Weekend with the Babysitter (1970)

A square middle-aged guy falls in love with the hippy babysitter and go on a romantic weekend getaway. Meanwhile, his wife gets kidnapped by drug dealers.

This movie is sort of a remake of the extremely entertaining The Babysitter. It gets confusing because the babysitter character has the same name but is played by a different actress, but the middle-aged guy is a different (but similar) character played by the same actor from the original movie. And instead of his wife being an intolerable boring old lady who's not interested in her husband at all, she's a heroin addict in this one. So there is a lot going on in this movie.

Unfortunately it lacks all of the charm of the original movie. It doesn't have the laugh-out-loud ending, and there just aren't enough scenes of the unhip middle-aged guy trying to fit in with hippies. The drug subplot, while funny in how exploitative it is, never becomes hilarious and is instead just tedious. Finally, you can't laugh at how wrong the babysitter exploitation aspect is because they try to make the relationship into more of a romance than a tawdry affair and so it loses points there.

But there is more to this movie than meets the eye! You can't help but notice that the middle aged guy is played by the same actor in both movies. "Wow," you think to yourself, "why does this guy keep getting this role? It just must be the role he was born to play, the role of a guy being suduced by the babysitter." All is well and good until you start doing some investigative work. Not only did this guy act in both movies, he wrote them! And then he helped to produce them. So you can imagine this guy writing his babysitter fantasy down and shopping it around Hollywood. And he has some trouble getting it made so he decides to pony up some of his money. And of course the only guy that can nail this role is him. And he makes the movie only it wasn't totally perfect- I mean, no junkie wife subplot, plus it was in black and white. And then he does it again... one year later!

So by now the story has taken a disturbing twist as you realize you are basically watching this guy's fantasy, which he thought everyone should watch and he paid good money to make sure of it. So I would recommend it as a case study of his descent into madness.


The Werewolf of Washington (1973)

Jack, a young reporter who is having an "affair" with the President's (unmarried!) daughter has himself reassigned to Hungary, where he is bitten by a werewolf. He returns home where he is given a job as Assistant Press Secretary but soon his curse takes over and he is stalking Washington as a bloodthirsty werewolf!

This is possibly the worst movie I have ever seen. There is nothing sadder than a horror/comedy/political satire that fails on all three counts. The werewolf makeup is ridiculous and there is not a single suspenseful scene in the whole movie. The comedy is a disaster. This movie was obviously written by a guy who fancies himself a brilliant humorist and just to get him to shut up at parties everyone tells him "man you need to write this stuff down!"

The political satire is just as ineffective. I know you're looking at the theatrical poster to the right and thinking, "no way guy, look at that poster, that is Grade-A satire right there." Republicans and Democrats don't get along! Racist people blame blacks for werewolf crimes! Pentagram sounds like Pentagon! This is the mind-numbing humor and braindead satire that awaits you in The Werewolf of Washington.

I guess it doesn't help that this is a werewolf movie. Werewolves, zombies, vampires... what do they have in common? They are classics of course, and the original films- the ones movies even now copy all their little techniques from- are all great.

But that was then and this is now and unless you make some amazing change to the concept these have been done to death and there is not much you can say with these monsters. We have seen plenty of changes to the vampire (recently) and zombie (back in the 70s). What about werewolves? An American Werewolf in London added some comedy that worked pretty well but more importantly applied state of the art makeup effects to make werewolves scary again. The Werewolf of Washington adds... stale humor and lame political satire. The werewolf effect is no better than what we had in The Wolfman for god's sake.

The Werewolf of Washington fails as a horror movie. The humor doesn't work. The political satire is the kind of stuff a college kid would write for his college newspaper. But most importantly it's a boring film and it's no fun to watch.

Dungeon of Harrow (1962)

A guy ends up shipwrecked with his captain on a mysterious island. Soon they will find themselves guests of Count de Sade and his tough guy servant.

The biggest problem with this movie is the acting. Sure, everyone is awful, especially some ghost guy that shows up during the movie who is apparently some kind of horror host. But beyond that, everyone talks so slowly. It's consistent enough that you wonder if the director was telling people to put spaces in between all their words so that he could hit his targeted running time. By the time people were finishing their sentences I was forgetting what they were talking about! On top of that you have to put up with the main character's constant narration. It's one of those things where he will just describe to you what is going on in the movie, like the most boring commentary track in the world.

