Halloween: The Curse of Michael Myers Recap

Jamie

Lore, baby! Lore. This is what happens when a film becomes pure lore and it is a BMTutiful sight to behold. Let me riff on this for a second. And by a second I mean for far longer than that. You have to dive deep to understand the level of lore we are dealing with here. It’s not just an origin story for Michael Myers. Not just a simple “Freddy Kruger was the progeny of a hundred criminally insane maniacs.” No, this film takes all of the previous five films and like a crazed conspiracy theorist weaves them all together. Magnifique.

To start, the fifth film ended on an insane cliffhanger where Jamie and Michael are taken from prison by the Man in Black. The Man in Black was a wholly unexplained character in the film, so it was left to whoever made the sixth film to define him. Indeed, the screenwriters of The Curse of Michael Myers jumped right in and proclaimed that this mysterious character from film five was connected to the mysterious symbol on Michael’s wrist from film four. They are the Cult of Thorn and they are here to use Michael for their own nefarious deeds.

But who are they and what do they want? For that we actually are best served by going back to Halloween 3 (that’s right, the film that has nothing to do with Michael Myers… or does it?). That’s because when they veered away from Michael the focus of the series briefly shifted from the singular killer to the very idea of Halloween. They went back to the original idea of the holiday (aka Samhain) and its connection to sacrifices. Much like in the third film the primary antagonist isn’t Michael Myers anymore, but really a puppetmaster of sorts who is using the powers of sacrifice to gain strength. This is basically the entire plot here: Michael Myers was cursed by this cult and every so often on Halloween (when the thorn symbol appears in the stars) awakens and goes on a killing spree to murder everyone in his family (and beyond?). This benefits the cult in some vague way. So when Jamie escapes from the cult with her baby (Michael Myers’ final sacrifice) they are left with no other choice but to set him loose on Haddonfield again to finish the job.

This is also how the second film most strongly connects to the sixth. Not really through Samhain (which is mentioned briefly in that film as being connected to Michael), but rather through the killing of his family. It’s impossible to forget that the second film is where they made the terrible mistake of retroactively making Laurie Strode the sister of Michael. The later films are worse than the second, but I think that’s still the worst thing they ever did. Anyway, this gives a rock solid (and totally unnecessary) explanation for why Michael would want to kill his family. As if a maniac needs such an explanation!

Finally that brings us to the first film (and my favorite of the lore building). So Michael is loose on Haddonfield and thus, like the yin to his yang, the even more insane Dr. Loomis’ reign of terror begins anew. He teams up with his old colleague Dr. Wynn and Tommy Doyle (both not seen since that first film) to track down Jamie’s baby and keep him safe from Michael. This is all before Dr. Wynn is revealed to be the Man in Black himself! And you know what this clears up? In the first film there is some mystery around how Michael Myers knew how to drive like a pro after spending his entire life in a hospital and Loomis explains that he seemed to be driving just fine when he saw him so maybe “someone taught him.” You bet someone did. Dr. Wynn, Cult of Thorn maestro himself. It should be noted that in the novelization of the first book it is claimed he learned by watching Loomis. Bah! Trust in the Lore is my motto. You best believe Dr. Wynn spent many Saturdays giving driving lessons to Michael.

Behold my masterpiece on the pure lore that is the sixth film. So I must have loved it, right? Hell no. This is by far the worst of the films. I actually forgot what a catastrophe it was. It is horrible. Straight dog poo. The hilarity of the lore is its only redeeming quality. It was so bad that they had to basically smash cut and ADR their way to a reshot ending in the insane asylum that actually ended up as the best part of the film. A nonsensical reshoot was somehow better than the rest of the garbage they put to screen. 

As for New Year’s Evil? Well, for horror completionists I think this is a must. It’s such a weird film and I think indicative of just how lost some people got in trying to replicate the success of other slasher films. But it is quite fun for a few reasons: some really weird motivations for the characters, excessive use of the “punk” stereotypes of the 80’s, and a real dumbo killer. To elaborate a little on the last point: unlike many horror films that try to hide their killer, we spend about half the film riding around with the murderer as he does his murdering and he… is… terrible at it. Throw away the notion of an unstoppable force of evil. This is a very stoppable man who bumbles his way to his own death. Suicide by being real bad at stuff. Patrick?

Patrick

‘Ello everyone! Halloween: The Curse of Michael Myers? More like More Halloween? Curse you Michael Myers! Amirite? Only if you imagine me shaking my fist ruefully at Michael Myers. Let’s go!

