Sheckley.

On an episode of ‘How Did This Get Made?’, it was revealed that Mick Jagger was offered this movie one week before shooting was scheduled to begin, and he decided to do it on the spot, based on a short description of the plot. He also said that if he had been given a few months to read the script and think about it, he probably would have declined.

Mick Jagger’s first dramatic movie as an actor since the mid-1980s with ‘Running out of Luck’ and ‘Laughter in the Dark’. He was cast in the wake of The Rolling Stones’ lucrative 1989-90 Steel Wheels tour, which was accompanied by their album of the same name.

The film’s premiere event was held nearly a month after it had already been released in theaters.

The film takes place in November 2009.

The racing footage was filmed at Road Atlanta using Formula Atlantic cars.

On VHS copies of this movie, the music video for Scorpions “Hit between the Eyes” is included. The video contains concert footage and scenes from the movie.

Cinematographer Amir Mokri’s first experience shooting a movie with anamorphic lenses. He did not do so again until Transformers: Dark of the Moon (2011).

The hat that Emilio Estevez wears when in disguise was intended to be the same hat used in Young Guns 2 (1990), but the iconic prop had already been claimed by Lou Diamond Phillips on completion of principal photography.

Alex tells Boone that they’ve had it and Boone says, “What do you mean ‘we’, white man?” This is a nod to an old Lone Ranger joke about the hero and his Indian friend Tonto being surrounded by Indians.

Jerry Hall: Mick Jagger’s then-wife plays the television reporter who interviews Alex.

Eraser Recap

Jamie

John Kruger is The Eraser tasked with protecting Lee Cullen from a vast conspiracy of eeevil weapons developers, arms dealers, and *gasp* maybe even his own colleagues in the witness protection agency (spoiler alert). Can he stop all the baddies before it’s too late? Find out in… Eraser.

How?! John Kruger is a witness protection agent who is all about protecting the good guys and erasing the bad guys. In this case the good guys include Lee Cullen, a whistleblower at a defense contractor who blows the whistle about an experimental rail gun that may or may not be being sold to a big time arms dealer. When she makes off with a copy of the plans all the evildoers get after her real quick. But John won’t let that happen and despite lightspeed bullets flying around is able to get Lee out of there. Erasing her identity, John helps Lee get to a safe house in NYC while he goes off to try to figure out what’s going on. Returning to WITSEC, his friend and colleague Robert tells him their witnesses have been compromised by a mole and they go off to protect them. Little does John know that Robert is in on the conspiracy (what a twist!) and he gets drugged, but not before sending an alert to Lee. Waking up on the plane as it heads into NYC, John is able to get himself and parachute and chute his way out of there. Running off to the Central Park Zoo, where he told Lee to go in case of emergency, he is able to kill a bunch of baddies and get Lee out of there. With the help of one of John’s other witnesses they infiltrate Lee’s workplace where they are able to hack the mainframe and reveal that the big gun deal is going on that night in Baltimore! Luckily they got an in at the docks and they infiltrate the deal. They take down the bad guys in a big climactic scene and bust the conspiracy! But that’s not all, they also kill the guys at the top just when it seems like they might get away with it all. Hooray. THE END.

Why?! I think how Arnold explained it was that they needed a weapon that audiences would understand is real scary. Enter the EM rail gun that totally, definitely shoots aluminum bullets the speed of light… like for sure. The bad guys want to sell it for money. John and Lee want to stop them cause it’s scary (and I get that). Thanks, Arnold.

Who?! While I’d like to make the case that this is the best portrayal of the Deputy Secretary of Defense ever put to film, I think the obvious primary note here is that Vanessa Williams was really a musician-turned-actress. Her debut album was a giant hit and she continued to make music for decades. She didn’t really make her big acting splash until the 90’s.

What?! I feel like Pepsi has been crushing it in the BMT product placements lately. This is a pretty good one too cause it kinda plays into the plot. You see, James Caan hands Arnold a water and he’s all like “oh, thanks.” Then another guy, suddenly feeling parched and liking Arnold’s water drinking moves, swoops in for a bottle of his own and Caan is like no, no, no have this refreshing Pepsi instead. And that’s how the audience knows something dastardly is afoot. More interesting than this rail gun prop, right?

Where?! We jet around a little. Most of the action takes place in Washington D.C. and nearby locations, including Virginia and Baltimore. We get a few scenes in NYC, highlighted by a romp through the zoo. Overall it’s really not bad given the high level advanced weaponry and corruption that is at the heart of the plot. Does feel like D.C. is at least somewhat vital. B+. 

When?! Sometimes you get a sense that it’s not worth pursuing the temporal setting of a film. When I saw that Arnold typed in the command for a computer to tell him when a weapons deal was going to occur and the computer responded “TODAY,” that’s a clue that I need to call it a day on figuring this film out. F… for now.

