Entries Tagged 'animals run amok' ↓

“The birds…they’re acting funny.”

When I bought a VHS copy of The Birds II: Land's End (1994) for a dollar, I was pumped. Not only was it, you know, a dollar, but this wholly unnecessary sequel has the reputation of being a big pile. "It's supposed to be terrible," I told a friend. "I can't wait!" She thought that was an odd reason to buy and/or look forward to a film, and on the one hand I agree: I mean, I do want horror movies to be good. On the other hand, though, bad animals run amok movies are my soulmates. Directing duties on The Birds II are attributed to Alan Smithee, which had me even more excited. In case you don't know, "Alan Smithee" is a pseudonym used by directors who want to disavow any involvement with the film s/he directed for reasons that, per the rules of the Director's Guild, cannot be disclosed. The man behind the Smithee in the case of The Birds II is Rick Rosenthal, who also helmed Halloween II. Use of the pseudonym was abolished in 2000, and frankly that's the only reason I can think of why Rosenthal wouldn't use it to distance himself from the abysmal Halloween: Resurrection, which he wrought upon the world in 2002. But! That's neither here nor there.

Ohhhhhh how I want to punch Halloween: Resurrection in its stupid Michael Myers Dot Com face despite the Katee Sackhoff and Busta Rhymes-ness of it.

Sorry, it's just that Resurrection is one of those movies that makes my blood pressure rise. For the good of both my health and staying on topic, I should really start talking about The Birds II.

The film begins as an official-looking man pulls a bird of the water that looks like a leftover from the Exxon Valdez disaster. He gets out some official-looking beakers and vials and starts to do some science, but he's interrupted by a brutal bird attack. They take his eyes and his dignity as action music blares; the music and the copious blood remind us that we're not in Hitchcock territory anymore. Of course, you may have assumed that from the start.

Brad Johnson stars as Ted, patriarch of what is surely the most irritating family ever to walk the Earth. His wife May (Chelsea Field) is alternately angry and insipid. Their daughters Something Starts With 'J' #1 and Something Starts With 'J' #2 are straight-up brats. They fight, call each other names, and bitch about having to spend time at an old house on the beach at Land's End. Even the dog in this family is annoying. Really, Ted is the only one who's fairly tolerable, and that's because he spends most of his time quietly moping about their son who died five years ago. At any rate, they're all at Land's End on some sort of "work vacation" for mom and dad. The "How was your day?" questions and the incessant whining of the girls were a constant reminder that family life is a fucking drag.

Look, I'm gonna save both of us a lot of time. A bunch of nothing happens, and then the birds get frisky. They start dive-bombing people here and there, scratching a forehead or biting some hair. Ted thinks is this wholly unnatural behavior and he should know- he's a high school biology teacher. He tries to warn the Mayor that something hinky is going on, but in typical politician in an animals run amok movie fashion, the Mayor won't do anything about it because doing so may negatively affect the town's Fishing Industry Parade Festival and economy. However, two people believe Ted: a weird old dude who live in a lighthouse, and Tippi Hedren. Well, not Tippi Hedren, exactly, but rather Helen, the character she plays. That's right, Tippi Hedren is in The Birds II, and she's not portraying Melanie Daniels. I hate when that happens.

The birds increase their numbers and get more and more bold. Flocks of them enter The Ted Family's home (sorry, they don't have a last name) and make with the pecking and the scratching and the nom nom nomming. They cut the phone line and the power, and the scene is not at all unlike the siege scene you've seen in any number of zombie movies- it was rather Night of the Living Dead, actually. There's a bitchin' dog vs. bird fight, and later the weird old dude falls from the lighthouse sans eyes after a bird attack.

In typical politician in an animals run amok movie fashion, the Mayor learns too late that the threat is REAL- like, he finally gets it when hundreds of birds take on hundreds of people near the marina. He tries to assemble a shotgun-wielding posse, but it's an idea that was doomed from the start. The Ted Family takes a little boat in an attempt to get back to the mainland, but then the birds take off and try to beat them to it. The (abrupt) end.