  • My god, look what they’ve done to my boy! Halloween, you’ve never looked so bad. Top to bottom, front to back, side to side gobbledegook. Just nonsensical garbage. Dare I say it? I ran up to this film, a lover of horror mega-franchises and slashers in general and they slowly pushed dog poo right into my face.
  • You know I love to say it: this film is a slap in the face to fans of the franchise.
  • When I go back to school to get my PhD in BMT-ology (at BMT University) my dissertation will be entitled: How to Ruin Horror Franchises, Lore in its Many Forms. The crowning jewel of the thesis will be about this film.
  • The Cult of Thorn. Don’t you see? The mark of Thorn condemned a child to kill their family in a blood sacrifice according to Celtic legend. But then why does Michael only escape on occasion? Well, because a constellation in the shape of Thorn only appears every so often. … nailed it? What absolute drivel, answering questions no one is asking.
  • Weirdly, if they had just landed on that lore earlier in the series it could have worked. Michael is dead? Who cares? The whole issue was the insistence that The Shape NEEDED to be Michael Myers! So now he becomes an invincible unstoppable force and the whole thing is a retcon. Lore. Ruins. Everything.
  • I’m now very intrigued to see just how bad Halloween: Resurrection is. Because this movie is garbage. It might actually be the worst of all of the mega-franchise horror I’ve seen. Zero interesting kills. Terrible acting (yes even Paul Rudd). Perplexing decision making. Poor direction.
  • Obviously you always need to give a Setting as a Character (Where?) for Haddonfield when it comes to Halloween. And an A+ Holiday Film (When?) for Halloween. And I’m going to throw out the Worst Twist (How?) for the reveal that the other doctor from the first film was the head of the Cult of Thorn and Man in Black the whole time. Definitely a BMT I think, just for how terrible it is.
  • Oh, and our friend! New Years Evil is an early slasher (1980) and actually quite interesting. An interesting killer obsessed with time. A very old school 70s feel. But … horrible acting and it feels like a television film. It is interesting to see how people were still creating that early slasher feel into the 80s when the big franchises were just starting to exploit the genre. And I’m shocked they have never tried to remake it or create a modern sequel. There is a nugget of a cool idea there for sure.

Time to dive into my reworking of the series. After the third film they should have stuck with Michael being dead. But then The Shape should appear again. And the big reveal there would have been something like Tommy Doyle was the new Shape. Loomis though begins to get confused. Tommy? He wasn’t a psycho, just in such shock from the events of the first film that he had gone to the same asylum as Michael had been at! The middle trilogy then is the unraveling of the Cult of Thorn, where it is revealed that Michael was the first test subject. A young sociopath that a cult-obsessed doctor had cursed with Thorn 10 years prior. And the three movie set then finishes with the destruction of Thorn … but can you contain such a powerful and ancient evil? Probably not. Would have set it apart from the other major horror franchises at least.

Cheerios,

The Sklogs

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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

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

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

Terminal Velocity Recap

Jamie

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Patrick

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Cheerios,

The Sklogs

Kazaam Recap

Jamie

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Patrick

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Cheerios,

The Sklogs

Police Academy 6: City Under Siege Recap

Jamie

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Patrick

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Cheerios,

The Sklogs

Halloween II (1981) Recap

Jamie

Michael Myers is back, Jack! And boy is he angry at his sister (spoiler alert). After the events of the first film, the unstoppable Myers continues his horror spree in the town of Haddonfield. He eventually tracks his ultimate victim, Laurie Strode, to the hospital. Can she stop the maniac before it’s too late? Find out in… Halloween II.

How?! Following the events of the first film, Haddonfield, Illinois is scrambling to figure out what happened. Laurie Strode is in shock and is transported to the local hospital where she is quickly sedated. Forget about her for the next hour, cause it’s the Loomis show everyone. He’s scrambling aroundt being like “he’s goddamn evil!” and “we gotta stop him” and basically acting like a total maniac. Good news and bad news comes with the Loomis show. The bad news is that he inadvertently kills a kid in town that he thinks is Myers. Ooops. The good news is that he does convince people that he’s still alive and they track down Myers. They find that he broke into a school and left curious occult markings and stuff. Suddenly he realizes it! Laurie is Michael Myers younger sister who was put up for adoption after Michael killed her older sister. Her name was changed and no one ever talked about the fact that she was a Myers. Myers is tracking Laurie, which can mean only one thing: the hospital. There, Myers is already killing pretty much everyone. Eventually Laurie wakes up and in a panic begins to evade the killer. She eventually gets out but can’t get a car started to leave. Just then she sees the police and Loomis show up and they are able to save her from Myers before leading him into an operating room. Loomis is stabbed while Laurie is able to blind Myers. In his dying moments (or are they?) Loomis tells Laurie to flee and lights a tank of gas on fire, totally exploding Michael Myers. THE END.

Why?! With the revelation that Laurie was in fact adopted and was the sister of Michael, this colors almost all the motivations from not only this film, but also the original film. In the original it is set up that Michael Myers is mostly interested in the memory of the sister that he killed and the family home that Laurie is seen dropping a key off at. It appears he becomes fixated on Laurie as a result of the random happenstance, right? Wrong, apparently. Just a coincidence… and maybe he just kinda magically is drawn to her by pure evil will. Otherwise it seems to make little sense that he would actually know that Laurie is his sister (secret adoption and name change and all)… this is all to say that Laurie just wants to survive and Myers just wants to kill (but more specifically wants to kill he remaining sister (which still makes no sense)).

