Hellions (2015)

Give Us the Baby, or We’ll Rip it Out of You

October has returned and, as I have been informed that I have not yet seen and reviewed every horror movie yet, that means the Horrorthon can continue!  Today’s movie came as a recommendation from Shannon, who knows all the horror movies I have never heard of and knows to tell me to review the ones that have a lot of stuff for me to make fun of.  This movie turned out to be one of those movies.  And it is called Hellions, written by Pascal Trottier, directed by Bruce McDonald (who is Canadian, but is not one of the Kids in the Hall, I checked), and starring Chloe Rose, Robert Patrick, Rossif Sutherland, Rachel Wilson, Luke Bilyk, and Peter DaCunha.

It’s Halloween (of course) and Goth teenager Dora (Rose) has her festivities ruined when Dr. Henry (Sutherland) informs her that her boyfriend Jace (Bilyk) knocked her up some 4 weeks ago.  Dora is displeased.  And is even more so when her mother (Wilson) takes her brother (DaCunha) out trick or treating and she starts getting some very rude trick or treaters.  Ones who trick her with the severed head of her boyfriend and inform her that the treat they desire is her baby.  Also, the T-1000 is there and he’s a cop and helps her at some point.

I found this movie very confusing.  And also bad.  One of the big failings of this movie is how long it takes to get going.  There was a good period of time I legitimately thought the horror of this movie was just the real life horror of teenaged pregnancy.  I grant that nothing terrifies me more than the idea of having to raise children, but I don’t need to see an 81 minute movie about it.  Thankfully (I guess?) it goes in a more supernatural direction because her baby was…an alien or demon or something…somehow…?  I don’t know.  They didn’t bother to explain that.  And it didn’t matter because it was all a dream anyway.  That’s right!  They used the old we-just-wasted-your-time television trope of making a ridiculous episode that doesn’t count at all because it was just a dream.  Which felt cheap.  Just like when they used that for one last “scare” by having her wake up for one more attempt at spooky before she woke up again.  FOOLED YOU!  DOUBLE DREAM!  I also wondered if the point of this movie had something to do with abortion, but if it did I couldn’t tell if it was pro-choice, pro-life, or just the way the writer chose to tell his girlfriend that having children was a bad idea.  It doesn’t really matter because the movie was aggressively tame and not scary to the point of boredom.

The visuals of this movie were also disappointing.  Especially when the movie randomly went sepia toned when the spooky stuff started.  I guess putting Instagram filters on your movie that’s about a teenage girl is technically appropriate, but it’s definitely annoying.  Most of their visuals weren’t particularly well done either.  The little demon girl that melted was fine except for the fact that, while filming it, the directed seemingly accidentally upskirted the child and, instead of noticing it in the moment and filming it from another angle, just chose to blur it out.  The nearly fatal wound that the doctor took wasn’t particularly well done and looked not much more dangerous than if he had cut himself shaving.  They also seemed to borrow from other movies a couple times, like the sheet over the face thing that inexplicably completely disabled Dora felt a lot like a shout out to Nightmare on Elm Street.  And maybe it was just me, but it felt like they were trying to give Dora a Wonder Woman in No Man’s Land scene, but instead of mines and mortars it was pumpkins blowing up for no good reason.

I guess the performances were acceptable enough, but maybe that’s just me judging it as someone that can’t act.  The characters didn’t always make sense though.  Like what was the point of all the scenes of Dora’s disgusting method of eating pickles?  She would get a pickle, drizzle honey on it, and then sprinkle salt on it.  First of all, gross.  Second of all, I would never eat pickles if it was so damned complicated to do so.  I assume the idea was that she was getting weird pregnancy cravings, but they never said that this wasn’t just something she did all the time.  Also she was supposed to be 4 weeks in, which seems early for that.  But who can say for sure what Dora thinks is normal when later she’s on the phone with the police and never thinks to say, “Hey, is it newsworthy enough for me to bring up that there seems to be a hurricane happening inside my house?”  She’s also a lot more terrified of the evil children than I would be.  I mean weapons or not, I will beat the crap out of a little kid.  …Y’know, if they were a threat to me…not just for fun or something…  She does eventually become more resourceful, and almost to the point of absurdity.  She kills a demon kid with salt, finds out the gun has no effect, and so she is able to take apart some shotgun shells and replace the slugs with salt.  …Did I miss some exposition earlier on when she randomly said, “Well you know how dad used to put me through basic training in military school, right?”