It's not totally awful, just mostly. Outside of a great "toy ship in a bathtub" stormy sea effect at the beginning and the twist ending that is actually pretty clever there is not much going on in this one. There is some sudden violence involving a torch somewhere in the middle that is nearly effective but it is pretty much off screen so I guess it's barely worth mentioning. Just like this movie.


Horror Rises from the Tomb (1973)

Back in Ye Witche Tymes a warlock and his wife are executed. Before he is decapitated he swears a curse and then they bury his head somewhere. Hundreds of years later his descendant and his pals decide to go look for the severed head, which is allegedly buried in his land.

It is difficult to review this movie because the version I watched was heavily censored, to the extent that the movie was nearly impossible to follow and also really dull. Apparently a horror/sex movie, the version I watched was more akin to a haunted house picture from the 1940s. There is a lot of slowly creeping down hallways, a lot of evil warlocks glaring menacingly at the camera, and way too much awful and totally ineffective organ music.

Having said this, the movie starts out very well. I'm a sucker for gritty, filthy medieval scenes in movies and Horror Rises from the Tomb begins with a great one, complete with guy reading aloud the warlock's crimes from a scroll. From there we get a seance scene that is pretty good but typical, and- the highlight of the movie- a great scene on a dark forest road featuring some great backwoods street justice.

Unfortunately once we get to the heart of the matter- digging up the head and then chaos in the castle- the movie sort of falls apart. Nothing much happens and pace slows to a crawl as characters that were never developed in the slightest are attacked, mind-controlled, and killed. And it is around this time that the organ music soundtrack starts to really get on your nerves.

The movie gets extra points for the semi-accurate title, what with the rising from the tomb and all. But I have a hard time calling what rises "horror," though I understand you'd have trouble selling tickets to the more accurately named Tedium Rises from the Tomb.


Double Exposure (1983)

A men's magazine photographer has vivid nightmares where he kills his models in gruesome ways and when his models start getting killed for real he begins to doubt his sanity. His one-armed and one-legged stunt man brother, hilarious 1980s gay stereotype assistant, useless psychiatrist, and totally out of his league girlfriend all lend their support. Meanwhile, typically ineffective 1980s cops run around wasting time and padding the length of the movie.

From the title alone you would expect this to be an 80s cop action movie, maybe with Steven Seagal in it. However you would be wrong. Instead it's a sort of serial killer stalker movie, like a cleaned up version of Maniac or a (much) less bleak version of Henry: Portrait of a Serial Killer. And while not nearly as good as either of those horror classics, Double Exposure is surprisingly good and except for a telegraphed and awful twist ending is actually a very effective thriller.

Much of the success of this movie can be attributed to the portrayal of the photographer character. He's very well-written and acted, making for a surprisingly interesting character. He's got an interesting relationship with his brother and his assistant, and his awkward flirtation with the woman who ends up becoming his girlfriend is not something you usually see in a movie like this. When you get to the first scene where he murders a model it is generally unexpected and shocking, even though the movie cleverly plays with the idea well beforehand. When the gruesome nightmares start to become too much for him to handle, his breakdown is done very well.

It's almost an excellent movie. That is, until the end where you get the twist ending you've seen coming for an hour but have been hoping you're wrong. It's stupid and suddenly the movie is no better than any gritty murder movie from the era. Cut that out (and while you're at it, the pointless cop scenes that are just there because in a movie like this you need them) and you'd have a horror classic. With that in there, it's just good.

Crucible of Horror (1971)

A dysfunctional family goes about its business while patriarch Walter gets increasingly violent and creepy. After a vicious cane beating, crazy mom Edith and rebellious daughter Jane hatch a plot to take care of Walter forever OR SO THEY THINK!!!

It doesn't sound like much but there is a lot to like about Crucible of Horror. The way the film drops you into this messed up family is great. No setup, no scenes of police or psychiatrists or anyone explaining to you how crazy everyone is. It feels like you are just witnessing another day in the life of these folks and what is left unsaid and unseen speaks and shows more than a bunch of ridiculous exposition ever could.

