Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Snow Shark: Ancient Snow Beast (2011)

Sharks are showing up in all sorts of places they shouldn’t, like in grocery stores (Bait) and in Louisiana swamps (Swamp Shark). Now a shark is in the woods. If you think that sounds absolutely ridiculous, you are right. Snow Shark is a completely retarded turd of a film, with terrible acting, dialogue and special effects to match its absurd premise.

As the movie opens, three people – Professor Hoffman, Bianca and Gabe – are walking through the woods, getting ready to do fun science stuff. Bianca asks the Professor what the plan is. The Professor’s plan is to provide some exposition: “The reports have been since the earthquake the wildlife in the area has been diminishing.” Then he says they’re here “to find answers, take samples, and let science figure it all out.” Good plan. Professor and Gabe leave Bianca to tend the fire while they go out hunting for answers. They soon find a dead deer, and the professor takes out his tape recorder to let us know that it’s actually 1999.

They see a hole in the snow, somehow leading Professor to say, “The creature must have been frozen in the ice for centuries, millenniums even.” Yes, “millenniums.” Science is his thing, not English apparently. Gabe says, “It’s the only explanation.” Really? A creature that has been frozen in the snow for thousands of years is the only explanation for a hole in the snow? I can think of a couple of other explanations. Like some kids were tunneling in the snow. Or perhaps a set dresser. Anyway, Professor continues: “The earthquake must have freed it. The creature must be prehistoric.” I love it when science makes a leap of faith.

They decide to leave. But a shark fin then cuts through the snow. Keep in mind, the snow is only, at the most, a foot deep. Anyway, the snow shark eats Gabe, with poorly done CG blood splattering the snow. If you watch it frame by frame, you’ll see the blood splatter stay suspended in the air while the character moves. Amazing. The shark kills Bianca, so Professor makes another recording with his little machine. The shark gets him too.

Then twelve years later, Alex and Leslie are walking through the woods. Leslie says Alex should kiss her, but the shark gets her first, which lets Alex off the hook. But then the shark gives Alex a little bite as well. Alex limps off and runs into another man. (By the way, the snow is just slush at this point, so they’re probably safe.) Alex tells the man a shark got him and then he dies. The man says, “You’re not making any sense, boy.” And I say, “You’re not making any sense, movie,” and I finish my beer.

A man named Mr. Campbell goes to see the Mayor in the morning (while an awful Christmas song keeps playing). He tells him about the couple that was killed. So they hold a town meeting. The sound design is so fucked up in this film. There is crowd noise in the background, even when there is clearly only one person talking. Is there a second meeting going on just outside or something? Where is all that other noise coming from? Well, a hick named Mike says it’s been seven years since he killed the snow shark. He says the beast gave him something to remember him by, and lifts his left sleeve quickly to reveal what seems to be a faint bruise or a smudge of dirt. That causes the women in the room to gasp, so you know they’re eager to wash his arm. Anyway, Mike says he killed the beast once so he can kill it again, which certainly makes a whole lot of sense to me. Mike takes his little merry band of backwoods retards a-hunting. Yee-haw!

That night, four ugly, tattooed people are in a hot tub listening to the worst rock song ever recorded. Usually in a horror movie, I enjoy a bit of nudity, but this time I really just wish they’d put on some clothes. A lot of clothes. Cover every inch of skin, including their faces. One by one, they step out of the hot tub into the shark’s mouth. These aren’t bright people, you understand. This, of course, is their only scene, which means sadly they were hired for the nudity. The casting director must have been a senile, blind, pathetic, old fart of a man.

Meanwhile, Lincoln hands an envelope to his unattractive secretary and announces he’s off on another monster quest.

Another hick named Bruce has a talk with dad, Sheriff Don, while something is ticking loudly. Did the boom guy hold his watch too close to the microphone? This movie has the worst sound of any film I’ve ever seen. Also, the snow shark doesn’t move like other sharks. It lurks, standing still, watching its prey, and then when it grabs someone, it drags them backwards. Also, it growls. Odder still, it is somehow able to move undetected through like two inches of slush.

