Friday, December 25, 2015

Sand Sharks (2011)

As you’re probably aware, recent government bills lifting restrictions on sharks have allowed them to expand into new territory. They are no longer limited to the ocean. Sharks are everywhere these days – in lakes, in swamps, in the snow, in tornadoes – so it should surprise no one to find them in the sand. Sand Sharks stars Corin Nemec (whom you might recall from Raging Sharks), Brooke Hogan (whom you might recall from 2-Headed Shark Attack), Eric Scott Woods (whom you might recall from Avalanche Sharks), Gina Holden (whom you might also recall from Avalanche Sharks), and Vanessa Evigan (whom you won’t recall from Avalanche Sharks, though she did work on it in the visual effects department).

It opens with some guys riding dirt bikes on the sand. Now when riding dirt bikes one thing you’re not worried about is a shark attack. But if they had read the title on the DVD case, they’d know better. Jimmy Green (Corin Nemec) is a slightly shady guy with a plan to get the town back in shape. He wants to start a celebration, which he calls The Sandman Festival, to draw people to the town to help its economy. His father is the mayor, so he’s able to put his idea into motion. Meanwhile Sheriff John (Eric Scott Woods) and his deputy Brenda (Vanessa Evigan), who is also his sister, are investigating the deaths of the dirt biker riders. They decide to call in Dr. Powers, a shark expert. Instead, they get his daughter, Sandy Powers (Brooke Hogan), who apparently is also a shark expert. These things run in the family. Oddly, in 2-Headed Shark Attack, Brooke’s character also inherited her father’s knowledge and expertise, that time in welding. Go figure.

This movie lifts a lot of stuff from Jaws. There is a guy with a dorsal fin hat chasing a girl around on the beach, like the young prankster from Jaws. The sheriff then closes the beach, and when the merchants get angry, the mayor says it will be for “twenty-for hours only,” which is also in Jaws. And then we get Angus, a weird old fisherman who says he can catch the shark, but demands more money than what is being offered. In Jaws, Quint demands ten thousand dollars, and that’s probably what leads Angus to choose his amount, which is also ten thousand dollars. “For that, I’ll bring you the head,” he says. Sound familiar?

The sand shark eats a cable on the beach, which causes a power outage in town. Sneaky fish. But what’s good about this movie is that halfway through, the sand shark is killed. So the festival can go ahead as planned. But again, if they looked at the DVD case, they might notice that the title is Sand Sharks, not Sand Shark. Sandy Powers reminds the sheriff that this shark was a baby so the mother is likely out there looking for her child (because sharks are such good parents). And hey, are we getting a bit into Jaws: The Revenge territory here now?

Not many people show up for the festival, but Jimmy talks it up to the crowd anyway, saying it’s the best beach party ever. The few dozen people there react like he’s telling them the truth. And the camera man helps Jimmy by providing lots of close-ups to make it seem like more people are there. But we do see Jimmy’s human side when he tells Amanda off. Amanda’s death scene is great, by the way. And even better is Jimmy’s reaction, jumping from the sand onto the little step of his trailer.

There is also a seriously excellent moment when two men on the beach shout out in horror and fear, and the rest of the crowd hears it and shouts out in response, but in joy. I love that this film makes fun of stupid crowd mentality, those idiots who shout because others are shouting. The festival goers are all morons anyway, for when the sharks begin attacking, they run around in circles on the beach, rather than making a straight line out of there. And it turns out it’s not just the sand shark’s mother that shows up, but its whole family – siblings, aunts, cousins, perhaps even some neighbors.

This movie is actually a lot better than most of these shark movies. For one thing, it has a good sense of humor, at one point even mentioning Roger Corman and Dinoshark.  Who?” Sheriff John asks. “Obviously you’re not a B movie fan,” Sandy Powers says. “Nope,” he agrees. Another thing is that the actors actually seem invested in their parts. Corin Nemec’s performance, for example, is good, as is Vanessa Evigan’s. And for CG, the sharks, for the most part, don’t look all that bad.

Monday, December 21, 2015

3 Headed Shark Attack (2015)

Just as the sequel to the remake of Ocean’s Eleven was titled Ocean’s Twelve, and the sequel to the film version of 21 Jump Street was titled 22 Jump Street, the sequel to 2-Headed Shark Attack is 3 Headed Shark Attack. And I’ll tell you right now, I’m looking forward to the sixth or seventh instalment of this series. Well, this three-headed shark is even more dangerous than its predecessor, as it goes right up onto the beach in search of snacks. Just when you thought it was safe to go near the water.

Maggie is a gung ho young intern arriving for her first day of work at an underwater research station studying pollution and its effects on marine life. Dr. Laura Thomas, a chick with amazing boobs, seems to be in charge (twenty minutes into the film, I glanced up at her face and was disappointed), along with Dr. Ted Nelson. Also arriving on this day is a small group of environmental activists, who are invited to work with the scientists. We learn that pollution is causing mutations in between twenty and twenty-five percent of specimens the facility is studying. I like that this movie has a nice environmental message: Don’t pollute, and we won’t have to worry about giant three-headed sharks.

This shark has some interesting abilities. Besides jumping onto shore for lunch, it’s able to somehow swim in water that’s only three feet deep without breaking the surface (perhaps it tucks that dorsal fin in), then leap twenty-five feet into the air and dive straight down into the shallow water and disappear. It’s kind of amazing.