Who?! I do like to talk a little bit about the monsters when we watch the entries of horror films, just to note how they change. I think I kinda forgot how consistent Myers was (besides the sister thing). Always an unstoppable force of evil from the get go. The one minor thing they add, that becomes a major thing, is a connection to Celtic occult lore… which ends up kinda ruining everything. Besides that, Dana Carvey shows up in a non-speaking role for like five seconds.

What?! Love it when a sequel really embraces the product placement. Here everyone is constantly asking each other if they might like a refreshing Coke. What does the guy in the hospital do to try to be sweet to Laurie? “Hey, I’m gonna go grab you a Coke.” Honestly, don’t blame them. What’s the only thing that can stop Michael Myers in his tracks? That cool refreshing taste of a Coca-Cola.

Where?! Unlike the revisionist history of Nightmare on Elm Street, this series was always set in the midwest, specifically the fictional town of Haddonfield, Illinois. I wouldn’t say Illinois is required for the plot or anything, but it is made clear, so I’ll say a B+. It really makes it lame that Nightmare went Ohio at the end. Would have been nice if the major horror franchises were East Coast (Friday the 13th), West Coast, and Midwest. Zombies would eventually take the Southern region as their own.

When?! Right off the bat we can throw out an A+ Time Setting Alert on this guy. Set on Halloween and cha, it just might be important to the plot. It is a different kind of horror franchise though, since usually the films still sorta stick the everything being set in the year that the film is actually released. Obviously not the case here. If the first film was set in 1978, then the second one is as well. So really a period piece.

This is certainly a worse movie than I remember from the first time I watched it. It has far too much Loomis (who really started to annoy me even by the end of the first film) and far too little Jamie Lee Curtis, who spends much of the film in a coma. I also still can’t really understand why they made Laurie his sister. It has never made sense and never will make sense. But at least Carpenter doesn’t pretend like it was the plan the whole time. Even he kinda thinks the twist is dumb and only did it because they needed a new storyline for the sequel. Despite this, I think overall the film comes out on the plus side as far as horror films go (not to mention horror sequels). I still like the hospital setting quite a lot and the kills are a nice mix of gory and silly. It makes me wish they made one more for a trilogy to finish the full Halloween night of mayhem. As for The Birds II: Land’s End, it actually lived up to expectations a bit. It’s a little slow going at first, but you can get by with just how much of a total dick one of the characters is and also just how much of a rip-off of Jaws the whole set up is. Shame, really, for a classic film to have a sequel reduced to a boilerplate rip-off decades later. But really the payoff is the end, which is just a batshit crazy scene of mayhem where people are full body burning left and right. Wasn’t expecting how enjoyable the experience would be. Patrick?

Patrick

‘Ello everyone! We are continuing to collect the films I’ve already seen before. I think I’ve seen Halloween II a few times. Let’s go!

P’s View on the Preview – At one point I decided I just wanted to watch a full horror series without waiting for BMT and so I consumed most of the Halloween series in the span of a few months. The preview is a revelation about the second Halloween though. At the time I was like “oh weird they continued the story and it was okay”, but the preview makes it clear Carpenter mostly did the film reluctantly and also forced them to make it gorier because he figured that was the direction horror in particular had gone between 1978 and 1981. I was genuinely surprised at how much of a hand Carpenter had with the odd direction the franchise took after the classic first film. What were my expectations? Well, I had seen the film before and mostly liked it. Given that it is, in fact, a bad movie, I figured with more horror franchise knowledge under my belt I would probably think it was a bad film like the critics did.

The Good – I do like the setting a lot. The setting of the hospital was a genius maneuver instead of running back the same suburban setting from the first film. I was somewhat surprised to realize just how much connective tissue from the first to the second there is, in particular the surprisingly varied methods of killing people and the way Michael displays the bodies all are very similar to the first film. The final full body burn is very impressive. Best Bit: The hospital setting.

The Bad – I cannot understand or believe how little they give Jamie Lee Curtis to do in this film. She basically doesn’t move or talk in the first hour of the film, and then mostly limps around barely being able to scream for the rest. Loomis is a jerk and dumb and I had forgotten how lame his character was until he ended up being the star of the film when outside of the hospital. Speaking of which, too much of the film takes place outside of the hospital, it should have all been inside the hospital with Loomis only showing up at the end. The kills in this one feel far more exploitative, and I think the entire thing would have been better served by a similarly slow and methodical pace of the first. Fatal Flaw: Too little Curtis.

The BMT – Yup, I can transparently see all of the issues this film had now that I know the rhythms of an 80s horror franchise. It tries to ratchet up the gore, but it feels exploitative. It fails to leverage its star, favoring a dialogue-less monster instead, which never works. It has far too much filler with Loomis wandering around. And then the twist is awful. And amazingly, from what I can glean, all of those decisions were Carpenter’s … I guess it makes sense given he didn’t want to so a second Halloween film, he wanted to do an anthology series instead. Did it meet my expectations? Absolutely. I kind of liked this film the first time I watched it. This time? I can transparently see all of the things they failed to do to keep the franchise going.

