Archive for August, 2010

THE LOST SKELETON OF CADAVRA

Posted in 2010, Aliens, B-Movies, Campy Movies, Daniel Keohane Reviews, Just Plain Fun with tags , , , , , , on August 31, 2010 by knifefighter

LOST SKELETON OF CADAVRA (2001)
Review by Daniel G. Keohane

With the release of its sequel, THE LOST SKELETON RETURNS AGAIN (2010), I thought I’d give the original: THE LOST SKELETON OF CADAVRA (2001), a quick once over before I cover the new film (coming soon to a CinemaKnifeFight.com column near you), seeing as how it’s one of the funniest movies I’ve had the pleasure to watch since AIRPLANE (1980). And, to be honest, I’m having a heck of a time getting my hands on a copy of the sequel (Hey, Netflix, what’s the scoop???). So while I scour the globe (I think there might be one Blockbuster left in Central Massachusetts….), let’s talk about the original.

Directed by Larry Blamire, THE LOST SKELETON OF CADAVRA is a send up of the best (or worst, depending on your viewpoint) of the 1950s and 60s cheese-ball science fiction/radioactive monster movies. The best way to describe this: mix PLAN 9 FROM OUTER SPACE (1959) with THE CREEPING TERROR (1964), and for some insane reason do this on purpose, then have your immensely-talented cast play their parts as badly and/or over-the-top as possible, but do it all with an obvious love for the genre and the movie-making era to which the film pays homage, and you end up with a sentence which never, ever seems to end, but also a warm, funny movie.

SKELETON is filmed in glorious black and white (or “Skeletorama” as the DVD proudly proclaims) and looks so much like an old 50s movie, my kids – who laughed their butts off when they saw it – had a hard time believing it was less than ten years old. This is a movie for all ages. Younger viewers might not get many of the references, but it won’t dampen their obvious enjoyment of the film’s over-the-top goofiness, at least if my kids were any indication.

The story revolves around our hero, scientist Paul Armstrong (played by director Blamire) who is a man of science, with dreams of bettering mankind, through science. Dr. Armstrong is on a working vacation with his wife Betty (Fay Masterson). Betty, in proper dress and heels throughout, is looking forward to time alone with her husband, but her man is obsessed with finding a fallen meteorite and thus obtaining the rare element Atmosphereum, which – somehow – will better the world, through science. The word “science” is the only word used to describe what Dr. Paul Armstrong does for a living, nice and generic and very funny in how it’s delivered (over and over).

Others also search for the same element. Villain number one: Dr. Roger Fleming (Brian Howe), who needs Atmosphereum to bring to life the legendary Lost Skeleton, our second villain and for whom Roger he has been searching for his entire life. In order to repair their damaged spaceship, an endearing alien couple (from outer space): Kro-Bar and his wife Lattis (Andrew Parks and Susan McConnell), need the Atmosphereum. They also are trying to capture their pet monster which has escaped and is currently running amok in the canyon. More on him later…  To achieve both of their goals, Kro-Bar Lattis need to “blend in” with the humans, so as not to attract undue attention.

The three come together, along with a new character created by scientist Roger: he uses a special ray gun to combine four different woodland animals together into a woman he names Animala. His new “pet” is a purring vixen in black spandex and one of the strangest (though quite funny) characters in the film. Animala becomes the sixth member of one of the all time best dinner party scenes you’ll have the pleasure to witness, as Roger and Animala, Kro-bar and Lattis all try to steal Paul and Betty’s Atmosphereum sample for their own evil, and not-so-evil, purposes.

OK, so there’s also been a rash of “Horrible Mutilations” going on in the woods where our heroes are staying. Kro-Bar and Lattis’ escaped monster – a creature so horrible, so grotesque (and brilliantly conceived), the filmmakers spared us viewing it until the end of the movie because it’s simply too shocking to accept at first. Not to mention this wouldn’t also be a parody of old monster movies without the camera itself killing a few innocent bystanders early on.

The best part of this film, I think, are conversations between the characters. Aside from the dinner party scene, the best interchange comes early on between Dr. Paul Armstrong and Ranger Brad (Dan Conroy), who arrives at the cottage to warn the couple about the recent rash of “Horrible Mutilations.”