It’s not long before the shark attacks the research station. This movie taps into one of my secret fears – being eaten by a shark while I’m seated on the toilet. Oh, I’m going to have nightmares for weeks. Well, the shark causes an explosion, and it looks like the only ones to make it out alive are Boobs, Ted Nelson, Maggie and the activists. Uh-oh, they are the heroes? Well, the activists’ boat is a good distance from shore. So the plan is for one guy to swim to the boat, start it, and drive it to shore, so everyone else can get in. But the first guy who reaches the boat can’t get it started. The second has trouble. The third, Alison (the cute one), just seems shaken. The fourth one doesn’t make it. Finally they get it started, but then immediately abandon their plan, saying the water is too shallow. So the last three have to swim to the boat anyway. Way to draw out a scene, folks. Boobs goes into the water to distract the shark, so that the other two can make it to the boat (though three have made it already without any such distraction). Boobs’ plan should work. I myself am distracted. And, unfortunately, it does work. Boobs is eaten, and I’m a little less interested in the movie. We still have Alison, who is cute but worthless. Anyway, they try to contact the coast guard, but instead reach Max Burns (Danny Trejo), who is out fishing with a couple of friends. They try to convince him to come help them, that they’re being chased by a giant three-headed shark.

But the shark, having already eaten Boobs, understandably loses interest in pursuing their boat, especially when it spies a party boat full of hot girls nearby. So actually Maggie, Ted and the remaining activists are safe. And hey, the shark eats trash on its way to the party boat. Nice. It’s cleaning the ocean, not only of bad actors but of beer cans. Speaking of bad actors, here comes Danny Trejo to the rescue.

Well, instead of using the opportunity of the shark being otherwise occupied to go to shore (which is really close, by the way), Maggie convinces the others they have to rescue the drunks on the party boat. She says that they have to do something because she just watched all her friends die. Wait a minute. She was an intern, and this was her first day. She hadn’t even met most of the people at that research station. How is she calling them her friends? Don’t you hate people who try to take others’ tragedies and somehow make it personal to them? Greg, one of the activists, gets in on it too: “We just watched all of our friends get eaten by that monster. All of them.” Well, one of his friends was eaten, but the others are on the boat. That’s assuming that he has no other friends anywhere in the world. Greg must just be caught up in the excitement. Later, at home, he’ll be able to give a more accurate assessment of what transpired.

Anyway, the shark is supposedly following the trail of trash from the party boat, but the trash is all beer cans, and everyone on the boat is drinking from plastic cups. Whoops! One guy on the party boat sees the three-headed shark and says, “That’s odd.” I agree. The shark then jumps right onto the party boat, eats some people, then swims away. But suddenly almost everyone is gone from the party boat. Where did they go? Did they run out of money for extras in the budget? Some of them appear again a little later.

By the way, the DVD box says, “Uncensored” and “Unrated,” but the word “shit” is missing at one point, having been cut, and at two other points the word “shoot” has clearly been substituted after the fact. The guy sees the shark coming right for him and says, “Aw, shoot.” Uncensored, my ass.

Well, there is a shot of one guy riding the shark, which is hilarious. It’s one of my favorite moments of the movie. So their plan had been to rescue the drunks, but they managed to only rescue three people from that party boat, while losing at least one of their own. Nice plan, Maggie. But Maggie isn’t done being an obnoxious and stupid little bitch. When told the boat would only last another twenty miles, she tells them to drive to an atoll that’s ten or fifteen miles ahead because it’s the only land they can reach. But even as she says this, we can see land on either side of the boat, and it’s quite close. But instead of pointing this out to Maggie, they follow her instructions and drive forward. These people are fucking idiots. And what is up with this series and atolls?

And why does Danny Trejo have all these big guns on his fishing boat? And there is suddenly something about the shark being able to grow more heads (preparing us for the next movie in the series, I assume).

Well, this atoll has badminton nets and park benches and so on. And it has a couple of boats, just like the atoll in the first film. So they split up, getting into the two boats. The shark, of course, chases one of the boats. And… have I mentioned how fucking stupid these people are? The people on the other boat yell “Shark!” to Alison, but she’s like, “What are they shouting?” Silly bitch, what else could they possibly be shouting? What is the one thing you’ve been trying to get away from for the last ninety minutes? Alison is cute, but when the shark finally eats her, I’m glad. You know, there is land everywhere you look in this film. These idiots could have been safe at any time they desired. But instead they just keep getting on boats. At the end of the day, they’re just too stupid to live.

Sunday, December 20, 2015

2-Headed Shark Attack (2012)

Charlie O’Connell and Carmen Electra take a boat full of brainless, horny college students on a trip. The students are baffled by a sextant, and things become even more difficult for them when a shark slams into the boat, breaching the hull. So they go to shallower waters near an atoll to fix the boat. One of the girls has amazing vision, because while they’re still a long way from the island she somehow notices some sticks bound together far up its shore and squeals, “Oh thank god, civilization.” That also makes me wonder how and where she was raised.

Well, Charlie O’Connell takes the students to the island to look for scrap metal (uh, okay), while Carmen Electra sunbathes on the boat (and strikes poses for God), and a woman named Laura goes underwater to do some welding, or at least to wave the instrument around in the water in the vague direction of the boat (which seems much smaller underwater) until a two-headed shark eats her.

