Invasion of the Body Snatchers (1978, Philip Kaufman)

Wasn’t planning it this way, but I guess my viewing of Abel Ferrara’s Body Snatchers, and last year’s SHOCKtober screening of the 1956 original (and I suppose The Invasion) were all prelude to this wonderful Alamo screening of the best Body Snatchers movie. It loses the 1950’s prudishness, ramps up the energy and paranoia (and humor, when Jeff Goldblum is onscreen) and lands on an even bleaker ending than the original tried to imply. It could almost be a sequel instead of a remake – the 1956 ends (not counting the dumb framing story) with Kevin McCarthy screaming on the highway, unheeded, and early in this version McCarthy appears on a city street yelling “We’re in danger – you’re next!” just before getting killed.

“A disquieting paranoid thriller informed by the conspiracy theories of the period and the jaded cynicism that followed the death of the counterculture movement,” per Adam Cook.

Donald Sutherland is our new McCarthy, a San Francisco health department investigator and the boss of Elizabeth (Brooke Adams: The Dead Zone, Shock Waves). Donald likes Liz but she’s married to Art Hindle (lead dude in The Brood), who is the first to be invaded – not counting their psychiatrist guru friend Leonard Nimoy, who was probably a pod from the start. While uncovering the plot and figuring out what to do about it, they huddle with friends Goldblum and his wife Nancy (Veronica Cartwright, in The Birds as a teen, later Alien and Witches of Eastwick).

The Shaun of the Dead trick of pretending to be a zombie and walking among the others seems to work, until Donald and Liz get shocked by something and scream. Donald spotted a pod next to a homeless dude (and his dog) and kicked it – a few scenes later the dog is walking around with the dude’s face. As in the original, Liz is only left alone for a few minutes when she falls asleep and gets replaced, melting in Donald’s hands as her pod version rises up, telling him to join them.

Screenplay by W.D. Richter, later director of Buckaroo Banzai with Goldblum. Fun angles and shadowplay, and perfectly balanced tone of terror and action – no wonder a couple movies later Kaufman’s The Right Stuff got eight oscar nominations. Sutherland was later in the quite bad Puppet Masters, in which Earth is invaded by mind-controlling alien parasites, and McCarthy would reprise his role yet again in Looney Tunes: Back in Action.

Film Quarterly:

Visually, the movies couldn’t differ more. Siegel’s unadorned black-and-white has yielded to Kaufman’s lyrical color, tilts, handheld shots, and high key lighting. Michael Chapman’s photography is both lustrous and penumbral, with deep shadows and crowded, mobile frames. Annexing the genre’s salient mood of engulfing dread, he has made the new Body Snatchers a film noir in color.

The Last Ten Minutes Vol. 19: Twelve SHOCKtober Movies in Nine Innings

Sometimes the Mets make it to the postseason, threatening the amount of free time I have to devote to SHOCKtober movies. Tonight is the National League Wild Card game, Syndergaard pitching for the Mets against the mighty Bumgarner for the Giants. I shall attempt to multitask, following Gameday on the laptop while watching the last ten minutes of bad horror movies on streaming sites.

It is tempting to just pick any old crappy horror film and watch the last ten minutes of it. There are so many! There is a cyberbullying horror called #HORROR, and movies with every generic title you could ask for: Slasher, Creep, Circle, Hush, The Presence, The Chosen, Visions, Dark Skies, The Unborn, Rebirth, etc. However, The Last Ten Minutes wasn’t supposed to be a time-wasting review of the latest straight-to-video garbage, but a time-saver – watching only the endings of movies I’ve been tempted to watch in their entirety. Because I really do watch bad horrors sometimes (recently: The Editor, The Guest, Willow Creek, We Are What We Are, Lesson of Evil), so trying to ignore the generic nonsense tonight and stick with stuff I have some reason to wanna see.

Knock Knock (2015, Eli Roth)

I never liked Eli Roth’s signature Hostel movies, but he’s one of the major names in modern horror so I at least follow his career. This looks like a Funny Games scenario (“it was just a game,” they even say) with a married guy (Keanu Reeve, also in The Neon Demon and The Bad Batch so he may turn up again this SHOCKtober) and two interloping hot foreign girls (incl. Roth’s Green Inferno star). Clumsy-ass Keanu gets captured and buried to his neck. Anyway the girls leave him buried there watching the sex tape they made on his cellphone and they wander away to the same closing song as Fight Club. Eh, seems pretty tame by Roth standards. No excitement in the first inning either.

