Thursday
Jul122012

Sorry, No Prince! GET CRAZY (1983) Review

One of the greatest movies I have ever seen is Rock ‘n’ Roll High School from 1979. Anyone who has seen that movie knows why, and anyone who hasn’t…well, why not??? Anyway, I was delighted to find out that the director of that movie, Allan Arkush, also directed a similarly-themed movie in 1983. And…wait, what’s that? It’s rated R? Stars Malcolm McDowell? Features several live musical numbers? Well, what the heck are we waiting for? Let’s check this sucker out!

 

Get Crazy (1983) Review

Max Wolfe (Allen Garfield) is the owner of the Saturn Theater, and has been for a long time. On New Year’s Eve, Max plans to throw a HUGE party, yet his plans are slightly dampened when he finds himself on his death bed, much to the delight of Colin Beverly (Ed Begley, Jr.) and his nephew Sammy (Miles Chapin), who want the Saturn torn down and turned into a large office building. However, Max decides that the show must go on and puts Neil (Daniel Stern) and his newfound love interest Willy (Gail Edwards) in charge. The show does go on as planned, but little do they know that Colin has planted a bomb set to go off at the stroke of midnight! Can the two lovebirds stop Colin’s evil plans? Will Max survive? Will British punk rocker Reggie Wanker (Malcolm McDowell) get the emotion back into his music? And most importantly, will the show go on as planned?

First of all, just admire that poster. In my mind, that is the perfect poster. It tells the audience exactly what they’re in for, and also provides some great artwork! That tagline is the most apt tagline I’ve seen in a while: “Get Crazy…and say goodbye to your brain!” I love this movie. If I had to describe it, I would say that it’s Rock ‘n’ Roll High School, only everything’s just a little bit more excessive. Bigger budget, bigger actors, and everything’s just a little bit crazier. It’s obviously directed at an older audience (what with the multitude of boobs and profanity), but it’s also directed at an audience that’s just as immature.

Even though I don’t prefer it to RNRHS, I do find Get Crazy to be the funnier of the two. Yes, it does employ the kind of so-stupid-it’s-funny brand of comedy adapted in Rock ‘n’ Roll High School, but I still found it funny. Highlights (for me, at least) include the giant joint walking around, McDowell’s talking penis (you read that right), the men’s bathroom, Lou Reed as a struggling and legendary musician who comes out of retirement to play for Max, the great opening where Max (clad in spacesuit attire) rides towards a huge, glowing “83” on a mini rocket, the funeral of a blues musician and every mourner is blind, and more! Of course, as with most comedies, a lot of the jokes do fall flat, but there’s enough funny bits to classify this as a successful comedy.

 

Another way to describe this movie is, “If New Year’s Evil had just focused on the party.” We get a lot of great, live musical numbers from all kinds of musicians. We get parodies of punk, blues, new wave, and just good ol’ rock and roll. I would say that McDowell did the whole “Tom Cruise in Rock of Ages” thing before that musical even hit the stage! McDowell sings, dances, and just puts on a great show, and really stole the movie for me. My favorite number out of all of them, in my opinion, is “Take It No More,” sung by an all-girl rock band, and it’s just fantastic, filled with all the synthesizer, energized vocals, and sax solos you could ever want!

The rest of the cast is fantastic as well. I already touched on McDowell as Reggie Wanker, so what about everyone else? Well, Daniel Stern (most famous for playing Marv in Home Alone, but I loved him in C.H.U.D.) is great as always, Allen Garfield is great as Max, even if he doesn’t get a huge amount of screen time. I LOVED Ed Begley Jr. as the villain (wearing a silver jumpsuit, no less), and Miles Cahpin was hilarious as the sleaze ball Sammy. Arkush regulars Mary Woronov and the late-and-oh-so-great Paul Bartel make appearances as well, and when I looked on IMDb, apparently the great Dick Miller is in it as the usher, and I completely missed him! Then again, I wouldn’t mind re-watching this…

Get Crazy ranks up there with Rock ‘n’ Roll High School and Animal House as far as movies that make you want to party go. I loved it. It’s another one of those movies that could have only happened in the ‘80s, and I love every minute of its retro charms. It’s got great musical numbers, great performances (McDowell’s deserves some place in history), great humor, and almost everything else you can imagine. However, the absolute worst thing about Get Crazy is how it STILL is not on DVD! What’s up with that? This is a fantastic slice of ‘80s golden cinema that I would rank alongside Fast Times at Ridgemont High and even Risky Business! It’s just fun, fun, fun!