Now, I realize I haven't made the best case for The Birds II: Land's End here. Surely Rick Rosenthal's use of "Alan Smithee" doesn't make a good case for it, and neither do the ubiquitous reviews that give it 1.5 stars at most. I got it expressly because I thought it was going to be terrible, and yet...I did not find it to be terrible. Why is this? Hmm. It's a question I've been pondering since I rewound the tape. Earlier that that, perhaps, for even as the birds were doing their thing, I found myself shocked at the fact that what I was watching wasn't making me laugh or want to kill myself.

Is it because mere days ago I saw Birdemic: Shock and Terror, surely the worst movie ever created, and now I've gone numb? This may be a part of it, especially considering the fact that both movies are about [SPOILER ALERT] birds.

Aside: I'm going to write about Birdemic, but I'm not sure exactly what yet, nor am I sure where the writing will end up. I will say this much: if it ends up at a theater near you, GO. You think Troll 2 is the worst movie ever? Think again. You know how I've thought for YEARS that Shark Attack 3: Megalodon is as amazingly good as bad movies get? I WAS WRONG. There's a new King.

Aside Over: On the other hand, there's no denying that The Birds II isn't actually much good. There's far more melodrama and talk than action, but still- I found that enjoyable in a made-for-TV sort of way. I was most pleased at the fact that the birds were not made out of computer. Imagine that! Animals run amok movies may be more popular than ever thanks to the schlock churned out by the SyFy Channel, but I get tired of the CGI-ness of it all. These were real honest-to-goodness birds a-peckin' and a-flappin', and I was thankful for it.

Because I am really in the minority regarding the merits of The Birds II, I can't really recommend it: after all, your brain not be as soft as mine apparently is right now. Honestly, I hope Birdemic has ruined all moviekind for me, raising my tolerance for crap to the point where everything is shrugged off with a casual "Well, it wasn't as bad as Birdemic..." I don't know, I might be way too forgiving of animals run amok movies for a time. We'll just have to wait and see. I know enough, however, to say that I realize The Birds II isn't good, but that doesn't mean I didn't enjoy it...and that's okay. A dollar well spent, I say!

The Year in Horror: 1977

Boy, do I have fond memories of the Lisa, Lisa films. While the sequel, Lisa, Lisa 2: The Cult of Cult Jam was a gory delight, it's the third in the series (Lisa, Lisa 3: Full Force Never Dies) that truly, terrifyingly rox my sox.

Okay, so I made that up. But really, doesn't the world need more Lisa Lisa jokes? Yes...yes, it does. Some of you may be more familiar with Lisa, Lisa under its video release title: Axe. I've never seen it, but it's one of those movies that's simmering in my brain. I'm not sure if it's good sleaze or bad sleaze, so I never make the move to bring Axe home with me. Good sleaze is great fun and all, but a night with bad sleaze can leave you infected. Not that I know, of course- I am just saying.

The point is, I came across this ad for the drive-in and my first thought was something decidedly old person-ish; you know, "Golly, those were the days!" or "Gee, my old LaSalle ran great!" or "I hate the young!" or something. Then I looked up Lisa, Lisa because, truth be told, I had no idea what it was. Then I discovered it was released in 1977. Then I ate a sandwich while thinking about how 1977 was a fucking great year for horror (yes, much like 1981). Then I started this post...and that gets you pretty much caught up with my day so far.

Oh yes, my friends, 1977 was awesome. Let's take a look, shall we? Come, let's venture back to a time when John Carpenter's Halloween was still a year away!