Back on the island, the students find some abandoned shacks, and Charlie O’Connell reminds them to look for scrap metal. One of the girls reveals she is afraid of water and took this class to confront her fears. Other girls, not so afraid, go swimming topless. Hurrah! And then they start making out with each other. I’m actually a little disappointed when they get eaten by the shark. Other students find two small boats. Charlie O’Connell says, “Two boats are better than none,” apparently forgetting about the boat that brought them all to shore. Actually, let’s talk about that little boat. It’s probably only big enough for like three or four people at the most. And there are at least seventeen students. So how long did it take them just to get everyone ashore? It doesn’t seem like time passes at all in this movie. The whole thing seems to take place in the early afternoon.

Charlie O’Connell bangs his leg and then acts like his leg has actually been removed. Quit whining! Anyway, two students take him back to the main boat just to relieve the suffering of the others, who must quickly tire of listening to him acting. Uh-oh, Carmen Electra is the ship’s doctor. (But in a world where Charlie O’Connell is a college professor, it sort of makes sense that Carmen Electra would have a medical license.) By the way, the boat seems to suddenly change positions in relation to the island. Look how far away it is in the wide shot. Then a second later look how close it is from the reverse shot from the island. Magic! Then it’s far away again. (There’s a buoy in one of the shots, by the way.)

Charlie O’Connell, while still on that boat, notices something alarming. “The atoll, it’s sinking! Quick, the kids!” I guess it’s time for another five or six trips in the little boat. Good thing time doesn’t pass in this movie. The kids, however, are having trouble with the two-headed shark. But hey, look, it’s not all CG! Wonderful! Also wonderful (and hilarious) are the reactions of those still on shore as they watch their friends get eaten, and later as they watch one unscrupulous student make off with the boat. “Cole stole the ship,” the blonde tells them. This means the rest are stranded on a sinking atoll. The reaction to this news? “Dumbass,” one girl says. Another girl mumbles her line, but it's something about Cole being an idiot.

I just can’t believe they’ve abandoned their quest for scrap metal.

Thursday, December 17, 2015

90210 Shark Attack (2014)

There are a lot of bad shark movies out there, but 90210 Shark Attack is something special among these movies. Seriously. It opens with a weird instrumental tune that sounds suspiciously like “Dancing In The Sheets” from Footloose, and lots of images of Beverly Hills. In fact, there are so many images that after a while you’re like, “Yes, I got it, it’s Beverly Hills, get on with the movie.”

Well, a couple of rich, spoiled students arrive at a mansion that they’ve rented while in town for two oceanic field trips. Four others soon arrive, along with Pamela, their teacher. While one girl (supposedly the nerdy, awkward girl) walks around the house, porn music plays. It’s confusing, because this girl has her clothes on. She stares out the window at one of the guys swimming in the pool, and the film cuts back and forth between her face and him swimming. It cuts back and forth many, many times, while the porn music continues. But nothing happens, and neither of them is naked. It just goes on and on, and I began to wonder if it was on some loop, or if I were supposed to be seeing something important in her face, some thought or emotion. But no.

Alyssa (identified as the weird student) appears with what seems to be the nice boy. But Alyssa seems like kind of a bitch. Her father was apparently an oceanic anthropologist, and nerdy Jess, who is also a bitch, mentions, “There’s still a mystery about how he died.” Then she whines, “She shouldn’t get a better grade because her dad died – that’s not fair.” Whoa! By the way, these six students are taking a class on oceanic anthropology, and apparently they’re supposed to be in high school (we know because one talks about getting into college). It seems like they’re quite a bit older, and one of them, Marcie, is clearly a moron, and you wonder just how she got into this class. Maybe in your twelfth year of high school, you get special treatment. Well, it doesn’t matter.

Alyssa asks the teacher if her dad is coming back. Pamela answers: “No. All I know about the ocean is that she guards her secrets well.” Wait, if that’s all you know about the ocean, how are you teaching this class? Anyway, she tells Alyssa to write about her dad, saying it will really help her. She says this twice, so I guess she believes it. She also tells Alyssa she doesn’t have to go on the oceanic field trips, which is the whole point of them being there. Is Pamela the worst teacher ever?

It seems that Pamela thinks she’ll score with Alyssa. “We’ll just talk and we’ll see where it leads us,” Pamela says to her. By the way, Pamela is played by Donna Wilkes, who was in Jaws 2 and also starred in Angel. Anyway, so we don’t get bored, the film keeps cutting to stock footage of sharks, some of which seems to have been shot in an aquarium (or are we to believe there are red and blue lights hanging over the ocean?). And Jess tells us the story of Alyssa’s father, how he stole objects from indigenous peoples and sold them. Apparently he found some Indians who worshiped a great white shark, and he organized a hunt and killed the shark, which is actually pretty funny.

Well, the porn music returns as Pamela watches one of the male students showering. He showers like a girl, being sure not to get his hair wet. What’s up with that? Well, the two of them are in on some scheme to write a best seller about Alyssa’s father, a nice little development. A crazier development is where Bryce pretends to like Alyssa, and they kiss by the pool, and then Alyssa turns into a shark and bites Bryce’s head off. It is fucking wonderful. Instead of giving Bryce head, she takes it. Soon after that, the teacher asks her, “Are you hungry?” “No, I’m feeling kind of full,” Alyssa says. Perfect!

Marcie was secretly filming the Bryce and Alyssa scene with her phone, but later when one of the other students finds the phone and looks at the footage, the perspective is all wrong. It’s the same footage we saw, rather than new footage from Marcie’s perspective. And the footage doesn’t keep the boy from wanting to have sex with Alyssa. Hey, maybe he’s into fish. So much for the nice boy. And then with nine minutes left in the film, we return to one of the shots of the Beverly Hills sign, just in case you’ve forgotten where this all takes place.

