Aug

The Queit Ones
2014 – PG 13 – 98 Minutes – Lionsgate
Starring Jared Harris, Sam Claflin, Olivia Cook – Directed by John Pogue

Much like the monsters they made films about, Hammer never truly died, although it did lay dormant for a long time. In 2008, they returned with Beyond on the Rave and hit it big with Let Me In in 2010 and The Woman in Black in 2012. This year, they released The Quiet Ones, a film inspired by true events. In a nutshell, the events in this film are based on The Philip Experiment in the 1970’s where a group of Canadian parapsychologists wanted to attempt an experiment to create a ghost, proving their theory that the human mind can produce spirits through expectation, imagination and visualization. Sounds interesting enough for a movie, but given that this is a Hammer production, loads of gothic atmosphere and sleaziness are thrown into the mix, making for a more fictional story than true. Lots of films do this, I’m not saying it’s bad thing, but does it mix well?

tqo_2When he isn’t chain smoking like it’s about to be outlawed, Dr. Coupland (Jared Harris channeling his character from Mr. Deeds) wants to prove that the supernatural doesn’t exist through tortuous and almost medieval experiments, so he recruits the shy, inspiring young filmmaker Brian to document this rather fascinating experiment. Brian is interested right away and along with two of Dr. Coupland’s other students, Krissi (Erin Richards) and Harry, they waste no time to begin their experiment on Jane Harper (Olivia Cook). Jane seems possessed at times and as with any other possession movie that has come out in the last few years, we know she is possessed because she is a pale white woman with stringy hair and wears a white gown. Seriously, why does every possession movie feature a stringy haired white girl in a white gown? Do demons have an obsession toward those or does Hollywood just seem to think that is scary?

Jane is kept in a room with loud music blasting to keep her awake, which Dr, Coupland hopes will piss her off for better results. Sure it seems mean, but it does get good results. And just like any movie about college kids and a teacher conducting a “most unorthodox” experiment, funding is pulled and they have to relocate to a remote run down country house where all the really weird things begin to happen. Janes takes this possession, or negative energy rather, and focuses it on who she calls Evey, which she is given a doll to transfer it to so that it may be destroyed. Sounds easy on paper, but as Jane is driven more insane by these tests, the results become more violent.

tqo_3Brian, increasingly developing feelings for Evey, becomes more upset and less likely to participate (not something you want under your name in the yearbook) as he even begins to develop somewhat of a relationship with Jane. However, this seemingly makes Evey more violent and vomit terrible looking CG tube monster things out of her mouth. When this happens, Dr. Coupland and gang look terrified, but if it were me I would have started laughing. Even after witnessing that silly manifestation, Dr. Coupland is still stubborn about the supernatural, not believing it to be a possession… even after a mysterious cult marking shows up on Jane’s body. So Brian heads off into town uncovering the truth behind the cult symbol and who Evey really is.

We also begin to see who Dr. Coupland really is. Well, he is still Dr. Coupland, but I am referring to his past and who the boy is in the video that he shows throughout the movie. We also learn of his motives and this is when the film starts to turn into a Hammer film… kind of. Jane, most likely because she is being driven mad, attempts to have sex with Brian and even flashes him while she is in the bathtub. The camera quickly cuts away from this, as if it is ashamed of its own content. Jane even begins to cut herself, but once the blood starts to ooze out, the cameras once again cut away. This all begs the question, then why have this at all? Is there a demand for safe, watered down horror films that I’m not aware of? Who watches these scenes and says, “Oh cool, there were almost boobs there!”

As the film begins to whimper out and we now know Jane’s history, Dr. Coupland begins to become more of a villain archetype, almost downright cartoonish. Tragic things begin to befall our cast and it’s up to Brian to stop it!

Surprisingly, The Quiet Ones is swimming with mood, nicely blending the free spirit look of the 70’s with the traditional rustic, gothic scenery that Hammer is notorious for. Unfortunately, that’s pretty much where their influence ends. The film does mix a nice blend of found footage and typical movie, as we watch the film as usual, then through the eyes of Brian or through the lens of his camera I should say. Although since this is the 70’s and he’s shooting on film, the snob in me can’t help but wonder how on Earth he is recording sound, since we never see any sound equipment recording it seperately and I’m pretty sure cameras, and film, back then couldn’t record sound.

tqo_4But enough nitpicking, let’s get down to brass tax.