Events occur and end with no real resolution or connection to anything else, just like in real life, which is a very effective way of giving you the impression that this family is real with an actual history.

Performances are all around excellent with father Walter radiating cold and quiet menace in every scene. The tension is incredible and he's so effective it is actually shocking when he goes over the edge and becomes violent. The icing on the cake is how everyone looks so normal, like people you would encounter in your neighborhood, assuming you were part of a wealthy British family.

Unfortunately there is a ridiculous ending in store for you. It's one of those endings that is a little vague, but it's either because of ghosts or it's just a dream or or whatever. It's a lazy way to end any movie, and that a movie as effective as this one would end with this kind of shock ending does nothing but cheapen the rest of it. Also, where is the crucible? I have to deduct points for the filthy lie that the title is. Still worth watching, but pretend you are crazy and the last ten minutes was all in your head.

The Babysitter (1969)

Rising star prosecutor and totally square white guy George Maxwell is having an affair with Candy, the babysitter his totally uncool wife hired to watch their totally boring baby while they go and play bridge with a bunch of totally unhip old white people, like themselves. Before long a friend of his oldest daughter has snapped photos of his trysts but is willing to cut him a deal: let her psychopathic murderer biker boyfriend walk free and no one will find out about the pictures. However, the babysitter has some rough friends of her own and blackmailing Maxwell may not work out as planned in this fantasy movie land where having affairs with babysitters merits high-fives from your creepy boss.

Years from now, when mankind has been run underground and cockroach high technopriests send mercenary cockroaches to search the red desert wastelands for remnants of human civilization, they will find these DVD box sets and in their great libraries will be recorded that the high point of human home cinema was the rise and fall of DVD. Then they will send their cockroach cyborg slavemasters into the mines to hunt for more humans for technoconversion.

Never before in human civilization have we had this kind of access to these movies- the kind no one wants to watch- in stores which do not hand you your purchase in a nondescript paper bag. Sure there are plenty of movies that were released on VHS that have still not been converted to DVD, but the number of films- especially genre films (i.e. trash)- on DVD that cannot be had in any other format is mind-boggling. The rights to movies with no real audience can be cheaply bought (or not bought at all, since many of these kinds of movies are in rights-limbo) and released on DVD for pocket change, whereas the previous generation of home video required you release your movies on expensive VHS tapes.

Case in point, The Babysitter. I don't know if this was released on VHS tape. But I can assure you that this movie was not released in a box set with eleven other exploitation movies for $5.00 on VHS. I would also be welling to bet money (though not a lot) that you will not be able to buy The Babysitter along with eleven other movies on Blu-Ray for $5.00 a year from now. And while The Babysitter is a fine movie for ironic hipsters to enjoy for seventy-five minutes, I'm not sure I'd be willing to spend $25 on a special edition 3D Blu-Ray version.

On to the movie. It's got the best title ever because you read that title and you know pretty much exactly what the movie is gong to be about, thanks to the cultural baggage that babysitters carry. There are some surprises- the ending is ridiculous and laugh out loud funny and the relationship between Maxwell and the babysitter is developed far more than you think it would be- but you are basically getting your typical 60s exploitation flick that would have played second fiddle to some higher budget sex comedy or monster movie at the drive-in.

There are a bunch of hilarious things about the movie, including one of those awesome theme songs that features lyrics referring to the babysitter by name and telling you what she is all about, and tons of scenes of crazy 60s dancing that makes the stupid dancing of today look like dancing Shakespeare. And the acting ranges from professional to not-acting-just-talking, but more importantly it's a surprisingly entertaining watch. Not really my kind of movie but I'd rather watch this than some bloated 110 minute epic of the week we get in the theaters now.


Night of the Creeps (1986)

An alien releases a bunch of slug-like creatures on Earth. These space slugs are able to burrow into corpses and ride them around like cars. Meanwhile some college kids are going around getting into mischief and before long they are on a collision course for wacky hijinx with the slugs!