The Verdict: Get Crazy lives up to its title and poster art like you wouldn’t believe, with tons of retro goodies for the goodhearted eighties fanatics of the world. In other words, it’s essential.

Score: 9/10

After Note: I apologize for the poor quality of the images, as I had to capture them from YouTube, seeing as I don't have this on DVD and the full movie is on YouTube. Say...the full movie's on YouTube? Well, what are you waiting for? GET CRAZY!!!!


Wednesday
Jul112012

Can Your Mind Handle It? BOARDINGHOUSE (1982) Review

In the year of 1985, a movie by the name of Blood Cult was released, with its entire advertising campaign claiming it was the “first shot-on-video horror movie made directly for the home video market.” This statement couldn’t be any more false. First of all the first SOV horror movie made for the home video market was a 1983 ultra low-budget surreal horror movie called Sledgehammer, and that wasn’t even the first SOV movie! The first SOV was actually released in some theaters, and was released in 1982. That movie is a little glimpse of sheer insanity entitled…

 

Boardinghouse (1982) Review

The film opens with a painfully outdated computer text crawl (complete with beeping noises) explaining how the Hoffmans, leading experts on telekinesis, were killed in their house and their child was sent to a mental hospital. Several years later, Jim buys the house and turns it into a boardinghouse for “unattached, beautiful women 18 and over.” However, someone or something begins to pick off the girls in increasingly horrific ways. Is the house possessed? Or is it Jim, using his powers of telekinesis for evil? Or is it his new girlfriend, who his also telekinetic and angry about all the girls throwing themselves at Jim? Or is it something else entirely?

Hoo boy…where do I even begin with this one? This is easily one the most insane, nonsensical, poorly written, poorly made slasher movies I have EVER seen. This literally looks exactly like a home movie, from the amateur acting to the usage of every effect available on the camera they used to capture this insanity on film (or cheap video, rather). John Wintergate, the director/writer, also stars as Jim, but I knew that was director before I even looked it up online. Know how? Why else would John Wintergate put in dialogue for the women like, “Oh…you’re soo sexy!” as they caress Jim’s chest in the hot tub? Yeah…I also figured out he wrote it as well!

While the effects are terrible, the gore in this movie is great. There are plenty of intestines and eyeballs being popped out, people getting stabbed, brains being melted, hands being obliterated by garbage disposals, etc. There’s plenty of nudity as well (at times it does feel like a cheap porno that you find in a small cardboard box while you clean out your neighbor’s garage). No suspense, only two or three interesting/memorable characters, yada yada yada LET’S GET TO THE GOOD STUFF!!!

Alright…now let’s talk about what makes Boardinghouse memorable. Well, to begin with, the film employs gimmick that I imagine is parodying the old William Castle films: Horror-Vision! Basically, this tells you that if you have a weak heart or are “easily frightened by shocking gore,” cover your eyes and ears when an image of a black glove appears on screen or when a cheap synthesizer noise is played. Of course, this gimmick is hardly used in the movie (it is used a few times, but is dropped later on in the movie).

