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Thursday, July 30th, 2015 | Author: Casey Criswell

“Dark Was the Night” is an interesting movie that follows all of the rules of the classic monster formula’s. Unfortunately, the film is a bit uneven and falls a bit short when it’s final reveal is brought to light.

It’s an age old formula; never show your monster. “Dark” follows this rule very well. We spend a good chunk of this movie only seeing the slightest of hints of what is stalking the small town of Maiden Woods. There are mysterious footprints found about town. There are traces of animal attacks on the local livestock. There are words of worry from local hunters who say that all of the local wildlife has fled the vicinity. There are even those brief moments that we catch just a glimpse of whatever it is that is stalking the town.

All of these moments combine to make for a good dose of tension as we see Sheriff Sheilds and Deputy Saunders try and unravel it all. They also dole out the mystery in good pace throughout the film, leaving we the viewer wondering just what we’re up against. There are hints, but not actual definition, of what might be out there. Unfortunately, it all falls a bit flat in the end once the true form of Maiden Wood’s Menace is fully revealed. Perhaps it’s a matter of personal taste, but once we see what is hunting the towns folk, it makes all of the previous hour plus of tension building fall a bit flat. The creature design is simply not very good. That’s not the only thing holding “Dark Was the Night” back.

For this film, we get to see Kevin Durand take on a rare leading role, that he does pretty well with, yet falls a bit short of great. He shows that he has the chops, though his performance is a bit uneven. Little things like how his accent changes halfway through the movie really stands out. Other actors working around him, such as Lucas Haas do well. There just isn’t a lot of meat for them to work with in the script. Even genre regular Nick Damici makes an appearance, but is unfortunately rather under used.

Other than a few inconsistencies, this isn’t really a fault of the performances though. The script has some weak spots that they’ve tried to add in to give our characters depth and a way for us to connect with them; they just do not add anything to the overall story. Sheriff Shields has a rough past, which leads to a strained marriage and a son that spends time hopping back and forth between mom and dad. On it’s own, it’s not a bad sub plot. The things that happen to the Shields family is bad and makes for some decent drama. It just adds nothing to the story of whatever is haunting the woods around Maiden Woods. This leaves the film feeling a bit over long and leaves us viewers, wondering when they’re just going to get on with it.

That said, this isn’t a bad film and is worth a watch. The tension and mystery are solid for the first two acts of the film, and only fall short in the final ten minutes or so. And again, it’s not enough of a down turn to ruin the entire movie, but makes it feel merely all right as opposed to great.

Also, kudo’s for a quick Steve Agee sighting!

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Wednesday, December 29th, 2010 | Author: Casey Criswell

With strong praise coming from my friends over at Night of the Living Podcast I jumped on the chance to take in “Suck” when it became available on Netflix. They had talked the movie up quite a bit and I have a bad habit of letting my friends high enjoyment color my expectations. This time around it didn’t burn me. Thankfully, their kind words in Episode 208 were right on the money.

The Winners are on a tour of Canada and the US, hoping to gain fans and win a contract at their showcase gig at CMJ. The fans aren’t really swarming them though. Early on into their tour, the band’s bass player Jen gets invited to a party by a swishy looking goth bloke who happens to be a vampire. Guess what…Jen gets turned into a vampire! Surprising, huh?

Luckily for the rest of the band, once Jen gets vamped out, she starts to draw attention on stage. The fans start to pay attention and life on the road to CMJ starts to look a little better. Things get even better once the rest of the band members start joining the undead ranks, but all good things must come to end. Once the legendary vampire hunter Van Helsing shows up, their rocket to the top starts to fall apart in a hurry.

The key to enjoying “Suck”? Don’t take it seriously. The cast and screen writers don’t take it seriously at all and neither should you! This results in a fun little vampire satire that makes itself stand out from the standard fanged romance fare. Now, the movie does start out a little slow. It has a gradual build that pays off in the end. The story isn’t necessarily new and ground breaking, but it plays well to the setup. It’s your typical “deal with the devil” type of story that lends itself well to the rock and roll world of “Suck”. Trade the standard Satan with a vampire god in the guise of Alice Cooper and you have yourself an entertaining bit of story!

