Entries Tagged 'the parade festival' ↓

“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!

this is not my movie

Think on back with me, child, to that magical long-ago time called "earlier this week" when I reviewed a little sumpin' sumpin' called Cathy's Curse. Wasn't that a great day? It sure was. Unless I'm thinking about last week, when I had some frozen yogurt...or was that yesterday? Eh, I have no clue. My days tend to mush all together to form a big blob of amorphous solid (not unlike silly putty), only broken up by occasional trips to my mailbox or, when I'm feeling particularly wicked, the local branch of the library. But! I am not here to blather on and on about my glamourous life, no- I'm here to talk about...wait, what am I here to talk about?

Oh yeah! So listen, Cathy's Curse was a selection from my awesome 50-pack of Chilling Classics (or, as the package is labeled, "CHILLLING CLASSICS"), right? And when I took it out of my DVD player, guess what I noticed! I noticed that the B-side to Cathy's Curse is a little sumpin' sumpin' called The Demons of Ludlow. Imagine my surprise! Go on, imagine it. IMAGINE IT I SAY.

Now, to those few of you who're all, "What's the big effing deal about a movie called The Demons of Ludlow?", well, if you'd been paying attention around here you'd know that I recently made a movie called Ludlow. So now you know what the big effing deal is...and you, too, can imagine my surprise!

Reading the synopsis of the 1983 film clued me in that it has nothing in common with my movie, save a bit of the title...but still, I had to size up my competition in my quest to claim the sweet, sweet Ludlow pie.

I'm sorry, that doesn't make much sense. I'm gonna tell you right now: none of this post will make much sense because boy oh boy, I'm in a mood. I've been really hyper today, and I've had an inordinate amount of cheese...so there's no telling what might happen. Bear with me...but don't worry, The Demons of Ludlow makes no sense either, so who the frig cares what I write about it?

As the helpful banner indicates, the town of Ludlow is celebrating its bicentennial. It's a right ol' hoe-down!

The Mayor...or whoever he is...gets up to give his little speech about how wonderful it is that Ludlow is one of the oldest settlements- one of the very first!- in the United States. Never mind that by 1783 the entire Eastern seaboard had long been settled already- Ludlow is 200 years old and one of the very first, dammit! When the Mayor claims they're all one big, happy family, it's clear that the crowd enthusiastically agrees. My heart shed a crystalline tear, for I was so very touched by their response.

Anyway, it seems that a descendant of Mr. Ludlow, the town founder, has sent a gift- all the way from England!- to commemorate this momentous occasion. It's a beautiful (not at all tacky) white piano...and when someone busts out a few tunes, the citizens of Ludlow are so fucking dazzled you could just puke.

It's worth noting that this magical white piano sounds an awful lot like a Casio keyboard set to "organ".

Now then, let's meet some of the town's finest, shall we? There's...
  • The Mayor, who we already know...
  • The Writer, who was raised in Ludlow until she was nine- but now she's back and she's nosy and she knows there's something hinky 'bout that piano...
  • The Reverend, who knows that Ludlow has a secret...
  • The Horny Teens, who sneak off to a barn to make out...and make out they do, until a green glowing hand rises out of the ground and...smears hay and chocolate sauce on the girl's stomach ...
  • The Weirdo, who is either mentally ill or mentally retarded (it's never really specified)- either way, she spends a lot of time talking to her POSITIVELY EERIE doll collection...

...which includes Smurfette.

Once the piano is played, bad things start happening in Ludlow- or, at least, bad things kinda happen every twelve minutes or so. Thank goodness the scares were so spaced out, 'cause I don't think my nerves could stand a full 90 minutes of such unrelenting terror! It was hard enough to make it through sequences such as...

The one where a poker floats in the air, takes a swing at The Reverend, and WHIFFS!

Or the one where the piano ekes out a teeny tiny amount of blood!

Or the one where The Weirdo's Mom gets pulled up into the ceiling after a couple of colonial chicks throw a noose around her neck!

Or the one where The Weirdo has a flashback to Ye Olde days, when people engaged in such debauched behavior as eating copious amounts of bread and engaging in powdered wiggery!