Just when something suspenseful and scary is picking up speed and the tension is building, the film cuts abruptly to the next scene. Substituting loud noises for genuine scares, the film never reaches true levels of terror, though it continuously makes you think it will. Think of walking quietly down a hallway with a friend and then they bang as loud as they can on a wall. That’s the kind of scares you’re in for here.

Sure the movie has blood and violence, sure the movie has sex, but The Quiet Ones is afraid to show any of it. Instead it merely wants to hint at it, forgetting that it’s a horror film. This is one of those cases where the final product really could have benefited from an ‘R’ rating. At the end of the day, it was nothing more than watered down imagery and loud jump scares and although I didn’t hate it, it’s nothing I’m going to remember, which is such a shame since all of the actors bring in real solid performances. Jared Harris has made a profession of playing the scumbag type of character and really makes Dr. Coupland detestable, yet likable. Olivia Cook is sinister and sympathetic, Sam Claflin is the likable moral centered one and Erin Richards is gorgeous as a 70’s tramp.

You really can’t help but to think of where all this talent and this idea could have gone if it weren’t so by the books and watered down. I can’t tell you how tired I am of the PG-13 horror movie craze that producers seem to be wanting to shove down our throats. Instead of getting a truly shocking, frightening film, we get something safe for the kids just to sell tickets. And how do these films generally do? Terrible. So what’s the point of making it PG-13 if your ticket sales aren’t really improving? If you’re going to imply all this sex and violence, grows some gonads and make it shocking. Your audience will respect and appreciate you for it. Instead what we get is the most shining example of a film playing it safe in recent memory.

The Queit Ones
I have an idea for an experiment. Try to sit through a PG-13 horror film like The Quiet Ones and try to get scared by it.

Check out this review and plenty others at Goon Reviews.

roadside attractions

  • Hammer is too legit too quit.
  • Olivia Cook naked… almost!
  • Jared Harris, professional a-hole.
  • There is one scare with a car door.
  • Burning down the house.
  • CG poop snake monster thing. (?)
totals

5

blood

BLOOD

Nothing oozing or squirting, but we see the walls painted with it.

3

blood

BREASTS

Olivia Cook in a bathtub should be the most amazing thing, but…

7

beast

BEASTS

Olivia Cook plays one terrifying girl, you’d have to be crazy to date her!

5 OVERALL
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trailers

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Aug

poltergiest 2

When I used to  buy real music albums before they became these darn interweb downloads, they used to have 2 actual sides on a record. Yup, you had to get up and flip a record to listen to more Mili Vanili or what we referred to in my days to as “mood killers.”  Most of the time  the “a” side would have all those top hits you’d hear on the radio but the b-side would be the leftovers, the forgottens, the land of misfit songs. Occasionally you’d find a hidden gem in the rubble of Casio loop tracks that was actually pretty good. It’s the same way I feel about Poltergiest 2: the other side. Heck, even it’s title says “b-side” and in comparison to the original it isn’t nearly as good but still has a few clever moments.

poltergiest 2Since all those fun times in Cuesta Verda when their house imploded, the Freelings have moved in with their Grandma Jess.  Steve Freeling (Craig T Nelson) has  started selling vacuums to pay the bills but is saving a ton on cable without a demon ready TV. Little Carol Anne has become a clairvoyant but only uses her powers to pick out yarn colors with her hands. Sure she’ll get made fun of in school but just wait until senior prom when there’s a bucket of pig blood. Also there’s the younger brother Robby. He’s bummed they don’t have a TV but still hates clowns and trees. Rightfully so, I think that kid had a tougher time that  Carol Anne did at the old house. Oh, and what the heck happened to older sister? Where did she run off to? Did she go to college? end up in loony bin? Nobody even mentions her. It’s as if she got wrote out of existence like that dog in the Brady Bunch.

