The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn – Part 1 Recap

Jamie

Twilight is back, Jack! And you best believe Edward and Bella are getting married and having some vampire sex. But uh oh! They didn’t know that she could get pregnant! Gulp. Now they have to figure out how to save her life. Can they stop the little vampire baby and/or the local hunky werewolves before it’s too late? Find out in… The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn – Part 1.

How?! I mean, that short synopsis really sums it up pretty well. That’s cause we open with an extended sequence of Bella and Edward’s very fancy backyard wedding. Then we transition to an even more extended sequence of Bella and Edward’s very fancy honeymoon on a secluded island in Brazil. There Bella is pretty much ready to get it on. Unfortunately their night of monstrous love making leaves the room in shambles, Bella bruised for her efforts, and the viewer decidedly uncomfortable at what they have just witnessed. The rest of the trip they apparently just play chess against each other while Bella is none too thrilled with her sexually repressed vampire husband. Things go from bad to worse when Bella discovers that she’s pregnant and things are progressing at a far faster clip than anyone could expect. She returns to Forks where Edward and his family mull over what to do while she steadily wastes away as her unborn child literally sucks the life out of her. Jacob swings by and is pretty distraught at what has occurred because part of the werewolf code (that we all know and love) says that now his tribe has to kill everyone now. So he breaks off from the pack and sets up shop protecting Bella. They are able to keep Bella alive by feeding her blood (you know… cause the baby’s a vampire), but when Bella gives birth things don’t go well. To save her life Edwards injects his venom into her in order to (finally) make her a vampire. In order to save the baby from his fellow werewolves, Jacob imprints on the child named Renesmee. This ends the feud and we conclude with Bella opening her eyes for the first time as a vampire. THE END.

Why?! Why, indeed. I mean.. I guess to progress the story somewhat and make a boatload of money. As for the characters, love mostly. Although, while I laughed while reading the first book about how Edward is a monster for wanting to “bite” Bella and ultimately can’t “bite” Bella until they are married (wink, wink), this film gets a bit confusing. Even after they are married Edward seems the be pretty adamant that postmarital sex is also monstrous and off the table… so I kind of lost the thread on what the author was ultimately trying to say about love and sex.

Who?! Interesting fact that this is the only Twilight sequel where the author of the series Stephanie Meyer chose to make an appearance. She was one of the attendees of Bella and Edward’s wedding. Oh and I’d also like to note that Taylor Lautner, Kellen Lutz, and Maggie Grace all make appearances. Just a few of our faves.

What?! You know things are real when entire articles are written about the extravagant lengths companies went to to be featured as part of Bella and Edward’s wedding/honeymoon. Gotta get a piece of that sweet, sweet monstrous postmarital lovemaking that Edward immediately regrets and makes Bella feel bad about. Anywho, here’s the article.

Where?! We get a nice split here between Forks, Washington per usual and not-so-steamy Brazil. It’s interesting that no one in the film acknowledges the kinda weird fact that Bella and Edward honeymoon in the same place he hid away in the second film… and you know… decided to kill himself when he mistakenly thought Bella had died. Uh… romantic. A-. Washington has always played a role in the film’s concept.

When?! Bella graduated in the previous entry and without school you do get a bit unmoored from the timeline. The wedding, honeymoon, and pregnancy? Seems like it all occurs in the insular world of the Cullens without much temporal reference. So I can’t really remember if this is all during the summer and then into the following autumn, but that would be my guess without going back and watching the film again. D.

I’m of two minds about the Twilight series. The first and the third ones are silly but ultimately not really as bad as they are sometimes made out to be. Particularly the first one. The second is not good, but at least it’s kinda weird. So really the series is probably closer to After than Fifty Shades of Grey (a point of reference we all understand), while also admittedly not being my cup of tea. However, this pretty clearly crosses the line to actually bad. It just churns through a wedding, a honeymoon, and Bella’s pregnancy without much else happening. By splitting to book into two films they have a lot more time to meditate on postmarital sex, the idea of turning someone into a vampire, and several conversations of how and if to save Bella’s life when it becomes clear that she has a very real chance at dying in childbirth. These are not the questions I’d like to be pondering when watching my sexy vampire/werewolf love triangle soap operas and make it a tough watch. My final conclusion is this: how is it possible we still haven’t gotten to the sexy part?… what’s that? Even the last book isn’t sexy?! What are we even doing here? Patrick?

Patrick

‘Ello everyone! We are finishing off The Twilight Saga. If you are Team Jacob, I swear to god … I’m genuinely curious how that could be. He’s the worst! Let’s go!

P’s View on the Preview – Well, the preview is a bit moot since I watched the entire series before. I think it was because Doug Benson was doing it for his podcast or something? I mainly remember this one being mind-numbingly boring. Nothing happens. So that’s something to look forward to. What were my expectations? To be bored, BUT I also knew I would end up watching the third and fifth ones and those are alright, so it wasn’t all bad.

The Good – The even numbered entries in the series seem like they want to explore the lore of the series (and, ahem, the more overt religious themes which I’ll ignore), and it is actually halfway decent. Bella becomes pregnant and then it begs the question as to why human-vampire hybrids don’t exist if they are, indeed, possible. Beyond just that vampires tend to kill humans they have sex with, it would appear that a big issue with it is that no one really seemed to realize that the human mother would need to drink blood to bring the pregnancy to term. Seems obvious, but it at least provides an okay explanation as to why a hybrid hasn’t been seen for perhaps hundreds of years. Best bit: Okay lore building.

The Bad – We could, of course talk about Jacob, a fully grown adult, “imprinting” on a literal baby … it is supposed to be a godfather relationship, but still ultra creepy. We could talk about the shades of spousal abuse (and battered woman syndrome) that pervades the honeymoon. Or maybe the overt religious themes surrounding the pregnancy. But I choose to merely point out that nothing super interesting happens in the film and it ends with maybe the worst fight scene in the entire series involving a dozen wolves fighting a dozen vampires in the front yard of the Cullens and it looks like garbage. Fatal flaw: Boring and terrible looking.

The BMT – When I watched this series through the first time I was convinced this was the worst of the bunch. Nothing happens. Watching it again, I think at the very least having Edward around (unlike the second) and thus having one of the two best actors involved in the series around is a saving grace. And while I think it is kind of weird, the overt religious themes of this one at least gives the audience something to mull over while watching CGI wolves fight CGI vampires at the end. Ultimately this is probably second worst. It is a bad movie, but not as bad as I remembered it somehow. Did it meet my expectations? I think with some distance from the series I’ve come to appreciate that while bizarre, the religious themes of the series are at least not-boring. And so I wasn’t nearly as bored as I thought I would be while watching the film … but it is still mostly boring because there is only one terrible looking fight scene. Everyone knows you need at least one big blowout fight with decapitations for a Twilight film to be good.

Roast-radamus – I can only really give it a Setting as a Character (Where?) for Forks, Washington. As usual, the dreary raininess of the pacific northwest is center stage of a Twilight film, and I wouldn’t have it any other way. In the end the film is I think closest to BMT, which is a surprise since it is boring, but I think the series as a whole is an interesting watch from a teen romance / bad movie perspective and that makes it worth it.

Sequel, Prequel, Remake – Please no … I guess the best option is prequel though? Because then you could pick up a story involving the Cullens from prior to the series. Well, what is super in right now? That’s right, 80s nostalgia (is that still in? I might be a few years behind here, but whatever). Set it in the 80s with a comical 80s ecological villain who wants to just chop down all those trees and destroy the Cullen’s hunting ground. Oh no! Working with a gang of eco-protesters, the Cullens need to stop the logging company, while keeping their vampire secret under wraps. The Twilight Legacy: Montgomery Gadzooks and the Lumbering Lumberjacks. Oh, did I mention my 80s villain is called Montgomery Gadzooks? Also this is actually just a kids’ cartoon starring the Cullens. Not the worst idea I’ve ever had.

You Just Got Schooled – You can’t watch the 4th film without the 3rd and 5th can you? First up, The Twilight Saga: Eclipse. A pretty solid entry to the series. It brings all the characters back to Forks (the fatal flaw of the second film), gives a ton of vampire fighting and decapitations, and accelerates directly into the final film(s). Obviously Jacob is a brooding weirdo and the worst, but on a positive note he also gets continually dunked on by Edward throughout the film, so that’s nice. B-. I would actually happily watch several of these films again (and I have). It is the opposite of Star Trek, every odd one is good. Remembering The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn – Part 2 the only thing that came to mind really was the big battle. There is a lot more to it, although it mainly is a who’s who of random cameos (Rami Malek and Lee Pace being the most notable I think). There is also a quite effective twist at the end and out of all of the films it was the most entertaining (maybe because like 70 people get their heads broken off?) and I think balances the lore building with the action very well. A solid B+ I think. Very funny that arguably the best and worst films in the franchise were the two part finale.

Cheerios,

The Sklogs

The Rage: Carrie 2 Recap

Jamie

Rachel is already a bit of an outcast, so when her BFF commits suicide and she ends up in the corsshairs of the coolest kids in school things go from bad to worse. Unfortunately for them Rachel isn’t any ordinary girl and her rage unlocks her supernatural powers. Can her rage be stopped (and maybe still get the guy) before it’s too late? Find out in… The Rage: Carrie 2.

How?! Rachel isn’t Carrie, which is confusing given the title of the film. But don’t worry, she’s Carrie’s sister, so that makes sense… other than the timeline being decades off. Anywho, forget all that. Just remember that Rachel is Carrie and totally has telekinetic powers. This will become relevant much later in the story, though, because at first she’s just a regular ol’ high school student. When her best friend commits suicide as a direct result of a group of football players’ gross game of hooking up with as many girls as possible, Rachel turns over some photographic evidence against one of them. This puts her in the crosshairs of the gang’s ire and as a result the school guidance counselor, who knew the original Carrie, gets increasingly concerned. Meanwhile, one of the popular guys, Jesse, begins to grow close to Rachel and he tries to stop his fellow players from bullying her. They all agree and play nice, but it’s all a ruse. They plan a romantic getaway for Jesse and Rachel and secretly film it. Then they set it up so after a big football game Rachel is whisked away to the post-game party without Jesse. Stranded with her tormentors, they play the tape of her and Jesse’s tryst much to her embarrassment… and rage! With her powers revealed she totally destroys everyone and the whole party becomes a scene of horror. Jesse arrives at the last moment and is able to calm her down enough to stop the horror, but Rachel is crushed when the house they are in collapses. Years later we see that Jesse is still terrorized by his memories of Rachel thus starting the cycle towards Carrie 3: Still Ragin’. THE END.