Never before would I think two of the funniest words in the annals of movie-making would be Horrible Mutilations. Life is good, if not surreal, sometimes.

Now, there is an evil Lost Skeleton. Once brought back to life, it controls Roger’s mind and makes him a slave to its evil will. I’m not sure who actually does its “voice,” but he’s perfect for it. To be honest, the Skeleton, title character or not, was my least favorite. I mean yes, could be because as a young child I had this recurring nightmare of an evil red skeleton chasing me into the Bat Cave. I would hide under the Batmobile as a red glow came slowly down the bat poles, as the skeleton came lower and lower and closer and  closer….

(Shudder)

Anyway, skeletons in movies back then obviously frightened me (not to mention the “something is not right here” humor of comedian Red Skelton), and many others of my generation… which is why this skeleton is perfect. Especially in the scenes when it rises on almost-invisible strings, or marches through the landscape filmed only from the waste up for obvious reasons (someone was carrying it).

For a movie that sets out to be as imperfect as possible, and do it as perfectly as possible, there is one imperfection I should point out. This joyous, goofy movie made me laugh out loud every time I’ve seen it, but there is a point where I simply stop laughing. The last quarter of the film seems to drag on a little long. As if Blamire wanted to achieve a certain length film and stretched out the final scenes to make it fit. It could also be that by that point in the movie I was simply tired of laughing so friggin’ much. The first three quarters of THE LOST SKELETON OF CADAVRA truly are that funny, if you watch it in the right mindset.

As a nod to the cast and crew, no matter how much you enjoy this movie, it probably pales compared to how much they seemed to enjoy making it. As stilted and wooden as they portrayed their characters, the cast could not hide from us the sheer joy they seemed to have in making LOST SKELETON – even the skeleton itself seems to grin and wink at the audience. So rent this film, turn off your brain and let it be what it is, a funny, loving homage to a classic film style we simply don’t get much of these days. (Maybe that’s a good thing, but after seeing this movie, I think perhaps not.)

© Copyright 2010 by Daniel G. Keohane

The Lost Skeleton lost 160 pounds to add authenticity to his role.


THE LAST EXORCISM

Posted in 2010, Cinema Knife Fights, Demons, Exorcism Movies with tags , , , , , , , , on August 30, 2010 by knifefighter

CINEMA KNIFE FIGHT: THE LAST EXORCISM
by L.L. Soares and Nick Cato

(THE SCENE – A barn behind a farmhouse in the middle of nowhere. Inside the barn, a girl wearing a nightgown thrashes about on the ground. L.L. SOARES is doing his best to perform an exorcism)

LS: Come on, let her go, you silly demon. I’ll even take you out for a drink.

DEMON VOICE: I dunno. I like it in here.

(Suddenly, NICK CATO enters the barn)

LS: What are you doing here? I was waiting for Michael.

NC: He couldn’t make it. He asked me to come help you instead.

LS: What a wimp. I bet you he was too scared to show up. To look the devil right in the eye.

NC: MAN, is this collar tight -how do you guys wear these things?

LS: What? I didn’t even notice. I was too busy going toe-to-toe with Satan.

DEMON VOICE: Why are you guys always trying to ruin my fun?

NC: Oh crap!  (Nick takes off his Catholic priest outfit and throws on a three-piece suit).  I forgot someone finally decided to do this from a Protestant viewpoint!  Now we’re REALLY gonna ruin your fun, you horny lil’ devil!

(The girl twists around at an impossible angle)

DEMON VOICE: You can’t catch me. Nyah nyah.

LS: Oh, playing hard to get are you? Well, while we wait for you to come to your senses, I’ll start this week’s review.

THE LAST EXORCISM is the latest in a long line of movies that basically grab the premise of THE BLAIR WITCH PROJECT (1999), and run in a different direction with it. Where BLAIR WITCH was about a witch in the woods, we also got PARANORMAL ACTIVITY (2008) about ghosts or demons inhabiting a couple’s home, and bigger budget variations like CLOVERFIELD (2008), where 20-somethings videotaped a giant monster stomping through Manhattan and THE FOURTH KIND (2009), where aliens got the fake documentary treatment. This is becoming a genre all its own, The funny thing is, I’ve liked all of these movies to varying degrees. So it’s not necessarily a bad thing.

