Thursday, November 20, 2008

YOUR QUEUE AND YOU... The Movies E-I

If you missed the first installment, Your Queue and You is my attempt to give a more detailed outlook on the many things we may be capping in the near future on Hipsoda's Caption Crack. All of the items are in the queue and will be made available for capping based on the votes of prospective cappers, i.e. you. We're covering the movies first. If you missed the first installment of Your Queue and You, you can check out the installment featuring the movies A-D here.


EIGHT ON THE LAM (1967)
The Director George Marshall
The Stars Bob Hope, Phyllis Diller, Jonathan Winters, Shirley Eaton (Goldfinger, The Girl Hunters, The Girl from Rio), Jill St. John (Who's Minding the Store, Tony Rome, Diamonds Are Forever), Stacey Gregg
The Plot From the IMDB: This film stars a group of people were able to cheat death for far longer than anyone would have guessed. Bob Hope, not telling twenty year-old jokes to the troops, plays a bank teller who along with a widower with seven kids, discovers a large sum of money in his mailbox. When the bank discovers money is missing from their vaults, Hope and the family have to evade the police. Baby-sitter Phyllis Diller makes nice with dumb cop Jonathan Winters and tries to hide Hope's whereabouts from him. And just when you thought nothing could be more terrifying than having Phyllis Diller watch your kids, you should also know that Jonathan Winters has a dual role, in which he plays his own mother. It set drag queens back like thirty years.

ENEMY MINE (1985)
The Director Wolfgang Petersen (In the Line of Fire, The Perfect Storm, Air Force One)
The Stars Dennis Quaid, Louis Gossett Jr., Brion James (Blade Runner, The Player, The Fifth Element), Richard Marcus, Carolyn McCormack (Law & Order), Bumper Robinson
The Plot From the IMDB - This big-budget allegory pleads for understanding amongst different peoples despite differences of race or ideology. Of course, it's not about say a Middle Eastern family and a bunch of Mormons. Nope, plea for racial harmony has the added benefit of lasers. In the future, there is a war between humans and the fish-lizard people called Dracs. Dennis Quaid is an especially powerful Drac-hater who gets shot down on an uncharted planet. Fortunately, he takes one of the little buggers with 'em. Unfortunately, they are the only two people on the dangerous planet and thus must learn to get along. Louis Gossett Jr. sports gills in this film and yet never once do we have to watch him drink his own urine. So, what's Costner's excuse now?
Fun Fact Original director Richard Loncraine (Richard III, Firewall) was fired after what sources called "creative differences." Most of the film was already finished however. When Wolfgang Petersen was brought on, he reshot the entire film, which delayed the film's release more than a year and drastically increased the budget.

EVE AND THE HANDYMAN (1961)
The Director Russ Meyer (Vixen!, Faster Pussycat Kill! Kill!, Beyond the Valley of the Dolls)
The Stars Eve Meyer, Anthony-James Ryan (Wild Gals of the Naked West), Frank Bolger (Mudhoney, Common Law Cabin, Lorna), Iris Bristol, Joseph Carroll, Rita Day, James A. Evanoff, Gigi Frost, Mildred Knezevich, Francesca Leslie, Lee Merrin
The Plot Eve loves a guy with a nice plumber's crack. It's the only reason I can think of that explains the obsessive way in which she follows this particular handyman around as he unclogs toilets, does windows, goes to the scrap yard and helping a topless hitchhiker. Wait, what was that last one? Yeah, did we mention this is a Russ Meyer film?
Fun Fact As you can probably figure out, Eve Meyer was indeed the wife of Russ Meyer. His company, Eve Productions was named after her. They were married from 1952 to 1969.


THE FACULTY (1998)
The Director Robert Rodriguez (Sin City, Planet Terror, Spy Kids 1-3)
The Stars Jordana Brewster (Fast and the Furious, D.E.B.S., Texas Chainsaw Massacre: the Beginning), Clea DuVall (But I'm a Cheerleader, The Grudge, Carnivale), Laura Harris (Severence, 24, Dead Like Me), Josh Hartnett (Pearl Harbor, Black Hawk Down, 30 Days of Night), Shawn Hatosy (Outside Providence, The Cooler, Alpha Dog), Famke Janssen (GoldenEye, X-Men 1-3, Hide and Seek), Piper Laurie (Carrie, Children of a Lesser God, The Hustler), Bebe Neuwurth (Malice, How to Lose a Guy in 10 Days, Cheers), Robert Patrick (Terminator 2: Judgement Day, X-Files, The Unit), Usher (In the Mix), Jon Stewart (The Daily Show), Elijah Wood (The Ice Storm, Lord of the Rings 1-3, Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind), Salma Hayek (Desperado, Dogma, Frida), Christopher McDonald, Harry Knowles
The Plot Every single high school has cliques. No one works together and everyone sticks to their own group. All except for this high school which has found the perfect way to get around the clique system - have your school taken over by alien parasites that will turn the kids into the mindless drones school is training them to be in the first place. My guess is that filmmakers thought Barry Soddenfeld and Roland Emmerich would be as beloved as Speilberg and James Cameron and that's why they are name-checked. Ooopsie. At least you get to see Jon Stewart with a pencil in his eye.
Fun Fact 1: The screenplay is by Kevin Williamson, Flavor of the Minute in the mid-90s. Because he wrote both Scream and I Know What You Did Last Summer, Williamson was responsible for the "slasher-lite" craze. The clout allowed him to make his dream project, Dawson's Creek. What has he done lately? Two failed TV shows and Cursed. Payback's a bitch, 'aint it?
Fun Fact 2: At one point, the principal suggests saving money by reusing the set from "Our Town". The joke in this is that Our Town has no set.
Fun Fact 3: In one of the more gratuitous acts of art falling prey to whorish consumerism, Tommy Hillfiger paid for numerous product placements in the film. In exchange, the cast had to appear in Hillfiger's ads in a massive campaign to pimp both the film and clothing line.

