Why have I not thought of this before? Instead of watching the ends of bad movies I’ve never seen, rewatching the ends of bad movies I saw years ago and don’t remember anymore – and checking out where the idiots who made ’em ended up. Idea sparked by noticing that fondly-remembered Charlie Sheen alien-invasion movie The Arrival was on hulu, so let’s begin with…
The Arrival (1996, David Twohy)
Unshaven Charlie Sheen and panic-eyed Teri Polo (a cut-rate Sharon Stone) are locked in a box, when suddenly a van crashes their party and a quick-thinking Charlie attacks a canister of liquid nitrogen with an axe, causing the van’s (presumably alien) occupants to make like T-1000 (but without the one-liner and the shattering). They drop their floating spherical puzzle box – a Hellraiser-meets-Phantasm device which fails to stop Charlie from retrieving a MiniDV tape from an Alien egg, then Charlie waves the tape at a kid whose knees reverse (the only detail I remembered from this movie) as he runs off, ostrich-like. Ends with Charlie exposing the alien conspiracy over television, exactly like They Live. Hey, if you’re gonna steal, steal big. Editing and effects (including some early CG) are inept.
Twohy cowrote some big-deal films in the 1990’s: The Fugitive, Waterworld, G.I. Jane, then created the Riddick character in Pitch Black and focused entirely on that for the next 15 years. Teri Polo played the mom in The Hole and appears in the acclaimed Meet The Parents trilogy. Sheen appeared in Machete Kills and I don’t know what else he’s been up to.
Cube 2: Hypercube (2002, Andrzej Sekula)
Lot of equations and diagrams scrawled on the walls of this here cube, as a tattooed V-Mars woman narrates to herself everything that we’re seeing. Her previously unnoticed friend Sasha says the realities are collapsing. On top of all the time-and-space-warping, Criminal Simon drops in and there are murders, then dodgy effects a-go-go and V-Mars wakes up in a military puddle. Some floaty device is recovered from her and she’s shot in the head, an anticlimactic ending to the Cube saga.
Sekula is mainly a cinematographer (shot Pulp Fiction and American Psycho). Writer Sean Hood worked on the Halloween sequel with Busta Rhymes. V-Mars was Canadian Kari Matchett of many generically-titled TV shows and Mad Simon had his own show Forever Knight in the 1990’s.
Hellraiser 5: Inferno (2000, Scott Derrickson)
Ah why is this Tim Robbinsy Bruce Campbelly guy shotgunning naked women in showers? Why is the camera shaking so hard? This is the part where tormented Tim/Bruce confronts all his dead friends and has to kill them again. Pinhead arrives to make fun of him, seeming more moralistic than usual (Pinhead’s message is that we should be nicer to people?). After getting his face exploded by hell-chains, Tim Bruce wakes up and goes to work, then kills himself, then wakes up again, living a Hellraiser Groundhog Day.
Derrickson made some popular recent horrors about which I’ve heard nothing good, is working on a major Marvel feature. Lead actor Craig Sheffer (who gets to yell both WHYYYYY and NOOOOOO in the last ten minutes) was the star of Nightbreed and more recently did 60+ episodes of One Tree Hill.
Hellraiser 6: Hellseeker (2002, Rick Bota)
Cenobites are being dramatic in front of bland Trevor, kind of a young Michael Madsen/Ben Affleck type. Trevor seems an arrogant businessman, is rude to the demons, gets himself chained and cues a buncha flashbacks in which Ashley Laurence is working with Pinhead to collect souls. It’s like they’ve combined the episodic post-Bloodline movies with the original story, good move.
Bota keeps busy, though he’s done nothing I’ve heard of since Hellworld. Oh man I recognized Trevor but didn’t realize who he was: Dennis, Tina Fey’s pager-selling boyfriend in 30 Rock. In the last year he’s got his own show Battle Creek, and is appearing on Brooklyn Nine-Nine.
Mortal Kombat 2: Annihilation (1997, John Leonetti)
I love Jax for the grunts and cries he’s always making. There are lots of simultaneous fights, and the bad guys always seem to be winning then the good guys turn that shit around. Sonya kills Red Scorpion with her sexy legs, but it looks like she couldn’t do the stunts so they edited around it. Fuck, Liu Kang is a dragon. It’s kind of nice to remember that comic movies used to make it into theaters even when they looked like cheap garbage. Still, that techno theme song counts for a lot. Anyway Liu Kang defeats some deep-voiced baddie and the world’s landmarks (including the twin towers) are restored to peace. Where’s Christopher Lambert?
Leonetti works as a cinematographer on horror movies. The five(!) writers include a producer of C.H.U.D. II: Bud the Chud, a writer on the Prehysteria! sequels, and the chairman of the Academy of Television Arts and Sciences. Of the actors, I saw Liu Kang in Death Race, Sonya played Viper in an early Marvel/Shield TV movie, and Omaha native Jax was an American Gladiator and did a couple episodes of NightMan.
The Mummy Returns (2001, Stephen Sommers)
Man this movie was long. Brendan Fraser quotes The Monkees then screams at Comic Relief Jonathan then gets attacked by one of my favorite bad special effects: a digital scorpion with a Toy Story version of The Rock’s face crudely pasted on. Rachel Weisz gets a brief action scene, then they’re all saved by Airship Izzy. Seems like the kind of movie that has no reason to exist after its digital effects had badly aged, which happened before it hit theaters.
Sommers is a Last Ten Minutes veteran, having made G.I. Joe 2 and Odd Thomas – and 1994’s live-action Jungle Book, which Disney is hoping nobody remembers right now. Brendan Fraser is apparently still working, but in nothing I’ve heard of since 2008’s Inkheart. Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson was governor of Minnesota from 1999 to 2003. Comic Relief John Hannah starred in Charlie Brooker’s A Touch of Cloth. And Rachel Weisz was so excellent in The Deep Blue Sea that I’d like to forget her dark Mummy-sequel past.
This might not be a recurring feature, since the streaming services’ catalog from 1990-2004 is pretty poor. Taking 1998 as an example of a particularly undiscriminating year, bad movies I watched included The Siege, Emmerich Godzilla, Spriggan, Armageddon, Bride of Chucky, Deep Impact, U.S. Marshals, Mighty Joe Young, The Faculty, I Stand Alone, Halloween H2O, A Simple Plan, The Avengers, Star Trek Insurrection, Urban Legend, The Negotiator, Very Bad Things, Enemy of the State, GVS Psycho, Meet Joe Black, Ambushed, The Dentist 2 and John Carpenter’s Vampires. Netflix has three of those (13%) and Hulu has NONE – though I appreciated its suggestion of Hollis Frampton’s The Birth of Magellan: Cadenza I for Bride of Chucky.