movie overdose weekend
April 10, 2013
When I’m in Albuquerque, I usually stay with my friends at the House of Franck, and we usually watch a few movies while drinking too much. This past weekend, fortified by takeout pizza and leftover shwarma, we had a truly epic movie-watching streak: ten movies, mostly horror, mostly obscure, indie, or just plain bad. Here they are, in order of viewing.
Slither. I don’t know why it took me this long to realize that there’s an entire genre that is “alien/mutant/rapidly reproducing monster thing invades small hick town.” The attraction of the genre is watching rednecks blow shit up with shotguns. I think early exposure the Critters movies may have spoiled me on these forever. At least this one has Nathan Fillion in it.
Nazis at the Center of the Earth. The only reason we watched this is that a guy I went to high school with has a minor part in it. It’s an Asylum Film. I will say no more about it.
An aside: What watching these two movies in proximity did was give us a chance to talk about good cheesy movies versus bad cheesy movies. And it seems to be in the acting and writing. The plot of Slither is the same plot as some 75% of Asylum movies, but it’s so much more watchable because it’s kind of clever and Fillion and Elizabeth Banks are so charming and there’s a whole bunch of great character actors shouldering the thing. Then there’s the Nazi movie which is full of generically pretty 20-somethings who fail to convince me they are serious scientists at an Antarctic research station. Worst. Acting. Ever. Also, I now want to write the story about the survivors five years after their hick town is overrun with slimy aliens.
Cast a Deadly Spell. It’s been twenty years since I’d seen this cult classic and I’m happy to report it’s even better than I remember. All the noir banter is spot-on and the magic just works. 1940’s gangsters duking it out for the Necronomicon, with P.I. Phil Lovecraft caught in the middle. It’s just splendid. And do keep your eyes open for Clancy Brown and Julianne Moore.
John Dies at the End. Also vaguely Lovecraftian. I hesitate to say it’s any good, but it’s certainly interesting. I guess it’s been described as a new Naked Lunch, and that’s about right. Also, it’s so bizarre that Ty said I wouldn’t be able to predict anything that happened. But I did, at least that one thing. I don’t know what that says about me.
Another aside: What watching these two movies did was make me think about how much is actually possible within the genre of urban fantasy if you expand the boundaries to fit things like Lovecraftian noir and interdimensional surrealism. There’s no reason to limit it to Underworld clones. Moving on.
Stingray Sam. This is written and directed by the same guy who did The American Astronaut, which is about my favorite super weird science fiction movie of all time, so I was inclined to like this immensely. It’s about a lounge singer on Mars whose dark past of robbing banks with the Quasar Kid comes back to haunt him. And it’s a musical.
Terminal Force aka Galaxis. This is a very bad space opera thingy starring Brigitte Nielson. It’s also a bad rip off of Terminator with a little bit of Lethal Weapon and He Man thrown in. It confused us mightily, because there’s actually some good acting in here. I fell totally in love with the valiant space leader who single-handedly carried the entire opening scene. Then he got killed. Then Brigitte Nielson goes to Earth looking for a crystal thing, and there are these two cops trailing after her wake of destruction, and it’s like they’re in a totally different movie because they’re actually good and funny and interesting — one of them is played by Cindy Morgan, who was Lori in Tron. But then she gets killed and the movie’s will to live dies with her. Mostly, we were just wondering what kind of favor the filmmakers called in to get Sam Raimi to play random bridge officer dude in the opening scenes.
Interzone. This is a very very bad post-apocalyptic road trip movie, I’m talking bottom of the barrel, probably done by the same folks who did Land of Doom. They kept telling us it was a radiation-drenched post-apocalyptic landscape, but there was lots of lush vegetation and forests and plentiful bananas to eat and stuff, so I mostly just started thinking of it as the Hyperborian Age with motorcycles and machine guns. There is also a famous female body builder playing the villain and the film’s one sex scene is actually just her silhouette posing behind a lighted backdrop. Really, the film was hilarious enough — on purpose, even! — to make it worthwhile. The shirtless dancing boy won me over. So did the following bit of dialog: Guy: “How long have we known each other?” Girl: “Oh, forty-eight hours.” Guy: “It seems like just yesterday.”
Dragon Crusaders. The best Asylum film I’ve ever seen. I know that’s damning with faint praise, but seriously — I would watch this again. I’m not even joking. About ten minutes in we realized this is based on someone’s Dungeons and Dragons campaign. Which means it falls firmly into the category of “a million times better than the actual Dungeons and Dragons movie.” Plus, this introduced me to Cecily Fay, a super badass martial artist and stuntwoman who plays the Halfling ranger. (They didn’t actually call her a Halfling ranger, but that’s totally what her character is.) Also, there’s a whole troop of scruffy knights on Andalusian horses. This movie had my number. (I also totally blew Ty’s mind when I suggested that Cecily Fay and Zoe Bell should do a girl version of Fafhrd and the Gray Mouser. Isn’t there some kind of petition we could sign to make this happen?)
Nirvana. Worst one of the bunch. Ty’s still mad at me for making him watch the whole thing. It’s a cyberpunk movie starring Christopher Lambert that would have looked great in 1986. Too bad it came out in 1997. Lambert is the most unconvincing cyberpunk protagonist imaginable. At one point I said, “Geez, if anybody says ‘black ice’ here I’m taking a drink.” They didn’t, but I took a drink anyway.
The Descent. A bunch of people have been telling me for years to watch this and I finally did. Still not a fan of this kind of horror in general, but one thing I will say about this one: it’s a completely genderless movie. You could swap out all the genders of all the characters and it’s still the same movie. I love that, and wish Hollywood would take notes. I still don’t forgive Neil Marshall for Doomsday, though.