Archive for September, 2009

The Substitute 2: School’s Out

Tuesday, September 15th, 2009

tn_substitute2I was concerned about THE SUBSTITUE 2: SCHOOL’S OUT because it substitutes Treat Williams for Tom Berenger. What kind of a trade is that? And when will Tom Berenger get healthy enough to come back? That’s why despite being Mr. DTV Sequel I avoided this movie for years.

Don’t get me wrong – Treat Williams has his place. But it’s not behind Tom Berenger’s desk. Berenger was so good in the first one with his gruff voice and scarred face. Williams is more of a pretty boy nerd with a squeaky, whiny voice. I couldn’t see how it would work.

Well, duh – by having him play a different character. That was a relief to find out. Not a relief on the level of “phew, the MRI shows I don’t have M.S.,” but still a relief My pre-judgment of Treat Williams was off-base. I really like him in this movie.

It turns out Shale and Jane joined the Peace Corps and went to teach in Costa Rica. (I guess he was just fucking around at the end of part 1 when he said he wanted to go to L.A. to teach. Or maybe this is a tribute to the way DEATH WISH 2 refuses to follow the sequel setup from the end of part 1.) (read the rest of this shit…)

R.I.P. Patrick Swayze

Tuesday, September 15th, 2009

roadhouseWell, we saw it coming, but it’s still a huge bummer to know that Patrick Swayze is no longer with us. I don’t want to rehash what I’ve said before but I think most of you guys know how I feel about his work and feel similarly. He became kind of a pop culture joke because of movies like DIRTY DANCING, but I admired him because of how dedicated he was to his roles and how unafraid he was of being corny. I think most, many or all of us here consider ROAD HOUSE to be a classic and completely unique, to say nothing of POINT BREAK where he gives an equally great performance. In both cases I’m convinced that he made himself believe the philosophies he was spouting in character. He really was Dalton and he really was Bodhi. Incidentally he also did a great job as a screen fighter and even did skydiving stunts for POINT BREAK.

I also enjoyed him in UNCOMMON VALOR and BLACK DOG, I know a guy who loves NEXT OF KIN, and yeah, I’m gonna have to check out STEEL DAWN one of these days. And I have planned for years to revisit RED DAWN (almost made it part of my back to school series but I want to watch it as a double feature with ROCKY IV since that’s how I saw it in the ’80s). I don’t think he was mainly thought of as an action guy, and yet he had all those on his resume.

Another thing I always think of when I think of Swayze is that Saturday Night Live sketch where him and Chris Farley were auditioning for Chippendales. I can’t seem to find the original on Youtube or I’d embed it, but it was amazing how sincere and sweet he made his character in that thing. He did a similar trick in the not particularly good TO WONG FOO, THANKS FOR EVERYTHING, JULIE NEWMAR.

He also seemed to be a cool guy with a sense of humor about himself. He was even willing to play that self-help dude in DONNIE DARKO who turns out to have a “kiddie porn dungeon.” And he seemed to have a good head on his shoulders. As tragic as it is to die so young I’m glad he at least got a heads up so he could spend more time with his family and try to get things in order.

Please share your Swayze thoughts in the comments or click on his name in the tags below to see my reviews of a few of his movies.

Teen Wolf

Monday, September 14th, 2009

tn_teenwolfTEEN WOLF is the story of a teen who turns into a wolf. But he looks more like those cavemen from the commercials, or the “dog-faced boy” from the cover of that old video about the different “freaks” (see diagram).

Michael J. Fox (CLASS OF 1989) plays Scott Howard, a weiner who has the hots for some bitch who hates him and who doesn’t notice that his female best friend adores him. To be fair her name is Boof so you can see why he wouldn’t take her that seriously, but still. One day when he gets a freaksboner it brings out the changes in his body and then when there’s a full moon he turns into a wolf. So his dad reveals to him that he also is a wolf, an Adult Wolf, because it’s just this harmless thing that runs in the family.

That doesn’t comfort Scott. He’s real worried and embarrassed, but then he gets upset during a basketball game and wolfs out, and it makes him really good. Ain’t no rule says a werewolf can’t play basketball.

Being good at sports is the best thing anybody could do, so everybody accepts this wolf thing and thinks he’s cool now. They lift him up like a champion, bring him to the diner, chant his name. People cheer him on wherever he goes, they high five him. Being a teen wolf seems very similar to being Arsenio Hall. Also there’s a part where he spontaneously starts breakdancing in the hallway at school. (read the rest of this shit…)

The House On Sorority Row

Sunday, September 13th, 2009

tn_houseonsororityrowThere’s a new horror movie out this week called SORORITY ROW. This isn’t that, it’s the original, which was called THE HOUSE ON SORORITY ROW. Or actually HE HOUSE ON SORORITY RO on the (out of print) full frame DVD, because the credits get cut off. (I noticed that when I set my DVD player to zoom out it was less cropped though. So try that if you watch it before the new DVD comes out in November.)

This is the story of six or seven sorority girls staying the week after graduating to have a big party. The house mother is a real bitch though and tries to make them leave. One of them gets mad and pulls a gun on her as part of a “practical joke,” then accidentally shoots at her and knocks her into a dirty swimming pool and kills her. (read the rest of this shit…)

Never Back Down

Saturday, September 12th, 2009

tn_neverbackdownThe rest of the movies in VERN’S BACK TO SCHOOL SPECIAL will be more specifically about school, but this one is about underground fighting within the world of high school teens, so I think it counts. When I reviewed FIGHTING recently the commenter ‘a’ suggested I see this as a comparison, so I did.