This movie is somewhat infamous in the horror fandom because for the longest time it went without a DVD release. Just when it looked like it was going to be a lost classic, destined to be traded on shady bootlegs, it came out as a special edition. So what's all the fuss about?

There are a few things about this movie that have made it a cult hit. It's got great effects and plenty of gore. A script that is made entirely of snappy one-liners and comebacks. Monsters that are basically zombies for all intents and purposes. A hero that starts out a loser and by the end of the movie is jumping through windows and taking out zombies like some kind of expert monster hunter. Characters named after your favorite horror directors. In other words, this is your typical horror fan's dream movie.

On top of all of this it is an homage to old B-movies from the late 50s and early 60s. In fact, the first ten minutes or so takes place in the past and since back then the whole world was without color they shot this part in black in white. People go nuts over that kind of stuff, don't ask me why.

Unfortunately, while the effects are really awesome, the movie doesn't work so well. When you throw in all your favorite horror stuff it takes a really strong script or a hell of a concept at least to make it all work together. Night of the Creeps has none of that. As mentioned above the dialog is just a bunch of snappy back-and-forth nonsense that probably sounded cool on paper but when spoken aloud by human beings sounds intolerably lame. The constant in-jokes and stuff drove me nuts. Not a scene goes by where someone isn't going "Carpenter, get on that" or "Raimi, what's the latest." Raimi! He did Evil Dead! So clever! The layers! This film is like an onion- how deep does it go?!

The concept is beyond dull. Actually, this movie is ahead of its time in a way. It would fit in pretty well in the "needs something... I got it! Zombies!" horror swamp we are stuck in right now. You are walking in the horror swamp and you get stuck. The only way to escape is to leave your boots in the swamp and save yourself! Your good boots! (The boots represent your resolve to not put zombies in a movie just so the fans will watch it). But you need to survive so you leave your dignity boots behind where they are eaten by the swamp (the swamp represents the government I guess). The only possible way you could make this more boring, on a conceptual level, would be to replace the zombies with vampires. The slugs are pretty close to vampires actually.

It's a fun movie to watch I guess because the kills come fast and often and before you know it you are at the end. Watch it and get this little piece of horror cult history out of the way for something more substantial.


Invasion of the Body Snatchers (1978)

This is a movie that needs little introduction. Our heroes run around a city on the verge of paranoid insanity as one by one everyone but them is taken over by pod people. Can they turn the tide, or does the control wielded by the pod people reach higher than they could ever imagine.

Widely regarded as one of most successful (in every sense of the word) remakes ever filmed, Invasion of the Body Snatchers is a fantastic movie, moody paranoia choking every single frame. It hails from a time when film makers were not afraid to take their time in setting up beautiful shots and had no problem with their cameras lingering on those shots for as long as it took for you to appreciate them. Every character in this movie is interesting in one way or another and even nearly thirty years later they do not strike you as stereotypes or living cliches. Even Jeff Goldblum's character is only mildly annoying, which says a lot.

Although overly long, the pace is perfect and the movie zips by with a dark urgency. The invasion is slow to start but once it does the movie simply does not let up and you even get some really great slimy pod guy effects. The best part of the movie, however, is that is refuses to pander to the audience. Where lesser movies would stop the film for a second to let the gravity sink in, and then maybe play a soundtrack cue to tell you to feel anxious or upset, Invasion of the Body Snatchers just keeps moving. The characters react realistically and there is none of the melodrama that infects much of the genre when it tries to turn in a more dramatic direction.

Invasion of the Body Snatchers is a fantastic thriller. Why not make it a night and watch it with John Carpenter's The Thing to see two completely different approaches to remaking classic sci-fi/horror movies, both effective in their own way?


The Wicker Man (2006)

A chain of unlikely events involving a random car accident and a letter from an ex-girlfriend brings a policeman to an island host to a matriarchal society, with bees on it. Everyone on the island is at very least weird, if not aggressively obnoxious and time is running out! Will he find the missing child before The Wicker Man happens?!

The Wicker Man is an Internet Darling and is nearly unreviewable. All the best parts are all over Youtube and lines from the film have already entered the lexicon of imaginary internet people everywhere. It is however well worth watching in full so you can understand the context within which all your most favorite Wicker Man lines are spoken.

