Archive for the 'Drama' Category

Oct

posted by admin | October 22, 2013 | 50's b-movies, Drama, Reviews by the Goon, screeners, Suspense

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The Hitch-Hiker
1953 – Not Rated – Kino Lorber

You’re traveling down a lonely road so void of any life it may as well be a painting. Out of a nowhere like a mirage, a figure seems to be standing still, arm out and thumb extended. You decide to be a good Samaritan and give the drifter a ride. After all, what’s the worse that could happen? Next thing you know, your vehicle is void of any signs of life. Only traces of blood in the driver’s side with a bullet casing in the passenger’s.

This is the kind of fear that The Hitch-Hiker induces. Although it’s not a PSA (though it could be an effective one), it illustrates a ‘your worst nightmare’ scenario when picking up a vagabond. The film immediately puts you in a vice and doesn’t let go until it’s finished. It’s what you immediately think of when you hear “Film-Noir”. It’s dark, it’s dirty and it’s white knuckled. Also interesting to note, it’s directed by Ida Lupino and keep in mind that it was unheard of to have a woman direct back then, especially a crime drama as zealous as this!

Emmett Myers has been hitching for some time. The bronze is hot on his trail, but he remains a step ahead as he leaves a trail of victims, told via spinning newspapers on Lazy Susan’s. Which brings us to our unlucky duo, Roy and Gil, on their way to the Chocolate Mountains for a fishing trip… or so they told their wives. They’re in Mexico when we meet them, passing up a cat house and running smack dab into Emmett on the side of the road, giving him a lift. Their trip instantly turns sour at this moment, as he draws a gun on them when Roy offers him a smoke (this could make a great anti-smoking ad). Emmett immediately takes control, ordering them about and showing that he’s a seasoned veteran at this. Holding them hostage with his gun from the backseat, I can’t help but think of that scene from Pulp Fiction where Vincent accidentally shoots Marvin in the face (throughout the movie, I kept waiting for this to happen). He asks them questions about their lives, what they do and ridiculing their answers, proving he is inside their heads and tells them he intends to kill them once they reach their destination. The look on their faces tells you they know their situation and they know they are over a barrel.

hh_2Knowing that a car ride would get boring (after all, there are only so many times you can sing ’99 Bottles of Beer’), Emmett plays games with his pawns. While pulled over to check the map, Emmett showcases his marksmanship by shooting a tin off a rock from several yards away! Look out, Billy the Kid! He does this with Gil standing nearby, which I’m sure browned his britches. Just having learned that Roy is somewhat of a sharpshooter himself, he directs him to shoot the tin out of Gil’s hand. Remember that scene from The Jackal where Bruce Willis has Jack Black hold up the pack of cigarettes? Kinda reminds me of that.

As they travel across the desert fleeing the authorities, they learn they are being looked for in the Arizona desert. However, they were traveling across the Mexican border. Emmett taunts Roy and Gil for lying to their wives about what they are actually doing and this is a subplot that comes to a halt, as it’s never mentioned again after this. We never really learn what Gil and Roy are doing way out that way, other than a few lines of dialogue. It’s acceptable though, as it doesn’t really chew away at the back of your brain, due to the film’s quick and energetic pace. We jump from one muscle tensing dilemma to the next, but it never becomes incoherent.

After a few hair raising close calls with a few locals, Roy and Gil decide they need to flee or it’s curtains for sure. Waiting for Emmett to sleep, they run off into a field and into an opening. However, Emmett was only playing possum, fooling them with his bum eye and nearly runs them down in the car after Gil trips and falls like a woman in a slasher film. Hopefully he didn’t break a heal.

The closer they get to their destination, the closer they are to their impending doom, Gil starts giving up hope. Acting as if he were already dead, Roy has to push him with the small sliver of hope that they can still make it out of this alive. Cops hot on their tail, Emmett switches clothes with Gil (now disguising himself as a doughy, middle aged man) in the final attempt to take a ferry to his salvation. Seems like them Duke boys sure have themselves in quite the pickle!

