Reviewed by Simon Drake
Directed by Rospo Pallenberg
Starring Brad Pitt and Roddy McDowall
Brian returns back to college aged 18 (although he looks
about 30) after spending 5 years in a mental asylum for killing his father. He
tries to worm his way back into the lives of his ex-best friend Dwight (a young
Brad Pitt) and Paula (Jill Shoelen, who dated both Pitt and Keanu Reeves
before they hit. The more you know - The Prophet) his old flame.
And suddenly a bunch of people start dying, in the most bizarre ways in recent film history. Death by pottery kiln, death by photocopier, but my favourite was the old classic, flagpole under a trampoline so the fascist Gym teacher gets impaled on the American Flag.
Who says Hollywood can't be subtle!
It couldn't be Brian could it? He creeps around spying on Paula, wearing black clothes and listening to the Cure…Of course it is.
The film has absolutely no idea what genre it wants to be.
Some scenes are played out like farce comedies, some like straight horror.
Paula's Dad is gets an arrow through the chest in the first ten minutes, then
there is a recurring 'joke' of him staggering through the woods calling for help
and being ignored or unnoticed by hikers.
The characters also have a tendency to sporadically change, often during scenes. Brad Pitt starts the film showing his jerk high school jock credentials by nearly running over a child, and not being remotely bothered, then a few scene's later he's playing the caring misunderstood boyfriend.
The 80's hair and rock soundtrack is ever present, and ever crap.
It is passable, worth seeing if nothing else to see Brad
Pitt paying the bills and seemingly seeing his big break sliding away. Plus he
gets his head put in a vice…Which is nice.
The deaths, although there probably aren't enough for die hard horror buffs, are varied and (fake) bloody.
The front box is cooler than the film does justice for.
Apart from the curiosity of a now famous Hollywood star in his first proper role (complete with silly haircut), this film offers little of interest.
Dwight and Brian participate in a duel with angle grinders in the CDT schoolroom over the honour of the woman they both love.
Production Values - Lame lighting, actors often obscured by shadows and reflections. The editing is shoddy, the end fight scene shows footage of Brad Pitt crashing into a corner three times, and once straight after punching Brian. Whoops. 18
Dialogue and performance - I can't remember a single line of dialogue (other than Brad Pitt swearing). Some decent actors mill about with nothing (or no one) to work with. Roddy McDowall hams away as a pervert principal, Brad Pitt looks a bit embarrassed. The main psycho isn't remotely scary or even creepy, just annoying. 19
Plot and execution - Plot? Bloke in black blazer, listens to the Cure, may be killer, or is it Brad Pitt? For 90 minutes. The director (who I don't recall directing anything since) is pretty shocking (and not in an Quentin Tarantino/David Fincher way) From the sound of his name he's probably Mexican Jewish or something (think Woody Allen Spaghetti western, no wait that's getting too surreal) 18
Randomness - Roddy McDowall disappears towards the end (he might have died whilst I was making coffee though), Martin Mull being shot is never explained (although I did make LOTS of coffee watching this film!). But either way, Brad Pitt's character's apparent schizophrenia ("Oh he is nice…No wait, he's just knocked someone off a climbing rope for no reason!") more than makes up the randomness quota. 17
Waste of potential - Wasted away again in School-slasher-flick-ville. They are all much of a muchness really. 8
Reviewed by Simon Drake
Directed by Mark Goldblatt
Starring Treat Williams, Joe Piscopo and Vincent Price.
Two mismatched cops Doug Bigelow (Saturday Night Live alumnus Piscopo) and Roger Mortis (ouch!) (Williams) are on the trail of some zombie bankrobbers. For some reason they end up at Dante Science Labs where, after fighting a giant zombie, Roger gets locked in an airtight decompression chamber and dies. Luckily (and rather implausibly) Bigelow finds a re-animating machine, and brings Roger back to life. The two cops jump into action to catch Rogers's killer, that action consists of cracking wise and shooting people while Roger slowly decomposes.
The film is very gory, slimy and often unpleasant. One of
those mid 80's cop buddy movies that are fairly moronic and silly and doesn't
make a great deal of sense.
Joe Piscopo with a mullet, cracking wise at every opportunity and generally acting like the kind of person you avoid at parties.
The main character is called Roger Mortis for crying out
loud, It's clear we are in tongue and cheek territory. Wisely keeping the
running time to a lean 80 minutes, and having an explosion or a shootout every
ten minutes or so, the film's over before you know it.
Piscopo and Williams chemistry works well, and I must admit some of the one-liners are actually quite funny.
If you haven't seen it, and you read this website, you
should rent it. Today.
Along with Trancers, Buckaroo Banzi and Spacehunter: Adventures in the forbidden Zone. In terms of quality it's terrible, however it's also something of a cult. Any crap movie connoisseur should see it.
The fight in a Chinese restaurant in which assorted dead animals are resurrected and attack our heroes, Bigelow fights a zombie duck, while Mortis gets accosted by a giant walking slab of beef. Very odd.