This movie is real dumbo for sure… but also kind of fine in a big dumb way. Like everything about it is pretty much the stupidest thing you could imagine. To the point where you start to think they were in on the joke. But then you watch an interview with the director and he seems pretty serious about it all. The fact that it was unironically made is incredible and kind of beautiful. The last vestiges of the 80’s crossing the finish line before things started to get a bit tongue in cheek. So thank you Eraser. You are a beautiful masterpiece that the world needs more of… no wait, I’m not finished. Arnold seriously delivers one-liner after one-liner and no one is rolling their eyes at him. I saw Jungle Cruise recently and The Rock does the same thing except everyone has to comment on how bad the lines are. No thank you, give me this pristine piece of unspoilt art. Big fan of Eraser. As for Abraxas, Guardian of the Universe? Hugely disappointed. I was really anticipating this movie but it comes off pretty cheap and while Jesse Ventura is indeed insane, it’s got a whiff of White Comanche about it. Just a one trick pony centered around a robotic, rattail wearing Jesse Ventura. Everything else is just… a cheap movie. Not even a single laser beam shot out of his eye either. Sigh. Patrick?

Patrick

‘Ello everyone! We got Arnold! With got magic lightspeed rail guns! We got a conspiracy that goes right to the … Under Secretary of Defense? Let’s go!

P’s View on the Preview – It is pretty stunning that I had never seen this film. With the enthusiastic review of “super dumb film” by Jamie it was time to pop some popcorn, pop in Eraser, and go on a datenight! Sorry boo, it’s my birthday and we are watching Eraser tonight! What were my expectations? The dumbest movie of all time, but outside of that Arnold being Arnold and flexing and shooting people and making me laugh.

The Good – Arnold flexed, and quipped, and was an American hero, and stopped the lightspeed guns from getting in the Bad Guys’ hands. The second film in a month where someone falls out of an airplane without a parachute and survives. Bad CGI Alligators. A conspiracy. Plausibly offensive caricatures of Italian Americans. Did I mention magic lightspeed guns … at one point I swear to god the person mentions the gun speeds up bullets to nearly the speed of light. THE SPEED OF LIGHT! I think if that were true the Earth’s atmosphere would instantly ignite when it was shot. I’m not joking. Back of the envelope, even pushing the definition of “nearly” and using a normal sized bullet the result would be a large nuclear explosion if the bullet hit the Earth. That’s a bad gun Arnold, you better stop it! Best Bit: Lightspeed guns which somehow don’t destroy all life on Earth in an instant.

The Bad – Nothing, did you read the previous paragraph? This movie is perfection. But I guess if I haaaaaaave to say something bad about the film. The CGI alligators, in addition to being rad and having major ‘tudes, look terrible, and some people might say that that is bad. And yeah, fine, the whole “let’s kidnap the damsel in distress just to make sure the good guy HAS to come and stop us for sure” is a terrible plan. And yes, the idea that the Under Secretary of Defense wants to sell magic guns which can kill instantly at range to literal terrorists … I mean, how could that possible bite the US in the ass, right? In other words, fine … this is the dumbest film of all time. But is that actually bad? Fatal Flaw: You will lose IQ points watching this film, but sacrifices must be made in the name of art.

The BMT – The film is extremely amusing, and quintessentially 90s action schlock. In that sense it is great. In another sense it definitely makes you think “they don’t make ‘em like they used to.” And in a final sense, I miss vintage Arnold, we really don’t get action stars like him and Sly anymore, pumping out ridiculous one-off hits on their personal brand. It’s great. Did it meet my expectations? Exceeded them. I think it helps that the film isn’t actually that bad. Even critically it was pretty well received. It is just exceedingly dumb. But that’s fine. I’m pretty convinced this movie would get in the 50s or 60s on Rotten Tomatoes today. People had higher standards for films back then.

Roast-radamus – Literally wall to wall Product Placement (What?) with AT&T, Pepsi, and multiple random water companies, which was really some wild stuff. Unfortunately this is practically a roadtrip film. I would have liked it to get a good DC setting, but it doesn’t really qualify in that regard. Same goes with the MacGuffin, if they had kept the guns a secret instead of busting it out early it would have worked better. I will give a Worst Twist (How?) nod for the reveal of James Caan as the bad US Marshal. BMT for sure.

Sequel, Prequel, Remake – We have to do it, it’s a BMT Crossover Episode! Sasha Petrosevitch is in trouble, he might be half past dead, but he would really like to not be whole past dead after he witnesses the murder of the President of the United States by the Vice President himself! Well, here comes Anold and Vanessa to save the day! They put Sasha into witness protection … in future Alcatraz! Whoa, deja vu! But Arnold then learns that the Vice President has put out a black market full amnesty for anyone who can kill Sasha, which means it is an all out war among the death row inmates to kill Sasha first! Arnold and Vanessa need to infiltrate the island prison a la The Rock, and meanwhile Sasha needs to survive a prison riot a la Half Past Dead 2! At the end of the film they take down the president and Sasha reveals that Arnold and Vanessa are half past dead due to the exploits of Eraser, and they become the Erasers for the crew. Half Past Erased: Back to the Rock. I have to start compiling this into a set of films, because in reality once I hit around 23 I’m going to pitch it as a television series to CBS.

