Now that I’ve seen some exciting, excellent/horrible Argento movies from his peak period (Suspiria, Inferno) and some depressing, horrible/horrible movies from his more recent period (Giallo, Pelts), it’s safe to say I never need to watch these three all the way through (although I’m still undecided on Mother of Tears), so here’s The Last Ten Minutes of them:

Do You Like Hitchcock? (2005, Dario Argento)
First thing I see is a black-gloved hand. First thing I hear is an unconvincingly delivered line. It’s an Argento movie, all right. Looks like I’ve stumbled into a crap remake of Rear Window. Police chase the black-gloved girl onto the rooftop, where she falls, hanging Vertigo-style from the gutter while the crippled Giulio (Elio Germano of musical Nine) watches across the alley. But a minute later everyone is friends? So there was no killer? Down on the street a shopping cart lady puts on a wig. Huh? Anyway, months later, Giulio watches a hot nude girl across the alley and enters a confusing flashback montage. One of the girls was Elisabetta Rocchetti, who later appeared in something called Last House in the Woods (oh Italian movie industry, how you amuse me).

The Card Player (2004, Dario Argento)
“I’m sorry, I had to kill him,” says a dude with a cellphone (and disappointingly, no long mustache to twirl) who has tied a girl to the train tracks. He cranks up a CD of funky electro music and lies on the tracks with her playing cards on his laptop, while she taunts him instead of smashing the computer into his face like it seems like she should do. He gets run over by a train, and she shoots out his car stereo, mercifully stopping the electro music. Someone in the movie was Liam Cunningham of Wind That Shakes The Barley – hopefully not the card-playing killer, because that guy was terrible.

Phantom of the Opera (1998, Dario Argento)
Oh no, it’s a period piece. Asia Argento is pretty convincing as an opera star until a sewer troll interrupts the performance and handsome Julian Sands (Warlock himself – the description says he’d not physically disfigured in this one, but was “raised by telepathic rats”) sweeps Asia away. It is very dark, and a man with a funny mustache stumbles upon an enclave of dead bodies. Long-haired hero Andrea di Stefano (star of a Marco Bellocchio movie) shoots Julian and escapes the bloodthirsty search party (wasn’t he part of the search party), as Asia screams in horror (she’s good at that sort of thing). This looks a ton better than the last two movies, though it has the lowest rating. Maybe that’s from people thinking they were getting the Joel Schumacher version. The rat-squealing sound effects over the finale got my birds very excited.

First Snow (2006, Mark Fergus)
This dude Vince says he still considers Guy Pearce his best friend, but says that Guy has fucked up and pulls out a gun. Vince goes off with a long, tortured speech then tries to kill them both but only manages himself. Guy Pearce is sad, flashes back to a pretty girl in a cowboy hat as it starts to snow. The writers/director worked on Children of Men and Iron Man, so I suppose this should’ve been good. Didn’t look awful, but I’m not saying I wanna see 90 more minutes of it.

Noise (2007, Henry Bean)
Tim Robbins’ car is making a ton of noise and William Hurt is angry, then he makes it stop, then start again, then he has some kind of noise-epiphany as judge Chuck Cooper smashes his car with a golf club. A Baldwin tackles the judge, who is arrested under suspicious of being Tim Robbins’ anti-noise vigilante. A way unrealistic court scene follows, in which Tim helps Chuck win in order to set precedent that noise can be considered assault and battery. High on his success, Tim considers joining a pimply militant in blowing up city eyesores but chooses not to. He smashes cars Michael Jackson-style as the credits roll. Overall the movie looks pretty fun, if kinda silly. From the writer of Basic Instinct 2.

Lakeview Terrace (2008, Neil LaBute)
Controversially interracial couple Patrick “Little Children” Wilson and Kerry “Last King of Scotland” Washington come home to a mess of a house, then dude goes out back to thank Samuel L. Jackson for helping him for a break-in. But Jackson knows that Wilson knows that Jackson knew the guys who broke in, and now Jackson’s on the attack. Much punching and many gunshots ensue. I wish Samuel L. had the integrity I always imagine he had. Ugh, his character name is Abel. Cops shoot Sam a bunch, the couple turns out semi-okay and family values are protected. Besides rogue cop Abel, the rest of the LAPD force is portrayed as remarkably restrained and competent. Follow-up to The Wicker Man by Neil LaBute’s doppelganger – the one who killed the real Neil and replaced him in 2000, halfway through production of Nurse Betty.

Obsessed (2009, Steve Shill)
Beyonce catches Ali Lartner (Resident Evil 3) in bed surrounded by rose petals, presumable waiting for Idris “Stringer Bell” Elba. Girlfight ensues! So which one of these girls is “obsessed”? I think it’s Lartner, who plays it weirdly affectless. Generic thriller music, fight scene, camerawork and everything. Lartner is killed by a falling chandelier and family values are protected. Idris Elba comes home just in time for the credits, dammit, the only reason I watched this was to see him.

