“Americathon”

americathonThere’s a notion baked into our national identity, as American as apple pie, that America is here to stay. The thing I personally love most about our national anthem is that it manages to make the very idea of soldiering on in the face of defeat and humiliation a heroic act. Rather than being about a great military victory or the inherent superiority of our democratic republic, “The Star-Spangled Banner’s” triumphant moment comes when Francis Scott Key realizes that the flag simply is “still there.” Although that says a lot about our national ideals of perseverance, self-reliance and determination, there’s a dark inverse of that idea implied by the anthem. It’s the idea that America can be “still there” even after it’s been broken, battered beyond all recognition, and left to limp along in a pathetic, crippled state. It’s an idea that may have had an influence on the national mindset in the post-Vietnam era. And once they made a movie about it where Jay Leno’s mother kicked him in the balls. Continue reading

“Metamorphosis”

affiche-metamorphosis-1990-1Metamorphosis” is an Italian-made variation on the classic mad scientist tale of a brilliant man cursed by his own hubris to turn himself into a Halloween costume. Seemingly made with ample inspiration taken from David Cronenberg’s remake of “The Fly,” “Metamorphosis” ratchets up the mindless violence but tones down the tragedy. Unlike Jeff Goldblum’s doomed Seth Brundle, the main character of “Metamorphosis” only succeeds in making himself as physically ugly as he is spiritually. Continue reading

“The Loch Ness Horror”

the-loch-ness-horror-movie-poster-1981-1020467281What’s shocking in “The Loch Ness Horror” isn’t that multiple people encounter the legendary beast – it’s that this apparently has never happened before. In real life, the Loch Ness Monster has been one of the great mysteries of the natural world for the simple reason that no one’s ever gotten a good look at it. In this movie, Nessie is far more likely to be found galumphing along the shores of the lake in broad daylight and clamping her rubbery teeth around someone’s head than posing for a blurry photograph. With her tendency to gobble up anyone who comes within a half-mile of Loch Ness while screaming and blowing steam out of her nostrils, it’s hard to believe scientists still know so little about her when the movie begins. Continue reading

“Fear No Evil”

fear-no-evil-1981-movie-4“The Exorcist” was one of the most shocking movies ever made at the time of its release, but as transgressive as it was, there were lines even it did not dare to cross. For example, you never got to see Satan’s wang. But where Friedkin dared not tread, Frank LaLoggia and “Fear No Evil” boldly stake their claim. “Fear No Evil” is a movie that not only is brave enough to combine supernatural horror with some elements of “Grease,” but also is unafraid to depict Lucifer’s junk on screen for the world to see at last. Continue reading

“The Vindicator”

vi1The Vindicator” is a movie about a man transformed into a cyborg killing machine, and yet the longest action sequence in the movie involves a pudgy loser manhandling and later attempting to rape a pregnant woman. But that’s the kind of movie “The Vindicator” is – it’s the cinematic equivalent of one of those “grim and gritty” superhero comics. There’s a man who’s half-robot who can lift a car over his head, but there’s also a lot of swearing and sexual assault to let you know that this isn’t for little kids or anything like that. Looking past the attempts at gruesome violence and “mature” subject matter, there isn’t anything in “The Vindicator” that’s any deeper than the average episode of “Power Rangers.” Continue reading

“Creepozoids”

creepozoidsThe first line of spoken dialogue in “Creepozoids,” said within the first two minutes of the movie, is this: “Is somebody out there?” Within two minutes of that, a giant cockroach bursts into the room. That’s efficient. I appreciate a movie that doesn’t waste time like that. I’ve seen way too many monster movies that labor under the delusion that people watch them for real human drama and character work. “Creepozoids” was made by David DeCoteau, a protégé of Roger Corman and Charles Band, the latter being the mind behind series such as “Puppet Master,” “Gingerdead Man,” and “Evil Bong.” DeCoteau is also a veteran of the porn industry, so as a filmmaker he’s experienced at cutting to the chase. Continue reading

“Eat and Run”

eat-and-run-movie-poster-1986-1020203726I didn’t realize “Eat and Run” had made any kind of impression on me at all until I saw the picture of its main monster on the VHS box recently. Years ago, when I was a kid and a voracious reader of movie reviews in the newspaper, certain movies just stuck with me because the critics’ plot descriptions made them memorable. That’s why it would be years before I ever worked up the courage to watch “Nightmare on Elm Street 2: Freddy’s Revenge,” thanks to Gene Siskel’s description of Freddy tearing his way out of the main character’s chest.

The review for “Eat and Run” came complete with a picture of Murray, the movie’s alien maneater. Murray was fatter than any human being I had ever seen in my life up to that point, so much so that I assumed he was some kind of Jim Henson puppet, and his bald head and shark-like mouth made me imagine a movie in which this mountain of flesh and teeth would be tearing people into bloody ribbons. It terrified me for days. So when I found the movie this week, the plot sounded familiar, but the sight of that creature on the box made it official. I had to see this movie at last. Continue reading