Bring a Friend Analysis – A pretty interesting one it would seem with Abraxas, Guardian of the Universe. It stars Jesse Ventura who is absolutely awwwwwwwwful in the film. I was shocked, because wasn’t he in other actual films like Predator? I don’t remember thinking he was especially bad in the beginning of that. But here he may have already crossed the rubicon to insanity, because his choices in this film are not the choices of a normal human being. The film is surprisingly low budget for what I had imagined prior to watching. And in the end it is a simplistic Terminator knock-off. There is really not much to it. The cameo by Belushi (who was married to the star of the film) is off the wall, he plays a principal who is very insensitive while trying to pull the mute child out of school because people are bullying him … okaaaaay. That is pretty much how we thought of things in the 90s huh? Fun Christmas film though, and slightly amusing to watch Ventura “act”. C+. Mostly it suffers by not living up to expectations. How can Jesse Ventura and Arnold’s stunt double both be so bad at acting?

You Just Got Schooled – Incredibly this film doesn’t have a television remake. Even more incredibly it does have a really really bad Full Motion Video rail shooter released in 1998 that barely works! It’s called Eraser – Turnabout, and once again I had to obtain cd iso rips from the original game. This time I had to very specifically get a Pentium MMX chip, and also (and this is important) turn off the DirectX hardware acceleration! It took me ages to figure that out. It doesn’t break the game, but it does make the images/movies flash weirdly and makes the game very unpleasant to play. Well … the game is always unpleasant to play. There are a series of different bits to the game. It starts off a little like a standard arcade shooter, but then moves into a rail shooter (more like Area 51 if you remember that game). Very much like the Virus game for the Playstation it is mindbending that anything like this would have ever been made. Who is the audience? People who can be tricked into buying it by accident? It only ever got reviewed in German magazines, so maybe it was literally just a fake tie-in to leverage the mega-stardom of Arnold in second markets … but he isn’t even in it? F. Would not recommend it on any level (unless you are trying to teach yourself about emulating old-school PCs from the late 90s).

Cheerios,

The Sklogs

Eraser Quiz

Oh man, so here’s the thing. I went into witness protection, which was great because I have this really fun handler named John Kruger. He’s great. But then some high up government people broke into my house and bopped me right on the head! Now I can’t remember a thing … my memory has been erased! Wait, is that why they call this movie Eraser? I honestly can’t remember. Do you remember what happened in Eraser?

Pop Quiz Hot Shot!

1) Lee Cullen (Vanessa Williams) is working with the FBI to take down Cyrez, a defense contractor. What weapon has Cyrez developed and what illegal thing are they doing with it?

2) John Kruger (Arnold Schwarzeneggar) is a U.S. Marshal for the Witness Security Protection Program (WITSEC). Where does Kruger stash Lee, and where are they to meet if something bad happens?

3) Welp, something bad happened! A bunch of witnesses are getting killed across the country. Why, and who is doing it?

4) Why do Lee and Kruger have to break back into Cyrez and how do they do it?

5) The final showdown is in what city, and how does the witness Johnny Casteleone help Kruger to take down the bad guys? What ultimately happens to the bad guys?

Bonus Question: Where does Lee end up after the final testimony in the treason trial against the Under Secretary of Defense?

Answers

Eraser Preview

“I shouldn’t have wasted time talking to you,” says the woman cat burglar, “I should have listened to my mama and never talked to strangers.” Clutch smiles to himself, great minds. “Well, lady,” he says, holding out his hand, “the name is Clutch. Clutch Guthrie. See? Now we’re not strangers.” The cat burglar smirks and takes his hand, “Katherine Lattimore, but I still think my mama would tell me to steer clear of you.” Suddenly they hear a soft cough and they turn to see the Wishmaster waiting impatiently. “If you two are done with your introductions I’d appreciate it if you grant me one wish: hand over the gold,” he says with a sneer. Kat and Clutch look at each other and nod, turning their handshake smoothly into a spinning flying double scissor kick. “Oh no! Not a spinning flying double scissor kick! The only thing that can stop my wishes!” screeches The Wishmaster.

Patrick looks at the last passage and feels like it doesn’t seem exactly right. Has he given The Wishmaster enough backstory for the reader to understand why a spinning flying double scissor kick would be the only logical thing to defeat his wish power? Being a professional writer who writes very professional passages like the one above, these are the types of questions that can take hours to answer. Everything must be tight. He reaches for his eraser but pauses. Does he have time? At this very moment that piece of shit hack Manfred Long is also writing his story. But when he looks at Manfred he’s still deep into his Quickening brought on by his use of the Obsidian Dongle. His page is also curiously blank. Patrick shrugs and grabs the eraser. Now what needs to be modified to get his point across? That’s right! We are doing the Arnold Schwarzenegger classic Eraser. We weren’t quite at the tail end of the Arnold heyday, but we were on the verge. This is part of the chain going through John Snyder. Let’s go!

Jamie swoops down on his hang glider towards the hack jack port. A cyborg flies in to intercept, but Kyle knocks him out of the way and winks his classic Kyle wink. Hack jacking his way like the jack master he is, Jamie enters Party Town, USA… the world where he and Kyle make the rules and are guardians of the universe. That’s right! We are pairing Eraser with Abraxas, Guardian of the Universe starring Jesse Ventura… but also featuring Jim Belushi, star of K-9. Pretty great. Let’s go!