The Hitch-Hiker
Where was the Jam Handy informational short for this scenario? Based off the actual event in 1950 where a man named Billy Cook murdered a family of five and then was captured after leaving a deputy for dead, makes this movie all that more shocking. It adds a whole other dimension of gut wrenching realism to the film, like another layer of darkness. It’s enough to make anyone paranoid of picking up a stranger. For a short run time of seventy one minutes, The Hitch-Hiker certainly keeps you in suspense and will surprise you. Although the ending does wrap everything up nice and neat, it’s still has a lurid manner throughout the duration and I wasn’t sure what to expect. So take a joy ride with this one and pick up The Hitch-Hiker from Kino Lorber. This is one hitcher that won’t creep you out with stories of Nam or conspiracy theories.

Check out this review and plenty others at Goon Reviews.

roadside attractions

  • Spinning newspapers, always a classic.
  • Viva La Me-hee-co!
  • Lazy eye.
  • Gil: The human lump of bread dough.
  • Shooting competition.
  • Emmett bossy boots.
totals

6

blood

BLOOD

Very little, but the shear idea of violence behind this scenario is pretty disturbing.

0

blood

BREASTS

None, unless you count Gil.

7

beast

BEASTS

Emmett is one sick puppy.

4.3 OVERALL
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Oct

posted by admin | October 15, 2013 | 50's b-movies, Drama, Horror movies, Reviews by the Goon, Suspense

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House of Wax
1953 – Not Rated – Warner Bros.

They stare at you with lifeless eyes that seem to follow you no matter where you go, wax sculptures are pretty damn creepy. Or maybe it’s how real and unassuming they are and that they could grab you as you pass by. It could be a million reasons, most of them I don’t know, but they get under your skin. I’m surprised more movies don’t feature killer wax people, but maybe it’s because the bar was set a little too high in House of Wax.

A remake of the 1933 film Mystery of the Wax Museum, this film opens up and escalates to speculative and terrifying quickly. Very quickly. Professor Henry Jarrod (played by Vincent Price) masterfully sculpts wax figures that are so lifelike, you would swear that they were palpable. Among his collection, he hails his Marie Antoinette to be his masterpiece. He walks around talking to his sculptures, seemingly having private conversations with them. As this scene goes on, you are becoming more and more aware of how quiant and detached from humanity he is. He seems pretty batty, but most great artists weren’t exactly sane. Jarrod could make a fortune if he were to “sell out”, which his business partner Matthew Burke encourages him to do. But Jarrod is in it for the art, not the money and if we learned anything from Aliens, anyone named Burke is all about the fame and fortune. He starts dumping gasoline all over the place like he has more important things to do, intending to torch it and cash in the insurance policy. Before they can discuss it, like a true pyro, he sets the place ablaze. He was that confident it was a solid plan, that he didn’t even need to think it through. Or maybe he likes to burn buildings down. Either way, Jarrod reasonably becomes enraged and desperately attempts to save his sculptures as they melt like cheese, eyeballs falling out of their heads. After being attacked by Jarrod, Burke fights him and throws gasoline all over Jarrod, leaving him to die in the fire.

how_3Time passes and Burke seems to be living it up. That is, until he’s murdered by a disfigured man, along with his fiance, Cathy. Cathy’s friend Sue Allen happens to find her carcass there with the disfigured man hovering over it and chases her out the window and down the street (cue Benny Hill music). She manages to escape the horror and inform the police. It’s then that they are discovering that Cathy’s body, along with several others, have disappeared from the morgue. Who would steal bodies? With the McRib making a comeback, it would make sense that McDonald’s could be the culprit, but we all know they use former boy band members. Could it be that Jarrod survived and is exacting revenge? Nah, that would be crazy.