Why?! Rachel just seems to want to live her life, but it’s hard when you have supernatural powers that you are trying to keep in check. Everyone else wants to either help or hurt her and not much in between. Obviously this doesn’t turn out great for everyone involved.

Who?! We get some nice archival footage here in order to tie everything to the original Carrie. Sissy Spacek obviously makes an appearance in these flashbacks and is immediately the biggest star in the film. The only other notable thing is that the primary antagonist is played by Dylan Bruno who happened to go to MIT graduating in 1994 with a degree in Environmental Engineering. He then played a character on Numb3rs that also went to MIT. Fun facts.

What?! The “sex book” angle was an interesting one. It’s a ripped-from-the-headlines trope that comes up with regularity in tv and film. In a wild coincidence I was also watching Riverdale at the same time and the third episode of that show is also a “sex book” plot. It’s based on a California event about a group of high schoolers who called themselves the Spur Posse and I’ll just stop there. Terrible people and a terrible name.

Where?! There is an aspect of the plot that would likely necessitate it takes place in California, but I’m not going to go into that mostly because they make it clear it takes place in the same town as the original Carrie. That film is no doubt set in Maine and as a result I won’t even entertain the possibility that this one isn’t set in Maine. So Maine it is. It’s worth mentioning though that the film was not originally written as a sequel to Carrie, but rather was changed to fit the Carrie lore. So likely the original script was set in California. B-.

When?! It’s the beginning of the football season so we know it’s early Fall. There are a bunch of football schedules posted around town in a bunch of scenes that declare “We Support Bulldog Football.” In one such scene it appears like the first game of the season occurs on September 27th… so that is somewhat of an exact date and makes sense with the rest of film. It’s always fun to find something like this B-.

There were two things I kinda dug about this film. One is that I realized that I’m a sucker for any kind of high school drama. I actually would have almost preferred this was just an episode of The OC and all the paranormal mumbo jumbo didn’t factor in. But alas… it’s unfortunately a Carrie sequel. The second is that I appreciated that they went for it in the final scene. It needed to be fun and horror-like in order to make up for the complete lack of any of that stuff for 95% of the run time. It did a pretty good job on delivering. Gory with some fun kills. As for absolutely everything else in the film? Amateur hour. Second week in a row where I was scratching my head wondering how this even made it to theaters. But that wasn’t the worst bit. It’s the half-hearted attempt to make a Carrie sequel out of something that clearly wasn’t written as such. Rachel even being Carrie’s half sister is quite the stretch given that in the book Carrie’s dad is long dead and even in the movie he’s long gone having run out on the family. So you’re saying he came back to town, impregnated another woman and then ran away again… by why? Why the same exact town? Makes you wonder whether you could even make a telekinetic high school student film… or would it be rejected from the jump because it’s too similar to Carrie? Is that plot now totally off the table other than the occasional film they then retcon into a bullshit sequel? Patrick?

Patrick

‘Ello everyone! Carrie was so nice they made it twice. Only the second time it was considerably worse and about goths and stuff. Let’s go!

P’s View on the Preview – The trailer looks like a television movie. It has television actors in it. It is a sequel to a beloved horror film from the 70s based on a beloved horror book by the quintessential horror author. And yet … it was released to theaters. The 90s man. What were my expectations? Uh … well, I fully expected to just watch Carrie again, but with cheesy 90s trash thrown everywhere and probably a heavy metal soundtrack maybe? A remake in all but name.

The Good – The reskin of the Carrie story works in its own 90s way. The outsider goes from being a sheltered weirdo, to, effectively, a goth. Combine that with the bizarre aggressiveness of the football team and the whole package works … as a television movie. All of this is “good” in the sense that all of this is not released to theaters as a Carrie sequel. I think it is important to make that caveat. Best Bit: The main character.

The Bad – Rachel being Carrie’s half-sister is an obvious twist that begs way more questions than it answers and provides no interesting lore. Like … is Ralph White telekinetic? Is it genetic? Do all of his children have this gift? Are there other strange psychic powers in this world (… does this take place in the world of The Shining, I guess I would think so)? They are interesting questions, but the twist is so half-hearted that it gives nothing in return. The ripped-from-the-headlines sex book is gross, a pretty bleak blast-from-the-past. And the direction is terrible, a hodge-podge of restless camera movements and unnecessary black-and-white nonsense. Fatal Flaw: Dumb twist.

The BMT – If this was merely a made-for-television sequel/remake of Carrie it would be a whole lotta nothing. But as a genuine released-to-theaters sequel to Carrie it is an abomination. I wanted very much to like a lot of the film, especially the somewhat interesting Rachel as played by Emily Bergl, but the entire thing feels like a weird joke. Almost a parody of the source material / Stephen King in general. Did it meet my expectations? Yeah, it is basically a Carrie clone masquerading as a sequel. I guess they do a decent job in updating the main character / triggering event to something a bit more 90s (goth / secret sex tape), but that is about it.

Roast-radamus – In reality the only good superlative is Worst Twist (How?) for the inevitable reveal that our orphaned hero Rachel is Carrie’s half-sister. Closest to Bad in the end I think, as much as I wanted to find all of this very amusing, it is kind of a nothing movie that I could never see myself watching ever again.

Sequel, Prequel, Remake – Well … we’ve already had a sequel and a remake to Carrie. So I guess we are just left with a prequel. And Ralph White is ripe for the big screen treatment. Let’s see, given Carrie’s age in the book it isn’t absurd to think that Ralph White could have been involved in World War II, so let’s go with that. He’s a soldier in the European theater during the push to Berlin near the end of the war. While travelling through a German village he meets a young woman who he falls in love with. But tragedy strikes, his platoon mates (who despise him), are determined to play a trick on him during the final night in the town (the same night he and the young woman consummate their tryst). Embarrassing Ralph (they’re all going to laugh at you! But in german) he goes insane and levels the town. The army is convinced that Ralph is just the lucky survivor of one of the final battles of the war, and he is sent home, disillusioned about love with his new power awakened. But, what a twist! We see later that the young woman miraculously survived … as did her child, destined to have the same powers that Ralph has! Ba-ba-baaaaaaaaaaaa. Carrie: Origins is basically the only good name, although an amusingly cryptic and simple Ralph White would also be fun. Everyone would be like “am I supposed to know who Ralph White is? Oh, it’s Carrie’s dad? Weird.”

Cheerios,

The Sklogs

Highlander: Endgame Recap

Jamie

Kell is the new immortal on the block gaining power by quickening up the wazoo. But Conner MacLeod and his best bro Duncan have plan. Can’t get killed by Kell if you’re already dead (think about it) and if you’re dead then the other can gain your quickening skillz. Can Duncan stop Kell (and perhaps get the girl) before it’s too late? Find out in… Highlander: Endgame.

How?! This shall be my greatest challenge ever. Remember the whole prize thing, well once again forget that Conner ever won that. Instead let’s start at the beginning where Conner, newly immortal, returns to his hometown. Considered a monster he is captured and his mother is burned at the stake. Enraged, Conner escapes and destroys the whole village, including the local priest, Kell. Years later he befriends a fellow immortal from the clan MacLeod, Duncan, and they begin decades of adventure together, obviously never mentioned in any previous installments of the franchise. Anywho, they meet up in NYC and are best bros, but tragically Conner’s adopted daughter is killed in an explosion set off by *gasp* the also immortal Kell (what a twist!). A grief stricken Conner then hides away in The Sanctuary, a place where The Watchers lock away immortals to keep Kell from winning the ultimate prize. But that doesn’t exactly work as Kell breaks into The Sanctuary and murders everyone (or does he?). Our boy Duncs goes to investigate but has to battle Kell and his army of immortals and is nearly killed. Instead he is captured by The Watchers who want to compel him to stay locked away like Conner. Duncs is like no way and with the help of some friends he escapes. Once freed he finds that Conner is actually alive, being saved for last by Kell as a form of revenge. Duncan also now knows that his former boo Kate is amongst Kell’s army and they flirt and stuff, but Kate can’t forgive him for the eternity of pain Duncan inflicted on her by turning her immortal (wait, what?). While Kell gathers strength by Quickening to the x-treme via the beheading of his army, Conner and Duncan fight one last time so that Conner, tired of his immortal life, can sacrifice himself to give his Quickening strength to Duncan. In a final climactic fight, Kell and Duncan face off and, duh, Duncs tots wins for sure. In the end we see that Kate has also survived and is ready to bone Duncan for the next 1000 years or whatever. THE END.

Why?! To win the prize allegedly. Although no matter how many times someone wins the prize they don’t seem to actually win the prize and then eventually they die. Makes you wonder whether there is even a prize… or is the ultimate prize really the friendships Conner made along the way (awww).

Who?! Two interesting casting choices here. Damon Dash, cofounder of Roc-A-Fella Records, made his screen debut in the film as one of Kell’s immortals. Probably ended up being his biggest film too, which is interesting. The wrestler The Edge also made a brief appearance in his feature debut… also the biggest thing he ever did.

What?! The Prize and the general immortal storyline is vague enough to probably constitute a MacGuffin on their own. Although not in the traditional sense. And hold up… you’re seriously telling me that Kell’s fake decapitated head went up for auction and didn’t get sold?! I can’t wait until I’m rich enough to need subjects of conversation for my rich person cocktail parties. “You know what this is?” I will say, pointing to a prop head that looks startlingly like Damodar from Dungeons & Dragons.

Where?! A lot of the film is set in New York City and Scotland, like the original. Some brief moments in Europe, but really the NYC aspect of Highlander is fun to have preserved. I have such nostalgia for the first one and the kinda grimy Madison Square Garden wrestling match in the beginning and stuff. It’s great. B

When?! Superb Secret Holiday Film Alert as this is explicitly set during Christmas. At first I was like “hmm, is that a Christmas tree in the background?” and then a minute later a character was quipping “Merry Christmas” to a dude just before he killed him. It is glorious. It’s just too bad that the film is such a piece of shit or I would say pair it up with Cobra and Turbulence and have a very merry Christmas trilogy. Also interesting the Highlander wiki has the film set in 2004… probably something to do with the TV timeline or whatever. A- just for Xmas sake.

