Saturday, February 26, 2011

Tower Of Blood (2005)

Tower Of Blood is one of those completely pointless low-budget horror films that you put on knowing that it most likely will suck. But you have this hope that it will be a bit of fun as well, and have a few interesting shots or at least a few laughs, with some jabs at its very genre. Tower Of Blood fails to do even that much.

It begins with a nurse in a mental hospital entering the room of one of the patients. "Why are the lights out?" she asks, then demands, "Timmy!" And then she's killed. After that, we get this insanely long sequence of the killers legs as he walks through Los Angeles. It seems to go on for like fifteen minutes, but is probably like three minutes - which is still way too long. I found myself wondering why the credits weren't playing over this sequence.

Anyway, he ends up at one building, and then my question about the credits is answered. The filmmakers decided to come up with what i'm sure to them felt like an original and cool idea for the credit sequence. An elevator door opens, and we see the name of one of the actors. Then it closes. When it opens again, we see the name of another actor. Okay. But it does this through the entire opening credit sequence, not just for the cast. I didn't count how many times that fucking elevator door opened and closed, but it took the length of two songs.

After the opening credits, we see a janitor cleaning an abandoned building. Why? Who knows? But he's listening to the radio, and on the radio is (of course) a report of the murders in the mental hospital. What's amazing is that it says "the police have no leads." Really? No leads? Do you think it might be the one mental patient who is no longer there? The one in whose room was found the corpse of the nurse? Could that be a clue? Hello?

At that moment, i realized the filmmakers were complete morons. But it gets worse. The killer appears and holds a machete up in front of the janitor. Instead of turning around and running, or even backing up, he just stands there and screams. For like thirty seconds. He just lets the guy kill him. This, it turns out, is par for the course. Not a single victim runs from the killer. Every time he is going to kill someone, the victim stands there and screams, which of course is not a very sound strategy. And if i were the killer, i'd be bored.

Anyway, three couples decide to have a party on the roof of an abandoned highrise. The same one the killer has made his new home, of course. In addition to the three couples, a guy named Jack comes along. Now all of these people appear to be in their late twenties. But when we're introduced to Jack, he's in bed, masturbating, and his little sister walks in. (Not to be mean to the child, but holy shit, that girl couldn't act to save her life - she was absolutely horrible.) And then he has to buy beer for the party, and is forced to doing what Toad did in American Graffiti - stand outside the liquor store, asking people to buy for him. And another character, Kirk, is told by his father to be home by one a.m. How old are these guys supposed to be?

One good thing: the party is at 8 p.m., and Kirk tells Maggie that he'll pick her up at 6:30 p.m. So this film actually took L.A. traffic into account.

Well, of course the group starts splitting off into couples so that they can be killed. And Jack starts wandering around. He gets very excited, as he comes upon two of his friends making out. This apparently is the most thrilling thing for him. He spies through a hole in the wall, and says stuff like, "Wow." From his perspective, what he sees is his fully clothed male friend's back. But then the killer steps into the room. Instead of shouting out a warning to them, he just watches as they're killed. Not a very nice guy.

There are a few amusing moments. Maggie asks Kirk where Sean is, and Kirk says, "He's probably looking for Randi or smoking a joint somewhere." The next shot is Sean lighting a joint. It was timed well. However, he then takes like two hits and tosses the joint on the floor and snuffs it out with his shoe as if it were a cigarette. No one on the planet would do that. No one. Finish that joint, asshole!

Randi ends up in a garage that has several cars, which makes no sense, as the building is abandoned, and the couples all parked their cars around the corner from the building. Whose cars are these?

Well, the three women are not unattractive, and they all have rather large breasts. Two of them take off their shirts, so there's that. But really, there isn't much else going on in this film.

One other thing. The DVD says the film is 81 minutes. Those 81 minutes include a closing credit sequence that is more than nine and a half minutes. Seriously. And that elevator opening credit sequence had to be at least five minutes. So really this is a 66-minute movie. And i still got bored.