FOR YOUR HEIGHT ONLY (1981)
The Director Eddie Nicart
The Stars Weng Weng, Yehlen Catral, Carmi Martin, Anna Marie Gutierrez , Beth Sandoval
The Plot Weng Weng is Agent 00, the toughest, sexiest secret agent in the Phillipines. He fights evil, kills criminal masterminds, loves the ladies and can fit into tiny compartments. Oh yeah, did I mention Weng Weng is a dwarf? In what was no doubt intended as some serious forward-thinking filmmaking, Weng Weng was primed to be a major action star in his native land and the films are played mostly straight... which is not to say they aren't horrible and hilarious in all the wrong ways. In this film, Agent 00 goes up against the evil Mr. Giant (wow...), who has kidnapped a brilliant scientist and plan to use the scientist's N-Bomb (which remarkably does not mean he is taking over the world with a racial slur - I mean, it would have almost fit with the rest of the film, right?) to bring the world to it's knees. And you thought capping The Crippled Masters earned you a spot in Hell.
Fun Fact There were many films with Weng Weng, and many included the same cast and crew. The IMDB lists the sequel to this film being The Impossible Kid, however it looks like Agent 00 came first. Other films in his oveure include D'Wild Weng Weng, Da Best In Da West (the Phillipines were years ahead of us in hip hop lingo) and The Cute... the Sexy 'n the Tiny. Many of the Weng Weng films used much of the same cast and crew.

FREEJACK (1989)
The Director Geoff Murphy (The Quiet Earth, Young Guns II, Under Siege 2)
The Stars Emilio Estevez, Mick Jagger, Rene Russo (Lethal Weapon 3-4, Get Shorty, The Thomas Crown Affair), Anthony Hopkins, Jonathan Banks, David Johansen (Scrooged, Tales from the Darkside: the Movie, Car 54 Where Are You?), Amanda Plummer (The Fisher King, Pulp Fiction, The Prophesy), Grand L. Bush
The Plot You almost have to feel bad for Formula One drivers. The guys who would get strapped in to their specially designed cars and race around the track were usurped in the redneck pride department by guys would get into boxier-looking cars and race around a track. Because in NASCAR, we don't drive your Moon Patrol cars, hippie - we drive boxes, just like in America. Well, Alex Furlong (Estevez) is a pretty big deal in Formula One, but just like a Formula One driver dies in a fiery crash... Oh snap, just before he is to die, he is "freejacked," meaning his body is transported into the future. Of course, he was supposed to be brain dead by then (Gee, what else would you call the Mighty Ducks films? Oh Travis, you are such a card!), but before they can give him the R.P. McMurphy Special, he escapes a runs across the dystopian urban decay of the future. The guy following him is played by Mick Jagger, probably during one of the many times throughout history when Keith Richards wasn't speaking to him.
Fun Fact 1: There were reports that Anthony Hopkins wanted to be in the film, so he could meet Mick Jagger. While cool, this doesn't make a lot of sense. They don't share the screen together.
Fun Fact 2: David Johansen is better known (and rightfully so) as the lead singer of the classic glam/punk rock outfit, The New York Dolls. He also briefly had success in the 1980s as Buster Poindexter.
Personal Reflection Dept. I used a lot of footage from this film for some of my short-form music videos, back in the day. I believe I used some of the footage for a version of Nine Inch Nails' "Wish" which showed up in a compilation for cable access called Nothing Sacred. There was to be a sequel called Nothing Sacred II: the Ultimate Seduction, of which the centerpiece was a piece called "Industry and Seduction," again using some of its footage from this film. You will never see that. It was erased by some dickhead witout my knowledge, because he needed a blank VHS tape to record a football game. Oh yeah, I'm still bitter.

GHOULIES (1985)
The Director Luca Bercovici (Rockula, The Granny)
The Stars Peter Liapis (Starhops), Lisa Pelikan (Julia, Jennifer, Lionheart), Keith Joe Dick, Michael Des Barres (Pink Cadillac, Waxwork II: Lost in Time), Jack Nance (Eraserhead, Blue Velvet, Twin Peaks), Mariska Hargitay (Jocks, Lake Placid, Law & Order: SVU), Peter Risch, Tamara De Treaux, Scott Thomson (Parasite, Police Academy 3-4), Bobbie Bresee (Mausoleum, Star Slammer, Evil Spawn)
The Plot Jonathan Graves (Peter Liapis, who wins the Kyle McLachlan Lookalike Award I sometimes hold in my own little head) and his girl move into an old Hollywood mansion. The new house comes with a spacious garden, lots of room and the spirit of a Satanic warlock who soon puts Jonathan under his spell. As his friends gather for a party, he conjures the spirit of said warlock, along with two dwarves and the slimy little puppets of the title.
Fun Fact 1 Although mainly accused to being a Gremlins knock-off (which it may very well be), the film reportedly began life in 1983 as a project called Beasties. It was to be directed by Charles Band (whose Empire Pictures wound up distributing the film) with effects by Stan Winston. Winston went on to do other projects and the creature effects were ultimately handled by John Carl Buechler.
Fun Fact 2 Bercovici spends most of his time acting. He had previously run in with Charles Band when he starred in Band's 1980 3-D film Parasite.
Fun Fact 3 Originally rated "R", 12 seconds of gore were cut to secure a "PG-13" rating. Given how young the latter rating was, Ghoulies was one of the first horror films to cut itself to secure the less severe rating. Uh, thanks Charles.