The Invasion (2007, Oliver Hirschbiegel)

Since I’ve watched two Body Snatchers movies and am hoping to watch a third soon, here’s the remake I never cared about. Seems like Daniel Craig is already a pod person and Nicole Kidman has a gun, but she lets him unlock a door to unleash the others, then the director uses video-game POV while she shoots them all. Car crash and she’s swarmed by pod people. Argh, Brandon Crawford took nine pitches to strike out. Why did Nicole Kidman agree to do this movie… because Cruise did War of the Worlds? Bottom of the second, her car is on fire, then I think she accidentally knocks out her son with a fire extinguisher but the editing sucks so I can’t tell. Helicopter Emergency Rescue Operation, then a montage tells us the world was saved. “For better or worse, we’re human again,” and Kidman’s not so sure it’s a good thing. Two Mets strike out, also not good. PG-13 adaptation (humans are infected, not actually killed and replaced, so Craig is cured in the end) by David Kajganich (A Bigger Splash). This was director Hirschbiegel’s follow-up to Downfall, and he hasn’t been heard from since.

Cloverfield (2008, Matt Reeves)

A tiny monster! Godzilla ’98-style – I was not expecting that. Another helicopter, huh? Whew, the camerawork looks even worse than expected. Top of the third went fast. Why are these party teens being rescued from the city instead of anyone else? It’s like watching a monster movie with a drunk friend screaming commentary in your ear. Chopper crash… “initiating hammer down,” says the radio. Rabbit ears? Hammer down. The teens survive the crash and keep filming until the monster arrives and eats them. Hey, our first hit, go Rivera. An actor (Brooklynite Michael Stahl-David) is visible on camera for once, then he and his girl get blown up. Glad I watched the sequel and skipped this one, though I’ll bet it was fun in a crowded theater opening night. Written by Drew “Cabin in the Woods” Goddard, produced by JJ “Trek Wars” Abrams and directed by Matt “Planet of the Apes” Reeves.

Candyman 3: Day of the Dead (1999, Turi Meyer)

Had to check and make sure I’ve seen part two, which I don’t remember at all. Caroline (Baywatch‘s Donna D’Errico) is staring at bee-covered retro painting of Tony Todd, while her boy David (original Nightmare on Elm Street actor Jsu Garcia) hangs from meat hooks nearby. Candyman totally appears without anyone saying his name in a mirror. And we walked the D-Span with no outs? Candyman is promising that their legends will live forever, but I don’t know if anyone’s even aware that there was a third Candyman movie, so maybe not. Tony opens his shirt and says “behold” and the filmmakers apparently think the human body is a giant ribcage with one big pulsating organ just behind it. Haaha, D-Span caught stealing as Caroline slashes the painting from behind a video layer effect of angry bees, then Candyman literally explodes, a hilarious ending to the trilogy. Giants lost a challenge, and what, another walk? Multiple false endings in the movie, lame. Same goes for the inning, which Mike “Hunter” Pence finally ends by striking out. The cowriters also worked on Leprechaun 2 and a Carrot Top movie.

Intruder (1989, Scott Spiegel)

This movie recently played the Alamo, who advertised the Sam Raimi/Bruce Campbell connection, but it seems mostly valuable for the historical footage of late-1980’s grocery packaging. Supermarket at night, a killer busts through the Frosted Flakes after Jennifer. It’s a bloody murder movie, but there’s some humor in the music cues as a delivery boy is slaughtered, and when the killer puppeteers a severed head. Who is the unshaven hero who comes to her rescue at the end? Actually it looks pretty fun and well filmed as far as slasher movies go. Only minor excitement in the fourth. Amazon worked well for the first four movies, but Hulu’s user interface is ill-suited to The Last Ten Minutes project, so now it’s off to Netflix.