Dora was pretty much the only person in the movie.  Everyone else was pretty unnecessary.  The doctor guy mostly kills time and makes me very uncomfortable.  Like, I understand wanting to get into the Halloween spirit, but maybe don’t deliver life-changing and devastating news to a young girl while wearing giant elf ears.  Also, probably not wise to make house calls to a 17 year old girl.  He seemed to only have the best intentions but, I don’t know, maybe bring a nurse with you?  And maybe tell the girl not to apply duct tape directly to your wounds to stop the bleeding.  You’re a doctor, you should probably tell her to put something absorbent down first.

So Hellions isn’t a great movie.  There is certainly a lot of stuff to make fun of in it if you’re into that sort of thing, but it can take a pretty long, boring route to get there.  And then it continues to be boring, but at least you can have fun mocking it.  But good luck, ‘cause I probably made all the possible jokes already and left nothing for you.  So I’ll just recommend you skip it instead.  Hellions gets “How do you like the bath salts, bitch.”

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Fire in the Sky (1993)

They Took Him.

Today’s review was inspired by nothing more than random fancy.  I had nothing else that I felt I wanted to review for the day as I had just taken care of a requested movie yesterday and felt like I would make today a “Me” day.  So I decided to browse around my Netflix instant queue to see what it had to offer, and today’s movie caught my eye.  I’ve never seen today’s movie before, but I’m certainly aware of many of the people acting in it.  I felt like I had heard of the movie before and that it was regarded as a classic, but as I check it now on Rotten Tomatoes, it appears as if fans and critics both agree that it’s nothing special.  Well I watched it anyway.  Will I agree with them?  We’ll find out in my review of Fire in the Sky, based on a book by Travis Walton, written by Tracy Tormé, directed by Robert Lieberman, and starring D.B. Sweeney, Robert Patrick, James Garner, Craig Sheffer, Peter Berg, Henry Thomas, Bradley Gregg, Noble Willingham, Kathleen Wilhoite, Georgia Emelin, and Scott MacDonald.

Five loggers walk into a bar and the bartender says, “Why the long face?”  The answer is that their friend Travis Walton (D.B. Sweeney) has gone missing.  Worst joke I’ve ever heard.  Well Lieutenant Frank Watters (James Garner) wants to get to the bottom of it.  He sits down with the five loggers – Mike Rogers (Robert Patrick), Allan Dallis (Craig Sheffer), David Whitlock (Peter Berg), Greg Hayes (Henry Thomas), and Bobby Cogdill (Bradley Gregg) – for questioning.  They tell the officer about how they went into the woods to cut down some trees.  On the way back, they see a strange light coming from behind the tree line that they describe as a “fire in the sky”.  As they drive closer, they find a UFO hovering above the ground.  Walton gets out of the car and goes closer to investigate, despite the protests of the rest of the people in the truck.  Turns out they were right because a beam of light shines on Walton, seemingly killing him.  In a panic, the group leaves, but Mike later goes back and is unable to find Walton.  Needless to say, the cops do not believe their story.  And neither does the rest of the town.  But is it true?  And where’s Travis?  You’ll find out if you watch the movie.