The whole telekinesis angle is done to hilarious effect (apparently, you trigger telekinetic powers by inhaling and exhaling as loud as possible), especially when it culminates with a big “telekinesis battle” in the end. And it’s awesome in the stupidest way possible. There’s also a random dream sequence where a girl is chased around by an evil force and gets assaulted by really fake looking skeletons! One girl’s face turns into a pig and she coughs up a mouse. Wintergate’s character sits on a desk in tighty-whities and makes hilarious faces as he exercises his telekinetic abilities. There’s also a cheaper-than-cheap video effect of a ghost, a live band, and a scene where the creepy gardener goes up to one girl (who’s in the hot tub topless) with a chainsaw, she stands up, begins staring at him and gnashing her teeth, and the gardener walks away in fright. Genius*.

This may or may not sound as hilarious as it actually is, but once you actually see it and combine it with the SOV look, you get the best unintentional comedy of 1982. It’s VERY hard to believe this nonsense was released to theaters, but it was. I can’t explain the strange power Boardinghouse has, but for some strange reason, my eyes never moved from the screen and my mind went into a sort of dreamlike state, where I had no perception on time, rationality, or just the outside world in general. It’s that kind of movie. For several, long years, Boardinghouse reveled in obscurity and acted as a “mystery” tape of sorts. Where did this movie come from? What was this director thinking? That is, until Code Red put this out on DVD, complete with commentary and interviews with Wintergate himself! Unfortunately, that DVD is now OOP and fetching collector’s prices, and I do not have a copy, unfortunately, so the origins and making of this movie still remain a mystery to me. And you know what? I’d prefer to keep it that way.

The Verdict: Boardinghouse is a surreal and oh-so-poorly-made SOV flick whose nonsensical moments add up to a seriously demented good time.

Score: 6/10

 

*Think I’ve spoiled everything Boardinghouse has to offer? Dead wrong, my friend.

 

Tuesday
Jul102012

THIS Is Why I Love The Eighties! THE WRAITH (1986) Review

Every once in a while, a movie like Ghostriders or Backwoods will come along that tries and make you forget everything that was great about the eighties and actually come close to succeeding. Movies like those get you in a deep state of depression that only certain movies can bring you out of…I like to refer to these movies as the "classics." I was in this sort of depression after Ghostriders, and I tried watching Hell High to bring me out of it, but that didn’t do the trick. Then I unwittingly stumbled upon a classic, and it saved my life like you wouldn’t believe. Brace yourself, because we’re going to go face to face with…

 

The Wraith (1986) Review

 

Packard Walsh (Nick Cassavetes) is the leader of a gang of road pirates who force innocent drivers to drag race with them, and if they lose, they have to give their car to the gang. One day, a new kid arrives in town named Jake (Charlie Sheen) and begins to get romantically involved with Packard’s girlfriend Keri (Sherilyn Fenn). Jake’s new friend Billy (Matthew Barry) warns him about how his brother Jamie got caught making love with her and Packard’s gang killed him. Soon, Packard’s gang begins getting picked off by a mysterious figure in a high-tech car. It turns out that Jamie has returned as a wraith in the form of Jake, and he’s back to get revenge and reclaim a lost love.

First of all, The Wraith is not a horror movie. It has horror undertones, like the cool killer and the premise that seems ripped straight out of a slasher movie, but it never turns into a full-on scare picture. Imagine, if you will, a mix of Class of 1984, The Crow, and Death Proof. That’s really all that The Wraith is, but the way it pulls it off is beautiful. To begin, this movie is totally stuck in the ‘80s! And by that, I mean EVERYTHING is here! The fashions! The multitude of explosions! The greasy food! The fast cars! Charlie Sheen! The music! The gratuitous female booty shots! They’re all here! Oh, it’s more wonderful than I could possibly describe!

Now, I’m not going to tiptoe around this subject, so I’ll just come right out and address it: Charlie Sheen. Lately there’s been this whole “anti-Sheen” thing because of the drugs and all that, but I still like him. I think he’s a good actor, he was funny on Two and a Half Men, and it’s not like he became a serial rapist or anything like that. That being said, I liked him in The Wraith. It almost felt like he was sleepwalking through some scenes, but his character didn’t really call for much emotion, so that’s not his fault.