Bleed (2016, Tripp Rhame)

Okay, I feel bad about not watching this one in its entirety. I waited years for it to come out (used to be called The Circle) and my former coworkers made it, but time is precious so let’s just watch the end and see. Cross-cut between gravedigging and a girl coughing up dirt, that’s interesting. I think she is Chelsey Crisp of Chicken Suit. Her brother Eric (Riley Smith, substitute Dennis Quaid in the Frequency TV series) shows up in the haunted/abandoned warehouse then is killed by an angry mob, and a homeless beardy dude speaks wisdom then vanishes into smoke. There’s some gruesome shit in here, a welcome change from the previous PG-13 fare, too bad it’s stuck in the generically-titled netflix horror bin. Not even close to any score in the game yet, and only 51 pitches from Bumgarner in the 5th… wait, runner on second… wait, a different runner on second… okay, nevermind. Credits say “featuring David Yow”?? Cheers to Tripp and Nate and Kevin Hamm.

Hellions (2015, Bruce McDonald)

I love the postseason stats reset, everyone with a 0 ERA and .000 batting average. This is immediately better than the last few movies, visually and musically, but it’s definitely the night for pretty girls getting chased by faceless hordes. The girl gives herself an abortion (or c-section, hard to tell in this lighting) by scythe while a pumpkin patch bursts into digital flames. D-Span is the first person to reach base twice, and this time he’s not caught stealing. Hospital epilogue nightmare! Dead-baby hospital epilogue, then alive-baby second hospital epilogue. Top of the sixth went quickly. Bruce is the great director of Pontypool and The Tracey Fragments and Roadkill, but this movie got pretty bad reviews.

Baskin (2015, Can Evrenol)

Freaky guy with a knife, and they just walked Cabrera with one out, and someone’s throat is getting slashed. Tribal-looking, long hair and dirt in low light. I think Arda and Remzi are cops. Dude retrieves a key from throat of his dying partner, Saw-style, then stabs the weirdo baddie with it before beating him to death with a wooden bench. This doesn’t look great, but the baddie is excellent looking (apparently a deformity, not makeup, but still excellent). Nice, the sole survivor is run over by approaching police van. Turkish movie. Someone’s gonna have to score a run if this game is gonna end. Third walk of the night – that’d do it, too. Whew, got out of that one.

The Uninvited (2009, Guard Bros.)

A remake of A Tale of Two Sisters, so after hitting play I was reading what I wrote about the original movie and accidentally heard this version’s opening line: “I love you… and I have a condom.” Skip to the last ten minutes and there is blood everywhere. In flashback, the twins blow up their house, one of them dies and hello Addison Reed. Did the original end with the surviving twin in an asylum? Crazy sister Emily Browning will appear in the American Gods series, ghost sister Arielle Kebbel was in The Grudge remake-sequel, David Strathairn and Elizabeth Banks slumming as dad and stepmom.

Dream House (2011, Jim Sheridan)

“Jack, you killed them.” Argh, bases loaded with two outs and Mike “Hunter” Pence is up. I think it’s all flashback exposition right now and haaa, struck him out. Hello, Rachel Weisz. Another gas can, house set on fire – isn’t this the third fire tonight? Daniel Craig wakes up, saves Naomi Watts from the flames then goes back for Rachel’s ghost. Whoever Ty Kelly is, he’s on first. Daniel Craig, whose character everyone calls Peter but IMDB says his name is Will, is later revealed to have a bestselling book called Dream House – spooky, right? Netflix says if I liked that, which I did not, I’ll enjoy Master of None, as we strand Kelly on second base. Jim Sheridan used to make best-picture nominees starring Daniel Day-Lewis.

Stonehearst Asylum (2014, Brad Anderson)

Oh good, another fire. I get that we automatically pitch Familia because it’s the ninth in a high-stakes game, but there’s still no score and this might go all night, so why not just leave Reed in? I suppose because he loaded the bases during Dream House. Looks like Ben Kingsley is a wicked man experiencing war flashbacks from when he’d execute hospitalized soldiers. Kate Beckinsale and Jim Sturgess are arguing over which one of them is sane. Now here’s Angry Brendan Gleeson and Catatonic Michael Caine – things are looking up. Identity theft in the late 1800’s, and Familia walks Joe Panik, dammit. This was based (loosely, I’m guessing) on Poe. Anderson made The Machinist and two good Masters of Horror episodes, and this looked alright.