The teacher sees the headless body of one of the students, and hardly reacts at all. “Is that Tyler in the pool?” she asks. She must have worked at some tough schools before this one. By the way, the DVD contains a commentary track by the director, and in it he says he shot the film in two days. What? Two days? That’s basically impossible. No wonder he keeps repeating shots and going back to stock footage.

Monday, December 14, 2015

Attack Of The Jurassic Shark (2012)

I can’t help myself. I keep watching these delightfully bad shark movies. And while Attack Of The Jurassic Shark is certainly bad, it also has an odd charm at moments. And it’s fun. It opens with two blondes at a deserted beach, and one wonders why it is deserted at the height of summer. The other reasons: “Who cares? Let’s just enjoy it.” Not that the first one is all that bright. After all, she is carrying a paddle, but doesn’t seem to have a boat. Plus, she doesn’t like swimming in lakes because she is afraid of sharks. What a silly tart! Except you know and I know that her silly fear might just save her life this time. It doesn’t, however, as they both go in the water. They pretend to splash each other for a while, though both are so weak that it doesn’t seem either is able to hit the other person, even though they’re standing maybe two feet apart. “Boy, you’re so going to get it,” one of them warns the other. Uh-oh, cue the shark. And down goes Tiffany. The other calls Tiffany’s name many times. But Tiffany doesn’t answer. And the other would have likely gone on calling her name indefinitely, but the shark kindly disposes of her.

Meanwhile two men (a doctor and the chairman of some board) discuss oil and some ice that melted and was shifted to the lake. There are a few more discussions with people who apparently work in some sort of combination of lab and oil drilling operation. The budget clearly didn’t allow for that sort of thing, so these conversations are in hallways and stairwells.

A bossy chick, who has apparently murdered a cop while stealing a painting, and her four henchmen arrive on the island. One of the guys says to the other, “Look, you’re my only brother, now help me with this.” There was an “Additional Dialogue” credit in the opening credits, and I’m wondering if this line is one of the additional ones. Also arriving on the island are Jill and three friends. Jill is a journalism student who is there to investigate illegal drilling, hoping her paper will win her an internship.

A couple of the painting thieves are picked off by the shark, while the survivors do their absolute best to deliver their lines. “I can’t believe it. He was almost to shore. He could have made it.” The painting they stole is now at the bottom of the lake. The shark then goes after the students, killing the one guy and leaving the three girls to call out for him repeatedly. They do find his leg, but that’s just not enough. Also, it confuses them. “What the hell, is that Mike?” one asks. And soon the three thieves and the three students meet up.

I have never seen a shark that big or ugly before,” one of the girls says. Could that be one of the additional lines of dialogue? Or maybe this line: “I thought this island was abandoned – why do I keep hearing machinery all the time?” Anyway, the six people walk through the woods to find the lab, but Jill apparently leaves her camera equipment behind. I don’t think she’s going to get that internship.

It’s not long before the thieves turn on the girls and force them to attempt to retrieve the painting from the bottom of the lake. I’m thinking that the painting might be damaged and so not worth the amount of money they were expecting, but none of the characters seem worried about this. “Get your skinny ass back in that water and bring me my painting,” the bossy chick says. “Or what? You’ll kill us? Lady, between you and it, you’re no threat.” Nice! Then the shark leaps over the students to eat the lady, and then somehow turns around mid-air to land back in the water. Pretty impressive move there.

What would happen if that thing found a populated beach elsewhere?” one of the girls wonders. Well, it’s a lake, so… But of course Jason Voorhees took a boat from Crystal Lake to New York, so anything is possible.

The slowest credits in the history of cinema help pad this trifle, taking what is a 65-minute movie and making it nearly 79 minutes. Seriously, the end credits last thirteen and a half minutes. I think that’s even longer than those fucking credits to that Lord Of The Rings DVD where they listed every single person in the fan club for no good reason.

Sunday, December 13, 2015

Avalanche Sharks (2013)

If you haven’t been paying attention to the news lately, you might not be aware that sharks are turning up in some unexpected places – in Venice, in swamps, even in snow. Avalanche Sharks is a film that shows us that sharks can even turn up in someone’s mind. Yes, that’s right, everything that happens in the movie is just a story that a character within the movie tells.

A guy in a hospital wants to tell his sexy hallucination the story of how he broke his leg. And we see the story (well, except he never actually tells how he broke his leg, but no matter). Some guy sets off some explosives on a mountain where two guys are snowboarding. There is no reason for him to set off those explosives, but they apparently wake up some glowing alien sharks, who quickly eat the snowboarders. Meanwhile some arrogant little bitch named Becca and her friend get a ride to Mammoth from a guy named Randy. And Randy – is Randy the guy from the beginning? Not sure – tells them a story on the way there. A story within a story? Well, we see this one too, and it involves hundreds of intelligent space sharks searching for a new planet. (Isn’t this the basis for Scientology?) One of the shark pods lands on Mammoth.

Anyway, it’s spring break, and there are a lot of girls on the mountain, though it’s impossible to tell just how many, because they’re all blondes, and I have trouble telling them apart. One of the blondes is a marine biologist. Good thing she’s on this mountain. Good thing her boyfriend or father or uncle or whoever he is told us she’s a marine biologist, because obviously this will come into play later. Except it actually never does. It’s never mentioned again. And weirdly, an old guy refers to the glowing sharks by the word invented by Randy in his story to the girls – skookum, or something like that. So apparently we’re still within the story within the story within the movie. Oh boy. That means that anything that happens doesn’t even matter within the world of the film, let alone to those of us watching.