GIGLI (2003)
The Director Martin Brest (Midnight Run, Meet Joe Black, Scent of a Woman)
The Stars Ben Affleck, Jennifer Lopez, Justin Bartha (National Treasure 1-2), Christopher Walken, Al Pacino, Louis Venito (Knights of Prosperity, Return to Sleepaway Camp)
The Plot Gigli (Ben Affleck) is a troubled hitman who is teamed up with Ricki (Jennifer Lopez), a lesbian hitwoman to kidnap the retarded brother of a Distrcit Attorney, so the mob can blackmail the DA into laying off their criminal enterprises. Along the way, Gigli and Ricki sort of fall in love and they have second thoughts about murdering their mentally challenged hostage. AWWWWW!
Fun Fact 1 A notorious bomb almost before it even opened. It has the largest second weekend drop of any film in history. By its third week of release, only 73 theatres were still showing it in the U.S., whereas it opened on more than 2,000. UK cinemas dropped the film after a week.
Fun Fact 2 The only film to ever sweep all the major awards at the Razzies.
Fun Fact 3 Many people say the reason Gigli bombed so huge was the very public relationship and subsequent breakup of Ben Affleck and Jennifer Lopez. Other experts suggest the reason Gigli didn't do well is that its a steaming pile of shit.

THE GIRL FROM RIO (1969)
The Director Jess Franco (The Awful Dr. Orloff, Vampyros Lesbos, Killer Barbys)
The Stars Shirley Eaton (Goldfinger, The Girl Hunters, Eight On the Lam), Richard Wyler, George Sanders (1960's Village of the Damned, All About Eve, The Saint Strikes Back), Maria Rohm (99 Women, Count Dracula, Eugenie: the Story of Her Journey Into Perversion), Herbert Flesichmann, Marta Reeves, Elsa Montes (99 Women, 1965's Erik the Viking), Walter Rilla (1962's The Testament of Dr. Mabuse, The Mask of Fu Manchu, Day of Anger)
The Plot Sumitra (Shirley Eaton) rules the kingdom of Femina, a land of scantly-clad Amazon women who want to take over the world. Enter Jack Sutton, an American who arrives in Rio having just stolen $10 million in cash. He is trying to evade the gangster Sir Masius (George Sanders) and his masked henchmen. But he also runs afoul of Sumitra's heavily-armed Amazon succubi who are plotting nothing less than world domination. A film that may have had people around the world rethinking this whole mod thing, it features lots of pastel fashions and Buck Rogers-like sets as our lumpy hero runs afoul of the scantly clad to unclad Amazon warriors. A trippy combination of James Bond, Barbarella and pulp adventure.
Fun Fact 1 Director Jess Franco (or Jesus Franco, as he is sometimes known), often characterized by his loose, arty but "jazz-like" approach to filmmaking, is perhaps the most prolific exploitation director of all-time. His filmography is estimated to stand somewhere between 180 and 200 films. Truth be told, even Franco isn't sure since he has shot footage for films that may or not have been completed, and each of his films exists in multiple different cuts in different territories of the world.
Fun Fact 2 Case in point, although the character in this print is Sumitra, she is Sumuru in most prints. This film is a spin-off of Sax Rohmer's Sumuru character, the daughter of Fu Manchu. This film has at least twelve alternate titles, the next most common being The Seven Secrets of Sumuru, which restores the original character's name.
Fun Fact 3 This is a pulp production, stressing espionage and mad super-criminals. Much of the cast were assembled based on their success in previous films of this type, making it a reunion of sorts. For example, George Sanders played both the Saint and the Falcon in a series of low-budget films in the 1930s and 1940s. Richard Wyler appeared on The Man from Interpol. Eaton also played Sumuru or an approximation therof in The Million Eyes of Sumuru and The Blood of Fu Manchu. Herbert Fleischmann played one of the most iconic supercriminals, Dr. Mabuse when that series was revived in the 1960s.
Personal Reflection Dept. Some love Jess Franco, others despise him. I think he's a genius. How to sum up his approach to directing? Imagine a Renaissance painter hired to do pulp-type work. Now imagine that painter has been possessed by the spirit of a crazed jazzman. That's Jess.