Considering how many people have ripped off the concept, THE BLAIR WITCH PROJECT was something of a milestone in horror cinema. Even if I did find the characters really annoying. The thing that I found interesting about THE LAST EXORCISM is that, for the most part, the characters were pretty good. If they weren’t all likeable, they were at least all interesting.

So the concept this time around is that Reverend Cotton Marcus (Patrick Fabian – and yes, the reference to the historical figure Cotton Mather – from the Salem witch trials – is hereby noted), a charismatic evangelical preacher, goes around performing exorcisms. The more we get to know Marcus, though, the most interesting he is. He has been a preacher – and a very successful one – since he was a child. But now, as an adult who has been doing this for a long time now – he feels that he is just going through the motions. Preaching is something he’s good at, and it pays the bills, but his heart just isn’t in it anymore. He’s a smart, likable character, and I took to him right away. Early on, the movie seems to be a documentary about Rev. Marcus. But then he starts to explain about the exorcism thing, and how exorcism is something that older generations of his family had done through the ages. He’s just carrying on the tradition. Except he doesn’t really believe in what he’s doing. He thinks that, by going through the motions of the ritual, he helps people with psychological problems – people who really believe they are possessed – get some closure and healing. In fact, he rigs a lot of the shaking beds and moving picture frames to go along with his performance. He’s almost a con-man of sorts, except he really does believe he’s doing a good thing—that just happens to pay well.

(GIRL begins to growl in DEMON’s voice)

LS: Excuse me, do you want something?

DEMON VOICE: I want a cheese sandwich.

LS: Well, wait a minute, will you. We’re doing a movie review.

So, for the sake of the documentary, Cotton picks a random letter from a pile (he gets them all the time) and decides to answer it. In so doing, he takes the film crew down to New Orleans to farm of the Sweetzer family.

The Sweetzers are god-fearing folks, and someone has been mutilating Louis Sweetzer (Louis Herthum)’s cattle. The mornings after an animal attack, Louis finds his daughter Nell (Ashley Bell) covered in blood. But she has no recollection how the blood got there. Louis is convinced she is possessed by the devil, which is why he wrote to Cotton for help.

Cotton goes along with it and performs a ceremony to rid Nell of her demon. Except…well…things only get worse after he’s done.

NC: I was quite taken with the character of Cotton Marcus.  I liked the angle this film took with him as an exorcist: here’s a man who knows how to go through the rituals as a vocation, but just doesn’t have a genuine conviction to be a member of the clergy, and even admits to not believing in demons.  What made the character work was the great portrayal by Patrick Fabian, and what kept my interest throughout the entire running time were the fine performances by everyone involved.  The producers get an “atta-boy” here for finding a spot-on, believable cast.

LS: Yeah, I liked this movie a lot, and a big part of it was the casting.

NC: Is there an echo in this barn?  (Takes his tie off)

LS: As I said before, Patrick Fabian is terrific as Cotton Marcus. He’s a very familiar face —you’ll definitely wonder where you’ve seen him before—and the answer is he’s been on lots of TV shows. I figured I must have noticed him most from the shows VERONICA MARS and JOAN OF ARCADIA, where he had recurring roles. And this familiarity actually works in the movie’s favor. For me, it made me trust him sooner than I would have otherwise, and pulled me into the story right away. And even though his ethics are questionable, I found Cotton to be a very intriguing, charismatic character, and I willingly went along for the ride to see what he would do next.

Another terrific performance is given by Ashley Bell as Nell. At first she is very innocent and seems heart-breakingly genuine. And of course, as the possession storyline goes along, we see other sides to her. I thought Bell was convincing throughout and turned in a fine acting job.

NC: And she looked quite cool (for a possessed chick) in the red Doc Martins!

LS: Yes, she did.

(GIRL stands up and goes over to them as they talk. She looks at them quizzically)

DEMON VOICE: HEY, WHAT’S GOING ON HERE?? You’re supposed to be paying attention to me! I’m the demon here. Aren’t you going to try to force me to release this girl?

