The Last Ten Minutes Vol. 18: Shabby Studio Flicks from the 1990’s

Wing Commander (1999, Chris Roberts)

I played the first Wing Commander video game a fair amount, the second one a ton, and I think my computer was underpowered for the third (1994) so that one not so much. When the movie came out too-many-years later and I saw its posters splashed all over Barcelona, I ignored it. Looks like that was the right choice. Euro-accented spaceship crew is yelling the standard space-movie stuff about shields, then there’s a solo-flying Freddie Prinz Jr. with a cool monocole. I’ve got nothing against Freddie, didn’t see any of his poorly-received movies of the era and he was alright on The Brak Show. This movie is so full of jargon and effects, I doubt anyone knows or cares what is happening. Cool to see David Warner as the admiral, anyway. I don’t approve of the Kilrathi being slow-motion underwater green-tinted puppets speaking in subtitled death-metal voices. Appearance at the end by Saffron Burrows of Klimt. Why is Mark Hamill credited as “?” when he appears in all the games?


Star Trek 7: Generations (1994, David Carson)

I went back further than ten minutes because I didn’t want to miss Kirk dying. He and Picard fight Malcolm McDowell in the desert trying to get some magic remote control that makes a missile turn invisible. Doesn’t seem like a plot worth dying for, but Kirk gets crushed under a metal bridge, freeing up Shatner to do more important work, like that amazing Se7en parody in 1996. Epilogue: Data has emotions and a pet cat, Picard has a monologue about time being a flat circle and Frakes makes a sly joke about living forever (he will). Director Carson went on to make Unstoppable (the Wesley Snipes one, not the Denzel Washington one).


Congo (1995, Frank Marshall)

I don’t remember the novel, other than I hated it but it was the only book I had while stuck in a Costa Rica airport for six hours… or maybe that was Sphere… anyway, why are army people machine-gunning monkeys, and why is one monkey speaking English while wearing a nintendo power glove? Good to see Ernie Hudson, and weird to see Laura Linney blasting monkeys with lasers and oh now a volcano is erupting and burning all the monkeys. Do NOT watch this movie if you love monkeys. Joe Don Baker!! After all the digital motion-capture shit of recent years it’s nice to see one monkey played by an actor wearing a furry suit. Director Marshall went on to make a Paul Walker sled dog movie and screenwriter John Patrick Shanley was slumming between an oscar win for Moonstruck and a nomination for Doubt.


The Relic (1997, Peter Hyams)

I guess this is the one that wasn’t Species or Mimic. Apparently it stars Penelope Ann Miller (Big Top Pee-Wee) and Tom Sizemore (Dreamcatcher), but I can’t see a damned thing. Looks like figures running through a dark chemical plant. When we finally see the Relic and its gross long tongue, it looks like some Alien/Predator/Pumpkinhead/Krang mashup for the ten seconds before Penelope uses confusing editing to set it on fire, then she spits some weak Hellraiser catchphrase and it blows up. Was this movie about anything? Hyams made a Sean Connery movie called Outland 16 years earlier which I apparently watched (I gave it a 6). He also made Timecop and End of Days, which I would totally watch the last ten minutes of either of those if available, so get your shit together netflix.


Deep Impact (1998, Mimi Leder)

This was the asteroid movie that wasn’t Armageddon but came out at the same time. Sure enough, the asteroid hits the Earth and kills everyone. It kills the loving couple on the beach. It kills New York City. It kills everything. Elijah Wood and Leelee Sobieski escape, chuckling at the devastation. Meanwhile some crying astronauts led by Robert Duvall are saying goodbye and it gets real weepy before they crash into a second asteroid and blow it to bits then President Morgan Freeman gives a boring speech. This looks like it was a boring movie. Mimi Leder went on to make the movie that shook my faith in movies, Pay It Forward.


The Phantom (1996, Simon Wincer)

In today’s superhero-fueled world, it’s quaint to visit the superhero movies of yesteryear, which were medium-budget and starred Billy Zane. Billy is a fine actor as long as he never has to speak, so he’s always cast in major roles and given tons of dialogue. Some bad guy picks up a crystal skull and says “at last!” and someone else is accused of kiling Phantom’s father. All movies are basically the same, aren’t they? Phantom has a pathetic, sub-lightsaber effects-duel with the baddie, whoever he was, then everything explodes. Where is Catherine Zeta-Jones? Holy shit, Patrick McGoohan cameo as Phantom’s dad. Phantom’s girlfriend is Kristy Swanson, the lead in Mannequin 2: On The Move. This has kind of a Rocketeer / Sky Captain / Indiana Jones throwback look which I appreciate. It was director Wincer’s follow-up to Operation Dumbo Drop, and he’d go on to make Crocodile Dundee in Los Angeles.

After each of these movies, netflix assumed next I’d want to watch their new Adam Sandler flick. That is either persistent self-marketing or a sadly accurate attempt to predict the tastes of people watching Congo on a thursday night in 2016.

The Last Ten Minutes Vol. 17: Pre-Blog Bad Movie Redux 1

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.

The Last Ten Minutes Vol. 16: Wes Craven R.I.P. Edition

I grew up on Nightmare On Elm Street movies, and loved horror in part due to Wes Craven. So what better way to celebrate his life than to watch the last ten minutes of all his worst movies via Amazon Prime (and one good movie, The Hills Have Eyes).