It’s Alive (2008, Josef Rusnak)
Thought I’d peep tha remake since I recently saw the original and more recently saw Splice. Oh it’s the ol’ flashlight-into-the-camera trick from X-Files. This is taking place in a very dark house, not a sewer – the movie probably couldn’t afford a sewer. Father Frank (TV’s James Murray) catches the baby (how? we don’t know) in a trash can and creeps off to a very dark outdoor area, then unwisely opens the can and gets savaged by the baby (played by an out-of-context CG effect). Motherly Bijou Phillips (of Hostel II, here with the horror-in-joke character name Lenore Harker) catches up with them and takes the baby into a burning house where they both perish… or DO they?? Hmmm, no cops – the movie probably couldn’t afford cops. That seemed longer than ten minutes.

Simon Says (2006, William Dear)
Key phrase from the description: “Simon and Stanley (both played by Crispin Glover), backwoods twin brothers with a fondness for booby traps.” That’s all you needed to tell me! Helpless Stanley is being groped by some girl – but he’s got a knife!! She’s got a bigger knife! Did he just headbutt a corpse? Now he’s screaming with a fake southern accent in the woods, wounded and toting a scythe. Could this be the end of Crispin Glover? Yep, got a knife in the skull by a girl who I assume is Margo Harshman (good name). Where’s the twin brother? Maybe there never was one. Oh Crispy is still alive and gets the girl, twist ending. They said “you forgot to say simon says” about four times. I missed the epilogue bit since someone knocked on the door, but I saw a bunch of mirrors and I’m guessing there was never a twin brother, which is disappointing. William Dear, also the writer, once made Harry and the Hendersons.

“We live in a democracy. You can’t just take a little baby gator.”

Thanks heaps to the White Elephant Blogathon for making me watch this.

Original announcement
List of reviews
My pick was The Gate (link is dead)


“Scott Shaw Presents…”

Shaw is behind fifty direct-to-video movies that sounds awesome but are almost certainly not: Samurai Vampire Bikers from Hell, Lingerie Kickboxer, Max Hell Frog Warrior and more.

“A film by Donald G. Jackson…”

Jackson also voices the gator. IMDB says he died in 2003, but he is so productive, he continued making movies through 2009.

“Roller
Gator”

Hmmm, the title is on two lines, so is it “Roller Gator” or “Rollergator”? Since the director is partying in b-movie heaven with Ed Wood and Dennis Hopper, we may never know for sure. Aspect ratio is unknown as well – I’m watching a 4:3 frame inside a widescreen window, thanks to Amazon.

Roller (not pictured: gator)

Supposedly Joe Estevez (who has previously explored these themes in Legend of the Roller Blade Seven, Gator King, and Return of the Roller Blade Seven) is running an amusement park, but I’m pretty sure the filmmakers just paid admission (or hopped the fence – I wouldn’t put it past them) and shot Joe shouting dialogue to himself on what looks like a late-80’s camcorder.

Suddenly a ninja is playing loud acoustic guitar while a girl frolics on the beach. Or is that a rifle the ninja is holding? Then who is playing the guitar? Enter the grating voice of the Rollergator, shouting from a cave near the frolicking girl. Oh, special-effects be damned, the gator is just gonna be a hand puppet.

“You’re an alligator. You’re a purple alligator. But you’re purple, and you can talk”. Immediate references to Barney and the electric boogaloo follow. One thing I can say for the alligator puppet – it’s a better actor than this girl (played by Sandra Shuker, also of: nothing), who is apparently going to be our protagonist. I’m not seeing how this even qualifies as a movie. It wouldn’t make the cut at Mystery Science Theater 3000 (on which I’ve seen two previous Joe Estevez flicks: Werewolf and Soultaker) for lack of any qualities whatsoever.

Joe Estevez, also of Lethal Orbit, Fatal Justice and Murder-in-Law, with gator:

Finally the movie kicks it up, with a drum track, some rollerblading, and dutch angles on the ninja.

I wanted to get a motion capture of this scene – after narrowly escaping the least-competent “ninja” ever, the girl rocks slowly on a coin-op ride for 2-year-olds, leaning on the gator exactly like it’s a stuffed animal (which it is) and looking just depressed.

Also, I can no longer make out her dialogue over the guitar music, not that I’m complaining. I think they might’ve left the guitarist in charge of the movie’s final sound mix. Back to Joe Estevez (of Horrorween, Killa Zombies and Caesar and Otto’s Summer Camp Massacre), who talks to his nephew Reggie about locating the gator, which Joe thinks will draw customers to his park, and I just noticed Joe’s cute little ponytail.