I cannot accept that this film was actually released to theaters. It is straight up incomprehensible. Even for giant Highlander fans it would be incomprehensible. I have watched the critically reviled second entry enough to have actual opinions on it… like I have a whole theory that a good cut of Highlander 2 could be made, but in fact has never been made. But despite how much I have thought about the franchise, this fourth entry had me scratching my head wondering whether I was supposed to already know the subtle nuances of highlander lore they seemed to take as a given. Had I overestimated my Highlander acumen? Well I soon learned this was supposed to bridge nearly a decade of the Highlander tv series and finally bring Conner and Duncan MacLeod together. Ah! What everyone across the country was clamoring for! A continuation of the straight-to-syndication show that people probably caught momentarily while taking a sick day that one time. No wonder they released it to 1500+ theaters. Anyway, the movie makes no sense and looks exactly like what it is… a 90’s straight-to-syndication TV series. On a positive note, I actually didn’t mind the final Conner and Duncan fight, it was kind of sweet to show how Conner was ready to die for the fate of humanity after years of losing so many people he loved, and there was some surprisingly good martial arts, but I just can’t shake the fact that they thought this was a good idea. Highlander’s greatest strength was rising from the ashes to reset and forget the tragically misguided last entry in the series… it’s the only way you can get through something like Highlander 2 to claim the vaunted prize: a syndicated TV show. And yet once that prize was attained they decided we must remember everything forever. No wonder the immortal series finally died. Patrick?

Patrick

‘Ello everyone! There can only be one! … left, there is only one Highlander movie left to do, and it is Endgame. Let’s go!

P’s View on the Preview – There can only be one! Or four or whatever. The most intriguing thing about the film was just how much of the film seemed like Highlander: The Series: The Movie. That, that seems crazy. Because there was six seasons of that show and it ended two years before this film was made … so they wouldn’t actually do that right? What were my expectations? Totally incomprehensible nonsense. There is no other way you can make a Highlander sequel and you know what? I wouldn’t have it any other way.

The Good – There is a genuinely good martial arts scene in the middle of this film. So good, in fact, that I’m fairly convinced that Donnie Yen choreographed it. This isn’t the worst of the bunch, surprisingly. Luckily I brushed up on the lore from the television series so I didn’t have too much trouble following what was actually an impossible to follow plot. And Lambert and even Adrian Paul I think were quite good, or at least, it wouldn’t have really felt like a Highlander film without them. Best Bit: That one fight scene.

The Bad – The madmen did it, they made a movie that was the fourth in a franchise, but also the direct sequel to a six season syndicated television series, and then they released it to 1500 theaters. How is such a thing possible? What were they doing in the 90s where they thought releasing a sequel to a television show to kick off another television show required a theatrical release. Bananas. As a theatrical film it looks bad, it is directed poorly, most of the actors are bad, most of the fight scenes are bad, and the whole thing makes no sense unless you had happened to watch the television show. What the hell is happening?! That’s some wild stuff. Fatal Flaw: Six seasons of television as required viewing for a sequel to an 80s film …

The BMT – In many ways this film is legendary. A late sequel to a series we’ve done in three parts to finish it off. It is maybe the only direct sequel to a television series where you have to watch the show first or else it makes no sense. Martial arts, and Christopher Lambert, and quickenings. The whole thing is just a wild ride while also impossible to recommend. How do you tell someone “man, if you think about just how weird it is that the television show is required to watch this movie … then you’ll get it.” Hard sell. Did it meet my expectations? I think it exceeded them in every way. And after all that you want to hear a wild thing? I kind of dug the film! Or at least I liked it better than the third, and it is more well put together than the second. Really weird.

Roast-radamus – A for real deal Secret Holiday Film (When?) because the climax of this film is set during Christmas in maybe the best way possible! There is an extremely quick moment where a guy is going to interfere with the immortals, and you can see Christmas decorations in the background, and then another guy shoots him and is like “Merry Christmas”!!!!!!! Great stuff. Highlanders are always good for a MacGuffin (Why?) because you know they all are looking for the sweet Quickening. And also a genuine Worst Twist (How?) for Conner sacrificing himself to Duncan to give him a level up Quickening right before his super Kell Quickening at the end. Duncan is a super Highlander now I think. Definitely right in there for BMT, it is a highly amusing film.

Sequel, Prequel, Remake – I don’t think you necessarily need to remake anything, it would be more like a retcon to fix the lore (I do love lore). But let’s call it a Remake for clarity. I think the first film is perfect, even though it makes it a bit more complicated. MacLeod versus the Kurgan to become the last Immortal. But here’s the twist. He’s won the game, and the final quickening happens, and then … the game starts anew with MacLeod as an Immortal outside of the game, a new batch of Immortals born into the world. Being outside of the game he founds The Watchers, an organization which observes and reports on the happenings of the game to gently help good Immortals (like Duncan, whom Conner takes under his wing as an apprentice), hoping to prevent another Kurgan from gaining the ultimate immortality. Eventually, as the game cycles, new Immortals win the game (Duncan being the second), until a final film where a fourth is set to join and it is revealed (much to our heroes’ chagrin) that they are, in fact, the four horsemen of the apocalypse, and that is the point of the game, to mark the end of the Earth. So it becomes a race to prevent the completion of the last game. There must be two! The end. Tight stuff, I’m open to discussing the option terms Netflix.

You Just Got Schooled – Lots of good stuff here as well. First, the film was supposed to tie in heavily with Highlander: The Raven which was running in 1998-1999 when the film would have at least been in pre-production (but it was then canceled). I did watch the pilot called Reborn. Have to say … kind of okay, better than I remember the original series being, which I think makes sense, one was a syndicated show from 1992 and the other from 1998. This was cheesy, but mostly seemed like it was going to be a procedural cop show involving Immortals and all that jazz which is a pretty cool idea actually. I’m going to give it a B-, entertaining for a syndicated show from the 90s.

Cheerios,

The Sklogs

Police Academy 4: Citizens on Patrol Recap

Jamie

The Gutes is back, Jack! This time Commandant Lassard has been given the chance to start Citizens on Patrol, a program where regular citizens get police training. But things quickly go sour when Capt. Harris comes back to head the program. Can Mahoney and the gang save the program and the day before it’s too late? Find out in… Police Academy IV: Citizens on Patrol.

How?! Considering his long history of success with the police academy, Commandant Lassard is given the opportunity to test out his pet project: C.O.P, Citizens on Patrol. It’s a program where regular citizens take the law into their own hands by training at the academy. All of our Police Academy friends are called back into action to help make the program work, but unfortunately Lassard is sent off to promote the program at a police seminar, leaving Capt. Harris in charge. Oh no! Harris thinks C.O.P. is real dumb, particularly after a couple of skateboarders (what jokesters) are thrown in the program in lieu of being sent to jail. Despite the program generally running OK, even sparking a love interest for Zed, Harris is the brunt of a series of pranks that makes him even more determined to shut the program down. Really, though, he doesn’t do anything to stop the program. Instead on the very first day that C.O.P. is out on the streets the citizens spoil a long running undercover police operation. Just as Lassard triumphantly returns to show off the program to a bunch of international police bigwigs he is informed that C.O.P. is donzo. Everyone is real sad. That is until Harris’ precinct allows for a number of hardened criminals/ninjas (this is real) to escape their jail. The C.O.Ps and our police academy friends team up to track down the criminals using jet skis and hot air balloons (naturally). Harris comes off looking like a total loser, duh, while Lassard and the police academics are heroes once again. Oh and the Gutes smooches his latest love interest (Sharon Stone!). Hooray. THE END. 

Why?! By the fourth one they are really struggling to keep a coherent plot together. Lassard wants to improve police-community relations and so C.O.P. is his idea to do that. The Police Academy crew seem to just want to help out their friend. Harris is just a dick and thinks police work shouldn’t be handled by the community. It’s all very vague and constantly interrupted by whatever prank the police academy jokesters are playing on their latest victim.

Who?! The presence of NFL player Bubba Smith has to be noted. Pro boxer Tex Cobb also had a cameo appearance. He’s better known (to me) as Lyle in Ernest Goes to Jail. Finally, we get some rad skateboarding scenes that are some of my favorite images put to film. Apparently a number of pro skateboarders were used for that including Tony Hawk.

What?! I am truly at a loss for anything for this section. So I’m just going to go on a tear regarding the prank that plays a huge part in the Where?! and When?! sections. That’s the 1986 Mazda Gator Bowl. Sure it’s not really a product placement because it’s neither seen nor heard in the film, but it was the first time the Gator Bowl was sponsored in any capacity, so that’s kind of a fun fact.

Where?! This is a little strange because pretty much everything the Police Academy world is built on has them operating in an anonymous American city. However, as mentioned above we have a prank that distinctly features the 1986 Gator Bowl between Clemson and Stanford in Jacksonville, FL… so is Police Academy set in Jacksonville? Possibly. C-.

When?! Police Academy doesn’t just exist outside of space. It also exists outside of time. It is useless to dive too deep into this or waste effort on it. However… much like above if the events were to coincide with the 1986 Gator Bowl then we would have a Super Secret Almost Too Secret to Count Holiday Film Alert as that game took place two days after Christmas, so likely portions of the film would occur on Christmas. And before you even entertain any other possibilities: yes, that is the only time Clemson and Stanford have ever played. C-.

I really enjoy watching franchises. There are so many flavors. Last week we had a classic horror franchise that built lore while bringing the monster to the forefront. This time we have a classic megahit stretched for all its worth. Every film in the series basically rehashes the same formula that struck gold in the first, low-budget entry. Gutes is smirking, Winslow is beeping and booping, and somebody wants to stop them from succeeding. The further you get into the franchise the more the plot becomes tissue thin. Just squashed between random pranks, jokes, and Winslow’s sound effects (which I’m not sure actually counts as a joke). At this point Guttenberg’s love interest barely says a word or is given the time of day before she’s riding off into the sunset with him in a hot air balloon. They don’t need her to… you already know Gutes will be smooching on her, so who needs character development? You can really feel that by the fourth entry they simply had a series of dots that they were connecting in order to move onto the next one. No wonder they were able to make the first six films in less than five years (!). Overall I wasn’t offended by how terrible the film was or anything (although there are numerous actually offensive things in the series), but it is a terrible film. Patrick?