Well, Bruce is killed, so now Sheriff Don is going to hunt the shark. No word at this point on whether Mike and his friends have made any progress on killing it again.

Lincoln arrives on the scene. He, a female biologist and a hunter named Cameron are hired by the Mayor to hunt the snow shark. So that makes three separate teams of terrible actors off to get the shark. These people have trouble even speaking. At one point the Mayor says, “I see you did your researched as well.” (I listened to it four or five times to make sure, and yup, that’s what he says.)

Finally we see Mike. He and his buddies are still inside, looking at their guns and drinking. This is an important part of the hunt, you understand, as apparently it’s been going on for several days.

The loud ticking returns in a scene with a guy dressed as Santa, so it must be the boom guy’s wristwatch.

Sheriff Don teams up with Lincoln, Cameron and the girl. So now there are just two teams. But the snow shark had better hurry up and eat everyone because the snow is clearly melting. In many shots, it’s slush and mud. The Santa guy is standing in a dirt alley behind his shop in town, and somehow the snow shark leaps up and kills him. I think it had been hiding inside a nearby truck.

The shark then goes back to the woods and kills Mike’s entire team, leading Mike to shout, “Take me, goddamn it!” (Did I mention that the script is awful?) Well, Team #2 springs into action. At one point, Cameron says, “You’re awfully quiet, Sheriff.” Sheriff Don responds, “There’s nothing worth saying.” So true, and yet all the other characters can’t seem to stop spouting some of the worst dialogue of any film. Sheriff, please tell them none of it is worth saying, and then shoot anyone who chooses to speak anyway.

Well, all Team #2 does is secure a single motion control camera to a single tree. So if the shark happens to travel past that particular tree – on that particular side of the tree – they’ll learn that it did so. Hurrah for Team #2.

At this point, the writer decided the script was moving along too well, and inserted an even worse scene. A bar scene that just won’t stop. The bartender sagely says, “There’s too much death going on in this town.” Ah, it’s sentiments like that that earn him the big tips. Well, a mysterious stranger complete with an eye patch shows up at the bar. Mike says: “Your face. I’ve seen it before. Who are you?” And oh boy, it’s Professor from the first scene. He’s still alive! He says, “I used to believe that the world deserved to know the evolution of different species.” Apparently now he’s become a creationist. What a card! Anyway, he has a score to settle with the snow shark. He says all he wanted to do was die, but the snow shark wouldn’t let him. What a mean snow shark. I would have let the guy die. Professor tells Mike, “It feeds off my anguish, my suffering.” Funny, I thought it fed off ugly hot tub people.

Mike, suddenly bonding with Professor, says, “It keeps me alive just to feed off my pain.” These guys are so full of themselves. So they team up. And we get a scene of them drinking and looking at their guns (because, remember, that’s an important and lengthy step in any good snow shark hunt).

Lincoln gets no footage of the snow shark on his lone camera, and is surprised. He thinks maybe he should set up the camera in another spot. Hey, maybe in that alley. Instead, he, Cameron, Sheriff Don and the girl go hunting. The shark kills Cameron and the girl. The girl’s death is particularly stupid. She is on the ground, looks up at the shark, then lies back down as if accepting her fate, like it was going to fuck her or something.

Sheriff Don and Lincoln then team up with Mike and Professor. And soon it’s over, with Mike killing the snow shark with a grenade, and dying in the effort. A cop cheers Sheriff Don by telling him he’ll make a fresh pot of coffee. But then three more snow sharks show up. And that’s the end.

Films are the result of a collaborative effort of many people. So when you see a movie as bad as this one, you want to spread the blame around. However, this awful film is really the fault of one man, Sam Qualiana. He wrote it, directed it, stars in it (as Mike the hick), was the director of photography, the art director, the weapons master. He also did the behind-the-scenes photography somehow. Maybe if he’d tried to focus on just one thing, like the script, it might have been just a little less completely fucking terrible.