Eraser (1996) – BMeTric: 30.2; Notability: 103

StreetCreditReport.com – BMeTric: top 21.2%; Notability: top 0.0%; Rotten Tomatoes: top 36.6%; Higher BMeT: Barb Wire, Kazaam, Striptease, The Island of Dr. Moreau, Bio-Dome, Lawnmower Man 2: Beyond Cyberspace, Ed, The Crow: City of Angels, The Stupids, Hellraiser: Bloodline, Mr. Wrong, Spy Hard, Poison Ivy II, Solo, Jingle All the Way, The Glimmer Man, Eddie, Adrenalin: Fear the Rush, D3: The Mighty Ducks, Maximum Risk, and 33 more; Lower RT: The Dentist, Ed, Big Bully, Adrenalin: Fear the Rush, Ripe, Bio-Dome, Kazaam, Faithful, Mr. Wrong, Spy Hard, Bulletproof, Eye for an Eye, Solo, Celtic Pride, House Arrest, Mrs. Winterbourne, Larger Than Life, Two If by Sea, The Glimmer Man, Lawnmower Man 2: Beyond Cyberspace, and 66 more; Notes: I’m pretty surprised this is even as low as a 6.1 on IMDb, I would have thought it would have been mid-6 for sure. That notability is gaudy.

RogerEbert.com – 3.0 stars – It helps to have a short attention span while watching “Eraser,” the new Arnold Schwarzenegger picture. … “Eraser” is more or less what you expect, two hours of mindless nonstop high-tech action, with preposterous situations, a body count in the dozens, and Arnold introducing a new trademark line of dialogue (it’s supposed to be “Trust me,” but I think “You’re luggage” will win on points). Thinking back over the film, I can only praise the director’s restraint in leaving out the canary.

(I’m liking the sound of that. A big dumb Arnold actioner that I’ve somehow ever seen? You know those are an endangered species unfortunately.)

Trailer – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YYfiV8rb3fA/

(The trailer not explaining the magic gun while showing the magic bullet-time shots is hilarious. And once they basically bust out the Prodigy techno in the trailer is also incredible.)

DirectorsChuck Russell – (Known For: The Mask; A Nightmare on Elm Street 3: Dream Warriors; The Scorpion King; The Blob; I Am Wrath; Junglee; BMT: Eraser; Bless the Child; Notes: His directorial efforts are few and far between these days, although he is tapped for three films at the moment the crappy looking Bruce Willis feature seems like the most likely to actually get made by him.)

WritersTony Puryear – (BMT: Eraser; Notes: An artist as well, he created the campaign poster for Hillary Clinton’s 2008 presidential campaign which is now hanging in the National Portrait Gallery.)

Walon Green – (Known For: WarGames; Dinosaur; The Wild Bunch; Sorcerer; The Border; The Brink’s Job; The Hi-Lo Country; Morituri; Crusoe; BMT: Solarbabies; RoboCop 2; Eraser; Notes: Wrote and produced a ton of Law & Order over the years. Was nominated for an oscar for The Wild Bunch, and won for his documentary The Hellstrom Chronicle)

Michael S. Chernuchin – (BMT: Eraser; Notes: Wrote and produced  a bunch of the Law & Order series, including being nominated for 4 Emmys in connection with the series.)

ActorsArnold Schwarzenegger – (Known For: Predator; Terminator 2: Judgment Day; Terminator: Dark Fate; Total Recall; The Terminator; True Lies; Conan the Barbarian; Commando; The Expendables; Last Action Hero; The Running Man; Escape Plan; Kindergarten Cop; Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines; The Expendables 2; Twins; The Long Goodbye; Iron Mask; The Last Stand; The Rundown; Future BMT: Terminator Genisys; End of Days; Collateral Damage; Junior; BMT: Batman & Robin; The Expendables 3; Red Sonja; Conan the Destroyer; Around the World in 80 Days; Eraser; Raw Deal; Sabotage; Jingle All the Way; Razzie Notes: Nominee for Worst Actor in 1983 for Conan the Barbarian; in 1994 for Last Action Hero; in 2000 for End of Days; and in 2001 for The 6th Day; Nominee for Worst Supporting Actor in 1998 for Batman & Robin; in 2001 for The 6th Day; in 2005 for Around the World in 80 Days; in 2015 for The Expendables 3; and in 2021 for Tayna pechati drakona; and Nominee for Worst Screen Couple for The 6th Day in 2001; Notes: Y’all know Arnold. He’s slated to be in a new Twins film and a new Conan film which is exciting. Mr. Olympia from Austria and one of the biggest blockbuster actors ever.)

