Monday, March 26, 2012


"Two heads means twice as many teeth."

Here's the thing: evaluating Asylum movies on the good-movie scale is terribly counterproductive.  Approximately NONE of them are "good", in the sense that Pauline Kael is smiling down upon them from heaven.   But there are good bad movies and bad (read: BORING) bad movies.  And there is 2-HEADED SHARK ATTACK, which falls squarely in the middle.

The movie gives you all the RDA of exploitation/"bad" cinema: magnificent tits, ridiculous situations, gore  galore (sort of).  I was impressed that the CGI is getting so seamless that a shark flipping a black guy into the air to leap up and devour him didn't make me feel embarrassed for the movie.  But, still, none of this hits the highs of something like MEGA PIRANHA.  Nor does it feel excruciatingly tedious.  It's merely there.

That's Carmen Electra, who is here to be sexy (and, h8 if you want, but, like Pam Anderson, I'd argue that she looks far yummier now than ever—would smash 4 sure), along with Hulk Hogan's husky daughter Brooke and former roller derby icon Charlie O'Connell.  Acting isn't what this is about, though.  This is about a two-headed shark killing kids in swimwear.  And so it happens.  

Is it weird that there are so many bad shark movies (TINTORERA, CYCLONE, et al.) and yet there is really no classic shark bad-movie?  SHARK ATTACK III has The Line, but the film as a whole is pretty up and down.  L'ULTIMO SQUALO is fun enough, but (again) pretty uneven.  2-HEADED SHARK ATTACK is a few grades below those films, but it could certainly be worse.  Sharks as monsters, like their aquatic sisters, have had a bad deal over the years.  JAWS is great, OPEN WATER holds up pretty well, and THE REEF is okay.  But it sure seems like living embodiments of our nightmares should be represented in a better way.

I literally cannot think of anything else to say about this movie, so I am going to tell a childhood story.  When I was maybe 7 or 8, my family took a trip to Florida (ostensibly Disneyworld).  We went to the beach first and I went into the water while my mom fell asleep on the sand.  Some time passed and, from what I hear, a small shark was sighted and everyone else got out of the water.  I didn't and my mom was asleep.  So it circled me a few times and then some kind samaritan hit the water wielding a stick and dragged me out.  This story is true, but similar to Brooke Hogan's tale in the movie.  Fun other fact: I almost died in water twice on that trip.  Did I already recount this in the HOUSE review?  Anyway, the shark didn't have two heads, as far as I can recall.  I often wonder how my life would have been different if it had attacked and eaten me—whether I would have missed out on not seeing 2-HEADED SHARK ATTACK.

Saturday, March 17, 2012

HOUSE (1986)

There's a lot to say about this movie that is not the greatest thing ever or especially unflawed.  First, it's weird that not a lot of horror films deal directly with war, especially the Vietnam War, which was the first instance of the full panoply of war being broadcast to the homeland.  There's DEATHDREAM and it's great, but there's also HOUSE, whose protagonist is a horror fiction writer settling in to his dead aunt's house to work on an autobiographical book about 'Nam.  This is an extremely eighties film and parts of it are eighties in that way that you'd expect, like lol at the Betamax players and gaudy clothes.  But other parts remind you that the eighties were the hangover of the violence and turmoil of the sick seventies and that the absurdity of the decade of He-Man was maybe smothering some lingering bad memories.
If you think that is a good thesis, then HOUSE might be The eighties horror movie, because it's upsetting and goofy in pretty equal amounts.  Writer Roger (William Katt) moves into the house to write a book about Vietnam after also having his small son disappear in a swimming pool.  So you'd think, wow, this sounds like pretty srs dark territory.  No way that the movie will pull a lot of slapstick and kidding around on me now.  BZZZZT.

The comedy is this is like 95% of all comedy in ostensibly-horror movies: not funny.  Not only that, but watching Roger do pratfalls down the staircase in his army duds is a big distraction from the tension-building that HOUSE does pretty well!  The monster movie parts of this monster movie are pretty spiffy.  The effects are good for what they are, I dig the cast (Katt, a mean Richard Moll, swimsuited dish Mary Stavin), and HOUSE correctly taps the mind-bending/psychedelic approach to haunted houses that yields best results.

Parts of this feel like a less successful EVIL DEAD II: comedy folded in less naturally, demons with personality, winged demon effects, shotguns, actiony stuff.  What sets it apart are the times when it gets the whole messed-up vet/regret/guilt thing right and the times when it refuses to explain itself.  Just make it dark and weird, okay?