The main cast here is nothing really to get excited about. They do a fine job, you just haven’t heard of any of them most likely. You’ve heard of the supporting cast however. How about Dave Foley. Remember him? “Kids in the Hall”? He’s the band’s manager and he’s a smarmy and hilarious jack ass. Malcolm McDowell? Yah, he’s the enigmatic and hammy Van Helsing. A perfect fit, really. Even Iggy Pop, Alice Cooper and Henry Rollins show up as stereotypical rock type icons and to be honest, they’re pretty damn funny! Iggy Pop is a nice little philosophical stand out and Henry Rollins and his mullet-ed shock jock radio DJ is pretty damned hilarious.

The biggest problem about “Suck” is that it hit the market very close to another vampire comedy by the name of “Vampires Suck”. As you can see, it’s going to be pretty easy to confuse the two when you’re barely remembering this recommendation when walking through the video store. I’m here to tell you though, “Suck” is the better film. Given a chance, “Suck” delivers a ton of good laughs and some great cameos making for a memorable flick. Since the movie showed up on Instant Watch once week after it was released on DVD? You now have no reason not to watch it!

Sunday, December 19th, 2010 | Author: Casey Criswell

Back in 2005 when director Tim Sullivan first decided to remake the Herschel Gordon Lewis classic “2000 Maniacs”, I was on board. Though original was a cult classic that broke boundaries in 1964, these days it isn’t what you would necessarily call a ‘good movie’. I’m not knocking it, I happen to be a big fan. All I am saying is that this was a property that you could remake and have some fun with and not have to worry about anybodies lofty feelings towards the original material.

Sullivan did just that with “2001 Maniacs”. The movie was over the top and fun in much of the same ways that “2000 Maniacs” was in the sixties. Just more so. All of the characters were campy, the gore thick and chunky and the plot wasn’t serious at all. Just a good excuse to murder some people in creative ways. With Robert Englund hamming it up central stage as the mayor of the forgotten town, the movie rose to special heights making it something memorable. While the want to make a sequel to a semi-successful direct to video movie is understandable, in the case of “2001 Maniacs: Field of Screams”, it just doesn’t work out.

To kick things off, our confederate cannibals are chased off their tried and true method of luring suckers into their grasps by the county sheriff. We’re lead to believe that he’s been helping out the denizens when he could, but they don’t really delve into that much. This forces our ghosts to take their show on the road in a convenient school bus festooned with confederate flags.

As they setup shop in rural Iowa, they cross paths with a bus belonging to Rome and Tina Sheraton, two wealthy socialites filming their party girl antics across the country for reality TV. They have their own little entourage with them that includes their producer and director and a few assorted bimbos which makes for good eatin’ for the ghostly lot from Georgia. Much like the first movie, the confederate’s get hungry so luckily there’s a bus load of fresh meat that’s just arrived.

So as I’ve said, the remake in 2005 was good fun. They expanded on the bizarre antics of the towns folk and ramped up the gore (which was already considerable in 1964) and it was fun. The movie never took itself seriously which just translated to a looseness on camera that looked like everybody was having fun. In “Field of Screams”, they try awfully hard to reach that same level of campy smoothness but fall far short. Many of the original cast is back minus a few key entries. The biggest issue is no Robert Englund. Bill Mosely, who takes Robert’s place as the mayor, is a decent actor and has a great roll of credits under his name. Compared to Englund’s mayor in the first flick, he just falls short. Perhaps if they had used him the first time around he would have been fine. Instead, we are given a heavy expectation which never comes to light.

Beyond this glaring omission, the problems lie in the support cast. They’re just not into it. Perhaps they just aren’t very good? It’s hard to say. Instead of a movie showing a group of people that seem to be having a blast running around eating each other an killing people in interesting ways, this cast seems to be bored by it all. The jokes are forced and the boobs are brief and infrequent. Though the crazy murder contraptions are still around making for some fun splatter, there’s no pay off as it boils down to just one more person checking off the screen.