Well, I guess it is crazy since eighteen months pass and it seems Jarrod has opened a new wax museum called “Chamber of Horrors” that showcases horrific crimes in history… and current ones, as Burke’s death is displayed there. However, Jarrod didn’t escape unharmed. He’s bound to a wheelchair and no longer has use of his hands. He’s assisted by a deaf-mute, Igor (Charles Bronson). I was kinda hoping he would have a hump on his back, but I guess that’s a different Igor. So, who’s making this wonderful statues? He has hired a top sculptor, Leon, who is basically like the Michael Jackson of sculpting. The movie has slowed down the pace noticeably by this point as Scott, who has grown fond of Sue Allen, decides to take her mind of her recent tragedies and takes her on a tour of the wax museum that showcases horrific murders. Sue Allen can’t help but feel uneasy by the Joan of Arc display, noticing that it bears an uncanny resemblance to her recently deceased friend Cathy, right down to her pierced ears. You can probably tell where this is going, but it’s the journey getting there that makes this movie shocking and fun to watch. Jarrod becomes hypnotically charmed by her and seems to think she would make the perfect model of Marie Antoinette. Finding that Scott also happens to be a sculptor (geez, how many sculptors are there?), he offers him a job based on that reason. Way to play, playa.

But that Joan of Arc sculpture sure has given Sue Allen the heebie jeebies. Bringing the police along with her to the wax museum, they take note that John Wilkes Booth looks an awful lot like a murdered city official whose body is missing. Eh, it’s probably a coincidence.

how_4Taking a Scooby Doo style approach, Sue checks out the museum and takes a closer look at the Joan of Arc sculpture (how infatuated is this woman?). But she accidentally knocks the wig off and sees the blonde hair underneath, coming to the conclusion that it looks like Cathy, because IT IS Cathy! Oh, if it weren’t for you meddling kids. This is actually quite a shocking turn. I suppose next they are going to reveal that Jarrod can actually walk and is only pretending to be handicapped… Well, son of a…

In one of the coolest effects ever, Jarrod finally grabs hold of Sue and she begins to give him a rap on the brow repeatedly as his face shatters away to reveal that he was the disfigured man committing all the murders! Meanwhile this is happening, Leon is rolling over on Jarrod to the police, revealing everything and basically handing him on a platter. Little advice to all you inspiring criminals out there: If you’re gonna go in business with someone, make sure you can trust them not to reveal your plot to the authorities. Cats out of the bag now! The Police and Scott make haste to rescue Sue before she becomes a wax statue and end this movie on a positive note.

House of Wax
Not only is House of Wax the first color 3-D picture to be shot by an American studio, it’s also one of the first horror roles Vincent Price starred in and right away, you can tell he has a knack for it. From the first moment you see him have a conversation with a lifeless sculpture, you can feel the hairs stand up on the back of your neck. And he does this even before he has the makeup on! There is a good reason he is known as “The Merchant of Menace.” It’s been said a million times and it goes without saying, but I’m going to go ahead and say it: This is without a doubt one of the best horror classics. It’s a true insight into how frightening these actors could play their characters, how special effects could shock you and how dark and violent a movie can be without gore. If you haven’t seen it, shame on you. It’s been sixty years, for crying out loud! Just don’t watch the 2005 remake. It’ll make your skin melt… and it has Paris Hilton.

Check out this review and plenty others at Goon Reviews.

roadside attractions

  • We don’t need no water, let the mother burn.
  • Vincent Price, Street Brawler.
  • “Hanging” around.
  • Pre-Freddy Krueger.
  • Braindead Bronson.
  • Is there a sculptor in the house?
  • Bikini wax of death!
  • Wheelchair Psyche.
totals

5

blood

BLOOD

No blood, but wax sculptures melt in a way that will make your stomach turn.

2

blood

BREASTS

This was made before boobs were invented.

9

beast

BEASTS

If Charles Bronson as a menacing thug ain’t spooking ya, Vincent Price sure will.