Speaking of the amusement park, they get a lot of mileage out of simply filming stuff there: rides, games, displays. Saves money on sets, production design and story, I suppose – although not on talent, since sometimes Joe Estevez (of Hercules in Hollywood, Las Vegas Psycho and The Rockville Slayer) and Reggie are shown joylessly sitting on the rides. The credits claim production design by Sergio Kurosawa, a name that I’m positive was made-up since I didn’t notice any production design. Effects (and I didn’t see any of those either) by Tom Irvin, whose IMDB trivia page tells a heartwarming story of how Clive Barker’s Lord of Illusions helped reunite him with his estranged father. I’m glad that movie served a purpose besides wasting my time.

This facial expression will be referenced later:

The gator is trying to hide from a “crooked carnival owner”, so they go straight to a carnival, agree to talk to carnival worker Reggie’s boss, then act surprised when it turns out to be crooked carnival owner Chi Chi (Joe Estevez of Necronaut, Zombiegeddon and Crimes of the Chupacabra). Oh shit, Joe is having a heart attack! Wait, is this in the script, or is it really happening? Oh he’s okay. Contract negotiations break down and PJ leaves with the gator, taking him to her completely unfurnished apartment. Again with the production design.

Enter the mythical Swamp Farmer (played by mythical Ed Wood actor Conrad Brooks, also of Beast of Yucca Flats, Curse of the Queerwolf and F.A.R.T.: The Movie), who wanders the urban swamp chattering to himself.

Note: lens hood visible in upper-left corner:

There isn’t even an attempt at action – everyone just saunters around, even the supposed ninja, although she does have some high-kicking nunchuck moves. Oh wait, this isn’t the ninja, its the “karate instructor” – my mistake. Her motivation: “I’m gonna return [the gator] to Mr. Dennis, who’s gonna turn him over to the police.” Is Mr. Dennis supposed to be Joe Estevez (of Koreatown, Mexican American and Spanish Fly)? I thought his name was Chi Chi. Chi Chi Dennis? Oh, now the karate lady has turned on her boss and joined PJ and the gator. That was easy.

Our team is joined by another rollerblading girl, this one with a slingshot, who says things like “this is so fly!” The ensuing chase scene is the most exciting bit of the movie so far, seeming to move at more of a light jog than the usual aimless, depressed stroll – I credit the blaring surf guitar on the soundtrack for energizing things. Back at the office, Joe Estevez (of PrimeMates, No Dogs Allowed and Toad Warrior) is not amused that the karate instructor has defected.

Is the cameraman three feet tall? There are telephone lines in every shot:

After a painfully long conversation between slingshot gal and a “friend of pj” who turns out to be the ninja in disguise (or is it out of disguise), the ninja gets away with a decoy backpack and Slingshot tries her best to come up with an appropriate facial expression. Joe Estevez (of Pacino Is Missing, Not Another B Movie and 14 Ways to Wear Lipstick) has an uncomfortable chat with the ninja, then the gator & girl discuss how to find the Swamp Farmer (have I mentioned him lately? Looks like he’s now roaming around abandoned movie sets). A tearful reunion between Farmer and Gator follows.

Finally, after an attempt at a beautiful sunset coda (it’s daylight again a minute later), Joe Estevez (of Green Diggity Dog, Motorcycle Cheering Mommas and Blood Slaves of the Vampire Wolf) has somehow received the “curse of the gator.”

A piss-poor movie which even makes Curse of the Puppet Master look good by comparison. Hardly anyone seems to be trying at all, and the attempts at comedy, drama, entertainment and “rap” music are laughable (except the comedy – that’d be unlaughable).

Rollergator theme song by Elizabeth Mehr (whose band Baby Alive won some MTV award in 1994, claimed she “would like to enlighten the world, and hopefully bring change, peace, and unity through music”) and performed by Magic Man (google suggests this could be a 2009 French electronica duo, a hit rock song by Heart, a Billy Zane movie, or a member of the United States Men’s National soccer team – each seems equally likely).

Fortunately, this dark prophecy has not yet come to pass:

Between “My Year of Flops” and “I Watched This On Purpose,” the AV Club watches a bunch of known-to-be-bad movies and reports back on the experience. I also have an unhealthy urge to watch stupid movies, but I don’t have the kind of free time they’ve got. I just want to know if I’m missing out on anything, and if the movie’s got a built-up mystery, what’s the big twist at the end. And now, thanks to netflix streaming, I can watch any part of any bad movie instantly. So here’s a rundown on the last ten minutes of…

Delgo (2008, Adler & Maurer)
Our hero Freddie Prinze Jr. is inspired by princess Jennifer Love Hewitt to go fight the evil queen. Animation really is as bad as they said, does not look like something that should be in a theater in 2008. I looked for Avatar parallels – got the enchanted forest, peace-loving fairy inhabitants (not cat-people at all) who ride dragons, and the cliche-and-catchprase-littered dialogue. Chris Kattan (ugh) rallies all the planet’s species to attack evil there at the end, also an Avatar plot point. Oooh, Delgo uses the Force. Isn’t the Force trademarked? J.L. Hewitt kills evil stepmother Anne Bancroft (I’m sorry this was your final film, Anne Bancroft) and peace is brought unto the land. Full of corny-ass jokes and hot, forbidden interspecies love.