The rest of the cast is equally good, including Nick Cassavetes as the charismatic and psychotic gang leader, Clint Howard (who was also in the underrated 1981 slasher Evilspeak) as the nerdy Rughead (with huge hair), and the striking Sherilyn Fenn as the love interest. Randy Quaid was great, as always, as the local tough-as-nails sheriff who’s baffled by the rash murders. I didn’t think Matthew Barry’s acting was all that fantastic (particularly in a scene towards the end), but even he wasn’t too bad. The actors who play the members of the gang all nail their respective parts with a bullet, from David Sherril as the hudraulic fuel-guzzling Skank, to Jamie Bozian as the not-too-bright Gutterboy.

Of all the films I have seen, The Wraith probably has the best collection of car chases ever to be shot and released. Mind you, it doesn’t have the best car chase I’ve ever seen, but there have to be around five or six chases in this movie, and none of them are bad at all. Granted, the last one was a little bit of a let down because there was nothing to set it apart from the other chases, but it was still fantastic. They’re all put to these great eighties rock songs, and even if it’s easy to determine who will end up winning the race, they still succeed in getting your adrenaline racing. Oh, and there are lots of explosions in this movie. We get lots of car explosions, as well as one HUGE explosion that you just don’t see anymore; all of the explosions are practical, so none of those B.S. CGI explosions we see in most movies today.

The wraith himself is one cooling looking mother as he is clad head to toe in a futuristic suit complete with a motorcycle helmet. My one problem is with how short the person playing him is. There’s one point in the movie where the wraith stands face to face with Cassavetes, and the wraith is a full four-five inches shorter than him, so it’s hard to make him menacing with that little size comparison. The car itself was a Dodge M4S, which was constructed by both Dodge and Chrysler for an estimated whopping $1.5 million, and was made for the Indy Car World Series. The car is apparently the only one in existence, and it does look really futuristic.

The soundtrack for the movie is phenomenal, featuring such musicians as Ozzy Osbourne, Motley Crue, Billy Idol, Bonnie Tyler, and more classic eighties musicians, all putting out great songs. And while it’s not a horror flick, there are a few creepy scenes. For one, whenever the wraith turns a gang member’s car into an inferno, and the paramedics pull the body out, the body isn’t burned at all, and their eyes are missing. There’s also a great scene in a graveyard, as well as some atmospheric shots of the wraith in the distance. There are a few horror references as well, like the sheriff being named Loomis, and Skank saying a line from John Carpnter's The Thing.

This review has gone on long enough, so I’m just going to cut it off here. The point of the whole matter is The Wraith is great. Even though the trailer plays it up like a horror movie, it’s definitely not. It’s an awesome action movie through and through that is quintessential for all ‘80s buffs. It was released on a special edition a while ago by the good people over at Lionsgate with a lot of special features, including an interview with the great Clint Howard, an interview with the director, a commentary with the director, a detailed account of the making of the car, and a trailer. Definitely worth a purchase, as this is one of, if not the best, menacing car movies ever.

The Verdict: The Wraith is an exceptional testosterone-filled eighties action movie that is guaranteed to wipe the bad taste of other movies from the eighties out of your mouth. Ghostriders? What’s that?

Score: 10/10

Monday
Jul092012

You Won't Want To Spend The Weekend With THIS Bernie! MOONSTALKER (1989) Review

1989 wasn’t exactly a landmark year for horror. I dare you to name one movie from that year that has become a classic. Sure, there was Intruder, but other than that, there are just a lot of movies that I personally enjoy (Cutting Class, Friday the 13th Part VIII: Jason Takes Manhattan, Halloween 5, Shocker, Return of the Family Man, etc.). Of course, there were a few stinkers in the bunch, like Elm Street 5. So naturally, I wasn’t too enthralled when I sat down to watch this movie, which was made that year (as was Weekend at Bernie’s, coincidentally). Is it good, or trash? Let’s find out.