Production Values - The SFX crew do quite well with the gory effects (especially the disintegrating love interest, and the slowly decomposing Treat Williams) for what was obviously a lowish budget. Lots of blanks and squibs. The dialogue is a little mumbled, and Vincent Price's scenes were clearly filmed in an afternoon, when everyone else was playing golf or something. 6
Dialogue and performance - While hardly profound stuff, there is some great one liners and silly retorts. Piscopo can't exactly emote, but does the dumb lug thing quite well. Williams is always watchable, and plays much the same character as he did in Deep Rising. The woman characters are fairly forgettable (and alarmingly manly) and simply there to be shot to show how evil the baddies are. 7
Plot and execution - Zombies on the rampage. Shoot out. Joke. The End. Thank you and goodnight. Fairly well handled though. 10
Randomness - Despite the fact the entire film is ludicrous and implausible. Once you get over that, it actually sort of makes sense. Well a bit. 9
Waste of Potential - Hell no. Pure zombie exploitation and it knows it. I'm only disappointed there was never a sequel. 1
"Atlantis is Waiting"
Reviewed by Simon Drake
Directed by Gary Trousdale and Kirk Wise
Starring (vocally) - Michael J Fox, Claudia Christian and James Garner
Milo Thatch (Fox) a nerdy linguist/translator is sure of
the location of the lost city of Atlantis, but is unable to get funding
(probably due to his insane ramblings to college professors).
Within minutes of establishing Thatch as a loser, he's summoned to speak to Preston Whitmore, an eccentric millionaire and former friend of Thatch's adventurer Grandfather who funds a search for Atlantis.
Along with a ragtag bag of Mercenaries, some funky submersible vehicles and an ancient journal only Thatch can decipher they all head under the sea searching for the clues to the city.
They are barely under the surface when an attack by a giant robot killer lobster wipes out nearly all the crew, in a great Das Boot inspired sequence, leaving half a dozen people to band together and overcome the odds…Blah blah blah.
Thatch leads them to the city (more by accident it seems) where they meet up with a race of native dudes and obligatory sexy bikini clad female called Kida who's mystical life force is the power source of the whole cities ecological balance and collective emotions (or something).
The unsurprising 'surprise' villains (James Garner and Babylon 5's Claudia Christian) kidnap Kida, to take back to the surface and use her as a weapon of mass destruction. So Thatch, along with the remaining mercs, all hop aboard a load of flying robotic fish crafts and battle to save Kida and prevent Atlantis being destroyed.
Atlantis flopped so badly at the cinema it actually caused
the President of Disney to resign. I think the reason was due to the success of
the likes of Shrek, Toy story etc, Disney was forced to try something new. So
with this film there's no musical numbers, no comedy animals, no post-modern 'Shrek'
esque winks at camera. It goes for a darker tone and atmosphere but still
maintains its kid's audience roots making it a little unsure what it wants to
be. Try explaining to a seven-year-old about Darwinism theory, P.T Barnham or
why 200 soldiers have just died in a horrible underwater explosion.
The story itself, I'm told raises some well-documented facts about Atlantis/Inca mythology, clearly looks far to compressed into 95 minutes running time. It doesn't have that feeling of awe; uncertainty and the epic searching for the lost civilisation, making the narrative lose coherence. The beginning throws in so many action scenes straight away with very little plot being established it's a little confusing. Therefore making the characters development known in one 'sitting round the campfire explaining who they are' scene.
And the 'be true to your heart' moralising is a little grating, but seeing as it's in every Disney film since Steamboat Mickey (probably) I guess I can't grumble about it.
I think Disney should be commended for actually breaking
out of their 'musical animals' mould and going for a more Manga inspired (Big
eyes, hyper kinetic action, sexy teenagers turning into pure energy) Jules Verne
look (big steam powered machines, pre war paranoia).
As you'd expect from Disney it is well voiced, Michael J Fox (a real shame it'll probably be one of his last films) in particular giving the whole proceedings a touch of class. And James Garner going for the smug scumbag rather than panto evil. Best of all it goes for wit rather than slapstick (The laconic French Florist turned explosive expert bags all the best lines).
The action sequences (the aforementioned leviathan attack scene starring the giant robot lobster sadly missing from Das Boot) and the end Star Wars style dogfight (flying halibuts versus hot air balloon) are impressive and exciting the animation at times spectacular.
A little disjointed to be sure, however it's a damn sight better than many live action adventure yarns I've seen lately (Mummy Returns anyone?).
Apart from the action sequences there are three best bits (well the three best lines)
Production Values - Impressive, as one would expect from the house of the mouse. Nice funky Stargate style Inca designs. Decent score (free of love serenades, heroic rock tunes and mercifully Phil Collins songs) from James Newton Howard. 3
Dialogue and performance - The script has some nice one-liners, some cod moralising with a touch of archaeological mumbo jumbo and a side order of new age jiggery pokery. Michael J Fox and James Garner win the vocal kudos, although praise has to go to the late Jim Varney (Slinky from Toy Story) as the scuzzy chef who makes his tattoo of Long Island dance (it has to be seen to be comical!). 10
Plot and execution - The plot starts up too quickly, then looses momentum, then gets back on track…Then goes a bit all over the show toward the end. I get the impression there is a much better, longer directors cut somewhere. 13
Randomness - Floaty heads, flying emotion powered fish, James Garner turning into 'Tron' and an army that suddenly appears for the action finale. It's all a bit random. 16
Waste of potential - Not a complete disaster, but with a bit of development and ironing of wrinkles, this could have been a great film, rather than an almost good one. 9