Deadly Blessing (1981, Wes Craven)

Girl is walking around a dark farmhouse chanting thees and thous when she’s swiftly murdered by Battlestar Galactica‘s Maren Jensen. Climactic shotgun shootout, and glamorous Sharon Stone wakes up at the last minute to help out. Beardy amish guy shows up at the last minute after the women are finished killing each other off, then after a comforting epilogue, sudden Drag Me To Hell ending. It all looks very murky and VHS-generic. I guess Craven was having trouble finding work between the cult classic era (The Hills Have Eyes, Last House on the Left) and the mainstream hit (Nightmare on Elm Street)

Chiller (1985, Wes Craven)

Michael Beck (Xanadu) returns from cryogenic sleep with no soul, and his mother is disappointed, so he stalks her with a metal hook. Beck walks into a giant freezer, and any fool viewer knows she’s going to trap him in there, but he fakes out some cops and forces her to shoot him. Also appearing: horror regular Jill Schoelen (The Stepfather, Popcorn, Robert Englund’s Phantom of the Opera) The sound on this one is awful, and it’s weirdly listed as a 2007 release, and I’m starting to think quality control might not be Amazon’s highest priority. Wes would follow this up with the killer-robot-child movie Deadly Friend. I mainly remember people jumping fences in front of a creepy house, and someone’s head exploding from a robot-propelled basketball.

Night Visions (1990, Wes Craven)

“Bland mystery with obvious killer,” raves the IMDB of this most obscure Craven tv-movie, made between Shocker and The People Under The Stairs. Loryn Locklin (Fortress) is at the studio of killer/photographer Jon Tenney (Beverly Hills Cop III), cop James Remar (the gargoyle story in Tales from the Darkside: The Movie) comes to save her and immediately gets run over by a truck, haha. There’s some unconvincing multiple-personality schtick and Tenney is dropped off a tall building. This was even worse than Chiller – what happened, Wes?

Wes Craven presents Mind Ripper (1995, Joe Gayton)

Bald shriekling madman is tearing walls apart and Claire Stansfield is leading an injured Lance Henriksen to safety. Whoa, the madman has a long pointy finger for a tongue, is menacing Natasha Wagner (John Carpenter’s Vampires 2: Los Muertos), but young Giovanni Ribisi (in his first film) plugs the tongue into an outlet and they run like hell (out of what looks like The Keep from The Keep). They drive away in a van but the madman’s on the van! Then they escape in a plane but the madman’s on the plane! Cowritten by Wes Craven’s son Jonathan.

Wes Craven presents Carnival of Souls (1998, Adam Grossman)

Bobbie Phillips (Evil Breed: The Legend of Samhain) runs past creepy clowns and creaky rides then shoots the king clown. But it was all a dream and now she’s in a waterlogged truck. But it was all a dream and she’s outside the carnival having flashbacks. But it was all a dream and she’s actually dead in the river, survived by her sister Shawnee Smith (Amanda in the Saw movies). Not as cool-looking as the 1962 original. Grossman also made Sometimes They Come Back… Again.

Cursed (2005, Wes Craven)

Christina Ricci and Jesse Eisenberg! “I’ll check the circuit breaker” will be probably be Jesse’s last words. Joshua Jackson (The Skulls, Apt Pupil) arrives as Ricci and Jesse start morphing into vampires. Vamp-fight ensues, including ceiling-crawling and a silverware stabbing. Josh catches fire and everything’s cool. Doesn’t seem awful except for the music, but I can’t imagine it was great either. Written by Craven’s Scream series collaborator Kevin Williamson and directed the same year as Red Eye.

Wes Craven presents They (2002, Robert Harmon)

Laura Regan (Hollow Man 2) is trapped in a subway tunnel, which seems to be tormenting her with surround-sound effects. Actually it’s not at all clear what’s happening, so I assume in the end she’ll just turn out to be crazy. Oh yeah here we go, mental ward where a condescending doctor is telling her she just needs to rest. But oops, she is sucked into another dimension and tormented forever by beasties. Harmon also made the 1986 The Hitcher, which I saw a million times at the video store and never rented.


Speaking of video store mainstays that never quite looked good enough to rent, here are a few more I found online (not Craven-related).

Waxwork (1988, Anthony Hickox)

Whoooa, monster effects a-go-go, as Zach from Gremlins and Sarah (Deborah Foreman of April Fool’s Day) fight an orgy of monsters alongside Zach’s butler Joe “not Don” Baker. Did I just see the baby from Demonic Toys? And a riff on Audrey II? Zach defeats a pirate then drops waxwork man David Warner into a vat of wax, obviously. Hickox made Hellraiser III, which is also absurdly entertaining.

Waxwork II: Lost In Time (1992, Anthony Hickox)

Shootout/swordfight in a zombie-filled mall. These Waxwork movies look quite good. Zach time-travels at random, stops Jack the Ripper, distracts Nosferatu, interrupts a melty-looking Godzilla, while Sarah (who is now Monika Schnarre of the Beastmaster TV series, because women are interchangeable) stabs some guy. When did Zach’s hair get so big? He pushes her through the time door back to the normal world, and she uses the disembodied hand she brings along as evidence in a jury trial.