Patrick

‘Ello everyone! The Police Academy series is something of a marvel, four films with 0% on Rotten Tomatoes. Five films given a BOMB by Leonard Maltin. It might actually be the worst franchise ever made. Let’s go!

P’s View on the Preview – We’re back babyyyyyy. We watched the first two Police Academy’s two years ago (I think, if you told me it was five years ago I probably wouldn’t be shocked, BMT just blends together at this point), and it was high time we started back in. By all accounts the later sequels are just the same unfunny garbage over and over with little plot. Excellent. What were my expectations? The same unfunny garbage over and over with little plot.

The Good – As far as an ensemble cast is concerned there is a good mix of 80s charm (Guttenberg), 80s tropes (Bubba Smith as a generic sports figure turned comedy actor, Sweetchuck as the nerd), and off the wall comedians like Bobcat and Winslow. As a first credit for David Spade he is quite good and you can see why he ended up being a solid comedy actor soon after. I wonder, given that he has the same origin as Guttenberg in the original police academy, put in the program in lieu of prison, if the intention was for the character to come back in the sequels … that didn’t work out. I guess what I’m saying is the only good thing in this film is the cast. Best Bit: The cast.

The Bad – I mean, it is unfunny garbage that is the same jokes over and over and there literally isn’t a plot. The Commandant wants to create a citizen police force because he feels like the police and citizens have a bad relationship. They do, despite the meddling of people who want the Commandant to fail. It blows up in their faces, but then, once some ninjas escape (totally true) they realize it wasn’t such a bad idea after all. The end. That’s the story. And I honestly can’t think of a single joke in the entire film I found funny. I can’t even think of a single joke from the film period. Fatal Flaw: It isn’t funny despite apparently being a comedy.

The BMT – We are getting there. By all accounts the fourth film is the jumping off point for the series to really go downhill. The next one is Miami, then City Under Siege, and then Russia … so they are really just blowing it out after this one. This can be remembered in BMT legend as the last reasonably sane Police Academy film. Oh and also for having the raddest skateboarding montage in history! It is out of nowhere and completely amazing. Do yourself a favor and watch this thing:

Did it meet my expectations? Yeah, it was unfunny garbage which drove the same bad jokes into the ground over and over until it unceremoniously ended.

Roast-radamus – I genuinely think this doesn’t qualify for any superlatives which is quite interesting, it is even in what is described as an unnamed city according to Wikipedia (it seems like Los Angeles, but that is probably not the case considering the giant waterfall nearby … so it is like a cross between Los Angeles and Toronto?). It is closest to BMT I think.

Sequel, Prequel, Remake – I think it is time for the long awaited Prequel to the entire Police Academy. We knew Mahoney as a lackadaisical petty-criminal-turned-prized-officer in the series, but what about those petty criminal days? Mahoney prowls the bodacious bods of the beach by day, and hustles the mean streets of Unnamed City by night. But when he witnesses a murder most foul, he gets roped into the detective business with straightlaced beat cop Carmichael Treech. What an odd couple! With Treech’s world weary tenacity, and Mahoney’s street smarts, they get all the baddies and save the day, hooray! No explanation is provided as to why, given Mahoney actually worked with the police department before, that this is never mentioned in any of the films. Don’t worry about it. That’s Mahoney: A Police Academy Story.

You Just Got Schooled – So previously on BMT we watched the first two films. This time around the third didn’t qualify (barely, hitting exactly 40%), so Police Academy 3: Back in Training had to be viewed separately. All of these films are the same. The third and fourth film are basically just the first film except with different motivations for why they are at the academy. Here they are there because Lessard needs them to help him save the Academy in a competition. Inexplicably both Zed (the bad guy from the second film) and Sweetchuck (an antiques dealer if memory serves) have now joined the force and are quite the odd couple / secret best friends. Literally, not a moment of this film is funny, but that isn’t much different than any of the sequels to the first film so … I guess carry on. This was merely an appetizer for the main course of four straight Police Academy films with 0% on Rotten Tomatoes. D+. Not funny, but also not annoying enough to give an F I think.

Cheerios,

The Sklogs

Freddy’s Dead: The Final Nightmare Recap

Jamie

Freddy’s back, Jack! And for the final time (not really). This time Freddy had turned Springwood into a wasteland, having killed all the children across generations. Now, in order to escape to kill again, he must lure his child (!) back to the town. Can a new gang of dream warriors subdue Freddy for the final time? Find out in… Freddy’s Dead: The Final Nightmare.

How?! When a kid with amnesia stumbles into town, the police quickly collect him and send him to a home for troubled children. The kids there are all battling demons from their past and using all kinds of therapy techniques to try to help. For example one of therapists is an expert in dreams, which I’m sure won’t come in handy. Anyway, one of the therapists, Maggie, notices that the new John Doe has a newspaper clipping from Springwood and decides to take him back there. Incidentally a few other kids stow away in the van and are discovered after arriving in town. Weirdly, Springwood is a ghost town and the teens are met with fear and curiosity. The stowaways are sent home, while Maggie and John investigate. In a nearby school they discover that Freddy had a child! This must be the key to what’s going on and John is convinced that he is that child. Meanwhile the teens can’t seem to escape Springwood, so settling into a recognizable house on Elm Street they try to get through the night. Not likely as one-by-one they are pulled into the dream world by Freddy. One of the teens, Tracy, escapes and gets Maggie and John to come help. John and Tracy enter into the dream world to help the other kids but it’s too late and they are almost killed. As they try to leave Springwood, Freddy corners John and tells him that he’s not the child, rather it’s a girl. As he is killed by Freddy, John awakens and tells this to Maggie. Back home, Maggie finds that she’s adopted and that she is actually Katherine Kreuger and has inadvertently brought Freddy with her to a new town. With the help of the dream therapist, Maggie enters the dream world and is able to get into his head and pull him into the real world. There they have a climactic battle which ends with him stabbed by his own glove and blown up with a pipe bomb, thus finally killing Freddy Kreuger. THE END (or is it? (no, not really)). 

Why?! I guess this is probably the most interesting motivation for Kreuger as he has turned Springwood into an isolated, crazy mess with no more kids to kill. So looking for a way to get to a new town he sends John Doe out for the express purpose of bringing Maggie back to him. With their connection, Freddy knows that he can use Maggie as a vessel to get out of Springwood.

Who?! There’s some weird shit in this one. Roseanne Barr and Tom Arnold are credited as Mr. and Mrs. Tom Arnold, which is odd. Then Johnny Depp has a cameo and got credited as Oprah Noodlemantra. Finally, in a flashback we see Freddy kill his abusive adoptive father. Who’s his daddio? The musician Alice Cooper. The hits keep coming in these films.

What?! Oh man. One of the best product placements in a while as one of Freddy’s lamest kills of all time comes when he traps one of the kids in a video game. He’s playing it (poorly I might add) trying to kill the kid when John Doe and Tracy come and snatch the controls away. Not so fast says Freddy… cause he’s got dat sweet Nintendo Power Glove like a real video game Wizard. Unfortunately I don’t think there is an unironic entry in a Power Glove Trilogy, so it’ll have to remain a Power Glove Duology. As for the MacGuffin-ish way of killing Freddy? They go for a classic with bringing him out of the dream world and into the real world to make him mortal.

Where?! This opened with a map and on it appears Springwood, Ohio as the location where the action is taking place. I audibly gasped when it showed up on the screen. As I mentioned in the 5th film’s recap I had firmly settled into Nightmare being the Westcoast entry in the horror franchise canon. All of a sudden it joined Halloween in the midwest set. They claim they had it as Ohio from the jump, having changed parts of the first film’s original script to remove mention of California, but I don’t totally buy it. Still this is a solid B.

When?! This is a funny one where they also put on the screen that the action of the film takes place “ten years in the future” when Freddy has destroyed Springwood. Apparently ten years from the end of the fifth film. This would place it in 1999 and makes parts of the film totally incomprehensible. John Doe thinks he’s Freddy’s kid who was taken from him 33 years before… So you’re almost 40, kid? Really? B.

Boy oh boy, this movie is terrible. Really an ignominious final entry in the main series. You’re much better off just jumping straight to the reboot New Nightmare rather than suffer through the straight-to-video level trash that they ended up making here. God, it’s a real shame given how surprisingly solid and mostly fresh and interesting the first and then third through fifth films are. You can’t blame them for a little stumble on the second, but you can definitely blame them for this one. Not only is the entire film a big step backwards in production, with only a couple visually pleasing scenes, but Freddy Kreuger enters full self-parody as he comes off like a lame old man constantly spouting terrible one-liners and calling everyone a bitch. At one point he’s getting ready to fight and is all like “check this out,” and proceeds to do a super lame-o cartwheel and immediately gets kicked in the face like a dumbo. What a dumb, terrible idiot Freddy has become. And what dumb terrible idiots we are for watching this dumb terrible entry in an otherwise fun horror franchise. Patrick?

Patrick

‘Ello everyone! The big 600 babyyyyy! That’s right, 600 films watched for BMT. And what better way than with the only truly dire Nightmare film? Let’s go!

P’s View on the Preview – The director of this film has a wild story. She was a mathematician who worked at Johns Hopkins when she met John Waters. She then, through that connection, ended up doing various jobs on all but the fifth Nightmare film. And then she was asked to direct the last one (and ended up using a bunch of people from John Waters’ regular film crew to do it). Apparently, in the writers’ room she was known for coming up with truly outlanding dream kills for Freddy to do. What were my expectations? I knew in my heart that the film must be bad, but I also hoped that at the very least you would get some really cool kills out of it.

The Good – Not much. I would say I can kind of see the allure of some of the kills for some people. Someone involved in production said their favorite kill in the entire franchise is the Q-tip kill with Carlos which is in this film. I can appreciate how long and elaborate the nightmarish torture scene is … but it still seems a bit too silly to me. The idea of Springwood being a ghost town is interesting. The idea of Freddy being able to branch out to the wider world is a little interesting. There are tiny bits of interesting stuff, that’s probably the best thing you can say about it. Best Bit: Some practical kills.

