“Class of 1999”

220px-class_of_1999The first thing you see in “Class of 1999” is a computer screen spelling out the dire state of American urban public schools in the not-too-distant future of 1999. The next thing you see is Stacy Keach’s snow-white mullet, which looks like someone bleached a Davy Crockett coonskin cap. All we needed to see to know the movie takes place in a bleak dystopian future was Keach’s hair, so that’s one storytelling misstep right off the bat. Continue reading

“Project: Metalbeast”

project-metalbeast-dvdPerhaps the biggest problem with “Project: Metalbeast” is that there is no earthly way any movie could live up to that title. If the filmmakers could have titled the movie with an airbrushed Boris Vallejo painting of a metallic werewolf, I feel like they would have. The title is a screaming electric guitar solo with full pyrotechnic accompaniment, and it ranks among the all-time-great, one-of-a-kind B-movie titles like “Hell Comes to Frogtown” or “Surf Nazis Must Die.” If the majority of movie titles serve as a polite introduction to the audience, “Project: Metalbeast” is a high-five from a complete stranger doing a backflip on an ATV over your head. Continue reading

“Eliminators”

MV5BMTJiZDk4OTktYTE2OC00NjI5LTk1NTctNjMyZmI5Mzk4ODUyXkEyXkFqcGdeQXVyMTQxNzMzNDI@._V1_UX182_CR0,0,182,268_AL_These days, the two most important words in Hollywood are “cinematic universe.” Inspired by the billions of dollars Marvel has made with its Avengers movies, studios have been frantic to jumpstart their own cinematic pyramid schemes with intellectual properties from the Justice League of America to the Universal Monsters to Nickelodeon cartoons. The idea, of course, is to maximize profit by giving audiences movies that spin off characters into their own movies or movies that collect characters from other franchises into massive team-up spectacles. It worked well back in the day when Frankenstein met the Wolf Man and most recently when Captain America fought Iron Man, but it remains to be seen whether or not audiences will sit through “Friar Tuck: Origins” before they see Robin Hood finally get the Merry Men together in the last five minutes of his movie.

With so many studios desperately pushing for the Big Bang that will launch the next sure-fire hit cinematic universe, it’s easy to forget that movies used to be stupid enough to just shove a bunch of characters into one movie without making audiences pony up for the installment plan. And so you have a movie like 1986’s “Eliminators,” which resembles a look into a cinematic universe based on the cheap, unlicensed action figures they used to sell in gas stations. Continue reading

Making a Case for “The Terminator” as a Christmas Movie

terminator_ver4This would have made more sense to post a few weeks ago, but I didn’t have the conversation that inspired this until Christmas Day and work got in the way. Let’s just call this early for Christmas 2014.

There’s a growing movement that considers “Die Hard” to be a Christmas movie, and I understand that completely. It takes place during Christmas, for one thing. Beethoven’s “Ode to Joy” is referenced heavily in the score, and that’s a staple of Christmas church services in Europe. And it devotes a subplot to John McClain’s attempts to reconcile with his family, so it even covers “Christmas is all about being with family.” Obviously, there’s room for debate on this, your mileage may vary, etc. Continue reading

“Mutant Hunt”

If there’s anything I respect and appreciate as much as a good movie, it’s a terrible movie. From time to time, I’ll be posting a review of a terrible movie I found either on Netflix or elsewhere. I think it’s important to highlight that these things exist, and that someone somewhere thought they were good ideas.

If there’s a cardinal rule of filmmaking, it would have to be this: Never be boring. This goes double for B movies, because without the budget to fill the screen with eye-catching explosions or famous stars, you have to do all the work of maintaining the audience’s interest yourself. “Mutant Hunt” offers a variation on this rule: Never propose something significantly more interesting than you’re prepared to show the audience. “Mutant Hunt” fails this rule early on, as the heroes discuss the plight of a captive scientist. Apparently, the bad guy can detain this scientist legally for 72 hours because of some law passed in response to “the space shuttle sex murders.” Continue reading