Roast-radamus – A solid Product Placement (What?) for the obviously placed Coca-Cola machines seen in the hospital. A very excellent Setting as a Character (Where?) for Haddonfield, Illinois which is where all of the original Halloween films take place (as that is where Michael Myers grew up and where he killed his sister in 1963). And an A+ Temporal Setting (When?) for the film taking place mostly on Halloween Night, 1978 (explicitly that year as it is explained that it is precisely 15 years after he killed his sister). Mostly closest to BMT I think, in that isn’t isn’t unpleasant to watch, just bemusing.

Prequel, Sequel, Remake – I think with a lot of sequels your best bet is a Remake. Mainly I think the key is setting it entirely in the hospital. Show Loomis finding the body missing and telling Laurie that the killer is still out there and to not let the doctors knock her out, that he’ll get there as soon as possible to prevent Michael from finding her. Then introduce the late-night skeleton crew at the hospital. From that point it is mostly the same as the film, except now Laurie is conscious and actively trying to rally the staff to defeat Michael because she knows he’s there somewhere. We see the staff picked off one by one (after they find the security guard missing … curious), and the remaining survivors corralled further and further into the dark hospital unable to escape. In the end Laurie and the young EMT friend find the staff killed and displayed like the girls in the first film, and just as Michael finds them Loomis comes bursting through the door and incapacitates Michael once again. Loomis explains that the police arrested him, suspicious as to how much he knew about Michael during the events of the first film, but they were convinced once the hospital’s phone lines were found to be cut. This sets up a concluding sequel which would take place entirely within the Myers home. Still called Halloween II.

You Just Got Schooled – Obviously I had to rewatch the classic Halloween (1978) prior to watching this film. And yeah, it is a classic for a reason. It is a lot different than the other films in the series though (even the second). It basically invents the Unstoppable Force as far as killers go (that might not be precisely true, but I think it is a plausible claim at least). But then the film takes absolute ages before anyone is killed. Mostly Myers can be seen stalking some of his victims and waiting around before finally starting to kill them. It works because it is not really a “slasher” film as the genre has now been defined. I also get why later entries in the series ended up going with the more early kills and more evenly paced kills. A. The film is, as I said, a classic and is probably one of my favorite horror films. Curtis is, in particular, amazing in the film.

Bring a Friend Analysis – Wow, this is getting long, but I can’t not talk about The Birds II: Land’s End. I hadn’t seen the original prior to the viewing, but did catch up on that as well (obviously a great film and quite a bit different than I imagined, I thought it took place on an island like Jaws). I think the makers of Birds II took to heart the idea of animals attacking during an otherwise intriguing family drama a little too much. The sequel is 95% the story of a family dealing with tragedy, and 5% “oh, wait, I forgot about the birds, quick put some birds in there for a second.” The film would have been boring except that the local newspaper editor/photographer, Frank, is an insatiable horndog who can’t stop hitting on Ted’s wife May even after being told multiple times about Ted’s difficulties dealing with the death of Ted and May’s son. It is just an incredibly aggressive and unyielding display which captured my interest in the most BMT way. B. Unusually high, but I think the combination of it being a made-for-tv sequel to a beloved film, and Frank makes for a film that as crazy as it sounds I would willingly watch again. Wild stuff.

Cheerios,

The Sklogs

Xanadu Recap

Jamie

Sonny is an artist with a little painter’s block. He’s lost his inspiration and sadly heads back to his dead-end advertising job. That is until a beautiful muse (literally) comes along and inspires him to the true heights of artistic achievement: teaming up with an old man to open a roller disco. Can he achieve his dreams (and get the girl) before it’s too late? Find out in… Xanadu.

How?! Sonny is a pure artist. Unfortunately he’s lost his inspiration and in a fit of despair throws his work out the window. This work blows over to a painting of the Greek muses, which breathes life into them and brings them into the world. One of the muses, Kira, heads Sonny’s way and just as he is about to return to his dead-end advertising job she kisses him. Struck by this beautiful woman who randomly kissed him, Sonny is even more perplexed when the first advertisement he is asked to paint has her picture on it! He begins to try to track down who she is, but no one seems to remember. During his search he befriends a former big band musician, Danny, who has made a fortune in construction and the two artists strike up a friendship, recognizing in each other similar artistic qualities. Eventually Sonny catches up to Kira at the rundown Pan-Pacific Auditorium where they fall in love, but Kira still resists telling him anything about her. They have a magical time together, eventually inspiring Sonny to quit his job and go into business with Danny to try to revamp the auditorium into a roller disco club. With her job done Kira reveals that she’s a muse and they can’t be together and leaves Earth. However, through the power of love Sonny follows her to her home where she reveals to her father that despite the rules, she has indeed fallen in love with Sonny and wishes to go to Earth to be with him. Initially she is refused and Sonny sadly returns to Earth to open the club, but he’s soon delighted to find Kira has returned for the big night and they probably smooch and shit. THE END.