Friday, February 18, 2011

An Introduction To Scientology DVD Review

In what is supposedly his only filmed interview, L. Ron Hubbard rants against psychology and psychiatry, and claims that Scientology raises people's I.Q.

Step aside, Andy Kaufman. The real sly comedic prankster is of course L. Ron Hubbard. He put one over on a lot of people (even Tom Cruise!). What a goof. He was a mediocre (at best) science fiction writer who, as the story goes, made a bet with a much better science fiction writer (Robert Heinlein) that he could get rich by creating a pseudo-religion. What a lark! What a cad! And the best part? He won the bet. And he's still winning, even from beyond the grave.
Fortunately he left the DVD-watching public this comedic gem. All of his best material is here - his rant against psychology, his racist remarks about Asian culture, his claim that Scientology raises people's I.Q. So sit back and listen to the master of mischief.


The first topic broached is how L. Ron Hubbard came up with the idea for Scientology. He talks about how people in Asia had reached "the lowest states of degradation." And he began to wonder, "What depths can man fall to?" Then he answered his own question by creating Scientology.

L. Ron Hubbard puts down philosophers, accusing them of spending their lives in "ivory towers." He also says that philosophers don't know anything about science or math, but that he himself did study these things in college. He also claims to have studied primitive cultures and then decided that they needed a hand. He says, "The real work here is to put man in a mental condition where he can solve his own problems." The goal of Scientology is to put people "in a position where they can confront their own problems and solve their own problems, and so bring them up by their own bootstraps" (well, sure, that and several thousand dollars worth of courses and purification ceremonies).

No Crazy Folks, Please

He doesn't want to help everyone, of course. He says, "The insane and so forth - somebody else can have them. They've already failed." Wow. He says an "auditor" (a practitioner of Scientology) has to have "very good moral fiber" - they won't take anyone with any bad background. He doesn't expand on just what he means by that. But he does say that Scientology only helps the able-bodied, sane, non-neurotic types, and that they're the only ones who should be helped.

About psychology L. Ron Hubbard has this to say, "Psychology is 1870-something - 1879 - decided that men were all animals." What? About psychiatry, he has this bit of brilliance: "Psychiatry has to do with the insane. And we have nothing to do with the insane whatsoever." Aww, no crazy people can join Scientology? That's hilarious. "The insane - well, they're insane," says the insightful L. Ron Hubbard.

And what exactly is Scientology? L. offers this definition: "Scientology means knowledge or truth, study of." He says, "The overall training of an auditor compares to the same number of class hours in college of about twelve years." Twelve years of class hours? That is a mighty long time to be in college, L. But it's worth it, because as one studies Scientology, one's I.Q. is raised.

Brain Is Brain
L. Ron Hubbard says that intelligence is arbitrary, and that one's brain has nothing to do with intelligence. He says, "Brain is brain. What it does, I'm never quite sure." Clearly.

"Processing is the principle of making an individual look at his own existence." Does that sound similar to psychoanalysis? L. Ron gets a bit flustered and says, "Don't associate Scientology with such people. That's terrible. That's bad manners, you know? That business about sex and all that sort of thing."

L. Ron Hubbard claims that a person "actually can exist independent of his body. This is one of the more interesting discoveries in Scientology." It sure is. And it makes getting right up front at a Bruce Springsteen concert a whole lot easier. He also says that Scientology has proved that there is life after death. But he doesn't go into it.

Mind And Spirit And Avoiding Medical Bills

He says a person's mind is "a record of his experience." "Man has an automobile accident. He has a picture of an automobile accident. He has all the sensations of having been hurt in the automobile accident. It takes him a long time to recover because he's still wearing the automobile accident. If you said, 'Hey, why don't you take this automobile accident and throw it away,' why, all of a sudden he recovers from the automobile accident. Naturally." Naturally. Folks, don't try this at home.