Pandorum (2009, Christian Alvart)
A bearded Dennis Quaid seems possessed by some supernatural sci-fi evil. This is way more talky than Event Horizon. Ben Foster (X-Men 3, Northfork), I assume, is experiencing some kinda psychological special effects. Oh they are not in space, but underwater – that’s the big revelation, allowed a couple seconds of floaty luminescent peace before it’s back to punching Dennis Quaid. He fights some girl who is not Carrie-Anne Moss. Now is Ben possessed by the ancient evil? Wait, nevermind, a crack in the hull. Oh, the evil is some kind of cat beast. Catmen from Pandorum – more Avatar references? Ben and the girl surface. Happy ending? I can’t tell. Director Alvart is a German making it big in Hollywood with writer Travis Milloy, who once wrote a Jason Schwartzman movie that nobody saw.

The Alphabet Killer (2008, Rob Schmidt)
Tim Hutton (Ghost Writer, The Dark Half) must be the killer here. He’s trying to sedate Eliza Dushku, but she uses her Buffy moves to bust his face and escape. She tries to trap him in a way that would totally not work, but totally does, and dude escapes, gunshot in the foot, into the river. Is she raving incomprehensibly, or is the string music just up too loud? Later, in the hospital, Cary Elwes (I’ve not seen him since Saw) proclaims that this is all his fault (I’m willing to accept that). She never recovers and Hutton gets away, ouch. Schmidt made one of the more enjoyable Masters of Horror eps, and writer Tom Malloy did something called The Attic which looks even worse than this.

Righteous Kill (2008, Jon Avnet)
Pacino is gonna get shot by DeNiro! Or is DeNiro gonna get shot by Pacino? The editing is confusing and every shot is a close-up. Now there’s a showdown in an 80’s-movie factory, both of them with guns. I don’t know what they’re saying because Katy made me turn off the sound, but Pacino is pissed, and his hair isn’t as bad as it usually is, and Carla Gugino (Watchmen, Sin City) is hanging around. Nevermind all that, Pacino got totally shot to death by DeNiro! He gave a long speech I didn’t hear, then some shit happens, I wasn’t looking anymore. From the director of 88 Minutes (and Fried Green Tomatoes) and the writer of Inside Man.

Underworld: Rise of the Lycans (2009, Patrick Tatopoulos)
Sooo dark! I see werewolves, and some Lord of the Rings business, but it’s all so dark. The action is very actiony. HooRAY, Bill Nighy of Shaun of the Dead is the self-serious lead bad guy in a ridiculous costume. He shall face off against a pissed, bearded Michael Sheen, who screams “I loved her,” which means that Rhona Mitra (Doomsday) might be dead. Wait, Nighy is a vampire! He got sunlit then stabbed through the head by a righteous Sheen, which Katy did not appreciate seeing. Oh and Nighy is still alive in the twist ending here, as is Rhona Mitra. The director was a creature designer on the first two movies, never a good sign. Jesus, nine writers?

Lies and Illusions (2009, Tibor Takacs)
Christian Slater does his hammy always-talking thing in the backseat of a made-for-1991-TV-looking full-frame car chase. Sarah Ann Schultz is trapped after a huge crash, while Christa Campbell shoots at some baddies who are not Cuba Gooding Jr. The sound mix is awful, very Slater-heavy with crap music, but wait, CGJr showed up and shot Slater, which STILL didn’t shut him up. Sarah Ann Schultz sneaks onto Cuba’s airplane, and parachutes out leaving the plane to crash, in the most hilarious special effects attempt of 2009. Tibor, of course, made the excellent The Gate and less-excellent The Gate II back in the 80’s – doesn’t look like he’s doing so well now. From the writer of nothing, and cinematographer of Trapped Ashes (but given a Magnum P.I.-era TV videocamera).