Why?! Art and love, duh. It is a literal metaphor for the power of love to inspire artistic greatness. Kira is Sonny’s muse, literally, and through her he is able to achieve the pinnacle of artistic achievement… a roller disco… which obviously is the pinnacle of artistic achievement. Goes without saying.

Who?! This is a fun one. The Tubes were the band that showed up in a dream sequence for this film. Still active. There is also a film-within-a-film which starred David Tress and Madison Arnold. A classic 40’s gangster film, which seems to be a trend when people make fake film-within-films. Then, while he isn’t credited as Zeus, I believe Wilfred Hyde-White voiced him. Best known for My Fair Lady.

What?! Like all films of the late 70’s into the 80’s, this could be perceived as an advertisement for rollerskating. Everyone is quite into it. Because this does hold some cult attraction it’s not surprising that legit memorabilia shows up on ebay here and there. Like these original wardrobe drawings. You’d actually think more would be around, but probably the failure at the time got most of the props trashed. Who would think they’d eventually have value?

Where?! Kind of an incredible LA film. You got the beach, you got the boardwalk, and the big time roller disco they open up is in the old Pan-Pacific Auditorium. At the time it was just declared a historic building and so seemed to have some local standing as a place of note. I’m sure the idea of it being transformed into something shiny and new was appealing to the filmmakers. Alas, nine years later it was destroyed in a fire. A.

When?! Patrick helped with this one. At one point in a dinner you can see a calendar. The exact year and month is not discernable (until I purchase the original print and get it remastered), but it seems likely that the film is portraying events in July 1980, approximately when the film was released. Not solid, but interesting possibility. C-.

There is a joy to this film where I believe if you open yourself up to it (and ignore some obvious shortcomings) you can honestly have a ball. It reminds me a little of Cats. Obviously the crazy cat monsters and ridididiculous everything about that film can’t possibly translate into it being actually, unironically good. But… doesn’t mean I wasn’t watching Skimbleshanks the Railway Cat prance about with a smile on my face. I enjoyed the pure enthusiasm for rollerskating and dance that I was seeing. I enjoyed Olivia Newton-John singing nicely and looking beautiful. I even enjoyed weirdo Gene Kelly trying on a series of crazy 80’s outfits in his Pretty Woman turn. It’s a fun bad movie that is weird enough that I could imagine pretty confidently showing the film off at a bad movie screening. Few will have seen it, many will be bewildered by what they are seeing, while most will still get some laughs and enjoyment out of it. Overall I was surprised by Xanadu. Particularly since Xanadu was one of the films that inspired the Razzies. The other? Can’t Stop the Music, another weird musical from 1980. But that one is terrible. This is not. As for Punmpkinhead II: Blood Wings, what is there to say about a cheap sequel to a pretty fun original horror film. Not much. It’s cheap and filled with actors that scream “this is a direct-to-video movie so maybe the presence of Bill Clinton’s half-brother will be juuuust enough for you to watch this.” At times it feels like they didn’t even really understand (or even possibly watch) the original film before embarking on the sequel, which is a shame. Patrick?

Patrick

‘Ello everyone! We are on a streak of good films, so Xanadu will obviously break that cycle … or will it? Did I secretly love Xanadu? You’ll have to read the recap to find out! Let’s go!

P’s View on the Preview – Ever since watching Can’t Stop the Music the next big BMT musical sensation was obviously going to be … Cats, and it still is Cats actually because Cats is the greatest film ever made. But before Cats it was supposed to be Xanadu! An absolute classic in bad movie circles, not least of which because it was one of the original films that inspired the Razzie awards. What were my expectations? Disco singing sensation? I assumed it would be like Can’t Stop the Music which was a ludicrous barely-movie that I don’t even really remember. So … that.

The Good – Wait for it … I kind of dug this film. It isn’t a good film by any stretch of the imagination, but with Gene Kelly and the whole story about big band nightclubs, all mixed together with 80s disco and rollerskating, something about it was maybe the most unique film I’ve seen in a long long time. Unlike Can’t Stop the Music I would happily watch this film again some time. This is a bad film, but it is also an interesting and mostly harmless film. Best Bit: The wild 15 minute long musical sequence that ends the film incoherently.

The Bad – The reviews naturally nail it. The direction was rough, the film looked cheap, the actors weren’t very good (although I liked Olivia Newton-John), and the musical numbers couldn’t save it. The films ends like seventeen times near the end, there is a whole story about Greek muses. And then three words: sexy animated animals. Somehow, among the madness that is this film, the two main characters become cartoon characters and then transform into two fish and two birds, and Olivia Newton-John is, for lack of a better description, a sexy fish and a sexy bird. What is with animators and the insistence on drawing sexy animals. It is so weird. Fatal Flaw: Sexy animals as usual … naw I’m joking, it is a crap special effects that undermine the actual decent music.