The Bad – This movie is the one genuine trash film of the bunch. It is dog poo in my face. It completes the transition of Freddy into a complete joke, adds an unnecessary (or at least sub-par) lore element of the Dream Worms into the mythos, and adds in a confounding aspect to Freddy himself which shows up in none of the other movies. Even the idea of Springwood being a ghost town, which I guess is kind of cool if you ignore some of the elements of earlier films, is completely wasted by making that a joke too. It goes too far, the movie slips too far into irony, and its only saing grace is that it was intended as a finale so it didn’t leave any handing threads that needed to be resolved by further sequels and retconning. Fatal Flaw: Freddy, and the series, fully becomes a joke.

The BMT – And there it is, the first six films of the Nightmare franchise are kind of their own thing so that is now cemented into the BMT record. There will be a few more to do (New Nightmare doesn’t qualify, but will be done alongside the 2010 remake), but like with Friday the 13th that is another mega-franchise for the books! Did it meet my expectations? Yes, this film is the only in the entire series where it is completely confounding as to how it was made. It just smashes the lore apart with no regard for human life. So yeah, definitely an amusingly bad film in context.

Roast-radamus – Really good Product Placement (What?) for Nintendo in what is bar none the worst kill of the entire franchise. Decent Setting as a Character (Where?)  for Springwood, Ohio, where the entire franchise takes place, although I think they only really make it explicit in this one for the first time. Borderline MacGuffin (Why?) for Freddy’s daughter, a mystery that everyone is desperately trying to solve throughout the film. And speaking of which, Worst Twist (How?) for the reveal that Freddy’s kid isn’t, in fact, the young man whom Freddy would have had to father after his death, but instead it is the older woman who is juuuuust the right age. This is a quintessential bad slasher sequel, and thus has to be a BMT contender.

Sequel, Prequel, Remake – I can’t help myself, I have to go with Remake here because I think there is a decently obvious path from the fifth film to what should have been the conclusion to the series. Borrow the Krueger as Dream Master idea from the comic book (see below) and like in this film smash cut to the future, about 17 years, to focus on Alice’s son Jacob. With no Elm Street children left to kill, and no Dream Masters to use, Freddy has been locked away in the dream world. Alice has trained her son in the art of the Dream Master, but due to Hypnocil abuse is now confined to an asylum. While trying to communicate with his mother in the dream world, a slip up by Jacob gives Freddy a chance. He uses his Dream Master ability to commit a string of dream murders with the ultimate plan to use Jacob to get pulled out of the dream world and back into the real world. He will be mortal again, but will instigate a new group of vigilantes to kill him once more, generating a fresh set of Springwood children to haunt and give him power for another generation. Ultimately, Jacob goes into the dream world and pulls Freddy in, Alice kills Freddy during a nightmare severing Freddy’s connection to the dream world, killing him in real life, and condemning him to hell. The end … or is it? It is, much like what happened with the actual sixth film Freddy v Jason and other sequels would occur in the time between the fifth (1990) and sixth (2007 in this case) films.

You Just Got Schooled – There is a ton of extra stuff with Nightmare on Elm Street. There was a NES game, A Nightmare on Elm Street. I didn’t play it, it seems like a straightforward platformer, instead I watched the Games Done Quick co-op speedrun which is quick and pretty entertaining, B+ for the GDQ run, but I would guess a C- for the platformer itself. There was also a series of comics. I read the two Marvel comics released as Freddy Krueger’s A Nightmare on Elm Street. There was supposed to be four, but Marvel got skittish about protests about violence in the media and they cut it off. B+, the second one is quite good especially for a black and white comic book. I wish they had gone with the idea of Freddy Krueger being a Dream Master instead of the dream worms or whatever, but c’est la vie. Finally there was a television show called Freddy’s Nightmares which was direct to syndication. This ended up causing a lot of problems (specifically, due to syndication a show involving a child murderer haunting people’s dreams and killing them would be on at like 3PM in some places), but despite that it got two seasons. Only eight episodes feature Freddy himself out of the 44 that were produced. I watched the pilot and it was awful. So bad, in fact, that I didn’t even end up finishing the second episode I tried to watch (episode 4 featuring a very young Mariska Hargitay). Reminded me very much of The Highlander television show (which was also direct to syndication, and also awful). D. If this was done today it would have definitely been four two-part episodes per season focusing on Freddy versus a single person, but that isn’t how they rolled in 1988.

Cheerios,

The Sklogs

A Nightmare on Elm Street 5: The Dream Child Recap

Jamie

Freddy’s back, Jack! And boy howdy does he still like to kill teenagers. In this entry Alice is still the dream master, but uh oh! So is her unborn child! And he’s now helping Freddy bring people into his dream domain. Can Alice stop Freddy and save her unborn child before it’s too late? Find out in… A Nightmare on Elm Street 5: The Dream Child.

How?! After subduing Freddy in the fourth film through her combined dream powers as the Dream Master, Alice and her beau Dan are living it up. They plan to travel the world after graduation, much to the dismay of Dan’s parents, but they don’t care! They’re young and alive… well, that is until Freddy returns to kill Dan by turning him into a motorcycle (this is real). But that doesn’t make sense. Alice wasn’t asleep to bring Dan into the dream world, although she did seem to have a premonition when she dreamt of Freddy’s birth (rebirth?) just prior. She soon gets news that starts to clarify things when it’s revealed that she’s pregnant. Uh oh! Alice’s friends are mostly supportive, even if they think she’s a little crazy. One of her friends soon dies in a very Freddy-esque way and Alice figures out that Freddy is using her child’s dreams to bring new souls to him. Jacob is a future dream master and Freddy is feeding him souls to try to corrupt him. Her friend Mark helps discover a possible way to fight Freddy by finding and helping his mother Amanda who is trapped in the asylum where Freddy was conceived. But when they go to the asylum in the dream world, Freddy uses their friend Yvonne to distract them and ultimately kills Mark. Now fully convinced Yvonne goes to the asylum while Alice battles Freddy and finds and frees Amanda. Amanda comes to Alice’s aid just in time and helps her and Jacob escape. With Freddy safely locked away Alice settles into a life raising Jacob. THE END… or is it? (it never is). 

Why?! In many genres the motivations of the bad guys are more interesting and/or nonsensical, while the good guys just kinda want love and justice (not necessarily in that order). In horror they often throw out the antagonist’s motivations as well, particularly as the series goes on. Freddy is and always was just an insane maniac. It’s a little vague exactly why or who he is in the first film but by the fifth entry he’s the progeny of a hundred maniacs and he lives forever in the dream world. An immortal killing machine. The protagonists just want to survive, mostly to no avail, although in this one Alice also wants to save the soul of her unborn child. So that’s a little wrinkle.

Who?! Very very very briefly there is a cameo by a conservative talk show host named Wally George who shows up on Mark’s TV with his show Hot Seat. On it there is a band which consists of Ted Nugent, Rudy Sarzo, Eric Singer, and Ron Armstrong… the first three are very famous musicians. I don’t know who Ron Armstrong is. Interesting factoid is that Wally George is the father of Rebecca De Mornay. Also interesting given the setting of the Nightmare franchise because Hot Seat was a local broadcast only available in Southern California… hmmmmm.

What?! In some ways the Nightmare films are always playing with some form of MacGuffin, mostly because they are always coming up with a new reason that Freddy is still alive in the dream world and how they can finally (and likely unsuccessfully) kill him once and for all. In this one it turns out that Freddy was able to be reborn because his mom wasn’t there to keep him in check since she wasn’t properly buried. By releasing her from her prison within the asylum she is able to absorb and imprison Freddy.

Where?! Up until the sixth entry in the film I assumed the whole series took place in LA. The first film has palm trees and California license plates and just feels very LA suburbs. After that it gets hazy and I guess they decided to switch more to an anywhere USA vibe with an Ohio setting. So this is set in Ohio, but not super up front about it. In fact online sources suggest it really wasn’t made explicit until the sixth film, so I wasn’t wrong in assuming it continued to be LA. D-. 

When?! This is one of the clearer time frames of any of the entries as it coincides with Alice’s graduation from high school. Almost certainly starts in May or June and then proceeds quickly through the plot in a matter of what feels like is a few weeks. Not really sure why it needed to be set at the end of the school year other than to ratchet up the tension between Dan and his parents at the start of the film. B.

After four relatively highly rated films in the franchise (which are actually somewhat hit or miss), the first entry that qualified for BMT is a little confusing. Definitely not my least favorite of the first five (that would be the second one), this one might even be slightly higher on my list than the fourth one. Although really, I thought the 3rd, 4th, and 5th were all pretty solid entries in a genre that often goes off the rails pretty quickly when it comes to franchises. The first is still my favorite mostly because Freddy is still a serious character at that point and it’s genuinely creepy. By the fifth, Freddy is already a bit too much of a chatterbox and starting in on the sexist “Bitch” gag that comes to define parodies of the character. The films also become borderline fantasy films more than horror films as the scares start to wane. But the entry is still consistent with the series and the visuals continued to be mostly effective and interesting. Just from a pure artistry point of view the middle three films are pretty interesting to look at. The sixth? Well… I guess just go to that recap for that one to see what I think, but it’ll just say that you may as well stop here. The mere fact that I would recommend watching the fifth one as part of the series, though, probably means it’s not as bad as the reviews suggest. Patrick?

Patrick

‘Ello everyone! In the run up to the big 600 in BMT we set out to finish a full horror mega-franchise. Amazingly the first Nightmare film to qualify is the fifth. Let’s go!

P’s View on the Preview – It is indeed quite shocking to realize the first four Nightmare films were all at least reasonably well received. Given that I hated the second film, it does make me wonder about the quality of this film. Then again, critics tend to be quite hard on horror films, so maybe this was actually secretly good. What were my expectations? A ridiculously vulgar Freddy, and nonsensical and non-scary thrills and kills. You know, all I care about is some sweet dream kills though and practical effects, so I hoped it would have that in spades.

The Good – The lore in A Nightmare on Elm Street is, by far in my opinion, the best of the three big 80s horror franchises. Halloween had the dumb Cult of Thorn. And Friday the 13th … well it was a mess and zombie Jason is fun, but I wouldn’t call it good. This is the culmination of that lore, with the Dream Child born of a Dream Master with characters who at least knew genuine Elm Street kids. The effects are okay, not as good as some of the previous films, but still they are decent practical effects. And the main actress was quite a good actress. Best Bit: Practical effects.