Angels & Demons (2009, Ron Howard)
Tom Hanks discovers secret cameras taping the board room! He sees a very sinister Stellan Skarsgard (ha ha, he is always sinister) saying quizzical shit to an incredulous Ewan McGregor. Apparently Ewan spread illuminati rumors to stop SS from trying to find scientific proof of God? Or something, anyway Ewan frames SS and gets him shot in flashback, to the despair of all the cardinals reviewing security tapes with Hanks and some girl who is not Audrey Tautou. Later, a guy who might be Armin Mueller-Stahl presides as scary Germans tail a bruised Ewan until he sets himself on fire. The evidence is destroyed, and the crowd goes wild. Where does Jesus’s granddaughter fit into all this? From the writers of Zathura, Secret Window, Constantine and Deep Blue Sea, ouch.

From the director of Road Trip and writers of Ghosts of Girlfriends Past!

A dude gets lost during a bachelor party weekend in Vegas, and it’s up to good friends The Bland One (Bradley Cooper of Midnight Meat Train), The Reluctant One (Atlanta native Ed Helms of The Daily Show) and The Socially Maladjusted One (Zach G. of The Ballad of G.I. Joe) to retrieve him. This is hard because Zach (via drug dealer Mike Epps) slipped them all roofies. While under the influence, Ed yanks out a tooth (my vote for funniest moment, even though it was just a still photo, Ed smiling maniacally) and marries Heather Graham, Zach steals Mike Tyson’s pet tiger, and I can’t remember Cooper doing anything of note. Not a good movie, but it’s always nice to see Jeffrey Tambor. More importantly, since I watched this, Paranormal Activity and Avatar all in the same week, I can now feel like I’m caught up with the rest of America until the next wave of summer flicks come out.

Puppet Master 4

“Full Moon Entertainment presents”

FM was on fire since the last Puppet Master sequel. They’ve got a Jeffrey Combs sci-fi pic, the aforementioned Netherworld, more Trancers and Dollman and Subspecies movies, at least two dinosaur pictures, two kids movies, four or five more sci-fi movies, and Charles Band involved himself in a castle horror starring Adam Ant.

“starring Gordon Currie”

“THE Gordon Currie,” you might be asking, “twelfth-billed in Friday The 13th Part 8?” That’s the guy. He’d go on to appear in the intriguing but disappointing Waydowntown and play opposite Kirk Cameron in the Left Behind movies.

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“Screenplay by…”

Holy crap, five writers! This is gonna be great! Among them, four are mainly known from this and part five, but Douglas Aarniokoski broke out into directing, assisting Robert Rodriguez and Terry Gilliam before helming his own Highlander sequel.

“directed by Jeff Burr”

Experienced horror director Burr had recently helmed Stepfather II and Texas Chainsaw Massacre III. IMDB reviewers rave: “Okay!” “Worth a look!” “Good enough!”

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Judging from the glowing metal box during the credits, it seems Puppet Master might be trying to rip off props from the Hellraiser series. Oh and now they’re stealing the short glowing-eyed druids from Phantasm. “It is known that those in the upworld are close to discovering our secret, the secret Andre Toulon stole from us those many years ago.” You can tell we’ve got supernatural underground beasties here, and an attempt to get all mythological and use fancy english. Should be no trouble with five writers.

A girl in a lab is working on “The Omega Project” (not the jazz jam band, the “hot nude babes” website or the Japanese film production company – it’s something involving robot arms and colored blocks), receives a package containing a murderous alien puppet, then gets clawed to death. This is one of those movies where every time something happens, we’re gonna see the druids watching it in their magic pool of liquid. Same thing happens ten minutes later to her colleage in another lab. Are subterranean aliens hoping to harness the power of robotic arms moving colored blocks??

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Enter our star Rick, a laser-tag-playing robot programmer prone to talking into a microcassette-corder who lives in the ol’ hotel with his doll Hook, until a visit from his girlfriend Susie, her hot psychic friend Lauren and some asshole named Cameron, Rick’s robotics rival. The artificial-intelligence thing is a nice addition, but come on movie, another psychic in the same hotel? And did they shoot this through a mirror? What is all this glare on the lens? A Bob Vila joke right next to a SCUD missile joke – timely.

Cameron, R.I.P.
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The kids happen upon Toulon’s trunk as Puppet-Toulon lurks outside. They resurrect the killer puppets with Toulon’s formula, marvel at them for a minute, then go off to bed when lightning knocks out the power. Good idea! C&L pull out the series’ first ouija board while Rick plays laser tag (no shit) with Tiny and Drill. The ouija opens a gateway through which more alien demons appear and mangle Cameron to death.

Laser Puppet Master would have been a great title:
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Guy who plays a security guard appeared the following year in crappy Donald Sutherland flick The Puppet Masters – no relation!