So that's the mind. And the spirit? L. Ron says, "You ask somebody, 'What is a spirit?' You might as well ask, 'How are you?' You get the same response." So apparently the spirit is I'm-all-right-how-are-you. Good to know.

Only Interview With L. Ron Hubbard

An Introduction To Scientology is hailed as the only filmed interview that L. Ron Hubbard ever granted. It was shot in 1966. The interviewer is shown only twice in the same frame as L. Ron Hubbard, and both times his back is to the camera, so there is no way of knowing what the guy was actually saying. At one point in the interview, L. Ron Hubbard stands up and moves over to the spot where the second camera would have to be to get the shots of the interviewer. Only, there is no camera there. That means all of that shots of the interviewer asking questions were filmed at another time. How sly!

About the press, L. Ron Hubbard says, "Most press is motivated by vested interests, as anyone knows. And they merely say what they're told to say." Exactly like this interview, exactly like this DVD. One last thing: in the interview, he claims to have never made any money from Scientology.

And that's that. Apparently L. Ron Hubbard never made another film after the hilarious An Introduction To Scientology. And that's a shame, because the world needs a clown and a prankster, especially in these uncertain times.

(Note: I originally posted this review on May 25, 2010.)

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Psycho Cop 2

Psycho Cop 2 is not a terrible movie. It's really not. It has a good sense of humor, and realistically depicts the police mentality.

Basically some guys are planning Gary's bachelor party. Rather than rent a hotel suite or go to a strip club, they've decided to use the office building where they work, and have the strippers come to them there.

In the opening scene a couple of guys are talking about the party in a doughnut shop, where Psycho Cop is enjoying his coffee. Psycho Cop overhears their conversation, which includes something about grass. He then leaves the shop, skipping to his police car, because he knows he's in for a fun night. In his car are severed body parts. The number "666" is written in blood on the dashboard. It's an excellent introduction to the character.

The cop then follows the guys to their office building (slowly, in his car), making one of them panic and drop the bag of pot into a nearby mailbox.

Psycho Cop parks his car outside the building. When we get a shot of the inside of the car, there is the sound of flies buzzing - a nice touch. Nobody is safe when there's a cop lurking about. You just know that real cops get together and watch this movie, using this lunatic as a role model.

After the party has started, Psycho Cop gets the night watchman to let him in, and then kills him, making wisecracks. The jokes in this film are obvious, but still generally work because they're coming from an insane cop. He feels justified in killing the watchman because he saw the watchman taking a bribe from one of the guys. Like any other cop, in enforcing the laws and rules, he breaks them all himself.

He shoots the groom in the head, and then reads him his rights: "You have the right to remain dead. Anything you say can and will be considered extremely strange because you're dead." He then kicks the corpse. Scenes like that are hilarious. Later, when pursuing one of the women, Psycho Cop says, "Subject is blond and considered extremely fucking stupid." Obvious, yes, but funny.

One of the characters, Brian, is nervous and suspects something terrible has happened to his friends. So later when they begin finding the bodies, he shouts, "Oh my god, I was right! I'm never right, but now I am right!" It's a great moment, poking fun at other horror films, and the genre in general.

And at the end there is a wonderful reversal of the Rodney King beating.

Also, there is a good amount of nudity in the film. And for the most part the women are actually pretty damn sexy, particularly Alexandria Lakewood as Cindy.

But there is some bad acting. It's admittedly difficult to act drunk, but these guys fail completely. It would have been better to actually get these actors drunk. And though the movie is really short, it still manages to wear out its welcome. The wisecracks become tiresome several scenes before the end. And characters do incredibly stupid things. They have plenty of opportunities to escape, but somehow manage to remain in the film. And that blonde that he calls "extremely fucking stupid" really is extremely fucking stupid. She has a gun pointed at Psycho Cop and could very easily kill him, but allows herself to be talked into dropping the gun and kicking it toward him. And this is after she knows he's killed several people. And thus the chase resumes. At that point, I checked out of the film.