The Bad – Borrows heavily from the third film as far as “we must find someone’s body and consecrate it, it is the only way to stop Freddy!” Spoiler alert, it didn’t actually stop him in either case. The overeating kill looks bad and is gross and I didn’t like it. And, as usual with the later sequels, the main character is Freddy Krueger (a gross child murderer) who talks way too much, says “bitch” multiple times for no reason, and is starting to just come across as silly this time around. Fatal Flaw: Silly Freddy Krueger.

The BMT – Just the Halloween franchise to go no really. Interesting to watch a full franchise basically straight out, and especially in the context of Friday the 13th. Both Jason and Freddy become silly as their franchises wear one, but Jason in in an amusing tongue-in-cheek way, and Freddy in an annoying way. Michael Myers is just flat nothing and becomes boring eventually. An interesting trichotomy. Did it meet my expectations? I had heard of the motorcycle kill prior to the film and it didn’t disappoint. Freddy, though, was as unpleasant as expected … so yeah, it met my expectations.

Roast-radamus – Not much, as usually a decent Setting as a Character (Where?) for Springwood, Ohio, although I’m not sure you really explicitly know that until the sixth film really. And an okay MacGuffin (Why?) for Freddy’s mother’s bones which I guess need to be consecrated and buried to put them to rest to help lock Freddy away? Definitely closest to Good in my opinion, I think this is about on par with the fourth film which was also quite good for a late-series sequel to an 80s horror franchise. 

Sequel, Prequel, Remake – In the end I think I would like to Remake the lore of the franchise as a whole. It is pretty good, especially compared to Halloween or Friday the 13th. But still it feels like that drop the ball a bit with the Dream Master idea later on. The first, third, and fourth to an extent concern the systematic murder of all of the children of the vigilantes who killed Freddy (and the numbers kind of make sense). The second I think I would change only slightly to make Freddy’s goal to get Jesse killed by a vigilante mob after possessing him and forcing him to murder people, thus bringing in more children to kill. The fourth and fifth, with the Dream Master, I would make it far clearer that Freddy is a Dream Master, and due to abuse as a child he retreated so far into the Dream World that he was able to construct a form of immortality whereby when he died his soul survived there, but that he can only kill the children of his murderers, or people connected to other Dream Masters. The sixth I would change completely, but I’ll get into that during that recap. I guess the main problem is that Freddy is immortal, and also his power limitless. I think they didn’t do a good job explaining a good weakness, and the good Dream Masters were a perfect opportunity.

You Just Got Schooled – There is obviously a ton of stuff with this so between the two recaps I’ll try and hit the main series, and then extracurriculars separately. I naturally had to watch the four original films. A Nightmare on Elm Street: Amazing film with some really cool technical achievements as well. I can tell I’m quite close to being acclimated to the genre because this movie freaked me out when I first saw it ten years ago, but now I just stare at it and wonder how they did the effects and grade each kill. A, solidly. A Nightmare on Elm Street 2: Freddy’s Revenge: quite bad with almost no dream kills which defeats the entire purpose, if not for the sixth film this would be my least favourite. C-, not horrendous, but a below average slasher. A Nightmare on Elm Street 3: Dream Warriors: The best of the sequels. Despite not being a super great actress, bringing back the lead from the first was a good idea, and the idea of the Dream Warriors is great and rightfully carried through the bulk of the sequels. B+, enjoyable with probably the best lore building of the major three slasher franchises. A Nightmare on Elm Street 4: The Dream Master: Loved how the story carries through from three to four. Some weak kills and poorer effects, but, again, maybe the best core background given for a slasher killer. B-. The main issue you can see carrying through all of the sequels is that slowly but surely Freddy becomes the main character, he starts talking more and more, he becomes more vulgar, and finally he becomes a parody of himself because guess what? A child murderer doesn’t have much to say beyond “bitch”, who would have thought. Overall the best series as far as slashers go and very painless to get through. The lore was shockingly good, usually long running horror franchises cult-of-thorn it quickly, but these were pretty okay.

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

Days of Thunder Recap

Jamie

Cole Trickle is a race car driver you just wants to win. Just when he figures everything out he gets in a terrible wreck and finds himself fighting for his job against a young upstart trying to take his place. Add in a new love interest and things are getting complicated. Can he win the big race (and get the girl) before it’s too late? Find out in… Days of Thunder.

How?! Cole Trickle is a race car driver with a lot of promise. Unfortunately he just can’t listen to advice (or even really understand the sport of NASCAR) and keeps burning out his cars by pushing too hard. After his pit chief Harry Hogge puts him through some training, Cole becomes the darling of NASCAR and a big time rivalry with hot shot racer Rowdy Burns starts up. This culminates in a contentious race where both Rowdy and Cole are seriously injured in a crash. As Cole recovers, he develops a romantic relationship with his neurosurgeon Dr. Claire Lewicki and patches things up with Rowdy as they become super best friends forever. But all is not well on the race track as Russ Wheeler, a young upstart who has taken over Cole’s car after the crash, is making waves. Instead of giving Cole his car back after he recovers, the owner expands to two cars and a bitter rivalry between Cole and Russ develops. This eventually results in Cole being let go by the team. However, Rowdy needs brain surgery and to pay for it he needs Cole to drive his car in the Daytona 500. What luck! With a new team assembled, a little help from his old team, and some fancy moves on the racetrack, Cole and Russ find themselves neck and neck at the finish line. It looks like Russ has the whole thing wrapped up, but Cole tricks Russ by switching up his patented slingshot move at the finish and wins Daytona and everyone is super excited and Claire is like hooray (even though she’s like a way more impressive brain surgeon) and it’s great. THE END. 

Why?! Fame and fortune I think. Although Cole also has all kinds of other stuff that factor into his passion for driving that I don’t totally remember. I know that part of the attraction to NASCAR was that the cars are the same so that it’s all about dem skillz. And boy howdy does he have the skillz. I mean, I think that’s it. He wants to win Daytona… it’s not complicated.

Who?! Obviously there are some cameos in this guy. Richard Petty and Rusty Wallace are a couple. Sometimes I even discover a new entry for these categories and this is an interesting case of a “based on a true story” that really isn’t (but kind of is in a winking way). Cole Trickle is mostly based on Tim Richmond, who was a larger than life driver with a tragic story. They made a 30 for 30 about him. A lot of the events from the film are anecdotal about a variety of drivers. So almost based on actual people… but it’s not.

What?! The whole thing is kinda like an advertisement for NASCAR. Wouldn’t be surprised if NASCAR recruiters set up shop outside the cineplex to rope unsuspecting teens into NASCAR boot camp. And of course with NASCAR comes Mello Yello racecars and with Mello Yello racecars follows the inevitable sex scene featuring Sweet’N Low. I even think I remember that on the SATs back in the day. Autumn:Winter::Mello Yello Racecar:________. The answer was obviously Sweet’N Low Sex Scene. I believe the only question in history where everyone who took the test got it right.

Where?! In my mind this is a Florida film. Not just because that’s where the climactic race of the film takes place, but really because that’s where Cole recovers with Claire. So in my mind I see Cole driving around Florida and falling in love to the tune of a Daytona sunset (awww). On the other hand it’s a pretty good out-of-the-box road trip movie. It even has a scene where Cole is racing at the Dover International Speedway… let me say that again: there is a scene in this film in Dover… Delaware. B+.

When?! There are some clear dates here just in terms of the races that are explicitly names. At the very least you know that Cole was injured in July and then the climactic Dayton 500 would occur the following February. Really all the events seem to take place in just under a year, which seems odd. Like Cole is a rookie, becomes a rival with the top driver, is injured, starts another rivalry, gets fired from his team, and then wins the Daytona 500 on a different team in like… 10 months or so. Road trip through time as well. B+.

We’re on a bit of a streak of pretty good films. Or at least not entirely bad films. I found this one to be downright watchable and really not that bad (It’s not that bad! It’s not that bad!). Though, I can understand why it’s not in the Top Gun level of nostalgia at this point. The bromance is just not at the same level, the rival comes in too late to hit Iceman potential, the love interest is barely written, and fighter jets are cooler than race cars. But… but… it’s got all that adrenaline pumping fun and sports movie juice to get me through a sitting no prob. My biggest gripe is Nicole Kidman’s neurosurgeon character who falls in love with Cole (an immature race car driver who kinda sucks) for no apparent reason… she’s a beautiful neurosurgeon and she’s going to fall in love with one of her patients who has a death wish? That’s unlikely. Patrick?

Patrick

‘Ello everyone! We get to dust off another borderline BMT and play a sweet NES game with Days of Thunder. Let’s go!

P’s View on the Preview – This film has always been kicking around as a sports film for BMT, a sub-genre we don’t often get to do. I don’t know why that is. I looked it up once, I think there are actually plenty of films to do (Mighty Ducks, D2: The Mighty Ducks, D3: The Mighty Ducks, to name three), so it is just something about them that we avoid. Probably because they don’t really fit into any genre. Is this an action film? A romance? Mighty Ducks I suppose is a comedy. The other notable things about this film is it is the only feature film Cruise has a writing credit on, and it is also where he met Nicole Kidman. Truly a landmark in film history. What were my expectations? Heart pounding NASCAR action! No seriously, I pretty much fully expected it to be an okay actioner, all the reviews just seem to complain about the romance and how inaccurate the film is about racing.

The Good – And an okay actioner is it! The final race in particular is quite good I thought, with enough vulnerability shown by Cruise to get me rooting for him to win, and enough action to keep you entertained. It didn’t really matter that you knew who was going to win. The whole story works quite well and I think the credit might lie with Cruise there. He knew that having some prodigy young hot shot as the lead wouldn’t work well and was willing to play a character who admitted he just didn’t know a thing about cars. You know if that was late-career Vin Diesel he’d be like “I can’t lose a race, it is in my contract. Fambly.” Best bit: Final race

The Bad – Definitely sags a bit in the middle when they are just mostly winning races / recovering from injuries and moping about. I could have used a bit more of the classic redemption arc of “we were rivals, and I hate you Cole Trickle … but goddamn if I respect you!” from Rooker. You can tell everything concerning racing is nonsense (albeit a necessary and forgivable flaw). I think the only unforgivable sin is that Duvall lives on a farm with a barn, but Tom Cruise never punches a big sack of hay while recovering from injury in there a la Youngblood. A travesty. Fatal flaw: Tom Cruise didn’t punch a big sack of hay … just joking, it is probably just the slowness of the middle of the film.

