REVIEW: Lady in the Water (2006)

Lady-in-the-Water

Lady in the Water: F

At first, after seeing all the trailers and being brainwashed by marketing, I thought this was going to be the “Death of a Salesman” of fantasy-horror movies where some archetype-defying low-man (played by a great actor) is the unlikely hero, and the genre is forever affected, but I was wrong as fuck. Instead, we get typical M. Night Shyamalan with his signature “twist” in the final act. This movie is just another tragic point along the director’s steep decline.

I always like the trailers for this guy’s movies and I am usually intrigued during the first fifteen minutes or so, but then everything falls apart. His movies remind me of a five course meal gone wrong. The appetizers are always good as hell and get your hopes up, but then later, he takes the lid off of a dogshit casserole that he spent the whole night disguising as prime rib, even though it smelled like shit for most of the night and all the guests KNEW they would be eating shit. Then while you are sitting there bloated and sick, feeling worse than you’ve ever felt in your life, for dessert, he dumps melted ice cream in your lap while flipping you off.

There are some neat camera angles I guess. I don’t know. I’m trying to think of something redeeming about this movie. Sure, Giamatti is a good actor, but that just makes it even more painful to watch this guy try to sincerely deliver this garbage movie he’s stuck in. I wonder if his agent called him and was like “it’s going to be like The Neverending Story except it’s going to suck really bad” and Giamatti was all “finally! A challenge worthy of my skills!”

I want to give Shyamalan some credit for being ambitious, but the movie was too hideous and ridiculous. I think maybe he was trying to make parts of it overly-simple or silly to give it a “fairy tale” vibe, but he is inconsistent with this; just when you start to think he is committed to a simple “fable,” the plot gets so sloppy that it was a challenge to watch the whole thing.

There are lots of characters, but not a single lovable one. Avoid at all costs.

REVIEW: Evolver (1995)

evolver

Evolver (1995): C

Another VHS gem that I scored for 99 cents. The guy who directed this movie, which should basically be called “What if Johnny-5 from Short Circuit Wanted to Kill Us All?” went on to direct some abysmal Hillary Duff movies that blow worse than this. I watched like one minute of the trailer for one, so I can stand behind the preceding statement. Evolver’s plot could actually be the plot of a children’s movie and work just fine.

A nerdy, friendless computer geek uses his hacking skills to win at a laser tag videogame and he scores a free robot (Evolver) with whom to play laser tag-like games with in real life. He never saw Weird Science so he didn’t know that hacking leads to abominations of technology. The robot looks just like Johnny-5 only clunkier and shittier to fit this clunkier, shittier film. Each time the robot is defeated, it used super-advanced AI to “evolve” and deduce the vulnerabilities of its opponents so it can hopefully exploit weaknesses and win the next round of game play, kind of like an ex-girlfriend.

Evolver is programmed to never lose, so it starts using weapons to murder the children who try to play with it, believing this is the only way to truly “win.” Some weapons are improvised while others have been inside of Evolver all along including a flamethrower and some serious hydraulics. This results in some hilarious B-movie kills as Evolver starts assuming every person with whom it comes into contact is an “opponent”. There is always some monotone robotic narration preceding the kill. My favorite is when a jock gets a metal ball shot through his skull at 100mph while he fucks with Evolver in the locker room.

Maybe you are wondering why the robot, that some nerd won because he’s a nerd, has super-advanced artificial intelligence, sci-fi style weapons systems, and homicidal programming. After you have been wondering that for most of the movie, the little boy computer nerd starts wondering too and goes to the Cyberdynesque company called Cybertronix that created Evolver. Turns out, there is no conspiracy, just human incompetence. The super-powerful killer robot was just an accident. “Okay, thanks!” the nerd basically says and then he goes home to battle Evolver.

Then there are lasers and a final battle. The kid does the Fistful of Dollars trick. There is some very physics-defying destruction and an abrupt end. This movie reeks of 1990’s clichés, so prepare yourself; cowabunga, dude. All in all pretty entertaining.

REVIEW: Hell Night (1981)

Hell-Night

 

Hell Night: C

This is a fairly entertaining little slasher film with pretty well-done suspense, some great jump-scares, some interesting murders, and Linda Blair dressed in ruffles and velvet. It doesn’t seem to have cost a whole lot, and I suspect that the biggest line item in the budget was Linda Blair’s cocaine.