GLEAMING THE CUBE (1988)
The Director Graeme Clifford (Frances, The Last Don I-II)
The Stars Christian Slater, Steven Bauer (Scarface, Raising Cain, Traffic), Richard Herd, Le Tuan, Min Luong (Big Trouble In Little China), Art Chudabala, Ed Lauter (The Longest Yard, The French Connection II, The Rocketeer), Micole Mercurio, Peter Kwong, Charles Cyphers (Halloween I-II, Major League), Max Perlich (Drugstore Cowboy, Rush, Homicide: Life On the Street), Tony Hawk
The Plot Be nice to those kids who use your local plaza's sidewalks as their daredevil courses. They may just trying to avenge their brother's death in the only way they know how. Brian Kelly (Christian Slater) is a disaffected youth who only cares about skateboarding with his friends. He grows up fast when his adopted brother Vinh (Art Chudabala) is discovered dead from an apparant suicide. Brian believes Vinh was murdered and works with a local cop in exposing a criminal enterprise. The cop is then assigned cases in which he plays second banana to a BMX racer trying to combat deforestation. Okay, I made that last bit up but it would have made a logical sequel.
Fun Fact 1 In addition to the cast featuring Tony Hawk, the film employed a few notable skateboarding celebs of the day. Mike McGill and Rodney Mullen served as Slater's stunt doubles. All skating sequences were filmed by pro-skater Stacy Peralta.
Fun Fact 2 From the IMDB - "Brian's friends see him on a bike instead of his skateboard, they joke about how he'll be riding around on a scooter next. In The Legend of Billie Jean, Christian Slater played a character whose most prized possession was a scooter.
Personal Reflection Dept. When this came out, some old friends of mine insisted it was the best film they'd seen in years. These same people made me see Ski Patrol on opening weekend but insisted John Carpenter's Dark Star was horrible because it looked cheap. We're not in touch anymore.


GREMLINS 2: THE NEW BATCH (1990)
The Director Joe Dante (The Howling, Explorers, Matinee)
The Stars Zach Galligan, Phoebe Cates, John Glover (Smallville, Brimstone, Love! Valour! Compassion!), Robert Prosky, Robert Picardo (Star Trek: Voyager, China Beach, The Howling), Christopher Lee, Haviland Morris, Dick Miller, Jackie Joseph, Gedde Wanatabe (Sixteen Candles, Volunteers, Gung Ho), Keye Luke, Tony Randall
The Plot Remember Gremlins? It was the charming story of an inventor who discovered a strange creature that defied evolutionary science and promptly claimed ownership of it, giving it to his teenage son. Well a few years later, furry little Gizmo is being experimented on in the mammoth Clamp Towers (owned by a hybrid of Donald Trump, Ted Turner, Rupert Murdoch who in the most awe-inspiring portrayal ever, is not evil), where little Billy Peltzier now works. The Gremlins get out and now exist in many new forms, including a smart Gremlin voiced by Tony Randall.
Fun Fact 1 If Joe Dante, noted awesome superfan of cult cinema, had some references to his favorite films in the original Gremlins, he went batshit crazy this time around. Various references throughout include: The Hunchback of Notre Dame, The Phantom of the Opera (both silent and sound versions), Dracula, Frankenstein, The Wolf Man, The Quatermass Xperiment, Invasion of the Body Snatchers, A Bucket of Blood, The Tingler, The Secret Cinema, Tarantula, War of the Worlds, Octaman and King Kong among others.
Fun Fact 2 Mr. Futterman (Dick Miller) vanquishes the bat-gremlin by pouring cement over it, which flies onto the roof of a cathedral and turns into a gargoyle when the cement sets. This is a homage to A Bucket of Blood, which stars Miller as a wannabe artist who creates a sensation in the art world with his "sculptures", created by the same method..
Fun Fact 3 The uplifting end of the world video scene was included by the filmmakers when they find out that one the news networks actually have such a video prepare to run in case of the end of the world. This video apparently still exists and still ready to run at the final hour. In some respects, this could be seen as a respectful call for togetherness. Or you could always say it's a callous way to look like the top of the heap in case they have A.C. Nielsen ratings in heaven.
Fun Fact 4 In a corridor of the Clamp Tower, one nameplate says "Vectorscope Labs". This is a reference to the movie Innerspace, also directed by Joe Dante
Fun Fact 5 Okay, on a personal note as a horror geek, I love this story. Quoting from the IMDB, "Christopher Lee has stated that upon being cast in the film, the first thing he did was apologize to Joe Dante for appearing in Howling II: Your Sister Is a Werewolf, the notoriously horrible Dante-less sequel to his film, The Howling. Good for you, Chris. And much appreciated.
Fun Fact 6 Leonard Maltin appears in Gremlins 2 repeating his criticisms of Gremlins, while he holds a video version of the movie. However, his rant is cut short when gremlins pounce on him as a result. In his annual Movie Guide he gives Gremlins 2 three stars (out of a possible four) and refers to this scene as a "gratuitous cameo", though he doesn't say he's actually in the movie.


HAWK THE SLAYER (1980)
The Director Terry Marcel (Jane and the Lost City, The Last Seduction II)
The Stars Jack Palance, Jack Terry, Patrick Magee (The Masque of the Red Death, Marat/Sade, A Clockwork Orange), Annette Crosbie, Catriona MacColl (The Beyond, City of the Living Dead, The House By the Cemetery), Harry Andrews (The Hill, The Night They Raided Minsky's, Nicholas and Alexandra), Roy Kinnear, Graham Stark
The Plot Hawk the Slayer, after seeing both his father and bride die at the hands of his malevolent brother, Voltan, sets out for revenge and the chance to live up to his title. Tooling himself up with the "mind-sword" and recruiting a motley band of warriors: a giant, a dwarf, a one-armed man with a machine-crossbow and an elf with the fastest bow in the land; Hawk leads the battle against Voltan to free the land from the forces of evil and avenge his loved ones. It's a Dungeons and Dragons film starring Jack Palance, Patrick Magee, the gal from those kickass Lucio Fulci films and a sword with a glowing Superball at the hilt. What else do you want?
Fun Fact While filming The Return of the Musketeers, character actor Roy Kinnear fell from his horse and broke his pelvis. He soon bled to death. Okay, I guess it's not so much a "fun" fact...