5.3 OVERALL
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Oct

posted by admin | October 9, 2013 | 60's b-movies, 60's movies, Drama, Reviews by the Goon, screeners, Suspense

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Night Tide
1961 – PG – Kino Lorber

Tales about mermaids are often thought to be full of wonder and whimsy and giving credit to the music that plays during the intro to Night Tide, it’s understandable why you would think that. But don’t let the score fool you. This is a ghostly tale, about secrets, lies and murder. It will lure you in with a false sense of safety and will play on your innocence. Before you know it, you’re neck deep in panic, wondering if something foul is waiting for you. It’s a smooth, unemphatic transition, like night and day. You don’t notice until it’s too late.

A pre-cocaine fueled Dennis Hopper stars in a tale about mermaids and murder. Murmaider, if you will. Hopper plays Johnny, a sailor on shore leave. This brings him to a small Californian coastal town, where he walks a pier and finds himself inside a cool jazz bar. The local patrons in this scene are actually quite believable as what you would think of as “regulars.” Each person is distinctive, emoting a different mood. Like they are all actually there for different reasons and could tell you their story and you’d believe it. However, they all are moving their head in the same pattern to the music that it’ll make your neck hurt. That is until Johnny notices a striking young woman. He finally gathers the courage to go talk to her, but before he can make casual chit chat, the young woman is scared off by a slightly older looking woman, garbed in black, speaking in a foreign tongue. Like the drunk frat dude when the bar’s closing, Johnny dashes off to hound her. Just cause it’s time to quit it, doesn’t mean you can’t hit it, bro.

It’s interesting to look at a scenario like that in pretext. Although they exchanged about three lines of dialogue, this was considered charming or romantic, especially in the silver age of cinema. A young man would approach you at the bar, ask you your name, tell you that you are beautiful, buy you a drink and give you a kiss, sealing the deal. You were a couple after that. People saw this as romantic and I can see why. A man, tingling head to toe in fear with rejection, shakes his feathers and approaches that stunning girl and asks her name. Nobody does that now, unless it’s through social media. Otherwise it’s considered “creepy.”

night_tide_2Well, we got off track! Johnny walks her home, above the carousel, learning her name is Mora. The next day over breakfast, they seem to be fond of one another and to be honest, the chemistry here is really believable. Telling him she works at the carnival’s sideshow attraction, she invites him to a show where we are introduced to Sam Murdock, an old British Navy Captain. Johnny thinks something may be strange about him, so Mora tells him that she was rescued by him at a young age and adopted. This was back in the day when you could just pick up a random child and claim them as yours willy-nilly. Later that evening while Mora is dancing (either that or the worst wave impression ever), she spots that woman in black and faints. Things sure are getting weird.

Speaking of weird, Johnny learns from local girl Ellen that Mora’s ex-boyfriends have all died mysteriously. Even more mysterious, he spots the woman in black and follows her all the way to Captain Murdock’s place, who seems to be trying to replace his blood with booze. Before passing out drunk and snoring like Tom Arnold inhaling a bowl of hospital Jell-O, he warns Johnny that he is in grave danger as long as he is with Mora. Upon confronting Mora, she tells him that she is of Siren descent and will kill when the moon is full. Women, huh? Always trying to kill you during the cycle of the moon… I’m just gonna stop there. Johnny ignores this hogwash, but soon has a nightmare that she turns into an octopus and tries strangling him.

I bet you never thought you would see Dennis Hopper wrestle a Muppet octopus.

