Friday, November 30, 2012

MMM: Mini Movie Mreview of some weird horror movies

at 2:35 PM
Alright, it's just about time (or I guess it is time...) to knock out another MMM, before I get too far ahead of myself. Like usual, here comes a crop of mostly horror movies that you can find on Netflix Instant Q. Four of these five are worth your time, so open a new tab, get over to and start adding.

Dead Heat
I don't know who in the damn hell Joe Piscopo is supposed to be, but he sure ain't no damn actor. He has an awfully distracting presence in what otherwise is a pretty cool genre crossover. The film fakes you out at first and has you thinking it's going to be Lethal Weapon, but all of a sudden the main cop dies. Then he comes back to life. Then the other main cop dies. Then he comes back to life. The notion of these detectives investigating their own murder is pretty novel, though in reality it boils down to a revenge tale. It's still fun to see the main characters axed with the fervor of a horror film. There are also some creepy horror/scifi FX that contribute a more interesting look to the film. It's a buddy cop zombie flick! Give it a shot, but be warned that Piscopo's humor is eye-rollingly try-hard obscene.

Dear God Re-Animator is fantastic. This is the best horror film I've seen in an age (yes, better than Hellraiser or Basketcase), combining gorgeously inventive gore (I'm a sucker for intestines coming to life), a totally unhinged Jeffrey Combs performance (I wish I could find you the clip where he yells "Oooverdooooooossssse!"), Barbara Crampton's excellent rack (famed also thanks to From Beyond), cartoony violence (Combs stage-wrestling a zombie cat), and a suspenseful plot that just begs for a sequel. Sure it's not a particularly 'scary' movie, but neither is anything. Just... go watch it. It's a waste of my time to describe it here. It's on Netflix IQ, you've got no excuse. Use my account for all I care. You'll be telling your friends about the laughs and gross-outs for days. Yes, please.

Annnnnnnnnd, that's it for Hellraiser. You may remember I'm a fan of the first two, but 3 abandons their strongest elements. We no longer have a cool, evil protagonist; instead we're split between a lame reporter do-gooder and a cheesy, sleazy tough-guy club owner. It's just... lame, sorry. The movie kinda works if you completely forget the Hellraiser tie and watch it as a humorously bad B-movie. I mean, it has this:
The previous movies told dark fairy tales about isolated individuals drawn into a frightening, mysterious alternate dimension. The threat was the waning barrier between realities, the inevitable pull towards a bizarre and unknowable world whose grisly inhabitants seemed all too happy with their own mutilation. Hellraiser 3 is about some ghoulies getting lose and terrorizing a town. The real villain before was the portal, the Lament Configuration: an arcane puzzle box that stumbled into the protagonists hands. Now it is firmly Pinhead, the somewhat silly slasher monster from the cover. If you want to know how the franchise went wrong, this isn't the worst movie ever. It's not good, either.

Probably considered a lesser Guillermo del Toro work, this nonetheless shines with his acclaimed art design. It's a movie about giant hyper-evolved bug people living in the sewer of some city. Don't expect it to make a shred of goddamn sense. Seriously, it may have more plot holes than any non-time-travel movie ever. But you're not watching for plot anti-holes, you're watching to see giant bug people, and on this del Toro delivers. He's thankfully a smart enough director to keep his monsters in the shadows, letting our imagination do the heavy lifting, but we still get plenty to wince at. The biggest shortcoming is the wavering of scale - the bugs are supposed to feel like a threat to humanity, but as long as everyone stays out of the sewer, it seems like they don't kill anyone. So, I dunno. Watch it if you're a fan of del Toro's gruesome monstrosities.

You're probably expecting this to be bad. A sequel with a fraction of the budget and missing the lead (and most famous) actor isn't usually something anyone looks forward to. Surprisingly, Tremors 2 isn't half bad. It may even be better than Tremors, though I don't hold the original in the high esteem some do. The first Tremors was kinda boring, and the comic tone destroyed the tension. The monsters seemed to abide by almost Bugs Bunny rules, where you expect Kevin Bacon to disappear by putting a bush between himself and the camera. 
Tremors 2 works because it tones down this comic absurdity and delivers as a monster-hunting actioner. It's like the evolution between Alien and Aliens (with a much worse and 90's-er series). The lack of Bacon is hardly felt, though his replacement is the most unnecessary element of the film. The Starship Troopers era CGI isn't as tragic as some make it out to be, although there are one or two brutally ugly scenes that kinda just work as jokes.  Worth a look for anyone who enjoys scifi action. 

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