It seriously looks like someone from the FX or costume department took a trip to the Halloween Store and stocked up on blood, "witch nails", and "Billy Bob teeth". I am not saying this is a bad thing, I am just saying.

Now, I realize I've made The Demons of Ludlow look like it's jam-packed with action, thrills, and frights so frightening your eyeballs will pee their pants in fright...and while that may be true for the scintillating sequences I've relayed above, the truth of the matter is that this movie is boring with a capital DULL. The Writer tries to piece things together regarding the piano's history and Mr. Ludlow, but she never gets anywhere beyond "He did something and was exiled to England". Meanwhile, The Reverend is concerned that people are dying, but in typical jerk Mayor fashion, The Mayor doesn't want to cancel the parade piano festival just because there are a few dead bodies around. I'm gonna be honest: once this flick hit 59 minutes and I was bored outta my gourd, I hit the FF button, only stopping when it looked like something was happening. I was tired of all the blah blah blah- so sue me! This is the last half hour of The Demons of Ludlow, on speed:

A tree stump explodes- repeatedly- in a shower of fireworks.

The piano plays itself.

Some Three Musketeers-looking dudes show up and cut off The Mayor's head.

The piano loses a leg for no reason and starts to smoke.

This dude shows up.

The Writer is suddenly in Ye Olde Clothes...she runs about Ludlow, encountering colonials with poor dental work everywhere she turns.

The Writer cannot escape because there's some sort of force field around Ludlow...but then a car drives through it- and her- and she's back in her regular clothes.

She falls down, the driver of the car goes to her...freeze frame THE END.

You know that if this movie was so bad it was good, I'd tell you, right? I would, because I'm here to spread the love, friendos. I know you're looking at those pictures up there, thinking that exploding tree stumps are just what you need to cure what ails ya- but trust me, The Demons of Ludlow is only gonna ail ya even worse. For every second of magical sparkles and fireworks, there's ten minutes of nothing. It's a disjointed mess that's a chore to sit through, even on fast forward. Reading this post is all the time you need to spend with this one, I'm sorry to say. And I swear, I'm not just saying that because I want to hog that sweet, sweet Ludlow pie all to myself...

...although I do wish I'd worked an exploding tree stump into my movie somehow.

VHS Week, Day 3: Demon of Paradise

As you may have noticed, I review a lot of movies here at Final Girl. Some of these movies are made of awesome, some are made of lame...this is to be expected. You take the good, you take the bad...you take them both and there, my friends, you have the facts of life. It's a rare film that crosses my path, however, that is so bad that I want to go back in time and stop myself from pushing play on the VCR. Even more rare is the film that makes me want to go back in time and stop myself from seeing the movie on the shelf...or further back in time so I can stop the filmmakers from beginning production. Or even further back so I can prevent the filmmakers' parents from having "intimate" "relations" so I can ensure the film will never get made.

This is how I feel about the 1987 Creature from the Black Lagoon wannabe Demon of Paradise.

Blah blah blah legend of prehistoric underwater lizard-man Akua blah blah oh no, he's really real blah blah blah let's follow the standard animal attack movie formula: we can't cancel the annual Parade Festival blah blah blah the scienceologist will save the day blah blah fucking blah.

Trust me, that description is way more exciting than what happens on screen. What happens on screen? NOTHING. So much nothing that when I looked over at one point and my viewing pals were asleep, I thought that maybe I was actually the one who fell asleep and I was having the most boring dream ever dreamed.

Let's take a look at some of the things I wrote whilst taking notes for this review:
  • Reporter = die, please
  • nothing happens. nothing happens some more. badly acted nothings happen.
  • music = horrendous, always inappropriate
  • more nothing happening = kill myself
  • testing my resolve as a human being to overcome adversity and boredom
  • why won't it end?
  • hell = this
  • when will it end?
Finally, it did end and I was left feeling like I'd just completed ten tours of 'Nam. Demon of Paradise was so bad then when the credits finally rolled I nearly went apoplectic, ranting and flipping it off so hard I'm surprised my middle finger didn't explode. There's no doubt that in those few moments, I could have legally been deemed a fire hazard- such was the white-hot intensity of my rage. I'm only shocked that lasers didn't shoot out of my eyeballs.