As you might expect, there is a lot of silliness in this film. As in Snow Shark, the avalanche sharks are able to travel in snow that’s only a few inches deep. But I like that a child’s drawing from twenty-five years ago is still in the sheriff’s cabinet, but that he apparently has never seen it. The sheriff’s office is actually at the ski resort, which is also odd. Odder still is that the owner of the Mammoth ski resort is able to fire the sheriff and give the job to the head of his ski patrol. Okay. The blonde who drew that picture twenty-five years earlier says these sharks killed her parents, and that there is some Native American legend about these sharks swimming up a river and ending up in the ice. So they didn’t travel through space?

Back in the hospital, the guy’s hallucination gets angry with the inconsistencies in his story. So I guess the hallucination is the character we’re supposed to side with in this film. And because the whole thing is a story made up by a character within the imagination of a character within the film, should I even bother to point out weird plot problems, like that some chick rides up the mountain in a gondola with one guy, presumably to ski, only to be shown moments later riding on the back of some other guy’s snowmobile? Probably not.

And while a lot of people are fighting the sharks, some oriental chick (and I love that the hallucination refers to her as an “oriental chick”) quietly becomes the hero of this story within the story within the film. And then the movie takes us to Mars for some reason. But don’t worry about that.

Sunday, October 4, 2015

Hide (2011)

What can I say about this one? It’s a complete mess. A few girls get harassed by someone using the voice from Scream (admittedly – they make several references to Scream). They guess it’s their friend Ryan, and then guess it’s their friend Scooter. And for a long time, the movie cuts to some hand-held footage of doorknobs and things, and it goes on and on. This footage is never explained, but is dropped with like twenty minutes to go. There is also some news footage that doesn’t feel the least bit real. At the bottom of the screen it says, “Breaking Story,” but the footage is of nothing whatsoever. And why didn’t the hair person fix the reporter’s hair? It’s a mess. Maybe there wasn’t a hair person on this film. I don’t know. The biggest problem, however, is the sound design. There are basically two big musical cues, and they are used repeatedly throughout the film (one is a piano cue that tries to be like Halloween). Even worse is the Foley. Yes, that’s right. I don’t think I’ve ever complained about Foley in a film before. For those who don’t know, Foley is manually produced sound effects, like doors slamming, footsteps, and so on. For this movie, only three footsteps were recorded – two loud steps, followed by a soft step, like the person stopping. And you hear those three steps throughout the film. Seriously. Once you notice it, it’s impossible to ignore. Plus, the footsteps are those of a heavy shoe, but what we see is a Converse All Stars-type shoe, which just wouldn’t make that sound. Also, there are popping sounds throughout the film, which are really irritating. And then at one point, a line is completely lost. It’s just not there. The woman says a line, and we see her mouth moving, but we hear nothing, and then the sound comes back in for the response to that line. It’s so fucking ridiculous that that wouldn’t be fixed. The filmmakers are completely incompetent. And the end is just fucking stupid. So what’s good about it? Well, the lead actor is really pretty. And there are some humorous moments early on, when they’re playing around with the Scream gag. But unless you love watching girls talk on the phone, cut with jumpy footage of doorknobs, it’s probably best to skip this one.

Tuesday, September 15, 2015

Mega Shark Vs. Kolossus (2015)

A giant shark fighting a giant robot? Of course I’m on board. Though I suppose that sort of already happened in the previous Mega Shark movie, Mega Shark Vs. Mecha Shark, but I haven’t seen that one yet. (I still have Godzilla Vs. Mechagodzilla on VHS, but I suppose that’s a bit off the topic.) The other thing that had me interested in Mega Shark Vs. Kolossus is Illeana Douglas’ involvement. She’s an actor I admire, and I have to wonder what the hell she’s doing in this film. It can’t be for the pay check because this movie is put out by The Asylum, not known for being overly generous to its employees.

Well, Russian civilians are mining red mercury in the ocean near Brazil, when some hot chicks in submarines show up and tell them to stop. They agree to stop, but a giant shark destroys their boat anyway. The girls attack the shark, using “attack pattern Red 5,” but nothing seems to hurt this shark, not even Star Wars references. (There is another Star Wars reference later, when one pilot addresses another plane as “TK421” – “TK421, why aren’t you at your post?”)

Meanwhile in the Ukraine the filmmakers don’t believe we’ll be able to understand an Asian chick or a bearded guy, so – even though they’re speaking English – they provide subtitles for them. I wonder how the actors feel about that. Well, these guys have some red mercury (everyone wants red mercury). While they’re engaged in a screwed up business deal, a giant robot is mysteriously activated.

And at a naval base in Florida, Illeana Douglas shows up as Dr. Alison Gray and goes to a meeting. The guy running the meeting opens it by saying: “Thank you all for coming. I wish it weren’t so.” Wait, what? Was another line supposed to be between those two lines, or am I giving the writer too much credit in assuming at one point this dialogue made sense? Well, no matter. What we learn is that the new shark is a baby megalodon but is growing at a ridiculous rate. Also, it’s able to leap out of the ocean to eat fighter jets. Kids these days! And I’m having second thoughts about those lines having once made sense, because the writer has Illeana Douglas say this: “This man’s ignorance about sharks may cause the end of mankind.” Wow. She and a businessman want to catch the shark rather than kill it.