Thursday, February 3, 2011

Miracle Beach (1992)

Miracle Beach is a silly and superficial movie about a guy named Scotty (played by Dean Cameron) who goes home one day to find his girlfriend in bed with his boss. His boss then fires him. A moment later his landlord evicts him. So he's having a rough time. Meanwhile Jeannie (a genie), played by the adorable Ami Dolenz, is sent to Earth to check up on humans or something. She doesn't want to go, but she's told that if she messes up this assignment, she'll be forever locked in her bottle without any powers.

Well, Scotty is trying to sleep on a bench at the beach, and a homeless guy played by Pat Morita gives him a blanket and a bottle. Scotty wishes that he had a warm bed and a couple of babes. In the morning he wakes in a big bed with two babes - though that bed is on the beach. Right away he realizes he has a magic bottle, which he grabs off the bedside table (though he didn't wish for a bedside table) and takes to some mystic, played by the wonderful Vincent Schiavelli, to get the scoop.

That's one of the things that's good about this movie. It has an interesting supporting cast. In addition to Pat Morita and Vincent Schiavelli, there is Martin Mull as a movie producer, Dean Cain (Lois & Clark: The New Adventures Of Superman) as a volleyball player, and Alexis Arquette as Lars. Yes, Alexis Arquette when he was still a boy. I personally prefer him as a girl - he's much better looking as a girl.

But the movie is pretty shallow. Jeannie begins granting wishes left and right to Scotty and his two friends. So they end up with a giant beach-front home and they throw a big party for some beauty pageant contestants. There are some slightly amusing jokes involving the beauty contestants, like Miss Iraq and Miss Kuwait fighting, and Miss Bermuda Triangle disappearing. But Scotty is using all his wishes to make a hottie (played by Felicity Waterman) fall in love with him. This isn't someone he's been pining for for years or anything. It's just some woman he saw on the beach and decided she was the one for him.

Predictably, she's not a good person, and Jeannie falls in love with Scotty. But he doesn't see that Jeannie is the one for him. It's the same old thing we've seen a million times (done best in the film Some Kind Of Wonderful). So Jeannie tries to help him win the girl's love while falling in love with him herself. We get the routine montage where she's trying to make him more cultured - so they go to an art museum and an expensive restaurant and so on. Blah, blah, blah.

Even after cathing Dana with another guy, Scotty's interest in her doesn't wane. Which makes no sense. When he caught his girlfriend with another guy in the opening scene, he immediately broke up with her. So they established that's something he doesn't put up with.

All through the movie i kept wondering, Wait, why was Jeannie sent to Earth? What was her mission? Because if she fails, she'll be stuck in the bottle forever. Forever. That's huge. So she's something of a genie fuck-up. And she turns out to be favor the Clippers over the Celtics, so clearly she's a mess.

Oh, and when the beauty contest actually happens, both Dana and Jeannie enter it, which is lame and makes no sense whatsoever. Dana is Miss Miracle Beach, and Jeannie is Miss Fantasy Land. Guess who wins.

The movie does provide a good amount of nudity in the form of the beauty pageant contestants. And there are some funny jokes: the vanity plate on Scotty's car says, "WISH #10." But basically this movie is flat and pointless.

The Loch Ness Horror (1981)

The Loch Ness Horror features an item i've never seen in another movie: a magic telescope. A man is in his home looking through this telescope, which is pointed straight out through his window, not up at an angle. What he sees is a fighter plane high above the ground. The plane dives down, and the camera (so also the telescope) pans with it. The plane continues down, actually going below the camera, which means that the plane is somewhere in the first floor of his house. The film cuts back to the man, and the telescope is still pointed straight out through the window. And again we see through his telescope. This time (and keep in mind it's pointed exactly where it was a moment earlier) he sees the Loch Ness Monster pop its head out of the lake. That is one amazing telescope.

