• Halloween H20: 20 Years Later (1998)

    Michael Myers (The Shape) is back and so is Jamie Lee Curtis’ Laurie Strode from the original Halloween movies. This time, the model is late 90s teen horror that all began with Scream. It is definitely one of the best of the series.

    Laurie Strode has moved on with her life after 20 years have passed since the horrific events of Halloween. She has a teenage kid (Josh Hartnett) and works at prep school in California.

    The Shape resurfaces and the killing begins as he attempts to track down his sister once again. There are many gruesome and inventive kills, lots of stalking suspense, and some fun throwback moments.

    The cast delivers excellent performances and Jamie Lee shines as the badass iconic character. She seemed kind of wimpy at first, but then goes into full on warrior mode once everything starts getting tense. Instead of running, she fights back, knowing she must defeat the evil once and for all.

    I have to remove a taco for the Creed song in the credits, though.

    Rating:


  • Prom Night IV: Deliver Us From Evil (1992)

    Here we go again. Another useless sequel to a mostly useless series. There is nothing linked to the MaryLou mythos. Instead, an insane priest goes on a murderous rampage to cleanse the world of sluts and dirty heathens.

    The characters are supposed to be in high school, yet all the actors appear to be in their 30s. Instead of going to their prom, two couples go to a secluded summer home to have a good time. Little do they know the homicidal priest is nearby and ready for them.

    The last third of the movie is not terrible. It certainly isn’t as suspenseful as it could be, but the priest stalking the four “high schoolers” works for the most part. I was expecting to be bored and waiting for the movie to end, but I became interested in what was going on instead.

    While this installment was better than the third movie, that’s not really saying much. It’s still a waste of time and didn’t need to be made.

    Rating:


  • Prom Night III: The Last Kiss (1989)

    MaryLou’s spirit is back again in this campy horror sequel that no one ever wanted.

    Alex is a typical high school student who sucks at studying, has a girlfriend, looks like he’s 30, and becomes the main pawn for the evil ghost of MaryLou. He has visions of her and then she makes him dispose of bodies with a bumbling musical score to cement the comedy aspect of the movie.

    Through a variety of bad situations, the main dude goes to jail and hell and then it’s over.

    The movie definitely falls into the category of “cash grab sequel” where there is almost nothing connected to the original series and the name is just for recognition. It’s largely because story doesn’t matter to these people. They throw together a bunch of scenes and slap the brand name on it.

    Rating:

     


  • Hello Mary Lou: Prom Night II (1987)

    Welcome to the late 80s. This was one of those video rental boxes I used to look at and wonder what it was like. The title was ridiculous and the box art made it look kind of spooky.

    The story starts with bad girl MaryLou Maloney’s accidental death in the 50s. Flash forward to “present day” when a high school girl, Vicki, becomes possessed by the spirit of MaryLou and the bodies start piling up.

    Aside from Michael Ironside as the high school principal, there is almost no acting talent whatsoever. The actress who plays Vicki is about the worst you can get. Almost every line is delivered with too much emotional exuberance.

    On the plus side, there was a wonderful shower sequence. Otherwise, the pacing was so slow and nothing was all that scary.

    I kind of wish I had left the mystique of the video box alone.

    Rating:


  • Pumpkinhead (1989)

    A classic monster movie from the late 80s, Pumpkinhead is FX master Stan Winston’s first foray into film direction. It stars Lance Henriksen as the lead, Ed Harley, who owns a general store out in the middle of nowhere. After a terrible accident involving Ed’s son Billy and some city slicker campers driving dirt bikes recklessly, Ed seeks revenge from a backwoods witch. Using the dark arts, the witch conjures the demonic Pumpkinhead to destroy the campers who killed the boy.

    The creature FX were OK for the time, but I couldn’t help but feel like the monster looked an awful lot like the xenomorph from the Alien series. I think less shots of the monster would have sold it a little better, because some of the puppet-like movements looked goofy. In any movie like this, the menace of the creature is always very important. Showing too much and too early is going to lessen the impact of the creature.

    The story did what it was supposed to by setting up the need for the main character to seek out justice for his son’s death. Lance Henriksen delivered a swell performance, but the rest of the cast was just there for the monster to kill.

    The biggest problem I have is how nothing really had a chance to develop. When Pumpkinhead was over, it felt like something was missing. I didn’t feel invested in any of the characters, so I didn’t care at all if they lived or died. It wasn’t a bad setup for a different take on the creature feature, but it fell short in too many ways. We can only hope for a remake/reboot/re-imagining to make it what it needs to be, since I highly doubt the three sequels did anything remotely worthwhile for the series.

