A Star is Born (1976)

You may find this post controversial and I’ve made my peace with it.  Some view this film as a classic and some hold it proudly in their Barbra Streisand shrine.  However, I recently viewed this film and felt the need to post about it as there were just way too many elements that couldn’t be ignored.

Fact: this is the THIRD remake of this story (a fourth is slowly rolling around in development. You can read about it here).

Fact: this is the first movie I’ve blogged about on this site that’s both a Oscar and a Golden Globe winner for the song “Evergreen”.

Fact: I have long since made fun of the lyrics to the song “Evergreen” without realizing it was a) from this movie and b) a Barbra Streisand song.  You can’t sing a lyric that compares love to a easy chair and not expect me to mock it.

So we meet John Howard Norman, a big rock star who’s late to everything, drinks a lot and has Gary Busey personally shove cocaine up his nose.

No one in this movie ever calls him just “John”.  Its always “John Howard” or “John Howard Norman”. This may have been because the filmmakers felt that no one would accept a hero named John, leading to theater attendees storming out of the theaters in protest.

Fact: John Howard Norman never sings a whole complete song. He starts songs, then always interrupts and we as an audience have no idea why people even bother going to his shows to begin with.

Here’s what someone should have prepared me for. No one knows how to wear shirts in this movie.  Shirts are really more of a suggestion or an opinion.  So as a result, they’re maybe buttoned or worn halfway or in this case, Kris Kristofferson just forwent the shirt entirely and skipped to the vest.  To each his own, I suppose.

After an evening of kind of singing parts of two songs, he leaves his own show and goes to a club where we’re introduced to Barbra Streisand aka “Esther Hoffman”.

She’s in a singing group that call themselves “The Oreos.”  The less said about this, the better.

So they’re singing, and Barbra is being Barbra.  However, every romance movie needs a “meet cute” and we get with this moment…

“John Howard Norman” (I guess we’ll follow the movie’s instructions to always call him this) gets into a shouting match with some bar customers and Barbra gets ticked and confronts him about it. 

Now, lets put this situation in “real life” shall we?  In movie life, Barbra sings at a club and she hears a drunk guy shouting and getting drunker. She confronts him, he’s charmed by it, chases her down and begs to date her.  She kind of plays coy and allows him to bring a pizza to her house at 7am the next day.

In “real life”, Barbra would have finished her set, gone backstage, complained with the rest of The Oreos (sigh). Had “John Howard Norman” come slurring her way, a bouncer would have steered him to his car and he would have woken up ten hours later not remembering anything.  Roll credits!

But they have breakfast and are super cutesy about eating pizza and him guzzling down a whiskey and a few more beers for breakfast, so he invites her to come to his show.

Another show where he starts a song, mumbles through it, then goes and finds Barbra…

…sings from a vantage point where no one can see him…

…takes a fan’s motorcycle (which begs the question, do people still bring a motorcycle inside arenas? Also, where can I get the “I’m Spoiled Rotten” shirt?)

…and this inevitably happens…

…where you know, everyone’s going to have to file back out and spend three hours in their cars wondering what on earth they just saw.

Meanwhile, “John Howard Norman” gets put in an ambulance, everyone takes off, leaving Barbra stranded at a arena.

In “real life”, Esther Hoffman would have been angry and annoyed, spent hundreds of dollars on an Uber getting back to her house and written an interesting op-ed piece to Rolling Stone on what a tool John Howard Norman is.

Instead, she finds it cute that he stalked her at a studio and follows him home to his house where they make sweet music together…

…and then sweet, sweet love.

So many beer cans in this scene.

Naturally, he brings her into the studio and she sings whole and complete songs, which blows everyone away. He realizes that she is a unicorn and they make glorious creative plans.

He does yet another show, where he starts to sing a song and people are into it, but he stops barely into the first chorus and goes, “Hey guys, you paid to see me, but you’ll be fine letting my girlfriend of two days taking over, right?”