What the masters of horror were up to:
  • Dario Argento began his "Three Mothers" trilogy with the candy-colored witches in ballet school masterpiece Suspiria.
  • Wes Craven traveled into cannibal country with The Hills Have Eyes.
  • George Romero released Martin, his non-traditional vampire flick. I want to like Martin more than I actually do.
  • Tobe Hooper brought us Eaten Alive, a bizarre, ugly film that made for a strange follow-up to his classic, The Texas Chainsaw Massacre. Eaten Alive is perhaps most notable because it features The Man Who Would Be Freddy Krueger, Robert Englund...or maybe because of the giant crocagator.
  • Mario Bava's last film, Shock, was released in the U.S. as Beyond the Door II despite the fact that it's not a sequel- both films simply feature child actor David Colin Jr. Using this logic, I've decided to start calling Christmas with the Kranks "Terror Train 2".
  • David Lynch began his career in mindfuckery in earnest with Eraserhead.
Kids Kill the Darndest Things:
  • Young Cathy was cursed in...Cathy's Curse. You know, I think Cathy's Curse is a film like Rumplestiltskin for me. You know, I've talked about that phenomenon, how Rumplestiltskin is terrible while I'm watching it, but when I'm thinking about it later I remember it being awesome and I want to watch it again...only when I succumb to the urge, I remember that it's terrible, and so on and so on in an endless cycle of pain and happiness. I just read my review of Cathy's Curse and it looks so good I want to pop it in when I'm done writing this, but I know that I probably shouldn't- "probably" being the operative word.
  • In The Child, Rosalie somehow controls a little zombie army. They do her bidding, killing her enemies and finishing her math homework. Okay, so they just kill people. It's a weird movie that's frustrating at times, thanks largely to awful dubbing, bad sound editing, and a grating soundtrack. Despite its shortcomings, The Child is The Awesome.
  • Audrey Rose, a tale of reincarnation, wasn't nearly the epic horror film I'd built it up to be in my mind in the years before I saw it. I'll admit: this MAY be a problem with me, not the movie.
Animals Run Amok!
  • The late writer/director William Girdler graced the world with Day of the Animals, featuring a topless Leslie Nielsen wrasslin' a bear in the rain.
  • Joan Collins battled giant ants in Empire of the Ants. Somehow, it turned out not to be the greatest film of all time: another of life's mysteries.
  • There are so many things to love about Kingdom of the Spiders, if I were to list them all I'd be here forever and frankly I just don't have that kind of time. Therefore, I'll just mention the best thing about it: The Cow Who Can Act.

1977, The Year That Keeps on Giving:
  • Nazi zombies ahoy in Shock Waves!
  • Exorcist II: The Heretic, or as it was known upon its re-release years later, Exorcist II: What the Hell Were They Thinking?
  • Warning: The Sentinel is a film that shows things you can't un-see. It may, however, be worth the risk.
  • The Haunting of Julia really needs a DVD release, dammit.
  • Less deserving, perhaps, is The Town That Dreaded Sundown, a quasi-slasher flick based on a true story. I like it, though I'm not entirely sure why.
  • Julie Christie gets it on with a computer in Demon Seed.
  • Haunts is an obscure sleaze-fest featuring scissor murders, sexual hangups, Aldo Ray, Cameron Mitchell, and an ending that makes the whole thing worthwhile. I watched it with the intent to review it here, but then I never did. Maybe I should do it...although I kind of just gave a one-sentence review, didn't I? What more do you want from me??
  • Honk...honkhonkhonnnnnk! The Car vroomed out of Hell and into our hearts.

See? I wouldn't lie to you...1977 was fucking awesome. Some of horror's greatest filmmakers were making great films, and there was a little something out there for everyone. Whether you're into killer cars, killer kids, or killer killers, you can travel back to that magical year and have your thrills. I'm gonna go give 1977 a hug, and resist the urge to watch Cathy's Curse.

Edited for bonusosity! Here's some stuff I missed, as pointed out in the comments...
  • David Cronenberg brought porn star Marilyn Chambers into the seedy world of mainstream horror cinema in Rabid.
  • Bo Svenson stars as Gar, a faded-from-glory Olympic skier who faces off against a rampaging Snowbeast in...umm...Snowbeast.

Mega-Shark vs Giant Octopus vs Final Girl

When the trailer for Mega-Shark vs Giant Octopus began making the rounds a couple of weeks ago, it spawned an internet boner heard 'round the world. How could it not? Among the tantalizing highlights are a mega-shark chomping the Golden Gate Bridge, a mega-shark leaping into the air to chomp a commercial airliner, and the promise of appearances by Lorenzo Lamas and Deborah Gibson. If there's that much awesome packed into a two-minute trailer, then surely the other 90 minutes of the film will be so awesome that Mega-Shark vs Giant Octopus will rip through the very fabric of space and time and create a new universe all its own, right? Well, those were my expectations, anyway, and I really don't think they were too high.