But it loses at least one entire letter grade because the slasher is named ….Andrew. Andrew. When I think of a guy named Andrew…I just don’t think danger. I think of a Jewish lawyer or some red-headed perv or something.

So Andrew’s backstory goes thusly: He was the youngest son of Raymond Garth, the richest man in The Town That This Is In. Mr. Garth hated all his children, because as the movie describes them, they were “mongoloids” and “cripples”. Andrew had the bad luck to be born a “gork”-a word I’ve never heard, but it seems bad because when Garth killed the whole family and then himself, he punished Andrew by making him watch everyone die and then stay there alone. And he was never found, so he might just be living in the house.

So this Frat/Sorority combo at The College in The Town That This Is In is making 4 new pledges stay in the Garth house ALL NIGHT long after the biggest drunken, date-rapiest frat party of the year. Which is also a costume party.

There are: Slicky-Boy (who is dressed up as Robin Hood), British-Slut-Girl (who costume seems to be “whorish limey who wears underwear, boas, and flapper headbands everywhere”) the Boring Guy (whose costume is “feminine geek who has decided to assert his manhood by dressing like Lord Byron”). Then there’s the good girl, who is Linda Blair in velvet and ruffles.

So they’re locked in, and some things happen. One of those things is that Slicky Boy and the British Slut bang almost immediately, and she keeps calling him “Wes” instead of “Seth”, which is what HE says his name is. Even the last time she sees him. It was a good recurring joke seeing her strip away his identity like that.

As I said before, it’s actually a very solid slasher film with all the necessary tropes covered. It manages to provide some nice jumps and inventive kills. There’s also some subtle foreshadowing and deftly constructed suspense. But…I did see it when I was 10 and then once when my sister gave me the DVD as a joke and I watched it and then sold it to Rasputin’s. So maybe you can get it there.

There ARE some fairly glaring plot holes, but those don’t really matter if you just tell yourself to enjoy it. Don’t ask me why, for instance, if the Frat does this every year, no one’s ever gotten so much as a Wet Willie from…Andrew…all these years. Also don’t ask me who the hell is that other guy who Slicky-Boy blows away by the pool. I didn’t make the movie.

And the guys who did make it don’t care about your questions, and they’re probably laughing at you right now out on some pleasure boat somewhere while they snort blow off the butt cheeks of their Guatemalan slaves.

REVIEW: Mirrors (2008)

mirrors

 

Mirrors: F

You know what aren’t scary? Mirrors.

In this cookie-cutter ghost movie, an NYPD cop has to outwit/battle a ghost who hides in mirrors. Glaciers melt faster than this plot moves and there are few consistencies in the “rules” by which the mirror monster must behave. The ghost can possess your reflection and then whatever evil shit it does to the body of your reflection-self, the damage is “mirrored” on your real-self.

Stupid idea, but whatever; I’ve watched and loved some horror movies with idiotic premises. So I pop the movie in and think “Fuck yeah, let’s see some mirror ghosts murder some people.” The deflated “wah-wah-wah” of a sad trumpet noise couldn’t play loud enough once I was knee deep in this mess of a film. The movie spends so much fucking time on exposition for a ridiculously unoriginal story that there is like a combined three minutes of actual mirror-carnage. You have to follow a detective as he slowly learns about a hospital which was built on top of another hospital which did some shady stuff to patients. Then you have to visit the childhood home of a patient and then a convent and then let’s look through some secret files and then blah-blah-blah a bunch of other boring, incredibly slow investigative head-scratching stuff made up of all the cryptic/generic dialogue you hear in a ghost movie where a character is “digging” for an explanation.

Finally: mirror demons. Oh man, when they figure out there is a mirror demon, it’s like Adam West as Batman solving one of the Riddler’s riddles. How they move from the clues related to the hospital conspiracy to comprehending the EXACT origin/parameters of the mirror demon is the real mystery. When the detective runs around destroying all the reflective surfaces in his house, much to the dismay of his skeptical family, you might have a heart attack because, suddenly, people are actually moving quickly and speaking without drab monotone, unlike what you’ve been watching for what seems like hours.

Also, the demon is really picky/choosey about flexing its power. Sometimes it just creepily scratches someone. Other times, it brutally murders them. The Amy Smart death scene is the best part of the movie. The demon possesses her reflection and opens her mouth so wide that it rips the top of her head off like a Pezz dispenser. The end of the movie is one of those abrupt Shyamalanian “twists” that some people love so much.