I had big hopes for “Field of Screams”. It should have been good goofy fun like it’s big brother was. Instead it’s a mostly boring bit of cool set pieces interspersed with bad acting. I don’t want to hate on Bill Mosely cause the guy’s a good actor. He just wasn’t a good fit here. As for everybody else? I hope your next project is something you like a bit more than this one.

As a complete aside, I will give the film makers credit for getting the original theme song ‘The South’s Gonna Rise Again’ in there!

Tuesday, November 09th, 2010 | Author: Casey Criswell

It really can’t be a surprise that I’ve long been enamored with the horror genre. I mean…look at the website you’re reading! What isn’t quite as well known is my fascination with animation. (Oh hey, that rhymed!) To put it frankly; I love the stuff. The love affair began like it did for many, the subversive humor of Bug Bunny and Looney Tunes. I mean…it doesn’t get much better than that, right?

To dig deeper, there are a lot of facets to animation that draw me into the format. The biggest and most glaring angle here is that the creators can go far beyond standard in their projects. Especially when compared to a live action package. You can have things like common sea creatures wandering around the sea floor bothering squids. You can have fantastical worlds that a live action budget would prevent you from building, crazy physics and all sorts of stuff. If you haven’t caught on; this brings us around in a long meandering way to Comedy Central’s “Ugly Americans Season 1” DVD.

I’ll admit; I ignored “Ugly Americans” when it aired originally. Sure, the art looked fine and it seemed it would be right up my alley, but I just wasn’t drawn to it. I do love some adult themed animation. (I’ll go off on my rampant love for “The Venture Brothers” and “Archer” on another day) “Ugly Americans” seemed like it should be a perfect fit since it involved monsters as well. It just didn’t enough interest at first. Of course, this could stem from my general disinterest in Comedy Central as a whole too. Finally the first season was released on DVD and though it only weighs in at 7 episodes, it’s a pretty fun diversion.

The setup is simple; the doors of hell are open and the world is populated by millions of monsters, demons, zombies and more. Our loveable star Mark Lilly is a straight up average American working at the Department of Integration, tasked with helping teach the monster types out to live in regular society. This sets up each episode with various situations to deal with a different monster and trying to fit in, be it Mark and his half demon girlfriend and her demon problems, getting giant tree people to mate, or Mark’s life with a zombie roommate.

As a whole, the first season isn’t bad. I’d say it’s even enjoyable. It lacks any kind of edge that ranks it up there with the shocking and often times insulting humor that most cartoons of its ilk bring to the table. Perhaps it’s the point, it does fit in with the story line after all, but “Ugly Americans” seems to be rather mundane in it’s dealings with awkward out of place monsters in stead of drop dead hilarious. Don’t get me wrong; there’s plenty here to laugh and the story is enjoyable too. It’s just nothing ground breaking. Most of the jokes they hit on have been done at some point in time by other shows, just in different settings. Maybe it’s the fact that there is nothing historical in nature to compare the show to such as “The Venture Brothers” and their constant twisting of the “Johnny Quest” tropes or “Archer’s” vulgarity filled take on the spy genre. With monsters, they generally kill maim and slaughter. As for the jokes of forcing them into awkward real life situations, you can look to just about any horror satire and see the same setups.

Don’t take this as me steering you away from “Ugly Americans”; I liked it and there’s plenty to enjoy. Just temper your expectations for more of an average sit-com instead of some ground breaking humor and you’ll be all right.

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Tuesday, October 19th, 2010 | Author: Casey Criswell

Coming out in 1995, “Tales From the Hood” was a movie that flew under the radar for me. The early trailers for the movie made the stories packed within the anthology look weak with the urban themes being forced in to fit the tones of the ‘From the Hood’ moniker. Some fifteen years later, I’ve come to find out that the themes are heavily urban in flavor making a great setting for this group of fun stories.

Trying the four stories together is Clarence Williams III. Portraying an eccentric undertaker in a funeral home, he is confronted by three young thugs in search of ‘the shit’. As he stalls the three men, he shows them the various dark corners of his funeral home, each of which unlocks a different story that eventually seals the groups fate.