The Fog (2005, Rupert Wainwright)

What better way to ruin a night than with a John Carpenter remake by someone named Rupert? “This town was built on nothing but lies… and now they’ve come for their revenge.” The fog bringeth translucent skeletons with surprisingly loud footsteps to murder the movie’s generic actors using cheap effects. Ghost army sets an old man on fire, not nice. Giants home run, not nice either. Ew, corpse kissing. One out in the bottom of ninth but Bumgarner has thrown 108 pitches and he’s not superman – we can do this. Maggie Grace (of Taken) ascends to the ghost dimension after making out with the rotting corpse. “Something did come back… sooner or later, everything does.” I hope that includes the Mets, and does not include Rupert. Better luck next year, Mets.

The Jungle Book (2016, Jon Favreau)

Nobody wanted to pick between the Rohmer and the Pasolini, so I brought out the dark-horse Disney flick as a sorry compromise. I heard it might actually be great, but it was… okay. Had to get used to the digital animals looking so cartoony in motion, though their speech and mouth movements were the most realistic I’ve seen since Whiskers, The Kitten Who Can Name Fruit. Admittedly this was probably better in theaters in 3D, but we watched in HD on our big screen with the volume up, so I feel like if there’s real magic, we would’ve felt it. Anyway it was fun.

Songs worked better in context of the cartoon, and were pried into this version, making it feel like it’s referencing the original – so not only a remake for new audiences, but one that wants you to have watched the original. Between that and the cartoony animals wanting so badly to be real, it’s a conflicted movie – one of Disney’s “live action” remakes without much live action (the kid was okay).

Usually I don’t notice celebrity voice casting so much, but it’s hard to miss Christopher Walken (King Louie) and Bill Murray (Baloo). Katy recognized Idris Elba (evil tiger), Scarlett Johansson (evil snake), and Ben Kingsley (fatherly panther Bagheera). Apologies to Garry Shandling and Giancarlo Esposito and Lupita Nyong’o, I guess, for blending in and not sounding distractingly like stunt celeb casting.

Ignatiy V.:

Its jungle is a complete simulacrum: Everything from the birds to the leaves is artificial, which means that nothing can ever stand out as unreal. The ironic exception is Sethi’s manic Mowgli, mugging on partial sets against blue screen; in a digital world realized by a dream team of effects studios, the one real thing seems fake.

Never before realized that Baloo is a sloth bear.

Hara-Kiri: Death of a Samurai (2011, Takashi Miike)

Cannes Month continues. This played there in 2011 – in 3D! The 3D would’ve added some novelty to a remake which seems to have none at all, unless we’re counting that it’s filmed in color. Scene-for-scene redo of the original, well-acted and shot (but the original was well-acted and shot), kinda languid in the flashback-heavy middle, and with a less biting ending.

Motome (Eita of Memories of Matsuko) had a desperately sick wife (Hikari Mitsushima of Love Exposure) and baby and needed doctor money, so he did a dishonorable thing, telling the local samurai house that he wanted to commit seppuku at their house so they’d pay him to go away. But they’d decided to make an example out of the next sap who tried this, and since Motome had done another dishonorable thing – selling his sword for food and secretly substituting a wooden one – he’s forced to die an agonizing, splintery death while his family succumbs to illness at home.

So the dead wife’s dad Hanshiro (Ebizo Ichikawa, later in Miike’s Over Your Dead Body) visits the house a couple months later with the same seppuku story in order to get an audience and shame them for what they’ve done. Per an IMDB comment (I know!) the film argues “that honour is ultimately irrelevant in the face of social suffering.” It’s a compelling story, but during hard times, the house (led by Doppelganger & 13 Assassins star Koji Yakusho) has built its fortune on the traditional ideas of honor and can’t afford to let Hanshiro’s humanist ideas take hold.

C. Huber in Cinema Scope:

Hara-Kiri [demonstrates] a classical craftsmanship few contemporary directors could ever hope to match, but at the cost of personal expression. Miike’s single-minded take on a straightforward samurai tragedy follows the original’s outlines, yet replaces its smart, suspenseful time-shifts with big blocks of flashback melodrama … the marvellous, mostly brownish palette of the interiors tended to sink in the murky fog of light reduction, making Cannes’ first 3-D competition entry a good argument against the process.