The “magic to create life” is in a numeric formula on Rick’s computer. Decapitron’s head turns into a cameo by Toulon. Apparently the puppets are no longer mad at him from the events of Puppet Masters 1 & 2. I think at this point we’ve “rebooted” and are pretending those two didn’t exist. I think when Toulon, speaking through the unconscious third girl, says “you must transcend linearity,” he is telling us to forget about parts 1 & 2 and just go with it. Physics according to the movie: laser tag guns can wound alien puppets, light travels at around one foot per second, and even though puppets are made of cloth and wood they can still make kung-fu punching sounds when they collide

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Toulon dubs Rick the new puppet master, the evil alien is defeated (but not destroyed), and we proceed to part five, which I’m guessing was shot right around the same time.


Puppet Master 5

“Full Moon Entertainment presents”

In between parts 4 and 5: a Lovecraft adaptation, some sexy business, more sequels, and Shrunken Heads from Richard Elfman, director of Forbidden Zone.

Aaand we’ve got the same director and stars as part 4. Confirmed, shot at the same time.

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“Kind of a queer doll for a grown boy to have.” That’s Duane Whitaker, who appeared the same year in Pulp Fiction as one of the dudes who ties up Bruce Willis and Ving Rhames. Since then he’s been in both Rob Zombie sequels. A real movie star in a Puppet Master flick!

Dreeeeam seeeeequence:
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We join Rick at the police station where he’s being arrested for all the deaths from part 4, then it’s on to the first recap of the series, greatest hits from part 4 (there’s some laser tag, of course).

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Some dullsville setup: the new head of Rick’s robotics company is pulling some weapons-dealing trickery, hires the lamest thugs to break into the hotel and steal the puppets. Meanwhile, with no Phantasm monk assistants left, the giant underground puppet transfers his soul into a demon puppet in a drawn-out bit of hammery, saying junk like “drink deep from the fountain of evil, my child.”

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Ever since trying to gain some goodwill by fighting nazis in part III, the series has been going out of its way to bring Bad Guys into the series to become puppet victims, not just innocent psychics. It’s okay for Jester to nail one of the petty thieves in the balls with a meat hammer, but the demon puppet does all the real killing. These guys aren’t evil enough to deserve Death By Jester, just some slapstick. Hey, it’s Torch! Was he even in part 4? The Demon shoots ghost lasers at Torch until Six-Shooter wounds it. Aaaand Rick talks to his computer which is channeling the now-hospitalized psychic girl from part 4.

The filmmakers apparently confused computer code with German:
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Timely references: a gross country guy uses the phrase “achy-breaky”

Up to the 65-minute mark it’s kind of boring. The thieves’ deaths are all demon-scratches and red lighting, and as before, everyone makes a huge deal of Decapitron, who doesn’t even seem all that cool to me. Oh wait, I looked down to type this and now Doctor Whoever, the weaponry robotics bigwig, is fighting Rick with a giant wrench in the elevator. Oh good, Torch is unharmed from the laser hit, and he and his buddies don’t take kindly to the bespectacled man who just konked out their friend.

Decapitron is not cool:
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Epic (well, three-minute) puppet battle follows. All puppets survive, the demon doesn’t, happy epilogue. The movies are becoming disappointingly tame and formulaic. Fortunately they changed things up in the next movie, but unfortunately it’s the worst-rated in the series.

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Puppet Master 6

“Full Moon Pictures presents”

Our six favorite puppets are in cages while a new fake Toulon runs off and burn/buries another cage on a cool-looking night-and-fog set. Hope he buried Decapitron (update: no, it was the deformed puppet body of his former assistant, but Decap isn’t in this sequel anyhow). Lots of editing and fancy angles… we may be in the hands of a Raimi disciple.

The poster is for a mid-60’s Italian swords-and-sandals flick:
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“Curse of the Puppet Master”

So we’re done with the sequel numbering. A montage of puppet scenes from earlier movies plays over the credits, and it’s not for recap purposes like in part five – just good ol’ footage recycling.

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“directed by Victoria Sloan”

This is actually David DeCoteau from part III. Why would the guy who has only ever made bad movies use an alias for a bad movie? In fact, his previous Puppet Master entry was one of the good ones – you’d think he’d want some fan recognition. Maybe the DeCoteau table at the conventions was getting too hot. From the writer of Hellraiser Deader, ugh.

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“Another Magoo goes to college” says the fake Toulon to his daughter. So the lead’s name is gonna be Magoo, huh? And now a guy named Tank whom I recognize from the video box. Picked-on sensitive Tank (Josh Green, who made it to 42nd-billed-in-Pearl-Harbor before throwing in the towel) makes fancy wood figurines, gets hired by puppet-crazy Mr. Magoo, introduced to our gang, who are let out of their cages for dinner. Movie doesn’t look so bad but this is some clumsy-ass dialogue.

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Magoo bought the puppets at auction? So much for the long careful setup stringing the sequels together. Oh um Magoo (George Peck – best known as “man with luggage” in a Susan Sarandon flick) is being questioned by the cops about the disappearance of his previous assistant in an extremely drawn-out scene. Come to think of it, 30 minutes have passed and nothing has happened (pre-credits foggy mystery doesn’t count).