There’s a very good chance that the cover of this movie just made me think it was Close Encounters of the Third Kind.  I still haven’t seen that movie, but I imagine it was better than this one.  That’s not to say this movie was bad, but I also wouldn’t say it was great.  It was just okay.  A fairly typical UFO abduction movie with a couple of interesting things to set it apart a little bit, and it also gets some steam from being based on a “true” story.  I like the setup to the movie because it actually makes us think there’s a possibility that the whole thing is made up.  The five guys walk into the bar with looks that make you think they just accidentally raped and murdered someone, talking about agreeing on their story before the cops show up.  Then the story is told in flashback for a little bit, but you don’t really get a feeling about what actually happened until later in the movie, when Travis shows up again.  The look also holds up fairly nicely.  I like how the ship looked, being a typical saucer design but with a bottom that moved like lava.  The lighting used was a big part of the movie as well.  I liked how the red light looked from behind the tree line, and I liked the white light that engulfed Travis.  I also liked the stained-glass window in the back of the church they showed a few times with the light shining down on Jesus in a strange symbolism.  The scene of Walton inside the spaceship was also really good.  It was the stuff of nightmares, put on screen.

The performances were mostly good in the movie, but not too many in ways that stood out particularly well.  Robert Patrick did a good job having to react to the townspeople that all believed he and his friends murdered Walton.  D.B. Sweeney also did a pretty good job of coming off completely shell shocked after he was returned by the aliens.  Craig Sheffer did a good enough job, but he was also playing an asshole.  He reminded me of Lieutenant Dan, but he had legs.

So there’s not really a whole lot to say about Fire in the Sky.  It’s not great, but it’s not bad either.  It just kind of exists.  It’s a typical UFO abduction movie, set apart a little by not telling the audience for sure if it actually is a UFO abduction or a murder mystery for the bulk of the movie.  The movie looks good, so it’s got that going for it, and the performances are solid.  The movie just isn’t noteworthy in any way.  You can watch it, or you can skip it.  But those are your only two choices.  Fire in the Sky gets “Oh they won’t come back.  I don’t think they like me” out of “I told you chuckleheads that story was never gonna work.”

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The Men Who Stare at Goats (2009)

More of This is True Than You Would Believe.

Today’s movie has been in my Netflix queue for so long that I no longer remember what inspired me to put it there in the first place.  I have a vague recollection of watching part of this movie while in the break room at work and I do so hate to only watch 15 or 30 minutes of a movie and leave without knowing what happened.  Well, however it came to be in my Netflix queue, it arrived recently so I felt I should give it a watch.  That movie is The Men Who Stare at Goats, based on a book by Jon Ronson, written by Peter Straughan, directed by Grant Heslov, and starring Ewan McGregor, George Clooney, Jeff Bridges, Kevin Spacey, Stephen Lang, Stephen Root, Robert Patrick, Rebecca Mader, Nick Offerman, and Glenn Morshower.

Reporter Bob Wilton (Ewan McGregor) has fallen on some hard times after his wife left him for the newspaper’s editor.  Feeling like he needs an escape, and perhaps a chance to prove himself to his ex-wife, he goes to Kuwait to report on the Iraq War.  While waiting to be granted permission to enter, he stumbles across a man named Lyn Cassady (George Clooney), a name that Wilton recognizes from a man he interviewed a little earlier that told him about a group of American soldiers being trained to use their psychic abilities for combat, teaching them things like invisibility, remote viewing, and phasing.  It was rumored that Cassady had even been able to stop a goat’s heart with his thoughts.  Wilton gets Cassady to agree to let him tag along on his mission and, while doing so, Cassady tells Wilton about his time with the New Earth Army through flashbacks.

I’ve come to realize that I just don’t like reviewing movies that are just “okay”.  If a movie is awful, I’ll have lots of things to say making fun of it.  If it’s good, I’ll be able to sing its praises.  But if it’s okay, all I really want to say is, “meh.”  I’ll try to use more words – and real ones – to describe my feelings about this movie.  It’s an okay and pretty interesting movie, based mainly on a pretty well-written story.  Even though a bulk of the movie felt like just riding around in a car with Ewan McGregor and George Clooney, the subject matter kept it interesting, especially if you consider that this stuff was apparently mostly based on true stories.  So with the story being so interesting, what was the problem?  I would say the problem is that this movie was a comedy but not really all that funny.  I would say that the goofiness that they introduce us to during the course of the movie is amusing, but they were never able to climb over the hill and actually strike me as funny.  But since the comedy was never really a failure, it wasn’t painful to watch.  Just not funny.