LS (pushes girl down on the ground): How rude! Can’t you see we’re discussing something here? Wait your turn.

As I was saying, the rest of the cast is very good as well, including Louis Herthum as Nell’s father, and Caleb Landry Jones as her brother Caleb, down to smaller roles like Cotton’s movie crew and the other denizens of the Louisiana town where the Sweetzers’ reside.

I thought the movie was very well directed by Daniel Stamm, and there were times when the suspense got pretty intense. For the most part I really enjoyed this movie, even if it did seem a little too close to the BLAIR WITCH mold at times. The only thing that didn’t really work for me was the “twist” ending. I think it took some of the suspense out of the movie and took things in a slightly silly direction, where, if they’d just kept going the way they were, things could have gotten more and more tension-filled.

NC: A lot of people are going to hate this ending, but what the Reverend does during it made the whole thing work for me (at least on a religious level).

LS: I also think that the PG-13 rating held things back a bit. When I think of an exorcism movie, I think of demons really pushing the boundaries. I think of defilement. I think of blasphemy, and those things are very limited when you impose a PG-13 rating on them. This movie could have been even more intense, and a lot scarier, if it had been allowed to push the envelope a bit more. As is, it’s very effective despite its limitations, but it doesn’t come anywhere close to being as scary as the king of all exorcism movies, THE EXORCIST (1973).

(Girl jumps up and down, yelling)

DEMON VOICE: What about ME?  You’re here to confront me! I demand your undivided attention!

LS: Yeah, yeah. Wait til we’re done with the review, okay?

So, what did you think of it, Nick?

NC: For starters I think the PG-13 rating actually helped this one.  By not showing much of what could have been shown (nudity, mutilated bodies), the director forces the viewer to come up with their own visions of what’s happening (which might be a task for younger viewers growing up in the age of CGI).  And by not going over the top with the visuals, THE LAST EXORCISM rose above some of the more cheesy exorcism films such as THE TEMPTER (1974) and EXORCISMO (1975).

As a fan of religious horror, I was (again) surprised by how Reverend Marcus was handled.  His journey from latent con-man to someone wanting to help others to genuine spiritual warrior sends an important message to those in the ministry who might be playing games with their “job.”  While a bit BLAIR WITCH-ish, what becomes of the Reverend during the final minutes gripped me, and made me cheer inside.  I was a bit surprised how many people left the theater complaining about the ending.  Apparently the idea of redemption was too much of a stretch for them to grasp, or accept.

LS: I’m a big fan of exorcist movies as well, and while you’re right that there are a lot of cheesy ones, those are also—for the most part—a lot of fun. But you’re also right that this one plays it completely straight and does a very good job with the concept.

The reason why I didn’t like the ending was because I thought it strayed from the possession build-up we’d been experiencing the whole time and went in a different direction, which didn’t seem as powerful to me, and it defused a lot of the suspense that had been building for me. I wanted to see a big pay-off to the possession/exorcism struggle, and instead we get a narrative shift that didn’t completely work for me. Although, I must admit, the ending is foreshadowed in a very spooky scene long before it actually takes place.

NC: Another big plus here was how the possessed girl, Nell Sweetzer, kept me guessing: was she actually possessed, was she the victim of parental/religious abuse, or was it a combination of the two?  This guessing is why the ending worked for me—you had no idea where they were going with it.  It was refreshing to see a possessed, teenaged girl not remind me of Linda Blair’s classic role (although she does barf early on—and not in an over-the-top pea soup manner).   I also got a real kick out of Pastor Manley, who leads the church the Sweetzer family used to attend.  Toward the ending he reminded me a bit of Ernest Borgnine, something I’m pretty sure wasn’t accidental.

LS: I dunno, I really enjoyed it until the last ten minutes or so. And I didn’t even really hate the ending, I just think it could have been a lot scarier. So, at first, I was on the fence about how many knives to give it. But you’ve reminded me about a lot of the things I really liked about this movie.

NC: The shaky BLAIR WITCH camera thing was done pretty steady (until the final minutes), and I’m just going to have to accept this style of filmmaking is here to stay.  THE LAST EXORCISM gets a solid three knives from me.  It’s a fine blend of old-school occult horror and new-school filmmaking; it’s just about everything the way overrated THE HOUSE OF THE DEVIL (2009) tried to be.