However, the actors are all basically awful. The worst is probably Andrew Elias, who plays Lincoln. He also worked as a PA on the film, as well as script supervisor. Actually, six people are credited as script supervisors on this film. That of course defeats the purpose of even having a script supervisor, for if there is no continuity of the actual continuity person, then there’s likely going to be problems with the film.

Saturday, December 14, 2013

I’m With Lucy (2002)

I’m With Lucy stars Monica Potter, Gael Garcia Bernal, David Boreanaz, John Hannah, Anthony LaPaglia and Henry Thomas. So with a cast like that, I had hopes that it would be a good film.

It is so sad to see such a talented cast deliver such awful dialogue. Lucy (Monica Potter) is standing outside Gabriel’s door, fixing her makeup. From the other side, Gabriel (Gael Garcia Bernal) says, “Your makeup looks fine,” and then opens the door. Lucy is upset, accusing Gabriel of spying on her. She says, “What if I spied on you when you were going to the bathroom?” That makes no sense. If someone is at your door, it’s natural to look through the peep hole to see who it is, as Gabriel did. Plus, this is his place, not hers, so how can he be spying on her? Terrible. But what’s worse is Gabriel’s response: “You would be rewarded. I look good when I pee.” Yes, this movie forces Gael Garcia Bernal to say, “I look good when I pee.”

That is only seven minutes into the film. But the movie had gone wrong approximately six and a half minutes earlier, when Monica Potter delivers an incredibly stupid speech to a girl at a makeup counter about how her boyfriend is perfect but that she has problems. “He has no flaws. Me, I have tons of flaws. I have mood swings, allergies, low self-esteem, I’m quite compulsive. Most of the guys I ever dated thought I was a weirdo.” It’s so contrived, so completely unbelievable, and not at all funny. She ends her stupid speech by saying, “I just know that we’re going to be in love forever.” Predictably, in the next scene Lucy’s boyfriend, Peter (Craig Bierko), breaks up with her. In a crowded elevator. Come on. He says: “Sexually, I’m unsatisfied. It’s not that I find you undesirable. It’s just your technique is pedestrian.” And he goes on from there, causing one of the other people on the elevator to comment, “Whoa.” Just completely fucking awful. And this is the opening of the film.

Anyway, Lucy then goes on a series of blind dates over the course of the next year, and we see bits of each one. And all of this is in flashbacks. In the present, Monica and her sister are setting up their friend Melissa on a blind date. And this blind date happens to be at Monica’s wedding. That’s fucking ridiculous. But they’re still talking about Lucy’s five dates, and her sister says, “Melissa, in one hour, Lucy is marrying one of those dates.” How’s that for an awkward and contrived line? But that line is supposed to grab our interest. We’re supposed to be curious as to which of these five men she’s going to marry.

The problem with that is that everyone in the movie, with the exception of John Hannah’s character (John Hannah somehow always manages to come off all right), is immediately despicable. This is a group of people that you want to put into a large blender and then dump the resulting mess into the New York sewer. I don’t care who Lucy marries, because in her first line of dialogue she comes across as an insane, self-involved monster. So what do I care who she ends up with, as long as it isn’t John Hannah, as he deserves better.

I’m a big fan of John Hannah’s work, particularly in Four Weddings And A Funeral and Sliding Doors. Anyway, back to their date, he is being pleasant, expressing an interest in Lucy’s jazz records. She, in turn, is a drunk bitch to him, saying, “I notice a small mole with two black hairs sticking out of it on the back of your neck.” She’s lying on her couch, not being much of a host, and so he glances at her bookshelves (something I myself always do), and she angrily asks, “Why in the hell are you looking at my books?

Anthony LaPaglia plays Bobby, an ex-baseball player who played for the Mets, but was injured in September of 1986 and so didn’t play in the World Series. He has to deliver this line: “Can you imagine what it’s like to miss a World Series because you hurt your groin?” Again, awful dialogue. Just awful.