    Rating:


  • Prom Night (1980)

    The movie opens with a flashback where some sadistic pre-teens torment a girl who just wanted to play hide and seek with them. The girl falls out of a window and dies, setting the stage for a classic revenge tale. Fast forward 6 years and Jamie Lee Curtis is the girl’s grown up sister. Someone wants to kill all the kids that had a hand in involuntarily manslaughtering the poor girl out the window. Who is doing it? Gee, there are basically two prime suspects.

    Being released in 1980, this movie was a pioneer of the format. So many later flicks had similar premises and tones. There was also much room for improvement, because Prom Night is far from perfect. The pacing was slow, and people weren’t dying fast enough. I liked that it tried to build suspense and maintain the mystery of who the killer might be. There were also many parallels with Halloween.

    It takes a little too long to get to the meat and potatoes and then they weren’t even that flavorful. The age of this movie really shows. I’m sure it was outrageous and cutting edge at the time, but it’s nowhere near as memorable as other films from the genre at the time.

    Rating:


  • Alien: Covenant (2017)

    Look, I’m a die hard Alien fan. I loved the first movie for its creepy subtleties, the second one for its humor and bombast, and the third one for its darkness and attempt at something fresh. I even liked some parts of Alien: Resurrection, though it was terribly flawed. Then time passed and eventually we got the mother of all pre-prequels: Prometheus. I wanted it to be something great to start a new era of Alien movies, but it was mired in idiotic writing that only a Damon Lindelof can create.

    I think Ridley Scott is a fantastic director, but I think he is a master at visuals and he only got lucky before, because the stories were good. Now, the stories stink and he just gussies it up with lush landscapes and superb CGI.

    Alien: Covenant is just dumb. Like the writers went on a brain fart-a-thon while constructing it. I mean, I get that they looked at the reaction to Prometheus and decided that it was time to revisit the past, because it is extremely “reminiscent” of what has come before. There were so many clichés and only the androids were intelligent. Someone on a review commented about how there would be no movie if they didn’t decide to go investigate the planet where the shit hits the fan. OK, but they didn’t have to just up and decide to go there for no real reason. “Oh, this planet looks better than the one we provisioned for, let’s just go check it out and forget everything we planned.”

    Michael Fassbender is the one redeeming part, as usual. There are some good visuals (as mentioned before) and it works as a strictly mind-numbing horror monster movie. Beyond that, it doesn’t bring anything new to the table. I don’t really care how the xenomorph evolved, but I do care that the characters don’t have safety protocols when entering a new environment. Or that they don’t adhere to strict quarantine rules when someone becomes infected with something.

    Rating:


  • Virus (1999)

    Alien electricity has taken over a Russian research ship and it’s up to the crew of a salvage tugboat to not die.

    Jamie Lee Curtis plays Foster, the heroine. In a 2010 interview, Curtis stated this is the worst movie she’s ever done. Grab the popcorn, this is gon’ b good.

    The movie also stars Donald Sutherland and William Baldwin, but the characters are so pathetic, it really matters not who the actors are.

    As the “story” progresses, the horrors created by the alien electricity are slowly revealed. Apparently, the robot creatures need to merge with biological material for some reason. Because decaying bio-matter is great for spare parts. Or maybe they were trying to figure out how to survive without an electrical power source?

    The suspense and tone are so completely like every other Sci-Fi horror movie that has ever come before. Same clichés. Same formulas. Other than the dumb alien electricity idea, there is not much original. I can’t believe someone greenlit $75 million for this turd. There is literally nothing to like or remember. Even at 99 minutes, it still feels like it takes forever to not do anything worthwhile.

    I wonder what the director’s audio commentary has to say.

    Rating:


  • Chopping Mall (1986)

    Also known as Killbots, this movie is about a mall security force comprised of clunky autonomous robots. The bots are supposed to be harmless, but become lethal after a lightning strike. A group of furniture store employees decides to have an after hours party with their significant others (*wink*), and all hell breaks loose as the bots go on a killing rampage once the mall is locked down at closing time.

    Even though this is a terrible flick, there is actually a lot to like about it. The music is great, the locations and decorum are wonderfully ancient, and the 77-minute running time just whips by. Then you got a nice peppering of skin shots.

    The bad bits are that no one can act at all, the killer robots are bumbling sloths with no real menace, and every action scene is pretty much the same. It also comes to an explosive climax and ends abruptly, which is probably welcomed by most viewers.

    The movie doesn’t take itself too seriously, and it’s fun to see what malls looked like in the mid-80s. I’m going to go out on a limb and say this is one of the better bad movies out there. It’s at least palatable.

    Rating:


  • Do Your Worst

    While perusing some of the movies available to stream on Amazon Prime, I noticed there were a lot of what looked to be terrible movies. We’re talking low budget schlock from the 70s, 80s, and 90s.

    I started thinking it might be fun to review all of them. So, I’m starting a new series called Bottom of the Barrel. There is no set list and there is no end date. I’m just going to review as many cheeseball movies as I want.

    Let the games begin!