The BMT – Out of all of the 80s musicals this is by far the most interesting for BMT, and I just can’t see how any other film takes that crown from Xanadu. Do I dare? Do I dare call this film a good movie? No. I mustn’t. But it is darn close, and that is a shock! I would have never imagined Xanadu would be anything by a catastrophe. Did it meet my expectations? It wildly exceeded them. I expected Can’t Stop the Music, but instead kind of got like … Newsies maybe? Like Newsies but with ELO, bad effects, and a dumb Greek muse story.

Roast-radamus – A decent Setting as a Character (Where?) for Los Angeles, where Gene Kelly plays jazz clarinet on the beach, natch. And a borderline Exact Date (When?) for maybe like … July 1980? There was a calendar and you can see that the month has 31 days and the 13th is a Sunday, so I assume it is July. Maybe it is Fourth of July and this is a holiday film? I think the weird mix of good and bad from the film makes this a decent BMT in the end.

Sequel, Prequel, Remake – Definitely a Sequel. Bring back Olivia Newton John and Michael Beck and now they are the ones in the Gene Kelly role. Retired long ago and living happily together, Xanadu was sold off, replaced, and forgotten, its place in the world lost along with the 80s … that is until 80s nostalgia hits hard! The old site of Xanadu becomes an ironic pilgrimage site for those rad hipsters who love all things Stranger Things. Olivia Newton-John, aka Terpsichore, is invariably drawn to Xanadu. There’s dancing, and signing, and eventually Michael Beck and Olivia Newton-John team up with Twitch star LolXanadu4Life (played by a real like Twitch streamer who I’m not going to name since I don’t know any of them) to create a cross between an arcade and microbrewery all wrapped up in a Twitch themes ESPN Zone situation. It’s super sweet, and super ironic, and all the rad hipsters love it. It ends with a 45 minute 80s themes song and dance number. Xana2: Legacy.

Bring a Friend Analysis – Naturally for Xanadu we brought along … Pumpkinhead II: Blood Wings? Obviously I had to watch both of the Pumpkinhead films for this bit. The first? Is quite good. It is a really cool contained story about witch’s curses and the regret a good man has for unleashing the demon Pumpkinhead on a group of mostly innocent teenagers. The practical effects are incredibly impressive, and as a self-contained story it is really cool. And then they made a pointless direct-to-video sequel. The sequel looks like absolute trash. It stars the star of Hellraiser, and has multiple cameos by horror villains (e.g. Kane Hodder, the best Jason), but eventually as the creature starts really killing people it just goes over a cliff and all of the characters go insane and … I didn’t know what was happening anymore. Apparently filmed in 23 days with a director hired the day before shooting essentially, I have a feeling they realized they were doomed from the start and just decided to have fun with it. Guess who didn’t have fun with it? This guy. D. Much like the sequels to Basket Case this just couldn’t capture the charm and raison d’etre of the first to make it worth my while.

You Just Got Schooled – And now to reveal why Pumpkinhead II: Blood Wings is the friend for Xanadu … it’s because Pumpkinhead II has a video game tie-in! Against all odds they made Blood Wings: Pumkinhead’s Revenge, a PC game which, first, barely works, and second, appears to just be a rip-off of Doom? It is a really weird game that I couldn’t quite figure out. Like, you are fighting skeletons (not in the film) and then travelling to the Netherworld (not in the film) to capture crystals (not in the film), which then allow you to I guess watch FMV video from the movie? I wouldn’t know about the last bit because the game basically doesn’t work and I couldn’t figure out how to capture the crystals. Unfortunately, the one video I could find of someone playing they had about as much luck getting crystals as I did … how do I keep playing the worst games ever made for this section? How is Little Nicky by far the best movie tie-in for a BMT film we could find? F.

Cheerios,

The Sklogs

Rising Sun Recap

Jamie

Web Smith is a police liaison called in to mediate a homicide found during a big time Japanese business’s gala. Surprisingly he is asked to bring along Capt. Conner, a police expert on Japan. Soon it becomes clear that there is more to the homicide than the company will let on. Can Web and Conner untangle the dastardly web of deceit before it’s too late? Find out in… Rising Sun.

How?! Web Smith is just trying to raise his daughter and do his job as a police liaison. One night he gets a call to help mediate a homicide call at a highfalutin Japanese business gala attended by all the bigwigs in town. Curiously, he is also asked to pick up Captain Conner, a semi-retired police expert on Japan. When they get to the crime scene the party continues uninterrupted while the crime scene is teaming with the company’s men. It becomes clear that they just want the whole thing dismissed, but Web and Conner are suspicious. Particularly when they discover that some of the tapes are missing from the state-of-the-art surveillance in the building. They suspect the boyfriend of the victim, Eddie, in the crime and cover up and when the missing disc shows up it appears to confirm their suspicions. They raid Eddie’s house only to have him flee and appear to die in a fiery crash. The next day they find that Eddie attempted to contact them about the missing disc and so they decide to take it to an expert who shows them how the film was manipulated. Returning to Web’s apartment, Web and Conner are shocked to find Eddie there alive and well. Someone else had died in the crash. He gives them the original surveillance tape, but the Yakuza show up and kill him and attempt to kill Web. After regrouping they view the tape and find that the killer appears to be Senator Morton, a powerful politician who was holding up a big acquisition for the Japanese company. The tape was being used to blackmail him, but in fact showed that someone else came into the room and killed the girl after he left. Wanting to smoke out the rat, Web and Conner go to a big meeting at the company and show the tape. Panicking, one of the lawyers flees and is ultimately killed closing the case, although leaving doubts as to how high the conspiracy could have gone. Bum bum bum. THE END.