Vanessa Williams – (Known For: Hannah Montana: The Movie; Shaft; When Marnie Was There; Bad Hair; Soul Food; The Adventures of Elmo in Grouchland; The Man from Earth: Holocene; Dance with Me; The Pick-up Artist; Hoodlum; Delhi Safari; He’s Way More Famous Than You; The Legend of Hallowaiian; My Brother; And Then Came Love; Future BMT: Harley Davidson and the Marlboro Man; Johnson Family Vacation; Another You; Light It Up; BMT: Eraser; Temptation: Confessions of a Marriage Counselor; Notes: Was the first African American Miss America. Nominated for three Emmys for Ugly Betty, and famously married to NBA star (and sometimes actor) Rick Fox.)

James Caan – (Known For: The Godfather; The Godfather: Part II; Rollerball; Misery; Elf; Dogville; Dick Tracy; Get Smart; Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs; Queen Bees; El Dorado; Detachment; A Bridge Too Far; Thief; Bottle Rocket; 1941; Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs 2; The Tale of The Princess Kaguya; The Program; Henry’s Crime; Future BMT: Bulletproof; BMT: That’s My Boy; Eraser; Notes: Nominated for an Oscar for The Godfather. Apparently he lived in the Playboy mansion in the 70s … which is crazy.)

Budget/Gross – $100,000,000 / Domestic: $101,295,562 (Worldwide: $242,295,562)

(Decent return, although I would have expected more domestically. But apparently this is kind of the last hurrah of the classic Arnold blockbusters, so maybe his power was already fading.)

Rotten Tomatoes – 38% (19/50): Eraser’s shoot-’em-up action might show off some cutting edge weaponry, but its rote story is embarrassingly obsolete.

(Hmmmm, so old news … but what is old is new again these days I imagine. As NBC used to say, if you haven’t seen it it’s new to you!)

Reviewer Highlight: The advanced weaponry and nifty scopes notwithstanding, most of the gunplay is pretty standard-issue, with most of the victims being anonymous targets present just to be picked off. – Todd McCarthy, Variety

Poster – Eraser? I Barely Know Her

(Is it weird that I kinda like this? It’s got that subtle green of a security camera, which gives me Enemy of the State vibes, which I like. It’s kind of artistic and I like the green glow behind the otherwise boring font. I don’t know. This is not nearly as bad as it should be. B)

Tagline(s) – He will erase your past to protect your future. (B+)

(A little strange to use the name of the title in the tagline, but it is effective. Nice cadence and pairing of past-future. I find the use of the word “your” mildly amusing… who? Little ol’ me? Anyway, it’s pretty good.)

Keyword(s) – witness-protection

Top 10: Goodfellas (1990), Heat (1995), The Mule (2018), The Hitman’s Bodyguard (2017), Legend (2015), The Incredibles (2004), Bad Boys (1995), Game Night (2018), Donnie Brasco (1997), A History of Violence (2005)

Future BMT: 52.0 Madea’s Witness Protection (2012), 42.0 Domestic Disturbance (2001), 38.3 See Spot Run (2001), 31.5 Bird on a Wire (1990), 28.8 15 Minutes (2001), 24.3 The Family (2013), 14.6 Smokin’ Aces (2006), 10.8 Hiding Out (1987)

BMT: Cobra (1986), Eraser (1996), Raw Deal (1986), Hot Pursuit (2015), Mercury Rising (1998), Did You Hear About the Morgans? (2009)

Matches: Smokin’ Aces (2006), The Family (2013), Charlie’s Angels: Full Throttle (2003), Eraser (1996), Hit and Run (2012), My Blue Heaven (1990), Did You Hear About the Morgans? (2009), Route 666 (2001), Night of the Sicario (2021), F/X (1986), Killshot (2008), See Spot Run (2001), Hide in Plain Sight (1980), Nowhere Land (1998), The Secret Pact (1999)

(Kind of amusing that there really aren’t that many true matches that are “good”. The top 10 have some bangers though. And my god, Domestic Disturbance is something to look forward to.)

Welcome to Earf (HoE Number 15) – The shortest path through The Movie Database cast lists using only BMT films is: Arnold Schwarzenegger is No. 1 billed in Eraser and No. 1 billed in Red Sonja, which also stars Brigitte Nielsen (No. 2 billed) who is in Cobra (No. 2 billed) which also stars Sylvester Stallone (No. 1 billed) who is in The Expendables 3 (No. 1 billed) which also stars Jason Statham (No. 2 billed) who is in In the Name of the King: A Dungeon Siege Tale (No. 1 billed) which also stars Leelee Sobieski (No. 3 billed) who is in Here on Earth (No. 1 billed) => (1 + 1) + (2 + 2) + (1 + 1) + (2 + 1) + (3 + 1) = 15. If we were to watch The Glass House we can get the HoE Number down to 14.

Notes – The company name “Cyrez” was originally “Cyrex”, but the real-life company Cyrix complained. The movie had been shot, but all dialogue was dubbed and company logos were digitally altered during post-production. In one scene where Kruger and Lee review the files on the disc in Donohue’s office, some of the files have names beginning with CYX, indicating Cyrex.

Arnold Schwarzenegger really did free-fall for about sixty-five feet. He was harnessed into a piece of stunt technology called a descender rig. Directly afterwards, Chuck Russell told Schwarzenegger that there had been something wrong with the camera, and the scene had to be repeated. However, this was immediately revealed to be a prank, as to not upset Schwarzenegger any further.