Ultimately, “Tales From the Hood” is quite a bit of fun. While it doesn’t’ do anything revolutionary to the genre, it is on par with many films of its kind, especially horror flicks that came out in the nineties. None of the stories are overly scary but they pack a good dark sense of humor and give a creepy vibe throughout. There is a good variety between the stories as well. The tale of a young boy with a powerful imagination is downright touching. Watching Corbin Bernson act like a racist pig rather disturbing, his fate well suited. The harsh reality that flashes through a dying murderers mind; unnerving. All of the shorts manage to push their point without taking themselves too seriously.

The best part of the entire movie is Clarence Williams, hands down. He’s campy. He’s over the top. He’s maniacal and has good comedic timing. He’s just all around entertaining and the glue that holds the whole thing together.

“Tales Form the Hood” isn’t going to show you anything new. It’s going to keep you around for the full runtime though and give you some laughs and some chills. I’d say it’s well worth throwing in the DVD player for a Halloween party and it won’t scare off your non-horror minded friends either!

Monday, October 18th, 2010 | Author: Casey Criswell

At this point in the game, it’s pretty much not worth crying about horror movie remakes. Hollywood doesn’t care so much what we think; they’re going to release them anyways. Though many of us may decide to boycott the films, there’s still thousands of normies out there that will gladly pay the admission price to see a film. Enter the 2009 remake of “Night of the Demons” due out on the 19th. As far as remakes go? It’s really not so bad!

The basic plot lines of the 80′s original are still in effect; a group of twenty something’s, Angela, drinking in a supposed haunted house and all that stuff. Much of it has been tweaked to give the new movie a feeling of its own but essentially; it’s the same film. Taking the place of Angela this time around is Shannon Elizabeth who isn’t normally your horror movie leading lady. She’s not so bad though. She works the party girl aesthetic pretty well and it’s nice seeing her out of her typical comfort zone. While there won’t be any awards given for her performance, she definitely won’t turn you away. One that might give you some second thoughts though is the plus sized Eddie Furlong of “Terminator” fame. Granted, I don’t really need to tell you where you might know Eddie Furlong from; I’m sure you all know. In “Night of the Demons”, Eddie is….Eddie. If you’ve seen any of his recent turns in horror movies lately? He’s just rehashing those parts once again. He’s flat, he’s trying to look like a bad boy and he’s just not very exciting. Rounding out the known names from this re-hash is budding scream queen Diora Baird. Ms. Baird isn’t shy to take on a horror role and I’m fairly happy about that. Here, she doesn’t have much to work with as far as roles go but she does well with the part she has. This part includes taking over the titular scene from the original movie that starred a young Linnea Quigley and a tube of lipstick. Diora’s take was a little more direct versus Linnea’s original sexy number but Diora’s has a far more gruesome outcome, so it all balances out.

Now that we have the stars of the movie out of the way, we can get into the meat and potatoes of “Night of the Demons” and what separates it from its predecessor. Before I dive in, I’ll let it be known that the original flick has long been one of my favorites. It was campy, it was different for 1998 and…well… it had Linnea Quigley and her lipstick. So before the opening credits even rolled, the remake had some big shoes to fill. Overall, it didn’t do a bad job. There is plenty of gore and some really great makeup work going on. Some of the gore is CGI I’m sure, but it’s blended well. On the whole, there is a lot of practical FX work going on which is nice to see in this day and age. The demons are well crafted and made to look extra grizzled and dead and they make for a striking appearance when they’re lunging form the darkness and attacking our mortal heroes. As a matter of fact, it’s the demons and their chaos that makes the movie fun. Where the problems lie are within the script.

Bottom line; the biggest problem with “Night of the Demons” is that it is about fifteen minutes too long. It never really manages to outshine the original, but it does manage to run a close parallel. The problems come when we try and flesh out the origin story of the demons and who they were. It really isn’t handled badly. I can get behind the ideas that director Adam Gierasch had working here with the demons being too evil even for hell, etc. When we have to watch our three mortals hide away in an upstairs bedroom for hours and rely on talking to each other to keep the story movie, it feels a bit weak. There is also the problem that Bobbi Sue Luther could instantly read all of the magical scribbling on the wall and know what they meant or the fact that Eddie and company knew where and how to draw the symbols back on the wall when they were washed away! Watching a movie about a house filled with the spirits of seven bad ass demons trying to devour souls to bring on the end of the world makes those issues a bit trivial though, doesn’t it?