Anyway, that was in 1940. The film then takes us to 1980, when two men are on a small inflatable raft in the lake. They talk about how they have all the gear they could beg, borrow or steal - though what it amounts to is two scuba tanks. Apparently, they're not good thieves or beggars. They see Nessie pop her head above water for a moment. So they put on their scuba gear, dive down, and find the plane and also a large egg. One of them is killed, but the other makes it to shore with the egg. An older man is waiting in a camper van at the shore. That night Nessie, who is amphibious, comes out onto the land and kills the guy who took the egg, but not the old guy, who remains in the camper van watching his cohort get killed.

There are also some college students on bicycles, and a somewhat cute (though incredibly prudish) girl with the worst Scottish accent ever in the history of film. And for some reason there's a kidnapping. The old guy in the camper van kidnaps the chick with the bad accent. It makes no sense whatsoever, but soon Nessie eats the guy anyway. That is one of the best shots in the film - the ridiculous Nessie creature with its mouth around the old guy's head. And by "best" i mean funniest.

This film also has an odd Shakespeare quote for no reason whatsoever. And the magic telescope comes into play once more near the end. The girl who was kidnapped returns home, changes her clothes and pretends she was home all along. Then she looks through the telescope and sees a diver on a raft who is about to set off some explosives that will kill Nessie and destroy (or at least damage) the fighter plane.

As the young scientist says at one point, "It isn't easy to achieve monster status." Indeed.

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Sorority Babes In The Slimeball Bowl-O-Rama (1987)

There really isn't much to say about Sorority Babes In The Slimeball Bowl-O-Rama. Three dorky guys are hanging out, drinking cheap beer and watching a movie, when one of them has the idea to spy on a sorority house because it's initiation night. So they go there and spy on them, though one of them is drunk from one can of Budweiser (and this guy turns out to be our hero - oh well). There are only two initiates, which is odd until you consider that there are only three girls in the sorority. So adding them almost doubles their numbers. (Apparently, there was no money in the budget for a few extras.)

One of the sorority girls - Babs, the chick in charge - is a bit of a sadist, and goes on paddling the two initiates for quite a while. One of the things i liked about this movie is the reference to the Marquis de Sade.

Anyway, the boys decide that looking through the window isn't good enough, so they sneak in, and watch the two initiates cleaning whipped cream off their bodies in the bathroom. In one of those completely unbelievable movie moments, the three guys stick their heads in the bathroom door, and neither of the girls notices. And for those who love nudity, this is a nice long pointless shower scene. One of the girls cleans the whipped cream from her breasts at least three times - but it's clearly that magically reappearing whipped cream that we've all read about but never been able to purchase. Goddamn government.

Babs, however, catches the guys, and makes them part of the girls' initiation. The five of them must break into a bowling alley and steal a trophy. The guys, thinking that they'll score with the two girls, go along with it, and when they get to the bowling alley they find the door already open. That's because another girl (named Spider) has decided to rob the place, but to rob it very slowly. Also, the bowling alley is somehow attached to a mall, though from the exterior shots it seems impossible. And Babs' father owns the mall, so the three sorority girls sneak in with the aim of scaring the other girls and the guys. But really they just go to the security area and watch them on the cameras.

They find a trophy, but when one of them drops it, an imp is allowed to escape from its confines. At first it promises to grant them each a wish, but then decides to kill them. One of the problems with this movie is that the imp doesn't do any of the killing. Instead, he turns two of the three sorority girls into demons and lets them kill the others while he cracks lame jokes and watches. But actually, he rarely moves, so I guess he's able to see the whole place in his mind or something.

There is no sex in the film, even though one of the guys wishes to have sex with one of the initiates, and so she is suddenly all hot for him. But as soon as they're alone, he tries to stall, saying she's moving too fast. But she's not moving too fast. In fact, their not-having-sex scene goes on for an insanely long time. They keep cutting back to it, with him saying, "Wait, wait, wait, wait." Even the imp forgets about them for quite a while. Whatever.

The acting is terrible. But the imp is slightly amusing, and the movie doesn't take itself at all seriously. And there are a couple of decapitations. And you can't help but love the film's title. So there.