Why?! Unfortunately, Web’s motivations are the least interesting in the film. Just doing his job. The Japanese company is a bit more interesting. They want to acquire an American microchip company , which is causing some concern in the government due to the connection of that company to national defense. Senator Morton initially is blocking the merger in the name of sovereignty, but ultimately is swayed though blackmail. Low key the most interesting motivation is Conner, who is semi-retired and living it up golfing and chilling with the wealthy Japanese businessmen of LA. There is some implication that he ends up turning a blind eye to the involvement of some of the particularly powerful people involved in the crime in order to keep his good standing (and great tee times) with them… kind of a last minute anti-hero twist for Connery.

Who?! Rooted in “real” economic concerns, the film also has “real” TV news entertainment segments in it. This includes a segment with Senator Morton hosted by Michael Kinsley and including a few well known journalists. Most interesting of the bunch is Pat Choate who went on to be Ross Perot’s running mate in the 1996 presidential election. Given his political stances, it actually makes perfect sense he appears in this film.

What?! There is something to be said here about fake businesses cooked up for BMT films. Here Nakamoto is portrayed as a powerful keiretsu housed in the Two California Plaza skyscraper. In Die Hard they have the fictional Nakatomi corporation housed in the Fox Plaza. Same companies? Different companies? Doesn’t matter. It tells you where Hollywood’s headspace was heading into the early 90’s collapse of the Japanese economy. 

Where?! Extremely solid LA film, to the point where I think you’d have to give it an A. I’m not sure there is another city in the United States that you could set this film and for it to still make sense. Unless you were to change the focus and thus the name… and thus pretty much everything about it. Funny enough, I think I had always assumed this was a film set in Japan. Tells you how little I knew about it before diving in.When?! The phone call to Web to get over to Nakamoto occurs at 9pm February 9th according to the testimony we see him giving in periodic flash forwards… turns out the testimony is from after Eddie is killed, Web gets shot, and then he gets put on leave. So really it’s like a flash middle. Fun to think that the climax of the film takes place 4 days after the date given… meaning we came very close to a Super Secret Holiday Film Alert with this taking place on Valentine’s Day. A- just for that fact.

When?! The phone call to Web to get over to Nakamoto occurs at 9pm February 9th according to the testimony we see him giving in periodic flash forwards… turns out the testimony is from after Eddie is killed, Web gets shot, and then he gets put on leave. So really it’s like a flash middle. Fun to think that the climax of the film takes place 4 days after the date given… meaning we came very close to a Super Secret Holiday Film Alert with this taking place on Valentine’s Day. A- just for that fact.

There were a number of critiques levied at the book and then the film adaptation for their portrayals of Japanese culture and business practices. For good reason! The book is even harsher, but you get the drift from the film as well. An unending stream of pejorative statements about Japanese business and America’s willingness to sell to them. Crichton defended the book as a purely economic argument, which might have gone over better if the Japanese economy wasn’t in the midst of a severe crash at the time of publication and then the film’s release. So it comes off as more rooted in xenophobia than the economic reality of the situation. All that being said up front, I think the film is otherwise just an adequate buddy cop police procedural. At times it lacks some direction and forward momentum, but I actually think it’s a bit of an improvement over the book. The book is just kinda boring, with a pretty bland main character and then Conner, who was clearly written with Connery in mind (but aren’t all Crichton characters… think about it). It feels like Crichton was more interested in getting his specific (offensive) point across and then built a generic police procedural around it. Of his books I’ve read it’s pretty easily my least favorite. As for After We Collided, I enjoyed watching the first one, I enjoyed watching this one, and I’ll enjoy watching the next one. They are real dumb and chock full o’ product placement, which gives a good laugh. I will also contend that, unlike Fifty Shades, this series actually has a purpose. It is about a young girl in love with an addict and the hope and desire that their love can ultimately overcome his trauma and his disease. He is not a bad person, but he has a problem and the depiction of their relationship is done more deftly than this dumbo series kinda deserves. So it’s not total trash. Patrick?

Patrick

‘Ello everyone! A pinch of noir, a dash of buddy cop, and juuuuuuuuuust a little (read: a lot) of cultural insensitivity, and you got a Rising Sun cooking baby! Let’s go!

