Tuesday, August 25, 2015

Capsule Reviews Volume II

Bug Buster
Directed by Lorenzo Doumani, Written by Malick Khoury, Cast: Dennis Quaid, Katherine Heigl, George Takei, James Doohan
(1998) feature film (* * *) out of five stars
To begin with, this was not half bad. The family moving into the hotel, the bug attacks, even George Takei literally phoning in his performance, all not bad. Then Dennis Quaid, who has never been worse, shows up and the film slides downhill into horrible special effects and very unfunny comic relief. Space Maggot busts a 5 on this, recommending the first half of the film.

Campfire Tales
Directed by Matt Cooper, Martin Kunert, and David Semel, Screenplay by Martin Kunert & Eric Manes and Matt Cooper, Story by Martin Kunert & Eric Manes, Cast: Christine Taylor, Ron Livingston, James Marsden, Jacinda Barrett
(1998) feature film (* * * *) out of five stars
I cannot believe I enjoyed this as much as I did. The anthology stories were better than par, but the linking story and its surprise ending hooked me. A lot of familiar faces will keep you asking yourself "where I have I seen them before?" Forget the running time listed on New Line's VHS videotape, this ain't no 103 minutes, according to my VCR timer and IMDB. Space Maggot douses the campfire in his own special way and hikes this an 8.

Cannibal Apocalypse
Directed by Antonio Margheriti, Screenplay by Antonio Margheriti and Dardano Sacchetti, Story by Dardano Sacchetti, Cast: John Saxon, Elizabeth Turner, Giovanni Lombardo Radice, Cinzia De Carolis
(1982) feature film (* * * *) out of five stars
I did not hate this movie! It was actually pretty good. The effects were fine, the story was different, and Saxon was pretty good. The Vietnam sequences could have been filmed in my backyard...but this offered enough chills and violence to redeem my rental price of ninety-nine cents. Space Maggot is feeling a little woozy, and cannibalistic, and sucks this a 7.

Chopper Chicks in Zombietown
Written and directed by Dan Hoskins, Cast: Martha Quinn, Earl Boen, Billy Bob Thornton, Hal Sparks
(1991) feature film (* *) out of five stars
Sure, the title is great. The B cast is good, especially Thornton and Quinn. Even the effects score. But we have seen the old zombie comedy thing before. The chicks barely got nekkid, and I pretty much knew what would happen every step of the way. Space Maggot revs a 4 for this one.

City of the Living Dead
Directed by Lucio Fulci, Story and screenplay by Lucio Fulci and Dardano Sacchetti, Cast: Christopher George, Catriona MacColl, Carlo De Mejo, Antonella Interlenghi
(1983) feature film (* * *) out of five stars
Fulci, schmulci, I am so sick of hearing how wonderful this plot disaster is. If you want gore, fine, but this film is completely clueless when it comes to a coherent story. There are some scary scenes, but for every one of those, there is some horrible camera movement that will make you laugh. How many zooming close ups of actors' eyes do we need? Poor Christopher George looks completely shocked that his career dwindled to this. I give this a 5.

Criminal
Directed by David Jacobson, Written by Wolfgang Held and David Jacobson, Cast: Ralph Feliciello, Elizabeth Canavan, Sheila York, Eric Reid
(1994) feature film (* * * * *) out of five stars
I love all the comments about how slow this film moves, like everyone else in the world is James Bond. I thought the acting here was much better than most low budget acting, and the story took its own time opening up and following Gus as he makes one mistake, and is helpless as it snowballs. The visuals are drab and depressing, but so is Gus' life. I truly loved this film, it may get some of us out there thinking about our own stations in life. I give this a 10.

Death Carries a Cane
Directed by Maurizio Pradeaux, Written by Maurizio Pradeaux, Alfonso Balcazar, Arpad Deriso, and George Martin, Cast: Robert Hoffmann, Nieves Navarro, George Martin, Anuska Borova
(1973) feature film (* *) out of five stars
This film is so silly. It rips off everything from "Vertigo" to "Psycho," and takes itself so seriously about its subject. Thankfully nudity and gore almost redeem it...but this is still just poorly dubbed Eurotrash. Space Maggot limps to the soundtrack and gives this a 3.

Gate 2: The Trespassers
Directed by Tibor Takacs, Written by Michael Nankin, Cast: Louis Tripp, Simon Reynolds, James Villemaire, Pamela Adlon
(1992) feature film (* * *) out of five stars
You know you are in trouble when the copyright date for this film is three years earlier than when it was finally released. "The Gate" was more infamous for making as much money as "Ishtar" did on their opening weekend, and it was kid-friendly at a PG-13. This unnecessary sequel is R, didn't have to be, and just regurgitates the same formula of some kids opening up a portal to another dimension. The effects this time around are not half as good as the first film. I give this a 5. (R)- Physical violence, some gun violence, gore, profanity, drug abuse

Grim Prairie Tales
Written and directed by Wayne Coe, Cast: James Earl Jones, Brad Dourif, William Atherton, Lisa Eichhorn
(1990) feature film (* * *) out of five stars
Oscar nominees Brad Dourif and James Earl Jones are the main reasons to watch this collection of stories set in the west. The most bizarre, involving the "pregnant" Jenny, is almost as entertaining as Dourif and Jones, who are more fun than the stories they tell. I give this a 6.

The Killing Kind
Directed by Curtis Harrington, Written by Tony Crechales and George Edwards, Cast: John Savage, Ann Sothern, Ruth Roman, Cindy Williams
(1973) feature film (* * * *) out of five stars
This is another one of those movies you pick out expecting nothing, and then are pleasantly surprised. I thought the acting was superb, and I actually was moved by the heartbreaking ending. The video box featuring the original poster art suggested you could use this film to spot a mass murderer...lives with his mother, kills small animals, likes to look at women...hey, Space Maggot is ready for his first victim! I give this a 7.

Multiple Maniacs
Written and directed by John Waters, Cast: Divine, David Lochary, Mary Vivian Pearce, Mink Stole
(1970) feature film (*) out of five stars
Many people find John Waters' early films endearing and funny. I find them rather sad in a way. The acting is so bad, the story is worse, and the famed lobster scene I have heard about for years was not worth the wait. Give me "Cry Baby" anyday. Space Maggot writhes in agony and vomits a 2.

The Phantom of the Opera
Directed by Dario Argento, Written by Gerard Brach and Dario Argento, Cast: Julian Sands, Asia Argento, Andrea Di Stefano, Nadia Rinaldi
(1999) feature film (* *) out of five stars
I worry about a director who directs his own daughter to do nude scenes in his films. What's up with that? This umpteenth version of the novel throws in "whimsical" plotlines such as the Phantom was raised by rats in the basement of the opera house. Did they teach him how to dress and speak English also? The most embarrassing scene involves a giant rat catching machine that has nothing to do with the plot except to make the Phantom mad. This entire production was ill conceived, despite great production values and costuming. I give it a 4.

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