One night Grandma Jess dies in her sleep so The poltergeist take the opportunity to call up Carol Anne on her toy phone and harass her like A Comcast sales rep. Long distances rates to hell are actually quite reasonable that time of night so some evil spirits escape into the wall shaking the house violently and send the Freeling family packin’. Taylor, a wise indian stops them on their way out telling them it’s better to stay and fight the evil. Steven says Taylor can stay but he’s taking his family to a  diner to drown their sorrows in milkshakes and talk to possessed ladies at the pie carousel.

poltergiest 2The next day Carol Anne gets stalked at the mall by a old preacher named Kane dressed as an emo Colonel Sanders. He catches Carol Anne and sings her a song until her mother, Diane finds her. She thanks him and runs away missing out on all the great mom jeans sales. Meanwhile, Steven has gone out in the desert to smoke Indian weed in a hut with his new BIP (Best Indian Pal.) He’s hoping to get in touch with his inner warrior or stoned hippie but hallucinates some bad special effects instead. At least he gets a cool Eagle feather out of the trip.
The Freelings return to the house after Taylor did a quick ghost cleaning which strangely smells like bleach, but the old preacher shows up the next day on their sidewalk telling them they’re “all going to dieee in thereeee!!”. Those are some mighty aggressive door-to-door sales techniques. Steve tells him to take a hike and Robby’s braces try to strangle him that night in the bathroom. It’s Orthodonics of the damned!

Tangina the tiny psychic finally shows up to help Diana tap her own psychic powers and discover the history of Kane who buried all his followers in a cave below the Freelings old house. Steven doesn’t handle the news well and becomes a raging alcoholic who drinks some tequila with a demonic worm in it. It possesses him briefly making him…. well…. a bigger raging alcoholic.  He upchucks it thanks to the Power of Love and it becomes a big demonic spider monkey instead.  It tries to choke him in the foyer but Steven fights it off with a puff of holy smoke. Lucky he inhaled but didn’t swallow.

The family flees the house  in their station wagon pursued by possessed chainsaws and angry jumper cables and they decided to head back to Cuesta Verde to do battle with Kane on his home turf. Once in their abandoned neighborhood, They head down into the cave and jump into a magic fire Taylor prepared. They  float around a bit and stab the Kane monster with a spear from an indian souvenir shop before he can absorb Carol Anne. It amounts to the most anti climatic  battle since that one guy punched Justin Bieber in the face at the airport. The family emerge safely and are finally free from the evil’s clutches and other movie contractual obligations. Yes, Craig T. Nelson could finally go on to make and even worse evil…Coach.

Poltergiest 2 is a fun ride despite being very psychic munkchin light. Barry Goodall says take a trip to other side but always bring an Indian pal along for the ride.

roadside attractions

  • Creepy Colonal Sanders
  • More Zombie-fu
  • Taquilla Posession
  • Indian Fireside Cookouts
  • Orthodonic posession
  • Cave Spelunking
  • Levitating Chainsaw
totals

6

blood

BLOOD

More goo that red stuff but nobody should ever drink taquila,ever!

0

blood

BREASTS

It’s Freeling family friendly terror. No nudity allowed.

9

beast

BEASTS

A creepy preacher, evil taquilla worn, squid people, a lot of zombies, some weird spider monkey demon thing that climbs walls.

8.2 OVERALL
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Watch the trailer to “Poltergiest 2: the Other Side”

trailers

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Aug

posted by Blake | August 18, 2014 | 80's b-movies, 80's movies, B-movie Reviews, B-movies, Bad movie

robo vampires

I have been watching B-films since I was a kid, recognizing at an early age that low-budget cinema is usually far more entertaining than the latest Michael Bay blockbusters.  Occasionally I run across a movie that shatters all of my previously-held notions of just what constitutes a “bad” film, leaving me slack-jawed at Man’s capacity to produce truly abysmal art.  “Robo Vampire” is one such movie, a cinematic singularity from which no particle of light escapes; I was humbled by it.

The film was cobbled together in 1988 by Filmark Intl. Ltd., the brainchild of Tomas Tang, producer and often director of very-low-budget action movies featuring ninjas, sorcerers, jiang shi, and anything else that was in vogue at the moment.  The director is listed as “Joe Livingstone,” a pseudonym for either Tang, himself, or his mentor and onetime-partner Godfrey Ho.  Apparently, there was a jiang shi craze in Hong Kong films at the time, and Verhoeven’s “Robocop” had been released the previous year to great acclaim, and since Tang usually produced low-budget kung fu films featuring drug triads, well….why not slap all three together and try to hit one out of the park?  This makes the plot amusingly moronic at best, confusing and aimless at worst.

