Monday, August 22, 2011

Horrors Of Spider Island (1960)

As far as we know, it's an island, and there certainly is a spider. But horrors? Not really.

The movie begins with a series of dance auditions, but the folks holding the auditions aren't really asking the women to dance. In fact, the first woman that they do ask to dance is a ballet dancer. She tells them right up front that ballet is her area of expertise, so they ask her to dance. And she's good. But when she's finished they tell her they're not looking for ballet dancers. Odd that she's the one they wanted to see dance.

Well, several women are chosen, but their plane crashes into the ocean before they reach their destination. Apparently they all survive, though the stock footage of the plane going down makes it look like everyone was doomed. Anyway, it's been four days, and they're on a raft, hoping a boat will pass by. But guess what, they see land. So they manage to get ashore, but don't bother securing the raft. I guess they figure they'd rather die than get back in that thing and try their luck at sea.

Later they begin to scout the area. The one man in the group - Gary - finds a hammer. That proves the island is inhabitable, he deduces. Then he says, "A hammer with a long handle. It must be for the purpose of excavating some sort of metal, most probably uranium." This is the guy who hires trashy dancers. This is after several days with no food or shelter. And that's what he says. He doesn't seem all that excited about the prospect of civilization. Instead, he shows off his odd knowledge of hammers. But guess what? The island's inhabitant - the professor (where's Mary Ann?) - was finding uranium deposits. But he's dead now. They find him attached to a giant spider web. Uh-oh.

Gary soon gets bitten by the spider. Moments later he is beginning to turn into a spider himself. His transformation, however, only extends to his face and his hands. He runs off into the jungle to get accustomed to his new identity on his own. He does show up again, though, to kill Linda for some reason.

When the others find Linda's body, we get this amazing dialogue:

STUPID GIRL #1: "She's been strangled."
STUPID GIRL #2: "The spider."

Anyway, after one girl is dead and Gary is missing, two guys who work with the professor show up, and the remaining girls decide to play dress-up. Gladys says, "The boys will be surprised when they see how we dressed ourselves up in our island costumes." Indeed. And I was surprised that the girls weren't more interested in getting off the island. They're more interested in fighting over one of the men. One of the girls even professes to be in love with him. Wow, that's fast.

It's interesting too because they establish early on that the food they find in the professor's cabin will last a month. And then later one of the girls says that it's been twenty-eight days. You'd think they'd be concerned with the lack of food and the prospect of dying and all. Oh, also early on there is a scene where the girls fight over the clothes they find in the professor's cabin. Of course none of them ever wear these clothes.

Anyway, the movie ends with Gary running into quicksand. Lame. And the girls get on a boat and sail away. But they probably never got to their dancing gig. And perhaps the boat sank and they had to spend another four days on a life raft, and then starting eating each other. That's how I imagine it, anyway.

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Sasquatch (2002)

Sasquatch could have been a better film. It has a decent cast, and a decent premise. A plane has gone down, and after two months, the search has been called off. So Harlan Knowles (Lance Henriksen) assembles his own team to go looking for the plane, because his daughter was on board, as well as a piece of machinery that's important for his company. Each of the characters has his or her own reason for wanting to go on this search, and of course their hunt leads them into the territory of the sasquatch. Sounds okay, doesn't it?

But the problems start right at the beginning. We get lots of exposition, and most of it is given to us twice - first by a news reporter, and then again by one of the main characters. It's not like the information is hard to follow. A plane went down; they couldn't find survivors - we got it.

There is an attractive blonde in the group, and when she goes to her tent to turn in for the night we get some odd softcore porn music as she takes off her sweater and pants. And the camera angles get all weird. Seriously, it's like we're suddenly watching a strip flick, except that she has on another shirt underneath the sweater, and leaves that on. It's impossible to figure out the filmmaker's intentions with this scene, unless it's simply to annoy the viewers.

The blonde keeps hitting on Lance Henriksen. In one scene she mentions something about going to a hot spring that she saw earlier, and wants one of the men to accompany her. One of the other guys jumps at the chance, but she turns him down. So Lance begrudgingly volunteers. Another guy gives Lance a gun in case they're attacked, and Lance says, "If she gets fresh, I'll use it." That's a good bit of dialogue. And there are other nice little moments like that, and a couple of surprising bits, like when they find a gun on the plane, and there is an arm attached to it. And when they stumble upon the sasquatch's stash of goodies. Of course, Lance Henriksen is always good. I particularly like the moment when he's watching the footage his daughter shot on her video camera.

But the editing is all over the place in this film. There are lots of annoying fades that seem to have no purpose. And there is a scene whose editing defies explanation. Lance and another character are talking in the cockpit; then Lance is in the other section of the plane; then they're back in the cockpit, talking; then Lance is outside the plane; then they're back in the cockpit talking. What the fuck is that about? My only guess is that the editor thought that the cockpit scene was too dull, so he spliced in bits from other scenes.

And there are some big leaps - like that the sasquatch would somehow know what the piece of equipment was for. Come on, that's ridiculous. Most of the film's characters don't even know what it's for until Lance explains it to them. And some characters do things you just don't believe at all. Like the blonde - she suddenly decides to steal the equipment and make a run for it at night, even after they've been attacked by the sasquatch. Totally unbelievable, especially considering that she's already gotten what she wanted from Lance.

This is a bad movie that could have been better had the writers done a few more drafts, and the editor not been on heavy medication. (Oddly, the editor also worked on Brothers Bloom, a movie that I absolutely loved.)

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Domino (2005)

I had heard that Domino was bad. I heard it was really bad. So I thought I was prepared. But no, this isn't just a bad movie. It's an obnoxious, irritating and pointless pile of garbage. I want to rub Tony Scott's nose in this film, and hit him with a rolled up newspaper. This movie is worse than Showgirls, worse than Black Dahlia, worse than Charlie's Angels: Full Throttle. We're in BAPs territory here.

Rarely is a film this irritatingly bad - so awful that everyone responsible for it deserves a painful death. Seriously. I mean everyone involved - assistant directors, craft service people, the drivers, everyone. Or at least some serious jail time. Tony Scott should be gang-raped in a prison shower. (I'm not kidding.)

The plot? I don't know. Something about a dumb bounty hunter named Domino telling her story to an FBI agent played by the lousy Lucy Liu. And so everything is in flashback, and lines are repeated over and over - not that any of them were interesting the first time around. Images are repeated too. As you watch the movie, you feel like you're actually watching it two or three times through, and that is infuriating because it's not worth sitting through even once. Anyway, there is some stolen money. And a reality show. And an extended scene with Jerry Springer for some reason. And a pointlessly severed arm. (The reason for its being severed is so horribly contrived and stupid that Richard Kelly, the screenwriter, should be forced to submit to dangerous experimental medical tests to redeem himself.) And then at the end of the film they edit in the climactic gun fight from True Romance. Seriously. Watch carefully - that's actually Christian Slater and Patricia Arquette at the end. Pretty sure, anyway.

What's good about it? Nothing. And I mean nothing. Not a single moment, not a single shot, not a single line of dialogue is worth a damn. There is nothing the least bit interesting about this film. It's like the whole movie was an experiment to see what an audience would put up with. Every shot is irritating. Every character is irritating. The whole thing is so contrived and so full of itself. It's like a violent retarded child that you intentionally leave at the park in the hope that someone else will take it in, but no one does, and it keeps showing up at your door demanding attention. Put it down and move on.