Then poor Lucy has to prove to Barry (Henry Thomas) that she’s bonkers by ranting to a store clerk about nasal decongestants. This movie is just relentless in making its actors deliver terrible dialogue. It honestly feels mean. Like deliberately mean to the actors.

Forcing yet two more actors to deliver shitty dialogue, the movie includes Harold Ramis and Julie Christie as Lucy’s parents, who meet Lucy while she’s on one of her dates and then invite them back to their place for dinner. While all four then watch home movies of Lucy as a child, Julie Christie says, “Honey, wasn’t that the day you got your first menstrual cramp?” Really? Why would Julie Christie agree to do that? What dirt did the director have on her?

The film is meanest to Monica Potter, who has to act drunk on her date with Doug (John Hannah). Why are they even continuing their date anyway? Why didn’t Doug politely make an excuse and leave? Well, John Hannah has to say, “Let’s drink to the happiness that awaits us and embrace the great cosmic process that placed us here together tonight.” What he should say is, “Sober up, you heartless tart.”

Gabriel says, “I can sense your energy around the room.” Lucy responds, “You’re a much more advanced creature than I am.” Someone wrote that. Someone named Eric Pomerance. And then the director, Jon Sherman, forced these two talented actors to say these lines. Perhaps at gunpoint?

Here are a few more lines from this piece of shit:
Bobby: “I have a humongous sex life. Humongous.”
Lucy (to Gabriel): “I can sense the energy from your ear lobe.”
Barry: “Greatness is floating around me like a big blimp.”

Okay, I’ve got it. This film is the result of some bet. Director Jon Sherman boasted to writer Eric Pomerance that he could get actors to say absolutely anything. Eric didn’t believe him, so Jon said, “Eric, write me the worst fucking script ever, and I bet I can get people like Julie Christie, John Hannah, Harold Ramis, Gael Garcia Bernal and Monica Potter to do it.” Eric was certainly up to the challenge and handed Jon one of the worst scripts in film history, thinking Jon wouldn’t even be able to get Carrot Top and Kathy Griffin to touch it. But somehow, possibly through blackmail, Jon was able to put together his dream cast.

Now there are a couple of slightly amusing moments, like when Doug tells Lucy that she could slip into a coma, and when Barry remarks (upon seeing a poster in Lucy’s childhood room): “Hey, George Michael. You guys were really in love.” But that’s it.

I thought the movie would be over at the end of the five first dates, but no. We see her on further dates with two of the guys. What happened to the others? They managed to escape somehow. Well, one of them (Bobby, the baseball player) ends up as Melissa’s blind date at Lucy’s wedding. But John Hannah and Gael Garcia Bernal apparently had had enough, and took off. Good for them. The others didn’t get off quite so easily. Poor David Boreanaz is directed to write “I like U” in the sand with his finger. Geez. He’s not twelve years old.

At one point in the film it says, “Six weeks later” on screen, which prompted me to wonder, “Six weeks later than what?” The film has been bouncing around to different times from the start. So is it six weeks later than the most recent point, meaning she’s been married for six weeks? Nope.

Near the end, as apparently the film hasn’t done enough damage, we have to suffer through a karaoke scene. I detest karaoke. I loathe it. And that leads to the wedding scene. But again, who cares? And even when the movie is over, it continues to suck by attacking us with a shitty pop song during the closing credits.

This is the kind of movie I wish I could cause physical harm to. I want to hurt this movie. I want to punch this movie repeatedly in the face.

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Jack Frost 2: Revenge Of The Mutant Killer Snowman (2000)

Some folks think Halloween is the holiday that is filled with horror and frights. But the rest of us know the scariest holiday of all is Christmas. I shake with terror at just the thought of hearing “Rudolph The Red-Nosed Reindeer” or trying to find a parking space at the mall in December. And Christmas is the holiday with mutant killer snowmen. So there.