HEARTBEEPS (1981)
The Director Allan Arkush (Hollywood Boulevard, Deathsport, Rock n Roll High School)
The Stars Andy Kaufman, Bernadette Peters, Randy Quaid, Kenneth McMillan, Melanie Mayron (Thirtysomething, My Blue Heaven), Christopher Guest (This Is Spinal Tap, Best In Show, A Mighty Wind)
The Plot In the future, robots have become a way of life. Two robots (Andy Kaufman and Bernadette Peters) meet at the assembly plant and defy their programmers' understanding by falling in love. The two run away and begin a cross country trek to find a stable home environment and a recharge for their electrical supply. They are joined by Catskill, a robot with the personality of a bad stand-up comic. Along the way, they also build a child in their bid to start a family. But as they make their way across the country, they are pursued by the overzealous law enforcement robot, Crimebuster. It's - it's just horrible.
Fun Fact 1 Like many of his projects, Kaufman was not happy with the final product. He apologized to people for the film on Late Night with David Letterman and offered anyone a refund of the money they paid to see it. Letterman asked Kaufman if he had change for a twenty.
Fun Fact 2 Unfortunately, plans for Kaufman's planned film The Tony Clifton Story were scrapped once this bombed at the box office.
Fun Fact 3 John Williams did the musical score. But unlike most of his scores which involve sweeping orchestration, this score was mostly electronic.


HELLBOUND: HELLRAISER II (1988)
The Director Tony Randel (Children of the Night, Amityville 1992: It's About Time, Fist of the North Star)
The Stars Ashley Laurence (Lurking Fear, Gentle Ben 1-2, Lightning Bug), Clare Higgins (Small Faces, B. Monkey, Bigger Than the Sky), Kenneth Cranham, Imogen Boorman (Dreamchild), Sean Chapman, William Hope, Doug Bradley
The Plot At the concert documented in the film Big Time, Tom Waits noted that he once saw a porno shop with seven X's in front of it - not one, not three, seven. He wondered what could possibly constitute such a heavy rating, "Girls without skin is all I can think of," From this, Clive Barker created an empire. In this sequel to Hellraiser, Kristy (Ashley Laurence) is packed off to a nuthouse because nobody believes her when she says demons from hell led by her wicked stepmother killed her family. The doctor who runs the place has a vicious streak which extends to an obsession with unlocking the Lament Configuration (a.k.a. that puzzle box thing). Aided with a now skinless Julia, Channard brings the Cenobites back and Kristy will travel into the depths of hell itself in order to escape.
Fun Fact 1 Most of the principal players in the original Hellraiser return this time out. One exception is Andrew Robinson, who decided not to reprise his role. This reportedly led to some rewrites of the original script.
Fun Fact 2 The horn sound that is continually made by Leviathan is Morse code for "God".
Fun Fact 3 Doug Bradley is the only actor to appear in all Hellraiser films, eight films to date. Ashley Laurence has been in four - the first three, then the sixth installment Hellraiser: Hellseeker.
Personal Reflection Dept. When I was working in the TV news industry, one of my first and most thrilling interviews was Clive Barker. During the interview, I completely lost all dignity and composure and began telling him what a huge fan I was, how I believe he advanced horror and fantasy by leaps and bounds, how his paintings are incredibly haunting, how much I really hope he writes the third "Book of the Art," etc. I believe I also managed to ask four or five actual questions too.


HIGHLANDER (1986)
The Director Russell Mulcahy (Resident Evil: Extinction, The Shadow, Ricochet)
The Stars Christopher Lambert, Roxanne Hart (The Verdict, Oh God You Devil!, Chicago Hope), Clancy Brown, Sean Connery, Beatie Edney (Mister Johnson, Mrs. Pettigrew Lives for a Day), Jon Polito, Sheila Gish, Hugh Quarshie, Alan North
The Plot Connor MacLeod is part of a race of immortal swordsmen who can only be killed by having his head severed from his body. Some immortals kills their own kind, with the knowledge that with each death, they grow closer to attaining "the prize." Now, the Gathering of the last few immortals is set to take place on the streets of present day New York City. This film had everything for young geeks (old geeks at least have Roxanne Hart's backside). Immortals having swordfights in parking garages is more than anyone should reasonably ask for in life. It is a standard Adrian Paul has tried to capture all his life. He has failed miserably.
Fun Fact Sean Connery filmed all of his scenes in a week. For one week's work, he still has fan boys running up to him in the street screaming, "There can be only one." We're assuming Connery is obliged to beat them senseless.