The fact that MS vs GO comes from The Asylum is either a cause for alarm or for celebration, depending on your tastes. The Asylum, see, is the Designer Imposter Fragrances of the movie world: they're the ones responsible for Snakes on a Train. When The Day the Earth Stood Still hit theaters, The Asylum rushed to release The Day the Earth Stopped. Michael Bay's Transformers, meet The Asylum's Transmorphers...and so on and so on. They're shameless, and I kinda dig that. However, my grudging admiration doesn't mean their films are actually any good; rather they're an orgy of awful: bad acting, bad CGI, bad green screen, and bad writing combine to form a sweaty miasma of- you guessed it- bad movie awesomeness. Suffice it to say, Mega-Shark vs Giant Octopus had a lot to live up to.

If there's one thing I learned from my beloved Shark Attack 3: Megalodon (and believe me, I've learned way more than one mere thing!), it's that nothing gets the blood pumping like hot, hot underwater mini-sub throttle action. Right off the bat, MS vs GO doesn't disappoint: Deborah Gibson and a pal are tooling around in a mini-sub, looking for...stuff...and there's plenty of button-pushing and throttle throttling to satisfy even the most cynical movie fan.

What's perhaps most magical is that sometimes Deborah Gibson is wearing goth nail polish, and sometimes she's not.

Let's get this out of the way: I love Deborah Gibson in this movie. I like the fact that she's got some years on her. She's earnest, a bit charming, and she manages to say lines like "There's poetry here!" in a way that doesn't completely make you want to kill yourself. Bravo, Asylum, for casting her. I hope she's in every movie ever made from now on, amen.

Some Army dudes or something or other drop some sonar something something...eh, it didn't make much sense. Just know this: the mega-shark and the giant octopus were frozen in place as they were grappling (presumably) to the death (the Ice Age came on fuckin' fast, y'all), but now they're free! Free to grapple! Free to fight! Free to be you and me KILL!

And kill they do, sort of. Frankly, the trailer shows all the best bits, like when the mega-shark takes down the Golden Gate Bridge...

...or when it inexplicably leaps...what, 15,000 feet into the air to take down a jumbo jet:

Besides the OBVIOUS amazingness of the sequence, the shark vs plane scene provided another moment that will live forever in my heart of hearts: as the plane hits some turbulence, a stewardess asks a man to take his seat. The man replies, "I'm getting married in two days." It makes no sense- did he then expect her to respond with "Oh, sir, we had no idea- in that case we'll go around the turbulence!"? I assume it's supposed to add some poignancy to the man's imminent death at the mega-teeth of mega-shark, but all it adds, in the end, is more nonsensical awesomeness.

These positively mysterious deaths cause Deborah Gibson and her cronies to DO SOME SCIENCE. Apparently they work at the Kool-Aid Institute for Underwater Studies, as their "research" involves pouring one colored liquid into a container of another colored liquid, then frowning at the results.




My oh my, I love it when people do science in movies.

After she has sex with a co-worker in the employee breakroom, Deborah Gibson has an idea: they should use pheromones to lure the mega-shark and the giant octopus into some kinda traps! It's a foolproof plan, I tells ya! Lorenzo Lamas shows up as some sort of...err, Army guy, I guess, whose job it is to have a ponytail and to glower.

I'll admit, Mega-Shark vs Giant Octopus was a somewhat rollicking good time up until this point; then everyone piled into a submarine and the proceedings came to a big, fat, grinding halt as there was about a half an hour of this:

Deborah Gibson looking concerned, the...uh...submarine driver looking nervous, the captain saying "steady!", and Lorenzo Lamas hiding his face in shame. Seriously, this went on forever.

Eventually, the mega-shark and the giant octopus resume their battle, and I have to wonder what happened between them that caused them to hold a grudge for millions of years. I bet it involved infidelity. Somehow, in my dreams, a weave is also involved.