He awakes from this nightmare to find her standing under the pier, calling his name, standing in the way of the crashing waves as if she is trying to drown herself. She’s not tied to the pier, mind you, because most sane people get out of the way of that sort of thing simply by moving their legs and removing them from that particular danger.

night_tide_3The next morning, having slept on Mora’s floor to ensure her safety, Johnny goes to get those kinks in his back worked out by a masseuse. Things get “steamy” while Johnny’s butch, hairy masseuse, Bruno, works on his shoulders. There is nothing wrong with a man giving another man a massage, but it’s the exchange of dialogue once Captain Murdock pops his head in to say, “Hi” that makes this scene a bit awkward. The masseuse asks the Captain if he wants him to, “pound him later,” to which the Captain replies, “Now why would I forgo a pleasure like that?” The movie immediately brushes this dialogue off its’ shoulders and the Captain further feeds Johnny’s fear about Mora. Now, I have no problems with sexual orientation, but it seems out of context in this scene… even for the Sixties. Once again, I feel like I derailed this review. Let’s get it back on track, shall we?

It’s finally the full moon and Mora invites Johnny along for some scuba diving, which he doesn’t think is a good idea, but she manages to coax him into it. It almost proves to be fatal, as Mora removes his breathing gear and swims off. He makes it back onto the boat, but doesn’t see Mora come back up for air. Devastated as the days go by, believing that maybe she really is a mermaid, Johnny finally revisits the carnival when reading her name in the newspaper. Everything draws to a close when he visits Mora’s attraction, but not without a few ghastly twists and turns that, to be honest, you will not see coming.

Night Tide is a suspenseful voyage of perplexity, thick with atmosphere and dread. Dread that builds up like a violin string being pulled tensely, but will not break. I have to admit, it is strange at first to see Dennis Hopper not playing such an oddball character, but he does take this role seriously (but there is still that goofiness we love him for) and his attraction to Mora seems genuine. The two play off of each other so well, you could actually believe they are a new couple, still learning about each other, but in love. Not only that, but it’s a refined film to look at, with almost a perfect gray scale in every scene and objects pop out at you with such depth. Kino Lorber restored this from the original 35mm print and boy, does it show.

Night Tide
Go on leave from your job, rent a seedy hotel room, shack up with a mermaid on a full moon and grab your copy of Night Tide from Kino. Well you don’t have to do any of that, besides watch the movie, but if you’re gonna do it, you may as well go all out.

Check out this review and plenty others at Goon Reviews.

roadside attractions

  • Non-hopped up Hopper.
  • MURMAIDER!
  • It’s Jazz, baby.
  • Mouth watering Mora.
  • Captain Cryptic.
  • Woman in black.
  • Nautical nightmares.
  • Masseuse innuendo.
  • Scuba sabotage.
  • Scooby Doo ending.
totals

2

blood

BLOOD

Octopus wrestling and gun play, but no ooze.

4

blood

BREASTS

Nothing bare, but you can oogle at Mora’s cleavage.

8

beast

BEASTS

Mermaids, a Muppet and a murderer!

4.6 OVERALL
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Sep

posted by admin | September 19, 2013 | Action, Drama, New Releases, Reviews by the Goon, screeners

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Hammer of the Gods

2013 – R – Magnet
Have you ever been watching an epic medieval battle, metal swords clashing against each other as barbaric men snarl at each other with their faces caked in blood and wondered what it would sound like if it were accompanied by dub step music? And then if they took that same fight scene and slowed it down and sped it up at odd intervals like some dance club music video? How about a paper thin plot that is only held together with carnage? Then Hammer of the Gods is for you!

I should be more fair. There is a little more content to Hammer of the Gods than that, but not too much more. The films opens up in Viking Britain, 871 AD, although after that first battle, you’ll be wondering if it’s some sort of timeless world, like Middle Earth. During a violent battle with some farmers (who I wished rode tractors instead of horses), we are introduced to our ‘heroes’ with title cards, very similar to the last TMNT movie. Unnecessary, but um… cool? I need to mention that for Vikings, these guys have nicely trimmed or flowing hair with perfectly shaved stubble. Who knew Vikings cared so much about current fashion trends in GQ? After the slaughter, our protagonist Steinar receives word that his father is dying. Steinar returns to their base… camp… (?) where his brother Harald believes he will become King, but their father’s parenting style is similar to that of a sociopathic sadist. So he sends Steinar out to find a King, his other brother Hakar who was banished years ago for reasons we will get into later.