Oh, how Demon of Paradise angried up my blood! Why did Satan himself have to shit this movie into existence? Why did I have to see it in the 3-for-$5 bin at Video Hut? Why did the filmmakers not realize that a man in a rubber suit popping up out of the water every once in a while to wave at people off camera does not induce terror? Why did it have to be so boring that I couldn't even laugh at the waving monster?

Clearly, Demon of Paradise hates me as much as I hate it.

Originally, I didn't even want to bring the tape home with me: I really, really don't want this movie in my house. Since last night, however, I've reconsidered that stance and I think some good may actually come from this steaming pile of dook.

Some outreach program should take Demon of Paradise to all the Ebola clinics of the world and show one-minute clips to patients. Then they can say "See, Ebola patient? Your internal organs are liquifying and your face is being eaten away, but at least you don't have to endure the other 86 minutes of Demon in Paradise!", to which the Ebola sufferers will say "Hooray! I may have Ebola, but clearly my life could be a lot worse!"

Film Club: The Car

"We've got a crazy on our hands."

Why yes, officer...yes you do. Honk...honkhonkhonnnnnnnnnnk! That sound can only mean one thing- it's...THE CAR! What does it want? Why does it kill? Will it ever stop? Who's driving it? Who's Johnny? You'd might as well relax right now, Asky McGee, because none of your questions will be answered. All you need to know is that AutoJaws hates you and will run your ass over faster than you can yell "Cat poo!"

Don't worry, I'll explain that in a minute.

This 1977 awesome-piece of cinema opens with an All American-looking couple (the female half of which is Melody Thomas, who you may know as Melody Thomas Scott of television's The Young & the Restless- dazzle your friends with trivia!) giggling as they ride the roads of New Mexico in their short shorts. What could go wrong on such a beautiful blue day? Plenty, that's what, for here comes...The Car!

Director Elliot Silverstein only shows us fleeting images of the car- mostly he keeps it hidden or utilizes evil red car vision cam as it hurtles through Looney Toons-style tunnels towards the unsuspecting bikers. He treats the car like it's a monster and sets up some Friday the 13th style tension, which is the last thing I'd expect in a movie about a killer car.

The car wastes no time taking down the bikers by knocking them off bridges and cliffs, then speeding away with a puff of exhaust in search of more victims- at this point, I believe I turned to my friends and solemnly stated, "This has the potential to be the best movie ever made." Then the next five minutes happened, and I was no longer sure what to think.

Wade Parent (James Brolin) and his girl toy Lauren (Kathleen Lloyd) flirt and wrestle and engage in weird accents and nut play and I suppose we're supposed to find it charming or something, but my thoughts only turned to "I can't fucking wait until Lauren gets run over." Wade heads off to his job at the police department, Lauren heads off to her job doing something that I hope will put her immediately in the path of an oncoming car, and we head off to an even weirder five minutes.

Some French Horn-clutching, Leo Sayer-looking dude is ostensibly hitchhiking when he breaks up a domestic violence situation. I applaud the French Horn-clutching, Leo Sayer-looking dude for helping out the abused wife, but then he has to go and be all annoying, almost more annoying than the wife beater. Once the French Horn-clutching, Leo Sayer-looking dude quips "Wouldn't that be fantastic? Farting music for a year!", I get the feeling that he spends a lot of time in the exclusive company of his French Horn...and I get pretty excited when I see the plume of dust down the road. The plume gets bigger- 'tis the car, natch, on a mission to run over the annoying French Horn-clutching, Leo Sayer-looking dude! This car is all right by me, even if I happen to agree with French Horn-clutching, Leo Sayer-looking dude's views on farting music.

The police force (which is fucking huge considering that the town only has one street) is baffled by all the dead bodies. Witnesses, including the wife beater and some old Indian broad, say all sorts of crazy things- the car has no license plate! The car has...honk honkhonkhonnnnnnnk...no driver! No matter, though- like all good animal attack movies (see: Jaws, The Swarm), the townsfolk in The Car refuse to cancel the...the...parade festival or whatever the hell it is just because some cuckoo nutso guy is on the loose mowing people down in his sedan.