So Barbra comes out in an outfit that makes her look like she’s about to do everyone’s taxes and performs two whole songs.  Turns out the crowd loves it when you come out and do a song that has a beginning, middle and end. They go nuts and officially, “a star is born.”

Roll credits.

In the frenzy of the show, Barbra proposes to “John Howard Norman”. JHN gives her a very solid reason why this is a terrible decision. Namely that he’s an awful person who’s life is a total mess. Never mind, she knows what she wants and thats that.

The movie clearly has very little to do between now and JHN’s inevitable death (spoiler alert) so it does that thing that only bad movies do…there’s a montage. And it has everything that a ’70s love montage needs…

 Picture perfect moments in the middle of nowhere. This is always followed by sex in the most uncomfortable setting imaginable.

Being silly in the middle of nowhere.  This movie was made by Warner Bros who also holds the rights to Superman which I guess makes this scene okay.

Wearing Indian blankets as if that counts as clothes.  (Fact: It does not)

Enjoying your ’70s house with more rugs.

Maybe one of you fakes your death?

And at the end of a long day of holding each other and staring into each other’s eyes, you recline on pillows that vaguely look like Swastikas.

At some point, you have to come back to reality.  After all, Esther is a big star now (sure, its been a week maybe) and JHN is dealing with the fact that his career is over. Now this movie gets it into gear.

People are really digging her. She’s up for a Grammy! She shows up to her shows! She finishes songs! She wears shirts!

Speaking of which, she wins a Grammy for Best Female Vocal. She insists JHN go up with her, despite the fact that he almost didn’t make it and that he’s super trashed.  No, no, no, she drags him up there where he slurs something about art, all while Tony Orlando and Rita Coolidge seem horrified.

And, this movie dares to wave its codependency flag again, when Esther goes to calm down in the bathroom and is followed by JHN.

He makes another really good case for why this marriage isn’t going to work out, but she won’t have it.

This movie is begging for the opening credits to Intervention to come on at any moment.  I would have fully welcomed it.

During a photo shoot, he tells her that she’ll have to tour on her own.  She’s horrified.

He doesn’t show up for things when she needs him to, but instead of processing the links between addiction and unhealthy relationships, she puts on more drapey clothes and wonders why as she literally stares at empty glass vessels that used to hold alcohol.

While she’s gone however, a sexy journalist breaks into their home and begs for an interview with Esther.  She’ll do anything.

ANYTHING.

And he obliges.

Of course they’re caught.  The journalist gets huffy and walks out, while Esther thinks things over and has this reaction to the whole situation…

Frankly, at this point, I won’t blame his addiction, I’ll just blame the ’70s. Neither of them are clearly ever going to learn anything at this point.

So the universe takes over. He gets up early, drinks a lot of beer and has a fatal accident.

And Esther gives the performance of a lifetime where she cries and hopes he’s looking down on her.  I’d cry too, but then I remembered he was a reckless and selfish alcoholic who possessed really bad judgement.  The good news is that she got a career out of it and the rest of The Oreos had to find another white lady to lead them.

PERFORMANCE OF A LIFETIME.

Should you care to delve deeper into this, you can watch this movie on Amazon, HBO GO or in physical disc form from Netflix.

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INFERNO (1999)

I think the movie’s tagline says it all…

“Left for Dead. Burning for Revenge…”

I get chills just thinking about it. That and the fact this was brought to us by the same guy who made a squeaky voiced Ralph Macchio roar.

This is how we meet our hero…

Drunk and passed out. You can’t see it, but his motorcycle is crumpled up in a heap somewhere off in the distance. Maybe it was written in the script but something tells me this is just JCVD being JCVD.

Its now occured to me that the movie’s tagline “Left for dead…” isn’t exactly true. More like “Wasted Loser Life, Might Get Up Later.”

The other thing we establish very quickly is that JCVD’s best friend is a guy named Johnny Sixtoes. No one questions this last name, they just plow into the story as if we all didn’t just hear one of the silliest names in movie history.