Adding to its incoherence, “Robo Vampire” is actually two separate films fused artlessly together by bad dubbing and butcher-block cutting and splicing.  The first is a kung fu/jiang shi/Robocop rip-off set and filmed in Hong Kong, featuring a war between a heroin kingpin and the paramilitary drug enforcement agency trying to bring him down. The second is a wholly-uncredited Thai film featuring actor Sorapong Chatree who is something of a legend in Thailand. Although the Thai film is pure filler and contributes nothing towards advancing the plotline of the movie, it’s not a complete wash: it does contribute a couple of babes, a rape scene (obligatory for all Asian action B-films), a really bad come-on line, a Thai girl cutting open and sewing up a real cow and one of the most ludicrous stunt stand-ins I’ve ever seen.

robo vampireA  plot summary of this movie deserves a book, but here’s the gist of it.  A Hong Kong drug lord, Mr. Yung (played by a Guido Sarducci stunt double) is being vexed by Hong Kong’s paramilitary anti-drug squad, led by the apparently 16-year-old Mr. Glenn.  Glenn’s best agent is Tom the Goddamned Anti-Drug Agent (hereafter Tom GADA) who leads several successful busts, drawing the ire of Guido.  Guido then does what any good Italian Triad leader does: he hires a Taoist sorcerer-priest to train a special squad of jiang shi (a uniquely Chinese hybrid of psychic vampire and zombie) to deal with the situation.

Scene in Hong Kong, where the Taoist is demonstrating the effectiveness of the Vampire ProjectTM to some skeptics from the “Organization”; this movie is full of characters who drift in and out at need and are never explained nor seen again, like Red Shirts on the Enterprise.  He proceeds to transform one of the jiang shi into a “Vampire Monster,” which adds wearing a gorilla suit off the Clearance rack at Spirit to its already formidable undead powers.  Towards the end of the scene, a Caucasian female ghost enters fly-by-wire and challenges the Taoist.  In a badly-acted exposition she states that her name is Christine, that the Vampire Monster is her lover Peter, and that since they were banned from marriage by his Chinese parents, they committed suicide to be together in the afterlife but he has ruined their plans.  While this scene is ludicrous and cumbersome, the sting of it is taken away by the fact that Christine is wearing a very sheer white ghost-gown and is obviously bra-less.

robo vampireElsewhere, Tom GADA is killed by the Vampire Beast in a failed attempt to bust the Taoist and there’s some Thai film segments to add confusion.  Cut to a hospital.  Ex-Tom is lying on a slab, and his best friend and boss Teen Glenn casually authorizes a Nameless Tech to begin transforming his corpse into “an android-like robot” (his exact words).  The Tech begins shoving enormous, kludgy late-70s components into ex-Tom’s chromed and bisected torso, then sealing him up using a blowtorch (a sparkler stuck on a cardboard handle).  “RoboWarrior” is then activated, and some of his skills are shown on a firing range.  Unfortunately, RoboWarrior looks like the type of abysmal, amateurish cosplay gear you generally see worn by high-school kids at fourth-rate Cons. Someone from Costuming scored a bunch of those silver rayon sleeveless vests popular back in the early 80s and cut them up, then spray-glued them to cardboard cutouts and cricket padding sewn on a pair of coveralls; it’s that bad.

After some intervening Thai-film filler, Guido and two henchmen are being pursued along a shoreline by RoboWarrior but they lead him into a trap—-a circle of flames!   He burrows in the sand and escapes by digging his way clear, then fights off four jiang shi before one of Guido’s boys takes him down with a Light Antitank Weapon.  He “deactivates” in a fireball, giving us another great moment in this film: the “robot” that explodes in flames is a rag doll soaked in gasoline and wrapped in tinfoil (see photo).  This also points out one of the central production details of this movie: there is not a single special effect in this film that is not derived from fireworks or gasoline.  Even the gunfire in the Hong Kong half of the film is all black powder cap work with a badly-dubbed sound effects track.

Cut to the hospital again, with RoboWarrior back on the table again.  The attending doctor declares, “I’m afraid he short-circuited,” but the Nameless Tech retorts that it’s “not that serious.”  A few turns with a cheap, cordless power screwdriver, a few significant glances among the staff, and another session with the sparkler-torch and RoboWarrior rises again!