THE HOBBIT (1977)
The Director Jules Bass, Arthur Rankin Jr.
The Stars Orson Bean, John Huston, Richard Boone, Hans Conreid, Otto Preminger, Cyril Ritchard, Brother Theodore, Paul Frees, Don Messick
The Plot Based on the classic by J.R.R. Tolkein, this condenced animated feature follows Bilbo Baggins as he is plucked from his home and thrown into a massive adventure with Gandalf the wizard and a group of dwarves. Bilbo travels outside his homeland for the first time and meets strange new races of people he had never been exposed to before, all to complete the quest of destroying the evil dragon, Smaug. Because what better way to explain one of the most sprawling epics of modern literature than as a 90 minute cartoon complete with commercial breaks and folk music interludes?
Fun Fact 1 Originally aired as a television special and had a budget of $3 million, which was considered pretty large for animated television projects.
Fun Fact 2 Contrary to some sources, this was made entirely separately from the Ralph Bakshi's animated Lord of the Rings, which was released theatrically the following year. However, a television sequel to The Hobbit was made in 1980. It was The Return of the King, meaning the books The Fellowship of the Ring and The Two Towers were not adapted. Interestingly enough, those are the two books Bakshi reportedly based his film on, hence the confusion and the reason why Bakshi's film is often used as a bridge between the two TV movies.


THE HORROR SHOW (1989)
The Director James Issac (Jason X, Skinwalkers)
The Stars Lance Henriksen, Brion James (Blade Runner, The Player, The Fifth Element), Rita Taggart (Straight Time, Die Laughing, Weeds), Dede Pfeiffer (Vamp, The Allnighter, Up Close & Personal), Aron Eisenberg (Puppet Master III: Toulon's Revenge, Pterodactyl Woman from Beverly Hills, Star Trek: Deep Space Nine), Thom Bray (The Prowler, Prince of Darkness, Riptide), Matt Clark, David Oliver, Terry Alexander, Lewis Arquette, Lawrence Tierney
The Plot Lucas McCarthy (Lance Henriksen) finally tracks down the serial killer, Meat Cleaver Max (Brion James). Max seemingly dies in the electric chair, but his spirit comes back to haunt those close to Lucas, with a gory body count rising. Who will win, Lance Henriksen's weathered stoicism or Brion James' bug-eyed crazed agression?
Fun Fact 1 Outside the U.S., this film is known as House III, although it has no relation to any of the other House movies. Sean S. Cunningham changed the name for other territories to make it an easier sell. Hence, U.S. customers were confused when House IV was released, but without any explaination over what happened the third installment. Ironically, among horror fans, this has become the accepted favorite of the House movies.
Fun Fact 2 Brion James' favorite role.
Fun Fact 3 David Blyth (Death Warmed Up, Red Blooded American Girl) was the film's original director but was fired sometime during the production. The film also sports an Allen Smithee writing credit which according to the IMDB was actually writer Allyn Warner. The only other credits to be found for Warner are a few minor television gigs, including The Captain and Tennille Songbook.


THE IMMORAL MR. TEAS (1959)
The Director Russ Meyer (Vixen!, Faster Pussycat Kill! Kill!, Beyond the Valley of the Dolls)
The Stars Bill Teas, Ann Peters, Marilyn Wesley, Michelle Roberts, Dawn Danielle
The Plot Mr. Teas is a door to door salesman for dentists' appliances. Everywhere he goes he encounters beautiful "well-developed" nude women, which of course stir his interest. One of the first films to use the bare bones of a plot to disguise the fact that the director just really liked tits. Russ Meyer - the man should be on a stamp.
Fun Fact 1 This very simply plotted film broke new taboos in cinema, not to mention several box office records. Not only did it mark the beginning of Russ Meyer's career, it also spawned the rash of "nudie cuties" from other filmmakers over the next ten years or so.
Fun Fact 2 The lead actor, Bill Teas, was an old Army buddy of director Russ Meyer from World War II (and he presumably also really liked tits). Meyer let him use his own name as the character's name.
Fun Fact 3 Meyer shot the film in four days during the spring of 1958, with a budget of $24,000.
Fun Fact 4 Was shut down the day of its premiere at a San Diego movie theater. The film was later confiscated by local police. It wasn't shown again until a year later, in 1960, at a theater house in Seattle.