High Society (1956, Charles Walters)

Thought I wrote this up already, but can’t find it. Must be thinking of The Philadelphia Story. Yuk yuk, but no, really. I recall saying that everything felt like an imitation (and it doesn’t help that they’re reading the exact same dialogue) with a few unnecessary songs added… that even the most well-loved actors of the 1950’s have unenviable positions playing roles originated by Cary Grant (here Bing Crosby), Jimmy Stewart (Sinatra) and Katharine Hepburn (Grace Kelly). Kelly even seems to be impersonating Hepburn, or maybe they’re both just doing generic upper-class east-coaster, but Hepburn did it first, and for longer. Of course it’s still a hell of an enjoyable movie – you don’t remake The Philadelphia Story and end up with an unenjoyable movie. Best addition: Louis Armstrong!

The Movies Begin, discs 1 & 2

Shorts! I have discs and discs of shorts and rarely watch them. I’m awfully excited about the new blu-ray of avant-garde shorts from Flicker Alley, but how can I justify buying it when I’ve got a hundred shorts collections just sitting around unseen? Let’s watch some, shall we? And what better place to start than with a Kino collection called The Movies Begin?

The Great Train Robbery (1903, Edwin Porter)

Stunts, explosions, color, brutal murders, thievery, daring escapes – and dancing! Bandits rob the train of its lockbox loot and all its passengers of their wallets, then escape on horseback. Local bunch of ruffians is alerted to the crime and rides off to kill the perpetrators. All this in ten minutes – more economical than the Sean Connery remake.

One of the more famous shots (haha “shots”) in cinema:

Fire in a Burlesque Theater (1904)

Either this was ineptly framed or I’m seeing a cropped version, because there aren’t nearly enough burlesque dancers with smoke inhalation on display here.

Airy Fairy Lillian Tries On Her New Corsets (1905)

Hefty Jeffy helps her out… then faints. Was this a comedy?

Spoiler alert:

From Show Girl to Burlesque Queen (1903)

A woman removes her costume – but the good part is done behind a screen. The title was better than the feature, making this the A Pigeon Sat on a Branch Reflecting on Existence of its time.

Troubles of a Manager of a Burlesque Show (1904)

Troubles because the women are angry at the crappy clothes he expects them to wear, and they flee and throw things when he tries to molest them.

The Whole Dam Family and the Dam Dog (1905, Edwin Porter)

So many lost films in history, and this dam thing survives. Hilarious title for a movie without any jokes in it, making this The Ridiculous Six of its time.

The Golden Beetle (1907, Segundo de Chomón)

Ornate, hand-colored, dangerous-looking Meliesian disappearing act. I think a man tries throwing a golden beetle in the fire, and she torments him with showers of sparks before burning him to death. This is great.

Rough Sea at Dover (1895, Birt Acres)

Two shots of the rough sea. Were any other 1895 movies more than one shot long?

Come Along Do! (1898, RW Paul)

Supposedly the first film to feature action carried over from one shot to the next. But I watched it twice, and it appears to be only one shot. Is there an invisible Birdman-like cut in there somewhere? Or did I get the descriptions of the previous two films mixed up? Anyway, two drinkers on a bench outside some mysterious establishment with an “Art Section” and “Refreshments” opt for the art section.

Extraordinary Cab Accident (1903, RW Paul)

Cabs being horse-drawn at the time, a guy stumbles into the street, is trampled to death, then mysteriously recovers and runs off. I’ve seen guys transformed via editing into scarecrow dummies then thrown off trains in The Great Train Robbery, but this one does a good job transforming the dummy back into a guy.

A Chess Dispute (1903, RW Paul)

There is a violent dispute over a game of chess. Mostly this dispute is waged just under the camera’s view, thrown punches and bottles and clothing flying up into frame.

Buy Your Own Cherries (1904, RW Paul)

Awful brute man causes a drunken scene at a bar, then another at his home, then after a quick visit to church he’s wonderful and generous. Extra long at four minutes. Paul also produced the great The ? Motorist, which I had credited to director Walter Booth.

The Miller and the Sweep (1898, GA Smith)

Just a silly half-minute fight/chase in front of an operating windmill. But it’s a really nice shot of the windmill.

Let Me Dream Again (1900, GA Smith)

Happy couple at a party wake up as grumpy old couple in bed… so the movie’s title is the punchline. Smith invented the pull out-of-focus to indicate shift from dream to reality.