I can’t think of any other film with the pure genius to show a ghost and a gorilla vampire having sex, only to be interrupted by a robot hunting an Asian drug lord and his henchmen, because that is exactly what comes next.   After some come-hither glances, Christine the bra-less ghost and Peter the vampire gorilla begin some bizarre Monster Mash foreplay followed by the bump-and-grind to consummate their “marriage” from earlier in the film.  Unfortunately, their coitus goes interruptus through RoboWarrior, and monkey-boy’s not about to tag him in.  Christine puts on the frightened-girl act, begging (paradoxically) “Please don’t kill us, we love each other!  You can kill us but wait until our love is consummated.”  This gives RoboWarrior a flashback to his days as Tom GADA and the night his wife dumped him because he was a cop.  This sad imitation of a Murphy Moment has nothing to do with the scene at hand, but since that can be said about 75% of the film that isn’t a real problem.  The happy couple take advantage of his confusion to fight him to a standstill, the scene ending with the two of them doing a Riffraff/Magenta thing.  There is no sign of RoboWarrior, and no explanation of where he has gone.

After another section of Thai-film filler, we finally get to the Big Showdown: Guido and his boys face RoboWarrior and get wasted.  The four jiang shi then attack, only to fall one-by-one.  Finally, the Vampire Monster and RoboWarrior go head-to-head in a hopping battle across half of Hong Kong.  Elsewhere, Christine the bra-less ghost attacks the Taoist for reasons unknown, but after she strips her gown off (again inexplicably, but who cares?) he banishes her by writing a spell across her cleavage.  He then calls more jiang shi as reinforcements against RoboWarrior, but Christine comes flouncing back out of nowhere and claws his face, killing him. She is not seen again. The four new jiang shi fall, then RoboWarrior fires his flamethrower out of the barrel of his machine gun and torches the Vampire Monster (the stream of fire is actually a gasoline-soaked length of rope stretched from the gun-barrel to the target…really).  The Vampire Monster is finished, as we know because the gasoline-soaked rag doll in his robes and suspended from a rope off a balcony is burning while he howls.

RoboWarrior marches away from the corpses and the ruins.  The End.

If all of this sounds somewhat incoherent, good; it is, and I haven’t even mentioned half of it.   But if you’re into bad cinema, watching Robo Vampire is a mystical experience.   Check it out.

.

roadside attractions

  • Gorilla vampire-on-ghost sex
  • Two films for the price of one
  • “Android-like” robot
  • Robocop cosplay tips
  • Gasoline and fireworks
totals

3

blood

BLOOD

Eye-gouging, flesh devouring, real cow-gutting

3

blood

BREASTS

Ghostly but firm

4

beast

BEASTS

Jiang shi, “Vampire Monster”, sexy specter

3.3 OVERALL
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Watch the trailer to Robo Vampire

trailers

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Aug

Before I begin this review allow me to just say that this movie is my favorite movie of all time. So you may have to forgive me for fanboying just a little bit. Now that that disclaimer is put out there let’s get to the review.

Evil Dead 2 is not so much as a direct sequel to The Evil Dead as it is a recap with a continuation wrapped up in one awesome movie. Fans of the series can delve into the whole history of why that is, but I will spare you the details. The gist of it is this: “My movie!” “No, MY movie!” And thus, like any uncomfortable situation, we pretend what they were fighting over didn’t happen. Thanks to….Nothing…nothing at all….ahem. We have the opening of our movie.

Drawing up differences between The Evil Dead and Evil Dead 2 is easy and sometimes necessary but I’ll try to keep it to a minimum. The movie opens with just Ash and his girlfriend going to an abandoned cabin in the woods, unlike the first, which involved five people. You’re welcome, every movie since these. After getting there, and essentially remaking the first movie into a much shorter version, Ash begins his battle with the evil. After being possessed then released by the dawn, uh…it happens, he tries to leave only to find the bridge is out. Of course. Again. When has that EVER worked?

Ash returns to the cabin after the evil in the woods figures out how to manipulate time. I’m not kidding. And here begins the biggest chunk of this movie: the psychological aspect. Unlike the first installment, The Evil Dead, this movie focuses more on the mental state and the torture that can be inflicted through manipulation of reality and not so much on the gore. While there is gore, it is not as prevalent or over the top as the first. Such as Ash’s girlfriend’s head is re-animated and attacks him, biting his hand, leading him outside to the workshed. Now here is another little thing that these movies gave birth to: controlling the volume of your ADR. There is a moment when Ash says “Workshed.” and the audio is so loud and overpowering it became a long running joke for actors.