Ghoulies (1984, Luca Bercovici)

They’re like flying-squirrel puppets, the ghoulies. Becky (Lisa Pelikan of Swing Shift) falls down the stairs and our hero Jonathan faces off against glowing-green-eyed Michael Des Barres (of Waxwork II: Lost In Time!) when Jack fuckin’ Nance, Eraserhead himself, comes to the rescue. Barres and Nance shoot each other with eyeball-lightning for a really long time. I love how during this whole scene two terrified dwarfs are shaking their heads at Jonathan. From the writer/director of Rockula.

Ghoulies II (1988, Albert Band)

Another carnival, jeez. Kerry Remsen (Pumpkinhead) climbs a ferris wheel then Phil Fondacaro (the troll in Troll) reads from a magic book, summoning a ghoulie-eating demon. It strolls around murdering ghoulies, which suddenly seem pretty slow and helpless, then our heroes trick it into eating a stuffed animal with a bomb inside. Albert “father of Charles” Band also directed Doctor Mordrid and something called I Bury The Living, which looks like it would’ve gone direct-to-video if there’d been video in 1958. Ghoulies 1 & 2 are free, but Ghoulies 3: Ghoulies Go To College costs three bucks, so we’ll have to stop here.

The Last Ten Minutes vol. 15

The Cobbler (2014, Tom McCarthy)

Just morbidly curious about The Station Agent director’s latest. Did anyone realize while making this that shoe “soles” and human “souls” are homophones? Wonder if that might be useful. Melonie Diaz (Fruitvale Station) is asking Adam Sandler out, then hey it’s Steve Buscemi! “Pickles preserve you… they give you strength” – I’ve been saying this for years. Wait, Buscemi transformed into Dustin Hoffman, am I getting this right? Sandler is not a good dramatic actor, hasn’t anyone realized? Oh, “walk in another man’s shoes,” I get it now.

Saw IV (2007, Darren Lynn Bousman)

Checking my notes, I believe everyone except maybe Orson Macfadyen was dead at the end of part 3. And here’s Orson, one of many dudes running with guns down dark corridors, while some other dudes die in a trap room. I think Donnie Wahlberg and Orson just died, then a victim turns out to be the mastermind (a la the original Saw) and leaves some dying guys locked up in a factory, and Dead Jigsaw promises more sequels – but not by Bousman, who moved on to New Year’s Day and Repo! The Genetic Opera after this. From the writers of Feast, the Piranha remake-sequel, and possibly the next Halloween.

Saw V (2008, David Hackl)

How does Dead Jigsaw continue to star in these movies? Prequel? A couple’s hands are being sawed up while Scott Patterson (a Scott Bakula type from the last sequel) plays a tape and dudes with guns walk through dark corridors to the same copy-and-paste drumbeat music and metallic sound effects as the last movie’s last ten minutes. Bland-looking Costas Mandylor escapes a trap room while Bakula Type gets crushed inside and a Matt Walsh type triggers a full-movie flashback, lucky for me. Hackl worked on all of Bousman’s Saw sequels and did production design on Lexx.

You’re Next (2011, Adam Wingard)

I hated Wingard’s A Horrible Way to Die but heard last year’s The Guest was good, so catching up with the one that came in between. Soap star Sharni Vinson is looking all beat up, stumbling around till someone shoots her with a crossbow. Enter a couple of assailants, killed with knife and blender. Sharni’s boyfriend AJ Bowen was in on the home invasion plot, arranged to have his family killed so he’d inherit, but the girlfriend’s not buying his boring story, haha then she’s shot by the cops.

Cabin Fever 3: Patient Zero (2014, Kaare Andrews)

Skinless girlfight, hurting each other in ways this underlit beach scene can’t quite afford to explain. Then one guy has a gun and it’s boring, and Dr. Sean Samwise Astin kills that guy just slowly enough to give him a dying monologue, and I think maybe Samwise escapes with the virus. Good work interweaving explanatory scenes through the closing credits to make viewers stay through ’em. The director made “V” in The ABCs of Death, which was also boring, and the writer did a Hitcher remake and a When a Stranger Calls remake.

Man With The Iron Fists 2 (2015, Roel Reine)

Came across this while searching for Iron Sky, had no idea there was a sequel to that middling action film. It sure enough stars RZA and his iron fists, but instead of Russell Crowe and Lucy Liu, this one’s got a lotta Thai actors, poor CG effects, and more than one guy screaming “noooooooo!” Climactic fight has RZA fighting a bad guy with iron legs. The director made a couple Death Race sequels and a Scorpion King sequel.

Iron Sky (2012, Timo Vuorensola)

Blonde woman stops a nazi from blowing up the earth, electrocuting him in an absurd way then stabbing his head with a shoe. Meanwhile a buncha Star Wars stuff is happening outside, after which a woman in a feather suit accurately says “well that was disappointing” and the Star Spangled Banner plays ironically as world leaders tussle, then LOL nuclear war. Damn, missed Udo Kier. Glad to see there will be a sequel featuring him and Tom Green.