In Jack Frost 2: Revenge Of The Mutant Killer Snowman, scientists try to bring Jack Frost back to life. Why? Who knows? They have trouble with their task, and it takes a clumsy janitor to knock the right ingredient into the tank. The janitor is rewarded with death, as the tank explodes. Apparently, Jack Frost escapes in liquid form down the drain.

By the way, the opening scene of this film is great, with Sam telling his psychiatrist about Jack Frost, while several people listen in from the other room and laugh, causing the psychiatrist to laugh as well.  I imagine that sort of thing happens all the time. If I worked as psychiatrist or psychologist, I’d want to share my patients’ hilarious madness with others.

Anyway, Sam and his wife go to an island for Christmas to attend a friend’s wedding. Jack Frost knows about this, and travels across the ocean, stopping at a raft to kill a couple of guys who have a carrot. One of those guys is played by Doug Jones, by the way. A very cool cameo appearance.

The carrot then washes ashore and talks about the party it sees. When folks at the party start singing “Jingle Bells,” I want them to die and to die quickly. But instead the carrot goes and kills a few girls on the beach.

Yes, this is a very silly movie, and it is played for comedy as much as horror. Those who work at the resort decide the girls’ deaths are the result of a shark attack so as not to alarm anyone (sort of the opposite of the way things are handled in shark movies). Jack Frost then takes the form of several ice cubes. And when a model rubs one of the ice cubes on her tits to make them hard, the ice cube says, “God, I must have been a good boy this year.”

Jack Frost soon brings winter to the island, so all the guests have a snowball fight. Jack Frost gets in on the fun, but his snowballs kill people, leading Sam to comment, “It’s another holly jolly Christmas.” Indeed.

This is one of those horror films where the killer has more personality than any (or indeed, all) of the other characters. I love it when Jack Frost says, “Let me explain to you the inherent dangers of unregulated genetic experimentation.”

Later in the film a snowball hatches, and we get a little baby killer snowman, which is just fucking great. And then suddenly there are lots of them, having a grand time (think Gremlins, or perhaps Critters). And during the closing credits there’s a good joke on all those dubbed Japanese monster movies.

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Ice Cream Man (1995)

I just wrote a review of Swamp Shark, which features a performance by Wade Boggs. Oddly, Ice Cream Man also features a performance by a baseball player – this time by Steve Garvey.

Ice Cream Man is an odd little film, starring Clint Howard as Gregory Tudor, a very creepy and demented ice cream man. The film opens with a scene from Gregory’s childhood, when a professional hit is carried out on the neighborhood ice cream man. Young Gregory witnesses this murder and is clearly traumatized, asking, “Who’s going to bring the ice cream, Mommy?” An important question for any child.

Then we settle into the present, with Gregory all grown up and having answered his own question by becoming an ice cream man himself. He acts very creepy, demanding that children say “Please” when ordering ice cream, and keeping mice, bugs and eyeballs in the ice cream. But hey, he’s not the only creepy adult. There’s a guy in the park picking up trash who seems a bit unsavory, as four children eat their ice cream and talk about the pied piper. The children’s parents are a little odd too. In fact, basically all the adults in this film are a bit odd.

One thing that makes this one definitely worth watching is the cast. It’s kind of amazing (and a bit sad). David Warner (from Time Bandits, the 1968 version of A Midsummer Night’s Dream and lots of other great films) plays Reverend Langley, a father to one of the children. David Naughton (from An American Werewolf In London and Hot Dog…The Movie) plays Martin Cassera, the father to one of the other children. Olivia Hussey (who played Juliet in Zeffirelli’s 1968 version of Romeo And Juliet) plays Nurse Wharton. E.E. Bell (whom Irish music fans in Los Angeles know as the front man of The Whooligans) plays Happy Doctor.

It’s a weird horror movie, because in a way it’s really a children’s film. We mostly follow the children, who think that the ice cream man killed one of their friends. None of the adults believe them, of course. So they have to do the detective work themselves. They follow him to the cemetery, where Gregory has brought treats for the old ice cream man killed in the opening scene.