REVIEW: Leprechaun Back to tha Hood (2003)

Leprechaun Back 2 Tha Hood

 

Leprechaun: Back 2 tha Hood: F-

The fucking Leprechaun movies never end. If howling obscenities at the television actually made shitty movies better, then I turned this into Oscar material the last time I watched it.

This time, the Leprechaun is in the hood again, because one time wasn’t enough. Some friends take his gold, against the advice of the “wise elder” character, and the Leprechaun hunts them and systematically kills them. There’s more weed, rap music, and jokes. The Leprechaun impales some dude with a bong. The whole movie comes off as a repackaging of whatever jokes/ideas they didn’t use when the Leprechaun was in the hood last time.

This franchise is so fucking dead, it boggles the mind. This movie was like watching someone dig up the corpse of their grandmother and move her hands around to make her knit one last sweater. When the movie wrapped up with another cliffhanger ending, I was so depressed that I called in sick to work and got in bed at like 7pm. But I wasn’t really surprised; there hasn’t been any real catharsis in a Leprechaun movie since the first one. The only reason it doesn’t get a UV is because I somehow watched the whole thing.

REVIEW: Robot Ninja (1989)

robot-ninja

 

 

Robot Ninja: C+

“I am the Robot Ninja, and I kick ass”.

This is what the hero of the movie says the first time he appears in costume. That line is way more awesome than “I’m Batman” or Superman’s “A friend”. But here’s the problem: the hero is A) Not a Robot. B) Not a Ninja and C) Does not kick ass, and in fact gets beaten to death by criminals at the end of the movie.

Spoilers? No-because the whole time you’re watching the movie you’re thinking “This idiot is going to get killed….and that’s just fine with me”. As a plus, the actor is very handsome. I sincerely hope he’s enjoying his life as a bartender in West Hollywood and has pride in having this movie under his belt.

The Robot Ninja is this dude who decides that he should do good things for the community, and then goes out at night and gets his ass kicked by muggers and black people. A lot of times. Then he starts shoving sheet metal into his wounds. This does not make him stronger. He never learns Ninjitsu or gets a computer brain. He just covers his wounds with sheet metal.

The Robot Ninja is a comic book artist by day. Besides his night life ineptly fighting crime, he starts drawing comics that predict the future. At the end, he illustrates the cause of his own death and goes and gets killed. And he’s such an idiot, it makes total sense. And he doesn’t just die, he bleeds out while drawing his last comic-which is of him being dead. Roll credits. Then you can turn it off and do something else.

Bruce Ward (Robin from the 60’s Batman show) plays his boss and is all fat and gay and shit, which I dug. At least watch until Robin starts yelling and then injures his own hand. It’s pretty funny.

Also, there’s this one criminal who is pretty awesome. You’ll know him when you see him. He’s a terrible actor but you can see he’s really trying to do a good job. I give him an E for effort, but an F in “not being shitty”, which makes him average. That seems fair to me.

All in all, this movie is entertaining because it’s ineptly made but you can tell that the people who made it were trying their best. Please join me in honoring Robin and all of these low achievers who brought us this shit-covered gem.

REVIEW: Unknown Origin (1983)

unknown-origin-a

 

Unknown Origin: B
The guy who played Robocop is an 80’s Wall Street goon who is plagued by a giant rat (note: the rat’s actual size fluctuates between small dog to large rat) in his posh NY crib. This guy is such a pussy. He has so many opportunities to kill the fucking rat during this 80’s horror Roadrunner cartoon style B-movie, but, like a little white-collar bitch, he RUNS FROM THE RAT multiple times. There are escalating rat shenanigans that begin as minor annoyances and evolve into violent mayhem in which the viewer can’t help but be impressed by the rat’s problem solving skills.

The catharsis comes when he finally mans up and dons a leather vest with full catcher-gear and smashes his house up while hunting the rat. Wielding a spiked Louisville Slugger, our protagonist finally slays his enemy, who has taken refuge in the cellar (of course) in a to-scale model of the house. In a painfully transparent allegorical ending, Robocop smashes the model house and the rat to smithereens just in time to welcome his rotten white wife and kid home from vacation. Shannon Tweed’s first film.