 

Moonstalker (1989) Review

The movie opens with a group of young adults partying around a campfire, and two of them sneak off to have some sexy fun-time in their motor home. However, someone picks up an axe lying outside of the motor home and dispatches them. We are then to infer that he goes on to butcher the rest of the partiers. Several years later, a family heads up to a campsite in the middle of the woods for their winter vacation. Their father is enthralled with it, while his teenage son and daughter, as well as his wife, aren’t particularly excited. Another motor home shows up, driven by an old man who used to live in the woods. It seems like all of them are getting along at first, as they share dinner around the campfire, but once the old man goes back to his motor home, it turns out he has plans to kill them! You see, he has a crazy son named Bernie, whom he broke out of the institution, and the old man intends to steal the family’s fancy motor home, mainly because he envies their microwave oven! He sends Bernie out with his trusty axe, and he makes short work of the vacationers. However, his father dies of a heart attack before he can take advantage of his new microwave! *Sob*

We then follow a group of young adults at a wilderness training camp. They’re your usual motley crew of young adults, including the nice guy, the jokester/sex maniac, the virginal girl, and the rest are completely disposable. The camp is run by a military obsessed couple who run the camp with an iron fist! Well, none of them are there very long before they begin getting killed off by Bernie in various gruesome ways! Who will survive this bloody night, and can anyone put a stop to the rampage of…the moon stalker?

The biggest strength Moonstalker has going for it is its vintage feeling. While, by this time, many slashers had moved past the trademarks of the early slashers in an attempt to strike gold with something new, Moonstalker decided to take things back to the basics by setting itself in the woods during the winter. I love snowbound slasher movies, and this is no exception. Sure, it is VERY cheesy in parts, but it didn’t feel like it was trying to be cheesy, and I admire how the film actually played it rather serious when it had every opportunity to go down goofy street. There is a funny moment in the military couple’s tent during their death scenes, a ridiculous kill involving very hot shower water, Bernie’s father’s obsession with microwaves, and (in perhaps the film’s only burst of creativity) an inventive use of a wooden board to disguise the fact that several campers are dead (you’ll see what I mean when you watch the movie)!

The acting is…ehh. Not the best (by far), but not the worst (by far). I remember thinking the wife in the beginning must have been a friend of the director’s, as well as the guy who plays the son, but other than that it was easily tolerable. Most of the characters we focus on at the camp (which is about three or four) are likable, and others are very entertaining (the military couple who like to play “ambush” in their tent to the tune of Wagner’s “Ride of the Valkyries”). The one complaint I have is the (in the long run) pointless murders of the families. They served no purpose for the rest of the movie, but hey, if you’re gonna load your movie with filler, might as well bump up the body count while you’re at it (the total death count nears twenty, by the way, even if a lot of them are offscreen).

As with most slashers that take place in the woods (and in the snow, to boot!), Moonstalker does come across as being very atmospheric. It may not be very suspenseful (it does get sort of nail-biting in the climax where Bernie chases around our final girl) , but at least it has atmosphere, even if it almost gets ruined by one small thing. I remember watching a 1988 obscurity a while ago called Iced (the movie was great; I highly advise everyone to check it out), and in that movie (which is supposed to be set at an isolated cabin in the snowy mountains), in the background, you can see a car go by that nearly destroys every bit of atmosphere they built up. Same here, as in the background in one scene, you can see not one, but several cars go by on a highway, which really took me out of it.

I also loved Bernie’s look in the beginning. Bernie sported a straight jacket and a white mask (that looked like a moon to boot) that looked really cool and at least somewhat intimidating. However, after the family massacre, he kills someone and dons their attire, so he looks like a cowboy. I’m sorry, but a killer looking like he’s going whip out a lasso and let out a hearty rebel yell at any minute does not frighten me at all. Actually, the actor who played Bernie went on to bigger (but not better) things with General Hospital! Seriously!