And that big robot? It turns out to be a doomsday device which is somehow able to “blow itself up a thousand times over.” Uh-oh. But it’s not just an indestructible shark and a doomsday robot that our heroes have to worry about. We also have one character who goes a little nutty near the end and becomes the chief villain.

There are some good things here. The mega shark is a playful character, and it enjoys tossing ships out of the water and batting missiles with its tail. And at one point it wears the U.S. flag. How can you not enjoy its antics? Also, the film does have something to say about humanity seeking its own destruction through its creation of weapons like atomic bombs and giant robots.

At the end the Kolossus gets the mega shark in a hug and detonates itself, and that’s it. But wait a moment. Remember earlier, the guy said that the robot was able to “blow itself up a thousand times over.” It’s done it only one time so far. How can anyone think this is the end of Kolossus? Hmm. At the end of the closing credits, we’re given no mention of Kolussus, but are left with this threat: “Mega shark will return.” That leads me to think the next movie will be Mega Shark Vs. James Bond.

Wednesday, September 2, 2015

Click: The Calendar Girl Killer (1990)

You know a movie is going to be bad when it lists several writers in the opening credits. It took four people to write the screenplay for Click: The Calendar Girl Killer, and two others got “Story by” credits. Holy moly, six people had a hand in writing this thing. This movie also had two directors of photography, and two directors. Uh-oh. It took ten people to do three jobs.

Early on in the film a nut stabs a mirror with a knife, while apparently remembering being yelled at as a child. Oh boy, it’s another one of those movies. Then we go to a party full of models, meaning a lot of people you hope get stabbed soon. Suddenly the party is over, and one whiny model named Nancy is upset because she was knocked into the pool, and is now worried about her image. Alan says to her, “Why not promote your own image?” So she agrees to pose for Jack for a calendar, and we see her in a beautiful fur coat, and the movie has suddenly improved. She says, “I do feel better.” Of course she does. She’s in a gorgeous fur. But soon she has the coat off, and everything else off for that matter.

Jack is creating a calendar called Deadly Weapons, and he compares what he’s doing to Goya and Picasso. Gullible, eager models will do anything, even for creepy photographers with delusions of grandeur. I like that one model’s boyfriend is the voice of reason. He tells her, “I’ll find a girl who’s real.” He doesn’t, however, and instead follows Cindy to Jack’s ranch, where Jack has gathered a bunch of models to shoot his calendar. Every time one of the girls poses for the camera, the worst music begins playing.

Meanwhile some guy is sneaking around, watching the goings on, and taking his own photos. At this point we have no idea who he is, nor do we care. One of the models draws herself a bubble bath, and then while the tub is filling, she applies more lipstick. Odd. But before anyone can ask her why she would do such a thing, she’s murdered. Hurrah! And it only took fifty-four minutes to get to our first murder. And, oh boy, it’s another of those crossdressing killers that we had so many of in movies for a while. He was yelled at as a child, and now he dresses as a nurse. That’s about as deep as this film is going to get.

Anyway, the crossdresser kills some other people, but like most of these films, we don’t really care. And the pacing is all over the place. It feels like scenes are missing, or the filmmakers simply forgot how to build suspense, particularly toward the end. The guy sneaking around turns out to be a private investigator. We know this because he tells two other characters he’s a private investigator. He’s been hired to find Nancy. Remember Nancy? Well, the investigator is there just to provide a bit of exposition. And then he’s killed. There are lots of random explosions, which are perhaps the filmmakers’ way of adding excitement. The killer himself provides more of an explanation as to why he’s a killer, but it’s lame and not at all original

So what is good about this film? Well, I mentioned the model early on wearing a sexy fur coat. And then later the hot blonde wears a cute fur for one shot (by the way, she was in one of the Friday The 13th movies, but not one of the good ones). I also like the anti-smoking message of the fight scene. That’s about it. By the way, Troy Donahue is in this movie. I can never watch him without getting “Look At Me, I’m Sandra Dee” in my head. But I suppose that’s my own problem, and I’ll have to work it out.

Monday, August 31, 2015

Night Club (1989)

Night Club is just awful, an example of the most incompetent filmmaking, from its terrible script to its talentless cast (two of the actors are also partially responsible for the script – oh boy). So a whiny loser named Nick (Nicholas Hoppe) dreams of owning a club. He uses money his stupid wife (Elizabeth Kaitan) inherited in order to attract a bigger investor, who in turn demands his money back before the club even opens. For some reason, Nick and his wife are planning a trip to Europe at the same time, so the club can’t be all that important to him. Nick and his wife argue about sex or something. I don’t know, and it doesn’t matter. Half the scenes turn out to be dream sequences anyway (or even dreams within dreams – ugh), and the other half are musical montages in which Nick rides his bicycle around an empty warehouse. And the whole time you’re just like, “Who gives a fuck if this asshole opens a club or not?” I mean, it’s not like the world is clamoring for another club. And no one in this film is the least bit interesting or likeable, so we’re not at all invested in whether they attain their meager goals. We have no backstory or character development. What we do have is the worst soundtrack ever. The movie is only eighty minutes, but the script doesn’t have even eight minutes worth of material or ideas. And Nick doesn’t even work toward making the club happen anyway. He mostly sits around, caught in dreams or musical montages. Or he drives around. Or he tries working on a novel. Yeah, he wants to be a writer as well as a club owner, but has no talent for either. Anyway, the investor gives Nick twenty-four hours to come up with the money, and like six days later he says it’s been twenty-four hours. When Nick says he needs a couple more days, the investor says: “Fuck, this reminds me too much of high school. Like a bunch of us agreed not to do our homework, and I’m the only one who actually didn’t.” Apparently this is still bothering him. Such a stupid remark, and I get the feeling one of the film’s writers (yes, it took four people to write this thing – the screenplay is by Deborah Tilton and Michael Keusch, based on an idea by Nicholas Hoppe and Bevin Chu) actually had that experience in high school. So sad. But maybe this scene is a dream sequence too. Approximately seventy minutes into this piece of shit, one character tells another, “You’re making this up as you’re going along.” That might be the most honest line in the entire film, and maybe one writer said it to the others. Moments later, a character asks, “Did something happen?” The answer is No. But the movie acts as if something has, trying to make it a Twilight Zone-type thing. So, what’s good? Nothing, really. But much of it is so bad that you’ll be laughing out loud, puzzling at how this film came to be financed.