P’s View on the Preview – This movie has actually been on my radar for a long time … although mostly because I’ve been continually disappointed it wasn’t set in Japan. It would definitely be the best set-in-Japan bad movie ever, but alas, they set it in Los Angeles like dummies. Yawn. Always fun to hit up a Crichton though, they always scream “90s” to me. Just something about him. What were my expectations? I had a problem: I hadn’t seen much noir, and I hadn’t seen much Snipes. So I was mostly going into it curious to see how it played.

The Good – I liked the dynamic between Snipes and Connery. It works as an odd couple pairing. A despite the Hollywood-style exploration of Japanese business culture that feels both racist and immediately outdated, I did enjoy the specific moment where they exposed Connery’s character’s hypocrisy, specifically his attitude towards the bribe he was effectively given early in the film. Among an otherwise muddled film there were a few things that still seemed to at least focus the film in an interesting way. Best Bit: The buddy cops.

The Bad – I mean … the immediately outdated and racist portrayal of Japanese customs and business culture? That’s it isn’t it? Even if you wanted to dismiss that all as pearl-clutching nonsense, the film was made in 1993, well after the Japanese economy entered a recession, and so at very best the Japanese business villains come across as Hollywood feeling around for a Big Bad after the collapse of the USSR. Other than that boring and borderline confusing are probably the biggest slights. Fatal Flaw: Racism.

The BMT – This is certainly a unique film at the very least. I’m not sure how many other films even exist with the Japanese business world as the bad guy … Gung Ho maybe. Remember that film? About like … making a lot of cars or something? Anyways, I think I ultimately enjoyed the underlying noir element too much to think about watching this again, but the specific time it was made makes it an interesting one time watch. Did it meet my expectations? As a noir I guess not, I kind of expected Connery to be a PI. But maybe once I watch more noir I’ll know better. As a Snipes film also maybe not? I got the distinct feeling he was playing himself in the film, but I haven’t watched enough of his films to know better. I’m giving myself an Incomplete on this assignment.

Roast-radamus – A pretty good Setting as a Character (Where?) because how can you create a noir film without setting it in LA? A very amusing, and borderline super-secret holiday film, Exact Temporal Setting (When?) for the fact that all of the events take place between February 9th and February 13th, one day off from being an incredible Valentine’s Day film! And finally Worst Twist (How?) for having the same twist as The Skulls whereby the person who was killed wasn’t actually dead until someone else came into the room and killed her! Solid stuff, with the overall film being closest to Good I think.

Sequel, Prequel, Remake – The Sequel is obvious here. A year after the events of the film Webster Smith gets an urgent letter from Jingo Asakuma that John Conner is back in Japan and in serious trouble! But when Webster arrives in Tokyo neither Conner or Asakuma can be found. In fact, Conner is wanted for question in connection to the disappearance of Asakuma a week prior. Huh, how odd. Webster, using some of the connections he had developed from the first film, ends up unwinding the strange tale of Conner’s return to Japan after decades in self-exile to discover who was responsible in the death of his old friend Yoshida. Along the way the daughter of the desk bound and contrite Ishihara helps Webster to navigate the underworld of modern Tokyo and the ever changing dynamics of the international business world. You have to know what the name is right? … Setting Sun. Boom, I think I just sold that spec on title alone. Call me Crichton, you can even write the book.

You Just Got Schooled – This one a film where I couldn’t quite decide whether to do a Snipes film or a noir. I went noir as I haven’t seen many of the classics and I’ve been watching only bad movies for too long. Naturally, I had to go for one of the best with Double Indemnity, which seems to be considered the noir to watch if you are looking for a definitive list. I was definitely thrown a bit by the subject matter and dialogue, because I’m mostly used to the Maltese Falcon where it is about a private detective / femme fatale dynamic. The insurance salesman, and the way he spoke, just really threw me off. But ultimately the perfect murder plot line is very engrossing and I can see why it is considered among the creme de la creme for the genre. Edward G. Robinson was particularly good. It ended up being the perfect choice because it broke me out of the mindset of noir = private eye, and I can see now why Rising Sun is considered to at least take inspiration from film noir (even if it is closer to a buddy cop film from the 80s). A+, obviously, it is a great film.

Bring a Friend Analysis – A pretty special week since we were able to bring along a BMT sequel as a friend, After We Collided, the sequel to the YA-romance novel-turned-movie After. The film is basically nonsense, but in that very special modern filmmaking kind of way. It appears to be something like six sex scenes held together by modular “destination” plot lines (a jaunt to the ice rink, a babysitting gig, a hot yoga session, etc.). Basically, it seems like the film could have been filmed by 20 different directors and then stitched together in any order they wanted at the end. Oh, and it is also one giant commercial for Amazon. It can’t be a coincidence I was watching the film on Amazon Prime while the main character is getting a Kindle as a gift. There was a storyline in this film … it just isn’t coming to me. Something like alcoholism is bad news, and you should make amends with your dad? Something like that. B+. I love YA-nonsense. This was kind of cheating because by all accounts this should have been released to theaters if not for the pandemic. But I’m glad we get to continue our journey into this YA-romance series.

Cheerios,

The Sklogs