Director Chuck Russell and producer Arnold Kopelson had a rocky relationship during the entire production. The only reason the film was able to go forward and ultimately be completed was that Arnold Schwarzenegger got along with each man separately, and was able to negotiate schedules and logistics at a point where the two men refused to speak to each other.

Cinematographer Adam Greenberg was personally chosen for the job by Arnold Schwarzenegger, who had worked with him on the first two Terminator movies. Schwarzenegger assured the production that if they wanted an experienced, professional cameraman who could capture the action on the film’s hectic schedule that Greenberg was the man for the job.

Arnold Schwarzenegger premiered the film at the Olympic Village in Atlanta, Georgia, during the 1996 Summer Games. The Goo Goo Dolls performed a live concert before the film was shown.

Frank Darabont and William Wisher were brought in mid production to revise the screenplay. Wisher co-wrote The Terminator & Terminator 2 Judgement Day.

The movie was mostly filmed on hand-held cameras, to make the audience feel closer to the action. Adam Greenberg sometimes used up to seven cameras at one time.

John Milius did multiple re-writes as a favor to Arnold Schwarzenegger.

Vanessa Williams performed the song “Where Do We Go From Here”, which is heard during the end credits.

At the premiere, Vanessa Williams walked the red carpet puffing one of Arnold Schwarzenegger’s signature cigars.

The movie has a sequel in the form of a video game, an FMV rail shooter with some adventure elements called Eraser – Turnabout (1996).

Two walk-on parts went for $4,500 each at a Planet Hollywood auction in 1995.

A novelization of the film by Robert Tine was published by Signet on August 29, 1996, the 5 year anniversary of Judgement Day from Terminator 2: Judgment Day (1991) the day that SKYnet took over the earth.

Awards – Nominee for the Oscar for Best Effects, Sound Effects Editing (Alan Robert Murray, Bub Asman, 1997)

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

Never Talk to Strangers Quiz

Oh man, so there I was losing time, finding people killed, the usual. But then I thought “huh … do I have multiple personality disorder?” … Naw. But I do indeed not remember anything. Do you remember what happened in Never Talk to Strangers?

Pop Quiz Hot Shot!

1) Sarah Taylor is a psychologist studying criminal Max to determine if he is fit for trial. What is Max accused of, and what is her initial diagnosis?

2) Later on she meets Tony Ramerez. Where does she meet him, where does he claim he comes from, and why does he claim he’s talking to her?

3) Her family seems to be a bit of a mess as well. Her father Henry shows up, but is unwelcome. What does he do for a living? And her mother was killed when she was a child, how does she say?

4) Throughout the film Sarah receives several disturbing gifts and notes. Name them. And who are they from?

5) From there we start to see flashbacks to an event in her past. What event?

Bonus Question: Ultimately how does the murderous Sarah get caught?

Answers

Never Talk to Strangers Preview

As Clutch Guthrie shoots through the exhaust pipe and into Fort Knox he can’t help but think that this is pretty rad, even for him. The pipe soon turns into a luge and he is slipping and sliding his way to a gold medal when he tumbles out and into a room full of gold. But, wait… he’s not alone. In the middle of the vault is a small man dressed in a robe. “What thuuuuu…” he says and the man turns around, startled by his presence. But it isn’t a man at all. It’s a smoking hot woman! “Hey lady, I don’t know what you are thinking, but I need this gold to free the Vice President of the United States. First in line for succession. Ever heard of him?” Clutch says, grabbing for a bar of gold. “Well not all that glitters is gold and not all that’s gold is yours, bub,” she says, “And besides, I need it for something far more important: to save the whole goddamn world.” Clutch squints and asks her to explain. A mastermind who goes by the moniker Wishmaster has created a doomsday device. It’s powered by gold and he’s coming this way to get all the fuel he needs to (bum bum bum) melt the polar ice caps. “So you see, back off, bub.” Clutch shakes his head at the tall tale, “ I knew I should have listened to my mama and never talked to strangers.” But just at that moment The Wishmaster busts into the room, alarms blaring.

Patrick looks up again at that piece of shit hack Manfred Long. At this point he had entered a full blown quickening due to the power of the Dongle he possesses. Yet the page in front of him remains blank. That’s right! We are going deep in on the 90’s genre de jour erotic thriller and watching Never Talk to Strangers, the Banderas-De Mornay joint that everyone totally remembers for sure. Let’s go!

Jamie suddenly turns to Kyle. “I have an idea. Manfred is using the Dongle as a Wishmaster… and I think we might be able to piggyback on the power and make it our wishmaster, too. I just need one thing,” Kyle nods for him to continue, “Cover me.” That’s right! We are definitely doing a Playboy feature film (the inaugural one, in fact), but only because it had a video game adaptation and that’s fun… for no other reason. Let’s go!