In the end, “Night of the Demons” is not a bad flick! The gore and such are well done and the jump scenes are good. When the film makers decided to make the story a bit deeper than the original though, the movie falls short of its predecessor. Many have found this remake to be disappointing but for me it manages to keep a bit of the 80′s feel with oddly a large amount of 90′s flair. Come for the blood guts and boobies; just do your best to ignore the deep parts. And Eddie Furlong’s wooden acting.

Oh and lest I forget…in the original film, there is a key moment in Linnea Quigley’s ‘performance’ where she bares her backside for all to see in her tiny little costume. Keep your eyes peeled for a nostalgic little cameo and try and keep the mental image of 80’s Ms. Quigley in your mind.

Wednesday, August 25th, 2010 | Author: Casey Criswell

Back at the end of summer 2009, we started to get a number of trailers for Nelson McCormick’s remake of the 1987 patriarch horror “The Stepfather”. Initial reaction to the trailers was full of disdain; this was yet another remake and it appeared to be filled with actors not too interested with the project and your annoying teen stereotype that is so common in the horror genre these days. After all, there was no way that Dylan Walsh would be able to out do Terry O’Quinn from the original movie, so why bother? I suffered from this train of thought as well. Now having sat through the movie and seeing just what Dylan Walsh was capable of as an insane step father hell bent on the perfect family, I have to eat my words. It turns out, the movie and Walsh were just fine.

The setup is simple; an insane man wants the perfect nuclear type family and will do anything to get his wish. If his newly adopted family fails to comply and falls beneath his lofty standards? He’ll just wipe them all out. Plain and simple. Filled with a life traveling from town to town and wooing divorced women along the way, David Harris murders his way across the country en-route to being crowned father of the year. Except he’s not always named David Harris and the Father of the Year bit exists only in his own mind.

Nelson McCromick’s version of “The Stepfather” does very little change things up from the 1987 original. After all, it was a pretty good flick so there was really no need. A few of the obvious things were changed along the way; Jill Scholen was swapped out for a son in the form of Penn Badgley and there were a couple of extra kids thrown in for the mix. That was really the only large step away from the predecessor. This does leave us questioning the idea of why they felt a remake was needed for this franchise but by now we all know the answer to that; money. The studios like making money and they want a safe bet to slap onto celluloid and push out the door. “The Stepfather” is this movie, more or less a simple cash grab for Screen Gems. It’s not a bad movie to watch however.

The biggest concern going in is how Dylan Walsh would measure up as the insane step father. Terry O’Quinn did such a great job before with his simmering anger and insanity that bubbled just under the surface in his day to day life. For myself not being very familiar with Dylan Walsh, I just didn’t see how he could possibly measure up. He does quite well however. He has the manly charm needed to woo the likes of Sela Ward. He works great as the want to be family man and plays well off of the children and coming across as trying too hard with the eldest child of the family. What we really want to see though is how he comes across when he hits the heights of anger and starts to cut loose on those around him. Even here, Walsh excels and does a fine job with the simmering insanity.

My second concern with the trailers were in the switch to a male lead for the eldest child of the family. After all, Jill Scholen in the original film had a certain innocence and charm about here that made it easy to sympathize with her. Early on, the marketing led us to believe that Penn Badgley would be playing an over bearing douche bag type of teen primarily concerned with looking cool on screen. The trailers also hinted towards a heavy foray into teen sexuality causing a lot of tension with Badgley and Amber Heard which was off putting. In the final product, while that teen sexuality is there, it isn’t a major plot point. It is one of the devices that leads to the stepfathers unhappiness; he doesn’t want a son that’s known for defiling young virgins and getting a bad reputation. He wants a good boy that does that right thing. With the switch from a daughter to a son, the device fits well. Plus, it’s Amber Heard. That always helps a bit too because she’s generally pretty great.