LS: Funny you should mention HOUSE OF THE DEVIL, because I saw several similarities between the two. Not that the movies are that much alike—stylistically, they’re polar opposites—but they deal with similar ideas. And I think that THE LAST EXORCISM is the superior movie in every way. Despite my reservations about the ending, I can’t just dismiss everything that led up to it, and frankly, the rest of the movie is top-notch. I guess I have to give it a solid three knives as well. Patrick Fabian alone earns it with his layered, strong performance.

(LS turns to face the GIRL, who is vomiting on the hay-strewn floor)

LS: Okay, we’re done. Now what did you want, you annoying demon?

DEMON VOICE: I can’t believe you two kept ignoring me! I can’t stand that! I’m going to go torment someone else.

(DEMON leaves GIRL’s body, leaving her sobbing on the barn floor)

LS: Well, it looks like another successful exorcism. That will be five hundred dollars.

(FARMER steps forward from the shadows)

FARMER: But I don’t have that much money.

LS: Well give me two hogs and a steer, then. It’s just about lunchtime.

NC (looks down at hog humping his leg): I don’t know about this hog, LL. I think the demon went into it.  Either that or the thing hasn’t been laid in months (NC kicks the hog off his leg).  Hey, what am I going to get?

LS: You know you should really talk to Michael Arruda about that, since you’re filling in for him.

NC: I won’t hold my breath.

(LS suddenly runs out of the building and disappears into the night)

-END-

© Copyright 2010 by L.L. Soares and Nick Cato


L.L. Soares gave THE LAST EXORCISM3 knives


Nick Cato gave THE LAST EXORCISM3 knives, too!


MONSTROUS QUESTION OF THE MONTH – RESPONSE # 4

Posted in 2010, Monstrous Question of the Month, Sexy Stars with tags , , , , , , on August 27, 2010 by knifefighter

THE MONSTROUS QUESTION OF THE MONTH – AUGUST 2010
(Questions Provided by Michael Arruda)

THIS MONTH’S QUESTION:
Who gets your vote for the hottest, sexiest performance by an actor – male or female – in a horror film?

RESPONSE # 4MICHAEL ARRUDA:

I’d have to go with Linda Blair in THE EXORCIST (1973).  When her head completes that 360 degree turn— just kidding.

I’ve already written how sexy a performance Frances Dee delivered in I WALKED WITH A ZOMBIE (1943).  She is incredibly sexy, and her performance is well worth checking out.  Consider her an honorable mention.

Sexy pose by 1930s beauty Helen Chandler

Another honorable mention is an actress I’d overlooked for years, and that would be Helen Chandler in DRACULA (1931).  She played Mina, and there is something very sexy about Chandler.  If you pay close attention to her, and granted this is sometimes difficult since she shares screen time with the powerful presences of both Bela Lugosi and Edward Van Sloan, you’ll see in her eyes an exuberance, an energy, a love of life, and this energy is made all the more sexy because of the tragedy of what’s to come, that her world is about to be crushed by the evil of Dracula.

Now, this just might be me projecting what I know about Chandler’s real life, as her life after DRACULA was sad and full of tragedy, and it didn’t end well.  I don’t know, but I do know, that if you watch her closely in DRACULA, you’ll see a woman with a charged sexuality just waiting to burst out from the confines of a 1930s Hollywood production.  I wouldn’t mind being Bela Lugosi sneaking into her bedroom!

But my number one pick for the hottest, sexiest performance by an actress in a horror movie would have to be Britt Ekland in the 1973 version of THE WICKER MAN starring Christopher Lee.  When she comes on to Edward Woodward, oh – my – God!  Her nude “siren song” where she tries from the adjoining room to seduce Woodward’s Puritan butt onto hers, is one of the hottest scenes going.  I’m shaking right now.  Sure, when she spanks her own bare butt, it’s not Ekland, but a body double, but ask me if I care?  Sizzle!

The beautiful Britt Eckland heats up THE WICKER MAN

Britt Ekland in THE WICKER MAN is my pick for the hottest performance in a horror movie, as her nude siren song is enough to steam a room.  Excuse me while I defog my glasses.