As the movie will explain to you (through the ramblings of a drunk JCVD) he’s here in the middle of nowhere to drink himself to death over his actions while serving in the Army. Honoring his Army training, he recklessly fires shots in the air, which makes Johnny Sixtoes disappear (the name stays though) and a group of guys in a truck appears upset about JCVD’s inability to understand gun safety.

What follows is flareups of tempers and conflict that could have easily been avoided had these guys just driven away from the gunfire. But that would have been a blissfully short movie and we would have watched another 75 minutes of JCVD slobbering unconsciously.

If there’s one thing this movie has that other Van Damme movies don’t is that Jean-Claude is rocking a cowboy hat for most of it. He clearly really likes himself in said hat, because once its on, he seems reluctant to be without it.

Guns, grenades and cowboy hats….Van Damme for President 2016.

It should be mentioned…

Mr. Miyagi is in this. His role in this movie is useless, which is fantastic because its long been forgotten and he can remain a cherished icon of our childhoods. Instead, he works at a dumpy diner with this little love interest (van DAMN!)

Her acting is genuine – it says, “I’m playing a character that doesn’t know she’s supposed to kiss Jean Claude Van Damme later.”

Johnny Sixtoes comes back. He’s also Danny Trejo, pretending we don’t remember his name is actually Johnny Sixtoes.

He hangs out, soothes Jean Claude’s ego and then disappears into the night. God bless you Johnny Sixtoes. I’m hoping for the sequel where we meet his wife, Susie Fourthumbs.

You would think this movie would be about JCVD overcoming his suicidal guilt Army thoughts, but no, its just about him getting back at the guys who got mad at him for almost shooting them. So his plan of attack is, kill the guys and have Hot Waitress and Mr. Miyagi help dispose of the bodies, making this one of the darkest movies I’ve watched for this blog (please keep in mind I sat through two Insane Clown Posse productions).

I realize JCVD wants us to know that he’s a formidable force for good, but when you garble out dialog and insist on wearing cowboy hats that are too big for your head, it just defeats the purpose.

Man loves his hat. Not much else you can say about it.

He does take it off from time to time though…

Because its extremely hard to do a roundhouse kick in one. If Chuck Norris has mastered it, then he’s not showing it nor talking about it.

The lesson we learn from this is that if you’re depressed, do whatever makes you feel better. If someone has a problem with it, feel free to introduce them to Sonny & Cher (aka your fists).

“You guys, I’m really working my way through the grumpies. Thanks!”

Better than therapy, albeit way more messy. No word on how Mr. Miyagi and Johnny Sixtoes coping skills have held up.

Thoughts? Feel free to discuss in the comments or on our Facebook page or Twitter.

DOLLS (1987)

Its another Halloween – lets find something that tries so hard to chill the inner workings of our soul and fails on every level. So we’re going to talk about the movie Dolls.

You should know this movie holds a 63% rating on Rotten Tomatoes.

Whaaaaaaaat?!?!?!

Our story involves six people stranded in a creepy mansion in the middle of nowhere  (so far, our story wins originality points). There’s a little girl and her love withholding father and mother,  and two Madonna clones.

Parents, if your child isn’t getting the love and attention they need from home, they will look for it in creepy dolls. Its science.

They end up in the quaintly creepy home of an elderly couple who makes dolls and seems a wee bit too attached to them but still the best example of parenting you’re going to get in this film.

So cruel and uncaring parents have made Judy give up their teddy bear, but Judy gets something waaaaay better – this Punch doll. FACT – Punch dolls are twice as cuddly as teddy bears and kids just can’t get enough of Punch’s violent tendencies.

As you can guess, its a night of terror, with people being picked off. First to go is the Desperately Seeking Susans…

After watching these two try to steal from the elderly couple, and then get beaten up…

…and shot by a firing squad, its not a bad idea to have killer dolls as your house security system.  Lets see that pitch on Shark Tank.

Next up is the cruel mother. The dolls looked for a heart and couldn’t find one. So they attacked her post-shower and sent her out the window. Here’s where I’m really impressed with these killers. No laziness here – they actually bring the body back (cleaned up the mess) and put it back in the bedroom.