NEVER BACK DOWN is a much cheesier movie than FIGHTING. It’s almost exactly the slick, dumb, commercial vehicle you’d expect FIGHTING would be. It’s based partly in the tradition of kickboxing movies, partly high school movies, although there’s not a part about a nerd being taught how to be cool by dressing different or taking off their glasses. (read the rest of this shit…)

The Substitute

Friday, September 11th, 2009

tn_substituteSince Labor Day was last Monday I figure the kids are either back in school or about to go back to school, so I might as well do VERN’S BACK TO SCHOOL SPECIAL. And if I’m gonna do that there is one movie that I would have to be a fuckin moron not to start with. And I’m not talking about BACK TO SCHOOL.

THE SUBSTITUTE is not necessarily a great action movie. It doesn’t have any particularly memorable action scenes or anything. But I really like this movie for the simple fact that the idea behind it – combining a mercenaries/drug gangs action movie with a DANGEROUS MINDS style white-teacher-makes-a-difference-in-the-big-city movie – is flat out brilliant, a once-in-a-cinematic-history opportunity. Seriously, I sit around trying to think of genre combinations this absurd and yet this natural. There aren’t many left. (read the rest of this shit…)

Dirty Dozen: The Next Mission

Thursday, September 10th, 2009

tn_dirtydozennextmissionHow do you know to lower your expectations for the sequel? When it’s included on the DVD with the first movie. And not as a double feature, but as a bonus feature. I didn’t realize this was on the DIRTY DOZEN dvd when I rented it, but I found it while browsing the extras. Never seen it before so I decided to give it a shot.

THE NEXT MISSION was made for TV in 1985. It’s supposed to take place about 6 months later, but Lee Marvin has aged 18 years. Somehow they got Marvin, Borgnine and Richard Jaeckel all to come back. They have a new mission with a new Dirty Dozen including Ken Wahl and Sonny Landham.

Alot of the movie, especially the first half hour or so, just made me sad. Marvin’s age is really showing (this was his next to last movie) and he just doesn’t seem like he’s into it at all. They make poor Lee and Ernest rehash the whole Borgnine-pitching-the-mission sequence and the Marvin-recruiting-the-convicts one and they even use whole chunks and paragraphs of the exact same dialogue as in the original. Then Marvin will say things like, “That sounds familiar.” (read the rest of this shit…)

The Dirty Dozen

Thursday, September 10th, 2009

tn_dirtydozenMan, it’s one of those concepts that’s too perfect to fuck up: twelve WWII era inmates of a military prison are sent on a dangerous mission to kill as many Nazi officers as they can. The Americans have this target, but they don’t want to waste good soldiers, so why not these lifers and death row cons, murderers and rapists? It’s kind of the same concept as “paint clothes.” You don’t paint the house in pants you’d wear to church, and you don’t want to waste your best soldiers on a suicide mission so you use these fuckos you got in storage. If they die – well, you weren’t planning on using them anyway. No loss.

For the cons it’s a good deal too. They get to go outside. If it’s true they like killing, here’s their chance for more. They get to postpone their executions, or kill some time before their executions. And if they do a good job and survive they might get pardoned, maybe, if fuckin Ernest Borgnine sees it in his heart. If they die in the line of duty, well, maybe they’d rather die that way than on a rope. (read the rest of this shit…)

Bulworth

Wednesday, September 9th, 2009

tn_bulworthWarning: this review talks alot about American politics that won’t matter to many of you, but then so does the movie so it should be fine.

Recently I was reading last month’s Rolling Stone article about the Democrats caving on all the meaningful parts of health care reform. It paints a convincing picture that if they give up on the public option then the plan won’t help much, could even make things worse, will hurt the Democrats politically and hurt the chances of real reform happening any time soon. I thought jesus, what is wrong with these people, we elected them for “change” and now the opportunity to do what we asked them to do makes them run around in a panic, peeing on the floor like a dog on the 4th of July. (Another American reference for you there.) Are they really all in the pocket of insurance companies? They have the majority, they have the majority of the people. You really worried those dumb fuckers at the town hall meetings are gonna be mad if you give them cheaper health coverage? I don’t think that’s worth losing sleep over. (read the rest of this shit…)

Crank: High Voltage

Tuesday, September 8th, 2009

tn_crank2I gave CRANK two tries. I really wanted to like the movie, but I sort of hated it. I had a hard time getting past the hyperactive editing and camerawork – Jason Statham would do these things that should be exciting but the directors, “Neveldine/Taylor,” were hammering me over the head so hard with all their visual tricks that it just seemed boring. I honestly fell asleep the first time I saw it and missed that charming moment where he causes an innocent cab driver to be lynched by pointing at him and yelling “Al Quaeda!” on a crowded street.

And that’s maybe a bigger problem I had: the overall douchebaggy attitude of it, the Marilyn Manson going door-to-door trying to shock people approach to humor. Ha ha, he said something racist, you’re not supposed to do that. Oooh, he raped his girlfriend in front of a bus of Japanese school girls and they took pictures, what a fun time at the movies. (NOTE: I have been informed it’s not rape because she eventually liked it, like in STRAW DOGS.) (read the rest of this shit…)