Never Talk to Strangers (1995) – BMeTric: 39.0; Notability: 20

StreetCreditReport.com – BMeTric: top 10.4%; Notability: top 26.4%; Rotten Tomatoes: top 11.5%; Higher BMeT: Showgirls, Vampire in Brooklyn, Halloween: The Curse of Michael Myers, Fair Game, Congo, Jury Duty, Batman Forever, Mighty Morphin Power Rangers: The Movie, Theodore Rex, Tank Girl, The Babysitter, Under Siege 2: Dark Territory, Judge Dredd, Nine Months, A Kid in King Arthur’s Court, The Scarlet Letter, Operation Dumbo Drop, Jade, Candyman: Farewell to the Flesh, Man of the House, and 6 more; Higher Notability: Batman Forever, Congo, Judge Dredd, Cutthroat Island, Under Siege 2: Dark Territory, Virtuosity, Showgirls, Four Rooms, Stuart Saves His Family, Tank Girl, Panther, Jade, Money Train, Things to Do in Denver When You’re Dead, Assassins, Jefferson in Paris, Mighty Morphin Power Rangers: The Movie, Hackers, Canadian Bacon, Just Cause, and 46 more; Lower RT: The Big Green, Senior Trip, Delta of Venus, Jury Duty, Theodore Rex, Top Dog, The Walking Dead, Born to Be Wild, A Kid in King Arthur’s Court, The Hunted, It Takes Two, Halloween: The Curse of Michael Myers, The Pebble and the Penguin, Bushwhacked, Dracula: Dead and Loving It, Vampire in Brooklyn, Fair Game, Canadian Bacon, The Scarlet Letter, Jade, and 6 more; Notes: Low 5.0s on IMDb is really rather low, especially for a film I’ve basically never heard of. Everything else about the credit checks out, mostly middling, although a surprisingly low Rotten Tomatoes score.

Leonard Maltin – 1.5 stars –  Criminal psychologist falls for a charming, mysterious stranger, while at the same time unexplained, terrifying incidents begin occurring. Standard-issue thriller would be more at home on television. De Mornay also coexecutive-produced.

(Interesting call on the television note. I’ve felt that way about a few films recently. That they feel more like a television movie from the late-90s or a failed pilot than a theatrical release. Very interesting.)

Trailer – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HpBRXCnf60w/

(I’ll say this: I’ve watched this film already. Now, watch that trailer and realize that for the most part I never once in a million years thought Tony was the “bad guy” in the film. Not once. The trailer plays it up like “ooooooo, what a mystery, this mysterious guy!” … Yeah, it isn’t really. The film is really rather straightforward. That trailer makes it look a lot more complex than it actually is.)

DirectorsPeter Hall – (Known For: A Midsummer Night’s Dream; Three Into Two Won’t Go; Perfect Friday; The Homecoming; Work Is a 4-Letter Word; Akenfield; BMT: Never Talk to Strangers; Notes: A big play director (and that’s why he was an odd choice for this film) in England. Got a special Laurence Olivier Theatre Award in 1999 for his general contribution to theater. Is the father of Rebecca Hall.)

WritersLewis A. Green – (BMT: Never Talk to Strangers; Notes: I am fascinated by screenwriting in general. To put this in perspective: He’s written 24 films, sold over a dozen, but only has four writing credits in general. I assume that is not abnormal, one of six screenplays actually getting through production to a credit on IMDb.)

Jordan Rush – (Known For: Club Fed; BMT: Never Talk to Strangers; Notes: Wrote an episode of Coach, and otherwise was a founder of TuneIn Entertainment Inc.)

ActorsRebecca De Mornay – (Known For: Wedding Crashers; Flipped; Risky Business; Identity; American Reunion; Backdraft; The Hand That Rocks the Cradle; Lords of Dogtown; Runaway Train; I Am Wrath; Mother’s Day; One from the Heart; And God Created Woman; Testament; Thick as Thieves; The Trip to Bountiful; Apartment 1303 3D; Dealers; Music Within; Beauty and the Beast; Future BMT: The Three Musketeers; Raise Your Voice; Guilty as Sin; The Slugger’s Wife; Feds; BMT: Never Talk to Strangers; Razzie Notes: Nominee for Worst Actress for And God Created Woman in 1989; Notes: Been in a few television shows more recently like John from Cincinnati and Jessica Jones. Her father was a talk show host.)

Antonio Banderas – (Known For: Interview with the Vampire: The Vampire Chronicles; Frida; Desperado; Shrek 2; The Mask of Zorro; Ruby Sparks; The Skin I Live In; Philadelphia; Spy Kids; Once Upon a Time in Mexico; Official Competition; Shrek the Third; Pain and Glory; Four Rooms; Knight of Cups; The Laundromat; Shrek Forever After; Puss in Boots; Tie Me Up! Tie Me Down!; Security; Future BMT: Original Sin; Life Itself; The Legend of Zorro; Machete Kills; Assassins; Spy Kids 4: All the Time in the World; Play It to the Bone; BMT: The Hitman’s Wife’s Bodyguard; Dolittle; The Expendables 3; The 13th Warrior; Ballistic: Ecks vs. Sever; Never Talk to Strangers; Notes: Nominated for an Oscar for Dolor y gloria. Born and raised in Spain, he worked there in the 80s, and then made the jump to Hollywood nearly 30 years ago in 1992.)