That was a bit of a whopper of a review, but Moonstalker is a whopper of a movie. It’s great. Not a slasher fan? Don’t bother with this one. Slasher fan? This as close to a “comfort food” slasher as you’re gonna get. There’s rarely a hint of originality to be found, but it’s never bland because all the comfortable slasher trappings are clear and present. Sure, there are lots of offscreen deaths, but the straightforwardness of the whole affair is what I admire the most. If you’re of the opinion that slashers got way too silly for your tastes after 1985, this is for you, as it harkens back to the gory days of early hack ‘n’ slash adventures, only with more late-eighties fashions. And that’s not a bad thing at all. This was released on an el cheapo DVD release that can supposedly be found in most dollar stores, and was recently put on Amazon.com’s new MOD series "Mom N Pop Video Shop." I don’t own any of these, so I can’t say anything about difference in quality, but if you find any edition of this, pick it up. It’ll be the best $1 you've ever spent.

The Verdict: Moonstalker is a cozy, soothing slasher movie that does what you expect it to and that's A-OK. Imagine curling up with your favorite childhood blanket by a warm fire with hot chocolate and listening to Tears for Fears on an 8-Track player, and you have some inkling to what the Moonstalker experience is like.

Score: 7/10



Friday
Jul062012

Judging A Film By Its Cover: DEATH SHIP (1980)

Welcome (once again) to Judging A Film By Its Cover, where I take a horror movie with outstanding artwork and see if the film itself lives up to it! Today we take a look at one of my all-time favorite horror artworks courtesy of the somewhat great year of 1980! The impact of this art can be primarily seen in the poster for Ghost Ship, which not only (sort of) steals the title, but the artwork is nearly identical! Trust me; this art is FAR superior.

Death Ship (1980)

 

Plot Summary: Late one night, a huge ship rams into a cruise liner, resulting in the cruise sinking and nearly everybody dying, save for a few survivors (including George Kennedy (Cool Hand Luke) and Richard Crenna (The Rambo movies)), who are adrift at sea on a life raft. However, the same ship that rammed the cruise comes along, and they unwittingly climb aboard. They find the ship abandoned, and soon find themselves getting picked off one by one by either the ship (which turns out to be a Nazi torture ship) itself or the now-insane captain of the cruise. Can they escape this ship of death?

 

Why The Art Is Great: Just look at that. Look. It’s beautifully painted and actually  very creepy. I like how the artist put the people on the life raft on the bottom corner of the art just to show how massive the ship is. Then there’s the huge amount of fog surrounding the ship, giving it an almost nightmarish atmosphere. The poster itself would be creepy even if the face wasn’t on the ship, but then they throw a lot of rips in the metal of the ship making a hideous face. Awesome. My one complaint is that the tagline isn’t that great. This is the only poster I have in my collection (so far) that’s an original one-sheet, and I’m proud to have it because this is one of my favorite horror artworks of all time.

 

Does The Film Live Up To It? How could it? No, it doesn’t, but I still really like the movie. I’ve always liked George Kennedy, but you have to admit, he’s been in some bad movies (anyone seen Wacko?), and I think he’s a good actor. This is no exception. Richard Crenna’s really good too, but the rest of the cast is only alright. The only really bad actors are the kids, but that’s typical for most movies. A lot of people have called this “The Shining on a ship,” and that hits it right on the head. There are a lot of haunted house tropes, from the ship running itself to the shower pouring blood instead of water. There isn’t a lot of blood or violence (besides the blood shower and when they find a torture chamber filled with decaying corpses in various torture devices).

The film itself isn’t very scary, save for a few nightmarish images later on in the movie. It does drag occasionally, but I found it different and intriguing enough to be really interesting most of the time. Of course, I’m a sucker for both horror movies set on a ship and horror movies about Nazis, and this has both. There are some suspenseful moments as well sprinkled here and there throughout. Until recently, this was never released on DVD, but those wonderful folks over at Scorpion Releasing are planning a DVD release for November! I know a lot of people dislike this one, but I enjoy it.

 

Well, there you have it. And if you have seen some great artwork out there that you want me to judge, comment below and let me know!