After removing the aforementioned head from his hand via vice the rest of Linda’s body decides to get in on the action, coming after our hero with a chainsaw. Of course the effects here are practical, no CGI anywhere to be found (thank the film gods), but they’re also bordering terrible! Linda’s body looks like a store mannequin covered in play-doh and the movements in the fight are so jolted you can almost tell it’s a guy with a stick whacking Bruce Campbell with a muppet from the burn unit. After defeating and dismembering his now dead again beloved, Ash goes back into the house to discover the evil has possessed his hand. Why didn’t it just re-possess him entirely is a much a mystery to me as it is to you.

After a dramatic Raimi shot we come to the other characters in the movie: Professor Knolby’s daughter, her boyfriend, a redneck, and his redneck girlfriend. Once more we’re not given a lot of background on any of these characters. Just a line or so about why they’re in this movie. Say it with me, kids, “They’re here to die!” On second thought. Don’t say that, kids. Now that we have all our characters on screen I just want to comment this: redneck girl is a scream queen. The other girl is not. She tries, don’t get me wrong, but holy potatoes is it just not her strength. What’s that? Sick of seeing characters on screen that aren’t Bruce Campbell? Me, too. Let’s go back and see what Ash is up to.

After a fight with his own hand that can only end in frustration and pain so intense he does the only logical thing a man who’s been tortured constantly for 48 hours does: lops off his own hand with a chainsaw. After a long sequence that may or may not happen in Ash’s head we finally have the arrival of our other characters. They got there through a trail that was sort of hidden in the woods. I don’t know how Ash didn’t find it or see it, either. After a short confrontation ash is thrown in the fruit cellar while the arriving party begins to try and sort out the chaos that’s still laying around the cabin.

After some explanation and some really well placed audio and camera angles we meet Professor Knolby’s possessed wife Henrietta. Another short confrontation later Ash is sprung from the fruit cellar and joins the other cannon fodder…ahem…uh…characters. While trying to deal with the reality of what’s going on one of the party gets taken over by the evil and explains what they want. After a gory confrontation we get some of Sam Raimi’s best soundwork ever put to film, upping the already creepy atmosphere of the whole movie.
After a visit from a ghost. Yes, seriously. Ash and company find out there’s a way to defeat the evil. But other folks have other plans that result in the return of Evil Ash! Some violence, gore, and a touching moment later, Ash is back to himself, again. Now. Let’s gear up for the final showdown. In the “Preparing to go to war” sequence we get two of Ash’s best known lines: “Groovy.” and “Let’s carve ourselves a witch.” And they’re still awesome.

Final showdown checklist! Chainsaw arm? Check! Sawed-off double barrel shotgun? Check! Catchphrase? Check! Heading into a situation nobody could possibly come out of alive? CHECK-A-FREAKIN-ROO!!! As much as I would love to go into detail about the final battle scene of this movie and what happens I must refrain. I know, I know. Just know that the end of this film perfectly gives us the movie that probably brought the majority of fans to the Evil Dead series in the first place: Army of Darkness.

How to wrap this up and sum up the movie? Well. For the time that it was made it was actually really ahead of itself and really demonstrated what a director could do on a shoestring budget with some dedicated actors and whole lot of creativity. The effects were incredible back then and, surprisingly, some still hold up to this day. In fact the entire ‘Red Band Trailer’ thing is born from a quick shot in this movie where blood coats a lightbulb. Once you get past the gore and horror nature of the film, however, it does sometimes seem overacted and campy. The actors are excellent in almost every scene, the audio is still through the roof excellent, and the direction is career making. In the end I love this movie and hope you guys do, too.

roadside attractions

  • The Chin 2.0?
  • Ted Raimi Attacks?
  • Is that Freddy Kruger’s glove?
  • ?A farewell to arms?
  • The Classic Flying eyeball of Nom
totals

10

blood

BLOOD

Gallons and gallons and gallons upon gallons and with colors

1

blood

BREASTS

One set and they’re on a decayed body…..so….

10

beast

BEASTS

Even The Chin gets evil.