This movie is a remake of the feel-good pagan horror musical from 1973 featuring Christopher Lee. Instead of Christopher Lee there is some lady and Nicholas Cage. They took out the songs and replaced them with more Nicholas Cage. Then they added some bees and thought they were done but the movie was still only like eighty minutes long, so they just spliced in ten minutes worth of flashbacks to the car accident at the beginning of the movie to fill things out. This was still not enough so they added some more bees.

This is a remake only in the loosest sense of the word. It has absolutely nothing to do with the original except for there being a Wicker Man at the end. But you really can't blame them because while The Wicker Man (1973) is a great movie, you show that to a bunch of 18-35 year olds now- with its musical numbers and quaint Christianity vs Paganism theme and man made of a hard woven fiber formed into a rigid material usually used for baskets or furniture- and they would laugh whilst texting on their cellphones and tweeting on their twitters. They would leave nasty comments on your precious Facebook page. Or shank you in the kidney on the way out. You never know with kids today.

Nicholas Cage really had no choice. They took all that outdated stuff out and instead you have him running around like a madman, karate kicking ladies into walls, screaming at children, and riding his bike furiously through the streets. And there is a giant conspiracy of course (in order to have a twist at the end) and it is the most ridiculous thing ever, relying on Nicholas Cage randomly coming upon things over a span of several years in order to arrive where he is. It's hilarious and the only thing keeping it together is Cage's madcap antics; played straight, this movie would have been impossible to watch.

So make it a movie night and watch the original and this remake back-to-back. You'll appreciate the class and excellent film making of the first movie, and then you'll appreciate how the remake doesn't even try to translate all that stuff into something modern man could relate to.


Planet Terror (2007)

A lethal gas is released into the air, and once people start inhaling it they come down with zombie disease. Some people band together and fight the zombies.

There's not a lot to Planet Terror, but what is there is pretty entertaining. Unlike the other Grindhouse movie, Death Proof, Planet Terror moves at a breakneck pace and the only dialog you will encounter will either explain the plot to you (a couple lines) or tell you jokes (the rest). So it's definitely a more enjoyable movie. It is also definitely a much better exploitation/gore film, with the wettest zombie deaths ever filmed and constant gore effects once the movie gets going.

But it's almost too good. While it works as a great modern zombie flick, it fails as an emulation of "grindhouse" movies. The effects are unbelievable, with explosions all over the place and even a rocket launching peg leg. You simply didn't have this stuff back then, so the aging effect applied to the film to make it look like you are watching the movie in some hole in a wall theater ends up being confusing rather than clever... especially when you watch the movie at home. I don't think anyone who enjoys horror exploitation movies actually likes the poor quality we often had to put up with either on film or on VHS, so this whole thing really makes no sense to me. It would be like taking Silence of the Lambs, aging the film, and going, "See? Just like back in the 70s!" Movies have changed since then and adding some crummy film effects and even the immediately stupid "missing reel" nonsense isn't going to bring them back.

However, regardless of how this movie was unfortunately marketed, I am not going to review it as a "grindhouse" movie and instead will compare it to its peers. It's hilarious with a clever script and likable characters, and wickedly gory without being sadistic. If only horror movies had gone in this direction rather than in the direction of endless remakes, PG-13 ghost flicks, and mean-spirited but dumb Saw movies we'd be doing pretty well I think.


Death Proof (2007)

A group of hip and sassy girls talk for hours about nothing in cars and diners or bars. Then, for a brief fifteen minutes or so they are hunted by a guy in a stuntman car. Then it happens AGAIN but this time the group of girls are all stuntwomen/extreme sports boxers/cheerleaders. Will the hunter become the hunted????

This movie is horrible. In trying to make all the girls be hip and realistic, they all come off as being the same character in different clothes. There is no point to 99% of the dialog in this movie! It's one thing to try to develop your characters in an exploitation murder movie, but there is no development here. Just a bunch of girls sitting in a car cackling at each other's lame insults and talking about whatever it is Quentin Tarantino thinks girls talk about when the guys are away (hint: constant sass-related topics).