Boy, will they rue that decision! At a parade festival rehearsal, a positively unearthly wind heralds the arrival of THE CAR, which tries to run over young and old alike.

The group takes refuge in a cemetery and stupid Lauren tries to act all tough. She starts taunting the car, calling it an "upside-down bathtub" and spouting other equally scathing put-downs. Again I think, "I can't fucking wait until Lauren gets run over", but the car can't seem to do anything but get mad and do donuts- the cemetery, you see, is hallowed ground, and the eeeeevil sedan cannot enter!

I'll tell you who can enter the graveyard, however- the most awesome lady I've seen in a movie since the Poole sisters, that's who! In a moment of pure cinematic glory, this woman shakes her fist at the car and yells...well, it sounds like "Cat poo!", although I've been told that in subtitles it's said she exclaims "Tadpole!" Neither makes much sense, and so I'm sticking with "cat poo". I love this woman- and when I get older, you can bet your ass that I'll be busting out some flip-top glasses and standing at bus stops, shaking my fists at people and calling them cat poo. Hitch your wagon to a star, I say!

The police continue to be baffled, although they're at least attempting to catch the car by setting up roadblocks and the such. James Brolin manages a face off, but soon discovers that bullets do no damage to the satanmobile. Windshields remain intact, tires remain inflated, and the car remains mysterious and evil. James Brolin approaches the driver's side, and the door suddenly opens and whacks him unconscious. Why the car doesn't run him over and finish the job, I have no idea. Another mystery of life, I suppose.

James Brolin wakes up in the hospital, and there he remains as Lauren heads home before spending the night taking care of his young daughters (played by Kyle and Kim Richards of Halloween and Escape to Witch Mountain respectively- how rad is that?). She stands in the kitchen whining to James Brolin- she can hear the engine of that damn car!- when finally- FINALLY- she gets taught a lesson about sassin' the devil's sedan. The car drives through the house to run that bitch over, and I believe I let out a cheer.

James Brolin, of course, does not cheer...and now, his battle with the car is personal. He comes home and finds the car in his garage, just sitting there. Eyaagh! The scene is absolutely reminiscent of vampire movies like 'Salem's Lot, when our intrepid heroes come across the eeeevil bloodsuckers slumbering in their coffins. Everything gets all tense, and we're just waiting for the bad guy to spring to life- and The Car doesn't disappoint...mostly.

Again, rather than simply running over James Brolin, the car just sits there, honking and revving its engine; apparently it either wants to kill him slowly via carbon monoxide poisoning, or it wants to annoy him to death with noise. Just as I was getting ready to shake my fist and yell "Cat poo!" "Enough with the fucking horn already!", the car busts out of the garage and speeds off.

The police have gotten their shit together and they've come up with a plan to lure the car into a canyon and explode it with explosives; after much car versus motorcycle chase action and men running with wires running action, their plan comes to fruition. There's a massive explosion and eeeevil devil faces appear in the fire as...I guess as the eeeevil devil spirits are released from the car!

One thing's for sure, though, the scene features overacting of a caliber I haven't seen since Silent Film Zombie! Awesome. Except, that is, for the dude on the upper left, who looks a bit bored with the devil fire clouds.

The Car ends rather ambiguously as we see tires barreling through city streets and hear the ominous honk...honkhonkhonnnnnk. Did the car survive? Does the devil have a massive fleet of evil sedans, a la Elvis and his Cadillacs? Isn't it funny when the devil has cars and dogs doing his bidding? It seems as if he's taking the really hard approach to world domination.

But no matter! The Car is awesome, surely the finest film of its kind. My only wish- and it makes me feel a bit funny to say it- is that there was more explicit carnage. I really wanted to see Lauren and Leo Sayer get run over but good.


Film Club Coolies, y'all!

The Blood Spattered Scribe
The Good, the Bad, and the Wonky
Awesomeness for Awesome's Sake
Dinner With Max Jenke
Evil on Two Legs
That Will Teach Them To Be Bad
The Horror Section
Film Experience
Acheter et entretenir sa tronconneuse (c'est French ca!)
Zombie Cupcake
Monstruos Calientes
Askewed Views
Overthinking It
House of 1000 Courses
Lazy Eye Theatre