Renaissance (2006, Christian Volckman)

That Sin City cartoon with Daniel Craig. Wow, it’s a disaster – nice frames, but the motion and editing and acting (cheers, Romola Garai of Amazing Grace) are slow and weird. Very few shades of gray, mostly pure black and white. Trying to figure out what went wrong, so I forgot to pay attention to plot. Two of the writers did a Jean Reno thing called 22 Bullets. Volckman doesn’t have lots of credits, has forgotten to make any more movies since this one.

The Last Ten Minutes vol. 14: First-Person Camera Edition

Men In Black 2 (2002, Barry Sonnenfeld)

Hey, I never saw this, always wanted to, but heard it was bad. Just the thing The Last Ten Minutes was invented for. The two mismatched partners are joined by Rosario Dawson with nuclear jewelry and pursued by Evil Lara Flynn Boyle till she’s eaten by a subway monster. Jones tells Dawson she’s the fifth element, Smith is attacked by shockingly subpar effects. Did you know there was a part 3? Neither did I.

[Rec] 3: Genesis (2012, Paco Plaza)

Previously watched [Rec] 1 and remake-sequel (remaquel?) Quarantine 2. Can’t find [Rec] 2 on netflix because their search is ridiculous, so let’s pick up here. Loving couple is trapped in kitchen by encroaching zombies until loudspeaker bible recitation stops them. Dude has a sword, which actually seems like a smart zombie weapon. Girl is bitten by an elderly fellow (bad hearing, immune to loudspeaker), guy cuts off her arm but he’s stupid and slow, and they both die. From one of the directors of the first one, but not shot first-person, so the title doesn’t make sense anymore. The girl was in Ramin Bahrani’s Man Push Cart.

[Rec] 4: Apocalypse (2014, Jaume Balagueró)

Oh, this is from the other director of the first one, and looks a lot worse. Stars Angela from parts 1 & 2. A guy with bad hair helps Angela kill zombie monkeys with a boat motor. Why does the bad guy have a snake-tongue? A boat explodes!

The Interview (2014, Goldberg & Rogen)

Those two guys are trying to escape N. Korea. Cue the loud action scenes. Katy Perry soundtracks the fiery death of President Randall Park (Danny Chung in Veep), then we get an anticlimactic escape from the country. One of the directors wrote for Da Ali G Show.

Horns (2013, Alexandre Aja)

The one where Harry Potter is a demon, from the director of the great Hills Have Eyes Remake. Dang, no horns, Harry must’ve had them cut off already (a la Hellboy?). His brother (Joe Anderson of Across the Universe) is sad, so Harry goes walkies with Max Minghella, and there are guns, and wow, Harry sprouts wings then turns into a full flaming demon and has homicidal maniac Max brutalized by snakes. I think Harry’s dead girlfriend is alive again but I stopped watching because my roomie locked his keys in his car. Is this Wolf Parade over the ending?

The Sacrament (2013, Ti West)

Sorry Ti, but after two-and-a-quarter disappointments you join Aja in Last Ten Minutes purgatory. Joe Swanberg in death cult compound is running from gunmen, everyone is dying, and it’s shot first-person a la [Rec] 1. Isn’t this the same plot as one of the V/H/S/2 segments from the same year, which West and Swanberg were also heavily involved with? Joe semi-rescues AJ Bowen (of every Adam Wingard movie) with the shakiest shaky-cam I’ve ever witnessed. Ends with unnecessary solemn title cards. Boo.

Maniac (2012, Franck Khalfoun)

Fuuuck, this is also shot first-person – and out-of-focus, no less. Co-written by Alexandre Aja. Khalfoun made P2 and acted in Aja’s Haute Tension – they’re as close as the West-Swanberg-Wingard crew. I think Elijah Wood kidnaps Nora Arnezeder then she stabs him with a mannequin arm and runs him over. Then she dies, so he marries a mannequin. Most of these movies are very bad, but this one looks unusually, especially, very very bad.

The Conspiracy (2012, Christopher MacBride)

Grainy first-person pinhole camera with blurred-out faces. Why do all these movies hate cinema? Dude wakes up in the ritual sacrifice room, then is chased through the dark woods while wearing an animal head. Finally a series of talking heads dismiss whatever conspiracy theory the hunted/murdered cameraman presumably uncovered. MacBride has made no other movies and hopefully it’ll stay that way.

Automata (2014, Gabe Ibáñez)

It’s balding trenchcoat dudes with shotguns vs. slow, clunky robots. The robots are talking wise, getting themselves shot, when a fully bald Antonio Banderas arrives. His plan of action is poor but he still kills two guys and the third is dispatched by a Short Circuit lizard. Weird/nice to see a robot-future movie where some of the robots (not the lizard) are actual props, not people or digital effects.

I, Frankenstein (2014, Stuart Beattie)

From the trailer this looked like epic nonsense, but it’s actually more coherent than most of the others I just watched. Bill Nighy! The final battle: Frankenstein Eckhart vs. angels, gargoyles, a merman, lots of fire, men in suits, poor digital effects and Bill Nighy! Meanwhile there’s a bunch of computer progress bars and “access denied” messages. Progress bars are always a great source of tension in movies, eh? A massive Matrix-like chamber full of bodies begins to self-destruct. Eckhart (is he the monster or the doctor?) defeats demon-Nighy, saves some lady from a fiery apocalypse and collapsing castle. Beattie wrote the Pirates of the Carribean movies (and Collateral), his cowriter was an actor in Men In Black 2.