The BMT – We’ve watched quite a few racing films over the years, although mostly (outside of maybe only Driven?) they are about illegal street racing. This still, weirdly, isn’t the best BMT about sanctioned racing, that is surely Driven with Sly Stallone. It gets your blood pumping, though. I can definitely see myself settling in to watch just the final race if I saw it randomly on television. Also it is surprising just how much of a parody Talladega Nights is. Watching those two films back-to-back would be great fun … yeah I’m just going to pencil that in for some lazy Sunday in the future. Did it meet my expectations? Amazingly, it exceeded them. I think I expected it to be even more nonsensical than it was, but it does an okay job of balancing competition, rivalry, and the romance story, and ends up being pretty fun.

Roast-radamus – Two incredible Product Placements (What?) with the quote “ESPN … their coverage is excellent, you’d be surprised how much you can pick up” being used to explain Cole Trickle’s inherent abilities in stock car racing, and also Cole guzzling Budweiser throughout the film, and ultimately being sponsored by Mello Yello at the end of the film. A decent Setting as a Character (Where?) for North Carolina in particular, I think they ended up just bouncing back and forth between the two headquarter cities (Daytona and Charlotte) for NASCAR throughout the film. And I’m declaring it, this is a Super Secret Holiday Film (When?), because everyone knows the Daytona 500 (which bookends the film) always takes place on Presidents’ Day weekend, at least that was true in the 80s and 90s. Definitely closest to Good for me.

Sequel, Prequel, Remake – Prequel baby! You know when they throw out tantalizing nuggets like “my father owned my IndyCar team and was a fraud and bankrupted and embarrassed me so badly I had to move to NASCAR” in a film I just need to see that as a prequel story. And guess what? Tom Cruise is going to play that father! That’s right, it has been long enough that we recast Cole Trickle (easy, Timothée Chalamet) and Tom Cruise plays his own character’s father in the film. Pretty straightforward, I mean … they explained the whole concept in Days of Thunder. I think the key though is that the characters will be following NASCAR during the film (ESPN has great coverage) and will see Bretherton’s crash and Harry Hogge get drummed out of the series at the same time. Draw that connection. We also need an IndyCar rivalry to revive in the sequel (after Trickle triumphantly returns to IndyCar after the events of the original film), I’m going to call him … Kyle Frisk and he’s played by Jaden Smith. Days of Thunder: Grand Prix.

You Just Got Schooled – This is a two-fer! This film had several singles from its soundtrack album, most notably a cover of Knockin’ on Heaven’s Door by Guns N’ Roses which peaked at #2 on the UK charts, and Show Me Heaven by Maria McKee which spent four weeks at the top of the UK charts in 1990. Additionally, there was a PC and NES game also called Days of Thunder. I played the NES version and hoooooooo doggy, it is basically impossible. I’m not even joking, there is a race in the game which even the best runners say is impossible to win given the pitting mechanics. I played for an hour or two and started to get the hang of it to some degree, but you should at the very least watch a speed run just to see how insane the pitting mechanics are, you have to manually do them!

By the end of the movie tie-in cycle I think I’m going to end up playing every single type of game ever made, you have to love it.

Cheerios,

The Sklogs

Toys Recap

Jamie

The head of a fanciful toy factory passes away and instead of leaving it to his similarly minded son, Leslie, he gives it to his militaristic brother. Soon the factory is deep into the development of drones and most of the workers laid off. Can Leslie and his gang of misfits team up to stop the general (and perhaps get the girl) before it’s too late? Find out in… Toys.

How?! Leslie is the silly son of a silly founder of a silly toy company. He has his head in the clouds and is a bit of a flake, so on his deathbed his father decides to give the factory over to his militaristic general brother instead. The general comes in guns a-blazing, taking a liking to tamping down perceived corporate espionage and the possibility of getting back in the war game with the development of toy-sized drones. As the budgets of these secret military projects balloon, Leslie soon looks around and realizes that all the happy employees are gone and the factory has transformed into a venture that he barely recognizes. Leslie decides that the general must be stopped and finds allies in his sister Alsatia, his new boo Gwen and, surprisingly, the general’s son Patrick, who has realized that his father is a monster. They head into the factory, which is now controlled by a state of the art AI driven security system. They face death at every turn at the hands of the (surprisingly effective) drones. But through ingenuity, elbow grease, and good old-fashioned fun they break through, take out the security system and confront the general. In the final fight Alsatia is revealed to be a robot, which is a bit of a surprise, and the general is ultimately taken down by his own ultimate weapon, The Sea Swine (which I choose to imagine is a sophisticated submarine drone). In the end Leslie gets the factory and the girl and everyone lives whimsically ever after. THE END.

Why?! This is where you have to start to question whether the film is actually bad or not. The motivation is pretty thought provoking, because why was the factory even left to the clearly eeeevil general? It becomes obvious that the Zevo patriarch always meant for Leslie to take over, but that he was flaky… he had no backbone. He knew that the general would twist the factory to his whims and eventually Leslie would be forced to fight back and through that process he would grow into the owner that the factory needs. Profound… although he almost killed his own son and ruined the company, so not a foolproof plan or anything.

Who?! Ladies Love Cool Jamie and also LL Cool J making his (almost) film debut. He was coming off the Michael J. Fox film The Hard Way but who remembers that? Everyone remembers him in Toys camouflaged in a couch. Paved the way for NCIS: Los Angeles. The best NCIS… although I can’t make that judgement. Patrick is the resident NCIS expert. (Patrick Note: I’ve only seen one episode of NCIS: Los Angeles, but I do think Chris O’Donnell and LL Cool J are a significantly more fun pairing that Mark Harmon and Michael Weatherly)

What?! There are quite a number of props from this film for sale online. Given that there is a battle between thousands of toys at the end this is unsurprising. Nothing too spectacular, though. Then as Patrick mentioned we see that the Toy factory serves Pepsi and not Coke, so no wonder it’s going down the tubes. Other than that, the sea swine is kind of a MacGuffin if you squint enough… it’s at least an object of great but unknowable power, but not really something that everyone wants to get their hands on.

Where?! I usually say that if I could just get my hands on a prop newspaper or look closer at what’s on TV or in the background of shots that you could figure out where any film takes place… but probably not this film. Seems pretty clear that they have set this very specifically in an unknowable, whimsical location in the United States. Case closed. F.

When?! Secret Holiday Film Alert!… I think. The opening and ending of the film is a Christmas extravaganza. I speculated on the possibility that this was just because the owner of the factory was dying and Christmas was every day because he loved that time of year, but when it came back at the end I threw that theory out the window. Add in that one of the songs that plays during the celebration is called The Closing of the Year and I have to think that in fact the events of the film take place over a single year from Christmas to Christmas basically. B+.

I mean… this is not that bad (It’s not that bad! It’s not that bad!). I can understand that when people saw that there was a film about toys starring Robin Williams they came in with some expectations. Those expectations were not exactly met by a dark comedy about military toys with a heavy surrealist influence on production. But it’s not like some auteur “dream projects” that are the bread and butter of bad movies. Is it weird that this was Berry Levinson’s passion project? I don’t think so. It’s an interesting story with some downright prescient themes on drone warfare and a beautiful and whimsical visual spectacle that is kind of the definition of movie magic. Just like how there are things to celebrate about Little Nicky even existing, it’s a wonder and amazing that this exists and it really isn’t even all that bad (unlike Little Nicky). Interesting. Patrick?

Patrick

‘Ello everyone! Wonder and whimsy is the name of the game. And a … mechanical sea slug maybe? Real hard to tell what is happening with that thing. Let’s go!

P’s View on the Preview – Toys! I’ve seen Toys a ton of times, it was constantly on television when I was a kid. And spoilees. I loved it as a kid. Kids … are morons. But Robin Williams was great, and it was just a bunch of kid jokes and toys flying around in an insane toy factory. What’s not to love?! What were my expectations? I think like with that other Robin Williams classic, Hook, I’ll be able to acknowledge that Toys is a messy film that should have been a lot better, while also admitting that I still love it. That’s my prediction.

The Good – Whimsy is indeed the name of the game. With horror films the most interesting thing, to me, is often the practical effects and how that really brings a horror film to life. With the occasional comedy or drama with a very specific set of directors, pure set design can at least partially save a film. This is one of those rare films (and funny enough so is the aforementioned Hook). There are genuine “wow!” moments in this film, and it is a shame the product wasn’t polished enough to really let it stand the test of time. Best Bit: The set design.

The Bad – The film is a mess for a few complex reasons. It feels cobbled together from a bunch of Robin Williams manic improvisational shots, and while they sometimes work, they sometimes are just really really annoying. The military ends up feeling like a weird antagonist, likely because the film was originally written in the late 70s (and thus Vietnam was in the more recent past). And then the finale is a real dud with a weirdo sea slug machine thing (in the original script, by the way, it was called a “submarine with a nose”). It seems like the film wants to be a kids film when determining humor, but also have giant war scenes and a sex scene and stuff. It is weird. Fatal Flaw: Thinks it is funny, but it isn’t.

The BMT – Log this as another Oscar-nominated BMT film, a BMT film from our past, and a BMT film I kind of like. I can’t hate Toys! It is an indelible part of my childhood. But yeah, it is a mess … you can mostly get the gist of it by watching a youtube video about the production design. Did it meet my expectations? Yeah! Actually, I did get the ending of the film a lot better as an adult. I always was a bit confused as to why Robin Williams thinks he can defeat the military toys with the old Toys … but he doesn’t, he just uses them as a distraction to buy LL Cool J time to defeat his father. See, well worth the rewatch.

Roast-radamus – A genuine Product Placement (What?) for Pepsi of all things, which is a wild product placement for a film like this, it feels like they would have you know … gotten some toys or something. And I declare this an official Secret Holiday Film (When?) for the beginning and ending of the film almost definitely taking place around Christmas one year apart. It is debatable, but I think it is easier to reason about if it was actually Christmas rather than some other event involving Santa. I think it is closest to Good, sue me.