The biggest fault with Mega-Shark vs Giant Octopus is that there's simply not enough mega-shark vs giant octopus. That's what folks wanna see- these two CGI behemoths duking it out. We want to see more ridiculous, impossible outrageousness. If the shark took down the Golden Gate Bridge, then why couldn't the octopus go after the Statue of Liberty? It's all made out of computer anyway, so the filmmakers should just balls-out go for it. It's not about making it real, it's about making it fun. Unfortunately, the fun to not-fun ratio in this film is roughly 1:5. I expect those odds to improve in the sequel. Yes, the ending sets up for one, and yes, I'm already looking forward to it- especially if Deborah Gibson is back to do more science!

early bird

AMC ran my column early this week because it's a wee interview with Aaron Paul, the dude who stars on the AMC series Breaking Bad who's not the dad from Malcolm in the Middle. He also stars in the remake of The Last House on the Left, which opens this week. Now your Tuesday is like your Wednesday, which I know is going to throw you off-track. For this I apologize, but remember- what doesn't kill you generally makes you want to kill someone else.

In related news: who's going to see Last House?


In other related news, posting is going to be light this week because...well, because I'm busy. Maybe even biz-zay. But what's taking me away from movie watching and the such is actually stuff that I can share with you down the road, so it'll all work out in the end. You know that I do everything for you...but I won't do that! Or something.

In other other related news, I'm glad to see that the results of my Wendy Torrance poll are currently in her favor. It's good to see her get some love!


In other other other related news, Toosday Toons is up. Dare you step inside...The Last House on the Right?

In other other other other related news, here's a scene from Bug. I know you gaze lovingly at that little photo in my sidebar where the woman's hair is on fire...now you can watch the movie magic happen right before your very eyes!



If there's one day I don't want my hair to catch on fire, it's my birthday. Yes, that's the set from The Brady Bunch. I'd also like to point out that she decides to make "chicken mousse", which contains "jellied chicken". I'm sure there's something out there that's more repulsive than jellied chicken and chicken mousse, but whatever it is I'd rather not know about it. Let's distract ourselves from such grossness by re-reading my review of Bug. Sweet relief!

Film Club: The Food of the Gods

Dear Diary,

I know, I know, I KNOW! Please don't get all "up in my grill", LOL, but I've done it again. I went and jumped in whole hog (does that make sense? LOL) before I knew what I was getting myself into and now I'm sitting here nursing a cup of coffee and a broken heart!!!1!! I should know better and you're probably rolling your eyes and being all "I told you so" because we can count the number of times this has happened to me on 24859 hands. But how does that saying go? Better to have loved and lost than something something something, right? Right! But let me tell you about my night and what happened. Oh, and I need to write down that "easy layered tomato dip" from the back of the Wheat Thins box before I forget! Note to self: right write it down, it looks deelish although I should stay away from so much cream cheese LOL.

Anyway. Okay, so, I remember the first time I heard about Food of the Gods (1976) and I got sooo excited! I think I was at a party or something, or maybe somebody said something? Anyway (again, LOL), but seriously, I was like "Giant animals running amok? Ida Lupino? Marjoe fucking Gortner?" I think I'm in love!", like I was crushing soooo hard. Then I saw FotG in the store and I read the DVD case and I was crushing even harder, so I was like, why don't we move in together?

See? I know what you're thinking. Why do I go so fast? Why not wait it out with a rental or a Netflix or something, why am I just, like, automatically pledging myself forever and making a move-in commitment right off the bat when it so rarely works out? Does nothing ever go right for me? I feel so Cathy, LOL!

So last night, things were going so boss that I was all, okay, yes! This movie is so definitely the one, because let me tell you, FotG was really turning on the charm.

See, there was this island where Mr and Mrs Skinner found this porridge-fall in the woods, right? And they were such stupid country folk that they thought it was oil, despite the fact that the stuff looks nothing like oil. Then they figured out it wasn't oil, and so they figured "Well, since it's not oil, we're not going to get rich off it. Might as well feed it to the chickens!" which is pretty dumb, right diary? I mean, there are lots of things in the world that aren't oil, but that doesn't make those things appropriate to feed to chickens, LOL!