The Last Ten Minutes vol. 13: Shocktober 2014

The Descent 2 (2009, Jon Harris)

The baddies are people with goblin ears and bald caps. Three bloody, flashlight-and-handicam-wielding women walk among them in a cave trying not to be heard, but fortunately when they are inevitably discovered, they prove to be masters of rapidly-edited blunt-instrument combat. Survivor of part one (there was a survivor?) sacrifices herself to save her friend, who gets surprise-wasted above-ground by a Yankees fan with a shovel. Director Harris edited the first movie, and one cowriter made Eden Lake and The Woman In Black.

An American Haunting (2005, Courtney Solomon)

Thought I watched this already but that was The Haunting in Connecticut. Donald Sutherland’s here so it’s gonna be good. Flashbacks reveal the ghosts tucking in the girl who played Wendy in the 2003 Peter Pan movie, and maybe beating her up or raping her, or maybe Sutherland did that I dunno, then the girl poisons Sutherland while Sissy Spacek (of The Ring 2 the same year) watches. Attn: screenwriters: notice how horror movies that end with explanatory backstory are less good than the ones that end with mayhem? The director also made Dungeons & Dragons, the one with Marlon Wayans and Jeremy Irons. Hulu’s up-next bullshit is making my night difficult, so it’s off to netflix.

Texas Chainsaw (2013, John Luessenhop)

Aha, it was called Texas Chainsaw 3D in theaters. Tied-up girl about to get chainsawed by Leatherface, but the pacing of the scene implies that she’s not really gonna. “It’s your cousin Heather,” she yells, as rednecks enter the abandoned factory, beat up Leatherface and make him cry. Who wrote this? Lots of people, including the director of Jason Goes to Hell, writer of a Val Kilmer revenge flick and American adapter of The Grudge movies. Anyway, rednecks rig a slow-moving certain-death machine to dispatch Leatherface – those always work, right? Nope, rednecks get chopped up, and two Texas Massacrists live to see a new sequel (your cousin Heather can also be seen in the next Joe Dante movie).

Stake Land (2010, Jim Mickle)

Second one in a row with redneck baddies calling people “boy,” only this time it’s a rasping bald vampire who is stabbing a mustache dude. Now he calls a guy “child” instead of boy, but this is his last word as he gets staked by mustache dude, whom he really should have killed instead of taunting for so long. Surviving guys wander off into apocalyptic vampire world, running into soap star Bonnie Dennison. Ooh the child in this played Young Colin Farrell in Alexander and Young Kevin Bacon in Mystic River. Mickle made this year’s Cold In July, which mustache dude cowrote.

We Are The Night (2010, Dennis Gansel)

Not to be confused with We Own The Night. Loving vampire couple (Dani from Passion) is thrown in jail and menaced by vampiro lesbo Nina Hoss, star of Barbara. Cool gravity-defying fight ensues. Hoss is plunged into sunlight, Dani is just as gorgeous as in Passion, and it’s funny how good German actresses become instantly ridiculous when dubbed with bland American accents. Nice going, netflix. Gansel followed up with a Russian spy drama.

Dead Snow (2009, Tommy Wirkola)

How have I not already watched the last ten minutes of the nazi zombie movie? Think I was tempted to watch this for real, but Trevor says it’s terrible. I like the white snowy setting, unusual for a horror. Oh good, subtitles. Very bloody faced guys are fighting off nazi zombies, one gets bit on the hand so chainsaws off his arm, then looks bloody pleased with himself until something too stupid to mention happens, and the movie is playing for cheesy laughs. The premise had promise. Next the director made Hansel & Gretel: Witch Hunters and a sequel to his Kill Bill parody (Kill Bill is parodyable?) before this year’s Dead Snow 2.

Carrie Remake (2013, Kimberly Peirce)

Wait, there was a Carrie remake from the director of Boys Don’t Cry?? I am cheating and watching the last 20 to catch the prom scene – not only is she covered in blood at the prom but her date was murdered? Chloe Moretz gleefully, psychically murders her classmates. No out-of-control hormonal rage, she does each one on purpose then literally flies outside, catches escaping schemers and murders them. I miss Sissy Spacek. Home to mama, jeez it’s Julianne Moore, how many people are slumming in this remake? Moore prays as she stabs Carrie, who takes flying-scissors revenge, then best friend Gabriella “Olivia’s sister” Wilde” is saved as the house collapses. Nothing improves a horror movie like a courtroom ending, amirite? Wait, there was another Carrie remake in 2002 with Patricia Clarkson?

Carrie 2: The Rage (1999, Katt Shea)

People are getting Scanners-style bulging veins then the locked-doors psychic blood massacre begins, and yay, kids are killed by flying CDs just like in Hellraiser III. This time instead of prom we’re at a party in the house of a spear gun enthusiast. A girl’s eyeballs are made to explode, then she spearguns a dude’s dick into the pool, and I’m thinking this movie didn’t take itself very seriously. New Carrie’s mom is a religious nut just like Real Carrie’s mom, but what is mom doing at the party? The boyfriend is Jason London (twin brother of Mallrats star Jeremy), who survives to the dream-sequence CGI epilogue. From the writer of Hackers and director of Stripped to Kill.