Magoo wants the boy to make a 444-piece puppet – that’s 2/3rds of the devil. Maybe it comes with a 222-piece accessory pack. One piece is the size of his hand – the puppet will be as big as the house!

“What is man except a being at war with himself.”
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Jane Magoo (Emily Harrison – the best actor here – who went on to play “girl” in a David Spade film) is back and there’s some kissing and what not. Tank roughhouses with hooligans. Mr. Magoo pep-talks Tank. The last 30 minutes of this movie had better be pretty cool.

A hooligan broke Tiny! Puppets are sent after the hooligan and we have our first groin-drilling of the series. I am liking the drunkenly tilting camera. An investigation follows and our puppet friends become cop killers. The effects in this movie ain’t worth a damn – no stop-motion or cleverness, just out-of-frame hands waving puppets around, and sometimes strings I can see.

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Magoo turns Tank into a way silly Max Headroom robot and the puppets, who were totally cool with all this a second ago, decide to kill him. Roll credits? I like the bonkers ending and the short runtime, but let’s face it, I’m just trying to stay positive over a turd of a movie.

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I am Puppet Master’d out, so there will be a very long delay before I move on to part 7…

“I think something bad’s happened here.”

Danger signs in the first minute: a Prodigy song (in 2003), and Clint Howard top-billed.

The line was probably written “Anyone have a cellphone?” but the cop reads it “Anyone? Have a cellphone.”

Man, love stories do not belong wedged into the middle of House of the Dead.

Ouch, it wasn’t even the Prodigy, just a soundalike no-name group.

Anyway, as this has a reputation for being one of the very worst movies of the decade and the worst video game adaptation ever (quite a competitive field), I thought I’d put it on for fun while catching up on the ol’ movie blog. It’d be counter-productive to write too much about it, or even to pay too much attention, but hey it’s definitely extremely crappy.

Althought I did liked the girls with boobies and all the guns. The zombys were good but not so good as classics like day of the dead by George Romeo thats one of my favorites I like how the doctor dies at the end. The music was fucking hot and I liked how there were scnes from the video game in the movie but they were so quick I couldnt tell what parts they were from excerpt sometimes. The extra featuers on the dvd are way funner than the movie.

Sometimes I rent something because it looks like a stupid good time, and sometimes I’m very wrong and it turns out to be just painfully awful. This one would look, from the screenshots, to be at least more exciting than Sukiyaki Western Django, but it is not.

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Ruka (above, girl with the needles in Audition) works for the cops. Inexplicably, she’s the only one who can defeat the “engineers”, berserker killers with fleshy Cronenbergian keys in their heads. She meets the original/lead engineer (Itsuji Itao of Negative Happy Chain Saw Edge, unless that’s actually an alternate title for this movie) who killed her father long ago as a hired assassin when her dad was leading some kind of union, but it turns out the cops are corrupt and wanted her dad killed so she teams up with the engineer and takes down the cops after becoming part-engineer herself (below).

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But the plot ain’t what the movie is about. It’s about limbs being chopped off and the endless watery blood sprays that follow. Seems to steal parts of Hostel and Hellraiser in addition to the Cronenberg works. I found the movie to be headachy crap, with music that made it sound like an advertisement. Tried to compensate for its MPD Psycho-like video look with a constantly moving handicam, achieving the worst of both worlds. Wasn’t even worth watching for cool fight scenes, since the fight scenes were not cool.

Itsuji Itao:
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The director started as a makeup/effects artist, and it shows, since that’s all he seems to care about here. He is joined by a writer of Uzumaki. Apparently, irritating teen-girl-obsessed director Sion Sono was here as an actor somewhere. and Tak Sakaguchi (star of Versus) and Takashi Shimizu (director of Ju-on/Grudge and Marebito) also appeared, I don’t know where or when.

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I suppose this was probably just as bad as Man With The Screaming Brain, but for that one I was in the theater, forced to contemplate its obvious, unfunny crappiness on the big, big screen surrounded by unquestioning fans who just came to get an autograph. This one I could half-pay attention to while searching the internet for Silkworm bootlegs, a much better idea.

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Not even half as good as Maniac Cop, which kinda sucked, this stars Bruce as the cult version of himself (washed-up loser asshole with huge ego). He’s kidnapped from the set of his latest awful horror sequel by an obsessed fan who wants Bruce to save his small town from a resurrected Chinese warrior demon, which he sorta does, even though the kid awoke the thing himself by stealing some stone that he doesn’t think to just put back. Bruce is an anti-hero throughout, killing townsfolk with his cowardice and incompetence.