Establishing suspense in a movie takes expert timing. It isn't just boring the audience for an hour with talking and then sudden awesome violence. Building suspense requires subtle foreshadowing, playing with the perceptions of your audience, and then the sudden awesome violence . If there is no suspense you are gonna have a hard time creating an effective horror movie.

So is Death Proof just a poor horror movie? Or is it something else? You could look back at the kinds of movies that the Grindhouse project was meant to emulate. These were movies where the whole point was to see some exploitative nudity and maybe some shocking violence. But then you had plenty of "grindhouse" movies that were cheap but effective, such as Basket Case or The Beyond or any number of Italian splatter horror films from the era. Why not emulate those movies?

Of course there has got to be a twist. You can't make a genre film these days without one, and the twist in this one is that the second group of girls are a bunch of badasses. But it's a lazy twist; the whole movie is spent objectifying girls, the camera creepily leering at them. The first girls are all curvy and gorgeous, the second group a little more plain looking. It's disturbing.

Overall the movie is a mess. Not once but twice someone mentions all of Quentin Tarantino's most favorite 70s car chase movies. Keep punching that grindhouse ticket. They even complain about CGI at one point and it comes off as pathetic pandering. Stuff like this pulls you out of the movie; it's one thing to have realistic dialog, it's another to insert wink-and-nudge stuff like this in there hoping all the hipsters in the audience will nod in approval.

The first car chase, which is the best part of the movie and almost approaches being suspenseful (but instead is merely extremely gory which is also okay), is ruined by a stupid instant replay from multiple angles effect. The second car chase, which should have been the best part of the movie, is ruined by focusing not on the cars but on the heroine's face as she utters some of the most ridiculous and unrealistic dialog in the whole movie. There are some good stunts in here but the timing is thrown off by her constant commentary. Think back to Mad Max and the amazing stunts in that. Very little dialog, and they show the drivers only enough to establish who is driving what car and how angry they are. As a result the car chases are thrilling and amazing.

No thrills, no point. That is Death Proof.


Hardware (1990)

Wandering the red desert ruins of post-apocalypse Earth a man searches for junk to sell. Happening upon a marked off area he cuts his way through the barbed wire and finds a half-buried robot head. The robot head ends up in the hands of Mo, a fellow scavenger, who gives it to his crazy industrial sculptor girlfriend. Little do they know that the robot head is still functioning!

The first thing that will likely strike you about this movie is how amazing it looks: the sets are simple but very convincing and there is fantastic use of color and shadow in every scene. It takes place in that special sort of grimy but cool cyberpunk world we all thought we'd be living in by now, where everyone is covered in dirt and mutation but since everyone is in that situation together no one really is bothered by it. Everyone gets to wear awesome gas masks and coats while stomping down deadly looking alleyways in combat boots, but other than that there isn't much too look forward to. The nuclear apocalypse giveth, and it taketh away.

So by now, around the thirty minute mark or so, I was ready to proclaim this as the best cyberpunk film ever made. It is Blade Runner but even more depressing and hopeless, all filmed in the kind of primary colors that make you realize that this movie means business and you had better sit up and pay attention if you know what's good for you.

From here the script introduces a creepy stalker subplot and we start getting into horror movie territory. I admit, I was a little worried about this. I know my horror movies. There are a ton of mistakes you can make with a creepy stalker subplot and this seemed like just the kind of movie to make them. I had to get another slice of pizza to calm my nerves. And to my surprise (my delight even) the whole thing was handled amazingly. By this point I had decided I had found the chosen one of under-the-radar horror/scifi movies. I considered lying in my writeup and listing the movie as coming out in 1989 so that I could pretend that it came out in my favorite decade of movies, saving it from the attitude and baggy pants and edgy coolness of the hated 90s.

Unfortunately the movie sort of starts to fall apart once the robot starts killing people. People start lining up to be massacred by the robot (no complaints there) but it all takes place in this tiny dark little apartment and suspending your disbelief at that point is impossible. The only solution is for everyone to get together and support that suspension with the combined suspending power of all disbeliefs in the room. The heroine starts acting like an action hero, swearing at the robot who doesn't even understand human language, and then you have multiple climaxes and twists, climaxing and twisting one upon another until you aren't sure whether your twists are climaxing or your climaxes twisting. The gore effects are pretty cool though.