The Last Ten Minutes vol. 12: Jason Statham Edition

Back to Netflix for a roundup of recent dumb action movies, most of which seem to star Jason Statham.

Skyfall (2012, Sam Mendes)

Whole world is orange. Hooray, a dyed-blonde Javier Bardem is shooting at Danny Craig (the non-Hulk lead in Munich). Bond dives into a frozen lake to escape, so Bardem menaces Judi Dench until he reappears. The hammy one-liners don’t work as well with the dark tone and grim-looking actors. Bardem and Dench are dead, and Bond stands over the city like Batman in the epilogue. Naomie Harris of 28 Days Later joins him, and Ralph Fiennes is the new Judi Dench, and I’m getting the feeling that this was a prequel. I guess the studio saw Away We Go and decided Sam Mendes should make their next Bond movie? From the writers of Johnny English and Bats.

Jack Reacher (2012, Christopher McQuarrie)

Tom Reacher decides not to shoot a dude, but to fist-fight and head-stomp him in the rain instead, as Rosamund Pike (The World’s End) is held hostage nearby by David Oyelowo (Rage), while none other than WERNER HERZOG sits there uselessly wearing a foggy contact lens. Tom is an unreasonably good shot, and Werner starts speechifying (this is what I was hoping for – not the action scenes but Herzog as sneering villain) when the Roku crashes, argh. The Wii was so much easier, though regrettably standard-def. Rosamund gets upset when Tom shoots defenseless Werner in the face, then Robert Duvall gives them a ride away from the depleted baddie den. Epilogue: hospitalized baddie Joseph Sikora tells of the Batman-like legend of Tom Reacher while Richard Jenkins stands quietly by. From the oscar-winning writer of The Tourist and Jack the Giant Slayer.

Olympus Has Fallen (2013, Antoine Fuqua)

Gerry Butler (of the upcoming London Has Fallen, haha) is being told that the president died on an exploded helicopter – but it’s not true! Baddie Rick Yune (X-Blade in Man With The Iron Fists) has president Aaron Eckhart captive, is threatening to detonate all of American’s nukes. Elsewhere, Morgan Freeman and Angela Bassett look concerned. White House bunker fight ends with the president shot and Gerry stabbing Yune in the head. From the guy who made Training Day and the writers of Expendables 3 (which features Jason Statham).

Redemption (2013, Steven Knight)

Jason Statham has a large head, stalks the ballet then tosses a fellow off a tall building and later apologizes about it to an accented woman (Polish Agata Buzek of Nightwatching) while flashing back to his Afghan war experience. Later, the accented woman is graduating from nun academy, reads mail from Statham. This is notably less action-packed than the last few. Knight wrote/directed the highly-rated Locke the same year.

Parker (2013, Taylor Hackford)

Bad Cop from The Shield and The Bunk from The Wire are menacing Jennifer Lopez, then Jason Statham knives a couple guys and Lopez shoots the hell out of The Bunk. Then whatever dude is still alive, he’s shot too. Then later a guy in an office is shot. Based on a series of Parker novels previously adapted under different names, so Lee Marvin (in Point Blank), Jim Brown, Robert Duvall, and Mel Gibson (in Payback) have all played Parker. Writer worked on Black Swan and director made The Devil’s Advocate.

Safe (2012, Boaz Yakin)

Limo driver Anson Exposition talks to Jason Statham on the phone, then shoots some Chinese gangsters. Statham nabs a secret disk (people are still killing guys for secret disks in movies) then rescues a kidnapped girl from Anson. Unwisely, instead of ending with all the shooting and killing, it wraps up plot threads with some groaner dialogue. Boaz previously wrote From Dusk Till Dawn 2, Dirty Dancing 2 and Prince of Persia 2.

Homefront (2013, Gary Fleder)

It’s Jason Statham and another kidnapped girl! Mean James Franco screams at Winona Ryder, and Kate “Superman Returns” Bosworth is disappointed in him, so accidentally explodes his house then gets shot. This is the star-studdedest Jason Statham revenge/kidnapping movie of the night. Car chase ends on a bridge, the girl was Statham’s daughter, and Franco gets reeeeeal punched for kidnapping her. Seems a bit better than the last two, but not any killing or enough Winona. Fleder previously made Runaway Jury, and writer Sylvester Stallone is best known as the original Judge Dredd.

Dredd (2012, Pete Travis)

Karl Urban (of Doom and Ghost Ship) wears an opaque black helmet, rescues a weird kid from underground redneck lair alongside his mindreading rookie partner Olivia Thirlby (Juno‘s best friend). Either the movie has framerate problems or Netflix is freaking out. Dredd finds “Mama” (Lena Headey of The Brothers Grimm), shoves her out a window, and now the funny framerate is intentional as she plummets and splats on the ground below in loving slow-motion. I don’t see why Jason Statham couldn’t have played Dredd – he’d look good in the helmet, and has experience shoving people off tall buildings. Travis went from historical royalty dramas to apartheid political dramas to this. Written by Alex “The Beach” Garland.