Dad runs into the same character flaw that most horror movie characters do. He’s unloving and insensitive  but incredibly bland. Espescially when it comes to the fact there’s a chance homicidal dolls are out for blood.

They’re also the spirits of others, but whatevs. Shrug it off.

As you can imagine, things get a little out of hand.

I used to work at a toy store where we had a whole wall full of Madame Alexander dolls. There is no difference between them and what I just watched.

NO DIFFERENCE AT ALL.

And to the surprise of no one, Punch turns on Judy. There’s a big fight that involves human adults fighting off tiny dolls. Its stupider than it sounds. Also, there’s a lesson…

Its a very serious lesson and if you’re not paying attention you’ll miss its subtleness.

The kindly old people explain they have guests over all the time. But they put their guests through a test  to see if you respect childhood and are pure of heart – if you fail, you’re dismembered by a doll. Sort of like Willy Wonka’s less socially acceptable brother.

And we end with another group of terrible people coming to stay at the Doll house ignoring, what I’m assuming is its many negative Yelp reviews.

Thoughts? Feel free to discuss in the comments or on our Facebook page. Geena Davis bland face impressions with me on Twitter

CUTTHROAT ISLAND (1995)

There’s been a lot of discussion lately on how women are criminally underrepresented at the box office. Men seem to have all the fun when it comes to action hero parts, superhero parts, serial killers, etc, but every now and then, there’s a rush of sort of “girl power” movies that tend to be either hit or miss. Which means in the same year we got Clueless, we also got Cutthroat Island.

I had never seen it before. Like the rest of the Earth’s population, I had missed it, well…much like a ship in the night. but now that almost 20 years has gone by, it still gets talked about. Mostly just about killed a studio (combined efforts with Showgirls, another “girl power” film, if you will). A quick search on Wikipedia will tell you that Geena Davis was married to the director at the time, that it cost hundreds of millions of dollars and only took in $11 million while in theaters. It will also tell you that no one wanted to be in it.

So, the prospect for adventure is very high indeed.

The plot is extremely complicated. Its a two hour plus extravaganza that seems to go on for at least a week. Morgan (Davis) has a stellar pirating legacy led by her father but is just waiting for the opportunity to prove her mettle, which she gets when she needs to find a place called Cutthroat Island (whoever named it was not thinking of the tourism industry or possible real estate development for families). There’s treasure, blah blah blah and also one third of a map.

I should mention that this portion of the map she does have was originally tattooed on her father’s head. He dies at the beginning so she scalps him for it and wanders around the rest of the movie carrying it around casually like its a set of keys.

I’d like to back up and just point out that the first major plot point of this film is Geena Davis scalping her father and carrying it around.  Even that would warrant a squeamish look from Quentin Tarantino.

Morgan’s foe is a bad pirate named Dawg.  Yes, you read that right. His name is Dawg and he’s played by classically trained and long respected actor Frank Langella, who also brought Skeletor to life in 1985’s live action spectacle, He-Man: Masters of the Universe. If you haven’t seen that, do yourself a favor, stop reading this and attend to that.  He’s got Map #2, which is carved on a piece of wood, proving that even he has his limits when it comes to using human skin from a loved one.

Lastly is our male romantic lead, played by Matthew Modine. I have chosen to not remember his name. His character is bland that tries really hard to have a personality. He smirks and says cutely sarcastic things, but he doesn’t bring any special skills to the table. Yet, Geena Davis will fall in love with him.

This movie cost over $100 million back in 1995, but you’d never know it. Everything in this film looks like it was done on the cheap. Except for the wigs. Those looked totally legit.

For a movie that boasts a lot of money, this is the cheapest looking treasure I’ve ever seen.

The other highlight of this movie is the ridiculously complicated missions to get simple things. For example – Geena needs to find someone who speaks Latin. So here’s the process…

Dress up like a fancy lady and go to prison.

Instead of having Matthew Modine just translate Dad’s scalp right there in prison, they break him out and cause a town riot which most likely destroys everything.