I wouldn't mind seeing a remake of this.  Scoop out the comedy and focus the writing a bit more (it's kinda episodic and all over the place), give George Wendt's lonely-neighbor character more of a character, and I think you could have something special.  As it stands, HOUSE is worth seeing, but don't expect some neglected classic.  This is very much in line with lots of other eighties horror fare.

Followed by a sequel, HOUSE II: THE SECOND STORY (lawl), which I don't think I ever saw, but the graphic novel of which I purchased on a vacation to Florida during which I was circled by a shark at the beach, almost fell into the killer whale tank at Sea World, and nearly disappeared in a swimming pool, much like the child in HOUSE.  It all comes full circle.  Also, fuck Florida.  Also, this is a great Mary Stavin pic.


I might or might not have a review of the 80s HOUSE tonight (depends on whether I can tear myself away from Atlas Shrugged long enough).  But, since I felt like adding new content, enjoy these dubstep versions of your fave horror themes.  

I am beyond thrilled that someone had the time to make a dubstep mix of the theme from PUPPET MASTER, seriously.

Sunday, March 11, 2012

I AM HERE....NOW (2010)

Neil Breen's been cited as a Wiseau-esque figure, a Vegas realtor who funnels his money into these far-out vanity film projects.  I AM HERE...NOW is the first Breen thing I've seen and it indeed glistens with promise.  The best of what you call bad movies have an arcane, surreal air, like films made by aliens unfamiliar with Earthly ways and gab.  So it's a great sign that this opens with Breen as a messianic alien(?) or actual god(?) visiting his creation, the Earth.  He tells a skull and a tarantula, "I'm disappointed in your species," then clarifies, "The human species."  Then he meets the couple pictured below, the male of which has just injected something intravenously without tying off or finding a vein.

It soon becomes clear that Breen's alien is primarily disappointed in humanity's failure to adopt solar energy. He is also no fan of politicians and businesspeople, who wear their suits and ties when they go to meet street gangs in front of bombed-out houses.  The business-politico cabal are recognizably evil because they talk like this:

SUIT GUY #1: Now that we've paid off our fellow elected representatives in the legislature, that environmental solar panel bill will fail next week.
SUIT GUY #2: Not to mention the cash it'll put in our pockets!

They also stand around cheering while assorted people are mutilated in the street and hands and ears are cut off (offscreen) while victims say, "No!  Don't cut off my ear!  DAAAAAAH!!!!  DAAAAAAH!!!!  DAAAAAAH!!!!  DAAAAAAH!!!!"

The result of all this politician-business caballing is that innocent girls who work at the solar panel factory get laid off (and all layoffs and office conversations in this movie happen outside of buildings in the parking lot).  One has a twin who advises her sister to "become a stripper! An escort!  You'd be great at that!"  Other unemployed persons become car thieves.  "In this economy" (srsly, this is said) the only possible jobs are solar panels and sex work.  "I'm an environmental activist and it's getting me nowhere!"  Thanks, corporate greed!

It's tough to find info on this thing on the Internet, but people have compared it to THE ROOM and BIRDEMIC.  I think the latter is a closer cousin, since both movies have a very earnest and impassioned social conscious.  I am re-reading Atlas Shrugged and I AM HERE also reminded me a lot of that...both works have very little subtlety in depicting good guys vs. bad guys.  The evil corporates and innocent victims of this movie are mirror images of hard-working, creative Dagny Taggart and the lazy looters who want to steal her efforts and topple her into obscurity.  Sermons all around!

I AM HERE isn't top-to-bottom fun like THE ROOM either: it would benefit from some cropping of the driving and desert scenes, which have a KOYAANISQATSI feel that jars with the mayhem of the street mutilating and bikini chicks failing to get onto raft scenes.  But there is plenty here that merits watching!  Recommendation to buy!

Getting it might be problematic, though.  I found the movie's website, but didn't see any way to order it!  I ended up trading for a used copy, but then was informed that there is an order page here.  I'd probably email before sending money, just in case they delinked the order page for a reason (like the I AM HERE NOW DVD factory had to lay off its staff).  There have been screenings in California and Pennsylvania, so keep an eye out if you can't get a copy of this (or check ebay and ioffer and seller posts on sites like AVManiacs!).  

"It'll take a power greater than ours to get rid of us.  AND clean up the system.  AND manage the environmental resources of this planet the way they were intended."