Dennis Miller – (Known For: The Net; Disclosure; The Campaign; Thank You for Smoking; Future BMT: Joe Dirt; What Happens in Vegas; Murder at 1600; Bordello of Blood; Madhouse; BMT: Never Talk to Strangers; Notes: Won a bunch of Emmys for his 90s talk show Dennis Miller Live. Was the Weekend Update anchor on SNL as well in the late-80s to around ‘91. Notably conservative.)

Budget/Gross – $6.4 million / Domestic: $6,858,261 (Worldwide: $6,858,261)

(Ah too bad. The stories around the film are interesting, with De Mornay loving the script and really trying hard to get it made the right way. It is rather too bad it couldn’t have been more successful in the end.)

Rotten Tomatoes – 15% (3/20): Never Talk to Strangers — and never make the mistake of believing this silly stalker mystery is the best available viewing option.

(Zing. The quip in the Rotten Tomatoes consensus is rarer than you would think. You would think they would 100% be jokes all the time, but they usually play them straight I feel like.)

Reviewer Highlight: An adequate psychological thriller on a topical theme — Repressed Memory Syndrome — but with little special quality, few frills or thrills, and a relaxed, almost languid exposition. – Wally Hammond, Time Out

Poster – Stranger Danger Deluxe

(This feels ahead of its time in a bad way. Reminds me of the posters for a bunch of 2000’s thrillers. Font is bad, framing is meh, but I guess it gets the picture across: come see these two beautiful people make out and also maybe deliver some thrills and chills. C-)

Tagline(s) – In A World Where Love Isn’t Always Safe, Trust Can Be Deadly. (F)

(These are definitely words… and a lot of them at that. Love isn’t always safe… love isn’t always safe? I don’t understand this at all. Usually at least a tagline doesn’t confuse you. This actually makes it harder to understand what the film is about. Terrible.)

Keyword(s) – stalker

Top 10: Spider-Man (2002), Joker (2019), Deadpool (2016), Scream (1996), Death Proof (2007), The Green Mile (1999), Split (2016), Predator (1987), The Lovely Bones (2009), Halloween (2018)

Future BMT: 83.5 Prom Night (2008), 74.2 Black Christmas (2019), 71.1 Supergirl (1984), 70.3 Halloween II (2009), 68.3 Captivity (2007), 62.9 Valentine (2001), 61.4 Obsessed (2009), 60.9 When a Stranger Calls (2006), 57.8 The Return (2006), 56.7 They (2002)

BMT: The Bodyguard (1992), Vanilla Sky (2001), The Boy Next Door (2015), Halloween II (1981), This Means War (2012), Countdown (2019), Queen of the Damned (2002), The Snowman (2017), Sleeping with the Enemy (1991), The Roommate (2011), Cobra (1986), Jason X (2001), Keeping Up with the Joneses (2016), Leatherface: Texas Chainsaw Massacre III (1990), Fifty Shades of Black (2016), Perfect Stranger (2007), Swimfan (2002), I Know Who Killed Me (2007), Chernobyl Diaries (2012), Justice (2011), Vampire in Brooklyn (1995), Turbulence (1997), Never Talk to Strangers (1995)

Matches: Death Proof (2007), The Bodyguard (1992), Body Double (1984), Ingrid Goes West (2017), Wes Craven’s New Nightmare (1994), Blades of Glory (2007), Valentine (2001), Black Christmas (2019), Death Screams (1982), Go with Me (2015), Swimfan (2002), He Knows You’re Alone (1980), The Seduction (1982), Amusement (2008), Slumber Party Massacre III (1990), Deadly Switch (2019), Fear City (1984), The Stalker (2020), Lady Beware (1987), Blood Harvest (1987), Never Talk to Strangers (1995), After Midnight (1989), Ratter (2015), Cam2Cam (2014), The Cry of the Owl (2009), Kiss Daddy Goodnight (1987), Cherish (2002), Toughguy (1995), The Killing Floor (2007), Babysitter Massacre (2013), Vicious (2016), Striking Poses (1999), From the Shadows (2009), House Swap (2010), Let’s Not Meet in the Woods (2020), Quiet Kill (2004), Shiner (2004), Stalked (2015), Natural Prey (2013)

(Lots of bad one in the 00s as usual. We’ve seen a lot of these, and they mostly seem genuine. These do, in fact, have stalkers for the most part.)

Welcome to Earf (HoE Number 13) – The shortest path through The Movie Database cast lists using only BMT films is: Antonio Banderas is No. 2 billed in Never Talk to Strangers and No. 4 billed in The Expendables 3, which also stars Jason Statham (No. 2 billed) who is in In the Name of the King: A Dungeon Siege Tale (No. 1 billed) which also stars Leelee Sobieski (No. 3 billed) who is in Here on Earth (No. 1 billed) => (2 + 4) + (2 + 1) + (3 + 1) = 13. If we were to watch Assassins, and The Glass House we can get the HoE Number down to 12.

Notes – Raoul Ruiz was originally slated to direct this film.

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