She also manages to get shot and Modine swoops in for a romantic subplot that comes in out of nowhere.

But hey, they found a Latin translator. So that’s all that matters.

Geena is leading a pirate ship to Cutthroat Island in search of treasure, which is a feel good idea for 20th century feminist America. Before we cheer too loudly, I’d like to point out that she’s a terrible leader.

She consistently leads her team into dangerous situations with no real strategy. There’s always at least one kid involved.

She makes decisions based on conversations with Matthew Modine, who she doesn’t really know all that well.

Matthew Modine’s life skills (as demonstrated by what he does and not what he says) are telling lies, kind of knowing Latin and wearing leather tank tops. Also jabbing Geena Davis with a fake needle.

He just sort of stumbles into getting caught here and there. And yet, Geena Davis’ literal right hand man.

The lesson here is that if you’re looking for adventure, just hire really incompetant people – sit back and let the drama begin. 

Dawg on the other hand has a loyal team of pirates that he treats well, listens to their ideas, unifies forces and does not carry around his father’s scalp. One might argue, he could be the hero of this movie.

Despite all that, Geena and Co. win the day, the treasure, overall life itself and sail into the horizon willing to make all the mistakes all over again.

Not the studio though – they shut down shortly after this movie was released.

However, if you still crave more Geena Davis action, you can play her as a video game…

Anybody got a Super Nintendo and $9.95 I can borrow?

Thoughts? Feel free to discuss in the comments or on our Facebook page. Geena Davis bland face impressions with me on Twitter

THE BABYSITTER (1980)

We’re deviating slightly and going to the treasure trove of ’80s made for TV movies – the kind that would take something you just assumed was safe and then terrified you to no end.  Sort of like what plays on Lifetime at any given moment.

You may ask – “What sets this apart from any of the other things I can find on Lifetime at any minute?”

This:

That’s right.  You’re all about to get Shatner’d.

The plot is right there – Mom’s going to go nuts, and Shatner’s going to venture into undiscovered country – which is being seduced by underaged girls.  Strap in.

Behold Tara, all-American girl. That is, if you’re definition of a all American girl is middle class with a inattentive father and expressing her emotions to a doll. But lets face facts- if a evil babysitter hadn’t infiltrated their way into the house, she may have been on her way to becoming one.

Like most made for TV situations, this family lives near a quaint dock, far from questioning eyes. Just serene upper middle class heaven – the kind of environment where the girl from nowhere doesn’t get questioned and is automatically offered free room and board in exchange for babysitting services.

 

 

Every Star Trek enthusiast (I’ll throw in the TJ Hooker fanset too) know that.

How did you meet your babysitter? Craigslist? Friend referral? Did you almost hit her with your car and feel bad about, and THEN offer her a job? One of these options applies to this movie and therefore the most reliable.

In case you’re wondering, “I don’t know. This family clearly would have been okay had it not been for a crazy babysitter”, let me put it to you. This movie opens with Tara, the 13 year old girl talking to dolls and then trying to steal her parents car.

“Do you always walk in front of passing cars? Your boldness would be a good match for my daughter’s mousiness and budding mental problems. Which she gets from me.”

This horrifyingly bad decision signifies that Mom has some mental instability. Not that the movie caught on.

This movie stops at nothing to show us this family is so incredibly close to domestic perfection.  So close.  As long as no one’s talking, then perfection is achieved

And as this movie cannot stress enough – MOM IS HANGING BY A MENTAL THREAD.

We should probably talk about how Tara dresses like she’s late for her shift at Alice’s Diner while complaining about oatmeal. The fact she never says “Kiss my grits” is the biggest missed opportunity.

 

Let’s talk about the babysitter.  She’s lovely in a 70s made for TV way. She had nothing going on in life but is a fantastic housekeeper and cook and enjoys talking to people from her past when there’s no one in the room. Also, when the camera does one of these tight close ups on her face, you will be treated to the sounds of a creepy moog synthesizer, which represents the tortured state of her mind. Also, she’s single.