Prequel, Sequel, Remake – You know what? I’m going with remake. Sell it to Netflix, and make it a nostalgia driven period-piece a la Stranger Things. Set in 1980 (so not too far off from the original script date), right as personal computers and a big arcade boom was coming around. Re-tool the story towards Leslie being too resistant to technology for his father to entrust the company to him. And then Leland becomes obsessed with military games, just like in the movie. Underlying the whole thing is an underground Soviet-US double agent thing with Leland attempting, with the help of some Russian dissidents, to start a third world war. In the end, Leslie, with the help of a few of the kids brought in to test the war games, ends up creating a whole line of whimsical Zevo brand arcade games, and they hack the planet to take down Leland once and for all. Toys: World War. It will be a ten episode order obviously. The second season would bring in a rival toy company and really ramp up the magical whimsey to eleven, so consider that before passing on this Netflix.

You Just Got Schooled – The video game movie tie-ins keep on coming, and Toys is no exception. There was a SNES game called Toys: Let the Toy Wars Begin! and hoooooooooooooooooo boy is this a pile of dog poo in my face! The game is an isometric shooter (for the most part) consisting of only five levels. The first four are mostly identical, involving Leslie running around defeating military toys and then playing a bizarre mini-game to turn off the cameras to allow Patrick, Leland’s son, into the factory. The final level is a side scrolling game with you in an airplane. Notably considered one of the worst movie tie-ins ever created, and playing it I can’t say I disagree. The wide variety of games I’ve played for this cycle is astounding! I think by the end I will have played basically every type of game totally by accident. It is great. F. Absolutely worthless game with aggravating gameplay. Just watch the speed run to see how it operates if you are curious.

Cheerios,

The Sklogs

The Bodyguard Recap

Jamie

Frank Farmer is the best. So when rising singer-actor double threat Rachel Marron life is in danger there is only one man to call. Frank doesn’t like to mix business with pleasure but Rachel and her YOLO lifestyle cracks through his tough exterior to find… love (awww). But can Frank stop the threat before it’s too late? Find out in… The Bodyguard.

How?! Frank Farmer will always love you. And by “you” I mean “stopping danger”. That’s cause he’s a bodyguard extraordinaire and if the price is right he’ll be there at your side stopping any threat. But there is one thing he won’t do: guard a celeb. Why? They are too much for his super serious methods. But Rachel Marron isn’t just any celebrity. She’s the it girl: a singing sensation on the verge of winning an Oscar. So he says yes, but it’s pretty clear pretty soon that he’s in trouble. That’s cause he can feel his ice heart melting and soon he and Rachel are totes in love for real. But love doesn’t stop the threat (unfortunately) and Frank and Rachel are always at odds on how best to guard her against the stalker leaving creepy notes, while also doing promotion for her big soundtrack release and Oscar campaign (how relatable). When Rachel’s son is threatened she finally realizes the seriousness of the situation and Frank takes her and her crew up to his father’s lakehouse. Unfortunately the whole thing is a setup and Rachel’s sister, jealous over her sister’s success, has been the one behind the threats. She hired a hitman through so many back channels that even she can’t stop it now. Before Frank can get anymore information Rachel’s sister is murdered. After burying her sister, the big Oscar night is here and Rachel insists on going cause obviously she’s going to win. When Rachel goes up on stage to accept the award, Frank realizes that the killer is a former secret service agent he knows and is able to take the bullet for Rachel and then shoot the killer. Later, Rachel is off for bigger and better things and Frank insists that the relationship won’t work, so they say goodbye at the airport. At the last minute, though, Rachel gets off the plane and gets her a piece of some Kevin Costner action. Love! THE END.

Why?! Love. It can’t be denied that this film is all about L-O-V-E. Do we care about Rachel’s Oscar campaign? Sure, who wouldn’t. Are we intrigued by Kevin Costner’s interest in ancient Japanese culture and the ways of the samurai? Duh, I mean, we’re all humans right? But despite all these very interesting things happening it still all boils down to love.

Who?! I wonder how many fake Oscar hosts there have been in cinema. In this case Robert Wuhl was the host, which makes some sense. He was part of the writing team for Billy Crystal’s 1990 and 1991 shows so he would know exactly what the job entails while also… you know… not being Billy Crystal.

What?! Are we absolutely sure that the film itself is not a very long advertisement for the power of Whitney Houston’s voice? I mean… check out this music video. Do you even need to watch the full movie at that point? This is actually fun, I’ll have to keep that in mind for future What?! Sections. Whether there is a music video using clips from the film. Like Wiki-wiki-Wild Wild West.

Where?!  Mostly Los Angeles, but there are some pretty good Miami scenes (I thought for sure it was in the same hotel as in The Specialist, but IMDb tells me I’m wrong) and Lake Tahoe. Lake Tahoe was a funny one because I was thinking how weirdly familiar everything looked in the Tahoe scenes, but then I realized that I was just remembering The Godfather Part II. I’ll give it an A- since we get that sweet Oscar LA centric.

When?! Speaking of the Oscars, perfect kinda secret holiday film alert. At the time the Oscars took place on the last Monday of the March. Meaning that the climax of this film takes place on March 30th, 1992 (assuming this isn’t set in the near future for some reason). Makes sense too with the weather and in Tahoe and the idea that he would be protecting her from around the beginning of the year as the Oscar campaign heated up.

I kinda think a film like this is timeless, but just not this specific film. Mega-celeb stalker situation that needs a mumbly Kevin Costner statue man to swoop in? Yeah, make that every few years, throw it on Netflix or whatever and people are going to be into it (at least I would be). They even had a pretty good variant of it come out not that long ago called Beyond the Lights that is more or less this story without the overwrought Oscar/assassin plot. While this film was fairly enjoyable, and I thought Houston did a pretty good job, I think it really didn’t deliver on a few things that really hurt it. 1. Just a complete lack of sexy steamy action. I personally blame Costner who was even more wooden than usual. 2. Really pretty basic paint-by-number thriller plot, which they shouldn’t have needed (see point 1). 3. Hollywood likes nothing more than a film talking about Hollywood… but they also will hate a movie that talks about Hollywood in a not serious way. The Oscars ceremony scene in this film is bonkers and I kinda love it, but critics probably hated it. Patrick?

Patrick

‘Ello! Iiiiii-iiii-iiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiii will always loooooooove Kevin Costnerrrrrrrrr. He’s just always so brooding and emotionally stunted, you know? Super sexy stuff. Let’s go!

P’s View on the Preview – This is definitely in the category of “films I’m surprised qualify for BMT.” Prior to looking I would have guessed the film got something like 50-60% on Rotten Tomatoes in general. Even the reviews seemed somewhat tepid, merely calling the film a bit schlocky and cliche. I’m 100% convinced if this film came out today starring, I don’t know, Lady Gaga, that it would at least get a “meh, what did you expect?” from most critics. What were my expectations? A good movie. But in that Kevin Costner-in-the-90s sort of way. I’m not joking when I say he plays an emotionally stunted very quiet and brooding man in basically all of the films he’s in … and usually he’s a widower. I’ve watched maybe five of his films in the last six months.

The Good – It is a pretty entertaining (if a bit overlong) film, and Whitney Houston is surprisingly good. I’m a little surprised she didn’t get more roles after this, although I think this was also the beginning of her tumultuous fall into addiction that ultimately ruined her career. The soundtrack, naturally, is top to bottom bangers. And the few action scenes when they happen are solid, especially the sequence in Tahoe. Best Bit: The soundtrack obviously.

The Bad – Overlong, as I said. The twist in the end of the film is very Murder, She Wrote-esque. Oh, the person who seemed like a pretty famous character actor who was in the film for approximately one minute early in the film for no reason is the big bad guy? Who could have guessed? The motive for the crime is also weak. As much as I love the amusing fake Oscars they set up at the end, the camera gun assassin seems like it is somehow from a different movie … In the Line of Fire comes to mind. Fatal Flaw: Bad twist.

The BMT – I kind of dig this film, although I don’t think I would watch it again anytime soon due to the length. But if I turned it on and I saw Kevin Costner in snowy Tahoe? I would stick around for, at least, the chase scene soon after. It’ll always have a place in the BMT Record Collection for a rare film that spawned a number one hit single in the US. Did it meet my expectations? Yeah, not surprisingly the film is pretty entertaining, if a bit long and old school. And it was very very Kevin Costner.

Roast-radamus – The first decent Product Placement (What?) in a bit with the characters literally guzzling Stolichnaya Vodka at times, which is hilarious. Also not a bad Setting as a Character (Where?) for Los Angeles where the film predominantly takes place (except for the quick jaunt to Tahoe). Really really nice Specific Time (When?) for the ending of the film which takes place at the Oscars, so very specifically late-March (with the rest of the film taking place probably from sometime in the previous Fall). And finally a Worst Twist (How?) for the unsurprising reveal that that guy who seemed like a significant character in the middle of the film, but had only had one minute of screen time, popped back up as the assassin. Definitely closest to Good.

Sequel, Prequel, Remake – Obviously we are going Prequel here, because I got to know about the Reagan assassination attempt which is hanging over Frank Farmer’s career. A cross between Oliver Stone’s JFK and The Bodyguard, we follow a young Frank Farmer, a hot shot Secret Service agent who always gets his man. The story unfolds through post-event interviews mostly, with Frank admitting that with the death of his wife, his head just wasn’t in the game. But … could the event have been stopped? As a (entirely fictitious, creative license and all that) conspiracy slowly starts to unravel, along with Farmer’s life, we learn that Hinkley may have had an inside man in the Secret Service. In the end, to cover up the potential scandal for the service, Farmer is relieved of duty and goes into private security. But, he vows to find the ones responsible for nearly killing the president on his watch (That’s for The Bodyguard: Legacy starring DeVaughn Nixon reprising his role as Fletcher, grown up and following in Frank’s footsteps). The Bodyguard: Origins.

You Just Got Schooled – I was thinking about just listening to the entire Bodyguard soundtrack while working one day, but nah. Instead I decided to hit up one of the few remaining big Kevin Costner films I haven’t seen, Dances with Wolves. Why hadn’t I seen it? Because it is three hours long. For a three hour film it is quite good. Never really flags, lots of interesting characters, a beautiful setting, with a few impressive action set pieces thrown in. I can see most of the complaints about the film, and as usual Kevin Costner’s very Kevin Costner-y performance as “Kevin Costner on the frontier” (I think that was his character’s name) is a bit distracting. But I can also see why it won Best Picture, this is basically the definition of 90s Oscar bait, with a story of resurrecting the Western as a genre thrown in. B+. I’ll just deduct a bit for Kevin Costner, I have to, it’s all I’ve been talking about in this entire review.

Cheerios,

The Skloga