—END—

MONSTROUS QUESTION OF THE MONTH – RESPONSE # 3

Posted in 2010, Monstrous Question of the Month, Sexy Stars with tags , , , , on August 27, 2010 by knifefighter

THE MONSTROUS QUESTION OF THE MONTH – AUGUST 2010
(Questions Provided by Michael Arruda)

THIS MONTH’S QUESTION:
Who gets your vote for the hottest, sexiest performance by an actor -male or female -in a horror film?

RESPONSE # 3CRAIG SHAW GARDNER:


.

.


So, I gotta go with Catherine Deneuve and Susan Sarandon in THE HUNGER (1983).

Ohh!!  The lingerie!

Interestingly, Deneuve also appeared in one of the great “anti-erotic” roles of all time as the troubled young woman in Roman Polanski’s REPULSION (1965).

Iconic beauty Catherine Deneuve, star of THE HUNGER

—END—


MONSTROUS QUESTION OF THE MONTH – RESPONSE # 2

Posted in 2010, Monstrous Question of the Month, Sexy Stars with tags , , , , , , , , , on August 26, 2010 by knifefighter

THE MONSTROUS QUESTION OF THE MONTH – AUGUST 2010
(Questions Provided by Michael Arruda)

THIS MONTH’S QUESTION:
Who gets your vote for the hottest, sexiest performance by an actor
—male or female—in a horror film?

RESPONSE # 2L.L. SOARES:

.

.

.

As usual, it’s hard for me to list just one. Here are the four that came immediately to mind:

BARBARA CRAMPTON in RE-ANIMATOR (1985)

Not only is Ms. Crampton beautiful and sexy in Stuart Gordon’s classic H.P. Lovecraft adaptation, RE-ANIMATOR, but she’s also not shy about doing a great nude scene. The scene where her Megan Halsey is tied to a lab table, naked and spread eagle, and David Gale’s decapitated Dr. Carl Hill’s severed head asks her if she ever “got a little head before” remains one of the most memorable dark-humored (yet sexy) scenes in modern horror.

Eihi Shiina is sexy and sadistic in Miike's AUDITION

EIHI SHIINA in AUDITION (1999)

Another classic film, this time from director Takashi Miike, features Eihi Shiina as a shy actress who turns out to be a vicious psychopath. Still, Eihi is plenty hot during the scene where her Asami tortures Ryo Ishibashi with long needles. No one says “kitty, kitty kitty” quite the same way (well, that’s what it sounds like!). One of the few times an actress has made torture seem erotic.

DELPHINE SEYRIG and DANIELLE QUIMET in DAUGHTERS OF DARKNESS (1971)

There are a lot of female vampire movies that I could have listed here. From Catherine Deneuve and Susan Sarandon in THE HUNGER (1983) to several Hammer films, to the many erotic vampire films of directors like Jess Franco and, especially, the legendary Jean Rollin. But this one’s extra special. In director Henry Kumel’s classic, Seyrig’s Countess Bathory and Quimet’s Valerie not only generate sparks as vampire lovers, but this is also one helluva great vampire movie.

The ever-sexy Asia Argento

ASIA ARGENTO, in almost anything.

One of the sexiest actresses in genre films today, there is something undeniably sensual about Asia Argento. In numerous movies, from horror films like THE STENDAHL SYNDROME (1996), LAND OF THE DEAD (2005) and MOTHER OF TEARS (2007), to non-horror roles like the ones in B. MONKEY (1998) and the films she has directed, THE SCARLET  DIVA (2000) and THE HEART IS DECEITFUL ABOVE ALL THINGS (2004), she has proven her ability to turn up the heat with ease.

—END—

MONSTROUS QUESTION OF THE MONTH – AUGUST 2010

Posted in 2010, Monstrous Question of the Month, Sexy Stars with tags , , on August 25, 2010 by knifefighter

THE MONSTROUS QUESTION OF THE MONTH – AUGUST
RESPONSE # 1
(Questions Provided by Michael Arruda)


It sure is hot in August!  And humid, and sweaty, and— sultry.

With that in mind, here’s this month’s Monstrous Question:  Who gets your vote for the hottest, sexiest performance by an actor—male or female—in a horror film?