IN THE NAME OF THE KING: A DUNGEON SIEGE TALE (2008)
The Director Uwe Boll (House of the Dead, Alone In the Dark, BloodRayne)
The Stars Jason Statham, Ray Liotta, Burt Reynolds, Matthew Lillard (Scooby-Doo 1-2, Scream, SLC Punk), Leelee Sobieski (Eyes Wide Shut, The Glass House, Joy Ride), John Rhys-Davies, Ron Perlman (Hellboy, Beauty and the Beast), Claire Forlani (Mallrats, Meet Joe Black, Mystery Men), Kristanna Loken (BloodRayne, Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines, Painkiller Jane), Brian J. White, Will Sanderson (Seed, Alone In the Dark, BloodRayne)
The Plot A famer named... er, Farmer (Jason Statham) has his life shattered when the mutant race of Krug (think Orcs without the after-effect of copyright lawsuits) devastate his village and kill his son. The Krug were dismatched by the evil sorcerer Gailan (Ray Liotta) who now holds Farmer's wife (Claire Forlani) and friends hostage. Farmer reluctantly joins the forces of King Konreid (Burt Reynolds) in order to defeat Gailan once and for all. But Gailan only put the kingdo min jeopardy because of the duplicious Duke Fallow (Matthew Lillard in what is surely about the worst performance ever seen in a theatrical film), who wants to seize the throne for himself. Then again, Farmer is not all he seems either. This is Uwe Boll's answer to Lord of the Rings. Peter Jackson's response? "Huh? Did you hear something?"
Fun Fact Uwe Boll intended this film to be one sprawling four hour epic that would be released in two parts. He was pressured to cut it down to one film.
Personal Reflections Dept. I fucking love Uwe Boll! Seriously, you can see some hastily written reviews for his early-ish films House of the Dead and Alone in the Dark, which as the then-editor of Horror Express, I was duty-bound to pay good money to see. Over the next year or so, I kept covering the immense hubris of this man and all his crazy stunts and like many out there, I couldn't get my head around it. Then, a few weeks before BloodRayne opened, I found myself sadistically looking forward to the chance of seeing another horrendous Uwe Boll movie. And remarkably, the film wasn't bad. It's not Citizen Kane, but it's entertaining. And I began re-evaluating Boll's other films. Yes, they are bad movies for the most part. But they seem to have this odd chemistry of 50% "Wow, that's pretty cool" and 50% "Dear God, I can't believe someone funded this crap." Making sense of his films is fruitless. And I now laugh at the people who rip their hair out because I don't know maybe they don't think he'll get the true nuance of say Far Cry (which he is working on right now). And I say, "Lighten up!" this guy is one of the great hucksters of our time. An endlessly entertaining personality along the lines of Herschell Gordon Lewis, Bert I. Gordon, William Castle and the like. And if he's upsetting you, that's the idea. He's messing with you! Some people get it, like Rue Morgue's Chris Alexander who is one of the fighters to get pummeled by Boll in the ring. Others just will never understand. Uwe Boll is part of my chemical makeup now. Long may his freak flag fly.


THE INCREDIBLE 2-HEADED TRANSPLANT (1971)
The Director Anthony M. Larza
The Stars Bruce Dern (Silent Running, Coming Home), Pat Priest (The Munsters), Casey Kasem, Albert Cole, John Bloom, Berry Kroeger, Larry Vincent, Jack Foster
The Plot Dr. Roger Girard is a rich scientist conducting experiments on head transplantation. His caretaker has a son, Danny, who, although fully grown, has the mind of child. One day an escaped psycho-killer invades Girard's home, killing Danny's father before being gunned down himself. With the maniac dying and Danny deeply unsettled by his father's death, Dr. Girard decides to take the final step and transplant the killer's head onto Danny's body. Of course, things go horribly wrong and the two-headed creature escapes to terrorize the countryside. Listen, if I've said it once I've said it a million times. If you're going to play Frankenstein, get the good meat! No crazed killers, no mentally disturbed people, just intellectuals and porn stars.
Fun Fact Was once featured on an Entertainment Tonight series of reports, spotlighting bad movies. Bruce Dern was happily interviewed about the film which looked upon with some embarassment but a lot of humor.


IRON MAN (2008)
The Director Jon Favreau (Elf, Zathura)
The Stars Robert Downey Jr., Gwyneth Paltrow, Jeff Bridges, Terence Howard, Leslie Bibb (Wristcutters, The Midnight Meat Train, Trick 'r Treat, Popular), Shaun Toub (The Nativity Story, The Kite Runner)
The Plot A year ago, if you had asked me who the coolest billionaire in the world was, I would have probably said Richard Branson. The guy has tons of industries but also gives back to the community, goes on adventures, enjoys a little harmless hellraising every now and then and just rocks. Now, I have to say Tony Stark. He also has tons of industries, goes on adventures and I think we can agree Robert Downey Jr. did more than his share of hellraising. As far as giving back to the community, he has developed a conscience and instead of just giving to Greenpeace or something, he becomes a cybernetic warrior who kicks the crap out of terrorists and corporate greedheads alike. Awesome! Also, since this is the movie, we can focus on the cool Tony Stark not the one who turned into a douchebag for that whole Civil War arc.
Fun Fact 1 The script was not completely prepared when filming began, since the filmmakers were more focused on the story and the action, so the dialogue was mostly ad-libbed throughout filming; Jon Favreau acknowledged this made the film feel more natural. Some scenes were shot with two cameras to capture lines improvised on the spot; Robert Downey Jr. would ask for many takes of one scene since he wanted to try something new.
Fun Fact 2 Ghostface Killah, who has been a long-time fan of the Iron Man comics (he uses the aliases "Ironman" and "Tony Starks", titled his 1996 album "Ironman" and samples clips of the Iron Man cartoons from the 1960s, was given a cameo as a Dubai tycoon. However, his scene was cut from the final film. Favreau apologized to Ghostface and made it up to him by using his "We Celebrate" video in the film.
Fun Fact 3 Tired of people getting their properties wrong, Marvel Comics financed this film themselves and were involved in all facets of the production. This is a big change from the state of the company in the mid-1990s, when it looked like Marvel along with the rest of the major comic book companies would go under.
Fun Fact 4 Comic book writer Stan Lee, as always, has a cameo in the live-action film of his creation Iron Man. He plays the man with three blondes whom Tony Stark mistakes for Hugh Hefner. He later mentioned that it was his most fun cameo. This is possibly because it's the closest a comics geek has ever been to an orgy. Believe me, I know. Sigh.