hotg2Accompanying him along his journey is his best friend Hagan, the spiritual Jokul and the lovable oaf, Grim. They are quickly followed by Steinar’s wimpy half brother Vali who now tags along for the rest of the journey. Good, all the adventure stereotypes are here and now the quest can begin… but, not before a pointless battle! Within what seems like moments, they come across a group of men stoning a woman tied to a post. They quickly overcome their adversaries faster than Lindsay Lohan gets sent to rehab, freeing the woman only to have Grim kill her a moment later and they move on. You think a scene like this would say something about their individuality or perhaps the contrast of the time period and the struggles they go through in order to keep their humanity, but nope. Who needs that when you can yell and swing a sword over house music?

Moving further along, the group realizes they need they aid of a brute warrior, Ivar, who will help them find Hakar. Ivar use to fight alongside Hakar, but was dismissed after his ‘interest’ in boys. But Ivar will only help them if Steinar can defeat him in the manliest game on Earth known simply as arm wrestling! I guess the filmmakers saw Over the Top and thought, “Oh, we need to do that, but with swords!” There is a catch to the game, however: If Steinar cannot defeat Ivar within three tries, he will be sodomized. Oh and after each try, he has to take a drink from a mushroom spiked drink. Quickly, let’s recap our ‘heroes’: A war hungry prince, a wienie half brother, an insane king, a pedophile and a group of friends defined by one vague characteristic. Yup, that’s who you’re rooting for in this movie. Leaves you feeling clean. Needless to say, Steinar defeats Ivar and he joins their group, bringing along his slave girl (I dunno, it’s really unclear what her role is). But upon returning to their horses they left earlier with Vali, they find a horse head hanging from the tree and Vali totally unscathed. Could he be in cahoots with the enemy?

Enough thinking or developing plot, we need a battle! They are surrounded and ambushed while trolloping through the forest, claiming their first casualty, Grim. Oh, but he had two other dimensions we didn’t explore. We will also remember him for being stupid, hot headed and ranting about his venereal diseases and wisely saying, “RAAHHHHH!” or “GRRR!” The group begins to suspect foul play from Vali, accusing him to be a traitor. Before they can come to any conclusions, their bickering is interrupted by, you guessed it, more fighting! Some hacking and slashing later, the group flees only to be cornered and over powered. They are taken captive and told they need to covert and accept god. So wait, now this film is religious and not superstitious? Who knows, but all we know is Vali willingly surrendered himself and was ready to convert to avoid any sort of conflict, which the group doesn’t take to kindly to. With the help of Astrid, Steiner escapes and frees his friends, losing Ivar in the process. After locking their captures in a church tower, Hagen confronts Steiner with an ultimatum: Vali is a traitor and if Steiner doesn’t execute him, he will. Seems fair and long overdue. This leads to a duel between the two friends, now rivals, until an unpleasant outcome is reached. Here’s a hint: The person you want to die, doesn’t.

hotg3The rest of the crew ventures forward, only to disappear leaving Steinar by his lonesome. He wonders into a cave and is knocked out by the locals who like to paint unknown shapes and squiggles on themselves. It is here where we finally meet his other brother, who has gone mad. But this reunion of brothers calls for a feast! Speaking of, where are his friends..? Well, we do see Vali who has converted again. Maybe later, John Travolta and Tom Cruise will get him to convert to Scientology. No matter, this all boiling down to the main event. Questions will be answered. Will we find out what happened to Steinar’s mother (yes and BLECK!)? Will Steinar be victorious? Will they be painted on like kindergarten finger paintings? What was in the stew? All these in the exciting conclusion!