There are some great lines. Gregory says to a detective: “I chop up policemen and use them as fertilizer. They make great fertilizer.” Later a detective asks the children, “Do you guys want to end up on a milk carton?” And the ice cream man’s police puppet show for the kids near the end is absolutely wonderful.

This is by no means a great film. But it is certainly an enjoyable one.

Monday, December 9, 2013

Swamp Shark (2011)

I love baseball and I love shark movies. So a shark movie with Wade Boggs in a supporting role couldn’t possibly be all that bad. And it’s not. Swamp Shark also stars Kristy Swanson, whom you might recall from Buffy The Vampire Slayer and 8 Heads In A Duffel Bag. It’s an enjoyable (though ridiculous) film about some previously unknown type of shark that can survive in the deepest parts of the ocean and also in the shallows of the Louisiana swamps. It’s also fond of leaping out of the water. There is a bit of the showman in this shark, but who can blame him? After all, he finally has an audience.

Anyway, at the beginning of the film, the sheriff orders some kids out of an area near the water, and then instructs a tanker truck to come in. The tanker is carrying an exotic animal, and somehow the tank comes loose from the truck, and rolls down the hill into the water. And the shark escapes, thus becoming Swamp Shark. The sheriff says, “What a lousy way to start the summer.” But you can’t help but wonder what the plan had been. Why had the truck pulled up to that specific spot in the first place? Later we learn that the sheriff is the middle man in some scheme to sell rare and endangered animals. But what specifically was supposed to occur at that spot by the water? Was the buyer going to take a look into the tank and then tell the driver to continue on? Well, let’s not worry about it.

Kristy Swanson plays Rachel, a woman who runs a restaurant called Gator Shed, where the main action is letting children watch her brother feed alligators out back. It’s a family place, as not only Rachel and her brother Jason work there, but also their younger sister Crystal.

Early on, we get that tired scene of the drunk stumbling around the pier and becoming food for the shark. But in this version, Rachel is woken by the noise and runs out onto the pier with a gun, seeing the shark. So this film doesn’t waste a lot of time with people in the dark about what’s happening.

Apparently the drunk guy didn’t provide enough sustenance for Swamp Shark, because the shark also ate all of the alligators in the restaurant’s pen. The sheriff doesn’t believe Rachel’s story about the shark, though he’s of course partially to blame for the trouble. The sheriff then wants to shut the restaurant down for some reason.

So Rachel leads her employees on a hunt for the shark in order to save the restaurant. It doesn’t make a whole lot of sense, but that’s okay. Also, I’ve worked at a few restaurants, and I had no trouble walking away from those jobs. But this is mainly a family thing, so it’s a little more understandable – though Rachel and her brother (who used to be a professional football player) don’t want Crystal tagging along. That’s because they want to keep her safe, but what it really does is give her the opportunity to put herself into more danger by accepting an invitation to go on a houseboat with some college kids.

Oh, did I mention that it’s Gator Fest? Yup, just like the fourth of July in the original Jaws, Gator Fest supplies the opportunity for lots of people to be put in danger. Well, it should have been lots of people. Unfortunately, this film seemed to be able to afford only a dozen or so extras. So Gator Fest comes across as a very lame celebration. Really, Gator Fest would provide little more than a light snack for Swamp Shark.

Anyway, the shark hunt begins, and twice people remark surprise that the shark didn’t flinch when they shot at it. It’s a seriously stupid thing to say, and it’s said twice. The shark didn’t even flinch. Ah, no matter, because what you’re probably wondering is, Where the fuck is Wade Boggs? Well, he plays Deputy Stanley. Jason (the ex-football player brother) is arrested, and Wade Boggs is in charge of watching him there at the station. Wade says to him, “I played a little ball myself.” Awesome. That right there makes Swamp Shark better than most of the other shark movies.

And of course Wade Boggs has the perfect name for a film set in a swamp. By the way, this film has some great locations. And it has the deliciously retarded shot of the shark leaping onto land at one point.

Swamp Shark was directed by G. E. Furst.