It's definitely worth watching though as the movie stays wonderful looking throughout, and you can get through the stupid stuff at the end if you keep in mind you are going to see some great effects.


Critters 2: The Main Course (1988)

Brad, the little kid from Critters, is back in town. And so are the Crites, the little space monsters that eat everything in their path, and the space bounty hunters that like to hunt them. The Crites will attempt to eat everyone, while everyone will attempt to kill the Crites, for about nintey minutes. There is your movie.

Critters 2 starts out pretty strongly with the bounty hunters searching through some alien caves and being attacked by some gross alien monster. The alien cave set is great, full of smoky bubbling pools of water and tons of shadowy corners for the monsters to hide in. Shortly after that however we land on Earth and that is where the rest of the movie takes place.

Whereas the first movie had a pretty decent script with likable characters and some pretty good humor, Critters 2 is just a mess. The script is terrible. It feels like you are watching a made for TV family movie with some gore shots here and there (they are pretty good gore effects however) and the ending is ridiculous. They even tried to turn the chubby sheriff from the first movie into some kind of badass guy complete with one liners. It doesn't work at all.

The monsters are a lot worse this time around. They sit around eating like pigs and they crack jokes all the time. At this rate I expect them to be wearing sunglasses and surfing in Critters 3.

A big letdown after the amazingly good first movie. I can't believe there are two more of these left. What could they possibly be about?


Masters of the Universe (1987)

Sometimes you are overcome with a fit of nostalgia and you hunt down a movie that you watched as a kid. It's always an exciting time when that DVD loads up and you are wondering how the movie has aged. Sometimes, you find the movie has aged extremely well and you can appreciate it just as much as you did the first time around. The Goonies or The Neverending Story for instance. Other times, the years that have gone by have changed you in ways that make you enjoy the movie even more. The Gate is a great example, where as a kid you were mesmerized by the little monsters running around your screen and as an adult you are amazed by the technical wizardry involved in getting those effects so lifelike. Unfortunately most movies end up being terrible when viewed as an adult, and Masters of the Universe is one of the worst.

He-Man was not a great show. Even as a kid I realized that it was merely a cynical attempt to sell more toys, like a lot of cartoons at the time. The animation is poor, the characters a bunch of gimmicky morons with goofy voices, and the world it takes place in is a lazy mixture of pulpy swords & sorcery and laser gun jetbikes. It's a bunch of "gonzo" crap thrown together with neither rhyme nor reason, and the problem is when everyone has some stupid gimmick or flies on a hoverscooter or shoots eye beams or rides around on a giant cat while shooting laser swords then no one is interesting at all. It's so soulless and dull and meaningless you might as well label it swordpunk and devote a short story anthology to it.

I think the people behind Masters of the Universe were well aware of this, because it has nothing to do with the show at all, other than the characters running around calling each other by their action figure names so you know which ones you should go buy your whining horrible child after the movie is over. He-Man takes place on a generic pulp fantasy planet with monsters and evil castles and stuff. Masters of the Universe takes place in some small town in the US. He-Man features sword & sorcery battles between a guy that looks like Conan and snake guys and werewolves. Masters of the Universe is largely a ninety-minute gunfight between He-Man and a bunch of Star Wars stormtroopers with black armor. Even the soundtrack is a Star Wars ripoff.

There are two special effects in the movie. Laser blasts drawn on the film post-production and laughable shots of vehicles flying in the air. There is a character that is meant as the lovable and hilarious comic relief monster but is just some hairy and gross looking space dwarf who looks like he wandered in from the set of Garbage Pail Kids. His jowls are disgusting and I couldn't stop staring every time he was on screen (i.e. every scene).

What were they thinking? Were they delusional enough to think that if they just changed the formula enough- just enough so that it is completely different in every way from the cartoon it is based on- that they would win over the crucial independents who are on the fence about He-Man? I just don't understand who this movie is for. Maybe no one.