RESPONSE # 1 – NICK CATO:


.

.

.

.

In the 1980s, I was a HUGE fan of B-movie actress Michelle Bauer.  In some films she’s billed as Michelle McLellan.  And as Michelle McLellan, she starred in the campy, 1988 direct-to-video classic HOLLYWOOD CHAINSAW HOOKERS as “Mercedes,” one of the main hookers in the Gunnar Hansen-led chainsaw worshipping cult (oh yes…this one was destined to for greatness right from its inception).

Michelle Bauer in HOLLYWOOD CHAINSAW HOOKERS

In one unforgettable sequence that combines horror and sexy to the max, Mercedes takes a john back to her room.  After she disrobes, she covers her Elvis shrine in plastic, then revs up her chainsaw and cuts the poor bastard to pieces.  As the blood splashes all over the room (and herself), Michelle Bauer has the most wicked grin I’ve ever seen committed to film…and in the process became the hottest villain ever to grace an exploitation feature.

Director Fred Olen Ray may be no genius, but he knew how to repulse and turn on teenage horror fans at the same time like few others.  When (then) scream queen great Linnea Quigley gets overshadowed in her own film, you know Michelle was playing for keeps!

—END—

VAMPIRES SUCK

Posted in 2010, Colleen Wanglund Reviews, Parodies, Vampires, Werewolves with tags , , , , , , , , , on August 24, 2010 by knifefighter

VAMPIRES SUCK (AND SO DOES THIS MOVIE)
Review by Colleen Wanglund

Written and directed by Jason Friedberg and Aaron Seltzer, who also gave us DISASTER MOVIE (2008), MEET THE SPARTANS (2008), and SCARY MOVIE (2000) (and all of its sequels), VAMPIRES SUCK is a movie spoof of TWILIGHT (2008) and NEW MOON (2009).  I’m not usually one for spoof movies (although I thought AIRPLANE! {1980} was hysterical) but I was apparently the only one brave enough here at CinemaKnifeFight.com to see it.  I decided to take my daughter Darlene with me because, unlike me, she has seen the movies it spoofs.  Needless to say, each of us came away with a different take on VAMPIRES SUCK.  She liked it more than I did.

For those of you who have never seen TWILIGHT (2008) or NEW MOON (2009), they’re basically teen angst/romance stories with vampires and werewolves thrown in.  Bella Swan moves to Forks, Washington where she meets Edward Cullen, the vampire and Jacob Black, the werewolf.  She falls in love with Edward who later decides they can’t be together and Jacob falls in love with her and Bella basically says sorry but no.  Bella is attacked by a vampire in TWILIGHT and Edward saves her.  Bella is attacked by another vampire in NEW MOON and Jacob saves her.  Bella starts to pursue some self-destructive behavior to get Edward’s attention, after he leaves her.  At some point, Edward thinks Bella has died and so he decides he doesn’t want to live anymore.  He goes to Italy to “expose” himself to the world, so the other vampires will kill him.  Bella shows up at the last minute to save him.  There you go—two movies’ worth of teen angst and romance trying to also pass itself off as horror—in a nutshell.  Did I mention that I wouldn’t even give the original movies (or books) a peek?

Now for the movie I actually saw.

In VAMPIRES SUCK, Becca Crane moves to Sporks, Washington where she meets Edward Sullen and Jacob White.  Becca falls in love with Edward, but then decides they can’t be together.  Jacob falls in love with Becca, but she tells him sorry but no.  Basically the same as above, but full of jokes—mostly lame ones.  There are the obvious jokes about how Edward looks—the white skin, the hair, the clothes—with Becca referring to Edward’s look at one point as “heroin chic”.  When we first see Edward he’s got a powder compact in his hands.  There are also the obvious jokes about Jacob being a werewolf—he chases cats, has a tail hanging out of his jeans, and a very hairy chest.  The more mature members of Jacob’s pack show up to help him save Becca and do a song and dance number that reminded me of the old Chippendale dancers.  No one actually changes into a werewolf.  The scenes with Becca’s father Frank were not funny and almost uncomfortable to watch.  Upon bringing Becca home from the airport Frank tells her he kept her room the same as she left it (she lived with her mother in Nevada).  He opens the door and there is a crib and the bedroom is full of all kinds of dolls including Dad’s blow-up sex doll.  That scene came after her father commented on how grown up Becca is by pointing out her breast size.  Other lame jokes include Frank (the sheriff) using Jacob as a bloodhound to track a killer through the woods after a fisherman ends up dead, and Becca’s paper cut turning into a full on bleeder in front of Edward’s family (also vampires).  I believe the line was “I think I hit an artery.”  There’s also a scene where Becca is walking to her truck parked by “dangerous” bikers and she imagines Edward telling her that they’re dangerous, and she gets an empty beer can to the head…boring.  There’s also a very tasteless scene where Becca takes off her nightgown and is wearing a black pleather light-up bra and panties, complete with garters and black stockings.

