Friday, October 30, 2009

Danny Glover battles an intergalatic tribal redneck, a college initiation turns into an incomprehensible scream-fest, and The Blob.... blobs...

Movies were rented. Thoughts were had. HERE THEY ARE.

Predator 2
Featuring Danny "I'm too old for this shit" Glover, Bill "Game over man!" Paxton, and Gary 'Holy fucking hell I'm awesome!" Busey.

If you could somehow distil the essence of an 80's action/cop film into 40 minute interval, then the opening half an hour of Predator 2 would pretty much fit the bill. Over-the-top shoot outs with the sleaziest of gangsters, constant foul language, Bill Paxton playing a giant douche, tough-as-nails Latina cop, protagonist constantly in trouble with his superiors, Feds and Government agents getting in the way of the investigation, more blood than is probably contained in the entire population of Malaysia, and a thick layer of grease, sweat and hair-gel over every single character. This makes for a fun, if familiar, ride, but things shift when the film is gatecrashed by everyone's favourite space-rasta, the Predator. And he quickly does exactly what he needs to do: fuck shit up in awesome, gruesome ways.

Seriously, the Predator really needs to be the protagonist of a Cops-style show, where we just follow him around while he tears up the foulest dens of completely ethnic street gangs. And it's hard not to agree any given domestic dispute is going to end pretty quickly once the dead-beat husband gets his head blown off and the feral kids are nailed to the walls with spear guns. Just sayin'.

With Ahrnuld absent this time around, the target of the Predator's near-erotic fixation is Danny Glover, who's main shtick in this film is to affix sights onto every firearm imaginable, get frightened of birds and heights, kill Colombians and actually manage to pull off several feats of bad-assery to the end, especially in the three-part extended climactic battle that runs from the interior of a frozen meat-works (where Garey Busey mugs for every inch of screen-time he can, God bless him, before getting bisected by the world's coolest Frisbee), across the rooftops of New York (where we learn that neither loss-of-limb, nor broom-armed-biddy's can stop a sufficiently angry Predator), to the interior of the Predator's ship (where we learn that xenomorphs do, in fact, have skulls). The last half hour or so of this is awesome enough to overshadow the cop-stylings of the opening act.

The film is even more action focused than it's predecessor, jettisoning the suspense elements for out and out action, which to be honest, is probably a wise move given that the audience is well aware as to what a Predator is. It doesn't have the same sort of impact and tension that the first carried, and the one-liner's aren't as good, but over-all Predator 2 is a fun action sci-fi romp, as well as a veritable 80's time capsule.

Is it entertaining?
Yep, in an over the top, actiony sort of way.

Is it worth watching? Well, it depends if you're a fan of 80's action or not, I suppose. If you are, it's a complete riot. If you're not than... I dunno. Become one. You'll be a better person for it. You'll have nuns giving you gift baskets, and pretty girls will drop their knickers without the slightest hesitation. Believe it.

Death Tunnel

Featuring a bunch of chicks I think I might have seen in a porn film at some point, two dudes that die, one dude that doesn't, and a guy who looks like Bill Nighy with a face-lift.

Sometimes the road less-travelled is not a place of excitement and wonder that makes you love the world a little more, as it's filled with snakes, bear traps, and carnivorous unicorns. Sometimes, the ramshackle old house needs to be fire-bombed, lest during your renovation attempts it collapses upon you. Sometimes, you really should leave that lonely puppy at the pound, as it turns out it's possessed by Mammon and will devour your face when you are looking. And sometimes, the little low-budget horror film really should be left on the shelf, as it'll make you weep with embarrassment for ever having considered giving it a go in the first place. Death Tunnel, then, is one of these films - though it would have been amusing to subvert my excessive build up. Well, I might have found it amusing. Maybe.

Anyway, what we have here is Session 9 for dummies. I think there was plenty of potential to make a half-decent horror film, here, and that mainly comes from filming on-site at the Waverly Hills Sanatorium, seeing as it's an old, abandoned place where many people died. So, given that it looks the part, and also given the weight of the trauma and the urban legends surrounding it, it should be child's play to take advantage of such a setting to create a mood that drips with tension and tragedy, right?

Or instead you could, you know, throw in a bunch of chick in their nighties and edit the fuck out of every single shot whether it needs it or not.

I know this is horror, and some conventions must be follow, but Jesus fucking Christ. Bad-acting, terrible script, nonsensical storyline... these are givens. You really have to go the extra mile to make your movie stand feet and ankles below the rest. This one managed it because the developers never knew when to leave the fucking film alone. Just about every shot has layered effects added to it, and the camera is constantly cutting away to flash backs and shots of incidental background details, just to remind us that HEY GUYS THERE WERE BAD THINGS THAT HAPPENED HERE THAT'S SCARY RIGHT GUYS HEY. It utterly ruins every single shot, making it look horrendously cheap. And really, with the film trying so very hard to tell you that it's scary, it almost makes me feel bad to trash it. I mean, it's like a mentally handicapped chimpanzee trying desperately to compose a symphony. You know that any criticism you might have would be completely wasted, as the poor creature demonstrates repeatedly that it doesn't have - and never will have - the ability to comprehend what it's doing wrong.

Is it entertaining? ...I suppose there's a certain level of fascination inherent when viewing something this bad, but it can't really be called entertaining in any traditional sense.

Is it worth watching? I can't think of any circumstance where this film would be recommended viewing, except maybe as an example of how not to shoot a horror movie.

The Blob (1988 remake)

Featuring Half Life 2's Eli Vance in an early appearance, that chick from Becker, and an evil tub of yoghurt.

Now THIS was a pleasant surprise. After the terrifying descent into craptitude that was Death Tunnel, this was a veritable breath of fresh, gelatinous air. Having never seen the original, I had no particular preconceptions about the film, so how happy was I when the Blob Blobbed the decoy protagonist in the first 30 minutes? Very happy, that's how happy. Happy as a Blob in more Blob. This is a fun, silly, gory horror flick, that's not scary in the least, but IS horrifically grotesque and absolutely ruthless - characters are dispatched with little to no fanfare, and though they aren't the most well-drawn characters you could think of, it's still a shock to see some of them bite the bullet if your looking for genre conventions, particularly when the death involved is an unusually gruesome one.

Make no mistake, the effects in this film crap all over just about any use of cgi in a horror film I can think if, and they look truly horrific. People are dissolved and absorbed into the gelatinous mass in nasty ways, but despite the gore the film never stops being fun. It's not a serious affair by any means, though it's certainly no parody. It's simply a fun, light hearted romp through a town being slowly eaten by a big blobby monster, which blobs its way through most of the named cast and many extras until you don't know who shall be blobbed and who shall remained happily unblobbed. Suffice to say, blobbing really is the focus of the movie, and the main reason to watch. That and the bit where the Blob tentacles the guy with the flame-thrower. That was totally sweet.

Is it entertaining?
Boy howdy yes. Best fun I've had with a film in ages.

Is is worth watching? Most def. This would be a great film to have a few brews and watch with mates. Gore-hounds, and people with an interest in old school special effects should definitely take a look, too. Blobs should get some enjoyment. Blob blob blob. Blooooooooob.

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