Ted Raimi plays a bunch of characters, including a couple offensive stereotypes:
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Directed, of course, by Mr. Campbell, along with the writer of Time Cop, producer of Barb Wire, and cinematographer of Command & Conquer (the videogame series!), and a bunch of actors whose secret hopes that this would be their big break into the movies were surely dashed when they saw the premiere.

1982: the year of Blade Runner, White Dog, Poltergeist, The Thing, Gandhi, Britannia Hospital, Fitzcarraldo, Fanny & Alexander, Tron, the Sting version of Brimstone & Treacle… and this, the legendary Worst Kurt Vonnegut Adaptation Ever. From young hotshot Steven Paul, one of the producers of Doomsday, and I know I just said I wouldn’t waste my time watching anything created by anyone involved with Doomsday, but the Vonnegut connection combined with this movie’s reputation for being one of the worst comedies of the 80’s forced me to watch it out of morbid curiosity.

Laurel and Hardy? The book was dedicated to them.
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Opens with narration by Orson Welles, surely giving even less effort than he did as the voice of the planet in Transformers: The Movie. You can immediately tell that the movie has no comic sense whatsoever. It looks cheap despite the big-name cast, and every “joke” is dead on delivery. The comedy is mostly people falling down, moving fast, talking funny (slapstick, I guess) and it’s badly staged… for instance, the twins are giant-sized, but only when convenient.

I don’t think Vonnegut was as mean-spirited towards the Chinese. And of course, Noriyuki “Pat” Morita is not of Chinese descent, but better him than Mickey Rooney I suppose. He plays the shrunken thumb-sized ambassador, a reference only understood by readers of the book since it’s unexplained during the movie. Other bits from the book are also rethought and bungled, and the twins are from SPACE now (and return to space in the ridiculous ending). All traces of Vonnegut’s trademark sadness and humanity are lost, unless you consider the sadness of the cast and the releasing studio and the audience. Rogue Cinema points out that the movie’s cast (Khan, Feldman, even Welles) and poster and title (and renaming the doctor “Frankenstein”) aimed to make audiences think that this would be a Mel Brooks Close Encounters parody. That particular advertising lie is probably the most well-thought-out part of the whole film.

Lewis!
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Khan!
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Madeline Khan and Jerry Lewis double-star as both the super-genius twins and their rich, detached parents. Marty Feldman is the butler in the twins’ secluded home. John Abbott plays a guy with a cool beard and Samuel FULLER is the colonel at the Military School For Screwed-Up Boys.

Feldman!
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Fuller!
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One of the last films of Jim Backus (Mr. Howell on Gilligan’s Island, voice of Mr. Magoo), John Abbott, Marty Feldman, and even Jerry Lewis (had starring roles in 6-7 more movies, most of them bad) but Jerry recovered in time to make Arizona Dream. Yes, Slapstick was a mega-career-killer, destroying the respectability of everyone involved! It ruined cinematographer Anthony Richmond, who previously shot the beautiful Man Who Fell To Earth and Bad Timing but went on to shoot Dane Cook movies and Dumb & Dumber 2. And – little known fact – it contributed to the death of Orson Welles and was directly responsible for his never completing Big Brass Ring, The Dreamers or Other Side of the Wind. Orson’s female co-narrator’s career was so thoroughly demolished that the internet has no record of who she was. But on the bright side, the movie helped launch the film career of Pat Morita, who would star in The Karate Kid two years later.

Morita! (he’s the one not looking at the camera)
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Music by Michel Legrand and a song with lyrics by Vonnegut were edited out of the movie after the original release – why?? Assistant-directed by Michel’s son Benjamin Legrand, ending his short career as assistant-director (begun the year before on Rivette’s Merry-Go-Round).

Everybody wants prosthetic foreheads on their real heads? The incest scene doesn’t go very far, because we need a “PG” rating.
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Released around the same time as Scorsese’s awesome King of Comedy, also with Jerry Lewis, though I think this was shot first and shelved for a while. Gene Siskel calls it “shockingly bad” and Ebert calls it offensive but makes a point of not blaming Vonnegut or Lewis. I heard one detectable Jerry joke: “You know, do as the romans do… when in rome, that is – I had it backwards” (it’s all in the delivery). There’s an occasional passionate line-read by Madeline or Jerry, the occasional animated bit of action, but mostly the movie moves mechanically from one laborious scene to the next, a simple motion illustration of a screenplay written by a guy who knows a guy who talked to a guy who once read the Vonnegut novel (which wasn’t one of KV’s best stories to begin with). I would looove to say that Fuller, Lewis and Feldman were excellent and the movie was slightly worth watching, but they weren’t and it wasn’t. I’m not in any hurry to rewatch Breakfast of Champions to decide whether this one is worse, but I think it probably is.

Close Encounters of the Dumb Kind:
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