Sunday, June 14, 2015

Bates Motel (1987)

Bates Motel is a made-for-television film, and though it came out a year after Psycho III, it completely ignores both Psycho II and Psycho III, and has Norman Bates die before ever being set free. According to this story, he befriended Alex West (Bud Cort), and left the motel to him in his will. At the funeral, Alex stands up and tells those gathered: “To the world, he was a murderer, but to me, he was my friend. And I only hope that in your lifetimes you will all be lucky enough to have one friend like him.”

Yes, the film at times is a bad comedy. For example, at the reading of the will, the man gives a nice long pause after “being of sound mind.” And the first item bequeathed is a frozen turkey. The old woman who receives it looks up and says “Thank you, Norman.” His record collection goes to a man who taught Norman the Twist. And the man does a little dance move as he collects the records. Norman is spoken of almost as if he were some kind of saint, particularly by Dr. Goodman (Robert Picardo). Then later there is a routine where Alex asks for directions to the motel, and is told by each person in turn that he or she is new to the area and so doesn’t know. We also have Lori Petty dressed up in some kind of mascot costume and living in the Bates house. (Check out the awful score accompanying this scene – and every scene, actually.) And there is – I am not kidding – a 1980s musical montage as workers fix up the motel (including a shot of Bud Cort dusting off one of Norman’s stuffed birds, and a couple of shots of Lori Petty working on a fountain and then giving up and sitting in it, fully clothed).

Alex keeps Norman’s ashes in an urn, and when they finish fixing up the motel he says, “We did it, Norman.” But at first no one stops in, leading Alex and Willie (Lori Petty) to talk about making the sign bigger. Geez, it’s more than an hour in, and you think, “Hey, if there are no customers soon, could you two just kill each other?” Bring on the horror! But first there is the suspense over whether Alex will be able to make the first payment to the bank by the 25th. Willie says, “The 25th? The 25th is tomorrow!” Uh-oh! Sounds like the movie needs another musical montage.

Even though this movie seems to ignore Psycho II and Psycho III, it borrows a scene from one of them – where a woman tries to kill herself in the bathtub and is interrupted. Interestingly, it’s the first halfway decent scene in the film – at least until another guest tries to get her to do the Twist. Yeah, the movie goes off in an odd direction at this point, as teenagers have a 1950s-style party, and get the would-be suicide to join them. Jason Bateman plays Tony, a shy boy who is set up with the woman. Everyone circles around to watch them dance. Meanwhile, Alex is nervous because they’re running out of punch. Oh, the horror! At this point, I just give up. I mean, what the hell is this film doing? Only eighteen minutes left, and there have been no scary moments whatsoever. And why are we focusing on these two new characters so close to the end of the film? They dance once, and then we have a long break-up scene. Seriously, it’s longer than the one dance they shared. “I’ll always be grateful to you,” she says to the boy whom she met only five minutes earlier. Would someone please take a shower?

Anyway, the woman returns to her room and is still intent on killing herself. But the girl appears in the room to stop her. “I don’t get it,” the woman says. Hey, join the club! The girl tells her, “There’s nothing to get.” Ah, now you tell me. That line should have been at the start, as some kind of warning, not eighty-four minutes into the movie. But get this: the girl reveals that she committed suicide herself. “The night of my senior prom. And we’ve come here to tell you that it stinks.” What a great script! What a great message! Suicide stinks. Where is Alex? Hasn’t he finished making the punch? And if these kids are all ghosts, will their money be any good? After all, Alex has to pay the bank $10,000 the next day. So, let’s see. There are twelve cabins. So if each occupant, living or dead, pays $833.33 for the room, everything will be fine.

Well, each ghost introduces himself or herself to the woman. One of them wears a cute angora sweater, which I appreciate. But what the hell? It’s like someone had a vague idea for a Psycho movie and a vague idea for a Twilight Zone episode, and then just put the two together, one after the other, and called it a day.

Anyway, just before the end, we go back to Alex, and there is a Scooby Doo ending. Yup, look, it’s the bad guy dressed in a ghost mask trying to scare Alex off. It is ridiculous. And goddamnit, no one gets killed in this movie. No one even peaks at anyone through a hole in the wall. And at the very end, Alex talks directly to the camera, asking us to come by. “Nobody ever said life was easy. But nothing really worth it ever is. But you know, I think with a little luck, we’re going to do okay here. I think Norman would have liked that. Oh, by the way, if you ever need a room, come on by. Can’t say for sure what you’ll find, but that is what makes the world go round.” What the fuck?