It was mentioned that due to the Babysitter’s positive influence, Tara is not watching as much television and is no longer afraid of the outdoors.

HANGING BY A THREAD.

“I think my husband’s having an affair.”

“Do you mind if I take your car and go to a movie?”

“Sure.”

The tension in this film is through the roof.

Now this movie starts getting interesting….the Babysitter tries on a fairly modest looking nightgown and waits for William Shatner to walk in on her.

Which he does….

The spiral of destruction is in full force. The head of the house, William Shatner is a man of action. He was the Captain of the Enterprise and yelled at people to do his bidding….

 

…but in this case he stares at her and speaks in whispered tones for her to get out.

Naturally, she doesn’t, but she does say, “Fine. I’ll put it back.”

She comes back to him the next day with these words of comfort, “You had sex with your wife last night, didn’t you?”

No one plays it more mild than Shatner.  They don’t call it Shatnering for nothing.

“Whatever you do, stay bland.”

This kid let all of his emotions show through – even the ones where he was casually enjoying a boat ride with a sexy babysitter.

Know where it got him?

His only crime was loving too much. By loving I mean, sort of hitting on the Babysitter during a casual boat ride and saying, “Hey, can I see you later?”
William Shatner stays bland at all costs.
 “You take me to your parties, and if I want to drink, I’ll drink! Because you love your job too much!”
 “Shut up about my job! She loves me in more ways than you’ll ever understand!”

We get a small glimpse of his emotional threshold when she accuses him of being to judgey. Then he springs to action. Kind of. His face muscles still remain slightly rested.

 

“Hey Mom – I think the babysitter is doing a lousy job of taking care of the house. Should we fire her? Plus, why are you drinking at 9am in your slip?”

“Hello? Am I alone in here?”

Poor Tara. She’s one more traumatic incident short of becoming her own manipulative babysitter.

When the Babysitter REALLY snaps, we are treated to a all out monologue, one that I suspect was used in an audition. It has everything – a tragic backstory about being a foster child, the desire for love and belonging, and she throws in a little, “No one understands me”. Its amazing – so much so that she snaps, espescially when talking about all those other families she murdered.

The bland arms of William Shatner cannot save her from herself. Drastic measures are taken…

She goes on a murderous rampage for Tara who cleverly hid herself in a room with glass windows.

It all comes crashing down – the friendly neighborhood police take a break from cracking the case of missing bicycles and issuing citations for dogs without licenses and take the Babysitter away. Presumably to sit in jail and clean and cook for the inmates there, where she’ll convince them all that they’re alcoholics that should just give up on life all together.

On second thought, this is TV. She’ll get out and prey on a TV family, hopefully starring Heather Locklear.

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The Initiation (1984)

This week’s post, I’ve handed over the reigns  to my brilliant partner in crime over at First World Failure, Beth Seaver to do her own exploring. Strap in…

 

 

 

OK, I’ll be honest. I’ve been through sorority initiation and I thought that this movie would just be a fun opportunity to relive the passive aggressive mental abuse minus the tears and secret eating. Sadly, the sense train jumps the track early in this film, and all we can do is survey the wreckage looking for meaning that isn’t really there. Fans of Halloween will be happy to know that The Initiation steals plot points with abandon, whether it makes sense or not. 
We open with a little girl sleeping. She wakes up and walks down the hall to find her mother and a man having sex. Unlike the rest of us (who would still be washing our eyes to this day), this little gal takes a page from the Michael Meyers handbook and…

 

Stabs him! Sure. Then another unnamed man rushes into the room (might want to start examining your lifestyle choices, Mom) and she…

 

Sets him on fire! Can I point out that we’re barely five minutes in and we have no idea what’s going on except we have an angelic young girl with anger issues? Moving on.

 

Our main character Kelly wakes up from her nightmare (Stabby McFirestarter was all a dream, got it), only to be greeted with a new nightmare. It’s time for midnight sorority ceremonies in our underwear!