My message to all of you out there that were with me hating on “The Stepfather” from the first trailers? It’s not so bad! I can’t say that was fully worth the $10 admission fee when it first hit theaters but it a great watch for home. The tension runs thick as we watch Harris come unhinged and the characters are plenty engaging. Sure, you may not sympathize with Penn Badgley as much as you did with Jill Scholen the first time around but you will get drawn in. If it helps, you can sympathize with Sela Ward as she seems like a pretty sweet mom.

In the meantime, while I was unfamiliar with Dylan Walsh before? He’s now A-Ok in my book.

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Saturday, August 21st, 2010 | Author: Casey Criswell

Late last year the horror world became abuzz with the release of “Paranormal Activity”. Shot completely in POV style, the movie captured the attention of a lot of movie watchers and scared a good many of them. Naturally, when a horror movie comes along that generates a ton of buzz and box office cash, The Asylum is going to pay close attention and try and spin off their own feature. Thus is the story behind their film Paranormal Entity. Absolutely nothing is changed here as far as what counts. You have a family dealing with a ghost and an edgy twenty something who decides he’s going to catch the whole thing on camera. Throw out his cute wife and replace her with a sister and a mother and you have the first and nearly only significant change from the original movie. Mix in a story about a dad who died in a car crash and a grieving wife who’s trying to talk to him and you have the second major reconstruction. Other than that? We’re dealing with the exact same formula.

Considering I wasn’t a big fan of the formula the first time around? The second pass in “Paranormal Entity” was a chore.

The Asylum has never been a group concerned too much with artistry. They want to slap a film in the can and push it out the door. They want money; mimicking a popular money making movie is how they make that money. This time around, they got lucky as there wasn’t much they had to contend with in the artistry department. Just like it’s predecessor, is shot entirely on hand held cameras. The setup is nearly the same, the haunting is nearly the same. The unseen spector shows up at random times of the night and scares the three family members still living in the house. Things move around from unseen forces, the TV turns on and off and something knocks around in the attic. Again, much like the first film, this spirit is dedicated to messing with the life of the leading female, the sister. In between the bouts of shaking video camera shots accompanied by the heavy mouth breathing of the brother, we see sister getting messed with in various manners. We also see a lot of her in her bra and panties. I guess that’s the one thing The Asylum thought “Paranormal Activity” was lacking; T&A.

To be fare and forthcoming and all that good stuff; I didn’t like the original film very much. The movie had its moments but ‘jumped the shark’ at the halfway point when we see the Ouija board burst into flames. For “Paranormal Entity”, the scares are not very effective as we’ve seen them all before. “Activity” sucked in its viewers because it was scaring them in new ways. Those ways are no longer scary. They also suffer from a severe lack of editing as well. There are many times that we see the camera being set down and then continue rolling on nothing interesting. We can hear people knocking about in the back ground but it isn’t dialog needed for the scene in question. We see lots of long dark shots waiting for something to happen, like a chair to move, but it never comes. These long and tedious moments combined with scares that we know what is going to happen and the movie just simply starts to feel uncomfortable.

You know when your aunt and uncle come back from vacation and want to show you their videos. You sit there a bit antsy as you are bored to tears, but you don’t want to say anything rude because they’re you’re aunt and uncle; you don’t want to hurt their feelings. That’s what watching “Paranormal Entity” feels like; uncomfortable vacation videos.

I will give the cast and crew credit for one improvement over the originals scare formula. In “Activity”, there is a tense moment when the characters spread baby powder in the door way of the room to find chicken shaped footprint in the morning. In “Entity”, they take this moment and expand into something much longer and a bit weightier. The family is under full on assault form the spirits that have marked them for torment. They run about the house trying to get away from their unseen assailant. Doors slam in the background, furniture moves about to try and trip them up and once they finally turn on the lights; they find foot prints traveling the length of the house upon the ceiling. For me, finding human shaped footprints upon the ceiling is far more unsettling than chicken feet in your bedroom. Upon further investigation in the morning, the brother follows the footprints to their source and finds they have originated from his fathers ashes. Sure, the fathers death is a throwaway plot crutch but in this one tiny moment, they make the idea a bit more chilling. It didn’t last long though, so I wouldn’t dwell on it.