Sunday, May 3, 2015

Drink Me (2015)

Drink Me is a suspense film about a gay couple who takes in a lodger after one of them loses his job. It stars Darren Munn as Andy, Emmett Friel as James and Chris Ellis Stanton as Sebastian, the man who comes to stay with them.

The film opens with this line across the screen: “He who is thirsty dreams he is drinking,” a reference to a biblical passage from the book of Isaiah. The first image then is a row of red telephone booths, at a slightly odd angle, with a man approaching. He wears a red hoodie to match the booths, the screen dominated by that bright color. One phone rings. The man steps inside the booth to answer, and someone grabs him from behind. It seems impossible, but it turns out to be a nightmare, so it’s all right. Then during the opening credits sequence, we see two men showering together. These opening shots really tell you what you’re in for. If you're a big fan of dream sequences, odd camera angles and male nudity, then you’ll love this film. Otherwise, probably not.

Andy and James are celebrating their anniversary in their new house, and James proposes marriage. So apparently the anniversary they are celebrating is something other than a wedding anniversary. But Andy reveals that he lost his job the previous day, that his whole department is being let go, and so they can’t afford a wedding. Andy continues to have nightmares, and in each of them he is wearing his red hoodie. Meanwhile there are shots of a man in a grey hoodie jogging and then walking at night, while some eerie music plays.

James has a job, though we never see what it is he does. Mostly what we see him do (when he’s not having sex with Andy) is jog in the woods. Some of the dialogue about James’ work seems a bit awkward, not giving the impression that these two have been together for any real length of time. It just doesn’t feel familiar enough. But it quickly leads to them fooling around anyway. A lot of stuff leads to them fooling around. Anyway, James wants to talk about their budget, and he suggests taking in a lodger until Andy gets a new job. Enter Sebastian. When introduced, Sebastian is asked by James if he wants a drink, and Andy tells him, “He said he wasn’t thirsty.” So right away we associate thirst with this new, strange character. Sebastian says he works the night shift, and is evasive about what exactly it is he does, and though he's creepy, the guys almost immediately invite him to live with them.

This film has quite a bit of bad dialogue. After James and Andy fuck again, Andy says, “I'm scared.” James asks, “And what is scaring you?” Andy replies, “I don't want things to change.” James tells him: “Well, it looks like things have to change. Soon enough, you'll have a new job and things will go back to normal.” But what makes him think that Andy will have a job? He doesn't apply for any jobs. He doesn't make any calls, or answer any ads. And why doesn’t Andy apply for a new job? At one point, a friend calls to offer him a job interview for a receptionist position at a hotel, and it seems he puts all his hope into that one job prospect. But why didn’t he ask his previous employer for recommendations and contacts in his field, whatever that might be? Why is a lodger the rational choice for these two?

Sebastian makes a request of Andy, but the film cuts before we know what it is. But whatever it is, Andy seems off afterwards. Andy then comes into the bathroom while Sebastian is in the shower, claiming he forgot that Sebastian was there.

There are more nightmares, in which Andy wears his red hoodie, and both James and Sebastian wear grey hoodies. And in the morning Andy discovers Sebastian’s dirty laundry, which Sebastian had conveniently and very oddly left on the kitchen counter, a bloody hoodie on top. Who puts his dirty laundry on the kitchen counter? Weird vampire-like lodgers, that’s who. Well, Andy gets nervous and clutches a conveniently placed butcher knife, cutting himself in the process. Sebastian kisses the cut, and that apparently eases Andy's mind, for he doesn't mention the bloody sweatshirt.

Andy, now in a red T-shirt, follows another guy who is also in a red shirt. And there is more red in every frame – in the storefronts, the brick homes and so on. But Andy is not wearing a hoodie, so is this not a dream? He follows the guy all the way home, which seems like something you might do in a dream. And the guy is either amazingly unaware, or aware but interested. Meanwhile James comes home to find Sebastian waiting for him with one glass of wine, which he offers to James. “There’s plenty more where that came from,” he says. So not a limited edition wine, then.

We see a poster for a missing man, which is funny because very early on there was a similar poster for a missing cat. So the two are equated in our minds, maybe both as missing pets. It seems to be the guy that Andy followed. Later there is another missing person poster, this one of a woman named Jackie, whom I'm fairly certain hasn't been in the film at all. She really is missing. Oddly, this poster is on a tree deep in the woods where no one is likely to see it, so clearly her family isn't really all that interested in having her found.

Anyway, if Andy has his red hoodie on, it’s a dream. If he has his red T-shirt on, it’s a dream-like state, but seems to actually be happening. And if he’s in his blue bathrobe, it means he’s in his normal, unemployed state. But what does it mean when he leaves home wearing shorts but returns wearing pants? Later in the film he dreams of himself in his blue bathrobe, breaking the pattern. And at one point he wakes from a dream and puts on his red hoodie. So the switch signifies that his dreams have become reality, and his reality has shifted to dream.

And at one point there is a bunny mask. Why? Why not? There is also a music box that Andy finds and which doesn't play any part whatsoever in the plot. But it plays “Mockingbird,” which isn't such a bad song. This film is more about atmosphere and mood than substance, and includes plenty of male nudity, including a scene of a nude man caressing a tree for some reason. It’s more about odd camera angles than interesting dialogue or character development. But the atmosphere is quite effective at times. You can get sucked into the mood of the thing and forget that nothing has really happened.

By the way, with eight minutes left in the film, James asks about Andy’s job interview, and immediately we learn that Andy didn’t go to the interview. But who cares at this point?

(Note: I posted a slightly different, shorter version of this review on Pop Culture Beast.)