 

Doesn’t matter how many times you chant, “Delta Rho Chi, never will die” we all know where this is going. 

 

The girl on the left is Meagan. Meagan dislikes everyone because she is 35 and still in a college sorority. Seriously, did someone attend the Luke Perry School of looking like a teenager? We learn that for “Prank Night” the pledges will be breaking in to Kelly’s family’s department store to steal the security guard’s uniform. You may want to write this down because we won’t be revisiting this plot point for about an hour.

 

Thanks to this handy transition, we’re now at a nuthouse. What does this have to do with the rest of the plot? Who knows? For now let’s just go with it.

 

This is our Nurse Ratched – you can tell by the way that she gets mad at this old woman who just wants to rock back and forth silently all day. 

 

This is another patient at this hospital. Obviously a graduate of the Cuba Gooding Jr. School of representing the mentally handicapped on screen with compassion. 

 

And finally something relevant to the plot! The sad groundskeeper/patient who has mysterious burn scars, and an aggressive way with gardening tools. I wonder if he’ll escape the sanatorium like a certain knife wielding killer from a more successful movie franchise. I don’t know, but someone is going to murder a certain bad tempered nurse with a gardening tool first. 

 

These are Kelly’s parents, getting a call that some patients have escaped the mental hospital and wondering out loud if they shouldn’t share certain “secrets” with their daughter. Let’s wait until some more people end up murdered first.  

 

Whoops. Looks like their “secrets” are lurking around the house. Too bad a wealthy department store owner can’t afford a security system. Good thing this gun and stunned expression will ward off any danger. 

 

Now we’re back at college, and Kelly is ready to try and get rid of her nightmares by participating in a “study” run by super hot teaching assistant in his creepy basement/dungeon.

 

His red shirted assistant is there to make sure things stay on the up and up and everyone keeps their tops on.

 

I’m going to question the credentials of the sleep dungeon, because all it does is make Kelly paranoid. You really do get what you pay for. 

 

Nightmares notwithstanding, we’ve made it to Prank Night, and Kelly and her fellow pledges will be stealing this security guard’s uniform. 

 

He’s not a very good guard, because about half the students from the local college and a deranged killer manage to make it inside on his watch. 

 

The guard doesn’t get all the blame. This “department store” is apparently six stories tall and looks like a hotel. Too much ground to cover for one man. 

 

Uh oh, they’re not going to be able to sell those beds if you leave your college hormones all over them!

 

And now they’re dead. As with most horror movies from this era, many people will die before our main character catches on. 

 

I hope this clue is obvious enough for her. She’s the only Kelly in this movie, right?

 

OK, good. We’re all sufficiently scared now. 

 

Finally! The teaching assistant who dates co-eds is getting to the bottom of this! The burn victim/alleged mass killer is actually Kelly’s father. Who she set on fire? In her dream that’s really a repressed memory? 

 

What to do when a killer is stalking a bunch of kids? Make some phone calls. Call the sorority house and Kelly’s mom, but whatever you do don’t contact the authorities.

 

Kelly pushes her burned father off the roof, and professor dream dungeon finally runs in. Hey…why doesn’t Kelly look more enthused?

 

Because it’s not Kelly!!! It’s her twin sister…Terry? This is the part of the movie where the sense train jumps the tracks, and bursts into flames. Did Kelly just push her father off the roof and he’s not even the killer? Why don’t Kelly and Terry have rhyming “twin” names? Why does Terry do all her murders with her father’s gardening tools?

 

Finally! Kelly is safe thanks to dear old Mom, who shoots Terry and quickly becomes very confused. Maybe she also forgot she had two daughters?
Is your mind blown too? You’d think that there was no recovering from a movie like this, but our heroine Kelly (or is it Terry? Who’s dead?) went on to play Princess Vespa in Spaceballs. John Candy in a cat suit makes more sense than any part of this movie.

 

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THE PIRATE MOVIE (1982)

Who else had the desire to see this today? Just me then?