Throughout the film, there are several ideas or subplots that go absolutely nowhere other than to tether the scenes of grisly gore and death together, which isn’t necessarily a bad thing. It feels as if maybe it would’ve worked better as a mini series rather than rush through and focus on the battles, as entertaining as they are. The acting is actually pretty top notch, though, and all the characters were believable, as unrelatable as they were. Also, the music seemed extremely out of place, with guitar stings and dub step stabbing at your ear like a broad sword. I almost want to mute my TV… with the plague.

Having said all of that, I still would recommend the film and why not? It’s a bloody good time. If you’re not looking for something deep, like Lord of the Rings, but you still want some good old fashioned Viking sword slaying, then Hammer of the Gods is a prime choice. Mount your steed and curse your opponent’s god! Or just pick up your DVD or Blu-ray copy from Magnet, like a normal person. This isn’t the medieval times!

Check out this review and plenty others at Goon Reviews.
Hammer of the Gods

roadside attractions

  • Esquire Vikings.
  • Snarling!
  • Viking Dub Step.
  • Over the Top on Mead.
  • Four way sibling rivalry.
  • One bar of soap for every time you feel misogynistic or sadistic… or just sick.
  • Pit of Death!
totals

7

blood

BLOOD

Throat slashing, face smashing, head chopping, ear chewing good time.

4

blood

BREASTS

Blue painted beauties.

7

beast

BEASTS

Plenty of well groomed Vikings, but those cannibals… don’t eat the stew!

6 OVERALL
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Sep

posted by admin | September 14, 2013 | 90's movies, Drama, Fantasy, Horror movies, Reviews by the Goon, Sci-Fi

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The Guardian

In 1973, William Friedkin shocked the world with a masterful little horror flick called The Exorcist. The film was executed so flawlessly, it became a ‘must’ staple of the horror world and films since then have tried to mimic it’s success, but never coming close. Seventeen years later, he returns to the genre to try and shock audiences once again with a tale about a woman who steals babies and fuses them with a tree. Yes, you heard me right. Needless to say, it was nowhere as well received as his previous masterpiece. In fact, Roger Ebert put this on his list of ‘Most Hated Movies’. So is The Guardian really THAT bad? Well…

Hopefully you didn’t confuse this with that other The Guradian movie about Ashton Kutcher on a boat and are still reading. Allow me to try and detail my brief description of the film from earlier. Some text at the beginning explains that druids use to worship trees. Some of those trees are good, others are bad. Okay, I realize how incredibly silly this sounds and I wouldn’t blame you for laughing out loud (I certainly did). Well in case you’re still reading, allow me to continue. We see a husband and wife heading out for the night, but have to turn around, because the wifey forgot her glasses. Oh yeah, how did instantly improve vision not make the top of that to do list? As they get home, they discover their nanny has vanished with their baby, but somewhere in the woods that baby is being sacrificed to keep an evil tree alive. It’s not a cool Satanic sacrifice, like with goats and blood. She just sorta holds the baby up in the air, it disappears and then is a part of the tree, like a carving. Yes! Marvel at the screen-shocking terror as you tilt your head and say, “Huh?”

gdn_2This is when we are introduced to our main characters, Phil and Kate Sterling. Phil works for an advertising agency that moved him out to LA. You’ll notice that for most of the movie, Phil will kinda putter around shirtless in pajama bottoms looking mopey. Shortly, they have a little mush of weird doughy, alien also known as the unknown obsession to women as a baby. Wanting to continue their work, although I think they forgot to give Kate an occupation, they decide to hire a nanny. The decision comes down to the film’s only black person, Arlene, or a suspicious British woman named Camille. To make their choice easier, God decides smite Arlene as she rides her bike into the world’s most deadly pot hole, flipping her off the bike and hurling her down a hill like a rag doll and killing her. Guess who gets the job?