9.2 OVERALL
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Watch the trailer to Evil Dead 2

trailers

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Aug

Mind Ripper
1995 – R – 94 Minutes – Warner Home Video
Starring Lance Henriksen, Giovanni Ribisi, John Diehl – Directed by Joe Gayton

Did you know that there is actually a third movie in The Hills Have Eyes series? I’m not talking about any of the remakes, but rather a movie from the early 90’s called Mind Ripper and why they decided to call it that instead The Hills Have Eyes Part 3, I don’t know. Although after seeing it, maybe they were too ashamed to attach the franchise’s name to it, but not too ashamed to attach Wes Craven’s name to it. In fact, his name is right on the box as “Wes Craven Presents,” which I’m guessing is only because his son Jonathan Craven wrote it.

So where does Mind Ripper fit in with the other two The Hills Have Eyes films? Well, it doesn’t really. It’s more of an in-name only kind of tie in. Oh, it does take place in the desert, but aside from that, the plot is a ‘genetic experiment gone awry’ that low budget b-movies in the 90’s seemed to love so much. I could spend all day listing those movies and talking about how awful and full of holes those plots are, but let’s stay focused and talk about Mind Ripper.

The movie starts and right away some poor sap already wants out of the movie as a team of scientists in an underground lab, called Gentec, find his mangled body. Leading this estranged crew of nerds is Stockton, played by Lance Henriksen! I think it’s safe to assume that Lance is only appearing as a favor to Wes. Since his body is on their turf, he graciously volunteered himself to be their test subject. As the scientists race to save the quickly dying stranger’s life, Stockton gives him a shot of something he had been working on. It’s experimental, it’s dangerous, but it’s the only thing that could save the young man’s life. I’m sure the FDA or military would allow human testing on serum that is still in the development stage. Eh, what could go wrong?

mr_2It’s now six months later and folks at Gentec have been using the stranger as a lab rat and now call him Thor. I know what we’re all thinking, but that crossover isn’t happening. Remember earlier when I said the 90’s loved to use this ‘genetic experiment gone wrong’ plot? Well part of that was to load it up with the most stock, one dimensional characters in matching jumpsuits it can find. Leading the group is Alex, who is so secretly (but it’s not really a secret) evil, he should be twirling a mustache and laughing whenever lightning strikes. Of course there is also the fat slob Larry, the pervy tech dude Rob and the hot tough chick that is also a scientist, Joanne. From here, you can already guess how it’s going to play out for each one these characters.

Having left that project three months prior, Stockton is now trying to rebond with his daughter Wendy and her oversexed boyfriend Mark, who reeks vaguely like a Baldwin. Mark is the kind of guy who always has that look on his face like everything is bulls**t and has a double entendre for anything anyone says. This is the kind of character a movie can’t kill sooner and horrible enough. Also tagging along is Stockton’s cliched 90’s son (you know, the kind that hates authorities and his parents for no reason) Scott played by Giovanni Ribisi in his first movie role! Tough break kid. We all gotta start somewhere, but I heard there is this little World War II picture from some guy named Steven Spielberg… he may have a role for ya.

Scott spends most of his time smoking cigarettes and listening to his Walkman, because he’s full of angst and you just wouldn’t understand! Naturally, he doesn’t want to go on a camping trip with the rest of his family, but luckily for him, Stockton is called back to the lab since Thor is having seizures, thus having to cancel the camping trip. But work be damned! Stockton decides to bring his family… and Mark… along, because if there is any place in the world that can bring families closer together, it’s restricted secret genetic research labs.

mr_3Before Stockton can arrive, Thor’s seizures get worse and the team suits up in hazmat gear and tries to save him, but fail and he dies on the operating table… and then the team removes their hazmat gear, which leads me to believe that they are immune to all known and unknown diseases! Or… it’s lousy screenwriting. Speaking of, it wouldn’t be a failed genetic research movie if the test subject didn’t come back to life and slaughter all but Alex, Rob and Joanne. It’s here where Alex is revealed to be evil, which doesn’t come as a surprise, just as Thor captures him. Thor is looking rather sweaty and puking up weird egg-snake looking things, as he tells Alex that he is dying (didn’t he already die?) and needs brain juice to survive and then proceeds to suck out Alex’s brain with his tongue, which is now about two feet longer and has this little straw spike at the end of it. Maybe that was Alex’s goal all along: to infect random people so they mutate and their tongues turn in to straw spikes, which he can then market as the ultimate party accessory! Straw Spike!