IRON WARRIOR (1987)
The Director Alfonso Brescia (Cosmos: War of the Planets, The Beast In Space, War of the Robots)
The Stars Miles O'Keefe (Tarzan the Ape Man, Sword of the Valiant, Waxwork), Savina Gersak (Lone Runner, Amok Train), Elizabeth Kaza (The Beast), Iris Peynado (The New Barbarians, Devil Fish), Tim Lane, Franco Daddi
The Plot This is the third entry in the series of Ator films, which started with Ator the Fighting Eagle and continued with The Blade Master (notoriously riffed by MST3K as Cave Dwellers). In this installment, Ator does battles with an evil sorceress who has a seeminly unbeatable swordsman at her command. Ator and the swordsman fight repeatedly until it is revealed they share a past. The shocking twist will surprise everyone with an I.Q. under 60. Enjoy the cheese as Miles O'Keefe tries to be the answer to Conan and doesn't make it out of the gate.
Fun Fact This is the only film in the Ator series not directed by Joe D'Amato. He would return for the fourth and final installment Quest for the Mighty Sword. However, this is the last time Miles O'Keefe played the part of Ator.


ISHTAR (1986)
The Director Elaine May (The Heartbreak Kid)
The Sta.rs Warren Beatty, Dustin Hoffman, Isabelle Adjani (Camille Claudel, The History of Adele H., Queen Margot), Charles Grodin, Jack Warden, Tess Harper (Crimes of the Heart, Tender Mercies), Carol Kane
The Plot Two horrible night club singers can't get a job anywhere. Their luck takes them to the Middle East, where they hope their fortunes will change with a new gig. Unfortunately, they are caught up between the government of the nation of Ishtar, the rebels seeking to overthrow them and the CIA who is of course getting their hands dirty. Warren Beatty has repeatedly defended this film in spite of its notorious bomb status. He insists it's a funny film that will be appreciated more over time. He is wrong.
Fun Fact One of the most notorious bombs in Hollywood history. Cost a reported $55 million (an almost unheard of sum in 1987) and earned only $14 million at the box office.

THE ISLAND OF DR. MOREAU (1996)
The Director John Frankenheimer (Birdman of Alcatraz, The Manchurian Candidate, Seconds, Ronin)
The Stars Marlon Brando, Val Kilmer, David Thewlis (Naked, Total Eclipse, Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban), Fairuza Balk (Return to Oz, The Craft, American History X), Ron Perlman (Hellboy 1-2, Blade II, Beauty and the Beast), Marco Hofschneider (Europa Europa, Immortal Beloved), Temuera Morrison (Once Were Warriors, Barb Wire, Star Wars: Episode II-III), Marc Decastos (Crying Freeman, Brotherhood of the Wolf, The Crow: Stairway to Heaven)
The Plot In this third American version of the H.G. Welles novel, Edward (David Thewlis) is rescued from certain death by the inhabitants of a strange island. Run by the eccentric Dr. Moreau, who is allergic to the sun in a plot twist that has nothing to do with anything else. He meets the other inhabitants of the island, which include a beautiful girl (Fairuza Balk) and the odd gameskeeper (Val Kilmer). It quickly becomes evident that Moreau has blended animal and human DNA in order to create a race of animal-men who plot a massive coup. It's sort of like when everyone rose up and stopped watching Heroes after the first season. Yes, exactly like that.
Fun Fact 1 John Frankenheimer, one of my favorite directors, has said he wasn't happy with this film. This was the only film he did purely for the money. He was a last minute replacement for Richard Stanley (Hardware, Dust Devil), who was fired after refusing to bow to studio pressures. The lead actor, David Thewlis was also a last minute replacement. The part was originally written for Rob Morrow (Quiz Show, Northern Exposure, Numbers). It remains unclear why Morrow left the production, but the rumor was that he was holding out for more money at the time. Highly unlikely - if Marlon Brando and the then-hot Val Kilmer wouldn't bring in box office, why would the guy from Northern Exposure? Thewlis had such a lousy time making the film, he has refused to watch the finished film.
Fun Fact 2 Here's a fun legend that may or may not be true. Original director Richard Stanley was said to be made up as one of the animen so he could view the production from which he was fired from the background. He reportedly unmasked himself at the wrap party. Sounds pretty outlandish, but somewhat keeping with Stanley's character. Do not feel bad for Stanley, by the way. He has found new life and new love over the years as a talented and acclaimed documentry filmmaker, who flirts with fiction filmmaking every once in a while. He joined fellow cult filmmakers Nacho Cerda (Aftermath) and Karim Hussein (Subconscious Cruelty) - whom he met at the Fantasia Film Festival - in writing The Abandoned.
Fun Fact 3 There was originally a part written for Barbara Steele in which she would have played Dr. Moreau's ex-wife. Don't know who Barbara Steele is? Shame on you! Run out right now and rent/buy copies of Mario Bava's Black Sunday and Antonio Margheriti's Castle of Blood (a.k.a. Danza Macabra). Once you've done that, run out and find copies of Riccardo Freda's The Horrible Dr. Hitchcock and The Ghost, Roger Corman's The Pit and the Pendulum, Mario Caiano's Nightmare Castle (a.k.a. The Faceless Monster - also you should get one of the restored versions and not the washed out public domain print), Jonathan Demme's Caged Heat, David Cronenberg's Shivers and Joe Dante's Pirahna. Oh yeah, she was also in a film called 8 1/2 by some guy named Felini.

2 comments:

Nyssa23 said...

Oooh, Barbara Steele! And I think I definitely need to vote on "For Your Height Only."

Hey, Travis, thanks for all the work you do on this!

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