In the end, I watched “Paranormal Entity” and was not surprised in the slightest by a film from The Asylum. You get what you expect, which is crap. I also lost a solid two hours of my life to this film and I’m still a bit bitter over this fact. It also leads me to wonder and speculation on how the studio plans to pull of “Paranormal Activity 2”; there’s a strong chance they may suffer from the same ‘been there, done that’ boredom that plagued “Paranormal Entity”.

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Monday, August 16th, 2010 | Author: Casey Criswell

Back in 2001 the world was blessed with Larry Blamire’s creation “The Lost Skeleton of Cadavera”. The movie did an outstanding job of lampooning the era of science fiction and horror flicks where rubber suited monsters and horrid effects ruled the day. The humor was fast paced and constant and the plot was suitably hokey to keep the viewer near tears form laughter throughout. This past year, Blamire has brought together the same cast from the first film for “The Lost Skeleton Returns Again”, the continuation of horror coming from the smart mouthed skeleton villain of the first movie. If you’re wondering if Blamire and crew were able to pull off the feat of “Lost Skeleton of Cadavera” once again?

Let me put it this way; “The Lost Skeleton Returns Again” wore me out. I haven’t laughed that hard since the first film.

For this second go around, a lot has happened since Dr. Armstrong and his crew last battled the Lost Skeleton of Cadavera. The Dr. himself has become a bitter man stuck in a South American jungle. He’s discovered the rare metal Geranium-90 but somebody else took credit for his find! While away, his faithful wife Betty has kept a lonely vigil for the past two years, keeping up their home and being a dutiful wife. Such is the life of a scientists wife! Dr. Armstrong isn’t the only person in search of Geranium-90 though. While digging through his late evil twin brother’s belongings, Peter Fleming uncovers the skull of the Lost Skeleton. Of course, the only thing that can make the Lost Skeleton’s body complete once again is the mysterious Geranium-90. Seeing has he has no legs or hands, he takes control of Peter Fleming and they take off in search of the rare element. One would think it would be pretty easy to find a rock in the jungle. One would be wrong though considering that the Geranium-90 is guarded by the Cantaloupe people in the Valley of the Monsters. This factor doesn’t slow down Dr. Armstrong and pals though; they’re working for SCIENCE.

When forced to explain to the uninitiated what to expect from a “Lost Skeleton” movie, I generally fall back to explaining the plot in bursts between fits of laughter. It’s one of those ‘you had to be there’ things because simply talking about it reminds you of a number of jokes and soon you’re laughing to yourself and your co-worker you were talking to thinks your nuts. For myself, I’ve yet to get past the scene in “Returns Again” where The Skeleton has taken control of “Carl’, a simple minded crook without fits of laughter. The banter between the Skeleton and Carl as they trudge hopelessly through a small grove of bushes is pants wetting-ly funny in both simplicity and delivery. “Carl…Carl, where are you going….Why are we in the bushes Carl?” Out of context, such a scene doesn’t seem like much. After you’ve been primed by forty five minutes of constant jokes and subtle one liners, it is down right hilarious. Such is the nature of “The Lost Skeleton Returns Again”.

The story of the “Lost Skeleton” movies are secondary to the jokes and timing of the excellent cast. Sure, there’s a story there and it fits perfect with the era of film they are trying to parody. There are moments in the film where you can pinpoint an homage to Ed Wood Jr. and other bastions of 1950’s era cheese. The plot runs similarly lean as its predecessors once did; that’s okay though. What we’re really here for is to watch them crack jokes as they work their way through the outline. For “Returns Again” though, they do manage to work a little bit of magic with the characters and backgrounds involved. With Dr. Armstrong we’ve watched him transform from a bright eyed scientist doing science for science. Here, we watch as he has become a darker version of himself, driven to bitterness by his time in the jungle. Various characters met their ends at the hands of the monsters in “The Lost Skeleton of Cadavera”. Thankfully, they all had twins though and they were available for filming. Even Animala, the velour suited cat beauty that hypnotized everyone with her power of dance is back in a newer form. She’s still a cat and she’s still a hell of a dancer; she gets a bit beefier story line however and becomes just a little more integral to the course of the film. In fact, the only character that hasn’t changed much is Dr. Armstrong’s wife Betty. She’s still lovely and hopelessly devoted. She’s hopelessly oblivious as well.