G.I. Joe Retaliation (2013, Jon Chu)

Bruuuce Willis shoots a dude and rescues Jonathan Pryce, and oh boy there’s gonna be a lot to keep track of. Maskless Storm Shadow (?) kills a shapeshifter. The usual terror-plot business where some missiles are gonna be launched unless some computer program is disabled. The Rock is shooting at Firefly – which one was he? The hovercraft driver? I never got the toy of that one. How exactly did they trade out Dennis Quaid for Bruce Willis, and where’s Joey Gordo-Levitt? Rock has a fist/gun/fight that is considerably less exciting than any Jason Statham fights then saves the world. Jinx and S.S. and Snake Eyes are all friends? I guess Tater Channing and Joey Levitt are dead. Anyway, ends with a boring award ceremony, then a credits sequence showing all the good parts I missed. Director Chu is best known for Justin Bieber documentaries and the writers worked on Zombieland and Disney’s Tarzan 2.

Hansel & Gretel: Witch Hunters (2013, Tommy Wirkola)

Jeremy Renner and Gemma Arterton are battling evil Famke Janssen and her witch gang in a blur of semi-decent effects. The movie thinks we’ll forgive its cheesy fairy-tale blandness and fight-scene formula if it throws in some sweary one-liners. Norwegian writer/director made this between Dead Snow and Dead Snow 2.

Odd Thomas (2013, Stephen Sommers)

Anton Yelchin (Ian in Only Lovers Left Alive) fights a body-jumping ghost that looks like a giant insect with plastic wrap for skin, blows it the hell up. Then comes a very long narrated epilogue montage in which Odd dreams his girlfriend is still alive, and hey, Willem Dafoe and the star of Belle are here. Odd Yelchin stands above the city Batman-like, bringing us full circle. Based on a Dean Koontz book and, based on what little I watched, the best movie ever made by schlockmeister Sommers.

The Last Ten Minutes vol. 11

The Last Ten Minutes vol. 11: SHOCKtober Sequels and Remakes edition

The first – and possibly last, since the advertisements are pissing me off, Hulu Plus edition of The Last Ten Minutes.

Silent Night, Deadly Night (1984, Charles Sellier)

I’ve watched Silent Night, Deadly Night 4: Initiation, the bonkers slimy Brian Yuzna movie, more than once, and you see Silent Night, Deadly Night III: Better Watch Out! mentioned on auteurist film sites for being directed by Monte Hellman, but what of the first two? Who cares about them?

Cops are shooting priests dressed as Santa! Are priests supposed to dress as Santa? A lone Mustache Cop has a long, dull, keyboard-scored stalk around the grounds of an orphanage until he’s killed by an axe-swinging santa yelling “punish!” The surprisingly fresh-faced young Santa is finally shot down by a new cop whilst threatening the head nun, then the movie immediately sets up dead Santa’s younger brother as a possible sequel-villain. Head nun went on to play Jean-Claude Van Damme’s mom in Universal Soldier.

Silent Night, Deadly Night 2 (1987, Lee Harry)

More cops and orphanages, and another young insane fella in a Santa suit (as the last movie plainly predicted, it’s the other Santa’s little brother) is stalking the same elder nun (now featuring bad facial-burn makeup) before getting shot down by cops – the only difference between the two movies being that this time the head nun gets beheaded. Perhaps the killer’s tendency to raise his eyebrows with each word delivery, bringing to mind an axe-wielding Groucho Marx, is why he didn’t get any more starring roles. Of the six credited writers, one is also a sound mixer who worked on Million Dollar Hotel. That’s the most distinguished IMDB-linked career move I can come up with.

Check out the nun’s apartment number:

Maniac Cop 2 (1990, William Lustig)

Maniac Cop breaks into prison, presumably for revenge of some sort, and Michael Lerner (Barton Fink’s boss the following year) gets on a loudspeaker to talk him down. There is a fight scene with a bunch of different guys who are all on fire, which I think automatically makes this better than the first movie, culminating with Clarence Williams (Prince’s dad in Purple Rain) getting thrown through a thick prison wall like it was made of cardboard. Robert Davi (a Goonies baddie) gives the movie’s eulogy before the token sequel-setup-scare. I never saw Bruce Campbell. Lustig, writer Larry Cohen and MC Robert Z’Dar stuck around for the whole trilogy. Hulu needs to pay up for part three.

Scanners 2: The New Order (1991, Christian Duguay)

A guy gets scanners’d down a hallway, then a sneering long-dark-haired scanner scans a dude who is blonde and wearing a jean jacket, so is presumably our hero. Psychic battles are great for cheap movies since you just need actors to lurch their heads at each other and tremble a bit. Buncha bald scanners in a Minority Report chamber form a scanner-circle around the dark-haired guy and he ends up all melty, then the boss of the whole operation has his head scanned into Elephant Man shapes right in front of the media. Duguay later made Screamers, which I rather liked, and lead scanner David Hewlett starred in Cube.

Scanners 3: The Takeover (1991, Christian Duguay)

Oooh, now you can scan through television signals, and a pink-lipstick woman is trying to conquer civilization. Our hero Alex scans his way into the TV studio, killing one dude via revolving door, but stylish supervillain Helena has an anti-scanner flashlight. The two of them gamely twitch heads at each other until the villainess electrocutes herself, apocalyptically transmitting her consciousness into the TV camera Lawnmower-Man-style.

April Fool’s Day (2008, Altieri & Flores)

Scout T-C (star of Rob Zombie’s Halloween movies) has a gun, is mad, shoots a dude and extracts confession from Desiree, then a buncha talky backstory reveals that it was all a hoax and the dude is alive, but then Des gets her head blown off by a “prop” gun. So far nobody who’s died in this movie has stayed dead, so what’s next? Oh, nothing.