The cast of the movie was all pretty spectacular, but they got some pretty big names to participate.  Ewan McGregor was the main character of the movie, and he did a good job displaying the range of emotions his character went through during the movie.  He starts off depressed and mopey because of his wife leaving him, then he went to being pretty skeptical of the New Earth Army stories, and he was totally on board by the end of the movie.  I liked that he kept talking to Clooney about the “Jedi Warriors”, as they called themselves, like it was such a ridiculous notion, even though he’s the only one in the movie that actually has been a Jedi warrior before.  I liked Clooney in the movie as well.  He seemed to take the ridiculousness very seriously, which is always a good choice.  Jeff Bridges was also very good as the hippie leader of the New Earth Army, Bill Django, but it also seems like a character that was written with Jeff Bridges in mind.  Kevin Spacey also plays a dick very well, and he did that here.

The Men Who Stare at Goats was a decent enough movie because of its wacky and interesting story and top notch performances.  The problem with the movie is that it was a comedy but it just wasn’t funny.  I would say, to its credit, that it was amusing for the greater majority of the movie, but it just couldn’t crest that ridge into funniness.  It’s worth watching if it’s on, but I wouldn’t say you need to go out of your way for it.  The Men Who Stare at Goats gets “Now more than ever we need the Jedi” out of “He was dying of a broken heart.  And maybe the cancer as well.”

Let’s get these reviews more attention, people.  Post reviews on your webpages, tell your friends, do some of them crazy Pinterest nonsense.  Whatever you can do to help my reviews get more attention would be greatly appreciated.  You can also add me on FaceBook and Twitter.  Don’t forget to leave me some comments.  Your opinions and constructive criticisms are always appreciated.

Double Dragon (1994)

I’m Not Good Enough

Things had to go pretty wrong for me to reach the decision to watch today’s movie.  My original plan was to watch the sequel to yesterday’s movie.  I put the DVD in my computer and it would not play.  I tried to update things, do a virus scan, a registry cleanup, and every other thing I could think to do to fix my computer just enough to watch the Chronicles of Riddick.  I failed.  So I reached the “fuck it” conclusion and went to Netflix to see what was streaming.  A momentary touch of dementia and a few clicks later and I was watching Double Dragon.  I perhaps acted rashly…  Anyways, I watched Double Dragon, and now you can read about it.  Double Dragon was directed by James Yukich, and stars Mark Dacascos, Scott Wolf, Robert Patrick, Julia Nickson, Alyssa Milano, Kristina Malandro Wagner, Nils Allen Stewart, Leon Russom, Al Leong, and Michael Berryman, with cameos by Vanna White, George Hamilton, and Andy Dick.

Linda Lash (Kristina Malndro Wagner) has found half of a magical medallion called the Double Dragon for her boss, Koga Shuko (Robert Patrick).  The other half of it is around the neck of Satori Imada (Julia Nickson) who stays in a dystopian Los Angeles, training two brothers of inexplicably different ethnicities.  There’s the Asian one, Jimmy Lee (Mark Dacascos), and the White one, Billy Lee (Scott Wolf).  On the way home from a martial arts tournament, they get on the wrong side of a gang lead by Abobo (Nils Allen Stewart).  Cornered, they’re rescued by a good guy gang called the Power Corps, lead by Marian Delario (Alyssa Milano).  Shuko hunts down the medallion’s other half and destroys the Lee’s house, killing Satori in the process.  The brothers team up with Marian to take down Shuko while trying to figure out how to gain magic powers from their half of the medallion as Shuko has.  They defeat him, join the halves of the Double Dragon medallion, and get matching outfits that were rejected from Earth, Wind, and Fire, and the movie ends.