Camille is quickly accepted into their arms and why not? She takes care of the little noise maker. Realizing the movie is starting to trot along without any gore, Camille and the baby are attacked by a group thugs that look like teenagers that never grew out of the psychobilly phase while drinking PBR out in a field somewhere. She leads them into the woods where they come alive, not unlike Evil Dead, and tear the men apart, smashing one’s head like a soggy watermelon and setting another on fire. This tree has more powers than Superman! The absurdity doesn’t stop there. Their neighbor Ned starts crushing on Camille in, I have to admit, a rather charming and chivalric way. Unfortunately chivalry is dead and so is he after being savagely eaten by wolves that protect Camille after he sees her as what she really is. Before he died, he managed to place a phone call to Phil, who was already growing suspicious of her. Odd, her references should have checked out…

gdn_4Oh that’s right, Phil and Kate didn’t bother checking TO SEE IF THE WOMAN CARING FOR THEIR NEWBORN CHILD DIDN’T HAVE ANY KIND OF CRIMINAL OR MENTAL HEALTH BACKGROUND. Although in their defense, I don’t think ‘Evil Tree Spirit’ would have come up. Wouldn’t you know it, none of the references exist. Phil kicks her out and baby Jake needs to be taken to the hospital. Well what a coincidence. Camille tries to steal the baby from the hospital, but Phil puts his Chris Brown lessons to work and smacks her to the ground. Heading home, they find wolves are patrolling the premises, forcing them to retreat to the woods. Bad idea. Camille harnesses the power of the Keebler Elves and tries once again to steal the baby only to be run over by Kate in the jeep (on a side note, this is pretty much the first thing she’s done the whole movie). Phil sees all of the babies in the tree and rationally they try to explain this all to the police. For whatever reason, the cops don’t believe them, so what else is there to do for our heroes except to pack up and move on. But not before Camille can try to steal that baby one last time. I gotta give her an A for effort. Most people quit trying to steal babies only after a few times. Enraged, Phil sets out into the woods with a chainsaw faster than you can say “Groovy” to settle this once and for all.

Originally, Sam Raimi was slated to direct this picture, but backed out early in production to direct Darkman instead and you can really see how this script was tailored towards Raimi’s style and doesn’t exactly suit Friedkin’s. Look at the evidence: The kills are over the top and messy. What should be pretty straight forward and, let’s face it, silly, is bogged down with subplots that seem to go nowhere. What I find really interesting are the type of shots he uses, clearly an homage to Raimi’s cinematography. Especially when we get a wide, low angle chase cam. Hell, the look of the character in the final act; tattered blue button up, messy, wavy hair and a chainsaw… ring a bell? Obviously, I’m not saying that William Friedkin is a bad director. That would be stupid to say, but what I am saying is perhaps he wasn’t a good choice for this type of film. I guess even he realized this, seeing as the TV edit of this film has given directing credit to Alan Smithee.
The Guardian

Having said all that, is The Guardian a horrible film? Not exactly. It’s not great by any measure, but admittedly, I had some fun watching it. The film itself seems well paced, putting in the gory moments just when you are about to get bored, but for such a simple plot, Friedkin does seemingly try to complicate it with unneccasary exposition and dialogue just to draw it out. This is where some good old fashioned Sam Raimi gore would have been a much better filler, but that’s what happens when you rewrite far too many times. A simple idea gets diluted and things begin become overly complicated. Nonetheless, throw on your filthiest pajama bottoms and stop moping around. Watch this one at least once just to keep the Keebler Elf ladies away.

Check out this review and plenty others at Goon Reviews.

roadside attractions

  • Good old fashioned baby snatching.
  • Limb for limb!
  • Hooligan head explosion!
  • Where’s my werewolf?
  • Baby tree.
  • Take a shot every time you think of Evil Dead.
  • Cutting down to size.
totals

7

blood

BLOOD

Head popping, limb ripping, tree spewing blood goodness. Not exactly a walk in the park!

6

blood

BREASTS

Camille can’t wait to show you her twins and I ain’t talking about babies.

5

beast

BEASTS

Nothing a little forest fire can’t handle… and apparently a backhand.

6 OVERALL
dripper

Watch the entire movie!”

trailers

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 >>