Stockton now arriving, tells his kids to wait at the plane they arrived in, but do you think they listen? So screw it, everyone pile inside the super secret bunker that we somehow were able to get in to. Apparently they don’t delete the access codes of former employees. Talk about a overlooked flaw in your security system. But are you surprised? Thor is running around the airduct like a kid in a McDonald’s play pen! Rob and Joanne are trying to elude Thor in a room labeled with toxic waste warnings. The best thing about this room is that Nickelodeon must have designed this place, since leaky toxic waste barrels are insecurely placed at the top of a steep slope that leads right to the door. So what the hell is the point of that room? Or this scene? Finally, Thor happens to capture Rob, who just accidentally got his toe nail ripped off in what is honestly one of the most cringe worthy scenes I’ve ever seen, and then eats his brains.

As Stockton ventures off to find the other scientists, Thor tracks down his kids and nearly kills Scott, until Stockton tackles him, but he’s easily muscled down, beat senseless and left for dead. Yeah, great family and friends you have there. And now this is when the movie really becomes the ‘genetic experiment gone wrong’ movie, as Scott, Mark, Wendy and Joanne spend the remaining duration of the film trying to survive and giving each other pep talks about surviving, while giving exposition. A lot of these kinds of films seemed to do this after Aliens. I’ll give you one guess as to what they could possibly be doing with that serum at the research lab.

mr_4If you guessed ‘to make super soldiers’… DUH!

Nothing else to do now except come up with some lame brain plan, like leaving a trail of brains (oh yeah, there are a bunch of brains laying around… it’s a lab) to a freezer. Can’t say I’m surprised it it worked, because I’m not. Thor isn’t the brightest star in the galaxy, if you know what I’m saying. He’s an idiot. A buffoon. That is what I’m saying. He may be as dumb as a jar of melted molasses, but he sure is strong as he starts to smash his way out of the freezer as the group finds Stockton alive and they make their daring escape… or do they?!

Yeah, it’s that kind of ending where you think the villain is dead and they will escape and the he pops up and they have to kill him and escape again… repeat this several times.

I’m kinda in the middle of the road on this one. On one part, the cast is pulling in rather solid performances. Lance Henriksen is always great, regardless of how goofy the content in the movie is. John Diehl, who played Alex, really plays up the spineless villain, as he does in a lot of movies that he’s in. However, we don’t really spend too much time with these people to really get to know them. A detail about why they are the way they are is usually glossed over and explained in a sentence. And those we do spend time with, like Mark and Scott, we don’t really care for. Again, having some backstory could have made them more sympathetic… except for Mark. I do like the mystery of who Thor was before he was experimented on, but not much is hinted at or brought up, so you wouldn’t really think about it as a casual viewer. Although the visuals are pretty great, giving you some special effects that will make you squirm, the plot is old and tiring, offering nothing new or interesting. After about twenty minutes when you realize what kind of movie this actually is, you’ll find yourself waiting for the characters to die rather than be involved in what’s happening in the story.

Mind Ripper
Not a bad first attempt for Jonathan Craven, so surely his next attempt will be better… what was it? The Hills Have Eyes 2 remake? That pile of garbage that was only made to capitalize on the success of the original film’s remake? Ugh! Thank goodness he hasn’t written anything since… yet.

Check out this review and plenty others at Goon Reviews.

roadside attractions

  • Super duper ultra to the max secret lab!
  • You’ll wish this super soldier was the Reb Brown Captain America.
  • Family death-cation.
  • Toenail removal.
  • Gonna eat your brains and gain your knowledge.
  • Chill out, Thor… in the freezer!
totals

7

blood

BLOOD

Plenty of sucking brains out of eyeballs, but that toenail scene… yeesh!

3

blood

BREASTS

Joanne graces the screen with some sidebood and cleavage.

5

beast

BEASTS

Thor is a force of nature that can dominate his prey and overpower them… too bad he’s easily bamboozled and pushed over.

5 OVERALL
dripper

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About the Highway

Lost Highway is your satirical detour down the twisted back roads of b-movies and cult films reviews. learn more >>