This movie is currently rated at 0% on Rotten Tomatoes, and boy did this movie earn it.  It sucks out loud.  One could say that they stuck close to the video game that they based themselves on by having no story, just like the video game.  Actually, there’s a very good chance that the video game had a better story.  It’s set in a dystopian world that has been done better in other movies.  The story itself is juvenile and ill-defined.  To my recollection, it’s never described how this really white guy and this really Asian guy became brothers, but I’m pretty sure it wasn’t just in a metaphorical sense.  The powers granted by the Double Dragon medallion are also ill-defined.  Shuko can, as it becomes helpful to the story, turn into a shadow, walk through walls, inhabit bodies, choke people, anything that is necessary at that point in the story. The other half of the medallion doesn’t show it’s power until the very end of the movie and basically just seems to allow the holder to take a beating.  It doesn’t seem to make the holder any stronger, you can just get your ass kicked and survive it.  When the brothers finally get their Earth, Wind, and Fire outfits – in a whirlwind transition reminiscent of the Mask – their first order of business is to beat the crap out of a depowered, defenseless Shuko.  I realize he did some messed up things, but it’s a less than heroic end.  And they top it off by taking control of Shuko’s body and making him slap himself in the face.  Now you’ve killed your heroism and your maturity.  There’s also smaller parts of the movie that don’t make sense, like their ultra-futuristic cars with high-tech computer devices in them, but the cars are powered by burning trash, the music in some parts adds in tiny noises that sound like farts, and the main characters high-five about 87 times in the movie, sometimes while still in the middle of a fight.  The only thing I found cute in the writing was that Alyssa Milano and Kristina Wagner break the fourth wall and exchange insults like “generally, I put people in the hospital” and “who’s the boss now?”, referencing the fact that Wagner was on General Hospital and Milano was on Who’s The Boss.

You might assume that a movie with poor story based on a beat-’em-up video game would have decent fight scenes.  You’d be wrong.  And stupid, if you actually expected good things out of Double Dragon.  Best I could tell, there was one, maybe two people in this movie that could even pretend they could fight.  Scott Wolf was awful at it.  So much so that it seemed the choreographers stopped having him fight and instead made him do things for comic relief instead in the fight, such as throwing basketballs, breaking a gumball machine to trip the enemy, and trapping the enemy’s hair in a suitcase.  Mark Dacascos was one of the only people that could fight that was a member of the main cast.  His fights were the most interesting.  Julia Nickson was the person who trained them in martial arts in the movie, but she was even worse than Wolf.  I assume there was some racism involved in hiring her.  Someone probably thought “She’s Asian, of course she knows Kung Fu.”  Generally speaking, the fights ranged from bad to laughably bad.

The performances are as poor as you would expect.  I can’t think of a decent performance in the entire movie, so I’ll just talk about them in general.  Mark Dacascos was the most interesting fighter in the movie.  Scott Wolf took more of a comic relief side, but when you can’t fight and aren’t funny, it’s a failed endeavor.  Robert Patrick is great at looking sinister, but the hair they gave him in this was ridiculous.  It was pure white with black tips and it was like a tall buzzcut.  Find a picture of this if you want a laugh.  And speaking of ruining great looks with bad hair, they made Alyssa Milano unattractive to me in this movie by giving her a lesbian haircut.  It was bleached blonde and about as short as my hair.  It was shorter than Robert Patrick’s.  Kristina Wagner was attractive and was actually able to pull off a really subtle craziness that seemed just barely restrained below the surface.  Nils Allen Stewart has a goofy look to him at first, but then that is blown way out of proportion when Shuko injects him with some experimental steroid making him look, if I may quote the movie, “like the Stay Puff Marshmellow Man”.  It’s horrible looking.

I have probably said far too much about this movie.  I may have spent more time writing this review than they did writing the movie.  There’s nothing really good to witness here.  Not look, not story, not comedy, not fighting, not nothing, not no how!  It’s not painfully bad though, so it is good joke fodder.  If you’re in to mocking movies, you can watch this.  If not, why are you even considering it?  I give Double Dragon “Ug Lee” out of “Home Lee”.

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