Given the absolute magic that was Xanadu and The Apple its understandable the appeal to create fantastical ’80s musicals meshing fashion and sound, cartoon humor with knowing winks to the audience. So some filmmakers in Australia decided to try their hand at something everyone in the 80s was begging for – a big splashy rendition of the Pirates of Penzance.

The obvious observation out of the gate is giving this film the award for laziest title ever.  We couldn’t name it Pirates of Penzance?  How did that producers meeting go?

Producer 1: Its called Pirates of Penzance and its a musical. People like both of those things, right?

Producer 2: People won’t know what they’re getting! We need to give it a more hip, more contemporary title! We’re calling it The Pirate Movie until we think of something else.”

At this point in my blog I give a quick recap of the plot. To this one, I say, if you have to ask, then this movie just isn’t for you.  You walk in blind and let it dress your brain up in ruffles.

How much sense does this movie make? Absolutely none. None at all.

I had to link the 80s-tastic opening credits. Somewhere Gilbert and Sullivan are shaking their heads and saying, “Don’t put our names on this.”

 

The film doesn’t try for seriousness, in fact it tries for lightheartedness in the way that surgeons try to save patients lives after near fatal car accidents.   Basically, if you’re not making a goofy face on frame, then you’re not doing your job…

“Okay, we wanted this scene to show you’ve got muscles, but how will the audience know we’re being funny?”

Maybe its just this movie was made in a different time, but there was some weirdly sexual scenes included that were played up for laughs.  The ’80s synth music just made it more upsetting.
 The scenes start out innocently enough…

But what you’re missing is the weird grunty sex noises Kristy McNichol makes while Pirate John Tesh flexes his muscles.

This scene also got the Ick Medal…

(shifts uncomfortably, looks down at phone….)

“We’ve got a big goofy song and dance number going on…but the audience might not understand its funny. Get me a silly face!”

This is our villain. He’s hilarious. At least according to the director who kept making him do these faces. Espescially during song and dance numbers.

Maybe you’re asking yourself, “So much dignity left at the door. How low could they go?”

Oh, they went low. Low, like the bottom of the sea.

Literally.

Kristy McNichol sings a song called “Pumpin’ and Blowin…”

…while the guy from Blue Lagoon did a weird awkward dance with animated fish.

No one asked for this, but they gave it to us anyway.

(shifts uncomfortably in my chair, stares at phone)

“Chris, this scene is funny and all but you know what would take it to the next level? Make that funny face!”

I guess an important part of the plot is that our hero can’t go out on his own and be independent from the Pirates of Penzance because he was born on a leap year and is therefore only 5 years old. I’ve filed this story twist away in THINGS TO NEVER USE IN A SCRIPT.

There’s a lot of music that is used in this. Some of it is from the original opera, some of it from a songwriter based in LA that had a “lost weekend*” style writing session when coming up with these songs.

*This infers that there’s a songwriter who did a lot of illegal substances in hopes of touching the mind of God while creating these songs. This is never the way to do it.

During this 90 minute music video, there was a music video that had this romantic montage…

…with scenes that couldn’t have possibly happened, because there was no time in this film’s timeline. Perhaps I am a stickler for the rules of space and time.

“Kristy, you clearly understand the hilarious undertones of hiding out in a knight costume are all dependent on your goofy face. You’ll have to teach Chris…”

Have you discovered your movie is funny, but could be funnier? Gather together the largest group of Keystone Cops possible and watch things really take off.

This is not photoshop. During a swordfight, our hero picks up a lightsaber and waved it around. Clearly our movie was not expecting people to sit this far into it.

The big finale was a high school production of Pirates of Penzance set in one of the chaperone’s yard.

People are playing along, but you can tell everyone who went to Julliard in this lineup is regretting everything espescially not going to that networking meeting where all those Broadway producers showed up.

But none of this matters. You know why?

Because it was all a dream.

OR WAS IT?

Happy endings all around.

And well done to the casting directors who picked the love interests to look like fraternal twins.
(uncomfortably shifts, stares at phone when realizes the implications of that reality).