What I liked about VAMPIRES SUCK are the three young stars.  Jenn Proske plays Becca Crane and plays her exactly like Kristin Stewart’s character Bella in the TWILIGHT films.  She had her mannerisms down to a tee; all of the ticks, over-blinking eyes, fluttery lips, and constantly pushing her hair behind her ear.  Jenn Proske didn’t need to exaggerate anything.  She was completely annoying and she was great at it!  Matt Lanter was quite funny as the sparkly Edward, exaggerating his Emo style without going too overboard.  The scenes where he’s riding a Segway were quite amusing. Chris Riggi was just as funny as Jacob, who is somewhat serious in the TWILIGHT movies but played it off here with the right amount comedy.  I found myself actually laughing the first time Jacob saw a cat and darted after it.  The writers had him as more of a dog than a werewolf….almost like a cute little puppy.  I also enjoyed seeing the tweens wearing Team Edward or Team Jacob tee shirts beating the crap out of each other with shovels and two by fours during the high school prom, which is where the climax of the spoof takes place.  The prom’s theme is vampires, and it’s meant to mimic the Saint Salvatore festival in Italy where the actual NEW MOON climax takes place.  There’s a song that Becca listens to on her iPod that is basically an Emo teen’s mantra—“my life is awful, I’m so depressed, why can’t I have an alternative boyfriend?—“it was so good they should put it on iTunes.

Darlene’s take on VAMPIRES SUCK was a bit different than mine.  I heard her laughing a bit more than I did.  She thought it was pretty funny, but not hilarious.  Darlene thinks you should see TWILIGHT and NEW MOON to really get the jokes in this spoof.  She points out a quote by Becca early in the movie that Darlene says describes Bella, the original character exactly—“I’m boring, have no real personality and yet every hot guy loves me.”  As far as the actors go, Darlene agrees with me about Jenn Proske—thinks she’s even better than Kristen Stewart.  She thought Matt Lanter was just like Edward with the comedic twist, and that Chris Riggi as Jacob “was cute.”  My other daughter Erica said the only purpose for Jacob in the original movies WAS to be cute.  My girls were on opposite sides of the “Edward or Jacob” argument at one time.

This was not a movie I would have gone to see on my own.  I really did take a bullet for the team on this one.  As Darlene said, you should probably have seen the TWILIGHT movies to get all of the jokes in VAMPIRES SUCK.  I didn’t see them (thankfully) and thought the movie overall was pretty lame.  I will say, though that I’m very picky when it comes to comedy.  I grew up on Monty Python, the Three Stooges, the Marx Brothers, Abbott and Costello, and Mel Brooks films, so I can be pretty hard to please.   One big plus for me, however was seeing Dave Foley from the old KIDS IN THE HALL comedy sketch show as the school’s principal.  Did I mention that the school’s sports teams were the Bloodsuckers?  Eh, it wasn’t that funny.  I thought the young kids sitting a few rows behind me were funnier.  They were just giggling their asses off through the whole movie.  I was surprised that there were young kids there.  Between some of the jokes and the final words of the film (involving the F word) I’m at a loss to explain how VAMPIRE SUCKS got a PG-13 rating.  At least I only paid the matinee price—although nowadays it isn’t all that much cheaper, is it?  I’ll remember this one guys.

This is one movie you can skip.

© Copyright 2010 by Colleen Wanglund