This magic porridge is The Food of the Gods, yo. When youngsters eat it, it makes them big. And I do mean BIG! Like I said, at this point in the evening, FotG was pulling out all the stops to get me to fall in love. Marjoe fucking Gortner was this football player who visited the island and straight off he battles a giant rooster (he wins by the way).

His friend is attacked by a bunch of big wasps that are totally plastic models and I was all, "Yessssssss!"

Some big rats attack Mr Skinner when he's on his way home and the scene alternates between regular rats on a model VW and giant fake rats on a regular VW and I was all, "Rock on!"


Food of the Gods was all "Oh yeah, this is my friend Ida Lupino- watch her get bitten by some huge maggots" and I was, like, "Okay, I am SO GLAD we moved in together, FotG. You get a t-shirt with my picture on it, and I'll get a t-shirt with your picture on it, and then we'll wear them when we go on dates, and then we'll get married!"

I know it seems extra-fast to be talking marriage when I'd only known Food for about 25 minutes, but come on! It was totally sweet and it understood me like no one's ever understood me before. We really connected, you know? Like when there was another wasp attack, only this time it featured the worst special effects I've ever seen in any movie in the history of ever! Like, these were totally wasps made out of cellophane or something- they were totes see-through- , and then they disappeared in puffs of black smoke when they got shot. I was so happy I wanted to get a cellophane wasp tattooed on my face- that's how in love I was. And I meant it!


But then...I don't know, diary. Something changed. Food of the Gods was all "It's time for the humans to fight back!" which is okay, I mean, I'm a human and I don't want to get stung to death by giants wasps, even if they are see-through, LOL! But what happened was, rats started getting hurt...like, real rats, getting...I don't know, shot and drowned and stuff and it was REALLY UPSETTING. I couldn't even look! Seriously, I had to turn away during all the fight scenes, because I knew that when Marjoe fucking Gortner busted out a shotgun rats were really going to to get blasted and it just wasn't cool.

I swear, it was like Food of the Gods had turned into Ted Bundy or something! Like, how can someone so charming and attractive turn out to be so eeeevil? I felt duped, and I was like, "I don't even know who you are anymore, FotG," and I mean I really said that. You should be proud of me, diary! I said, why not shoot fake rats? And Food was like "I dunno", like it couldn't even come up with an excuse. So I said, maybe we shouldn't live together anymore, and then Food was like "Wait wait wait, what about this?" and then Ida Lupino had a fight to the death with a giant fake rat and they die together like this:

I swear, I almost caved in! But I held strong and I said no! You can't just do one little (admittedly awesome) thing and expect me to forget all the bad things you did, I think you should go now. Diary, it was like I was living in that Whitney Houston song that goes "It's not right, but it's okay, I'm gonna make it anyway" it was so cool. I felt great about it, even though I felt bad about it because I really wanted things to work between me and Food of the Gods and I'm trying not to be depressed about it because I really felt like we were a perfect match- and most of the time, we were. If FotG hadn't turned out to be a homicidal maniac, I'd totally be getting that cellophane wasp tattoo right this second. But alas, alack, it is not to be. I know in the end it's not my fault, but right now that's a small comfort. Next time, I won't jump in so fast! I know, you're all, like, "Yeah, right!" LOL. Oh, and before I forget:

8 oz cream cheese spread
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 small tomatoes, chopped
1/3 cup green onions (*note: maybe substitute regular onions?)
1/4 cup shredded mozzarella cheese
some WHEAT THINS

MIX cream cheese and garlic
SPREAD onto plate
TOP with onions, tomatoes, cheese
SERVE as dip with CRACKERS

Hugz-n-stuff,

FG

________________________________

Film Club Coolies, y'all!

Comedy Double Standards
Freddy in Space
Full Moon Reviews
Evil on Two Legs
Zombie Cupcake
Acheter et entretenir sa tronconneuse (c'est French, ca!)
namtab
Club Silencio
Bloody Good Horror
Horror Film Magazine
Friend Mouse Speaks
StinkyLulu
Gorillanaut
Celeberrimous
Awesomeness For Awesome's Sake
I Am Spartickes
My New Plaid Pants (finally!)