Hulu sent me to something called Crackle for this one, renewing my sequel-watching possibilities, and now without commercials! Why do I pay for the service that has ads, while this one appears to be free?

Hostel Part 3 (2011, Scott Spiegel)

A cleaver cuts a guy’s head clean in half in one blow, but takes six chops and some sawing to get through an arm – inconsistent? An unconscious man is killed via severe-tire-damage spikes. Tire guy cooly escapes the compound while cleaver guy gets blown up behind him, but cleaver guy lives to take bloody revenge. The writer also did The Butterfly Effect 2 and I’ll Always Know What You Did Last Summer, while Spiegel cowrote Evil Dead 2 and directed From Dusk Till Dawn 2.

Clive Barker’s The Plague (2006, Hal Masonberg)

Not a sequel or remake but I’m a sucker for Clive Barker’s the anything, and saw this on the list. Slow-walking sad-eyed children approach an attractive young couple, so he tells her to sit down thinking happy thoughts while he vanishes with the zombie kids. Final shot reveals the head spooky zombie kid has a paperback of The Grapes of Wrath?? Are we sure this was a horror movie? The director also worked on Demonic Toys.

Return of the Living Dead 4: Necropolis (2005, Ellory Elkayem)

Hmm, the zombies are talking and there’s a cenobite with a circular-saw arm. Swat team with a tank and unarmed hospital-patient zombie squad arrive at the same time – guess who wins? Media coverup follows.

Return of the Living Dead 5: Rave to the Grave (2005, Ellory Elkayem)

From a gun-toting viking to strobe-lit clown-wigged zombies, I like the halloween-costume zombie warfare montages. Then everyone is killed by army helicopters. The director of both of these also made horror/comedy Eight Legged Freaks and the writers did Gingerdead Man 2.

The Last Ten Minutes vol. 10

Hellraiser: Revelations (2011, Victor Garcia)
This is not a real Hellraiser movie, so I don’t feel bad about not watching it properly. Jay Gillespie (of 2001 Maniacs) is intimidating his family, poorly. Same old box and chains, but two pinheads, one of them puffy-cheeked with a crap monster-voice. Man, the script and this fake-ass pinhead are so terrible. Victor Garcia’s suffering will be legendary – though honestly, it’s still better than the fan-made Hellraiser Prophecy.

Sleeping Beauty (2011, Julia Leigh)
Well-dressed woman Clara (Rachael Blake of The Prisoner remake) looks concerned about carsick Beauty (Emily Browning of that shame of a Lemony Snicket movie). Whoa, full nudity. Now beauty is in a room with white-haired man, who drinks special tea, goes to bed with her, and possibly wakes up dead. Claudia has a hard time waking Beauty, who screams a bunch, then another shot of her sleeping next to that guy. WTF? It’s a shame when movies don’t work in Last Ten Minute doses, yet also don’t look good enough to watch all the way through.

The Conspirator (2010, Robert Redford)
James McAvoy, forgetting that he’s in a period piece, is being told by evil Kevin Kline that justice matters less than restoring order. Wicked guards take innocent, bonnetted Robin Wright off to be hanged, to the screaming protests of Evan Rachel Wood. Civil War is over, “peace at last” says somebody or other. Is Robert Redford for or against the death penalty? I can’t tell (haha, just kidding). I’m sorry I didn’t see Stephen Root.

The Skulls (2000, Rob Cohen)
Coach proposes a toast, but chubby-cheeked Joshua Jackson (formerly a Mighty Duck) barges into the secret society with a rule book in his hands and reads them rule 119b, line 15. Busted! Now Paul “2 Furious” Walker has to duel with him, but shoots Coach instead. Hmm, Jackson says that he and Walker are soulmates. Which one was supposed to be GW Bush? The studio made two sequels to this, but its director moved on to bigger things (The Mummy 3, a Rammstein video) and the writer to possibly worse things (Ghost Ship, Quarantine 2).

Quarantine 2 (2011, John Pogue)
Jenny is beat up by a CG-ass zombie before her little brother wastes it. Fire! No need for night-vision goggles anymore. I thought this movie took place on an airplane. Anyway she turns into a zombie and the kid escapes.

Paranormal Activity 2 (2010, Tod Williams)
More fake-footage fun. The maid says that a cross and olive oil might help. Are these flashbacks? The bad jumpcut editing can’t be explained by the found-footage conceit. Some woman in bed is really a monster. A ghost hurled a dead guy into the camera, startling Mike.

The Passion of the Christ (2004, Mel Gibson)
Damn, poor Jim Caviezel, who had a promising career with Thin Red Line and Frequency, but hasn’t been in anything good since, is in a sorry state, and is speaking some damn language I’ve never heard. Crazy CG raindrop unleashes a horse-startling, stairway-splitting earthquake. Guard pokes an unreasonably bloody hole into the dead Caviezel. A vampire shrieks in the desert? Did Netflix screw me like they did with Body Snatchers and stitch in a clip from a different movie? Some woman (Monica Bellucci?) stares accusingly at us. But holy shit, Jesus has risen with revenge in his eyes.