Sick Kitten (1903, GA Smith)

Kino says Smith invented the POV shot, and the idea of breaking a scene down into shots from different angles, which he does here. Kids dressed as grownups feed a kitty from a spoon. As is true today, cat films were incredibly popular back then, so this is a remake of his 1901 cat film which had worn out from overduplication.

The Kiss in the Tunnel (1899, GA Smith)

Train goes into tunnel, GA Smith and wife have a quick smooth, train back out of tunnel.

The Kiss in the Tunnel (1899, Bamforth & Co)

A remake! Two different people kiss in a different tunnel (the train shot from different angles than Smith used), in a cabin with worse production design.

A Daring Daylight Burglary (1903, Frank Mottershaw)

Action thriller with multiple shots and locations, reminiscent of The Great Train Robbery. Kino says some plot action in the silent doesn’t make sense because the showman was supposed to provide benshi narration during the screening.

A Desperate Poaching Affray (1903, William Haggar)

Men with guns chase men with nets. Oh damn wait, the poachers have guns too, and blast at least three of the pursuers. Poaching was deadly serious business. Just a big chase scene, really.

Attack on a China Mission (1901, James Williamson)

A man’s house is attacked, he defends with rifle, then more groups keep arriving and I’m not sure what side they’re on. Kino says it’s a reenactment of the Boxer Uprising, which must have been a confusing uprising. Kino says JW was famous for moving action across multiple shots, mainly during chase films, which sounds like what everyone was famous for in 1901.

An Interesting Story (1905, James Williamson)

Mustache man pours coffee in his hat, injures the maid, wrecks some children’s fun, and keeps running into things because he won’t put down his book (just like kids today with their cellular telephones). Satisfying conclusion as he gets run over by a steamroller, but some passing bicyclists inflate him, using the ol’ dummy-replacement trick last seen in Extraordinary Cab Accident.

Electrocuting an Elephant (1903, Thomas Edison & Edwin S. Porter)

Never forget, no matter what his achievements in human history, Thomas Edison once electrocuted an elephant for fun and profit.

The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo (2011, David Fincher)

Fincher brings his sleek style to an exasperating, overlong, coincidence-filled thriller. If I was a proper auteurist the story wouldn’t matter and I’d go on about the great technique – but I’m not, so I was bored.

A Man Without a Country:

Disgraced journalist Daniel Craig is hired by Christopher Plummer of a rich nazi family to discover who killed Plummer’s granddaughter forty years ago – and since there’s no body, we already know that Racer X is really Speed’s bro… I mean that the girl is still alive. Halfway through the movie Craig meets (hooks up with) antisocial goth hacker Rooney Mara. First part of the movie sets up horrible, dangerous people: the businessman who sues Craig, Rooney’s rapist parole officer, Plummer’s evil nephew Stellan Skarsgard, then in the end our heroes take bloody revenge on all of them.

Fuck You, You Fucking Fuck:

Stellan’s fiery end:

I love that everyone knows all about Craig’s life and work – for an investigative journalist he’s quite bad at keeping secrets. A few amusing parts: most of the dragon-tattoo hackery-fakery, and Stellan soundtracking his torture chamber with an Enya song. Rooney Mara won best actress at Cannes (for Carol) the same day I watched this.

Speed Racer (2008, Wachowskis)

The most inventive “live-action cartoon” movie?

The bright, color-manipulated sets ensure that we don’t take the action seriously for even a second – which is good, since the movie is a fairly faithful adaptation of the horrendous Speed Racer series, in which the mysterious Racer X is actually Speed’s brother. The movie’s main contribution (besides toning down the part of Chim-Chim) is a twist: Racer X turns out not to be Speed’s brother! But wait, another twist: Racer X is really Speed’s brother!

Not toned-down: Spritle

Evil racers with dollars in their eyes:

Speed is Emile Hirsch, having a big year with this between Into the Wild and Milk, with Christina Ricci as Trixie. His overqualified parents: Susan Sarandon and John Goodman (dressed like Super Mario). Rain (I’m a Cyborg But That’s OK) is a friend/enemy/informant/fall guy, Royalton (Al Gore-looking Roger Allam of The Angels’ Share and V for Vendetta) is the corporate baddie, and Matthew Fox (TV’s Lost) is Racer X, who is emphatically not Speed’s brother (yes he is!)!!!

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.