“The Lost Skeleton Returns Again”, to put it bluntly, is downright hilarious. The humor is more of the same that was started in “The Lost Skeleton of Cadavera” while managing to be fresh all at the same time. The monsters that attack our erstwhile adventurers are creative and hilarious at the same time. If you were a big fan of the first film, you must see the sequel. It’s just as good. If you haven’t seen either, get your act together and go find them. You’re going to laugh. Hard.


Category: DVD, Review  | Comments off
Tuesday, July 20th, 2010 | Author: Casey Criswell

These days it’s easy to get caught up in the slew of new release screeners that happen across my desk. So easy in fact that before long you realize you’re watching new movie after new movie, which makes the movies that you loved so much from the 70′s and 80′s become a distant memory . You distance yourself from these types of flicks as your work grows more and more in the public eye and before long, it’s been a good long while since you’re written up a good oldie-moldy.

Thanks to my decision to sign up for Netflix once again, I find myself in a great position. New releases in the middle of this scorching summer have slowed down quite a bit and now I have the stellar streaming service from Netflix at hand! Sure, they don’t have the entire movie catalog available to stream, but they are chock full of those old cheese fest’s that I love so much!

Initially upon looking through the Netflix streaming catalog, I was overwhelmed by the number of TV choices available to me. I don’t watch a lot of TV when it originally airs, but I’m always down for a binge session or two! Thankfully, that obsession only lasted for a few days. Today, I decided it had been far too long since I watched a movie (Almost a week and a half now, holy crap!) so I remedied that problem with 1984′s “Dreamscape” starring a young Dennis Quaid!

I’ve seen the film of psychologists and telekinetic heavyweights with feathered hair teaming up to tackle nightmares before. I’d say I’ve only seen it once though and the last time may well have been a good twenty years ago. I knew the basics of what the film was about and what I remembered liking about the movie, but not much of the details. I dove in not expecting much and was surprised to find a science fiction flick that held up fairly well over the past twenty six years! Let’s not forget the fact that the movie had a pretty stellar cast as well!

Once the movie got rolling, it soon became obvious that the highlight of “Dreamscape” truly is the cast. Sure, Dennis Quaid has his moments which are probably far behind him now. In the 80′s though, he was an all right guy. He wasn’t the real draw here though. No, what we have here is a sci-fi flick with powerhouses such as Max Von Sydow and Christopher Plummer, not to mention David Patrick Kelley looking all cleaned up after his stint in “The Warriors” and a young Kate Capshaw! (Say what you will about how she ruined “Indy 4″, the lady was a looker in the early 80′s!) Granted, none of these fine thespians were turning in the role of their careers here, but they were having fun with it. The fun translated to some entertaining movie watching.

Even the plot of “Dreamscape” was pretty out there for 1984 and it was a great fantastical setting for a science fiction flick. Everyone of us have thought at some time or another about wishing for a way to save that bizzarro dream that woke us up the night before as the memory fades fast. The idea of being to willingly put yourself into another’s dream to combat their nightmares or even the dreamer themselves was felt like something straight out of comic books! Today we have Christopher Nolan’s “Inception” moving in to cement “Dreamscape” as a vague recollection of our pasts, but “Dreamscape” did it first and in 1984 no less! Yes, the effects were hokey and so were the fashions but it was still a good time.

“Dreamscape” was brought back to my fore brain by a recent episode of Smodcast where Kevin Smith mentioned the film in comparison to the commercials of “Inception”. I myself haven’t seen the movie and to be honest, I think it’s going to be great! So don’t think I’m pulling a stodgy old fart schtick saying that there’s no way the new could outweigh the original! (To be honest, I don’t even know if they’re similar!) All I’m saying is that “Dreamscape” treads similar ground. For a an early 80′s schlock fest? It’s really not such a bad flick that outside of its dated effects, remains a decent story today! If you’re fired up for the dream logic of “Inception”? Throw “Dreamscape” in your instant watch queue, it’ll be fun!